• Published 23rd Mar 2020
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Do Ponies on Earth have Magic Dreams? - Tiki Bat

The story of an optimistic young night pony, the special pony that enters his life, and how the two of them follow their dreams to make the world a better place!

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Chapter 21: There’s No Place Like Home...

Author's Note:

Back to regular updates now that “You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Wearing a Maid’s Dress” is finished up. As always, I invite and encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments section below, they’re very valuable to me as an author, even those that you might consider dumb, pointless, too mean, too harsh, etc. I just want to hear back on what people think of my writing, and that includes all types of feedback and thoughts. So please, don’t be afraid to let me know what you think, even if you might not think it’s important to share. (Because I can tell you firsthand, it really is, and means the world to me!)

The sun sat low in the sky, and the valley around the two was more awake than either had seen it during their day trip there. The pair was cheerfully trotting down the sidewalk away from Scarlet’s home, avoiding the street lest they run the risk of a collision with one of the many cars that were now out. Everyone was off work now, it seemed, or at least that’s what Silver assumed based on how many more cars and trucks were out driving around. A small involuntary grimace spread across his way as he coughed on the overpowering fumes.

“Gotta say, I like this place a lot better at night,” he said as he scrunched his muzzle, “Too many people.”

Scarlet let out a small laugh, “This is nothing. You should see it during the winter. You think it’s annoying now, but none of the snowbirds are here.”

“It can’t be that much worse, right?”

She laughed even harder, “Yeah, no, hon, this is like a small fraction of what we get out here during the winter.”

“Uh-huh,… guess I can see why you escaped into the mountains.”

“Uh huh,” she jokingly replied.

“Hey, wait up!” A familiar voice called out to them.

Silver turned to face the voice, finding himself nearly trampled by the dark purple night pony that now clearly stood out in the daylight.

“Sine Wave…” Scarlet muttered, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much Red, saw you two trotting around and couldn’t let you leave without a goodbye,” she cheerfully replied, ”I’m guessing you two are fleeing the valley?”

“That makes it sound like we’re criminals on the run or something, but yeah, just heading home,” Silver replied.

A small hint of sadness seemed to carry in her otherwise indifferent face, “Just kidding around with you, Blue. So I’m guessing this is goodbye then?”

“For now. We’ll be back, though.”

“I sure hope so. I hate meeting new friends and then just never seeing them again…” she trailed off, “Starts to get really boring.”

Something about the way she carried herself and replied just then struck something inside Silver. It was almost as if her snarky facade was betraying some of her inner thoughts, and he couldn’t help but feel a sense of compassion toward the other night pony. Was this how Scarlet had felt when she first met Silver?

“You’re lonely here, aren’t you?” Silver asked, though it was more of an observation than an actual question.

Sine glanced off to the side, “I… well, no… just, I don’t know, bored?”

Scarlet seemed to pick up on this too, and shifted her previously annoyed expression into one that was clearly backed by compassion as well, “Sine do you want to tell us something? It seems like something’s getting to you.”

Sine froze for a moment before letting out a long, frustrated sigh, “Is it really that obvious?”

“A little,” Scarlet added, “you’ve got that look in your eyes, and it carries in your voice.”

“It’s fine if you are,” Silver added. “Trust us, both of us went through that, and it’s not fun being all alone.”

“But I’m not all alone,” she protested, “that’s what’s frustrating. There’s Vector and Cookie Crumbs, they’re the only other two bats out here, but they’re still good enough company.”

“You’re just bored is all. Too many humans, too much pollution… that kind of stuff,” Scarlet concluded.

Sine shrugged, “I guess? I’m not like bored-bored, but I guess it just gets stale here. There’s like nothing to do except hang out at Oddball’s place or go on some night hike and hope a coyote doesn’t try and ambush you.”

“You don’t sound like you want to stay here then,” Scarlet observed.

“I… I don’t know,” she looked between the two and then off to the side, “I mean, I guess I saw you two stop by here and thought this place might finally be a bit more… lively, but now you’re heading out, and it feels like things are going to just get stale again.”

“Would you like to come visit our village, Sine?” Scarlet asked. Silver knew that she wasn’t all that fond of Sine, so this sudden about-face threw him into confusion.

“Like move in or just stop by for a little get-together?”

“Your call, but maybe you just need to go somewhere new for a while.”

Silver perked up, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. You’ll either wind up missing home and move back, or you’ll wind up moving over. Or maybe even look at what else is out there,” he shrugged.

Sine sat in silence for a few moments before giving a nod, “I guess I could check it out for a few days. Is it far from here?”

Scarlet shook her head and pointed her to the mountains in the distance, “Not at all. It’s like 45 minutes of flying away, so you’re not so far from home at all.”

This seemed to calm the mare slightly, or at least that’s what Silver was able to deduce from her body language. Her previous tensed muscles had relaxed a bit, and she even seemed to carry herself in a more relaxed way. Was she really this lonely and bored here? It wasn’t unheard of; both of them had felt the exact same way and had moved for those reasons.

Another thought began to run through Silver’s mind. He hadn’t paid much attention to this before, mainly because he had only come across a handful of other night ponies, but the overwhelming majority of those he had seen in the waking world were mares. The wheels started to turn in his head, and a twinge of sympathy welled up inside of him. Sine wasn’t just bored, she was lonely and bored, and the only other night ponies around her weren’t giving her the kind of attention she wanted or needed.

Moving up into the mountains obviously wasn’t her catch-all solution, and inevitably she’d run into the same problem she did out here, there. Sure, the village was small, but eventually, she’d start feeling the same way she did, especially if Scarlet and him were going to spend more time making romantic nights for each other. Whether Sine realized it or not, this was never going to be a permanent move.

“I… I guess I could give it a try then,” Sine replied, “I just feel like I’m so lost on what I want to do.”

“It’s no sweat. Ponies help each other out, and sometimes you just need a good friend to be there for you,” Silver added.

“And even if we can’t always be there, there’s other ponies in the village that I’m sure would love to meet you. And if you want to still hang out here, it’s just a short flight away.”

She looked over to Scarlet and smiled, “You guys really are too nice. This won’t be a burden on you at all?”

Scarlet shook her head, “Well, our cabin is pretty full right now, but you can crash in one of the tent cabins, or we can set up something for you outside.”

“What’s the tent cabin like?”

“It’s like this big permanent outdoor tent thing, but it’s got a solid floor, a bathroom and shower nearby, and some bunks. There’s a couple of ponies hanging out there right now, but they’re day ponies, so you’d be pretty much alone.”

“So, I’m basically hanging out in a tent with a couple of roomies that I’m never going to see?”

She nodded, “Mhmm. Like I said, it’s your choice. If you decide you want to stay you can talk about having a cabin built, but it all depends on who’s around to help and whether you can afford the materials.”

“How pricey are the cabins?”

“They’re made for ponies so they’re small and pretty barebones, so you wouldn’t be looking at some ridiculous cost. The fanciest thing ours has is indoor plumbing and some electrical hookups for the mini fridge and stove. Some of the others in town might be able to help out, you’ll just have to go help them for a bit.”

“How do you afford to pay for that kinda stuff? Can’t electricity get expensive?”

“Village has a solar farm set up that covers some of it, and the water hookup isn’t anything particularly fancy. You’d be surprised at how little ponies use up there.”

“Right… what if it gets cold though?”

Scarlet gestured toward Silver, “You snuggle up together under some really comfy blankets and take care of it that way.”

“It almost sounds too good to be true,” Sine observed.

She nodded, “It seems like it, but I didn’t just move in for free. I took a lot of the cash I wasn’t using anymore and put it forward toward most of the material cost, which wasn’t cheap, but I also wasn’t going to be using that money anymore. It’s not like it broke the bank completely, but I wouldn’t have done something like that as a human.”

“I see…”

“Don’t feel like you need to spring for that right now, that’s only if you decide to move up there and actually want to live in a nice cozy cabin. I don’t think any pony’s going to throw a fit if you stick it out in the tent cabin, just expect them to ask for more help around the village when you can.”

“Just something to think about,” Silver added, “It’s a lot to take in, but you’ve got time and you don’t need to decide right away.”

A smile spread across Sine’s face and she pulled the two into a hug, “Thanks, I don’t mean to get sappy but I’ve never had other ponies treat me so… nicely”

Silver couldn’t help but smirk. If she greeted every other pony she ran into like she did them, then it was fully understandably why she might not have the best reputation around. As snarky and indifferent as she appeared at face value, Silver could tell that she was genuinely kind inside, and that’s what was showing through right now.

“It’s no problem at all,” Scarlet replied, giving her a hug, “It’ll be nice having another night pony around.”

“Do you need to grab some things? We can wait for you if you’d like,” Silver offered.

“Just a few keepsakes and gadgets,” Sine nodded, “Shouldn’t be too long, meet you guys over at the park in like twenty?”

“Sounds good to me,” Silver finished with a warm smile.

The three trotted down the gravel path that led into the village, chatting cheerfully along the way.

“So Sine, you wanna go drop your pack off at the tent cabin or do you want to go take a walk around first?” Scarlet asked.

“Let’s get the meeting and greeting out of the way first.”

“Sounds good, let us do the introductions though, we don’t need you scaring anyone.”

Silver looked over to Scarlet, “Who should we go see first?”

“Sine, you said you were into vintage electronics right?”

She nodded, “Yeah, that stuff’s always been right up my alley.”

She looked back to Silver, “The inventors.”

“You think they’ll get along?”

“You think they won’t?” Scarlet laughed, “I think they’re the three ponies that would get along best in the village.”

Silver smiled, “The inventors it is then.”

“The inventors?” Sine asked with a raised brow.

“Mhmm, a couple of ponies that tinker around with stuff. You’re gonna fit right in with them,” Silver answered, “Trust me on this.”

Sine seemed to consider this for a moment and nodded, “Sounds interesting. What kind of stuff do they do?”

“Guess we’ll get to find out,” Scarlet replied, waving her along.

The three continued their trot down the path, stepping through the main part of the village, which was further away from Scarlet’s cabin, and made their way toward the inventors’ camp. It was barely sunset, which meant that the village was as active as could be. Ponies from almost every tribe were cheerfully trotting through town or chit chatting away with each other, and in true pony fashion, some were interested in seeing who the new arrival was.

“Heya Scar, brought another new friend in?” Lavender Mist, one of the many earth ponies cheerfully asked.

“Maybe,” she laughed, “Sine’s just stopping in for now.”

“But you never know,” the other night pony mare replied. She held out a hoof and gave what seemed to be her signature smirk, “Name’s Sine Wave, nice to meet you Earthy.”

“Oh, my name’s Lavender, not Earthy.”

Silver let out a chuckle, “Well it’s Earthy now, Sine’s big on nicknames I guess.”

“You guessed right Blue,” she replied with a chuckle.

“Earthy… I kinda like it,” Lavender smiled, “It’s nice to meet you too,” she looked over to Scarlet, “I was gonna head over to the creek with Jet and Aero,” she waved over to the two pegasi behind her, “You guys wanna come along too?”

“Yeah, it’s been ages since we’ve had a chance to hang out with you night walkers,” Aero, the other mare in the group, teased.

“I know you had that leg thing going on so we can take it easy if you’d like,” Jet replied.

Scarlet smiled, “as much as that sounds like a blast, we’re gonna have to pass for now. We wanted to go show Sine around some more. Maybe later though?”

“Sounds good to me!” Lavender replied, “You three have fun!”

“Thanks Lav, we will,” Silver cheerfully replied.

The three gave a cheerful goodbye and started off on their path again, passing by a handful of cabins arranged in a circle and then over to a stretch of road that passed through a small, very shallow section of the creek and into a more deeply wooded part of the village. The towering trees and lush vegetation almost gave it this feel of being stuck in twilight, even during the brightest parts of the day.

“Not a lot of ponies wind up going over this way, it’s kind of where the more reclusive ones hang out.”

Sine looked to Scarlet and raised an eyebrow, “So all the recluses go hang out together? Sounds like my kind of place. How many others are over here?”

“About five. The two inventors, a pegasus, a unicorn, and the only crystal pony in town.”

“Well I know where I’m gonna spend my time then.”

Silver smiled, “I think you’ll fit in just well. You get a pretty even split between the bookish and the more laid back ponies.”

As they approached the small cart that was nestled along the edge of the worn path, the voices of the two inventors carried through the air. They were clearly in one of their trademark loud discussions, which made this area of the village all the more perfect for them.

Silver trotted up and gave a short, but loud knock, and waited for the voices to die down.

The metal door quickly swung open, a bright white light spilling out that made the three of them shrink back, “Silver, Scarlet,” the red pegasus glanced over to Sine and paused, “And friend…” He took notice of their cringing and squinted eyes and quickly dimmed the light, “Oh dear, I’m sorry about that, I always forget that you bats are frightfully sensitive to bright lights.”

“It’s okay Tinker,” Silver groaned, “It’s just gonna take a few minutes until I can actually see what I’m doing, but it’s fine.”

“I’m sorry about that, now is there anything I can help you with?”

“Not anything specific, we just wanted to introduce you to our new friend, Sine,” Silver finished.

Sine looked over to the pegasus and scrutinized him for a few long moments before a smirk spread across her face, “Nice to meet ya Redwing.”

Tinker looked at her in confusion until Scarlet cut in, “Sine’s a techie kind of person like you and your other friend are. We figured that if there were any ponies in the village that she’d get along with it’d be you guys.”

“Ahh,” he nodded, “I see. So tell me Sine, what kind of stuff are you into?”

The mare smiled, “Retro electronics mainly, but I also like old geeky video game stuff too.”

“What kind of electronics if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Well I dug out an old C64 a while ago, tried fixing it up as best I could, and then I found some old Gauntlet arcade board that someone was selling on Craigslist and I started tinkering around with that before ETS hit.”

“What about after ETS? Do you still tinker around with that kind of stuff?”

She shrugged, “When I’m able to. I can do the little things though. Tried to see if I could use my wings as big awkward hands, but that didn’t go the way I wanted to too. Got a real nasty burn on the ends from trying to use a soldering iron one night, trust me, you do not want to hear about that one.”

Silver cringed back reflexively as her story, imagining how it must have felt to have something burn one of the most sensitive parts of his body like that. He shook his head, trying to get the image out of his mind. Something else did come to mind at least, the idea of using wings as a set of hands.

“Does the wing thing actually work?” He asked.

“Huh? What’s that Blue?”

“Like could you actually use your wings like hands?”

“A little?” She raised an eyebrow, “Don’t tell me that you or Red haven’t tried anything like that yet.”

Silver glanced over to Scarlet and remembered the night they had confessed their feelings for one another, and he was silently glad he hadn’t tried to set the tent up with his wings, otherwise their night might not have taken the romantic turn that it did.

“No, actually,” he looked back over to his marefriend, “Guess we just never thought about doing that.”

Sine laughed, “Man, what else haven’t you two done? I would have expected you two to play around with your wings before given how lovey-dovey you were last night.”

Silver’s face flashed red and much to his own relief, Scarlet took over, “Who says we haven’t Sine? You don’t know what we did after you cut us loose.”

Silver’s face reddened even more, earning a laugh from the two mares.

“Alright Red, you made your point,” she looked back to Tinker, “So I guess to answer your question, yes and no. I burned my wing and basically stopped playing around with that kind of stuff until I could do it without giving myself light burns.”

A smile started to slowly stretch across the pegasi’s face, “So what you’re saying is that if you could get back to manipulating small things like that then you would?”

She nodded, “Uh-huh. I would now if I was a masochist, but yeahhhh… that’s not gonna happen.”

“It could,” he offered, “That is, if you had a safe way to handle stuff like that.”

“What are you getting at Redwing?”

“Give me just a moment,” he ducked back inside and fumbled around for something, seemingly finding it and trotting back out with a paper rolled up in his mouth. Trotting over to a small wooden table, he dropped it and smoothed it out, putting a few rocks on the corners to hold the drawing down, “The helping hooves… something that we’ve been trying to brainstorm for a while,” he proudly said as he waved a hoof at the drawing.

Sine and Silver leaned in, taking in the detail of the rough drawing.

“Is that supposed to be some kind of watch or something?” Sine asked.

“It could be,” the pegasus shrugged, “but it could be so much more too!” He laid out another page, pointing to a part of the gauntlet-like device that almost resembled a set of mechanical claws, “This could be the kind of gadget to help you out, no?”

Sine took an even closer look at it and slowly started to smile, “You know Redwing, it might be. Let me guess though, it’s not working right now and probably won’t for a long long time?

“Well… when you put it that way it sounds rough, but that’s not to say we couldn’t build a prototype…”

“We? What’s this we stuff?”

He pointed to her and Silver, “You, him, my assistant, and even Scarlet if she’d be interested in this kind of thing.”

Scarlet let out a laugh, “I think I’m gonna pass on that. Not that it’s not interesting, but I’d have no idea what to do and it’s just not up my alley of things I’m into. You guys are free to play around with that if you’d like,” she said, looking at Silver and Sine.

“What are you gonna do though?” Silver asked.

Scarlet shrugged, “Go take Lavvy, Jet, and Aero up on their offer to hang out in the creek before they go to bed, and let you guys geek out on your own here.”

Silver leaned in for a kiss, “Okay, but don’t have too much fun, I owe you a nice romantic walk under the stars later, and maybe some fun dreams after if you’re up for it.”

She returned a kiss of her own and smirked, “Same goes for you. I’m gonna take you up on that star walk and it better be as romantic as you’re saying.”

“Wouldn’t dream of anything else,” he replied.

“Alright you two lovebirds, save it for later or go get a room,” Sine sarcastically replied, earning a playful glare from Scarlet, who pulled Silver into a tight hug.

“Oh we'll save it for later, don’t be surprised when you hear lots of kissing coming from the cabin.”

“I’ll be sure to keep faaaaaaar away from that.”

Scarlet smiled and let go of Silver, “Have fun Silvie, love you.”

“Love you too Scarlet,” he smiled, giving her one last kiss goodbye.

“Now, if you two want I can go drag my model out of storage and we can really start brainstorming this project,” Tinker interjected, “It’s not going to just become a reality overnight, but now you’ve got the gears turning in my head and I kind of want to just write down every crazy idea I can think of and start working away at it.”

Sine nodded as Scarlet began to trot back toward the main part of the village, “Sure thing Redwing, let’s get going!”

“So Redwing, what’s stopping you from making some of the basic stuff?” Sine asked as she looked up from the drawing table.

“A lot of things really, supply issues being the biggest one.”

“Ahhh, can’t get the stuff you need I’m guessing?”

“You got it. We can get scrap and cheap aftermarket parts, but the stuff we’d need for this project is… pricey to say the least, especially for a couple of ponies that barely have any kind of income.”

“That’s scarcity for you,” she replied, “So what’s your plan then?”

“There isn’t one,” Gyro replied as he trotted over to the table.

“There is a plan,” Tinker cut in, “Just not a plan that you’re happy with.”

“Well what kind of plan is it, if you don’t mind me asking,” Silver asked.

“We have a friend out in Phoenix that might be able to get us some supplies. He’s an old buddy from back in the day and he owes us a favor or two.”

“That’s a big favor to ask,” Sine flatly replied.

“It is,” Tinker shrugged, “But Marcus and I go way back, and if getting some hard to get electric components is the favor then it’s at least worth asking.”

Sine grimaced, “Hopefully he likes you guys enough for that. I pretty much had to pay an arm and a leg for the secondhand junk I got.”

“It happens,” he agreed, “But the only way we’ll know is if we ask. So hooves crossed.”

“Hooves crossed,” Sine added.

“So…” Silver started, “Speaking of hoping for the best, I’ve been meaning to ask you something for a few days now…”

“Oh?” Tinker raised an eyebrow, “What’s that?”

“Well…” he slowly began, “I kinda broke Scarlet’s telescope the other day. She insists it’s not a big deal but I know it is, and I know how much it meant to her.”

“And you want us to repair it?”

His eyes widened and an excited smile spread across his face, “Yes actually! I wanted to just buy her a new one but the doctor visits sucked a lot of my cash away and now that’s definitely not going to happen now.”

“Smart choice then,” he commented, “How bad is the damage?”

“The telescope itself is pretty beat up but otherwise all in one piece, but the big lens on the end is cracked and if you shake it it makes this awful rattling noise.”

“I could wager a bet and say you probably screwed up the focusing lenses,” Sine added, quickly quieting herself as she noticed Silver’s worried expression, “Uhh… sorry, didn’t mean to strike a nerve or anything,” she apologized.

“It’s fine,” Silver replied, “Mind giving us a few minutes to talk about this though? No offense but it’s just kind of a personal thing I want to surprise Scarlet with.”

“That’s fine Blue, I’ll go talk with The Grouch for a bit, just give a holler when you’re done.”

“Thanks,” Silver smiled, his smile shifting into a frown as he noticed the pegasi’s sour expression. Knowing how much of a techy person he was, he was no doubt personally imagining what the poor telescope must have gone through.

“So… we’ve got some wear and tear and probably more than one broken lens…”

“Right… so can you fix it?” Silver optimistically asked.

“I…” he paused, “Well first off, I don’t have it in front of me so I don’t know how bad the body is, but I can already tell you that the cracked lenses are going to be tricky. Gyro can re-set them but that brings us to the hard part.”

“Hard part?” Silver’s ears dropped.

“Hard part,” he nodded, “I think we can fix most of it, but—“

“— Oh thank God!” Silver sighed a breath of relief, quickly being shushed by the older pegasus.”

“But…” he continued, “We don’t have replacement lenses out here, and I can already tell you that they’re not going to be cheap.”

Silver’s heart sank again, “So what does that mean?”

“What that means is that you’ll have to foot the bill for the lenses. However, I can probably get you the information you’d need to get proper replacements.”

Silver could feel a sense of sadness welling up inside of him. He desperately wanted to make this right for Scarlet, even if she had already forgiven him for it. He cared so much about her and in his eyes it wasn’t fair that she couldn’t do the thing she loved most because of him. He shook his head, calming himself and deciding that he needed to be optimistic and look at the bright side of things. Tinker and Gyro could fix it, it was just up to him to come up with new lenses.

“So… I’m almost afraid to ask, but how expensive are we talking when you say the lenses are going to be expensive?”

“It would depend on the type of telescope,” he replied, “if it’s just a hobby telescope then you’re looking at probably a few hundred dollars for a set, maybe less given the state of the market but I wouldn’t get your hopes up, those things probably went fast to whichever hobbyists are still into this kind of thing.”

Silver’s heart sank even further, “A couple hundred dollars?”

It sounded so silly gawking at that out loud, but as a pony with basically no income, that kind of money was just too hard to come by. Not to mention he was down to well under that now, and that was supposed to be his emergency funds.

“A couple hundred dollars,” the pegasus repeated, “I’m going to take it that that’s out of your price range?”

“Uh huh,” Silver sadly replied, “You could say that.”

Tinker flashed him a sympathetic look and began to dig through a stack of papers on a nearby drawer, “I know money’s tight right now, and I can see how much you want to do this, so I might have a solution for you, but I don’t know how much you’re going to like it.”

Silver looked up, “Huh?”

The pegasus grabbed a business card in his wings and offered it to the night pony, “I know a guy down in that valley who runs a scrap yard. He won’t have the lenses you need, but last I checked he needed somepony to keep an eye on the place at night. Had some trouble with looters. Is this something you’d be interested in?”

Silver paused for a moment, “I… like a job, right?”

He nodded, “It wouldn’t pay well, but it’d at least give you some source of income that you could put toward that.”

“And toward emergencies,” Silver added, “I need to get a nice nest egg built up too, because I didn’t realize how expensive the doctor stuff would be.”

“Plus, you might be able to get a good deal on scrap and salvage. I don’t know whether that’s of any use to you, but if we want to say… improve your marefriend’s telescope, I could put together a list of components and materials I’d need for that.”

The idea piqued Silver’s interest, and whether he was genuinely interested in the job or not, he needed this money, for emergencies and for his own personal gift to Scarlet.

He nodded, “It’s worth a shot. Think I should call tonight or wait until tomorrow morning?”

“I would call him as soon as you can. He’s probably heading out in the next hour or so, so if you’re lucky you might be able to schedule something with him.”

Silver smiled, “Thanks Tinker, you don’t know how much this all means to me.”

“Oh I have a good idea,” he laughed, “You’re head over hooves in love with her, and you just want to make her happy.”


“If you want to go grab the telescope I can start taking a look at it tonight. I can’t promise that we’ll be able to do anything yet, but it’s worth taking a look at.”

“Gotcha,” Silver excitedly cheered, “I seriously can’t thank you enough for this.”

“It’s no trouble. Good luck with the job too, I don’t think he’s going to be picky at all, which works well in your favor. Now go ahead and go grab what you need, we can chat more when you get back.”

Without wasting another minute, Silver took off down the path and back toward the main village, excited and perhaps even a little nervous about what the future had in store.

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