The Prompt: My favorite way to unwind
The Prompt: The best way to calm down
Stories to soothe the soul?
It was practically a guilty pleasure for him, these days. A way to unwind from the stresses of duty and diligence, to get his head screwed back on straight. Being the stallion that he was, he didn’t get chances to do things like it often, but it was a way to escape his responsibilities for a while. And now that he was married, and a co-ruler of the Crystal Empire, he had even fewer chances for it. And so, Shining Armor made a decision, and snuck out of the Crystal Palace in the middle of the night, left a pre-written note where his beloved wife would see it, and ran with all his might towards the train station. Once there, he bought a ticket for the next train to Manehatten.
Once on the train, the soft rocking of the car, and the gentle click-clack of the train as it passed over the tracks soothed Shining’s mind, and he was soon fast asleep once more. The conductor was kind enough to wake the captain of the guard when the train was due to pull into Manehatten as the sun rose over the eastern sea. Upon disembarking, Shining headed straight for the ticket office, and the list of trains leaving that day. There was one about midday, which would take him all the way over to Los Pegasus. Booking the ticket, he then wandered out into Manehatten, to find himself some breakfast, and to waste time before the next train.
This was her time. Derpy sighed as she looked out at the water. The bright midsummer sun reflected on the water, shimmering, almost dazzlingly. Almost. But not quite. She breathed out slowly, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her fur. Her eyes closed as a small smile spread across her lips.
This was her time. Carrot Top had taken Dinky to the park so she could play with her friends. She had finished her mail run for the day. There was nothing left to do. Normally, her world centered around her daughter. Normally, she was making sure the house was in order, that dinner was planned, that Dinky was doing well. Normally. But not always
This was her time. She opened her eyes, breathing a controlled breath out as she released the last of the tension in her back. She walked to the water. A lake was nothing like the ocean she grew up next to, but it was still nice. The water was chilly to her sun-warmed skin, but she welcomed the cool. The water quickly rose up her side as she walked, until it reached the base of her wings. She fluttered them out, slowly dipping them in the water and moving them back and forth. She grinned.
Man, I am ten kinds of exhausted. Doing this, doing that, doing one more thing— it just takes it right out of you. But at the end of the day you’re always going to have the relief of knowing that you’re going to have a small bit of time for that one thing.
The Prompt: My favorite way to unwind
The Prompt: The best way to calm down
Special rule: Your story must take a creative step beyond the obvious. If your story is about Fluttershy snuggling with animals, Twilight reading some books, or Celestia banishing Luna to the moon, it will be promptly sent up to our beloved sky sphere after her. To clarify: your story does not have to do something I’ve never seen before, but it should bring something new and interesting to the table. Savvy?
This is a thirty minute prompt, which means you have a thirty minute time limit in which to write your story. (The thirty minute limit includes writing time only and does not include pre-writing thinking or planning.) The submission box will be open for six hours and will close at 11 p.m. Pacific/2 a.m. Eastern/6 a.m. GMT.
If you don’t happen to have a Tumblr account, please submit via e-mail to email@example.com. (Tumblr will let you submit without an account, but that system is very buggy and tends to eat submissions instead of giving them to us.) Also, if you do submit via e-mail, please do not send your story in the form of an attachment. Please either copy/paste in the body of the e-mail itself or use Google Docs to send us the text of your story. Thank you!
Best of luck, ducklings!
Apparently all the stallions want Braeburn and all the mares want Princess Luna. Who knew?
The prompt: Two of the following characters go on a blind date: Bon Bon, Thunderlane, Princess Luna, Braeburn, Vinyl Scratch, Fancypants, Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves.
Fancy Pants almost dropped his monocle into the cocktail before him when he saw a certain princess enter ‘the Free Pony’. Years of political experience told him that now was a moment a truth: Fight or flight, truth or dare. The two tall cocktails that already coursed through his brain agreed and assured him that Luna would make for excellent entertainment. His hooves, however, were less enthusiastic and because Sir Fancy Pants, President of the House of Nobles, trusted his hooves a lot more than his brain, it took him a bit longer than expected to reach the alicorn that still stood at the club’s entrance.
Luna looked a little lost and unsure about the place. Her face light up as she saw the familiar face. “Lord Fancy Pants! I bid you a fair night, it is so good to see you.”
“Wow, Luna!” The alicorn raised an eyebrow at his unfamiliar attitude, but Fancy didn’t let that stop him. “I take it you haven’t been here before, eh?” Without even waiting for her to reply he continued, “Well, let me tell you, this is the Free Pony. You left all titles and ranks, even your race, behind when you walked through that door. Everyone is equal in here. That’s the only rule in here. As long as you can pay your tab. Ok, two rules. Oh, and what happens in the Pony, stays in the Pony. Three rules… I’ll tell you when I remember more. Want a drink? I’m buying!”
Braeburn winced as a cotton ball was dabbed against a shallow cut on his head. Beside him was a white unicorn stallion with a blue mane and tail. A moustache sat above a smirk while a monocle hovered over his left eye. The stallion pulled the cotton ball back, dabbing it into a saucer full of tequila.
“I never would have figured that you were so sensitive to pain after what just happened,” he said. “You took three bottles to the head, a pool cue to your shin, and I believe at least two darts are still embedded in your back. You’re able to function perfectly after getting hit by all that, and yet it’s having a piece of cotton dab a wound that causes you to wince in pain.”
“Speaking of which, can you get those off my back, Fancy?” Braeburn asked. Fancypants pulled both darts out. “That’s better. And what happened in there is different. Blunt pain can be ignored, sharp pain like having something rubbed in a wound can’t.” He took a nearby bottle and poured its contents over Braeburn’s back. Braeburn straightened his back. “Gah! What the hay?!”
Fancypants chuckled. “So sorry about that, Braeburn, but I didn’t believe you,” he laughed. “Now I do.” Fancypants took a towel, wiping the tequila off his back. “I must say though, you know how to show a stallion an enjoyable evening.”
“That I do,” Braeburn chuckled. “A nice quiet night with good food, good drinks, and a good atmosphere is everything that a stallion needs to go insane.”
There were ponies who seemed gifted with luck from birth, who lived lives of carefree bliss, who never seemed to know a cloudy day. Ponies on whom the fates showered their blessings, and ponies who drank deeply of life’s great bounties.
And then there was Thunderlane.
Intellectually, Thunderlane knew it was not possible for every single thing in his life to have gone wrong, from birth until the present moment, and yet often it felt that way. He’d gotten stuck with Rainbow Dash for a boss, and the hot-tempered mare seemed always to come down harder on him than anyone else. Even worse, he’d suffered the misfortune of falling head over hooves for his irritable boss’ best and oldest friend. Worst of all, not too long after that, his crush began dating somepony else—and not just anypony but Pinkie Pie, the most colorful, energetic, and outgoing pony in town. He had never really thought he’d stood a chance with Fluttershy—of course he hadn’t—but if ever he had, Pinkie coming onto the scene destroyed those chances entirely.
Then, just as he’d felt sure that his life had sunk as low as it could possibly get, it had sunk lower. Pinkie Pie had cornered him at the very next party she threw, greeting him with the words, “Heya, Thunderlane! I hear you got a crush on my fillyfriend!”
It had been right then, at that exact moment, within the cramped and overheated confines of Sugarcube Corner, that Thunderlane had realized that whatever tiny bit of luck he possessed had just run out. It had been all over. Him, his life, everything.
Vinyl Scratch sat nervously in the restaurant, twirling her mane around a hoof restlessly. At her roommate Octavia’s insistence, her normally wild mane had been tamed into something resembling more like Octavia’s own style. The date had been Octavia’s idea too, and Vinyl swore to Celestia that if she was stood up, she’d cut off Octavia’s tail. Vinyl glanced up at the clock. It was nearly eight, and her supposed date should be here any minute now. Every time somepony walked through the door, her uncovered ruby eyes flicked over to watch where they were going. Fancypants, much to her surprise, was the next to enter, but just as she thought the classy pony was her date, he veered off and sat down next to a grey pegasus mare.
“What is this, weird couples night?” muttered the DJ, glancing back up at the clock, sweating almost imperceptibly. Exactly as the clock struck eight, another pony entered the restaurant.
“BEHOLD, LOYAL SUBJECTS! YOUR PRINCESS HATH ARRIVED!” Boomed Princess Luna.
‘Please let it not be the princess. Please let it not be the princess,’ thought Vinyl, watching where the princess of the night was headed, ‘Dammit, it’s the princess. Octavia, your tail is going to get dyed if I get out of this alive,’ continued the DJ’s thoughts as Princess Luna sat down opposite her.
“Thou art my companion for the evening?” said the princess, at a much more normal speaking volume, drawing a blink of surprise from Vinyl.
For Ditzy, this was a dream come true. Her friend Carrot Top set her up on a blind date! She hadn’t been this happy since Time Turner left her.
In his defense, she would have left him if he had puked muffins on her mom too.
She ran to her room, searching through her tiny closet for her special dress. Here it was!
The dress was unassuming at first glance, but when the pudgy mare slipped in, the light blue lace accented her in all the right places. She remembered the last time she wore this with a shudder. It had been the last Grand Galloping Gala she ever intended to go to.
She smiled as she started to hum and dance in her room, and tripped on her saddlebag. With an “Ooohm,” she giggled. She went back to her closet, and pulled out her box of special things. After sorting through her… personal things, she found the expensive bag Carrot had bought her on her birthday. The one she had waited to wear until a very special occasion.
Meanwhile, in Canterlot, the moon princess fidgeted as the royal tailor fitted her new dress.
“Your highness, please! You’re wrinkling the dress!”
“I’m sorry Silver Spool. I’ve… well, I’ve never went on a blind date before. Especially not one requested by one of our subjects.”
Rainbow sipped at her drink and wondered exactly what had led her to this point, sitting in a mostly deserted bar while a tearful unicorn she hardly even knew leaned on her shoulder and wailed loudly.
“…I mean,” the minty green mare sobbed, “how am I even supposed to compete with that?”
It was Rarity’s fault, Rainbow decided. Rarity had been the one that had told her that there was a place where they sold the surplus cider after the special seasonal sale was over. She was the reason Rainbow had been in the bar this evening.
“Sure,” the unicorn said, waving her hoof unsteadily in the air, “Bonnie and I were going through a bit of a rough patch. What couple doesn’t have a few fights?”
Or maybe it was Applejack’s fault for not making enough of the stuff during the regular cider season. If there had been enough cider to go around, Rainbow wouldn’t have been in here looking for more when she had burst in the door, her eyes brimming with tears.
Rainbow Dash’s companion took what looked like a significantly larger gulp of her drink than was strictly healthy for a pony to take in one go. “So when she put in for that matching service, I figured, why not let her have her fun, right?”
She looked to Rainbow, apparently looking for some kind of validation. Rainbow gave a noncommittal grunt.
“Ya’ Fancypants? Letters said that you’d be in this here establishment.”
Fancypants just waved a hoof, letting the pony sit. He didn’t bother to look up and make sure it was his date. They all looked the same, with flowing hair, glittering eyelashes, lavish proposals— the high-pitched laughter that he once enjoyed, but now made his ears ring. Screeching like metal.
“Thanks,” the pony sighed. His voice was gruff, but easy on the ears. “Took years ‘ta find this place. Canterlot’s a funny town, ain’t it? All the narrow streets and such. Kinda tough to waltz through, y’know. Ain’t open and free, like home.”
Fancypants raised an eyebrow. He looked up from the table and stared at a stallion. But something was different about him. His yellow coat was tinted a darker color, with specks of dust hiding underneath his brushed coat. He wore a brimmed hat and a simple vest. The stallion didn’t look like a large plantation owner— he looked like a worker.
He didn’t mix in with the rest of Canterlot, almost like a link to another world. Where everything in Canterlot didn’t seem to matter.
That made Fancypants smile.
The stallion smiled back. “I’m Braeburn, by the way. And I’m from—” Braeburn stood up, bit his tongue, and shrunk into his seat. His voice grew quiet. “I’m from Appleoosa.”
Braeburn shifted uncomfortably in his chair, no less unsure about this whole debacle than he was when he’d first arrived at the restaurant. Part of him wished he had just said no to the whole mess and stayed home. That part accounted for the vast majority of himself. If he had to declare it specifically, he’d have said that his heart, mind, skeleton, muscles, other internal organs, skin, head, body, mane, and legs would have all been wishing to be back at Applejack’s farm, having no part of this. Maybe a little part of his tail would have been okay with being here, but it was severely outvoted. Yet here he sat, waiting for what was sure to be a terrible experience.
He supposed, though, that he’d already been through such a terrible experience that this one might pale in comparison. It was about a month ago that he’d finally come to terms with some of his innermost feelings, some of which were so far in that even he had not been aware of them. Many ponies, both within his own family and outside of it, had always wondered why he hadn’t settled down with a mare yet. They called him lots of nice things. Handsome, charming, charismatic, funny, sweet, strong. They were all awful nice things to say, and he appreciated them at their base level, but there was something about the tone of them that he didn’t appreciate quite as much, something he couldn’t quite place his hoof on. Perhaps it was the fact that they were always said in reference to his failure to find a mare to settle down with. Something about that had always felt wrong to him, but it was a feeling that he was unable to put into words. They’d wondered why nothing came of his one or two dates with Little Strongheart. They’d ruminated, often a little too loudly, over his decisions to stay in when the other single stallions in town would go out and hit the Salty Spitoon in search of pretty young things to talk up. Sometimes he questioned them too.
It was a clear day.
That was the sole thought running through Thunder Tempest’s head as he flew to work that morning. And somehow, that seemed wrong. Today was the ten year anniversary, after all. But there was not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze whispered across the city of Fillydelphia as the sun rose slowly into the sky. None of these things mattered to the normally happy pegasus, because in his head, he was partially reliving one of the worst days in his life, and simultaneously, with hindsight, one of the best.
The sun started to slip under the horizon and Celestia knew in her heart that for all the errors, shortcomings an misunderstandings in her life this day had been one of the better ones. The first star came out and glittered in the sky, then another, a third, a fourth. Each one added his light to the concert of twinkles, glitters and sparkles of the night. Celestia used to enjoy the dusk as much as she loved the dawn. When the powers shifted from her to her sister it reminded her of the great circles of life that she had the unique perspective to see. Day and night, summer and winter, the birth of a pony and its return to the great well of souls. She wished Luna was by her side to enjoy it too, but alas her sister was … indispensable tonight.
It’s always sad to see Celestia lamenting her lost sister - wondering what she could have done differently, and regretting her mistakes. I think you captured that well, and it’s sad to read. I also like all the little details sprinkled through it regarding their past and relationships to each other - they add a lot of weight to the story. Nicely done.