• Published 30th Nov 2012
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Foaling Around - GrassAndClouds2

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Separation

Canterlot Castle was an imposing structure. Built and expanded over millennia, it commanded the city and the country from its perch high on Canterhorn Mountain. Visible from miles around, it was a symbol of the power and prestige wielded by Princess Luna and her Night Court of Equestria. The visitors and guests who found themselves within its walls tended to react with humility, self-consciousness, even a touch of nervousness. After all, they were in the presence of those who could raise or ruin them if they so chose. It would make almost anypony wary.

Anypony, that is, provided they weren’t a foal.

“Did you know my Mom?” asked Scootaloo, jumping up and beating her wings so she could hover for a moment. “She was a really awesome Night Guard named Nocturne and she worked really hard to defend everypony! And—“

Viscount Prince Blueblood looked annoyed. He shot a glance at Cheerilee, as if to snap at her that she needed to control her class. “I don’t really recall the names of everypony I’ve ever encountered—“

“But you just said,” said Sweetie Belle, “That you were a ‘stallion of the ponies’ and you always got to know the ‘common, little’ ponies who served you!”

“…anyway,” said Blueblood. “This room here is a meeting room. It’s where we, ah, hold our meetings…”

Cheerilee held back a sigh. She’d been looking forward to showing the foals around Canterlot Castle for a while now; it would be incredibly educational for them to see for themselves the seat of the government of Equestria. She had even scheduled it on Tour Day, a day when some of the lower-ranked nobles, rather than tour agency employees, showed ponies around the castle as an effort to ‘reach out to their citizens and subjects.’ But while some of the other school group had gotten nobles that had at least pretended to care what they were doing, Ponyville Elementary got what had to be the most stuck-up, vain, and arrogant noble in the Court.

Blueblood smiled smugly as he led the foals down another hall. “Now, this hall has an interesting history. You see, when I first became a Viscount, I was walking down this very hall when I happened to bump into Duke Sands. I approached him and informed him of who I was, and thereby formed what we call a ‘political alliance.’ After that…”

Cheerilee interrupted, desperate to forestall another monologue on the Political Brilliance of Viscount Prince Blueblood. “What about historically? Has anything interesting happened in this hall from a historical point of view? Treaties signed, bills revised…?”

“Why, yes. In this same hallway, I rewrote the Equestrian National Notepad Bill to alter our letterhead to a far superior…”

Cheerilee couldn’t help but tune Blueblood out as she looked at her foals. They were rapidly becoming distracted, which was a problem. They could cause minor chaos if their minds wandered during class; it could be a bigger problem if they did something silly out of boredom in the halls of the Night Court.

She caught the eye of one of the two other chaperones, Applejack. Applejack smiled, seeming to guess what she was thinking. “Guess he’s kinda a blowhard,” she murmured. “But don’t look so nervous. Ah mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Cheerilee frowned.

”Well,” said the Royal Guard, “Miss Cheerilee, it seems that your foals sat on the royal throne, tore apart the royal linens to make capes, and ate all the royal cakes.”

“Eeep,” said Cheerilee.

“As a result, you are all banned from Canterlot forever.”

“Well, that’s not so…”

“And you will be returned to Ponyville in the fastest way possible.”

“…by express train?”

“By catapult.”

“…Let’s just try to avoid finding out,” murmured Cheerilee, coming out of her reverie. “Come on, Applejack. The foals are getting ahead of us.”

They hurried to catch up with Blueblood, the foals, and the third chaperone, Heavy Roller. Blueblood was just checking his watch. “Oh. Unfortunately, I have an… urgent appointment. Government business that simply can’t wait. I’ll just leave you in this chamber here, and I’ll send along the guide for the next part of the tour!”

“But you were supposed to be the guide for the whole day!” protested Cheerilee, as Blueblood led the group into a tiny conference room.

“You wouldn’t want to delay vital matters of national importance, would you?” asked Blueblood. He left the room and trotted off.

Cheerilee stifled a growl. “Um… alright, class. Let’s wait here and think about what we’ve learned until the next tour guide shows up!” I doubt there even is one… what do I do now?

Applejack was doing a quick count. ”Hang on there. Ain’t we short two little colts?”

“What?” Cheerilee counted heads. She counted eighteen, but there should have been twenty. “Who isn’t here?”

There were no responses.

Cheerilee quickly looked through the class again. “Truffle Muncher and Featherweight,” she muttered. “Did anypony see where they went?” What if they wander out of the castle, or into the dungeons, or…

“Ah think Truffle Muncher said he was hungry,” said Apple Bloom. “An’ we passed the Royal Canterlot Bakery one floor down, an’…”

Cheerilee smiled as brightly as she could make herself, though her stomach turned nervously. “Thank you, Apple Bloom! Applejack, could you please come with me to find those two? Heavy Roller, just… please keep the other foals here until we get back.”

“Will do!” said Heavy Roller, and the two grown mares left the room.



“A little closer…”

Truffle Muncher crouched behind the biggest mixing bowl he’d ever seen. He gazed lovingly at the gigantic cake that had been set up only a few tables down from him. It was big, and chocolate, with vanilla icing and sprinkles and everything he loved. If he could just have one bite of that cake, the whole field trip would be worth it.

Tipping over the mixing bowl on top of himself so the bakers wouldn’t see him approaching, Truffle Muncher scooched closer and closer to the cake. There were some close calls, including one time when a young baker almost stepped on the bowl and squished him, but he managed to reach the cake’s table without incident.

Alright! Now I just need to pop out, cut a slice, and get back under that bowl! No problem!

Truffle Muncher peeked out and made sure none of the bakers were watching him. Fortunately, they were mostly gathered at the next table over, around a huge bowl with some rapidly rising dough. Truffle Muncher returned his attention to the cake, popped out from under the bowl, and grabbed for a carving knife—

“TRUFFLE MUNCHER!”

Truffle Muncher swiveled to see Cheerilee. He smiled. “Hi Miss Cheerilee! I’m using my special talent!” His talent, for finding and consuming delicious food, was -- in his own, humble opinion -- the greatest possible talent any foal could have. It was useful all over the place, from at home, when he misplaced his lunch, to... well, to Canterlot Castle itself.

“Get back here this instant!” yelled Applejack, striding into the bakery right behind Cheerilee. “This ain’t no place for a foal on his own!”

“But I’m hungry!” complained Truffle Muncher. He reared back and swept his forehooves to demonstrate how hungry he was. “And I was just going to get one slice!”

The bakers were staring. The lead baker was, additionally, turning red. “That cake is to celebrate the opening of the Canterlot Center for Artistic Desserts!” he snapped. “Not for bratty foals!”

“I’m not a brat!” Truffle Muncher hopped over to the table, even as Cheerilee and Applejack began to close in on him. “I’m just really hungry!”

As he said this, he swept his forehooves out again. Unfortunatley, this time he knocked into something – a large box of yeast – and sent it flying.

Right into the big bowl of dough.

The bakers all looked at each other as the dough began to pulse. “The quick rise dough, it’s got too much yeast!” yelled one.

“RUN!” screamed another.

Truffle Muncher was about to ask why when the dough burst from the bowl.



“…biggest baked goods disaster in Canterlot in months!” The baker looked furious.

Truffle Muncher looked down. The Ponyville ponies were outside the bakery and all covered in itchy dough. They had to be outside the bakery, because the inside of the bakery had been cordoned off while the Special Messes Team of the Canterlot Castle janitorial staff tried to salvage anything that had survived the dough explosion.

“…months? What was the last one?” asked a puzzled Applejack.

“The Great Cake Calamity. Another cake that grew to massive proportions. We had to eat our way out of the kitchen!” The lead baker shook his head. “It cost us three bakers.”

“Oh… I’m sorry…” began Cheerilee.

“They were so sick of sweets after that they couldn’t even look at sugar. Now they’re all… on diets,” he hissed. “Anyway, this was almost as bad! Shame on your foals!”

Truffle Muncher felt genuinely sad. “I’m sorry, Miss Cheerilee, really, I—“

“You’re going to write a long apology letter to these bakers,” snapped Cheerilee. And then I’m talking to your parents, young stallion.”

“I got pictures!” added Featherweight.

“Yes, Featherweight. Trust ma, we know.” Applejack turned to Cheerilee. “Probably should get back ta the others soon…”

“You’re right.” Cheerilee once again bowed in apology to the lead baker, then turned and began marching the two foals back to the others.

“But it’s not fair,” complained Truffle Muncher. “Because of my talent, I’m good at finding and eating fancy foods.”

“That food wasn’t yours. And you’ve delayed the tour and probably made all the other foals very anxious.”

"I know..."

They reached the conference room. Cheerilee opened the door to see Heavy Roller joking with the foals. “…and that’s when I said, I thought you wanted ten big wheels, not ten big eels!” The foals laughed. “Ah,” he continued. “That was one aquarium that could have used a little more clarity.”

Cheerilee frowned. “Um. Heavy Roller?”

“Yes?”

“There should be twenty foals in this room, right?”

“Counting the two you went to get, yeah. Why?”

“There are thirteen,” said Cheerilee, crossly.

Heavy Roller blinked, looked around, and counted. "...oh.”



Scootaloo held up a hoof to shush the other foals as she peered around the corner.

“Are we there yet?” whispered Apple Bloom. She was hopping up and down. “I’m so excited!”

“This is stupid,” grumbled Diamond Tiara. “We should go back.”

“Nopony’s stopping you,” said Sweetie Belle.

The other three foals – Dinky, Twist, and Snails – looked at each other. “Are you sure Miss Cheerilee would be okay with this?” Dinky asked.

“She wants us to learn about important government stuff, right?” asked Scootaloo. “Well, we haven’t seen any yet, but this Blueblood guy is going to do some! So if we follow him, we’ll learn more!”

“Oh.” Dinky thought. “That makes sense.”

“Sssh!” hissed Sweetie Belle. “He’s moving again!”

Blueblood smiled as the clerk walked to the desk. “Welcome back, Viscount.”

“It’s ‘Prince,’” said Blueblood. “And I have an appointment."

“…right. Anyway, you can go right on in.”

The clerk opened a large, ornate door, and Blueblood walked through it. But then, as the clerk began to close it, seven foals sprang into action and raced for the door.

“Hey!” called the clerk, moving to stand in front of them.

“We need to talk with Blueblood!” said Scootaloo, smiling brightly. “It’s, uh, about his urgent government business!”

“A bunch of foals need to talk about urgent government business? Here?” asked the clerk. He seemed skeptical.

Twist nodded. “Uh huh! We really do!” She grinned.

“And… who are you?”

“I’m Twist! My sister is dating the Element of Loyalty!”

“And I’m Snails!” yelled Snails. “My sister’s the Element of Honesty, and she’s a really good sister too! In fact, I think she’s the best in Ponyville!”

“No, my sister is,” said Twist, turning to Snails.

“Nuh-uh!”

Scootaloo smiled up at the clerk again, ignoring the arguing foals. “So as you can see, we’re very important. Could you please let us in?”

The clerk thought for a moment, then shrugged and muttered something like, ‘That jerk deserves it anyway.’ He stepped out of the way. “Blueblood should be just inside the fifth door on your right.”

“Thanks!” said Scootaloo, as the foals piled in.

It was easy to find Blueblood, his loud and imperious voice carried through even the thick doors. “…Whiter!” he was saying. “It must match my coat!”

Apple Bloom tried the door and found it unlocked. She pushed, the door opened, and –

“Hey!” said Scootaloo. “That’s not government business! You’re just getting fitted for a new jacket!”



The argument was short but furious.

“You have no right to follow me here!” roared Blueblood. “Impudent commoner foals!”

“You were supposed ta be educating us!” said an offended Apple Bloom. “Miss Cheerilee was counting on you! But you put us in a room so you could get new clothes!”

“Yeah!” said Snails. “What if we grow up stupid because of you?”

“You’re already stupid,” said Diamond Tiara.

“Well, what if we grow up ultra stupid, then?” Snails asked.

Blueblood stood at his full height. “This is outrageous! I could have you thrown in Foalsome Prison for bothering a noble! Your parents would never see you again!”

The foals stopped talking and stared at him.

Blueblood smiled, apparently pleased that he’d cowed the foals. “Now, here’s what we’ll do. You'll—“

“WAAAAH!” Snails burst into tears. “I want my parents and my sister! I don’t wanna never see them again!” He ran out of the room.

“Me too!” yelled Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, both starting to cry as well and chasing after him.

“Hey, come back!” Dinky, Twist, and Scootaloo ran after them.

“Hey!” cried Diamond Tiara. “As long as we’re here, I wanted to get a new hat!” but the others were gone. She sighed and followed, leaving the adults alone in the room.

Blueblood frowned, then shrugged. “Well, it solved the problem.” He turned to his tailor. “Now, where were we?”

“…you just made a bunch of foals cry, sir,” said the tailor.

“Yes, yes, I know. Obnoxious, aren’t they? If they’re sad, they should endure it nobly, like I would.”

The tailor opened his mouth, but decided that pointing out that Blueblood had been in hysterics when he’d accidentally poked him with a sewing needle would not be good for retaining his business. “Of course, sir. Now, as to the jacket…”



It took a good ten minutes to catch up with the sobbing Snails, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle. It took another five to calm then down.

“I wanna go back to the tour group,” said Sweetie Belle. “Please?”

“Sure,” said Dinky. She looked around.

“…um. Does anypony know where we are?”