A Diplomatic Visit

by Evilhumour

Chapter 1: Chapter One

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It seemed that this was going to be one of those days in Ponyville, to the ponies living there as they saw all of the Bearers of Harmony walk into the Golden Oak Library early in the morning. As the case was, they had somewhat reasonable reasons to worry as Princess Celestia had mentioned that she was going to not only see Twilight but Mayor Mare and Cheerilee over something as well.

“So,” Applejack said as she walked in, the last of her friends to do so while Twilight paced back and forth. “What is it this time?”

“I dunno,” Dash said as she shrugged, leaning against the wall. “But I’m guessing mildish trouble?”

“It would make sense, dear,” Rarity said as she listened to Twilight muttering something under her breath. “I am sure whatever it is that Princess Celestia has in mind is not too serious, as she would have called us to Canterlot if that were the case.”

“Try telling Twilight that,” Spike grumbled as he brought in plates of pancakes for everypony, with three large stacks for Twilight, Celestia and Pinkie.

“Spike, this is the first request that Celestia has asked me to do as a Princess,” Twilight snapped out of her pacing to address the young dragon. “What if I do something wrong? Or I already did something wrong? Or-”

With a pop, a magical presence filled the room. “My dear student, you have done nothing wrong,” Princess Celestia said softly, smiling to the ponies around her. “I just have a simple request for you, but first, two questions; have you been reading the newspaper and are those Spike’s pancakes?”

“Er… yes?” Twilight tilted her head, wondering what this was about. She hadn’t noticed anything really alarming in the paper, so what was Princess Celestia talking about?

“Oh good, I have not had them in ages,” Celestia said with zeal, moving to the breakfast table where the rest of her friends were sitting down and enjoying the meal that Spike had made. Pulling a chair out for herself, Celestia made herself right at home beside Dash and Rarity who quickly came to treat the princess as an equal among the table. As Twilight joined them, Celestia turned her attention to her while slurping in a pancake to Rarity’s cringe and Dash’s amusement. “Have you paid any mind to the business section of the newspaper?”

Twilight frowned as she forced several pancakes down her throat before shaking her head in the negative. “It doesn’t really interest me, Princess, so no.”

“A shame,” Celestia aid, shaking her head. Before Twilight could react at the negative response, Celestia continued. “Most papers do not cover international news in much detail or even at all, and the business section had the only real mention of it so far.”

“Of what?” Twilight asked.

“There is to be a diplomatic trade ratification between Equestria and one of her allies,” Celestia responded in a calm note. “All that I am asking of you is to meet with this diplomat and show him around Ponyville later on.”

“I guess I can do that. When he is coming?” Twilight blinked as she began to create a mental checklist.

“Later today, if I am not mistaken,” Celestia said while staring straight into Twilight’s eyes. “Again, my dear student, all you need to do is meet with him, show him around Ponyville for the day after and then accompany him to the capital so we can all sign the papers tomorrow.”

“But… what if I say something wrong to him? Or if I do something bad?!”

“Not to worry as the diplomat was chosen for their patience and understanding, Twilight,” Celestia said as she soothed her student’s worries. “He understands that you are new to the process and he is going to be gentle with you, as I have been told by his superiors. Just be mindful of what you say and I am sure that everything will be okay.”

“I notice that you did not mention a name, your highness,” Rarity raised an eyebrow as she lifted a forkful of a delicate cut pancake to her mouth.

“You are correct,” Celestia bobbed her head as she answered the statement. “This is part of the lesson I wish to impress on you Twilight. Prepare for what you can and learn how to adapt to what you cannot. As he has been traveling for a long time, he will be more than likely be tired and wishing to have a good meal prepared.”

Twilight paused, going over what she was presented about her new guest. “But since I don’t know who he is, I don’t know what he would like to eat… So I should talk to him while Spike makes us lunch?” Twilight asked tentatively, to which Celestia smiled proudly at her.

“Exactly, Twilight,” Celestia placed her fork and knife on her empty and clean plate before using her napkin to wipe her face. “A very necessary tactic to learn is how to properly manage the events around you to your own advantage, even when you are caught unprepared.”

“So princess,” Rainbow Dash asked, leaning back in her chair. “What’s to stop this joker from doing something like that to Egghead here?”

“Nothing, and I actually expect it as he is spending time here in Ponyville to do some positive public relations.” Celestia responded. “Now if you will all excuse me, there are a couple more ponies I need to speak with before I return to Canterlot.”

With an unneeded bow from everypony, Celestia teleported away, leaving the the rest of the mares to their own devices. Pinkie Pie left to plan a Welcome to Ponyville Party for their new guest, Rarity went off to freshen up, Fluttershy went to tend to her animals and Rainbow Dash decide to take a nap while Applejack went back to take care of her chores and Twilight started to prepare for their own new guest.

Apple Bloom whistled as she trotted down the path between the farm and the Everfree forest. It had been a bit since her sis had come home and told her about this new fancy guest that was coming in. She was then asked to go deliver some stuff to Zecora before she could go back and play with her friends. So she had gone through the forest, given Zecora her stuff, spent some time with her and then headed back home.

She was curious about who this new pony visiting them was, and she wondered if she and the girls could learn new stuff to gain their cutie ma-

“Excuse me, little one?” A gruff voice with a low rumble called out from behind her, causing her to jump. “Don’t turn around just yet, little one.” The voice behind her chuckled softly before clearing his throat. “Just tell me, if you would please, if this is the path to Ponyville. I have business to deal with Princess Twilight.”

Tilting her head at the weird request, she pointed with her hoof to the branch in the dirt path. “Just go down there and ya’ll be in town in no time.”

“Thank you, little one,” the stallion behind her chuckled, with him walking closer to her oddly. She couldn’t hear the sound of his hooves on the ground and he smelled really weird too.. “My name is Swift-Pad of High-Leap Pack.”

Mulling the odd name over in her head, she turn to ask him about this pack thing when she saw him and her legs began to tremble.

“You-you’re a wo-”

“A wolf?” Swift-Pad asked with a lopsided smile. “How very astute of you, little one.” Lowering himself down, the wolf looked her in the eyes. “What else can you see of me?” He spoke gently with a core of amusement in his voice, causing her to blink and really think of what he was asking her.

“Yer… yer not tryin’ ta eat me,” she said slowly, taking a step backwards.

“That is correct,” he nodded his head while keeping his body low to the dirt. “I have my own stores of food in my packs here, so you need not worry about that,” he said, winking a golden eye.

She let out a laugh at that, feeling a bit better near him. “Yer funny,” she said and without thinking, she held a hoof out to him. “Ah’m Apple Bloom.”

He took it gently in his paw and shook it, a smile on his face. “It is nice to meet you, Apple Bloom, but why are you out here in this forest alone?”

“Ah was just done visiting Zecora the zebra to give her some stuff,” she said, looking at the weird stones wrapped around his coat. Maybe it was something like Zecora’s potion brewing…

“I see.” He let out a loud hmm, tapping his chin with his paw which had stones tied around it. “Would you mind an escort home, since our destinations are in the same direction?”

“Sure,” she said with a smile, remembering what Applejack said about safety in numbers. Her eyes went wide a bit as she walked alongside him. “Ah’ve got ta warn ya, my sis kinda leaps to wild thoughts at times an’ she might think yer a danger or something.”

“A good point, little one,” he replied with a sly smirk on his face. “What do you suggest I do to prevent your sister from reacting poorly?”

Apple Bloom tilted her head in thought before saying, “Ah’d think it’d be best if Ah told her about you.”

“Sounds reasonable, little one,” he tipped his head, causing a few of his carved stones around his face started to bounce. “Please, lead on.”

Applejack let out a tiny sigh as she did another circuit of the farm’s border while attending to her chores. She was certain that her little sister would be safe but still, a nagging voice in her head was telling her that something bad could happen to her or that this diplomat fellow would run into Apple Bloom and some horrible mess would spring up.

She knew her sister was not that bad alone and she was showing Apple Bloom a great deal of trust to let her go alone into the forest, but she couldn’t help worry about her sister…

“Hiya sis,” her sister’s voice boomed at the edge of the path, waving her hoof at her eagerly.

She was about to call back when she noticed that Apple Bloom wasn’t moving. “Is everything okay sis?”

“Yup, just talking ta Swift-Pad, that new fancy guest that ya spoke about before,” Apple Bloom said with a smile, turning her head to the side to look at Swift-Pad, most likely, before turning to face her again. “Uh, sis? Can ya promise not ta freak out?”

“Why would Ah freak out?” Applejack frowning, starting to move towards her sister.

“Because I saw how the little one reacted to me, I felt it would best to give you some warning,” came a voice from the side, from a place she couldn’t see in the forest. “I trust that one more aged would react more responsible than one so young, and your sister already was an shining example.”

“Thanks mister…” she said, tilting her head to tell her sister to move along, really not trusting somepony that wasn’t showing his face. Her sister was being really stubborn for some reason, staying put. “Ya mind coming out so Ah can greet you properly?”

“I would prefer your word, Applejack,” the odd rumbling voice spoke again. “But I do believe actions speak more than words, yes?” A light chuckle came from the forest as somepony began to walk out of-

“Apple Bloom, get behind me now!” she shouted as she saw the wolf step in front of her sister, already pawing at the ground as she prepared herself to knock it away.

“Please Applejack, if I wished to harm either you or your sister, I would have had ample time to do so,” the wolf said, lowering itself down to the ground with a smile on its face. “I am Swift-Pad of High-Leap pack, and the chosen diplomat of the Packlands.” It - Swift-Pad, stood a bit taller and started to walk towards her.

Letting out a snort, Applejack kept her eye on the wolf while at the same time watching her sister who let out a big sigh and then facehoofed before starting to trot over to her.

“If y’all really are the diplomat-” Applejack started to say before her ear flicked as she felt the air starting to twinge, just like when-

Throwing herself flat, she saw the rainbow blur of her friend smash into where the wolf was standing. She had her eyes open in time to see it open its eyes wide with surprise before some of the stones around its neck started to glow, surrounding the wolf with a translucent bubble. Rainbow Dash slammed into it, causing the material to press inwards. Her hooves were inches from the wolf's face before the bubble compensated for her and pushed her away violently, sending the pegasus careening in the direction of the Apple Family barn.

Applejack was already running towards her friend when she noticed the grey mass moving with her.

Turning to cut him off, she glared at the wolf that just hurt her friend.

“What d'you think yer doing?” she snorted, trying to stare him down.

“Going to help your friend, what do you think?!” he snapped back at her, anger and worry clear in his face. “Being semi-responsible for injuring a foreign citizen is a serious matter and I must make sure she will be okay!”

Applejack pulled back in surprise, her ears catching one word in particular. “‘Semi-responsible’? You’re the one that knocked my friend clear across the sky!”she snorted, keeping her back to the barn where Dash was.

After she tried to attack me, mind you,” he growled it out, pawing the ground in a way that made something inside of the earth pony flinch. He then shook his head, composing himself before speaking in a much calmer tone of voice. “Please, allow me to help your friend, Applejack.”

Applejack's frown didn’t leave her face but she moved to the side, allowing Swift-Pad to dash past her.

Following the wolf into the barn, she spotted him hovering over her downed friend. He growled angrily, more to himself, before biting his lip and moved a paw over the rainbow-maned head.

“What are you doing partner?” Applejack asked tensely, still uncomfortable with this predator near her helpless friend.

“Healing her with my magic,” he answered, voice tight with concentration, putting the paw on her head. A set of stones along his body, hidden previously by the fur, started to glow as Swift-Pad continued to pass his paw over the mare's head.

After a few second, the wolf moved his paw away and stumbled a bit to the side as Dash let out a groan. “Uggh, worst nap ev-AHHH!” she shouted, spying the wolf right next to her, jumping into the air. “Wolf!” she shouted pointlessly before pulling back into the air for another dive attack.

“Whoa there Dashie!” Applejack shouted, jumping in front of wolf. “He just healed you up, and Ah-”

“After he knocked me across the sky!” Dash yelled back.

“You attacked me, and my protective runes kicked in,” the wolf muttered, still staggering. “I had to use all of my healing runes on you, and I had to even to dig into my personal energy to make sure you were good.”

“Wait, what?” Dash blinked in confusion, looking at the wolf.

“Wing fractures, that if not tended to quickly, could have turned into permanent disfigurements.” Swift-Pad leaned against the side of the barn, panting heavily. “Along with a whole other host of problems - I suggest you check with your local doctor because that took a lot out of me and my knowledge of knitting wings back together is woefully incomplete.” Applejack blinked at the sudden change of tone, but as she turned her head to see where Swift-Pad was looking, she saw Apple Bloom peek inside. “Still… are you okay, Rainbow Dash?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” the mare answered, frowning as well. “Thanks?” she asked awkwardly, unsure of what exactly was happening. “You good?”

“Just a bit tired; one of the drawbacks of using one's own energy to fuel their magic,” he flashed a weary smile at them, which Applejack noted showed no teeth. “I will just need to eat something and I will be fine.”

“Well, Ah know that Granny Smith was baking some apple pies when Ah left to visit Zecora; are they ready sis?” Apple Bloom turned her head to smile hopefully at Applejack.

“Sure are, but Ah think that Swift-Pad here needs to head off ta Twilight, right?” she asked, turning her head to the wolf beside her.

“You are correct, Applejack,” he nodded his head, speaking a strained tone to hide how exhausted he was. “I thank you for your offer Apple Bloom and I suppose I will have to try an apple pie another time.”

“Wait, you’re saying that you’ve never had an apple pie before‽” Apple Bloom almost shouted before racing over to tug at the wolf. “You’ve got to try mah granny’s apple pie ‘cause they’re best in the whole world!”

Swift-Pad blinked before flickering his ears and smiled playfully at her. “I suppose I could try some, if your sister does not mind?”

“Sure, go tell Granny we’ve got some guests…" Applejack answered, still keeping a wary eye on the wolf. “Why don’t ya go get your friends too? I saw them head on to your clubhouse.”

“Okay!” Apple Bloom beamed before dashing off, leaving the mares alone with the wolf.

“Okay, care to ‘splain what all that nonsense was about?” Applejack frowned, staring down Swift-Pad who was leaning against the side of the barn again. “Ain’t you got to be with Twilight soon?”

“That can wait; I am not going to pass up an opportunity to do my job, Applejack,” he replied patiently.

“I thought you were here for some sort of business thing, wolfy,” Dash said, keeping her eyes trained on the wolf.

“The trade agreement is the least important part of my business in Equestria, Rainbow Dash.” The wolf rolled his head around to look up at her. “Of my three objectives in your country, that one has already been more-or-less dealt with and we just need to officiate it with their Graces. My two primary goals here are to do good public relations - which has been proven countless times to be best done with the young ones - as well as properly evaluate the latest Grace Equestria has been blessed with and determine what lessons she will need to learn.”

This got two reactions from the two mares.

Rainbow Dash responded with some confusion to the term "Grace" and Swift-Pad simply replied, "You call them princesses. I suspect we'll go into detail over that later once everyone has come together."

Rainbow Dash then reacted with amusement to the thought that Twilight Sparkle possibly needed more lessons.

Applejack, on the other hoof, focused on the former part and how he was openly admitting to using tricks to influence how her little sister thought of him.

"It's nothing sinister," Swift-Pad explained as soon as she asked him about it. "The young ones don't have the same outlook on life the older ones do."

Applejack nodded curtly, remembering how Ponyville reacted to Zecora every time she came to town before Twilight and Apple Bloom had shown she wasn't much different than they were, by offering a different point of view.

"You're not lying," she said after a moment, much to the wolf's intrigue. She simply smiled at his curious head-tilt. "I'm sure you'll learn more about things in Equestria later down the line."

Swift-Pad accepted the playful barb with good grace.

Next Chapter: Chapter Two Estimated time remaining: 6 Hours, 45 Minutes
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