Ransom for a Pretty Pink Princess

by Mysterious Stranger

Chapter 1: This was a horrible idea

On paper, it would have seemed like a swell idea. But most ideas seem that way on paper, I suppose. The problem is that paper is in no way impacted by the limitations of dear old reality, or lack thereof. Before it all went down, Hank and I were facing a completely different problem. We only had six hundred bits to our names. We needed twice that number to pull a scheme in West Fillynois. Being very open-minded individuals, we considered a wide variety of possible ways to make a little money before settling on a kidnapping.

"I'm thinking Canterlot would be a good place to do it," Hank said to me across the crackling flames of our campfire. "Lots of rich folk there. Plenty of parents willing to part with their bits to get their kids back."

"Maybe," said I, not wanting to be too quick to shoot down his idea. "But we don't exactly fit in with city folk. Two tough-looking earth ponies like us in a city almost completely full of upper-class unicorns, Royal Guard's gonna be watching us close the second we pass through those pearly gates."

"So maybe someplace less classy," Hank said. "Got anyplace in mind?"

"What about a rock farming town?" I suggested.

"Rock farms ain't exactly filled to the brim with bits, Snake Eye," Hank said.

"Not by themselves they ain't," I agreed. "But them rock farming towns got a strong sense of community, you once said so yourself. If our mark can't pony up, they could get their neighbors to help chip in. Better still, the worst they can send after us is a sheriff and a few constables. As opposed to, say, a battalion of Royal Guards."

In light of that, Hank found the idea to be agreeable. So at the crack of dawn the next morning we packed our bags and traveled west towards the mountains. We were in high spirits, laughing about everything and fantasizing about what we would do when we had a lot more money. The name of the town we were visiting was Sadsbury, located in the midst of a sea of rolling hills at the base of a mountain. After setting up a hideout in a cave located a little ways up the mountain, Hank and I casually strolled into town. By now it was evening and not many folks were still outdoors. Regardless, several complete strangers smiled and waved at us as we traveled down the main street.

"Rather friendly place for a rock farming town, ain't it?" I muttered to Hank as I put on a cheesy grin and waved back.

"Nothing like the rock farming town I grew up in," Hank said as he did the same. "You saw anybody constantly smiling there, you knew for sure they weren't right in the head."

The sound of squeals reached my ears from behind me. Hank and I both glanced over our shoulders to witness a small group of colts and fillies playing a game of tag. Most of them were drab in color, but one stood out from the rest. She was a little pink filly with the wildest magenta mess of curls I'd ever seen. Hank and I exchanged a knowing glance. We had a way of thinking alike at times, and we could tell this was one of them. It went without saying that if any of those kids were to suddenly vanish, the adults around town would realize the one with the curls was gone the quickest. As evening moved on to night, the kids started to break off from the main group to head on home. Eventually the little pink filly left to do the same, so Hank and I tailed her from a distance until she was alone in a rock field. With a silent grace uncommon for a stallion his size, Hank swooped in and scooped the filly up with one leg. Her mouth opened up to scream, but before she could, I placed a hoof over her pie-hole. We turned about and galloped off towards our cave as our captive flailed her little legs around helplessly. Once we were there, Hank deposited her onto the cave floor. I placed myself by the entrance, ready to catch her if she made a break for it. I was nervous, but also excited too. A great deal of profit would be lost if she got away, and I had no intention of letting that happen.

The little pink filly watched us with wide eyes, when for absolutely no apparent reason a wide grin spread across her face.

"Oh my gosh, that was so much fun!" she squealed. "What's it called?!"

Hank and I looked at each other, unsure how best to respond.

"What are you referring to?" I asked tentatively.

"The game, silly!" she giggled. "The one we were just playing! You know, where you sneaked up on me, picked me up, and took me here! It's the most exciting game I've ever played!"

"Oh, that. It's uh, called take the pony," I said.

"Can we play it again?" she asked, her blue eyes shining with hope.

"Maybe later," Hank evaded.

"Okay dokey!" she chirped. "Can we play a different game then? I love playing games with new friends!" Oh, but I don't know your names yet! What are your names? I'm Pinkie Pie!"

Not wanting to provide my real name, I glanced around the cave for something to inspire a different identity. In retrospect, I was hardly entitled to do so. But at the time playing friendly seemed a fair alternative to dealing with an uncooperative captive.

"I'm Rock," I told Pinkie Pie. "And this is my friend, um, Roll."

Hank shot me an odd look, which I promptly ignored.

"Nice to meet you! Ooh! let's play princesses!" Pinkie Pie said.

"As tempting as that sounds, I think I'm going to hit the hay," Hank yawned.

Both Hank and I set down our sleeping bags near the entrance of the cave, blocking it with our bodies. Not that there was any danger of Pinkie Pie running away. She seemed far too intent on interacting with her new "friends". And by interacting I mean talking. Non-stop.

"What's your favorite smell? Mine's the smell of brownies fresh out of the oven. How do pegasi make rainbows? I sure do love slumber parties, isn't this great? When I grow up I want to be a ballerina. Mommy says I shouldn't eat too much candy."

After about two hours of her blabbering on I finally managed to fall asleep in spite of the noise. When I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to find a miniature castle made out of rocks in the center of the cave.

"Well that's odd," Hank mumbled to me when he saw the construct.

Pinkie Pie's head popped out of one of the castle's towers, a big toothy smile plastered on her face.

"I made a castle so we could play princesses!" she announced.

"Well that's just... lovely," I replied, wondering just how in Equestria she had managed to build such an intricate model overnight.

"I am Princess Pinkamena Diane Pie!" Pinkie Pie declared. "Behold the glory of the rock kingdom!"

"Hey, um, Rock, would you mind terribly if I tied up and gagged our resident princess?" Hank inquired quietly so that our captive wouldn't hear.

"I mind terribly that you didn't do it already," I replied.

Quick as a wink Hank snatched up some rope and cloth in order to gain us some peace and quiet. I watched silently as he tied her trap shut and practically made a cocoon out of her with all our rope. For a moment I almost felt bad, but I reminded myself to think long term. We weren't hurting Pinkie Pie physically, just giving her a little scare for profit. But no sooner had Hank finished assisting Pinkie Pie with her demonstration of metamorphosis that she popped right out of her bonds. There really wasn't any other way to explain it. One moment she was bound and gagged, and the next she wasn't. Hank and I stared dumbfounded as she cheerfully began yapping at us again about our new "game".

"Oh my gosh I did not see that coming! What's that game called huh huh? Can we do it again?"

"This ain't natural," Hank whispered to me, a slight tremble in his voice. "Does she have a horn buried in that mess of curls or something?"

"Something ain't right about this kid, that's for sure," I whispered back. "I'm gonna head to town to see if she's been missed yet and find a place for her folks to drop the ransom. You stay here and make sure she she doesn't leave."

"How about I go to town and you stay here with her," Hank suggested.

"No can do, a fellow as big as yourself might be more easily recognized by those folks who saw us last night," I countered.

"But if I can't tie her up, how am I supposed to keep her here?" Hank wondered.

"You just gotta play nice. Keep her busy and in the cave." Turning to Pinkie Pie, I told her, "Pinkie Pie, I gotta step out for a while, but Roll's gonna play with you until I get back alright?"

"Ooh, Let's play princesses now!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"I don't know if I can do this," Hank told me uneasily.

"You can do it buddy," I assured him as I placed a hoof on his shoulder. "We've trekked across deserts, been chased by guards, and nearly sunk by storms. You can handle one filly. You just gotta be a princess, mate. Be the best princess there ever was."

Before Hank could respond, I escaped from the cave and climbed higher up the mountain until I found a perch. From my new vantage point I was able to see the entire town. The place was clearly in a frenzy, ponies searching all over. Quite a few had armed themselves with pickaxes. I winced at the thought of being the target for a swinging tool that was probably very sharp. It seemed the townsfolk had connected the dots between two strangers appearing in town and the disappearance of one of their own. By my reckoning the trickiest part of the plan was about to begin. I had to get down there and find a good place for Pinkie Pie's family to put the ransom without being pegged for a kidnapper. Otherwise, I would live up to my recently adopted code-name in the most ironic fashion. Taking care not to fall, I worked my way down the mountain and circled around to enter the town from the opposite side of last time. I had in mind to find some place secluded, and after a while of searching I found the perfect spot. An abandoned storage shed in the outskirts of town. It had a giant hole in the back of it, big enough for me to slip through should someone stick around to watch the door. Satisfied, I sneaked away to return to the cave. I wasn't prepared for what I saw there.

Sitting around a little table were Pinkie Pie and Hank, both dressed up as princesses. Golden tiaras, frilly pink dresses, the whole shebang. The two of them were drinking tea while Pinkie Pie was spraying out words like fire out of a dragon's mouth.

"What the blazes?" I swore. "Where... where did... how..."

Hank stared dead at me, a vacant look in his eyes.

"I don't know where the dresses came from," he mumbled. "I just don't. Weren't no magic or nothing."

"Ah, Lord Rock, so glad you could attend," Pinkie Pie said formally to me. "We have much to discuss regarding the Rock Kingdom's economic growth. But first, have some tea."

"Don't know where they came from," Hank repeated dully for a second time.

To say that my mind was blown by the scene was an understatement. Seeing a tough, burly stallion dressed up as a princess was one thing. To see that as part of a larger setup that shouldn't have had any way of existing was another.

"Lord Rock, if you wish to discuss your proposed legislation with me, you'd best make it quick," Pinkie Pie warned, continuing her role-playing. "Once the other guests arrive, I will be far too busy attending to them."

Suddenly a small army of colts and fillies charged into the room, all dressed in medieval attire. As I watched, stunned, they began to quickly launch into an elaborate game of make believe. Some were princesses, others were knights, princes, and so on. Within seconds the cave was filled with playful chatter and noise. I attempted to make eye contact with Hank, hoping to anchor myself with some form of assurance that these events taking place were not reality. However, he didn't return my gaze directly and only sat there like a dumb sack of beans. There was no way that every kid from her town was now here. No conceivable way. Yet here they were.

"Good morning, gentlecolts," a gruff adult voice greeted from behind.

Hank snapped out of his funk as both his head and mine whipped around. Standing at the entrance of the cave was a brown stallion with a wide-brimmed black hat and sideburns.

"Saw all these kids coming up here, thought I'd come up and see why," the stallion explained as he calmly strolled into the cave, completely unfazed by the insanity around him.

"Daddy!" Pinkie squealed as she ran up and hugged the foreleg of the stallion, who lovingly returned the gesture by pulling her into a hug of his own. Not once did he take his eyes off Hank and me.

"Who are your new friends?" he inquired innocently.

"Rock and Roll, this is my Daddy!" Pinkie Pie said proudly. "Daddy, this is Rock and Roll! I think you all will be best friends!"

"I'm sure we will," Pinkie Pie's father said with a warm smile as he ruffled his daughter's mane. "Oh, but Pinkie Pie, I do believe I see someone over there whom no one is playing with."

Pinkie Pie let out a horrified gasp and zipped away into the fray of playing colts and fillies, leaving Hank and me alone with her father.

"She's something else, isn't she?" Pinkie Pie's father remarked proudly.

Neither Hank nor I knew how to respond, so we didn't say anything.

"She means the world to me, along with my other daughters of course," he went on, still smiling. "But Pinkie Pie is something special to our entire town. She has a way of making everyone around her happy. I'm sure you can imagine how we all felt when we realized she was missing."

Something about the way he spoke unnerved me. In all honesty, I would have been more comfortable with the situation if he had been furious and was trying to kill me. For a moment, I began to wonder if he was just as blissfully ignorant as his daughter. As weird as that would be, it might have allowed Hank and me to talk our way out of this mess. But before I could begin thinking of a way out, Pinkie Pie's father took my hope and smashed it to pieces.

"So how many bits were you two thinking about?" he asked.

"Six hundred," Hank replied.

I gave my partner a sharp kick to his ankle.

"Six hundred bits?" Pinkie Pie's father mused. "Sounds fair, I suppose. Six hundred bits it is."

"Wait, you're still going to pay us?" I said in disbelief.

"Oh no, you misunderstand. You're going to be paying me six hundred bits," Pinkie Pie's father said with a smirk.

"If you think we're going to just give you six hundred bits, sir, you're just as loony as your daughter," I growled. "You're no match for us, and you know it."

"My, my, you really have no grasp on your situation," Pinkie Pie's father tsked. "Pinkie Pie has decided you two are her friends, so let me spell it out for you. Pinkie Pie genuinely cares about both of you and enjoys your company. Were it not so, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If you were to, say, suddenly leave, she might decide to go with you if someone such as myself pointed out to her that you were going."

I opened my mouth to call his bluff but paused as I started to think about it. Obviously, Pinkie Pie's father knew that Pinkie Pie spooked us a little bit. Hank's face still looked traumatized. Odder still, Pinkie Pie's father didn't seem at all fazed about the fact that Hank was dressed up as a princess and that there was a tea table and a castle in the middle of the cave.

"If I don't say anything about your departure, Pinkie Pie might not see you leave and won't be able to follow you," Pinkie Pie's father hinted. "However, I cannot promise you won't come to her attention again for long. This may be your last chance to leave without her noticing."

"Snake Eye, six hundred bits ain't nothing for our peace of mind," Hank reasoned, a little bit of a tremor in his voice. "In fact, I think he's a very kind and generous fellow for making such an offer."

I glanced between Pinkie Pie playing with her friends, Hank, and Pinkie Pie's father. Then I imagined being followed around by Pinkie Pie, and shuddered at the thought. Grudgingly, I retrieved six hundred bits, all that Hank and I had, from a nearby bag and gave it to Pinkie Pie's father. The split second the deal was done, Hank slowly began to move out of the cave, fearfully glancing over his shoulder every second. I winced at the idea of leaving all our stuff behind as I cautiously made to leave as well. But once outside of the cave's entrance, I realized that there was something I just had to know.

"Sir," I whispered to Pinkie Pie's father. "How does she do it?"

"Charisma, I suppose," he said with a shrug.

"Not that, the other thing. You know what I'm talking about," I insisted.

"What other thing?" he said with feigned innocence.

I pointed my hoof at Hank's dress, the tea table, the kids, and the castle.

"Oh, you mean how she alters reality through sheer force of will?" he said with mock wonder.

I nodded quickly.

Pinkie Pie's father didn't respond right away and tilted his head from side to side, as if deciding whether or not it would be worth saying.

"Let's just say... that it's hereditary," he chuckled, an evil gleam in his eye.

"Snake Eye," Hank whispered fearfully. "What does hereditary mean?"

"I'll tell you later," I replied. "After we're far away from here. Very far away from here."

Hank's tiara fell off as we frantically fled the scene. It wasn't until we were a good three miles along the road that he paused long enough to ditch the dress.

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