The Night Parade Aug 11, 2015 5:55:11 GMT -5
Post by Derpy on Aug 11, 2015 5:55:11 GMT -5
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$===============$ PONYVILLE SQUARE $===============$
At the heart of Ponyville stands a proud and massive pavilion known as Town Hall. Around it lies the town square, a well-kept ring decorated with tall banners and the occasional picturesque bush. A fountain sits before the entrance to the hall with a joyous, reared-up earth pony statue as its ornament. Various municipal officials have pitched colorful, conical tents in the square from which they run their operations. The town square is lined along one side by a stream crossed by a broad stone bridge, while on its other sides it's surrounded by a combination of commercial establishments and some of the oldest houses in Ponyville. The mood here is generally cheerful but officious.
[ Players: Fluttershy(#208PBC), Dusk(#363PBM3), Mercury(#1630PBC), ]
[ Snapdragon(#2202PBC) ]
[ Sleepers: EconomistBrony(#43PWBC), Rarity(#207PB), Mirage(#301PB), ]
[ Diamond_Dancer(#308PB), Chance(#503PBC), Berry_Punch(#1468PBC), ]
[ Scarlet(#1854PBC), Calbee(#2177PBC), Ether(#2256PBC), ]
[ Resonance(#2282PBC) ]
[ Vehicles: Wagon of Wonders(#390V) ]
[ Contents: Ballot Box(#1290), Pile of purple granite rubble(#2061) ]
Snapdragon is doing what every good filly does at this time of night. She's breaking curfew, of course! See, here she comes, trotting down the middle of the street, not even having the good grace to slink about. No. Clip clop clip go her hooves on the cobbles, her head back, her eyes bright. She knows there's got to be something cool going down in town! Why else would she be packing along a ukulele?
Nothing, and I mean *nothing* is cooler than a ukulele.
It's true. Carrying nothing is a fair sight cooler than carrying a ukulele. But it's not like Dinky's in any position to say what's cool or what's not, especially since Snap is her friend now, and theoretically her band leader. The little filly stops short when she sees her fellow troublemaker up and about. Dinky isn't technically breaking curfew, since her mom hasn't set a curfew and probably doesn't know what one is, but she does feel a twinge guilty to be making her way home from Canterlot at this hour. So she doesn't go up to Snapdragon, but she doesn't run off, either.
Snapdragon has no such reservations. As soon as she spots Dinky there in the street she gives a little cry of delight, and changes direction, practically bouncing along as she comes, "Hey! Dinky! What's up? What'cha up to? Going somewhere cool?" Hope never wavers.
Dinky winces, but only gets a few steps away shuffling backwards before her chipper friend catches her. She grunts, subjecting herself to prodding, hugs, or whatever. She grunts in response. "Nope. Going home. I've just been somewhere cool, but it totally bombed out so it's not like the cool rubbed off." Even if it had, there pretty wouldn't be en ough residual cool left for Snapdragon to rub herself in, anyway. "What're you doing up? It's like the middle of the night."
Snapdragon does not hug. Hugs are totally for little baby fillies, which is something that she is most assuredly not! She may give an amiable little cuff to Dinky's shoulder, grinning foolishly. It's grin that proves ephemeral, though as talk of cool places and images of unknown pleasures dance before her mind's eye. "Oh." There's a moment of disappointment, but that too passes away quickly. It's probably not Dinky's fault. It was just something that happened and she wasn't able to invite her friends along. That's totally what it was! And the Snapdragon is all smiles again, "What am I doing up? Pft! Don't you know?" And in her spookiest voice she croons, "The night time is the right time!" It might be spooky. Maybe. If her voice wasn't quite so squeaky.
Dinky takes the cuff with a wince that's almost as ephemeral. Clearly she doesn't know why Snap is up, no. And the forthcoming explanation doesn't really clear much up. "The right time for what?" he asks, a little impatiently.
Snapdragon clearly hasn't thought this out very well, because that question makes her squint her eyes, her brow crinkling in though, "Uh..." Her face scrunches more, and more, until somepony close to her might swear they smelt smoke issuing from her ears. Then she changes the subject, "Look! I got my ukulele!"
Dinky leans forward and cants her ears, increasingly suspicious that Snap is talking out of the wrong orifice. She snaps her attention to the instrument. "You think it still works so far from Haywaii? Have you tried playing it yet?"
Snapdragon brandishes the instrument like it was an object of great power and potence! Maybe if the sun was out instead of the moon it might gleam in the light. Right now it just looks like what it is. A mid-range uke. "It totally works! I was practicing this afternoon!" She flops herself down to prove this, mashing her left forehoof against the fretboard and strumming. The result isn't impressive. Just a muted cacophony and Snapdragon scrunches her face up. Then she adjusts her hoof, and tries again. And again, until she finally gets a sort of clunky sounding E chord, her obvious glee out of all proportion to her success, "See? Totally works!"
Dinky grits her teeth and flares her ears and frazzles her tail in various combinations until the passable chord comes out. "Yeah. That's about how I was at first with the guitar. But you've only got four strings. How hard can it be? You know any songs for it yet?"
Snapdragon is too busy staring at her hoof on the fretboard to notice Dinky's reaction to her mischording, and so her enthusiasm is undamped as she asks, "A song? Uhh. Yeah! Totally!" She's got that E down cold now, and starts banging away on it double quick as she bounces along. Her voice has the total quality of an immersion blender as she squeaks along at the top of her lungs, ~DINKY IS A PUNK! SNAPPY IS A RUNT! THEY BOTH WENT DOWN TOWN TO SEE THE NIGHT PARA-A-A-ADE! DON'T KNOW WHY, NO NO! DON'T KNOW WHY-HY, NO-NO...!~ If ponies weren't aware of sneaking fillies before, they are now!
"Night parade, huh?" says Dinky, glancing about to see if anyone cares they're here. A window or two slams, shutters clicking. "I guess that's a cool song idea. What's in the Night Parade?"
Snapdragon, if she had any sense, might be happy she didn't get a bucket of water dumped on her head from an upper floor window. Luckily she's totally free of self-reflexivity at this stage in life, "Iunno. I just, like, made it up because it sounded kinda cool. Maybe there're, uh, snakes and lizards and other things that go bump in the night?"
Starlight has arrived.
Dinky shakes her head. "You want -that- to be the Night Parade? Nuh uh. It's got to be secret people, or special people, who go marching by at night. People in costumes and with weird manecuts and partly shaved coats and... and some kind of weird beliefs. Maybe they clang cymbals, or beat drums... or play woodwinds that really make wind?" Wow, Dinky must be in that weird pocket between awake and sleepy that makes her unusually creative, because she's on a roll.
Snapdragon actually goes quiet as she listens to Dinky's musings, her lips pursed out in thought, her left ear twitching slowly right up until she nods, and allows, quietly, "That sounds pretty punk rock." She gives her uke a couple more stums, trying to find her faithful E again, and once she does, she's off again, squeaking along like styrofoam rubbing against styrofoam, ~WHY CAN'T I LIVE A LIFE FOR ME? WHY SHOULD I TAKE THE ABUSED THAT'S SERVED? SO I DRESS THIS WAY JUST TO KEEP THEM AT BAY 'CAUSE NIGHTMARE NIGHT IS EVERYDAY!~ The nearest windows actually rattle in their frames, while Snapdragon annoys the low flying bats.
Dinky's face registers a little pain, but not so much more than usual. "Are you pretending to be one of them now?" she asks. "Is this song gonna be, like, one verse for each Night Parade person?" She glances back nervously at the rattling windows. "And don't you know any other chords?!"
... which causes the faint sound of approaching hoofsteps to instead become a scramble that ends with a squeak, and a rustle in a bush on the corner of Maple Street.
Snapdragon rolls her eyes theatrically at Dinky, "No. It just, like, came to me is all." That's totally a lie. They're half remembered lyrics from a record she borrowed from her friend Moonchaser, "And I totally know more chords! I can play a D and a..." And a E. Two chords. She doesn't say that though, because she's distracted, her ears turning towards the squeaking and rustling, ears followed by her swivling head, "Hey! You hear that?"
Dinky does hear it, yeah. "Huh. I wonder if it's a scout for the Night Parade. We should go find out who it is, though. Whoever it is, we can interview them and give them a verse, right?" She walks over casually to the rustling bush.
Starlight emerges from the bush slowly, having realized that Snapdragon's music was not the battle-cry fo a deranged horde of timber wolves - no matter how much it sounded like one. She's wearing saddlebags, which is a bit unusual for her. "um. hi. um. do you, um... like candy? what's the, um night parade?"
Snapdragon might find it flattering to be thought a horde of timber wolves. That's pretty punk rock! Or is it metal? The line is so thin sometimes. But this is all academic, because she doesn't know anything about timber wolves or anything. No, what she's doing is creeping along behind Dinky with big eyes, clutching her uke to her chest with a forehoof. At least until she sees it's safe, "Candy? Heck yes! Candy's the best!" Dinky will have to explain the night parade.
Dinky rises suddenly to her hind legs. Yep, she's still remarkably dinky like this, but at least it's a more in-your-face dinkiness. She should really be holding an electric guitar right now. A few coins roll out of her bag. "The Night Parade is when all the creepy ponies come out to strut their stuff. Like that guy who sits in the tubs of jelly all day, I bet he's one of them at night. Probably jelly all over his face and big grapes or something on his legs. And they all march by singing or shouting 'cause they've got something to say." Looks like not scaring Starlight is a pretty low priority.
Starlight smiles a little. "oh? good! oh yeah, you, um, gave me the.... candy yesterday. um. my mama runs the medicine shop, and she, um, tried out grandma's recipe for hard candy. she hasn't made candy in a long time! Not since... Um." Starlight stops in the face of Dinky's ... explanation... and stares at her with big shiny eyes. But not *frightened* eyes. For some reason this particular scary story didn't faze her at all, though the standup spookyhooves are a bit intimidating. "... would they, um, let me be in it? i think i'm, um.... creepy." She digs in one of the bags and offers a couple of crystalline-looking cellophane-wrapped hard candies, a green one for Dinky and a yellowy-green one for Snapdragon.
Snapdragon can't even be seen to have accepted the candy. Just one moment it's in Starlight's hoof, the next Snapdragon is clicking it against her teeth as she rolls it around in her mouth. She smacks her lips a few times, then asks, "What makes you so creepy? You don't look so creepy to me." Then again she's not looking that closely. There was just a quick glance, and then she's trying to successfully strum a D chord on her uke. It's not very effective.
Snapdragon adds, quickly, as she remember to be polite, "Thank you for the candy."
Dinky takes the candy and stuffs it in her bag, along with the coins that spilled out. Not as many coins as she'd like, or started out the night with. Having hastily rescued them, she looks back at Starlight. "I seem to recall you being afraid of everything, Starlight. Weren't you afraid of that time we had to blow up balloons in school because you thought they might pop? I feel like you hide even more than that Bluefeather kid did." She exchanges a glance with Snapdragon. "I don't think you're allowed to be creepy if you're scared of stuff."
EconomistBrony has connected.
Starlight sits down and scuffles a hoof. She can't quite meet Dinky's eyes. They are both sad, strange little purple unicorn fillies, but Dinky has FAR more confidence. "i... um. some... ponies think i, um. think about death too much. um. a lot of things scare me. that's true. not, um, the night. i dunno. it seems safer in the dark." She peeks at Dinky out of the corner of her eyes. "some ponies, um, think that's creepy too." She smiles faintly. "mama likes the night, too. um. she sings me the nighttime song when i go to bed."
In a page-pose to you, Starlight doesn't know if Dinky will ever eat that candy, but if she DOES, it will turn out to be quite sweet, quite tart, and containing an intense green-apple flavor just shy of too strong. Starlight's grandmother was good at candy, and this one was made from Sweet Apple Acres produce.
You page, "Swell. Dinky'll probably hate it at first, but then settle down and learn to like it." to Starlight.
Snapdragon doesn't return Dinky's glance. She's gotten very still. Very still indeed while an odd expression creeps up her face. First her pupils shrink, slowly, slowly, to pinpricks, while her mouth wrinkles, then crinkles, and puckers, threatening to suck in on itself. The clicking of the candy against her teeth slows, then stops as the little filly seems to stop seeing anything before her, her eyes losing focus as her ears splay out to the sides. Is she sweating?
Dinky eyes the little hiding hider skeptically, her eyes widening crosswise but not the normal way. Her mane seems a little wilder than it usually does. "Yeah, okay, you've got creepy cred," she tells Starlight. "You wanna hear us write our song? You can be our groupie or whatever." She looks over. "Hey Snap, you okay?" Her eyes go suddenly really wide in all possible ways. "@#^&$@ alicorns, Starlight poisoned you!!" Wow, now that's hardcore.
Starlight hops to her hooves! "Poison!? Nuh uh! I just, um, helped mama make candies the way Snapdragon likes! All... pucker-y, kinda!" This is all true, and indeed the only thing in the front of Starlight's mind when she was helping add way way way too much ascorbic acid to the lemon yellow candies was that Snapdragon liked them this way. Though, in the BACK of her mind, where nobody was looking, lurked the thought, '... you should have warned me.'
Snapdragon's eyes are starting to water now, her head twitching off to one side as the lower lid of her right eye lifts, and flutters just a little. The sensible thing to do would be to spit the candy out. But that's not possible. Snapdragon has never been bested by a candy. Other fillies might think they know candy, but they mearly dabble in candy. Snapdragon was born in it. Molded by it. She eats smile dip for breakfast, and doesn't stop until she's vibrating audibly. She can do this. "It's good." Is her comment, whispered on the thinest of reedy voices.
Dinky looks between the other fillies, creeped a good third of the way to 'out'. Eventually she allows that Snap is okay. "Okay, so it's not poison. But even so! You said you think about death too much," she says to Starlight. "How come? Are you afraid of dying?" She moves her hoof to the bag where her own green candy is stored, but decides to leave it be, for now.
Starlight pauses and stares right at Dinky for a few moments, deciding what she should say. But there is a lot of honesty in her nature. "um. yeah. it's, um, why i don't want a cutie mark. um. every.... everypony i ever knew who died, um, had one. grandma. the cousins. um. my brother, moonshadow." She looks down. "moony was so happy when he got his. um. and... two months later... when moony and dad went to the train station... moony didn't come back." Then she looks up at the sky and raises a hoof, pointing at something indistinct. "mama says, um. the ponies we lose become stars. um. that luna is the princess of sleep as well as night, um, even... even forever sleep." When she looks back at Dinky there are a few tears in her eyes. "i dunno if she's right, but. it would be nice to know moonshadow, um, is waiting up there."
Snapdragon is done. She's done. There are three distinct crunches as she pulverizes the candy between her molars, then swallows as quickly as she can. It's not giving up if she doesn't spit the candy out, is it? Even still, she's making a face now. A face like a pony makes when she has peanutbutter stuck to the roof of her mouth. She's trying to work out the bits of candy that are adhereing to her teeth, and thinking only of herself for the moment, totally missing what Starlight's saying.
<OOC> Starlight shares the page pose she sent earlier that explains Snapdragon's delightful performance: "Starlight notes: that candy was the SPECIAL one for you. Starlight helped make it herself. It is sour. It is not merely tart, it is the cosmic sour that spans the spaces between stars. It is the primal sour of which every lemon is no more than the faintest shadow. In some long-forgotten world a nihilistic Lovecraftian cult of tongues once worshipped this Sour. It is, in short, a hell of a thing."
Dinky isn't missing it at all, though. She's paying closer attention than she'd probably like. "Huh. That's sucks," she offers, sitting down on the unpaved trail. Her yellow eyes reflect the starlight. "You know, Luna fought against a constellation once. A scorpion made out of stars. It fell out of the sky and attacked a dome she made, just over there." She points to where the statue of Twilight Sparkle once stood. "If dead ponies turn into stars, what does it mean when a constellation attacks someone?" She just has to rain on Star's sliver of hope, doesn't she? "Besides," she adds, "ponies die when they have their cutie marks because like -everypony- has their cutie marks except useless little dumb foals like us. And you don't die young, that's for older ponies."
Starlight closes her eyes, looks at the ground again, and says what might be the last thing Dinky expected: "... i know. i think, um, when mama tells me that story she is really, um, telling it to herself. moony is gone. um. grandma is gone. and... and i... I DON'T WANT TO GO!" Starlight SHOUTS that last bit at the heavens, as though everything was their fault. Then she blinks and stares at Dinky again - that outburst surprised her, too. "m... mama fell asleep tonight when she sang me the song. m... maybe i should... go home..."
Snapdragon starts, and shis back as Starlight shouts. Her eyes big for a different reason now, "What? What's going on?" She gives Starlight a closer examination, a new respect kindled in her eyes. Who is this purple unicorn? Then she asks again, Dinky this time, "What'd she say?"
"So who does?" shrugs Dinky. "Look. Maybe we're the Night Parade. We're imagining all these creepy wild people, but maybe it's just us, and other kids like us." She looks along the dark trail, winding around the square and into the darker nethers of Ponyville's taller-housed streets. "You guys wanna march? Let's march! Or if you miss your mama," she adds to Starlight, "you can wuss out and go home I guess."
Starlight grins. "i always miss my mama. um. but i wanna *march*." she glances at Snapdragon and the ukulele. "you, um... want to hear the song? um. mama says it's real old. sometimes ponies sing it on the, um, longest night."
Snapdragon's eyes swivel between the two other fillies, her brow wrinkled up. She has the strangest feeling that she's missing something important, "Uhhh... Sure? I mean, I like songs, and stuff." She plays the two chords she knows. The second one isn't at all clean, and takes maybe five times before it sounds out clear.
"This is the longest night," says Dinky. It's summer, and the nights are short, but what she said might as well be true. "Go ahead and sing it. Try to sing it in D or E, though, or Snap won't be able to keep up." With that, she starts to march along the dirt path, trump, trump, trump, trump.
Starlight follows. Her gait is a little odd... she keeps up with Dinky, but does it by tripping along in time to her song. She sings in a clear, ethereal voice, like you would hear in the theme of an expensive horror movie, but the song is not horrifying, or even mournful. It is, in fact, the Moonrise Hymn. "o/` Softly dreaming stillness seeping / Diamond stars will fill the sky / Silence falling nighttime's calling / Softly as the clouds drift by / Rising moon, our Princess Luna / Watches as we drift along / Fills our dreaming full of meaning / With her dark and soothing song... o/`
Snapdragon shoots Dinky a sour expression (though if this is from displeasure, or from the lingering effects of the candy isn't clear) for the crack about her playing, but by then the other two are already ambling off on their parade. Snapdragon makes a little sound in the back of her throat, something that sounds like 'awk!' and scrambles to catch up. Never mind her two chords, this whole walking and playing thing is new and terrifying, and after the first two attempts even she is able to know how terrible it sounds along with Starlight's singing, so she stops and slinks her uke over her back again, content to tramp along behind the other two fillies, humming snatches of the hymn. It's totally new to her!
To Dinky too, but sometimes the newness of a song, a piece of art, an idea, a time of night or the temperature of a breeze makes it stronger, not weaker. She sings evenly and easily when Snapdragon finishes her verse, walking with knees raised high on each step. o/` I may be a necromancer / Something like that, I don't know / Luna said it fit my magic / On these streets so long ago / Are the dead all really waiting / What could they be waiting for? / Is there something we should do or / is that just the way they are? o/`
Starlight blinks as Dinky starts adding her own pieces to the ancient song. It seems wrong, but... it can't HURT, can it? o/` Hush now, quiet now / Lay down your sleepy head... o/` She DOES feel like she's missing her mama now, though - and her bed. So, in order to not be a bother, she slips away as soon as the odd little trio of marching fillies reaches a path towards her mother's shop. She did not even realize the effect of this, from the point of view of Dinky and Snapdragon, was that in the middle of the song she was suddenly, simply, not there.
Starlight disappears with a mild flash of light.
Starlight has left.
Snapdragon doesn't see Starlight go. She has her eyes closed as she belts out her verse, managing to hit all twelve major keys (and a few minor ones just for good measure) in the process, ~There's a new bug goin' 'round, rattlin' windows all o're town! Gonna take your schools, your busy work, put in a hole and cover it with dirt...~ Then she notices that the trio has become two and she stops, staring, confused...
Snapdragon says, "Um... Guess the party's over, huh?"
Dinky changes up her marching gait for the different rhythm of Snapdragon's part, but she keeps up the pace. She starts to sing another verse, but some instinct causes her to look back and see that Starlight is gone. She looks at Snapdragon is fearful surprise as a breeze blows over them, ruffling their manes and tails. She doesn't dare speak a word.
Snapdragon shivers a little, in spite of the warmth of the late summer night, and glances off down the street, then back to Dinky. It takes a moment before she says anything, then it's very quiet, almost like she doesn't want to break the silence, "I - uh - guess I should get home too..."
Dinky stands still and follows Snap's gaze without focus. She shivers in turn. "Yeah. I guess my mom'll be waiting for me, if she's still awake. This was... I think we got some good material here tonight. At -least- one song."
Snapdragon ums, "Yeah. At least." She shuffles in place, not quite sure why she's suddenly so eager to get home, "We - we should do this again. Maybe." She shuffles again, starting to back away, "Sometime."
Dinky nods and breathes. She takes in the feel of the night and readjusts her bag on her back. "Yeah. Seeya, Snap." And with that, she walks off, her step still full of energy, but now silent.