Twilight Sparkle and friends meet a knightly stranger... and the problems that follow him!
Twilight Sparkle always enjoyed those quiet days in Ponyville when those 'crazy ponies' weren't always driving her crazy every single day. Unfortunately for Twilight, this day isn't going to be one of those days!
When a royal servant from Canterlot and a knightly pony prince all happen to come to Ponyville, everything is not exactly all fun and games. Twilight Sparkle and her friends must not only deal with these newcomers, but also the trouble that seems to be following them as well.
Can Twilight help keep the peace in Ponyville? Or will disaster strike at Ponyville and spread to Canterlot itself?
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 1 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
Knight Light gasped for breath as he slid down the slope of the hill to the foliage below. With deft precision he kicked himself off just before hitting the bottom of the earthen slide and landed squarely on his hooves.
"Knights, where art thou?" he called to his fellows, two of whom slid down shortly after him.
While each of them were dressed similarly in long, sea blue caparisons decorated with their homeland's livery, Knight Light's own outfit differed slightly. He was the only 'knight' to wear a steel helm over his face, while the other knights wore cloth face coverings. Of the two other ponies sliding down to join him; one was a regular pony knight of his homeland while the other was a proud unicorn with a dazzling white coat. And it was the unicorn who spoke first.
"Milord, we won't be able to outrun them forever," stated the unicorn that also held the position of captain of the pony knights; his gaze looking warily up towards the direction they had just come from.
Knight Light's gaze fell over Captain Silver Lancer, his brow furrowing as other contingency plans raced through his mind. At this rate, their pursuers would be upon them in mere moments. There simply wasn't any way for them to escape in their fully armored barding much longer, unless…
"We should split up—" Captain Silver Lancer began to announce, but his words were cut short.
"No, we shall not!" Knight Light stamped his hoof firmly into the ground, "I refuse to abandon my fellow knights to the enemy!"
"Pardon me, milord," Captain Silver Lancer retorted in a matter-of-factly tone, "But traveling in a formation such as ours leaves us both slow and vulnerable. We must split up and divide our foe's attention if we are to escape."
"And the last time I looked, Captain," Knight Light emphasized the Captain's rank and position in a not-so-subtle reminder of his station, "I was the one still in charge here."
"S-s-sire, I have to agree," a timid, barely audible voice called a distance, backing that of the Captain.
The trio of ponies turned to see two more members of their company rejoin their ranks. Of the two that showed themselves, only one had had any distinguishing characteristics to the other earth pony knights; he was the pegasus messenger of the group.
"I think you've been out-voted, milord. You do realize that if you are caught, this whole quest will end in failure."
Knight Light averted his gaze and paused to think for a moment. As the knights stared at their leader in silence, it was interrupted briefly when Knight Light suddenly hoof-stomped the ground in frustration.
He knew what they were saying was correct, but at the same time it wasn't something he had to like. A long, tense silence hung over the group; the mist of that early morning day clung to their coats and seemed stifling. At long last, their leader finally spoke.
"Fine, I shall relent to this plan – for now. But each and every one of thou are not to throw thy lives away needlessly, understood?" Knight Light took a deep breath as he looked northwards towards their destination, "We shall split up and regroup before we continue onto Canterlot – together."
"Canterlot is still a distance away, milord. Where shall we meet up before then?" queried the Captain.
"There was a small village not too far from here, I saw it while we were cresting the hill," the meek pegasus knight spoke up and realized he had spoken out of turn, "I-I'm sorry, milord!"
"That's quite all right, Butterscotch. I had asked for options and thou hath given me what I needed. So it's settled, to this village we shall hasten."
"It is agreed, milord," the other knights nodded in agreement.
The sound of a clattering of hooves could be heard nearing their location; each pony in the company froze on the spot as it was all too familiar to the troop. Knight Light's eyes echoed the alarm and worry that each knight there knew in their hearts; for it was the sound of their pursuers closing in… and rapidly at that!
"Quick, we must be off! Good luck to everypony. Fare thee well!"
And with that, the five knightly ponies split off individually into the underbrush while a furious storm followed closely right behind them. All unknowns to the sleepy inhabitants of that sleepy, little village in the distance. A village's name that just happened to be called Ponyville.
* * *
"Spike, Spike! Where are you?" Twilight Sparkle called out as she cantered back and forth about the main room of her library, her voice in a tizzy.
"I'm right here, Twilight!" Spike declared from atop a ladder near one of the back bookshelves.
"Have you found that book Fabulous Fables and Fantastical Fairy Tales yet?" Twilight asked with a slightly exasperated tone.
Usually she was so organized, but when it came to keeping track of her collection of books… well, that was another story entirely; and one that would have ended poorly if not for her closest and number one assistant, Spike.
"Not yet. It was that red book, wasn't it?" Spike threw himself headfirst into his search, digging through Twilight's treasure trove of books to try and find the one book that eluded his best friend's efforts.
But they were not the only two in the room. A third pony sat quietly at Twilight's table. She was a dignified guest from Canterlot who watched the two residents of Ponyville with fascination. She sat quietly on her side, atop a purple cushion with gold trimmings that Twilight had provided for her guest.
She was a unicorn graced with a snow white coat and a two-toned mane that seemed to shimmer between a soft teal and an even softer, deeper sea blue-green pattern. Her flank was marked by the image of an angel holding a choir book while her storm gray eyes followed the pacing of Ponyville's most respected librarian.
"Twilight, you really needn't go through all this trouble for me," she spoke with a beautiful, crystal-clear soprano voice that seemed to echo off the wooden walls of Twilight's room.
"Nonsense, you came here to retrieve a very important item for Princess Luna and – as a loyal subject of Princess Celestia – I will produce what is requested of me," Twilight stopped in her pacing as a quiet voice in her head suddenly reminded her of her position as hostess and turned to face the Canterlot unicorn, "By the way, how are you enjoying the tea?"
The snow-white unicorn blinked, momentarily caught off guard at the sudden change of subject. It only took a moment for her to collect herself as she realized she was holding a cup of Twilight's tea this whole time and had been sipping at it unconsciously.
"It's quite good, I have to say. I've never had anything quite so rich or exquisite before. Where did you say you got this recipe?"
"My friend Zecora was kind enough to give it to me. She lives out in the Everfree Forest and I frequently go out there to pay her a visit and pick up another batch. Perhaps before you return, I can give you some for your trip back home?"
"That would be most delightful, most delightful indeed!" Angel Song replied with a smile on her face smiling.
Blinking her eyes suddenly, she cleared her throat and quickly tried to play off that momentary outburst of hers; returning back to her usual tranquil and lady-like manner
"I mean, I'm sure her Highness would be overjoyed to taste such a fine blend."
"Twilight, I found it!" Spike proclaimed from the top of the bookshelves, thrusting his tiny arm into the air with the object of their search tight in his claws.
Angel Song and Twilight Sparkle looked up at the baby dragon and chuckled softly in unison. There was something to be said about the sight of a pudgy baby dragon pumping his arm into the air like if he had placed first in the Running of the Leaves.
"All right, all right; that's enough there champ," Twilight smiled and, using her magical powers, gently levitated Spike to the floor between herself and Angel Song.
"I did well, didn't I?" he placed the book before Angel Song and took in a deep breath, puffing up his chest, which was quite a ridiculous sight for someone of his short stature.
"Of course, that is why you are my Number One Assistant, is it not? Now, could you please fetch some snacks for our guest? I'm sure she would love to try some of those delicious cookies you were making earlier – to go along with the tea, of course."
Twilight thanked Spike as he zipped off into the kitchen to whip up some of his homemade snacks for the two unicorns, thus leaving Twilight and Angel Song alone in the study.
Angel Song wasted no time in using her magic to open the book and flip through the contents of the dusty tome. She seemed to have quickly engrossed herself in the pony tales while Twilight merely smiled from her position as a silent observer. The sound of fluttering pages was the only thing to pierce through the silence of the room, that was until Twilight eventually spoke up.
"Is that what you were looking for?" Twilight asked curiously as she laid down beside Angel Song, pulling up her own pillow to also rest her body atop of.
"These are such romantic stories! This one here is about a charming princely pony that comes to save a fair damsel in distress. I've always been fond of stories such as these," Angel Song then raised her head and closed the book when she realized where she was, "I mean, this is exactly what Princess Luna was looking for."
Twilight giggled politely to herself, nodding politely at her guest.
"If I may ask, did Princess Luna say why she needed such a book? I'm sure a copy of this must exist in the Canterlot Royal Library?"
"Quite perceptive of you, Twilight. I also concur with your analysis. I'm more than certain that such a copy does indeed exist somewhere within the Royal Canterlot Library," Angel Song said coolly and calmly, though Twilight grinned even when she caught the royal servant sneaking a quick peek back into the book.
Twilight chuckled at the snow white pony's reaction as she noticed the unicorn leaning closer and closer into the book as she covertly struggled to continue whatever story she had just been reading.
"Though I don't understand," Twilight wrinkled her nose and made a slight face, "Why would she make you come all the way out here to Ponyville for a book that she could easily get from Canterlot?"
"Oh, Twilight," Angel Song absently reached out a hoof and gently patted Twilight Sparkle on the head, "There is much more to this trip than you realize. Her Highness has indeed been most interested in tales of princes and princesses as of late, that is true. It reminds her of those halcyon days before she ended up being banished to the moon for a thousand years."
"So then what else could—" Twilight began but was immediately hushed by the ever-graceful Canterlot unicorn.
"Twilight," Angel Song finally pried herself away from the intriguing tale that had preoccupied her attention to turn and smile softly at the librarian, "When you saved Princess Luna and returned her to her rightful place in Canterlot, she was very much a scared and solitary recluse… though, please don't tell Princess Luna I ever said such a dreadful thing!"
Twilight smiled and nodded in agreement, permitting Angel Song to continue in her explanation.
"I was assigned to be her hoof-maiden ever since that day she first returned to Canterlot Castle, and I very much admire the dedication and diligence she takes in her duties as Princess of the Night. But she never made any real friends and only has ever confided – truly – in Princess Celestia or myself. Mind you, it took her forever – and a day – to open up to me.
But then came the day of Nightmare Night and when she returned from that celebration… Twilight, I don't think you understand how much of an impression you left upon her, and for the better I might add! I personally believe that the true reason she sent me here was not to fetch this book but to find an excuse to hear from you, as indirect as this may all be."
Twilight's eyes seem to shimmer under the sunlight shining in from the window as she felt something tug at her chest. Princess Luna had indeed had a hard time fitting in – no thanks to Rainbow Dash, Twilight mentally noted. That night had nearly ended the celebration of Nightmare Night for all eternity! But after much effort and planning, Luna was finally accepted by everypony and learned to open up and be herself. The results of Luna's transformation from scary figure to loved Princess then spread like wildfire to the other ponies in Ponyville and everypony soon too accepted her too. That singular thought almost brought Twilight to tears as she recalled that night as if it were only yesterday.
Almost precisely on cue – as Spike always found the right time and place for everything he did - the smell of freshly baked cookies wafted into the room. Both unicorns closed their eyes and took in a big whiff of the delicious aroma before they turned their attention to the source of the treat, both with a mouth-watering smile on their faces.
Spike set down a tray of cookies along with two glasses of milk before each of the unicorns and bowed politely. Angel Song was reminded from Spike's body language of the royal servants in Canterlot Castle and giggled softly.
"Ladies, may I present to you my own personal treat; these are some of my freshly baked homemade triple-decker nut-crazy vanilla-cream cookies!"
Angel Song blinked curiously at the baby dragon's name for his self-proclaimed creation, briefly glancing over at Twilight Sparkle for assurance. The librarian merely giggled in response as she picked up a cookie with her magic.
"Don't worry, they are quite delicious, I assure you," Twilight promised the Canterlot pony and took a delicious bite of her own cookie.
"Well, if you insist… I guess one bite couldn't hurt…"
With the trepidation of a newborn foal, Angel Song slowly picked up the cookie, dipped it in milk, and then hovered it in front of her face. With elegance and poise, she took a small and very graceful nibble of the cookie. She chewed the cookie warily in her mouth before her expression eased from cautious optimism to softened delight.
"Wow, these are quite magnificent. Thank you, Spike," Angel Song gave him her smile of approval, the beauty of which caused Spike to blush shyly.
"Aww, you really don't need to say that," he paused as the two other unicorns looked at him, "No, really you can say more."
"Spiiiiike," Twilight gave him a stern yet playful look, and he sunk down humbly into his seat at the end of the table.
"Oh, that is quite all right," Angel Song interrupted, though Twilight could have sworn she caught a brief glimpse of a look of worry and concern on her face, "Mr. Spike, you are a marvelous baker. If I may be so bold to ask, could you make me another batch that I might take back with me to Canterlot? I'm sure Princess Luna and Princess Celestia would love to taste such a divine treat."
Twilight studied the unicorn's expression quietly, trying to find any hints of that earlier face Angel Song had made, but with no such luck. Perhaps it was just her imagination?
Either way, she didn't want to make too big a deal out of it. How would Angel Song know the usual way she interacted with her best assistant in the whole wide world?
"Twilight, Twilight!" shouted a very familiar voice from outside as somepony was banging loudly on the front door.
"What in all Equestria is that about?" Angel Song looked perturbed from the constant banging racket that was greeting Twilight's front door.
"I wonder who that could be…" Twilight said to herself and half-rolled her eyes before nodding towards Spike.
Spike skipped quickly over to the door and the moment he touched the knob, it was as if a magical force field that held it place had suddenly dropped. Their 'visitor' flung the door wide-open and charged in at full speed. Unfortunately it wasn't much to Spike's benefit, as he got reacquainted with the door and the wall – the hard way.
As Spike was pancaked by the door, Pinkie Pie flew in and threw herself upon Twilight Sparkle, her hooves grabbing onto Twilight shoulders for support and shaking her almost violently.
"Piiinnnkkiiiee Piiiee... whaaatttt areeeee yoooouuu dooooiinnng?" Twilight struggled to say throughout the shaking, while a beleaguered and confused Angel Song seemed to be at loss for words and looked on in worry.
"Twilight, Twilight! There's a new pony near town! You have to come and see, come and see!"
"A new… pony?" Angel tilted her head to one side, narrowing her eyes, "But wait, you said near town? Then that means this stranger has not even arrived in Ponyville?"
"Yup, that's right!" Pinkie Pie nodded and let go of Twilight to put her hoof in the air if she were testifying about the truth in a court of law. It was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! At least that was by Pinkie Pie's logic and thinking.
Twilight continued to shake back and forth despite being released from Pinkie Pie's 'death grip' on her, and it took a quick-thinking Spike to spring into action and grab ahold of Twilight, jarring her out of her convulsions.
"Blarg… thanks, Spike," muttered a dizzy and semi-nauseous Twilight Sparkle as the room continued to spin for her.
The purple librarian shook her head and took a deep breath. That seemed to have stopped the room from spinning for the most part now, though that wasn't much comfort for her or her stomach.
"Pinkie Pie, if this pony isn't even in Ponyville yet, how do you know he is even on his way here?" Twilight asked, as Angel Song also shared her same burning curiosity.
"Well, I was out looking for Rainbow Dash to ask if she wanted to come to Sugarcube Corner and make some cupcakes with me when she suddenly flew away from me. I don't know why she does that, maybe she just didn't see me? So I was like 'Hey Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash!' and I was all hopping and skipping after her and pretty soon I was waaaaaaaayyyy outside of town when I suddenly saw this pony! And I'll tell you Twilight, I've never seen a any pony–"
"Pinkie…" muttered Twilight.
"–like that in all my life! Never have I been so excited, though not as excited as when you first came here and I was like 'Oohhhh!!!' and—"
"Pinkie!" Twilight raised her voice, jarring everyone in the room out of their captive stupors from Pinkie's rambling, "Focus girl, you were saying you saw this pony…?"
"Oh yes! He was quite a handsome pony, if I do say so myself! And I do say so myself! He was like a streak of black and blue and like whoooosh! He ran so fast he was like a blur and I tried following him but then I lost him, though I think he was on his way to Applejack's farm. So I was like I got to go tell Twilight because she would really want to meet this pony so then I ran all the way back here and so I was slamming my head on the door going all like 'Twilight, Twilight!' and then the door opened and then I was like shaking you over and over and—"
"Spike, get my usual things, will you?" Twilight cut in though Pinkie Pie continued to ramble on.
"Angel Song, would you like to accompany us?" Twilight asked her guest politely.
Twilight rose on all fours as Angel Song's storm gray eyes seemed to toss and turn as she was deep in thought, pondering Twilight's request. As the storm in her eyes settled, she eventually nodded to Twilight and magically lifted the pony tale book and placed it into her saddle sack that was lying nearby.
"I think I will, thank you. I'm sure Princess Luna would love to hear a good story or two when I get back, and meeting a stranger does sound like it might make an interesting story."
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 2 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
Knight Light pressed his body against the side of the red barn, sighing as he slumped down to the ground exhausted and out of breath. He was alone now and he bitterly resented having to make such a rash and thoughtless decision.
"Why… why must it always be like this?" he muttered to himself and slammed his head into the ground, his ragged breath kicking up the dirt around his nostrils, "Why doth everypony think I'm so important that they have to go running off and doing whatever they want…"
And why am I the only one that can't get to choose what I want to do? What about what I want?
He punched the dirt with one hoof, utterly frustrated by this infernal quest he was forced to embark on. It was his responsibility and his alone to save his people. It gnawed at him each and every day and night; the high expectations that he knew he must meet, or else the consequences were just too grave to imagine.
"I'm supposed to be a hero… but whoever thought that being a hero meant you had to be.. alone?"
Knight Light sighed and stood up, resigning himself back to the quest that he must accomplish… or else. It was that solitary fear that kept him going, even now that he was all alone. Alone without his knights. Alone without the Captain. Alone, all over again.
As he opened his eyes and turned, he ran smack dab into a big red mass.
Knight Light crumpled to the ground and rubbed his nose, as his face helm only covered his eyes and upper face, leaving both his nostrils and mouth exposed. After he deemed his nose to be sufficiently 'OK', he looked up to see what he ran into.
A giant red draft horse stood on all fours before him. The impact hadn't even budged the stallion from his stance and Knight Light looked in surprise at the towering giant. Knight Light was bigger than your regular pony, but this one particular pony before him made him seem like a filly in comparison. He had cream colored socks, a subdued orange mane and a giant, green apple on his flank.
The red draft horse chewed slowly on a piece of straw wheat, his eye raised in curiosity.
"Oh, I'm very sorry. I did not see thou there," Knight Light rose to his hooves slowly, shaking and dusting himself off before staring back up at the big horse, "And thou, kind Sir? It does not look to me that thou… art fazed at all."
Knight Light narrowed his eyes, sounding a bit miffed as he finished his last sentence. To think a pony of his station and stature couldn't even faze – must let budge – a common workhorse was just a little degrading in and of itself.
"Eee-yup," the red draft horse said and shifted his straw to the other side of his mouth, continuing his gaze at the stranger.
Knight Light bit back his tongue. The only thing racing in his mind was that he couldn't be involving simple villagers in the current mess that he was in, especially if worse came to worse. His honor as a knight demanded that he do what he could to protect the innocent and weak, and he wasn't about to let this little misstep sidetrack him. He had to think up an excuse and quick! Though the draft horse before him hadn't muttered anything more than a single one-word response.
"I'm just passing through… yes, I'm just passing through," Knight Light raised his head proudly at the declaration, eyes closed as his words seemed to be more to convince himself than the stallion before him.
The draft horse stared at him for several long moments that seemed to stretch out into all eternity. The silence was beginning to make Knight Light nervous due to the lack of a response or even a reaction from the behemoth. He opened one of his eyes to stare at the red horse, who merely shifted his straw back and forth in his mouth while he chewed.
Knight Light began to feel sweat bead and drip down his face under his helmet. Was he just that bad at deceiving a 'simple' pony like the one in front of him? Did this draft horse perhaps possess some uncanny sort of perception that could easily see through his made-up story?
The draft horse opened his mouth to speak, but a voice on the other side of the barn began calling out for him.
"Big Mac, where in tarnation are you? We have to clear the south fields by sundown or else we won't be ready to go to market!" spoke a voice with a very heavy southern drawl.
"I sincerely apologize for my lack of manner but I really must be going," Knight Light turned away to leave but hesitated as he turned his head back towards the draft horse to pose a question, "Kind gentlecolt, before I depart…could thou tell me in which direction is the nearest village to here?"
* * *
Twilight Sparkle, Spike (who was riding lazily on Twilight's back), Angel Song, and Pinkie Pie arrived at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. The group stopped before the wooden fences that led from the vast apple orchard fields towards her barn and house.
"Let's go get Applejack then," Twilight nodded to Pinkie Pie before turning back to her guest, "This should only take a moment, do you mind waiting here for just a second?"
Angel Song shook her head calmly, standing in a graceful and elegant pose.
"Not at all, do what you need to do Twilight Sparkle. I will wait here patiently."
Pinkie Pie followed after Twilight and the mounted Spike as they trotted off towards the house to retrieve their friend. Angel Song spied the three with a raise brow and waited until they were out of sight. Once she was certain they were sufficiently far enough away from her present position, she used her magic to open her saddlesack that was on her back and pulled out the book that Twilight had given to her earlier.
"Now, back to that most fantastic tale," she nearly giggled in glee as she set the book on the top of a nearby fencepost and began reading where she left off.
The story she had been reading was about a handsome princely pony from a faraway land. Apparently some great calamity had befallen his home and he was out searching for the most perfect and powerful pony princess to save his kingdom from harm. Unfortunately for the prince, said princess was the unfortunate victim of circumstance – in this case being the captive of a wild dragon.
"Oh, this is so romantic…" Angel Song muttered wistfully to herself, "What I wouldn't give to meet a real live prince. And anypony other than that infernal Blueblood…"
She shivered as she mentioned his name. Prince Blueblood was the very antithesis of how she imagined a true Prince to be. Thinking back, she remembered some sort of 'incident' had happened at last year's Grand Galloping Gala involving the Prince and some high class unicorn, but the details escaped her at the moment as something else had caught her attention and eye.
"Thank you and fare thee well," a voice called out from the direction of the huge barn on Applejack's property.
Angel Song's ears perked up at the words. The words hinted at a calm and cool demeanor that the speaker most definitely possessed, but it was the use of the old speech that really caught her attention. No one really spoke in that manner anymore except for a certain Princess who had been adjusting to how things were in the present and not a thousand years ago.
Peering over the top of the book as if it really provided any concealment or cover for the unicorn, Angel Song's managed to catch a glimpse of a pony clad in a fancy blue caparison and barding trot away from the barn. His route through the orchard fields was unusual as he avoided the path that Twilight and her friends had taken to approach the property, and leant much to the reason why neither party encountered each other.
"That's a definitely roundabout way to be going…" Angel Song said to herself as she observed the decorated pony's movements.
He turned this way and that, and from his heading Angel Song postulated that he must be trying to get to Ponyville. Though why wouldn't he just go straight down the path if that was his intent?
Looking down at the book, she noticed an illustration that had somehow eluded her attention. It featured a fancy looking pony glad in a similarly stitched caparison like the pony trotting across the very fields in front of her. Could this be… a prince? Did pony tales really do come true?
Giggling with glee, Angel Song couldn't help but contain her excitement at the prospect that this was her story coming to life! To think, right before her very eyes could be a member of… royalty! And he definitely did NOT look like a certain blue-blooded prince back in Canterlot.
She slipped the book quickly back into her saddlesack and started to trot quickly after the unsuspecting pony lost in the field. Taking a more direct path to intercept and cut him off, Angel Song laid in wait, patiently waiting for the strange pony to come to her.
"Hmm, that gentlecolt said it was somewhere this way… and this apple orchard is much larger than I imagined…" spoke a deep voice that only grew louder in volume as the speaker near her position.
Excitement was building up to almost unprecedented levels for the usually calm unicorn. She could literally feel this pony getting closer and closer to her location. He seemed to be very well-mannered and spoke with a certain air of class in his tone. She crossed her hooves over her chest, praying that if he was really a Prince like she thought he would be, that at the very least he was nothing like Prince Blueblood. Now THAT would be a major disappointment!
So with final adieus, Angel Song stepped out into the strange pony's path at the perfect instance… and was immediately enthralled and taken by his garb. He wore over much of his body a quilted blue caparison which was lined with white markings and diamond shapes etched along its edges. On his flank atop his caparison was an etching of his cutie mark; a white fairytale castle resting over a gray tower shield. He had an armored mane guard and a helmet that covered up most of his face except his ears and his mouth, while the helmet itself had a pair of stylish wing protrusions that ran underneath either side of his face.
Angel's eyes were wide and bright with excitement, and she couldn't help but step slowly closer to him as he headed towards her. The stranger had yet to spot the unicorn, however, as he was still busy trying to get his bearings.
"Greetings, kind sir," Angel Song spoke softly and eloquently, her calm and feminine voice sounding almost alluring if the knightly stranger had been paying any attention.
Knight Light stopped in his tracks and looked at the snow-white unicorn that now barred his path. The sight of her nearly took his breath away, but remembering his station he quickly recovered before it became too noticeable – though to Angel Song it was all the same. The decorated pony took a deep breath and puffed up his chest, as he recognized he was truly in the presence of a lady of high society or standing.
"Hail and well met, milady," he spoke regally, nodding to the gorgeous mare before him.
Her shimmering two-toned blue mane blew gently in the breeze, and for some reason he felt his face becoming somewhat flushed beneath his helmet as the mare he addressed began to creep ever so slowly towards him. Her shimmering, bright eyes seem to glimmer beneath the few rays of sunlight that bled through the leaves of the surrounding apple trees about them; it give her an enchanting look that only he and he alone could bear witness to.
"Forgive me, sir. I could not help but notice you coming from that farm over yonder… and it doesn't look to me that you are just any ordinary farm pony, am I right? Unless this is the new fashion for farmers?"
"Oh… was it really that noticeable?" the armored pony raised a hoof and looked himself over, "I guess I'm not the type to not stand out, am I?"
Angel Song chuckled and smiled broadly as the other pony gave her a half-hearted grin.
"I'm afraid you're not. Let me properly introduce myself though; I am Angel Song and I am very pleased to make your acquaintance."
"Oh, thou are? Well, my name is Knight Light, and I am at thy service, milady," Knight Light raised one of his front legs and bent it as he closed his eyes and held his head high in the most regal and noblest of fashion.
The unicorn Angel Song could feel her heart skip a beat as she drew ever so nearer, as she took in all the finer details of the pony in front of her, it was then that she noticed for the first time that this pony had white socks around his hooves and the tip of his mouth. Despite those few features, the rest of his body was as black as coal while his tail – the only visible part of his hair from his caparison – was a slick, jet black and blue tail that seemed to cascade down behind him.
"Knight Light? My, that is a curious name you have there," she giggled and smiled coyly at him.
"Well, it's nothing all that spectacular to brag about, milady…" Knight Light opened his eyes, his face still flushed and quite thankful that all the knights from his homeland wore something to cover their faces. Though not intended for occasions like this, he was just glad to have it on in this situation. He made a mental note to thank the tailor ponies for crafting such clothing for his knights.
However, blinking in surprise he began to notice how close the unicorn before him was nearing. He looked up to gently remind the lady mare of the possible improprieties that could be misconstrued in their situation, and what ramifications that might entail for a gentlecolt as himself. But it was then that their eyes met for the first time. His rich, marine blue eyes met her own stormy gray ones and – but for one fleeting moment – he thought he could see the swirling emotions in hers. He felt his chest tighten a little but couldn't quite place what was making him feel that way, as if a knot had tied itself up inside him; nor could Angel Song herself figure out what was giving her butterflies in her own stomach.
Regardless, despite the nervousness that came with meeting someone new, for some reason Knight Light felt a bit calmer with the mare before him. It was as if he could forget all his worries and frustrations – if even for a moment – just by staring into her eyes. Still staring longingly at one another, Angel Song's stormy eyes seemed to be a reflection of his own troubles in his, yet they were also somehow absorbing his worries.
Time passed slowly for the two ponies and for both of them there was no awkwardness at all. In fact, to anypony else it might seem strange with the prolonged silence that hung between the two but to each of them it felt as if time had stopped. Words at that moment were simply a superfluous luxury that really wasn't needed for the two to communicate with one another. It would have gone on for far longer too if it wasn't for a certain pony and her friends calling out to them to break their spell-binding concentration.
"Angel Song? Angel Song? Oh! There you are!" called Twilight Sparkle as she galloped at a brisk pace to rejoin her guest.
Both the ponies turned at Twilight came upon their location, followed closely by Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Spike.
"That's the one! See, see what I mean? He dresses all fancy and strange looking and stuff!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed at the top of her lungs and began bouncing excitedly around Twilight in glee.
Twilight Sparkle didn't move her head as her eyes followed Pinkie Pie like a bouncing ball in a sing-a-long, and Angel Song giggled at the random reaction of the pink pony. But such a moment was brief as Angel Song soon caught something out of the corner of her eye.
The knightly pony scrunched up his face as the sudden 'crowd' drew near and began to cautiously back away. He turned to his side as if he… as if he were about to make a run for it! And just as she predicted, the fancy pony broke off into a sprint away from the gathering group; however, he didn't get far away as a clear and beautiful voice called to him in distress.
"Please, Sir Knight… don't leave," Angel Song pleaded desperately for him to stop, though never raising her voice above that of a lady.
Knight Light could feel his strength and energy in his legs get sapped away by the power of her voice, as if her words somehow carried an enchanted tone hidden amongst her words. He let momentum and gravity eventually slow down his pace until at last he came to a stop. Ruefully, he turned his head to look back at the other ponies behind him.
"I was never one to deny a request from a lady…" he muttered, feeling defeated as he stood there with downtrodden eyes, gazing at the ground.
The group decided to make it easy on him and move over to him instead of vice-versa. Soon, Twilight stood side-by-side with Angel Song as they presented themselves before the knight. Spike slid off Twilight's back and Applejack flanked Twilight opposite of the white unicorn.
"Hello, I am Twilight Sparkle, what is your name, sir?" Twilight spoke calmly, enunciating her words clearly and precisely for a pony befit her education.
"I am Sir Knight Light, a pleasure to make thy acquaintance," he bowed and extended a hoof.
Twilight looked at him in confusion, which only made the whole gesture more awkward as Knight Light's hoof began to shake slightly as he continued to bow low yet balance himself on three legs. He was about to pull it back when Angel Song nudged Twilight and whispered into her ears.
"Twilight, he's a chivalrous pony. Tradition dictates that he formally greets ladies with a kiss," she lectured Twilight sternly.
"Oh? Oh! A kiss?" Twilight sounded both surprised and embarrassed at the words.
"On your hoof, it's how knights do things… at least, that is what that book you lent me says if it's true. He does seem to be quite a character…" Angel Song pushed for Twilight to do as she said, though for Angel Song it was to more properly gauge what would be the correct response when it was her turn.
Twilight's pupils shrunk as she eventually came to terms with it and promptly presented her right hoof to him, which he gladly took and placed a gentle, brief kiss upon it.
Twilight blushed a little at the archaic but sweet greeting, before she heard Spike 'clear' his throat from behind her.
"Oh that's right. This here is Angel Song, if you hadn't already met?"
"We did not have a… proper introduction," Knight Light said as he looked to the snow white unicorn.
Angel Song blushed, inside herself she felt giddy with anticipation after having watched how he did it with Twilight. And now it was her turn!
She slowly lifted her hoof for him to take, savoring every moment of the encounter. He looked up at her and brought his lips to her hoof and slowly kissed it. Twilight and Angel Song both noted it seemed to be longer than what was traditionally demanded if Twilight's little display was to the basis of such judgment, but then again nopony there other than the knight had any idea of what tradition dictated.
"And this," Twilight politely interrupted, clearing her own throat," Is my friend Applejack and Spike."
"Well met, Lady Applejack, and to thou also, Sir Spike," Knight Light greeted Applejack in the same manner (though Applejack made a more blatant attempt to pass if it were not for Angel Song's insistence). For Spike, the knight instead gave an acknowledging nod as was appropriate to the gentleman before him.
"Oh my, ain't you just a proper gentlecolt," Applejack blushed lightly at his greeting.
"Of course, my fair apple lady. Tis only proper for a knight. And hail and well met, Sir Spike the Dragon."
"Sir Spike the Dragon… I like the sound of that," Spike said to himself, rubbing his chin as thoughts of grandeur seemed to occupy his mind.
"So," Twilight cleared her throat as all her friends seemed to have been caught up in the moment and she was the only one who had sufficiently recovered or kept their wits about themselves, "What brings you to Ponyville, Sir Knight Light?"
"Is that the name of thy quaint village? Pardon my manners, for I am unfamiliar with thy's… customs. I hail from a faraway land and have traveled long and far to get here. Pray tell, can thou tell me if Canterlot close by?"
"Indeed it is, Sir Knight," Twilight assured him, gesturing towards the north with an open hoof, "It's about a day's journey north of Ponyville. Do you have some business in Canterlot that brings you out so far?"
"Thou could say that," Knight Light said a little uneasily as he looked over at Angel Song briefly before returning his gaze to Twilight Sparkle, "I must meet with the Royal Canterlot family, but I am very much fatigued from my long journey. Would it be all right for me to impose on thou for a place to rest my hooves and regain my strength? I am quite weary, afterall."
"Of course, you can stay at my place. We have some wonderful tea prepared that I know will rejuventate you, as well as some of the best cookies in all of Ponyville," Twilight gave Spike a subtle wink at the compliment she just gave him.
Spike blushed at the oblique compliment while Angel Song sidled up alongside Knight Light as the group headed back towards Twilight's place.
"I like the sound of that. I thank thee, fair lady," he said, though he couldn't help but notice the continued gaze of the white unicorn besides him.
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 3 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
Twilight poured the knight a cup of tea as he sat down on a pillow opposite the table; his eyes were constantly scanning and studying the room they were in – all strange and quite different than he was used to seeing. Angel Song sat to his immediate left while Applejack and Spike sat to his right, leaving Twilight sitting directly across from her newly inducted guest.
"If I may, could you tell us where it is that you come from?" Twilight Sparkle asked of her guest formally.
"Thou may, milady, for I see no reason not to answer thy questions for the hospitality thou hath shown me. I hail from the Kingdom of Canterbury; it lies far, far along the borders of Equestria."
"Canterbury? Can't say I've ever heard of such a place," Applejack piped in, tipping her hat to one side as she looked at the knight.
"I wouldn't be surprised if thou has. Not many of my fellow ponies have occasion to leave Canterbury. We're far too isolated and removed from the rest of Equestria to make many trips to the heartland, and more often than not it is only in the direst of circumstances."
"I assume it is because of one of those circumstances that brings you out here then, Sir Knight Light?" Angel Song immediately cut in as she set her cup of tea down after a polite sip.
Knight Light was in the middle of bending forward to sip at the tea cup on the table but froze at the unicorn's sudden and abrupt question.
"Wh-whatever makes thou think that?" Knight Light asked nervously, his face still hovering close to the tea cup.
"Well, judging by your shifty reaction from earlier and how dodgy you've been, it would seem that whatever 'mission' you're on, it must be quite secretive for you to be so mum about the whole affair, am I not right?" Angel Song poised the analysis back at the knightly pony.
"Quite observant, art thou?" Knight Light pursed his lips and nursed his drink, taking only a small sip as he kept his silence.
Twilight looked uneasily between her two guests as Angel Song's glare continued to bore down on the nervous knight, who seemed to shrink and recoil in reaction. At this rate, she may not get much more information out of her knightly guest if the grilling continued, so Twilight Sparkle let out a nervous laugh to liven up the mood.
"Please Angel Song, he must be very tired from his trip. I'm sure there will be another time for questions, won't there be, Sir Knight Light?"
Noting the window of opportunity afforded him, Sir Knight Light pounced with military precision on the opening.
"Ah, but of course, Lady Twilight Sparkle," Knight Light sat upright, nary casting a glance over at the suspecting unicorn to his side, "Tell me, is it usual for thy villagers to interrogate all strangers that just wander by?"
"Oh no! Of course not," Twilight tried to deflect the answer, least she make Ponyville seem like a hub of skepticism and stereotypical gossip, though in all honesty that wasn't too far removed from the truth, "but you see Angel Song here isn't from Ponyville."
"Oh is that so?" Knight Light turned his eyes towards Angel Song without really cocking his head to fully acknowledge her, "Where is it that thou art from then?"
"Indeed it is," Angel Song said in a matter-of-factly tone, bringing up her hoof in a prideful fashion to rest against her chest, "I am from Canterlot, for I serve her royal highness herself,"
Knight Light nearly spit out his tea… well, in fact he did with the unfortunate victim of the spray being none other than 'Sir' Spike who now stood there, drenched in disgust; however, nopony seemed to pay him any mind as the exchange between the two guests continued.
"Thou art from Canterlot?!"
Angel Song, who had the upper hand in the interrogation, blinked and nodded in surprise, speechless and a bit flushed by his sudden and intent attention he was now giving her, which threw her off-guard. This sudden shift became even more pronounced as he bent his face close to hers since they were seated so closely to one another.
"Tis most wonderful news, most wonderful news indeed,"
"Come again?" Applejack titled her signature cowboy hat forward, just as lost and utterly confused as Twilight and Angel Song were.
"Let me reintroduce myself then, if what thou say art true. I am no mere knight but a prince. I am Prince Knight Light of Castle Canterbury, and I am very glad to make thy acquaintance, Lady Angel Song,"
Angel Song began to blush as all eyes were focused on the two of them, and it got even worse when her mind slowly began to assimilate the newfound information presented before her.
A… prince?! He's a prince pony? An actual princely pony?!
She was supposed to be the one in control of the situation here. She has always been the master of diplomacy and speechcraft, having always used her gift of words to control and steer maters of royal importance in the best interest of her Princess she served. After all, it was her duty to protect and look out for Princess Luna, but that strange feeling again returned to tug at her in her chest. Whatever it was, it was beginning to drive her mad as she still had yet to identify what that feeling was.
"Oh?" was the only response that popped into Angel's head as all further thoughts just came up a blank inside her head.
"Lady Angel Song, I must meet with the Princess as soon as possible. For it is most imperative that I seek council with her at once!"
Twilight was the only one that was fully aware of the situation transpiring between her two guests. While Applejack was dumbfounded and busy watching the exchange, Twilight had been quietly observing each of their expressions and was picking up on the fact that Angel Song was quite flustered and speechless before the Prince, though why she couldn't quite place her hoof on it. Pinkie Pie, on the other hand…. Well, she was just enjoying a cookie, totally oblivious to the conversation at hoof.
"The Princess?" Twilight interjected in a timely manner on Angel's behalf, "Why is it that you must see the Princess?"
"I guess tis time for the truth to come out then? Very well," Knight Light stood on all fours, walking towards the nearest window as she spoke from over his shoulder, "Thou see, all is not well in the state of Canterbury."
The others remained silent, waiting for him to go on once he had composed himself, which he did so in no short order.
"In the Realm, there art two great and powerful pony kingdoms. Canterbury is hence where I am from; proud home of the Knight Order of Canterbury Castle. The other kingdom is great and strong, though a bit barbaric by my pony's standards. That place is known as the Domain of Trotterdam.
Thou see, Trotterdam is the ancestral home of the warponies, and they are currently led by the Warlord Deiter Coltrane. Throughout our long and sordid history, both Canterbury and Trotterdam have guarded the borders of Equestria from all manners of danger: from ghosties and ghoulies to long-legged beasties, to things that go bump in the night."
"But something happened to change that dynamic, I take it?" Twilight deduced.
"Thou art quite right, Lady Twilight Sparkle. Usually, one of the two kingdoms will be the predominant one in charge of the Realm and remain so… that is, until there is some sort of change in the balance of power. Trotterdam did so by procuring for itself a rather… unique pony."
"Unique? Unique in what way?" Applejack asked.
"They now possess a unicorn that is both great and powerful. Thou see, from our part of Equestria it is very, very uncommon to find anypony other than Earth ponies. To highlight, within Castle Canterbury only my very own Captain of the Guard is a unicorn. So, when a unicorn happened to join the ranks of the warponies, there was a crisis of states.
By tradition, we have always held a tournament in which each side would nominate a champion for their kingdom. The champion who is crowned the winner of said event would end up representing the predominant authority for the Realm. We Knights of Canterbury won said event."
"If that is true," Applejack interrupted briskly, "I don't quite reckon what the problem is then. Y'all won didn' ya?"
"Trotterdam's unicorn did not think so, and accused us of cheating, saying that such obviously weak ponies could not have possibly won the tournament fairly. Needless to say, there was quite a… scene, and before we knew it, Trotterdam had declared an open feud against Canterbury. They vowed to take control of the crown by force, and shortly thereafter Castle Canterbury came under siege."
"Oh my," Twilight's eyes narrowed at what this could mean for the rest of Equestria, it was like the situation with Cerberus happening all over again if left unchecked.
"My thoughts exactly. The only option available to my ponies was to go and seek out an equally great and powerful unicorn to contest Trotterdam. I broke through their lines with but a handful of knights and eventually… well, the rest is history at that point and why I stand before thou now. Needless to say, my company has been hounded and doggedly pursued by our foes ever since our departure."
"There are others?" Applejack raised a brow at that.
"There… were," Knight Light faltered, obviously to Twilight it was a sore point that they need not get into right now.
"So because you're on the run, you've been doing your best to not entangle innocent bystanders on your journey?" Twilight reflected.
"Thou hath a sharp eye, Lady Twilight Sparkle. Indeed, I and my company of knights have kept off the roads as much as possible, to conceal our presence; however, before we could reach this here village – Ponyville if I recall the name correctly – we were overtaken by our pursuers and were left with no choice but to split up. Those who did escape should hopefully be finding their way here now as we speak.
But that still doesn't change the fact that I must make it to Canterlot and petition the Princess to intervene on behalf of Canterbury, or I am afraid all hope will be lost."
Silence hung in the room as the gravity of the situation sank into everypony there… well, all except Pinkie Pie who was busy quaffing two more cookies simultaneously in her mouth. Twilight was about to open her mouth and lecture her for not reading the moment when a sudden noise broke the silence abruptly.
Knight Light and Angel Song looked around cautiously for the source of the strange and unusual noise, but its owner knew exactly what – or rather, who – it was.
"Owlowiscious?" Twilight called out to her pet.
Owlowiscious, Twilight Sparkle's nighttime assistant and faithful pet, flew in from the nearest window and landed on her back.
"A friend of yours?" Prince Knight Light asked curious, pushing up on the edge of his helmet with his hoof to get a better look at the bird.
"You can say that," Twilight looked to her pet owl, noticing he was slightly agitated, "Owlowiscious, is something the matter?"
Who, who! Hooted the nocturnal bird as it fluttered over to land near a window on the far side of the room. Applejack cantered over to the window, tilting her hat the opposite way to get a close look outside.
"Twilight, its Rarity and Fluttershy and… oh Nellie! They have company!"
* * *
"Boys, boys; no need to crowd around me so much! There's plenty of me to go around." Rarity giggled like a schoolgirl filly with fancy new ribbons as she found herself surrounded by Canterbury knights.
At the rear of the group was Fluttershy with the lone pegasus knight, and they both walked in total silence with bashful looks to the ground as they followed in the wake of their friends.
"Fair Rarity, I cannot begin to thank you enough," Captain Silver Lancer said at the head of the group of knights that hovered around the fashionista.
"Oh! It was nothing, nothing at all! What else would somepony in my position do but offer a helping hoof to such gallant and noble steeds?" Rarity smiled while relishing and basking in the glow of the knight's attention.
"But I insist, milady. If it weren't for you, us knights would be at a complete lost," Silver Lancer politely retorted, though each and every knight unconsciously puffed up their chests from Rarity's compliments.
"Well, if you must insist… I'm not going to stop you," Rarity's mind was racing with the possibilities of what she could do with oh-so-many handsome pony knights. But as fate would have it, things always had a different way of turning out for the high society pony.
"Rarity? Just what in the hay are y'all doing?" Applejack stepped out from Twilight's house.
Like clowns filing out of a clown car, Applejack was soon followed by Spike, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and finally two more ponies she didn't recognize – one of them clad in similar garb as the knights accompanying her.
"What's this? You have one too?" Rarity sounded flummoxed at seeing 'her' collection of knights incomplete – or the mere notion she was the last to 'catch on'.
"Beg pardon?" Applejack made a face at the fashion pony.
"I think she is referring to him," Angel Song looked at Rarity with deadpan eyes as the Prince walked up alongside her.
"My fellow knights, I am so glad to see thou safe and in good order, and also in such fine company with the lady before us I see," Prince Knight Light grinned at Rarity while passing off the compliment.
"Milord!" the knights stopped and bowed in unison to their Prince, with Rarity making an inquisitive face at what was happening.
Fluttershy and the pegasus knight merely stopped in place and looked on, though the knight shifted a little uneasily in his place.
"Twilight, just what is going on here? It's almost like we've stepped before royalty here," Rarity complained to her purple pony friend.
"I think it would be best if we take this inside, don't you agree Twilight?" Angel Song spoke softly to Twilight Sparkle.
"Of course. Rarity, Fluttershy, would you both mind coming inside for a moment?"
The group followed Twilight inside, with Twilight's original party resuming their places while Rarity and most of the knights taking a comfortable spot by the staircase leading up the Twilight's bedroom. Fluttershy and the Pegasus knight took to sitting with their backs against Twilight's bed as they looked down at all those gathered while Silver Lancer took a spot at the table besides Twilight.
"Now would someone please start explaining what is going on here?" Rarity demanded, her patience wearing thin at being left out of whatever was transpiring here.
Prince Knight Light nodded to the Captain to proceed, and he began to fill in the pieces that both Rarity and Fluttershy had missed moments before when they had the Prince explain the whole situation earlier.
"But however did you come to find them all, especially so quickly?" Spike asked, as curiosity had gotten the best of him after everypony was filled in to what was going on.
"Well, I just so happened to be at the Spa, getting my 'usual' done when one after another each of these handsome pony knights just walked in. They seemed lost and confused and I just couldn't let things stand as it was."
"Uh-huh," Twilight nodded categorically, "And you Fluttershy?"
"Well, yes Twilight… I was, um… going to go feed the animals behind my house when I… uh, ran into, um… Sir Butterscotch, was it?" Fluttershy demurely asked the pegasus beside her.
"Y-y-yes it is, milady," he mumbled his words as he nodded meekly.
Twilight couldn't help but think that if he weren't a colt, that there seriously could have been two Fluttershy's sitting before her. Oh gosh, how awkward that would be if that were true!
"Thank you, Mr. Butterscotch… um, where was I? Oh yes, right! So I went out back and I found him already feeing my little animal friends. So I watched him and he was kindly cracking the nuts for the squirrels exactly like how I would… and singing with the birds after they had their midafternoon meal…"
Both pegasus ponies seemed to blush at their common, shared interests came to light.
"I did not know our very own Butterscotch sang," Captain Silver Lancer chuckled, "When we return to Canterlot, I really must hear this voice. But please, do continue your tale."
"Afterwards, Miss Fluttershy came out of hiding and introduced herself… and we ended up talking and talking… and I guess I sort of let slip I was looking for my friends…" Butterscotch admitted remorsefully.
"Sir Butterscotch!" Captain Silver Lancer looked perturbed that the secret of their quest had been revealed too early, but a quick wave of Prince Knight Light's hoof silenced the Captain and resolved the matter.
"It's all right, Captain. Go on, Sir Butterscotch," prompted the Prince.
Thankful, the pegasus knight took a deep sigh of relief and felt Fluttershy's hoof squeezing his in reassurance. No one down below could see from their viewpoint, but deep down he was very glad she was there right beside him.
"Miss Fluttershy recommended we go find Miss Rarity, and by that point she had already collected everypony but you, milord." Butterscotch wrapped up his explanation and took a deep breath. Finally, he was done having to speak!
"Which returns us to the present, milord," Captain Silver Lancer looked over at the Prince.
"And a very princely dilemma," Angel Song said solemnly.
"Milord, you told them you were a Prince?!" Silver Lancer caught the hint in Angel Song's words and stared askance at the Prince.
"P-P-PRINCE?!" Rarity squealed and trotted eagerly in place, much to the semi-disappointment to the knights gathered around her.
"I… let it slip?" he smiled apologetically, though Twilight and Angel caught a glimmer of mischievousness in his eyes, "But that's all water under the bridge now. We still need to decide our next course of action from here on out."
Rarity's brain had different plans in mind. This was her chance to meet a REAL Prince, not a phony lout like that Prince Blueblood whom she had met at the Grand Galloping Gala. Twilight Sparkle merely rolled her eyes, having correctly predicted Rarity's reaction to the news, though she made deathly sure that Rarity did not catch her rolling her eyes.
"You all just arrived in Ponyville, can't you stay a little while longer?" Rarity's voice had the hint of hurt as she approached the table from her corner spot in the room.
"I would love to say we could, Lady Rarity," Silver Lancer turned his glance towards the unicorn and nodded sadly, "But I can't help but feel that we'd be imposing on Lady Twilight—"
"Nonsense, of course she doesn't mind at all!" Rarity spoke louder than usual, drawing a stern look from the librarian. But Rarity merely pretended she had not seen her expression at all.
Captain Silver Lancer looked once over to Twilight Sparkle before looking towards the Prince seated at the end of the table.
"We are very much in your debt then, Lady Twilight, and your kindness and generosity Lady Rarity. But there still is the matter of our… pursuers. We must make it to Canterlot as soon as possible. The longer we dally here, the greater our chance of being caught. And if we are found here, I'm afraid it would create quite a scene, and one that I would be remiss if we let occur."
"Do you think they'd actually start a fight right here in the heart of Ponyville? They must realize that they and this village are both under the jurisdiction of the Princess?" Angel Song stated in a calm, composed manner.
Twilight could detect a hint of alarm in her voice though and while gazing over at the Prince she caught his downturned eyes and knew the answer to Angel Song's question before he even spoke.
"I'm afraid that wouldn't matter to them, Lady Angel Song," Prince Knight Light answered gravely, "The warlord would not hesitate to tear down all of Ponyville in his mad obsession to find us knights; building by building, pony by pony if he must. Truth be told, even if we weren't here, nopony would truly be safe until we have all been apprehended."
The Prince bent down and slowly nibbled on an unfinished cookie from earlier. Spike walked around with a platter of extra cookies for their newest additions, all of whom greatly accepted with much praise to the dragon for his hospitality. Twilight couldn't help but crack a smile at Spike's true motive for being such a good host: either it was because he truly was the most generous, kindest baby dragon there could be… or if it were the fact that each and every knight regarded him as 'Sir Spike' when thanking him.
"That's just hooey, I'd like to see them try," Applejack slammed her hoof down on Twilight's table.
"You do not know him as well as we do, milady," Captain Silver Lancer spoke in turn, "Just us breaking through the siege around Castle Canterbury, he singlehoofedly took on and injured more than a dozen of our knights – alone."
"A dozen?" Twilight said with genuine surprise.
"Indeed, we had to commit quite a few squads of knights just so we could break through. That is what Sir Butterscotch told me when we sent him back to get a report from the main force," Prince Knight said gravely, "Coltrane is someone not to be trifled with."
"Oh dear…!" Fluttershy squeaked from above, but this time it was Butterscotch who patted her reassuringly.
"And that is why," Prince Knight Light looked gravely over at Twilight Sparkle, "we cannot tarry much longer. I can only imagine the damage he will cause if he gets here to Ponyville before we—"
"WHERE ARE THEY?!" boomed a loud, commanding voice from outside, which was soon followed by other loud noises.
A loud crash startled all the ponies in Twilight's home, with Fluttershy and Butterscotch ducking under Twilight's bed in fear.
"Just what in Equestria is all that racket?" Applejack was both curious and slightly annoyed at the loud ruckus.
Everypony gathered at the window to see the source of the commotion, except Fluttershy and Sir Butterscotch who stayed safely tucked beneath the bed in the upper loft, quivering like scaredy cats.
A very upset Cherry Berry was looking down in astonishment at the wreckage that used to be her cherry cart that she used to hawk her wares, or had at any rate. Now, all that was left were broken planks, nails, and squashed fruits strewn all over the town square. Shielding her was a very determined and defiant Rainbow Dash, while beyond her was…
"It's him!" Captain Silver Lancer narrowed his eyes to a group of ponies arrayed against Rainbow Dash.
Six beefy and scary-looking warponies, dressed head to hoof in battle armor flanked who apparently must have been their leader. An imposing and tall stallion compared to his fellows, he wore a unique curled, twin-horned bridled helmet with the mark of an axe slicing into a fat cupcake on his flank.
"Just what do you think you had to go and do that for?" demanded an angry rainbow-colored pegasus to the head of the warponies.
"Did what? Are you accusing me of something? Surely it isn't my fault that she got in our way," the apparent alpha male of the group snorted.
"Uh oh, this looks like trouble, Twi," Applejack noted with great concern.
Rainbow Dash wasn't known for being the coolest head of all the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, and Twilight knew that only if cooler heads prevailed would that there would be a difference between a crisis averted or a full blown disaster! Twilight Sparkle glanced over and began to study the covered faces of each of the Canterbury pony knights one-by-one before finishing up with an assessment of the Prince himself.
It was more than apparent to her that these stallions were in no shape currently to confront so many of their aggressors; least of all they were outnumbered. The Prince seemed tired and exhausted from the constant harassment that has dogged him since fleeing his home, so any plan involving them was surely to fail. But what to do now?
Think Twilight, think! She told herself and tapped her hoof against her forehead.
If things got bad, regardless of whatever plan Twilight put forth, she had a feeling that the knights would be forced to come out of hiding to protect the citizens of Ponyville. That was a lose-lose situation to her. What she needed was to buy them time… but how? All she was good for was lecturing…
That's when it clicked inside her skull.
Lecturing! I can lecture them! She smiled proudly and gave herself an imaginary pat on the back, though once she realized it she hoped no one had noticed her eccentric behavior. She always had a problem with that and always became self-conscious about that after the fact.
"I see you have a plan, Twilight?" Angel Song was looking intently at her, though her eyes carried only a serious, steely resolve and belied nothing of catching Twilight in her 'moment'.
"This is a job for us to resolve!" Twilight raised a hoof defiantly, trying to seem impressive and proud of herself, though Prince Knight Light looked at her skeptically.
"I cannot allow thou, Lady Twilight Sparkle. This is clearly our problem, and by coming here we have inadvertently involved thee."
"You may be right, Prince Knight Light," Twilight interrupted politely, "but you have a very important mission that you must see through, am I not correct?"
"That may be true but—"
"And," Angel Song followed up, almost as if she had rehearsed her entry into the conversation and was reading Twilight's mind, "Those ponies out there have committed an offense in Ponyville. Thus I think it would be right to assume that the residents of Ponyville have the right to take matters into their own hands, am I not also correct, Twilight Sparkle?"
"Exactly," Twilight beamed brightly and did her best to give the best a confident, determined smile towards the Prince.
"Yes, but—" the Prince tried to speak but found himself interrupted once again, much to his chagrin.
"You also forget, my Prince," Angel Song raised her voice as she held her hoof up and silenced the objections of the princely pony, "Not only is Twilight Sparkle a pupil of Princess Celestia, but I am also here as a representative of Princess Luna. Together we have more than enough authority to make them back down if need be, unless they really want to pick a fight with Equestria's Royalty. As pigheaded as you make this warlord out to be, I'm sure that even the most dimwitted of ponies must know the limits of rejecting the ultimate authority?"
The knights in the room looked at each other before closing their eyes and nodding in agreement. Everypony except the Prince, who looked incredulous as he scanned the faces in the room.
"Democracy works against me again, I see," he muttered bitterly to himself and threw his hooves up in the air in frustration.
Prince Knight Light then plopped himself down on the floor, sitting up with his fore legs folded over his chest.
"Do as thou wishes, but know this. If it looks like that thee may come to blows with the warlord and his entourage, me and my knights WILL come to thy aid, regardless if thou likes it or not. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
Twilight nodded in understanding. It was a reasonable request to acquiesce to despite all the 'conditions' and restrictions she just put down on a pony prince who was chaffing at being unable to stay true to his core values of being both chivalrous and upstanding.
"Let's go girls," Twilight said as she cantered to the door of her home, "We got ourselves a warpony to put in his place!"
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 4 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
"I don't see anyone else here that could have done such a thing," Rainbow Dash was flapping her wings quickly as she pressed herself right up into Coltrane's face, staring him down hard with one eye.
"And I say you're as blind as a bat!" he roared back, puffing up his chest and inspiring fear in all the other Ponyvillians gathered to see what all the commotion was about, "Now, shove off before you really start to get on my nerve."
"Get on your nerve? Maybe you're the one getting on my nerves, ever think about that?" Rainbow dash was now on the verge of getting spitting mad at the rudeness the warpony was giving her.
Rainbow Dash was also developing an acute case of tunnel vision as she was only focusing on the leader and not the rest of his companions that began to form up around her. And the whole time this face-to-face grudge match was going on, the larger the crowd composed of the residents of Ponyville seemed to form a circular wall around them.
"And tell me, what if I didn't want to get out of your way? What are you going to do about that now, buddy?"
"Buddy? I am not your buddy, you winged wimpy worm."
"Worm? Wimpy?! I think you're nothing but a loudmouth blowhard that wouldn't know manners if it bit you on the flank!"
"Why you!" Coltrane was starting to become fuming mad now at the arrogance of the blue rainbow-colored Pegasus pony, "I am literally going to smash you into—"
"Just what seems to be the problem here?" Twilight's interruption seemed to be a Godsend as a collective sigh of relief could be heard from the ponies in the surrounding crowd.
"Twilight, good timing!" Rainbow Dash landed neatly on all fours and trotted over to her friend Twilight Sparkle and half-turned to glare at Coltrane, "Somepony here thinks he can waltz right on into our town like he owns the place and just break whatever he wants! Look, he even smashed Cherry Berry's cherry cart!"
All eyes – especially those of each of the warponies – were focused intently on Cherry Berry. She slinked back up against the wall that formed the perimeter of the gathering crowd.
"It's really okay… it was an accident, I'm sure," she chuckled nervously.
"If the owner of the cart says it was an accident, I frankly can't help but see why this should be of any of your concern then," glowered the warlord as sparks flew between him and Rainbow Dash, "Unless it were to pick a fight."
"Pardon us, Sirs," Twilight pushed past Rainbow Dash and half bowed to the warlord, "We meant no disrespect at all of you or your friends."
Coltrane grinned and raised himself up regally at Twilight's formal speech and humble bowing. Rainbow Dash's jaw – on the other hand – literally hit the ground at Twilight's groveling-like talk.
"Well, I'm glad simple courtesy isn't entirely lost on all of you backwater ponies," the warlord said dismissively.
"Why I oughta…!" Rainbow Dash 'rolled' up her nonexistent sleeves and prepared to go all in, but some timely intervention on Applejack and Angel Song's part dissuaded her – against her will – from following up on her threat.
"If I may introduce myself? I am Twilight Sparkle, a student of Princess Celestia,"
"Oh, is that a fact?" Destrier Coltrane raised a curious brow as his company of warponies erupted into hushed whispers and conversation.
Though a quick, stern look from the warlord back as his fellows immediately hushed them into silence.
"And I am Angel Song, hoofmaiden and attendant to Princess Luna," Angel Song approached from behind and stood beside Twilight Sparkle.
"Princess… Luna?" Coltrane seemed more perplexed at that announcement, but a quick follow-up explanation from Twilight cleared the air that there were in fact two Princesses in charge of Equestria.
"I see… a lot has happened since…" Coltrane words seemed to drift off and his tone was a lot less confrontational after Twilight's cordial explanation. He nodded to nopony in particular but himself as he processed her words.
"May I ask, what brings you gentlecolts to our humble town?"
"Ah, indeed you may! We're currently tracking down some… fugitives from Trotterdam. Con artists they are; they like to deceive innocent fillies with their charm and silver, forked tongues; claiming to be knights of all things! You haven't by any chance seen these scondrels, have you?"
"No, no; of course not. I think I would have remembered seeing such ponies. Have you Angel?" Twilight answered as she prompted the unicorn.
"Can't say that I have either," Angel Song replied almost on cue, and a quick glance at the crowd coerced them into agreement as hushed whispers and nods went all around.
"Very well, it seems our detour here was in vain. Tell me, which way is Canterlot? We have our suspicions these fugitives may be headed there as we speak."
Twilight provided them the directions they sought – as any falsehood would just land these warponies back to Ponyville – and she was rewarded with a quick nod of thanks from their leader. With that, Coltrane and his warponies raced off in a full gallop off into the distance and out of sight.
"I say Twi, your hifalutin talking sure did the trick," Applejack gave her friend a smile of approval for a performance well done.
"What in the hay?!" Rainbow Dash finally broke away from Applejack's grip and flew up into Twilight's face, "Why did you let them go?"
"I'll take care of things here, Twilight," Angel Song trotted elegantly over to Cherry Berry, and from what Twilight could pick up, something about compensation from the Canterlot Royal Treasury was all she could make out.
Though more importantly, it gave her time to clear up some finer points to her friend Rainbow Dash.
"Come with me, Rainbow," Twilight ordered nonchalantly and turned with everyone except Angel Song back to her home.
"What's with you guys, you're all acting really strange-"
Rainbow Dash didn't get a chance to finish that thought as she entered Twilight's house. As she stepped through the door, four noble knightly ponies stood at attention from besides Rarity, while a fifth immediately ducked behind a bed that Fluttershy was sitting atop of.
"Easy there, Butterscotch. It's not them," Captain Silver Lancer rolled his eyes, mildly irritated with the cowardly knight's manners.
"Hey, those are those ponies they were talking about!" declared Rainbow Dash.
"Thank you, captain obvious," Twilight remarked quietly to herself, though Applejack was close enough to catch it and stifle a giggle, "Can we please shut the door before the rest of the Equestria knows they are here?"
Pinkie Pie kicked the door close as soon as soon as the last of them entered, and she sprung happily next to Twilight.
"Will somepony please explain to me what is going on here?" Rainbow demanded, her voice tainted with impatience by all this secrecy.
Twilight took Rainbow aside and began to explain to her before a knock on the door allowed Angel Song to rejoin the group.
"How did things fare, Lady Angel Song?" the Prince asked with a twinge of uncertainty in his voice.
Angel Song seemed to beam at his attention, trotting close to the Prince… that was until Rarity casually and not so discreetly came in between the both of them.
"They're gone for now. They probably went on their way ahead towards Canterlot to see if they had missed you," Angel Song spoke, though her stern gaze was focused on the other white unicorn in the room.
"Well, that isn't good," Silver Lancer's ears perked up at the observation, "If they are waiting ahead, then surely we will not be able to make it to Canterlot anytime soon,"
"Until they get bored," Twilight had just finished explaining things to Rainbow when she stepped into the conversation, "At which point they'll have realized that they must have gone too far ahead and will backtrack to find all of you. I was under the impression that their leader is not the most patient of ponies?"
"Thou art most correct in assuming so. So that leaves us knights with another pressing question then – what do we do now?" Knight Light purposed with an almost unamused expression on his face.
"We can always show you a good time! We love having guests! There are tons of fun things to do while you are all here in Ponyville!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed and began bouncing around the room.
"Fun? What is this fun thou speakest of?" Prince Knight Light asked confused.
Twilight suppressed a giggle as she grinned widely, showing off her sparkling teeth. Those same words had been uttered by another certain pony princess she knew. Amazing how some things changed, others stayed the same.
"I don't know, that sounds awfully risky," Angel Song voiced her own concerns over the plans.
"Nonsense, us ponyfolks here will make sure that y'all be safe for the day. Trust me on that!" Applejack announced as she scooped up Rainbow Dash in a hooked hoof beside her.
"I have a bad feeling about this…" Butterscotch whispered quietly to himself and hid his head beneath Twilight's pillow while Fluttershy gently patted him on the back to comfort him.
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 5 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
"Remind me again why we art here?" Prince Knight Light sounded uneasy and wary as he stepped into the lobby as the sound of a bell chiming marked his entrance.
"I really don't think this place is for me…" Angel Song's voice trailed the Prince's as she followed shortly in afterwards, her tone colored with befuddlement at definitely feeling out of her element.
"Because," Rarity began to explain again, "For important occasions like this, one has to look their best!"
"Yes, but I think I'm fine the way—" Angel Song began but found her words cut off abruptly.
"Wh-h-h-what?! No, no, no my dear! Simply no! You, of all ponies, need this way more than I do!" Rarity nudged Angel Song with a well-placed rump push, forcing her through the doorway.
"Is that… meant to be a backhanded compliment?" Angel Song narrowed her stern eyes at the fashionista and tried to ground her hooves into the floor but to no avail.
"Milady, I think what she means is that thou could look even better—" Prince Knight Light began to comment.
"Did you say something, Prince Knight Light?" Angel Song's stern gaze turned to stare down the princely pony at his poor choice of words.
Catching just a glimpse of the stare, he gave her a wide grin that stretched from ear to ear.
"My dear, calm your pretty little head. You both definitely need the full treatment. My treat!"
"But Lady Rarity, I couldn't possibly expect thou to pay—" Prince Knight Light said but at this point had expected himself to be interrupted yet again.
"Nonsense! My reward would be to merely see you both all gussied up!" Rarity cut off the Prince, and he began to suspect that nopony seemed to remember his status or station here, "Hello, anypony here?"
Two ponies zipped quickly across the floor and seemed to 'slide' to a halt, leaning to one side as if listening with bated breath for Rarity's next words. They each wore a white headband just above their foreheads and each sported colors that were inverted when compared with each other. While both ponies seemed the same – vivacious blue eyes adorned each of them – one bore a light blue coat and sparkling pink hair while her other twin exhibited the exact opposite.
"Ah, there you two are! The 'usual' please!" Rarity announced briefly and stood back on her hind legs to 'clop' her hooves together.
"Usual? Ah, wait! Rarity-y-y-y!" Angel Song protested as Aloe zipped quickly behind her and pushed her way into the heart of the spa.
"I think I'll just wait outside—" Prince Knight Light tried to say, but the pink spa pony shook her head and tapped his nose with her hoof.
"Simply not, Sir," Lotus said and gave his coat a good once-over before continuing, "A pony of your stature and standing simply cannot be left to be! Come, come!"
Prince Knight Light was mildly surprised as Lotus quickly got around behind him and pushed him shortly on the hooves of her other twin.
Rarity giggled and felt like a school filly once again. She always loved dressing up and making her friends look pretty, and it would be a crime against fashion if she let these two escape her grip now. Angel Song and Knight Light both shared the same perplexed looks as their eyes scanned their unfamiliar setting as they were pushed quickly through the building to receive… the 'treatment'.
* * *
"My, my!" Aloe looked at the Prince and shook her head disapprovingly, "This simply cannot do! Your coat is a mess!"
"Well, I have been traveling for a long time… baths art not exactly my highest priority-"
And like clock-work, he made a face as he was soon interrupted again – for the umpteenth time today. Were the ponies of Ponyville always so… unaware of their own impudent manners?
"We'll need to send you straight to the baths!" Aloe said as her sister Lotus nodded from the order, "Miss Rarity, Miss Angel Song; will you two please follow me?"
Lotus took the struggling Prince away and down the hall, with the only sound following after him being the slam of the door. And before Angel Song knew it herself, she was rushed quickly into a fluffy, cotton robe and gently set upon a massage table alongside Rarity. Pillows were pushed underneath both of their fore legs while a strong, large white pony sporting a golden mane began to rapidly pound away at Rarity's back.
"You know I've never done this before…" Angel Song stated slowly as Aloe stood up on her hind legs and began to gently knead her back.
A shiver ran down Angel Song's back and she let out a sigh as she seemed to melt to the spa pony's touch.
"Miss Angel, you are delicate but so tense! This simply cannot be!" Aloe remarked in astonishment, having read the white unicorn's mind and knowing exactly how to treat the sensitive unicorn, much like a certain shy Pegasus that frequents the spa just as Miss Rarity does.
Angel Song couldn't help but remain silent as she started to get the 'hang' of this whole spa thing and the massaging continued.
"We'll need to set you up with some appointments, at least weekly would be best for you," Aloe said as she was trying to up sale herself.
"Mmhmm," Angel Song agreed absentmindedly and closed her eyes to enjoy herself.
As the day wore on, they both did Rarity's 'usual': a relaxing mud bath followed by a facial, then a pony-pedicure, and finally a nice and hot sauna. Rarity lay across from Angel Song as they both wore the spa's signature cotton robes while Aloe poured a large ladle of water over the hot stones in the wooden-walled room.
"Angel, Angel; my dear, sweet Angel," Rarity said as she scooted up alongside Angel Song and spoke in a hushed whisper, "Aren't you glad that you came here now? We ladies simply MUST look fabulous for those knights we are entertaining! It is our responsibility… no, our duty to look our best for them! As responsible, well-meaning ladies, of course."
"Of course…" Angel Song reluctantly agreed with her hostess as the steam felt so refreshing against her coat, "Though this is a lot of fuss when we have better things to—"
"You can cut the act now, darling. He isn't here," Rarity said coolly as eyes narrowed on the Canterlot unicorn.
"Act?" Angel Song reacted incredulous to the remark.
"Angel, one doesn't stay in the business of show business without learning a thing or two on being a good actor. And oh you are so good. But frankly, my dear, you needn't keep up the act when nopony else is here."
"I really don't know what you are talking about," Angel Song unconsciously relaxed away from Rarity and against the wall, taking a deep breath as she tried to resume enjoying the sauna experience.
"Oh, then I guess you wouldn't mind if I swept that Prince off his royal hooves then?" Rarity said in an aside.
"Now just you wait!" Angel Song sprung up on all fours, glowering at Rarity.
"Is that jealousy I sense, hmm?" Rarity gave her a smart-alecky face at the outburst Angel just made.
"That is…" Angel Song bit her tongue and sank back down into her previous position, "What I meant to say was, the Prince is on official business and as a faithful and loyal servant to Princess Luna, it is my responsibility – and mine alone – to make sure he arrives in Canterlot so the Princess can hear his petition, that is all."
"Really?" Rarity didn't quite believe her, her acting skills might have fooled Twilight or her other friends, but nopony who was anypony could slip one thing by her.
"So you don't care at all for dressing up and getting pretty for him, hm? That was one of the reasons why I invited you, because I thought it would do you some good. But if you really don't see the fuss in all this, the door is right there, my dear."
Angel Song frowned and paused, looking towards the door.
"Or is it maybe you just are smitten with the first handsome pony, hm? Would you feel this way if you happened upon another gorgeous stallion?"
"No! I'm not like that," Angel Song protested and crossed her legs in front of herself.
"Just be honest with yourself Angel, my dear," Rarity continued in a motherly type of tone, "Don't worry, nothing you say will leave this room, I promise. But if you feel this really is all but a chore, I don't mean to impose and I am certainly not going to compel you to stay. The door is right there if you wish to leave. But the Prince, he's a stallion, and stallions need to be… ah, told in the kindest, gentlest terms what is in their best interests. Don't you think so, darling?"
A long silence followed as Angel Song looked over the fashionista pony. Looking at the unicorn with the wavy purple mane; she couldn't help but feel that for once she was grateful to the unicorn for arranging this whole… experience.
"The usual, then…?" she finally conceded, smiling weakly as she tried to mimic Rarity's upper society delivery.
Rarity giggled and mentally was bouncing on all four hooves while she squealed with delight.
"Now that's a good sport! Let's get fabulous!" Rarity declared.
More time passed for the two unicorns, though due to her low tolerance and delicate stamina – being that it was her first time – Angel Song was the first to leave the sauna. She stepped out the door, leaving Rarity with Aloe to continue to soak up and enjoy the steam bath.
"Phew, I don't know how that unicorn does it—" Angel began to say to herself except she soon found herself faceplanting into a black body.
She tumbled to the floor with her towel landing over her head, sputtering from surprise and trying to focus her spinning, dazed eyes. She pulled off the towel to see what had become of the pony she had bumped into. What she experienced next was unexpected, as she could feel her chest tightening up the more she looked at him.
A dashing stallion sat cross-legged and dizzy before her. His coat was nicely combed and smooth and a bit wavy, with white socks to match his strong legs. The end of his nose was as white as snow while in the middle of his forehead and between his eyes was a white diamond. His oil-slick mane and tail cascaded in deep, dark straight strands over his body.
"Oh, excuse me, Sir!" Angel Song realized her position after a momentarily lapse in awareness and rose to her hooves, offering an outstretched hoof to the fallen stallion.
"That… is quite… all right," the stallion seemed to blush and acted really shyly.
He took her hoof regardless, his face looking away from her as he rose.
"Do you… come here often?" she giggled and teased him, fluttering her eyelashes like one of the spa ponies she had observed doing quite often in the company of Miss Rarity when they addressed her for her 'usual'.
"Not really… Oh… umm… I really got to…go…" the black stallion stuttered as he looked bashfully down at the ground and tried to sneak by Angel Song while hugging the wall.
"Oh there you are! Trying to run off now, are we? Back you go!" Lotus called from down the end of the hallway and was in mere seconds after saying that right on the flanks of the black stallion.
She gently grabbed the stallion by the shoulders, turned him around, and began marching him back from the direction he came.
"Excuse us, Miss Angel. This big, bashful boy is a lot more passive than he looks, so don't mind him," the blue spa pony winked and had already whisked away that handsome horse.
Angel Song was left standing awe-struck in the hallway alone as she started to take deep breaths to calm herself. Why was she getting flustered over males all of a sudden? Was what Rarity said right? Did she only care about any hunky or handsome pony that crossed her path? She started to feel dejected and let her towel fall from her head to the floor.
"First the Prince, and now that hot stallion?" she said to herself and paused, blinking in surprise, "Did I just use the word… hot?"
The unicorn's face grew flushed and she seemed to shrink into herself, rubbing her hooves nervously and shyly together now that she was alone in the hallway – at least that is what she thought.
"Hot you say, darling?" Rarity spoke as she stepped out of the sauna as the spa pony behind her parted ways with her, "I guess for your complexion, it might have been a little much for you."
Angel Song blinked her eyes in confusion for a moment, before realizing what Rarity was talking about.
"Oh, yes! I just needed to get a little cool air, that's all," she chuckled nervously and straightened herself out, pretending to fan herself with her hoof.
"Come along, Miss Angel!" the spa pony called out from them in the opposite direction that her twin had taken the black stallion.
"Go ahead, my dear. I'll catch up," Rarity told the unicorn, "I'm just going to go see how our Prince is holding up. Now run along, dear."
The snow-white unicorn nodded and trotted slowly after Aloe the Spa Pony. Once she was out of sight, Rarity began walking down the hall where Lotus should be: entertaining the Prince.
"Tis quite all right, I don't need a brushing again! Please?" half-shouted a voice from the door at the end of the hall.
Rarity chuckled to herself and pushed the door wide-open with a single hoof. As she entered the room, she saw a very handsome but fretting princely pony quickly slipping his helmet on over his caparison coat. Lotus, the other of the Spa ponies, was behind him and brushing his magnificent tail.
His sterling black coat was cleaned and neatly combed, as well as his grand tail. His hooves seemed to shine keenly from a good polishing and his attire looked as if it had received a thorough cleaning and washing.
"Thou really don't have–"
"Hush, your tail is simply luxurious!" Lotus spoke with her familiar accent and hushed the stallion.
"My, my, my; somepony looks magnificent if I dare say," Rarity quipped as she made her presence known to the two occupants in the room.
"Lady Rarity," Prince Knight Light looked over and smiled in partial relief, "Is this trial almost over yet? Nothing in my knightly training has prepared me for… well, this!"
Rarity approached him and looked behind him to give Lotus a nod. She stopped brushing his tail and Rarity began to circle the Prince like a hungry shark in the ocean, eyeing every facet and angle of the handsome stallion.
"Shush," Rarity politely barked back at him, silencing him as if she were a dominatrix.
She was in the zone, her eyes looking for any perceivable flaw or out-of-place detail that could ruin his image. He was being groomed by her best ponies, and he had to look the part. Oh yes, he had to look good for the part he was to play in her magnificent plan. But that was another reason why she loved doing business at the Ponyville Spa – the ponies that ran it had never once let her down or allowed her to leave the establishment with any blemish or impurity. This time –Rarity noted – they had done it again! This time with the Prince.
"Yes, yes… you look dashing. Perfect, just as I envisioned!" Rarity gave her approval, much to Lotus's delight, "And yes, Prince Knight Light. The 'ordeal' is finally over."
"Thank goodness!" the Prince sighed in relief but then began looking around, "Is Lady Angel Song not with thou?"
"We ladies are not yet done. Why don't you head back and kill some time with Twilight? She had mentioned there might be a book that would interest you until we ladies get back. So go run along now, dear, and be a good little stallion, will you?"
"Of course… I shall catch thou at Twilight's humble home then," Prince Knight Light nodded his thanks and bid the two ponies farewell, leaving Rarity alone with Lotus.
"Now then," she motioned for Lotus into the hallway, "We have less than half a day to create a masterpiece with our last unicorn. Let's get to business then!"
"Of course, Miss Rarity!" Lotus gave her best smile to her favorite customer.
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 6 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
"Tis a quaint village thou doth have here, Lady Twilight Sparkle," Prince Knight Light said as he walked side-by-side with Celestia's star student, "It really is nice… seeing what we art protecting."
"Why thank you, Sir," she beamed brightly back at him, causing him to let out a chuckle, "Do know that all of Ponyville greatly appreciates the hard work your knights are doing out there."
"And also," the Prince continued, "It was a strange coincidence to have run into you as soon as I left that… what did thou call it… a spa?"
Twilight let out a cute, polite giggle and nodded affirmatively to the Prince.
"Very good, you got it in one, Prince!" Twilight teased him, mimicking her teachers back when she was in magic school.
"I am a Prince, thou know," Knight Light smiled weakly in both humor and mock defeat, having long ago given up the notion that anypony in this village would truly be wary of his station.
"Oh, of course," Twilight smiled as they walked together back towards her home, "How did you enjoy your time at the spa though? I hope Rarity didn't outdo herself?"
"Milady, saying that she overdid anything would be a great understatement."
They both laughed together as even with his briefest of times spent with the fashion-obsessed unicorn, he had apparently gathered very much about her personality.
"By the way, Prince Knight Light, I have been curious about something."
"Oh? What is it that interests thou?" Knight Light answered her question warmly.
"Your oath. You said that you and your knights have sworn an oath to protect Equestria. I have been curious about it for quite some time, if it isn't too much trouble…"
"Of course, I'll recite it to thou if thou really wants to hear it."
Twilight nodded eagerly. As a student to Princess Celestia, it was also her duty to learn as much as there was to better fulfill her obligations to the Princess.
"Back where I hail from, the Knights of Canterbury have sworn a solemn oath when we art first knighted. It goes something like this:
From ghoulies and ghosties to long-legged beasties And things that go bump in the night, Stand strong, we knights of old To protect, honor we must uphold!
"Wow, catchy," Twilight looked stunned at his near-perfect recital.
"I thank thou, but I wasn't the one who came up with it. Thou see, Lady Twilight, Canterbury has always stood on Equestria's borders, forever alone from the rest of the country. And there art but many dark and shadowy thing out there. Things that art best forgotten and left alone. Without the ponies of the Realm – and I do mean Canterbury and Trotterdam – many of those things would love to find their way to the heart of Equestria. Seeing how happy the villagers here are, I do not think Ponyville could survive such an incursion – not without major intervention anyway. That is why the Knights of Castle Canterbury have taken it upon ourselves to serve and protect all of the Princess' subjects and lands."
Twilight blinked her eyes in admiration.
"Let me be the first to say then, thank you Sir Knight Light,"
Prince Knight Light stopped on the spot and turned to face Twilight fully, blinking in astonishment.
"What for, Lady Twilight Sparkle?"
"I said, thank you, on behalf of all of Ponyville and Princess Celestia. I'm sure she deeply respects what the knights do, even if they do it alone and so far away from the rest of the Equestria,"
Prince Knight Light chuckled softly and shook his head slowly.
"I see now why Celestia chose you," he said.
"Oh? What do you mean, Sir?"
"Nothing, nothing," Prince Knight Light turned around but before he picked up his pace, he finished his thought, "Though, I am very thankful that at least somepony thinks so. By the way, Lady Rarity mentions that there was a certain book that I might be interested in? May I see it when we get back?"
* * *
It was late in the evening when everyone finally reassembled at Twilight's home. Prince Knight Light was reading a certain good book about pony tales and princes on Twilight's podium while Spike was basking in the glow of compliments from the other pony knights, whom had now come to view him as their equal, despite his size. Pinkie Pie was helping herself to the delicious treats she had prepared for the occasion and Twilight was doing her best to suppress a chuckle as Captain Silver Lancer and Rainbow Dash were attempting to 'one-up' each other in tales of heroism, bravery, and adventure. Fluttershy and the sole Pegasus knight were in deep conversation about the day's events and… feeding animals, if Twilight was correct in what she overheard, while one of the knightly ponies was in the middle of a hoof-wrestling contest of strength with Applejack.
That left only two of the invited guests missing, they being Rarity and Angel Song. She knew that Rarity loved the Ponyville Spa a whole lot, but for her to be this late?
"They're late, so very late," Twilight muttered and poured herself some juice from a bottle into her cup using just her magic.
"I'm sure they'll be here soon," Prince Knight Light replied without taking his eyes off the book that he was totally engrossed in, "They must be running late with errands or something or other. The knight I had sent to fetch them earlier assured me they would be back soon."
"I guess you're right. By the way Prince Knight Light, how are you enjoying the book?"
"I'm glad thou asks. I'm quite the scholar, even if I don't look the part, at least if thou goes by what my knights say about me to be true. Mind thou, I have quite my own collection back at Castle Canterbury. Though it pales in comparison to thou's library here. Anyway, I am quite fond of this particular book of here… this one tale I'm reading is about a prince that goes to save a fair Princess, but the Princess ends up saving him in the end. Imagine that!"
Twilight blinked and nodded, concealing a slight smile. She always enjoyed introducing ponies to the joys of reading, especially after how she got Rainbow Dash hooked on her private collection about Daring-Do.
"Funny you should choose that one book," she said.
"Why doth thou think it funny? Was this supposed to be a comedy?" Prince Knight Light blinked in confusion, wondering if he had gotten the tone of the book wrong from his readings.
"No, no; that's not what I meant. What I mean to say is that Angel Song was actually flipping through that book also, and she really seemed to enjoy it."
"Really? Thou don't say…" the Prince paused as if reflecting on something.
Before Twilight or the Prince could carry on with their conversation, the door to her home flew open and in entered Lady Rarity and Lady Angel Song. All the knights – save Butterscotch – immediately gave the pair their fullest attention, as both were quite the sight to behold.
Dressed in an elegant and flowing golden cloth with a purple sash around her neck, Rarity's dress was accented by the crowning piece of her outfit: her many jewel-facetted tiara she wore behind her horn that accentuated the unicorn's lust for gems..
Prince Knight Light's attention, however, was on the filly that followed after her shortly. Angel Song wore a sparkling blue gown, sequenced with stars along the lower hem. She gracefully trotted in with glass slippers on each hoof, a single star engraved on either side while her shawl was fastened around her neck by a single bright, five-point star. Her mane seemed to shine and her white coat seemed to glow a lot more than usual as she seemed to be more self-conscious than usual about her appearance, which the Prince picked up on almost immediately.
"Taking it up to 11?" Rainbow Dash hovered in the air and folded her arms across her chest.
"Why, whatever do you mean, Rainbow dear? This is how I always dress up for a party."
"Yeah, if the party ended with 'Gala' and began with 'Grand'," whispered Applejack into Twilight's ear, causing the librarian to suppress a sudden bout of laughter.
It took a moment but Twilight recognized Angel Song's outfit. It was the very same dress that she herself had worn to the gala last year!
"Milady, you look marvelous," Prince Knight Light closed the book and trotted over to her, extending an outstretched hoof to the mare.
"You… think so?" Angel Song didn't sound very sure of it, but that didn't stop her from offering her glass slipper and hoof to him, which he promptly kissed as a true gentlecolt should.
"Now that everyone is here, let's get this party started!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed and raised the volume on the gramophone – one that she just so happened to bring.
"Well, Price Charming," Rarity cut in between Angel Song and Knight Light, "Shall we dance?"
Knight Light looked a bit flustered as he was dragged to the middle of the dance floor, though a very conspicuous Angel Song looked on with narrowed eyes.
"Just who does she think she is?" muttered Angel Song in a low tone, unknowingly behind clenched teeth.
"Why, Rarity of course! Duh! Who else would she be?" Pinkie Pie announced as she appeared out of nowhere behind Angel, startling her.
"W-where did you come from?" Angel Song could have sworn that Pinky Pie was on the other side of the room just a moment ago.
"She's always here, and now she's there," Twilight said in a matter-of-factly tone as Pinkie Pie dashed off for the next object or pony to capture her interest.
"Oh, I see…" mumbled the other unicorn as she turned her attention back to the center of the room.
Prince Knight Light was tapping his hooves a bit awkwardly as Rarity led the Prince in a dance to the tune playing from Twilight's phonograph. Rarity was enjoying herself quite so as she leaned into the Prince, resting her head against his shoulder as they moved about on the dance floor. But Twilight's gaze was more focused on Angel Song as she seemed to be agonizing over something.
"Angel, are you okay?" Twilight asked.
"Oh but of course, Twilight. Whatever would give you the impression that something was wrong?" Angel Song replied, though her eyes never left the dancing duo.
"Because you're going to tear your dress if you keep doing that,"
Angel Song looked down at her hooves and just noticed that she had been pulling and wringing out her dress while watching the Prince and his dancing partner go at it on the dance floor. Turning her head to Twilight, she saw the look of concern that shone in her hostess' eyes.
"Oh, I didn't realize… ah, I'm sorry," Angel Song sighed and resigned herself to the corner of the room, away from everyone else.
Angel Song grabbed the book off the podium as she passed by it and went to make a private spot for her to hunker down in. She slowly flipped through the pages and seemed determined to lose herself in its fictional world, if it wasn't for a certain purple unicorn intruding on her self-banishment.
"You really like that book, don't you?" Twilight asked with a touch of concern in her voice as she leaned close to her fellow unicorn.
"Oh, have you not read this yet? It's simply such a fabulous collection of pony tales. A Princess in distress is captured by a terrible creature, but a dashing and knightly prince comes out of nowhere to rescue her. Then the Prince gets in trouble but the Princess ends up saving him with her magic! It is quite a… romantic tale. I like strong female leads," Angel Song began to realize that she was starting to ramble and resigned herself to burying her face deeper into the book.
"This is about Rarity, isn't it?" Twilight folded her legs and positioned herself by the Angel's side.
"Whatever do you mean?" was the mumbled reply Twilight got back.
"You seem really bothered whenever Rarity is alone with Prince Knight Light—"
"No, of course not!" Angel Song reared up her head and looked defiantly at the Ponyville unicorn, "It has nothing to do with how much I want to spend time with him or how I really admire his knightly self or how I wish I were a pretty princess like Luna or... or…" Angel Song blinked, tears beginning to well up in her eyes.
"Twilight, whatever am I supposed to do?" Angel Song finally admitted after a moment's silence between them, "I just feel… I don't know how to describe it. I just really wish I could spend time with him, and just him."
"Him who?" called a masculine voice from behind Twilight.
The two unicorns turned to see a flustered and bashful Prince standing in front of them. He gave them both a reassuring grin, showing off his sparkling white teeth which dashed magnificently with his clean black coat.
"Prince Knight Light? Weren't you dancing with Rarity?" asked the perturbed Angel Song, worried that he had overheard their conversation and thus her image while she wiped away the tears from her eyes as best she could.
As if reading her mind, the Prince chuckled and waved a dismissive hoof in the air.
"We just finished, she was giving me some pointers. Back where I come from, I never really had much occasion or need to learn how to dance. I had asked Lady Rarity before thou went to the Spa if she could give me some quick lessons when she came back."
"Oh," Angel Song narrowed her eyes and looked beyond him to spy an innocent looking Rarity talking to the gathering of knightly bodyguards. Rarity caught her glimpse and gave her a sly wink.
"I wanted to ask… would thou mind if I have this dance, Lady Angel Song?"
"Oh?" Angel Song blinked a bit in surprise as the Prince addressed her, stifling back a sniff.
"To tell thou the truth," he scratched the tip of his nose with one hoof, "The reason I had asked Lady Rarity for instruction was so that I could, well, ask thou."
"Oh… oh! Me?" Angel Song seemed to perk up and her mood rebound quickly.
"I have heard you were from Canterlot, so thou must have attended quite a many dances and galas. It would be improper for me to ask to dance with such a fine mare if I went in… blind, so to say,"
Angel Song shut the book closed and gently pushed it into Twilight's waiting grasp as stood on all fours.
"I would be most delighted, milord."
"Please, call me Knight Light. It seems very odd for those who aren't my subjects to be calling me a lord all of a sudden,"
The two went side-by-side to the dance floor just as the music on the phonograph switched to a slower dance song. Twilight admired the two quietly long before she decided to join Rarity, who had pried herself away from the attention of the knights for just a little while all eyes were on the two in the center of the floor.
"They seem to be enjoying themselves," Twilight remarked to her fashionable friend.
"All part of moi's plan, after all," Rarity smiled and rubbed her hoof into her chest, "Not my best work, I would have thrown in flowers and a romantic dinner… but I suppose it will have to suffice."
"Suffice?" Twilight asked, completely naïve of Rarity's intentions.
"Oh darling, I'll tell you some other day, so don't you think anything more of it," Rarity reassured her wonderfully sweet and naïve friend as they both watched the two stars dance the rest of the night away.
//----------------------------- // Story: A Knight's Tale // Chapter: Chapter 7 // Author: lionel23 //-----------------------------
"Twilight," a voice called softly to the sleeping librarian.
Twilight Sparkle grumbled and rolled over in bed in response to the voice.
"Twilight, please wake up."
This time the purple unicorn pulled up her sheets over her head and buried her face into her comfortably soft pillow, ignoring the voice's pleas to her.
"Oh pretty please, pretty please wake up?" the voice called out again, followed by a squee.
Squee? She only recalled vaguely one pony she's known to make a sound like that…
"Don't worry, stand aside; I'll handle this!" another more rambunctious voice said.
Why do I have a bad feeling about this? Twilight asked herself privately, though her answer soon came exploding down upon her a moment later.
"Geronimo!" Rainbow Dash flew up and came crashing down onto the end of Twilight's bed, catapulting the poor, startled librarian straight into the air above her own bed.
Twilight screamed in fright before she came crashing down on the exact spot she had been prior to her launching, landing with an 'oof' as her pillow landed atop her head.
"Heh heh, good morning sleepy head!" Rainbow Dash waved a hoof at Twilight and smiled nervously, having just realized she may have gone a teensy, tiny bit overboard.
"And good morning to you to, Dashie," Twilight said irritably, clearly not amused at the wakeup call.
"Oh, we're so sorry about that Twilight; she didn't mean to… honestly… oh dear," Flutteryshy stuttered on her words and apologized profusely, at least until Applejack patted her reassuring on the back.
"Twi, everyone's ready to go," Applejack announced and motioned towards the main room.
"Already? Fine, I'll be down in a moment. Just let me freshen up real quick."
Twilight combed out her bed hair before joining the others in the main foyer. All her friends were there, each of them with a saddle bag on their back. Captain Silver Lancer was passing out orders to his band of knightly ponies while Prince Knight Light and Angel Song were a pace or two behind him, listening intently. Lastly, she caught at the corner of her eye her dear assistant Spike, who came rushing to her side with quill and parchment.
"Your checklist," Spike proclaimed with an ever ready and attentive grin.
"Thank you, Spike. You always know what I need most," Twilight smiled and begun checking off the items that would need on the list.
It had been agreed to the night before that the company of gathered friends would leave as early as possible – in order to avoid detection and a possible confrontation with the warponies. The train to Canterlot wasn't due until later that afternoon, but Prince Knight Light had strongly stated that he would not dally any longer in Ponyville than he had to.
"Lady Twilight Sparkle," Prince Knight Light spoke up as he trotted over to the purple unicorn, "Me and my pony knights are ready when thou are."
"All right, I think I have everything I need…" Twilight's words drifted as she pulled out her checklist again to recheck the checklist.
"Twilight, you've already triple-checked the checklist. We're all set," scolded Spike as he shot Twilight a look she was all too familiar with.
"All right, fine. Let's get going then, Spike," Twilight rolled her eyes and tucked the scroll into her saddle pack before setting it on her back, "Let's go everypony!"
The knights and her friends filed out of her home one by one, but before the Prince could join the procession Twilight called to him. She always had a plan for things, and having learned from experience it was always good to have a backup plan too.
"Oh! Prince Knight Light, Sir Butterscotch! Can you both remain behind just a moment?"
* * *
"I hope it is not much further till Canterlot?" asked Captain Silver Lancer as he led the company on the final leg of their journey.
"It's not. We should arrive by nightfall if we keep up this pace," Twilight calculated as she examined her guide map that she had made particular note to bring with her; perfect for situations such as this.
"Don't worry, Captain. If Twilight says we'll be there by night, we'll be there by night. She has never lets anypony down," Applejack reassured the wary Captain.
"Thank you kindly, Lady Applejack. I just hope we do not run into a certain… somepony. We're already at a distinct disadvantage as it is in our current state."
"Oh don't you worry about that! If we run into those ponies, I'd show them a thing or two about Ponyville hospitality, or else my name isn't Rainbow Dash!" Rainbow Dash chimed in and landed neatly on the opposite side of Silver Lancer, standing on her hind legs and punching the air with her fore legs.
"Heh, that I'd like to see," chuckled Silver Lancer as the group trotted along behind him.
"Aw yeah! And if that big ox were here right now, I'd totally show him a thing or two!" Rainbow Dash grinned at the Captain.
"Oh really? And what could such a tiny pony as yourself possibly do against me?" called a deep, masculine voice from directly ahead.
The company of pony knights and friends stopped dead in their tracks as Warlord Coltrane and his cadre of warponies stood barring the path ahead of them. Coltrane was flanked on either side of him by his six warpony bodyguards, and each of them looked eager for a fight.
"Coltrane!" declared Captain Silver Lancer as he and his pony knights galloped to the front of the group and assumed a defensive posture, with Silver Lancer standing abreast with his body while his knights stood on the hind legs with their fore legs up in a style ready to punch at their foes.
"The one and only. Now," the Warlord raised his head and spoke down on the group, "If you would be so kind to hand over the Prince, then we can all go home and forget this ever happened."
"And what if we refuse?" Rainbow Dash flew up and landed in front of the Unicorn Captain and his knightly steeds.
"Then we'll just have to use force now, won't we boys?" Coltrane spoke over his shoulder while still keeping his gaze on the rainbow-colored pegasus.
His fellow warponies nodded in agreement, each of them in turn stamping their hooves into the ground and grinding at the dirt beneath their hooves.
"Sir Butterscotch, go on ahead with Lady Angel Song and Lady Twilight and bring word of our imminent arrival to Canterlot. We shall hold them here until help can arrive," Silver Lancer spoke.
The messenger knight nodded and looked to the other two unicorns. Together, the three dashed off in the direction of Canterlot, leaving the rest to fend for themselves against the warlord and his ponies.
"Ignore them, it's the Prince we're after," Coltrane commanded and gave a stomp of his hoof, "Rid me of these eyesores, now."
"Do not worry, my friends. We shall protect everypony to the best of our ability," pronounced the Captain of the pony knights.
Coltrane laughed at the fruitless yet chivalrous display of the unicorn before he reared up and suddenly charged the captain. In a blink of an eye, the warlord had quickly closed the distance and lowered his head and armored helm for the charge. Before Silver Lancer could react, the full force of Coltrane's helmet crashed into the unicorn's side. The unicorn captain was catapulted backwards and landing with an awkward and unpleasant thump on the ground.
"My dear Captain, have you never heard that Might makes Right?" Coltrane stated curtly, snorting with a heavy breath.
Captain Silver Lancer struggled in vain to stand, but collapsed back onto the ground, exhausted and beaten by the brute force of the warlord. Rarity, Fluttershy, and the Prince all rushed to the fallen Captain's side.
"Protect the maidens! Protect the Prince!" shouted one of the knights as the three Canterbury knights rushed forward towards the warponies, each taking on one as they butted them head to head.
Which left three of the warponies unchecked for the rest of the group to deal with. The three moved slowly towards the fallen captain and Prince, but Applejack was the first to stand up to them. She hoof-stomped the ground defiantly, challenging them to past her.
"Y'all gonna have to get through me first, partner," Applejack stated defiantly.
One of the warponies snorted and nodded to his companions.
"This one's mine," he declared confidently and and charged at Applejack.
While the warpony was much stronger than most of the Ponyville ponies, AJ was both strong and agile. Having spent much time going on Sweet Apple Acres playing games with Applebloom and training for the Equestrian Rodeo, the warpony was completely caught off-guard by the tricks of AJ's sleeves (if she had one!).
Quickly sidestepping, she deftly dodged the charging warpony and lined up her rear legs with her assailant.
"Buck 'em cowpoke!" she shouted as she put all her strength into her attack.
The warpony who had missed her ground his hooves hard into the ground to come to a stop immediately after passing AJ, but unfortunately for him he turned his head right into AJ's waiting buck. She clobbered him full force in the face with her powerful hind legs, sending the warpony's head flying straight up along with his body. He landed a few feet back, wobbly and unsteady as starts flew around his head. After a moment, he collapsed forward, KO'ed from the apple family horse. Applejack crossed one leg in front of the other, assuming her traditional pose of 'crossing her arms', pony-style.
But during that whole encounter, the other two warponies had gotten closer to the fallen captain and company. It was then that it became Pinkie Pie's turn, and she fearlessly jumped in front of one of the two ponies, her smile beaming and radiating friendliness.
"Out of my way, foal!" shouted the warpony whom Pinkie Pie obstructed.
"Why? Is there someplace you need to be? Because if there is someplace you need to be, I'd be happy to join you! Oh! And if we're going someplace, I do like someplaces by the way, and then we'd need to stop by Sugercube corner. They have cupcakes, do you like cupcakes? Because any pony who is any pony, and I do mean any pony because I know every pony, loves cupcakes! And then…!"
As the conversation went on, the warpony cringed and closed his eyes, throwing his hooves over his ears and pressed them into his helm.
"Argh, shut up! Make it stop, somepony make it stop!"
His friend was wiser, nodding and 'sacrificing' the other to be the one who would triumpiantly reach the Prince. Or so that's what he thought until Rainbow Dash leapt to the rescue.
"Not so fast, buster! You're going to have to get through me first!" Rainbow Dash declared proudly as she puffed up her chest and spread her wings defiantly.
"Let's see what you got then, little pony," muttered the warpony as he broke into a short sprint and attempted to ram her with his armored helmet.
Rainbow Dash bent her knees and launched herself straight into the air, dodging the blow as the confused warpony looked around for his opponent. He didn't even have time to look up as Rainbow Dash came crashing down with all four of her hooves right onto his helmet, sending the warpony's face crashing down into the dirt and knocking him out cold.
"Aww yeah!" Rainbow Dash proclaimed proudly to herself.
But despite the best efforts of the Ponyville friends, Coltrane and his remaining ponies had finished mopping up the Canterbury knights, who laid groaning and hurt to the side of the path. Coltrane approached the Prince who was cowering near the Captain, his legs shaking as Fluttershy stood beside him. Rarity, however, had other plans for the warlord.
"Stop, you lout!" Rarity stood bravely in front of the warlord.
"Out of the way, filly. I'm not one to strike a lady but I will do what I have to if you choose to stand in my way."
"And I say I refuse, you brute! How could you harm such magnificent and handsome ponies such as them? I will not move, you… you… ruffian!" Rarity glared at the warlord with steely resolve in her eyes.
The warlord's gaze met that of the fashionista, but after a long moment he looked back at his remaining three warriors.
"Deal with her," he ordered.
The warponies grabbed ahold of Rarity and dragged her off to the side.
"Let me go, let me go I say! You're hooves are so filthy and dirty, you're ruining my beautiful mane!" Rarity protested.
And then it finally came down to just the Prince and Fluttershy, standing in front of Captain Silver Lancer and the rest of the beaten knights.
"It's all over now, Prince Knight Light. You're coming back with me so I can rightfully claim the crown," demanded Coltrane.
"B-b-b-ut…." Stuttered the Prince as he hid his face behind Fluttershy, who was equally afraid.
Coltrane sensed something was wrong. Something seemed off about the Prince... this cowering pony couldn't be the same one that challenged him at the Tournament of the Crown back in the Realm. That pony had been a lot braver and way more defiant than the pony in front of him.
Coltrane took a giant step forward and bit down on the armored end of the Prince's helmet and flung it off. Instead of a shining black coat, he was greeted instead to a cream yellow pony with pink mane.
"What is this… trickery?!" demanded the warlord as he bit onto the imposter's knightly caparison.
Flinging it off, he was shocked to see that the 'prince' wasn't even the pony he was looking for. Instead his eyes were greeted by the sight of a pegasus that matched everything from the color of his coat to the timid personality of the lady pegasus standing beside him.
"Who are you?" he demanded, grinding his face into the pegasus' face.
"I-I-I-I'm Butterscotch…" whimpered the timid pony.
"Sir Butterscotch… oops, I mean… I didn't mean to interrupt… I'm sorry…" Fluttershy quipped in.
"Where is the Prince?!" roared the warlord but he froze in his tracks as he replayed the events of the skirmish back in his head.
Thinking back, he clearly remembered the Captain having ordered a certain messenger to go for help… and clearly none of the other pony knights here were the ones he was looking for. This could only mean that the messenger… was none other than that sneaky Prince! He must have disguised himself and ran off ahead with those the two blasted unicorns!
"That sneaky coward! Once I find him, I'll wring his neck!" Coltrane snorted and glared down at the Captain, "But first I'll deal with you. Payback for this foolishness of yours."
Butterscotch knelt down low besides the fallen Silver Lancer, nudging his nose against that of his Captain.
"Butterscotch, you must go and leave me to my fate. You are a good colt, but alas my time is done," Siler Lancer tried to push away the pegasus.
"I c-c-cannot leave you, Sir. What would I tell the Prince if s-s-something were to befall you?"
Fluttershy watched passively as the warlord started to step closer and closer to the Captain, followed on his hooves by his warponies. Silver Lancer and her favorite knightly pony Sir Butterscotch were in danger! She had to do something, otherwise they might get hurt… or even worse! As those thoughts ran through her head, she felt her hooves shaking… but was it from fear or perhaps…?
"No, I won't let you hurt my friends!" Fluttershy cried out and meekly charged her head into the side of the warpony.
Not that it was much a charge. Even at her full speed, the 'charge' ended up being nothing more than a gentle nudge into the side of Coltrane, who almost at first didn't notice it until he heard the gasps from his warponies. Looking down, he was highly annoyed that the yellow pegasus had even attempted to bother him with her feeble efforts.
"Excuse me, just what do you think you're doing?" he asked irritably.
What he didn't expect next was what Fluttershy had in store for him.
"Look here, you big meanie! You think you can just beat up any pony just because you don't like them? That's j-just wrong and you know it!" Fluttershy pushed her face into that of the warlord while one of her eyes grew big while she squinted with the other, "You're nothing but a big old… meanie head! You should be ashamed of yourself!"
"Ha, you think I'm afrai—"
"I'm not done talking, Mister!" Fluttershy interrupted the warlord and started walking forward into the warlord.
And much to the shock of everypony present, the warlord was actually walking backwards away from the determined pegasus, his warponies right on his heels.
"What would your mother say about this? That you're picking on anypony that just happens to be smaller and weaker than you? I bet she would be shocked and quite sad to see her son turn out this way. And these ponies here are my friends, and I will not – I repeat I will not – allow you to hurt my friends! You hear me?"
"You hear me?!" Fluttershy pushed the warlord down to the ground, pinning him down with her head and gaze as the warlord seemed to shrivel up under her gaze..
There was a long silence as the warlord glanced over at the shocked Butterscotch and Silver Lancer, who were watching in astonishment. Coltrane looked over at this warponies and saw that none of them were willing to stand up to the brave pegasus pony who had forced him into such a predicament.
"I'm… sorry. We'll go," were the only words muttered by the warlord.
"My lord?" muttered one of his warponies in befuddlement.
"We're going! This is just a waste of our time anyways! The Prince is somewhere up ahead and we must stop him before he gets to Canterlot," ordered Coltrane as he took a step back and stood up proudly away from the peagsus pony.
Though only to the trained eye could anypony had noticed that the warlord was standing not quite as tall as before – having been knocked down a couple of notches by the defiant pegasus.
"Y-yes, milord!" the warponies gathered in force; the ones who had been knocked out having come to at this point and together they followed uneasily after their warlord as he galloped at a full pace after Twilight and her companions.
"Wow, Fluttershy… I'm impressed!" Rarity giggled and hugged her beautiful, fabulous friend.
"Oh… it was nothing, r-really," Fluttershy reverted back to old Fluttershy and she blushed as her friend hugged her.
"That wasn't half bad, sugarcube," Applejack complimented as she and Rainbow Dash rejoined the group, "But let's see to our guests here first. Are y'all all right?"
"We'll manage, I think," Captain Silver Lancer nodded to AJ and looked to his knights as they limped over to his side, "We owe you all another debt of gratitude that I do not think we can ever possibly repay."
"Naw, think nothing of it. We always like helping the ponyfolk," Applejack chuckled but was the only one to look off into the distance as the warlord and his company disappeared.
"Good luck, Twi." AJ whispered to herself before turning back to her friends.
With Twilight gone now, somepony had to take charge and Silver Lancer definitely wasn't in any condition to do so. Well, that only left one dependable, hardworking pony left that could salvage the situation.
"All right girls, let's get these fellas here back to Ponyville. Pinkie Pie, run on ahead and get Nurse Redheart and tell her she has more patients a'coming, ya hear?"
"Of course! I'll be back in two splits of a lick!"
"Huh?" AJ blinked her eyes at the nonsensical statement Pinkie Pie made but before she could follow up with another question, the pink party pony was gone.
Reflecting in the downtime between helping the pony knights and her friends get them back to Ponyville, she thought to herself… this was all up to her best friend Twilight now. But knowing that she was in charge, she somehow could sigh a bit easier knowing that her friend would leave her little doubt that she would get the task at hoof done.