Lessons Learned from Loyalty

First main installment in the Tutelary Spirit universe. Recommended reading order: Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, and Friendship.
Many ages after the original adventures of the Elements of Harmony, a young stallion soars high into the clouds, searching for the Element of Loyalty.
Her original life lived and gone so long ago, Loyalty, like the rest of her friends, has changed and grown over her many lifetimes to guide the ponies of Equestria.
Because even after so long, the Elements of Harmony will always share their lessons of friendship.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/213635/lessons-learned-from-loyalty

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3. Hearing His Plea

A light clink was heard as a glass cup was slid across the smooth, wooden surface to hit against the waiting cyan hoof that rested on the wood.

"Nice," Rainbow Dash commented as she looked down at the orange, brightly-colored drink in front of her, before leaning down to sip from the straw.

Inside the home of the Mare of Loyalty, among the tattered trash and fine furniture, there was a small bar that laid against the left wall and was situated next to a rainbow fountain. Bourbon wasn't quite sure how he had not noticed it when he had first peered into her home, but he guessed that one of the massive columns had blocked his view of it. The small bar had a smooth, wooden counter with all of the basic necessities that an experienced bartender would need under its surface. Behind it was a large glass cabinet with shelves filled to the brim with all kinds of colorful drinks to be mixed and tasted.

Situated between the counter and glass cabinet was the brown stallion known as Bourbon, who was giving the Mare of Loyalty a curious look as she sipped her drink. She was sitting atop of a cloud stool with her forehooves placed on the counter for balance.

It was almost a humorous sight to see somepony so important and sacred to Equestrian culture sitting at a bar and blissfully sipping away at her drink without a care in the world.

"I had no idea that the Mare of Loyalty would have a bar in her home," commented Bourbon, almost lamely so, but he felt like he had to say something to stave away the silence.

Letting go of the straw and licking her lips, she replied with a mischievous glint in her violet eyes, "Oh yeah? Why not? Don't think the Mare of Loyalty can raise the roof every once in awhile, huh? Pah!" she pah'ed, "I'll have you know that I have the highest roof in all of Equestria!" smirking, she glanced back behind her, "Ain't that right, boys!"

On top of the Mare of Loyalty's disheveled bed, four naked stallions with coats even more disheveled than the bed that they laid on groaned out in what could possibly be interpreted as agreement.

"...Right!" affirmed the Mare of Loyalty happily, before blissfully returning to her drink.

"Are... are they gonna be alright?" asked Bourbon curiously, before delving into the bottom cabinets under the bar to see if there were any more cups.

"They'll be fine. They're just tired from all of us raising the roof last night," she quipped with a chuckle, before innocently turning aside and muttering under her breath, "...among other things."

"What was that?" asked Bourbon as he came back up with another cup.

"I said that this bar was actually a gift of Pinkie's," replied the Mare of Loyalty without missing a beat.

Bourbon blinked in surprise at hearing that, "Really? The Mare of Laughter?"

Rainbow Dash nodded, a far away look in her eyes, "Yup, long time ago while I was off on some journey or other, she just appeared over my bed one day, woke me up, threw this awesome party and wahlah: one new kickbut bar in my house."

Scrunching his eyebrow down in confusion, Bourbon asked, "Wait, how did get she get in your house? Was your pet turtle down on the ground?"

"Nah, this all happened while Tank was still flying in the sky," replied Rainbow Dash casually before shrugging her wings, "as for how she got here. Well, I didn't see her arrive at the time, but I imagine she came the same way she always arrived: by jumping out of the mouth of her pet alligator as it appears from the pool that's out front." With that said, the Mare of Loyalty went back to nonchalantly sipping her drink.

It was a really good drink.

Bourbon blankly stared straight at her, his bottom lip hanging open and his brain trying to process the information that was just given.

Noticing the look, the Rainbow Mare couldn't help but smile, "Don't even try to understand it," she informed him, "I've known her since before we even knew we were the Elements, and I've learned that it's best to just explain it as Pinkie being Pinkie." That said, she and the rest of her friends did eventually learn what made Pinkie so Pinkie, but she wasn't about to hoof out that kind of knowledge. The poor stallion probably wouldn't be able to handle it.

"Uh, okay," said Bourbon dumbly, now looking for a subject change, "So, do all of the Elements have magical pets?"

Pushing the empty glass away, she answered while Bourbon served her another drink, "Yeah, we all had them way back when. And when we all came back, well, they came back with us and that was that." Another exotic drink slid into her waiting hooves and she looked delighted, "Ooh, this one's blue," she said before happily taking a sip from it, "Anyways, Twilight said that they were all our familiars now and that they had all these cool abilities. Like Tank being an Awesome, Giant, Flying Turtle of Awesomeness."

Bourbon nodded as he absentmindedly wiped clean the glass that she had finished, before stopping suddenly as he realized what she had just said. Eyeing the glass in his hooves, he then looked around at his surroundings.

"Heh, haha," Bourbon let out small laughs as he realized his situation.

"Find something funny?" asked an amused Rainbow Dash.

"It's just that, heheh, well... here I am," he said as he gestured around, "I'm miles off the ground, serving drinks to the Mare of Loyalty herself, in her own home, on top of a giant, flying turtle."

"Of Awesomeness," the Mare of Loyalty added helpfully.

"Of Awesomeness," nodded Bourbon, "I guess what I'm saying is that... well, I just never thought my life would take me here, you know? It's almost unbelievable."

Her large, powerful wings twitched slightly, her color spectrum tail flicked, and her deep, violet eyes turned to gaze out past the columns into the horizon, "Yeah, I know the feeling."

"As do I," a deep voice added, startling Bourbon from its suddenness. Appearing next to Rainbow Dash was one of the stallions that he had previously seen sleeping buff on the bed, only now the stallion was attired in the golden armor of the Equestrian Guard. Looking closer at the front buckle of his armor's harness revealed a purple crest of a dragon's fiery maw depicted over a shield, which was the sigil of the Order of the Dragon: the knightly order dedicated to protecting the Mares of Harmony. Behind the knight, Bourbon could see the other three stallions waking up and donning their own armor that had been left scattered around the bed.

The guard looked Bourbon up and down, scrutinizing him, before turning to Rainbow Dash, "So did we get a bartender while I was sleeping?"

"Nah, he's just another pilgrim looking for guidance," she informed him casually as if that was just another normal occurrence for her, which, considering who she happened to be, was probably true.

"Mmm, well then," the guard gave Bourbon a fierce stare, "while you're here, you keep your hooves to yourself. Do you understand?"

Bourbon nodded resolutely as he held his hooves up in innocence, "Yes, sir. I wouldn't dream of harming her."

The guard slammed his forehooves on top of the bar, startling Bourbon, and he leaned forward threateningly as he peered into the bartender, "Darn right you won't! Because if you did, I'd have to be the one to drag you all the way to the nearest jail cell around here and dump your sorry rump," he showed off a soldier's smirk, "that is of course after she's done beating you to a bloody pulp that is!"

Bourbon glanced over to Rainbow Dash, who waved at him happily as she sipped her drink.

"But that's not what I was talking about!" continued the stern guard, "She can take care of herself just fine. I'm warning you to not steal anything, it may not look it but there's a lot of priceless stuff here, half of them gifts from foreign dignitaries and important ponies who would be rightly angered if they found out you broke any of it. You got that!?"

"Sir, yes, sir!" squeaked out Bourbon.

"Good," replied the guard with a smile on his face, clearly enjoying making Bourbon squirm like a recruit under a drill sergeant, "now buck up, boy. You made it up here, after all." That said, the guard turned heel and marched off towards his fellow guards, yelling at them to hurry up and get to their posts.

With the guard gone, Bourbon looked over at Rainbow Dash, a timorous expression on his face, "You'd seriously beat me to a pulp?"

The Mare of Loyalty raised up an inquiring eyebrow, "You'd seriously lay a hoof on me?"

"No, of course not!" Bourbon answered swiftly.

"Well then, there's your answer," quipped Rainbow Dash with a smile, before gesturing back at the guards, "and don't worry about those guys. They won't bother you if you don't bother them, and they're smart enough to know when I don't want them getting involved. So they're mostly here just to make sure Tank and my stuff are safe when I'm away," a glint shined in her eyes and a most mischievous of smiles appeared on her face, "well, that and I keep'em around for their fine plots," with a swish flick of her tail, she struck a passing guard's backside. An interesting sight to see considering that it was the invisible part of her tail that hit. Blushing red under his armor, the guard hurried past to his post.

Her giggle was one of the least innocent sounds that Bourbon had ever heard.

Staring at her, he couldn't help but look away and also blush at her allusion.

Clink! His ears twitched at the sound of Rainbow Dash tapping her empty glass away from her. Turning around, he moved to grab another drink for her.

"Actually..."

Bourbon paused, not moving a muscle as he looked at his reflection in the glass of the cabinet. In it, he could see Rainbow Dash's own reflection staring back at him, her violet eyes looking deeply into his own green ones with a heavy weight of seriousness.

"How about you tell me this problem of yours instead?"

Slowly, he turned around and stared. Not at her, but at the wooden counter. His head was downcast and his expression long as he stared down at the swirling lines that made up the wood. The words that needed to be said were difficult to come to his mouth.

"My... my friends are fighting."

Rainbow Dash didn't seem to react, but she did blink once, "Each other?"

Wordlessly, he nodded.

"...That's always the worst."

Bourbon opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out. His throat felt dry.

"Can you tell me about your friends?" she asked nicely, spurring him on.

Looking to his left, he found his satchel nestled in a corner. He had set it down there when he had been invited in to her home. Walking toward it and unclipping the clasp, Bourbon stuck his head in and rattled through the supplies before taking out a single picture. Turning back, he set the picture down on the counter and slid it across to Rainbow Dash, who took it and peered closely at it.

It was a picture of three stallions smiling and drinking in what looked like a bar. In the middle of the three was Bourbon himself, looking as happy as happy can be. No doubt this picture was taken in his very own bar. Next to him was a black-coated and blue mane unicorn who wore a fancy, green vest that was only slightly muddled by some dust.

"That's Onyx Stone," said Bourbon as he pointed to the unicorn on the picture, "he's a gem cutter. We live in a small mining community and he sells off the gems that the townsfolk dig up."

The third stallion was a mismatched setup of a pony. He had a white coat, three hooves and a grasper, two antlers between his ears, mismatched eyes, and a long, serpentine tail. He magically floated in the air, almost jovially so. This was a kirin, one of Discord's offspring or at least one of the descendants of his offspring.

"And that's Borrower," continued Bourbon, now pointing at the mismatched stallion, "he owns a pawnshop near my bar, he sells a lot of goods there."

Rainbow Dash nodded once, "And why are these two now fighting?"

Bourbon bit his lip, "Borrower used to be a petty thief once, before I caught him trying to break into my bar. I helped set him straight, and he's always been grateful for that. But Onyx, well..." Bourbon let out a sigh as he continued, "Onyx wasn't very happy when he learned of Borrower's past. He's always had a bit of a grudge against thieves on account that one was able to make off with his family's entire fortune when he was a kid. His parents died poor and he had to work hard to get where he was, so when he found out about Borrower he became angry and paranoid around him and would always pester Borrower relentlessly when something in town went missing."

"Then one day, Onyx came by the bar furious and accused Borrower of stealing the diamonds from his shop," continued Bourbon.

"And do you think he did?" asked Rainbow Dash curiously.

Bourbon paused and stuttered, "I... I don't know, maybe. I'm not going to pretend that Borrower was completely straight, managing a pawn shop is tough in a small town. Some stuff did go missing, but it was always small things that nopony would miss. And maybe Onyx just annoyed him enough that he finally decided to get some revenge, I don't know."

"What I do know is that their fighting has almost come to blows twice now, and I don't think it will be too long before it gets more violent," continued Bourbon as his head lowered to stare morosely at the picture of his friends before flicking his gaze back to her, "and now they're trying to drag me into their fight, they want me to take a side."

"Ah, I think I see what the problem here is now," Rainbow Dash said as she pointed a hoof at Bourbon, "You don't know how to be loyal to your friends in this difficult situation, which is why you've come looking for me," she summarized as a frown grew on her, "heck, you probably wouldn't have been able to find me if you didn't have this problem over your head."

Bourbon nodded in agreement, "Last night, I had a dream of a mare with a rainbow mane flying through the sky, and when I woke up, I felt this pulling sensation toward the clouds," his eyes flickered upward in determination, "I don't know much about visions or prophecies, but I'm smart enough to recognize one when I see it. Something was calling me to you."

A single nod was given to him, "You're right about it being a vision, 'cause you're not the first pony to have it," commented Rainbow Dash before shrugging with her wings, "I don't understand it, but something just sends troubled ponies me and my friends' way," she let out an amused snort, fond memories sparkling in her eyes, "problems always have found their way to us Elements, that's for sure."

"But that is what you do, right? You and the Elements: you help ponies with their problems," said Bourbon, his eyes shining as he looked at her, "that's what I've always been lead to believe. It's always what the school teachers had said, what parents say to their foals, and what your Graced have preached to any who've asked."

Ruffling her wings at his words, Rainbow Dash nodded her head, "That is true, we do help ponies, but..." she leaned forward over the counter, fixing him a serious look, "what is it exactly that you expect me to do?"

"You're the Mare of Loyalty," said Bourbon, pleading with his eyes, "I beg of you, please come down with me and talk some sense into my friends. If there is anypony who could get them to stop fighting, it would be you."

Hearing his plea, Rainbow Dash pulled her head back and tore away from his gaze to stare at a space of nothing. Her face was nearly serene, only marred by her lips firming in thought and her eyes twitching in movement from the mysteries that flowed behind her violet hues.

Finally, she returned her gaze back to him and gave her answer.

"Nah."

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