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Tincho hummed to himself as he trotted softly down the road. It was a cool morning. The nice coat he work keeping the chill away. He noted clouds in the distance. 'Hmm may be i am walking into a storm again. I should likely find a place to latch the cart down and ride it out.' He thought to himself. As he kept walking he began to look around. He spotted a few other traveling ponies. Stoppong his art he tried to hail their attention. "I say! Does any pony know of a suitable place by which i can park my cart? I do not wish to get caught in the storm!" ~ Flying Brick wore no coat, never had. She'd tell any pony who asked that it was because it impeded her movement; that she wanted the freedom to break out into a run or a dance at any moment without being tripped up by fabric. In reality, the more pressing reason was that she could rarely afford one. An affluence of bits was a rare occasion for a street performer, and any she got generally went to good meals or nights in an actual bed. Still, one had to pay a price for liberty! It wasn't bad, usually; Equestrians were generous folk, and the weather was nice enough to make sleeping outside more attractive than otherwise. Today, however, promised to be one of the miserable ones. Cold, wet, with a long walk in front of one. The earth pony mare, therefore, was keeping a lookout for any kind of shelter herself when the stranger called out to her. "Eh, maybe set up by tree group?" she pointed to a grove in the distance. The trunks looked thick, but the foliage thin ~ The stallion looked her over and smiled. "Thank you kind mare. Here. For you." He turned his head. Though his facade was of an earth pony today, his cart opened magically. Producing a cloak and levitating it out to her. "No fair mare should be without a cloak on a day as this. Parchance do you need a place that is dry? My cart is open of you need somewhere to stay." ~ "Eeyy!" The earth pony mare was apparently impressed at the stallion's little trick. Perhaps that was because she'd shared her street corners with practitioners of legerdemain before, and had developed an appreciation of the art. "Many thanks! Is good to find generous pony right before rain, da?" She laughed, trotting up beside him as they made their way to the glade. ~ "Indeed my fair mare. I have food as well. Come. You may relax while i prepare a meal for us to share. And while the storm passes over we can remain dry tonight." He spoke with a gentle tone. One well accustomed to speaking to ponies he didnt know." As they approached the glade he watched the birds seeking shelter as well. "Seems to be a bad storm. I am glad to have met you. It is not often i have company in my travels. Would you be so kind as to tell me your name?" ~ "Smooth talker, generous hooves. You sweep the roads for mares like this, eh?" She laughed again at her jokes, even louder this time. Quite the jovial pony, this one. In any case, she wasn't one to look a gift, or gift giver, in the mouth, as it were. "Am Flying Brick. Ah, but you think bricks don't fly? Never seen Stalliongrad construction site, then!" And she laughed again, disturbing the birds from their perches. ~ The stallion laughed as well. "Pleasure to meet you Ms. Flying Brick. i am Tincho. And... No i have not seen stalliongrad. I hear it is lovely. But yes.. i am a traveler. And if i meet a pretty mare, well i can not help but believe that there is a reason for meeting every pony." As they came to the glade. He turned ans backed the cart between a pair of trees. Once he was sure the cart was settled he pushed the locking break in place. Then set wooden wedges fore and hind each wheel. Once done he opened the back of the cart. Levitating out a simple pot on a stand. He brought out a pre cut log and set it under the pot. Then came the matches. Carefully lighting the log he let the fire crackle merrily as he moved to examine what to cook. ~ The wind was starting to pick up, streaming the smoke from the fire through the glade. Flying Brick, for her part, moved to the fire, eager to get close to the warmth. Growing up north may have toughened her to the cold, but also had made her hungry for heat. And food. She was always hungry for food. "What is the cooking? No fear for my stomach; I'll eat anything. Not picky, not after grandma's borsch!" ~ The stallion came out slowly holding a basket of bread and cheese. As well as several vegatables. "I think soup with bread would be lovely. Just let me get the water from the can." He set the basket down and moved to the side of the cart. Picking up a large cup he used magic again to open the large metal milk can and fill the cup with water. After sealing the can he came over and poured the water into the pot. Then he began chopping the vegitables magically as he spoke. "You seem rather calm to see an Earth pony using magic. You either have seen this before or you dont care my lady." As he spoke he levitated an apple out to her. He was calm. No sign of aggression. He was actually wondering if she had met some of his kind before. And as it was, he was frankly tired of the facade. It had its perks where rich ponies lived. But ... in the lower class places he wanted to be one of them. Comfortable and happy. And not hiding behind a mask. ~ "Eh, I see more impressive tricks." Brick waved a hoof dismissively. Apparently, she didn't think it real magic, and that was understandable enough. Many stage magicians were earth ponies, it made their shows of "magic" all the more impressive. Still, she looked at him curiously as he levitated the vegetables and ingredients, plucking the apple out of the air with raised brow. ~ He smiled. "As well. I do not often perform. Only when trying to sell something." He continued cooking until it was all in the pot. Then he let it simmer. As itwas cooking he smiled. "Where all have you been? Im sure a pretty mare as yourself has been many places." ~ So... Brick was puzzled at this pony. He was a sales-stallion... who incorporated legerdemain? "Well, it keep ponies from slamming door in face, that for sure! Free show, good stuff for cheap, That your pitch, eh?" She laughed, and didn't stop when he called her pretty. It wasn't too off-center; she had the lean, toned looks of a dancer, but she hadn't had a bath for a day or two. Dust and raggedness accumulated fast when you lived out in the open. "Me, zherebets? My looks get me nowhere; my hooves take me everywhere." ~ He chuckled softly in return. "And that my dear is where you are wrong. Your hooves take you from town to town. But your beautiful smile keepa their eyes on your performance." He checked the pop. Nodding he sat again. It was almoat ready. "Tell me something. How is it that you came to be ao far out here on your own?" ~ "Eh..." There was only so long that a mare was going to deny a compliment. Catching a whiff of the delicious-smelling soup, she grinned, showing off that selfsame smile. "Out so far? Could never stay in one place long. Restless, perhaps. But also need to vary location; routine get stale if you repeat it too long. Share with others, get enough bits to get to next place. Alone...." She didn't have so ready an answer for that. "Eh, never joined circus. Could not stand ringmaster." ~ He nodded knowingly. "As. As well myself. I never found a shop to settle into... and many a stallion stares at me angrily as i leave town. I find it best to keep moving on." He patted the cart. "Tis why i pirchased this cart. Shes sturdy, warm, dry, and above all has room enough for my wares and the occasional companion." The pot began to bubble. And just in time too. Thunder rumbled close by. As he picked up the pot he motiones her to follow. Setting it on a rest in the cart he bade her enter first. "Fair maidens first. I shall extinguish the camp fire before joining you." ~ She perked up curious as Tincho mentioned the reasons he never stayed put either. The elliptical reference left a gap to be filled, but her memory of his effusive compliments did the trick. "Quite the sly wolfhound you, eh *zeherebets*?" She chuckled as he finished cooking. Nodding as his chivalry, she spooned a bow of the stew before bowing into the cart. It was like its owner said, warm and dry. Good shelter for the coming night. ~ As he joined her after putting out the coals, the rain began to fall. He pulled the back door and curtain shut. Lighting a candle. The cart was packed at the front, leaving the back open for occupants. As well there were two bedrolls and pillows. As he took a portion for himself he spoke. "I am glad i saw youm i would hate to think you out in this at night." As he sat to eat, he opened a small pipe in the roof. The top was covered, allowing air to circulate but not let rain in. ~ "Glad I see you too! Cheers to happy coincidence on road, eh?" Raising her bowl in toast, she dove into it's contents with loud slurps of appreciation. In a few minutes, the bowl was empty, and she sat back, satisfied. "Is good. Is very good. Where you learn to cook, mother's knee?" ~ He smiled to see her enjoy his cooking. When asked he shook his head. "No. No my mother had many foals. I didnt see her often. I... well i learned on the road. Mostly self taught. Here i have a book." He reached a hoof up ans tipped a book off a shelf. It was a small book and landed on a bedroll with a light thump. 'How to cook on the road. Easy recipies for hungry travelers.' The cover said. "I learned from that. Its mostly soups and simple sandwiches. But it tastes good." He ate his slowly. "There is more left if you are still hungry." ~ "Oh, big family then? Hard to get attention in loud house? I get you. Had one like yours in floor below flat when growing up." She eagerly took up the offer of seconds, refilling her bowl for another eager dive into the stew. After a few minutes, when she emerged truly satisfied, Flying Brick stretched out on one of the sleeping mats. "Hm... so, where you say you come from? Cannon place your accent. Mine is more obvious, da?" ~ He set his bowl down. And sighed. "I'm not from Equestria... im from... well....just promise not to scream ok..?" He closed his eyes and gathered his courage. "I came from the Changling Hive. I am a changling...." There. He said it. As he sat there he tried to pick up his bowl again. His appitite was less now. But he was still hungry. ~ Flying Brick stared at Tincho for a while, and then threw back her head for the loudest laugh so far that evening. "BWahahahaha! Pull one of other ones, has bells on!" Apparently, she didn't think the stallion was serious... But as she stopped to breathe, and noticed that he was not joining in, her laughter faded. "Wait... are serious, *tovarich*?" ~ He set his bowl down. As the illusion faded, the strong stallion was replaced with a slightly undersized changling in the same clothing. He didnt seem menacingnor threatening. He was docile and quiet. As the illusion retuenes he picked up his bowl again. ~ Brick's magenta-tinged irises shrank as the whites of her eyes grew wide. She began to breathe more rapidly; she'd heard stray rumors than changelings were beginning to live a little more openly in Equestria, but she hadn't paid them much mind. Besides the sudden shock, though, was her history. She had been at ground zero during one of the Hive's forays into Equestria. Of course, she'd be lying if she didn't think the fight as exciting as it was frightening, but it still left its mark with her. And here the mare was, alone, with one of them. He was... just there. Not doing much. "*Tovaritch*..." Her tone was lower, a little less benign than before. "You call me up here, flatter me... because you hunger?" ~ He shook his head. "No. No i make it a point to never lure a pony for that. If i needes that... i would wine and dine one of those stuck up mares in upper Canterlot. Thats how i feed that... no. I.." He hesitated because of how stupid his next sentance would sound. "I invites you in here because im lonely. I wanted some pony to speak too. As well you looked tired and hungry. I hoped i could help you out in return for you spending a few days traveling with me.." he knew what happened. He was in Canterlot for the wedding assault. What was more was that this was one of the survivors of the school raid. His cowardice proved his salvation. He had scampered away while thw rest were fighting. ~ Flying Brick stared hard at Tincho throughout all his speaking. Her face was stark and unreadable, like a wall with no graffiti. "Lonely and hungry seem to me same thing for changeling, da?" ~ He didnt speak as he just looked down. After a moment he looked up. "Normally you would be right. But i am not of the hive anymore. I have lived among you ponies for a while. I have seen what it means to be alone... and i dont like being alone. I dont like lying about who and what i am. But i dont want to frighten any pony. I..... i just want to belong somewhere. Its hard when i play the same role every day. Ponies notice so i have to move on and not come back for a while." He stopped talking and just sat there. After a moment he summoned up some courage. "If you think i am lying then do what you will. Lying my be my way of life... as it always was. But i dare say... i do not lie to a pony i would have considered my friend."