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Solisian Union
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Postby Solisian Union » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:20 am

The Filipino writer paid some heed to Gio's words. She did try to look, seeing how she raised a brow at him at first. Interesting to hear her stress about being attacked first as an excuse. Fire lizards sounds like something she would want to ask about if it was okay to ask about it, especially for getting it into her notebooks. Speaking of notebooks, she probably should try getting some new ones from this world; that should help her keep pages clean in the notebooks from her homeworld.

But for now, she aided the group in extracting the magical essence from the relics, and she took care to observe those small balls of colored lights and how Gio just took them into her hands and lowered them on the water. Weird but beautiful. When she had the chance, she scratched at a page of her notebook with her favorite writing pen.

For once, she pouted at seeing the lights disappear when Gio worked on them.

But listening to her talk about magic like it would become one with the forest was like listening to tales 'gikan sa mga tigulang' (from old people). Very interesting.

In the end, she watched Gio take up a sapling from under a small rock and hand it, plus the pool water, to Sandy. The remains of the relics were also handed over. And that made Domenica more curious, seeing how Gio behaved. It reminded her of salamangkeros.

"Sorcerer..." she whispered to herself, putting away her pen and notebook, then picking herself up to get going with her companions.




Being in a rolling train surrounded by snow made Domenica terribly restless, very much so in a way that it made her avoid any seat that she came across, choosing instead to look outside, silent in her observations, her right hand upon the window, hoping to feel the cold, hoping to feel the crystals that fell from the sky, even as her ears caught the words that flowed away from Gio and Willow. She heard them but didn't really listen as carefully as she would've back in the forest, for her mind was off playing with the fantasies of her time at New York, back when she did a lot of time with that certain publishing company that pushed her up to the heights, placing her among the writers and editors. Now, she didn't really spend so much time there, for she really didn't mind working mostly in her own country, away from the strange ways of Americans, especially as that reminded her now of Sandy and his wife. Yet, there just was something about snow that grabbed her attention, taking her through a vast list of illusions that entertained her on journeys like this one.

It was only fitting that her attention was broken when she glanced to Gio, only to see her turn her back to the others. She cocked her head to the side, wondering what thoughts she must have in her own head, noting the way her ears folded.

Domenica could only guess, and that guess faded into nothing, just as something like the bright blue light cutting through the shady tundra, catching the eyes of the Filipino, bringing her consideration for the dome that reached the sky.

That amazed her. It was a spectacle.

Before they stopped at the train station, Domenica was silently screaming within herself at the allure of this location she was traveling into.

From the tundra and through the valley and into the city, streams of interpretations provided by her own senses were scrutinized by her critical writer's mind. And now that they were no longer moving, for they were allowed to get off now, the writer was dead silent as she appreciated all these things.

The steps of ponies all around her, the din of the train fading into the refreshing air around her, and the words of her companions - all these did not matter to her at that moment, for she dove again into an intense internal deliberation of everything outside of her.

She only noticed that they were someplace away from the station, and away from the train, when she noticed that she was left standing in the lobby as the others went off to their rooms.

"Ka amaw ba nako! (I'm such a fool!) I got lost in thought again!" she cried out, blushing as she hurried to the desk to get a room.




When Domenica got to her room, she didn't really pay too much attention to anything else that decorated it or filled it but the desk. Someplace to write, somewhere to sit at and place her notebooks and pens, and some way to get her mind back in control by putting down all the stuff she had gotten herself absorbed in.

"Thanks a lot," she said to the helpful bellhop that guided her away from the lobby where she stood while she was so lost in thought. After the pony was dismissed, she closed her door, locked it up, and rushed to the desk which she found inside.

It wasn't really that great, but it was enough. Wooden, modest in size, blessed with a padded chair that was comfortable to rest her back against (though it was a little too high, she thought it was too high, it must be) - all that made Domenica feel great about sweeping the surface with the pages of her notebooks and the shafts of her pens. The rest of her things were all kept in her pack, haphazardly placed under the desk.

The writer grabbed her pen and got to work, manufacturing page after page after dirty page of sentences. Her hands were the instruments which transferred all that kept her occupied, and her pen appealed to her ears, her mouth releasing comments that seemed to brush against the lines that appeared before her flying eyes.

And only when she realized that she had pressed too hard into a page, ripping half of it off her notebook, jet ink spilling out the nib, dirtying the wallpaper, that she stopped and cried out, "Atay! (Stupid!)"

Her hand cast her pen into her pocket. She tore the ruined page out of the spine and tossed it, just after crumpling it into a ball, into the other pocket. Then Domenica got up, approached the door, opened it, walked swiftly into the common room, finding her companions, and told them, her voice strained with some anxious aspect to it, "My apologies, I had a lot of stuff to think about that I just wanted to let it all out on one of my notebooks and I tore a page up and some ink got all over the wallpaper in my room and now I'm thinking that I got to-" She gasped, silencing herself for just a second, then rolling her words out like a factory line, frantically gesturing, "TherereallyhasgottobesomeshopherewithlotsofstationarythatIcannotevengetbackhome. But, we got stuff to do, right? What did I miss while I was all thinking too much?"
^_^

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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:17 am

Willow exited the kitchen of the suite just as Domenica burst out of the room in a panic. He was stirring a drink, but set it aside to gently place a hoof on her shoulder to calm her.

"We're all just here to relax, we don't have to do anything," he reassured her, before glancing at the floor. "Except me." He cleared his throat and picked back up his drink. "Anyway, I'm sure you can ask room service for as much stationary as you want. The bell is over by the door."

He hopped through the air to sit next to Giovenith, who was perched on a chaise longue and looking fairly exhausted as she stared blankly at nothing in particular. She was stirred when Willow offered her the drink, which she accepted.

"I'm happy that you're going through with this," she told him, sipping it.

"Yeah, well," he sighed, gritting his teeth slightly as he leaned back. "I guess it was only a matter of time before I ended up in a place like this."

"You are not that bad," she insisted.

"I'm not as bad as I could be." He scooped up an iridescent stress ball from a crystal bowl full of them on the night stand and seemed to melt slightly as he squeezed it between his hooves, unwinding from his normally tense persona. "I don't know, though. My mom was a bit of a psycho when she was my age too, and I know damn well how everypony feels about a weird little crying boy who turns to wearing all black and making splatter art. If that trip hadn't made me snap, I'm sure something else would have."

Giovenith looked down and drummed her fingers against her mug. "... Can you tell me just one thing, about what happened?"

There was a long moment of silence as Willow just looked ahead, expression unreadable. Giovenith started to think she had pushed too far and he was now ignoring her until he spoke.

"He choked me and cut my feathers off," he said, in a cool, neutral tone, eyes still locked ahead. "Because pegasi can fly faster than ponies can run. Even if I escaped, he could still catch me and kill me easily." He didn't say anything more than that, letting the statement hang in the air.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:40 pm

Suite, Crystal Spa and Outpatient Therapy Center
Crystal Empire, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:Giovenith looked down and drummed her fingers against her mug. "... Can you tell me just one thing, about what happened?"

A wince flashed across Sandy's face. Oooh! That would have been better left unasked! She probably doesn't know any better, oooh...

Giovenith wrote:"He choked me and cut my feathers off," he said, in a cool, neutral tone, eyes still locked ahead. "Because pegasi can fly faster than ponies can run. Even if I escaped, he could still catch me and kill me easily." He didn't say anything more than that, letting the statement hang in the air.

Amanda, about to take another sip, nearly dropped her glass. "Jesus Christ, Willow! That's horrible!" She shot a glance in Sandy's direction: they'd compared notes about Willow and Cadance, but Sandy hadn't said that! She saw only Sandy's blank, stunned expression.

After a long pause, Sandy seemed to hug himself, though Amanda realized he was stroking his arms, as he recalled the feeling of air flowing through the Olympians' wide, feathered wings.

Who... why? Sandy struggled to get his mind in gear. It made no sense: surely, Cadance would have mentioned torture in addition to the Umbrum. Maybe the Umbrum conjured a nightmare world, like somebody did from Brit's memory. Maybe...? Unfortunately, Sandy's mouth was further down that line of reasoning than the rest of him. "He... who?" He then grimaced, closing his eyes and looking away.

He turned back to Willow. "Sorry, that was stupid... of me. Ummm, answer only if you want to." At least there are therapists nearby, because there's a hair's breadth between catharsis and flashback.
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Giovenith » Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:01 pm

Willow, still looking ahead, shook his head at Sandy's question. First slowly, and then evercreasingly quick as his expression broke down from blank neutrality to hurt and panic.

"No," he insisted. "No, no I don't want to talk about that. I was stupid. I was stupid. He warned me-"

Giovenith quickly intervened, crawling over to hug him tight and shush to calm him down. She stroked his mane and whispered reassuring things to him until he stopped trembling. Eventually, he squeezed his eyes shut tight and gave the godling a nuzzle before sighing and relaxing.

He wasn't there now. He was here, in the Crystal Empire, safe with Princess Cadance and his friends. It was okay.

Well, immediately anyway.

Willow gave Giovenith another nuzzle before wiggling out of her grip. "I already learned my lesson about not turning away help when I need it," he began, steadily. "I'm not going to back away from being here. But, I guess it's just, I've already spent so much of my life being defined as a victim. I want to be more than that — cliche, I know, that's what all the victims say..." He tensely ran a hoof through the back of his mane. "... But even before any of this happened, that's what I've been trying for. I started off as the snotty crybaby, grew up to be the dark little 'misunderstood guy,' like I said before, the world just waiting for him to snap. All I've ever really wanted is to be somepony that... people actually enjoy, not just accomodate and feel sorry for."

Giovenith was tempted to jump in with her insistence about how much she enjoyed him, but she knew he already knew that and figured it might not help much to jump in with what could be interpreted as more pity. So she thought for a moment, and then asked, "What do you want to be like, Willow?"

He leaned back into his seat again and looked out towards the view of the rest of the spa. "Well, it's a bit abstract, I suppose."

"Naturally," she said, encouragingly.

"When I was very little," he began. "We had this aquarium in our living room, set next to a window. My earliest memories are of sitting there, watching the water and fish bubble around, while it was raining outside. It was always a summer rain, so it was still bright and warm outside. Sometimes I would blend them together in my mind, think of the fish swimming out there in the rain, air, and sunlight. It made me happy..." He held up his hooves in expression. "... and my favorite artist, Silly Cantersky, he believed a lot in the power of colors. He said about the color blue, 'Blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks to almost black, it echos grief that is hardly sapient,' and, 'The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls a pony towards the infinite, awakening in her a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural... The brighter it becomes, the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness and becomes white.' White, blue, black, all in a spectrum. I feel like I am that spectrum."

Giovenith nodded, this all of course making perfect sense to her. "I mean, you literally are."

"I literally am," Willow agreed, looking down at his own grey body. "But I mean like, inside I feel like I'm down somewhere towards the grey and the black, that that's the impression I give off. The same impression as some fucking Victorian tragedy or whatever. I want to move up the spectrum: bright blue like my aquarium, bright white like the sky of the summer rain. Calm, clean, refreshed, safe..." He frowned and looked back at the rest of them, raising an eye. "Is what I'm saying making sense?"

"Probably not," Giovenith shook her head with a smile. "It does to me, though. You want people to feel the same way around you that you did around your light, watery happy place. I think we all want that, in our own ways."

"What about you guys?" Willow asked Sandy, Amanda, and Domenica directly. "I know you all kind of got your shit together a lot better than I do, but if our lives so far are anything to go by, we're probably not going to reach our 'final forms' as it were for quite a while. Too much adventure, too much change. Are you all happy with who you are? What do you all want to be? You're not a hopeless, shellshocked lunatic like me right now, at least."
Last edited by Giovenith on Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:11 pm

Suite, Crystal Spa and Outpatient Therapy Center
Crystal Empire, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:"No," [Willow] insisted. "No, no I don't want to talk about that. I was stupid. I was stupid. He warned me-" Giovenith quickly intervened[.]

Sandy looked away, expression pained and and then abashed. Remember: 'Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear.'

Giovenith wrote:"I know you all kind of got your shit together a lot better than I do, but if our lives so far are anything to go by, we're probably not going to reach our 'final forms' as it were for quite a while. [...] Are you all happy with who you are? What do you all want to be? You're not a hopeless, shellshocked lunatic like me right now, at least."


"Oh, you are not!" With a dismissive gesture, Amanda waved Willow's claim away. "You're not curled up in a ball, or hiding in a corner. You're not a danger to yourself or anybody else. You're up and doing things. You went into Everfree because we wanted to, even though it wasn't the comfortable for you. That's not easy, Willow.

"You had some …" Uncharacteristically, Amanda paused, and she resumed with unusual caution in her voice. "… bad experiences. No, let me correct that, absolutely horrific experiences. But you're doing about as well as anybody else in the same situation. Better than many do, even." She ended up with a friendly smile on her face, almost admiring, but there was a certain unease in her body language.
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Solisian Union
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Solisian Union » Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:50 pm

"We're all just here to relax, we don't have to do anything," he reassured her, before glancing at the floor. "Except me." He cleared his throat and picked back up his drink. "Anyway, I'm sure you can ask room service for as much stationary as you want. The bell is over by the door."


Domenica's eyes darted to Willow upon hearing him, mind processing his words, shoulder bearing his hoof, just as she saw his drink no longer stirred, a mere motion of liquid spelling it out to her that it was coming to a stop, a stop that was added to by the end of Willows words after he hopped over to Gio and sat by her, his hoof gone, the Filipina smiling in his direction, saying, "That's awesome."

She went over to the door to take the bell into her right hand while her left was concentrated on popping knuckles. Domenica later turned about to listen to his conversation with Gio.

The writer, curious as always, despite the tons of details she already put away into her notebooks from her mind, walked around them, taking a seat that faced them, and kept silent.

She noted how Willow spoke, how he gritted his teeth, and how Gio stirred before Willow did those things, especially from him offering her the drink. Dom crossed her legs, leaned back into the seat, then quickly sitting up straightly, her action provoked by what Willow said about wearing all black and making splatter art, and that comment about her mother being a bit of a psycho. She was no psychologist, but as a writer she was strongly intimate with other people, especially when it came to their qualities, the components of their personality.

Her suspicions emerged from the inside, manifesting in her gaze at Gio, one that narrowed at how she kept from making eye contact with Willow, the drumming of her fingers against the mug a sign that Dom didn't take as sensitive.

She was right about one thing. Something went wrong.

During that silence, Dom looked at Willow, the locked eyes being the more striking thing to her than was the set of words which escaped his lips in such a cold and disinterested, perhaps dulled, manner.

Amanda, about to take another sip, nearly dropped her glass. "Jesus Christ, Willow! That's horrible!" She shot a glance in Sandy's direction


Dom glanced at the woman for a moment, then she returned her attention to Willow, but she turned again, seeing Sandy hugging himself, it seemed, so a thought came into her mind, one that brought her to feel concern, a concern that came not only from her being human, from being sensitive to what they were displaying about their feeligs, but also from her being Filipino, from her own observations of her countrymen when they passed through, sometimes barely, and sometimes easily, abuse.

Willow shaking his head, the breaking of expressions, his panicked insisting, the intervention of Gio, a tense but swift period of calming down, followed by Willow speaking, steadily now and with little gestures, about his experiences, with emphasis on his own dedication to not being misunderstood, to not be a victim, and to assert a position he wished to claim that she felt was better for him, one that would soothe him.

That story of the aquarium made Dom more interested. She got away from her seat and sat down in front of them, literally on the floor, her legs crossed, her hands on her lower legs, as if she were a child, one so attentive that to get a little closer was helping her get some more out of them and into her mind.

"What about you guys?" Willow asked Sandy, Amanda, and Domenica directly. "I know you all kind of got your shit together a lot better than I do, but if our lives so far are anything to go by, we're probably not going to reach our 'final forms' as it were for quite a while. Too much adventure, too much change. Are you all happy with who you are? What do you all want to be? You're not a hopeless, shellshocked lunatic like me right now, at least."


When asked by Willow, just after Amanda spoke, and Sandy kept quiet, Dom said, a small smile on her face, after she returned to her own seat, legs uncrossed, hands open to them, "I'm a writer, and that's what I wanted to be ever since my mother taught me how to write, ever since I was taught to write by those around me at school and at work, ever since I was taught by my friends, my rivals, my mentors, and by so many others." She paused to look at Willow, to offer a gentle nod, before she got up and walked over to Willow, placing a hand on his shoulder. "You're not hopeless to me, nor are you a lunatic to me. I may be too much of a stranger to you right now, but I don't let that stand between me and you. I find you most interesting, and I'm concerned too, because I've had people in my life who went through nightmares of their own, and I didn't like that, so I tried to help, especially through expression, through some form of creativity."

She let her hand off his shoulder before she said, "Blue is the sky, as is the water, and the flesh of creatures over land, in air, and under the waves. Blue is the color of eyes, so serene, or so sharp, bearing life, through whatever circumstances they are born into, passed through, and taken out of. Blue is what complements red, for life may be dependent on blood, it too depends on water, the coolness it offers, and the vitality it provides."

Domenica now shrugged at herself. She said, "That came from a poem I was given by a friend who endured great hardship in her own life. She lives on, with a hope that I think you'd share with you."
^_^

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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:21 pm

Willow nodded along to Domenica's poem. When she concluded, he lifted his front hooves again and held one out while scraping the other across it, creating a low scrotch, scrotch that conveyed his appreciation.

"Thank you, Domenica," he said. "For sharing your piece with me. I feel like we always share a little bit of ourselves when we exchange poetry. And thank you Amanda..." He turned to the blonde woman, whose uneasiness did not escape him. He observed her for a moment. "... I do try my best to stay standing, for at least the people around me. I think, from what you said at the donut shop before, that you have a lot of experience doing the same. Although that's your own story to share in your own time, I can still see and appreciate the courage it took."

There was a pause.

"Do you feel alright, about your future?" he ventured. "It's easier to think about than the past. You don't have to answer either, though."
Last edited by Giovenith on Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:21 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
Crystal Empire, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:"Do you feel alright, about your future?" he ventured. "It's easier to think about than the past. You don't have to answer either, though."

Amanda took another sip of whiskey, then held the glass in her lap. "I'm not sure, Willow. We'd barely met our new patron before leaving for Equestria. He seems to be better than our previous host, but he hasn't asked anything of us yet. The beach house is a definite improvement on the Building, especially since the Building was out in the sticks in Galli.

"But I have a lot to think about, and not just from this visit. While we were dealing with--" She winced, pressed her eyes closed, and went silent. She lifted her glass to her lips, but Sandy caught her hand before she could take a drink.

Instead, he drained his own glass, though his expression suggested this wasn't something he ever did. He conjured a finger's worth of coffee into it, and traded glasses with Amanda, who inhaled the aroma before drinking it. "Thank you, dear."

After blinking a couple of times, she picked as though nothing had happened. "While we were dealing with Shnookums, the Prick seems to have gotten off His holy, holy, holy ass, and done something useful. That's the first time in a long time for Him. The contrast couldn't be greater between Him and Cadance, who helped you just because you needed it. You didn't even have to ask."

She retrieved her whiskey from Sandy, and drank a swig or two. "But I think I know just where to plant the Liberty Tree we got from the forest." She smiled broadly, causing Sandy to give her an uncertain sidelong glance. As she said "But first things first", he visibly relaxed, though it was clear he was still thinking about it.

[OOC: "the Prick seems to have gotten off His holy, holy, holy ass". Amanda is mocking Isaiah's divine vision: "And [the seraphim] were calling out to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; all the earth is full of His glory.”]
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Giovenith
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Postby Giovenith » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:14 pm

Willow squinted slightly in wonder at the exchange over the drink between the couple, but otherwise didn't ponder or think much of it. Equestrians only drank once a year, so he was not entirely familiar with the concept of excessive habitual drinking (honestly, he was more impressed that the Crystal ponies had even managed to scrape together some wine out of season at all). He assumed that alcohol must not be good for the nerves.

"You have a problem with your god?" he asked, curiously. "Not that I'm surprised. Not all of humanity's gods are as lovable as Geo-puzzle here."

Giovenith gave him a kind smile and nod, though it seemed forced. She remained in her cozy fetal position with her tight grip on her mug, looking down at the drink and not offering much comment.

"Liberty Tree, is that what you're calling it?" he threw in, addressed to Sandy.
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Postby Solisian Union » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:21 pm

"Thank you, Domenica," he said. "For sharing your piece with me. I feel like we always share a little bit of ourselves when we exchange poetry. And thank you Amanda..." He turned to the blonde woman, whose uneasiness did not escape him. He observed her for a moment. "... I do try my best to stay standing, for at least the people around me. I think, from what you said at the donut shop before, that you have a lot of experience doing the same. Although that's your own story to share in your own time, I can still see and appreciate the courage it took."


Dom smiled. She wanted to correct him, because the poem wasn't hers. Instead, she shrugged and said, just after she spoke to Amanda, and before Amanda said anything, "You're always welcome. Poetry isn't my best field. I'm better at prose."

She turned to Amanda, especially after Willow asked her about her future. And what followed was...confusion. Dom cocked her head to the side, thinking over what Amanda said about Scnookums, the Prick getting off his holy ass, and the Liberty Tree. Before Willow could get an answer, Dom opened up with questions for the couple.

"I remember you spoke about slippage between Galli and Ptolemaic Egypt. I don't understand the relationship between the Galli and this...Building you speak of. May I ask about it? And what about this thing about Scnookums and the Prick? Why is the Prick holy?"

She paused to hum and cross her arms as she faced the couple, eyes with growing interest. Dom then relaxed, saying, "Sorry, but I am terribly...terribly and thoroughly curious. I'd like to know, if that's okay."
^_^

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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:41 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
Crystal Empire, Equestria

Giovenith wrote:"You have a problem with your god?" he asked, curiously. "Not that I'm surprised. Not all of humanity's gods are as lovable as Geo-puzzle here."

Amanda shook her head sadly. "Oh, Willow, the Prick is a problem. His whole pantheon is, Him and His kids, Jesus and Mohammed." Her sigh expressed disgust and despair in equal measure. "Sandy won't let me talk about any of the vile things their holy books claim they've done, but my beef with them is what they haven't done.

"Millions of their worshippers have called out to them to save them from death. Violent, organized deaths: massacres, genocides. And not one of them could lift a finger for them. Not one! So much for the Prick's covenant with his worshippers; so much for the sword Mohammed says the Prick will bring to His enemies.

"I was brought up to worship Jesus, but I decided that there were no gods. None of them ever did anything, so either there weren't any or they're uncaring or they're just plain evil. I went with the easiest answer."

She shifted in her seat, becoming more animated, and her tone slowly shifted: hard and in places bitterly sarcastic. "But then I met this sweet man and found out that the Olympians let him borrow their flying horse. Great! Just great: if they're real, the Prick and His kids probably are real, but they don't give a damn. Loaning somebody a pet isn't much of a favor, but it's something.

"And, well..." Amanda extended a hand in Giovenith's direction. "Your roommate, the goddess, charming and helpful. Even as a baby goddess, she's done more things for more people than the Prick has. Oh, by the way, a little before Jesus was born, the Olympians answered Sandy's prayers. You've got to see the holos, Willow, they're amazing!"

"Sandy offers Poseidon two horses, and the sea goes flat when He accepts them, and they go straight to horse heaven. Sandy tells Thalia a joke, and She laughs. People used to build cathedrals to the Prick's supposed glory, and He couldn't even be bothered to shrug.

"And let's not even talk about your Princesses. The Prick is just an embarrassment by contrast. Back home, people would say Cadance works miracles; here, it's just Tuesday." She made a disgusted sound in her throat. "It's hard to care about the Prick and His family when other gods do so much more."

She paused, then grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, Willow, I didn't mean to dump that on you."

Belatedly, Amanda realized that Sandy had slipped away during her diatribe. She started to look around for him, but she was interrupted by him sitting back down next to her, bearing two mugs. "What do you want to be in the mug?" he asked.

"Is that black bean soup in yours? The same for me, please." Which he conjured into her mug. Amanda took it eagerly: another of Sandy's special drinks, but this one was food too.

They both sat sipping soup for a few seconds before Sandy picked up Willow's question. "I hadn't heard Amanda call it a Liberty Tree before, but her meaning is clear. She means to plant it somewhere in Maghrl's timestream, either as a call to arms to an abolitionist war, or as a memorial to it."

"A call to arms, dear. And on Corellia. They're as bad as we were, and so hopefully we'll find some of the ones Maghrl thinks are as good as we were." Her tone was light, almost playful, but there was fire in her eyes. Sandy's response was a wistful frown: he disapproved, but that was for another time.

Solisian Union wrote:"Sorry, but I am terribly...terribly and thoroughly curious. I'd like to know, if that's okay."

Amanda continued with her light tone, replying with mock sarcasm. "Oh, great, another one of you curious types. Sandy's bad enough as it is. He ran back into a burning building to save some books, just to see what they said!" She turned to the pony artist. "Willow, could you give me some help with these two? One curious person is just a danger to himself; two is a danger to everybody around them." A big grin lit her face: it had been a while since she'd teased Sandy, and after unburdening her theological troubles, she felt lighter.

Amanda's tone became matter of fact as she turned back to Domenica. "We and many other people used to live in an apartment building usually just called 'the Building'. Like the beach houses, people's apartments could have any layout the residents wanted. Some were huge on the inside; one contained a small village. The Building was in Galli, a pocket dimension, which our previous host had pieced together from flotsam from other timestreams.

We're not sure what happened to Galli. Time had gotten out of joint there, and other strange things happened, and then we washed up on George's Beach in Bermeja. But our previous host tried to hide himself, so in case he's still around, I'm leaving out some names."

Giovenith wrote:[Giovenith] remained in her cozy fetal position with her tight grip on her mug, looking down at the drink and not offering much comment.

Sandy had watched the godling sit nearly motionless while the others talked. Something's been on her mind, and she's less voluble than Amanda. He waggled the fingers of his right hand over his left palm experimentally: yes, the ousia flowed freely here. While copying the crystalline effect their bodies had would take a while there was certainly enough ousia to draw on for fancy effects.

With a deft finger swirl, Sandy shot a tiny skyrocket in Giovenith's direction that trailed a fine golden glitter trail, so fine it would be hard for anybody off the line of fire to see. When it neared the young goddess, it burst into miniature cascades of gem-toned fireworks: emerald, sapphire, amethyst, topaz, and ruby.

Having gotten her attention, Sandy mouthed, "Are you OK?" to her.
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Postby Giovenith » Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:07 pm

Willow didn't show any judgment or awkwardness at Amanda's misotheistic row although he did occasionally raise an eye questioningly. He'd already heard of the massacres and geocides, to be sure, but he'd never really heard a human themselves acknowledge and criticize them before.

"It's alright, Amanda," he said. "I've known about these issues pretty much since the day I first arrived in humanland. I had similar reactions, but I always tried to keep those thoughts to myself... usually. It wouldn't do to potentially piss off everyone around me in a foreign land, you know?"

He occasionally stole looks at Giovenith, conscious of trying not to offend her. She already knew his opinions on the whole matter, but that wasn't a reason to rub them in her face, or to put her in a difficult position — it was really easy for the rest of them to sit around and talk shit about pantheons, less so for someone who had to work with them one day. He smiled at his roommate as Amanda complimented her, trying to draw her attention to the sentiment, but Giovenith still only offered that formal smile. Willow gave a quick, sad blink before turning back to Amanda.

"It's as good a use for it as any other," he said in regards to the Liberty Tree, with a smile. When Domenica wiggled into the conversation, he gave her a nod as well. "Don't worry, I get it, I was in the same position as you. The place we're in right now is my home country, and like Amanda said, we used to live in a magical apartment building. I was suddenly transported to that Building from here a lot like you were. It was originally in a place called Bielefeld, and I had to rely on the help of everyone living here to get by... and well, here we are. We tend to travel through time and space a lot around here too, hence most of the things we've talked about so far."

He thought for a moment and turned back to Amanda.

"Who is Thalia?" he asked, curiously. "What did you do on the trip?"

Giovenith jerked her head back slightly in surprise at the tiny firework. She blinked at Sandy's question and shifted in a small panic. Uh oh...

If Sandy found out how she felt and what she planned, he might try to stop her. Or worse, he might tell Willow and he would definitely try to stop her. She didn't think that she was a good enough liar to try to deflect though. Feeling stuck, Giovenith tried to race through her options before a knock at the door was heard. She literally jumped up at the opportunity.

"I'll get it!" she insisted, handing her cup to Willow. "It must be them coming to pick you up, Willow."

Willow shrugged in concession and helped himself to a sip from her drink.

Giovenith opened up the door to reveal a familiar pink horse beaming at the small crowd.

"Hellooooo my little cool cats and kittens!" Toola greeted with a wide wave.

Willow choked from trying not to spit out the drink.

"Toola?" Giovenith was surprised too, but far more pleasantly. "What are you doing here?" She moved aside to invite the gregarious artist in.

"I heard through the grapevine that my new favorite hyoo-mun girl was in the Crystal spa," she explained, brightly. "And it just so happens that I have a membership here! Yaaay! It looks like everypony is here too!" She gave a wide grin at the assembled party. "I also brought those healing crystals and aromatherapy for Streaks, just like I promised." Toola nipped a small paper gift bag out of her saddlebag and held it up proudly.

"Ugh," Willow made a face, folding his ears and looking away.

Toola remained unperturbed by this rudeness, trotting up gaily and setting down the bag next to him. "Now I know you don't believe in this sort of thing, Streaks," she said with a set smile, her tone taking on a patient, somewhat patronizing tone. "But there's really no harm in trying all the alternatives available..."

He turned back to her, looking her up and down. "Well, you do know what they call alternative medicine that works, right?" he asked, with his own set smile.

"What's that?"

"Medicine."

They widened their biting grins at each other.

"Well," Toola strolled past the grey fiend and back to Giovenith, nuzzling her skirt. "I don't plan on bothering you all on your getaway, I just came to take Gio out! I did promise to show you my philosophy to life, after all. And I keep my promises!"

"Um, well..." This was unexpected.

"Is everything alright?" Toola asked, and she caught the godling's eyes quickly flicker back over to Sandy. She lit up with recognition at the wizard. "Oh, yes! He can come too, if he wants! I did say I could teach you too, Mister Hyoo-mun!"
Last edited by Giovenith on Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:57 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
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Giovenith wrote:"It's alright, Amanda," he said. "I've known about these issues pretty much since the day I first arrived in humanland. I had similar reactions, but I always tried to keep those thoughts to myself... usually. It wouldn't do to potentially piss off everyone around me in a foreign land, you know?"

Amanda's wry smile mixed bitterness and amusement. "Earth has so many pantheons and so many sects of worshippers and unbelievers that whatever you said, somebody would agree with you.

"Even among ourselves, we bicker about what our gods want us to do, and many people who call themselves followers are followers in name only, and otherwise ignore their god or gods. I did.

She shook her head. "The only people you'd piss off are the self-righteous, and they deserve it." That brought a smile to her face. "Hell, just seeing you would probably make them apoplectic, since you don't fit into their tiny-minded view of the cosmic order." After a brief silence, Amanda wet her lips with a little whiskey, then drank a bit of her soup.

Giovenith wrote:"Who is Thalia?" he asked, curiously. "What did you do on the trip?"

"Oh, I was at home, Willow." She gave Sandy an inquiring glance to see if he'd pick up question, but he was seemed content to let her take it. "Thalia is one of the Muses, nine goddesses of the arts. She's the Muse of Comedy. Pegasus is..." Another glance at Sandy, this one nervous: she was on shaky theological ground.

"… their pet, or possibly companion," Sandy finished, as Amanda relaxed. "Baron Primordial and I met her and her sister Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy. We were trying to find weaknesses in the Mouseion's magical defenses, in order to... uhhh--" His face twisted into a rueful smile. "I was thinking we'd have to make off with the Discussion of Magic, not save it from destruction.

"So... I'd metamorphosed in Pegasus to better Hear the enchantments on the Mouseion, and that apparently drew the Muses' attention. Why those two and not any of the others is--" He broke off with a shrug: making sense of the Olympians' actions wasn't an easy game, and he didn't know how to play.

Sandy was taken aback by Giovenith's haste in answering the door, and at her guess as to who it was. Was he missing something between her and Willow?

Giovenith wrote:He turned back to her, looking her up and down. "Well, you do know what they call alternative medicine that works, right?" […] "What's that?" […] "Medicine."

Sandy's reaction to the exchange was guarded, though his eyes followed the bag as Toola set it down. Amanda, by contrast, was tickled by the mare's naïve belief in rocks and perfumes in the face of the her goddesses' obvious magic. She pretended to be charmed by it, though, holding her mug of soup up to her face to help mask her expression.

Giovenith wrote:"Is everything alright?" Toola asked, and she caught the godling's eyes quickly flicker back over to Sandy. She lit up with recognition at the wizard. "Oh, yes! He can come too, if he wants! I did say I could teach you too, Mister Hyoo-mun!"

"My name's Sandy, and sure. Just a moment..." He chugged his soup, taking several large swallows before setting the mug down.

He stood up, and as he passed Willow, he half-joked, "Let Amanda show you the herbal remedy we have." Following Toola's lead, he left with Giovenith.
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Postby Giovenith » Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:24 pm

Willow's expression turned objecting as Toola moved to take Giovenith away with her, but he restrained himself reluctantly. He settled for calling, "Hey, don't do anything stupidly!" sternly after them, but received no reply. Ugh. Hopefully in a safe and controlled place like the Crystal Empire, there wouldn't be much that Toola Roola could do to get Giovenith in trouble. Then again, she did seem to always find a way.

"Hmf." He plopped back against the couch in slight frustration before directing his attention back to Amanda. "Well, at least Sandy will keep an eye on the two of them..."

He picked up the small paper bag, observed neutrally for a moment, and then unceremoniously flipped it over into a nearby wastebin. Ridiculous nonsense.

"As if this was about concerrrrrrn..." Willow clapped his hooves together and bulged his eyes out to mockingly imitate Toola's doe-eyed look. "She always likes to shove her crap down ponies' throats whenever she gets the chance, always has. Whatever though." He sniffed, and took on a friendlier look. "So, what's this about an herbal remedy? And I think I have a few more questions religion in your world, if you don't mind. He'd only ever gotten to ask Giovenith, who wasn't exactly the most unbiased source.

--

"I've been thinking about you ever since we first talked in the garden, Gio," said Toola, the smell of bubblegum sat lightly on her breath as she chattered, leading them down the cool, lavender halls. "You were so sad, but you seem like such a cool girl. I think Princess Mi Amore Cadenza's spa is a great place for us to become friends!"

"You seem really cool too, Toola," Giovenith nodded, politely. "I'd love to be friends with you..." Not that that'd last long.

Toola adjusted a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses atop her head as she looked over at Sandy. She had the same look she'd had at the art show, of unshakable brightness and innocence. She smiled at him. "And you! I heard that you're the hyoo-mun equivalent of one of the fancy magicians in Canterlot. I want to hear all about what you think about my theories!" She flipped back to Giovenith. "So, Gio, you haven't been feeling as lonely as you were before, have you?"

Giovenith looked down at the floor and tightened her grip on the ends of sleeves, tense. She was feeling torn. On one hand, she wished that Toola hadn't brought this up with Sandy around, but on the other hand, it had been very relieving last time to talk with Toola and she wasn't sure if his presence outweighed that. She decided to go a little at a time.

"A little," she rubbed the back of her head. "Well... a lot, I don't know. It's okay though, I'm not lost, I know what to do."

"What's that?" she raised an eye.

Giovenith looked between her and Sandy, crouching down to make better eye contact with Toola. "You both have to promise not to tell anypony, especially not Willow."

Toola blinked in surprise and concern, but gaze steeled. "Of course I promise." What had Streaks done now? If he was bullying this girl, she'd stomp right back over there and give him a piece of her mind.

Giovenith breathed deeply, stood erect, and took a moment to shakily take her hands in and out of her pockets. "I-I, I just want to leave soon. I don't belong out here in the physical world." She began to tear up. "I want to go away to a far place and just go to Sleep. I'm so tired..."

Toola lifted a hoof to her chin in fear. "What do you mean by that?" Some of her usual pixie-like demeanor faded as she became more serious. "Gio, I... I don't want you to hurt yourself."

The godling held up a hand assuringly. "Oh no, I don't mean that, I promise. I don't think I could, anyway... it'd be too scary, and I wouldn't go anywhere, I'd just be erased from existence. That's the trade off, being what I am and all." She gave a sad sidelong glance.
Last edited by Giovenith on Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:56 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
Crystal Empire, Equestria

Giovenith wrote:"So, what's this about an herbal remedy? And I think I have a few more questions religion in your world, if you don't mind."

"I can tell you about Christianity, and a little about Judaism and Islam. But the expert on the Olympians and their worship just walked out the door. That leaves a lot of religions neither of us knows about, and Sandy has better the guesses about polytheists. But..."

Amanda set down her soup, stood up, and headed for her jacket. "The Prick did one thing right." She fished around in an inside pocket, and pulled out a tiny jar, no more than an inch across. "He might get the assist on Jesus, but that's another subject."

Returning to her seat, Amanda unscrewed the top of the jar, and held it out to Willow. "The Balm of Gilead. It's one of the gifts the Prick gave to His people, the Jews. It's medicine, powerful medicine. It closes wounds, it cures diseases, it treats other ailments and injuries. Without it, Sandy would be dead.

"The Balm made from the sap of some plant. We've never seen it, though, just the resin Sandy uses as a raw material for alchemy. Still, back home, it's one of the few herbal remedies that actually works." She turned the jar so she was looking into it. "Cadance works miracles directly here. The Balm is the closest the Prick gets to working any where we're from."


Wandering the Halls
Giovenith wrote:Toola […] smiled at him. "And you! I heard that you're the hyoo-mun equivalent of one of the fancy magicians in Canterlot. I want to hear all about what you think about my theories!" She flipped back to Giovenith.

'Fancy magicians'? They don't call themselves sorcerers, but that seems to be exactly what they are. But Toola had lost interest before Sandy could point that out.

Giovenith wrote:Giovenith looked between her and Sandy, crouching down to make better eye contact with Toola. "You both have to promise not to tell anypony, especially not Willow."

Sandy gave her a dubious look: what was she going to say that--

Giovenith wrote:Giovenith breathed deeply, stood erect, and took a moment to shakily take her hands in and out of her pockets. "I-I, I just want to leave soon. I don't belong out here in the physical world." She began to tear up. "I want to go away to a far place and just go to Sleep. I'm so tired..."

"Wait! Leave?? Why??" His brow took on the look of a relief map, deeply furrowed and wrinkled, while he rubbed the back of his head. After a bit, he said, "Something's been bothering you for a while, hasn't it?"
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Giovenith » Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:12 pm

“Hmm.”

Willow lifted an eye at the small jar, doing his best to lean in for a look while sitting steady. The last thing any of them needed was for something so precious to be knocked down all over the carpet. He leaned back.

“I mean, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, the Princesses don’t go around doing things for ponies directly on a daily basis, they’re usually overseeing things. Still, that still sounds like more than your gods do anyway.” He caught himself over the bluntness, but figured Amanda of all people wouldn’t care. “But isn’t it true that they used to do more work in your world? That’s what Giovenith told me anyway, at least her family did. Why did they stop?”

--

Giovenith looked at her shoes and began to anxiously fold a bit of her paper in her hands.

“Let’s walk and talk,” Toola urged gently, nudging her new friend forward. As they went she intermittently looked suspiciously between the godling and the wizard, not sure what role the latter may have played in the former’s grief. Probably not too big since Giovenith had allowed him along, but still. Toola felt determined to protect the girl. “You can start anywhere, Gio. We don’t mind.”

The origami in Giovenith’s hands had begun to take on the shape of a little bear, but began to devolve into crinkles as her hands slowed and clenched tightly. “I thought about wearing a teddy bear clip in my hair, when I got that lying letter from the putti…” she said, her expression fallen and distant. “... I went with a ribbon and sparkle hairspray instead, and my nicest red pinafore dress. I just wanted to be a little bit pretty...”

Toola tilted her head thoughtfully. “I think that sounds very pretty,” she tried to encourage.

Giovenith shook her head. “It was stupid. It was just a trap by the putti, and they were right. I should have known that Marcus didn’t want to be with me anymore. I guess… I just wanted to believe he’d keep his promises.”

The hallway they went down turned into an open area centered by a large indoor water fountain beneath a sparkling crystal dome that let the sunlight in, lending the room a serene feeling. Toola Roola hopped atop the side of the fountain and leaned in to nuzzle Giovenith’s cheek.

“Is it a boy, is all?” she asked, believing the issue was solved. Young love was full of disappointment, but it was predictable.

“No, it’s not just that.” Giovenith shook her head and crossed her arms. “It’s actually the last part that convinced me.”

“Convinced you of what?”

“That I’m not lovable,” said the godling. “If it was just Marcus, I would understand. I know that these things don’t always work out, and I know that it’s natural for people to come and go from your life. But no matter who I meet, everyone leaves me, and nobody even tells me why. I care so much about them, but they just forget all about me, like a piece of junk in a drawer. I don’t want everyone I ever meet to stay with me, I’m not crazy, but…” Her thoughts trailed off. “I'm an okay friend for a time, maybe a nice memory. But when it comes down to it, I'm never part of anyone's main plans for life. And when I realized Marcus was gone, I realized that even the people who love me the most don’t love me enough.”

She bent up the paper bear and tossed it into the water, where it dissolved.

“I guess there's my family, but, well... it's not like we could leave each other even if we wanted to. The fabric of our nature prevents it.” Giovenith didn’t stop to explain what that even meant to Toola, but Toola was courteous enough not to ask. “And if people only seem to stick around you when they literally don't have a choice, that doesn't say much about you, does it? Maybe it seems selfish when we say it out loud, but I think everyone wants to believe that there are people who would choose to have us in our lives, just because they want us there and not because they have to... right? And that’s what I’ve been figuring out for a while now: Don't you want me to be there? Doesn't anyone want me to stay? I need to just accept that the answer to that is no."

Toola paused, considering all this. She was tempted to say that everypony felt like that sometimes, but she knew that that wasn’t always the most welcome comment, and really, she wasn’t sure if most people did feel exactly what Giovenith was feeling. It was easy to assume from words, it was another to understand what was going on inside.

“Do you really believe that?” she finally asked, lifting a foreleg in worry. “You seem like a lovable person to me.”

“I’m not a real person, Toola,” Giovenith answered simply with defeat, sitting on the fountain side. “I’m just an idea, literally. I wasn’t born as a slate that the world could write on like humans are, I was created to represent something and serve a purpose. So I’m not very deep, not very relatable… not very smart. It’s easy to see why people get tired of me, because people need complexity to really love someone — like the difference between your lifelong best friend and your favorite brand. And in my world, with the way things are going, I know that it’s a waste because people don’t really want or need things like me anymore. I’m outdated, like someone invented one of those corded telephones you strap to your belt from the nineteen-eighties, when we already have smartphones…” She gestured to her waist, demonstratively.

Toola glanced to the side, an Equestrian not understanding the technological analogy, but getting the point.

“Honestly, I’ve known that for a while,” Giovenith continued with a sigh. “And I knew that there were even people like Amanda who would prefer if things like me just didn’t exist at all, because they think we’re dangerous and useless. But I thought it didn’t matter, because I thought that people could still love me for me. That’s what Marcus said…”

‘And if you start to drown, I'll reach down and yank you back up again. You're too beautiful inside and out to be mistreated. You should be treasured, and not because you're a god. You're Giovenith, a sweet girl that cares about dragons and her friends.’

“... but I think it's pretty clear that if that were true, I wouldn't be in this situation.” Her eyes teared up again. “I tried my best to be a good friend and a good girlfriend, a good person, I really, really did… but I’m not. Nobody wants what I am, and nobody wants who I am. So what right do I have to be around, imposing myself on everybody? My mom offered me to the world and the world said no thank you. Bad, failed ideas should get thrown into the scrap bin. It took me a while, but I got the message... no more dangerous, useless god, and no more stupid, dull girl.”

She covered her face to hide the ugly process of her beginning to full-on cry. Toola hopped down the fountain and nuzzled close to her, growing teary-eyed herself.

“I’m so sorry, Gio,” she said.

Giovenith patted Toola’s head and wiped her eyes, gasping a bit. “I promised I would stay for as long as Willow still needed me. I love him so much, like a brother. I don’t think he’d leave me behind before he dies, but then I didn’t think Marcus would either. After that, I don’t want to keep trying to make this work… and I don’t want to deal with the rest of eternity either. I hate being immortal, I always have, and now I hate it more. If I go dormant and Sleep long enough, maybe I’ll Sleep through something eventually killing me millennia later, and I won’t have to be scared or hurt by it, it’ll just happen and I’ll finally be done like I should be.”
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:10 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
Crystal Empire, Equestria


Giovenith wrote:“I mean, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, the Princesses don’t go around doing things for ponies directly on a daily basis, they’re usually overseeing things. Still, that still sounds like more than your gods do anyway. […] But isn’t it true that they used to do more work in your world? That’s what Giovenith told me anyway, at least her family did. Why did they stop?”

"I don't know, Willow. I just don't." She closed the jar of the Balm, set it down on the table, picked up her tumbler of whiskey, and took a sip. "All I have to work from are a bunch of holy books which even smart kids know are wrong, and Sandy's professional opinion. Sandy's experiences, too."

"Did they do more? Three of the Olympians did more for Sandy in two days than the Prick did for anyone in the 30-odd years I grew up at home. Why'd they stop? Because the Prick's worshippers slaughtered their worshippers and smashed their shrines." Her voice had an edge that would cut steel. "Did the Prick ever do anything? Who the hell knows??

"Sandy thinks He must have at least hung out in the big temple in Jerusalem, because the Olympian shrines had – Sandy calls them 'auras' – in them, the way Cadance has an aura around her. That feeling of friendship, as though she'd been your best friend for years. His presence or absence would have been just as facially obvious.

"Talking to Jesus is on my agenda. Learning to speak His language is slow going. It was an unusual dialect in His time, and all but dead in mine. I found a few speakers in Galli, and the droid we'd liberated was a translator and an excellent teacher, but they're gone now. The Babblefish will let me talk to Him, but not like a local, and I have some questions for Him that He might not answer for just anyone.

"Jesus might have lived to be 40 before He died for our sins. Sandy is pretty sure Jesus must have worked some of the miracles attributed to Him, because supers would have been able to See His magic. Since then?" Amanda's shoulders lifted an inch in a weary shrug. "Nothing."

She took a deeper drink of her whiskey, then, recalling something Willow had said earlier, switched back to her more relaxed, playful posture and tone. "OK, no personal miracles every day here. The routine miracles aren't enough for you? Back home, the sun rises every morning because the Earth turns. Here, it's proof Celestia still likes you guys. What more do you want?"


Wandering the Halls

Sandy sat down on Giovenith's free side, and risked giving her a brief, one-armed hug. "That was a cruel trick the putti played, Giovenith, but it has nothing to do with either you or Marcus. We don't know what happened to Marcus. We don't know what happened to … any of the others. The Building emptied out, and then--" He raised his hands in confusion. "Everything was gone, and we ended up on the Beach. We don't know how or why."

"But I do know two things. At least two of the most loveable people here, if not the most loved, were also Created. And they also serve a purpose. They told me so.

"And if you'd never told me, it would have taken me a while to discover it. Until then, you'd just be the a very sweet Resident who welcomed two utterly baffled people to their new home. Amanda and I stay with you because we want your company, Giovenith. Yes, Amanda wants your company. That's why she worked out an agreement with you. It wasn't easy for her to do, but she did it anyway.

"The other thing I know is that however long you Sleep, you'll find me waiting for you when you Wake." Sandy gave her a warm smile. "Yes, I'll be there. You'll see. Friendship is a patient thing, and I have nothing ahead of me but time."

[OOC: "His presence or absence would have been just as facially obvious." Amanda means obvious at first glance. She's using 'facially' in a legal sense, as in prima facie.]
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:08 pm

Willow rolled his eyes good-naturedly and took another sip from his drink. "Believe me, after a few years of having to constantly look to a glowing box as to whether or not the sky was going to randomly kill me that day, Equestria definitely has more than enough miracles for me." He squinted in thought. "Jee-zuz? Yeah, I've heard him mentioned a few times. If he's a fully grown god though, do you even need to learn his language? Can't he just like..." Willow made a twirling magical gesture with his hoof. "... speak everything with his superpowers or something?"

He considered something, looking towards the door where Giovenith and the others had left with a brief sad glance.

"Or, I don't know," he said, scratching his head with a wing awkwardly. "Is it possible that they may have stopped showing up because you guys don't really want them anymore? I mean, you said that Sandy's gods stopped showing up after their followers were killed, so after there was no one left around for them. Your world is getting less religious in general, right? Did you become less religious because they left you, or did they leave because you became less religious?" He tilted his head. "Bit of an egg and chicken scenario. But I've always figured your gods really shot themselves in the foot by hanging out in other dimensions instead of hanging out in the capital like the princesses, so maybe they just had an unsustainable business plan."

--

Giovenith sniffed and used her sleeves to wipe her face as best she could, taking a deep breath.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I do appreciate it, I do. But, it's hard to believe something like that right now... I've already heard so many similar promises from lots of different people."

Toola Roola sniffed and took on a look of determination. She perked up with a smile. "Can I tell you a little something, Gio? It might help."

Giovenith blinked, a little surprised. "Sure."

"You know what cutie marks are, right?" She gestured to her flank, which sported a mark of a paint brush creating a purple spiral.

Giovenith nodded. "They appear on you when you self-realize as kids."

"When I was a little filly, I was raised by only my mother in Baltimare city," Toola explained. "I didn't have a dad or any other relatives, and my mom worked late nights as a nurse, so she usually had me watched by the elderly ponies from the home she worked with. There weren't any other kids in my neighborhood, so I only had them to call my friends. They taught me and shared so much with me..." She gave a big smile. "... but, they were all very old, so a lot of the time, I wound up losing my friends often too."

"I'm sorry..."

"It's okay, it's part of life," she said. "But it did make me feel very lonely sometimes, and like I didn't have anywhere else to go. Plus the old ponies couldn't always keep up with me, so sometimes I was mostly on my own while they napped anyway." She chuckled and rubbed her head at this. "Me and my mom lived in an apartment right next to the beach, and every day, I would go out on the sand after everypony else had left and watch the sunset." Toola seemed to grow distant and starry-eyed at this memory. "It was my favorite time of day, all of the pink, orange, red, and purple bleeding through the heavens — it was like being awash with perfect power combined with perfect gentility. The day is ending with a triumph, and it promises it will be back tomorrow."

Giovenith noted that this wasn't unlike Toola Roola herself, with her pink coat and rainbow of pink, orange, yellow, and purple mane and tail, and the loud, confident warmth she exuded in everything she did. It reminded her a bit of Willow and his aquarium, children enlightened by the spirit of the colors around them.

"And one day, it all clicked and made sense to me!" Toola exclaimed, holding up a hoof. "An epiphany! The sun supports the Earth with its warmth all on its own, and Princess Celestia is the embodiment of the sun, and she takes care of Equestria all on her own... or at least she did at the time. And both were just like how my mom took care of me all on her own. I was the product of so many strong forces at once — of my mother, of the sun, of my Princess. Everything is connected!" She made an excited swirling motion with her hoof to demonstrate. "And I knew that the way to honor all of it was to be the best I could be, no matter what. I want to burn through history radiant and strong, to affirm what a daughter of my universe looks like. I want ponies to see me and know that the power of all those things is undeniable!"

The godling was taken aback by the intensity of these words. "So, what does that have to do with your cutie mark?"

"I wanted to show my mom the sunset because she was never home on time to see it," said Toola. "But I could never get our camera to make the beauty come out right, so I painted the sunset with my watercolors myself, and she loved it. That was my first act of triumph in my dedication."

"So, what are you saying?" Giovenith ventured after a pause.

Toola gently nudged her new friend. "I'm saying that I can't promise we'll always be together forever, but that I think you shouldn't need me to. I think there's nothing wrong with continuing on just to prove how great you are!"

"Hm." Giovenith looked down, still uncertain. "That's it though, I don't know if I really am great or not..."

"Sandy thinks so," Toola pointed out, pointing to the wizard. "And so do I! But that doesn't even matter, all that matters if that you believe that you're great."

"That seems hard at this point..."

"Then I'll teach you!" The pony beamed in pride. "Nopony is as good at feeling great than me."
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:42 pm

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Giovenith wrote:Willow [...] said, scratching his head with a wing awkwardly. "Is it possible that they may have stopped showing up because you guys don't really want them anymore? I mean, you said that Sandy's gods stopped showing up after their followers were killed, so after there was no one left around for them."

Amanda laughed at Willow's suggestion. "Sandy's gods? You heard what he said the other day: he wants to tame them. One of Earth's most troublesome pantheons, and he wants them as teachers." Her tone remained amused throughout. "I suppose they're 'his' in that he's got some strange connection to them, but unless they explain themselves, they're not really his, and he's not really theirs."

She paused to take a sip, then resumed in a serious vein. "But you hit a couple of good points. The useful thing the Prick did in Galli was a memorial parade for a battle 75 years ago. Several of Earth's religions talk about battles between good and evil. The D-Day landings are as close as we've come: the Allies, fighting for democracy, landed to liberate France from the Nazis, who were cruel and murderous.

"The people in the parade were ghosts or spirits of the Allied soldiers who died then, thousands of them. Only a god could return them from death, and since most of them were Christians or Jews, at least in name, that has to be the Prick's work.

"Sandy found some doctors and medics among them. A few of them recognized the Balm by its biblical name, its Hebrew name. One asked if Sandy was a saint, because he had the Balm. I've been thinking about that, off and on, ever since. Sandy and I agree about the implication: the Prick still answers some of the Jews' prayers, and does something for them helps them make or get the Balm. But only saints' prayers.

"There have been other Jewish saints the Prick has helped. One of them made a golem – the Golem – with the Prick's help.

"The Prick's relationship with the Jews is contractual: you guys do this long list of things, and I'll do these things for you. Are His saints the only ones fulfilling their part of the bargain? That's your point: did He leave us, or did we leave Him? Maybe we left Him: there's a contract, but we're not doing what we agreed. The Bible is full of prophets telling the Jews to uphold their side of the bargain.

"Then, Jesus came to renegotiate, bringing us a new set of terms. I'd like to find out what they are, find out if we're doing what He wants.

"That brings up your other point: we don't know when Jesus became a god. He may have have grown up, like Giovenith is doing. So, we're going with only what we know about Him: He spoke Aramaic, and probably spoke some Greek.


Fountain

Giovenith wrote:"Nopony is as good at feeling great than me."

That brought a smile to Sandy's face, and amusement to his voice. "That is certainly true! You're even better at feeling great than Celestia is." Let her chew on that, if she realizes what it means.

He turned to the godling, still sounding upbeat. "I agree that you should do what you're good at, and let people come to you once they see how good you are.

"There are few mortals who can match your skill with magic or art... and I mean that to include over the period I study, so about the last three thousand years. People come to you because you're kind and considerate, too. Sure, some will go away again, but nothing can be done about that. Keep the ones who stay and keep moving forward. That's what I've been doing, and it seems to work for me."
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:17 pm

Willow laughed a little at the thought of Sandy 'taming' the Olympians. "That'll be something," he remarked. "Gio's just a baby god, and she gives me enough trouble as it is. Tell him he can practice by trying to convince her to not play that rigged carnival game, no matter how badly she wants to win that fluffy rainbow platypus plush. If he can manage that, he take anything."

It wasn't the first time Willow had heard reference to a group called the 'the Not-Sees,' though he still had very little context as to what they even were. Part of him didn't really want to know, as he had already been sufficiently horrified by things that the humans themselves apparently didn't consider all that terrible, so who knew how bad something they did regret would be?

"A saint is someone who works for your god and lives by their rules?" he asked, trying to grapple with the concept. "But, you usually believe that all of your people follow their rules, but apparently that's not the case? Seems confusing. And honestly, pretty dickish. If he doesn't like the way you're doing things, why doesn't he just tell you instead of being passive aggressive about it?" Willow paused and thought about it. "Then again, Gio doesn't exactly wear what she is on her sleeve in public usually either. Maybe Jee-zuz is following something similar? I guess you're right that all you can really do is try to find him and ask. If you need any help, I'd be glad to."

Searching through his memory for any talks about this he had had with Giovenith, something caught his attention.

"Giovenith told me about another big war once, I think it had to do with Sandy's... people, that he's looking for, I guess," said Willow. "It was one of the first things we talked about, actually." And so he explained the conversation he and his roommate had had after she had rescued him from that evil confetti machine. "Would he know anything about that?"

--

Toola gave Sandy an ambiguous smile as she cheerfully blew a bubble with her chewing gum. It was very certain and unperturbed, as her expressions often were, though it was unclear if this was due to his implication flying over her head or if she was smugly rejecting it outright. She popped the bubble with a fierce bite.

"Only through her grace," she chided the wizard in a whispy, amused tone, with half-lidded eyes.

Giovenith seemed oblivious to this subtle snark and looked back and forth between Toola and Sandy, deep in thought.

"So..." she said, looking down as the gears worked in her head. "You think I should be more empowered, and take more charge to do what I want in life?" She pointed at Toola.

"Exactly, sister!" the pony winked.

"And you," she pointed at Sandy. "Said that we don't know why Marcus left, so we don't know that it's my fault. And that my skills are strong. So that means..." Her eyes widened, and she suddenly sat up with a gasp. "I should go look for him!"

"What?" Even Toola had to wrinkle her brow in confusion and concern at this point. She flicked a look towards Sandy. "Um, Gio, I don't really think that's what we-"

"It's so obvious!" Giovenith had made a 180 and was lighting up with excitement as she ranted and paced in front of them. "I can't believe I didn't think of it before. You guys are right, I've been spending too much time moping around when I could be making things right."

"Sandy said to let ponies come to you." Toola pointed out, folding her ears.

"Well, I will!" Giovenith turned around on her heel to face them, holding up her hands reassuringly. "But like, if he really didn't mean to leave me, then he must be looking for me, and he already found me once. So at the very least, I should make it easier if that is the case!" She smiled. "And it won't be the case if I just stay all sad and invisible. So if I work on myself and become great regardless, then there's a chance we could meet again!" She threw her arms up to the skylight in triumph. "It's a win, win-win situation, you see? Either I win by becoming better even if Marcus never comes back — which he will — or it's a win-win when during our adventures and travels, we meet again!"

Toola considered this. "Well, that is a lot of hoop-jumping logic, and I think you kind of came to the opposite conclusion of some of what we were trying to say..." She perked up with a grin. "But it seems to have made you happier, and I love a winning strategy! Let's do it!"

"Yeah!" Giovenith cheered, pumping a fist.

"Yeah!" Toola cheered, pumping a hoof.

They both stood there for a few seconds, pumping their forelimbs in the air with spirited determination while chanting, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

Suddenly Willow's warning about Toola not doing anything stupid with Giovenith made a little more sense.

"Let's go tell Willow and Amanda all about it!" Giovenith cheered, prompting to the two of them to get up and start hurdling back down the hall, still pumped. Along the way, the godling began to share her quickly forming disparate plans for the future. "I think first, I'm going to start finally working on my pocket dimension," she explained. "My mom said I could have the same one that I was born in, and I think Princess Cadance has it right, you really need your own base of operations for what you want to do in life."

"I'm not sure what a pocket dimension is," Toola remarked, trotting along. "But I agree with the sentiment!"

"Oh, wait a minute," Giovenith suddenly stopped, motioning for the two of them to slow down. "I was kind of wondering this for a while, but I forgot to ask till now." She paused for a moment, seeming to second guess her own thought before leaning down and asking: "Toola, why don't you and Willow get along?"

Toola seemed taken aback by this question. She blinked, before lifting a foreleg and folding her ears in hesitation. "I mean, why do you ask?"

"You seem so nice," said the humanoid. "And Willow is a nice person too, so I don't see why he wouldn't be okay with you."

Toola frowned and gave a sidelong glance. "I don't know Gio, I didn't want to say anything since you said you love him like a brother..."

"It's okay, you can be honest with me."

"Well, I kinda don't see how somepony as nice as you could even be that close to him. He's so..." She searched for the words. "... nasty, and stuck up. At least from what I've seen, no offense. Every time we work around each other, all he ever does is criticize me and looks for excuses to be a downer. I think he's one of those art ponies who thinks hating stuff makes them smart and cool, and I'm just not about that."

"What?" Giovenith's eyes widened. "When did he act like that?"

"Since the day we met," Toola declared...


    Princess Celestia, in all her infinite wisdom and magnificent glory, had once again performed the ultimate miracle of giving the entire yet another day! And best of all, it wasn't just any day, but it was the day of the Canterlot Young Artists' exhibit, the biggest, most important, most hard-to-get-into show for inspired young ponies in all of Equestria. Admittedly, a lot of the ponies get there because of some connection or two, but not Toola Roola, who bounded into the ballroom like a ball of sunshine, ready to seize the day.

    "Wowee, I can't believe I'm here!" said the young, future piece of art history. She was dressed to shine, decked in a very tasteful hair ribbon and ladybug-printed boots that made her look as cute and innocent as a button on a baby's blouse. "I did work so very hard to get accepted into this show on my own merits and nothing more, certainly not a hint of nepotism. And I also baked these delicious cookies..."

    She held out a prim package of cookies, each perfectly shaped and frosted, neatly wrapped in a bow.

    "... to generously share with my soon-to-be colleagues. I put my sweat, blood, and tears into them just like I do in every painting that I create. Here I go!"

    And so she made her way around the ballroom, doing her best to put a smile on everypony's face.

    "Good morning!" greeted Toola. "I love what you've done with this piece. I hope we'll get to be friends! You seem so talented."

    "Why thank you Miss Roola," said the pony, delighted her presence. "As might I say, I've never seen anypony put as much passion as you have into your Imperial series. I don't think it's an exaggeration when I say that you will redefine the art world someday."

    Toola teared up and sniffled. "That's so kind of you to say. I only hope to believe in myself as much as you clearly believe in me!"

    And then they hugged. But suddenly, there was a commotion by the window, and Toola soon saw one of the shutters open and a long, red carpet unravel outward, followed quickly by several ponies setting up velvet ropes to keep away the crowd, and loud, important-sounding trumpets. She gasped. What was happening?

    "Presenting, the great tennis champion, Sapphire Striker!" said an announcer pony next to the red carpet.

    Down the red carpet came a very important-looking pegasus mare, who was soon seized upon by scores of Canterlot fans, since rich ponies loved tennis so much. Shortly off to her side, outside the gathered crowd, was a very, very, very, very, very, very short stallion, with long black hair that drooped over his eye dramatically, thick black make-up that lined an unimpressed expression, wearing a black version of an uptight, fancy schoolboy uniform. He looked around the crowd and sniff the air, disdainfully.

    "Oh my goodness gracious!" Toola Roola cheered, seeing the boy. He appeared about 14, which was how old she was. They must have been two of the youngest ponies there. "Yet another pony to show unconditional kindness to."

    She trotted over to the young stallion, smiled, and offered her box of cookies.

    "Good afternoon," she said, smiling. "My name is Toola Roola, would you like a snack?"

    "Ugh!" Willow Streaks recoiled in disgust as soon as he saw the cookie box. "No way, get those out of my face!" He snapped a foreleg out, smacking the box out of her hooves and sending it scattering across the floor.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry," Toola blinked, confused. "Are you allergic to something inside them or something?"

    "I only eat food that my family had prepared for me," he said, checking his hoof to make sure there were no crumbs on it. "Because I'm rich. Now get away from me, don't you see that I have a very famous mother who is trying to sell my art for me?"

    "You're part of the show too?" Toola smiled. "So am I. Perhaps we could be friends?"

    Willow snorted, flipping his emo locks. "I've got better things to do than be friends with a peasant."

    "Oh come on, don't be like that. Why don't you show me your art?"

    He huffed, and gestured to a nearby abstract piece, which was done in even more violent splatters of dark paint. Everything about him was dark, dark, dark, and he was also really short too.

    "I appreciate it even though I don't groove with the style," said Toola, politely. "That shape though, if you look at it at a certain angle, it kind of seems like a birdhouse. Funny how our minds create shapes, isn't it?"

    Willow Streaks gasped, drawing back. "How dare you! It's not a birdhouse!"

    "I know, that's not what-"

    "Don't you dare have incorrect interpretations of my pieces!!"

    "Whoa, whoa," Toola held a hoof out. "I'm sorry, okay. Look, you may be acting like an unreasonable lunatic right now, but that's no reason that we can't salvage this relationship. See that?"

    She pointed to what appeared to be a swing set covered in soft pillows, cushions, and bubble wrap.

    "It's called a kinetic art piece," she explained. "It's designed to be physically interacted with as part of the experience. We could try it out."

    "Absolutely not," huffed Willow, twitching his ears. "I'm too dark and brooding to be playing on some ride like a baby."

    Suddenly, some pretentious Canterlite prick waltzed up. "Hey there degenerates," he greeted smugly. "I just got done painting my five millionth fruit bowl in a row because I don't have any other ideas outside of basic art school bullshit. What are you up to? Gawking at more lazy garbage?" He gestured to the kinetic piece. "Ha ha, I am so much better than you!"

    Toola glared at him. "Willow, maybe if we used the piece together, we could show that guy that he's wrong. Won't you, please? Although I don't want to be a bother."

    "UGH! FINE!" Willow flew up to the piece, gently tapping at one of its cushioned swings curiously. It swung backward, came back forward, and bumped into him slightly, sending him backing up into a small drinking fountain nearby and slightly spraying his shoulder with the water. He gasped at the wet spot. "LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE!"

    "I am so sorry, Willow!" Toola gasped, full of remorse. She cantered up to him quickly, pulling out a handkerchief to offer. "I didn't mean to get such a tiny, insignificant spray of water on you. Please, let me..."

    "NO!" the over dramatic pegasus screamed at her. "I NEVER WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU EVER AGAIN! FROM NOW ON, WE ARE SWORN ENEMIES!" Then he ran off in a blind rage and, not looking where he was going, found himself tumbling straight through the canvas of a large impressionist piece.

    Toola gasped.

Toola nodded solemnly.

Giovenith stared back at her, frozen, before sucking in her lips and placing the palms of her hands together. She gave a polite smile. "Are you sure that's what happened?" she inquired, voice pitching upward incredulously. "Because, that doesn't sound like something Willow would do."

"Well, that's my truth," Toola insisted, holding a hoof close to her chest. "Like I said, if you feel like he's nice to you, that's great! But, if you really want to know why we just don't jive, then there you go."

"Fair enough..." Giovenith rubbed her arm. "I guess I wasn't there either, so I can't say. Would you mind if I asked him about it later, though?"

"If you want to, but I wouldn't expect much different." Toola sniffed, indignant. "He knows what he did."

On that note, they finally made it back to the suite and knocked at the door.
Last edited by Giovenith on Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:36 pm

Suite, Cadance's Bar, Grill, and Crystal Spa
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Giovenith wrote:"A saint is someone who works for your god and lives by their rules?" he asked, trying to grapple with the concept. "But, you usually believe that all of your people follow their rules, but apparently that's not the case? Seems confusing. And honestly, pretty dickish.

Amanda flashed him a wicked smile. "Now you start to see why He's always 'the Prick'.

She switched from sipping whiskey to sipping soup, and leaned back before trying to explain sainthood. "Sure, saints live lives devoted to their god's teachings. And yes, a lot of people believe they're doing the Prick's work, but many of them are just self-righteous.

"Real saints also are good people who help other people. That's the key, since according to Sandy, almost nobody in our time has divine help. The exceptions were all supers: Sandy, who has Pegasus on loan; Susan, a Daughter of Pandora; Remy, who Sandy thinks may have been a priest of a death god, and a couple of others we knew. And it looks like a Jew or two."


Fountain

Giovenith wrote:"Only through her grace," [Toola] chided the wizard in a whispy, amused tone, with half-lidded eyes.
Sandy's visible response started with a raised eyebrow and a wry curl to one corner of his mouth. "It seems there are some universal laws." Against stupidity, even the gods are powerless.

He looked away, thinking. Would any of the Princesses help her to know the limits of cheerfulness and confidence? Celestia helped Twilight on the path to godhood, but was she a special— He looked up to realize the other two had started down the hall.

Giovenith wrote:"I think first, I'm going to start finally working on my pocket dimension," [Giovenith said, hurtling down the hall.]

"I'm not sure what a pocket dimension is," Toola remarked, trotting along. "But I agree with the sentiment!"

Sandy momentarily tried to catch up with the two of them, but lacked both Giovenith’s youthful exuberance and Toola’s abundance of legs. However, he had an easy solution to the latter problem, and after a few seconds’ Greek chanting and a few more seconds’ thunderous galloping, easily caught up with them. He returned to human form after overhauling them by a few yards.

“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Or, at least, not too far ahead of me.” He smiled at his own wordplay. “I, um, think you should focus on things you can control. So… do you control this pocket dimension? Can you get there under your own power?”

Giovenith looked to him. "I mean, not right this second, but if I ask my mom for it and she gives it to me I'll be able to. I can only travel into my family's spaces through reflection magic right now though, it will be a long time before I can just teleport anywhere at will."

Toola nodded. "I have unicorn friends who say teleporting takes a lot of hard work and study."

Sandy’s eyebrows shot up at the mention of mirror teleportation. “That is a rare gift! There are rumors of spells that do that where we’re from, but nobody we knew had them.

“So, perhaps you should work on getting to the pocket dimension first. There’s little point in having a base of operations if you can’t reach it when you need it.”

"It's not all that useful," said Giovenith, looking ahead. "I can enter into our space through any reflection, but I can only come out either through the same reflection or through a blessed reflection somewhere else. I guess it's good when you want a quick escape from a situation though. Anyway, I can probably give my mom a call about it when we get home, I owe her some quality time to begin with." She became sad for a moment again. "She'll be disappointed that she didn't get to meet Marcus right away, but hopefully I can fix that soon. I hope Arith doesn't judge him."

"Who's Arith?" Toola asked.

"My older sister. She slightly doesn't like men."

"Men?"

"Stallions."

"Oh, why?"

"Because she's really, really, really old."

"Old fashioned relatives can be unfortunate," Toola agreed.

Giovenith didn't feel like explaining the long history behind why being old-fashioned isn't what she meant. "Well, regardless, I'll probably have to think of a more convenient way to go to the dimension at will. I can carry mirrors in my pockets, but even then it'd be a bit of a pain to pull the whole thing out every time."

Sandy nodded along as she spoke. “That seems like a good first step, then. And in the longer term, to track down a person who could be lost anywhere, you’ll need to master teleportation.” He paused for a moment, then cocked his head to look at her. “I might be able to help you with that. I know... something about the subject. If you want help, that is.”


Suite, Redux

Sandy pushed the door open, and was all but run over by Giovenith and Toola, bursting to tell Willow about their plan. But Willow started in with a long question about the Trojan War.

Sandy listened to Willow's description for a little while, then raised a hand to cut him off. He spoke slowly and gently. "All of Earth's ancient texts should be read with due care. Their authors or compilers mixed fact and fiction, either because they couldn't distinguish between them, or because they didn't care to. They shouldn't be necessarily taken as entirely factual, unless confirmed by other sources, like, uh, archeological evidence, or independent texts.

"That story, the Illiad, discusses events over three thousand years before my time, and unlike Equestria, we don't have written records for most of that time, much less living memory. Sometime after the events described in the Illiad, the Mycenaeans – the 'Greek' side... Paris and Odysseus... and Agamemnon – suffered a dark age so deep that they lost their written language. The texts we have of the Illiad today – we have several versions – record the same language, but in an entirely different way.

"Our best evidence says there was a Trojan War. Troy – now known by another name – was..." Sandy waved his hands, trying to come up with a word for for something large. "...extensively damaged at roughly the right time, and it appears the Mycenaeans were the ones who did it. The Catalog of Ships is very likely entirely factual, or close to it, and many of the names given seem to indicate historical people. But beyond that--"

Sandy paused to shake his head vigorously. "We can't say who did what to whom with any certainty, much less confirm the presence of the Olympians. The episode with the Apple of Discord may have been invented long after the fact... maybe to explain the causes of the war, maybe to, ummm, shift blame for an expensive and fruitless campaign. Or it may be factual. We don't yet have any way of knowing."
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:10 am

Willow was caught off guard by the sudden return of Giovenith, but smiled indulgently up at her as she chattered about her new ideas for all the cool things that were going to go into her pocket dimension, like a child planning the layout of their dream bedroom. Though he continued to smile through it all, the smile itself shifted the further he took in her enthusiasm — starting as polite neutrality, and then slowly upturning into a clearer, brighter, more sincere joy, like that of seeing a long-awaited ship finally cross over the horizon. He was happy, truly happy, to see her happy.

Toola observed this, critically and suspiciously, from a distance. She had expected Willow Streaks to patronize Giovenith, as he often did with others, and remained vigilant in case he did something to bruise her new friend's already vulnerable sense of hope. It wouldn't be out of character for him to do something like that. Like many pretenders, Streaks confused pessimissism with depth, and he spared no opportunity to signal his self-perceived radicality with that mode of thinking. So it came as an admitted surprise to read the opposite reaction from him. She didn't actually think she could remember ever seeing him smile that way at all, genuine and free of smugness.

Apparently sensing her gaze, Willow suddenly flicked his gaze away from Giovenith and towards Toola, expression instantly hardening into one of intense unwelcoming. Toola could tell he was wondering why she was still here. Why she was still stealing the attention of his humans. He should have known better than to think she'd ever give a damn about his dirty looks.

Irritating little gnome, she thought. Honestly, she couldn't say she didn't understand, she'd have much preferred to have Giovenith to herself without ever having to tolerate his presence too. She didn't see why she couldn't, undeserving as he was of Giovenith's companionship. But that was for Giovenith to decide alone, mysterious as her reasoning may be — perhaps it was more a testament to the hyoo-mun's kindness, that she was so full of tolerance for somepony like him. Toola admired that quality.

"Well, I do love being with you again, Gio." She moved in to hug the godling. "But I think my work here is done for now."

But you didn't do anything, Willow wanted to add, but knew better.

"We will keep in touch." She smiled and headed for the door, taking a moment to stare at Sandy with a slight knowing smile. "And it was nice meeting you too, Mister Sandy. Shame we didn't get to talk about magical things today — maybe next time." And she took her leave.

This all occurred in a minute before Willow's attention was stolen by Sandy, who listened patiently to what little additional information the wizard could give about the Earthen events briefly discussed.

He blinked and took a moment to sort. "I guess I get that, especially now after everything. It's easy to look at the way history is taught and assume we've got the gist of everything, but really, so much happens in such a short amount of time when nopony is really paying attention. And sometimes when we just don't want to remember."

That last sentence would ring familiar to Sandy, recalling Celestia's own words about the lost names of the Old Country and Cadance's description of the pageant the Equestrians held every year in place of them.

"I don't know," said Willow, ruffling his wings thoughtfully. "I've always tried to value the truth as much as possible in my life, but I guess it's easier to hold onto that principle when you're not the one being hurt by it. Maybe if I ever hurt people like that, I'd want to believe that it was people in the sky who made me do it too, instead of blaming myself."

"You would never hurt people like that at all, though." Giovenith pointed out.

"No," Willow agreed. "But then that's because I'm the sort that gets hurt and forgotten to begin with." He looked at Sandy. "If it all is true though, with the gods I mean, why would you even want to speak to those people? I don't think that level of hurt can be forgiven, and it's not like you can punish them. If they've already packed themselves away and stopped fucking with the world, why would you want to drag them up again?" He paused briefly, considering something. "Why not let them be forgotten like most of their victims were?"
Last edited by Giovenith on Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Northwest Slobovia » Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:20 pm

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Giovenith wrote:Willow was caught off guard by the sudden return of Giovenith, but smiled indulgently up at her as she chattered about her new ideas for all the cool things that were going to go into her pocket dimension[...] He was happy, truly happy, to see her happy.

Amanda's eyes moved from Giovenith to Willow and back again before she looked up to her husband with a cock of the head: really?

Sandy held the thumb and forefinger of one hand a few inches apart while frowning and nodding his head: a little. He switched to a thumbs up, and Amanda joined Willow at smiling at the goddess-child. She had one of those of her own: full of elaborate plans just beyond his reach.

Giovenith wrote:He blinked and took a moment to sort. "I guess I get that, especially now after everything. It's easy to look at the way history is taught and assume we've got the gist of everything, but really, so much happens in such a short amount of time when nopony is really paying attention. And sometimes when we just don't want to remember."


"If it's any consolation, Willow," Amanda broke into the conversation. "There are many people and nations who'd rather forget their past, or blame it on somebody else."

Giovenith wrote:He looked at Sandy. "If it all is true though, with the gods I mean, why would you even want to speak to those people? I don't think that level of hurt can be forgiven, and it's not like you can punish them. […] Why not let them be forgotten like most of their victims were?"

"That's a big if, Willow! But all right, let's grant it for sake of discussion." Sandy's face twisted into an unreadable expression as he crossed from behind Giovenith and Toola to retake his seat by his wife. "And 'the gods'??" He seemed faintly amused by the notion. "Let's stick to the Illiad. That's the Olympians, and specifically, the dodecatheon minus the, ummm, agricultural gods, plus Eris and... a few others. That's not-- That already leaves out most of the pantheon."

"But it's all the big bosses, dear." Amanda poked him with a finger. "Ocho said they can be sued." A strange expression came to her face. "Who's their counsel?"

"Probably Themis, the titane of divine justice."

Amanda shook her head. "No dice, not against somebody with Foresight. No, wait... her kids are Justice and Order, right?"

"And Eirene, Peace."

"Oh! Piece of cake. She'd know I wouldn't let go of that bunch until I got justice, and if her kids are personifications of law and order..." She looked to Sandy for confirmation, but he shrugged and frowned so deeply he looked like a frog. "Right, I'll take that as close enough. She'd advise the Olympians to cop a plea and we'd settle over lunch. So, what do you want from them?"

Sandy gave her a dirty look, an angry scowl full of annoyance. "You know better." He turned back to Willow, and took a breath, trying to refocus. "Nor would I forgive them. But they can make it right. And they can see that they should. Well, in principle they could see they should; they do have free will. And I'd rather they use it."

He made a conversational gesture to Willow. "They're a pantheon, a creator pantheon at that: they can make things right."

"Relief in equity."

Sandy shot her another irritated glance and went on. "They can undo what they've done. They can revive the dead, heal them, uhhh... set them up to survive the modern world. If nothing else, they can-- Sending their victims to Elysion is a big step in the right direction."

He waved the whole line of reasoning away. "But that's why I want the Muses, and maybe the Graces. The ones who have little blood on their hands, and much-- And they've done much more to-- Done far more to balance that out."
Last edited by Northwest Slobovia on Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Giovenith » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:30 am

"So you want to make them make up for what they've done?" Willow raised an eye and tilted his mouth, doubtful. "I mean, I guess I don't disagree in principle, but it's already difficult enough to make regular bad people try to make up for the bad things they did. And they don't strike me as having a lot of..." He searched for the right word. "... perspective."

"I mean," Giovenith dared to pipe up. "You gotta think though, everyone's perspective is limited. They did bad things back then, but then again, so did regular people. Regular people know better now, so maybe they do too. People change their minds over time."

"I'm guessing you don't have a lot of experience with the elderly," Willow stuck his tongue slightly out at her.

"Well, no. But Toola does!"

"My point exactly." He propped himself and booped her head affectionately with his snout. "And you're biased, because you're a good girl up to good things."

She nodded. "I'm going to find Marcus."

He drew back, looking surprised. "Oh, really?"

"Yes," she nodded, certain. "And we'll make our home in my pocket dimension, just like we promised."

Willow paused but then forced another smile at her. "And you're sure that will make you happy?"

She smiled even brighter than before. "If had to choose being being a god, or getting to be with Marcus, I would choose him every time. I'm very, very sure."

He nodded, though his folded ears betrayed his misgivings. He gave her a hug. "I just want you to always see yourself as smart, strong, and beautiful, no matter who thinks otherwise. If you think this is a step in the right direction, then I'll be there for you."

Giovenith hugged him back, but then perked as she remembered something. "Oh, um, Willow, can I ask you something?"

He froze up, hoping it wasn't more about his trip to the past. "S-Sure..."

She relayed everything that Toola had told him about the day they met. He went from concern to frustration.

"What?!" he snapped. He pulled at his lower eyelids and mane with a growl. "That fucking-" He stopped himself, not wanting to insult Giovenith's... ugh, new friend. "Okay look, no, that's not what happened. I'll tell you the real story."

    Trepidation and anticipation did not give way to relief on the day of the Canterlot Young Artists' exhibit, but rather a zing, an explosion, an epiphany, that time waited for nopony. Angel-headed hopes and dreams strangled the air, and yet Willow Streaks could breathe. Despite this, he, a young stallion who was only somewhat beneath average height, couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the significance of it all.

    "Mom?" he piped up, staying close to his dam as they entered from a very obscure window in the back so as not to draw too much attention. "I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you took me here."

    "It's not a problem at all," said Mom. "I may be introducing you to this show, but you still did the majority of the work by practicing and working extremely hard on your skills, which are something that you had to develop completely on your own because you had the misfortune of being born into a stupid fucking meathead jock culture who laughed at you and made you cry, not that you cry anymore, because you definitely don't. If anything, it's more impressive that you've gotten this far to begin with because of all that. Even if I wasn't your parent or an athletic superstar, you surely could have gotten into this show ALL ON YOUR OWN, without any help from anypony anyway, SO IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER!!!!"

    "You are so right, Mom," said Willow.

    "Incoming annoying wannabe socialite!" screeched an incoming annoying wannabe socialite, who immediately pushed Willow away and began grubbing for all of his mother's attention. "GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR ATTENTION!"

    The crowd of flashy idiots soon stole his mother away, leaving the very shy colt alone and scared in the cold ivory field of high culture. He didn't like talking to new ponies, they had a tendncy to be mean to him after all, he just wanted to stay close to his mom the whole show. He'd even dressed in a modest black t-shirt so as not to be so easily noticed. Suddenly though, he was aware of the sound of a crinkling bag, and specks of something being spewed at him. He turned around to find a pink girl, dressed like a bizarre cross between a fairy princess and a circus clown, loudly chewing a crinkly bag of snacks in his face.

    "Hi!" she cheered, spittling cookie crumbs all over his face.

    He winced, and brushed the saliva and food from his face. "Oh, hi..."

    "I'm Toola Roola!" she greeted, continuing to munch loudly on the cookies. CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH. "And I'm the best artist in this whole show! Probably the entire universe! I'm so special and wonderful and ZANY! Lookit me go!" CRUNCH CRUNCH. "Want some?" She offered the cookies.

    Willow cringed at the mesh of crumbs and drool and politely waved them off. "Oh, that's really generous of you, but my dad already packed me a lunch." He nervously glanced around, offput by the strangeness of the filly. "Um, well, nice to meet you, but I gotta go find my mom..."

    "No, no!" The girl squealed, suddenly dropping her cookie bag and snuggling up to him. "Stay with me! Let's be the bestest friends in the entire universe!"

    He tried to gently push her away. "No, I don't mean to come across as rude, but I really would rather be on my own for now. Please let go of me."

    "No!"

    "Please?"

    "No!"

    "I've already asked you so calm and rationally, and now you've crossed the line into the technical legal definition of assault."

    "Let's go look at your art!" she declared, ignoring his valid point.

    "Well okay, but only if you let me go."

    And so they made their way over to his painting, which was a tasteful, medium-sized, Tates-style abstract expressionist composition of balanced charcoal, ebony, and a light Charleston green sillhouetted against a bold yet not at all audacious dark indigo.

    "I know I'm not perfect yet, but I did my best," said Willow.

    "Wow, you made a birdhouse?" Toola asked, sliding her filthy, frosting covered hooves all around the edges of the painting.

    "What? No, of course not." Willow was annoyed. "And stop touching it."

    "You did too, it's a birdhouse!"

    "No, it's not."

    "Is too!"

    "No it's not!"

    "UGH, you're so boring," Toola groaned, adjusting her stupid little tutu and rolling her eyes condescendingly. "We need some excitement here, some danger!"

    "It's an art show, it's not supposed to be dangerous," Willow pointed out.

    "Then what about that over there?" She propped her cheeks up with her hooves, gave a simpering look, and pointed at something in the corner. He followed her hoof to find what appeared to be a grinding wooden death trap installed in the wall, some kind of kinetic piece that made use of wildly spinning wooden poles that would probably knock their teeth out the second they got close. "Let's go play on it without the owner's permission and hurt ourselves!"

    "No!" Willow protested, horrified. "Please don't go anywhere near that thing at all, I don't want you to get hurt even though I hate you because I'm a good person."

    Suddenly, some pretentious Canterlite prick waltzed up. "Hey there degenerates," he greeted smugly. "I just got done painting my five millionth fruit bowl in a row because I don't have any other ideas outside of basic art school bullshit. What are you up to? Gawking at more lazy garbage?" He gestured to the kinetic piece. "Ha ha, I am so much better than you!"

    "What?!" Toola suddenly became enraged and charged for the stallion, but Willow stopped her. "Fight me now, you boring gelding!"

    "Toola no, violence is not the answer despite what my mom says- AH!" Willow struggled as the young mare suddenly lifted him off the ground in the middle of her rage. He tried to fly away, but her grip was too tight.

    "Taaaaaaaaaaake THAT!"

    Toola threw him at the unicorn, who dodged, and Willow went tumbling with a huge splash into a nearby large, decorative water fountain. The water shocked up and he scrambled to get to the surface, where upon he coughed and choked for air. He was soaked to the bone!

    "What is wrong with you?!" he screamed in frustration towards Toola Roola.

    "Psssh, wow, stop being so sensitive," she rolled her eyes. "Don't you know that the magic stars or like quantum rainbow lightbeams or whatever stupid crap it is I believe says that everypony gets what they deserve? I can pretty much do whatever I want because the universe lets me. Knowing that makes me better than everypony too, so get used to it, pretty boy!"

    Willow sobbed.

"Wait, why did you sob at the end if you said you didn't cry anymore in the beginning?" Giovenith asked, confused at the continuity in his story.

"Look, it doesn't matter," Willow dismissed. "I'm just saying that now you know the truth."

"Toola said that her story was her truth."

"Gio," Willow smiled patiently, putting a hoof on her shoulder. "There's no such thing as a 'my truth,' there is only the truth. 'My truth' is just something that people who don't know what they're talking about say to not have to think about what actually happened."

The godling raised an eyebrow in doubt, no doubt questioning the fantastical elements in his own version of the story. Before she could question further, there was yet another knock on the door. Unlike the surprise visitor before though, they were answered with a spa employee.

"Mister Streaks," she greeted, politely. "Doctor Veranda is ready for you now."

Willow tensed, but knew that there wouldn't be any more procrastination today — he couldn't waste the Princess's generosity. Taking a deep breath, he turned to the others and smiled. "Well, I guess that's my cue," he said. "Wish me luck. I guess I'll see you in an hour or so." He then exited the suite with a thankful nod to the employee before turning down the hall towards his appointment.

The employee stayed behind. "I have also been instructed to guide the rest of you to whatever treatment or feature you'd like. Remember, all expenses paid."
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Postby Solisian Union » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:53 am

Domenica was surprised to listen to Amanda diss God and Jesus and the other important figures of the two largest religions in the Philippines. But she was right about having problems with them, as Domenica secretly agreed with what she said by gently nodding to herself. She, however, didn't expect this to go quite far. And she took note in her mind NOT to invite them to the Philippines if she ever came back home. Not especially as some people in her family were quite religious and did not take kindly to atheists. And to antitheists. And listening to her talk more and more about the stuff made her a little uncomfortable, sweating breaking over her forehead. She wiped that off of her face and kept quiet, listening instead, sometimes taking down notes.

She was also hoping that nobody would diss her for hiding what she really was, even though she was quite human.

But on and on she listened, noting the shift in tone, the bitter sarcasm.

And when Amanda finished speaking, after she apologize to Willow, Domenica said, "That was quite something. That kind of stuff would get you in a lot of trouble with my countrymen. I don't mind, but that was quite...yeah. Something. I agree somewhat. There are lots of problems with the religions in my country. Don't get me started on the cults."

She later turned again to listening. She was interested in the talk about calling for an abolitionist war. She should ask about it later. But for now, no. Listening was key.

And she was glad that she listened well to Amanda answer her, even when her face visibly cringed at having to deal with that sarcastic tone of hers. Why were Americans so easily given towards sarcasm? She shrugged at herself. At least it was more bearable than the plastic shit Filipinos pull on one another.

But that was nice. To hear about Sandy being that devoted to books. Still, that was risky. Even as a writer, as someone who was given toward literature and what not, that was quite something to do that may be worth less than human life.

And she would have been happy to keep her mouth shut for the rest of the time until Amanda said something about the other being a danger to everybody around them. And when that came around, Domenica let a strict frown appear on her face. That eventually went away, and she guessed that Amanda didn't mean Domenica but even she was not sure if that was the case or not.

For now, she listened again. At least she knew now about the Building. Though that was weird. Domenica was all too new to stuff about dimensions.

At least, new to it in the sense that she never thought she'd get through stuff like this and meet people like them.

She shared Sandy's concerns for Giovenith, but noticed how quickly the other did what she could, getting up and opening the door to welcome Toola. Wait, Toola?

At this, she stood up too to wave at Toola before sitting down again, listening as she relaxed, stretching limbs for a moment.

And to comment softly but offhandedly at Amanda, not getting the fact that the American wasn't actually dissing her, "It would probably be better to have no sects and pantheons. That way, maybe the bad stuff can happen for no reason except our own."

To hear about Thalia later on made Domenica curious. Again, more questions to ask, and more things to note down. And again, she actually did so, putting her hands to good work, paper exhausted with every line filling it up from top to bottom.

She didn't leave with Sandy, Toola, and Giovenith, but chose to stay behind with Willow and Sandy for now. But it did bring her a bit more cause to be concerned for their fellow companion. Because of this, she quietly dove into herself, thinking about Giovenith, pouring over her notes, ignoring the rest of the conversation and the rest of time as it all passed her by.

Though that thing about the Balm of Gilead caught her curiosity, it did not grab her attention for too long, and again she was lost in thought.

And so lost in thought was she that she only came back to reality when Giovenith returned. She listened to all, and observed all. Sometimes taking notes, but she eventually ran out of paper to write on. Frustrated, she sighed and put her stuff away, choosing to really just listen and wait for the time to get back into the conversation. First with questions, she planned, then with some comments, and probably talk later to Amanda about that dissing thing.

And one thing stuck: Gio was right about limited perspectives being for everyone.

At the end, she finally spoke, just before Willow left. "Can you tell me more about the abolitionist war? And what is this about the Balm of Gilead? How's progress toward getting it? And maybe tell me more about Thalia? I am interested."

Then to Gio, she smiled and said, "I remember what you said about peoples's perspectives being limited. That works very much in fiction as much as it does in reality."

And then finally back to Amanda, before waving farewell to Willow, she said, tone dangerously inquisitive, "Who's the person that's dangerous to everybody else?"
^_^

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