An autumn day
Skyheart, Hollyhock, Lightless, Clara
It's a fine cool autumn day in Ponyville. As the weather slowly turns, green changes over to brown, and the distinctive chill of the coming winter finds its genesis in frosty windows and the search for scarves long forgotten in dusty cabinet corners. Adorning many a wall, however, are new things: poster upon colourful poster declaring, in large red letters and several languages: PEGASI OF PONYVILLE! Exercise your ancient and venerable Rights and cast your Ballot in the Year 1xxx Gerontal Elections! All pegasi registered as Cloudsdale residents are eligible. Not registered? Inquire with your local Quaestor today! (No unicorns)
Skyheart happened to be walking by the square when one of these brightly colored posters catches his eyes. "Hmm?" Looks like he met all but the most important requirement. "Huh... would be interesting if I were from Cloudsdale. Maybe I should tell Mother about this, though..."
Hollyhock is certainly feeling the cooler weather. She's pulled her trusty saddle blanket out of storage - anyone close enough to her would be able to smell the faint scent of the cedar she uses to keep the moths away - and has it wraped around her withers and back, covering her wings, and cutie mark. It might be a little overkill this early in the season, but whatever. She has it out, and she's wearing it. It also seems she's been shopping - she's got a bag of apple fritters balanced on her back, and is slowly working her way through it as she moves through town. Spying one of those posters she pauses and has a looking, taking the opportunity to fish out another fritter, "Quaestor?"
The darkness watches. As the sun sets, the shadows stretch across the mountains and the valley, leaving Ponyville vulnerable to those who like creeping in the dark. Lightless is staring at the road, watching most ponies heading into their homes, listening and closely observing those who stay lively through the night. She is learning, she is there watching.
Funny that Holly should ask. At opposite edges of the square are two pegastallions posting posters. One of them, a lanky roan-red fellow with a dark purple mane is busy slapping on a medium-sized flyer of...himself? The other is a tad more doughty, his combed-back blue mane hanging over his aquamarine neck. He gazes covetously at the other pegasus's poster as he erects his own, slighter smaller one. And in the midst of all this comes Rainbow Dash, gently hovering downward as she comes to inspect the scene. "Oh, right, it's /that/ time again," she mutters, rolling her eyes.
Hollyhock scans through the text of the poster, then does it again before she shrugs, and pulls another fritter from her bag. Just how many of these things did she get? She continues stuffing herself, but with a little less gusto than before, as she moves across the square, looking at the different posters. She imagines these are candidates?
Time for what? Quaestor? Who are those ponies, and what are they hanging? Lightless gets closer to the winged group, hidden underneath one of the stallions. It gets a bit chilly as the nightmare calmly checks the poster. She does make herself known, watching between those interested in the poster, and then curiously turning to see Hollyhock, surprised by the lack of interest.
Rainbow_Dash takes note of Hollyhock above all this; it's good to see a sensible face around here. "Yo Hollyhock!" she greets, waving at her. "I'm guessing you're new to this, huh?" -- Very quickly, the two stallions turn about at the sound of Rainbow's voice, glancing at each other furtively before slowly hovering towards the multi-coloured mare. Lightless's position is, quite helpfully, left unrevealed to either of them as a result.
Hollyhock is leaning in close to a poster of the lanky roan when she hears a familiar voice. Her ears perk first, twitching back towards Dash before she turns he head to look back over her shoulder. She grins big when she sees Dash, and turns to wave to her, "Dash! Howdy!" She finshes her fritter, and starts towards the other mare, taking note of the two stallions as she goes, and even offering a civil nod to each of them, "Reckon so? Donno what any of this means." She doesn't notice Lightless either. She's not really paying that close attention. This may be a bad thing.
It is a good thing that the pegasi are distracted with the conversation. A shadow melds from under one stallion and it transfers to the other, jumping from one to the other until she hides under one of the mares. Lightless takes interest in Hollyhock, in her bag too.
"Oh, all this?" Rainbow says, indicating all the posters. "It's a thing we do every couple of years. Buncha ponies try to get elected to...ugh, I'm boring you already." She rolls her eyes again, but before she can complete her gesture the two tallions are suddenly upon her. "Salutations, Flying Officer Dash!" the thin one greets in a strange accent, shoving his face towards her. "You are considering offering support, I see! Well, I will have you know that the Orange Edge faction is in great need of patrons such as y-" "Don't listen to that unscrupulous fop!" the doughty one interjects, shoving his own face forward too. "We of the Purple Lining faction are more than worthy for your endorsement!"
Hollyhock's bag is made of brown paper, and spotted with grease from the delicious, delicious fried treats within. She's reaching back for it, with designs on offering an apple fritter to Dash, but Dash is assailed by politicians before she's actually able to get ahold of the bag, so she forgets about it for the moment, "Elected? What for?" The only elections she knows about are where the water co-op decides who sits as president for the year, "Donno if I'd trust anyone who *wanted* t' be jefe!" She might say more, but the Stallions are talking.
Skyheart goes home.
"PoonyviLle is withOuUt a ChaanceLlor," says Clara, part-time resident of Ponyville and decided non-pony. She looks the partisans over dubiously. "So I beliEEeve they will be electing a neEw one." But she seems puzzled by the Orange and Purple parties as well, being colorblind, after all. More or less.
"Not Ponyville, my simple canine associate!" says the thin one. "We Cloudsdalians have a noble tradition of suffrage lasting over a thousand years!" -- "Not even the earth pony Diet of old could compare to our heritage!" the doughty one asserts. "That is why, as a representative of the Purple Lining faction, I implore both you fine mares to uphold the highest standards of honor and probity in the Gerousia by supporting us!" -- "Probity? More like frivolity! " the thin one retorts. "We of the Orange Edge faction are far above such partisan self-descriptions, hence why you must certainly back our part- association!" -- Rainbow Dash grumbles, then frowns, then looks downright agitated as the candidates blare out their self-promotions, but for now she does nothing else to fend them off.
Hollyhock scratches her chin as she listens, her expression clouding more and more as those stallions' talk quickly gets incomprehensible, "I - uh..." She gives her wings a twitch under her blanket. Maybe now would be the right time to offer Dash a fritter. The bag comes down off her shoulders, and she extends it first to Dash, then to Clara, "Apple fritter?"
Clara takes the object doubtfully in her hands. She cups it carefully and investigates with her nose. "I beeliEeve you are CoRRecT," she decides. She then turns from Hollyhock to the proselytizers surrounding Rainbow Dash. "Can you desCriIbe the beliIeEfs of your respeCtive fAactio0ns?" she inquires, her ears asymmetrically perked.
With unusual sportsponylike fashion, the two agitators/aspirants slide away from Rainbow Dash's bubble and stand perfectly square some distance apart. The tall one speaks first. "The Orange Edge faction seeks to preserve the exact tint of orange that grants the underside of clouds their particular lustre. We also believe that sunset is optimal at 6 hours after noon." After that, he steps back and lets the doughty one have his say. "We of the Purple Lining faction desire to keep safe the particular hue of purple that decorates the tops of clouds at dusk, and furthermore we aim to push for the ideal sunset at 6 hours before midnight!"
Rainbow_Dash snatches the apple fritter quickly and starts nibbling as she listens. Oh boy.
Clara raises an eyebrow in the well-practiced way only a naturally shaggy person can. She looks from the two of them to Rainbow Dash. "...And whAt is yOuR opinnnion on thiS maatTer?"
Hollyhock digs into the bag of fritters again, staring hard at the two stallions. She's going to need to be extra fortified against this, "I - uh - reckon this is imporant. What..." She wonders, "What if there ain't no clouds though?"
"There are always clouds!" both stallions announce in unison, but they quickly go back to looking expectantly at Rainbow Dash, whose opinion seems to be of some weight to them. -- Rainbow Dash peruses the contenders' expressions with a furrowed brow. "Hey, weren't you guys both in the 100-inch factions a few years ago? What gives?" -- The two stallions blink and pauses. "That...that was then!" the thin one splutters. "A whole age has past, and sadly we are in opposition in the present." -- "That was /last election/!" Rainbow Dash declares, raising her hooves in the air in exasperation." -- "Practically an eternity in our profession!" says the doughty one, sticking his chest out and going 'harumph!'. -- Rainbow cannot possibly eyeroll this any further. Nevertheless, she persist in her inquiries. "...Tell me your opinion about extra funding for rainstorms," she demands. -- Both stallions are struck dumb. "Ah, well..." the doughty one splutters. "That is..."
Clara smiles knowingly at Rainbow's riposte. She turns to Hollyhock. "Is this whAt pasSes for poLlitiCs among your kiInd?" she asks as drolly as one can make a creepily raspy drawl. She holds the fritter with both hands, not eating it.
Hollyhock scrunches her mouth up, "Always clouds." That's a new one on her, "Reckon I should'a realized that for m'self." She chews thoughtfully on her fritter, or at least doggedly, "100 inch faction?" There's incredulity there, even more than there was earlier. Clara's question is a welcome distraction, "Donno. I ain't from 'round here." The statement is delivered with an exaturated slurring accent, "Folks back home were elected, but most of that was foisted on 'em unwilling like 'I think Blackberry Blossom'd make good dam forestallion' or 'Prickly Pear'd be good for head of water district six.'" She scratches her cheek.
"Last time the argument was about how much it should rain during November," Rainbow Dash explains, sounding rather bored. "These two dolts-" She indicates the two stallions standly proudly, always presentable. "-they were in one faction together against the 120 inch faction." She leans forward and whispers: "They settled for 110." She listens carefully to Holly's story, sighing. There's no escape from this anywhere! "At least Diamond Dogs don't get elected; I figure that the biggest, meanest dog is totally the chief, amirite?" She flexs her forelegs to illustrate.
Hollyhock's eyes bug out, "Hundred an' ten inches in a month?" All else is forgotten for the time being, "Hundred an' ten inches? Of rain?"
Clara also seems incredulolus, but not as much so--being unfamiliar with clouds, she gives the factions and their arguments the benefit of the doubt. "ThAat is how it is tRadiItionalLy done," she acknowledges to Rainbow. "SoOMe of us prefEr to ch0Ose our lEaders thrOugh wiISdOm. But nO, we do not hold EleEctions." She turns to Hollyhock. "AlthOugh we doO have wAater disTrIcts." She then strides up on two legs to the pegasi from Cloudsdale. "ParDon me for my IIignoRance. But is the time of the risSing and SettIng of the suuN not someTHing watched oOver by thOse who wiiEld mAaagiC?"
"Oh, sorry, I meant for the year," Rainbow Dash says quickly, correcting herself. "But yeah, actually, the weather ponies up on Cloudsdale talk to CAnterlot a lot about the sun schedule, something about matching with the stars or something. Anyway." She glances over at the two stallions, who have begun bickering about the budget. -- "Twenty percent!" says the thin one. "Twenty percent for party favours!" -- "That's completely absurd!" answers the doughty one vehemently, and so they go on. -- Rainbow Dash sighs. "Yeah, just another election year. At least the fritters are nice." She nibbles some more on her pastry.
Hollyhock seems a little mollified by the correction, but still seems a little incredulous, "We'd get eight, mebbe, in a good year." She talks quietly rubbing her nose, and falling silent. Her eyes wandering back over to where the two stallions bicker, and after a fair silence, murmurs, "Don't mean no disrespect, but I don't think I'll be registerin' to vote for either of them."
"iN mYy hoome," contributes Clara, "we measure rainfAlll in HaAir's BreEeaDths." She scowls at the two ridiculous stallions. "I had thOOughT the patTerns of the Suun were well EstAabished. But they are TrUuly up for NegOotiaAation?" she asks Rainbow.
"Don't blame you one bit," Rainbow Dash says, smirking a bit. "It's all good, really. /Somepony/ has to do the silly government stuff, so might as well be them." -- She looks over at Clara. "Kinda sorta. It's complicated. Anyway, uh...how's life?"
"It is SaAcreD," replies Clara with the utmost solemnity.
Hollyhock grunts quietly, watching that Stallions for a while longer, "Reckon, so." She doesn't sound entirely certainly. Clara's talk of sanctity draws her attention back, "The sun, ya mean?"
"Liife," the Dog specifies, holding the fritter as if it were a sacred kernel.
The stallions start to fly off, continuing their argument even as they head back to Cloudsdale. -- Rainbow Dash chuckles as Clara presents the fritter like a sacred meal. "Yeah, totally!" she concurs, raising up the last bit of her fritter and popping it in her mouth. "Here's to real life; better than politics!" she declares.
Hollyhock snorts, then grins big, nodding, "Sounds good to me! T' ordinary folks gettin' stuff done!"
Clara raises her fritter in a toast, nodding solemnly. Then she looks at it with a puzzled sniff. "Is tHiis aActualLy eEdibLe?"
"Sure looks edible to me!" Rainbow Dash says, licking her lips together. "I mean, if /you/ don't find it edible then I'm totally OK with, like, eating it for you."
Hollyhock nods emphatically, "Oh yeah! The Cakes make *good* fritters, an' apples're just come into season! Gowan, an' try it!"
Clara brings it to her lips and stares, aroma wafting in. She takes a modest bite and takes it into her mouth, swishing it around thoughtfully. One ears stands up and the other remains limp.
Hollyhock leans a little closer, her eyes big, "Well? o.o"
Rainbow_Dash leans in too, her eyes reflective like silver plates. "How is it?"
Clara nods a little. "It is SweEet, like DeEwW," she pronounces, her tongue working the bits loose.
Hollyhock looks pleased, "I know right! Purdy much th' best thing that ain't chocolate!"
Rainbow_Dash: raises her forelegs in triumph. "Excellent!" she announces. "Glad you could join the pastry party, heheh." She looks up at the town clock, stiffening up a bit. "Looks like my shift is starting real soon. I've gotta jet!"
Hollyhock continues to look pleased, nodding, "Wohl, reckon I won't keep you none. Fly safe, yeah? Don't be a stranger."
Clara swallows and shakes her ears. "I woulD not wAant to eat thEse eveEry ddaaY. But it IiiS SaFeR than ChoOcolate." She sees Rainbow off, then turns to walk away on all fours.
"Uh, you too, non-stranger!" Rainbow Dash says, wondering how somepony could somehow out-country the Apple family. "See ya guys!" And just like that, she zips off into the wild blue yonder.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014