Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 165

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Chapter 165

I sit up and am pushed back down onto the bed. “Jeez, stay down, we just got you stable thirty minutes ago!”

Stable? “Huh?”

“Well, you went into a mild seizure, which transitioned into a grand mal. You’re lucky Ms. Pie here apparently has an epileptic cousin, or you’d be in trouble. Why didn’t you ever tell the hospital staff you have seizures?” The doctor asks, shoving me painfully back to the bed. I feel like I ran a marathon, then joined a triathlon, then went binge drinking. Or, I assume, that’s what this feels like, I can’t say I’ve ever actually tried doing that much physical activity before.

“I... I get seizures? Never in my life... never...”

“Oh, then what- er, did you have any extremely stressful situations lately?” The doctor looks at me with a genuinely worried expression. “Not just a bad fight or anything, something that really hit you hard, on an emotional or psychological level?”

“I... I helped my best friend with an impromptu heart transplant. My job was pulling his ribcage out or something...” I feel like all my muscles spasm for a brief flash, but I do notice it happened.

“Careful! Don’t think too hard on those memories for now... I’m going to schedule you for some time with a therapist. You’ll need it to help with... that. Too much could send you into another grand mal, or worse.”

“Okay...” Jeez, this day has been a nightmare. Looking at a clock, I realize it’s actually practically midnight now.

 Well since apparently I’m in critical condition or something, I guess all I should do is just... sit here. “Now what?”

“Uhm... we can have a one-on-one party?” Pinkie suggests, and I realize she’s laying on the chair next to my bed, draped partially onto the bed.

“Sure. Dancing’s out, as is pretty much anything that involves moving much. If you got a cabinet somewhere in this hospital, we could play Mortal Kombat...” I mentally facepalm as I remember that they probably don’t have anything like that in a hospital yet.

And aside from that, I doubt the ponies would invent anything close to MK... Probably have to wait for the game dev craze to hit the griffons. “Nevermind... so what is there to do for the unstable around here?”

“Well, we could... uhm, well... we could paint! My cous’ always liked that, she could even do it while seizing!”

“I suppose. Haven’t done anything like that for years actually...”

“Hee-hee, we’ll get started then!” Pinkie says, pulling some paints, brushes, and... an entire frickin’ canvas and easel? Uh... from her mane.

“What do you have in there? A pocket dimension?”

“No, silly. I’m not an archmage, Imma bard!” She pulls out a lute next.

I roll my eyes. “Then I’m a Halfling Rogue.”

“A what now?”

“A Halfling? It’s like a Human, but... a lot shorter. They get increases to speed and sneaking by default. They make good Rogues because of that.”

“Idunno what you’re talking about, I have my bardic license right here!” And sure enough she pulls out a card from her mane, and shows it too me.

“Oh... I was... I thought you were making a D&D joke...”

“What’s a dee-andy? Oooh, is it a game? Can you show me how to deandy someone?”

“No, D-and-D is short for Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a tabletop RPG.”

“Hmmm... like Ogres and Oubliettes?”

“Uh... sure. D&D has Ogres in it, guess it might be the same. You got a Dungeon Master’s guide? I... lost my books when I came here.”

“I think you mean the core Talemaster’s Tome, but yeah, I have the full set! And don’t tell anypony,” Pinkie shifts to a conspiratorial whisper, “but Dashie really loves Ogres and Oubliettes, even if she won’t admit it to anypony.”

“Oh, you guys are still in the ‘it’s only for nerds’ phase, aren’t you? Don’t worry, soon enough it’ll become popular enough for it to be ‘socially acceptable’ for a jock to play it.”

“Oh, no-no-no, she thinks it’s too frou-frou! It’s a game Unicorn nobility invented to be able to pretend to be dashing heroes without having to leave their homes. I hear Rarity is trying to talk Twilight into it, and that’ll be great, because then I can finally have a full Convergence of players again! I am the best Talemaster ever!”

“Hmmm. Well, how about we give it a shot? I’m a pretty good player, even if it’s not the same thing.”

Pinkie hands me a character sheet and a list of all the available races and classes. They are most definitely rather close to the second edition of the game, no playable werewolves or goblins, and without the directly humanoid races. Oddly though, you can choose to play as a kobold. Odd suggestion, but it seems the closest they have to a halfling with the small stature overall but no hampering reductions to physical combat skills.

I choose a class that is closest to a Rogue in skillset, a ‘Freelancer’. “Alright Pinkie, we have our player. Time to set the stage...”

“... And then the massive Gumdrop Slime finally falls, the horde of sentient rats you added as allies sated at last. You’re the winner! Whoo!” Pinkie cheers, and I yawn. I’m not sure what time it is, but it’s kinda light out. I can see the moon at the horizon outside.

“That was fun, but a bit easy. Next time, have a few non-food based monsters. The ‘eat it’ option makes things too easy.”

“But... most of the monsters in the Creature Compendium are food-based. Most of the time, ponies won’t even think to just eat a problem. I mean, the game was made by Canterlot unicorns, you know.”

“Maybe we can design a few creatures to add to the Compendium? Homemade scenarios and monsters are always fun.”

“Okie-Dokie!” she stops to yawn, like a giant pink puppy. “Whoo... that’s the longest session I’ve ever gone with anyone! You really tore through there, but I could feel your enthusiasm all the way.”

“What can I say? I have a lot of practice. I know lots of ways to do things. I like to keep things interesting. Wanna go again in a bit?”

“Oh yeah! But... I need a... need a nap... Gimme a...” Pinkie has crashed and is laying by my side, tired, but also very happy-looking. I look over at the clock to figure out what time it is, squinting in the half-light. Hmm... eight-thirty? I thought we started past ten... hmm. Must be misremembering...

I snuggle Pinkie close, her fur soft and huggable. So warm...

After a mildly awkward wake-up, I decide to get moving. I’ve apparently been in the bed for a little while, and I’m feeling restless. Pinkie has designated herself my super-special attendant friend, to make sure I don’t have another seizure.

I assure her I’ll be fine. After all, that was the first time I’ve ever had a seizure before, so it’s not a common thing. Still, she doesn’t want to risk me having a relapse and nobody around being able to help me.

Nothing much to do, I figure of the short list of things I can think of to do today... I’m going to go see Rarity. It has been a while, I suppose. Pinkie seems to be more... alert than usual. She’s not skipping or prancing or anything. She’s just... walking. It kinda creeps me out a bit.

Shaking off the thought, I see Clark and Fluttershy walking down the road, close by each other’s sides. They seem pretty happy about today, even if Clark is using a crutch and being almost-carried by a concerned-looking Fluttershy.

Guess we all have our little emergency aids. Equestria may not be the coolest or most awesome place to end up... but at least it’s friendly most of the time. Not to say it’s lacking in flaws or danger, but... well, at least boring is safe.

We get to the boutique and are invited in. You know... frankly I’d never peg Rarity to be the weed-smoking type, but now that I undoubtedly know what it smells like, I recall it kind of smelling like that from time to time even before the event. Not right now but... “So, I guess I’m only going to get an answer by asking. What’s with the pot thing?”

“Hmm? Whatever do you mean, darling?”

“Pot. Tree. Hash. Bush. Weed. Marijuana... whatever you wanna call it. Seriously, you don’t seem the type at all.”

“Ah! The cannabis plant. Well, I am trying to stay in-fashion with the Canterlot elite, you know.”

“...If your weed provides the same results that I expect it to, and I know it does, firsthand... Since when is inhaling plant fumes until you are shocked you have a nose or the ability to hear things ‘in’ with nobility? Where I come from, stoners are the people who literally have nothing better to do but sit around and eat Cheetos”

“Well, it’s not ‘in’ right now, darling. I’m actually rather avoiding Canterlot until they’re done with this new ‘absinthe’ drink. It tastes awful, like they put lead shavings in it.”

“Rarity, here’s a tip. Anything can be considered ‘in’ or whatever, that doesn’t mean you have to partake. If they all started snorting crack, would you do it?”

“Er, I’m not familiar with-”

“Cocaine? It’s another kind of drug. It’s... I honestly don’t know exactly what it does, but it’s addicting, and withdrawal has led people to... well, killing and robbing for money to buy more.”

“Why, that sounds positively dreadful. No, no, the nobility isn’t quite so... herd-following to try such a dangerous thing, though I do miss when opium was ‘in’. That was a very relaxing season, and now it’s not shipped anywhere near here. No business nearby, after all.”

“Wow Rarity... Just... wow. Opium? Are you kidding? Ah who am I kidding, you guys are so damn pacifistic you’d never have an opium war like we did. Do whatever you like, just keep me out of it. But if heroin ever becomes ‘in’ then I’m gonna smack some sense into you.”

“I’ve never heard of it. Though tobacco has been a long-time favorite of the gentry.”

“Anyway, do you have a reason for smoking weed other than ‘the popular kids are doing it’ or what?”

“Well, that’s why I started, but I keep it around for... inspirational and relaxation uses. It also helps Sweetie with her anxiety attacks.”

“You give it to- You know what, if the kid builds up an addiction, I’m calling CPS.”

“What? It’s a prescription. She really does have anxiety attacks, and she genuinely needs it. I grow some in one of the side rooms because it’s nice.”

“This place is so weird... oh well. So, changing the subject: What’s new with you?”

“Well, I’ve just finished a new line of dresses and the like, and Mayor Mare has commissioned a badge design for Clark, after his, er, disposal of the demon. There was surprisingly little collateral damage.”

“Yeah, I noticed. So what, he’s getting deputized or something?”

“Well, more like honored. I think it’s a bit much, personally, and I’m making one for you, on the side. I think it’s just because he kept town hall from being destroyed... again.”

“Eh, I-” I turn and see Pinkie looking like she’d been caught red-handed, while getting into some kind of large, rectangular box. “I uh... I forget what I was gonna say... Oh yeah. So you just get high for... recreational purposes. I thought it was because you were stressed out trying to decide what you were gonna say to Spike. I mean, I just figured because that’s what we talked about last time I saw you before we... you know, got high as kites off your brownies.”

Rarity stares slightly over my shoulder, looking puzzled. “About the suit ideas I had, yes? Yes, I remember a- a vest design I had in mind. Oooh, now I can’t remember the details... drat.” She gives me a sheepish shrug.

“Look Rarity, you’re messing with a guys feelings. He’s in love with you, and you aren’t doing anything about it. Avoid it all you want, but the more you wait, the more stressful it’s going to be. I’m not gonna force you to make a decision one way or another, but the fact remains that what you are doing to him is starting to mess him up. This goes on too long, he might start to hate you.”

Rarity sighs, looking sad. “I don’t know, Anthony.” she picks up a piece of cloth in her aura, needles and thread moving to it in graceful unison. “Anthony, please... I know you know what it’s like to be in my position, so please.” She spares a glance at Pinkie, who is twiddling her thu- er, hooves?- and trying to politely not be in the conversation. “I need time. I just don’t know how to feel right now, and every time I see him, trying to be so helpful and loyal... but I don’t know I’m interested. I don’t want to start something that we’ll both regret, but I don’t want to just turn him down and regret that later, either.”

I think about that for a minute. I don’t really know what she means. I understand Spike’s position in all this, but I can’t really relate to Rarity... but this is a delicate matter, so I’m at least going to be sympathetic. “Love is a battlefield. It’s not as easy as finding a soulmate and running off to marry them a week later. I know this is very difficult, but a decision has to be made sometime. Otherwise, things could go downhill really fast.”

“I- I know that Anthony. I’m not a child. I just don’t know what to do. Can you honestly say you know what the best course of action is, the one that leaves everypony happy with the results?

I scoff, sadly. “If that could happen in any circumstance, with everyone happy at the end... then you’re probably living in a fantasy world. The best I’ve ever tried to do is prevent everyone from being unhappy. I know I’m sounding like a real downer but... I’ve seen things flip my world upside-down too many times. Happy endings, truly happy endings are few and far between... We just need to find the best solution that hurts the fewest people, or hurts them the least.”

Rarity looks up at me, and cracks a smile. “Oh, dear Anthony... I don’t believe that. No matter how painful the road, I know there’s true happiness at the end of it. I just need to find the road to follow.” Her smile looks subdued, but sincere.

“Well, not to make you pick a road before you thought about it, but I kinda want to see Spike win this, you know? I mean, sure it might not be the best lesson in terms of love, but I’d hate to see him learn from this and decide perseverance never pays off... y’know?”

Rarity chuckles and blushes. “Yes, well... I suppose I should talk with him about this. The very least I can do is make sure the air is metaphorically clear between us.”

I think about that idea for a bit. “I see two consequences from that.” I take a breath. “One, he misunderstands you and thinks you are admitting you have feelings for him and starts getting really attached to you, so if you decide that you aren’t meant to be... he’d be completely destroyed. Two, he does understand and decides to just wait it out and give you time, and you have time to think about what it’d be like to be with Spike and decide if that’s what you want or not.”

Rarity heaves another sigh, and sets the vest onto the coffee table between us. It’s a shimmery blue-and-seafoam striped vest, and very nice looking. It’s also in my size. “Well, Anthony, I suppose I’ll never know if I don’t try, yes?”

“Yeah. You uh... wanna do it alone or have a little... Idunno, backup?”

“I- I’m not sure. While having somepo- body else along might be nice, I think I may wish to do this myself.”

“Alright, just... do it sometime in the next few months alright? Even if you can’t feel it, pressure like this tends to build. A lot.”

“Yes, Anthony, I understand. Thank you for the talk.”

“Yeah. I gotta say, this ‘helping others’ thing would be a lot easier if the biggest problems were the monsters. Those I can just punch until they stop moving.”

Rarity titters. “Yes, well, I’d be out of a job then, wouldn’t I? After all, I solve subtle problems. Such as that bust seam in your shirt. You should take better care of them, Anthony, those shirts are some of my finest work in durable materials.”

“Eh, I live dangerously.” I say, smirking. “Okay, I live recklessly, what’s the big difference? The fact that someone can make my clothes last like this is impressive in it’s own right.”

“Why thank you, Anthony. Now, I have a paid commission to finish, and you have a new vest to show off around town. Please, it’s a gift for you.”

“Thanks.” I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘vest’ thing, but it’s not that bad. It has more pockets, for one. Pinkie and I leave Rarity to her work.

Now what else needs to be taken care of? The Applejack thing can wait until we have a full discussion on it, so in the meantime... Well, Fluttershy and Clark haven’t paid for that photo of me and Dash...

Time for some good old revenge, I’d say. “Hey Pinkie, wanna help me with a prank? It’s gonna be a big one.”


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