• Published 11th Nov 2016
  • 889 Views, 96 Comments

Intriguing - Purple Patch



In the great and perilous metropolis of Canterlot, Fancy Pants and Fleur must foil a nefarious outbreak of corruption together.

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Prologue

The noise of clashing blades, gunfire and more than a few explosions echoed throughout the royal square of Shajarat City.

Emir Mustaqir drew back from the ornate window with horror as he watched the green and red flags of his guards fall and lie burning with their bearers as the rebels, flying banners of blue and gold, swarmed into the square, yelling cries of ‘Peace’, ‘Justice’ and their favourite, ‘Death to the Emir’.

Safe for now in the comfort of his luxurious chambers, he turned to his Colonel of the Guard.

“Sahaq!” he bellowed “I want my palace locked down! Nopony enters or leaves without my consent! Tell me reinforcements are arriving! Tell me or lose your head!”

Colonel Sahaq, a strapping, scar-faced, maneless earth pony with a cracked chalk-white coat known by the rebels as ‘The Trampler’ held up one hoof, his one good blue eye wide in concern.

“You must remain calm, your eminence. I assure you, Major Bisra is on his way with an army of loyal pegasi and sky-chariots. He informed me that they would make contact with Shajarat City in less than five minutes from now. We should be...”

The transceiver at his belt starting buzzing with static. Sahaq grabbed it, turned away from the panicking Emir and answered.

“What is it?”

It took a moment for him to realise the sounds of battle weren’t only coming from outside.

They were coming from across the transceiver as the caller yelled over the noise.

“Colonel! This is Bisra! Ambushed en route to Shajarat! We need reinforcements!”

“What? What’s happened up there?” Sahaq barked.

“Damn it! It’s chaos up here! Our mercenaries betrayed us! They’re slaughtering our troops! Missiles, depth charges, gas, everything! We’re being wiped out! Our formations have crumbled! We have no-gyarghszzzzzzzzfffffft-”

Sahaq paused, his lips twitching as empty static invaded his ears.

“H-h-hello?” he asked, dumbfounded “Is...Is anypony left out there?”

“Colonel! Your eminence!” a guard from outside the chambers yelled “Somepony’s here! They’ve broken in”

Sahaq grabbed his sword and motioned to the Emir.

“Stay here, your eminence!”


The cadre of hoof-picked red-coated, black-maned guards had their muskets primed on the lone intruder in the palace hall.

The stallion before them knew of their background.

They had been trained since birth by Sahaq and his fiercest lieutenants. Raised and pitted against each other in pits, killers before their sixth birthday, secret police and bodyguards to the Emir whom they venerated like a father and god and protected with their lives.

Yet there was fear in their eyes as they faced him.

Of course there was. They’d been taught to believe they were invincible.

But the bodies of their brothers piled outside had proven them wrong.

Sahaq pointed his scimitar at the intruder.

“Stand down, rebel, in the name of his eminence, the Emir!” he snarled “You are under arrest! Kneel!”

The stallion took one step forward.

“Do not move! That is an order! Kneel! Now! Or die where you stand!”

The stallion tilted his head slightly.

“I said kne-”

The stallion threw a hoof.

Sahaq was thrown across the room, breaking like a porcelain vase upon the decorative pillar beside the chamber door.

He was dead before he hit the ground.

The guards stared at the figure, their muskets shaking in their hooves.

Before they could fire, the stallion drew a single small curved knife and threw it with expert precision at the great candelabra in the hall.

Their main source of light.

As the heaving mass of glass, metal and candle-wax crashed to the floor, all Tartarus broke loose as the assassin made full use of the shadows now available to him.

The Emirate Guard had been taught to fight till their last breath, to march until sundown and to kill and torture any pony suspicious enough to catch their eye.

The stallion flashed a menacing grin.

‘Somepony should have taught them to eat plenty of carrots’ he thought.

‘Good for seeing in the dark’


Emir Mustaqir clung to his bedpost as the cacophony of screams, curses and the clangs and clatter of metal upon metal rang in his ears.

One by one he heard the voices of his guard cry out in fear, alarm or pain as this unknown, unseen horror slaughtered them like a timber-wolf among rabbits.

There was one last voice. A voice of a young stallion, likely no more than sixteen, stammering and whimpering.

“Enough! I surrender” he begged.

There was a clicking sound and the stallion begged louder.

“I surrender! I surrender! I-”

‘Bang!’

The sound of a gun barrel cut through all surrounding noise and was followed by a thump.

Mustaqir’s ears piqued.

His guards carried muskets.

Perhaps they’d held off whoever was at his door.

Ever so tenderly, he let go of the bedpost and edged toward the doorknob.

He was swiftly knocked flat on his side by the door slamming him in the face as it opened.

As he gathered his vision and took a look at the stallion before him, he crawled backwards on the floor, wailing as his guard had done.

“Stop! Please! You can’t do this!” he babbled “I’ll give you money, jewels, chariots, palaces, mares, whatever you want! Please! You can’t kill me! I’m your Emir!”

The assassin eyed the Emir. Years ago, Mustaqir was among the most powerful ponies in Saddle Arabia, revered by all. He’d passed by a dozen portraits entering the palace already, all of them depicting an emerald-green unicorn with a shiny mahogany-brown mane and beard and piercing indigo eyes, standing proud above his domain.

Yet before him was a quivering wreck, unwilling to meet his maker.

But then they always were.

As the stallion paced toward him, the Emir’s horn lit-up instinctively. One last ditch attempt to extend his own life.

In one swift motion, the stranger’s hoof reached into a small satchel upon a belt slung across his shoulders and threw a cloud of crystalline powder at the Emir’s face. The unicorn, Mustaqir gave a scream of anguish as his horn began fizzing and cracking. Any magic available to him was cut off, attacking his nerves and leaving him virtually senseless.

Then the stallion did something truly strange.

He began to sing.


It was a slow, melancholy dirge that he sung almost like he had to, without mirth or merriment.

‘Oh clasp your weapons to your chest

Take what’s yours and burn the rest

All horses tire of their whips one daaaay-eeeeee-oooooh’

He took a coiled rope from his belt and idly began to wrap one end around the Emir’s neck.

‘So join me, those who don’t fear death

To fight until your final breath

For blood will wash our troubles all awaaaay-eeeeee-oooooh’

Making sure the rope was tight, the singer walked to the window and tied the other end of the rope to the curtain rod. Then, holding the struggling Emir by the mane, he sung the final verse.

‘And in the meadows and the towns

Silence falls and so do crowns

And ghosts and corpses come outside to plaaaay-eeeeee-oooooh’

He gave a chuckle to the Emir as he held him against the window.

“Forgive me” he said apologetically “I like to finish with a song and that one seemed appropriate. The Shirish Revolts. Cold Slean Carrow sung that before the Green Giant had him hung” He shrugged “Slean was a better killer than he ever was a singer but like I said...appropriate”

The Emir gave one last scream as he was flung through and out the window, falling with the shattered glass before coming to a sudden stop as the rope grew taught.

Outside, the crowd cheered.


“Is he here?! Has he done it?!”

Commander Nahadas, the leader of the Shajarati Rebellion, gazed around at the ruined palace and slain guards. The copper-coated, blue-maned pegasus stallion was escorted by two guards clad in black leather with masks that hid their faces.

“Hello?” he called out into the Emir’s chambers “Are you hurt?”

The door opened and the leader of his mercenaries greeted him.

“Not as far as I can see,” he answered before bowing “Commander...or should I call you President? What titles will you be assuming?”

Nahadas gave a modest laugh.

“I shall have no need of this palace or its adornments. A triarch consisting of me and my friends, Shirafa and Majid, shall be formed to govern Shajarat, until the most capable statespony is chosen. The war is over. The Rebellion thanks you for your help...Cascadius”

Cascadius smiled as Nahadas continued.

“The wealth the Emir hoarded will be shared among the citizens, open trade and fair pay will be reintroduced and Shajarat...” he sighed, proud and content “Shajarat will at last know peace”

“Ah yes...” Cascadius put a shoulder upon his employer’s shoulder “Peace. Where old ponies may die content and young foals may grow up safe. Where the ponies will till the soil together and rejoice in abundance. Good for the land and good for the ponies...but alas...”

There was the sound of a knife being drawn.

Then Nahadas’s green eyes widened as he stared at the bloodied tip of the dagger protruding from his chest. He keeled over, gasping for breath that wouldn’t ever come, staring with fast-fading vision at the smiling Cascadius, who whispered one last utterance to him.

“...bad for business”

Cleaning his blade with a handkerchief, the mercenary leader turned to his two guards, who hadn’t moved since they’d arrived.

“You” he pointed to one “Go to Shirafa and tell her that Majid murdered Nahadas”

The guard nodded.

“And you” he pointed to the other “Go to Majid and tell him that Shirafa murdered Nahadas”

The guard nodded.

“And then meet up with the others at the rendezvous point, wait it out and then fight for whichever side will pay more for you”

They left the palace without a word. Giving the dead rebel leader one last look that almost seemed apologetic, Cascadius turned on a transceiver and spoke.

“We’re all finished up here. Pick me up outside the palace and make it snappy” he ordered bluntly.

“I’ve got an appointment to keep...in Canterlot”


*


The cameras whirred to life, the lights went on, the music started playing and the yellow-coated, blue-maned newsmare began to speak.

“Good morning, Equestria. I’m Masquerade and you’re listening to Capital News live from Canterlot. Our top story, news of the Royal Council Chairstallionship Elections has become the talk of the capital and beyond as the deadly game of politics nears a close with weeks to spare”

Various photos, profiles and charts came up behind her.

One of a crimson mare with a blue, yellow and white striped mane, silver eyes and a grey patch upon her forehead.

The other of an ancient-looking mottled-pale-green stallion with a wispy beard and accusing eyes.

“The election began, as it often does, with two candidates. One, Carcassonne, a budding young civil servant with tough stances on reducing poverty, corruption and the need for exported goods in Canterlot and its surrounding residencies. The other, Nitpick, Canterlot’s distinguished Lord Magistrate and the Sixth Earl of Speck, known to many to be a proud ultra-conservative traditionalist. As expected, Carcassone built popularity among the middle-class citizens whilst Nitpick appealed to the elite. Problems, however, emerged from both sides. While Nitpick’s supporters praised him to no end, Carcassone was vilified by members of her own cabinet, labelling her rash, temperamental and inexperienced. On the other side of the spectrum, numerous allegations of corruption fell upon Nitpick during his time as a Magistrate which the populace were quick to become suspicious of. Most shockingly, the Earl of Speck was involved in a sexual harassment scandal at the theatre where he was reported to have molested a trolley mare and offered her money for pleasure. The trolley mare, who does not wish to be named, fled to her home, Ponyville, because of course it is, and had the whole place in an uproar, not that hard to accomplish for a town that considers an apple shortage the calamity of the century”

There was a mild laughter from those present.


“But in all seriousness, this scandal prompted several other mares in and around Canterlot to come forward with similar accusations, though only the case of the trolley mare was confirmed. In the wake of this scandal, Lord Nitpick lost a great deal of favour with his own circle and those they represented. In the wake of both these candidates disappointing their voters, local Council member, Earl Grey, in a controversial political statement, declared he was voting for the current Chairstallion, Fancy Pants of Briefly Manor, to assume a third term in office. Chairstallion Fancy Pants is, as many around Canterlot know, one of the capitals’ most respected and influential ponies who is credited to have revitalised Canterlot’s economy and social equity in his first year in office and since went from strength to strength. This prompted several of his fellow council members and their associates to do the same and, in weeks, the movement for Fancy Pants to take on a three-term session in office has topped the charts, leading by at least fifty votes”

The photo of the monocled, moustachioed Chairstallion appeared between the two candidates. It may have been purely by accident that they chose to have the photo of him illuminated by the rising sun with his blue mane blowing in the wind.

“Miss Carcassone has recently gone on to resign from her candidacy, reluctantly voicing support for Fancy Pants’ cabinet. Nitpick, meanwhile, assures the ponies who will listen that it is he who will lead Canterlot into a golden age. Princess Celestia would not comment on the events, stating that elections are matters of public faith which she cannot and will not intrude upon”

“Nonetheless, Fancy Pants remains in the lead and his supporters are doing all they can to keep it that way. If he wins, he will officially become Canterlot’s longest-serving Chairstallion as well as the youngest-appointed, two titles that are certain to look pretty good on his resume...and his plaque”

The photos disappeared, replaced by a single photo of an eccentric-looking cyan mare with a silver fringe and pink-tinted glasses.

“In other news, prominent photograph artist, Photo Finish, proclaims she has assembled a spectacular cadre of models and is preparing a fashion shoot later this month, time and place to be decided, and promises it will be a magnificent, unmissable occasion where all of Canterlot may behold what she calls ‘Ze Magicks’ for themselves. A full summary and an interview with Miss Finish herself will follow up later this afternoon”

“And now onto Sextant with the weather”


*


The light but definite noise from the meal-gong resonated across Briefly Manor. Fancy Pants was often up before the gong went and was dressed and ready for breakfast not a moment after it had subsided. Making his way to the dining hall, he greeted the butler, Tombola, who pulled out a chair and presented the morning paper.

“Good morning Tom, old chap. How does today look?”

“A clement day, sir, by my assumption” the famously-efficient butler answered as Ramekin, the bright but cautious waiter, entered and placed a breakfast tray of buttered crumpets, poached eggs, button mushrooms and, of course, a cup of tea, upon the table.

Fancy took an eager sniff of the fresh meal before him, already feeling very much awake, and thanked the one who brought it.

“Thank you Rammy. Give my compliments to the cooks, there’s a good fellow” He turned back to Tom “Any new goings-on that may concern me?” the gentlecolt asked as he tucked a napkin into his collar.

“Nothing that I would assume you to be uninformed of, sir” Tom replied “Only that his grace, Count Stained Glass, sends you his best wishes and states that he is very much enjoying his stay in Ponyville, finding the country atmosphere exceptionally pleasing and the company charming beyond words”

“Ah excellent, I thought he might like it. Anything else?”

“One last point of interest, sir. Miss de Lis wishes you to know she will be returning to Canterlot a day from now”

The mention of the mare’s name brought a dreamy look to Fancy’s face. To think it had been just over six months since they’d met that fateful Rejuvenation Festival in Ponyville. It always seemed like it had been yesterday that the elegant young Fleur had walked into Fancy’s largely empty life.

Since becoming the Canterlot power-player everypony knew him as, Fancy Pants had always owned more than he could ever dream of.

But her friendship was the first thing he ever felt he had.


“Sir?”

“Hm? What?!” Fancy jerked his head up before he could dip his moustache in the butter and blinked dimly at his butler who was eying his master with a raised eyebrow.

“You rather seemed to have drifted off if you don’t object to me saying so, sir”

The gentlecolt shook his head.

“Sorry, Tom, old fruit. Don’t know what came over me there. I’ll ah...I’ll make a start on this breakfast, shall I? Before it gets cold”

“It’s quite alright, sir” he made to leave but stopped halfway to the door and turned back to the master of Briefly Manor.

“May I ask if you will you be obtaining to invite Miss de Lis here again, sir?” he said at length.

Fancy Pants cleared his throat and gave a sheepish look to his faithful major-domo.

“You rather hit the proverbial nail on the noggin, Tom” he chuffed “If that’ll sit well with the household, of course”

“Perfectly, sir. We shall be on hoof to make arrangements whenever the opportunity presents itself” And with that, Tombola bowed and exited the dining hall, leaving his master to finish, or rather begin, his breakfast.

“Well?”

The butler looked round to see Ramekin and two more of the household staff collected just outside dining hall. The vivacious and excitable Prench-Chineighse maid, Plumette; and the pernickety but kindly old housekeeper, Mrs Fuss Pot, who had once been Fancy’s nanny when her master was a colt.

They were waiting on the butler’s word with baited breath.

Tombola paused and spoke with an air of authority.

“Need I remind you all that in refined households such as Briefly Manor, servants are not privy to their master’s private affairs unless their master would expressly wish it so” He took note of a glimpse of shame in their faces before continuing.

“But to curb your curiosity, the master does indeed plan to continue seeing Miss de Lis”

The three ponies each jumped a foot in the air and cheered.

“Yes! I knew it!” Ramekin whooped “I knew those two would get together, this is amazing! They’re brilliant for each other!”

Magnifique!” Plume could barely stop herself giggling “Zis is so parfait! Like all ze romantiques. Ze noble pony falls for one so far below their station and brave ze discriminations of ze world togezer!”

“Ooh, Princesses be praised! How blessed I am to see this day!” Mrs Fuss Pot exclaimed “Oh it does me’ old heart proud, so it does. Who’d ‘ave thought it, eh?!”

“Is everything alright down there?” They heard their master call out from the dining hall. All four of them snapped to attention instinctively.

“Quite alright sir. I was simply informing all present of possible visits from Miss de Lis” Tombola replied steadily.

“Righto Tom. Carry on”


*


The sunrise from Sweet Apple Acres was a sight one would be happy to take to the grave.

To the Apple family, however, that sight always meant there was work to be done.

Applejack had just finished herding the well-meaning but easily-startled cattle into the field and was pausing a moment to catch her breath and enjoy the last few minutes of the early Ponyville morning.

Resting against the fence, she caught sight of a peculiarly-thin alabaster mare trotting curiously down the meadow path.

She waved to her as the visitor drew close.

“Howdy-doo, missy!” she hollered “Fine morning, doncha’ think?!”

The mare had been looking at the ground with vague interest and jumped slightly when the farm-pony called out to her.

“Sorry, ma’am” Applejack apologised “Didn’t mean to scare yer’ none”

“No, no, it’s quite alright” The mare approached, smiling politely “I don’t get out that much, at least at home. I’m just out here to collect my thoughts a bit”

“Fine by me” Applejack leaned over the fence in a friendly fashion “Ain’t yer one of Lyra, Colgate an’ Pepperdance’s friends? From that big city, Canterlot?”

“Yes, that’s right” Fleur extended a hoof daintily “I’m Fleur. Fleur de Lis”

“Well ain’t that a fancy old namesake. Ah think Lyra an' Pepperdance mentioned you before” The farm-pony shook the hoof warmly “Pleased to meet’cha. Ah’m Applejack”

Fleur shook it in a slightly absent-minded fashion.

“Heh...Fancy” she murmured.

“Hm? Whassat now?”

“Oh nothing, nothing” The slim mare cleared her throat.

“Well if yer don’t wanna’ talk about it” Applejack brushed her mane-tail dismissively “So, is there anythin’ I can help ya’ll with? Frankly, you look like you could do with a good deal a’ feedin’. Why, yer’ all skin n’ bone!”

“Oh um...” Fleur glanced at her figure with some amount of insecurity “It’s quite alright. I’m a model, you see. I’m working at Canterlot”

Applejack gave a whistle of surprise.

“Sound’s difficult” she said.

Fleur tilted her head from side to side.

“At times. I’ve just got a break though. Thanks to...a friend...” she trailed off, gazing dreamily into nothing in particular.

“Uh...yoo-hoo” Applejack waved her hoof in front of her.

“Oh, I’m so sorry” Fleur shook her head, her trailing primrose mane threatening to whack the farm-pony in the face.

“Now wait just a gosh-darned’ second” Applejack said coyly, twiddling her hoof in front of the bewildered Fleur “Ah remember Lyra an’ Pepper went to the gala a few months ago an’ couldn’a stopped hootin’ about their friend 'Fleur' fallin’ fer an important stallion” She rolled her eyes “They made a lotta’ jokes about his moustache that ah’m glad lil’ Bloom weren’t around to hear”


Fleur sighed.

“You caught me” She conceded “It hardly matters, most of my friends know and they’re all impulsive gossips. We went to the Gala together but...well, neither of us has exactly decided where we stand, as it were”

“Both of y’all waitin’ for t’other to make their move, is that it?”

“Exactly”

Applejack nodded knowingly.

“S’alright. Mah Pa told me that’s how he and mah Ma ended up spendin’ a lot of the first few years they knew each other”

“Oh really?” Fleur chuckled “What happened in the end? It couldn’t have lasted forever”

“Well...” the farm-pony tilted her head “Ah reckon Granny Smith constantly hanging around and tellin’ ‘em to jus’ get on with it already took its toll...but they told me that Pa once went out to fight a timber-wolf who’d been skulkin’ round the farm fer’ too long, huntin' the livestock. But this wolf was a monster. Pa didn’t expect to come back. Now he owns a hat, a treasured Apple family keepsake passed down from generation to generation. We never let it come to harm and an Apple father only leaves it home if he thinks he might not come back. An’ he always leaves it with the pony he loves an’ trusts most in the world. Now when he went off to fight that big ol’ wolf, he left that hat with the mare he fell in love with...the mare who became mah Ma. And Big Mac’s an’ Bloom’s Ma too”

She nodded with satisfaction.

“Tha’s how yer’ get yer’ special somepony. At the end o’ the day, it ain’t about flowers, chocolates or promises yer’ don’t intend to keep. It’s about trust, what yer’ willin’ to do an’ how far yer’ willin’ to go. Ya just need to show him ya care in a way only you can do. Mah Pa gave mah Ma the symbol of his trust an' when he came back home, all cut and sore, mah Ma dressed his injuries an' told him there an' then that she loved him an' knew he loved her. An' the rest is history”

Fleur was quiet. She let the words of the farm-pony sink in.

“...okay...” she mumbled “...how?”

“Well...” Applejack shrugged “...that’s gotta’ be yer’ own call, darlin’. Don’t yer worry, ya’ll think of somethin’”

“I suppose” Fleur sighed, recollecting her moments with the gentlecolt of her dreams “The thing is...he hasn’t only treated me, he’s done so much more than that...he’s...” She blinked, amazed at her own words.

“He’s protected me”

“Protected yer?” Applejack repeated curiously “From what?”

The mare hung her head.

“From Canterlot” she answered sullenly “Have you ever heard of Lord Nitpick?”

“Well, ah think ah saw somethin’ in Pa’s paper ‘bout it. Ain’t he that wrinkly old judge who’s trying to make himself...ah dunno’, City Official or something?”

Fleur gave her a look of mild surprise.

“What?” the farm-pony asked defensively “Just ‘cause I live on the farm, don’t mean ah’m not informed or nothin’”

“No, no, I’d never...”

“S’alright. Ah saw his picture an’ asked Pa what it was all about. Pa said it was all big-city nonsense an’ he wouldn’t trust this Nitpick fella’ farther than he could buck the Princess’s palace”

Fleur giggled.

Wouldn’t trust him farther than he could buck the Princess’s palace’, I’ll have to remember that” It didn’t take her long to look serious again “But your father’s right, he’s corrupt, indifferent...dishonest...”

“Well, that’s all I need to know” Applejack stamped her hoof “No Apple with pride ever associates themselves with dishonest folk”

“But he’s worse than that” Fleur was about to go further but took in how young Applejack must have been and reworded her problem.

“He’s been...threatening me”

“Well then ya’ll should tell somepony, quickly”

“I did but...I’m afraid I’ve put them in danger” Fleur felt herself shudder “I couldn’t live with that. It’s my problem. I didn’t want to make it theirs. So...should I still stay with them if I can’t protect them the way they protect me?”

She fell to her knees, resting her forehead on the fence.

“Sometimes I wish I’d never told anypony”

She felt the wish to start weeping.

Before she could, however, she felt Applejack place a hoof upon her shoulder.

“Sweetheart” The farm-pony said sympathetically “Ah’m afraid all lies or even secrets come out sooner or later”

Fleur made a mental note to thoroughly wash that shoulder but nonetheless appreciated the gesture.

“See, a couple a' months ago, mah brother, Mac, took in a stray dog he’d found an’ kept it hidden in his room. Didn’t want our parents to find out, y’see. Well it only took a few weeks for this dog to start howlin’ and Mac had to come clean. Course, he was in a heap o’ trouble but our main priority was taking care of the poor beast. Mac called over a friend who’s good with animals an’ she told him she was gonna’ give birth. Ah tell ya, it was all hooves on deck but Mac did most of it to make up for keeping quiet. Sure enough, the old dog gave birth to a litter o’ pups an’ we’ve been takin’ care of ‘em ever since”


“I see” Fleur said slowly “So...keeping quiet about unpleasant truths can often have worse effects”

“That’s often the case, darlin’, just as tellin’ somepony can make it better. Trust me”

Fleur thought back and remembered a dinner she and Fancy had shared at a wonderful Ghoran Restaurant called The Tasty Treat. He was flustered from an incident involving Derpy Doo, the cute, wall-eyed mare from the Gala, her unspeakable aunt and that peculiar Doctor who liked bowties. Derpy Doo had a foal which, it had only become known to her and others, belonged to the Doctor. He had kept it secret for several reasons. Two of the most prominent being firstly that he wasn’t certain if Derpy would take well to the news, and secondly that his past was apparently quite an eventful time where he may have made enemies that he wouldn’t want coming after his wife or foal.
But in the end, such worries were unfounded. Derpy had been overjoyed upon finding the father of her precious filly, the greatest gift ever given to her, and Princess Celestia herself swore she would protect the Doctor and his newfound family from anything that may emerge from past, present or future.

It had been six months since that dinner and the brief but perfect walk across Canterlot Royal Gardens that followed.

It seemed the message of that story was that the painful truth wasn’t nearly as dangerous as trying to hide from it. Allowing misfortune to fester unchecked only caused far greater damage to oneself and others that letting it loose still fresh. And misfortune was always better endured beside others who understood.

Truthfully, Derpy and the Doctor’s problems had been far greater than hers, she didn’t mind admitting it. But perhaps the same lesson applied.

“Thank you...Applejack” Fleur said at last “I’m going to visit my friend in Canterlot tomorrow and...I think this has helped me a lot”

“Glad t’ be of service, darlin’”

“AJ honey, c’mon back inside! Yer’ Ma and ah needs somepony to look after Bloom while we fetch the caravan”

Applejack turned and waved to an enormous, shaggy pale-beige work-horse with a wide-brimmed hat who was calling to his daughter from the homestead.

“Ah’ll be right down, Pa!” Applejack yelled back.

She nodded to Fleur.

“Well, ah gotta’ get back to work but it’s been nice talkin’ an’ ah hope it helped”

And with that she sped off in the direction of the Sweet Apple homestead.

Fleur gave a sigh.

Tomorrow she would be leaving her home behind and returning to Canterlot once more.

What she would find there would be left up to fate.

But she could face it.

As long as she had her Fancy beside her.

Author's Note:

For those of you who read my prequels, perhaps you now have some idea of just why the Doctor is right to hate and fear Cascadius.
I find I'm very good at creating complete scumbags. Magnifying Glass abused Derpy, Nitpick tried to molest Fleur and Doctor Bittersweet is basically the equine child of Jonathan Crane and Angus Bumby.
But what Cascadius did in Shajarat is something he does on a daily basis!
And he's coming to Canterlot.
Be very afraid. :twilightoops:
The design of Carcassonne I based on the typical 'Mary Sue' self-insert character. You know the kind I'm talking about. :ajbemused:
I based some of Fancy's servants off Beauty and the Beast characters. That's what happens when you write fanfic right after a Disney Marathon. :twilightblush:
I realised that I hadn't included Applejack in any of my previous stories so I set out to do something about that.
I'd like to thank my Follower, Wolf, for giving me that quote about how far an Apple could trust Nitpick.
Hope you enjoy it and please leave comments if you can. :pinkiesmile::twilightsmile::raritywink: