Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 171

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Chapter 171

It’s going to take me some time to digest everything I’ve heard today. There was far more explaining beyond the Wendigo explanation, but I can’t process it just yet

Twilight wanted to have something to study physically, but changed her mind rather quickly when we brought in whatever bits of the wendigo were left. Then she demanded we help get the blood off the floor before it stained. Women! First they say one thing...

I’m not really sure of what to do with all the new information. One thing is for sure though, this isn’t the kind of thing to keep to ourselves. It’s decided that we should have a group discussion with the other Element Bearers.

“But we can’t, not today.”

“Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Twilight? What better time than right when the info is fresh in our minds?”

“Well...” She levitates a calendar of sorts out of a drawer and flips it open. “Well, Applejack is probably still recovering, and I’ve got her scheduled for continuing to do so until tomorrow at eight AM, Rainbow Dash is monitoring a wild storm cell moving along the edge of the Everfree, and Pinkie Pie is participating in an out-of-town pie-baking-and-eating contest and won’t be back until tomorrow, and while I have the rest of the day clear for now, Fluttershy has a census to take of the local swallow population. Apparently, there’s two types migrating in, and she needs to figure out if they’re-”

“African or european swallows?” Clark interjects hopefully.

I turn to my friend and we high five at Twilight’s utter confusion.

“Er, no... Zebrican or Minopean, actually.”

“You ponies ruin all the jokes. You guys should get a taste of real comedy some time.”

“Well, either way, they have things that must be done today, so the earliest we could have a meeting about this is tomorrow. I can begin planning it now, if you have nothing else to add?”

I make a suggestion. “Tell them we’ll have beer and pie.”

“What, why?”

“More people will come if there’s beer and pie!”

“...There are only five that need to attend, and they’d come regardless of desserts or alcohol.”

“Eh, whatever. Fine, nothing to add then.”

“Well, since I scare small animals, I think I’ll stay here instead of halting Fluttershy’s progress. I can show you some of the diagrams I’ve drawn. Wasn’t so good at drawing until I had plenty in front of me, y’know?” Clark says, and Twilight takes him up on the offer. I think it’s because the guts Clark will be showing her this time have already been cleaned and dissected, so no mess.

“Yeah, alright... so what happens while we wait? I’m pretty sure Twilight can look over pictures without help.”

“Yes, but I didn’t exactly label them. You go find something to do, I’ll explain to Twilight.” Clark makes shooing motions at me.

“Fine, whatever.” I head out to Ponyville and just start... ambling around town, not really much to do.

Fate seems to have pulled my feet to take me to the schoolhouse, despite it not being a school day. I don’t even go to school anymore, why do I pay attention to that? Well, it is late, so school would be out by now anyway. I’m walking by the building trying to think what to do now. There’s the playground, but they still don’t have anything intended for tall bipeds.

Sighing, I look around at the constructs, thinking of how I could misuse them in an entertaining way, if using them in the intended way is out.

“Ah, Anthony!” I turn to see who spoke, and it’s Cheerilee, coming out of the schoolhouse. “I was actually needing to speak with you. Would you like to come in, or would you rather speak outside?”

I shrug and head for the schoolhouse, indicating my choice. I pull a chair up around in front of her desk so we can talk about whatever she needs. Something tells me she feels a bit conflicted. It’s mainly noticeable because it’s not something I see much from her.

“So whatcha need, teach’?”

“Well, it’s a bit of a problem with the lesson you gave earlier. Now, I’d like to state, before you respond, that I personally don’t have any problems with it. However, a few of the parents of some of my students have expressed concerns over the subject matter. Normally, I’d simply reassure them, and politely ignore them, because their fears were largely hysteria and paranoia, but a few are... rather prominently connected to my employment. As such, I agreed to speak with you about the lesson, and tell you what they think is ‘acceptable’ to be taught to their children.”

“Well, I understand where they are coming from, but their paranoia and hysteria seems to stem from the misconceptions about chaos that I hoped to eliminate. I decided it would be more effective to teach to children who’ll grow up with the knowledge. Standing on a soap-box in the middle of town and yelling facts at grown-ups who’ve already made their decision to believe the falsities has less desirable effect.”

“Yes, I’ve seen that. Mr. Wattle was quite the vocal sort when he was younger. But, the situation still stands. I can’t simply ignore them, and they aren’t being exceptionally rational. I’d rather they calmed down and thought about this, but with the particular parents involved, I’m more afraid they’d go to extremes before calming down if any form of confrontation happened. I’m sorry... but I’ll have to ask you not to teach again for the foreseeable future. Perhaps in a year or so, but I can’t help anypony if I’m fired.”

“Well, we can’t have that, but I think the best way to prevent any issue is to educate them. How about the parents are called in and I’ll do it again, but in more... explained terms. I feared going too in-depth with the children, considering what I could potentially cover. The adults can ask whatever questions they like, and hopefully we can calm them down when they realize all I’m doing is clearing up the lies their children were learning... most likely from said parents.”

“I- I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I just don’t think they’ll change their minds, and I’m the only schoolteacher Ponyville has.”

I nod, thinking over possibilities. “It’s just a shame that my attempts at education are halted by childishness... I’m sure you have more experience with kids than I do, but from what I’ve seen... it’s mainly the adults who have trouble expanding themselves mentally. Children aren’t born prejudiced, those beliefs are passed down by their parents. I’m not saying that they have bad parents, it just seems they aren’t making a good decision here, but that’s obvious. But.” I sigh. “In light of you possibly losing your job, I’ll stop giving lectures. I’m sure you are much more valuable to the children’s futures than I am. Though I wouldn’t mind talking to some of them. Do you think it would be risky to, completely unaffiliated with you, talk to some of the parents about the subject?”

“Well, most aren’t problems. The only issue is from two groups of parents, and they aren’t exactly the sort to change their minds unless there’s something truly monumental at stake in the near future.”

“Well, then I guess there’s not much to do. I would like to speak to some of them though. But what I don’t understand is why they seem to be going after you, when I was the one teaching the lesson.”

“They’re business ponies, and they know you carry a fair amount of clout with the element bearers. Even if you’d never likely use it for something petty like that.” She doesn’t know me that well, it seems. “However, you also have virtually nothing to lose. They can't get you fired because your job seems to be ‘goofing off’, and they can’t freeze your assets because all of yours are in a bank they don’t control. Well, unless that rumor you have a mountain of gold in Dirt Poor’s bank is false, then it’s just because you’re broke. Now, I, on the other hoof, am in a rather vulnerable position, as I can't do anything in retaliation if they do decide to get me fired. That one of them is on the school board only compounds the issue. If they feel I’m dangerous to their foals, accurate or not, I’m gone.”

“Well that’s hardly fair, but if there’s really nothing that can be done, I guess I’ll go buy a soap-box.”

“You do that, Anthony. Just be sure to bring yourself some water, I hear you can lose your voice fairly easily from atop a podium of any value.”

“Well, if they heed my words, I may not have to do it for long. Besides, I seem to have succeeded already. I wanted to get the message to children who still have a whole future to realize my points are accurate. I’ve always had a problem with things that are labelled ‘evil’ by default. It leads me to believe that they don’t really know what defines something as truly evil, and not just questionable. It’s an urge I’ve always had, but here I actually have some leverage. Guess education isn’t as easy as I thought.” I sigh. “But if they start getting on you for anything less than this, I’ve got your back. I’ve had enough of a bumpy school life to know what a real ‘bad’ teacher is like. You do a good job if you ask me. But then, I can’t make that decision.”

“Thank you, Anthony. And quite frankly, ever since you arrived, the class has actually been doing very well! I don’t have to grade on a curve just to appease the board members anymore, and there’s been, minus the one incident, an incredible downturn in bullying.”

I fidget a bit at the mention of the incident. “Yeah, sorry... I was just trying to-”

“No, no need for sorry. It was something that might’ve popped up eventually, and I’m glad it was dealt with then, rather than in a few years of festering which might’ve made the conclusion a great deal more... permanent. And sad. The problems addressed were an infection, Anthony, and you helped it get cleansed.”

“Yeah well, I have quite a few other things that could be considered ‘infectious’, but despite my apparent success, I wouldn’t exactly want every kid to go through everything I did... Even though I think I came out of it a better person because of it.”

“And I find that rather noble. There are all too many individuals who would rather other learn by suffering just the same as themselves, and all too few who try to explain their own mistakes that others won’t make them. Ooh, listen to me! I'm starting to sound like Spear Shaker, just a little. Oh, have you read any of his plays?”

“Well... in a way, I have. For one, when people died, they stayed dead. We don’t exactly have Alicorns of Love to bring the dead back, just because they screwed up.”

“Now, now, Spear Shaker was just sticking to the historical truth, Anthony.” Cheerilee admonishes me.

“And historical truth differs depending on if Alicorns or unicorn magic of any kind, existed in the history in question. William Shakespeare may have taken a few liberties, but he mostly avoided magical Deus Ex Machinas. Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy rather than a love story, since it ended with the pair having committed suicide without any ‘help’ afterwards. Kind of a downer ending, but when you recall the fact that they were just a horny teenager and a creepy pedophile who knew each other for a few days... yeah, them dying for good at the end was probably the safest ending possible.”

“Well, here in equestria, it’s the mostly-accurate tale of how the Orange and Apple families came together. From what I hear, Granny Smith has the original script somewhere in the attic on Sweet Apple Acres. It’s either there or with one of the orange family members.”

“Well, that’s a huge difference right there. As great as they were, most of the playwrights were fiction. Sure a few had real-world influence, but it was mostly just all made up.”

“Hmm... Most of Spear Shaker’s work was historical satire or meant to be educational. And there’s so much innuendo hidden there, too!”

“As famous as he is, he was a total pervert.” I chuckle. “With a sick sense of humor. Dunno how Hamlet ended in your version but... that guy sure loved messing with his characters.”

“Well, if it ended with all the previously named characters but a couple dead, then yes, it’s largely the same. It’s one of the darkest plays to ever be acted upon an Equestrian stage, and received enough bad reviews that ponies go to see it at least once a year in the major cities.”

“Well, if you want to watch the result of some crazy lunatic with a poison fetish and likes killing important characters, there’s few authors who can outdo him in those areas. Still, really good stories. Oh wow, it’s getting dark out already, how long have we been talking?”

“Uhm...” Cheerilee checks the wall clock. “Oh, dear! It’s nearly eight! I should take these papers home with me to get graded. Thank you for staying to discuss things, it truly made my evening that I could hold an educated conversation with somepony other than Twilight. As nice of a mare as she is, she has a tendency to over-analyze things.”

“Well, I’ll leave before I start rambling again. Have a good night, Cheerilee, and sleep well. We’ll sort out this ‘chaos’ debacle somehow, even if it’s with inactivity.” Cheerilee wishes me a good night in return, and I head back to the library. Next Chapter: Chapter 172 Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 7 Minutes

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