Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 123: Chapter ABC

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Chapter ABC

My nap done, I get up and head out to see Rarity. It’s a bit of a walk from the library, but the trip is necessary even if it’s pretty much mid-afternoon by this point. I knock on the door and Rarity answers. “Hi, I’d like to talk with you for a bit.”

“Well, I’m rather busy at the moment, actually. I was wor-”

“I’m not gonna hear it. This is important to me.” Rarity looks rather annoyed, but lets me in.  I do see that she was working on something when I interrupted her, but that’s not the pressing matter at hand. We sit down across from each other at a table and she asks me what this is all about.

“I want to talk to you about Spike.” Rarity shifts a bit in her seat and tentatively motions for me to continue. “I’m not going to beat around the bush here. You are an attentive mare, and the idea of you not noticing his affection for you is ludicrous. That said, you don’t seem to return this affection or say anything about it.”

“Well, I told you there’s this stallion-”

“And you will tell me about him later. I don’t see you having any troubles with the way other ponies have their relationships, so I’m going to assume you have no issues with polygamy. The fact that you would have this guy and Spike wouldn’t really be a problem.”

“Actually, usually it’s more mares per stallion-” I give her a hard glare and she shuts up.

“Furthermore, you don’t seem to have a problem with interspecies relationships, so him being a dragon is also a moot point. As well, according to multiple accounts, Spike has been enamored with you since he met you, and I’ve heard of many nice things he’s done for you without asking a single thing in return. Am I correct?”

“Yes, he’s been very kind and generous to me.” Rarity admits.

“So what I don’t understand is why you go chasing after this other stallion when Spike has shown multiple times that he’d be good to you. I want you to fix this little problem.”

Rarity looks aghast. “You are forcing me into a relationship with Spike!?”

“No, I want you to tell him how you feel in no uncertain terms. If you like him in the same way, say so to his face. If you don’t want him, then tell him rather than just letting him keep doing this in futile hope that you’ll reciprocate, when really you are just using his love for you to get favors.”

“I have done no such thing!”

“Then why don’t you just go tell him you aren’t interested?”

“B- but that could crush him! I don’t want to-”

“He came to me asking advice on what to do about you. He seemed pretty darn crushed already when I told him about the other guy-”

“You told him?”

“The way I see it, he has a right to know about someone he will have to compete with. He’s stuck with you for years and he’s just tossed aside for some random guy he’s never met and you don’t even tell him, knowing full well how much he likes you? That’s just low, Rarity.”

“But you don’t understand-”

“I understand that Spike should be told if you really like him or not. Whether he’ll be sad about it or not isn’t a problem, at least then he’d know he’s been wasting his time and can focus on finding someone who’ll actually love him back, or being told that all his years of kindness will actually be paid off. Being denied your love will hurt him, but the more you lead him on before telling him just makes it worse. I’ve been in that relationship! I don’t want to compare you to Kelly because I have hope that you aren’t as bad as she was, but...”

I cringe. I hadn’t said that name in years. “When I learned the truth, yeah it felt awful, but I got over it in time. I’ve moved on and she became just another page. Maybe part of me wants Spike to win because I want to see what would have happened if Kelly really did like me back, but... You need to tell him either way. Now the question: Why have you not told him what you think of him?”

“I- Ah...” She slumps down a bit, turning away. “A long time ago, when I was little, I had a crush. Now, this was definitely a little filly’s crush on an adult, but I didn’t understand the... problems inherent with that. I decided to try being closer to him and... well, he let me. It’s something that was later found out, and it’s been a very dark bit of my past. I suppose I’ve never told Spike one way or another is because I don’t want to hurt his feelings... but I don’t want to be that stallion, either.” She shakily levitates a teapot over, and begins pouring herself a cup of tea. Even with her magical grip shaking, she doesn’t spill a single drop.

“Yes, I can see the trouble, but it wouldn’t be the same. Sure Spike is inexperienced and immature, but as far as I’m aware, sixteen is perfectly fine for pony courtship, right? So pedophilia wouldn’t be a problem.”

“W- wait, sixteen?” Rarity blinks several times. “But- he’s always calling himself a baby drag-”

“A species that lives hundreds upon hundreds of years, possibly reaching the hundreds of thousands in some cases. Yeah, sixteen would be a baby dragon. But not a baby by the standards of other species.”

Rarity sets down the teacup without taking even a sip. “I- I didn’t-” She face-hooves and groans. “Oh Rarity, you should’ve thought!” Both of her hooves now cover her face, and lets loose another groan of frustration as she berates herself in third-person.

“It’s alright, granted he doesn’t look that big, but dragons age pretty slowly if they’re going to end up that old. Heck, I’d expect Spike to outlive me and I’m a living star! But in the end, all he’s missing is experience with the world. Also, I thought it would be obvious. Twilight hatched him when she was a child. He can’t possibly be any more than ten years younger than her, right?”

Rarity’s shoulders sag, and she rubs her face with her hooves, mussing her hair up. She doesn’t seem to notice or care, and I can see that several hairs have strangely jumped out of position from the rest of her mane. She’s getting literally frazzled and looks in pretty bad shape. I sigh. “I guess you don’t have to say anything to him today but... he should know eventually. Also, he should meet this other guy as well.”

Rarity looks up, a guilty expression on her face revealed from behind her hooves. “Well, you see... I’ve never actually met him in person. I’ve been wanting to, but...” She sighs. “I don’t know what to feel now. I-” she pauses for several seconds, then looks directly into my eyes. “I need to ask you to leave, please. I have several orders to fill, and I think best when I’m working.”

I take the hint and leave, figuring heading to the library would be bad. Granted I didn’t learn anything informative, but letting something slip might make things worse. Spike really does need a bit more world experience... though I’m probably not the best to do that, and Twilight’s pretty sheltered too. I think over who would be a good person to take Spike to as a sort of ‘tutor’, but none come to mind.

Probably a parent, but the only couple I know that has kids are Berry and Stoic. Not sure how appropriate that would be as Noi and Ruby are still pretty young...

I wander around town a bit, trying to think of a pony I know who could give Spike a few lessons on how the world works, not just what he reads about the world in books.

I find myself wandering through an area with less shops and more random houses. There’s also a spot where a house would be, but instead is completely cleared, with the only thing in the lot a huge slab of stone. The stone has some sort of silvery metal laced through it, which is really pretty. Could this be a headstone? I wonder what a pony cemetery would look like as I walk closer to the slab to sate my curiosity of what it says, if anything.

When I get to it, I actually see my alias written at the top of it, followed by dozens of random words, either in singles or pairs. As I try to puzzle it out, I look down, and see that there’s dead, dry flowers at the base. Scratching my head, I sit down in front of the slab. The monolithic slate bears around thirty word sets, and a hodgepodge of bricks make up the base. I don’t get it.

I look closer at the slab, trying to make sense of the word salad. They must have some meaning... right? Unless this is a victory monument for me and some crazy came over and carved a bunch of crap onto it... But no, the words are all carved in to the same degree as my moniker, and in the same carving style. Then, something clicks. All the words are actions, events, or objects. Lily White, Saw Dust, Heavy Strike...

They’re all pony names. My eyes dart up to the name I’d given these ponies, and see that there’s a prefacing. “A Hero can only save so many.”

What? Waitaminute... Are these. These ponies are dead? One’s that I didn’t rescue or help? Jeez... I expected a heroic statue or a plaque or a giant mountain of candy... not a ‘failure’ list!

Scowling, I stand up, and feel a slight ‘crunch’ as one of the bricks shifts. I look down, and see that the brick, partially broken, has a tiny fleck of blood on it. Are... are these from the houses destroyed? Fucking hell, that’s just morbid!

I mean, I know I’m not exactly a saint but... I’m on their version of the Wall of Shame!? I didn’t do that bad... did I? I think over how many ponies are in Ponyville, and try to remember how big the crowd was when I had the town gathered for my announcement. There wasn’t more than maybe a hundred and fifty ponies... thirty is a pretty big chunk of that. The thought leaves a heavy, painful lump in my chest.

“Do they... really think I don’t care? That I...” I think back. Aside from the demon, pretty much all my fights have been for my own safety. Sure I’ve played hero a bit but... Do they really blame me for all these ponies I didn’t do anything about?

First Rarity and Spike, now this... this is turning into a hell of a downer for a holiday of love. I think... I think I need to go play some music. Maybe just for myself, maybe not. I’ll decide when I get to the stage.

Walking off towards the park at a slow pace, I try to untangle my feelings. Earlier, ponies were freaking out and leaving because I was singing dark songs, but all the while, they had put up such a morbid monument in town.

Finally, I reach the stage itself, my feet stepping heavily on the steps until I reach the top. I look around, and see that a few ponies are already here, and more have taken interest in me taking the stage once more. Taking up the Lyre again, I think for a moment, and a song I think fits for the ponies themselves comes to mind.

Yeah... I think this works fine. Not dark, but not cheerful. And honest, as far as a song can be and still hold a tune.

I close my eyes and my fingers dance across the strings, chords spilling out like tears. And then, I begin the lyrics.

When the song ends, I open my eyes and take a deep breath, looking out at the ponies. There’s a sort of stunned silence for several seconds, then the fairly large group all cheers and stomps their hooves. Huh, I guess they liked it. My spirit lifts a little, and I think of what to do next. I hear one of the stallions near the front shout ‘something romantic!’ and I grin. I think I have the perfect song next. Not dark, but this’ll totally be great.

Strumming the chords, it certainly sounds much more upbeat. Looks of confusion hit the faces of all the ponies, and I have to stifle a giggle. Still, it seems that their lack of knowledge of the Megaman franchise is making them interpret the whole thing as positive. Heads bob, and smiles flit across the crowd.

I start to worry though. I’m quickly running out of ‘appropriate’ love songs... Glad Hearts and Hooves Day is pretty much over at this point.

I twiddle for a moment, and think of other possibilities. Most of Skillet is ‘too violent’ for them, and I don’t know if there’s anything they’d like out of Disturbed, given that it’s pretty dark or violence-oriented in most cases. Hmm... There’s a few that would be fine, but not fitting the theme...

The ponies have quieted down, and the sun is starting to set. Getting an idea, I decide to give some Abney Park a try. Sleep Isabella isn’t dark, violent, or mocking. And it’s an excellent lullaby to finish off the day, full of fatherly affection... yeah, that should work.

I start off with drumming my fingers on the rim, the Lyre getting the idea and playing the drum line. Then, violins play as I strum the strings once more.

The gentle notes have the entire herd of ponies swaying side to side, and dozens of heads are bobbing to the beat. The mixture of fast beat and soothing lyrics seem to have them entranced, and I briefly wonder if I could hypnotize ponies this way... Eh, I’ll have to try it another time, though I think I have the perfect song to use for that. I like this song too, after all.

Slowly, the notes simply end, leaving the ponies in the audience a bit confused, shaking their heads and looking around. Then comes the applause, and it’s louder than any of my previous successes. Looking around, there’s several groups of ponies hanging out around the actual concert area, listening in but not able to get in from the solid mass of equine bodies in the way. There’s a small stand of seats made of clouds that appeared sometime in the last two pieces, though, with pegasi packed into them.

I decide on a finisher. “Alright, I think this should be the last one. It’s... a little bit depressing, but it sounds pretty nice if you ask me. This one’s called Somebody to Love.”

The lyrics come first, a tiny spark falling from the Lyre, and its influence sheaths my arms as I pour my heart into the song. It’s a beautiful song, especially when the ponies in the audience are fed the lyrics for the backup lines, giving the song the oomph it needs.

Everypony is enjoying the song, many singing along, and some just grinning ear to ear. It’s not an uplifting song, but it feels like one. I suppose they’re more open to the idea of just asking for help in this department. Or something. I need to ask Fluke if he could tell me a bit about pony psychology sometime. There might be some good knowledge for me in there.

Oh well. The song over, I leave the stage and head back home. I think I earned a decent night’s sleep. But that ‘Rock of Failure’ is still nagging at me. Why would a community like this make something like that? They seemed so grateful... maybe I could ask Fluke about that too. Oh well, sleep time now... I barely notice that my arms seem dark for some reason. Eh. They’ll be fine in the morning... Next Chapter: Chapter 124 Estimated time remaining: 17 Hours, 13 Minutes

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