• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive



The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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19. The Outing, Part 2

The next thing Radish heard was counting.

“Thirteen! Fourteen! Fifteen!”

He became aware of something repeatedly and painfully crushing into his ribcage. Then, something yanked open his mouth and pinched his nostrils closed. Something soft and wet enveloped his lips, and two blasts of warm moist air were forced down his throat. His eyes cracked open to see Rainbow Dash’s mouth on his own. Her eyes met his. She parted her lips from his, sat back, then looked over her shoulder.

“I’ve got obvious signs of life, here!” she called.

“Radish!” shouted Twilight Sparkle, putting her hooves on his shoulders with tears in her eyes. “I am so, so, sorry!”

“Ugh?”

“Land’s sakes! You did it, Rainbow!” said Applejack, clapping a hoof on Rainbow Dash’s back. “Yer a regular field medic!”

“It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!” laughed Pinkie Pie maniacally.

“Lieutenant, how do you feel?” asked Rarity.

“Raghr…”

“Easy, now. You’ve just been wretched from the jaws of death, literally and figuratively,” she said. “Both you and the metal beast were hit by the heart-stopping spell. We have elected not to resuscitate it, however.”

“Hrhr?”

“Radish, I swear to you, I will never, ever, ever cast another heart-stopping spell as long as I live,” cried Twilight.

Radish took a deep breath. His chest was sore and his limbs were numb. He sat up with Twilight’s help. She held him gingerly and sobbed into his shoulder.

“I’m so ashamed. I was the only one here who never learned cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I almost killed you, and I didn’t even know enough to save you!”

Radish could feel himself slowly catch up to the world. He tried to form words, but couldn’t. Then, he felt cold air on his lower body, and realized his cutie marks were exposed. A surge of adrenaline jolted through him, and he twisted his body to hide one and covered the other with his hooves.

“No. Don’t. You don’t have to hide it,” said Twilight, wiping her eyes.

“That’s right. We ain’t never shamed a pony over their mark, much less a friend,” said Applejack, “and we ain’t a-gonna start now.”

“Honestly, ponies are so easily-offended these days,” said Rarity. “Why, your mark is daringly alternative! It would be the envy of Prance’s underground club scene.”

“Yeah, no big whoop,” said Rainbow Dash, shrugging. “At least it looks consensual.”

“Consensual?” laughed Pinkie Pie. “Celestia looks like she’s having the time of her life!”

“It’s… nice,” Fluttershy said.

“Thanks, all,” wheezed Radish. “What about the bat ponies?”

“They didn’t follow us,” said Twilight. “We might’ve scared them off.”

“Yeah, I’m sure they were terrified of us fallin’ into their deathtrap,” said Applejack.

Radish felt his chest.

“My pendant!”

“Yeah, sorry. The wolf fell on it,” said Twilight, gesturing to the remains of the beast. “We tried lifting it, but we can’t even budge it.”

“No! That was for the bat ponies to know Luna sent us!”

“What? Well, now what?”

Radish sighed. “We’ll just try to talk to them, pony to pony.”

“Come on,” said Pinkie Pie. “I got the doors open. We can get back upstairs. And look! Twilight’s ahead!”

She pointed to the wall panel. It read “TOURNAMENT SUSPENDED. TWILIGHT SPARKLE: 2 KILLS.”

Twilight’s ears drooped and she groaned. She put Radish’s hoof around her shoulder and supported him as they walked. They exited the area, walked through the rows of seats, and took stairs up to the control room. In its back was another door, which slid open to another hallway. It led back to the floor they had previously searched, through a door they had been unable to open from the other side.

“Okay, I know where we are,” said Twilight. “Come on. We’ll let you rest in Nightmare Moon’s bed.”

“But the bat ponies must still be around.”

“We’ll deal with them, okay?”

They walked on. Rainbow Dash walked near Twilight and Radish.

“Miss Dash?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for saving my life.”

“Well, I couldn’t just let you die. And don’t go around saying I was your first kiss, either. Rescue breaths don’t count.”

“Wasn’t my first, anyhow. But you have my gratitude.”

“Oh, really? Who was it? Not Celestia!” said Rainbow Dash.

“No.”

“Luna?”

“Heh. No.”

“Was it a buffalo?” asked Pinkie Pie.

“Y… I can’t talk about it.”

“Really?” asked Twilight.

“I can’t talk about it,” he sighed.

Fluttershy lagged behind, pulling Rarity back with her. They stopped behind a corner.

“Rarity?”

“Yes, Fluttershy, dear?”

“It’s about Radish’s cutie mark.”

“Now, don’t be rude.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just, the way Celestia looks on it… can sex really feel that good?”

Rarity was taken aback, then smiled as she put her hoof around Fluttershy’s shoulders.

“Oh, darling! There’s a world of passion beyond the simple rutting of your woodland friends. Why, the right stallion… or, uh, mare?”

Fluttershy shook her head.

“Well, the right partner could make your world stop, or spin out of control.”

“Oh, my.”

“And then take you off to other worlds entirely. Worlds where pleasure is your key, your currency, your map, and your sustenance.”

“What?”

“And then he brings you to the very edge of all sanity, and you’re too afraid to take one more step, but more afraid still to take a step back. So you leap off!”

“Wait, I’m confused.”

“And you plunge. And he plunges with you. And you’d plunge for the rest of your life if you could.”

“Rarity?”

“Oh! Uh, but I believe you should start with something a little more gentle.”

“Do you think he and Princess Celestia will ever do that?”

“Well, it seems unlikely.”

“What do you think his cutie mark means?”

“I haven’t thought about it. Perhaps we’ll never know.”

“That’s sad for him.”

“Well, sounds like he could use a little kindness, no?”

“Oh. Hmm.”

Fluttershy hovered over to Radish as Twilight carried him.

“Um, Lieutenant Root? I’m glad you’re all right.”

“Thanks.”

“Thank you for fighting that machine monster. You were very brave.”

“It’s my duty.”

“I just want you to know, that even if you never get to have sex with Princess Celestia, I bet you’ll find a really nice partner just the same.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

She flew off. Twilight sighed.

“Well, at least they’re not awkward about it anymore.”

They opened the door to the bedroom. The four bat ponies were curled up on the floor around Nightmare Moon’s bed. They raised their heads and hissed, stalking up around the group.

“Oh, heck,” said Twilight.

“Wait!” called Radish. “Nightmare Moon sent me!”

The bat ponies eyed him suspiciously. One crept close to them. He sniffed Radish. His eyes went wide in surprise.

“Echo! Vesper! Murk! Stop! This one smells of the mistress! He speaks the truth!”

The bat ponies surrounded Radish and sniffed him all over. He cringed.

“The mistress lives?” one asked.

“Yes. I have orders from her.”

The bat ponies lined up and kneeled before Radish.

“We feared her lost forever," one said. "What is her bidding?”

“The mistress has returned in a new form. She now rules the night from a tower at the palace in Canterlot,” said Radish.

“Just… the night? Just one tower?”

“It is her whim. We do not question it.”

“Yes. No. We do not question it.”

“Return with us to her side. You will be honored and rewarded for your long fealty.”

One of the bat ponies, the only female, sniffed at Rarity.

“You smell of the mistress’s perfume! Are you a consort of the mistress?”

Rarity stammered. The others nodded their heads at her.

“Oh, er, we get along famously.”

“And the rest of these?” one of the males asked, pointing to the others.

“They’re my porters. All in the mistress’s service,” Radish quickly said.

“Yeah,” said Rainbow Dash with a proud smirk, “we’ve been carrying his weight all day.”

One of the other males peered suspiciously at Twilight. He sniffed her and gasped.

“That one, Envoy, is a spy! She smells of the evil one!”

“The evil one?” asked Radish.

“The sky-burner! The dark-chaser! The one the mistress seeks to overthrow!”

“Ugh, you just have to go and hug Celestia every time you see her,” said Pinkie Pie, annoyed.

“I do not!” protested Twilight. “Besides, how could they… wait!”

Twilight pulled her candy sticks from her bag.

“You’re smelling these! What do they smell like to you?”

The bat ponies sniffed the candies.

“Petitgrain!” the female hissed. “The evil one’s favored perfume!”

“Thanks!” said Twilight, writing it down. “That’s all of them!”

“The heck is petitgrain?” asked Applejack.

“It’s orange leaves and twigs, dear, all crushed up,” replied Rarity.

“What? Who wants to smell like that?” scoffed Applejack.

“Huh, so that’s what that is,” said Radish. He addressed the bat ponies. “The evil one is evil no longer. She has come around to the mistress’s side.”

“Impossible! The mistress said she was beyond all redemption!”

“Oh yeah? Behold!” said Radish.

Radish turned, brushed the fur on his flank straight, and showed off his cutie mark. The bat ponies gathered around him to look at it. They laughed uproariously.

“The evil one is reduced to this?” one howled.

“This is her role now?” guffawed another.

“She looks like she’s having the time of her life, huh?” asked Radish.

Twilight scowled. Pinkie Pie laughed into Rainbow Dash’s chest. Applejack hid her face behind her hat.

The female bat pony stared at Radish’s cutie mark, mouth agape. Her face looked flushed.

“The Envoy’s boudoir skills must be advanced,” she said. “May others partake?”

“Oh, uh…” stammered Radish.

Fluttershy put a hoof around her shoulders and whispered something in her ear. The female bat pony’s eyes and wings went wide.

“We will leave for Canterlot at once!” she yelled. “Come!”

The bat ponies led them back to the hangar. One of them screeched at the floor, and another trap door opened. A large carriage slowly raised out of the floor.

“Come. Into the carriage,” one said.

“Whoo-hoo! Riding in style!” said Pinkie Pie.

“Nice craftsponyship,” said Applejack, kicking its wheels.

“Nice enough to hold together after a thousand years?” asked Fluttershy.

“You question the sturdiness of the mistress’s conveyance?” hissed a male bat pony.

“No,” she squeaked.

“Envoy! Consort! Enter. Take your pick of seats,” he said, opening the carriage door while the rest hitched themselves onto its harnesses.

“Well,” said Rarity. “at least being a consort has its privileges.”

She entered the carriage and took a rear window seat. Radish stepped forward, but was held back by Twilight.

“Radish, when we get back to the palace, I want you to turn me in.”

“For?”

“Killing you!”

“I’m alive.”

“No thanks to me! Please, I can’t go unpunished for casting lethal dark magic on a royal guard! I can’t allow myself to receive special treatment! I’ll take whatever punishment I get.”

“Okay, I’ll tell Shining Armor you killed me.”

“Promise?”

“Don’t worry.”

“Thank you, Radish,” she said, nuzzling him. “Visit me in prison, okay?”

“Okay.”

He entered the carriage and took the other rear window seat. The bat pony slammed the door shut and walked over to the harnesses.

“Hey!” called Radish from inside.

“Uh, forgetting someponies?” asked Rainbow Dash.

“The carriage is for the Mistress’s favored own. Porters may walk home.”

He finished harnessing himself.

“Now, wait just a minute!” said Twilight. “You’re not going to… hey!”

The bat ponies took off with the carriage, leaving Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash in the hangar. They watched it go, dumbfounded.

“Hey! Stop! Turn around!” called Radish. The bat ponies either could not hear him, or acted like they could not. He and Rarity looked at each other.

“Oh dear,” she said. “I believe we’ve had a miscommunication.”

Radish looked out the window. They were hundreds of feet in the night sky, with the shadowy landscape speeding underneath them. The Mountains of Difficult Terrain were becoming a distant speck on the dark horizon. Radish’s hoof went to the door handle.

“Don’t open it! We’ll be sucked out!” cried Rarity.

“Well, what do I do? I’m botching the mission as we speak!”

“Are you, Radish? The mission is to get those bat ponies back to Canterlot. And so you are.”

“But we left the others behind!”

“Yes, an hour’s hike from Glad’s Glades, which is lovely in the morning. We bought round-trip train tickets with flexible dates for a reason, dear. Now only ours will go to waste. The others will simply take the scenic route home.”

“How can you be so calm about this? Celestia will be furious I left Twilight behind! The captain will kill me! I’ll be kicked out of the Guard!”

“Oh, please, Radish,” she said, putting a reassuring hoof on his shoulder. “Surely they don’t expect perfection on your first outing?”

“Rarity, they barely tolerate me there as it is. I was hoping to impress them on this. Now I’ll be back to scrubbing tunnels, if I’m lucky.”

“The six of us will vouch for you. Take the fall for you, if need be. Princess Celestia can’t fire us- we don’t work for her.”

“Wait, the six of you don’t get paid for being the Elements of Harmony?”

“Well, a stipend. Tax-free, though.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Listen, if you are loosed from her majesty’s service, you could come live in Ponyville. I’m sure Twilight wouldn’t mind having you close by,” she said, nudging him and winking.

“Rarity, I think you got the wrong idea about us.”

“Oh dear, was I pushing something that wasn’t there?”

“Yeah.”

“I do apologize. I get carried away with affairs of the heart sometimes. Was there somepony else, then?”

Radish looked at his cutie mark.

“Oh,” Rarity said. “Radish, I must be honest. I just don’t see that happening. I’ve been the target of a precocial crush or two, and believe me, they don’t work out. And it’s not as flattering to the crushee as you’d think.”

“Huh. Sorry.”

“For what?”

“Nothing. She’s just… hard to get over.”

“No doubt. But you have a lot to offer some lucky mare out there.”

"But what mare is going to want a guy with... this?" he asked, pointing to his mark.

"Oh, pish-posh, darling! Any girl who rejects you over your cutie mark never deserved you in the first place. I truly believe there's someone for everyone, and I just know that you'll find that special someone who appreciates every piece of you."

“Hmm. Thank you, Rarity.”

“Not at all. You know, I think I’ll swear off matchmaking my friends. I’m hardly a romance expert, anyway.”

“Really? I figured you were popular with guys.”

“Well, you’ll think me an awful hypocrite, but I have my sights set on a rather high-stationed pony myself. Celestia’s nephew.”

“Oh, that guy?”

“You know him?”

“No, he rarely visits Canterlot. He lives in a villa by the Marediterranean Sea.”

“Really!? Oh, it must be gorgeous! Can’t you just picture us there, sipping sangria on a white sand beach?”

“I could try to get you insider knowledge of the guy. Maybe put in a good word about you around the palace?”

“Ooh, I appreciate the thought, but these things must be handled delicately. I don’t want to seem over-eager.”

“What, you don’t just walk up to royalty and proposition them?”

They both laughed. Rarity pulled out a deck of cards.

“I bought these at the train station for the ride home. Do you play canasta?”

“Is that like gin?”

“I don’t know. But seeing as we’re hours from Canterlot by wing, we have time to teach each other both games.”

They played cards as the world swept by under them. The air rushing over the carriage made no sound. The lands below were a dark abyss with a few lights from scattered towns. Moonlight shone off rippling lake surfaces. Radish felt himself growing calmer.

“We’re coming up on Canterlot,” said Rarity. “Oh, soaring above it at night! How breathtaking!”

They looked out the window to see the lights of Canterlot. The streets were ribbons of amber, and the buildings glowed gold from within.

A loud whistle split the night. “CITY WATCH! Stop and open up!”

They looked out the window to see pegasi of the City Watch angrily surrounding them, shining bright beams from their flashlights into the carriage. The bat ponies reared up mid-air, hissing. An argument ensued that Radish could only half-hear. Nightmare Moon evidently did not imbue her minions with a respect for municipal authorities.

“Oh dear, did we need to file a flight plan for this?” asked Rarity. “Or were we speeding?”

Radish cracked open the door.

“Hey! I’m lieutenant of the Royal Guard! We’re on a mission for the princesses!”

One of the watchponies yelled an expletive at Radish.

“Well!” chuffed Rarity. “So much for the supposed helpfulness of the Watch!”

The bat ponies then dove, dragging the carriage straight down. Radish and Rarity were pressed to its back. They held each other and screamed. The carriage swooped, flying straight along the ground, dodging and weaving the buildings and traffic of Canterlot’s downtown.

The palace was coming up rapidly. The royal guards on the parapets and in the sky saw them coming. They dodged as the carriage blasted past them.

Radish noticed the sun rising. Somewhere in the palace, Celestia was awake, working, and probably watching. Radish wondered if she was hanging her head and sighing at his incompetence.

Radish heard the bat ponies screech. They swooped low again, coming to a stop under one of the bridges in the palace commons. They flew up to the underside of the bridge and latched onto its stones. The carriage dangled underneath them like a pendulum. Radish and Rarity fell on their backs onto the rear of the carriage. Radish kicked open a door, and it broke off its hinges.

“Hey! What are y’all doing!?”

One of the bat ponies answered. “The sky fire is up! We sleep now!”

“Are you kidding me? We’re like fifty meters from Luna’s tower! The Mistress is right- uh oh.”

The carriage creaked. The creaks became groans. The groans became the snapping of timbers.

“Radish, I’d like to get out now,” said Rarity.

“Jump for it! Get clear!”

They bolted out the door into the stream under the bridge. The carriage fell apart and collapsed into the stream, splashing Rarity and Radish out of it. The bat ponies looked down at them.

“Envoy! Consort! Are you hurt?”

“Lieutenant Root? Miss Rarity?”

Radish looked up. Several guards were now surrounding them, brandishing their weapons. Radish stood and shook the water off of himself.

“It’s us, fellas.”

The guards relaxed. Radish helped Rarity out of the stream.

“Could somepony escort Miss Rarity here to a guest room? Draw her a bath and light the fireplace.”

“Oh, how courteous," she said. "Thank you, Radish.”

“Lieutenant? What happened out there? What are… whoa! Are those bat ponies? They really exist?”

The guards looked up at the bat ponies hanging upside down from the masonry. They were huddling together in shadow.

“Silence, day slaves! We sleep now!” one called.

“Yeah,” sighed Radish. “I’m going to towel off and report in. Just let them sleep up there, I guess. Keep the tourists off this bridge.”

“Speaking of which, Root, you might want to get back in uniform,” said a guard. “We’ve got schools here on field trips.”

Radish looked at his cutie marks. Even soaking wet, their subject matter was plain as day.

“Right.”


“So, Root. Let’s recap,” said Shining Armor, staring at Radish’s preliminary report on his desk.

Radish kept silent.

“You took Equestria’s premier team of heroes, including my little sister, out into the mountains, and left most of them, including my little sister, behind to fend for themselves in one of the most dangerous dark magic locations on the planet. You lost every piece of equipment you were given, including a customized prototype spear, a one-of-a-kind, thousand-year-old-pendant, and your own pants.

“You unleased dangerous creatures on Canterlot without prepping them in any way, nearly killing watchponies and your fellow guards. You left them to sleep under the west bridge, forcing everyone to take the long way around the commons all day. You wrecked an antique carriage and left its remains in the palace creek for maintenance to clean up. And you somehow started a rumor that Rarity and Luna are lovers.”

Radish remained silent. Shining Armor shrugged.

“Frankly, I expected Twilight to bring you home in a body bag, so at least you did better than that. You got the bat ponies back, everyone’s safe, and the palace scholars are champing at the bit over the chance to study Nightmare Moon’s lab. And it’s nice that the Guard gets some representation on missions like these.”

Radish still kept silent.

“So, B minus. Didn’t screw it up.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Once the bat ponies and Luna are awake, go reintroduce them. Then we’ll consider the mission complete.”

“Yes, sir.”

“How did Twilight perform out there?”

“She’s a skilled team leader and an impressive spellcaster.”

"There were no magical mishaps? Miscast spells?"

"Uh..."

"On your honor as a guard, and on your oath to Equestria?”

Radish sighed.

“Twilight used a heart-stopping spell from Nightmare Moon's spellbook on the machine wolf. I let myself get caught in the line of fire. It stopped my heart. Rainbow Dash resuscitated me.”

“Twilight literally killed you."

“Well, I’ll live.”

“You didn’t think to put this in the report?”

“I reported on Nightmare Moon’s lair and the bat ponies- that was the mission. I didn’t think I’d have to include every single thing the others did. I didn’t include Pinkie Pie’s song, either.”

“She really sings on these things? Like, spontaneously?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Root, Twilight is never going to grow if others run interference for her. She can’t be shielded from the consequences of her actions, no matter how special she is.”

“What are the consequences, sir?”

“My guess is, Princess Celestia will give her a stern talking-to, an essay assignment, and a service project.”

“I see.”

“And you are going to review mission reporting protocol. I never want to have to ask you twice for the whole truth again.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dismissed. See a doctor about your heart.”

Radish left Shining Armor’s office. Shining Armor looked down at Radish’s report. He thought it wasn’t bad for a guard’s first, despite omissions and some questionable grammatical choices. He closed the folder.

“Protect her to the last breath, huh?” he muttered. “And after, apparently.”


Dozens of guards and staff stood waiting in the commons as the day’s last light vanished behind the horizon. They watched the west bridge and the top of Selenic Spire. Radish stood under the bridge looking up.

There was a series of screeches from under the bridge. The four bat ponies shot out from under it. They immediately saw Radish dove at him, taking a hovering position above him.

“Envoy! The night returns! We finish our journey to the mistress,” one said.

“Okay, let’s go,” Radish said. He pointed at Selenic Spire. “She’s up there.”

“Where is the mistress’s consort? The one named Rarity?”

The crowd gasped, muttered, giggled, and whispered.

“She’ll, uh, stop by later,” Radish said uneasily.

“So be it!”

One of the bat ponies grabbed Radish and dragged him skyward. He yelped, then gave up trying to reason with him.

They hovered in front of Luna’s balcony.

“Mistress! We have returned!”

Luna stepped forth from her bedroom. She was wearing a black cloak concealing her entire body, and had the hood pulled down over her face.

Her royal voice thundered out.

“ECHO! VESPER! MURK! NOCTURN! WELCOME HOME, MINIONS!” bellowed Luna. Radish clamped his hooves over his ears as the sheer force of sound pushed the bat ponies back. “THY MISTRESS CELEBRATES THY RETURN! THOU WILT BE REWARDED FOR THY FAITHFULNESS!”

The bat ponies landed with Radish on the balcony, and kneeled.

“Thank you, mistress! We missed you!”

“THERE IS MUCH TO DISCUSS, MUCH TO PREPARE, AND MUCH TO LEARN! WE HAVE MANY NEW TASKS FOR THEE IN THIS MODERN WORLD!”

“We will complete your tasks!”

“GO NOW INTO THE NIGHT AND FEAST TO YOUR CONTENT! THE INSECTS OF CANTERLOT HAVE GROWN FAT AND SLOW!”

“Thank you, mistress!”

The three male bat ponies flew off into the night. The female one lingered, looking back at Radish.

“MORE TO SAY, HAVE THEE, VESPER?”

“Mistress, what must one do to partake of the Envoy as your sister does?”

Luna looked at Radish. He gave an uncomfortable shrug.

“I SAID GO FEED!”

She skittered off the balcony and flew into the night.

Radish’s ears were ringing. Luna approached him and threw off her cloak.

“RADISH ROOT, YOU- ahem. Radish Root. Thy quest was successful. Congratulations.”

“What?” asked Radish, his ears still ringing.

“Ah, we apologize for our use of our proper royal voice. Nightmare Moon used it for them, thus the necessity tonight. We shall eventually teach the bat ponies to respond to commands at a lower volume.”

“Oh, I see.”

“May we see the pendant?”

“A giant mechanical wolf destroyed it.”

Luna frowned.

“Radish Root, that is a shame. We were going to let thee keep it in reward. Its value would have bought thee a mansion.”

“Oh…”

“In its stead, we will give thee a boon of a land grant.”

“Land? Really?”

“Truly. Behold.”

She walked over to the telescope mounted on her balcony. She aimed it at the moon and looked through it, adjusting the focus.

“Come, see.”

Radish looked through the eyepiece.

“Dost thou see that dark spot in the center? ‘Tis called the Sea of Omens. ‘Tis thine now.”

Radish stared.

“Really? Part of the moon now just… belongs to me?”

“We will file the papers in the morning.”

“Thank you!”

“Thanks are not needed.”

Radish bowed.

“One more thing,” said Luna. “Thou will not fraternize intimately with Vesper. The bat ponies are brood siblings, and thou art now of their brethren, too.”

“Oh. Okay. Wait, siblings? Wow, I’ve never had siblings before.”

Luna leaned down to him.

“It is not always easy.”


Radish Root sat in his bunk, staring at his deed of ownership for the Sea of Omens, which he had framed and hung on the wall over his bed.

“Hey, Root. You got a package.”

The palace’s mail clerk tossed Radish a heavy rectangular box. Radish caught the box in his lap, causing his eyes to bulge.

“Thanks,” he groaned.

It was from Twilight. He opened it. Inside was half of a big block of salt, and a letter.


Dear Radish,

We did it! We got all the ingredients of the Celestial blend. As promised, here’s half the prize. Would you be so kind as to share some with the bat ponies? They got the last ingredient, after all.

I also gave Bon Bon a good talking-to about using games to make fun of others, especially brave and noble members of her majesty’s Guard. She agreed to make up for it by starting on a Lunar blend recipe. If you have suggestions about what should go into it, please let me know.

P.S., Thank you for keeping your word and turning me in. Shining Armor and Princess Celestia were furious, and they have every right to be. I’m not being arrested, but I am on academic probation- which mean Princess Celestia will be keeping a much closer eye on my independent studies. It’s a small price to pay for never having to worry about killing a friend again. I’m also going to be learning field first aid.

Your Pen Pal,

Twilight Sparkle


Radish filed the letter in his footlocker and looked at his calendar pinned to the wall. He made a small note on the date.

My first successful mission, he thought. Hopefully not the last.

He lay back in his bed and closed his eyes, wondering about what was yet to come.

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