Diamond in the Rough

Jan 15th, 2018
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  1. Part 1
  3. Chapter 1
  5. "Sold, to the gentleman in the top hat and tweed jacket!" booms the voice of the auctioneer. You stir distastefully, sniffing at the perfumed handkerchief in your hand as your eyes rove over the milling crowd. You know that the grotesquely overweight individual dressed in the straining, brass-buttoned overcoat is referring to you- but the distaste is not masked one bit. This was, after all, a an auction-house for slavery- despite their non-human appearance, the ponies did demonstrate their own measure of sentience. For now, the purple-maned pony with an immaculate white coat- so out of place in her musty surroundings- was what caught your interest, at the cost of a fair measure of coin. Your patience was thinly strained as you waited for the corpulent announcer's assistants to draw her over to you, your hands restlessly toying with your pocket watch as you waited for the proud creature to be led to you, her heavily-lidded blue eyes distrustfully eyeing her new master as she was roughly dragged by the bit by callous hands towards were you stood. After all, the assistants were used to this kind of show- and their weathered frowns indicated that they had no qualms with compelling the ponies "peacefully" or otherwise. Regardless, you manage to barely restrain yourself as you snatch the leash out of the half-witted crony's hand in exchange for a pre-measured purse, waiting patiently with poorly-concealed disdain as his clumsy hands mill through the pouch and count the appropriate sum. He flashed you a leery smile, revealing several missing teeth as he gives a perfunctory smile before shambling away as the auctioning continues. That was no longer a concern of yours, as you gingerly give the leash a tug as you lead your new purchase away from the distasteful scenery. As you lead the white pony unicorn away, you cannot help but notice that, despite her captivity, she has an almost haughty jaunt to her steps. Feeling satisfied with your new purchase, you make your way home.
  6. As soon as you exit the dimly-light auction hall, you find yourself in the brightly-lit open air. A delightful breeze wafts over you, effacing the musty dankness of the previous, compacted air. The gentle air of the outside world is a welcome replacement to the stale stench of sweat and muddled fear, but alas- you are well intent in leaving that behind with your treasure in tow.
  7. "First off," you begin cautiously. Despite you well-kept appearance and generally refined upbringing, you are a complete stranger to these kinds of matters. Which, unfortunately, shows itself in the tentative lack of authority in your face- something wihch the alabaster-coated unicorn takes immediate advantage of.
  8. "First off," she says crossly, a subtle air of refinement in her voice as she speaks with a latent authority befitting someone who expects her word to be heeded and obeyed. "I am not some lowly unhorned pony to be led about like a horse to market." The sheer haughtiness of her voice gives you pause, your thoughts racing as you try to make sense of this odd turn of events. "I expect to be treated with the respect and gravity due a lady of my stature." She pauses in the street, raising a demure hoof to her proud chest as she casts her glorious mane from side to side. Despite the capitivity and implict lack of upkeep and maintenance, there was still an attractive lustre to her amethyst hair. Which was, to your hidden satisfaction, a detail that you made note of and could not help but keep on admiring.
  9. You raise your free fist to your mouth, clearing your throat into it as you eyed her warily. If not for the bit and leash keeping her bound, she would have made an almost majestic figure. There was an impressive level of elegance in the way she held herself despite the restraints, a degree that made you grudgingly respect her that little bit more despite the fact that she was in captivity to the fetters imposed upon her and that you assumed. After an awkward stand-off in which she watched you sideways through heavily-lidded eyes, you give the bridle a slight tug to get her moving again. "Come on," you begin meekly, slightly cowed by the way she carried herself, even when in what should have been her subjugation. "We need to get you home and washed up before you go prancing about like that." You let out a weighted sigh, a slight frown on your face as you begin to reconsider your recent purchase. Maybe there was a reason for why she was at a discounted price, despite the first impression that she was quite the pedigreed specimen of value.
  10. "Yes, let's," the purple-maned unicorn assented, holding her head aloft as she jauntily stepped her way down the street. In the wrong direction, unfortunately, to which you gave the bridle a slight tug to correct her course. The tug was enough to throw her slightly off-balance, to which she quickly recovered and stepped haughtily in the direction you outlined, making sure to keep in front as if to lead despite the fact that you were the master and she the slave. You stifle an exasperated sigh to yourself as you ruminate the rest of the way home. This did not bode well at all- even though you were new to the fashion of buying these sentient equines, you had a feeling of trepidation that this was not­ quite what others so breezily made it out to be.
  12. Chapter 2
  14. It's a brisk walk through the meandering streets, the soft scuff of your leather boots contrasting the loud clops of your new purchase's hooves on cobblestone as the two of you hastily make your way out of the more destitute district of the bustling city. While not a haunt that you would almost never willingly find yourself in, today's excursion was a necessary evil in order to secure your purchase. You can't help but frown to yourself as you notice the impending weather above. The cloudy, overcast grey skies threatened rain as the rapidly moving front brought with it chill winds. You draw up your coat, bringing up the collars to help protect your neck from the air's cold fingers as your eyes lazily wander over your captive. Glancing around, you are not quite sure what is it that makes you more uncomfortable- the leers of the ragged denizens at your personage or their covetous stares at the horned creature. While normally a well-accepted badge of pride, your well-kept and custom-tailored clothing only serves to make you stand out. And with your general dislike of this class of folks, that attention was not at all welcome, with the odd choice of companion only eliciting more of the distasteful stares.
  15. You give the lead a slight tug, eliciting an angry huff from her as you quicken the pace, eager to distance yourself away from the crowd. Despite the clear envy in their unwholesome stares, the attention served to feed the unicorn's ego as she drew herself up demurely. The way she held her head aloft, showing off a gentle neck unharmed by hard labor despite the slight dirtiness of her previous state stirred a sense of admiration in you. However, that brief moment of distracted enjoyment was quickly dashed as, to your annoyance, you notice a particularly unpleasant wretch of a man following behind the two of you. It was obviously his intention to gain on the two of you as he shuffled behind rapidly, his eyes flittering between your purchase and your personage as he stumbled along in your wake.
  16. "'Scuse me, sirree," the man rasps as he catches you around the corner, the stench of fresh alcohol and stale sweat and less pleasant stains assailing your sensitive nostrils. Your companion stirs uncomfortably and glares back defiantly as the man leers at her, licking his cracked lips where a line of browned spittle tried escaping his poorly-fitted mouth. His pockmarked and dirty face only served to make him all the more hideous, as his piggish, deeply-set yellowed eyes continued glancing at your property in a way that did not sit well with you at all. You were only too painfully aware of the blank walls and shuttered windows staring down at this scene, the isolation only serving to heighten your trepidation at a vague, approaching unpleasantness.
  17. "I do not believe we have any business," you say firmly, drawing yourself up, though that does not offer any relief in this perfunctory posturing. He easily towers over you and, to your unhappy noticing, his bulk far outstrips yours. Were there to be a mugging, he would easily be able to overpower you. And there was no telling if there would be anyone around to help you were this man to engage in whatever he decided in his inebriated state.
  18. "No, sirree," he starts, stepping towards the two of you with an outstretched hand. You notice with disgust that the chipped and yellow nails are caked with dirt and filth, blackened scum accumulated under the split tips."I's bus'ness wit' that there hossof yours," the hulk slurs. Before you can react or make sense of the strange words, the man stumbles forward and reaches a hand to your unicorn, giving her blue gem emblemed flank an oddly audible smack. The loathsome sound is quickly followed by the unicorn's squeal of disgust, pain, and indignation from the repugnant touch. Paralyzed by essential shock at the sheer absurdity, your shout of "What the hell?!" is drowned out by what takes place.
  19. There's an angry whinny followed by a whirl of amethyst hair and a splash of liquid red punctuated by the man's yelp of pain. Her coat is flecked with the sprayed droplets, some of it dripping down onto her face from where her horn was stained by the goring. "Disgusting knave," she screams at him, her teeth clenched in anger as she brandishes her horn again, ready to give him a second stab to which he wisely retreats from before it is delivered. A stream of a shouted curses and howls of pain mark his exit as your jarred out of apathy, reflexively drawing your scented handkerchief and using it to try and wipe away the blood. The normally-soothing scent of lavender goes unnoticed as you let out a muttered "Stay still, dammit," between clenched teeth as she tried to pull her face away. You wipe up the mess the best you can and accidentally smearing that which you could not. You notice her quivering body, trembling with anger and shock from what just took place. "We'll talk about this when we get home. But for now, haste," you grumble, a gentle but firm push on her shoulder with your hand pushing her out of her temporary lethargy as the two of you finish the rest of your journey home uneventfully.
  21. Chapter 3
  23. “Home alas,” you murmur mechanically as the welcome site of respite looms closer into view. The almost-archaic mansion stands proudly despite the ivy-tangled brickwork, the once bright red face slowly crumbling and fading as time leached pitilessly. Once proud columns stood almost invisible beneath nature’s green ropes as there was a general air of faded glory, now forgotten and desperate to be remembered once more. Large windows stare forlornly from the massive building, the glass sagging and frosted with dust and age. A meandering, cobblestone path snakes its way across the overgrown lawn, obscured from view in places by the encroaching verdant sea. A pair of defunct fountains stand silent watch over the disgraced garden path, brambles strangling the masterful stonework. Thorns protruded from cracks where nature’s viney webs tangled their fibrous fingers, slowly hastening the decay. Almost as if in a cruel twist of irony, the fountain’s pale stone roses stood unharried, bearing mute testimony to their foundation’s crumbling. Along the perimeter of the expansive lawn, a uniformly-placed barrier of trees cleanly demarcated where the settled portion of the property ended. To ensure that the borders were respected, a wrought black-iron fence enforced the wooden guardians. Sharpened spikes capped the posts, discouraging any would-be trespassers from trying to overcome the impediments.
  24. “Let’s get you in and cleaned up,” you state matter-of-factly, leading your companion up the path. The grass rustles in the wind as the heavens threaten to unleash their burden. Cold droplets of rain began to drip downward, a few droplets smattering against your face. Not a moment too soon, you both make it under the overhang as a veritable wall of rain pours across the land. The display shimmers, reminiscent of the diamonds that the pattern on your new pony’s flank resembled. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” you comment, trying to make some small talk. However, your attempt is only met be a dismissive hmf as she ably deflects your comment. Your rejoinder is an exasperated sigh, colored by no small measure of irritation. “It’s rude not to answer,” you begin, authority creeping into your voice as befitting a master talking down towards his servant. “I expect you to reply when addressed, pony.”
  25. “Well, excuse me, sir,” she snaps back at you sarcastically, her sapphire eyes glaring up at you. Despite the difference in height, you can’t help but notice that she still makes for quite an imposing figure. Perhaps the dried, bloody mess soaked into her fur only served to make it all the more impressive. “That is no way for you to address a proper lady such as myself. My name is Rarity Belle, thank you very much, and you will address me as such- not something disparaging like pony,” the unicorn finishes angrily.
  26. “Fair enough, Rarity,” you assent, though her insubordination rankled. Your upbringing made you one that expected to be heard and obeyed, and this lack of respect would not be tolerated. Which was something you wanted to make sure was understood and communicated. “Though seeing as I am the master and you are the servant, I expect you to dignify that relationship with the respect incumbent upon our stations. Do I make myself clear?”
  27. Rarity’s eyes widened in shock before narrowing in anger, her lips drawing back to reveal her teeth in a frown of anger. It seemed that she was ready to retort, though your words did stab an icy reminder into her heart. Proud as she was, there was no denying that this was the reality she found herself in- a captive to this strange creature and at his mercy. While the unicorn was able to dispatch the previous brute with a well-applied thrust of her horn, liberally using her natural defenses would only serve to worsen her situation. After all, she was at least able to recognize that her new master was a gentlemen of refined upbringing. Were she to try to force her freedom by leaving him a bleeding mess, breathing or not, she would likely find herself in much more dire straits than where he purchased her from. Regardless, Rarity refused to lower her proud gaze and met Anon’s eyes with a much more level expression than previously. “Yes,” she replied simply, refusing to denigrate herself by calling him master. “Now hurry up and let me inside. I wish to cleanse myself of the foul stench that vile ape stained me with.” Without waiting for reply, Rarity turns away and faces the door patiently, noting with disdain the cracked, faded, and chipped paint.
  28. “Glad we could reach an understanding,” you state magnanimously, looking down at her. You can’t help but stare at her amethyst mane with an odd feeling of respect in her uncowed spirit. Despite finding herself subjugated and bound to foreign creatures, she still remained proud and unbroken— something that you noticed repeatedly with unpopular disgust in the others of her kind. After an impatient hmf from your pony, you fumble at the pouch on your belt and drawing out an aged brass key. Placing it in its matching receptacle, you turn it to release the latch and push the door open before replacing the key back to its resting place. “Welcome to your new home, Rarity- and the home of the last Carter. Now let’s get you cleaned up.”
  30. Chapter 4
  32. The heavy door swung open on ungreased hinges, its movement punctuated by the noisome squeak of poorly-moving parts. After fumbling around with the wall adjoining the door, you click on a stiff switch. A low hum of electric is audible for a brief moment before the circuitry transforms the mysterious energy into visible light. Incandescent bulbs in the ceiling bring light to the main hall, the main showpiece a large chandelier a few steps forward and overhead. Despite the dust, it was still a magnificent sight as the crystalline glass casing twinkled with refracted luminescence. This effect was magnified as the light reflected off the floor. Dark and light grey tiles were arranged uniformly in a checkered pattern, suspended fleck opalescent flecks capturing and twinkling in the light. White marble columns connected the floor to the ceiling in regular intervals and parallel rows, black veins suspended in the bleached stone provided movement for the eyes to follow. A plush red carpet, edged by black, provided a natural path from the entrance to between the pillars and up the central staircase. The stone steps started from a wide base, before slowly narrowing towards the landing. A matching chandelier placed over the landing brought emphasis to where the stairs diverged perpendicularly to the second floor. A twin pair of lustrous black oak wood railings flanked the stairway before diverging as the pathway did to ring the hall. Both the second and first floor reflected matching passageways punctuating the walls, white molding along the floor and openings contrasting against the red walls. Standing over the first landing of the was a magnificent portrait depicting the first patriarch of the Carter clan, his stern gaze forever fixed upon those who stood in the hall he founded.
  33. “The servant living quarters are on the first floor in the left wing, with the right wing housing the workshops and kitchen. Naturally, my quarters and facilities are located on the second floor.” You eye the portrait, frowning slightly to yourself. Given the state of general decadence your ancestral home languished in, you felt more than a little rightfully-placed sense of shame and guilt at its waning. Shaking off the dark thoughts, you lead Rarity towards the previously outlined living quarters, noting with some humor the way she glanced longingly at the staircase and the elevated status that the physical elevation signified. Her hooves clicked loudly against the stone flooring, though aside from the both of you, the house was completely silent and still.
  34. After transitioning out of the main hall, the stone gave yielded to carpet underfoot. The pallor of dust was more noticeable here as it was clear that these quarters have long since been deserted. Rows of doorways indicated that there was once quite a distinguished number of servants, serving as a glum reminder to how far the clan has fallen. The relative silence was then broken by inquiry from Rarity as she looked up at you. “Where is everyone?” she asked, looking at the different doors for emphasis before distastefully brushing clear a patch on the carpet. “Or are you completely alone?”
  35. “It sounds much worse when you put it like that,” you say drily, before opening a door at the end of the hall and flipping on the room’s respective switch. “Though, essentially, yes, I am— present company notwithstanding, of course.” You quickly look over the fully-furnished room, satisfied that it contained all the essentials. Or at least, the essentials for a human servant, though it should still be sufficient for its new tenant.
  36. It was a simply-designed room, rectangular with a second partition that led to the bathing area. The bed stood against the center of the opposite wall facing the entrant’s view, the armoire separating it from the corner. Along the adjacent, left-hand wall stood a desk with chair, a piece of old, yellowed parchment accented by a dry inkwell and feather-quill, long unused. The source of the room’s illumination stood to the right, where an electric lamp in the corner provided what its neighboring window could not. A chair sat next to the lamp, while a small table with a smaller electric lamp upon it provided a night light next to the bed. Over it all, a thick layer of dust hung heavy— something which the refined unicorn was quick to take affront with.
  37. “I absolutely cannot live in these conditions,” Rarity protested, stubbornly stamping her hoof into the carpeted floor. “This is absolutely abominable. And,” she added, in harsh exaggeration, “This is hardly better than that awful pen you took me from!”
  38. You frown, knowing full well that she was exaggerating. But you take offense from it, nonetheless. “Quiet,” you order, “Yes you will. Besides, my own situation is hardly better.” You remove the leash from her bit, before your hands fumble clumsily and unfamiliarly at the buckles keeping the rest of the restraints on. Her tail swishes vigorously with annoyance as she grumbles impatient consent to the removal of the clinking fetters. “If it is that much of a problem, then you’ll have to fix it up yourself. And then get to the rest of the house.”
  39. “Surely you jest,” she retorts, throwing her mane to stretch her neck before stretching her forelegs and shoulders. “A lady like myself, doing servant work! This shall not do— I will not stand for this!”
  40. “This is your home too, you know. So some cleaning up is really just the beginning of it. Besides,” you threaten, not keen on debating this now, “that is why you are here and not still in that slave market I found you. If you would much prefer that to your current state of affairs, then I will see about refunding my coin shortly. Now go wash up,” you command her. “Necessities and hot water are still there, at least. I shall see about us going to town for acquiring any others you may be missing. But for now, I will be in the kitchen so join me when you are done.” You motion towards the other part of the room, before leaving and closing the door on her sputtered protests.
  42. Chapter 5
  44. ‘This dust is absolutely unacceptable,’ the unicorn raged inwardly, twitching with disgust whenever her white coat was marred by more of they grey substance. To someone as prideful as she was, the contempt for the unworthy surroundings was almost tangibly wafting off of Rarity. And it was made all the worse as she noted an ever-increasing list of signs of desertion: doors that creaked from disuse, switches that resisted movement, knobs that took a bit of force before they groaned their protest. What irked her all the more was that the edifice was such a majestic one- why, then, was it so barren and falling into dilapidation? If her new master- Rarity scoffed at the thought- had been genuine, why, then, had she been chosen as a replacement for the missing servants? Her, her of all ponies! It was downright insulting. Regardless, much as she chafed at being considered property, one to be used of and disposed of at will, she had to make due with what she could. And this was, perhaps, the best she ever could have hoped for. For example, and this thought made her shiver physically, what if that brute had been the one to buy her?
  45. Shaking off the dark thoughts, the amethyst-maned unicorn made her way to the bathroom. She used her horn to prod at the different decorations. While only a servant’s facility, the amenities were still quite lavish and liberal. An expanded tub meant it would be able to accomodate the equine even were she to wish to lay down and recline. A shower attachment overhead also meant that she would be able to cleanse herself properly without needing someone else’s assistance- something that Rarity was quite grateful for and made not of. After the initial quick examination, Rarity gingerly used her hoof to manage the levers, the long-empty pipes rumbling back to life as fresh water circulated the aged water-veins. After a few moments in which the unicorn was able to audibly trace the water’s movement, the shower hissed to life. As promised, by manipulating the levers, Rarity was able to control the temperature from anywhere between a refreshing chill to a soothing semi-scald. Once the water was warmed to her tastes, as indicated by the fine cloud of light steam wafting out of the tub, Rarity stepped inside and began to bathe.
  46. ‘How refreshing,’ Rarity sighed to herself as she grudgingly turned off the shower. It had been many more days than she would like to recall since she had a bath- and to her own choosing at that! Despite the lack of actual cleansers acid from the water, Rarity was able to remove the filth to a satisfying degree. The grime, slowly sunken in from days between cursory dousings by the slavers, had robbed her coat and mane of their natural lustre. And due to the paucity in many of her wishful fancies- scented oils, softening conditioners, and other such luxurients- Rarity would have to be satisfied with what she could make of the situation. After looking back to make sure that the bathing quarter, now hers, the unicorn decided to look over her sleeping establishment. She was already cataloging a list of complaints to bring up before the unicorn remembered an important something. With that, Rarity quickly went through to the bathing room, grabbed it, and then resumed her dainty stroll towards where the master of the building directed the kitchen to be.
  47. “Were your amenities sufficient?” Anon asked from where he toiled over a stove. His face was slightly reddened with a sheen of moisture over it, owing to the steam emanating from the boiling pot. He shut off the gas valve, quenching the flame as it was starved of its vital essence. “You took quite a while, so I hope- why are you holding a brush?”
  48. Rarity confidently sallied forth, pushing a chair back from the table with her shoulder before gracefully hopping onto it and seating herself as a dog would sit, setting said brush on the table and holding her head with a posh, upward tilt. Her eyes were closed as she stated her why: “I require help with my mane,” she said officiously. “And seeing as how this tool is designed for human hands, your assistance is necessary.”
  49. “Yes, I can see that,” he grumbled, eyeing the brush with minor annoyance, before sighing and busying himself with the pot. He stirred the contents with a wooden spoon before turning to stare at Rarity with an expression of slight disbelief. “And you expect me to do it at your bidding,” Anon stated bluntly, surprised at his purchase’s sheer audacity.
  50. “Yes, precisely,” Rarity assented, opening her sapphire eyes and looking at him with a slightly expectant pleading. “Imagine all the tangles, it’s been weeks since I’ve been properly brushed! My mane must be all in tangles by now…” the unicorn whined, before letting out a long-suffering sigh and placing her chin on the table in a gesture of dramatic surrender.
  51. “Fine,” he sighed, before scooping some of the contents into a bowl. “But no complaining about the porridge-”
  52. “Porridge?!” the pony shrieked in histrionics. “You may as well be feeding me gruel for all that is!”
  53. “It’s porridge,” Anon repeated adamantly, placing a bowl of the oatmeal in front of Rarity. Despite the simplicity of it, it was still quite temptingly-scented. Something that the unicorn grudgingly noticed as her stomach had no such compunctions airing its grievance. She had not been well-fed in a long time, seeing as how they tried to starve her into obedience. The hunger was but another grim remainder of her previous imprisonment.
  54. “Besides,” he continued, serving himself into a second bowl as he milled about to collect some additives. “We at least have some cream, sugar, dried fruits... add it as you wish if it is not palatable enough. And if you want your brushing, you’ll eat. Or not, but at least no further complaining.”
  55. Rarity just grumbled in her throat, trying to keep back from further complaints as she really wanted to continue her litany of woes. However, she gave up with another sigh as she decided it would be best to not annoy him this much… or at least this soon. Besides, the unicorn did intend to find a way to to acquire her necessities. Something she was reminded of as she sniffed her mane, imaging the long-forgotten scents that used to grace it. With that, she straightened up and demurely reached for the sugar, cream, and berries, adding all three in measured quantities before beginning to eat.
  56. Unbeknownst to the both of them, trouble was soon to rear its ugly head. But for now, both master and servant were at peace with their respective fates. Master observed servant, and servant master as they both ate in silence. Afterward, when both dabbed at their mouths with their respective napkins, Anon hid an oddly-contented smile as he reached for the brush.
  58. End of Part 1
  60. Part 2
  62. Chapter 1
  64. “Oh, please, can we go in there?” Rarity whined, tugging against the alter in Anon’s hand. The persistent pulling force got quickly tiresome, something that he expressed by pulling gently but firmly against the unicorn’s insistent pleading.
  65. “No,” he sighed, “I really can’t afford that right now.” He admitted this with a pang of shame as Rarity gazed longingly at the boutique’s clear windows. Not a single blemish or speck of dust obscured the advertisement: life-sized pony mannequins were luxuriously bedecked in all sorts of wondrous and fantastical garments. Azure silk, rosey velvets, emerald linens– to name a few– were all arranged in striking designs and combinations. Precious filigree embroidered the valuable cloths, with jewelry and other gemmed accessories tastefully adorning the mannequins. It was clear why the pony was so eager to look in more detailed fashion. Her star-studded eyes were already imagining herself in all the present outfits– and more.
  66. With effort, Rarity tore her eyes away, the words sinking in sinking in unhappily as she forced herself to trot away in her master’s woke. She could not help but give a quick, longing glance back before continuing on. “That is no matter,” she murmured, trying to alleve her master as she noticed the glumness in his expression as he ruminated on unpleasant thoughts for the moment. Despite the sunny and clear skies, the perfect weather for the two to go shopping, it felt as an uncomfortable chill had set in. “Besides,” Rarity continued, forcing a slight smile for her Anon’s sake, already rewarded by a softening in his previously dour expression. “I can make due with just the perfumes I requested…”
  67. “It won’t be nearly as good as you wanted—”
  68. “That is no matter,” Rarity repeated aristocratically. “It is far preferable and superior to having naught at all.”
  69. “That is true,” Anon agreed, smiling slightly. He looked down, noticing with some amusement that Rarity had trailed on ahead slightly. She seemed quite happy and at ease, though it did not hurt that he had decided to slowly ease her into her new life. After all, as he noticed, despite her dominant and imperious streak, she responded quite readily to respect and general decent regard. That is, until—
  70. “How dare they!” the unicorn exclaimed indignantly, stamping a hoof angrily into the ground. “How dare they,” she repeated, her eyes narrowed in distaste.
  71. “Why, what’s wrong?” Anon blurted, taken aback at the sudden vehemence. He had been distracted by the scents wafting away from the building. Fruity, floral esters, sometimes punctuated by spices and herbs as the perfume shop displayed its wares in its medium of choice.
  72. “Look,” she snapped, pointing a hoof at a the source of her ire. It was a sign, displayed in elegantly cursived letters: No ponies and other animals allowed. “I refuse to be denied entry like some sort of common… a common beast.” She said the last with irate disgust, almost spitting out the word.
  73. “Calm yourself, Rarity,” he ordered, knowing that the command would be to no avail. It was really a pointless nothing, “It was to be expected—”
  74. “Expected?!” she shrieked, turning to Anon with a wounded expression. His comment was tantamount to betrayal. “I am a lady, not some ornament!”
  75. He looked around furtively, his worry manifested. Other passerbys in the street were stopping to look at the commotion. Noticed but unnoted, was a track of movement as a man ran in the down the street. Unwillingly, Anon had no choice but to give the halter a jolt, uncomfortable as he noticed a slight twinge of surprised pain. It had the desired effect of shocking her into silence.
  76. “Be quiet and stay here,” Anon muttered, running a gloved hand through his hair in exasperation. “I’ll make it quick. You wanted something floral, correct? Rose essence? No, wait, lavender…” She nodded mutely to the second. “Good. Now stay here, I’ll be quick.” With that, Anon pushed the door open and made his way into the perfume shop.
  77. The mix of scents were dizzying in their potency as he looked through the store. He tried to keep to his word but it was easy to get lost due to the overwhelming variety of choices. After a quick deviation through the chocolate, coffee, and vanilla scents to which he was partial, Anon made his way to the floral section and tried to skim as quickly as possible to his desired quarry. ‘Lily, Lilac… Lavender!’ he read mentally, as he overshot and then worked backwards. As he gripped his prize, a commotion outside grasped his attention and almost caused him to drop the vial.
  78. “Unhand me, you oaf!” he heard his pony scream outside, hearing a mixture of fear and anger in her voice. “Anon!” To this, he hastily replaced the vial before rushing outside.
  79. “What the hell—” he began, as he exited, recognition hitting him forcefully. It was the same brute as before that had accosted him and his before Rarity had defended herself bodily with her horn. The drudge had one hand wrapped in the halter’s leash and the other trying to grab at a struggling Rarity as she was unable to maneuver into using her natural-born defenses.
  80. “Get the hell off of her,” Anon shouted, rushing forward and tackling the man with his shoulder. Pain jolted through him as it was reminiscent of running into a brick wall. Despite the veritable ogre’s slightly paunchy appearance, beneath it was layers of dense muscle, built up over a lifetime of brute labor and brawling. The force was enough to stagger him, at least, while Anon had to try and recompose himself.
  81. Rarity let out of a whinny of pain as the jolt was transferred through the leash and halter, jerking her head unpleasantly. She tried to tug herself free again. The halter wasn’t designed for that kind of rough treatment as the impact had resulted in the connecting ring snapping from the force. The assailant seemed to have noticed, as he let out a howl of frustration and vented it with a well-placed punch to Anon’s chest that sent him hurtling to the ground.
  82. “Berrs Gang bus’ness,” the man said dully, his clumsy tongue struggling over the words. “Now gives pony or ye get hurt.”
  83. “Are you… mad?” Anon coughed out, sitting up as he looked wildly up and down the street. Where has everybody gone? “The police will be here—”
  84. “Not’s if they’s been paid,” he replied, widening his cracked lips into a leery smile. Several of his teeth were either chipped or simply missing, probably a result of cast-aside hygiene and a combination of fists, bottles, and a chair or two. He pulled a knife, a rusted and clearly well-used implement as he held it menacingly. “Now’s give it up or’s you gettin’ hurt,” he threatened, eyeing Anon and Rarity in turns. “No horn or yer gettin’ it too.”
  85. Rarity paused, having been preparing herself to repeat goring the man, though this time she was going to put her weight behind it. However, she did not quite fancy the knife and the clear threat it presented to her, firstly, and secondarily, Anon. She steeled herself and prepared to charge anyway, refusing to let this monster take her without a fight. That is, until Anon’s words stopped her quick.
  86. “Cut that out, Rarity,” Anon ordered, his breath returning as he stood up gingerly. The blow had clearly taken its toll as he was not one for confrontation, physical or not.
  87. “If you think-”
  88. “I said, cut it out,” he repeated, disgusted with the ogre’s leering face.
  89. “I’m not-”
  90. “Go home. Now,” he continued, cutting her off. His voice brooked no dissent as he put in the full force of his authority behind those words. It was enough to give even Rarity pause. Without waiting for response, as he expected full-well to be obeyed without hesitation, Anon lunged at the giant and tried to grab the knife-wielding arm to at least buy some time.
  91. As if in a spell, Rarity heeded the command without delay. She turned and began to gallop down the street at full speed, covering a surprising amount of ground in the brief interval. Without even a backward glance, the unicorn turned the corner and fled to the brute’s howled frustrations and the unmistakable sound of a fist finding its mark in an unprotected stomach.
  93. Part 2
  95. ‘What does that man think he is doing?’ Rarity raged to herself, her fleet hooves taking her swiftly away from the danger– and also away from where Anon was no doubt being savagely beaten. ‘My horn alone would have been sufficient to handle that oaf!’ The brandished knife made little impression on her as she was self-assured in being more than a match for that flimsy metal instrument. Regardless, there was a more pressing concern that was bothering her ever more as she continued to flee.
  96. The thug had come again for her, that was clear enough. So why did Anon decide to intervene? She was but a servant at best and stark property at worst, to be used and discarded as deemed fit. Yet, he had, without hesitation, thrown himself into harm’s way so as to ensure her escape. And what irritated her even more is that she had heeded his command and quit the confrontation as if she needed his intervention.
  97. It had been nearly a quarter-hour of frenzied running before Rarity’s pace slowed from a full gallop to a slow trot and finally a stop. Her breath came out in sharp gasps, unused to that kind of exertion. Sweat soaked her coat. While the sensation would have ordinarily came with much bemoaning, it went unnoticed for the present. The worry held her attention more so than the physical discomfort, so much so that Rarity took a deep breath before turning and charging back towards her master.
  98. The journey back seemed to drag torturously long for the frantic unicorn. This time, since there was no longer that immediate threat of danger, the spectre of what harm befell her master tormented her. All sorts of unbidden thoughts reared their ugly heads. What if he was gravely injured? Dying? Or even already… Rarity physically shook her head, as if to cast away that last possibility. And almost worse, as this final thought brought an icy chill to her heart, what if Anon had decided that she was not worth this was much trouble and decided to get rid of her?
  99. “H-he would not! He would not dare!” she shouted out loud, the sound of her own voice reassuring her as she cast away the demons. “Anon!”
  100. She hurried towards him as she eyed the pathetic figure. His hat had been trampled and dirtied as it was perched precariously on his head. He had managed to prop himself against a wall, his chest rising and falling in shortened gasps. His coat was torn and dirtied and, judging by the way he was holding his side, his ribs were either bruised or broken. After hearing his name, Anon stirred before wincing from the pain as he gingerly turned to look at Rarity with an expression of confusion. Blood was smeared from his mouth.
  101. “You…” he began slowly, pausing to gather his breath as his eyes closed before opening them back again with a stern expression. “Did I not tell you to go home? Why did you return?”
  102. Rarity reared with reflexive indignation, snapping back, “Was your plan for you to get beaten to within an inch of your life? I could have dispatched him with ease!”
  103. Anon responded with a low sigh of resignation, before giving Rarity a weak pat on her neck. “... at least you were able to get away,” he murmured.
  104. “Are you hurt?” she exclaimed, trying to examine her master before he attempted to brusquely wave her off with the same hand, trying to push her away to no avail.
  105. “It’s nothing,” he lied, to which Rarity stamped her hoof in irritation but stayed silent at the obvious deception. “I am fine. But now…” Anon sighed again, annoyed that the outing was so ruined. “I am sorry we could not get the perfumes that you–”
  106. “That is no matter!” Rarity protested immediately, slightly taken aback that that was even on his mind, especially after the ordeal he had just went through. “We need to get you help, you must be in so much pain…”
  107. “I’ll live,” Anon responded, before slowly shifting his weight onto his legs as he leaned against Rarity’s back for support. She took this without protest, subtly shifting her stance to more firmly hold him upright. “Let’s just get home for now.”
  108. “I will not be so quick to flee next time,” the unicorn cautioned him looking up to see his reaction. She was slightly surprised to see the ghost of a smile on his face as he looked resolutely ahead.
  109. “I know,” he replied simply, to Rarity’s inner approval. “I am not going to let them have you… Never.”
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