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A filly's Foray with Fireworks

by TheBandBrony

Chapter 1: Boom


Dedicated to SwiperTheFox for absolutely no reason whatsoever.



Princess Celestia had always told her protege Twilight Sparkle to stay away from the east side of Canterlot. When she asked her mentor why, she had always given her the same answer: "It's not safe for little fillies to go wandering out there alone." Celestia could only guess as to how many illicit activities went on in the east side. She did know, however, that they mainly revolved around drugs and illegal gambling, neither of which she wanted her young student to get tangled up in.

Unfortunately, the repeated talks about the myriad of dangers shrouding the east side of the city only served to pique young Twilight's curiosity. Many times before she had been presented with the opportunity to sneak out and explore the off-limits part of Canterlot, but being the obedient filly she was, she never acted on them. She was a smart pony, and the stories of dens of crime and corruption kept her too scared to follow through her imagined plans of exploration.

That was, at least, until the eve of the Summer Sun Celebration one fateful year. Twilight, still rather young, had caught a glimpse of the infamous east side when she was out stocking up on assorted groceries for the annual party for the Summer Sun Celebration.

As she walked through the streets, carrying saddlebags loaded down with carrots and peas and potatoes, she just happened to glance down a dank-looking street cornered by two non-descript stores. It was a complete coincidence that her wandering eyes would behold one of the infamous entrances to the east side of Canterlot.

She stopped in her tracks partially out of curiosity and partially out of fear. Were all the stories she had heard true? Were there really dens of criminals and thieves and murderers waiting to snatch her up just on the other side of that very alley?

She quickly found that answer to be a resounding no. In fact, she was awed at just how little was going on in this supposed sanctuary of crime. For what it was worth, it looked just like any other half-deserted street in Canterlot.

But it's a half deserted street on the east side of Canterlot, she thought. Twilight contemplated for a moment the repercussions of going into this forbidden part of the city.

Celestia will be furious... I'll probably get grounded for a long time... not to mention the fact that some crazy pony might be in there, just waiting for me to walk in so he can scoop me up and eat me... Her last thought would've been absolutely absurd on any normal occasion, but while she was here standing in front of the portal to a different and dangerous world, no possibility would be left off the table.

Despite all her teacher's warnings (and her own fears), she made up her mind to go inside and check the place out. "Just a peek," she mumbled to herself in a high pitched squeak. "Then it'll be right back to the castle."

She took a deep breath, steeling herself for whatever laid on the other side of the alley, and began to trot into the east side.

She flinched as she passed into the dimly lit streets, eyeing each and every shadow with the utmost amount of caution. She almost expected her entrance to harm her in some way, and breathed a quick sigh of relief as she noted that as of then, nothing was trying to eat her. Her confidence increasing, she fell into a rhythmic step as she walked deeper into the heart of east Canterlot, swinging her head and gawking at all the unfamiliar sights.

Darkened buildings lined most of the corners of this deserted street. They seemed to give off an aura of misery as she passed by, causing her to shiver a little. "Just buildings... they can't hurt you. Unless they come come to life and try to eat you!"

She squeaked meekly, drawing in on herself as her mind painted a vivid picture of what it was like to be eaten by a building. She increased her pace, flitting about nervously, scanning the decrepit streets for something that might try to hurt her. She was so focused on looking out for danger, she hardly noticed herself walking right into it.

"Hey! Watch where you're going, would ya?" Twilight slammed muzzle-first into a tall, muscular-looking stallion carrying a saddlebag full of mason jars. The sudden collision knocked him off balance, and as he tried to recover, the stack of jars on his back began to sway dangerously.

Time went into slow motion. Twilight, still shocked from the collision, watched helplessly as the jars slowly tumbled down onto the ground, eliciting a groan from the stallion.

"Celestia damn it, kid! Can't you-"

His gruff voice was silenced as poor Twilight sat on her haunches and starting crying, barely audible squeaks intermingling with soft sobs. "Oh, no. I'm so sorry, I just didn't watch where I was going, and-" She choked off her apology as she sobbed again, waiting for whoever she had just hit to reprimand her.

All the while, the stallion's heart had softened a bit at the display of the water works. His broad shoulders fell, and his harsh gaze melted into a sympathetic smile. "Hey, now come on. None of the jars broke. It's alright. Just stop crying, please."

Twilight sniffled, wiping away several errant tears as she looked up at the stallion. He was a tan earth pony with locks of matted red hair falling over his shoulders and over his face. He looked like he had just rolled in mud, his whole coat was caked in some dark, greasy powder. This stallion was every bit as powerful-looking as one of the castle's royal guards, but despite his massive appearance, he appeared to be pretty docile.

"So... you're not mad? I, I-"

He shushed her with a hoof. "It's not a problem. Accidents happen. However, I could use that unicorn magic of yours to help get this stuff onto my back, if you don't mind."

Twilight, eager to make up for her earlier incompetence, gladly accepted. "Yeah, sure! Just one second." She scrunched up her face and, with a sputter and a glow, the fallen vases levitated up and onto the stallion's back with ease.

"Wow," mused the stallion, "you're pretty strong for such a young filly."

Her frown disappeared as she blushed at the compliment. "Thanks! My special talent is magic, after all.” Remembering what her parents had taught her about manners, she held out a hoof. “I’m Twilight Sparkle!”

The stallion grasped her outstretched hoof in a powerful shake, his large and muscular hoof enveloping hers with ease. “Well, it’s nice to meet you miss Sparkle. My name’s Powder Keg.”

“Nice to meet you!” She looked around despondently for a moment, before turning back to Powder Keg. “Um... just to be safe... you’re not going to eat me, are you?”

If Powder Keg had been drinking something, he would have spit it out violently. “What? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Who on earth gave you that silly idea?”

Twilight replied sheepishly, “Well, Celestia always told me that the east side of town was dangerous.” She blushed, suddenly very interested in the ground in front of her. “I guess I just let my imagination get the better of me.” She glanced up for a moment, but immediately refocused her attention on the ground, giggling nervously.

“Wait, you know Princess Celestia?”

“Yep!” The filly was ecstatic at the chance to talk about her adventures with the princess. “I’m her personal student, after all! She’s teaching me all about the wonders of magic!”

He raised an eyebrow earnestly. "A student of the princess, eh? What are you doing all the way out here? It's not safe for a little filly such as yourself to be out here."

"Oh... yeah. I kinda got curious about the east side of town. I'm not usually allowed over here, but I wanted to see for myself. I only went in for a little bit though, I swear," she cried, stomping her hoof in indignation.

Powder Keg chuckled again. His laugh, deep and rolling like a crisp ocean wave, put Twilight's heart at ease, even in such a scary place as east Canterlot. "Well whether you like it or not, it's still dangerous. Let me drop this stuff off at my business, then I'll escort you back to the main streets. Does that sound good?"

She nodded enthusiastically. This isn't half as bad as Celestia said it was, she thought. This pony's so friendly! What's there to be afraid of here? With a wave of his hoof, the stallion began to guide Twilight back to his place of business.

As they arrived at another blacked-out building that looked almost exactly like every other building on the block, Twilight's curiosity finally got the better of her. "So... what's in the jars, if I may ask?"

"Saltpeter."

"Saltpeter? What the hay is saltpeter? None of the books I’ve ever read say anything about... saltpeter." She mulled the word over in her mind for a moment, trying to find some meaning to it. After a few brief moments she gave up, glancing ernestly at Powder Keg for an explanation.

"Oh, saltpeter's one of the key ingredients to make good pyrotechnics."

That word, Twilight did know. "Oh, you make fireworks?" Her mind brought back many amazing displays of reds and blues and greens exploding in the night sky over the castle during celebrations, their luminous explosions lighting up the sky with brilliance.

"That I do." Powder Keg pushed open the door to his business. As she was lead inside, Twilight was shocked at the sheer number of fireworks on display. Barrels overflowed to the brim with rockets, beautiful spiral patterns adorning the side of each one. On the wall hung thousands of smaller chains, each individual cylinder wrapped like a piece of candy. Thick, black powder was everywhere, hanging in the air like a permeable blanket.

So that's what he's coated in! And to think I thought it was dirt! Wait... is it safe for him to be walking around with explosive powder sticking to his coat?

"So, see any you like?" Powder Keg asked, sweeping a hoof over the walls.

She cantered up to the display wall, eyeing each one with a carefully observant eye. Finally, she pointed so several cartoonish black orbs near the center of the wall. "Those look like they'd be really pretty."

"Yeah, those are my favorite too. Do you want them?"

"Wait, what?" Twilight was once again momentarily shocked into silence. "But... I-I couldn't just take them!" She protested ardently.

"Well, that's why I'm giving them to you!" He took a discreet burlap sack out of a box nearby and stuffed it with the bulbous black fireworks. "You look like you could use some fun, anyway. I won't miss them." As he filled the bag, he mumbled maniacally, "Heck, when these go off I'll probably hear it from here."

"What was that?"

"Oh, nothing." He finished loading the sack, handing it to the wide-eyed filly with a warm smile. "You be careful with these, now."

"Ok..." Twilight still had plenty of premonitions about a complete stranger giving her a dangerous amount of fireworks, but she didn't want to offend the stranger's hospitality. So, with a hint of reluctance, she flung the sack over her back with the rest of the groceries. "Thank you."

"Aw, not a problem!" The stallion gave Twilight's head a soft pat. "I just know you'll put 'em to good use!"

The more Twilight thought about it, the more a plan began to form in her head. Her smile slowly grew as the plot blossomed in her mind's eye. "I think I know just how to do that."

"Great! Now let's go," he said, gesturing over towards the door. "Let's get you home before it gets too dark outside."


-----


"Princess, hurry up!"

"Okay, ok Twilight. I'm coming." Princess Celestia, her majestic form seeming to glide over the worn cobblestones of the palace courtyard, followed an ecstatic Twilight Sparkle as the young filly tugged at her teacher's hooves. "What is it? You know I have some very important court duties to attend to." Her voice, although benevolent and smooth, carried the slightest undertone of annoyance. She loved Twilight deeply, but at times her antics could get under the skin of even the most collected of ponies.

"I can't tell you! It's a surprise!"

Celestia huffed a bit, but kept up her composure as the two stopped in the center of the courtyard. "Ok Twilight, what is it you want to show me so badly?"

Instead of replying, Twilight gestured up towards the northernmost tower of the castle. The majestic arcitecture of the tower had been around for centuries, withstanding the test of time with flying colors.

"Yes Twilight, that's the north tower. What about it?" Celestia was actually growing curious as to what her young student was up to.

"Watch." Twilight's horn lit up as she scrunched her tiny face in concentration. For a second, nothing happened.

Then, ever so softly at first, she heard the sound of explosions coming from the tower. At first, the explosions were nothing more than tiny wisps of smoke belching out of the tower's massive exterior, hardly visible at all against the tower’s face. The booms and cracks gradually crescendoed into a massive cascade of thunderous claps and roars that shook the ground beneath them.

As Celestia watched on helplessly, the top half of the tower was sheared from its base in a flurry of colored explosions, sliding downward at an odd angle as it fell to the earth below.

The tower, now shuddering unstably under its own weight, began to throw out massive arcs of radiant color. Streams of red, blue, yellow, and every color in between spilled out of the tower in a terrifying display of pyrotechnics. The sky lit up with hundreds of tiny, pulsating balls of fire, cracking to life and dying out in an instant. The colors seemed brighter than the sun, and for a moment all the city of Canterlot was bathed in color.


As the princess stood there, shock written across her distraught features and a single tear running down her face, Twilight hopped around the cobblestone with a silly grin plastered on her face. "Well, what did you think? Did you like it?"

-----

Deep within the recesses of east Canterlot, Powder Keg looked with a start towards the royal castle. A large chunk of an impressive looking tower had been just been torn from its foundation, falling to earth in a massive cloud of dust and debris. The remainder of the tower now spewed fireworks in dazzling yet horrifying display.

Something inside his mind brought back the face of a young, purple unicorn filly who had been given a copious amount of fireworks. Maybe even enough to shear a centuries old royal tower in half.

As he watched the burning tower with equal parts awe and shock, a small, almost sad smile crept onto his face. The absurdity of the situation made him want to roll on the ground, simultaniously laughing and hitting himself over the head with a mallet. Instead, he settled on guffawing to himself silently as he watched the great pillar tear apart from the inside out. "Yep... giving little fillies fireworks is always a good idea."

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