• Published 12th Feb 2013
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Black Canvas - WritingSpirit



Rainbow Dash and her new coltfriend, Taciturn Bleach, paid a visit to his home, where she learns about Taciturn's troubling childhood

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Hearts & Hooves Day: Such A Perfect Mistake

"...and we commit his body to the ground. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."

Rainbow Dash hung her head low at the words of the priest, the dew-covered blades of grass beneath her hooves swaying gently in the spring breeze. The back of her chromatic mane was tied into a bun, and the remainder draped underneath a black veil of lace. Her eyes were frozen at the granite coffin being heaved into a crypt, the prayers the priest was giving starting to drone her head as her concern turned to that of Taciturn Bleach.

The bleached colt was right beside her, wearing a black suit that the butler had prepared for him with one hoof clinging tightly onto her own. There wasn't a single trace of emotion of his face and, despite it being typical most of the time, the mare found it a little unnerving.

"You okay, Tassee?" she asked, to which there wasn't a response.

It was expected of him, of course; she couldn't imagine how she would console herself if her father passed away without notice. Twilight and Fluttershy both did ask her in their letter to give Taciturn some time when she wrote back to Ponyville two days ago, having notified her friends of the recurring events.

She also wrote back to ask her scholarly friend about the key the day before, and she would've lied if she wasn't eager to know what her answer would be. Heck, she even did a rough sketch of the key on the letter; she had actually planned for Taciturn to help her with that, though the last thing she wanted is for the colt to be involved in her mess.

With lanterns in their hooves, the crowd slowly marched downward into the crypt, following the four ponies carefully heaving the coffin down. The musty air that tingled her nose nearly made her sneeze, the flickering candle in Rainbow's lantern revealing to her the mossy, damp stone steps leading downwards into the dark. Echoes of dripping water chimed a rhythm in the air and, with her hooves trailing across the stone walls, the cyan mare held her breath as they reached an opening.

Emerging from the tunnel, her eyes widened at the sight of the dome-shaped antechamber she was standing in. All around her were grilled doors, with matching granite coffins lying silently behind them, their lids adorned with wreaths and flowers.

Sure enough, its newest addition had also had its home prepared: a newly painted grill was wide open, allowing the four ponies to lift the heavy coffin inside, carefully and slowly placing it on the ground with a loud thud. Upon closer inspection, Rainbow discovered that each door held a slab containing each of its deceased inhabitants' names.

Fidus soon stepped from the crowd, slamming the grill shut with a grim frown. Reaching behind, he pulled out from his suit a ring of keys, all rusted and faded with age, before slotting one into the keyhole, the tumblers shifting with a click. From behind, he was soon handed a stone slab, carved with none other than the name of Taciturn's father on it, inserting it into a slot on the iron grill arranged just for it.

"We had lost a great pony today," he spoke with refined dignity, turning to the crowd.

"He has brought us mystery and wonder in his achievements in his development of science, and has been the pioneer of science in the previous generations. He had left us much to admire about him, and the knowledge he bestowed in life had been glorified beyond our common minds. May he be successful in the next life as he was in this. and may his name be remembered by all those who had been with him in all those years."

With that, Fidus raised his lantern up, his voice echoing throughout the chamber:

"à l'Éternel."

"à l'Éternel," the crowd, including Rainbow (despite not knowing what it meant), said in unison.

Rainbow glanced at all the doors around, unsure if the key she discovered was supposed to unlock any of them. It seemed perfect, however: a key resembling a skeleton to fit into a lock in a crypt, though she knew better than to test it out in the presence of dozens of ponies.

She had tried it around a few locks back in the mansion. There were undeniably quite a number, such as a decorated box standing in the pantry, a desk drawer in her bedroom and a cupboard standing in the living room, to name a few. There were also a few doors she tried it on as well, particularly the ones leading into the library and the master bedroom, to which she suspected the butler had locked it up after his master's passing. Of course, she made sure there was no one watching; she didn't want ponies to see her as a sneaky little snooper.

"R-Rainbow?" Taciturn's voice slipped itself into her thoughts. It's been quite a while since she had been called by her first name from the colt, seeing how he preferred Pinkie's version of her last name even more.

From the way he insistently tugged at his hooves and the faint glimmer of his pleading eyes, everypony would knew from him that he was slightly afraid of the chamber they were in. Rainbow would too, seeing how creepy the atmosphere was.

"Doctor Martingale," she whispered to the doctor, who was standing in front of them.

"Tassee's a little... you know, worked up about being down here, and I thought... well..."

"Say no more," came his response, almost as if he had read her mind. With a sincere smile, the doctor patted her on the shoulder, guiding them back to the stairway where they came from.

"It's normal for Taciturn to be uncomfortable around here. Be careful at the steps, however."

"I will," she replied, leading the colt back up into the open.

The cold, wistful air of morning swept across both their hooves, earning a sigh of satisfaction from Rainbow. Breathing in deeply, her lips started to curl into a smile, though it soon faded when she turned to Taciturn.

He was still slightly terrified, shivering from head to toe, though there was something else fluttering in between his eyes; something that Rainbow would never expect, shunning her in a dreadful silence.

Rage.

He was angry... angry about what? She had never seen Taciturn being angry before; she never dared to, and Twilight did mention he can be very sensitive as well as emotional sometimes, which only added to her trepidation. The spring breeze died down suddenly once he gritted his teeth with a harrumph, the grip on her hooves tightening and leaving her to swallow a lump as she called his name in a stammer:

"T-Tassee?"

His frown soon softened suddenly, as well as his fear, all signs of it washed away from his pupils and replaced with a flash flood of innocence. Meekly turning to the mare, a small smile erupted from his lips, which only relieved yet baffled her when he squeaked out his name:

"Dashie!"

"You okay, buddy?" she asked hesitantly, to which his response was an eager nod.

"Well, if something's bothering you," and Rainbow suspected it as such, "just lemme know, okay? Remember I'm here for you, that's all."

Of course, he gave a quick nod, prompting her to trot back to the mansion, with the colt happily glancing around at all the sights (mainly dead trees, pebbles and a field of tombstones) that he could see.

Rainbow's thoughts, however, were flung back to his small bout of anger. It wasn't like himself for the usually calm and collected painter to suddenly erupt into a rage, and she don't think it was because of his emotional turmoil. Was it all because of a small visit at the family crypt, or was there something in there that flared his temper?

Something doesn't seem right, she surmised, and the more she think of it, the more she felt her gut cringe at the one small question raised when she saw those disturbing paintings back in the nursery yesterday:

Was she going to like what she will find?


"You'll be alright, Tassee?"

The bleached colt gave a nod, lifting his paintbrush; the very same one that Rainbow gave the first time they met, from the canvas to do so. She had encouraged him to paint to pass the time while she looked around the mansion for some things to do (like sneaking around), seeing it was obviously his favorite pastime, and how he never had the chance to do so yet when they first arrived here; she noticed him secretly craving for some time to kick back his hooves and use his paintbrush, and it seems destiny had rewarded him with just that.

Returning his smile, the mare rose up from the bed, giving his head a light pat before she left the room. The sounds of muffled, quirky humming soon filled the bedroom, making her giggle before she trotted down the hallway.

Now. Onto the serious stuff.

Slipping the key from underneath her wings, Rainbow slowly turned it around her hooves, her eyes narrowing at its bizarre appearance. Of all the keys she was to be stuck with, it had to be something immensely out of this world.

"What do you open?" she asked it as if it would give a clear answer back to her. With a defeated sigh and a shrug, she slotted it back into the folds of her wings, almost looking like some sort of tribal piercing hanging in the midst of her sky-blue feathers. Thank Celestia Rarity isn't here to see this.

With only frustration as her temporary companion, the cyan mare marched down the corridors, glancing around at wherever her trusty instincts had guided her. She had contemplated yesterday night on the places she was going to explore, and there really wasn't any options left other than, well, the nursery.

Rainbow knew she hadn't quite explored every corner of it yet; the slight interruption of Taciturn and Fidus was untimely. Maybe somepony might've hidden something that could tell her whatever this stupid key could unlock. She saw it happen a few times in the Daring Do books: something about 'the answer is hidden with the question' or some sort of riddle like that.

Retracing her steps, it wasn't long before she met the door again, her hoof hesitantly and slowly turning the knob, which, much to her surprise, wasn't locked. She thought it would be when Fidus caught her sneaking in the room, though it seems some ponies never learn, do they?

"Now, where to begin..." she muttered quietly, shutting the door behind her. The last thing she wanted to was get caught before she even found something, especially it it was by either doctor or butler.

The wall of scrawled paintings were still there, which completely mystified her: shouldn't the maids take it down already? It doesn't seem like they were doing a good-enough job to leave all these crude images here. Perhaps they were restricted from coming in as well? The cupboards and chairs are noticeably much dustier than the rest of the rooms, as if this place had not been entered by in years, decades even!

Stepping towards the cradle: the only object that differs this room as the nursery from the others, Rainbow stopped once a familiar scent wafted through the air. It was flowery yet pungent, though in between that amalgam of scents she could detect the smell of... lemons?

Flipping the sheets aside, Rainbow was met with a sheet of mottled, crinkled paper, yellowed due to age. She picked it up carefully, the other hoof covering her snout as the stench overwhelmed the room, making her wonder if some sick somepony was playing a disgusting trick on her by cutting this out from a used portion of toilet paper.

Lemons... she pondered on that one smell. Placing it on the windowsill, under the bright glare of the afternoon sun, Rainbow sat back at one of the few chairs in the room, her head desperately yearning for a kick to fix its gears.

"You know this, RD," she mumbled to herself with two hooves rubbing on her temple, irritated.

"Lemons, lemons... come on!"

Excluding the swarm of Pinkie's jokes involving lemons in her head, she finally ended up with nothing, much to her disappointment. With a grumble, Rainbow was about to crumple it up with the intention to save it as a weapon for some unlucky pony's face, though she stopped once she laid her eyes onto it, her mouth steadily falling.

There were words! Words on the burnished piece of paper! But they weren't there a moment ago; it was only after she placed it at the windowsill...

Of course, she groaned at herself. Why didn't she think of that before?

Lemon juice is used as a form of invisible ink, and can be only revealed under some circumstances, such as exposure to the radiating heat of the afternoon sun! She had read it in one of the past Daring Do books that Twilight sent to her; oh, if only she had the chance to thank her bookish friend now...

Without hesitance (and at a safe distance, of course), she begin to read the note:

and for the acceptance of her into the Fillydelphia society. I don't think anypony here are ready to accept her back, even if we did shun her out for years.

If you would understand, my lord, I'm afraid she isn't in her right mind as of late. The incidents of the preceding night have scarred her mind terribly. She needs somepony who has the capability to know what she has been through, lest you want her to speak at all.

Something happened last night that changed her. Something horribly devastating. I do wish you come by quickly to have a word with her. There's no other doctor who could figure out the cause of her change.

You are the only one here we, and I would say the town itself, can turn to and trust now, Sir Valente. I hope you would understand.

With regards,

Commissioner Paramount

Head of Council, County of Fillydelphia

"Interesting..." Rainbow mused. "Very interesting..."

There was no doubt that this was sent to Taciturn's father. It sounded frantic, whatever this commissioner was requesting, almost as if begging, him to do. Behind that, there was also a sense of apology, but what did he do wrong that he needed to apologize to Valente for? What was so important that made the head of the town council so... scared?

Whatever his concerns where, they were about a mare, judging from the 'she's and 'her's dotted around the incomplete letter. From what the commissioner said about her, she seemed to have suffered through a lot, but how could this relate to Tassee's childhood? There doesn't seem to be a connection between this and the pale colt's problem, at least no visibly obvious ones.

With a sigh, she carefully slipped out of the nursery and back into the hallway, gripping the letter tight in her hooves and making sure nopony spotted her. There was something sinister about this letter that she couldn't get her mind off of. Was it a mere coincidence that both key and letter were in the same room? Or did somepony leave it there just for her to find?

At least there was some sort of hint: another name. Twilight mentioned before that the library sometimes acted as an archive storage for the town, and she wouldn't be surprised if this 'Commissioner Paramount' would turn up somewhere within. That, along with Taciturn's father being present, might narrow the search down a little.

"Tomorrow..." she muttered, clenching her hooves with determination.

"For Tassee..."


"Wow..."

Amazement swiped her breath away once more as Rainbow's eyes landed on the newest artworks of Taciturn Bleach. Three paintings he had finished upon waiting for the mare to return home from Fillydelphia with, unbeknownst to him, her Hearts and Hooves gift to him, and all three proved once again why the bleached colt was heralded as such a talented artist.

The first was a small ship in a bottle, except the bottle seemed like a surreal, miniature world of its own, seeing how there's the presence of rain, lightning and stormy waves thrashing the freight around and tearing at it sails. Squinting her eyes, she could spot a few ponies manning the ship, their faces, despite miniature, all wore grim faces.

The second painting was that of a lamppost standing in the dark, its lamp glowing an eerie blue. It was one of Taciturn's more complicated works, seeing how he only painted all of it out in the form of vertical lines shooting down like bullets from the top of the canvas.

The third, and no doubt the largest however, was what she admired him for, and the only one that, much to her embarrassment, brought a few tears of joy to her eyes. It was the both of them, laughing at each other with her hoof wrapped around his neck and on his shoulder, their smiles reaching up to their cheeks.

Rainbow held back her gasp, her hoof covering her open mouth when she read the message scrawled in black paint at the bottom of the painting. It said, much to her amusement:

HAPPY HEARTS AND HOOVS DAY, DASHIE!!

"Th-this is...... I don't know what to s-say...!"

Without hesitation, Rainbow reeled him into a tight hug, squealing like a filly that turned into a giggle. She wiped her tears off her reddening cheeks, unable to express her blooming flower of happiness erupting from her heart.

"Just one thing..." she began with a cough, hiding her laughter as she deepened her voice, mimicking some posh critic.

"You spelled 'hooves' wrongly, if I must say. Missed out a letter."

Taciturn's eyes widened immediately, his expression turned into one of panic as he scrambled about for his paintbrush, silently whimpering/cursing at himself. His marefriend just chuckled, holding him back before he could lash out his paintbrush again at the not-so-flawed painting; she don't want him to ruin such a perfect mistake.

"It's still awesome, Tassee," she assured, giving him another comforting hug before he could protest.

"And... it's the best Hearts and Hooves gift that any mare could ask from a colt... a-and... I'm really happy..."

The response made the blanched colt's frantic expression turn into one of a relieved smile, squeaking with delight. Both of them chuckled, ending when Rainbow leaned her head against his shoulder.

"So..." she began with a smirk.

"You wanna see what's your Hearts and Hooves gift?"

At Taciturn's eager nod, she soon pulled from behind a small, heart-shaped box, complete with a pink ribbon so frizzy, it would be the envy of Pinkie Pie's mane. Hurriedly, she lifted its lid, revealing the delights that had nestled within its black bowels: shell-shaped chocolates.

Rainbow chuckled once she saw him lick his lips tentatively; being a big, enthusiastic fan of chocolate, it was expected from him. The colt soon picked up one (she could've sworn she saw his eyes glitter as he did so) and tossed it into his mouth, smiling happily as he chewed the mouth-watering treat within his bulging cheeks.

"Like it, Tassee?" she asked, to which she earned a big nod.

She soon popped one of those treats into her mouth herself, the sensation of it melting inside sparking up his heart. With a sigh, she turned to Taciturn, her hooves clenching tighter onto the sheets as one single thought overwhelming her head, her wall of resistance crumbling with cheeks turning redder and heart beating faster.

In a split second, she brought him closer, much to his surprise, their lips meeting immediately with a fizz. No sooner than she did that did Taciturn closed his eyes, appreciating her affection as the two of them fell onto the bed, still resuming their kiss. Silence filled the air, with only the two on the bed, happily sharing the small moment of their first Hearts and Hooves Day in the best way they could:

Together.

"Tassee..." she gasped out his name once they broke it, seeing him smile tenderly beside him. She edged forward to him, nuzzling his snout, to which he let out a meek squeal.

The day wasn't the best day, no doubt, with the funeral and all, but they both made up for that with their own gifts and their spirit of love. Rainbow gave him a warm, tight embrace; in return, Taciturn unfolded his large wings, tucking her in between his feathers, filling her in the sensation of warmth.

"Dashie..." he whispered suddenly, to which none other than Rainbow Dash herself would know what it means. With a chuckle, her hoof twirling about his mane, she gave him a sweet, tender reply:

"I love you too."