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"Do it right and do it with style." - Author, Designer & Project Lead of the story-driven DLC Gardens of Equestria: This Coming Storm - (Patreon)

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Aug
23rd
2016

Let's Talk about "Felt Heart" · 9:42pm Aug 23rd, 2016

I should warn you, I may be in a giffy mood today. You’ve been warned!

So if you can’t tell from my fairly hefty “Cute Romance” bookshelf, I am somewhat of a romantic. And by somewhat, I mean something along the lines of excessively and unrepentantly. 

We all have our little things that get us through the day, eh?

Well, I’ve been wandering through Tchernobog’s various stories, most of which have been on my “To Read” list for quite some time. Especially since I actually read Those Blue Wings quite some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus there was the zaniness of Mood Wings.

...huh. (Notices title similarities for the first time.)

I know everyone has their favorite ships, but I tend to be rather flexible in my ships. I have my favorite (Sunset and Twilight will always be on the top), but I enjoy seeing other ones, as long as they’re done well and they’re done right.

When I first read the synopsis for Felt Heart, I was expecting to get one.

I was not expecting to get three!



Honestly, the thing that kept coming to mind again and again as I read Felt Heart was I was drowning in sugar and loving every second of it. Seriously! I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Every freaking little romantic moment was done so damn sweetly I literally had to take breaks!

I barely could handle it. But I also couldn’t stop. I kept coming back again and again. Tchernobog, you’ll be getting a bill from my dentist. You’d best start saving now. You’re gonna need a lot of bits.

This is another one of those stories that don't need any seriously deep and meaningful psychological, metaphysical or philosophical truth behind it. This is a story about a whole lot of fun shipping the Mane 6. Not only that, but as usual Tchernobog’s nails the characters.

I’ve found an enormous part of getting a character right is not simply the external dialogue, but the internal dialogue in addition to the internal thought process. Using the right words is what sells you being inside a character’s head. Rainbow Dash doesn’t think the same way Twilight does. Applejack doesn’t think the same way Rarity does. Pinkie Pie… well, Pinkie Pie doesn’t think the same way anypony does. She’s just weird. (Though honestly, she has one of my favorite scenes in this entire book. I was as shocked as the rest of the Mane 6 when it happened. More on that one later).

Writing original characters consistently and believably is difficult. Writing roles for pre-existing characters without an enormous amount of backstory is a lot easier. Writing characters that have had six years of character development? That’s hard.

Tchernobog made it look easy. (Though I know that it either wasn’t or simply took a great deal of practice.)

Okay, let’s get to this highlight reel, eh? I really want to relive this story!

She smiled, turning to face another of the exceptions—blue gray mane, a monocle, and a jacket to die for; it could be none other than Fancypants himself.

“A jacket to die for.” Only in the mind of Rarity would this have worked and been so perfect. So it was in the mind of Rarity. This is fantastic since usually the focus of Fancypants is the monocle.
        

“Nonsense. How does one say it nowadays?” He cleared his throat. “ ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it?’ ”

Blink. Um…

She quietly drew closer, her curiosity driving her forward, even though her mind was telling her not to snoop around.

Wow, I had totally forgotten about this little habit from “Ponyville Confidential!” This was a great callback to a little bad habit of hers. Something I personally think we could bear to see more of in the show. More little hangups!

But these dolls, this ‘Felt Heart’ tradition? If the novels struck a chord, this had fully strummed a harp. It felt… real. It was heartfelt. She smiled as she realized she’d possibly stumbled on the origin of the tradition’s name. Twilight would be proud.

Or she would have facehoofed. I facehoofed. The puns! They hurt!

The mane, however, had clearly been spawned in Tartarus.

I could practically hear this in Tabitha’s voice. Only Rarity could have pulled off this line.

Dark cloak? Check. Five boxes ready to be sent off? Check. A bag of bits to cover the shipping costs? Check. All the above items dropped off, without anypony seeing her? A thankfully brief excursion, and check.

Beauty sleep? Check. In triplicate. With immediate effect.

Not only is she in love with Twilight, she’s picking up Twilight’s habits. Go go OCD bonding!

“Yaay! And my Flutterdoll can say ‘hello’ too!”
‘F-flutterdoll?”

It’s so nice that these ponies have names we can play with so easily, eh?

The coat, the eyes, the mane and cutie mark had all been Pinkieriffic!

SQUEE. Dammit, you nailed Pinkie here. Perfectly. I felt like I was in her head and it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it was. Still needed to eat pretzels for a week to counteract the sugar though.

Hat, with the 10/6 label.

Applause.

Ohmygoodness! I’m sorry Pinkie!” She grabbed the doll and placed it back on the counter, brushing it off in an effort to keep it clean. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention! Are you hurt?” She checked the doll over, lifting each hoof and scrutinizing it carefully.

On the counter, Angel smacked his forehead with a paw.

Angel: An even better straight man than Spike. (Usually because he has no patience for Fluttershy’s antics).

Second thought: How can this be so freaking ridiculous, so freaking cute and still believable at the same time! HOW?! I MUST KNOW YOUR SECRET!

Spike smiled his first real smile since he talked with Rarity. It was Twilight—as long as she was happy, it didn't matter to him if the cause was the doll or not.

D’awww! Stop it! I can’t handle this. Seriously. Too much. Too sweet.

And she had a duster coat. Rainbow briefly wondered if doll-sized duster coats existed. Maybe Rarity could make one for her?

SHE HAD A DUSTER COAT?! SQUEEE!! (I love dusters).

Confession: seeing Rainbow Dash playing with the dolls was the only one I had trouble believing, but it was adorable enough that I couldn’t NOT suspend my disbelief (is that a triple negative?)

...it’s too awesome for me to care.

she’d let her attention wander, and sprung one of the deadliest traps known to ponykind.
The giant rolling apple.

This was entirely too much fun.

And this about sums up my thoughts on this entire freakin’ story.

It looked like she had to find herself a rainbow pegasus filly.

Right after she finished her nap.

Okay. The artwork. This was my first time coming across it. Since I always read in EPUB format downloaded either through djazz’s epic new EPUB tool or Nyugerd’s excellent and quite customizable EPUB creator. Coming across artwork in these books is a rare and totally awesome treat.

And seriously I can’t handle how cute this is. So I just imagine this as your expression.

(I do need to point out that you hopped perspective here though. Cheater. :raritywink:)

“I—n-no, w-what gives you that idea?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking absolutely petrified. Granny Smith held a smirk back. Y’ain't foolin' no one…

Seriously, you even nailed Granny Smith. I just burst out laughing with this bit.

Chores still needed doing.

I actually heard this in Granny Smith’s voice.

...hearing voices is normal, right?

Her aim was true, and it landed on the rainbow mane, half-covering Dash’s wide-open eyes. She finally stopped talking, came to a halt and lifted up the hat, turning to stare at Applejack.

This was spectacular. And adorable. Specturable? Adoractular?

“I know, Sugarcube.” She glanced at the Dash doll she’d placed on her back. “Looks too nice to be somethin’ you made.”

“Yeah, exact—hey!” Applejack smirked again as Rainbow glared at her.”

Oh come on, Rainbow. Seriously, when you have shown any talents for anything artistic save for cloud-based stuff?

“I just wanted to show her to you.”

Applejack fought to keep her grin from getting wider. “Her?”

“It!” Rainbow blushed. “Her. You.”

Rainbow IS NOT ALLOWED TO BE ADORABLE! That is against the rules!

“Yer adorable, y’know that?”

Okay. Funny story. The line before this was literally the last line of the page. I did not see AJ’s response until I turned the virtual page. I squeaked. I got way too in sync with this story. This kinda freaked me out! In a good way.

...cutie mark earring would signify an engagement to marriage…
“Cutie mark earrings? What is this?”
“Something that popped up quite recently!” Celestia giggled, holding a hoof to her muzzle. “It’s something pegasi and earth ponies came up with, since they lack horns. An earring is crafted with gemstones, in the shape and color of their own cutie mark, and given to the pony they wish to marry.”

I love this idea. I love it! I love it! I love it!

Engagement rings. I'm thinking one proposes and if they accept, they do it by giving one in return. (Honestly, the horn rings have always struck me as silly since they don’t actually wear them after the wedding).

Seriously, this is brilliant. I reserve the right to steal it. Oh wait, I already came up with the cutie mark necklace idea. Eh, I might like this better. The right has been reserved! <GRIN>

“...Had one m’self, from yer gran’pa, but Ah buried both our dolls with him before either of ya were born.”

Awww. Heartbreakingly heartwarming. Or vice versa. ONE OF THOSE!

Rainbow sighed in relief. That wasn’t so bad.

“So,” Granny Smith continued. “How are you two gonna give me great-grandfoals?”

Okay, it isn’t bad. It’s worse.

Exact quote from my notes: “Oh Lordie”

“Don’t you go settin’ my brother up with Fluttershy like that!”

Rainbow rubbed the back of her head as she glared at Applejack. “You could’ve just said!” She turned back to the stallion, who looked like he wanted to be anywhere other than where he was. “Fine, not Fluttershy, then. Rarity’s too fussy, Twilight’s too much of an egghead. Ooh, how about Pinkie? She’s loads of fun—ow! Quit it!”

“I’ll stop smackin’ ya when you stop buttin’ in on mah brother’s love life!”

“But it’s fun!”

This is a FANTASTIC back and forth. I love it. Their banter is so perfect.

Rainbow quickly nodded, and sagged with relief as the other two ponies seemed to agree. If the three fillies knew about her and Applejack, she’d probably never hear the end of it.

You forgot about the dolls.

You're Doomed.

As the filly sped away, Rainbow let her head drop to the table. “That was way too close.”

The rest of the Apples could only agree, and Big McIntosh summed it up perfectly. “Eeyup.”

Eeyup.

Scootaloo snorted. “Dolls? Seriously? What are you, eight?”

“Only fer another month!” she groused. She turned to her other friend. “C’mon. Sweetie? Whaddya think?”

Nice use of a sentence doing multiple things. You’re having Scoots being snarky and setting up the ages. I do love how everyone has their own version of the ages. It’s fun (and it allows for a lot more flexibility in storytelling, even for OCD fact-checkers like me)

“Cutie Mark Crusader Researchers, yay!”

I adore these fillies.

“Well, not until I offered to demonstrate it for his professor—that was the first time I got published! … also the first time I got arrested.”

Words cannot express my adoration for this little bit of backstory. This is BEYOND brilliant. I would dearly love to know where this idea came from, unless your muse just happened to throw it into your head when you weren’t looking (happens to me all the time).

Before Applejack could drag herself out of the hay, Rainbow returned, and pressed her lips against the farmpony’s, pushing her back through the sheer force of the kiss. She was breathless as they parted, staring with wide eyes at her lover.

Rainbow was beaming at her. “I love you,” she whispered, leaning in close.

./blink Wow.

Sweet Apple Acres had apparently become the home of a cloud-fortress.

“Y’gotta be kiddin’ me.”

Too good. Too damn good.

“The princess… is in love?

“Wait, the princess is what now?”

Oh God.

He blinked. It sounded like Applejack was wavering.

“Darn it Dash, stop lookin’ adorable!”

The best part of this scene was that I didn’t see the picture until the very end.

But the VERY best part of this was that it was done entirely from Big Mac’s perspective and entirely through dialogue. That was just damn good storytelling.

“Coming!” she sang back, leaping off her bed. She’d have to wait until her lunch break to visit the one pony she knew would have an answer to this Flutterproblem.

Fluttershy!”

Flutterproblem. Heh.

She stretched as she stood up from her cushion, levitating a bookmark to keep her spot in Mollusks and You. The more she read, the more fascinated she became, and she couldn’t wait to get back to it.

Twilight, never change. You’re a total dork, but that’s why we love you (This coming from someone who read the Star Trek: TNG Technical Manual front to back multiple times).

“It’s silly…"

“Then you came to the right pony!” Pinkie giggled, nuzzling Fluttershy’s mane. “I’m a professional silly!” She paused, tilting her head. “Or is that silly professional?”

Yes. To all.

She knew the Equestria Daily was just a trashy gossip rag—if a rather popular one—but the feature article in this morning’s edition was simply ludicrous, even for them.


I'd like to mention that I decided to share this with the staff of EqD. They were most amused, especially Seth.

“Maybe you’re right.” Fluttershy nodded. “Well, how about Big McIntosh?”

“Too rugged. Though his physique is admittedly divine.” But Applejack would probably kill me.

Eheh. Hehe. Heh. I love the “divine” comment. Love it. And AJ just might. It’s a tossup.

“But again, why Twilight? There are many single mares in Equestria.”

“W-well, she’s a unicorn too, she’s from Canterlot, and she’s purple!” Rarity’s expression must have shown through the mask, as the pegasus quickly continued. “I-I mean, you care about colors a lot. And your hair is purple too…"

“She’s lavender, dear, not purple.”

I’m giggling way too much from this story. I keep waiting for Pinkie to show up just to either join in or burst into song.

...or both.

“And those are not real reasons for a relationship!” She struck the massage table with a hoof. “Not when there are so many others! Her wit, her intelligence, her naïve charm, her passion, her–”

Twilight eyed Big McIntosh. She was reminded of one of Applejack’s stories, where the giggling farmer had explained that the more annoyed her brother got, the wordier he became. While he wasn’t writing novels yet, it was becoming fairly clear that Big McIntosh was not having a good day.

Wow… this… this was amazing. What a concept. And it lets you get away with having him talk more! Just tick him off! Yeah! Tick up the second biggest stallion in the show… who can pull houses… without thinking about it…

I’ll be over here. Cowering in terror.

‘Bout as subtle as a brick wall, that one.

Eeyup (It’s another reason we love her).

“Ah, of course.” Rarity nodded, briefly wondering if Pinkie’s high sugar intake was the reason she was so sweet, or if it was the giggling pegasus next to her.

SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE /ahem As you were.

Rarity couldn’t stop the smile from spreading on her face. Once again, she felt herself falling in love with the selfless mare next to her. Twilight’s soul was truly a beautiful thing.

I love this way too much for it to be remotely healthy. You’re getting the bill from the doctor too.

If I’d made that for A.J. it would be as good as blurting out to everypony that we're dating!

Quiet enough that the sound of Applejack’s hoof meeting her face was clearly audible to everypony in the room.

See above.

Applejack's guffaw followed Rainbow's groan as the pegasus buried her face under her hooves. "Give it up, Sugarcube. Cat's outta the bag now." She chortled, laying a hoof on Rainbow's shoulder.”

<You hear insane (and somewhat inane) giggling from somewhere, but can’t quite identify the location. It’s bordering on hysterical. You back away slowly.>

“Twilight, look in The Complete Almanac of Pony Rituals and Traditions. Page… three hundred forty-eight, if I remember right. The last paragraph.”

...how can you do this and not already be married to Twilight?

“I didn’t know which of my Flutterdolls to love more! If I loved the first more, the other would get jealous! If I loved the second more, the first would get jealous! And I don’t want them to be jealous!” She turned to face Fluttershy, her muzzle inches from the other pony’s. “So instead, I’ll just love you the most!”

And then, she kissed Fluttershy.

Squeak. Buh. Wha. Squeak

Okay, incoherent noises aside, the delivery of this was perfection. It was so damn simple. So damn easy. Nothing added. Nothing about how. Nothing about her expression. Just one single line between two paragraph breaks. Five words. That’s it! Damn fine job.

“Well, who are we going to set Big Mac up with now that Fluttershy and Pinkie are together? … ooh, unless–”

A thump to the back of the head interrupted her. “What’d I tell you ‘bout leaving mah brother’s love life alone?”

“What? Granny said she wanted lots of grandfoals. What better way than with two–

As another thwack from A.J. started an impromptu wrestling match, Fluttershy blushed and “Meep!”ed, and Pinkie just looked thoughtful.

Rarity could only grin at their antics. Fine, everything is nearly perfect.

“Rarity?”

<Strange SQUEE like noises have joined in with the giggling.>

“Because… Because you’re beautiful, Twilight.” Rarity held up a hoof as the other mare tried to speak. “You are. Every part of you is beautiful. Your personality. Your charm. Your wit. Your mind. And, ehem, your body too, of course. You've got curves in all the right places, darling.”

./cough ./grin ./squee

“You are the sum of all the Elements, but you are so much greater than that.”

Oooh. Now that’s a good bit of dialogue. Only Rarity could pull this line off and come across as sounding authentic. Not only that, but it’s also absolutely true. After all, didn’t Celestia say as much when Twilight ascended?

She glanced to the side, where a mass of purple and green had been sitting at the edge of her vision. Unlike the others, Spike had remained in the library, off to the side, but still close to Twilight. He was still staring at her, even now.

Nicely done. I had forgotten about him entirely, as you intended.

She looked back at Spike, who was staring at them both. The little dragon gave Twilight a tremulous smile, and nodded slowly.

<Giggling has turned to non-stop squees.>

“I'm, well, not the best with unexpected events sometimes. Sudden friendship report deadlines, for example.”

Gee. Ya think?

“I can get a bit snippy when I'm confused, and I'm sorry.”

I really liked this reaction. Usually in romance stories, the other party either freaks and runs without anypony saying anything or responds exactly in kind. I think this is the first time I can remember where somepony actually cracks a little and verbally freaks out. That Twilight became sarcastic and snippy is something unexpected yet perfectly in character for her.

They were good tears.

Now that’s an epic last line. ./applause.

The rumors surrounding Princess Celestia had long since been blown out of proportion.

I had totally forgotten about this subplot. Nice to head back to it for a bit. It was a good bit to tie everything together.

The Foal Free Press would be a good start.

“Twilight Sparkle!” she said, imitating Luna’s tone. “I have heard of thy good news. I have decided to give thee a gift!

Please get caught please get caught...

“Oh thank you, Princess! Is this a book?” Her smile grew as she switched back to Luna.

Squee!

“It is indeed. It is the Pony Sutra, a book I co-authored many millennia ago! You can practice its lessons with your marefriend!”

And the squee immediately heads into the stratosphere of a squeak, orbits the planet and finds a deep dark hole to hide in, giggling all the while.

“It was only fifteen hundred years ago, ‘Tia, and you know it. Besides, I recall you posed for several of the plates.”        

Oh snap.
Sidenote: YES! SHE GOT CAUGHT!

“I did not just see you playing with dolls, nor did I see you put my doll in an awkward situation with your student’s.”

Oh God, I think I scared people with how loud that laughing howl was.

“Can… Can I play too, ‘Tia?”

Celestia stared, then smiled gently at her sister. “Of course you can, Lulu. Always.”

And the drowning in sugar and adorable is complete.

...and DEAD.

Author Notes.... Notes?

“Felt Heart was my first fic without a wing fetish!”

Yay?

“Instead, we got 34k. Yeah, my estimations suck.

Welcome to the club. I’ve never been able to actually hit my goal. Always over. ^^

---

Okay, now that the highlight reel’s done, I just have to say again how much fun that was. Living through that all again to write up this followup was just so much damn fun. I’m going to keep this is a nice safe place whenever I’m sad. I’ll probably need several lemons though for balance.

...make that a whole lot of lemons.

This was a spectacular and hysterical romp of SHIP ALL THE THINGS. Not quite as zany as Shipping and Handling, but I actually liked the more coherent storyline and the various plot threads dancing through the story. From the already-established (but hidden) AJ and Dash relationship to the just-under-the-surface one of Flutters and Pink to the love-from-afar of Rarity and Twilight, every relationship was handled deftly and with poise and precision, appreciating each character's’ special traits and qualities.

More than anything, it was believable. All of it. We got a little piece of Equestrian history and culture and it snowballed into something far grander. I could go on for days about just how much fun this story was. It definitely earned its place in my top five favorite romance stories.

Well done!

Comments ( 7 )

I think I had as much fun reading your review as you did writing it! :pinkiehappy:

Engagement rings. I'm thinking one proposes and if they accept, they do it by giving one in return. (Honestly, the horn rings have always struck me as silly since they don’t actually wear them after the wedding).

I'm half torn between a pony wearing the earrings with their spouse's cutie mark on both ears, or each spouse wearing one of each. (One apple and one rainbow bolt, for example).

Words cannot express my adoration for this little bit of backstory. This is BEYOND brilliant. I would dearly love to know where this idea came from, unless your muse just happened to throw it into your head when you weren’t looking (happens to me all the time).

I think my editor came up with the basic idea of the paper golem, which I loved, and we hashed out a little backstory to it.

Twilight, never change. You’re a total dork, but that’s why we love you (This coming from someone who read the Star Trek: TNG Technical Manual front to back multiple times).

This is me being silly. Mollusks and You is the book Twilight finishes right before starting on Mood Wings. Obviously the stories aren't connected, but I felt like throwing that in there for people to catch ;)

I'd like to mention that I decided to share this with the staff of EqD. They were most amused, especially Seth.

I believe this also happened when I first submitted the fic to EQD all those years ago. Reaction was pretty much the same :ajsmug:

Wow… this… this was amazing. What a concept. And it lets you get away with having him talk more! Just tick him off! Yeah! Tick up the second biggest stallion in the show… who can pull houses… without thinking about it…

It's actually kinda canon, too.

That Twilight became sarcastic and snippy is something unexpected yet perfectly in character for her.

Again, kinda based on canon.

Not sure if 'confused' is right here, but she's had numerous similar reactions to similar unexpected situations. She gets snippy.



Glad you enjoyed the story! It's definitely the one I felt I put the most effort in, and actually felt like said effort was noticed and appreciated. Which is always nice! :twilightsheepish:

I was not aware you existed before you wrote Unified Harmony Magics (which I loved).

Now I find myself reading all your followups and bookmarking your bookshelves (especially romance, I love me a good lovestory). So far it seems we have the same taste in horsewords.

Your quantity of written works might not be big, but the quality has landed you among my most favourite fanfic authors.

Anyway, it's 1am and I'm rambling, I should go to sleep, I just wanted to let you know that I love your work.

4167696 Well good! That's the whole point! For you to have fun! A little thank you for writing an awesome story. Author's don't get enough specific praise. :pinkiehappy:

I continue to maintain the right to steal that earring idea. :ajsmug: I may also eventually write a story about that golem idea. It's too amusing not to play with. And no, I didn't notice the Mollusk reference, but that's probably because it's been a bit since Mood Wings.

As for Big Mac, we've seen him on both sides, but I had forgotten about that scene. I guess I've never actually heard it stated outright, which was the big difference. As for Twilight, I think it was the same thing. Still, I found her reaction in this particular situation to be wonderfully refreshing and original.

So thank you again for an awesome tale!

4167793 I'm thrilled that you enjoyed Applications! As it was my first story to be published under this particular pen name, I put quite a bit of work into it and getting it up to what I considered to be snuff. I'm not surprised you hadn't heard or seen me before, as my movements were mostly in the Fallout: Equestria fandom circles (running the whole Gardens of Equestria game project and all). Part of the reason I started doing stories was because I felt like a bit of a fraud and I wanted to make it up to the community. So I'm glad I came in with the right note.

I'm even more delighted I could point you in the direction of some good stories! I've found a lot of wonderful gems in here by people who frankly should be getting paid serious bits for their talents. The more encouragement they get, the better!

And that wasn't rambling. Everything above your post? That was rambling. 15 pages of it. Of me basically going "SQUEE" over every entertaining and amusing bit I found (Which is usually what my followups are... save for the ones for stuff like Sunset of Time or Pink Eyes).

So thank you for your kind words. They actually do mean a great deal to me. Comments like these are pure creative fuel. I sincerely hope I continue to live up to such praise! :twilightblush:

4168458 Please do! It's an idea I'd like to see spread almost as much as feathermarking from Mood Wings. I didn't actually come up with it, I remember it being from a friend's fic, One night in Manehattan. Though the silly bugger ships PinkieDash. :unsuresweetie:

4168546 Well, you're devoted, I'll give you that. Rainbow's just now allowed to be with anypony else, eh? As for feathermarking, I think I've seen it all over the place at this juncture. Though maybe I've just read too many of your stories.

Too bad that story isn't finished. I try to avoid reading unfinished stories. (Which reminds me, go write an ending for Couple. :raritywink:)

4169066 :flutterrage: My devotion is rabid!

I think Mood Wings has had an influence, not for feathermarking itself but for people to pay a bit more attention to wings themselves. Previously, they were there for wingboners and maybe preening and that's it. Now, I've seen them used much more often to show emotion.

And I might! But... eh. Need to figure it out, and actually sit down and write it, which is the greater challenge :P

4169081 ...yeah. I got that. :facehoof:


Ah the hardest part of any writer's life... actually writing.

...I really, really, really wish I was joking too. :raritydespair:

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