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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


  • ECut, Color, Carat, Clarity
    Rarity's first moons back in Ponyville after leaving school have her still trying to catch up on the events she missed -- like the arrival of a certain apprentice baker. And until now, neither knew the other existed.
    Estee · 20k words  ·  234  5 · 3.1k views
  • EOne Remove
    Rarity knows Ponyville's outdoor market is being systematically invaded by an army of fashion knockoffs and fakes. She just doesn't understand why she's supposed to care.
    Estee · 10k words  ·  245  9 · 3.3k views

Rarity's finally managed to start on the path to recognition and as the teenager sees it, that road goes directly into Canterlot. She has goods, a potential sales pitch, and a space reserved at the city's biggest fashion trade show. All she needs to do now is set up her booth and wait for somepony to Discover her.

The discoveries you make aren't necessarily the ones you were looking for.

(Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group: new members and trope edits are welcome.)

Now with author Patreon and Ko-Fi pages.

Cover art by Harwick. Please contact him for commission rates.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 57 )

Author's Very Public Note: This is, in some ways, an AU story. The way Rarity's early days proceeded in the 'verse don't quite reflect canon, and there's a pony in this story who wouldn't be in the show for some time. Regardless, this remains the Continuum -- and so this is how it happened here.

We're having a lively debate on whether to use the AU tag on 'verse stories in my blog right now. No one's reached a consensus yet.

So what happens when an unscrupulous pony gets the idea to take a photograph using an older newspaper? Or at least the idea to accuse the designer of having done the same?

Well, AU or not, it was beautifully written.

It's not that AU.
The main difference is no training in Manehatten. Again, you are fairly canon the first 3 seasons & break with the show in S4. Put that on the TV tropes page?

On a minor note, I'd have said the trains were around longer than that

Oh my God, Belle-Ringer is such a fantastic name. :raritywink: Really enjoyed this story, a great take on Coco and Rarity's first meeting.

This was good. A lovely mix of idealism, cynicism, and just plain goodness. Your young Rarity is a great mix of stubborn maturity, ambition, and naivety, while Coco is just wonderful all around.

That's what the mention of a receipt for the photos is for, I guess. Anyway, I think it's not meant to be foolproof, rather than a show that you're not some rube with design skills; you know what's up, and you're not easy prey.

I love these looks into the past of the mane six that you've done. It's interesting to read them and see how they were different at the time.

I really liked the details of the railroad not being ready yet and the trade show snobs trying to cheat and swindle. It made the world feel rich and lived in, like there was all this other stuff going on that the characters weren't a part of that still affected them.
Coco was sweet and her attempts to help Rarity were made even nicer by how terrible everypony else was.

Rarity's relationship with her dad was painful but it makes sense and it's good that they reached some form of common ground in the end.


Newspapers fade very, very quickly, being cheap ink and thin paper.Even then, it isn't an ironclad defense, but a way to show the thieves that you are aware of their ways so they will move on to an easier mark.

I really enjoyed this, Estee. Rarity is always fun, and Coco is such a woobie. :pinkiehappy:

With the benefit of foreknowledge and at the risk of sounding somewhat villainous: She sure showed (will show) them.

And now I'm curious: what exactly was it Rarity's mom wanted her to study?

I have to admit, I hesitated to read this one. I know it's going to hurt. It's going to frustrate me with shallowness, pervasive corruption, and injustice that will only be remedied years after the fact.
But what am I going to do, not read your work? What a ludicrous notion.

Ah. That's who she meets early. And by extension, that potentially means quite a lot of things. Oh my. Small pebble, big ripples. Though I'm not sure if the Tree of Harmony is even a thing in this universe.
Also, nice touch with the character tags. This is Rarity's show, hers and hers alone. Even when it shouldn't be. Always listen to the voice of experience, especially when there's no speaking fee.

On that note, I'll be honest; coming into this, I never once considered that Rarity might sometimes be genuinely at fault herself. And this is coming from someone who's committed his own share of embarrassingly poor preparation at career fairs. Such is the nature of a sympathetic character, at least with me. Surely they can do no wrong.
Yeaaah, no. Rejigger your thought process, FoME.

The reason for the catalog is both unexpected and exactly what I was dreading.

I love all the background we're getting on Rarity and her family. Also, Coco's line when she learned the identity of Rarity's father genuinely made me laugh out loud.

But when you have a creative talent, you're always going to be dealing with everypony else's tastes, and that's before you get into fashion cycles.

Huh. I picked an appropriate time to ask you who your favorite pony is.

Ah, good, she's learning.

I truly hope the Canterlot weather team came down on that demonstration like a ton of bricks.

Oh. Right. If the country's still getting slowly stitched together by rail lines, then hoofball safety equipment is still in the leather helmets phase. At best.

And at the end is the part I was hoping to see, where things don't necessarily end happily, but they at least end well enough. This is easily the best story I've ever seen about Rarity's father, even if that's largely through seeing the qualities he passed on to his eldest. Thank you for a journey that was everything I hoped and feared it would be.

The feels were strong with this one, and it's great to see Coco. It certainly will make for a rather different Rarity Takes Manehattan, (if that ever occurs in the Triptych-verse [1]) both due to the characters already knowing each other and Rarity having a good notion to start with re how cut-throat the business is.

And Rarity's Mom shows signs of joining the Asshole Collective, alas. But it's OK: Rarity's parents absentee caretaker role in the show makes them look fairly bad anyway. (Of course, that's not so much their fault as the usual situation of writers being unable to deal with the "protagonists having a mom" issue: not being Disney, they've only definitively killed off one set of parents while keeping the rest offstage in various ways [2] )

(And now I worry about the possibility of a story where Rarity's dad comes down with long-term brain damage from concussions. :raritydespair: )

As for the Canterlot fashion biz, the OTL fashion industry is bad enough that this works fine as quite mild comic exaggeration. :pinkiecrazy:

[1] Estee tells us they will meet again, but not what the circumstances of the meeting will be... :raritywink:

[2] Rainbow Dash's parents seem fairly dead at this point, but who knows: there was rather less evidence of Fluttershy's parents than of the Inkanyamba before they suddenly materialized with a brother, to boot.


I can't speak for the show, but in-'verse, both of Rainbow's parents are alive and well.

This feels like the story that needed to be told to show Rarity's character in full, and you have given it to us in the same incredible way that you always do.


Cool. (And yes, I was referring to the show: couldn't recall offhand if they were around in-universe).

Wonder what the rate of death or crippling injury is in the top hoofball league. If we liken it to the early days of football, let's guesstimate that Equestria supports about 20 top-level teams, maybe 30 players per team. If there's one fatality and 5 crippling injuries per season, that's 1% of players each year. High enough a rate to be a serious concern, low enough for a steady stream of new players willing to take the risk.

Man, what a story. I love what we learned about Bell Ringer and his wife, even though we never learned what Cookie Crumbles really wanted Rarity to do instead of fashion. I loved Coco as well, though I always figured she was younger than Rarity. Certainly this is another point of divergence, since this Coco will never fall prey to Suri Polomare's lies.

I also really appreciate Rarity's business plan. Every bit of it makes sense to me, and the explanation that its an old beauty store explains why there's still a salon in there in the first season. One thing Rarity missed at the end: She actually has a pretty strong plan B, gems. Even without Spike around, based on how long we've seen her take to dig them up and the value of gems in Equestria (worth a minuscule fraction of gems on earth, but still used to purchase fairly expensive goods and services), Rarity could spend maybe a week digging gems and selling them and have enough to cover her mortgage payments that month. Of course, that's a week she isn't working on fashion, but it keeps a roof over her head.

8022365 We saw Rainbow Dash's dad in the background during the S6 Hearth's Warming episode, so we know he's alive and not totally estranged from Rainbow.

Okay, not a lot to say other than this made me smile muchly. Thanks!

Regarding Coco... maybe. On the other hand, if she does go to Manehattan and ends up running into the same problems, the same corruption and theft and exploitation, it's possible she just ends up resigned to it. Why fight it if it's everywhere?

Izzat so? I never noticed! :rainbowhuh:

This is heartwarming. These two young women are surrounded by thieves, arrogant egoists, and ponies who just generally want to stomp down on them. And instead of succumbing to that same behaviour, they support each other and start building a friendship.
It's also an interesting view into Rarity's early years and provides an explanation for why she dropped out of school, which is cool to see after all the talking about it in the rest of the verse.

I like this a lot.

Can't help but think that the element of generosity sort of settled for Rarity given Coco was about :pinkiehappy: If she'd been in Ponyville during the longest night things might have gone a little differently. :rainbowderp:

I am curious why you didn't put Coco and Rarity's dad's tags on this story.

But I'm not sure why you didn't think I'd like it - I did. :heart:

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Now Reviews #105.

My review can be found here.

We're in Ponyville. Nothing," Rarity said with complete assurance, "is ever going to go crazy."






*clap clap claps!*


...I can't help but wonder how much things would have changed if the pony in the next-door booth had been Suri Polomare instead.

Not so much the Suri as we saw in her episode, the broken, defeated Suri who stole ideas and designs from others, but an earlier Suri - the wide-eyed dreamer that she used to be before Manehatten beat the dreams out of her, the Suri who was young and naive, the Suri who had, even in canon, once been Rarity's friend...

There would be differences. But now I'm wondering if you'll one day perhaps show us your vision of the younger Suri, as a sort of 'before' to the show's 'after'.

Catching up on replies tonight.

In a way, this story has been in the works for a while. Over the course of the 'verse, it's been said that Rarity purchased the Boutique via bank loan and is still in a fair degree of debt, although she does her best to get ahead when she can -- and her being a fifth-year dropout was established in the first story. I thought it was time to explain how she locally wound up with a one-pony business. There's often a certain degree of incentive in the decision to go at it on your own.

Oh, and there's one thing I should mention: the part of the scene where she's kicked out of the trade show for leaving the trade show?

Based in an actual event.

Stupidity crosses dimensions.


It's pretty much as 8020585 and 8021118 said. The picture isn't a perfect defense (and Rarity's still had to deal with knockoffs of her work.) But the catalog serves as an announcement to potential thieves: I know what you might try to do and I will fight you. It won't stop all of them, but it'll give more than a few cause to look for easier targets.


??? It's a nickname. (And I do know his series name, but I've wanted the family to have a surname in common for a while.)


And now I'm curious: what exactly was it Rarity's mom wanted her to study?

I have to leave that in the shadows for a while -- but note the interpretation of mark-as-wealth. (However, we're not looking at a case like Lyra's.)


My reading doesn't cover as much as yours -- but I've never seen a story about Rarity's father. He just doesn't seem to get a lot of coverage. (Then again, I may be looking in the wrong place.)

I've had him as a professional athlete (now retired and coaching) for some time, along with making Rarity into a not-so-secret fantasy hoofball player. Well, now we know she's been working with insider knowledge...


And then throw in the strength of earth pony players, any magic the unicorns can get away with... it gets ugly out there. It's not exactly a Blood Bowl, but permanent injuries happen and deaths aren't exactly unknown.


The Equestrian gem market: the only thing more economically confounding than cherry commodities. You'd have to figure she could make some kind of living as a miner or at least scouting for same, but... honestly, the local value of gems is more than a bit of a headache, even when you consider their worth as dragon flame fuel.

Maybe the CMC just got lucky on the barter system.


Or that Rarity started to learn a little more about the worth of help freely offered, with no payment expected in return.


Because one was meant to be a surprise appearance and the other doesn't have a tag. The parents get neglected in many ways.


Young and naive...

But there are days when most of Ponyville swears that Discord followed Twilight in. On Day One.


I figure it's just a matter of what they're used to. After all, they've been living in close proximity to a fully armed and operational Pinkie Pie for some years...


honestly, the local value of gems is more than a bit of a headache, even when you consider their worth as dragon flame fuel.
Maybe the CMC just got lucky on the barter system.

That is a good point. I mean, you have to factor in "selling them the device gets them away from my business of delicate magical devices" as a discount.


After all, they've been living in close proximity to a fully armed and operational Pinkie Pie for some years...

But Rarity hasn't.

Y'know what? That's the next story.


:pinkiehappy: :raritydespair:

I am absolutely in for that, and will await it eagerly.

Excellent as always.

I count myself fortunate, that while I am in the broadest similar field (in design things to sell to people), the circles I move in are blessedly free of such insanity.

Largely, I suspect, because there is simply not enough money in wargames models (outside certain large and not-well-beloved corperations) to attract is, and the community is relatively small, too.

(I don't feel I have a lot in common with Rarity much of the time, but I suppose there is certain pedantry to Doing Things Right and attention to detail that we share...)

Rarity and determination go together so beautifully. I know it might not be the best fit canonically, what with "Suited for Success," but the drive and strength to move implausibly from who she was to who she wants to be fits her so well on an emotional level.

I liked the incorporation of Coco as mentor within the field and as something of prequel to her own key episode--but especially for the glimmer of hope that came from the generosity each was able to offer the other.

The way the perspective was entirely turned around on Rarity's dad start to finish was great, especially given how he was largely absent through the middle, but all that worked to recolor what he'd said and done. And I suppose the [sports] magazines and [hoofball] knowledge years later may be a tribute to that reversal.

I read this before and never did get around to commenting, but I'd have to say that this ranks among some of my favorites in pone fiction. It helps that I identify with quite a few of the struggles Rarity deals with in this, if in different ways, and am currently working to figure out the best way of displaying my work at conventions. I don't have the slightest idea what I'm doing, so it's taking a while to perfect things!

I can only hope I find my own Coco to help me out when I finally do.

Oh, and there's one thing I should mention: the part of the scene where she's kicked out of the trade show for leaving the trade show?
Based in an actual event.
Stupidity crosses dimensions.

that reminded me of a weird book i read once, "first contract" where someone goes to an Alien-run trade show to try to sell things to aliens...
and they charged him extra for the privilege of having AIR in his booth!

Well written and somewhat depressing story. I read it before going to sleep to relax but the effect was the opposite.

I like it, every story starts with those first sreps and these were Raritys.

a lovely piece

When Rarity becomes a member of the element of harmony, someone going to learn regret.

8100387 And once she becomes an alicorn in Season 12, there'll be even more regret! And groveling! And begging for mercy!


8059329 That's why people should always attend Anthrocon! They don't care when you leave so long as the space is paid for! They got their money and that's all that matters!


8031413 As far as gem values go in the show... I just chalk it up to one of the many inconsistencies in the show due to not really having a blueprint for how the whole world works as a system. And with writers coming and going, many small details end up contradictory... and some larger ones too. Such as the previously named Time Turner (Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000) suddenly becoming Doctor Hooves. And Ditzy becoming Derpy becoming Muffins.

"Regardless of how your goods may appear," the stallion decided, "they can't be judged without a sales history. I can't hire somepony whose creations have no retail experience."

There are four possible outcomes to your question, discounting anything outright bizarre.

First, there's the one, "no history." You have judged this is an unsatisfactory answer.

Then there's "bad history." You are obviously not looking to hire such a pony.

And the last one is "good history", in two variants. First, genuine good history of sales, which means no more, no less, that the pony is not looking for employment, because they are doing well on their own. And the last one, the potential hire falsifying their sales trail to look good. This one you will hire, employing both a failure and a liar.

Are you sure you don't want to reconsider the first option?

"How," she inquired, trying to keep the words polite, "does one acquire experience without a job? Until somepony takes a chance on me, sir, I will have no experience at all. I will never gain experience until somepony makes the first leap towards the hurdle. It would take a bold pony to risk the unknown. But you seemed to believe my work is worthwhile. Something brought you into my booth. Why would it not attract others?"

oh, that line reminded me of many TRUE stories i've read about companies looking for programmers: some want people with "10 years experience with windows 10" or some programming language that hasn't EXISTED for 10 years...others expect EXPERTS to work for ridiculously low salaries...it really makes you wonder how those companies stay in business .

"To be aware when somepony is using precision of language," Rarity wearily replied. "When a mare tells you that 'everypony is going to be trotting right past your space in order to reach her,' she means exactly that: 'trotting right past your space.' Without stopping."

and THAT made me think of a scene in the online comic "carry on" where someone thought he was lucky to get a space in a convention next to someone famous...because the previous occupant decided not to show up.

I can relate to Rarity after a fashion. After I graduated, I was scouring the job boards, hoping that SOMEONE would just take a chance on me. Basically, I too was looking to be Discovered. "Just one job, and I can start on the pastry to my dream job."
(Actually, I think that anyone who has the ill fortune of having to endure the Job Search can relate to this Rarity in some way or another.)

But unlike Rarity, I didn't have a Coco to warn me of the pitfalls that await the young and naive job searcher.

But just as Rarity found her way, I look forward to finding mine.


This one you will hire, employing both a failure and a liar.

We would have hired them, but unfortunately we didn't have any executive positions available at that moment.

I have to admit that I held off on this (and so the posted remainder of the Continuum) for months, just because one can tell from the summary and the author name that there's going to be a ton of angst and reality checking (when you can generally squeeze more than enough into a third of this word count). And you still managed to surpass my expectations.:trollestia:

And she kind of had to trade on her dad's name after all.

Still, at any rate it's an extremely well-fleshed out background for possibly the best pony in the Continuum, so I can't very well complain. And more Coco is always nice.

Almost there, and the remaining angst comes in more manageable chunks.

Folklore says something similar happened to "Bronco" Nagurski, so it seems fitting to swipe it
How Bell Ringer Got His Name
It was his first hoofball game as a colt on a peewee league team. Caught the ball, took off running for the goal. Shook off a couple of attempted tackles and crossed the goal line. So intent he didn't notice this & kept on going until he hit the (folklore says brick) stadium wall, which he cracked. Naturally, he went down in a heap. Of course, everypony was real concerned and rushed over "Are you all right?" His comment was "The others weren't much, but that last tackle really rung my bell." Then they noticed that he'd gotten his Cutie Mark and he took the name Bell Ringer. When asked later in a way that he couldn't evade the question, his comment was always "The wall was wood, and old. I'm sure it was already cracked, it's just that nopony noticed because they never looked until then.

I wasn't there so you'd have enough

That sense is really confusing. Can be read 2 opposite ways equally as easily.

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