The next day, Bobtail is in a much better mood.
I don't have any patients today, so I can just go to the office and finish sorting my files.
"You have a patient today," says the secretary. "Walk-in appointment."
"Oh Celestia, whyyy?"
"Calm yourself. This one is the only one today."
"Ok, I may as well get this over with."
Bobtail goes into the office, and sees a large, strong-looking, smoky black unicorn sitting on the couch. The smoky equine has a lion-like tail, cloven hooves, a slightly-curved horn, and a deer-like build.
"Um, pardon me, you are..?"
"My name is Ironhoof."
"Not to be rude, but are you a 'miss' or a 'mister'? It's considered proper protocol to use the right title."
"Neither one, or both, if you prefer."
"Um, how can it be both and neither?"
"I don't identify with either. You may simply call me Ironhoof."
"Okay. Ironhoof, what is troubling you today?"
"Classism. You see, I am from a warrior kingdom known as Avia. Avia is the kingdom of legend that used the enormous birds of prey in the Great Changeling-Equine War."
"Yes, I've heard tales of it. Didn't know it really existed though-I thought it was a made-up story."
"Understandable. After the Mad King Jackdaw took power, he made laws saying no one could enter or leave our kingdom, fear of 'tainted blood' in the population- that is, mixed race Avians. With this isolation, Avia faded into the mists of time until recently."
"I see. It sounds like an intriguing history- perhaps I should visit the libraries there sometime."
"Perhaps when peace reigns again."
"Indeed. Anyway, what did you mean by classism?"
"In Avia, originally, unicorns like myself made one of the lowest classes, same as the horses that are farmers."
"Afraid so. The historical classes of Avia were pegasi rulers at the highest rank, then the nobles, both pegasi who fought in battles and horses who cared for the birds of prey, then the horses who were farmers and the unicorns who were either merchants or craftsmares. Unicorns, historically, could not be nobility or hold important jobs. After King Jackdaw was removed by Falka eventually, Falka let her daughter Falcon rule once Falka herself was too old. Falcon and Tercel (Tercel was Falcon's mate) tried to allow unicorns in the military. But there was such an uproar among the nobles that they were unable to do so. The current queen, Falcona, wants to change this, as do many of the younger Avians, but the older generation still takes issue with it. And because most of the nobles are of the older generation, it would be very hard for poor Falcona to change things."
"Indeed. As I said, I am a craftsmare, specifically a swordsmith. I make the weapons for the Avian military, yet so many of the older warriors in the military look down on me. Even though I am the one who made their swords in the first place."
"Shouldn't they be grateful you provide them such weapons in the first place?"
"They should, yes, but they don't. They see me as 'inferior' because I don't care for the birds of prey and I cannot fly."
"I know. And I need some help with what to do about it. If I try to speak to them, they will simply snub me and leave. I'm not fond of violence, as it solves nothing-"
"Oh thank Celestia! Finally a sane pony!"
"I beg pardon?"
"Sorry, my most recent patient was overtly homicidal, the one before them, while not murderous, was very aggressive, and about a week ago, my office was violently destroyed by a demon and a thief. It's nice having someone who doesn't look like they might be plotting my murder and/or starting fights/planning to start fights."
"I see. Understandable, then. But a word to you, if I may be so bold, I am not a pony. I am actually a horse."
"My apologies. I'm so used to ponies here in Equestria that 'pony' is the first thing I say to any equine."
"Ah yes, now I understand. Anyway, what should I do about the classism?"
"I'm afraid that the classism will not stop until the citizens of Avia realize that everyone is important. But there are ways to cope with the unfairness."
"I'd suggest talking it out, but as you said, the others seem not to listen. So I'd recommend ignoring them, but not being afraid to stand up for yourself."
"I have no fear of such things. It is up to the others if they will listen."
"You said the queen is for fairness, though?"
"Perhaps you could have her help you?"
"While that sounds good in theory, she is a very new queen, and the older generation still aren't ready for her ideas. I dare not ask her to help me, as some traitor might try to assassinate her for trying to change things. Such attacks have happened before, and I don't want them to happen to Falcona."
"Sounds like a harsh life..."
"Such is to be expected from the Wild-Kind. But I'm not worried about Queen Falcona. She is strong and brave, and her right-hand mare and marefriend is a tough farmer who has lots of experience with bandits and enemies, as the farm I mentioned is at the border, near bandit territory. I know Avia and its queen will survive, and I will do everything I can to help them."
"You seem very noble and strong, Ironhoof. I have so much respect for you."
"Thank you. It means a lot to hear anyone say they respect me. True, I can sense who does, by their emotions and such- I'm an empath, and I can read body language, but to hear someone say to my face they have a lot of respect for me, why there's no greater feeling in the world!"
"I understand. I really understand..." Bobtail's voice cracks a bit- hearing such deep, genuine words from anyone makes things seem so right.
"And for that, I respect you as well," says Ironhoof. "As well as the job you do. I know it must be hard, having patients who seem ungrateful, who simply refuse to listen, and those who fight you or act like they plan to attack you. I admire that you still keep working, that you have never given up."
"You are welcome. But I will not take any more of your time. I know you are doubtless busy."
"Oh... Hey, before you leave, can I ask you a question?"
"Can we be friends?"
"Of course." The smoky unicorn touches a hoof to Bobtail's. "I will be sure to keep in touch."
Ironhoof leaves, and Bobtail just sits down in the middle of the room, astonished.
Now I feel guilty for always wanting to quit my job. That horse really makes me think...
The secretary comes in after a while, worried because they haven't seen Bobtail since Ironhoof left the office.
"You can move now, Bobtail."
"Huh? Oh, yeah. I have work to do. Sorry, I was just thinking..."
"The smoky unicorn made you think too, huh?"
"That is one wild horse who is really worth listening to."
The secretary leaves, and Bobtail takes out a journal, which he often writes in to cope with problem patients (such as a certain homicidal horse-hawk). But the journal entry he writes now is filled with nothing but the highest praise for Ironhoof.