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"Don't you worry, little pony. So long as everypony is paying attention, no one
will get hurt."
>>143716"Erm, I hope so...."
She shifts her weight nervously, not being able to work up the courage to say anything else.
"What is it, little pony?" She leans her head forward, with her tufted-ears straight up.
She smiles, showing her front fangs as she nods her head.
"That's the spirit. Don't worry, we will pay. There is nothing to be uneasy about. We might look a little different from what you are used to. But we are creatures just the same as you. Not every blemished fruit is rotten underneath."
Amber gives a feeble smile and a nod, though her ears are still pressed against her head and her coat is standing on end.
Her eyes turn away from Amber down to an object she manipulates on her desk, which from Amber's limited perspective, seems to be a pocket watch. Then she turns back up to Amber
"Do you want to relax a bit?"
"Then settle down. Become a bit more acquainted with the night. You will be more effective relaxed, and there are fewer ponies out the later it is anyways."
"Have a drink. Listen to the music. Let a stallion make a pass at you. Have a dance. You don't seem too familiar with the night life."
>>143726I don't have work or anything to do tomorrow morning, do I?
She glances back to the door. "Alright, I think I'll try that. Is there anything else, ma'am?"
"Of course. There is your task. But I'll get to that a little later. Best you ease up a bit."
Amber nods and slowly turns to head back into the hall. Only when she reaches the main floor does she allow herself a breath of relief.
Amber has not been bitten and drained of all blood yet. The stallion is gone, and a pony, who seems to work there, turns to look attentive when Amber exits out from the rear hallway.
The lights are fairly dim, and a number of ponies occupy the tables and the bar in front of the dance floor. The music isn't exactly to dance to, being a rather intense classical-styled piece played from a viol.
Amber's ears perk up at the sound of the music and she trots over to an empty table near the musicians, where she sits. Almost absent-mindedly she takes off her cloak and headscarf as she listens intently.
This is possible by going to a table on the edge of the dance floor.
Amber sees that there is one, and only one musician playing - a grey, almost discolored-looking griffin who is wholly consumed by his playing of the viol. The stage holds room for more musicians besides a drum set and a grand piano. The piano especially is missed, as the music could use accompanying instruments. Nevertheless, the griffin does a commendable job in filling the whole room with intense rhythm and sharp notes that convey as much fear and anguish as mirth and joy.
The music turns, and returns to a warm spring. If the music could form images in the air, it would be of a family of rabbits, each hopping across an open field before the falcon swoops. A note lands at each hop.
Amber happily moves her head in tune to each dip. The song reminds her of happier days, not too long ago but an eternity away, of family and fertile fields.
The music is not content to stay on a happy note, however, as the intensity ramps up, and there is a sharp sound as the falcons swoop down at their prey. Whether they are successful - or indeed, whether it is the rabbits or the falcons we cheer for, the music provides no clarity, instead keeping a tone as joyful as afraid, and as cheery as distraught.
Amber draws in a breath and remains transfixed by the drama of the music. It's been a long time since she's heard such soulful meandering in music.
And meander it does. Amber can tell the lone musician has significant talent as he plays. Whether specific notes and portions are inspired by more famous works, or whether the similarity is purely an invention of Amber's mind as it tries to place the music is hard to say. But the music as a whole does not sound like any piece known to Amber, at least, not a specific piece. Nor indeed does the music seem demarcated into separate and distinct songs. Rather, the griffin plays continuously, with portions being of a nature wholly different than others, in just the same way as a traveler across land may never notice the fine dividing line between the forest, the plains and the desert.
Amber's mind gets lost in the whimsical(?) meandering of the piece. However when the tune shifts to the desert motifs of southwest Equestria--or is it Zebrica in its exoticness?--she remembers that she's a bit thirsty and had forgotten to bring her canteen. Having been brought back to reality, she hopes that she can meet the musician sometime later for a chat.
Amber is taken not to the deserts, but to something more remote. Something beyond the furthest reaches of the earth and out into the dark expanses beyond the terrestrial sphere, or perhaps, to another realm entirely, defined by harmonies of music than by time and space.
None of that helps with the thirst
This magic of music quenches the soul more effectively than drinks can quench the body, but that doesn't mean the latter just goes away. Dark Denizen mentioned a drink, and Amber would hate to mooch off her, but surely it can't hurt? An orange-yellow foreleg gestures to a waiter.
A flaxen colored mare in black outfit with her mane tied back and green eyes partly lidded responds.
Not simply taking the request for a drink at face, she asks
"What do you want?"
"Erm, what do you have? I...uh, don't know the terms for these..." she asks, nervously.
"We have a decent assortment of beers, mixed drinks drinks, and hard alcohols, as well as a few wines. Would you like me to get you a drink menu?"
>>143744My throat's so dry, I don't want to wait...."Um, I'll have a...mixed drink, what that pony is having over there."
She points to a nearby table.
She looks over at the table, and then back to Amber. Her expression conveys skepticism more than anything.
"Sure." She says, and unless Amber says anything to the contrary, she walks off
With that distraction out of the way, Amber can focus back on the music.
The visual imagery - and one could almost swear that this were not a griffin, but a unicorn performing such magic - the imagery is of so many dots, popping in and out. Perhaps dragon flies over a pond, so many humming birds moving about amongst the flowers, or even the finer points of an aurora in the night sky.
The waiter returns, and places an ungarnished drink near Amber
Amber gasps. She has no idea why there are such great performances so late at night in an obscure place like this, but it blows her away.
She picks up the cold glass and sips the cocktail, only to put it down very quickly. The fruity concoction is unlike anything she's ever tasted before; it looks like juice but she hasn't eaten any fruits that have tasted quite like this. Moreover, the unfamiliar flavor of the rum leaves an aftertaste that is still slightly perceptible past the fruit components, though she cannot differentiate between them. She opens and closes her mouth a few times, trying to get used to such an exotic and strange blend, not unlike the music.
She takes a second sip.
The music plays on, slowly settling much the same way as sediment stirred up in water slowly falls back to the bottom, leaving clear and still water.
As the music relaxes in tone so does Amber. She still keeps her ears focused toward it but she looks around the room. Having accustomed herself to the strange, but oddly pleasant, taste of the drink, she holds it in both hooves and takes another gulp.
"Amber?" A familiar voice calls from behind her
She looks behind in surprise.
Okay, I think that's about where I have to stop for the night
She turns around to see a colt she can recognize as Mustard Trim, trying to smile, and still wearing the clothing he wore as a waiter earlier in the night.
"Hello" He keeps the same, awkward smile, standing next to and looking at one of the seats near Amber
"So... are you working here?" He asks
"Huh? Oh no, I don't work here, I was told to relax and listen to some music. Please, join me." She pats a seat next to herself.
He pulls the seat out next to Amber, and sits down, silent for moment
>>143772"I, um, was offered a drink by the owner. Would you like one too?"
She gestures to the tall, shapely glass of bright orange liquid.
"Uh" He pulls his lips up, again in a sort of awkward smile. "Sure"
She waves to the waiter again. To Mustard she says, "I say, it's a pleasant surprise to see you come here. I mean, I wasn't expecting you to show up, I was unsure of coming here myself...."
The waiter, passing by, raises her eyes and comes closer.
Mustard Trim says,
"Well, you said you wanted to meet me here, so I came by after my shift. What makes you unsure? Isn't this where you like to spend your Friday nights?"
Amber blinks in surprise. "Oh. Uh, this is the first time I've ever come here. I was invited, you see...and, um, an invitation so late at night made me kind of nervous, so I had to let somepony know where I was going and you were the only pony around I could trust. In case, you know, I was foalnapped by changelings."
She says the last word almost in a whisper, as if uttering it too loud might cause one to burrow out of the floor.
If any changelings are sharing the room with Amber, they haven't made their presence known.
He smiles again, and this one is a bit more expressive of pleasure
"Heh. I see. Well, I'll keep those changelings away as best I can." There is a pause, and he adds "Who invited you?"
Amber looks around, then leans in, as if to share a close secret. "The owner of this club, Dark Denizen. I was invited on 'special business.'"
Is Amber going to do anything with the summoned waiter?
"Oh" Mustard Trim says, moving his head up in a nod as he says that.
"Can I... ask what's special about it?"
She looks at Amber, and then back to Mustard Trim
"What do you want to drink?" She asks
"Uh, just water will be fine." He answers. She accepts this answer, and walks away
Inwardly she breathes a sigh of relief. No more debt for today, at least....
He looks at Amber, raises both ears, and tilts his head
Then his head returns to normal position
"Well I read that the city is taking a stand against fire hazards in nightclubs, bars and other places. So maybe it has something to do with that.">>143784
>>143785"No, she told me that's just an excuse they used to distract from some bad things they did. She wants me to deliver some sort of package to them, I think. I don't know why, I've never been a mailmare before...."
She takes another gulp of the drink. Although its peculiar taste is probably better cold, Amber doesn't know why anypony would drink something that chills one's stomach like this. Despite the frigid temperature of the drink itself, she feels a pleasant warmth along her nose, ears, pasterns and even tail.
Strange magical drinks. Hopefully they don't deduct too much from Amber's pay for it.
"Oh. Well that doesn't sound too bad. They probably want you to deliver a present to a foal's birthday party or something. It's good that you're able to get little jobs like that. I used to be able to do little things like that back home."
"Well.... Maybe they'll play it again." He says
After a moment's pause, he adds
"This isn't really what I was expecting. For the music, I mean."
Think we have time to continue today?
The last reply to Spark was >>143563
"Then you must know that things one day will be back to the way they are supposed to be, or at least close."
"Well... I don't know about that. But I am glad to see that Makade is here and safe."
"I heard you call him another name. What's the story behind that?"
>>143796Ply Press probably should have referred to him as "Lyka" in >>143795 rather than "Makade"
"Well... When we took him in from the Pratt Wolf School in Riverside, he was called by his Celestial name, 'Lyka.' It's from mythology... I think. But we knew his birth mother named him 'Makade,' which I think has to do with his dark colored fur."
"Neat. I never heard of a wolf school before."
"Well, they mostly exist in the North and the West. You see, tension between the wolves and ponies has been a problem for, well, centuries, really, so the government made a program to try to integrate wolves into Equestrian society. Let them learn the language, the culture, and grow up to use trades. Get them young, so Equestrian culture is the only one they know. So they made boarding schools for many of them, especially orphans, or those in broken families. That's where we found Makade."
"So, what made you decide to adopt from the school?"
"Well, after our son Mild Mirth... well, we were older and it was hard enough having a child the first time... we decided to adopt. It was Petal Dew's idea to try for a wolf. Special challenges, special reward and all. Our ranch would be perfect to raise one. We had been thinking about selling it but that changed that. Lyka was older than they usually recommend for adopting. He had been living at the Pratt school for a while. He was known to be precocious. Very intelligent, rather strong and capable. Strong willed, other wolves would follow him. But he was becoming a bully. We figured we could guide him, put him in a family. And so we took him as our own."
"Well thank you."
Elsewhere, Petal Dew seems to be trying to talk to Waabishki as Makade sits and listens
"Yes, Cyananthus got deathly ill a few years ago. We all thought she was done in. Had to stay down here at the general hospital. But she pulled through. Almost couldn't believe it....."
Spark wonders who this Cyananthus is.
They continue talking, with Waabishki displaying anxiety, and nodding occassionally
Spark turns back to Ply Press.
"Who is Cyananthus?"
"Oh, she's a pony Petal Dew knew at the mane salon back up north."
"Close friend isn't quite how I would describe it. But you get to know everypony around pretty well when you live out in the wilderness. She's a pony we knew in town."
"Ah. Then it must have been pretty lonely moving to a place like this, with no familiar faces."
"Well" He forms a smile that nears a wince
"Well, I know I'm just a stranger, but I hope you will come to find me a friend."
"Well for now, make yourself comfortable. Why don't you join us for dinner?"
"Of course. Thank you for your generosity."
"Oh it's the least we could do. Do you need any tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider?"
"Cider does sound pleasant. I'm going to have to fetch you some more supplies after all of this hospitality though."
"Oh, don't worry about it." He answers
The doctor asks
"How do you have chocolate and coffee?"
Receiving the answer
"We still have some stocked up from before the partition. We can spend it on special occasions, like guests."
Spark nods, but will get some more if he comes across the supplies.
Ply Press goes towards Petal Dew,
"Let me get some cider for our new friend here."
"Oh! And get out the salmon for dinner."
"Sure thing, honey."
Ply Press leaves, while the other creatures remain
Not mine, but I'm glad you like it.
The waiter returns with the water, and almost under his breath, Mustard Trim says, "That was fast..."
And then he says to Amber
"A viol? Is that what that thing is?"