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With Winter Bolt

"Well, the original three were three fillies named Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Applebloom. They were young fillies who went around, doing various things to try to earn their Cutie Marks. They earned some time ago, and now four other young ponies are doing the exact same thing, with the three fillies helping them now. Their names are Cherry Twist, Hard Hammer, Chocolate Twist, and Berry Pie. Two, Cherry and Chocolate, are related. Hammer and Berry aren't." Twilight explained. 

"To enjoy the party, I recommend just meeting new ponies. You've already done it with me and Pinkie, why don't you do it with others, too? I first learned to make friends not by choice, but when Princess Celestia sent me to Ponyville to make friends. I may not have been willing then, but it worked and I'm happy it did."

Twilight opened her mouth to speak again only to be interrupted when a stallion charged in through the doorway, screaming "Murder!" aloud. Most ponies reacted immediately, panicking and fleeing the room in fear. Several Guards came from their station at the wall or flew down from the ceiling, quickly catching the stallion and trying to calm him and get him to speak.

With Survivor Hoof

"I'm sure you'll forgive me if I don't quite believe you." Princess Luna says. "My Lieutenant saw you sneaking through here, heading for the cell window behind me. That fact alone makes seem to be an accomplice to the pony that did it."

As the Princess spoke, voices and walking could be heard through the cell bars as several Guards carried their injured allies to the infirmary. The sounds of magic could be heard as Unicorns began to cast spells, looking for traces of magic. "If it weren't for the knowledge that you were looking at the cell, it would look like you were trying to get a glance at certain, ah, parts of mine, Mr. Hoof. I recommend discretion in the future."

"Tell me, why exactly did you come to this cell?" As she asked the question, her horn lit up in magic as she cast a spell, though she chose not to say what the spell was. "I'm waiting."

With Blue Thorn

When Thorn ran into the banquet hall, yelling of murder, he only vaguely noticed the ponies that quickly abandoned the room, Twilight included. He, too, failed to notice when he was magically halted by a Unicorn Guard. He took no notice of the myriad of Guards, both Solar and Lunar, who tried to calm him enough to get answers out of him. A cacophony of voices, some concerned, some rude, slowly reached his ears as he began to become aware of his surroundings.

"Sir, are you okay?"

"What did you see?'

"Boy, shut up and tell me what you saw!" A higher-ranking Guard shouted at Thorn, though it did nothing to help calm him.

Another Guard, seemingly a medic if her red cross meant anything, spoke up. "Listen to me, calm down. You aren't in danger. Tell us what you saw so we can help. What did you see?"

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As ponies scattered yelling Winter Bolt did what came naturally to him. He went up. As fast as he could he flew straight up hovering just below the ceiling of the hall.He watched ponies fleet. Some shouting in panic. The guards scrambled to keep order. He watched from the heights as chaos swept the hall. Keeping an eye on the open window near him he was sure he could flee if he must. But unless there was direct danger he would wait for the professional guard ponies to do their job. His ears cocked downward listening hard for any hint of the danger that set the stamped in motion and if he ought to follow or if he could depart calmly after things settled. No sense running away from something if you dont know what you were running towards. 

 

He tried his best to be patient but flying at ceiling height while things rushed about was just not his style. At the very least he ought to see if he can lend a hoof. He slowly landed back on the floor of the ruining banquet hall. A once festive environment now littered with scattered food and chairs. He looked about hoping to see someone giving directions. 

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Blue Thorn eventually came to his senses now that he was surrounded by the royal guard. The symbols of peace that many young ponies, himself included, mused of one day being a part of. With that, the mental haze set on by instinctual drive thinned to the point where internal order could be restored. Blinking heavily, Thorn tried to collect himself, but the bombardment of questions made it difficult. Taking the path of least resistance, he blurted out what he knew. "Guards! In the garden behind me," Thorn pointed behind him with his tail, then realized the obscurity of the gesture and turned to point in that same direction, "I heard a confrontation and thuds and, and..."

Thorn paused, seemingly to collect himself, "I saw a guard stop someone. There were two thumps, and someone shouted a name, and another two thumps and the stopped pony walked away like it was nothing. Ponies don't just survive hits like that, you've gotta help them, not me."

Blue Thorn's explanations then dissolved into rambling about how he was fine and the guards were the ones that needed help.

  • Brohoof 1

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As Strong Copper rose out of his bow, he fought to contain a wince while trying to resist reaching for his tender side to rub it. Mentally he told himself over and over again that the pain, like everything else, would pass as he accepted the offer of his ruler and accepted the seat opposite her without ceremony. "I thank you for the kind words, but I confess that I don't do what I do out of a desire to protect ponies. I do what I do because if I didn't, frightened, angry and selfish beings would try and handle the situation their way and all that path leads to is needless death and strife as either they successfully kill a creature that just wants to survive like they do or they discover that they lack the tools and knowledge to accomplish their ambitions and ponies die. No one wins in that situation."

While there was clearly a somberness in his voice, he closed his eyes for a moment before shaking the feeling out of his head... or trying to as he tried to change the subject. "I'm sure that you're guards have made you aware of a pick pocket that they apprehended earlier who put up a fight. I don't know who he is or what you've been told, but that pony is not a pick pocket." As he spoke, his words were deathly serious as he gazed upon his monarch. "I don't know what he is, but he is dangerous. That fight with the guards was a calculated move on his part for some grander scheme and I don't what it is. A diversion maybe?" He quickly suggested, unable to think of what other possible benefit such a fight could bring as he fell silent to see how Celestia responded to his dire warning.

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Survivor groaned, every single word that had come from his mouth had back fired, he jangled the shackles on his hooves and frowned at the ponies who had him at spear point and look Luna in the eyes “ Frist of all princess,I was just as worried about your guards as you were, and second of all as you can see the door that lead to the hallway inside the building are broken, rather then the ones on the window, I could argue any decent pony would try and help thoes guards” this was, at least a good chunk of the truth. “Thoes guards need help, and for the reason I came here, well it one bared cell in the corner of your gardens, if I was you I would punish your architect and not me. Most likely another pony would be interested and look over this way.

Survivor was dumbfounded when the princess assumed that he was staring, the cell window was floor level and the princess was taller than he was but she was tall enough that If he looked at the ground he wouldn’t be staring,looks like princesses have vulgar sides also.

Survivor really hoped that the squirrel would get back soon with someone...

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With Winter Bolt and Blue Thorn

One of the Guards, a Solar Pegasus, took charge and immediately began barking orders after listening to the tale. He quickly pointed his hoof at three Unicorn Guards. "You three! Head outside and look for the source of the commotion. If you find anypony suspicious, apprehend them under grounds of being a possible suspect."

Then he pointed to a Pegasus. "Head to the infirmary and get aid. Tell them two Guards are down, possibly more ponies, and another seems to be going into delayed shock."

The Guard quickly pointed to Winter Bolt and an Earth Pony. "You, Pegasus, watch this pony and make sure he doesn't leave. I'll find Princess Luna and tell her what happened. Swift, find Princess Celestia and do the same. Tell her that her aid may not be required, but inform her of the situation."

The Guards nodded quickly, each darting to their respective tasks as the Guard headed toward the entrance, where Princess Luna was last seen.

With Strong Copper

Princess Celestia listened patiently as Survivor explained his reasoning for following his line of work. A small smile twitched on her muzzle as she listened, realizing something that amused her slightly. The smile vanished as he changed the subject quickly, before she could reply. She had already heard of what he told her, of course, her Guards having gone straight to her and her sister as more brought the injured Guards to the infirmary and yet more still brought the pony to a secondary, more modern prison in one of the side wings.

Ponies failed to realize just how many Guards there actually were. Most were hidden, disguised as tourists with illusion spells hiding and silencing their armor while also tricking the pony into thinking it was fur they touched, if they happened to touch the disguised Guard. Most ponies thought that there were only seven to ten thousand Guards in Equestria. With the hidden soldiers and rotational shifts, there was secretly closer to fifty thousand. Ever commanding officer, no matter the rank, knew there were more Guards than it appeared. Only the Captain knew just how many were situated throughout Equestria. That's not even counting her sister's Thestrals.

When Survivor finished speaking, the Solar Diarch quickly replied to what he said before he changed the subject. "You may not do your work solely for protecting my ponies, but in a roundabout way, you do exactly that. You protect my ponies, but you also protect the world's creatures. You stop them from taking on something they can't handle and save my ponies. You also stop my ponies from killing or maiming a creature who doesn't want to be violent. I respect that, and in turn, you, Mr. Copper."

"As for the 'pickpocket,' I already know of the situation. It's being dealt with accordingly. I was made aware moments after it happened and moments before you arrived. You may not have noticed the armored Guard leaving my side before you approached me. Do not worry about Mr. Blank, he's been apprehended and placed into a cell." The Alicorn reassured calmly.

"Sister, Blank has escaped, correct?"

"Yes, he has. The two Guards are injured, but not permanently." Luna replied.

"Good. I expected as such. Send a Guard to find him and follow him from a distance. Find Bull and do the same. Claw has seemingly done nothing except chatting with a young Doe, my Guards tell me."

"Mine have said the same. Like Tail, Claw might not be part of this scheme. I've caught Mr. Hoof near the escaped cell. I don't think he's part of this, but he did try to tackle me. I'm questioning him now with several of my Guards around me."

"Good luck and be careful, sister."

"I will." Luna replied.

With Survivor Hoof

Princess Luna stared toward Survivor for a time before stepping closer, her wings brushing away the spears leveled toward his front, though the ones behind him remained. She stopped when she was close enough for him to feel the aura of cold coming off of her armored chest. Her neck arched, allowing her to look down on him as his neck craned to look at her from this angle. She may not be as tall as her sister, but she still towered over the average pony. "There's more to it, Mr. Hoof. A normal pony would not investigate barred windows out of a fear of meeting a raving criminal. You, though, snuck your way over here to look through them."

"I can assure you, Mr. Hoof," The Diarch continued. "That you were not the one who broke Mr. Blank free from his cell. You couldn't have, not from this position. However, you may be working for him and made your way over here to see if he successfully escaped. And if you were trying to help these Guards, you would not be able to do so from outside. Your best bet would have been to find the nearest Guard and told them what happened."

"Though," She added. "You can see that is not necessary. We were already aware of this event. Breaking out of a cell isn't a quiet affair, nor is it one that tends to go unnoticed for long."

"As for the cell itself, you don't know if it was built this way for a reason. To answer the inevitable question, yes, it was built like this on my sister's orders. Do not try to distract me with such a trivial comment. Explain yourself. The absolute truth will benefit you far more than evasiveness will."

  • Brohoof 1

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Winter Bolt nodded sharply and his wing snapped out. With a clear task ahead of him he drew close to the other pony with a stern look on his face. He was determined to take this job seriously. There was one thing he was proud of and that was doing a job given to the best of his ability even if he sometimes messed things up when it game to the weather. He knew this pony was not a criminal suspect yet or at least he thought he wasn't. But he could still try to flee in fear. 

" Sir please do not try to leave the room. I know this situation is scary and I do not want to add to it by having to stop you. The guards need you to stay put and asked me to make sure that happened. I am not sure what is going on tonight. But you are a key witness to the events so no matter how scared you are you gotta stay here ok? An attack at the Gala must be investigated. So many ponies are given hope by this new gala and we cant let whoever did this get away with it."

His expression was serious but he tried to show compassion. He did not want to freak his charge out but he could not disappoint a royal guard not if he was going to work for Princess Luna. He really hopped this all smoothed over quickly. So many ponies had been so happy here just a few minutes ago, it just made things that much more disappointing to see that feeling ruined. At least he had hope for a future though. For the first time in a while, he was sure things were going to turn out ok. 

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Posted (edited)

Blue Thorn, still coming down from his panic, sat back onto his haunches, raised a hoof to his head, and let out a long huff. After the guard had taken charge, Thorn's tension had melted away. Now the situation was going to be resolved, and the most capable ponies will be the ones to do it.

 

He noticed that what looked like an ordinary pegasus was assigned to watch him. That was a little unsettling. The pony wasn't wearing any armor so he couldn't be a guard, and Thorn wasn't entirely convinced that there weren't some guards here at The Gala that were working with the theaves. Could he have been hoodwinked? Was that gaud that gave out all those orders working with the thief? Could this pegasus also be working with them? What would he even do if that was the case? He was alone with this pegasus, and if the pegasus was even half as competent as the earlier thief, then there wasn't much Blue Thorn could do to stop him.

 

All this suspicion was getting Thorn nowhere and he knew it. So he decided to introduce himself, "Don't worry about me going anywhere. I've had my fill of excitement for a while. My name's Blue Thorn by the way. Sorry if I ruined your good time in my panic."

Edited by Loud Opinion
spelling and grammer

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" I'm Winter Bolt. Dont worry about the panic. The guards needed to know what happened. It's better that ponies know to be on the lookout for something than to be happy with danger lurking in the dark. So what in the hay happened anyhow? One minute I am having some cider and the next I had to take to the air to avoid a stampede. I couldn't hear a thing over the shouting."

He looked around and saw that this room was a mess. Chair overturned, cider and other drinks spilled all over the place creating a sticky mess as they dried. The dessert table was overturned which made him particularly sad to see all those fine cakes and snacks wasted. While the room was in chaos the air was an odd juxtaposition of silence that hung heavily. It was iff the chaos sunk into the surroundings when the air cleared of frightened shouts. If not for the fact that Winter Bolt absolutely trusted the royal guard and the Princesses to handle things he might have actually bee worried just based on the feel of the room alone.

" So Blue Thorn what brought you here?" He adds this second question almost as a distracted afterthought to all of the other questions left hanging in the air. 

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"I'm not saying that your guards wouldn't have noticed some of the things that I did. But there was the risk that they might have missed something so..." Trailing off a little, Strong Copper actually blushed a little as he glanced sideways, his tail flicking himself him as he felt... well, rather overwhelmed by the fact that somepony as important and famous as Celestia could appreciate the work he did and why he did it.

Taking a deep breath, he smiled a little as he made himself look back up at her. "Thank you for the compliment." While his smile had started off honest and heartfelt, it quickly changed into something... awkward as he tapped a hoof on the table as he fidgeted. "I would go into how much I respect you and the work you do but... let's be honest, I'm pretty sure you've heard such things from so many over the years that it must all just be white noise in the background by now, huh?"

A small part of him had felt like he had committed a social sin by saying such a thing to one of the Princesses of Equestria... but having crossed that line he felt strangely... liberated in turn. "For what it's worth, I do feel horrible about interrupting your quiet moment like this. Having grown up in Canterlot, I would like to think that I have a feint idea of just what kind of false friends, sucks ups and leeches much strive for your attention every moment of every day... But I know I couldn't know the half of it. I have never been in a position that they would bother to try and suck up to me for anything and I don't risk making headline news or risk a political incident if I tell somepony to go buck themselves. So if you want to tell me to get lost so you can go back to enjoying your quiet moment and cake, I promise you now that it would just be between the two of us." The last part was said with a friendly smile again; The smile of someone who knew how annoying ponies could be and wouldn't hold it against her if she wanted to vent a little towards someone who wouldn't use it against her.

 

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Posted (edited)

Blue Thorn thought about how Winter justified Thorn's actions and felt a twinge of pride knowing that even an ordinary citizen like himself can make a difference. "Thank's Winter. Sometimes I can forget about the positive impacts I have on others, you know? With contract work, it's always, onto the next job. I usually get compliments from my clients after a job, but it all just blurs together. You hear it so regularly, you forget you ever heard it at all. Then when you screw up a job, that's what really sticks with you."

Thorn took a moment to look at the now vacant room and realized why he suddenly feels so at ease. It was a lot like the sight of a garden or lawn before he starts working on it. It's chaotic, yet vacant appearance was so familiar to Thorn that it's like he's back in his element. Even though it felt like home, and Winter assured Thorn that it was the right call, he couldn't help but feel a bit of responsibility.

Thorn tried to take a sip of his brew but as he felt that his tail wasn't holding onto anything anymore. He must have dropped it in his sprint here.

Resigned to a sober evening, he began to idly lift chairs and tables into their rightful places with his tail, as he explained the situation to Winter Bolt, "Well, I think it all started when me and a few friends at the bar saw a guard stopping a cloaked man for stealing." Thorn stopped picking things up to emphasize the next part of his story, "The thing moved like a viper. Swinging hooves and taking out guards left and right. Eventually one of them broke his arm and he had to run away. My friends went after him and I haven't seen them yet. I went off to one of the gardens, I heard a fight go on, I panicked, and well, you saw the rest."

Edited by Loud Opinion
  • Brohoof 1

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Survivor looked up at the starry eyes of the princess and shivered, it looked like he was looking into his nightmares. "There was something wrong with that pony princess, no pony could take a hit like that and not show any reaction to it. Its just not natural, and I know natural! There was no way the guards here could keep him contained , not to insult you guard or anything, as you can see their doing there job. Survivor said while making the chains jangle for emphasis. "But when I get my leg broken I'm going to react accordingly, not like a pain-immune lunatic.

I came down here to make sure the guards were not...well looks like I failed" he said while pursing his lips and looking at his hooves. "A normal pony, princess, is curious and not  all of your precious subjects call the guards whenever they chip a hoof. Some of us can handle things on our own. Princess I bet you most of the ponies in the hall who witness that brawl has talking o at least 1 guard" Survivor said with a slightly irritated tone, he knew if he came off the wrong why it could be the end of him. They might be all powerful but that doesn't mean every single being they rule over is some squishy wealthy pony from Canterlot.

  • Brohoof 1

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With Strong Copper

Princess Celestia smiled softly to Strong Copper. "I thank you for taking the time to ensure that my information was up to date. While my Guards often tell me the exact order of events, there is always the chance that they missed something. Caution never hurts, after all."

Her smile then widens to him and she speaks with a honesty that surprised even herself slightly. "Thank you for the honesty, Mr. Copper. Very few ponies are ever entirely honest with my sister and I. They tell us what they think we want to hear, which isn't always the truth. I'm not sending you away, Mr. Copper. In fact, I would like it if you were to stay and tell me about yourself. I know some, from my reports and word of mouth, but I'd like to hear how you describe it, if you wouldn't mind. Feel free to decline."

With Survivor Hoof

"On the first matter, I have known a multitude of ponies who do not react when grievously injured. Many forms of modern martial arts teach the students how to ignore pain so they may keep fighting. Though, you are right. He was using a rare form of magic to strengthen himself beyond natural means. The magic itself is one not actively used in thousands of years. It predates the Crystal Empire, though you may not know of that vanished land."

"I personally came here to check on the status of his incarceration when I learned of the presence of the old magic. I knew no mortal pony would be able to overpower him through sheer strength and attempted to arrive before he broke free. Unfortunately, he moved too quickly and this was too well planned."

With a flash of blue magic, the chains around Survivor vanished and Princess Luna gave him a sly smile. "Even then, I knew you were not an accomplice of his. My Guards have watched you from the moment you arrived, just as they have everypony else. Lying to me is useless for a reason; my network reveals more to me than most ponies know on their own. Return to the Gala, Mr. Hoof, while I deal with this."

  • Brohoof 1

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Finding himself relaxing a little despite the location... and the company... and honestly the whole situation in general, Strong Copper couldn't help but chuckle a little. "Well, I figure part of it is because that I don't really gain anything from trying to mislead you. I'm neither a politician, lobbying you for anything or some noble trying to improve me social standing. Worse case, even if you didn't like me personally, it seems like you respect the work I do enough that you wouldn't allow yourself to effect your professionalism... Which if I'm going to be honest is rather refreshing."

Her question about himself caught him... somewhat off guard. Not because he had anything to hide or anything, but as he quickly asked "When you say 'describe yourself', what do you mean? How do I describe the things that I do? How I've come to be the pony I am?" Clearly, having a jumping off point would help him tremendously.

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Survivor felxed his shoulders and fruurowed his eyebrows "well, that was a waste of time." He thought as he stood up and gave half smile "well princess it was nice to formally meet you, But next time could you please just call me Survivor." he said as he turned around at weaved his way thought the guards that had encircled him a moment before, as he trotted away he looked back and noticed a small dent in Lunas flank amour. Survivor chuckled to himself lightly "there more study then they look," he thought before turn back and trotting back into the banquet hall, He tried looking for one of the ponies that had talk with him earlier and spotted the blue earth pony with the unique tail and a light blue Pegasus, "Hey, Hey" Survivor said, a little to loudly while trotting up to them. He plucked a leaf of this hair and smiled at the blue earth pony "I'm back what did I miss?" he turned to the Blue Pegasus "Heya I'm Survivor" he said with another half smile 

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"Survivor! I were just talking about the thief we saw earlier." Blue Thorn greeted back Survivor and lifted a toppled over chair with his tale and put it back to its rightful place by a now discarded table. "Have a seat, and tell us what you saw when you went after him."

Thorn then sat at the second of the trio of chairs by the table and looked to Winter Bolt only to be reminded that Winter hadn't met Survivor before. "Oh, right. Winter, this is Survivor Hoof. We met at this party earlier." Thorn then looked to Survivor. "Survivor, this is Winter. He's watching me by order of a royal guard."

As soon as he said it, Thorn realized how awkward it was to address Winter as his capture even if it was accurate. "I'm not really sure why they need an entire pony dedicated to watching me, but it's probably something to do with the thieves we saw."

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With Strong Copper

Princess Celestia smiled to Copper and spoke softly. "I understand the point you are making, but you don't have to worry about me not liking you. You have been good company and I do not regret inviting you to join me."

"I'm not too particular about what you tell me, but perhaps how you earned your Cutie Mark is a good place to begin?" The Solar Diarch suggests to him, just as a servant arrived and placed two plates on the table, each laden with treats from Sweet Apple Acres.

"Thank you, Silver." The Princess 

Silver nodded, bowed, and quickly walked away. The Diarch sighed lightly and turned away.

With Princess Luna

With a flash of cerulean light, the Lunar Diarch vanished, reappearing within the ruined cell. Looking around, she saw the two injured Guards being brought to the infirmary where they would be treated for their injuries. She waited a few moments until the room was clear of all ponies. With a quick burst of magic, the sound of metal popping as the dent in her Scout Armor was removed. She glanced around the cell, her eyes beginning to glow a bright blue as several symbols appeared on the walls around her.

"Sister, Blank inscribed Perth on the walls, and if I had to guess, Uruz and an Othila-Nauthis into his own flesh."

"Luna, you know I am not a Rune Mage like you are. What do those do?"

A flicker of mirth quickly flew over the link as Princess Luna replied. "Perth means, in this case, 'Silence,' and allowed him to escape unnoticed. Uruz is 'Power,' boosting his own strength. An Othila-Nauthis combination will remove all forms of pain from him. Originally, I assumed he had inscribed Algiz onto himself, but his broken arm proved he doesn't have 'Protection.'"

"Is there a way to counter Runes and prevent them from being used in certain locations?" Celestia asked in hope.

"No, there isn't. Traditional forms of magic can't affect Runicry. They can't even be detected by traditional magic." Luna answered.

"Then I'm going to have to ask you to keep an eye out for Runes."

"Of course, sister. I'll do what I can to track him down and prevent this from happening again." 

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Strong Copper watched the interaction between Celestia and one of her numerous servants (whom he was assuming was named Silver, unless she had gotten their name wrong at some point and they simply never corrected her... which, now that he thought about and took into considering who she was, it was a legit possibility and... kind of sad), he seemed to perk up a little in his seat; Not just at her compliment, but also because a rather delicious smelling tray of apple products had been presented to both of them. 

"Story of how I got my cutie mark... alright." Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself to tell a story he had told before but never minded sharing again. "Well as I'm sure you know, Canterlot doesn't really have many dangerous animals that don't live in the zoo or make their homes in the sewers and underground chambers where the alchemist run offs end up, so I was somewhat late when it came to earning my cutie mark. I was actually visiting a cousin in Appleloosa when the town fell under siege. At the time no pony knew what it was because no one had ever seen it directly, but during the night the town was filled with unearthly howls, bone chilling roars, what sounded like the screams of ponies in terrible pain and other noises that I honestly cannot describe."

"Ponies weren't able to sleep, attempts to locate the source of the noise failed and everypony had the sense that something was watching them... waiting for them to be alone somewhere that nopony else could see or help them before striking; So you can imagine that everypony was on edge and paranoid." Pausing for dramatic effect, Copper couldn't help but bashfully smile. "Now, even back then I had always loved researching animals, myths and the supernatural but watching what was happening caused something to tug at the back of my mind... as if I had read about something like this before. I had brought a couple of my books with me for some late night and train reading so I sat down and starting looking through them until I found what I was looking for. What I was seeing matched the hunting habits or a Taraxippus."

For a moment Copper paused as he gazed at Celestia, the look on his face debating if he should explain what such a creature was or if she already knew and doing so would be an insult to her intelligence. After his moment, he seemed to come to a conclusion that since she was the ruler of a nation, she likely had plenty of things that needed her attention and knowledge of a rare creature like a Taraxippus didn't have to come up much. "A Taraxippus is a rare solitary hunter that feeds on the emotions of fear and terror and thus works to maximize those emotions in a given location. There is a sub species of them informally called 'horror movie monsters' that also eat meat and will add killing and eating ponies. Not because it actually gives them much in the way of substance, but to instill greater levels of terror in their remaining prey." Despite the horrible nature of this sub-species, Copper didn't seem that bothered by it. In fact, he seemed to hold some respect for what seemed to be a logical decision for a predator that fed on fear to take.

"Thankfully, the one in Appleloosa was just a normal member of the species. Nopony was dying, just scared out of their wits end. After figuring out what we were dealing with, I started talking with my cousin and between the two of us, we managed to come up with a plan that was solid enough to convince everypony else to get on board with. A taraxippus is a stealthy creature because... well, few things are more frightening then an unknown threat. So our plan was to use a series of bright lights and co-ordinate patrols to slowly box it in; Subtly guiding the path it was taking at first, but in the end managing to pin it down in the middle of town. We managed to capture it and display it for everypony to see for themselves and while I was explaining to them what it was and why they shouldn't be afraid of it anymore, my mark appeared." Smiling at the memory, Copper paused for a moment as something occurred to him. "I... actually don't know what happened to it afterwards. After everyone had gotten a good look at it, the mayor of Appleloosa and a couple of ponies said they would take care of it and I never saw it again after they took it away. Didn't really think about it at the time because... well, just earned my cutie mark and I had been running on little sleep so I was just glad to finally fall into bed and get some well deserved shut eye. Do you know what ended up happening with it?"  

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With Strong Copper

Princess Celestia listened intently to Copper's story, matching it with the reports she had received all those years ago. She, of course, knew what a Taraxippus was; she had fought them centuries ago, before the rule of her and her sister. In those days, the 'Royal Sisters' were merely hunters who traveled the land and fought beasts off to prevent monsters from preying on the citizens of the land.

The Taraxippus, while a fearsome beast, wasn't particularly dangerous due to their hunting habits. If their prey was dead, they couldn't feed. As such, ponies in that time weren't afraid of them, merely cautious. It was a time not just of danger, as beasts roamed the land nearly unopposed, but of knowledge, as those same beasts were studied and the information shared. Ponies feared little in those days and fought against many monsters. They were stronger, then, with better magic and more combat knowledge passed down through the generations.

Now, though, ponies were far more skittish. They flinched at the slightest sounds, balked at unknown creatures, and feared what they didn't understand. The Everfree Forest, once a place of testing and proving, is now feared and despised. Celestia was saddened by how much ponies feared, how specist and exclusive they had become. Copper, though, was seemingly an exception.

As a young colt, he had learned to think and act like colts did centuries ago. It impressed her, honestly. He was so different, yet so familiar to the Solar Diarch. It brought back good memories, those of a time when she and her sister could both participate in combat without being feared, nor judged. When Copper finished, Celestia gathered her thoughts and spoke.

"The ponies of Appleloosa hoped to kill the Taraxippus in retaliation for the sleepless nights and fear it caused. My sister interrupted them, though, and brought the beast past the Everfree. Since then, I've heard nothing of it. I don't know if it still lives or not, but it was given a chance and allowed to survive."
 

"The courage you showed that day, it impresses me, Mr. Copper. Very few ponies would ever do such a thing, and to do so without seeking to kill it is rare. You earned the Cutie Mark you bear, make no mistake, and fulfill a role that hasn't been filled since before our rule. Be proud of that."

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"Oh..for the royal guard huh? well you must a special pony then" said as he took a seat next to Thorn. "well I had to be carefully not do draw any unwanted attention from the guests to myself so I had to wait until the gardens cleared out a little" Survivor stopped himself as he felt eyes on his back, he knew for sure some of Lunas guards were watching him, he didn't know if they wanted him to sense them or not but he needed to pick his words carefully. "so I trotted up to a window new the ground of the gardens, it looked like a cell. I barely got a glimpse before I was...apprehended by a bunch of guards, Luna herself came over and interrogated me. I wish I saw more." Survivor stopped and looked around, he didn't see any guards through the masses of ponies. He turned back to Winter Bolt and Blue Thorn and spoke with a low tone " There is something wrong with this all, I don't know what but my guts doesn't like it at all."

 

 

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As Strong Copper took the time to catch his breath after telling his story and listened to Princess Celestia's high praise of not just the work that he personally did, but of him as a pony for doing so...he honestly didn't know how to respond to it at first. A shy, nervous grin grew on his blushing face as he had to start stamping one of his lower legs with an upper hoof in order to try and stop himself from giggling like an awkward teenager.

Kind of wishing that he could eat one of the apple treats so that he would have an excuse not to say anything until he had collected himself but unable to justify it to himself because he worried that such a move would be rude, he floundered for words for a few moments while tripping over his tongue as his brain fired to many sentences to say at once... until he stopped to take a couple of deep breaths and actually took the time to try and sort out what he was thinking. 

"Th-thank you. I just... It would have been a shame if it had been killed just because it had been annoying. I'm going to have to offer my deepest thanks to Luna at some point tonight for stepping in when she did. As for if it is still alive out there somewhere... If it is, good on it for making the most of the situation. If not..." He shrugged, clearly not bothered by the idea of it dying in the wild as other nature lovers might have been. "It had a greater chance then if it had stayed in Appleloosa. Not much more anypony could have done for it."

Starting to unwind again, he smiled as he decided to change the subject a little to sate his own curiosity. "Well, since you asked me the story behind my mark, I feel it is only fair that I can ask you how you gained yours. I mean, I doubt you earned it by staring at the sun for three hours and not going blind." He chuckled softly, abandoning all pretense of her being royalty as he asked "How long did it take Luna to make a joke about how you believed the sun shone out of your flank?"

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With Strong Copper

Princess Celestia looked up toward the ceiling as she thought, a habit she had formed centuries ago. She thought back, all those years ago, before she ruled, before she was an adult, even before she was an Alicorn. She remembered how she earned her Cutie Mark and how happy she had been that day. "It was a long time ago, back in the days when it took a large group of Unicorns to move the sun and moon. My sister and I, we were Unicorns then. We were young adults without Cutie Marks. Ponies assumed we would never have them; that our family weren't able to get them. Otherwise, we weren't special, just another part of the group that affected the sun and moon."

"I was part of the group that was tasked with the sun, my sister with the moon. We worked every day and night for fifteen years, moving the celestial bodies. Time passed and we grew more powerful and more familiar with the sun and moon. Our superiors, the Overseers, noticed that our groups were becoming exponentially more efficient as the years passed. One day, they decided to try something that they've never done before. I was tasked with raising the sun alone. Word had been spread so nopony would be afraid if the sun was a few minutes or a few hours late." Princess Celestia began.

"At first, I failed. The others had to take over and raise the sun instead. I went home that morning, ashamed and disappointed. The next day, I tried again at the Solar Overseer's behest. Once again, I failed. The day after, when she tried to get me to try again, I told her that I couldn't, that it wasn't possible for one pony to raise the sun. She told me to go home and study magic more. I did exactly that, researching everything I could about the sun."

"Be aware that while I was going through this, my sister was doing the exact same thing. The Lunar Overseer was trying to get her to move the moon alone, though she too was failing. She was tasked with researching as well, and we often helped each other." She added, then continued. "The next two weeks passed like this. Every day, we would attempt to move the life-giving orbs on our own, only to have the others step in when dawn was several hours late. One day, I had an epiphany. I realized that the sun was, for lack of a better term, alive like you and I are. It was so magical that it had it's own personality. I was trying to force it away. I needed to ask it to move." 

"I shared that with my sister, and that day we tried again. The sunrise was late, but I did it. I moved it on my own, in front of my family and my friends. My sister, at my side, had lowered the moon as well. The proud smiles of the Overseers, the applause of the Unicorns behind me, none of it mattered to us. When our parents hugged us and told us how proud they were, when we felt the happiness, joy, and contentedness, we both were enveloped in light. When it faded,  we had both ascended into Alicorns and gained our Cutie Marks."

She sighs and smiles lightly, memories flashing through her mind as she spoke. "We didn't rule then; it wasn't for another hundred or so years that we began to rule. Immortality wasn't something we truly understood, not until our peers began to age around us and we stayed the same. But we were happy; Unicorns no longer needed to dedicate their lives to bringing day and night. We could do it. We did."

Princess Celestia pulled herself back to the present and smiled to Copper. "You asked me how I got my Cutie Mark. It wasn't like a normal pony's. It took my sister and I fifteen years of practice to do it. We were in our thirties when they appeared. You have your answer, though. You are one of the few ponies to ever ask my sister and I that question."

She reaches out and grasps a small glass with her wing and drains the contents, quenching her slight thirst. Then she set it down. "Was it what you expected?"

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Winter Bolt could sense the awkward nature of the situation at hoof. He hated to have this pony feel like a criminal but he was asked to perform a task and that means like it or not he was gonna do it. Hopefully, it would all clear up and everything would be explained soon enough. That way they could get back to at least some measure of the fun they were having not that long ago. Or at least not feeling the current stress. Why somepony would seek out the Gala to cause trouble was beyond him. Why spoil a good thing?

" Nice to meet you. My name is Winter Bot. Indeed I was asked by the Royal guard to stand watch until they return. I am guessing that they need any witnesses to stay put. Considering that fear can make a pony do things like try to run off they must have felt it best to ask somepony to prevent that. I sort of was the only pony around at the time so I guess it fell to me I am sure this will all be cleared up soon. Not much can get past our Princesses and the guards. Especially at such a heavily watched event such as the Galla." 

  • Brohoof 1

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"Ah, those guards probably train for years," Thorn said in response to Winter, "the thief might have caught the guards I heard in the garden off guard, but now the whole place is probably on high alert. That thief won't get far."

 

Thorn then turned to listen to Survivor when he started to recount his experience. He tried to suss out the relevant information, more for his own peace of mind than anything else, but he didn't interrupt. Thorn was very much intrigued by the night's events so far, but he was even more interested in how accurate his earlier suspicions were. First, he sensed a change about to happen; well, it wasn't quite world altering, but it was still a change with the Galla's more inclusive policy going much further than he had expected. Then, he felt like he was being watched, and here was a person working with the guards confirming his suspicion. The guards were indeed watching him earlier, along with the rest of the Galla.

"Fascinating," Thorn said with genuine interest in his tone. Thorn would have appreciated a little more information on what exactly he saw, but when he thought about it, Thorn was also pretty vague in his explanation to Winter. Seeing that it was only fair to elaborate, Thorn took the opportunity, "Oh, I almost forgot that you weren't here for my retelling to Winter Bolt. Well, you were there for the robed pony we saw earlier so I'll skip that."

"You see, when you left, Strong Copper didn't stick around. So, not wanting to be the only pony at the bar, I went into the garden over there," Thorn directed with his hoof as he continued, "I saw the most suspicious group in the entire Galla and a guard sneak around a gazebo. I was curious, but I went with the safe option and got closer to the guard instead of the group. Some other guard's stopped someone. Then that someone knocked them out without a problem, and well, you can imagine I wasn't in any rush to investigate, so I froze up, rushed for the door there, called out what would get the most attention, and here we are."

  • Brohoof 1

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Strong Copper blinked a little, clearly having paid very close attention to a tale that... well, he was honestly surprised wasn't as well known considering the importance behind it. "I... honestly didn't know what I was expecting to hear. I'm even more surprised that few ponies have ever asked you about your origins. I mean you're literally one of the two demi-god rulers of Equestria and have been as such for at least a thousand years, so you would think that more ponies would be interested in exactly where you both came from and the series of events that led us to the current day."

"Then again..." Copper paused for a moment, debating with himself briefly if saying what he was about to say was a good idea before just deciding to go 'buck it' "Considering the clear time and effort that you and your sister put into your almost unworldly pristine appearances, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that you both went to great lengths to hide just how old you both really are out of some small, petty quirk of vanity. Sitting here and talking with you, if I didn't know that you've been ruling for over a thousand years and likely doing other things before then, I wouldn't know what age to consider you; You have an mature, ageless beauty that seems to transcend such things... I have a hard time accepting the fact that you're been around for over a century, let alone a thousand years. "

Did he... just flirt with Celestia? Strong Copper felt the skin under his coat heat up as he decided that now was a good time to shove an apple fritter in his mouth before he continued to say more stupid things.

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