• Published 4th Sep 2012
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Flim and Flam Save an Orphanage - KFDirector

They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from Goddess!

  • ...

Flim and Flam

The first rays of sunshine crept across the plains, casting natural light through the barred windows of the Chihocko dungeon.

Two pegasus guards, dark in coat, trotted quickly through the stone corridors of the dungeon.

“Last one, then we’re off shift.”

They stopped in front of one cell, where its single occupant – a tall unicorn stallion with a pale olive coat and a two-toned mane that might remind a griffin or other carnivore of bacon – was snoring.

The preferentially-nocturnal guards frowned.

“You – wake up.”

Snoring persisted.

“I said, wake up!”

No effect.

One of the guards slammed his wing hard against the bars; the clanging filled the cell block.

“On your hooves, criminal scum! It’s time!”

Out of doors, in the cool moist dawn air, a contraption of magic and mechanization rumbled down the road outside the dungeon. Faded paint identified it as having been, once upon a time, the property of the ‘Mareland Night Guard’. Its unicorn operator, with a throw of a few levers, brought it to a halt, and with a magical glow shut off the motor.

“Prisoner FF-215-B, unicorn block. Paroled, time off for good behavior, eight months out of twenty-four.” The pegasus guard finished reading off the clipboard his compatriot was holding up for him. The unicorn prisoner stood unmoving.

“Need a moment.” The wiry green unicorn behind an iron mesh wall disappeared for a minute, reappearing with a cardboard box. An orange glow appeared around its contents, one at a time, lifting them into view, and describing them.

“One canister mane gel, Dapper Dun, full.”

“One - half-used.”

“One empty.”

“One bow tie, dark navy blue.”

“One shirt, cotton, short-sleeved, white.”

“One vest, silk, blue and white striped.”

“One hat, straw.”

A small sealed envelope was the last thing out of the box. “Twenty three bits and seven cent pieces. Make your mark here.”

The green unicorn presented a signature page to the prisoner. Looking for a quill, and seeing none, the prisoner raised his left fore hoof, spit on it, tapped it on the dirty floor, and, with a stamp, left his hoofprint on the document.

Celestia’s ward rose in shining glory through the eastern sky, lighting up the courtyard of the dungeon, not to mention the whole of the Chihocko plain, and the operator of the magitek contraption looked towards it, towards the entrance of the dungeon, to see the gates open wide and a single unicorn trot out. The vehicle’s operator disembarked, meeting the former prisoner in the middle of the road.

Wearing identical hats, vests, and bow ties, they regarded each other, distinguishable only by their cutie marks and the presence of a mustache on the vehicle’s operator.

Each threw a foreleg over the other.

“Flim.” The operator patted his brother’s back.

“Flam.” The prisoner returned the favor for his brother.

The two boarded the vehicle that Flam had driven to the dungeon – Flim regarding it with a raised eyebrow – and with a magic glow, the motor whirred right back to life, as if it had never been turned off. Two pushes of a lever sent the vehicle down the streets, driving west.

For quite a few minutes the two were in silence. Finally, Flim spoke.

“What’s this?”

“What’s what?” was the reply.

“This – contraption, this infernal contraption. Where’s the Cidermobile?”

“The what?”

“The Cidermobile – the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000!”

“Sold it.”

“Sold it to buy this?” Flim nearly spat.

“No – sold it to pay our restitution.”

“Sold it to – ” Flim thought for a moment. “Ah. You must’ve gotten a pretty good offer for it.”

Flam nodded.

“But still – what is this?”

“This?” Flam tapped the vehicle, as he turned onto one of the main highways of Equestria, a road actually paved – with stone fragments, not the cobblestone or bricks of a major city. “This, dear brother, was a positive steal. Prototype carriage for the province of Mareland, sold at auction after the Night Guards there standardized on a different model. Barely paid pennies on the bit for it.”

Flim snorted. “Utterly without class. The day of my release from incarceration, my own brother sees fit to meet me in a Night Guard carriage.”

The carriage pulled up next to a bridge over a wide, shallow canyon. Though the hour was still early, traffic was backed up at the bridge, where two mares pulling carts loaded with refuse appeared to have stopped to tell each other jokes.

Flam looked at Flim. “It isn’t to your standards?”

Flim thought for a moment on this. “No. Not in the least.”

Flam threw three levers on the carriage, and violently twisted the wheel of the helm. Within the bowels of the machine, turbines shrieked, and the carriage wheels spun sparks on the stone pavement for an instant or two before propelling the carriage forward. With one more twist of the wheel, Flam evaded a patient pair of oxen pulling an anchor-laden wagon; with a third twist, he wove the carriage through a laughing bachelor herd; with a fourth, he made an impromptu ramp out of the stone bridge’s guardrail, and made the carriage airborne.

The two trash-hauling mares looked up from their comedy routine to see the source of the sudden shadow, then followed it downwards to see the carriage slam onto the bridge in front of them, shoot up an instant’s more sparks, and streak off into the horizon.

Flim shrugged. “Acceptable acceleration and handling, I suppose.”

“Detrot motor, Stalliongrad frame, wheels made from Whitetail wood, whole thing’s built to Mareland specifications. Hybrid turbine will run equally well on unicorn magic or coal or both – with magic, it’ll even run fine on biomass. Manewell Daemon on the turbine means no heat or power loss when the contraption’s turned off and on, as long as we’re firing it up again with magic. C’mon, brother – is it the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 7000 or what?”

Flim tapped the side of the carriage. “Can’t see how - blasted thing doesn’t even make cider. Yet.”

Flam smiled.

A few long hours of driving later, the carriage pulled up in front of a small brick building at the outskirts of Canterlot. A stone sign on an arch over the doorway had once read ‘Clover Home for Orphaned Unicorns’, but long weathering and recent battle damage had reduced the legible portions to “love Home an d corn”.

Flim raised an eyebrow. “And we are here…why?”

“You promised Penny Wing you’d come by the day you were released.”

“Imagine I prevaricated to her.”

“You don’t prevaricate to Penny Wing.”

“Why not? That old nag does every time she says her name. She’s not even a pegasus.”

“Come on. We’ve got to go in and see Penny Wing.”

Flim rolled his eyes, but complied. The brothers stepped out of the carriage, and past a group of young unicorn foals bouncing a ball between them with magic. Slowly they entered the ancient building, and up a narrow staircase, coming to a door at the top.

“Who goes there?!”

The voice was – different – than the Penny Wing they recalled. They looked at each other, then announced themselves.

“Flim and Flam.”

A cobalt blue glow overtook the door, which opened. The brothers gasped to see, sitting at the desk of their old guardian, a tall, sapphire-blue coated, winged unicorn, with a blue mane flowing with the stars of the night sky.

“Your Highness – ”

“We’ll just be – ”

“Come inside, colts.” Princess Luna shuffled a few documents with her magic, and looked up at them. “Come – forward – that’s better. Please – do not bow. We have read a bit about you, Flim Flimflam and Flam Flimflam.”

Flim gulped in horror. Flam summoned the urge to speak – if only to change the topic.

“Your Highness – what happened to Penny Wing?”

“Sister Penny Wing took ill after the Chrysalis Invasion. There was no one from her order who could take her place, so we took on the management of this place in our personal capacity, until she could recover, as we and our sister did with many places throughout Canterlot.”

“Well – ” Flim gulped, edging towards the door. “ – we see that Your Highness has everything well in hoof – ”

“This place suffered grave damage during the Chrysalis Invasion. Temporary patches have been made, but without full repairs to the walls, and a new boiler room, this building will not be suited to equine habitation come the winter. Especially not for all those little foals.”

Flam raised an eyebrow. “There’s quite a few months left until winter. The Summer Sun celebration is tomorrow, is it not?”

“Yes, but the construction workers are stretched to the limit rebuilding this city. If this orphanage is to be repaired in time for the winter, it will need to place an order, with the fifty thousand bits up front, by the end of the month. Elsewise, this orphanage must be shut down.”

“Wouldn’t the royal government cover that? Or Penny Wing’s order?”

“Penny Wing’s charitable order doesn’t have that kind of money. And we are running this place, and many others, in our personal capacity – we do not have access to the Equestrian treasury.”

“And what happens if the place is shut down?” Flam asked.

“The orphans would have to live wherever might take them – probably nowhere left in Canterlot, so they would be separated and sent out to the countryside. And Sister Penny Wing would have no home here to return to – when she recovered, her order would probably send her someplace that still had need. Perhaps a reservation in the Buffalo Lands – or among the Griffins – or the Everfree – ”

“Now look here, Your Highness! There’s no need at all to imagine these consequences. Fifty thousand bits? My brother and I can get that by tomorrow evening.” Flim tapped Flam on the shoulder with his hoof, making a knowing smile. “Maybe the morning after, if the banks take longer than normal to check the paperwork. C’mon, Flam, let us do this.”

NAY!” Luna shouted, rattling the windows of the orphanage. “We will not avail ourselves of wealth obtained by fraud and deceit.”

Flim chuckled. “Well, I guess they’re just bucked, then.”

A terrible white glow overtook Luna’s eyes, a blue glow, her horn, and a chalkboard eraser flew from the side of the wall, clobbering Flim in the head.


“What didst thou say?!”

Flim rubbed the side of his head. “I offered our help.”

Luna nodded.

“Your Highness refused to take our money.”

Luna nodded again, smiling.

“So I said ‘I guess they’re just bucked, then’.”

A second eraser flew into the back of his head.

“Jeez, Flim, take it easy, feather-brain – ” Both erasers flew up from the ground to address Flam’s tongue as well. “ – ow! Horse apples!”

Lesson not learned, the brothers continued to respond to pain with profanity, until the Princess hefted, above her crowned head, a file cabinet.

“Buck this noise, brother!” Flam charged for the door. Flim scrambled as well, but could not make his escape before being slammed in the back with the office supplies and hurled tumbling down the stairs.

From the base of the stairs, they looked up to the doorway, to see Princess Luna there, hovering, eyes aglow, horn aglow.

“It pains us deeply that two young stallions raised by a charitable order to follow the path of Harmony, come back to it as con artists and hucksters, with wicked tongues – and bad attitudes. BEGONE FROM THIS PLACE! AND RETURN NOT UNTIL THOU HATH REDEEMEST THYSELVES!

Bits of the stone ceiling finished falling in response to the thunderous command, and still hovering on her wings, the Princess retreated into the office, closing the door behind her with magic.

“I see you foals still haven’t learned your lesson about how to address your betters. One would think with a royal princess you’d have had a little more sense.”

The two brothers looked up to another unicorn behind them – an azure-coated young mare with a cornflower mane.

“Flim. Flam.”

“Trixie, old girl!” Flim shouted in surprise, getting up. “How in the hoof have you been?”

The three unicorns took their seats at a local dive with one hay smoothie and two hard ciders. A musty smell in their padded seats suggested that the patch in the wood ceiling overhead was (A) not doing its job at keeping out rain and (B) hadn’t been doing it since the Chrysalis Invasion, or possibly before.

Trixie sipped on her straw. “Trixie was by the orphanage this morning, and heard the same tale as you two, Trixie presumes.”

“Her Highness wouldn’t take your money, either?” Flim asked, knocking back half his bottle, and ignoring his old friend’s habit of using the third person, as inconsistent as it could get in private conversation.

Trixie snorted. “What money? Trixie has no money. There are no open venues in Canterlot, Trixie knows nopony in Manehattan, and the show circuit in earth pony country – ” she shuddered. “And you two? You can’t have much yourselves, not after that unpleasantness last autumn.”

Flam laughed. “Tell me about it. Flim here was only released this morning.”

Trixie shook her head. “I do wish you had written me before going into Ponyville. Trixie could have warned you.”

Flim raised a brow. “Ponyville? That town didn’t go well for us, but we weren’t arrested for Ponyville. That was all on the up-and-up – our lawyer said so – and no one pressed charges about the rocks there.”

“Ah yes,” Trixie chuckled, tapping her glass on the table to signal the waiter for a refill of smoothie. “And how is Nickel Guise, the earth pony attorney?”

“Presumably still cheap, clever, a touch neurotic, and lonely. Couldn’t keep you up to date on the specifics – I’ve been avoiding him for about, oh, eight months now.” Flam polished off his bottle of cider and contemplated another. “Anyway, we were arrested in Fillydelphia, not Ponyville. And it was for serving cider with rocks, sticks, and other…things…in it.”

“Flam got three months for ‘reckless service of an adulterated beverage’. I got two years for being the one to add the button to turn off quality control to the machine. Thank Celestia for good time.”

“Yes, indeed.” Trixie nodded as the waiter poured more smoothie into her cup. “So have you any notion? On the orphanage?”

“That it’s not really my problem,” Flim said, grabbing an unattended bottle of cider from the table behind him whilst its owner used the little colt’s room. “I’m sorry, Trixie old girl, I know you were nearly as much born there, but Flam and I were just there for a year after Foal Protective Services decided our mother was unfit.”

“Don’t forget, Flim.” Flam said quietly. “Also the two years after dad ran off to his old bachelor herd and mom started drinking the second time. And the year and a half they both first discovered drinking.”

“Well – all right – we were just there for a bit over four years, total.”

Trixie gave Flim a stare that only slightly tiptoed over the line into a glare.

“I mean, yes, Carriage Callow was the closest thing any of us really had to a father who gave two horse apples about our lives, and Penny Wing took responsibility for us truly learning to use our unicorn gifts with both talent and care, and…” Flim sobbed, emptying the stranger’s drink. “Oh, who am I kidding? That blasted orphanage really is all we’ve got that’s ever been a proper home. How in the hoof are we going to save it? Fifty thousand bits – I can only think of one or two scams that could raise that kind of money before the end of the month, and the Princess of the Mother-Bucking Night is filling in for Penny Wing – she’d know if we didn’t get it honestly anyhow! And she’d hand us right over to the Night Guard, and we’d be back in the dungeon! And me, as a parole violator!”

Flam sighed. “We’ll just have to come by it honestly.”

Trixie self-consciously smoothed her mane with her magic. “Trixie’s money is always honest. Her tales are exaggerated, but no one comes to hear a modest performer.”

“Trixie’s money also doesn’t exist right now.”

“There is that, yes. Speaking of which – who is buying?” The waiter had just set the bill down on their table.

The three unicorns regarded each other, and the bill, and each other again. Flim sighed, and pulled the check towards him, quickly marked it with the quill, and magically passed it to the waiter, who trotted off.

“How generous of you, Flim. Was that the last of your money?”

“Generous – yes.” Flim coughed. “We should move on – quickly.”

The other unicorns got the hint and trotted out of the dive quickly, making their way to a main street of Canterlot.

Inside the dive, an earth pony with thick brown mutton chops finally exited the restroom, stopping short as he approached his table. “Hey! Who took my drink?”

“Your bill, Mister Ace,” the waiter said, holding a check in front of his face.

“Thirty nine bits?! For ‘Two hay smoothies, three hard ciders, two ’ – I didn’t order half of this!”

The unicorn brothers and the traveling magician parted ways – agreeing to meet again the next evening, after they’d had time to brainstorm, and in the brothers’ case, talk to their lawyer.

Though it wasn’t the best part of Canterlot, the brothers didn’t have to chase anypony away from their carriage – it would take a foal with a potent mix of crazy, stupid, and confident to mess with a carriage labeled as the property of the Night Guard, even if the paint had faded, and no such ponies were apparently on the streets of Canterlot that evening.

“So where is home, now?” Flim asked, as Flam kicked the motor to life and started driving for the city gates. “I mean, I got the address you wrote me, so I could give it to my parole officer, but I didn’t recognize it at all.”

“Boarding with a bachelor herd’s temporary digs a few miles out of the city. Bunch of stallions and colts doing construction work to rebuild Canterlot. I throw a few bits their way for rent when I get any, they throw a few extra day labor jobs my way when they come up.” Flam pulled out through the gates, and started down a winding mountain road. “It’s not much, but it’s a home, and a place to pass the time until you got out.”

“Indeed.” The two brothers were quiet and thoughtful as the carriage maneuvered, in low gears, down miles of switchbacks. At the foot of the mountain, they turned, and headed down a dirt road. They stayed silent for a few minutes more, until Flam glanced at the carriage’s side mirror and muttered an oath.



“Night Guards.” Flam pulled the carriage to the side of the country road, and stopped, as two pegasus ponies – one white coated, one black – flew up beside them. The white one mouthed a hand torch, shining it into the unicorns’ faces. “Is there a problem, sir?”

The black pegasus glared. “You failed to yield the right-of-way at the last intersection.”

“There was nopony there to yield to, sir.”

“Show me your license and ownership papers.”

Grumbling, Flam carefully pulled out from under his seat – with his hooves; anypony who had as many run-ins with the law as they had knew you tried not to use unicorn magic around Night Guards if you could help it – a small pile of papers, and passed them to the dark pegasus. The pegasus ponies nodded to each other, and pulled back towards their own carriage.

“So what’s the problem, Flam? They’ll punch a hole in your license papers and give you a fine due in a month.”

“Well…” Flam pulled his hat over his eyes. “Not if they check with their headquarters.”

Flim groaned.

“Counting interest fees, I already owe eighty five thousand bits in fees for parking and moving violations. Maybe more.”

Flim stammered. “You – you’re eighty five thousand bits in debt for this thing? Wh – why in the hoof are you still using it?”

“Hey.” Flam looked seriously at his brother. “I haven’t been pulled over in six months.”

This, in Flim’s estimation, didn’t help matters. “You mean to tell me – I’ve been in the dungeon for eight months, you were in for one, and you haven’t been pulled over in six – you racked up eighty five thousand bits in moving and parking fines in one month?”

“Moving, parking, and interest.”

The lights from the pegasus ponies’ lanterns approached again. The dark pegasus glared seriously. “Flam Flimflam, you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Please, step out of the carriage.”

Flam nodded solemnly raising his hooves in the air – his horn glowed with magic, bringing the turbine right back to life and slamming the levers of the carriage.

“Buck!” the dark pegasus shouted, flying briefly after the carriage, shooting off into the night. The light pegasus flew back to their own, and set the lanterns and klaxons to maximum, as their engine screamed with power. The dark pegasus dropped into the Night Guard carriage as it pulled forward, and a few seconds later they were in pursuit.

“Genius, Flam, positively genius. Now we’re both going right back to the dungeon.” The Flimflam carriage hung a sharp left on the next intersection, sending up a massive cloud of dust on the dirt road as it shot towards a cluster of lights indicating a village.

“They’re not going to catch us, Flim. Princess Luna herself ordained us with this task – and on the eve of the Summer Sun Celebration? We’re on a mission from Celestia and Luna both, and don’t you forget it.”

The Night Guard carriage could match their speed, but not apparently exceed it, and it maintained about the same distance. Flam looked in the mirror approvingly. “These aren’t the kind of pegasus ponies who get out and chase you on wing. We should be able to get clear after this village – ”

Interrupting Flam, another Night Guard carriage pulled onto the road just beside them, lanterns flaring and klaxons sounding. Flim glanced over to the side, seeing a pegasus looking straight at him. The dark-colored pegasus gestured at Flim with his hoof, and then at the side of the road. Flim gestured to Flam, shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders.

The pegasus gestured again. This time, once at Flim with his hoof, and then slowly drawing the hoof across his own throat.

Flim gulped. “Brother of mine, I do think we had best quit while we are ahead.”

“We’ll be fine if we can just lose them in this village.”

“I hardly think we’ll accomplish that on the main drag!”

“Good point!” Flam nodded, and spun the helm of the carriage hard left.

The waiter at Mild West-style café had just taken their order, and left the two ponies to their own devices.

“Now, Wild Fire”, the grey earth pony stallion began, “I don’t want you to take this too hard.”

“You’re – you’re…?” The cream-colored pegasus mare started to tear up, as the stallion patted her outstretched hooves with his own.

“But with my career where it is right now, I just don’t think I can make the kind of commitment a mare like you deserves.”

The side wall of the café imploded, bringing a volley of screams as ponies nearer to the chaos scattered – a carriage spun on the tile floors, swinging a tight circle.

Wild Fire locked her gaze with the pistachio eyes of a tall unicorn – at the helm of the carriage – who tipped his hat to her, winked, and pushed the throttle, sending up a trail of sparks and smoke as the wheels ground against the café floor and propelled the carriage back out of the restaurant.

The fire of resolve filled her heart.

“I must have that stallion.”

And at that, she took wing, and headed out into the night.

The earth pony she left behind stared stupidly a minute more. At last he cried out:

“You could take it a little harder than that!”

He blinked again, to clear the confusion from his eyes, when a fresh chorus of screams arose as a second carriage made a second hole in the café wall – shouting pegasus ponies hollered to clear the way, klaxons sounding and horns blaring and lanterns flaring – the earth pony threw himself backwards as the second carriage drove up onto his table, and high-centered itself there. The wheels, front and back, on the carriage spun wildly, and the pegasus at the controls waved his hoof in rage, before pointing at the earth pony.

“You! Help push!”

The earth pony cried out, and joined the rest of the patrons in running, screaming, out of the café.

The pegasus Night Guard slammed his hoof on the dash of the carriage. “Buck.”

“Now what, feather brain?” Flim bellowed, as they left the café and the second carriage behind them, with first still on an intercept course.

“Just need a fruit cart and we’ll be fine.” Flam turned the wheel tightly, spinning the carriage around, around, and around again, before he had it solidly pointed at an outdoor marketplace, just closing up for the evening. “Settle down, brother, I’ve got this.”

“Flam Flimflam!” the dark-colored pegasus on the first Night Guard carriage shouted. “This is your last chance! Pull over now!”

“At once, officer!” Flam shouted back. “Here we go – ” He muttered.

The earth pony vendor had but a moment’s notice, but it was sufficient. “My cabbages!” he cried in horror as his cart exploded into splinters, sending produce – brassica oleracea included – scattering through the marketplace.

In a moment, the produce was joined by the assorted wares of R.J. and Sons – purveyors of down pillows – and a local distributor for Quills and Sofas – fortunately, just the quills were out today – and hundreds of feathers hit the air.

“Stop – stop!” the dark-colored pegasus cried to his partner. “Oh, Luna, I think they hit someone!” They watched as feathers fluttered downwards behind the disappearing carriage. “Get some medics out here – we must have a seriously injured pegasus, maybe more than one – ”

“See?” Flam said, grinning, as their carriage pulled away, expanding the distance between themselves and their pursuers. “Hitting a fruit cart always works.”

It was another mile down the road when their final pursuer, unknown to them, gave up, at least for the time. Panting, the cream-colored pegasus stopped to catch her breath. “Whoever you are, stud…” Wild Fire exhaled again, and grinned. “I will find you.”

Half an hour later, the brothers’ carriage pulled up to a four-story tottering wood building labeled “The Stable” by means of red paint over what could have charitably been called the main entrance. Flam carefully maneuvered their carriage into a small shack, and locked it in.

“Don’t trust the locals?” Flim asked.

“What? Nay, they’re fine fellows – I’d trust them with my life, though not my cider.”

“So, hiding it from the Night Guard? They have your license – they’ll be coming to find you.”

Flam laughed. “Not with those papers they won’t. They’ll have my address as 1400 Apple Lane, Rural Route 6.”

Flim frowned, as they headed up the stairs of the alleged entrance. “That sounds familiar to me, but why should – wait. Sweet Apple Acres?” Flam laughed again. Flim shook his head. “That’s just demented, brother.”

They trotted up into the lobby, conveniently located on the third floor. Flam tapped on the glass of the night clerk’s booth. The earth pony on the other side looked up from his dog-eared copy of one of the racier of the unlicensed Daring Do spin-offs. “Whaddayawant?”

“Any messages?”

“Nothin’ for ya, Flam. Some dame came by – not Night Guard, but workin’ with ‘em – lookin’ for a Flim Flimflam, though. Left her card.”

Flim nodded. “That would be my parole officer.”

“Ya figure?” the clerk asked, uninterested.

“This is my brother, Flim. He just got out of the dungeon, and will be boarding with me until he gets back on his hooves. Will that be acceptable?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” The night clerk spat. “With two of youse, maybe I can get some rent out of that room now.”

“Don’t be like that, friend – I paid you not that long ago.”

“We’ve got some very different positions on ‘that long ago’. Go on.” The earth pony waved the two unicorns off. “I’m just at the good part, where Daring’s gotta battle the tentacle demon.”

“Well, it’s lacking in a lot of the comforts we once had, but it is home for now,” Flam said, backing into the apartment.

“Why are you walking backwa - ” Flim looked inside the apartment, perhaps more plausibly called a stall. “Ah. Because there is no room to turn around.”

“You do rather have to make up your mind about which way you want to be facing before you enter, yes.”

The building rumbled as the horn of the Friendship Express sounded, far overhead, and a dozen cars rolled over a distant bridge. Flam’s room too, rattled, various knickknacks and bottles of cider freeing themselves from their shelves to now adorn the floor instead.

“How often does the train go by?”

“If you believe the schedules, every twelve hours.”

“You don’t?”

Just as Flam’s magic had set most of the cider bottles back on the shelf, the building rumbled again.

“No,” Flam sighed, as entropy and gravity reasserted their dominion over his belongings. “I don’t.” He gave up and sat back on his haunches, as Flim crawled into the tiny bed in the corner – which itself took up about a third of the apartment’s space. “We’d better hit the hay – in the morning, we’ve got to catch up with Nickel Guise and see if he can find anything for us, and then we’ve got to get with Trixie again and see if she figured - ”

Flam stopped and frowned, as Flim began snoring.

“Or, you know, we can simply wait until the morning to figure out our schedule.”

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