• Published 30th Nov 2012
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Foaling Around - GrassAndClouds2

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Dispersion

“What do we do?” asked a panicked Sweetie Belle. “What if the Guards think we’re trespassing and arrest us? I don’t want to go to jail!”

“They won’t!” said Dinky. “I’m sure the Guards are really nice.”

Apple Bloom shook her head. “Nuh uh. Ah heard that the Guard Captain guy is the brother of that pony who sent an Ursa into town to eat us!”

“Oh no!” said Twist. “What if the Guard Captain likes having Ursas eat foals too?!”

“Um—“ began Dinky.

“What if he rides them around the castle, looking for foals to gobble up?” asked Snails.

“I don’t think they’d fit,” said Dinky.

“But what if they did?”

“You’re being silly,” announced Scootaloo. “The Guards wouldn’t hurt us. My Mom was a Guard, and she told me they all cared a lot about protecting all the ponies in Equestria!” She smiled. “In fact, I bet if we find a Guard, they’ll help us make our way back to Miss Cherilee!”

“Unless they send Ursas to eat us first!” said Snails.

“That won’t happen. Besides, we’re not cowards, right? We’re brave! Let’s go!” Scootaloo cheered.

“I don’t know…” said Twist, who was looking kind of scared. “Maybe we should just hide in that room over there until Miss Cheerilee shows up?”

Dinky nodded. “Miss Cherilee said that, if we got lost, we should stay where we were until somepony found us.”

“But that’ll take hours!” protested Scootaloo. “And it sounds really boring and lame. If we find a Guard, they could bring us back to Miss Cherilee in minutes!”

“Or we could get even more lost looking for one,” said Dinky.

Before the argument could continue any further, the door at the end of the hall opened and a troupe of ponies burst into the room. They were big and athletic, wearing purple and black armor and carrying mean-looking swords and spears. And they were racing right towards the foals.

“Hurry!” roared the leader. “Keep on going, whatever happens!”

“AAAH!” yelled most of the foals. The ten or so Night Guards suddenly bearing down on them was a frightening sight. Twist, Dinky, and Snails wound up dashing down a short side corridor into another hallway, while Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom dove into the room that Twist had pointed at earlier.

Within moments, most of the foals were gone.



“Hey!” complained a Guard. “We’re not running at you, don’t be scared!” But it was no use; most of the foals had already scattered into the castle.

Only Scootaloo stood her ground. “Hey!” she called. “Stop! We’re a bunch of lost foals and we need help!”

The Guards skidded to a halt. The leader walked up to Scootaloo, towering over the foal. “Who are you?”

“I’m Scootaloo!” said Scootaloo, smiling and looking completely undaunted. “Are you real Night Guards? That’s so cool! My Mom was a Night Guard! Where are you running? Is there some kind of emergency?”

“Uh… sure,” said the Guard. “Yes, there’s an emergency—“

“The cafeteria is about to run out of apple pie,” drawled another Guard. “Sergeant Smiles there thought it’d be a good team exercise to see if we could get some before we had to be at our stations.”

Sergeant Smiles blushed. “I consider a lack of apple pie an emergency.”

Scootaloo was beaming up at him. “It’s so neat to meet you! My Mom was in the Night Guard too! She was called Nocturne and—“

“Woah, hey, you’re Nocturne’s daughter?” Smiles looked down at Scootaloo. “I knew your Mom, kid. She trained me in defensive flying. Brilliant pegasus; never knew anypony who could fly like her.”

Scootaloo grinned.

“Ahem,” said Diamond Tiara, crawling out from her hiding place beneath a table. “We need to get back to Miss Cheerilee.”

“Aw, but I want to talk with the Night Guards…”

“Cheerilee?” asked Smiles.

“Our teacher. It’s Tour Day.”

“Oh, right.” Smiles frowned. “I don’t know where she’d be, but I think some of the Royal Guards might. There’s a few Guards that get the reports on lost civilians in the castle; Cheerilee’s probably in touch with them if you’re missing.”

“Where are they?” asked Diamond Tiara.

“Probably in the training area now. Hey…” The Guard smiled. “I could show you one of the training courses she helped put together, the Big Rock Wall. It’s not one of the dangerous ones, but it’s pretty tough… gave me a good workout back in the day. Want to see it?”

“See it? Can I try it? Please please please?” Scootaloo’s face was shining.

Sergeant Smiles may have been a Night Guard, but even he was not immune to the power of a pleading foal. “Er…”

“You said it’s not dangerous, right? So there’s no problem, right?” pressed Scootaloo.

“But we can’t… I mean , uh, your chaperone would probably get mad at us.”

Scootaloo thought. What would Cheerilee say? She had to answer honestly; her father and Cheerilee would both be really disappointed in her if she lied.

“My teacher is always telling us to do what we’re passionate about and makes us happy, and I really passionately want to do this, so she’d definitely be in favor of it!” Scootaloo decided at last. “Plus, she’s been telling me I have so much energy that I should find ‘constructive activities’ to burn some of it, and I’ll bet one of these courses would count! And she says we foals should expand our horizons and try new things and take advantage of opportunities and…”

The Guard seemed skeptical, but said, “Well… I don’t think you’ll get to go on the course itself, but there’s no harm in showing it to you.”

Scootaloo smiled and nodded, already considering how to ‘cute’ or plead her way onto the course once they arrived. Diamond Tiara muttered something that sounded like, “Crazy foal…” but Scootaloo was too excited to care.



Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened as she looked at all the clothes. “These are amazing!”

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle had run through a series of narrow rooms and passageways to escape the Guards, which they were both sure planned on feeding them to Ursas. They eventually were confident that they’d lost the Guards. Unfortunately, they ended up more lost then ever.

It was Sweetie Belle, in the course of trying random doors, who stumbled upon the fantastic wardrobe. She just opened a door, and right behind it was a stunning dress with diamonds and pearls studded in a deep blue fabric. It was like looking at the starry night sky.

“Let’s look at them!” Sweetie Belle ran into the room and began searching through the clothes. There was one outfit of bright whites and reds that looked like the sort of thing a mighty warrior would wear before charging off to battle evil; a soft, yellow and green outfit that had a feel of bucolic tranquility, and even an outfit of the purest black thread that Sweetie Belle said was obviously for spies. But most of the outfits were variations on the first theme – deep blue, purple, or black, with bright gems or threads making isolated pockets of bright, white or yellow light.

“My sister would love this stuff!”

“Ah don’t know if we should be here,” said Apple Bloom.

“Oh, come on, Apple Bloom. This is a once in a lifetime chance! I bet some really beautiful noble owns this room, and she wears these dresses when she goes to balls and looking for her special somepony!” Sweetie Belle’s eyes were dreamy. “And she wears that one when she goes out for a hike in the country, and that one when she’s dancing in a grand ballroom, and…”

“Ah think ya’ve been listenin’ ta Rarity too much.”

Sweetie Belle stared at the first dress, the diamond- and pearl-studded one. “I’d love to try it on,” she breathed.

“But it’s not ours…”

Sweetie looked at Apple Bloom, eyes pleading. “Yeah, but… I mean, we won’t hurt it… and doesn’t Miss Cheerilee always say we should try new things?”

“Well, yeah…”

“And that we should always give ponies the benefit of the doubt?” Sweetie Belle grinned. “I bet whoever owns these would be happy that two sweet, innocent foals like us loved them so much that we tried them on!”

Apple Bloom wasn’t sure about that, but Sweetie Belle was a nice pony, so she said, “Ah guess… alright. Ah’ll help ya try it on.”

“YAY!” Sweetie Belle said.

The two of them got the dress off the hanger, and Sweetie Belle stepped inside. It was far too long at first, but then it glowed slightly and adjusted itself to fit Sweetie Belle’s body. The foal grinned as she admired herself in the mirror. “I want Rarity to make me a dress like this!”

Apple Bloom glanced around nervously. “It looks real nice, yeah… but we should go, an’…”

A door opened from somewhere nearby. “Just get the dress,” said a slightly cross voice.

Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened. She began trying to take the dress off, but it had shrunken to fit her so perfectly that she couldn’t get her head out of it. “Help!”

Apple Bloom grabbed her and began to drag her to a dark corner, but before they got there, the door to the room opened and two other ponies walked in.

Apple Bloom didn’t recognize one of them, a tall stallion with finely styled hair, delicately yellow coat, and needle cutie mark. But she knew the other one well enough. Her face was on paintings. And in books. And on some of the money.

Princess Luna Equestris, ruler of Equestria, nigh-omnipotent alicorn with the power to raze cities and flatten mountains, stared at the foals. “…is that my dress?”

“Uh,” said Sweetie Belle.



Dinky looked around. “Now where are we?”

They were in another long hallway, this one with many ornate doors. The hall was carpeted and decorated very finely, and the windows all had fancy images on them. It looked like some rich old pony’s home.

“Some ponies probably live here,” said Twist, looking at the doors. “Maybe we can find a nice pony to help us.”

Snails read a sign above the hallway. “’Noble quarters.' Hey, this is where the nobles live! Cool!”

“Are there any good nobles we can talk to?” wondered Twist.

Dinky thought. Trixie had mentioned something about this.

”The Night Court is full of meanies and jerks!” Trixie had ranted, pounding her bottle of bourbon on her table. “I can’t believe the horrible thing they just did!”

“You’re still mad that they ignored your suggestion?”

"Yes! I worked really hard on that bill! It would have been a great bill, but they ignored it because it came from me!"

"I'm sure someday your genius will be seen," said Pokey. "And your bill will pass. And thus Casual Friday will be extended through the whole week."

"Yeah, but not nearly soon enough. Hmph. They're all jerks."

“I don’t think so,” said Dinky. “We should keep on going.”

Snails was reading signs on the walls. “Oh! I know where we should go so that Cheerilee and Applejack and Heavy Roller can find us! Follow me!”

“Where?” asked Dinky, trotting after him.

Snails led the foals to one particular door with a big leaf raised up out of the surface. He tried the door and found it unlocked. “In here!”

“In where?” asked Twist, but she and Dinky followed.

The room was well-furnished and very well organized. There was a desk in the center of the room, several bookshelves with tomes and documents, and a few filing cabinets. There were other doors, three of them open and leading to a kitchen, a sitting room, and a bedroom respectively. The floor itself was clean, except for a very large box set just in front of the desk.

“This is nice!” said Snails.

Dinky frowned. “Whose room is this?”

“Duke Greengrass’s room!” crowed Snails.

Dinky gasped. “Oh no! He’s the really, really super mean noble who keeps trying to hurt the Elements! Like Momma!”

“Wait, he’s the one who tried to get Lyra stuck in Canterlot for three months?” asked Twist. “He’s a jerk!”

Snails grinned. “Exactly! He’s always trying to get at us, right? So if we go missing, everypony will assume he took us! They’ll come straight here!”

Dinky paused. That… made a lot more sense than Snails usually made. But it still wasn’t a great plan. “But what if he does something mean to us?” asked Dinky. “We have to get out of here!”

But no sooner did the trio turn to the door than they heard two sets of approaching hoofsteps.

“My secretary takes a vacation to visit her family,” said one voice, sounding annoyed, “And you’re misdelivering my mail within three days!”

“Sorry, Duke! There was a mix-up…”

“This is more than a mix-up. That package was to go clear across town. Did I fill out the forms wrong?”

"No, it was just our screw up. Look, we won't charge you for the shipment. We're sorry..."

“It’s Greengrass!” yelped Dinky. “We have to hide!” She ran towards the large box in the middle of the room, presumably the one that had been delivered to the wrong address. “Let’s hide in here! Hopefully he’ll have that pony redeliver the package and we’ll get out of the room that way!”

Twist and Dinky helped pry the package open. It was taller than them, so Snails jumped up on the table and then dove into the big box. And then he poked his head up, covered in brown gook. “It’s a big box of mud!”

“Why does Greengrass have a big box of mud?” asked Dinky. “I don’t get it.” She tried to figure it out:

”Bwahaha!” Greengrass crowed. “Now that I have all the mud in Equestria, everypony has to do what I want!”

“Duke Greengrass!” cried a desperate-looking stallion petitioner. “We can’t grow any food! All of our dirt became mud when it rained and then you took it – we don’t have anything to raise crops in!”

“We can’t get facials at the spa!” yelled another petitioner, this one a mare.

“And the mud-pie industry collapsed!” cried a foal. “Plus, now we don’t have anything fun to play in when it rains!”

Greengrass, sitting on a tall throne made out of all the mud in Equestria, smirked. “Well, I suppose I could let you have a little mud. But there’s a price…”

Twist nudged Dinky, breaking her out of her reverie. “Hurry!”

The three foals managed to get into the box and shut it. No sooner had they done so than they heard the door open, and Greengrass stormed inside. “I suppose I should look at it, as long as it’s here,” he said to himself.

Dinky burrowed a little deeper into the mud, until only her nose was above the surface. She heard somepony opening the box, but Greengrass didn’t seem to notice the foals. Maybe they were buried enough that he wouldn’t see them. Maybe—

“Hmm?” Greengrass frowned. He reached a hoof down next to Dinky. “What’s this?”

Dinky felt hooves on her shoulders, and then Greengrass was lifting her out of his box of mud and staring at her.

Dinky smiled as winningly as she could. “… hi?”



Cheerilee smiled at the class, though she couldn’t quite mask her stress. “Alright, class! I think we’re safe from more… problems… and now we can go find your missing friends!”

Silver Spoon raised a hoof.

“What is it, Silver Spoon?”

“Can’t you get the Guards to go away? We promise we won’t leave the group.”

Cheerilee looked at the six Royal Guards which had found themselves dragooned into making-sure-foals-don’t-wander-off duty. “No, Silver Spoon. I can’t. Anything else?”

“Yes,” said Heavy Roller. “Why am I being Guarded too? I’m not a foal.” He was stuck in the cluster of foals and Guards.

“But you’re on their side,” said Cheerilee, pointing. “You let them wander off.”

“But I—“

“On their side!”

“But—“

“Traitor!” insisted Cheerilee.

Heavy Roller stopped talking.

“Anything else?” the magenta pony asked.

“I’m hungry,” complained Truffle Muncher. “Can we stop for a snack?”

Applejack nudged him. “Ya, uh, really don’t want ta be sayin’ that right now, kiddo.”

Cheerilee ignored all this and turned back to the Guards. “Have we heard anything yet?”

“No, but… wait…” The lead Guard noticed a messenger running up. “Any word on the foals?”

“Two of them are in the Night Guard training rooms.”

Cheerilee stared. “What? Who let them in there?”

“Apparently, they said that you would be in favor of them going.” The Guard frowned. “Ma’am, why would you support that? That could be very dangerous.”

Cheerilee reminded herself that it would be a violation of her teaching ethics to ask the Guards to incarcerate her class for a few days. “…let’s just go find them.”