• Published 8th Jul 2019
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The Rains of Vanhoover - kudzuhaiku



It was raining in Vanhoover. It was always raining in Vanhoover.

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Home is where you practice hard consonants

To the north and west, just over Canterlot, storm clouds were assembled. The waterfall that poured into the city was more than ornamental, it offered the fine mist and water vapour required to whip up a storm so that the greenery of the city could be watered in an expedient manner. These storm clouds were dull, drab, and rather boring, with nothing exciting about them at all. Why, they didn’t even appear to be thundery, and Nut suspected that they were a school project.

Nut decided that he much prefered feral storms, such as those over Vanhoover.

“Well,” he said to his companion who trotted beside him, “there it is. Home. The Agate Tower. That’s the big orange one right over there. It used to be just dreary cloudy marble, like every other tower around here, but one of my distant relatives happened to be a powerful stone-shaper, and he smeared the fiery orange agate over the marble tower like butter over toast.”

“It’s…”—for a moment, Tater Blossom failed to speak—“so beautiful.”

“Indubitably. That is kind of you to say.” Swinging Susan about, he pointed at his home. “The agate acts as a sort of magical conduit. You may feel strange inside; some do, others do not.” He paused for a moment to think of the magic of his ancestral home—one home of many—and it occurred to him that the oldest and most stately homes of Canterlot were probably well-defended from the rodent menace.

It was a matter of dimensional protrusions. If the burrowing vermin attempted to bore through a wall that housed extradimensional space, things would go poorly for them. Old money wouldn’t be bothered by the rats much at all, while the poor and those lacking in magic would suffer unduly. The Agate Tower was old. Unicorn magic had permeated the interiour for centuries. It was very much like a wizard’s hat soaking up magic over time, but with a magnitude of difference regarding the overall effect.

There were whole miles of hallway in his ancestral home and far too many rooms.

Beyond the wrought iron gate, the garden was much, much tinier than he remembered. Of course, he had once been so much smaller, a foal, and so the space probably felt larger to him. The space between the tower and the garden walls maybe a yard wide at most, with square walls wrapping around a circular tower. Trees grew in the corners where there was the most space, and the leaves caressed the bright orange agate skin of the tower.

As he approached the gate, it opened, unbidden… and why wouldn’t it? He was home. Though, in some way that he could not fathom, this now felt like a strange place. If he was now a stranger, why then did the gate open for him? This question flitted about in his mind like metaphorical bats in a proverbial belfry. He stood for a moment in the gateway, uncertain, confused, but had no time to sort himself out, as the front door opened.

“Pod,” he said when he saw the pleasantly pea-green mare stepping out.

“Nut.”

“Too much emphasis on the final consonant, Pod.”

“It is a hard consonant,” she argued. “I’m well within my rights.”

“That might be the case, but you make it sound guttural. Crude, even.” Raising his left hoof, he gestured at his ward and said, “This is Miss Potato Blossom. Miss—”

Before he could finish, Pod smoothly cut in to say, “Salutations, Miss Blossom. I am Miss Pod. You may call me Pod.”

When Tater Blossom spoke, she sounded a little overwhelmed. “Hi there…”

“Pod, what are you doing here?”

“This is my residence. The place where I practice my hard consonants before a grand and stately mirror.” Then, turning away from Nut, she looked Tater Blossom right in the eye. “Nut and I will go on like this all day. We lack an economy of syllables. Tell me, Blossom, would you like to come inside for tea? And to stay, of course.”

“I’d like that a lot, thanks.”

“Do come inside,” Pod said while she gestured at the door behind her. “Clove is in her laboratory, and mustn’t be disturbed for any reason. Bulb is at the castle, minding the tulips he modified to act as remote listening devices. Rather clever, wouldn’t you agree? Grandfather Gestalt is around here somewhere, but Grandmother Lambda is in the Crystal Empire assisting Empress Cadance with some grand psychiatry project. Nut… I have missed you. Seeing you gives me heart palpitations.”

“See a doctor, Pod,” he suggested.

“I am,” she replied. “Well, she will be one someday. Sooner, with my help.”

Intrigued, Nut followed Pod inside, with his ward right beside him.


Tater Blossom stumbled, but then recovered as she came through the doorway. Nut too, felt some disorientation, but it was brief, and he was accustomed to the sensation. ‘Twas an odd sensation, one of being stretched—it made him feel noodly—and the body needed a bit of time to adjust to the extradimensional transition. Reality was stretched a bit thin here, like too little jam on too much scone.

He was home. His foalhood was spent in these halls of fine, cloudy marble. Nothing had changed, and why would it? The entry room was exactly as he remembered it, and the suit of cast-obsidian plate mail still stood guard near the door. Unwelcome visitors who somehow forced their way in would face a terrifying foe that was almost magic immune. As a foal, the obsidian knight gave him the shivers.

It was not so scary now.

With a sigh, he set down his suitcase, and then hung Susan from her hook near the door. The marble floor beneath him was somehow comforting and odd at the same time. For almost a year now, he stood and walked on perfectly mundane surfaces—floors not stretched into impossibility by magic—and the sensation was no longer familiar to him.

Catching him by surprise, Pod left a kiss upon his cheek, a warm, affectionate smooch that he was entirely unprepared for. Her eyes were warm, kind, and full of mischief—exactly as he remembered her. Had things been different, they might have been married now. For almost a decade, even. Pod might have been with foal, or they might have waited until after university. Looking into her eyes, he didn’t know how to respond, and was quite overwhelmed by his own thoughts.

“Nut,” she said, her muzzle mere inches from his own. “this might come as a shock to you, but I am engaged. I’ve been fretting, Nut. More than a little, actually. I’ve found a mare, and I worry how you might take it. There are some who might be offended if their former intended took up with a mare.”

“I’ll confess, it is a bit of a shock.” Looking into her eyes, it was easy to remember how fond he was of her. “But I am quite secure in my masculinity, I assure you. Somehow, I shall recover. Honestly, I am surprised to find that your tastes have turned lesbian, Pod.”

“That’s the thing… I’m not a lesbian, though my intended is tasty indeed.”

Nut’s brows furrowed, and he was aware that Tater Blossom listened intently.

“There are no physical attractors whatsoever, Nut. It is so very peculiar. How do I explain? I am attracted to her intellect. So much so that I am willing to look past the container that holds such a fine, exceptional mind. I find myself in a strange place, Nut. She is an undiscovered country, a strange land I long to explore. Her name is Twilight Taffeta, and yes, before you ask, she is a cousin to both Twilight Velvet and Twilight Sparkle.”

“Pod, I am happy for you.”

“Thank you, Nut.” Again, she kissed him, and this one was somehow warmer than the first. Leaning in, she whispered in his ear, “When we start a family, which if I have my way, will be sooner, rather than later, I will require a contribution from you. You owe me, Nut. I was ready to marry you, to live the whole of my life with you, and you, you broke my heart.”

Even though he only thought about it for a moment, her request seemed reasonable. How could he refuse? “Just let me know, Pod. We’re family. ‘Tis not onerous what you request.”

“Tea!” Pod’s hooves shuffled against the floor as she backed away from Nut. “I will introduce you to my intended over tea. Splendid idea. Blossom, sorry for that moment of family drama, but I couldn’t sleep at all last night because I knew Nut was coming home and much was on my mind.”

“Call me Tater.”

“Oh.” Pod had to recover for a few seconds, but recover she did. “Tater it is then. You’re a Tater, I’m a Pea Pod, and we have a Nut. That makes us a salad.”

Tater Blossom’s whole body shook with her rambunctious giggles.

“Stop over-accentuating the final consonant of my name, ‘tis driving me mad.”

“Nut, tut-tut!”

“Stop that at once!” He saw the mischief in her eyes and was almost overcome with memories. “You did that when we were foals.”

“Oh, capital!” she cried. “I still possess the means to rob you of your goat. Poor Nut, tut-tut… goatless.”

Before he could respond, Pod pranced away—but not at a run of course, because she was indoors.


“This is my intended, Twilight Taffeta.” Pod could not hold still and an excited whinny somehow slipped free, which made her eyes twinkle. “Twilight, this is Nut, the future father of our foals, just as we have discussed, and his companion is Potato Blossom… but we get to call her Tater. Riotous. Capital! Ahem.”

“I am pleased to meet you both.” Twilight Taffeta was far more subdued than Pod was, so much so that she stood out in sharp contrast to her counterpart. “You must excuse Pod. She was up all night and when the dawn came round at last, she drank whole pots of Celestial Glory tea. Nut… I’ve heard so many stories about you. At last, I get to meet you in pony.”

“Good stories, I should hope.”

“All of them.” Twilight Taffeta, a dusky shade of nightfall blue, closed a bit of distance and moved closer to Nut. “There are times when I am jealous and it feels as though I am competing for her affection with you. She loves me though, and I know that.” Then, she turned away from Nut and faced Tater Blossom. “Do sit down. Don’t be shy.”

“Everything is so fancy… I’m afeared to sit down. Everything is so clean and perfect.”

“This is the tea parlour.” With her soft voice, Twilight Taffeta tried to reassure Tater Blossom. “Please, have a seat. Be comfortable. It’s all right. Come sit with me, right over here. I’ll pull up a table so you can have your tea in comfort, and without awkwardness.”

“That’s mighty kind of you.”

She’s amazing! Pod mouthed the words so that only Nut could see them.

Tater Blossom allowed herself to be led over to the loveseat and she sat down with Twilight Taffeta. Alas, ‘twas a loveseat meant for two, and Pod heaved a forlorn sigh. Pod was helpful though, and brought a tall table of carved wood over to the loveseat so that Tater Blossom could have her tea.

After the table was put down, Pod said, “I’ll be back with the tea. I’m serving it myself. Feels so naughty, being domestic. It makes Taffy weak in the knees when I’m domestic—”

“Pod, go away and compose yourself. Begone! Come back when you have manners.”

“Sure thing, Taffy. Tootles!”

When Pod slipped through the door, the flustered mare fanned her face with one hoof and said, “She calls me Taffy. It leaves the room a bit too warm when she does that. Or is it just me? If this keeps up, I’ll end up with a heat rash. One of those unmentionable tropical varieties.” Then, still fanning herself, she gave Tater Blossom all of her attention.

“So, tell me about yourself. I would very much like to know all about you. Spare no detail…”


Tater Blossom and Taffy—the name had stuck in Nut’s mind, much to his own dismay—acted as though they had known each other for the entirety of their lives. Taffy had put the younger filly at ease, calmed her, and then somehow brought the very best out of her. He could sense no judgement from Taffy concerning his ward’s total lack of manners, there was no condescension, no hidden spite beneath a thin veneer of civility.

Taffy was quite possibly the most sincere pony that he’d ever met and he could say this after knowing her for but a short time. She was quite unlike Pod, a bit more serious perhaps, and was too sincere for sarcasm, which Pod had in abundance. From various little bits of conversation that he’d picked up, he found her fascinating.

She was to be a foalhood development specialist and studied with Gestalt. Even though she was only a student, she worked with Twilight Velvet, and helped to sort out troubled foals rescued from bad situations. And he could see her doing it, too. Taffy had certainly calmed Tater Blossom down, and had her sorted out in moments. Yes, Taffy had a knack, and was sure to go places. She was maternal kindness equinified.

When he glanced at Pod beside him, he saw that she was blowing bubbles in her tea. Sighing, he turned away, but said nothing. Clearly, Pod was intoxicated with love. Inebriated with infatuation. A part of him envied her and he found himself thinking of Black Maple. He could be in love—if only he allowed it to happen. But Black Maple needed to be sorted out. She needed to pull herself together. Black Maple was no Twilight Taffeta.

“You are a remarkable pony,” Taffy said to Tater Blossom. “Having a panic attack is nothing to be ashamed of. You will recover. When Gestalt comes out of hiding, you and I will have a talk with him. I’ll be your support. You’re so very brave… it warms my heart. The world needs brave ponies just like you.”

“This is why I’m in love,” Pod said in a sing-song whisper to Nut.

He whispered back, “I say… she’s exceptional.”

“You’re so nice…” For a moment, it seemed as though Tater Blossom might say more, but instead, she sighed, and with a relaxed smile, she leaned up against Taffy.

“I’d like to question you, if I may. For my studies. But only if you allow it. If you are uncomfortable with the idea, just tell me. You have nothing to fear, as I will not be angered by your refusal. You are a very special pony, and I am pleased with whatever choice you make.”

“I feel like I’m meltin’ inside.”

“Melting is fine. You do that if it makes you happy. I’ll collect you in a cup and watch over you.”

“Now I’m melting inside,” Pod whispered.

Now, at this moment, Nut knew and understood how Pod could not be a lesbian, but still be in love. Some ponies were special. Unique. One-of-a-kind. Taffy was clearly one such pony and he understood that one must make allowances for such a rare, exclusive, elusive creature. To pass over such a chance, such a gift, such an opportunity because of the physicality of gender—‘twould be a crime against love itself. Leaning over a bit, he nudged his cousin, and somehow dislodged a muted giggle from her.

Yes, Pod was very much in love, and Taffy’s body was no impediment.

“Nut.”

The sound of his name jarred him; almost startled him.

“Mother.”

She stood in the doorway, wearing a spotless lab coat over her sleek, modest smock.

“Nut…”

“Mother.” The room reeked of garlic and Nut knew that he was truly home.

“Cease this foolishness at once, Nut. I have a name. I am Clove. You are no longer a foal, but a functioning adult. Act your age.”

“My most sincere apologies, Mother.” This made her sigh, and Nut felt some small sense of satisfaction. So much so that he smirked. “It is good to see you, Mother.”

“Very well. Persist with this foolishness if you must. Nut. Be flippant.”

“Oh, I intend to.” He gave Pod another nudge, and she giggled.

“I must say, Nut. She’s… young. Younger than I expected. Your telegram was the very soul of brevity, but I understand the reason. Loquaciousness, your innate sesquipedalian nature, that would increase cost exponentially.” Clove turned her garlic-scented gaze upon Tater Blossom, who huddled against Taffy. “Nut, I will always be supportive of you and your endeavours, and I will never be one to judge love in whatever form it takes, but I am very much surprised that your intended is not closer to your own age.”

So this was the proverbial silence in which a pin drop might be heard.

He sampled this silence, savoured it, but wasn’t sure if he found it to his liking. Tater Blossom had a terrific expression right now; her swollen eye was half open, while her other eye was wide open. Why, it could be said that her other eye yawned and if one squinted hard enough, might catch a glimpse of her soul. Taffy, ever-so-polite and supportive, she reached over and with a gentle touch of her well-pedicured hoof, she closed Tater Blossom’s open mouth, sparing her from appearing as a slack-jawed yokel.

For this, he was as glad as he was grateful.

Something needed to be said, but he had no idea what it was, or might be. In fact, it might very well be impossible to ever speak again, for he was dumbstruck. His mother’s slender ears quivered, no doubt waiting for some manner, some means of explanation, but none seemed forthcoming. Right now, he wanted to explore a liquid state of being, so that he might melt into the couch and vanish.

“I am positive that you must be exceptional in some way for Nut to have noticed you,” Clove said in a voice comprised of calm, austere empiricism. “A living calculator, perhaps. I am not one to judge by appearance. You may look as though you were just plucked out of the potato patch, but Nut has an eye for treasures that most would miss. For all of his multiloquent frivolousness, my son is a fine judge of character. Speak for yourself, girl, and let me hear the quality of your voice.”

“Mother.” Nut was absolutely horrified by the sound of his own voice. Why, it was as if he was a foal again, in trouble for galloping and gallivanting about in the library. “Mother, no. You have reached an erroneous conclusion. She is not my intended, but my ward. I gave her father my word as a noble that I would see to her care. Which is why I am here, at home, right now, at this very minute, so that I could formally ask for assistance so that I might keep my word.”

“Oh.” Clove stood unmoving for a brief time, and then shuffled over to the couch where Nut sat, and she eased herself down beside him. “Oh, Son… that… that is very serious.”

“Indeed it is, Mother. I am charged with ensuring that she lives up to her full potential… and no less. I made an oath. Our family’s honour is at stake.”

“Pardon me, I need a moment to collect my thoughts.” Clove poured herself a cup of tea, added nothing, and then levitated the teacup mere inches away from her nose. With each breath she took, she caused the little curls of steam to scatter every which way.

Nut rather wished that his cup of tea was a mug of ale.


Tater Blossom was at ease now, and lapped up her tea. Taffy was right beside her, making regular slurps of her tea. Nut was thankful for Taffy’s presence, and with each passing minute, he found more reasons to adore her. As for Pod, she was subdued but jittery. All of her sarcasm and wit had abandoned her, so she sat silent. Every time Nut moved for any reason, she twitched and jerked about.

“Calling her your ward will not accomplish much,” Clove said. After a brief discussion, an exchange of facts, she had gone silent, but now seemed ready to speak again. “You are not her father, Nut. Nor her family. As awful as it is, she is just old enough that she will be considered an adult. You will not be able to legally act as her caretaker, as her guardian. Your authority as a noble will only go so far… especially outside of Canterlot.”

“Well then, what do I do, Mother?” Nut, having recovered himself, poured his heart out to his mom. “She needs schooling. I need some way to ensure that she gets it. That I have the authority to make decisions for her, and sign contracts for her as her caretaker. What do I do?”

Much to Nut’s frustration, his mother did not respond.

The tea parlour was a smallish room that was mostly devoid of colour. Nut noticed this only just now. He’d grown up in this tower, and spent much time in this very room. Cloudy marble, rather milky and greyish in colour, with suggestions of blue. The furniture was all sensible and several hundred years out of fashion. All of it was upholstered in neutral fabrics, with nothing vibrant, nothing vivid, nothing remotely colourful. The room could only be described as severe. It was a cold place, almost like a hospital. Or a museum. At the moment, the tea parlour was rather squarish, but there were times when it was round—the tower was so old that it had moods.

“You have but one recourse, Son.”

“And what is that, Mother? Do tell.”

“Claim Miss Blossom as your apprentice.”

“Mother, might I point out the obvious and that is the fact that Miss Blossom is not a unicorn?” When his mother sighed, Nut worried that his mother had taken what he said as sarcasm, and he prepared a sincere apology. But before he could speak—

“I have a copy of the unicorn bylaws in my study. Earth pony and pegasus pony bylaws as well. As it so happens, I have most of them committed to memory. There is absolutely no mention that an apprentice must be a unicorn.”

“I am no wizard—”

“Nor is there mention that a master must be a wizard. Unicorns retained the right to the master-apprentice relationship as they saw fit. Smart Cookie recognised it as something sacred and championed its protection during the integration. You, my Son, have a direct, traceable lineage that goes right back to Smart Cookie. Right now, your father is one of the twelve Erzherzöge of the earth pony tribe, a unique position due to the fact that we are unicorns.”

“At one point, there were thirteen. Yes, I have paid attention to my history. The thirteenth voluntarily relinquished their title, so Princess Celestia could be the tie-breaker in the event of dispute.” What he didn’t mention was the fact that the Erzherzöge only convened during a time of war or crisis, and that the title was now a relic, something considered largely ceremonial. There was no point in setting his mother off, as she was a stickler for traditions.

“Eventually, like it or not, your father’s title will pass on to you, Son. Either when he steps down, or when he perishes.” Clove shuddered in silence for a moment, and her discomfort was noticed by all present. “It would be just and fitting for you to have an earth pony apprentice. More than that… an earth pony apprentice that you school in the way of her tribe. She needs to know her proud culture, its traditions. She could be an emissary for her tribe. A voice. They are sorely needed, now more than ever.”

“Uh, can I ask what that means?”

“You see, Nut? She doesn’t know. Please, my Son. Teach the poor girl.”

Upon hearing his mother’s request, his mouth went dry. “The Erzherzöge... the council of supreme authority during wartime… also known individually as the Erzherzog and the Erzherzogin. They were recognised as something akin to earth pony royalty. The Earth Pony Tribe was largely democratic, with a chief and clan system, as well as a complex hierarchy. They had a chancellor that organised the chiefs during times of peace, but when war happened, as was all too often the case back in those days, the chiefs could not be allowed to argue and bicker, as they often did. So the Erzherzöge would assume command. Even though the Erzherzöge hold supreme executive power, they were still a democratic body that cast votes for all actions.”

Sullen, her eyes glittering thunderheads as she stared down into her teacup, Tater Blossom shook her head and said, “There was a lot of bickerin’ during the moot when I got shunned.”

“Patriarchs, matriarchs, chieftains, and chieftesses do tend to argue. Strong-willed individuals tend to rise to positions of power, and while this stubbornness can be an asset if properly harnessed, it can also be a great detriment during times of crisis.” Nut felt quite peculiar speaking of this, and could not help but wonder why. Was it fear of bias against earth ponies? The lurking fear of being labeled a tribalist? He didn’t know.

“That’s a good start.” Clove nudged her son and gave him a nod of approval. “But it is a start. There is so much more to be said. With her as your apprentice, you’ll have all the time you need to share everything you know. This needs to be done, my Son.”

He found that he could not disagree.

“Would you be my apprentice, Miss Blossom?”

“I think I am already,” she replied as tea dribbled down her chin in pale brown rivulets that plopped into her teacup. “You’re my teacher. I’m your pupil. I don’t see a lick of difference or how anything changes if the names are given a switcheroo.”

A switcheroo. The word stuck in his mind, and he thought of it. What did names matter? He thought of the long walk to the train platform, with all of the angry townsfolk in the way. She was his, even then. Even though bloodshed was avoided, bloodshed remained an option. ‘Twas a master’s solemn duty to protect their apprentice—with their own life if necessary. Surrounded on all sides by hostile, hateful faces, he had sworn an oath to Hickory that he would do right by Potato Blossom. An oath was an oath was an oath—so why did it matter if the titles changed?

Was it a matter of lexical semantics?

No, Nut realised, no it was not.

The labels in the relationship meant nothing. She’d been his apprentice the moment they set off together, and he her master. A sacred position of trust and authority. This was a duty, a task where one prepared another to do greater. To be greater. A master was only successful if their apprentice surpassed them. What an odd measure of success.

“This changes nothing between us,” he said at last. “You are still my pupil. I shall endeavour to earn your trust.”

“You have my trust.” Tater Blossom lifted her head a little higher, and something about her seemed a little more grown-up. “You ain’t wronged me yet… ‘cept for that whole catchin’ me off guard with Doctor Dogwood thing that happened. If I woulda known that I’d be stabbed in the ass fourteen times, I mighta ran.”

“I feel bad for the incident with Black Maple.”

“You had no way of knowin’ that would happen. And I didn’t either. That panic attack just came out of the blue. Not yer fault.’ ‘Sides, I learned a whole lot and I hope that I get a second chance to do it again.”

“Well then, it seems we have an accord.”

He was quite unprepared for the kiss his mother left on his cheek and she lingered close to him, her eyes moist. Being so near her, the air was perfumed with garlic, which he found comforting. He looked at her, and she at him, and no words needed said. He missed his mother; he’d gone off, left home, and hadn’t returned for about a year or so.

“Welcome home, Nut,” his mother said to him. “Get settled in. Your room is just how you left it. I’ll tell the maids to prepare a room for your apprentice, and that room will always be her room, now and forever. I’m proud of you, Nut. But in no way are you in the clear after running amok through the library. That is a permanent black mark upon your record, Nut.”

Unable to help himself, he laughed.


“Beware of the fountain at the end of the hall. Do not play in it. That is the icevator, which creates a column of ice that conveys one from floor to floor. It isn’t practical, but its artistry cannot be denied.” Clove allowed her focused gaze to linger upon Tater Blossom. “If you frolic in it, and it is called to a floor, your injuries might very well be fatal. Do pay attention, as I am trying to help you.”

“Alright.” Tater Blossom seemed to be having no small amount of trouble holding still.

“Do you have fleas?”

“Just like I told the ponies wearing those bird masks, no.”

“Then why can’t you hold still?” Clove demanded.

“It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the multiple cups of Celestial Glory tea—”

“Pod, mind your tongue.” Clove cast a bit of side-eye in Pod’s direction.

“I have ways to keep Pod’s tongue busy,” Taffy announced.

Before he was aware of his mouth’s betrayal, Nut said, “A mouthful of Taffy does keep one quiet.”

He felt the coming silence before it even arrived. Now he could feel his mother’s authoritarian side-eye bearing down upon him, and he wished that he was elsewhere, anywhere. Perhaps off studying a brood of basilisks again. Pod giggled, clearly because she was utterly unaware of what was good for her, and when Clove’s eyes swung around in her direction, Pod engaged in a mighty battle to contain her myrth, but little snorts kept escaping.

“Kitties!” Tater Blossom shouted rather suddenly when she noticed the cat sauntering down the hallway.

“Yes, dear girl, we have cats.” Clove turned the force of her stare upon Tater Blossom, but the filly was oblivious. “We co-exist with them. For our part, we leave out sustenance for them to partake of, along with water, and occasionally, the cats grace us with a condescending smirk for our efforts.”

The white cat, now noticed, meowed once, a suitably cautious meow.

Animals were always the first to know, so it was said.

“Kitties!”

Tater Blossomed, fueled by Celestial Glory tea, and she exploded into movement. For a moment, her hooves scrabbled against the marble floor, upon which she could gain no purchase, and then she suffered sudden acceleration when at last her hooves found traction. At terrific speed, she bolted right for the cat, who panicked, and who could blame it? A caffeine-fueled equine ran amok in the halls. Clove’s spotless lab coat was tugged upon by a powerful gust left in Tater Blossom’s wake, and the stern mare turned the full destructive force of her accusatory maternal eye weapons upon her son.

The marble floor was like ice, and Tater Blossom was like a cannonball on legs as she went careening after the yowling, howling, fleeing feline. Nut stood very still, fearing that his mother might detonate at any given moment. Her eyebrows bobbed like hairy fuses that sputtered out warnings of imminent danger. The stench of garlic intensified somehow, just as it always did when his mother’s temper neared its boiling point.

“She’s a pip, Mother.”

“Taffy, go collect our pip.” Pod took over and while her voice was neutral, there was mirth to be seen in her eyes. “We’re going to play dress-up. As for you, Nut… do something about your wardrobe. You look—and smell—like a coinless vagrant. Clove, have no worry, I will have precious order restored.”

Wearing a deadpan expression, Clove departed, no doubt to return to her lab.


Though nothing had changed, everything felt different. Nut roamed the halls, unsettled, unsure of where we wished to be. A shower had helped, and he had some clothes in his old room that were rather fresh and new. At some point, he would need to have a long conversation with his parents, and make a formal request for financial assistance.

When he turned a corner, he found himself back to where he’d started; the icevator shaft.

Vanhoover had escalators and lifts powered by steam. Canterlot had extradimensional space and everything felt a little less than real. Pointing himself down a hallway, he tried to get lost once more. A futile effort, to be sure, but the walk was nice. So much effort had been spent trying to survive on his own merits—to be his own pony—but there seemed to be no escaping who or what he was. His birthright lurked just behind him, and there would be no escape. Before he could get lost, he turned himself back around and summoned the icevator.

If he were to wander aimlessly, the library would be the ideal place to do so.

Author's Note:

Zany mayhem.

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