• Published 8th Jul 2019
  • 656 Views, 307 Comments

The Rains of Vanhoover - kudzuhaiku

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

  • ...

Churlish behaviour

The illusion of rain spattered against the nonexistent window. A visual decoration of masterful illusion, the window was designed to display whatever was currently visible outside; sunshine, moonshine, or whatever the weather might be. This could be changed, of course, and the nonexistent window could be made to always show the sun, the moon, or even just a pleasant gallery of popular art.

Canterlot was largely artificial.

Nut sat in a comfortable corner, in an overstuffed chair, filtering his many speculations through the point of his pen. Flowering garlic surrounded him and the pungent aroma reminded him that he was home. Penstrokes produced postulations, predictions, profered projections. Now, when he wrote about Potato Blossom’s integration into society, he wrote about his apprentice and this—this felt right. While he still had some hesitation, that had more to do with his inherent sense of caution.

A bit of quiet was just what he needed.

Pulling his pen away from paper, he allowed himself pause. His mother had a most curious collection of books on display in her study. Empusas, Lamias, and the Striges: A Compendium. The book looked like it had been partially burned in a fire, or some catastrophic event. It had certainly seen better days, just like the book on his mother’s desk, the one titled Vetalas and You: A Comprehensive Guide to Eradication. That one barely had a surviving spine.

Housed in a glass case was a wooden-bound novel titled, The First Tribes and the Aluka: A History of the Motetz Dam. Like the other two, this book had been burned, scorched by some inferno. It was fortunate that these novels survived, though Nut could not help but wonder what his mother was doing with such curious reading materials.

One book was quite new and its dark blue cover stood out. Sanguinare Porphyria: What is Known, by Doctor Fancy Fiasco. Nut combed his memory, but was quite unfamiliar with this condition. It had to be a magical malady of some sort. A little peek couldn’t hurt, would it? He reached out with his mind, lifted the book, and bade it to come to him as he sat down his own journal.

It was time to check out his mother’s reading materials.

“Just as expected.”

Nut almost dropped his book, and would have if his mother hadn’t caught it. He saw her in the doorway, smirking in her own special maternal smirky way. The book was closed with a snap and he lamented the loss of his place within the book. Suitable punishment though, for allowing himself to be startled. Clove placed the book upon her desk and then stood smirking at her son.

“You only come to my study when you are troubled, Nut.” His mother crossed the room with great efficiency of movement, and then sat down in the chair behind her desk. She sat with impossibly rigid posture, the kind that would make a steel girder envious, and her smirk remained ironclad. “I left a few books out to see what you might do. To see if you would take the bait.”

“That book… it’s not a joke, is it? The rats of Canterlot… are they?”

“It is not jest, and yes, they are. That is what we face. Dark Desire resurrected an old plague and repurposed it. Changed it in some strange way.” Her head swung from side to side like a loose shutter left to wag in the wind. “Not merely blood drinkers, they also feed on fear and negative emotions. Emovorous vampires. Rattus Nosferattus. I just so happen to have one down in my laboratory. He’s quite nasty, vile, mouthy, and violently allergic to garlic. I do so quite enjoy torturing him and making every moment of his existence inordinately painful.”

“Mother, ethics demand—”

“Nut, he’s not a living creature. Ethics be damned.

“Oh.” Though he tried not to do so in front of his mother, he squirmed in his chair.

“You need financial help.” The way she phrased it was not a question. “Have you grown tired of slumming, Nut?”

Again, he squirmed. So the much-dreaded conversation was now, was it?

“Nut, what are you doing with your life? Other than making noble rescues of imperiled peasants, that is. That I approve of. But everything else, as your mother, I have concerns. Grave concerns. You… you’re practically skeletal, Nut—”

“It’s not that bad,” he said, and then cringed when he realised that he’d interrupted.

“You are forgiven, Nut,” his mother was quick to say.

He took his monocle, slipped it into his pocket, smoothed away the wrinkles from his ill-fitting waistcoat, and then tried to calm himself. The mare behind the desk was still his friend and if he concentrated hard enough, he could remember his mother playing with him, the sort of silly games played between mother and son.

“By now, you could have had your doctorate if you’d attended university here in Canterlot. Even worse, you’ve infected Pod with your way of thinking.”

“Mother… a year of study does not a doctor make. I want to earn my degree.”

“But you will, Nut. Your success is all but guaranteed. You have the will and the drive. What you are doing right now is frivolous, wasteful, and irrational. Time is precious, Nut. You could already have your doctorate and be doing great things.”

“It feels wrong,” he protested, “getting a degree before I’ve properly earned it.”

“But you will” earn it,” his mother replied. “Nut… this is like having excellent credit and taking a loan. You get the money up front and then pay back over time. The accelerated degree program is no different. You get the degree up front… you have all the right credentials. But you get the degree and you begin your great works. In time, you will be worthy.”

“It shouldn’t work that way.”

“Nut. You are impossible. And now Pod feels the same way.”

“Well, she should.” Right away, he regretted his words, because he saw how his mother fumed.

Behind her desk, Clove folded one hoof over the other and went stony faced. Now, she wasn’t even fuming, or maybe she was, it was impossible to tell. Try as he might, Nut could find no trace of emotion, no feeling, his mother might as well have been a marble bust on display. It was impossible to tell if she was even breathing. How did she not blink?

Mother magic, that’s how; it had to be.

“The great work you begin will make you worthy of the doctorate you are given. You will learn, your mind will expand, and your greatness will manifest. If you can’t think of it as a loan that is paid over time, think of it as a key to open the door of success. Just try to be reasonable, Nut. You’re brilliance is going to waste, and as your mother, I find that infuriating.”

“Mother… sometimes ponies skip out on their loan payments.”

“But not you, Nut. I cannot stand how irrational you are behaving about this.”

“Mother, there are many brilliant ponies. I’ve met a few. But they have to work to have their brilliance recognised. They don’t get to get a degree after a year in school. Due to random chance of birth, they do not have the doors of success just flung open for them. They have to work for it.”

Much to his surprise, his mother sat silent.

“I would much rather open the doors of success on my own, so that in my own mind, I will know that I am worthy. Mother, I am confident in my brilliance. It will not fail me. When I have my degree, it will be because of my own efforts, and not because of circumstances involving my birth.”

“You’ve turned your thoughts into communicable disease, Nut. Pod’s mind is ravaged with the infection you’ve given her. You being headstrong is annoying, but the two of you behaving in such a way, it drives me to near-inarticulate rage. You are denying the world the best you have to give in the short time you’re alloted to give it.”

“That may be true.” He nodded, and did agree that his mother might have a point. “But in the long run, I do so truly believe I am giving the world a better version of myself if I struggle for it.”

“Nut, you are a wonderful mystery to me, even if I find your actions incensing.”

“Thank you, Mother?”

“You’re welcome, Nut. And stop calling me that, for Celestia’s sake. You’re a grown up. Speak as one. I indulge your eccentricities, but my patience does wear thin on that matter.”

“Mother… prepare for continued wear and tear upon your patience.”

“Nut, what am I to do with you?”

He shrugged, confident that his mother would still love him after his withers rose and fell.

She relaxed a bit, her deadpan expression softening, and he saw her eyes grow warm. He wished that Tater Blossom was here to see this, to witness this, to discover how a mother might disagree with her offspring and still love them—unconditionally. He had no doubt; his mother indulged him, she tolerated his quirks, and even if they were in radically opposed disagreement, her continued affection was guaranteed.

“So, I suppose we need to sort out the issue of finances,” she said as her expression continued to soften, like a biscuit left for too long in hot tea. “I am relieved, Nut. You are too thin. When I saw you, I almost didn’t recognise you. You… my son. My flesh and blood. You were almost a stranger to me. I just know that your ribs are visible beneath your clothing.”

“Mother, this is a common condition. Many live this way.”

“But it doesn’t mean that you should. Nut… what is it that you are trying to do? To prove? What is the meaning of all of this? Is there something you hope to gain?” Clove leaned forward, but only a little, and not enough to ruin her fine, prim posture.

“You held me to a higher standard, Mother. Now, I strive to maintain that standard. I hold myself to the fire. When I was little, you told me that I was better, that I could be better, and I believed you. Now I strive to be the best pony that I can be.”

“So, am I hearing you say that this is my fault?” she asked.

To which he replied, “I suppose so, Mother. Like it or not, I am the result of my upbringing.”

“Your skills at flattery are unparalleled.” Her voice was flat, but her eyes were warm. “Nut… I do apologise for being so hard on you… but these are trying times we live in. Things are different now, even if I cannot say how exactly. The world is not the same as it was when I was a filly. Nightmare Moon came back. Changelings invaded Canterlot. Now, the rats lay siege to us. Grogar’s shadow grows long over Equestria. Our champions, Equestria’s most determined defenders, the Darks have betrayed us. Every moment feels so much more precious now, Nut. Which is why I wish you would just get on with it and dispense with this frivolousness.”

“Mother… had I stayed in Canterlot, my ward”—he corrected himself—“my apprentice would not have been rescued. Whatever greatness I have to offer the world, it seems to me that I am doing it.” He saw his mother smile and it was as if a great weight was lifted from his neck.

She leaned back in her chair, her posture now relaxed, and her front hooves remained folded over one another before her. Her smile was serene, his mother had a beautiful smile, and it was easy to understand why his father remained smitten with her. While their disagreement might remain for the foreseeable future, he suspected that he’d won her over. Sometimes, getting somepony to change their mind was impossible. But, you could win them over and just agree to disagree, and that was fine.

“When you were born,” she began, her voice almost syrupy now, “you were little, small, and perfect in every conceivable way. More importantly, you were my playmate. My last chance to be young, to play, and to enjoy the world for what it was. I miss those days. What I would not give for their return.”

“Mother… are you gently implying that I should grace you with grandfoals?”

“Yes, Nut. I am.”

“I am rather busy with school, Mother.”

She nodded.

He thought of his plans, his future, and was uncertain if raising a family was possible.

“The Gallopagos,” she said.

“Mother, I said nothing.”

“There was no need, Nut. It was written on your face. In your eyes. What is your dreadful fascination with that place? It strikes me as mania. Obsession.”

He wanted to argue, but words failed him. If he had no foals, no offspring, his parents bloodline would end with him. He was their sole vessel in which all of their hope had been placed—unless of course he made a contribution to Pod and Taffy. But he was expected to reproduce, to continue the ridiculous birth lottery. A winner would be born with every conceivable privilege. It bothered him in some vague way that he could not put into words or even make coherent thoughts about the subject.

“Nut, do not rush into love for love’s sake, or for desperation’s sake. If I may offer some advice, seek friendship, not love. You see Nut, ‘tis easier to marry your best friend and let that transition into love borne of familiarity than it is to marry your love and hope for friendship borne of serendipitous circumstance. In my experience, love is more ephemeral than friendship. In a good relationship, friendship endures, while love can sometimes run both hot and cold.”

His mother’s words left him feeling rather fidgety, and he could not stop thinking about Black Maple. Yes, their relationship, such as it was, ran hot and cold. There were times when he couldn’t stand her—even being in the same room was intolerable—but as he squirmed in his chair, worrying about her, thinking of her, he could not deny that they were friends.

“Marrying for love is still a somewhat new concept,” his mother said as her eyes turned unfocused. “Well, here in Canterlot. I understand the commoners have enjoyed this new fad for quite some time. Some marry for duty, some for obligation, while others marry for political purposes. A great many marriages happen due to contracts… bloodlines must be continued… such as our own, and the unique position we hold in society, at least in regards to the Earth Pony Tribe. Your father and I… we played at romance when we were young… and it was pleasant.”

“Mother, am I to take that as a glowing recommendation—”

“So cheeky.” Her eyes turned flinty, but her expression remained soft, kind. “You get that from me, I think. So I only have myself to blame. Your father, why, one of his favourite pastimes is chiding me for my cheekiness. I myself, I do so enjoy giving him something to grouse about.”

Relaxing a little, Nut settled into his chair and rather enjoyed the droll moment.

“I suppose buying a house in Vanhoover is in order, and hiring suitable staff.”

“Mother, no.” Nut cleared his throat before he continued, “That is not the help I am seeking.”

“Then why ask for help?” his mother demanded, though her voice remained soft. “Do you not need housing? Why are you here, Nut?”

“I just wish to ensure that my ward does not go hungry. Everything else will be managed through my own means. I have work that pays… though perhaps not enough for two.”

“Nut… how can you possibly do your best in school while you work to keep yourself housed and to cover your expenses? Every hour toiling, labouring like some commoner is an hour not spent in study. There are only so many hours in a day, Nut, too few days in a week, not nearly enough weeks in a month, and each month precious. A pony is only given so many turns of the seasons, Nut. I want to help you, but I do not wish to help you waste time. I find your actions irrational and illogical.”

“We’ve discussed this,” he said.

“You’re right, we have,” she replied. “And even after a logical presentation of the facts, you have not come to your senses. You are a pony of exceptional potential. With the right resources, you could save dozens of Miss Blossoms, but because you foolishly cling to your ideals, you struggle to save the one. You owe the world better, Nut. Right now, you could be advancing some great unexplored realm of science, but instead you work as a tinker in some garage. You were born to do great things, exceptional things, but you while away the hours turning a wrench. Common ponies were born to do those things. Let them! From the moment of your birth, every available resource was made available to you and your horizons are limitless.”

His mother’s rationality and logic remained an unassailable fortress whose walls he could not scale. Even worse, his mother was right: his actions might very well be construed as illogical and irrational, at least from her perspective. Of course, from where he sat, he saw things somewhat differently, but the clash of perspectives would not allow he and his mother to see eye to eye. She remained here, in Canterlot, the city above the clouds, safe and secure in her tower of gleaming orange agate. His mother didn’t even get paid for her work, at least as far as he knew, and neither did his father. Work was just something they did to fulfil a purpose.

They certainly had no need for financial compensation for hours spent in purpose.

Working for a paycheck was vulgar; one worked to benefit society.

While he understood his mother’s point of view, at least to some degree, Nut believed that one could not benefit society unless one understood society. It came down to his philosophy of survival of the fittest. Society was an ecology with a lot of variables. Nut was a field researcher. As for his mother, well, his mother was content to remain behind her desk and read field reports on occasion.

He could think of no conceivable way to explain himself to her.

“You could be making Vanhoover a better city,” his mother said. “I am almost certain that Princess Celestia would give you governance of the city, were I to ask her for this as a favour. You have the wherewithal and the means. Nut… you could be doing more. Squandered potential is dreadful.”

He wanted to argue, but doing so would be pointless. Yet, he found himself throwing caution to the wind when he replied, “You know, Mother, were I to assume governance of Vanhoover, I would be a far more effective ruler were I to understand the plight of the common pony. To know their struggles. Sharing in their hardships as they strive to survive. A less-than-knowledgeable ruler would surely make things worse.”

“Governance is science, Nut. Economics. Equinology. Political science. It is mathematical formulae. Statistics. Averages. One does not factor in the individuals, but the city as a whole. If one becomes consumed by minutiae, then you neglect the whole organism. A city survives, Nut. The residents are, at best, temporary entities that fulfil vital functions. While some compassion should be spared for them, it should never be at the expense of a city’s overall survival.”

Though he had much to say, he held his tongue.

“So I take it that you want emergency funds, for when you fail to survive by your own means,” Clove said to her son. “You and your apprentice will suffer needlessly, but at least you will not go hungry.”

“There is beauty in the struggle,” he said to his mother. “Intelligence is found in the study of books, but wisdom is found in struggle. Potato Blossom will be great because she suffers. Already, she shows such signs of potential. I barely know her, but I am impressed by the depth of her character. She shows promise.”

“Said promise would come to full fruition in a better environment, Nut. Plants in a greenhouse have better yields than those in the fields.”

“Ah, but that is where you are wrong, Mother. A plant in the field evolves. It adapts to hardship. Greenhouse greenery has no need to improve, to be better. It just exists in ideal, perfect conditions. In the greenhouse, nothing ever changes. Change comes from hardship. In the field, we get tougher, hardier plants… and to continue this metaphor even further… what happens when something happens to the greenhouse? The plants of the field are no strangers to exposure, while hothouse flowers wilt in the face of the first stray breeze.”

His mother was… thinking, and he counted this as a minor, but necessary victory.

“You left the greenhouse, Nut, and did not expire right away. Now, about this analogy—”

“Mother, I am a Nut, not an orchid. I am a tough Nut to crack.”

He saw his mother wince—but felt no shame for fighting dirty.

“Oh, that was ghastly,” his mother deadpanned. “I am considering banishing you from my study until such a time that your cheekiness has subsided. Really, Nut… that verged upon villainy.”

“Do you desire that we become better strangers?”

Eyebrow rising, she replied, “Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit, for I am sick when I do look on thee. Thou art a fusty Nut with no kernel.”

“Such wordplay surely doth strain the very bonds of our affections. I speak as a master, and you, a servant.”

In response, his mother glowered at him and made a dismissive wave with her hoof. “Thou art unfit for any place but Tartarus! Away you moldy rogue, away! More of your conversation would infect my brain! Begone from my study, churl! Go! Get thee hence!”

Potato Blossom was a pony transformed. Taffy and Pod had done something to her, something remarkable and spectacular. She was beyond clean, she glistened. Her mane and tail had been brushed to the point of waviness. There was now a slick sleekness to her and Nut found himself quite speechless at what he saw.

“Am I cute?”

Nut heard her drawl the word cute, which she pronounced as ‘kuh-yoot.’ Somehow, a single syllable word now had two. It was almost as if he was gawping at a stranger. Even her ruddy reddish-brown colour was different somehow, as if she was a fresh-scrubbed potato, rather than one just-plucked from the soil. In silence, he pulled his monocle from his pocket, and squinted it into place over his left eye.

“We still need to dress her in something,” Pod remarked in a matter-of-fact way. “Not sure what. She says she stays cold in Vanhoover. We’ll be leaving to go shopping soonish. Sorry, Nut. Just us girls.”

“She won’t have us there to help dress her, Pod.” Taffy—now quite stern—stood tapping her right rear hoof against the floor. “A form fitting woolen vest trimmed in shearling would be ideal. Not fashionable perhaps, but practical and easy for her to slip on and off.”

Rolling her eyes, Pod offered a majestic snort in response.

“Something with a rain cape that hangs down on both sides… hmm.” Taffy tut-tutted to herself for a bit and then added, “We must be practical. Maybe a burro poncho—”

“Taffy, no! That’s a blanket with a hole in it.”

“But Pod, they are practical. And the way they hang down on both sides is no different than a rain cape, not really. Plus, she can use it as a blanket. She has no magic, Pod. We must think of ease of wear for her, and what could be better than a burro poncho? Burros wear them—”

“But they’re so plain. And drab. And not at all fashionable. What about a corseted adventurewear bodice?”

“Who will help her secure the straps, Pod?”

“Why, Nut of course.”

“Nope.” Nut shook his head from side to side. “There is no way I am strapping her up in a corset.”

“What’s a corset?” Tater Blossom asked.

Pod was the first to respond and said, “It’s really quite fashionable—”

But then Taffy interrupted with, “It’s a cruel article of clothing used to torture mares. And sometimes stallions wishing to appear thin.”

However, it was Nut’s response that silenced the room: “I have seen her eat over a dozen black bean cheeseburgers. Strapping up a corset would turn her into a musical instrument of some kind, with the end result being tubafication. No corsets!”

“With that, I am willing to bear Nut’s foals—”

“Oh, shut up, Taffy.”

When Taffy stuck her tongue out, Nut was shocked; it was the last thing one expected a noble, a pony of fine breeding to do, yet here she was, tongue fully extended, and even worse, Taffy was crossing her eyes. It was a magnificent display, but one that jolted the senses. Naturally, Tater Blossom was laughing, hyuck-hyuck-hyucking, while Nut and Pod maintained a stunned silence.

“Well, the princessly behaviour went to your cousin, Taffy.”

In response, Taffy blew a ridiculously moist raspberry in Pod’s general direction.

Just as Taffy threw back her head and howled with laughter, an ancient pony shuffled into the room. His eyebrows were so bushy, so overgrown, and gave the impression that they had such great weight that they sagged over his eyes, which gave him a sleepy, half-awake appearance. Gestalt wasn’t just old, he was longevous.

“Have I collected yet another granddaughter?” he asked.

“Miss Blossom, this is my great-great-great-great grandfather, Gestalt.” Then, turning to his grandfather, he said, “Grandfather, this is my ward, uh, my apprentice, Potato Blossom.”

When the old unicorn blinked, his eyes vanished completely, buried beneath an avalanche of snowy eyebrows, and it took a great deal of effort on his part to excavate them. He blinked, straining against the obstruction, and peered at the earth pony as both Pod and Taffy pressed against one another.

“You were born in autumn,” Gestalt said while he looked Tater Blossom up and down. “That’s quite a brain pan you have there, Miss. Eye and ear placement suggest enhanced senses. Elongated sniffer-snorter. Fascinating.”

“I was born on the last day of fall. How’d you know?” Tater Blossom fearlessly returned Gestalt’s scrutinous gaze.

“Just a knack,” he returned. “Apprentice, eh?” The old pony stood there, faintly wheezing with each drawn breath, and his keen eyes peered out from beneath his caterpillary eyebrows. “I like the sound of that.” Then, having spoken his mind, he shuffled off toward the comfiest of the couches, the one in the far corner. “I had the loveliest conversation with Princess Luna.”

“You look like you’ve been napping—”

“Of course I was napping, Pod. How else do you think I spoke with Princess Luna? She’s asleep too. Napping is the easiest way to contact Princess Luna. Just go to sleep and think about her real hard. Lucid dreaming. She’ll show up soon enough. Foals these days. No sense at all.” With a huff, he dropped himself down upon the couch and then went still.

“And what did you and Princess Luna speak of, Gestalt?”

The ancient wrinkly unicorn leveled his leaden gaze upon Pod and replied, “Friendship. Psychology. The psychology of friendship. Luna’s mischief. She’s been slipping copies of some of her books off to other worlds. Apparently, she’s convinced a bunch of pretentious simians that she’s some kind of mysterious playwright and none of them can quite figure out who their beloved ghost writer happens to be. Devious.”

“I’m makin’ lots of new friends.” Tater Blossom scooted a little closer to Nut, held her head up high, and said, “I’ve never had a friend like Nut. He saved me.”

Gestalt grunted as his gaze shifted.

“I left home and finally got to meet ponies that weren’t all annoyed ‘bout me bein’ smart.”

“We get annoyed at ponies that aren’t smart—”

“Gestalt, that’s not nice.”

“Sod off, Pod. You do it too.”

“I never—”

“Oh, I believe you have. I heard you and Taffy as I went past the door.”

Pod’s mock-indignity fell away and she was beset by the sniffle-snorty giggles. Nut allowed himself a soft chuckle, and as for Taffy, her dusky blue face took on a muted purple hue while her hooves shuffled against the marble floor. Tater Blossom however, seemed in awe of the ancient unicorn, and stared at him with wide, worshipful eyes.

Cautiously, she approached him, and when he did not object, she sat down beside him. He patted the cushion with his hoof, beckoning her to come closer, and Tater Blossom, overcoming her shyness, obliged him. She scooted over, he looked at her, she at him, and Nut couldn’t help but feel hopeful about this relationship. A word would need to be had with Gestalt about Tater Blossom’s panic attacks.

“Do you respect your elders?” Gestalt asked.

“Sure do,” Tater Blossom replied.

“Because they’re old?” asked the ancient unicorn.

“Uh-huh.” The young filly nodded.

“Well, stop that!” There was a prolonged moment of titanic effort on Gestalt’s part as he heaved his eyebrows upward so that his eyes were fully visible. “Most old ponies are coots, silly girl. We’re stuck in the past. Be polite though, and remember to nod once in a while to show that you’re listening.”

“Are you a coot?” Tater Blossom’s earnestness was downright breathtaking.

“Probably.” Gestalt shrugged. “So, tell me, girl… would you like a few wise words about friendship?

“Yeah, I would.”

“Well then.” His eyebrows settled over his eyes like two snowy mineshafts collapsing. “Friends are those we stumble upon by accident, my dear, but we stay with by choice. No one pony is strong enough to contend with destiny, but friends, friends can create their own shared purpose. Destiny can be wrangled and given what for.” His short speech seemed to tire him. The old coot coughed, and then thumped on his barrel with one knobby, gnarled fetlock, a valiant effort to catch his fleeing breath.

Tater Blossom pressed her left hoof against her chin, her downturned brows formed deep furrows just below the forelock of her mane, and her eyes turned serious. No doubt, she was turning the words over in her mind, weighing them, testing them for what she considered truth. Nut felt a stab of pride for her, and he was glad that his grandfather was a gregarious sort.

“I need food,” Gestalt announced while he stood up, his rickety knees popping with his every movement. “Somehow, I became distracted on my way to the kitchen. This is all your fault. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to pester our cook for an off-schedule meal.”

Without further ado, Gestalt exited.

Author's Note:

Luna is *naughty.*


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