• Published 10th Sep 2016
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Exile’s Journey - Meep the Changeling

A Prench Necromancer risks everything to save the life of his only friend from the wrath of his own nation. All the while persued by the long arm of the law, as they travel though hostile lands en route to the one place he knows they will be safe.

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2 - Exile

Gentle Repose - 23rd of Leaffall, 16 EoH

La vallée-des-Roses - Prance

As is common with a fine Prench meal, the actual dining was an experience lasting several hours. Of course, being poor, we lacked the proper post-entree nibbles, but we did have the drink. A rather good one at that.

We spent the meal talking about various matters. The topics remained interesting, but the quality of our discussions degraded in sophistication over time, due to Fell achieving the state of ‘properly drunk’ on his sixth glass of Firebrand. Which is why we had moved from the airborne couch to the floor an hour ago.

Personally, I missed being drunk. Not completely inebriated, mind you. Just that light warm feeling from exactly enough of a drink.

Fell lurched a little, giving me an odd little smile and blush before his ears slid down and his face fell flat at the speed of somepony experiencing a flashback.

“Oh yeah…” Fell slurred. “I forgot. My boss is racist.”

I frowned, empathizing all too well. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah. Sh- Ji- Li- uh… They! They called me a mud pony. And you know, meant it. Like… Why?” He asked sadly.

“Why are ponies racist?” I asked seeking clarification.

I hoped that was not his question. That’s a huge topic requiring extensive knowledge of political theory, sociology, neurobiology, and behavioral psychology. Frankly, I wasn’t qualified to talk about the subject as a whole like that.

“No, like… Um, no…” Fell mumbled rubbing his forehead with a hoof. “Why does it matter, if I don’t have wings. Or magic. Or fwooshy breath?”

I smiled as Fell mentioned dragon fire. “We don’t have dragons in Prance, Fell,” I reminded. “As for Earth Ponies, you are probably the only one for a few dozen leagues. Not many Earth Ponies of the First Kingdom came this way when it crumbled. Your ancestors all went to what is now Equestria. Your boss has never seen what your kind can do, and probably assumes you are useless. And well, without magic or wings, it’s hard to manipulate scissors. I imagine you work a little slowly.”

If Fell were not drunk I would have mentioned that the Emperor was once an Earth Pony. Racism against his kind was a very recent phenomenon, beginning within the last two generations. I always found it funny when young ponies forgot not only that but his Commands. A shame how they stopped making the young memorize the whole Codex of Honor.

Sadly, eight generations of being basically dead tends to remove you from public consciousness.

Fell shook his head. “No! We stayed put. When it crumbled.”

“Er, Fell, do you think you might be a little too drunk?” I asked in concern.

Fell gave me a confused look, bit his lip, then giggled. “Oop! Um, maybe just a lil bit. But um, It’s more like she’s ter- trara- no… oh! Afraid of me. Yeah, it’s like that,” he exclaimed with an eager nod.

Ahhh. Well, that was far easier.

I sighed and gently gave Fell a quick hug. “Sorry, but if that’s the case, there’s no fixing it.”

“Why?” He asked sadly. “I don’t like the fear all the time. It’s like boiled kale.”

I cleared my throat and with a quick flourish of magic recorked the bottle.

“Let’s leave some for another day,” I said levitating the bottle over to the kitchen counter behind me.

“Okay,” Fell agreed, picking up his mug and finishing it off. “Uff… It tastes cottony now.”

Yes, just a bit too far to the poisoned end of the drunk spectrum. Poor pony, he would have a monster headache in the morning.

“As for your boss, she’s afraid of you because we are a border village,” I explained. “I assure you that those of us living in proper cities are much nicer people. But here, a league from the griffons, one overwhelming push or clever trick away from becoming part of a food raid, many ponies are afraid of anypony who is different. The fear of the Other is great here.”

“Ohhh… That sucks,” Fell said with a frown.

I nodded. “Quite.”

“Is that why they hate you? Cuz you do the dead pony magic stuff? A-a-and they don't. So you’re different?” He asked.

“That is a part of it,” I admitted. “There’s also political reasons. My family is out of favor right now. Oh, and the social reasons. I’m third class. Makes me a public servant, so a lot of them feel like they own me, even though they don’t. His Highness does.”

Fell nodded twice and attempted to take a step forward but wobbled, barely managing to catch himself on the workbench next to him.

“Eep! Uh… Floor…No! Bad! Um, I brain I now should bed,” Fell said in broken Prench.

Truer words had not been spoken in this room for many months.

I nodded firmly. “Yes, you should. Do you need help walking?”

Fell shook his head a little too vigorously, causing his mane to fall over his eyes. “No no no… I’m okay. I’ll bed. But need nice thing first. I d-doo um… Níl mé ag iarraidh dul a chodladh brónach.”

Fells slip back into Equish made me pause for a moment in order to decipher what he had said. I spoke Equish of course, but just because you know a language doesn't mean you are always mentally ready to use it.

Ah, yes! That was ‘I don't want to go to bed sad.’

“Oh! Yes, I can understand that. Is there anything you would like to do?” I asked curiously.

Fell smiled happily again, nodding as he said. “Yush!” Slurring slightly. “Let me go and-”

Fell turned around, and then promptly fell over, forelegs simply folding under him while his rear legs remained straight, causing him to roll slightly forwards, flipping his tail up onto his back, plot as elevated as it could get.

“Oh no! I tripped…” Fell giggled.

I winced. Thank goodness nopony else had seen that. It’s always embarrassing when you trip. It’s rather hard for a quadruped to manage it. He had seven mugs. From now on his cut off was six, if only for the sake of preserving his pride.

“Here, let me help you up,” I said as I gently lifted Fell back onto his hooves.

Fell’s ears dropped as I lifted him, accompanied by a sad whimper.

“It’s okay we all trip at least once. Come on, let’s get you to bed,” I said warmly, supporting him with my magic as I gently walked him to his room.

“Ugh… Fine,” Fell lamented.

“Yes yes, going to bed sad is, uh, sad. But the sooner you sleep the less of a hangover you will experience,” I said soothingly as I pushed him gently into his room.

With Fell hopefully laying down to sleep off his stupor I turned and walked over to my alchemy bench, returning to an ongoing project of mine. I had two days to continue my efforts in extracting arcanite from iridium.

I had managed to produce iridium by reacting copper and nickel ore samples. If I could just find a way to separate the particles of Arcanite from the iridium, I could get ahold of the three kilos of the arcane reactive metal my project required.

There had to be a way to do it. SkyTech Industries was able to produce arcanite in limited quantities at the cost of a King’s Ransom worth of money. So I knew it could be done.

Perhaps this year I would succeed and be able to progress to the next stage of the project. Of course, the whole thing was a fool’s errand, a million before me had tried and failed.

And yet, I’d already done one impossible work of wizardry in my lifetime. How hard could it be to do another? Excruciatingly hard. Which is why it was fun!

Felling Axe - 24th of Leaffall, 16 EoH

La vallée-des-Roses - Prance

Bolts of green rained from the heavens, sending plumes of fire and rubble in all directions as they hit the shining towers of Canterlot. The living projectiles screamed, not with their mouths, but with their movement, like any shell would. The proper screams of terror came from the ponies below.

Smoke choked the streets, pouring out from the buildings lit aflame from the bombardment that was also a deployment. Terrified ponies rushing in all directions, screaming for loved ones, or fighting like geriatric children against the invaders. Cut down as they resisted, restrained mid step in their mad dash in futile search of safety.

They were not our enemy. The great dragon had died, these were her frightened hatchlings.

There was no need for war, food would have been given had she simply asked. These ponies were cowards, pacifists, sheltered by those stronger than them. If they even had warriors, they were not here this day.

There was no honor under her command. This path led to damnation. They were loyal, and so they were lost. But my own course could be corrected.

I wheeled around, smashing a hoof through the nearest changeling carapace, severing his right foreleg, Warsong upon my lips.

“For the grace, for the might of our Lord! // For the home of the Holy! // For the faith, for the way of the sword, // Give your life so boldly!”

I’m sure that everypony knows what it’s like to wake up with a class five hangover. The pressure behind the eyes, that pounding feeling at the base of the skull, the cottonmouth from Tartarus, the joint pain. The way that light strikes for your eyes, lance leveled at your cornea and screaming war cries.

The good news was that feeling would fade over a few hours. The bad news was most definitely the horrible smell that seemed to have replaced all of the air going into my nose. Metallic, also ashy and… Wheaty?

OH BUCK! Did I drink myself into a stroke!?

My head protested violently, detonating stars in my eyes as I scrambled to my hooves. Repose was a necromancer. He had to be able to unkill flesh, right? Maybe he could fix stroke-damaged tissue. I couldn’t afford to-

I frowned, the smell was far more intense now that I was standing on my ‘technically a mattress’. That was a real smell. Repose was doing some wizard shit again.

I sighed, rubbed a hoof gently over my eyes, then staggered out of my bedroom and into the living room slash workshop. The smell was nearly overpowering in here, and yet I could see Repose’s cute, yellowish white, shimmery plot poking out from under a workbench while he looked for… Something.

How the hay did he work with this smell? It had to be from working with dead ponies all the time. Gods only knew what a millennia old corpse smelled like.

“I feel dead…” I announced with a moan as a form of greeting.

“Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as ponies claim,” Repose replied automatically.

I couldn’t help but giggle at his dry wit. Unfortunately, my head decided that giggling was bad and pulsed angrily. “Ow…”

“Sorry, if I knew a hangover cure I’d cast it for you,” he apologized, remaining under the workbench.

“So, um, what smells like you opened a can of concentrated evil?” I asked, hoping the answer wasn’t something beginning with ‘funny you should say that.’

“Sorry about that, I dropped the cork for a flask and the reaction started while I’ve been looking for it,” Repose explained. “I had a breakthrough! But um, it’s a little smelly.”

I frowned grumpily. I’d already known he was doing magey alchemy things. That was entirely unhelpful.

“Okay, but the reaction is… What?” I asked patiently.

“Oh! Sorry. I’m dissolving an anode mud in a mixture of chlorine with hydrochloric acid to separate the iridium from the mud’s other elements. I worked out how to make an arcanite powder! If it’s stable I can- Uh, I can do cool wizard things,” Repose explained excitedly, thankfully curtailing the ramble I wouldn’t have been able to understand.

“Okay,” I answered turning to go and make myself some coffee before I remembered two things.

First, we were out of coffee. Second, arcanite was really bucking expensive.

“Wait! Like, could we get rich off of this?” I asked, turning back around in time to see Repose scoot out from under the workbench and cork the flask atop it.

“No, the amount of capital required for large scale production with this method is too prohibitive. Also, the powder may not be able to be made into a solid bar. But if I can make it into a single piece, then we could make some good money selling small quantities. Aside from micro-enchantment components, most enchanters will need tens of kilos per item. This mostly will be able to supply my own experiments,” Repose admitted with a sad sigh.

I nodded slowly so as not to anger the tiny monsters currently punching my brain.

Ugh, why did I try to get him drunk so he would be more receptive to my offered affection? Why didn’t it work? How much booze could that pony take!?

“Right, so… What are you trying to do?” I asked, genuinely interested despite my pained voice’s indication.

Repose claimed to have been working on the same project for the last twenty years. Most of that until six months ago had been all paperwork, notes, and math. He’d only recently started actually doing things. Which in my opinion was when projects got interesting.

Hoofwork is just inherently more fun to do than bookwork. For me at least. Repose definitely liked them both.

“I’m trying to construct a resonant-” he paused, cleared his throat and slowly turned to face me. “I’m trying to create a techno-arcane device which will act as a stabilizer for a tissue repair spell many thousands of times more complex and powerful than the ones which currently exist. It’s… I’m hoping that I can use it to restore my family to a respectable position. If I can pull this off then- Er, no offense but it’s not prudent to talk about success just yet.”

“Oh, well, okay,” I said with a small frown. “So what’s the arcanite for? I know that it does stuff with magic, but, well, you know.”

No one had actually ever told me what the stuff really even did, despite me having used many things containing the rare metal.

Repose frowned at me in concern. “They don’t cover that in Equestrian schools? I thought they taught basic arcane theory to all students.”

Did they? Buck! Think fast. “Well, they do. But I don’t remember exactly what arcanite does.”

“Oh, yes. I can see why an earth pony would forget that over time,” Repose said with a nod, seemingly satisfied. “Arcanite is a magically superconductive material. Put mana in one end, and it instantly spreads out to all parts of the metal. It’s excellent for ensuring that all elements in an enchanted item get the same amount of energy at the same time.

“In the case of my invention, I need a few kilos of it to use as a mana regulator, and capacitor. It can also store magical energy, see? Arcanite won't let energy leave it unless that energy is made to work via spellcraft or coming into contact with another magical conductor.”

“Oh! Like a mana gem?” I asked, comparing what had to be a super cool mage thing to a common battery.

Well… That made me look stupid. Great.

“Yes!” Repose replied happily. “But with FAR more storage capability than even quartz. If you made an arcanite cylinder and then plated it with zinc to isolate it from the outside world you could store a thousand times more energy than an equally sized quartz crystal, and for, well, possibly for millions of years before thermodynamics did its thing.”

“That does seem handy. I need to change out the gems in my power tools way too much for me to like,” I grumbled. “Thanks for recharging them for me, by the way.”

Repose smiled happily, his odd but still cute bright red eyes crinkling a little from the motion. “No problem. I got magic to spare and I like helping friends.”

Don’t say ‘are we only friends?’. Don’t say ‘are we only friends?’. Don’t say ‘are we only friends?’.

“Are we only friends?” I asked sadly.

Damn it!

Repose frowned slightly, clearly not taking what I said the way a normal pony would have. Thank the Gods! And also damn it…

“Oh! Well, I suppose we would be best friends, wouldn’t we? I mean, I just have the one, which naturally confirms that title onto you. Sorry, I can say that more often if you like,” Repose offered.

“I um… Just call me anything you like,” I replied with a nervous smile.

It really sucks when you like someone you can’t get a read on… Tartarus at this point I was fairly sure that Repose didn’t even think about sex, let alone romance.

“As you wish,” Repose said turning back to watch the blue-turning-into-brown reaction unfold. “Do you work today? If not I can cast a few spells to freshen up the air. The smell doesn't bother me.”

“HOW CAN IT NOT!?” I demanded, yelling mostly due to the hangover.

“Burned the inside of my nose with a heated brass rod before I mixed the chemicals,” Repose replied calmly.

I felt my ears and tail stand on end in alarm. “Celestia’s bucking cake habit! Why the buck would you-”

“It’s not a big deal, I’ll just fix myself later,” Repose said giving me an odd look.

“But that had to have hurt really bad! Don’t hurt yourself like-”

“Meh, it didn’t feel as bad as you think. It’s fine. I do it all the time,” Repose said with a dismissive hoof wave.

I spent a few moments staring at him in stunned disbelief. “I-is this why I never see you like, injured?” I asked after a few seconds.

Seriously, I’d never even seen him with a black eye or bruises, but he insisted that ponies threw things at him frequently.

“Yeah, I like to look nice. I repair any damage my body incurs as soon as I can,” Repose replied, picking up a silver pen in his magical grip and quickly jotting down a note while he stared at the reacting chemicals.

“A-alright then,” I said, a little stunned. “So uh, if your thingie works, what would you do with it? Sell it?”

I couldn’t just head out to work with that as the end of our conversation.

Repose shook his head immediately. “No! If this works I’ll be taking a trip to the imperial city-”

“Um, but I thought you said you’re not allowed to leave this village,” I replied with a frown.

“That is correct,” Repose agreed sadly. “But if I can make this work, I will have a device which can repair an extremely damaged body, despite scrambled tissues and a necromantic induced semi-coma, and also remove residual magic from someone. Meaning I could heal the Emperor, and remove the Stewards from power. I think that’s worth breaking a law or three. Unfortunately, it’s highly implausible I’ll actually succeed.”

“Uh…” I said, honestly floored by the sheer scope Repose’s project.

“I know… I know… Two thousand years of great mages tried and failed,” he admitted. “I don’t think I can do it. But I will try anyways. I have plenty of time.”

“S-shouldn’t like, you have state funding for this?” I asked incredulously. “I mean, like, if Celestia was sick and I thought I could cure her, I would have helpers, money, everything provided.”

“Well, this is mostly just something I do for fun. I don't expect it to work. Additionally, your countryponies have an interest in helping Celestia. The Stewards have ruled over Prance for eight generations. Most of us see them as the legitimate government and the Emperor as a historical figure and a pseudo-diplomat. When he is capable of speaking, at least,” Repose grumbled. “My family refused to follow a Steward's order twenty-eight years ago. It violated multiple sections of the Codex, you see? They responded by breaking up noble families with loyalty to the crown like our own.”

I winced. “Yeah, I remember. You told me the story before. But like, the Stewards are the Prench government now. You realize that this technically makes you a traitor, right?”

Repose nodded. “Yes, in a technical sense. But I don’t care. I may never have met him, but I have my grandfather's stories of our ancestors and history books to tell me that what we need in Prance today is for our Emperor to live once more. This… This is very heavy political topic to discuss early in the day, would you mind if I greatly summarize my position?”

“You don’t need to, I get it,” I replied. “Blind loyalty to authority is bad. Loyalty is something a ruler earns. If you feel the Stewards have not earned the loyalty of your people, you need to act.”

That’s what I did after all. I may be many things, but I’m not a hypocrite.

“Oh thank goodness!” Repose exclaimed with a happy sigh. “Yes, exactly that! The Stewards have spent thousands of years fortifying the inner cities, the imperial palace, and constructing the Iron Line… But have not once ever taken active measures to push back at the Griffons. They bucking eat us. The Stewards literally take no action diplomatically or militarily to stop our people from being eaten whenever the griffons can break through the Line.

“I owe them nothing. But I do feel I owe my nation a debt of honor. It’s hard for we Prench to not be a little patriotic. I obey the laws of the land for the sake of keeping the peace for the sake of my fellow ponies. Things may change one day, and if they do I hope to be a part of it. So I tinker with my projects. But that’s all I do. I don’t really expect anything to come of it, but I have hopes, and I enjoy the challenge.”

I nodded, feeling compelled to give Repose a sympathetic hug. At least I’d been able to leave. If he was able to, I’m sure I wouldn’t have bumped into him while looking for someone to room with when I’d immigrated two years ago.

“What did he do differently?” I asked. “The Emperor, I mean. Also, doesn't he have a name?”

This was finally some real meat behind Repose’s worldviews. I had to know more, especially because they seemed to match up quite a bit with my own.

“Of course he does,” Repose replied with a laugh. “I don’t know his first name, no one outside of his friends ever learned it. But I do know his family name was Prance-”

I cleared my throat and raised a hoof questioningly. “Did he-”

“Yes, he named his empire after himself. But that’s fair. He did start it on his own after all, and there are plenty of towns around the world named after their founders,” Repose said defensively. “As for what he did, according to legend, our Emperor made it his personal mission in life to unify all of ponykind, or should a nation treat its people with dignity, respect, and kindness, ally with them so as to bring an end to all conflict. History backs up that part of the legend, all of Prance’s conquests and attempted conquests were wars of liberation and the conquered lands were folded into the Empire, unmolested save for reworking their local government to match imperial standards.

“The Emperor wanted to make a better world where everyone was safe and could prosper, and thought the best way to do that was to rule over the terrible parts of it himself and fix them. If the stories are true, he was good at it. He could make most people agree with him by sheer force of argument and logic. Even after two thousand years you have people like me who remember their grandparents firmly declaring loyalty to what is effectively a corpse. I think that modern Prance needs that kind of unifier to return to a state of true glory. I’ve personally seen us slide down a long ways over my lifetime alone.

“Other places could use him now too. The griffons are our enemy, but they are carnivores and they need to eat too. Other nations of griffons, Eagleland for instance, they can feed themselves on non-sapient animals. If he didn’t fall, our Emperor would have fixed that for them right after shaking their former leader's blood off his boots.

“Maybe it’s all stories or propaganda. But his body really is still in the Imperial Palace, and he is sometimes conscious enough to act as our chief diplomat, or sign a special order for the Stewards. While I probably am just wasting time trying, there is always the remote chance I could help bring him back to strength. Frankly, the slim chance that I might be able to help the world in some way is all I have to live for. Aside from you, that is. Thanks for being my friend.”

Wow, that got grim! I couldn’t stand the bitter and sad look on Repose’s face. He had been all happy and glowing while talking about the history and then, just, wow. Maybe asking him about some more history would help.

“You know,” I began curiously, “history books do mention your Emperor was mortally wounded, but they don’t really say how. It’s just a footnote.”

That was something I had been wanting to know for a while anyways.

Repose nodded, taking a few long moments to write down a longer string of notes and then turn the page of his notebook to a fresh one before he continued speaking. “It’s not something that the Stewards like to talk about. The whole incident makes them look bad. Because some serious backroom politics and backstabbing happened to set everything up. The Emperor fell in battle at the beginning of a campaign to conquer one of the kingdoms which formed the Griffon Kingdoms later on.

“If you believe the story loyalists have passed down through the generations, Frosted Lake, the First Steward of Prance, hit the Emperor with a curse mid-battle, allowing an arch enemy of his named Dawn to breach his defenses and hit him with a really nasty spell, although it’s said that our Emperor almost killed him before it took full effect. Personally, I think that bit’s just propaganda.

“One thing is for sure, he was hit by a unique killing spell. Nopony I am aware of can ever figure out exactly what it did. All history knows is it killed the Emperor and seriously interfered with his Archmage’s resurrection attempt, leading to the last two thousand years of history.”

I nodded slowly. “Right, so, that’s how he’s been alive this whole time? He’s in an undead coma, slipping in and out of consciousness at random, like you said earlier?”

I always liked learning about history. It was fun. And this particular story had the added bonus of getting to hear Repose talk about something he was passionate about. That was nice. He rarely opened up like this but when he did… Well, beneath his bitterness was a stallion I wanted to be with forever.

Too bad my brain hates being direct when it comes to romance… That’s your revenge for all of the extra hours in the sparring ring. Isn’t it, brain?

“Yes. And also no. Imperial History is long and fascinating, going back to the First Kingdom’s collapse,” Repose informed, stopping to quickly turn down the flame on a small burner. “The legends say that our Emperor knows the alchemy lost during the collapse because he was born just before it was lost. In any case, he is best described as an extremely alchemically engineered pony.

“Again, if the stories are true, he improved himself to a state of near-immortality. Kind of like your Alicorns, but also vastly different. Um, that’s another topic altogether. But it’s likely a part of why healing attempts have historically failed. This is actually one of my favorite historical topics… I could lecture on this. How much time do you have before you need to go? It’s eight in the morning.”

Eight in the morning!?

“Ponyfeather’s I’m already late! I have to go,” I yelped quickly sprinting for the door and immediately tripping over my hooves, which didn’t want to move properly thanks to being stuff.

I landed in a heap on the floor, legs basically all knotted up, and face firmly pressed into the cheap wood floor’s twisted grain.

“Ow!” I moaned painfully.

I felt a warm tingle as Repose’s magic picked me up in a surprisingly gentle grip.

“You tripped last night too. Are you still a little drunk? You did have quite a lot to drink,” he asked in concern.

I groaned, emotional pain reaching critical mass. He thought that had been an actual bucking trip. What would it take to get through his thick skull? A formal bucking proposal?! Bucking backing up under you!? Why are you so cute but so oblivious!?!

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Repose said with a sigh. “I won't keep you from working, but you should ask your boss for a hangover tonic. They legally have to provide them, and if they are out, requesting one will prevent your boss from punishing you for your impairment.”

“Thanks,” I sighed, moving towards the door more slowly this time.

I took my saddlebags off the peg on the wall and tossed them onto my back. There was no time to check and make sure that my entire kit was in there. If I was missing any of the clippers or whatever, I’d just have to make due. Stupid bucking ‘bring your own tools’ policy…

“I’ll see you this evening, we should do dinner again. That was really nice!” I waited, as I slipped out the door.

“Didn’t we already agree to?” Repose called after me.

“Oh yeah. Uh, just making sure you remembered. Later! I love you,” I said accidently while stepping into the hallway.

OH BUCKING SHIT! What if he got mad because he didn’t like other stallions! Abandon life! RUN FOR THE HIL-

“Pardon?” Repose asked, sounding genuinely confused.

“Flax juice!” I said quickly. “Uh, I need to pick some up. For woodworking later. I forgot it yesterday.”

Oh, gods, nopony would ever buy that bullsh-

“Oh. We call it flax oil, not juice. Sometimes it’s labeled flaxseed oil. I’ll try and pick some up for you. I’m free all day anyway,” Repose replied turning back to his workbench happily.

Oh my gods that worked! Just back away, do not open the can of bees...

“Thanks, that would be great. I have to run away really fast now,” I said quickly and awkwardly, closing the door behind me before whispering, “Love-you-bye!” Then quickly zipping down the hall in case he heard.

Oh, gods am I awkward... Why is fighting a timberwolf easier than saying you like somepony?

Gentle Repose - 24th of Leaffall, 16 EoH

La vallée-des-Roses - Prance

Fell seemed very out of sorts this morning. I was fairly certain he had been signaling me in some way but for the life of me, I had no idea what it all was about.

One thing was for sure. I definitely had to pick up the flax oil he needed. He was clearly very stressed out today. Nopony should have to go shopping like that.

I should do that now before I forget thanks to getting lost in my own fun.

Like a bolt of lightning from a blue sky, it hit me!

Felling… He was terrified of his boss!

It all made sense. Last night he had said she seemed afraid of him and had been acting in a hostile manner. Of course, he was flustered, he was worried she would fire or otherwise hurt him.

My pen clattered to my workbench as my magic’s grip failed due to my becoming just a little bit absolutely livid.

How dare she terrorize my friend! He was kind and hardworking. Fell didn’t deserve abuse simply for being different. This sort of monstrous behavior was unacceptable. I put up with abuse directed towards me, but this, oh-ho-ho this…

This had to be dealt with immediately!

A thousand separate plans flashed through my mind, most of which involved animating a hoard of the undead to rend her limb from limb, or flay and then throw into a salt mine, or literally beat the witch into a paste, reanimate her, and make her EAT that paste.

But I pushed them aside. They seemed like just a bit of an overreaction. Also, I would be killed for that. I didn’t usually even think that violently. I must like Fell more than I had thought I did.

I needed something untraceable back to him or me. Something which would torment her and draw her focus away from him. But what?

Suddenly I had an idea, a perfect, marvelous, beautiful idea! I would sneak into her office and curse her office chair to make the space around it five degrees colder than everywhere else in winter and ten degrees hotter in the summer. Brilliant!

I dashed to the door and tossed on my cloak, fastening it securely before galloping out the door, slamming it shut with my magic.

Oh, yes! I must remember to pick up flax oil on the way back. I hated it when I was missing something to finish one of my own projects, after all.