• 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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3. The City

“Mr. Root, congratulations on this find. Everypony thought the Storm Centurions were lost forever.”

“‘Twern’t nothin’. I mean, it was nothing! I feel honored. But the Black Bluffs buffalo tribe deserves the real credit.”

“Uh huh. Can I get a shot of you with next to Willow?”

“Sure.”

Radish stood next to the museum case displaying Willow Wagoner’s restored and posed remains. He blinked as the photographer’s flashbulb snapped.

The Royal Museum of History was no stranger to night soirees celebrating new exhibits and acquisitions. The Wagoners, being a major contributor to the museum, had spared no expense in bringing their honored ancestor’s bones back to Canterlot as quickly as possible, restoring her armor to its ancient polish and putting Willow in a daring mid-flight pose. The rest of the Storm Centurions, however, were still being carefully excavated and studied by Sky’s tribe.

Radish had never been to Canterlot, or any large city for that matter, and was immediately dizzied by both the size and number of its glittering skyscrapers. Even finding the museum had been a challenge, and explaining to the front clerk that he was an invited VIP was an ordeal. Still, at least this one photographer seemed to understand that tonight was in honor of him.

“One other thing,” said the photographer. “Usually when we credit a pony, we include a picture of their cutie mark. Could I-”

“Could you just use the Plains Rangers emblem? I feel like that’s my mark more than anything now.”

“Sure, we do that kind of thing all the time.”

She made a note in her pad, and walked off. An expensively-suited unicorn walked up from behind Radish, looking him up and down. Radish didn’t have to do the same, he knew Worthy Wagoner from the portrait on the foyer wall.

“Hmm. Yellow earth pony from the south, afraid to show his marks. And you’d be about the right age.”

“What’s that?”

“You’re him, aren’t you? The boy with the… naughty cutie marks? I told Gemmy that really happened.”

Radish said nothing.

“To think, my ancestor’s remains were found by that boy. Let’s keep this between ourselves, shall we? I can make it worth your while.”

“Not to worry, sir. I won’t let anypony know I have anything to do with you.”

“Good boy.”

Worthy walked away, then stopped and looked at Radish over his shoulder.

“She’s not coming, you know.”

“How’s that?”

“The princess gets invitations to a hundred social functions a night. She never accepts any of them. She’s not coming here. And she certainly wouldn’t be impressed by the likes of you.”

He walked away, chortling to himself. Radish huffed off to the bar. He ordered a double malt on the rocks and knocked it back. He turned to find a large brown earth pony in the next seat, wearing the golden armor of a royal guard.

“Hey, don’t let these bozos get to you,” he said. “The only danger they’ve ever faced was running out of hors d’oeuvres.”

“Heh, good one. Say, ain’tcha, I mean, aren’t you Saguaro Shade? I’ve seen your picture in the Ranger Academy.”

“That’s me. Those were some good times.”

“And you’re in the Royal Guard now.”

“Don’t think I’ve gone soft, though. It’s a lot harder than it looks. And I don’t just mean the million-bit marble floors.”

“No, sir.”

“You ever think of becoming a guard? We get a lot of transfers from the City Watch. We could always use ponies with a little more trail dust on their hooves.”

“I have thought about it, sir.”

“The only problem is, you’d have to guard a lot of these stuffed shirts,” he said, gesturing to the crowd.

“Well, they can’t be worse than Dust Shakers during breeding season.”

“Give me a mountain of randy rattlers over the Meet-and-Gallop any day. Tell you what, come by the palace tomorrow, I’ll give you the whole sales pitch. And about those cutie marks of yours…”

“Sir?”

“The only mark that matters is the mark a pony leaves on the world. The whole flank picture thing is just for kids.”

“Well…”

“You know what I mean.”

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