The Prince Among Paupers
A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction by Aqua Bolt
Chapter 1 - Arrival
It was another magnificent summer day in Canterlot. The brilliant sun hung over the marble spires of the royal castle, bathing the city in light. Soon, its rays would strike the majestic waterfalls that tumbled down the mountain slopes, reflecting off of them in a dazzling light show. Though Celestia knew she could never hope to be the artist her sister was, she was quite proud of the display and looking upon it always gave her a feeling of calm contentment.
Today, however, she was confined to the dankest depths of the castle, haunch-deep in expense reports and without so much as a window to give her the comfort she so desperately needed. It had been three hours since she had summoned Prince Blueblood to the castle’s accounting office and he still showed no signs of coming. Originally, she had hoped to convince him that perhaps he did not truly need five pedicures a day or his highly overpaid “sustenance consultant,” a pony whose sole duty was to operate Blueblood’s silverware. But even Celestia’s nigh-infinite patience has its limits, and she allowed herself a small smile as she thought of a far better and long overdue plan for the tardy prince.
By the time Blueblood decided to grace Celestia with his presence it was almost time for Luna to raise the moon. He strutted into the room as two servants accomplished the difficult task of opening the heavy double doors while bowing. Celestia couldn’t help letting her face show her profound disappointment with his behavior before quickly reapplying the polite mask she always wore for matters of state. Blueblood, noticing her slip up, looked aghast. Surprised at the show of self-consciousness, Celestia dared to think that perhaps there was some hope yet for the brash young prince. Then, glaring at his two servant ponies, he spoke.
“Can’t you see that her majesty, Princess Celestia, is offended by your presence? Out with you, proletarian swine, before I call the guards!”
So much for that, Celestia thought, sighing gently. “Prince Blueblood, have you ever looked at one of these expense reports? Do you know how much money the castle spends every day?”
Blueblood blinked. “Money? But…we’re royalty! We don’t have to pay for things! The very idea of it – ludicrous! Ponies should be honored to give us what we desire, for them to ask us, their betters, for money, why, I’ve never heard of anything quite so insolent.”
“I always thought I have made it clear to you that is not how I run my kingdom. The truth of the matter is that we do indeed pay for everything and everypony in this castle. Which brings me to the reason I called you in today. Your own expenses have been running quite high of late. Frankly, I do not see why anypony would need more than one diamond-studded hairbrush, let alone,” Celestia paused as she double-checked the sheet of paper in front of her, “fifty-two of them.”
“I am not sure that I catch your meaning, Princess,” said Blueblood, frowning.
“My meaning is that the tax payers of Equestria are no longer able nor willing to support your life style.”
Blueblood opened his mouth to speak but was silenced by a gesture from Celestia. “Within one week you are to leave the castle. Indefinitely. You will live as a normal pony. You will pay for your own meals and your own possessions. We shall provide nothing to you except a place to stay.”
“But this castle is my home! Living here is my destiny! You know that as well as I do! You can’t do this to me!”
Celestia continued, unperturbed, “You will be living in Ponyville, with one of the friends of my trusted student, Twilight Sparkle. I assure you, you will be in good hooves.”
Blueblood’s eyes bulged as he tried and failed to come to terms with the reality of the situation. His mind soon gave up the Herculean task and he hit the stone floor with a loud thump as he fainted.
After Blueblood’s unconscious body had been removed from the room, Celestia yawned and stretched. It was late, nearly time for her to retire for the night. Before she got her much-needed rest, however, she had one last piece of business to attend to with her sister.
“Prancer?” she called to her closest servant.
“Yes, your majesty?”
“Please bring Luna to me. She and I need to have a discussion on just how a pony goes about spending five million bits on socks.”
Exactly one week from his conversation with Celestia the day of Blueblood’s departure had arrived. His day had started off better than he expected when he saw that all of his personal servants were so sad to see him depart they had tears in their eyes. He supposed that the party being set up was an attempt by Celestia to cheer them up. The suicide rate among Blueblood’s staff was abnormally high, and after a traumatic event like the departure of their beloved master she must have known they would need something to keep their spirits up.
Soon though, it was time for him to board the carriage to Ponyville, and with each passing hour his mood grew fouler. Commoners, he ranted to himself, she expects me to mingle with commoners! Over the past week she’s done nothing but prattle on about ridiculous things we tell foals, like the magic of friendship and the importance of humility. What bunk! It’s almost as if she thinks being poor can make one a better pony. Patently ridiculous. Everypony knows society rewards only the deserving with riches. We have nothing to learn from a bunch of lazy, ungrateful urchins. Blueblood stewed in these thoughts from departure to arrival.
As he stepped from the carriage he was struck by the sudden urge to vomit. “What in Equestria is that smell?”
The four pegasus ponies who had been assigned to Blueblood’s carriage sniffed the air. They hesitated for a moment before one of them nervously ventured a guess. “Nature?”
Blueblood’s response was less than encouraging. “Hmph. It doesn’t agree with my royal nostrils. Get rid of it.”
The pegasi could only stare. Their squad leader decided it was his responsibility to answer the insane request as best he could. He was delicately choosing his words when he remembered the specifics of his orders. After being dropped off in Ponyville, Prince Blueblood is to be treated not as royalty, but as an ordinary citizen of Equestria until such time as I see fit to return him to Canterlot. Grinning, he gave Blueblood an exceedingly rude hoof-gesture before giving his team the order to fly back to Canterlot.
Blueblood could only sputter at the inexcusable lack of respect. Mustering what dignity he could, he began walking towards the small country town, plotting his vengeance. He was of the opinion that the gallows were the only appropriate punishment for such an insubordinate lout, but he knew Celestia would never agree to such a measure. Damn her love for the peasantry. She spends all her time bending over backwards for them, ignoring the needs of the ponies in her own court!
Between holding the bile down his throat and devising ever more devious plans for punishing the pegasus squad leader, Prince Blueblood was far too preoccupied to notice when he finally entered the town proper.
“Ohmygosh, he’s here! Hooray!”
The high-pitched squealing was enough to break Blueblood from his reverie. He looked up to see a group of five mares standing in the town square, obviously waiting for him. One, a vivid pink earth pony, was bouncing up and down and had a wide grin plastered upon her face. The other four, two pegasi, an orange earth pony, and a purple unicorn, seemed visibly more subdued. He chalked their less enthusiastic reactions up to the awe of being in his presence. It wasn’t often that the unwashed masses were granted such an up close look at such a magnificent specimen as himself.
Twilight Sparkle was indeed less than exuberant, but not for the reasons Blueblood had supposed. She had been uneasy about the meeting ever since she had learned of it in her latest letter from Princess Celestia. If even half the things that Rarity and Applejack had told her about Blueblood were true, then the coming weeks would put her ability to see the good in ponies to the ultimate test. For days she had agonized over the impossible problem of where he would be staying. The princess had insisted that he stay with Twilight or one of her friends, but Rarity and Applejack had been less than agreeable to the idea of letting Blueblood within fifty hooves of them, let alone inside their houses. Without even asking, Twilight had a feeling Rainbow Dash would not be willing to let him stay in her cloud house, even if it were physically possible for him to do so. She knew Blueblood’s treatment of Rarity would earn him no love from Spike and doubted the haughty prince would want to live in a tree anyway. And Fluttershy was far too delicate and timid for Twilight to even consider asking her to put up with Blueblood. Which left only…
“Pinkie Pie! Settle down!” hissed a voice from Twilight’s side.
“But Dashie, I’m just so super duper mega excited that we have a whole new pony here in Ponyville!” Pinkie gasped. “I should throw him a party! I just hope he’s not a stuffy wuffy Mc-“ Pinkie’s stream of words was cut short by a purple hoof that was unceremoniously forced into her mouth. Twilight put on what she hoped was a convincing smile and began.
“Hello, Prince Blueblood. I’m Twilight Sparkle. These are my friends, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash. Today we’re going to…” Noticing the scowl on Blueblood’s face, Twilight trailed off and bit her lip. “Is…is something the matter?”
“Why, pray tell, are none of you bowing?”
“Princess Celestia told us specifically to treat you like a normal pony, not like royalty.”
“Like Ah needed a reason to treat this jerk like he deserves,” said Applejack in a barely concealed whisper.
Twilight’s fake smile grew wider as she continued, “As I was saying, today we’re going to take you on a tour of Ponyville and get you set up where you’ll be staying. Let’s get going.”
Blueblood said nothing as he followed the five mares; he was far too busy with his own thoughts. Of course, she would have sent word ahead to these five. He looked around and was horrified to see that not a single pony in the town square was so much as looking at him with the proper respect. Does everypony here know about this farce Celestia has set up?
The group stopped short in front of a large tree planted in the center of town for reasons Blueblood could not begin to fathom. Is this town truly so backwater it doesn’t have a city planner? The purple unicorn that had identified herself as Twilight, Princess Celestia’s personal student, began to speak.
“This is the Ponyville library. It’s where I live along with my assistant Spike.”
“You live here? In this tree?”
“Yes. The Princess herself provides it for me,” she said with a hint of smugness.
His thoughts were interrupted by the yellow pegasus. “Um, Prince Blueblood? Are…are you all right? You can talk about what’s bothering you…um…that is…if you like.”
Blueblood nearly jumped out of his coat as he came back to himself, discovering that a thin film of tears was forming on his eyes. Luckily, none of the other ponies had noticed his frankly disgusting display of weakness. “Whatever may or may not be bothering me is no concern of ponies so far below my social class.” He sniffed. “Were it not for the princesses’ commands, such an impudent offer would be punished quite severely.”
His response left the gentle yellow pegasus on the verge of tears herself. While the two earth ponies did their best to comfort her, the light blue pegasus stalked menacingly towards the prince.
“Why you cocky, worthless sack of horsefe-“
“Okay! We’d better get a move on!” Twilight’s voice rang out desperately as her smile strained against the boundaries of her face.
As Twilight had expected, the rest of the tour was just as much of a disaster as the beginning. By the time it was over she had sent Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash home for the safety of everypony involved. Finally, the three remaining ponies arrived outside Sugarcube Corner.
“And finally, this is Sugarcube Corner. It’s where you’ll be staying while in Ponyville.”
“With ME!” interjected Pinkie. Twilight noted thankfully that Blueblood was frowning with slightly less severity than he had during the rest of the tour.
“I suppose this is less blatantly offensive to my refined sensibilities than the other hovels you’ve shown me today. Even if it was designed by an architect who was no doubt recovering from a traumatic head injury. Or perhaps by that orange bumpkin friend of yours, who I suspect has the same problem.”
Figuring that was the best response she could have hoped for, Twilight began her closing lines with more than a little relief, “So that’s Ponyville. Tomorrow you’ll start working like a normal pony. You’ll be working for all of us in a rotation until we find out what you’re best at. Please show up at Sweet Apple Acres one hour after dawn.” Twilight noticed Blueblood’s eyes roll ever so slightly, “I’m sure Princess Celestia will want daily reports on your progress. She’ll be delighted to learn that you’re working hard, won’t she?”
Blueblood could only glare. This little wench thinks she can threaten me? Still…it would be best not to upset Celestia. He gave a curt nod as he turned and walked towards Sugarcube Corner, eager to rid himself of the lavender pest.
Twilight found herself smiling genuinely for the first time that day as Blueblood let himself inside the bakery. “Good. Oh, and Pinkie? I think you should hold off on any parties for-”
“SURPRISE!” Twilight’s voice was interrupted by the deafening sound of what could only be at least half of Ponyville beginning one of Pinkie Pie’s patented surprise parties.
Then, nearly as loud, came Blueblood’s outraged voice. “Wha-I-GET OUT! Do you rabble have even the slightest grasp on the idea of private property?”
Pinkie tried and failed to suppress a giggle. “Sorry, Twilight. No more big parties.”
Twilight could only facehoof as she teleported to the library for a well-earned rest. She wondered just how long Rarity would manage to go before she ran into Blueblood in Ponyville. Rarity couldn’t keep herself locked up in the Carousel Boutique forever, though Twilight was certain it wouldn’t be from want of trying. She sighed and decided to leave Rarity to her isolation, figuring that she at least had Sweetie Belle and Opal for company.
Blueblood grew ever more frustrated as it became more and more apparent that his five minutes of blustering about the divine right of property was accomplishing nothing more than bringing raucous laughter from the assembled ponies. As he began to run out of words the pink pony stepped in and explained that there had been a mistake and the party was called off. Mildly disappointed ponies streamed out of Sugarcube Corner in an orderly fashion. Two older ponies, one blue and one yellow, retreated upstairs into a room with well insulated walls and what seemed to Blueblood to be a curiously thick door.
“Hmph. Thank you for getting rid of that insufferable riffraff.”
“Hey, it’s no problem BeeBee! Oh, you don’t mind if I call you BeeBee, do you?”
Blueblood minded very much, but before he had a chance to voice his displeasure the pink earth pony had launched herself on a tangent that Blueblood did not have the slightest hope of understanding even if he wanted to. He spent the next ten minutes trying to figure out how to get the pony to stop her blabbering so he could get his beauty sleep when, entirely unexpectedly, she finished and fell silent.
“…And that’s how Equestria was made!”
Blueblood forced a smile. “Wonderful. Now, I need to rest. Point me to my bedchambers immediately.”
“Oh c’mon, silly, you can’t sleep yet! This night’s just getting started!” From deep within her voluminous mane she produced a tall bottle of dark brown liquid. “Even with just the two of us we can still have a super fun time!”
Blueblood’s eyes widened as he detected the all too familiar scent of alcohol. “No! No, no, no, no. I simply cannot abide such a foul substance within my body.”
The pink pony just shrugged. “Okie dokie lokie! More for me!” She then proceeded to drain the entire bottle with a speed Blueblood found simultaneously fascinating, disgusting, and faintly alarming. Upon finishing she launched into a rendition of Equestria Girls that made the reasoning behind the other two ponies’ peculiar door all too clear.
The drunken singing continued on for four hours until the pink pony passed out unceremoniously in mid-verse. Blueblood made a noise somewhere between a sigh of relief and a sob of despair and promptly drifted off to sleep. Thus ended the first of many such nights at Sugarcube Corner.
Author's note: Only one chapter down and I've already been struggling with writer's block on this story for a couple weeks now, which, coupled with work, school, my social life, and everything else, means that chapter two of The Prince Among Paupers is, unfortunately, still a ways down the road.
So instead have this. I wrote it after the MLP WTG week 8 theme - teaching a skill - gave me some fresh ideas, hoping it'd snap me out of my writing funk. Hopefully anypony who enjoyed chapter one enjoys this semi-canon addition to the story, set a few weeks after the first chapter.
Chapter Not-2 - Public Education
A new day was dawning in Ponyville. The sun inched its way over the towering pines of the Everfree Forest and into a cloudless sky. Countless dewdrops shimmered, almost dancing, as the early morning light shone through them. All around, the world came to life once more. Birds sang with joy for the sun’s return, waking sleepy critters and drawing them from their dens and into the brisk morning air. Most ponies would agree the tableau was nothing short of magical.
Prince Blueblood, accustomed to the solitude and quiet of Canterlot Castle, was not most ponies. “Must those accursed birds commence their intolerable chirping so early in the morning?” he muttered to himself after being woken yet again by their songs. “Honestly, with such little sleep it’s a small miracle that I can stay so magnificently beautiful.” He dragged himself to the bathroom to begin his daily grooming, supposing that he should be thankful that for once the inexhaustible pink nuisance he shared a room with was still asleep.
Without his small army of servants to aid him, the entire process took roughly two hours. Blueblood never once questioned the importance of the ritual; he was prince of Equestria, after all, and he had to look the part. Appearances are everything, he had thought to himself many times. What else separates a civilized pony from a worthless vagabond but a well-manicured hoof?
As he finished his grooming, he cursed the Ponyville spa for its exorbitant prices, vowing to buy it out and tear it to the ground as soon as he had access to the Royal Treasury again. He spent a while considering what he would put in its place before finally settling on a giant statue of himself made of platinum and gold. His thoughts of revenge were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Astonishingly, his roommate remained asleep. Blueblood walked downstairs and opened the door to find nopony waiting outside. Curious and confused, he stepped through the doorway and looked around. Still seeing nopony, he was about to make his way back inside when several gallons of water crashed onto him, completely ruining his carefully styled mane and coat. From above came the all too familiar sound of high pitched giggling.
“Wow, BeeBee, I sure got you good! That was totally one of my hardest pranks ever, I had to stay still for two whole hours; I’ve never done anything like that before! I’ve always been afraid of staying still, I feel like I’ll get lockjaw, but all over my whole body, but then it wouldn’t be lockjaw, I guess you’d call that lockbody, huh? Usually I just laugh when I’m afraid of something, but I couldn’t even do that this time because then you would’ve known I wasn’t asleep and that would have totally given the game away and that wouldn’t have been fun at all, so I had to spend a super, duper, wooper long time just pretending to be asleep and I think-“
“How is this even possible? You’d have to be in two places at once to ring the doorbell and dump the water from the window.”
Blueblood found himself silenced by a combination of rage and incomprehension. Deciding that murder was unbecoming of a prince, he trotted off without any particular direction in mind, wanting only to get as far away as possible from the manic pink pony. His aimless walk through Ponyville soon brought him face to face with Celestia’s purple pet unicorn in the town square. Loath as he was to admit it, this pony was actually important. He frowned as she began to speak, struggling to remember her name.
“Oh, hello Prince Blueblood. I was just on my way to Sugarcube Corner.”
“Yes, yes, giving me my work assignment, are you? Which of your friends am I to work for today? The orange simpleton? Or perhaps the rainbow-maned windbag?” Her name was two words…I think one of them started with “T.”
“Well, actually, no. Celestia had an idea, so she shared it with me and I agreed we should try it. Today you’ll be spending time with other ponies around Ponyville, to learn what they have to teach about life. It’s self directed recreational learning, Celestia told me she was very interested in hearing about your findings.”
Blueblood’s frown deepened at the mention of Celestia. There would be no ducking out of this most recent disgrace. “Let me get this straight. Today I’ll submit myself to some commoner and do whatever he or she says in order to learn a life lesson?” …P, Q, R, S…S! The second word starts with “S!”
“I suppose you could put it that way, yes.”
“So it’s basically the same as what I’ve been doing since I came here, except I won’t be getting paid.” Adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, blast it, what were they?
“Well, um…yes. But you do get to choose who you spend the day with.”
Blueblood’s eyes scanned the center of town, looking over the crowd of dirty, unrefined ponies that had already begun to gather for some early morning shopping. He was not pleased by what he saw. “I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities; I’m afraid I just can’t make a decision right now. A nap will certainly focus my mind enough for me to make up my mind.” Ah, yes, that’s right, the first word was a noun and the second was a verb.
The purple mare was either oblivious to the prince’s meaning or very determined to appear so. “Oh, that won’t be necessary, I know exactly who you should start your day with.”
Blueblood strained with the effort of putting on a smile. “Very well then, let us be off.” Hmph. Were you any other pony your constant intrusions would not be treated lightly. You’re lucky you’re Celestia’s personal favorite, Tricycle Sprinkle.
Ever since the pair had entered the Everfree Forest, Blueblood grew more displeased with every step. He was wondering for the tenth time what sort of pony would voluntarily live in such an unpleasant place when they finally came upon a clearing with obvious signs of habitation. The sorry state of the hut before his eyes confirmed many of his worst suspicions. A single sniff of the air confirmed the rest of them. He glanced sideways at his mercifully silent companion, hoping desperately for some clue that this was all a joke, but she continued to press on towards the shanty.
She knocked on the door and slowly it swung open. Blueblood was surprised to find a large black and white striped creature standing in the doorway. It took a moment for him to recognize her as a zebra, one of many species whose diplomatic envoys made frequent stops at Canterlot Castle.
“Why hello there, what a nice surprise, please, you two must come inside.”
“Thank you, Zecora, but I’m only stopping by to drop off Prince Blueblood here. I was hoping you’d be able to teach him about all the work you do with your potions.”
“Happily I will teach my art; very shortly we shall start.”
“Okay, sounds great. I’ll see you two later.” Obviously pleased with herself, the lavender magician teleported away, leaving Blueblood alone with the zebra. Oh, good, I won’t have to put up with Twine Spatter all day long. Though I can’t say this zebra promises much better company.
He looked around at the interior of the hut disapprovingly. “Where in Equestria did you get such tacky décor?”
The zebra looked stricken. “Not tacky at all, but very grand, full of memories of my homeland.”
Blueblood shrugged. “Well I suppose you can decorate however you want, it’s not as if this shack could get any uglier anyway. What is it that she said you do? Make potions?”
“Cease your insults to my abode, or I shall send you on the road. Potions are what I do craft, now will you learn or keep acting daft?”
“And what do your potions do, exactly? Act as aphrodisiacs, cure headaches, and the like?”
“They are not trivial wares to be sold by peddler mares. In exchange for modest wealth, they nurse anypony back to health.”
“So in addition to these miracle cures of yours do you also read fortunes? Perhaps you have a crystal ball you can teach me to use?” asked Blueblood, rolling his eyes.
The zebra trembled as she spoke her next words. “You who would make a mockery of my work are naught but a close-minded jerk. Though I do not like to shout, I simply must insist – GET OUT!”
Ugh, finally, thought Blueblood as he all too gladly stepped out of the hut and the door slammed behind him. So much for learning how to make potions. Though I still have to learn something to report to Celestia. He sighed. At least I won’t have to deal with that incessant rhyming all day.
By the time Blueblood reached the Ponyville city limits his round trip through the Everfree Forest had left him more than a little stressed. He removed most of the dirt and leaves that clung to his coat with a quick burst of magic and stormed off along the path to the village proper, cursing the zebra, Celestia, her sycophantic purple student, and everypony and everything in the universe that wasn’t he.
Soon, however, from somewhere far out across the fields, came the faint sound of music. Classy music, the kind that he hadn’t heard since leaving Canterlot. Hesitating only for a moment, he strayed off the beaten path towards the sound, eager for even the slightest hint of high society.
As the music grew steadily louder a small house came into view. Blueblood wondered briefly why it was so far from the rest of Ponyville, but his thoughts were interrupted by the sight of what he could only assume was its owner – a mint-green unicorn absently plucking a lyre with a pair of oddly discolored hooves. Her eyes widened and her mouth grew into a broad smile as she noticed his approach. “It’s not often that I get visitors here. Was it the music that brought you?”
“Yes. I must say I never expected to hear such sophisticated music in a such a fetid cesspool of a town.”
The musician nodded her head slowly. “I can see why. The other ponies around here, they just don’t get it. It’s why I moved so far from the center of town.”
“Well I don’t blame you in the slightest. Very nearly everypony here is entirely insufferable, although you seem to be a rare exception, Miss…?”
“Lyra. And I could say the same of you,” she paused for a moment before smiling again. “Say, would you like to learn how to play the lyre?”
Blueblood had always liked music, and the thought of learning such a pleasant skill to report to Celestia was extremely tempting. “But of course, that sounds lovely.”
He began testing the strings with his magic and was about to pull one when his teacher suddenly stopped him. “No! You can’t play the lyre using magic, the music has to flow directly from your physical body.”
Blueblood thought this at least a little silly, but he decided it was not wise to argue the finer points of lyre playing with a pony with a lyre cutie mark. Holding his tongue, he began to play under the careful instruction of the green pony. The prince showed remarkable aptitude for the instrument, and within short hours he was improvising a simple yet delicate melody brimming with a complex blend of both sadness and triumph.
The other unicorn was utterly delighted at his progress. She clapped her hooves together excitedly. “I can’t believe I’m saying this already, but I think you’re ready to graduate.”
Blueblood cocked an eyebrow. “Graduate? Whatever do you mean?”
“Hold on just one second, I’ll show you.” She dashed into her house for a few moments before reappearing strapped with a pair of visibly loaded saddlebags. Shaking with enthusiasm, she approached Blueblood before pulling out a pair of strange metallic objects from one of her bags.
Blueblood took control of them with his magic before examining them with careful curiosity. The two objects were nearly identical, each roughly the size of a hoof and with five unnaturally thin protrusions. It was clear they were some form of machinery, though Blueblood had never seen their like before. They were hollow, evidently one was supposed to put one’s hooves into them to operate them. “What are they?”
The musical mare’s voice dripped with giddiness as she answered, “I call them hands. They let you manipulate objects with a finesse that hooves simply don’t allow for. They’re my own personal design. Do you like them?”
Blueblood didn’t answer; he was too busy attempting to work the devices. He slipped his hooves into them, only for them to fall off as soon as he shifted them. “Bah, I can’t get these blasted things to function!”
“Well of course, silly, they haven’t been attached yet.”
The other pony didn’t answer; she was too busy reaching into her second saddlebag, from which she pulled a hammer and several rusty nails. For the first time he noticed the discoloration of his host’s hooves was the result of countless half-healed scars.
He blinked several times and felt his mouth go dry as an uncomfortable warm feeling made its way down his leg. Curses, that hasn’t happened during waking hours in three years. Deciding that he would rather die of embarrassment than of gangrene, Blueblood made a mad dash back to the road, berating himself for being too proud to ask Typhoid Speak how she teleported.
From behind he heard the thumping of frantic hoofbeats growing steadily louder. “Wait, come back! They only hurt the first few dozen times you put them on!” Blueblood kept running, but it soon became clear that he could not outrun his pursuer. The crazed musician was only a few body lengths behind him when Blueblood heard an unfamiliar voice cry out from above in wordless warning.
He looked up just in time to see a heavy-looking crate falling from the sky on a collision course with his face. His mind had barely finished processing this new information when a burst of magic knocked him to the side, away from the deadly projectile. He heard two distinct thuds and rose to his shaking hooves. What in Equestria just happened? Where did that magic come from?
After about a minute of staring at the ground in disbelief, making certain he was in fact still alive, Blueblood looked around and took stock. The crate, which Blueblood could now see was labeled “Feet,” was lying on the ground, the green mare lying unconscious beside it. Standing over her was a gray pegasus with blonde hair and loaded saddlebags. The newcomer checked to make sure the green unicorn was still breathing before shrugging and turning to face Blueblood. She had the most peculiar eyes Blueblood had ever seen; they pointed in entirely different directions.
“Okay, let’s go back to Ponyville.”
What was left of Blueblood’s composure shattered. “Now hold on, I demand an explanation for this! Where did you come from? Where in the hay did that crate come from? Why are you here? Who are you?” His mouth began to froth and his eyes darted back and forth.
The pegasus seemed not to notice his distress. “Oh, how silly of me. I’m Ditzy Doo, Ponyville’s mailmare. I was delivering that crate to Lyra over there, but I kind of lost control of it. Oh well, looks like it all worked out for the best. You’re okay and I delivered the package right to the customer!” She furrowed her brow for several moments as if in deep thought, then rummaged around in her saddlebags. “Muffin?” she asked brightly, pulling one out of her bag and offering it to him.
Blueblood gave the baked treat a cautious sniff, then retched when the scent of apples filled his nostrils. “No. I’m not hungry.”
“Suit yourself. Okay, c’mon, let’s go.”
A protest was forming on Blueblood’s lips when he realized that there was nowhere to go but back to Ponyville and he had no choice for the time being but to walk with the presumptuous commoner. With a huff he started off towards the town in a stony silence that the gray mare insisted on breaking with cheerful hummed tunes.
Eventually she stopped her humming. Blueblood was in the process of silently thanking Celestia when she spoke, ruining his mood again. “So what do you do?”
Ugh, I know these hick ponies are all rather dense, but this tops it all, Blueblood thought. “Do? I’m the prince of Equestria! I handle the trifling matters Celestia and Luna don’t feel like dealing with. My name is Prince Blueblood, how could you possibly not know that?”
“No, no, no. I mean, what do you do besides that? Take me: I’m a mailmare but what I really love to do is blow bubbles! What’s your favorite thing to do?”
Nopony had ever asked him that before. Caught off guard by the novelty of the question, he considered it carefully. Gazing downwards, he began to speak, slowly, hesitantly. “I like watching the sunset from the highest point of Canterlot Castle, then letting the night settle in around me until I drift off to sleep. When I was a foal I used to spend every night dreaming of a peaceful, quiet place I could call my own. When I started spending my evenings in the top of that tower, my whole life just…clicked. I went to that spot every single night for years, never missing a night until a few weeks ago.”
“But you can’t do that here in Ponyville.”
“I am well aware of that,” Blueblood snapped, more harshly than he had intended.
They continued walking in silence until once more the pegasus spoke. “Hey, what time is it?”
Blueblood glanced at the sun. “About three o’clock I would guess.”
“What?! Oh, horseapples, this is bad.” She stiffened and turned to Blueblood. “Your cutie mark is a compass; you’re good at navigation, right?”
Her voice carried more than a hint of desperation as she cut him off. “Great! Look, I’ve really got to get my deliveries done soon; I have to pick up my daughter from school at five. I’m not so good at the navigation aspect of my job; can you help me find the houses I’m supposed to deliver to? Together we can get all my letters delivered in half the time. Ooh, I know, in return I’ll teach you how to blow bubbles!”
“No. I have far more important things to-“
“Please! My daughter, she-“
“Just have her father pick her up.”
The mare’s ears drooped. “She…she doesn’t have a father. Not anymore.”
Blueblood stopped in his tracks. Thoughts of his own father raced though his head and suddenly a wave of guilt washed over him. He cast his eyes downward and struggled to speak. “I’m sorry,” he finally managed, “Yes, I’ll help you.”
Immediately, the mailmare perked up again. “Oh, wonderful! Here,” she said reaching into one of her bags and pulling out a rolled up piece of paper, ”take this map of Ponyville and use it to help me find where I have to deliver to.”
Blueblood unrolled the paper to find a crude sketch of what might have been Ponyville drawn in what he suspected was crayon. Everything on the map was an indistinct blob except for Sugarcube Corner, which was circled several times and had the word “Muffins!” printed next to it in bold letters. Blueblood sighed. She was lucky he had been in Ponyville long enough to memorize most of the town’s layout. For father, he thought as he set aside the map and read the first envelope’s address.
Hours later the unlikely pair sat on a hilltop just outside of town, watching the sun descend across the sky. The gray pegasus was beginning her lesson on proper bubble blowing technique. “Okay, so first you need to take the wand,” she gestured to a small stick attached to a ridiculous piece of headgear in such a way that it dangled right in front of her face, “and dip it in the solution, like this.” She dropped her head down, putting the stick into a bucket of soapy water, allowing a thin film to spread over a circular portion of the stick. “Visualize the bubble you want to create. Become one with the wand. Double take three times – one, two, three. Then, slowly, gently, blow into the wand and bring your bubble to life. Think of it like a living thing.” She blew, and out of the wand blossomed an extraordinarily large bubble that hung before them for a moment before floating off through the evening air.
Blueblood felt quite foalish following the eccentric mailmare’s instructions, but with nopony around to see him he supposed there was no harm in humoring her. He had insisted, however, on using magic to hold his stick rather than her headgear. Despite his best efforts, however, the titanic bubble he had attempted popped before it could be fully formed.
“That’s okay, we’ll just have to start smaller. There’s nothing wrong with blowing small bubbles until you get the hang of it.”
The two ponies practiced until the sky around them was a veritable sea of bubbles. Finally out of the soapy solution, they turned back to the sun, which had just begun to dip below the horizon. The light rays streaming out of it caught on each and every bubble, reflecting off of them and filling the air with countless beautiful golden orbs.
“Wow,” whispered Ditzy.
Blueblood nodded. “This isn’t Canterlot, but it’s…it’s nice.”
For what seemed like an eternity, not another word was spoken as the sun disappeared and the moon slowly and gracefully rose to take its place.
Princess Celestia was napping lightly in her study when the unmistakable aura of dragon magic woke her from her sleep. She picked the scroll up off the floor, smiling in anticipation as she broke the seal on Twilight Sparkle’s latest letter.
Dear Princess Celestia,
I am very pleased to report that your intuition was correct – letting Blueblood make his own way through Ponyville was exactly what he needed to begin forging connections with other ponies. Like you asked, I followed him throughout the day and, though it didn’t always go smoothly, I am confident that Blueblood has formed the beginnings of a true friendship with Ponyville’s mailmare.
Your most faithful student,
P.S. – Do you know of a spell that cures incontinence? I’m sure Blueblood would be very grateful for any help you could give on the matter.
The princess sighed with content, happy in the knowledge that after eighteen years of guardianship she had finally taught Blueblood something worthwhile. She reread the letter and decided a brief visit with her sister was in order. Celestia trotted off down the hallway until she reached the entrance to Luna’s room. “Luna?” she called out softly after knocking on the door.
“What was the spell you used to cure your little problem twelve hundred years ago?”
Chapter 2 - Serf’s Up
Blueblood awoke the next morning at dawn, approximately three hours after his uncouth roommate’s loss of consciousness had given him the peace and quiet he needed to sleep. That was without a doubt the very worst night I’ve had to endure in eighteen years. Of all the intolerable-He sniffed. Feelings of fond nostalgia instantly replaced his grumpiness as he caught the unmistakable scent of blueberry muffins wafting through the air.
His curiosity piqued, Blueblood followed the smell downstairs to the bakery’s kitchen where, to his shock, he discovered the pink earth pony already awake and hard at work. She did not appear to have any of the trademark symptoms of a hangover or, indeed, any other sign that only seven hours ago she had drank enough liquor to bring down a buffalo. As soon as he entered the room her tail made two quick whipping motions and she whirled to face him.
“Oh, hiya BeeBee! Wow, that sure was fun last night, wasn’t it? We should totally do it again sometime! Let’s see, I’m available tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after that, the day after that…” she gasped, “Ohmygosh! We should have an awesome, totally exclusive Pinkie-and-BeeBee party every. Single. Night!”
Blueblood’s eye twitched, but before he could say anything the pink bundle of complexes had him wrapped in a windpipe-crushing hug. He attempted to demand that she unhoof him, but the only sound that escaped his lips was a gurgle whose only effect was spurring the pink pony into squeezing him even harder. When he was finally released from the death grip Blueblood found it prudent to change the subject. “These muffins smell quite…adequate. How long will it take until they’re ready for consumption?”
“These muffins will be ready in about a half an hour. They’re made with a super-special secret recipe I only bake when I have super-special guests! They take four whole hours to make!”
Blueblood did not need to work out the math to realize that by all the known laws of the universe what the baker pony was saying was entirely impossible. He frowned deeply. As his sleep-deprived mind turned the problem over and over his eyes shifted gradually out of focus.
The baker giggled. “Hey, maybe you could get a job with the post office!”
Shaken by her voice’s sudden intrusion, Blueblood’s mind and eyes snapped back to normal. “What?”
“Oh, nothing. You just reminded me of our mailmare for a second there.”
“How I reminded you of anypony in this rustic chamber pot you ponies call a village is quite beyond my comprehension. Please don’t make the mistake of believing I want anything to do with this above ground sewer or anypony in it.” Blueblood noticed the pink pony’s face, mane, and shoulders sag ever so slightly at his remark, and her coat lost some of its usual luster. The remainder of the time spent waiting for the muffins to finish baking and cooling was spent in the one thing nopony would ever expect to come across in Sugarcube Corner – an awkward silence.
This is intolerable. How much longer must she continue to stare at me like that? I haven’t seen a pony look so depressed since Father. Blueblood furrowed his brow. But she’s a mere commoner! How could I even entertain the notion that this crude pony is capable of the same depths of feeling as – DING! Blueblood’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a kitchen timer.
Overcome with, and puzzled by, a feeling of relief, he levitated several muffins into a saddlebag that he then proceeded to buckle on. His stomach grumbled, and so he decided to take one more and eat it then and there. As he bit into it his earlier feelings of nostalgia returned tenfold, enveloping him in a warm blanket of serene delight. He turned to leave, and was halfway out the door when he hesitated. “Thank you…and…” he coughed. “I’m sorry,” he finally managed to choke out after three earlier attempts failed to produce any sound recognizable as speech, and with that he left.
Pinkie Pie perked up immediately, her pink coloring returning to its usual vividness. “I knew Rarity was wrong! Nopony is all bad. I bet he just needs a purely, positively awesome party to make his bad attitude go topsy turvy. I’ll just have to tell Dashie to go easy on the pranks this time.” She frowned and tapped a hoof on the ground. “But Twilight said no parties for BeeBee…I know! I’ll just have to throw Twilight a “Let Me Throw a Party” party! It can’t fail!”
Blueblood seethed at the indignity as he galloped to the horrendously ugly farm where the unpleasant orange rube that had received him in the town square the day before worked. It was not normally in Blueblood’s nature to make haste but he was acutely aware of how far being late on his first day would put him from Celestia’s good graces. He arrived at the gate at nearly the exact same time as the farmer pony. As Blueblood sat down, panting heavily, the mare looked him over and spoke.
“Huh. Ah can’t say Ah expected you to be here on time. Maybe you ain’t quite so worthless as Ah figured.” She raised a filthy hoof and looked at Blueblood expectantly.
Blueblood blinked as he stared at the mud-encrusted hoof in disgust. “What?”
“Ah’m offerin’ to shake hooves. It’s the polite way for two ponies to greet each other.”
“Indeed. Assuming, of course, that the two ponies are equal. In a case such as this, however, it is proper for a lesser pony – that would be you – to kneel down and kiss the hooves of his or her better. Make no mistake, I am your better, no matter what game Celestia is playing.”
She squinted and frowned, lowering her hoof. “Yeah, that ain’t happenin’ sugarcube. C’mon, you’ve got a lot of work to do.” Blueblood grimaced as he walked through the gate.
“Very well, let us get this over with.” He quickly scanned the horizon and was perplexed to find that the only building in sight was the peasant’s ramshackle barn. “Where are the lord’s accommodations?”
“Was the word accommodations too confusing? I shall try to keep this monosyllabic for you, you inbred clodhopper: where does the lord live?”
“What the hay are you talkin’ about?”
“The pony that owns this land. Where is he?”
The orange mare was growing visibly frustrated. “Ain’t no pony owns this land but me and my family. Who else would?”
Blueblood gaped. Such a subversion of the natural order – is this even possible? He sighed and decided to charitably offer an explanation to the ignorant pony. “A lord is a pony of high birth that owns large estates on which laborer ponies work. That way he can organize things like the planting and selling of crops that require thinking too complex for ponies of inferior mental capacities such as yourself. For this, he receives his fair share of compensation – all the bits earned by the farm. Meanwhile, the worker ponies are generously allowed to live on the lord’s lands and given a small portion of the crop yield. Now do you understand, or do you require another explanation, perhaps one with colorful pictures and simpler words?”
The other pony remained silent for a long time. “Ah think Ah got it.”
Blueblood looked around once more. “Do you truly grow nothing here but apples?”
“There some sorta problem with that?”
“I hate apples.” There was a pause, then both ponies sighed in unison. It was promising to be a long day.
Several hours later, Blueblood’s legs ached as he bucked apple trees like a pony possessed. Pain lanced through his body with every kick, yet still he kept working. Must...not...let...farm filly...beat me. He repeated this mantra over and over until the words had nearly lost their meaning. Fortunately, his hard work was paying off; his buckets were considerably more full than the orange mare’s, though, troublingly, she seemed far less exhausted.
Eventually, satisfied that he had built up enough of a lead to allow himself a short break, Blueblood collapsed in the shade of an apple tree and removed his saddlebags. He quickly checked to make certain nopony was watching before burying his face in them, devouring his muffins with rather less grace than was usual. As he scraped the bottom of the bag he began to feel a peculiar wet sensation on the tip of his muzzle. Slowly, he pulled his mouth out and found himself staring into a pair of pitiless purple eyes.
Blueblood’s own eyes stayed open just long enough to register the creature attached to his nose as reptilian before they clamped shut tighter than the door of a debtor’s prison. Frantically, he flailed his head from side to side as he galloped, shrieking, in a tight circle around the tree that he had been resting under mere moments ago. Growing quickly frustrated by his lack of success, he grunted as he heaved his head with all the power he could muster.
Immediately, the unwelcome presence that had attached itself to Blueblood’s face flew off into the air. Slightly less than immediately, Blueblood heard a thunk as his horn buried itself in the thick trunk of the tree. He planted his forehooves on the tree and pushed with all his might to absolutely no effect. From behind him came the sound of a throat clearing and a poorly disguised chuckle. It was only then that he realized that the farmer had been watching the entire time. “Well, now what?” he grunted through gritted teeth.
She said nothing, but Blueblood could see her out of the corner of his eye. He did not like the look of her smile nor the implications of the lasso she was readying. With a casual flick, she looped it around his hind legs and fastened it tightly. Blueblood gulped. Suddenly, without warning, the rope jerked taught, and for one terrifying instant he felt he was about to be torn in half. Then, just as abruptly, Blueblood’s horn was freed from the tree and the rope went slack once more as his body went sailing through the air, crashing down flankfirst in a particularly muddy part of the orchard.
Blueblood choked back a sob as he inspected the condition of his coat. The muck was far too deeply ingrained for his magic to be of any use in cleaning it off. This would take hours for my servants to fix. Alone it will take...oh, Celestia, why? The rustic mare was no longer even attempting to hide her laughter.
“Well, shoot, that’s the funniest thing Ah’ve seen all week.”
Blueblood stared at her for a long while before swallowing a set of words he thought unwise. Turning slowly away, he made his way to an isolated patch of the farm where he could suffer through the rest of the day in peace.
After what seemed like an eternity of mindless drudgery, Blueblood judged by the angle of the sun that it was five o’clock, the time that he had been informed signified the end of a workday. He picked up the filled apple buckets and trudged back to the entry gate of Sweet Apple Acres. There waiting for him with an almost imperceptible smile upon her face was the orange earth pony.
“Ah’ve been thinkin’ about what you said.”
“What I said?”
“Y’know, about lords ownin’ the land an’ all that stuff. Ah think you’re right.”
“Indeed? Well, it seems your education is not such a lost cause aft-”
“Ah’m payin’ you with a portion of the harvest, just like you wanted!” she gestured to a small bucket filled with apples. Slowly, her composure was slipping and her grin was becoming more and more obvious.
Blueblood blinked. “But...But that’s not how the system works! You can’t just-” The mare was not listening to his impassioned explanation; she was already walking back towards the barn, humming a tune with greatly exaggerated volume. Comprehension rolled over him.
“And I suppose you think this is all some big joke?” he shouted after her.
She turned to face him, stunned into near silence. “Um...well...uh, yeah, kinda, Ah-”
“Oh no, that’s quite alright. You don’t have to explain yourself. Laugh! Laugh at the disgraced prince, kicked out of his own castle! Laugh at his misery, laugh at his shame! Giggle as he bends to your every command! Snicker as he tries to cope with leaving behind everything he knows!”
“Ah was just kiddin’, don’t get your saddle in a bunch. Ah got some bits ready for you in the barn.”
Blueblood, however, was far too furious to listen to anything she had to say. “No, no, this will be fine,” he said, indicating the bucket of apples. “I’m certain the Element of Honesty has given me what she believes to be a fair wage for a full day’s work. Playing a prank on a pony for a cheap laugh at his expense - why, she’d never do such a thing.” He noted a growing redness in the mare’s cheeks with satisfaction. “I don’t need your wretched charity.” Mustering all the dignity he could manage, Blueblood picked up the apples and strode off back to town with his head held high.
Bean Counter was enjoying another pleasantly uneventful day at the Bank of Equestria when a disheveled, filthy unicorn stallion burst through the double doors into the lobby, magically dragging a bucket of apples behind him. He looked like he belonged more in a homeless shelter than a bank, but she put on an agreeable smile all the same. “Can I help you,” she struggled with the last word, “sir?”
“I need you to cash this,” he said, pulling a small slip of paper from his saddlebags. “Quickly now, I don’t have all day.”
She frowned as she inspected the check he had hoofed her. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t accept this.”
“Due to many instances of fraudulent payments and pranks involving this bank account, it is against the policy of the Ponyville branch of the Bank of Equestria to accept checks signed by this pony,” she said in a carefully controlled monotone.
“Are you saying-”
“I am saying that you cannot cash a check from Princess Celestia.” Her flat tone had cracked and her voice rose with every syllable; by the last word she was nearly shouting. She paused, then spoke calmly once again. “Besides, this check says it’s for Prince Blueblood’s sixth birthday. Why in Equestria would you have it? Did you really think we’d fall for this forgery?”
“I am Prince Blueblood! I’ve kept that check with me for seventeen years as a reminder of...well, that’s not important. My funds have run perilously low, and I require, nay, I demand that you give me my money immediately!”
Bean Counter looked again at the stallion in front of her. His coat was so dirty she could only guess its original color, and, half-hidden under an unkempt mess of a mane, his eyes had a wild, almost crazed look in them. She sighed and barked out a single word. “Security!”
For the second time in one day, Blueblood found himself hurled to the ground. He was not fond of the sensation. Shortly after him came the bucket of apples, which shattered upon impact. He was relieved to see that the check had been tucked away with the apples and gingerly returned it to his bag. He had been reluctant to use it in the first place, and if it couldn't get him the bits he needed he was glad he could at least keep it with him.
Leaving the apples where they lay, he walked off glumly. I should have just taken the money when that bumpkin offered it. Hmph. I suppose I really have forgotten the value of a bit. Blueblood looked up to find that his wandering had taken him to the Ponyville Spa. He glanced into the window and was shocked by the shabbiness of his reflection. Slowly, he lowered his gaze. For ten minutes he sat there just staring at the ground until the sound of two pairs of hoofbeats caught his attention.
Away in the distance, two earth pony fillies were rapidly approaching. What caught Blueblood’s attention, however, was their cutie marks: an expensive-looking tiara and a finely crafted spoon. Ah, the local aristocracy! Not the equals of Canterlot ponies of course, but surely even here there is class to be found amongst the nobility. More importantly, gentleponies in an insignificant little burgh like this will be desperate for more influence at court. With a lightening heart he addressed them as they passed. “Well hello, girls. I am Prince Blueblood. And you are?”
The pink one spoke first. “Prince Blueblood lives in Canterlot and is, like, totally handsome. He definitely does not look like you.” The gray filly at her side poked her gently with her hoof. “What, Silver Spoon?”
“Remember what your parents said? Princess Celestia sent Prince Blueblood here and it’s our job to be on our best behavior if we meet him,” she said in a hushed voice.
“Okay, fine, but he still doesn’t look like Blueblood,” the pink one hissed back.
“Ahem,” Blueblood cleared his throat and both fillies jumped slightly. “Due to regrettable circumstances beyond my control, I have become unspeakably dirty today. Rest assured that under all this disgusting grime I am indeed Prince Blueblood.”
Once again, the pink filly spoke first. “Well he definitely talks like the prince would.” The two young ponies exchanged a look, then bowed down deeply. “I’m Diamond Tiara and this is Silver Spoon. We’re members of, like, the only respectable families in this whole town.”
“But if you’re so dirty why don’t you just go in the spa and get cleaned off?” asked the one named Silver Spoon. “It’s, like, right there in front of you.”
Blueblood grimaced. “Unfortunately, the princess has cut off my access to the Royal Treasury and I am unable to afford a spa treatment at the moment.”
“Oh no, that’s just, like, sooo unfair,” said Diamond Tiara. “I know! We’ll pay for it!”
“Yeah,” chimed in Silver Spoon, “Our families have, like, tons of money and we’d be honored to help you.”
“Oh, how wonderful! I won’t forget this generosity.” What marvellously polite little fillies, Blueblood mused as he entered the establishment, eager to finally wash off the mud that had been caked onto his coat for hours.
Some time later, once again looking as fabulous as ever, Blueblood stepped out of the spa and into the cool evening air. He felt like a new stallion, ready to take on all of Equestria by himself. All his rediscovered confidence had made him giddy and he practically pranced through the streets of Ponyville as he made his way back to Sugarcube Corner. He was in such a good mood that he was even willing to tolerate his pink roommate’s antics for a night.
It was a good thing, too, for as soon as he sprang through the door she was on him, peppering him with a multitude of questions without giving him time to answer any of them. “Wowzers, you’re back, you’re back, you’re back! That took such a long time, I was starting to get worried you’d never come back, but then I thought, ‘stop being such a silly willy worry-wart, Pinkie, of course BeeBee is coming back,’ and you totally did! How was working on AJ’s farm? Ooh, ooh, did you meet her little sister Apple Bloom? Or her brother Big Macintosh? How many apples did you buck, huh, huh? I bet you bucked a whole bunch, you’re big and strong, almost as big as Big Macintosh, and that’s saying something, I mean, the guy has big in his name, so obviously he’s...”
Blueblood let it all wash over him, losing himself in the stream of words when, abruptly, the pink mare stiffened. “Oh, wow, I’ve forgotten to introduce you to Gummy, haven’t I?”
“I suppose you have, yes.”
“Well, he’s kinda shy but he just loves meeting new ponies!” She gave her mane a shake. “Come on out, Gummy! It’s time for you to meet a new friend!”
A small green alligator popped out of her mane and blinked, whereupon Blueblood’s eyes rolled to the back of his skull as he fainted.
Pinkie sighed softly as she looked at Blueblood’s unconscious body. “I guess BeeBee needs to get used to the idea of having an alligator in the house. I know! I’ll put Gummy in his bed tonight so when he wakes up safe and sound he’ll know there’s nothing to be afraid of!” Satisfied with her foolproof plan, she left Sugarcube Corner and hopped off to ask Twilight where to send Blueblood the next morning.
I’d like to thank everybody that took the time to read this with a special shout out to Autumn Wind, who preread for me and helped iron out a few kinks. He’s writing his own Blueblood fic called To Be a Better Stallion; it just got on EQ D and it’s really good. Go read it!
Chapter 3 - Of Books and Burritos
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain that rained from the heavens fell on my face and obscurified the single tear that fell from my eye. My reason to be - gone in an instant. I was so sad. I cried another single tear. Then, suddenly, from behind me came a familiar voice - a voice I couldn’t believe was there but actually was!
“Reader Projection! I’m here for you!” it called. It wasn’t. It couldn’t be. I couldn’t believe it. I turned around. It was! It could be!
“Oh, Unrealistic Fantasy! You’re alive!” I called back ecstatically and joyfully. We rushed together into a passionate embrace, horns touching as we cried our thanks to dearest Celestia. A single moonbeam broke through the clouds, illuminating-
Blueblood snorted as he closed yet another book. The selection at Ponyville’s only library was nothing short of atrocious. After the purple unicorn had left him alone earlier that morning, Blueblood had busied himself by sorting its catalogue into three categories. A small stack of books beside him represented works he was interested in reading, and a larger stack beside that was made up of books he had already read in one of Canterlot’s many royal libraries. Apart from both of them, in the center of the one-room library, Blueblood had built a large and remarkably accurate scale model of Canterlot Castle out of the books he had skimmed briefly and judged to be complete garbage.
He rubbed his muzzle with one of his forehooves absentmindedly. It’s not so bad, I suppose, he thought. Even the worst of these sad excuses for literature is better than manual labor. The librarian hadn’t asked him to do much; she hadn’t asked him to do anything at all, really, only to help anypony who came looking for books. Blueblood was not surprised in the least when this turned out to be almost nopony at all. He cast a critical eye over the bookshelves before resting his gaze on the small collection of worthwhile books he had set aside. Shrugging to himself, Blueblood levitated the topmost book, an encyclopedia of rare flora, over to his desk, opened it to a random page, and began to read.
Poison joke is a small blue flower that causes a unique biological reaction when applied externally to a pony’s coat. Unlike most poisonous plants, poison joke does not cause rashes, sores, or other typical injuries. Instead, it plays what biologists are tentatively referring to as “pranks” on anypony that comes into contact with its toxins. These pranks vary wildly and appear to manifest in ways determined by the afflicted pony’s personality. CAUTION: Though external exposure to poison joke is ultimately harmless, the plant acts as a powerful hallucinogen when ingested. Hallucinations caused by poison joke are extremely powerful, seem to be based on the afflicted pony’s innermost thoughts, and are always unpleasant.
He was so focused on his reading that he didn’t notice when someone opened the door on the other side of the room and entered the library. “Hey, Twilight,” called a distinctly male voice from behind the replica of Canterlot Castle. “I know you said to go have fun today and not to come back until at least six, but I need you to give me another moustache; the doughnut shop doesn’t card when-Oh, for crying out loud, Twilight, I thought we were done with this. Look, I know you get a little overexcited when you start researching architecture, but this is ridiculous. Do you have any idea how long it takes me to clean these things up? I swear, one more time and I’m telling everypony in Ponyville what you say about Isaac Neighton when you’re asleep, just you-” Blueblood coughed. “That-That wasn’t...You, uh, you’re not Twilight, are you?”
Blueblood heard a groan from across the room. “Just promise you won’t-” the voice was cut short as a small purple dragon walked into Blueblood’s line of sight, then stopped abruptly. “What are you doing here?” Blueblood was not sure whether he was more surprised by the dragon itself or by the intense look in its eyes.
He raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, have we met? I’m fairly certain I would remember meeting a baby terra wyrm.”
The look of anger upon the dragon’s face disappeared, replaced by confusion. “Yeah, well, I-um...a what?”
“A land dragon,” said Blueblood enthusiastically. “Your species is quite rare, you know. And fascinating, I might add. You developed magical fire, such a complex mechanism with so many functions, with no clear environmental impetus; it’s nothing short of remarkable.”
“Well, yeah, I am pretty awesome, huh? Seri-” his eyes narrowed. “Wait a minute, flattery’s not gonna get you off the hook for what you did.”
“What I did?” Blueblood thought for a moment and sighed. “I suppose you’ll have to remind me; I’m quite at a loss.”
“You took advantage of the most beautiful pony in Equestria! You made her miserable on what should have been the best night of her life!”
Blueblood buried his face in his hoof. “Oh no, not this again. I had nothing to do with that, and don’t let anypony tell you otherwise. It’s vile slander and nothing more.”
“What? Of course you did, the only pony with her was-”
“Look, I’ll let you in on a secret. Security at the castle is bad. Not just bad, abysmal. We have guardsponies that sleep with their eyes open on duty. The fact of the matter is it would not have been difficult for some blackguard of a paparazzi to sneak into my room, set up some well-hidden recording equipment, and come back for it the next day.”
“I know all about the castle’s security, what does this have to do with-”
“I don’t know why the Grand Duchess of Trottingham thinks it was me, anyway. I certainly didn’t want anypony to see that video, my performance was...um...less than perfect.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about!” shouted the dragon.
Blueblood coughed. “Um, ah, yes, of course. What...um, what were you talking about?”
“The Grand Galloping Gala! You made it the worst night of Rarity’s life!”
“Rarity...” Blueblood trailed off, lost in thought, then shrugged. “I’m sorry, you’ll have to refresh my memory, which one was she? Every gala I have to deal with so many gold-digging trollops, they all sort of blend together, you understand.”
Veins began to pop out under the dragon’s purple scales. “Rarity’s not a tr...um, a troll...whatever you said! She doesn’t need your money, she’s got plenty, and even if she didn’t, she’s way too classy to be a gold digger. She’s the Element of Generosity, one of the best ponies I’ve ever met. She helped defeat Nightmare Moon and Discord! What have you ever done besides sit in a castle on your over-privileged flank, huh?” He emphasized this by jabbing a claw in Blueblood’s direction.
Blueblood scowled. “Oh, spare me. I know those stories. She cut off her tail and dug a boulder out of a rock wall. How heroic. Now, you ask, what have I done?” He could feel his jaw quivering as he spoke. “I wasn’t born in Canterlot, you impudent little brat. I’ve earned my place in the castle, don’t you dare question that.”
“Whatever, I’m done with this.” The dragon stomped upstairs, muttering to himself, some nonsense about how Blueblood would ‘get his.’ Blueblood, seething, turned back to his books. He attempted to go back to reading as he had been minutes ago but gave up after trying and failing to concentrate on the text for the fifth time. Once again, he surveyed the library, wondering how many bits had been wasted on terrible books. Suddenly, he had a magnificent, brilliant idea that was certain to improve the selection.
The librarian sighed. “The whole point of a library is that the books are free. You can’t charge ponies for,” she took a moment to reread the sign Blueblood had posted over the checkout counter, “bad taste and disrespect of culture.”
Blueblood attempted once again to explain his logic. “I really don’t see the problem. I don’t care if you slack-jawed hicks want to read tripe like,” he pulled a random book off the shelves, then rolled his eyes as he read the title, “The Lusty Argonian Mare, but there should be some consequences for having such a blatant disregard for what makes good literature. And with the increased funds you can purchase things actually worth reading. With any luck the improved selection in this athenaeum could make the barely-literate hoi polloi in this village slightly less ignorant in, oh, say, seventy years.”
The mare blinked, then caught sight of the open thesaurus on Blueblood’s desk. She shot him a disbelieving stare. Blueblood sniffed. “There are only so many ways to say, ‘filthy peasant,’ you know. One must keep up with his education.”
“Look. Prince Blueblood. I appreciate what you’re trying to do. Really. But this just isn’t how things work in Ponyville...or anywhere.” She paused. “I know you don’t like common ponies, but if you keep an open mind-”
Blueblood gave a derisive chuckle. “Please. Just yesterday I was humiliated by one of your friends, and I think the pink one wants to kill me. Even if not, keeping that beast of a pet is grossly irresponsible, to say the very least. The moral fortitude of you common ponies is clearly lacking.”
She pressed on regardless. “Okay, so we all got off to a bad start. But give them another chance. I talked with both of them today; Applejack’s really sorry and Pinkie...well, she doesn’t want to kill anypony, I know that at least.”
“My every interaction with you rabble has been marked by unpleasantness. Why should I subject myself to you further?”
“For one thing, it’s what the princess wants.”
“The princess. Indeed.” Blueblood stared down at the floor. Why is learning to cope with all this so blasted important to her? There’s no reason for it, unless...no. No. She wouldn’t. She can’t. Even the princess can’t undo a cutie mark.
The purple mare cleared her throat, and Blueblood lifted his head up to look at her. “And also because half the problem is your attitude. We’re not out to get you, you know. All you have to do is kill your negativity. Maybe you could try thinking of cute little bunnies or something; that always makes me feel better.” Blueblood grunted in reply. “Are you even listening to me?”
Blueblood’s head, which had again drifted towards the floor, jerked upright. “Of...of course. Kill bunnies; think negative thoughts, I’ve got it.”
“Do you want to stay here forever?”
“You know the answer to that. You, and that ill-mannered dragon slave of yours, and the rest of this wretched town.”
“Well then you could help yourself by-wait, Dragon? You met Spike?” The librarian groaned and stamped a hoof. “Six o’clock. I told him six o’clock. How hard is it to come home at six o’clock? I should deal with this, just take your pay and leave early today. Tomorrow you’ll be helping Fluttershy. Ask Pinkie where to find her. And for the love of Celestia, be careful; she’s sensitive.”
Before Blueblood could reply, she had hoofed him a small bag of bits and pushed him out the door. He shrugged. Some luck at last. Now I don’t have to hurry to my dinner engagement with the Spoons and the Tiaras.
A few hours later, Blueblood sat in what he had been assured was the finest Mexicoltan restaurant in Ponyville. Something about the atmosphere of El Caballo con Hambre, however, made him feel uncomfortable and more than a little out of place. He was unable to put his hoof on what exactly it was until their waiter approached the table, dressed in a giant taco suit. “Bienvenuto al Caballo con Hombre,” said the adolescent colt, his voice cracking. “Can I start you folks off with some drinks?”
Emerald Tiara spoke first. “I’ll have a dandelion maregarita.”
“That sounds lovely. Bring one for me too,” said Golden Spoon.
The waiter gave a quick nod. “And for you gentleponies?”
“I’d like a mug of Dos Equines,” said Onyx Tiara.
“And I as well,” said Platinum Spoon.
Blueblood frowned. “Just water.”
“And for the girls?” asked the waiter.
“We both want iced tea,” said Diamond Tiara. Silver Spoon nodded her assent.
“Great. If there’s nothing else, I’ll go back to the kitchen and get those drinks started.” Onyx and Emerald nudged their daughter.
“Actually,” said Diamond Tiara, “it’s our birthday.”
The waiter smiled. “Oh, well congratulations to you and your friend. I’ll make sure to tell the chefs.”
“Oh, not just us two. It’s all of our birthdays.” Onyx, Emerald, Platinum, and Golden all beamed at the little filly.
“...All of your birthdays?” asked the waiter, his face falling.
Blueblood cleared his thoat. “Ah, no. It’s not my birthday.”
“Right, then. Six birthdays. I’ll get your drinks and tell the cooks about your free desserts.” said the waiter in a flat tone.
After he left, Emerald Tiara turned to Blueblood. “You should have just gone along with it. I mean, we can afford to pay, but free is free, am I right?”
“The Prince of Equestria shall not impugn his honor by telling untruths, not for anything, and especially not for something so insignificant as a free dessert.” The others looked at him strangely.
“That’s admirable, I suppose,” said Onyx after a long silence. “Tell us, did you learn that honesty from the princess? It must be incredible living right at the seat of royal power.” Everypony’s eyes lit up at the mention of Celestia.
“Oh, yes,” interjected Platinum. “You simply must tell us all about the princess.”
“No. My father taught me that.” Blueblood paused. “He was...a truly great stallion, perhaps the best I’ve ever-”
“Mmm, yes, fascinating. But what of the princess?” insisted Emerald.
The waiter returned before Blueblood could answer. “So, have you decided what you want to eat tonight?” he asked as he hoofed out everypony’s drinks. The others ordered one by one until it was Blueblood’s turn. “Quiero dos de sus enchiladas especiales y una ensalada de verduras frescas. Y sin queso, no puedo comerlo.”
“Sir, this isn’t that kind of restaurant. We don’t speak Spanish,” said the waiter from behind a facehoof.
“Ugh. Very well,” said Blueblood, grimacing as he read off the menu. “I would like ‘The Enchiladas de las Two Amigos’ and ‘Super Saúl’s Superb Salad.’ And make sure there’s no cheese on any of it; I’m lactose intolerant.”
After the waiter returned to the kitchen the others continued probing Blueblood. “You’re lactose intolerant?” asked Platinum. “Well, I suppose dairy-free meals would be no problem at all in the castle. The princess must be able to get her hooves on any food she wants.” A greedy look came into his eyes. “I wonder what her favorite foods are...ah, but you must know, right?”
“No. Not really. We almost always eat our meals separately,” said Blueblood curtly.
“I imagine she’s quite busy, hmm?” said Golden Spoon.
“Yes. Always busy. Always.”
“Oh, indeed?” said Onyx. “So is there room at the castle for capable advisors, ponies who could help lighten her load? You know, I’ve always said how much I’d like to be in a position to do more for Equestria. If only somepony were to connect me with the right ponies, I could do so much for our princesses and for the realm.”
“You do always say that, dear,” said Emerald. “If only there was some way for your dream to come true.”
Diamond Tiara furrowed her brow. “But you said you were going to make a good impres-” She caught the look her parents were giving her. “Oh! Um, I mean, yes. If only.”
Blueblood put on the urbane smile he always wore when other ponies thought they were manipulating him. He had been expecting this, of course. Interactions with the petty nobility that did not involve ponies trying to use him to gain influence with the royal family were rare. What did surprise him, however, was the Tiaras’ sheer lack of subtlety. “A noble goal,” he said solemnly. “If only more ponies in Canterlot shared it.” There must be something in the water supply, he decided. How else could an entire town be so appallingly uncouth? He pondered the feasibility of importing water bottles from Canterlot until the weight, or lack thereof, of his coin purse reminded him of his limited resources.
The rest of the night went much the same, interrupted only by occasional visits from the waiter. Towards the end of the evening, he brought out six plates of desserts. He was about to leave when Silver Spoon stopped him. “Wait! We want to hear the El Caballo Birthday Song!” Glowering and with some reluctance, he sang a vapid little tune while hopping around in the taco suit. The Tiaras and the Spoons then made him sing it five more times, once for each of them. If Blueblood had to use one word to describe the performance, he would have chosen “unenthused.”
When everypony had finished eating and the bill had been paid, Blueblood’s hosts said a few polite goodbyes and left the restaurant. Blueblood himself, however, stayed behind. The waiter, who had come to bus the table, muttering something about the lack of a tip, groaned when he saw him. “What do you w-er, that is, what do you need, sir?”
“Tell me, how much would those six desserts have cost if they weren’t free?”
“Eighteen bits.” He hesitated, then added, “But better to lose eighteen bits than to get on the bad side of the two most influential families in Ponyville.”
Blueblood hadn’t been listening; he was busy with the money he had made earlier that day. Without a word, he counted out eighteen bits, set them on the table, and walked out the door.
Blueblood’s stomach protested violently against the greasy meal he had just eaten for the entirety of the long walk to Sugarcube Corner. By the time he made it there, the only thing he wanted was to sleep it off in peace. There was, of course, another pony at the bakery who would do everything in her power to keep that from happening.
“Hiiiiiiiya, BeeBee!” He cringed as he felt her syrupy-sweet voice hit him like a buck to the gut.
“That...creature...is locked up, correct?”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that to poor Gummy. He’s waaay too sensitive to be locked up in an itty bitty cage all by his ittle-wittle lonesome self. I gave him to Fluttershy; I know she’ll take the best care of him until you get used to him.”
“So long as it’s gone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off to bed.”
“Wait! You can’t go to sleep yet, you haven’t had the most important meal of the day! How can you sleep without dessert in your tummy?”
“It’s simple. You lie in a bed, then you close your eyes. And for Celestia’s sake, you be quiet!”
“Aw, that’s no fun! Look! I made some yummy, delicious, taste-acular sorbet!” she said, pulling several bowls out of a freezer.
Blueblood felt his mouth watering despite himself. “It has been a number of days since I’ve eaten anything appetizing and befitting my stature...I suppose I could stay awake for another fifteen minutes or so. How much?”
“Oh, there’s tons of it! There’s cherry and orange and lime and-”
“No, no, I meant how much money do you want for it?”
She cocked her head to the side. “Money? Don’t be silly, I didn’t make this for you to pay me for it.”
“Well, what do you want for it? A position at the court, an autograph from the princess, what? Spit it out.”
“I just did you a favor; why would I want anything for it? What kind of friend would I be then?”
“Well, duh! What else do you call a pony who sleeps in your house and parties with you all night?”
Blueblood opened and closed his mouth several times before he found his voice again. “I’m afraid there’s been a terrible, terrible mistake; the institution of friendship is-”
She giggled that infuriating, already all too familiar giggle. “Oh, BeeBee, you really don’t get out much, do you?” Blueblood refused to dignify the question with a response. “Aw, that’s okay, Pinkie Pie’s gonna show you how to loosen up, I promise! Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick-”
“I don’t need help from anypony,” interrupted Blueblood, bristling. “Most especially not from a commoner pony with an uncountable number of loose screws.”
She giggled. Again. “Psshh, don’t being silly; ponies don’t have screws! Now, Sugarcube Corner has screws, and I think some of them might be loose, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Oh! And nails, too, Sugarcube Corner definitely has a few loose nails. Just yesterday I stubbed my hoof on one and got a-”
“Do you listen to yourself speak?”
“Well duh, I have ears, don’t I? Of course I hear everything I say,” she gasped. “Unless I talk in my sleep! Beebee, do I talk in my sleep?”
The prince did not hesitate to seize the opportunity that had just presented itself. “I don’t know; I always fall asleep before you. Perhaps we could test it tonight, but only if you went to bed early...say, a half hour from now?”
“Why wait that long?” she asked, at which point she tipped several bowls of sorbet into her mouth and swallowed them in one gulp. Without skipping a beat she then bounced up the stairs and down the hall. By the time Blueblood had followed her to their room, she was already fast asleep and blessedly silent.
He allowed himself a small smile. She doesn’t sleep-talk...I have an entire night of peace and quiet! His smile grew wider. Perhaps more; one night is hardly sufficient sample size for a proper experiment. And tomorrow...Shudderfly, was it? The yellow one. Something about animals. That should be easy.
Quick note about the Spanish:
El Caballo com Hambre = The Hungry Horse
Bienvenuto al Caballo con Hombre = Welcome (the real word is bienvenido) to the Horse with Man
As of now I am looking for a small group of people to help edit future chapters; if you have some experience writing and/or editing and would be interested in helping, please contact me. Thank you, and thanks for reading.