Nothing&NoOne

Private The Bird and the Axe

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//Link to OOC: http://mlpforums.com/topic/42452-ebony-nightingale-and-iron-bass-the-bird-and-the-axe/#entry1006323

This is a private rp between Ballistic456 and I. This rp doesn't effect the rps that the ponies in it are already involved in. (both are dead anyway, but still.)

I apologize for this wall of text, Ballistic. ^_^ //

 

My dear Ebony,

Your presence is requested at the Canterlot Festival of Music. You shall oversee the events and be the Royal representative. Cutter will escort you as a personal guard, for your safety and the safety of others.

Have a good time!

~Princess Celestia

 

Ebony Nightingale lowered the letter, the parchment tinted red from her magic. She put it on her desk and walked over to the window, sighing. Of course Celestia would want her to attend..but why not Luna? Or Celestia herself? She scowled at her reflection, the snowy weather outside melting in with her image in the window. She heard a knock at her door and turned her head. "Yes?"

 

A unicorn stallion opened the doors with his magic and entered silently. He stood tall, clearly proud in his guard uniform, and looked at her by the window.  "Miss, I take it you got Princess Celestia's letter?" He said to her in a strong voice, staying near the door.

 

Ebony nodded to him and turned back to the window. "Why can't she go herself, Cutter?" She mused, trying to keep her eyes on a single snowflake as they floated to the ground outside.

 

The stallion, named Alfred Cutter, thought jokingly for a moment. He'd become her personal guard many years before, mainly from the feeling that he owed her something. He was much older then she was, not a senior, but old enough to retire whenever he wanted to, yet he kept a slightly good spirit, and treated her like a neice. "Probably because you're the 'Princess of Song', miss. Please get ready, we must leave soon. The festival starts in a few hours, but Princess Celestia wants you to make sure the setup is going properly as well."

 

Ebony turned her head and frowned at him. "And that makes ME the one who has to go?" She said jokingly back. She walked to her mirror and stepped into her shoes, then levitated her tiara onto her head. She pulled a red scarf with a black song note on the bottom out of a drawer, and wrapped it around her neck.

 

Cutter smirked. "Indeed it does." He led her out of the room and outside, talking with her casually about what she should do, and what she shouldn't do, and how to make a good impression.

 

Ebony flicked her head to the side, getting her mane away from her eye. She greeted and smiled at ranom ponies that they passed, the snow and decorations putting her in a good mood.

 

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((Wall of text?  This is an advanced RP, no worries ;)  We need to be all super-extended essay-ish, don't we??))

-----------------------------------

 

"Each one them's different."

 

"Yeah too right, mate."

 

"Yet all so... beautiful in a way."

 

"I wouldn't go saying that."

 

The voice was confused.  "No?"

 

"More sorta sexy with those flank-"

 

"The snowflakes, Biff!"  The retort was followed promptly by a well aimed piece of polystyrene to the head.  The lanky earth-pony, who watched his heavily interested friend with a hopeless scowl, filed along with the rest of the band of stallions from a wagon and onto the platform behind the colossal stage. 

 

Canterlot had out-done itself this time, bringing in a Goliath of a set to head the celebration.  The construction dwarfed most of the regular establishments located around the show-field, providing a hub for the bulk of the activity going on around the side streets of Canterlot.  The air was filled with a steady hum of voices, the smell of delicious cinnamon-dusted goodness and the ever descending curtains of white, each flake shining like one of Luna's own stars.

 

Being mid-afternoon, most of the festival's constructs were either only half-erect (much like one particular pony in possession of the slightly sore head) or half-staffed.  It gave an almost surreal vibe, similar to that felt prior to a concert...  Iron Bass thought about that, smacking himself at the self-inflicted satire.  Then he was smacked for real by the blonde-maned form of 'Biff' Hayblazer, a much shorter yet all the more laddish unicorn guitarist.

 

Iron cried out in laughter and subdued pain as he rubbed the impact site with a hoof.  This was the usual banter that occurred on days like these, mere hours from a show.  Iron, despite his rather calmed nature, took revel in these moments as his friend began to laugh with a playful menace.  The sound stuck out like a sore hoof.  Dwelling from the physically separated nation of Britmane ((pony puns...)), the stallions echoed their voices with even more exaggeration of their native ways of speech... it made them feel different... and don't forget cool either!

 

The five of them paced under the shelter of the open-air staging area, taking a moment to breathe after the lengthy journey from home.  Iron had his own house here, left to him by his late grand-parent who decided that being closer to the action and heat would help Iron's education, and would reside there until all was well back home.  The questions about his future in the quintette reverberated like his own plucked strings, but remained under the scope for the time being.

 

A dark green pegasus spoke, addressing his crew as the band's leader, "Come on lads, le's get it set up."

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Ebony continued walking and extending greeting as they went. She turned her head up to the sky and watched as snowflakes fluttered past her, then opened her mouth and caught a snowflake on her tongue, smiling slightly to herself.

 

Cutter looked at her. "Please remain professional, Princess. We're representing Princess Celestia." he said to her, fixing his helmet and badge with his magic.

 

Ebony glanced at him. "Do lighten up, Alfred." she replied. She looked down as 2 fillies ran behind her, using her as a shield. A few snowballs landed in front of her, and a group of young ponies emerged from behind a snowbank. "What's all this, then?" Ebony asked, looking at the fillies hiding behind her.

 

"We're outnumbered!" The fillies squealed, using Ebony's tail to hide their eyes. Ebony smirked and pulled a few bits from under her scarf. "Go get some hot chocolate, all of you." she gave the bits to one of the fillies, and the other little ponies walked over. They dropped their snowballs and started running to a cafe nearby, yelling various thank yous over their shoulders.

 

"Thank you, Princess!"

Edited by Princess Nightingale
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Setup always takes that little bit longer than expected.  A wire may go missing.  A bolt may drop on the floor somewhere and turn invisible.  Somepony may drop something.  Sticks or picks may go missing.  Biff may go missing.  That last one happened quite a lot with him being the wildcard of the group by a mile. 

 

Iron had it easy.  He had his bass, a stool, a jack-cable and PA all ready to go after what seemed like a matter of seconds.  Of course, they were a team and so he lent a hoof to his mates, starting with Chunk, the drummer.  An earth-pony known for losing his head on stage and using it to crash the cymbals when their anthems concluded. 

 

The effort to fix the kit up was met with decent pace, allowing time for the two to take a moment.  "What's on the agenda this evening?"

 

"Usual methinks... Biff said it would be something audience-friendly."

 

"Fair enough, though, where is he?"

 

The two scanned the area for the stallion but he was no where to be found.  Perhaps he was lost in the sea of flocking musicians and attendees, drinking something hot or...  Iron face hoofed at his stupidity.  The two looked at each other and nodded, deciding that it was best left not discussed.

 

Iron was always marveled by such events.  The way they took hold of ponies and their minds, threatening to drive them insane with excitement.  Truly, it was not a bad thing.  Taking a leisurely stroll though the streets of the city, Iron quickly realised just how big this place was.  He had been here many times in the past, but without really noticing anything about the sheer scale of it.  The palace was massive, that was easy.  However, the streets themselves looked remarkably larger than previous all lined with decor, even more ponies and the layer of snow slowly building.

 

As per normal, he was not cold in the slightest.  Despite warnings from just about everypony he knew, he hardly ever wore more than a jumper even on the coldest of days.  Today was not so bad, being only just cold enough for the snow to fall and for his breath to sail through the falling flakes like a ghost.  He sniffed the air, rewarding his noes with the divine scent of baked produce.  Somehow, he felt great; why in Equestria should he not?

 

He stopped at one corner, taking a moment to scan his surroundings.

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Ebony and Cutter kept walking. "That was very nice of you, Princess. " he said, nodding approvingly.

 

Ebony glanced at him. "As long as everyone is happy. " she murmured.

 

Cutter sighed and looked away.

 

"Would they be proud, do you think? Would they be happy?"

 

He shook his head, the memory disappearing. "Yes...happy." He mumbled. He sighed and looked around, his eyes resting on a couple with a young filly running in front of them. He smiled slightly. He wondered how everything would be if that night never happened. He glanced at Ebony.

'Just like her..' he thought, watching how her composure was and how she held her head, as well as how she treated ponies she didn't even know. Detached, but kind.

 

Ebony looked up as she saw a tall stallion stop at the corner and gaze around. She stopped beside him and followed his gaze. "They do a good job of decorating, don't they?" she mused, looking at the Christmas lights criss-crossing around lamp posts and buildings. She shivered slightly again and sighed quietly and contently, then looked up at the stallion.

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He had yet to notice the mare until she spoke in that engaging tone.  The song hung on him for half a second before he turned to regard the newcomer.  She appeared to be of some tall strain of unicorn although her horn seemed uncommon too.  He questioned his thoughts slightly, reminding himself of his own proportions.  The idea of company outside of his friendship group never dawned on the stallion, yet he was willing to welcome it.

 

He turned back to face the scene.  "Just a bit, aye," he responded with a subtle chuckle.

 

It was true, what lay before him was quite the array of sparkle and shine, each building a portrait of the season and festivity taking place.  Hearth's Warming was nearly upon them, and the mood was slowly mounting with each passing day.  Even the regular folk seemed more jolly; or was that just the fact he was in Equestria now?  Iron shifted on his hooves, feeling the icy coating of the cobblestones crunch and pop with each movement.  It was one of those small things in life he loved oh-so much.

 

Having noted the emblem on the scarf, Iron kept his eyes on the town and asked, "Are you part of the festival by any chance?"

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Ebony looked back to the town as well. "No, I'm just here to...oversee the events. Should be fun though, I love music. " she murmured, glancing up at him again. 'How cold he must be. ' she thought, looking away again. She watched ponies walk by, considering his height compared to theirs. She made a thoughtful noise and looked up at the streetlight.

 

Cutter hung back a bit, watching her interact with the tall stallion. He looked at his cutie mark, his eyes resting on the crossed axes.

 

"Father, what's your cutie mark? Why do the song notes cross under the shield?"

 

He closed his eyes and looked away. He turned more towards where everything was being setup, and opened his eyes again. He sighed and looked at the blinking lights in the window of a shop. Hearths Warming brought even those with the coldest of hearts into the warmth, bonding them with others. He looked up towards the castle, and saw the silhouette of Princess Celestia standing in front of a window, looking out over the city. He smiled to himself and stood a bit taller, then looked back at Ebony.

 

Ebony drew her eyes away from the light and looked at the stallion, glancing at his cutie mark before looking to his eyes. "You're in the show, I presume?" she asked quietly, as if a loud noise would interrupt the peacefulness of the muffling snow.

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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"It seems!"  He remarked internally, noting again the quaver on her garment.

 

"Yes, I'm playing alongside my fellow rockers... I'm afraid the battering ram of Britmane has arrived and we're about to poison the divine classical nature of this place!"  He chuckled in spite of himself.  "Although, I must say I do look forward to this Octavia pony.  I've heard great things of her but never witnessed her works for myself."

 

He retrained his eyes on the mare, taking a proper look at her.  She was different somehow... Her mane certainly stood out and her horn was not exactly standard issue, and neither was that crown... CROWN?!

 

Iron's mind raced for purchase as his eyes widened.  Was she a royal or some overdressed filly looking for attention?  The latter seemed a little unlikely and Iron instantly shook himself from his brief trance. 

 

What had he been doing?  This was no way to treat a pony of stature.  "Forgive me, ma'am... I-I must be going blind."  He stiffened, watching cautiously as he accepted his fate at the mercy of the monarch.  That was probably what had defined her size in the first place...bloody hell...

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Ebony blinked a couple times, her eyes going up, momentarily unaware of the crown on her head. She made a little "oh" sound and laughed quietly. "It's quite alright, don't worry. I wanted to go out without it, but somepony wouldn't let me. " she said, glancing over to where Alfred was standing. She shook her head, smirking, and looked back at the stallion. "No worries. Please, I prefer to be treated as a regular pony.." she trailed off, giggling. She bowed her head slightly, then looked back up at him. "Princess Nightingale. Call me Ebony. " she grinned up at him, uncaring about the proper posture she was supposed to be parading around in.

 

Alfred looked over, and nearly face-hoofed when she asked the stallion to call her by her first name, and even more so when she grinned. 'Representing Celestia herself....you should only be addressed as a Princess while in Canterlot.' he thought to himself. He'd have to lecture her, again...he sighed. He studied the stallion, scowling slightly. How would you not notice that she was royalty? How-..Alfred stopped his thoughts.

 

"As long as everyone is happy.."

 

Alfred smiled slightly. 'At least he's polite..' He turned his gaze back to the road. How hard it was to find, nowadays. He looked around, his eyes stopping on a snow pony, covered with a new layer of white snow.

 

 

 

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Iron fought back the urge to bolt it there and then.  The way she responded so coolly appeared initially as some sort of sarcastic use of dominance.  He calmed down, his face relaxing slowly as his cheek bones became lesser and lesser pronounced with the release of tension.

 

Still a little shaken, he extended his greeting, "Bass, Iron Bass, ma'a-um-Ebony... sorry."  He ended with the smallest of laughs.  "Forgive me, but I'm really not used to this..." The lanky stallion uttered as laid-back as an office worker with a deadline.  He paid little heed to the guard standing off someways along the cobbles.  He seemed of age with little signs of youth left in him, probably explaining his lack of social interaction.  Then again, is that what Equestrian guards were like?  Perhaps there was more to this land than previously conceived.

 

Iron took a moment to examine this new now-not-so-royal pony.  For one, she was of a darker colour than most.  Not that he was surprised, seeing as he was practically a shade of schwarzgrau himself.  The mare also possessed the most prodigious of manes with a two-toned curtain of sky and bluebell blue falling over one side of her face.  What stood out was the ruby apparel upon her head.  It was if it were cast purely from fire ruby and doused in some form of ethereal polish; not your bog-standard jewelry.  And was it just him, or did her eyes fall form that very same stone?

The stallion managed to relax, seeing the lighter side of the moment.

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Ebony half smiled. "It's ok, I don't bite." She tilted her head slightly and raised an eyebrow at him, pretty much feeling the fear radiating from him. She giggled and straightened up, her eyes closing as she grinned agian. "Hello, Iron Bass." She opened her eyes again and looked into his, her mane and scarf slightly blowing in the air from the slight breeze. She studied his eyes, drawing the image of him from memory of seeing him for a few minutes before, as well as what she could see in his eyes. Tall, he could easily look into the eyes of Celestia without moving his head. A dark shade of grey with a slightly pale blue mane, and steely eyes.

 

Cutter glanced over, his eyes widening slightly. He quickly looked away and stood taller, making himself look official and important.  'Don't embarass yourself again, please....' He muttered in his mind, the thought aimed at Ebony. If only he could forget the garden party incident..

 

"Well I don't know, Alfred! How in the name of Celestia was I supposed to know that fire and flowers don't-......nevermind."

 

He groaned inwardly.

 

Ebony saw his eyes change as he relaxed, and she half-smiled, a bit apologetically. "No one ever is, it's alright." She murmured, looking towards the setup. "...Octavia and I used to be in an advanced music class together, she plays very well."

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Iron reddened in spite of himself.  Her words saved him from falling into a fit of gobbledygook and apologies, refocusing his attention to his previous point.  "That seems quite appropriate... what with that musical note..."

 

The wind swept again, sprinkling a flurry of flakes past his own hooves as they skipped like lambs down the cobbles.  "So I've heard!  I'm pretty sure she'll be the highlight of the evening too, what with all these reviews of her floating around the media."  The stallion sniffed, rubbed his nose with a hoof and continued, "What would really be nice, I tell you, was if we could get those Crusaders[?] to show up!  I happened to be in that very crowd laughing like a madhorse..."  He stifled a laugh long enough to blink before chuckling quietly.

Aside from the constant rushing of the wind, Iron felt surprisingly warm for a moment.  Whatever it was, it was behind him and it called his name in so many ways possible...  Behind the two, the doors of a small bakery cafe began to fall closed again as the rush of warmth died with it.  Then the smell- oh how it tugged at Iron!

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Ebony smiled slightly. 'Someone with a love for music, as well as polite, and can play music.' She thought to herself, glancing up at Iron again. "I love all the different types of music. Rock, classical...I'm a vocalist, but I've always wanted to learn to play and instrument." she mused, singing a few notes quietly, almost silently as they blended in with the wind.

 

Cutter looked over as another guard trotted up to him. He nodded to him, and they stood in silence for a few moments. The snow flakes spiraled around them, and the wind blew, but they remained un-phased. They stood tall, each a mirror image of the other, the representation of Celestia herself, and everything she stood for.

 

The other guard looked over at him, his face expressionless like most of the other guards. "A letter addressed to Miss Nightingale showed up. It said that the package she ordered would be a few days late." Cutter glanced at him. "I'm sure it'll be fine. She's a bit more...calm about it all now." he murmured, turning his head to look at Ebony.

 

Ebony inhaled slowly, breathing in the sweet scent. She lifted her head very slightly and closed her eyes, feeling warmth on her ears.

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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After a suspended silence, Iron began to shake off his daze, "Well, it's been an absolute pleasure meeting you this morning... Ebony."  He turned to face her, a small smile raising across his face.  Royalty had always been an untouchable mystery for the stallion, despite his own origins.  This particular monarch had relieved him of just that.

 

Bowing his head in parting, "If you'll excuse me, Princess.  My journey has left me very hungry."  And with that, he made an about turn towards the double doors of the cafe.

 

***

 

"How long left, Barney?"

 

"Twen'y minutes... ish."

 

"Ish?"

 

"Yeah... give or take a few."

 

"But that's-... Oh forget it!"

 

The dark green pegasus who cared not for the restrains of chronology began shaking a hoof through his long white mane, ruffling it like the wind through the now ceased snowfall.  He was a lead singer of a heavy metal band, why should he ever need to panic?  Actually, having a lead guitarist missing was not exactly ideal; but the realisation had yet to... wait... there it is!

"Where the bloody hell is Biff?"  Came his slightly hoarse voice.  A swift facehoof from Iron answered the question.  Barnswell would have joined him, but he was too busy with his mane.  He remained much too calm.

 

"Where do you think?"

Edited by Ballistic456

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Ebony turned her head to him and smiled. She bowed her head back, raising her front hoof slightly off the ground. "It was a pleausre meeting you as well, Iron Bass. I look forward to seeing your band in the show." She turned her head back to the streets and tried focusing her eyes on single snowflakes as they drifted past her.

 

Cutter nodded to the other guard, dismissing him. He walked over to Ebony and watched her gaze at the snowflakes, though her eyes seemed lost somewhere else.

 

"I'll catch you a snowflake, mother! The prettiest one!"

 

Cutter smiled slightly. "We should continue on, Princess."

 

Ebony's eyes snapped back into focus and she looked at him. "Ah...yes. We should." She turned with him and they continued down the streets.

 

Cutter glanced at her. "Princess-"

 

"I know what you're going to say, Cutter. I don't care." She cut him off, keeping her eyes ahead. "I'm still professional. I just hate that everyone is afraid of royalty."

 

Cutter sighed. "Princess, you can't let just the subjects call you by your first name. They should only call you 'Princess', or 'Miss Nightingale', or 'Princess Nightingale'-"

 

"Subjects." She said sharply, stopping this time. She closed her eyes for a few seconds, then looked at him angrily. "I don't want subjects, Alfred. I want ponies who'll talk to me because they want to, not because it's proper. I want friends."

 

His eyes hardened, but with sympathy. "I know things have been hard since-..." He trailed off, and she narrowed her eyes. "I know things are hard. But try focusing on the task at hand...at least for today. Please, Ebony."

 

Ebony's eyes softened, and she looked away, unable to look into his eyes any longer. "Fine. Just for today."
 

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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The gathered ponies erupted as one before the sensation that was Octavia.  She had captured each member of the gathered, personally moved them by the bow in her hoof before letting them into her little world of music.  I had been truly sensational.  She hardly smiled, bowing graciously to the audience as if she was some mere servant.  This had only strengthened the applause from the common ponies in the many rows of them nearest the stage.  Aristocrats dried their eyes, clapping their hooves in that notable manner which they repeated everywhere.

 

When she finally left her followers to their own discussion of her performance, Iron began to take in the very massiveness of this gig.  This was not just some pub bash or even a regular showfield appearance; this was Canterlot.

 

"Biff.. where are-"  His whisper was cut-off by the Hayslayer himself, who was surprisingly sober.

 

"A'ight, lads!  Lets do this!"  The brash unicorn flashed up his red flying-V guitar before stopping aimlessly in front off the four others.  Chunk eyed him through his podgy face, Barney wore nothing but a small sign off disappointment, Bass was on the verge of vomiting and the deep form of Shade just stared straight through the wildcard.  "What?"

 

Barnswell sighed heavily, "Can't you just control yourself for one night?"

 

"I did!  We only did it twi-"

 

"Biff, just..."  Iron held his tongue for a moment as the interrupted unicorn gazed at him, baffled.  "Please, just get on stage and do what guitarists do."  Iron was clearly nervous.  It was evident in his breath.

 

"Mate, don't fry yourself now...  I'm here now, right?"

 

With a smirk from each member, dis-including Shade and his dark face and Iron's eye-roll, the band mounted the stage on-queue.  The sea of ponies greeted them healthily, sending cheers through the cold, clear night air.  The stallions took their places, Chunk at the rear with his setup, Barney with the mic-stand, Bass just behind him and on his left, and the twin guitarists (whom looked quite the opposites of one another) flanked the stage.

 

"'Uhllo [hello], Canterlot!"

 

The applause escalated.

 

"We are Ironshot and we would like to apologise in advance for this slight change in genre.  So to keep you," Barney paused for emphasis, "awake, we'll play something that'll have you on the floor if you're doing it properly.  This is 'Stand Up and Be Counted!"

 

A wave of cheers was over-powered by the start of the song, played wild-eyed by Biff Hayslayer.
 

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Ebony applauded as Octavia left the stage. She'd heard the song before; Octavia visited the castle often, to play at high society events. Ebony had joined her a few times, mainly by request rather than an actual desire to go.

 

Cutter stood beside her, solid as stone as the crowd around him rippled with applause. He and Ebony were in the front row, with a few Noble ponies, including Fancypants, who were calmly enjoying the show. When the rock band got onstage, Fancypants addressed the two of them. "Interesting choice for the music festival, hmm?"

 

Cutter glanced at him, his eyes agreeing. He remembered his initial surprise when Celestia had gladly agreed to the band; a variety, as she said. She wanted it to be fun, and variety would stir the stuck-up ponies up, as she had said. Cutter remembered her laugh as she said it, feeling guilty about judging her subjects, unknowing how happy it'd make them if she knew them by name.

 

"I think they're a good choice. Everyone around here is very stuck up when it comes to music." Ebony said, turning her gaze back to the stage.

 

Fancypants looked at her in surprise, and Cutter stiffened. "Princess?"

 

Ebony kept her eyes on the band, listening to how the notes mingled with the others. "I sing my share of rock music, Sir. Just because I'm a Princess doesn't mean I don't enjoy the style of different music." She sniffed, feeling like she should be sticking up for the band and its members. She kept her eyes on Iron through most of the performance. She'd always been mesmerized by ponies who could play instruments; she always preferred to have her hooves free, and to sing.

 

Ebony turned her head to look at Fancypants, setting her jaw, almost challenging him to say otherwise. He merely smiled and looked at the stage. Ebony smirked to herself and looked back also, letting herself become lost in the music and cheers of the ponies around her.

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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"Stand up!  Stand up, and be counted!"  Iron joined Biff at the microphone with a very sweaty looking Barnswell between them allowing this little intrusion.  None of them could rightly 'sing', but they sounded much like the song: loud, rebellious and utterly energised.  The song was dragged along for another chorus, almost catching Shade off guard as his eyes opened the widest they had that day.  It was the beauty of this song, both guitars had to keep playing the same riff as each other whilst the drummer broke something non-important on his kit.

 

After that little bit of improv, the song began to conclude though it only got louder.  It climbed and climbed with "Stand up!" being repeated until Biff took flight and ended with a dirty blasted off his strings.  He was covered with a cheeky grin and began bumping hooves with a few of the wilder ponies sat in the front row.  One of them happened to be a very familiar mare sitting next to Fancy Pants.  He pulled her into a rather forceful yet horrifically funny kiss as he leaned off of the stage.  All the band could do was laugh at this impromptu sign of... affection?  Well, needless to say the pair enjoyed it.

 

Biff would be Biff, it seemed.  Even Iron had come to accept his rowdy nature for the night, which did not necessarily happen all the time during these concerts.  He was about to shout over to Chunk who was practically drenched in his own-- was that?

 

Just off to the side of the passionate ponies and standing with that guard he only just noticed from earlier, none other than Princess Ebony Nightingale stood with what looked like... approval?  YAY!

 

Iron smiled over at her, waving with his free hoof.  She must have seen the whole performance from there!  And why did he feel so... pressured?  Ebony had remained unnoticed to him until now, but now that he saw her he felt remarkably different. 

 

***

"This will be our last one for tonight, my lovelies!"

 

Biff made a gesture to that particular mare.

 

"I want to see you ponies dieing... of exhaustion!"  He paused.  "This one's about a VERY powerful thing and we'd like to apologise those who don't like dirty guitar solos."  Again with another animation from the Hayslayer, he continued rather quickly.  "It's Machine gun!"

 

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Ebony stayed in her sea of music, only to be pulled out of it by Cutter as he grumbled about rock music."Come on, Cutter. Have some fun." She smirked at him, raising one of her eyebrows slightly.

 

Cutter sighed and shook his head. "I'm on duty. Even if I wasn't, I doubt I'd be enjoying myself." He straightened his helmet and badge, muttering under his breath.

 

Ebony shook her head, giving up, and looked back up as the pegasus in the band started hoof-bumping ponies in the front row. When he kissed the pony next to her, she brought her hoof to her mouth and laughed, her eyes revealing the amusement that her hoof was hiding.

 

Cutter, who was, needless to say, disgusted, took Ebony's leg and pulled her a few inches away from them. He glanced at Fancy Pants, who was laughing as well, and exhaled. Am I the only sane one here?

 

Ebony put her leg back to the ground and looked at Cutter. "Lighten up, Alfred." She smiled at him and giggled, turning her head back to the stage. As her eyes moved, she locked eyes with one of the band members. Iron!

 

She grinned and waved back at him while Cutter was looking away. She giggled as the pegasus started yelling. So full of energy, all of them. She didn't have energy to smile sometimes, and here these ponies are bringing life back into Canterlot.

 

Cutter glanced up when he heard that it was the last song, noticing the eye contact between Ebony and one of the band members. The one she was talking to earlier..the one who she let her call by her first name. He let out a long sigh and closed his eyes.

 

"I want her to sing after, Alfred. Ponies are forgetting she exists. All she does is stay in her room all day..I worry. She's reminding me of what Luna was like when it all started. Detatched. Singing brings her joy."

 

He opened his eyes, the words of Celestia slightly echoing through his mind. He looked at Ebony; she seemed in a good mood. Surely she wouldn't mind singing for everyone after the last act. He shifted his weight. He probably should've told her, at least gave her a song to sing...time to calm down after he told her, as she'd probably refuse.

 

Cutter shook his head, clearing his thoughts. It'd be fine.

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The bits spent on pyrotechnics paid for itself seven-fold as they roared from above the stage at the conclusion of the whiny guitars.  Shade even managed a smile as the stage rocked slightly from the explosions.  Investing in professionally fabricated charges worked much better than relying on a particular stallion with a crossed-axe cutie mark to get creative with some petrol tanks.  That would be one concert Shade would rather forget...

Chunk's drums were then promtly taken apart by his rear hooves with one swift buck.  With an un-ponylike wildness, he rose off the stool and began finishing the disassembly, sending toms, snare and bass rolling away.  This was one occasion where the rather plump buck would find haven in the ecstacy of going absolutely bonkers.  Bass looked on with a face of shock, skipping out of the way of a piece of stand.

 

Biff was... Iron quickly found something more interesting to look at such as... such as... "Barney?"

 

"Aye."  The pegasus was busy tauting with the crowd with a hoof.

 

Iron was barely able to get his words across the noise.  "What is that?"

 

"What?"

 

"That!"  He poked a hoof at the bottle beneath the white-maned pegasus's right wing.  It was a decent-sized, squarish brown bottle.

 

Barney dipped his head in confusion before grining micheavously.  Raising his one eyebrow, "What's it look like?"

 

No wonder he was a bit more animate than usual.  It seemed that uncle alcohol was with him once again and only half of him remained in the bottle.  "You're bloody pissed aren't you, mate!"  Iron could not help but allow the corners of his mouth to raise to extreme heights.  This would be one hell of an interesting night.

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Ebony applauded with all the other ponies when they finished, laughing as fire exploded from around the stage. She glanced at Fancypants, who was also laughing, mainly from her reaction. She looked at Cutter, who was frowning at her, his eyes hitting her with words that he couldn't say out loud. Ebony stuck her tongue out at him and winked, then looked back up at the stage. Cutter bristled and took her hoof, pulling her away from the crowd and slightly backstage. "Ebony, I have to talk to you."

 

"Ebony, please calm down-" Cutter said, pushing himself against the wall, away from her. His helmet was crooked, despite his attempts to fix it, and was avoiding her eyes.

 

"I'm not singing! Why did you tell them I was singing?!" Ebony yelled at him, her eyes wild. "You know I hate singing for crowds-"

 

"Ebony, Princess Celestia is worried about you-"

 

"So I have to sing?! This..no...no." She turned away, flicking her tail. She looked at the ground, biting her lip.

 

"I don't want to have to tell the crowd that you won't be singing.." He took a few steps towards her, fixing his helmet warily.

 

She turned her head to him, half scowling, half smirking. "So why don't you sing for them, Cutter?"

 

Cutter blinked a couple times. "I'M not the Princess of Song." He curtsied to her, meeting her glare. He sighed when she looked away and straightened up again. "..Your mother would've loved to hear you sing."

 

Her eyes looked around slowly. "She'd love to sing too." She murmured.

 

"Ebony, chin up when you sing, darling."

"Mother, how do you sing so well?"

"I think about what makes me happy, dearest. There's a difference between singing and..putting your heart into it."

"Heart?"

"...Sometimes bad things happen, and it's hard to smile. But..even if you find it hard to be happy, sing. Sing to make others happy, Ebony.."

 

Cutter studied her as her eyes went still. He looked around, peeking out onto the stage as well as into the crowd. They all seemed to be waiting for something. He looked back at her, and reached a hoof out to her. "Ebony?"

 

She sighed deeply and hung her head for a few seconds. "..Which song?"

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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The band hurried off stage as per the announcer's que, dragging the Hayslayer as he frantically attempted to rejoin his other half now waving at him mischieviously and blowing him the odd kiss.  Needless to say, his face could have fit many a frame. 

 

The music had been loud and had taken a lot out of Iron, leaving his head hanging a little lower than usual but the silly grin still there.  He looked around the backstage area, taking in the sights of production ponies who still busied about.  Was there another act?  As far as he knew, they were the last ones on... maybe not...

 

The bulk of the stallons began filling off to do what they did best to cool off.  For Iron, that meant sealing his bass away and taking a pleasant stroll.  Was there ever a thing better? Possible answers to that question drifted through Iron's head like gaseous things, or was that the strange night air?  Weird stuff.

 

There was little to see behind the staging area and so the steel stallion plodded back through the tent doors and into the now much calmer backstage.  That was when he saw a familiar pony mount the stage.

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Ebony walked onto the stage, glancing back at Cutter before she addressed the audience. She was surprised for a second when everypony looked up at her, until she made the mental note, 'yes, you're still wearing your crown.' She breathed out quietly and raised her voice, yet it was still quiet enough to show no desire for forced attention.

 

"Hello, everypony. I'd like to thank all of you, as well as all the acts we had today, for attending what has been a fabulous Music Festival." She looked at the wings of the stage, indicating the other acts. "It's been a lovely day, and it has transitioned into a beautiful evening. Before you all go on your way," she paused again, a shorter one, and took a breath. "I'd be delighted if you'd listen to the song that I have for you. " She stopped again and looked amongst the crowd; no one moved. "Feel free to join me at any time, if you know it.." She trailed off.

 

Ebony closed her eyes for a few seconds, lifting her head slightly, then began to sing.

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

Dressed in holiday style

In the air

There's a feeling

of Christmas..."

 

Cutter stayed in the wings of the stage, partially leaning against a big clump of curtain. He half smiled slightly when she started singing.

 

"Children laughing

People passing

Meeting smile after smile

and on every street corner you'll hear..

 

Silver bells, silver bells..

It's Christmas time in the city

Ring-a-ling, hear them sing

Soon it will be Christmas day..."

 

Cutter sighed quietly. A few groups of ponies in the crowd ha started singing along with her, but there was an obvious difference in their voices. The groups were singing cheerfully, while Ebony was dragging the notes out slightly, almost making the song sound sorrowful.

 

"Strings of street lights

Even stop lights

Blink a bright red and green

As the shoppers rush

home with their treasures...

 

Hear the snow crunch

See the kids bunch

This is Santa's big scene

And above all this bustle

You'll hear.."

 

At this point, pretty much the entire crowd was singing along with her. Cutter could still hear the slight sorrow in her voice, but she was smiling. She was meeting eyes with random ponies in the crowd and smiling at them, the voices of all the ponies one loud and harmonious sound. When she reached the final verse, however, the crowd slowly died out, and Ebony's voice took over.

 

"Silver bells, silver bells..

It's Christmas time in the city..

Ring-a-ling, hear them sing..

Soon it will be Christmas day.."

 

Ebony sustained the last note, bringing back the slight tone of sadness. When she finished, she bowed to the crowd. "Thank you..for singing with me. " she straightened up again, and the crowd applauded. She bowed her head to them, smiling and blushing slightly, then took her leave. She stopped beside Cutter once she was out of the crowds sight and let out a deep sigh.

 

Cutter half smiled. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

 

Ebony looked up at him an smirked. "I still think you should've sung for them." She giggled quietly, and they started walking back, away from the stage.

Edited by Princess Nightingale

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Well... how about that!

 

He knew not the lyrics, the song's name, or how long he had been standing there, but Iron definately knew WHO had just... just... thinged!  Thinged.  Because 'singed' was quite the understatement it seemed.  The lanky stallion simply stared in awe at this specimen of excellece that was currently disembarking the vast wooden vessel.  Shaking his head slightly and running a hoof over his scalp with wonder, Iron slowly trotted up towards the mare, taking each step with a dream-like stride.

"Pr-princess," he paused, correcting himself.  "Princess that was utterly tremeandous!  You..."  Again he began to lose his tounge.  He ravaged at his brain, trying immensly to recompose himself without avail. 

 

For a moment it seemed to Bass that whatever had just happened, happened for all the universe to see.  He recalled the beautiful resonations on the air and the mournful yet joyous tones that spilled forth from the Princess' throat.  Then as if on cue with his imagination, the form of the midnight mare gracefully fell into full view, the partition in her mane niggling at him in the most warming and fulfilling way that hair possibly could.  He stood awstruck again, mere metres from the melodic mare; also unaware of his own staring.

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Ebony looked up when and smiled when she saw Iron Bass walking towards her. She stopped and looked up at him, giggling slightly and blushing from the compliment. "Thank you..I much enjoyed your performance as well, it was delightfully energetic." She glanced at Cutter and moved a bit closer to Iron. "And, again, call me Ebony. Dot worry about formality with me." She smirked slightly and winked at him, then flicked her head to get her mane slightly away from her other eye.

 

Cutter stayed quiet as the stallion walked to her, inspecting his tone and awkward movements. He half smiled to himself and glanced at Ebony, who was clearly taken by the stallion's compliment. He met Ebony's gaze when she told him to call her Ebony..again..and chuckled under his breath. "Do as you wish Princess, I am merely here to guard you." He bowed his head to her slightly, then looked at Iron. "I'd admire his formality if I were you." He adjusted his helmet with his magic and looked to the street.

 

Ebony laughed quietly and looked back to Iron. "There, see? Don't worry about it." She levitated her crown off her head and stepped out of her shoes, then placed them all in front of Cutter. "I feel no more need for them tonight, Alfred. Leave me be about it, alright?"

 

Cutter levitated the items of the ground. "Yes, Princess. I trust you won't be back too late?"

 

Ebony smirked at him. "Yes. A search party won't be necessary."

 

Cutter chuckled and walked away, muttering "we'll see." Under his breath.

 

Ebony let out a huge sigh and fixed her scarf. "You play your instrument astoundingly well, Iron." She looked up at him partially through the sentence and smiled. She looked into his steely eyes, meeting his staring gaze, and stared back, the warmth of happiness still alight in her eyes.

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