It was very late at night when Moonstone finally woke up. He yawned, rolling to his hooves, shaking himself out to get rid of the grass blades that had attached themselves to his coat and his cape. He shook his head a little, getting his mane to move back to its normally wild state. It wasn’t that his mane was spiky so much as it was... Well, no, it was spiky, but it was on the shorter side, so if anything it made him appear a little daring, rather than unkempt or wild.
He took a deep breath, enjoying the chill of the night air, judging from the angle of the moon that it was about five in the morning. He started to head out of the garden he had been sleeping in, when he discovered something disturbing. “The rest of the town is still asleep?! How late do they sleep?”
Trying to figure out what to do with his spare time, he decided to roam the gardens, but that only entertained him for a couple hours before he got restless. Luckily, Galexia decided to return, and was in high spirits. “Great, you’re back! So where are we headed?”
She chirped tiredly, pointing to a section of the city where the lesser nobles lived, before nestling down in his mane to get some sleep. Moonstone smiled to himself, rolling his eyes at his familiar’s actions, before starting to walk in the direction he was ordered.
Half an hour later found him wandering the streets aimlessly, looking around at the still-closed stores. While he knew what general area he was supposed to go, he didn’t know which house or street to go to, and with Galexia asleep, he didn’t have a way to find out. As he rounded the corner, he saw an establishment that was open, much to his surprise. “Well, so there is somepony who can get up at a proper hour,” he observed to himself, half grumbling.
He strode forward, opening the door with his magic. causing a small bell overhead to ring, alerting the proprietor that they had a customer. As Moonstone stepped in, he saw many tables and booths, all surrounding a long bar, with ovens and fryers behind that. Standing with his back to him was a large, brown unicorn, working on something that Moonstone couldn’t make out. “I’ll be with you in just a sec, Digit,” the unicorn said, his back still turned. “Gonna have the usual today, or wanna try something new? I think I almost have this new recipe figured out.”
The brown pony turned around after a moment, confused as to why he hadn’t received a reply. He saw Moonstone looking around, before turning to him, inquiring, “What manner of establishment is this?”
“It’s... a donut shop,” he replied dumbly, still a little surprised. After taking a second to gather his thoughts, the owner continued, “I’m sorry, I’m just not used to seeing many customers so early in the morning. My name is Pony Joe. What can I get you?”
Moonstone frowned slightly, thinking, before walking forward, asking, “What is a donut? One has not encountered such a thing in one’s travels before.”
Joe’s jaw dropped, before replying quickly, “You’ve never had a donut? I don’t know what kind of childhood you’ve had, but a donut is something that everypony should have had at least once! Here, the first one’s on the house!”
Moonstone backed up slightly, a puzzled look on his face. “Umm, alright? The roof sounds like an odd place to store something, but... What’s so funny?”
Pony Joe was laughing, though trying to hide it futilely. “N-nothing! You uh, don’t get out much, do you?”
Moonstone drew himself up indignantly, retorting, “One has traveled more lands than you could probably name, thank you very much!”
As the chuckling subsided, Joe responded calmly, trying to cool the strange white unicorn down. “No, I meant... Oh, you travel a lot? That explains it. No, those are just expressions that mean something else, like... Dang, what’re they called... Idiums? Idioms?” He thought for a moment, before shrugging. “Whatever. Anyway, ‘on the house’ is just another way of saying that it’s free, that it’s a gift from the ‘house’, which, in this case, is the owner of the shop.”
Moonstone stood there, blinking, lost in thought, before saying slowly, in a slightly tragic voice, “So you’re telling one that if, say, an innkeeper said that a room was on the house, that means that the room is free, not that it was on top of the building?”
Moonstone took a deep breath, before slowly releasing it, facehooving. ‘Well, that would explain all of the strange looks I got when that happened...’
Pony Joe, recognizing that look after years of reading ponies, set down a large plate of donuts and a small mug of coffee in front of Moonstone. “Hey, at least ya know now, yeah? Here, these’ll cheer you up.”
Moonstone stared at the place of circular... things, and started to analyze them as the door opened again, ignoring Pony Joe as he asked the newcomer, “Oh, there you are. The Usual, or just the order?”
“Just the order for today, sorry Joe. I don’t have the time to spare today, what with the sudden change of plans. Still, this should make my daughter happy enough! She wouldn’t stop talking about the pony who’s going to be coming to our house to teach the foals some more magic.”
“Alright, just let me know how that turns out, alright? And if you want to try the new recipe, I just gave a dozen to uh... That traveler guy over there. Hey, you realize that those are for eating, right? They’re not going to get any better just by staring at them.”
Moonstone jerked his head around, several donut levitating all around him, as he tried to examine them from all sides at the same time. “What? Y-yeah, I know that! I’m just trying to figure out why these things have holes in them!”
“They’re made like that,” Pony Joe laughed, shaking his head as he trotted over, levitating another box with him. “I punch out the holes of the donuts, and sell them separately, so that they’re more of a snack than a meal, like a full donut would be.”
Moonstone stared at him for a moment, before deadpanning, “So let me get this straight. You punch the holes out of the donuts here, and then you sell them.”
“You’ve got it!” Pony Joe laughed, rolling his eyes dismissively at him as he turned around.
“Then perhaps you can explain to me how the hole is in the donut, when you’re selling them right there,” Moonstone replied, arching an eyebrow.
Digit Pi laughed, sitting across from Moonstone as Pony Joe struggled to come up with an answer. Digit was surprised to see that it was the same stallion that was going to be going to his house later, and commented, “You know, I’ve always wondered that myself! How about it, Joe?”
Digit Pi laughed as Joe just left the box of donut holes on the table, before stomping back behind the counter, muttering to himself. Moonstone frowned, muttering, “Great. Guess I have to figure this out on my own...”
He took a bite, crewing twice before pausing as the sugar from the donut finally registered on his tongue. He swallowed, his eyes wide as he glanced back down, before starting to shovel as many of them into his mouth as he could, smearing glaze and sprinkles all over his muzzle as his face was buried in the plate, taking bites as large as he dared.
Sadly, they were still bites too large, and he started choking. Digit rushed around the table, slamming his hoof onto Moonstone’s back, dislodging the offending morsel of food. Moonstone regained his breath, panting, “Thanks.”
As Digit Pi regained his seating, he admonished, “Really, that’s no way to eat! Surely you were taught better than that!”
Moonstone, regaining his breath, glanced to Digit, asking, “Taught? What’s there to teach about eating? You eat as fast as you can, so that nopony else can steal your food. What’s so complicated about that?”
Digit opened his mouth, before closing it again, choosing his words carefully. “I... Guess that’s different, but you’re in Canterlot. You don’t have to worry about anypony trying to steal your food of all things. Your bits, possibly, but not your food. The general populace would take it as a great insult that you eat so quickly and recklessly, without even using your magic.”
“What?! But if you use magic on your food too much, you’ll get poisoned!”
Digit Pi paused, before chuckling, asking, “And who taught you that? I’m sorry, but you seem to be rather misinformed. I’ve been doing it my whole life, and I’m just fine. Heck, ask Joe over there. He makes the donuts with his magic, and if it poisoned you, then I’m sure he and his customers would have noticed by now.”
Moonstone just sat and stared, his brain trying to comprehend the new information. He blankly watched Digit eat, raising the napkin to wipe his mouth before taking another bite. Moonstone’s eyes tracked the progress of the napkin, as it was set back down on the table, now dirty from cleaning some glaze. “... THAT’S what those things are for?” he asked flatly, his face devoid of all emotion. “That...”
Digit swallowed, asking, “Well, what did you think they were for?”
With his head on the table in front of him, Moonstone’s answer was muffled. “I thought it was to carry the leftover food if you had any, tying the corners together...”
The two unicorns remained silent for a moment, one embarrassed enough about not knowing what seemed to be common knowledge, and the other digesting what he had been told. Digit Pi finally broke the silence, inquiring, “How long have you been adventuring for, Moonstone?”
“... My entire life,” came the eventual reply, muffled from the tabletop.
The reply gave Digit pause. After swallowing, he thought silently for a moment, before asking Moonstone slowly, “So would you say that you don’t know as much as you’d like about how city ponies act on a day to day basis?”
“Yeah, I guess. Why?” Moonstone sighed, slowly raising his head from the table.
“Well... I guess I was thinking that, perhaps, with my family’s permission, you’d like to stay with us for a week or two. In exchange for teaching you what you want to know, maybe you could teach my daughter Milky Way more magic. I’m not good enough with magic past levitation to be able to teach her much, and I don’t really want to hire a tutor, since they all seem to bore her, but she’s taken a shine to you.”
Moonstone blinked, his mouth gaping slightly as he thought about it. Misunderstanding his hesitation, Digit continued, “We’d also be able to give you room and board, if that helps.”
“Room and board? I appreciate that you’d give me personal space, but what am I supposed to do with a board?” Moonstone asked, tilting his head to the side, an ear twitching to hear better.
Pony Joe started laughing again from behind the counter, before answering, “Room and Board is just another term for a place to stay, and food to eat. He’s saying you can stay at his house, and you won’t have to worry about food either.”
“... Oh. Uhh... Yeah, sure, I guess. I’ve never really tried teaching before, but sure, I’ll try,” Moonstone stated, turning back to Digit Pi.
“Alright then! Just follow me home whenever you’re done eating, alright?”
“Well...” Moonstone said slowly, looking down at the donuts still left to be eaten. “You said that magic doesn’t poison food, right?”
“This is awesome!” Moonstone exclaimed, following Digit happily. A large silver aura behind Moonstone contained the rest of the donuts that Moonstone hadn’t eaten yet. “Thanks for telling me that! Man, these donut things are great! Do they have some sort of magic energy or something in them because I don’t normally have this much energy or anything and it tastes great and I feel like I could run for like hours and hours without ever needing to stop and take a break and I don’t normally talk this much except to Galexia because Galexia is my familiar you know and she’s really awesome because she’s saved my life multiple times because her life force is tied to mine because she’s magic and she’s also really soft and fluffy because she’s really proud of her coat because it’s a cool pattern thing and-”
“Okay kids, who wants some donuts?!” Digit Pi shouted, half to interrupt the white unicorn that wouldn’t shut up, and hafly to get the attention of the various noble-ponies that were in his house.
“Yeah, donuts!” Moonstone cheered loudly, his eyes lighting up. “Have you had these things?! They’re amazing! They’re like, the best food invention in the world ever since... Ever! We’ve got Chocolate, and Vanilla, and Glazed, and Plain, and Donut holes, though I still haven’t figured out why they’re called holes when the holes are in the regular donuts, but they still taste good, so that’s all that matters! So who wants some donuts?!” Moonstone grinned excitedly, setting the boxes down.
He was then promptly run over by the excited foals, as they were colts and fillies on a mission: Donuts.
Moonstone watched with a smile as they ate for several minutes, before he frowned, sitting down uneasily. “I... Don’t feel well...”
Several more minutes found Moonstone lying on a couch lethargically, whimpering. “I told you that using magic to eat was bad for you...”
Digit Pi’s roaring laughter caught him off-guard, turning his head slowly to face the stallion. “Never had a sugar crash, have you?”
“A sugar what now?” Moonstone moaned, wanting nothing more than to just fall asleep on the wonderfully cushioned couch.
“That ‘energy’ that you were talking about was just an ingredient called ‘sugar’. It’s really sweet and savory, and gives you a bit of energy right away, but it’s only temporary, and you end up burning even more energy than it gives you, so you feel tired afterwards. That’s why you don’t feel well right now. You’re feeling the ‘crash’ of all that sugar you ate.”
“... Oh. But I’ll get better again soon, right?” Moonstone lamented, his eyes pleading.
Digit Pi sighed, nodding, “Yeah, though it might take a couple of hours. Here, have some real food, that should help your body deal with all of the sugar. Here, try this,” he offered, holding out a small, orange pepper.
Moonstone received it with his own aura, before sniffing it intently, turning it around and around. “What is it called?” he asked slowly, hesitant to eat the pepper blindly.
“It’s called a Habanero pepper,” Pi answered honestly, glancing away for just a second. “They’re good for you, and I promise it’ll have you off that couch and up on your hooves again in a jiffy.”
“You promise?” Moonstone moaned, looking over to the older stallion. After hesitating a moment longer, he tossed the pepper straight into his mouth, chewing away and swallowing. He rested his head back on the arm of the couch, closing his eyes for a nap.
Digit Pi stared at him in disbelief for just a moment, before popping another one into his mouth, unwilling to believe that it hadn’t worked. Immediately he rushed for the kitchen, downing a large glass of milk, before grabbing a yogurt from the fridge, spooning a large bite into his mouth. He barely started to register the relief when he heard a strangled cry from the other room, like somepony was about to die. He barely got to the living room in time to see Moonstone practically flying up the stairs to the restroom, since he had heard running water from that direction.
“Oh dear... I hope your sister is done with her shower, Milky...”