It is day three of the Canterlot Music Festival in my Equestrian dreamscape. After Octavia's fine performance with the Canterlot Philharmonic we found ourselves one Saturday morning preparing to attend the recital at the palace gardens. This was a formal dress event to, but we would not be wearing the same outfits we'd worn for the symphony instead we'd be wearing something lighter and cooler. Even more than the symphony this event was to be attended by some of the most important ponies in not only Canterlot but Equestria itself. This point was brought up repeatedly by Petina over our breakfast as we were getting ready. For her this was as much business event as it was social gathering. Also since it was spread out over the course of an afternoon she saw it as an opportunity to mingle and network. Therefore she made certain that she had plenty of business cards to pass out to possible connections. One thing Petina had noticed when we first got our tickets was that the passes for the recital were VIP Passes which she was able to determine via Rarity were scarce and highly cherished by the Canterlot elite.
Since our hotel was very close to the palace and it was a simply gorgeous day, we decided to forgo the cab and just take our time strolling over to the event. A light scheduled rain that had been brought into the area after midnight and cleared out before dawn. A few puffy inoffensive cumulus clouds floated in a stunningly cobalt blue sky providing some artistic flair to the late morning sky, and the warming sun seemed to guarantee that the grass lawns would be sufficiently dry by the start of the recital that no pony would get their hooves muddy. It was a Saturday and many ponies were waking later than usual but the city already had the bustle of a vibrant urban environment. Cobblestones still slightly damp from the late night showers glistened in the morning light. The air was full of the sound of ponies hooves clopping on cobblestone. Cart, cab, and carriage wheels rumbled down the streets punctuated by the creaking and groaning of their chassises and the squeaks and clatter of their tack. Ponies called out greetings to each other. Shopkeepers, vendors, and artisans heralded their wares and services to passing potential customers. Small colts and fillies giggled and laughed as they raced down streets dodging and weaving in and around slower vehicles and ponies. The gentle morning breeze carried the aroma of fresh baked bread, wood smoke, someone roasting onions, coffee brewing, and the ever present scent of ponies. Despite our recent breakfast we could not resist the smell of fresh baked chocolate almond croissants. So on a corner cafe we stopped and partook of some while enjoying some more coffee. Thus fortified we pushed on to the Palace.
The Garden Recital was not a single performance but was a collection of musical presentations ranging from string quartets to a choir concert of foals from Princess Celestia's own school for gifted unicorns. In fact rumor had it that the princesses would be taking some time out of their busy schedules to put in an appearance this afternoon. Carousel so wanted to get a chance to see Celestia and someday have tea with her, so she bounced along like some school filly on a field trip. Upon arriving at the palace and presenting our VIP passes to a pair of Royal Guard unicorns we were admitted into the area closed off for the recital.
Now mid autumn is not the optimal time view the palace gardens but it was still a beautiful place to spend a day. Scattered around the garden were temporary pavilions where one could partake of refreshments or get a drink or a beverage. This more than any event we would attend during the festival was an event where being seen was almost more important than acts performing. Every mare's ensemble was being assessed, discussed, deconstructed and evaluated against the competition present. In an afternoon a mare's standing in Canterlot high society could move up or down depending the decisions she'd made in her garments and accessories. For the stallions of Canterlot high society it was not much better, and there was this whole added peeking order related to what gentle stallions club you were a member of. How large, new or fast your air yacht was. What school you'd attended, and if you were a unicorn how close to the old royal unicorn family your family was connected. Bleah!
Into the midst of all this came three ponies who were almost complete outsiders to whole game. However our VIP passes did not slip the attention of the established crowd and there was much exchanging of notes, rumors, opinions and theories concerning how we'd gotten them. Since VIP Passes are coveted items and usually only handed out by the palace itself. The Passes gave access to special seating areas during the performance and if they made an appearance would allows direct access to princesses. Only Petina had made any connections to this part of Equestrian culture in the short time we'd been here. I knew of some if it through my contact with Petina and Rarity, and indirectly because my involvement with the Princesses during the whole Lord of Shadows crisis. Even more of a outsider than me was Carousel who was a completely unknown to this rather closed facet of Canterlot culture, and she could care less. She was having a grand time strolling around enjoying the music, the scenery, food and the drinks. It is tribute to Rarity's skill and eye for detail that our outfits were deemed "fashionable" by the old guard. Myself and Carousel really didn't care but it did put Petina a bit more at ease, and it made her task of hobnobbing much easier. If nothing else she could use fashion as an opening line to a discussion.
While Petina was off conducting business and laying ground work for her new financial empire; Carousel and I strolled around the gardens admiring grounds and partaking of the free refreshments being offered. Most of the flowers were no longer blooming and there were signs of the groundskeepers preparations to help the roses, and other perennials survive the coming winter snows. many of trees were already in their autumn colors of blazing yellow, glowing orange and fiery red. They made for a stunning contrast against the bright blue sky and the soaring white spires of the palace towers.
As we Carousel and I made our tour of the gardens we encountered individual and small parties of random ponies who were also attending the days events. I cannot begin to remember all the names and titles of the ponies we met, but I was left with the impression that some of the most important mares and stallions in the kingdom were gathered for this event. Most encounters involved nothing more than polite exchange of greetings and some random comment about the weather, the other ponies outfit, or the performance that was happening at that moment. However a few of the other guests attending were so bold as to ask us how we'd obtained our VIP Passes. Fortunately we had thought of this scenario in advance and had a stock answer we all used that day. "The VIP Passes are a thank you from the Palace for services performed for the Kingdom." If pressed for more details the follow up answer was. "I am sorry, but I am not at liberty to discuss what I did." "However if you wish to discuss it with the princesses and they feel like briefing you then that is their decision." It did an amazingly good job of diverting and defusing most inquiries.
Around two in the afternoon our band of three had gathered in the VIP seating area to listen to the Foals Choir who were just preparing to take the stage when a flurry of cornets from the Palace announced the arrival of the two princesses and their Royal Guard escort. Rising from our cushions along with the rest of the ponies gathered, we bowed as the Two Sisters made their way two the special pavilion erected for them in VIP area. Celestia's white coat was radiant in the afternoon sun, and her tail and mane flowed like prismatic pennants in the breeze. As the Princess of the Moon Luna provided a stark but beautiful contrast to her sister. Her coat had been groomed until it glistened a deep prussian blue like the bluing on a gun barrel. In the last few months as she has resumed her Royal duties her mane and tail have returned to much of their former glory. Her face was now framed in a river of stars and constellations, and her tail flowed behind her like the nighttime sky. After polite but quick acknowledgement of our presence they settled onto the large cushions arranged for them and the choir started singing. I seriously doubt that Carousel saw or heard any of the performance since her eyes were riveted on the Two Sisters the whole time as she drank in their presence.
the choir sang for about forty five minutes and then after receiving some well deserved applause from the audience they were all directed over to the pavilion where the princesses received them and personally thank them for an excellent performance. After that they were escorted out of the VIP area so they could mingle in garden and partake of the refreshments. With that task finished the sisters began slowly strolling around the VIP area receiving well-wishes from the ponies assembled there. Of course many a pony tried to get moment of their time and the scene was one of polite but chaotic motion milling around them with the Royal Guard playing linebackers for them.
It was therefore very surprising to the three of us that when Celestia spotted us in the crowd the her and Luna started making an obvious direct path to our location. Rising to our hooves we bowed as they made their introductions. "Sky Brush, Petina, It so pleasant to see that you were able to make the festival!" Standing there in front of Celestia on that pleasant autumn afternoon was so different from the last time I had been close to her fav.me/d59ayin
. Then she turned and looked at the newest member of our household. "And you must be Carousel who I have so many things about! It is a pleasure to finally meet you, and I'm so happy to hear that you're such happy and industrious new resident of Ponyville." With a grin larger than I imagine possible spreading across her face Carousel looked up into Celestia's eyes. "You've wanted to meet meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" At this point all higher functions shut down in the earth pony's brain and she just continued making the high pitch "Eeeeeeeeeeeee!" sound. For several awkward seconds we all stood there as the high pitch squeal continued. Then with one hoof Petina gently nudged Carousel. "Hey there mare friend are you all right?" As we all watched the earth pony slowly fell over on her side like some lawn Santa toppling in a high wind. At least she stopped the "Eeeeeee!" noise. Celestia had a strange mixture of confusion, amusement and concern on her face. Luna was more alarmed by the change of events. "Alas this is horrible! The poor mare has suffered a seizure!" "Nah!" Said Petina. "It is more like her brain has vapor locked. Give her a couple minutes and it should restart." After a minute or so Carousel came to her senses and slowly got to her hooves. Despite Petina assurances the two princesses insisted on escorting Carousel back to the palace so they get her some tea and make certain she was not in need of medical attention. So in a round about way Carousel got to have afternoon tea with the princesses after all. To be continued.