• 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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22. Nuisance

“This meeting of the Cutie Mark Crusaders is now in session,” said Apple Bloom, banging a gavel on the clubhouse lectern. “Girls, we’ve got some major business this time. Scootaloo?”

Scootaloo took her place at the lectern. She cleared her throat. “We’ve learned that there’s a cutie mark conundrum that’s been chronically under-chronicled.”

She stuck a crayon drawing of a stallion to the board behind her.

“This is Radish Root. He’s a guard at the royal palace. Apparently, there's something wrong with his cutie mark, but nopony will tell us what it is. In fact, they act downright suspicious about it! Crusaders, we’ve got a cutie mark conspiracy on our hooves!”

“Oooh,” said the other two.

“What do you think is wrong with his mark?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Maybe it’s an activity that’s too dangerous to do, like shark wrestling!” responded Scootaloo.

“How could he get it unless he wrestled a shark in the first place?” asked Apple Bloom.

“He could’ve started with a baby shark,” reasoned Scootaloo.

“Maybe it’s an activity that got outlawed. So now he can’t do it anymore,” suggested Sweetie Belle.

“What activity has been outlawed like that?” asked Apple Bloom.

“Uh… lawn darts, I think?” Sweetie Belle said.

“Maybe it’s a mark for supervillainy. He’s been trying to take over Equestria since he was a kid!” offered Scootaloo.

“Then why would the Royal Guard hire him?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Out of fear!”

“I think we need more information,” said Apple Bloom.

“I tried asking Rarity,” said Sweetie Belle. “She just said that Radish is ‘a sweet gentlecolt who deserves his privacy’.”

“Suspicious,” said Apple Bloom.

“I asked Rainbow Dash, but she said not to worry my pretty little head about it. Then she said ‘Catch ya later’ and zoomed off super fast!” said Scootaloo.

“Even more suspicious!” said Sweetie Belle.

“I asked Applejack,” said Apple Bloom, “but she just said-”

“Now, you listen. Radish’s cutie marks ain’t none of y’alls concern, ya hear?”

“That right! How did you-”

The three fillies turned to see Applejack standing in the doorway of their clubhouse.

“I mean it, girls. You leave Radish Root alone.”

“But why won’t anypony tell us what’s wrong with his marks?” asked Scootaloo.

“There ain’t nothin’ wrong with them. Some folks are just private about their flanks, and y’all should learn to respect that.”

“Have you seen them?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Well… that don’t matter.”

“You have to tell us what they are,” asserted Apple Bloom.

“No, I certainly do not.”

“Oh yeah?” said Apple Bloom, pulling out a stack of wide-ruled loose leaf covered in marker scribbles. “The official charter of the Cutie Mark Crusaders states that part of our mission is to collect all available information regarding cutie mark accomplishment and failure. What if our cutie marks have the same problem his do?”

Applejack laughed. “Well, if that happens… uh, never you mind.”

“Sis, I’m afraid our duty is clear. We’re gettin’ to the bottom of this.”

“It don’t matter none, anyhow. He’s in Canterlot. What are you gonna do, take the train all by yourselves, walk right into the palace, and demand to see him?”

The three crusaders looked at each other.

“You’re right, sis,” said Apple Bloom. “We certainly can’t do a thing like that.”

“Darn tootin’.”


“Hey, Radish. Three kids from Ponyville are here demanding to see you,” said Maple Bar, trotting into the palace breakroom.

Radish spit out his pretzel. A cold sweat formed on his scalp.

“Tell them I’m not available.”

“I already told them you are.”

“Maple Bar, I don’t want to talk to them.”

“They said they can wait all day if they have to.”

“Then they’ll wait all day.”

“I think they’re unescorted.”

“Then report them to Guest Relations.”

“No, I'm on break. Just go see your nieces or whatever.”

She sat down with a cola and a nougat bar. Radish made an angry grunt and left the breakroom. He met the Cutie Mark Crusaders in the front commons.

“Young ladies.”

“Howdy there! You’re Radish Root, ain’tcha?” Apple Bloom cheerfully asked.

“How can I help you?”

“We’re from Ponyville. We call ourselves the ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders’,” said Scootaloo.

“I know. Twilight’s written me about you. Sorry, but I can’t help you get your cutie marks.”

“That’s not why we’re here. We wanna know about your cutie mark,” she said.

“No. Now, if there’s nothing else I can help you with-”

“Now, don’t be like that. We heard there was something unusual about it,” said Apple Bloom.

“It’s fine.”

“Really? Because everyone acts really funny when we ask about it,” Sweetie Belle squeaked.

“That’s fine. It doesn’t matter.”

“How can you say that about your cutie mark? Don’t you know what we’ve been going through trying to get ours?” asked Apple Bloom.

“It’ll happen when it happens.”

“But it happened wrong for you, didn’t it? What if it happens wrong for us, too?” asked Sweetie Belle.

Radish’s face fell.

“It didn’t go wrong for me. I’m fine.”

“But do you even get to do what’s on your mark?” Scootaloo asked.

“No. But I’m fine with that.”

“How can it be fine if you never use your special talent?” asked Apple Bloom. “Doesn’t it bother you every time you look at it? Don’t-”

“Now look here! It doesn’t matter what my cutie mark is!” he snapped, angrily advancing on them. “The only mark that matters is the mark a pony leaves on the world, and that’s what I’m trying to do here as a guard! The whole flank picture thing is just for… just for…”

The girls gripped each other and cowered away from him. He took a breath and sighed.

“Look, girls. The cutie mark is just one part of a pony. It’s one you can’t even see without craning your neck. Buffalo do fine without them. Dragons do fine without them. There are more important parts of a pony- your brains, your guts, your heart. Just… focus on making those the best you can. The rest will take care of itself. Okay?”

The girls mumbled an “okay” under their breaths.

“Dash,” said Radish, looking up, “could you see them home?”

“Did you say, ‘Dash’?” asked Scootaloo.

Rainbow Dash slipped off the roof behind them and dropped to the ground in front of Radish.

“Okay,” she said, “how did you know I was up there?”

“Saw your shadow.”

“Well, it’s not like I can control where the sun is. Yet.”

“Rainbow Dash!” said Scootaloo, excitedly buzzing her wings. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you three. I can’t believe you came all the way here to bother Radish! Now, apologize to him!”

“Sorry, Radish,” they muttered.

“Now, move it. You’ve got a lot of explaining to do back home.”

She ushered them away, turning to give him an apologetic look. He nodded. He turned and walked back to the break room.

He passed Maple Bar on the way. He scowled at her.

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