Uma Musume Pretty Servant

Jul 21st, 2018
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  1. >Day Uma Musume Pretty Servant.
  2. >"I won!" Sunny Day waves her ticket so they can see. "That's my number!"
  3. >She flies up toward the dais where Mayor Mare is presiding along with Princess Twilight Sparkle.
  4. >Mayor Mare adjusts her glasses so she can read the piece of paper.
  5. >After a moment, she looks up.
  6. >"It appears we have the final winner."
  7. >The crowd cheers and over a hundred balloons are released.
  8. >Sunny Day dances in the air, with her hooves failing around erratically.
  9. >The moment she lands you hear her yelp in pain.
  10. >You just shake your head.
  11. >The doctor told her to go easy on her foreleg.
  12. >She's been keeping it wrapped, but she always forgets to keep weight off of it.
  13. >The crowd senses something wrong and simmers down.
  14. >"You, aren't planning on catching a sprout like that, are you?"
  15. >Sunny Day lowers her head.
  16. >"I was hoping you would let me fly."
  17. >Mayor Mare starts to say something, but chomps the words away.
  18. >She turns toward Princess Twilight, who shakes her head.
  19. >"The rules are very clear. Ponies have to catch sprouts without the use of magic or wings." Twilight's brow furrows. "But I don't think there is a rule about sending another pony in your place."
  20. >Sunny leaps in joy, but this time keeps her injured hoof from touching the platform.
  21. >"Then I choose, Leafy Greens."
  22. >Again the crowd cheers, and somehow more balloons are released.
  23. "Me?!"
  24. >You try to move to the stage to talk with Sunny, but there are too many ponies for you to get close.
  25. "Sunny!"
  26. >She doesn't hear you over the roar of the crowd and just shimmies in a dance, carefully avoiding putting her hoof down.
  27. >"Alright, everypony! We'll see you at the races tomorrow!"
  28. >The crowd starts dispersing, and Sunny flies over to you.
  29. "Why did you pick me? You know I can't run fast."
  30. >"I-I don't know. I just blanked for a second and couldn't think of anypony else."
  31. "You should have picked Rainbow Dash, or Applejack."
  32. 1/18
  33. >She looks up at the Pretty Derby sign.
  34. >"You don't mind, do you?"
  35. "I don't care that much, but, you're asking a lot. It'll take a miracle for me to catch one for you."
  36. >"It's alright if you don't catch a horsie. As long as you try your best, that's all that matters."
  37. >You let out a sigh.
  38. >She should have picked somepony faster than you.
  39. "Fine. I'll try."
  40. >Her eyes light up, and she nuzzles you.
  41. >"Thanks. You're a good friend, Leafy Greens."
  42. "Anytime, Sunny."
  43. >"I have to get going, or I'll be late for weather duty. We have to make sure all the rain clouds are dispersed so they won't ruin tomorrow."
  44. "I should probably get ready as well."
  45. >"Okay." She flies into the air and lands on a passing cloud. "I'll see you first thing in the morning."
  46. >The rest of the day passes uneventfully, and you go to bed early.
  47. >As soon as you leave your house, Sunny is standing there nearly buzzing with excitement.
  48. >"Are you ready?" Sunny asks as she looks you up and down. "Did you stretch out?"
  49. >You groan.
  50. "Sunny, at least let me get there before you start hassling me."
  51. >"But did you stretch out?"
  52. "Yeah."
  53. >She flaps her wings and flies toward you.
  54. >"And you ate a good breakfast? Lots of grains?"
  55. >Sunny Day pats your withers, trying to feel any tense muscles.
  56. "Just some fruit, and toast."
  57. >She flies to your otherside.
  58. >"That's alright. I brought you some cake."
  59. "Cake for breakfast?"
  60. >You turn so she lands in front of you.
  61. >"Sure. It'll give you energy. I don't want you starving out there, and then missing your chance."
  62. >She takes the wrapped pastry and hoofs it over to you.
  63. >It's easy to open the paper slightly so you can have a look.
  64. >The cake looks tasty, with frosting and a strawberry layer in the center.
  65. "B-but the race is only going to last for a few minutes."
  66. 2
  67. >"Leafy! This is my only chance of getting a horse. You know I've wanted one for like the last two years." She jumps up and spins in the air. "They're so pretty with their manes done just right, and their clothes."
  68. "If you can't afford to buy a horsie, then you shouldn't get one. Do you know how much those things eat?"
  69. >She waves her hoof.
  70. >"Details. We'll just make the garden larger."
  71. >You groan.
  72. "And I suppose I'll be the one doing most of the work."
  73. >"I'll make sure to bring a rain cloud every day," she laughs. "You can't fail with plenty of water."
  74. >Of all the ponies, this one had to be your friend.
  75. "What if she gets sick?"
  76. >"You worry too much, Leafy." She lands again. "Is your rope good and strong?"
  77. "Yes! It's fine! Really. I've got this, Sunny. Just relax." You try to strike a determined pose. "If anypony can catch a horse, it's me."
  78. >A smile slowly spreads on Sunny's face.
  79. >"You're right. I knew you were the pony for the job."
  80. >She raises herself up to hug you, but audibly winces when her legs wrap around you.
  81. "Be careful, Sunny. Your leg won't ever heal right if you keep messing with it."
  82. >"It's just a sprain."
  83. "That's what you have been saying for the last month. Stop jumping and hopping on it. I'm serious."
  84. >She flies above you.
  85. >"Fine, fine. Let's get over to the start."
  86. "Wait, take this cake back. I want to be light on my hooves for the race."
  87. >"Alright, but you have to promise me you'll eat it right afterward."
  88. "I promise."
  89. >She takes the offered piece of cake and puts it back in her saddlebag.
  90. >With that taken care of, you trot to the fairgrounds while she flies behind you.
  91. >There is huge crowd of ponies milling about, waiting for the chase to start.
  92. >Horse girls walk around selling merchandise of famous racers.
  93. >They look so strange.
  94. >Horses are much taller than ponies, since they don't walk on all four legs.
  95. 3
  96. >Instead they stand on their hind legs, so their spider hooves, or hands, as they call them, can grab things.
  97. >Their manes are long and some of them cover their ears with strange hats.
  98. >Most wear a sort of sailor outfit, which means they are still associated with Tracen Academy.
  99. >Those who have retired from racing usually choose to wear something closer to a maid outfit.
  100. >Your family has never owned a horse before, but, they are kind of pretty, if you look at them from a few angles.
  101. >You pull out the list of phrases you picked up incase you actually catch one.
  102. >They all speak Equestrian, but if you catch one, it might calm her down if you speak in Japaneighs.
  103. "Kon-itchy-wah."
  104. >"It's Konichiwa. Say it like you're smiling."
  105. "How would you know? You've never had a horse before."
  106. >Sunny rolls her eyes, so you turn away from her.
  107. "Water shi, nameee wha Leafy Greens dasu."
  108. >"You're messing it up. It's Watashi no namae wa Leafy Greens desu."
  109. >She pokes her head over your shoulder to see the paper.
  110. >Again you try to turn away, but this time she reaches to grab the leaflet.
  111. >"Hey, Pony. You're a hunter, right?"
  112. >You look up to see a horse girl standing next to you.
  113. >She has a long grey mane, and is wearing a sort of bridle with a hat on top.
  114. >The horsie carries a tray filled with carrots and tools for hunters.
  115. "That's right."
  116. >She makes the slightest bow.
  117. >"You look really strong. I bet it'll be easy for you to catch any sprout you want."
  118. >You open your mouth to thank her, but the words don't come out.
  119. >She's obviously trying to get on your good side so she can sell you something.
  120. >Sunny flies up to greet her.
  121. >"He's gonna do great. By the way, which one should he go for?"
  122. >The horse takes a step backward from Sunny, who keeps fluttering about.
  123. >"You know we're not supposed to point them out. They should all have a fair chance of winning."
  124. 4
  125. >"Oh, com'n. You said yourself he could get any horsie he wants. Spill the beans."
  126. >The horse girl swishes her tail as she looks over at the stage.
  127. >"I really shouldn't…"
  128. >"Please? I'll buy a couple carrots."
  129. >Sunny pouts, and makes that face that always gets you to give in to her.
  130. >The horse girl leans in closer.
  131. >"Alright, but don't tell anypony, or I'll get in trouble." She looks over her shoulder quickly. "Silence Sazuka is the fastest. She's the one with the green ear coverings. Teio is the smallest, but she dances really well. She has pink and blue bows."
  132. >It actually worked!
  133. "Which do you think will be easiest to catch?"
  134. >She puts her hands on her hips and scowls at you.
  135. >"That wouldn't be fair."
  136. >"I'll buy five carrots," Sunny says while fishing out some bits.
  137. >The sales horse grunts, but her eyes brighten when Sunny brings out a full bag.
  138. >"Fine, but only because they will probably be caught anyway. Also, you have to eat a carrot in front of me."
  139. >"W-why?"
  140. >"I grew them myself." She adjusts her hat. "I think they taste good, but I need to know what ponies think."
  141. >You and Sunny exchange glances.
  142. >Of course a carrot is going to taste fine.
  143. >How could she possibly mess it up?
  144. >The horsie edges closer and keeps her eyes on the bag of bits.
  145. "She'll do it."
  146. >A smile quickly grows on the horse girl's face.
  147. >"Teio is naturally slow. She probably won't make the first five laps. Special Week was really worried about getting into Tracen and was running all night to prepare, even though I told her to take it easy. She's probably dead tired."
  148. "Which one is she?"
  149. >"She's wearing the blue jumper."
  150. >"Thank you for helping us."
  151. >"It's my pleasure." She turns to you. "What about you, Hunter? Can I interest you in some rope?"
  152. >You shake your head.
  153. "Thanks, but I have everything I need."
  154. 5
  155. >"Alright," the sales horse says as her tail sways in annoyance.
  156. >Princess Twilight clears her throat on stage, and the low rumble of voices simmers down.
  157. "Let's go. It's about to start."
  158. >You start trotting off, but the horsie stops you.
  159. >"Hey, wait! You're forgetting your carrots."
  160. >Sunny flies back to her.
  161. >"Oh, right. We had a deal. I'll eat one right after the opening ceremony."
  162. >Sunny grabs five carrots and carelessly tosses a few bits at the horse's tray.
  163. >The horse tries to grab them, but one bounces up and hits her eye.
  164. >"Bits!" She shouts as she grabs her face, throwing her tray high into the air.
  165. >She falls to the ground, and the tray splats besides her upside down so her food is ruined.
  166. >"Sorry, Horsie!"
  167. >You hesitate for a moment as you watch the horse girl kicking her legs out while sideways on the grass.
  168. >You want to help her, but if you're late you'll be disqualified.
  169. "Sunny! I can't take you anywhere without you causing trouble."
  170. >"But it was an accident."
  171. "Then you should be more careful."
  172. >She deflates, and slowly lands on the ground.
  173. >"I didn't mean to hurt her."
  174. "You'd better check on her." You look over to the stage where Princess Twilight is standing. "I'll go to hunter's area."
  175. >"Okay. Good luck out there."
  176. "Thanks."
  177. >You take one last look at the sales horse, who is now rolling around on the grass, and you run to join the other hunters.
  178. >It's crowded, but you manage to push your way through.
  179. >Most are of the hunters are ponies, but two are Griffons.
  180. >You're sure some of them aren't even from Ponyville.
  181. >They probably bought their place from one of the other winners, instead of waiting a week or two for the festival to come to their town.
  182. >Nearly every town gets a chance at winning young horsies trying to get into Tracen.
  183. >So, they could be professionals, who collect fresh horsies for resale.
  184. 6
  185. >You're not sure how profitable that is, since it's fairly easy to get a horse who washed out from racing.
  186. >You look up at the stage where Princess Twilight is starting her speech.
  187. >"Thank you all for joining us today, for Ponyville's two hundred and fortieth Running of the Sprouts. This is a time honored tradition which kicks off the Horse Girl Festival."
  188. >She waves her hoof into the air.
  189. >"For thousands of years, horses and ponies lived apart, but then horses came to Equestria, not to trade or barter, but to become one with ponies."
  190. >Two horse girls bring forward cutouts of Princess Celestia, and Princess Cloverbrook, and horses in the crowd cheer.
  191. >The cutouts have articulated limbs, and the horses make both characters bow to the audience.
  192. >Princess Twilight waves for the horsies to simmer down, but they ignore her.
  193. >"Cloverbrook!" One of them yells.
  194. >"Yes, she is very pretty," Twilight says. "As I was saying, Princess Cloverbrook pledged her horses to serve ponies for one thousand years."
  195. >The girl wags Cloverbrook and make it look like she is bowing to Celestia.
  196. >"Celestia declined three times before Cloverbrook convinced her to take horses under her wing."
  197. >The cutout of Celestia backs away and nods her head, and Cloverbrook rises.
  198. >In a moment, both cutouts are hugging.
  199. >"And we have lived in peace for these last two hundred and forty years because of the bond formed on that day."
  200. >This time the entire crowd cheers.
  201. >Twilight winces at the noise, and shakes her head.
  202. >"Every year, Princess Celestia tells Princess Cloverbrook that their bond has ended. Horsies and ponies should stand as equals, but every year, Princess Cloverbrook declines. I was at the annual ceremony three days ago, and I can tell you that again, Princess Cloverbrook asked to keep things as they are."
  203. >She shifts at the podium and scans the crowd.
  204. 7
  205. >"She said, 'Thank you Princess Celestia, but there are only two things we love. Running, and serving ponies!'"
  206. >The throng of ponies and horsies cheer.
  207. >"And now, a word from Symboli Rudolf, Principal of Tracen Academy."
  208. >A stunning horse girl walks on stage.
  209. >Her mane is long and brown, with a few white wisps.
  210. >She wears a green dress, similar to a guard's uniform.
  211. >"Thank you, Princess Twilight. We welcome another year of serving ponies. Princess Cloverbook did not come to this arrangement because horses were weak, or defeated. It was because of strength. She knew that horses would never be happy unless they served. She alone had the foresight to see that."
  212. >She makes the slightest nod to Princess Twilight.
  213. >"And serve we have, for two hundred and forty years. This ceremony isn't about forcing sprouts into servitude. It is a way for them to show their strength, speed, and determination, so they can be successful horse girls."
  214. >She waves to the side of the stage and twenty small horsies walk on stage.
  215. >They look so young.
  216. >Most of them are shorter than Symboli Rudolf.
  217. >Their eyes, and ears dart here and there as they look at the crowd.
  218. >They keep their hands in front of them, and huddle together like they would suddenly be attacked by ponies.
  219. >"Only the strongest and fastest can have a hope of being the best horse girl in Equestria, and their names will live on forever, like Man o' War, and Ninjinsky."
  220. >One horse girl on stage is wearing green ear coverings, and stares at the crowd with determined eyes.
  221. >That must be Silence Sazuka.
  222. >Better not bother chasing her.
  223. >"Hunters. These sprouts have trained for a full year for this moment. Those who survive will earn a spot at Tracen Academy, and may one day become champion racers. It is your job to ensure that only the best can compete. So don't go easy on them!"
  224. 8
  225. >One of the horsies nervously shuffles her feet and doesn't look up at the crowd.
  226. >She's just barely taller than you are.
  227. >That must be Teio.
  228. >You'll have to keep an eye out for her.
  229. >The horses bow in unison to you, except for one, that yelps in surprise and bows a half second later than the others.
  230. >"Thank you for helping us, hunters."
  231. >She has bags under her eyes, and wears a blue jumper.
  232. >It's Special Week!
  233. >Your eyes dart between her and Teio.
  234. >Everything about this is so surreal.
  235. >They are thanking you for hunting them.
  236. >You give them a nod, though they probably didn't notice you among the other hunters.
  237. >"And the race will begin…"
  238. >Symboli raises a pistol, and you get into a running stance.
  239. >You can't let Sunny down.
  240. >"Now!"
  241. >The gun makes a loud bang, and you lunge forward.
  242. >They all scatter and run down the track.
  243. >Celestia they are so fast!
  244. >One pony lassos a horse before she can get away.
  245. >You have to push and shove to try to get ahead of the other hunters.
  246. >The other ponies give chase, and you have to sprint just to keep up.
  247. >One horse girl tries to dodge a pony, but moves too far.
  248. >It's enough of a mistake for another pony to tackle her from behind.
  249. >She squeals and tries to kick the pony as he climbs over her.
  250. >The Griffons lag behind the other hunters.
  251. >Their movements are calculated, and deliberate, and their eyes scan the track, waiting for their moment to strike.
  252. >You keep running after the horsies.
  253. >Their feet kick up too much dust and it becomes hard for you to follow them.
  254. >Another pony tackles a stray horsie, but in their struggle, she manages to roll on top and leaps away.
  255. >You keep running after them, but the fastest horses are already on the other side of the track.
  256. >After a moment more of fruitless chasing, you look back at the other hunters.
  257. >They position themselves at different parts of the track.
  258. 9
  259. >The horses will have to run past them nine times before they are safe.
  260. >You hear shouting and look over at a pony tackling another horse.
  261. >She squeals and tries to kick to get away, but she isn't strong enough to escape.
  262. >You watch as the herd makes a loop, and you ready yourself.
  263. >"Pony!" One of them shouts.
  264. >You dash forward to catch one, but she leaps over you.
  265. "Buck!"
  266. >Two more squeals and you see that a Griffon finally grabbed one.
  267. >He ties her up with his long rope.
  268. >You have rope!
  269. >It only takes a moment to fish it out of your saddlebags.
  270. >You've never been very good with a lasso, but you're sure it's your best chance.
  271. >The girls make another loop.
  272. >This time you throw your rope, but miss them.
  273. >One passes close to you, and you desperately you try to grab her, only to slam onto the ground.
  274. >Not a single horse was caught that time.
  275. >Annoyed you look at the track.
  276. >They will probably start getting tired soon.
  277. >Maybe if you chase after them you'll have more luck?
  278. >The herd of horses circle the track and sprint faster as they near the remaining hunters.
  279. >Faster horses break away from the pack and easily pass several ponies.
  280. >You feign to the left, before leaping right.
  281. >A hoof just barely grazes the dress of one of the girls, and she cries out.
  282. >You hear another shout from the other end of the path.
  283. >The second Griffon finally caught one of the slower horses.
  284. >There are only a few hunters left.
  285. >Those that have already caught their sprout are patting their horses on the head and feeding them carrots, as is required.
  286. >The carrots!
  287. >You look in your bag, desperately hoofing through it.
  288. >Of all the things to forget!
  289. >You can still see the carrots on the kitchen counter.
  290. >Annoyed at yourself, you toss your saddle bag aside, like that would somehow cause a carrot to pop out.
  291. >The faster horses laugh as they leap over you.
  292. 10
  293. >Clearly they think you aren't a threat.
  294. >You take a few steps forward to chase them, but quickly give up.
  295. >You scrunch your nose and scuff the dirt.
  296. >The horse selling carrots told you to focus on the slower sprouts.
  297. >You try to find Special Week and Teio in the pack, but there is too much dust for you to make them out.
  298. >Again you wait for them to get close to you before attempting a tackle, but you're too slow to catch them.
  299. >Every now and then you hear a shout, or a squeal indicating that another hunter has caught their prey.
  300. >This repeats several times, until you are the only hunter left without a catch.
  301. >All the ponies are looking at you.
  302. >You look over at the board.
  303. >They only have two more laps to go before they are free.
  304. >"You can do it Leafy Greens!" Sunny shouts from the stands.
  305. >Soon all the other ponies and horsies join in.
  306. >"Leafy! Leafy! Leafy!"
  307. >You take a deep breath to calm yourself down.
  308. >This is for Sunny.
  309. >The ground seems to shake as the herd of horse girls approaches.
  310. >You can hear them huffing and puffing.
  311. >Their chests are heaving at the effort of running so much.
  312. >You ignore the faster ones, and let them pass without challenge.
  313. >It's not like you will have a chance at getting them.
  314. >Instead you focus on the slow ones.
  315. >One lags behind the others.
  316. >She is wearing a bright blue jumper.
  317. >Her cheeks are red, and her ears are low.
  318. >Her brow is furrowed as she tries to put everything into the last two laps.
  319. >That must be Special Week.
  320. >A few of the horses laugh and pat your head as they run past, daring you to tackle them, which makes your cheeks burn.
  321. >Even the average speed horses think you can't catch them.
  322. >You stay focused on the last horse.
  323. >She notices you, and tries to avoid you, but you move to an intercept course.
  324. >Special Week frantically kicks out her legs to gain speed.
  325. >Now!
  326. 11
  327. >You throw your rope, and she dodges it at the last moment, but starts to trip.
  328. >Without thinking, your hooves reach out, and catch the edge of her outfit.
  329. >She halfway spins when you grab her, but she catches herself with a hand and dashes out of reach.
  330. "So close!"
  331. >It's the final lap, and the horsies are jumping and laughing.
  332. >All of them are happy, except for the one in the blue jumper.
  333. >She leans forward into her run, like she is about to pass out from exhaustion.
  334. >"Leafy!" Somepony shouts. "Trip her!"
  335. "How!?" You shout back.
  336. >"Use the rope!"
  337. >You look down at the rope.
  338. >It's been useless so far.
  339. >You notice the wooden posts lining the track.
  340. >It might even work...
  341. >You swing your rope and to try to hook onto a post opposite you, but it misses.
  342. >The rumble of horseshoes seem to fill the field.
  343. >You pull the rope back, and throw it again.
  344. >The first few girls easily jump over it.
  345. >They slow down so they can dance in front of you before racing off.
  346. >You feel like the dumbest pony in the world.
  347. >Can you blame them for mocking you?
  348. >A pony who can't catch a horse isn't fit to be a master.
  349. >Once more you try.
  350. >More horse girls pass you.
  351. >"Leafy!"
  352. >On the third try you hook a post and pull the rope taut, just in time for the last two sprouts.
  353. >The second to last horse rolls under the rope, kicking up dust as she clears it.
  354. >Special Week pumps her arms, trying to summon every last ounce of strength she has left.
  355. >Her eyes meet yours.
  356. >She leaps into the air, and you can tell she's going to make it.
  357. >You failed.
  358. >Sunny counted on you, and you failed.
  359. >"Yatta!" She shouts, all four limbs extending in joy.
  360. >But one shoe barely catches the rope, and joy turns to fear in an instant.
  361. >Special Week lands on the ground hard.
  362. >She tries to scramble up, but she slips and falls again.
  363. >This is it!
  364. >You leap forward and jump on her.
  365. 12
  366. >She squeals and kicks and punches at you.
  367. >The crowd goes wild.
  368. "Relax, horsie."
  369. >She yells something in Japaneighs and tries to wrestle away from you.
  370. "Konichiwa!"
  371. >One of her elbows hits your head and you nearly let her go.
  372. "Water shi Leafy Greens!"
  373. >"Let me go, Pony!"
  374. >She is drenched in sweat, and her skin is slippery.
  375. "Kim Oh See!"
  376. >The girl shudders and stars crying in your hooves.
  377. >This time she rolls, but you manage to stay on top of her.
  378. >"Let me go, please, Pony! Please!"
  379. "But…"
  380. >"Please, Pony!"
  381. "But I caught you."
  382. >"I want to race! I promised my mom I would be the fastest horse girl in Equestria! You have to let me go! Please, Pony!"
  383. >Some of the faster horse girls reach the end and collapse in exhaustion.
  384. "It's your destiny…"
  385. >Her glistening eyes look up at yours.
  386. >"I want to, but I want to run first." She sobs. "P-Please let me go."
  387. >You look up at the crowd, but you can't find Sunny.
  388. "I can't go back empty hooved, Horsie. Please understand."
  389. >She goes limp in your hooves, and closes her eyes.
  390. >You both stay there for several seconds with her hot breath mixing with yours.
  391. >With a hoof, you swipe away sweat from your forehead.
  392. >"Promise you will be nice."
  393. >Buck.
  394. >She doesn't know she will belong to Sunny, and not you.
  395. >You take several more breaths before responding.
  396. "I promise."
  397. >She lets out a whine and looks into your eyes.
  398. >After half a heartbeat, she nods her head.
  399. >It's over.
  400. >You loosen your grip, so you can bring her back to the crowd.
  401. "Buck!"
  402. >She kicks between your legs, and the pain makes you crawl into a ball.
  403. >Special Week scrambles to her feet.
  404. >Dirt sprays into the air and she starts her sprint.
  405. >Suddenly, she stops and turns to face you.
  406. >Special Week dips her head low and bows to you.
  407. >"I'm sorry. I'll pay you back for this one day, Leafy Greens."
  408. >All around you the crowd hoots and hollers.
  409. 13
  410. >They can't believe she was able to escape.
  411. >You just lay your head back down on the dirt as you watch her finish the final lap.
  412. >She has to halfway hop to keep weight off her right leg.
  413. >A bell rings from the stands announcing her victory.
  414. >A moment later, she collapses and you hear her crying.
  415. >You close your eyes and roll onto your back.
  416. >A cloud or something moves and blots out the sun.
  417. >"Are you alright, Leafy?" Sunny asks.
  418. "I'll be fine in a little bit. Just give me a second."
  419. >You roll a few times before the pain begins to dissipate.
  420. >Half a minute later you you sit up to face her.
  421. >"What happened? You were so close."
  422. "She looked like she had given up, and I loosened my grip. You're not mad are you?"
  423. >Sunny Day brings out the slice of cake you refused earlier.
  424. >"You tried your best, and that's what really matters."
  425. >You take the cake in your hoof and take a generous bite.
  426. >It's overly sweet, but you don't mind.
  427. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have trusted her, but, I don't know. I'll help you buy one if you want."
  428. >Sunny lays down on her belly and sighs.
  429. >"You don't have to do that. We can try again next year."
  430. "But I messed it all up. It's the least I can do."
  431. >She shakes her head.
  432. >"I won't take your money, Leafy. I know you've been trying to save up. This just means that I need to work harder, and put in extra shifts like you said."
  433. >You climb back on your hooves.
  434. >Tentatively, you test out each leg, but nothing seems damaged.
  435. "The festival will last for a few more days. You could see if any more shifts are open right now."
  436. >"Like, right, right now?
  437. "Hey, you're the one that wants a horse girl. I'm just saying it would only take a few minutes to ask, and then we can go hang out and eat horsie food."
  438. >She wrinkles her nose, and frowns.
  439. >"Okay, I'll ask. Meet me over by the performance tents in fifteen minutes. I want to see one of the shows.
  440. 14
  441. "Sounds good. I'll see you there."
  442. >Sunny Day kicks at the dirt before flying away.
  443. >You hope she can get some extra work.
  444. >She really does have her heart set on having a horsie.
  445. >If she just listened to you once in a while she would do just fine.
  446. >By now most of the horsies and ponies have left the track and are enjoying the fair.
  447. >That means you won't have to do a walk of shame.
  448. >Just as you pass the bleachers a voice calls out.
  449. >"Hey, Pony! Leafy Greens!"
  450. >You turn to see the horse girl from earlier running over to you.
  451. >Her tray is full again, hopefully with fresh carrots instead of those ones that fell.
  452. >"I saw what happened. I can't believe you let Special Week kick you. It looked like it really hurt." She grabs her belly and feigns yelping in pain. "Ow!"
  453. >You pin your ears back.
  454. "I didn't let her kick me. She tricked me."
  455. >"Sure, sure," she says while patting your mane.
  456. >You instantly pull away.
  457. "I don't know what you saw, but I was actually there."
  458. >"You don't need to get all defensive, Pony. I saw you two talking, and then you let her go. Letting her struggle for a while first was smart. Made it more believable."
  459. "Horsie-"
  460. >"Golshi," she corrects.
  461. >You wrinkle your nose and scuff the dirt.
  462. "Golshi-"
  463. >"Actually it's Gold Ship. Sorry, I'm used to pronouncing it in Japaneighs."
  464. >You huff before continuing.
  465. "Gold Ship, I thought she had given up, and then she took advantage of the situation. We didn't come up with a plan to let her escape."
  466. >Though, truthfully, a few more of her desperate pleas may have broken your fighting spirit.
  467. >She just looked so scared, and helpless.
  468. >Gold Ship raises an eyebrow as her eyes scan you from head to hoof.
  469. >"You should know not to let your guard down for sprouts. They'll say or do anything to finish the race."
  470. >Finally she believes you.
  471. "Nopony warned me."
  472. >She halfway turns away from you and waves a hand dismissively.
  473. 15
  474. >"You should have just shoved your carrot into her mouth. Then she wouldn't have been able to refuse."
  475. >Your ears pin themselves back again, and you're sure your cheeks are burning.
  476. "I, uh…"
  477. >Her ears swivel to try to hear you.
  478. >"You what?"
  479. "I forgot the carrot."
  480. >"You forgot the carrot?" She repeats while cocking her head to the side.
  481. "Yeah, so she wouldn't have been forced to submit."
  482. >The horse lets out a single laugh before covering her mouth.
  483. >In a moment the chuckle turns into hysterical laughter and she doubles over.
  484. >A few of her offerings fall from her tray.
  485. >"You forgot the carrot!?!?"
  486. "It was an honest mistake, Horsie!"
  487. >"The carrot!"
  488. >You stand there, awkwardly shifting from one side to the other.
  489. "Gold Ship, I-. You know what? I don't have to take this."
  490. >You start trotting off, but she follows close behind.
  491. >"Aw, don't be like that, Leafy. I know you didn't forget it."
  492. "Leave me alone."
  493. >She imitates your voice from earlier.
  494. >"Thanks, but I have everything I need."
  495. >You duck under some taut rope holding a tent up, but she continues following you.
  496. >There are empty tables and chairs for ponies who want to rest all around you.
  497. >"The part about her escaping was more believable than you forgetting the ceremonial gift. But still, it was very kind of you to let her go. Special Week had her heart set on going to Tracen Academy."
  498. >You spin around in place to face her.
  499. "Does that headstall mess with your hearing? I didn't let her go, alright?"
  500. >"Okay, okay!" She lifts her hands up. "She escaped fair and square." She makes an exaggerated bow and lifts up a carrot. "Please accept this as an apology for doubting you, Pony-san."
  501. >What is she playing at?
  502. "T-thank you."
  503. >You take the offering and examine it closely, as a horse would expect of a gift.
  504. >It looks pretty tasty, though a little thicker than normal carrots.
  505. >"Well?"
  506. "Well, what?"
  507. >"Aren't you going to eat it?"
  508. >You both stare at each other for several seconds.
  509. 16
  510. >She doesn't really expect you to eat it in front of her, does she?
  511. "I just ate a piece of cake."
  512. >Gold Ship places her tray on an empty table and sits down.
  513. >Her skirt seems to ride up, and you avert your eyes.
  514. >"I finished racing a month ago, so now I have to either find a master, or find a way to support myself. Starting a business sounded interesting to me."
  515. >So she did have an ulterior motive.
  516. "I'm not really in the market for a horse."
  517. >"But… you were a hunter…" She says with a tone that makes it sound more like a question than a statement.
  518. >You move forward so you're next to her and sit back on your haunches.
  519. "Sunny hurt her hoof a few weeks ago, and she asked that I take her place."
  520. >The hopeful glint in her eyes seems to dim.
  521. >"Oh, I see."
  522. "So don't take this the wrong way. I'm sure you're a very, uh, nice, and capable horse. But this was more to help my friend."
  523. >She slumps in her chair and looks at the ground.
  524. "Are they going to kick you out or something?"
  525. >"No, nothing like that." She pauses for a moment before shrugging. "I just had my hopes up on serving, like Princess Cloverbrook wanted. Horsie wears the saddle afterall."
  526. >You both stay in place, awkwardly avoiding conversation.
  527. >She taps her shoes on the ground several times as she looks around the room.
  528. "My friend Sunny Day is looking for a horse." Gold looks back at you. "I could put in a good word if you want."
  529. >"You'd do that?"
  530. "I mean, you don't seem crazy."
  531. >She scoops you up in her arms and makes you sit in her lap.
  532. "Hey!"
  533. >Her arms wrap around your barrel and she squeezes you in a hug.
  534. >"Thanks! You're a good pony, Leafy-san."
  535. "Uh, no problem."
  536. >Gold Ship takes the vegetable from your hoof.
  537. >"Why don't you try my carrot? I grew it myself."
  538. >You press your lips together.
  539. "The thing is, I'm still not hungry."
  540. >She pulls you in closer, and whispers in your ear.
  541. >"Shhh, Pony. Eat my carrot."
  542. "B-but-"
  543. 17
  544. >"Just a little bite."
  545. >She edges the carrot toward you until it touches your lips.
  546. >You pin your ears back, suddenly incredibly embarrassed.
  547. >What if anypony saw you right now?
  548. >You look around, and ponies are walking up and down the fair, but none of them notice you.
  549. "Just one bite?"
  550. >"Yeah."
  551. >You swallow hard, before taking the smallest bite possible of the vegetable.
  552. >The crunch feels all wrong, and it tastes chalky.
  553. >Not that you've ever eaten chalk before.
  554. >But the texture is all wrong for a carrot.
  555. >"What do you think?"
  556. "It's good," you lie.
  557. >She looks down at you, and her eyes seem to pierce into your very being.
  558. >You can feel your heart thumping.
  559. >A drop of sweat forms on your forehead.
  560. >The tense moment passes after a few seconds.
  561. >"Great! I've got plenty more!"
  562. >She grabs a second carrot with her free hand.
  563. "I only have a few bits."
  564. >"Don't worry. I won't charge you."
  565. >She pokes you on the lips again.
  566. "Why not? You can't run a business like this."
  567. >You can feel her shrugging behind you.
  568. >"You're the first pony who liked my carrots so far. How am I supposed to find a master if nopony likes my vegetables?"
  569. "I'm sure you'll get better with practice." You take the carrot from her hand and lift it up for her. "Why don't you finish this one?"
  570. >Gold Ship places the other root on your lap before scratching her head.
  571. >"Y-you're giving me your carrot? Are you sure?"
  572. "Sure. You said you liked them, and I'm not very hungry. You can finish it."
  573. >"A-alright..."
  574. >She leans forward and takes a generous bite.
  575. >With a flourish, she raises her head and swallows it after only two chews.
  576. >At least you don't have to eat it anymore.
  577. >"Oh, Leafy-san. We're going to be so happy together."
  578. >Her arms wrap around you so you can't escape.
  579. "What?"
  580. >"Don't pretend you didn't know. These are ceremonial carrots, and you just fed one to me."
  581. "But you said you wanted to start a business..."
  582. >She leans forward, and whispers into your ear.
  583. >"I lied."
  584. 18/18
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