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Brooks Babbling over the Sands of Time (Pressy)

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It was not often that Wordsworth Psmith, of the Canterlot Psmiths, traveled alone.  When he traveled for work, he accompanied Prince Blueblood as a confidential secretary and social advisor.  When traveling for pleasure, he preferred to bring a friend or two along.  Unfortunately, the only window of time when his boss could allow him some much needed vacation time did not coincide with any holes in the schedules of his list of friends and acquaintances.

But, such were the vagaries of life, and as he would always say, "Such things are not to be complained about with idleness, but endured and triumphed over, with whatever means or allies come to hoof.  The strategist is ever the adaptist...."  And he would then go on like that for a full ten minutes or so.  Regardless of whether anypony was actually listening.

The upshot of it was, he threw a dart at a map, and as a result had booked himself a first-class ticket on an airship headed towards Saddle Arabia!  Not that he hadn't been aiming for the place; the culture of these strange, southern Equines had all the fascination of the exotic, and had even informed his last Nightmare Night costume.  And, for somepony as talkative as himself, the notion of a country that was practically rules by debate made him feel as if he would be coming to a kind of Utopia, or at least a home-away-from-home.

Which brings us to the present, where the young unicorn stallion was elegantly draped over a deck chair, monocled eye scanning the horizon while active lips pontificated to the empty air.  "Solo travel brings with it freedom, the soaring of the lonely eagle is constrained by no considerations save those in his own head.  And yet, does the eagle find joy, or melancholy?  Do we not all gladly pay our liberty in coin for society, as one would pay a bit for bread?  What is the meaning of this strange adventure we call civilization, if it is not that?"

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"Harmony, maybe?" Came a voice from above. Khamsa had just been doing a few laps around the airships. Gotta keep in shape after all. The beige coated pegasus hyrbid carefully positioned herself so that she could land on the observation deck that this curiously classy looking unicorn was lounging and talking in. "Sorry." she coughed, "Couldn't help but here you  pontificate. Or would that technically be pony-tificate?" There was a momentary silence from a rather lousy pun before the mare shuffled her hooves beneath her and walked over to a seat.

Khamsa was a bit late in the year to do that family visit thing Mom always insisted on doing so she could see how her foals had grown. Turns some wonderbolt business took priority for a moment so she'd have to arrive after her brother had left. Oh... was her mother ever gonna let her live this down? Probably. But who knows, the stress of her position might be a bit of a pain in the plot for anypony (let alone anyhorse) to deal with with her position in the government of Saddle Arabia now.

"Whats your name stranger?" She asked with an aside glance. Until her well spoken friend responded she stretched out on her back and rested her head on hooves extended behind her back. She took not of his gaze over the sandy horizon, "You know... they say that deep below the sands, farther than anyone has ever dug... that there's a gigantic city from "The Herds that came before" that built an unceasing clockwork creatures to be servants for them... and once they disappeared those servants are still down there waiting for their masters to return."

 

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Psmith turned his head to face the new voice with the natural graces of a flower tilting to face the sun.  "Ah, such an answer is further proof to our original point.  It has been noted by scholars, composers and other such brainy types that harmonizing alone is a physical impossibility."  He followed her landing trajectory with his monocled gaze, magically lifting the eyeglass from his face as she approached as a gesture of courtesy, equivalent to taking off his hat.  The unicorn seemed to use it more as an accessory than as an aid to vision.

"Pony-tificating is a more specific word, referring to the holding forth upon the subject of small equines.  But, we shan't quibble over terms, not when the deeper issues lie before us, comrade.  For example, should one take lunch early aboard ship, or wait the hungry hours until landfall, to sample shoreside savories with the sauce of hunger?"  The easy and humorous grace of the better sort of aristocrat suffused Psmith's whole tone and poise, and he smiled as Khamsa approached.  With languid ease, he dismounted from the deck furniture and bowed in one smooth movement.

"My name is Wordsworth Psmith, but I should prefer the simple use of the surname.  P-S-M-I-T-H, the 'P' is silent; see also: ptarmigan, psionics, and pterodactyl."  His gaze had long since turned from the horizon to her, as he always found his fellow equines of more interest than hazy views of the distance.  "A fascinating arrangement; though I should myself be hesitant to disturb their watch.  Servants left on their own for that long tend to view their stewardship as ownership, and it is generally more convenient in the long run to let them have it, rather than fight for ancient rights in dusty charters."

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Some of those words flew over Fiver's head, but she felt she got the gist of what he was saying. Sadly she wasn't the most witty or lyrically enabled ponies so she could only nod her head a moment as she stretched on her seat. "Makes sense." 

Khamsa blinkedat the rather fluid bow, "Nice to meet you, Mister Psmith." The pegasus brushed some of her bands out of her eyes before looking at her well spoken fellow passenger. "I'm Khamsa. Khamsa alriah, If you don't know my name... I won't take it personally, Not a lot of ponies do anymore." she chuckled somewhat nostalgically. Khamsa was currently on vacation and had been entertaining the idea of leaving her team for a few reasons. The main reason she had was that she felt she wasn't really necessary anymore. The old generation eventually needed to give way to the next generation of great fliers and Khamsa was more than ready to do so... Although her own reasoning confounded her when it was obvious she was still part of this next generation. But hey, you can't win them all, not even against your own insecurities.

"Well My mom's an archeologist among other things, if you're interested in keeping such myths from being found you should shoot a few warnings her way." The mare pulled herself up a moment before smiling at the stallion, "So what brought you to Saddle Arabia?"

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Ponies often accuse those of the social butterfly persuasion of having cultivated no useful skills.  Psmith, being one of the foremost flitterers of Canterlot, knew better.  In order to be truly social, one had to cultivate a great number of small skills, including a good memory for names.  "On the contrary, Comrade 'Fiver,' the name Khamsa Alriah springs neatly to the mind when one's thoughts drift towards the spectacles of areal acrobatics."  The unicorn winked at the mare stretched out below him.  "I do hope you do not mind the familiarity with which I address you, but after all the research I put in to finding out the life story of my favorite Wonderbolt, I feel as if I do know you."  While his statement might have sounded like flattery, it was true nonetheless.  Her exotic, hybrid background was what had first piqued his interest while browsing the program brochure before watching his first Wonderbolts show.

"I shall make a note to alert your mother of the possible repercussions and unforseen consequences of science.  Academics can use helpful little reminders that such things exist from time to time."  Psmith's eyes began to drift away towards the horizon again... was that golden glow in the distance the sun shining on clouds... or sand?

"Saddle Arabia... it has always fascinated me, as a place and as a culture.  But as to why I am visiting it now, comrade, well!  My work has taken me to place that is extremely cold.  Thus, every philosophical principle and wise word tells me that my vacation should be in a place that is extremely hot."  The lavender stallion laughed lightly, walking slowly towards the railing.  Yes, there it was!  The glint of light on the distant cupola.  "Ah, yes, I do believe I shall lunch upon shore..."  He mused, turning back to the pegasus.  "Would you be so kind as to join me, if business or family permits?  It is such a terrible bore to travel alone."

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"Oh..." The mare's usual poker face seemed to switch to one of mild shock when she realized there was in fact somepony out there who knew who she was. If anything it was a nice change of pace, "Well, thank you, Mister Psmith... I honestly didn't know I had a fan." She chuckled a moment before sitting up on the lounging fold out seat. 

"About Saddle Arabia... it's pretty different from Equestria." As the golden deserts grew closer... the skyline of one of the port cities was coming into view. A multitude of tall onion shaped domes came into view. Down below there were many things like turning gears, billowing eruptions of steam and other faint sounds of the powers of combustion being used to run the city. "They're the pure technology capital of the world... even managed to surpass the griffons." The mare leaned forward a bit on the railing, smiling nostalgically. "My mother grew up here actually... this place has a decent griffin population and ships from Talonopolis dock here a lot. Mom was raised in a Fishing place down by the shore actually... that one." The mare gestured to a small dot on the horizon. 

"As for that offer to lunch... I accept."

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Khamsa's shock was reflected in Psmith's own raised eyebrow.  "Is it truly such a shock?  Do you mean to inform me, comrade, that the letter box of the graceful and exotic 'Fiver' are not daily stuffed with adulations from the great audiencial multitudes?  Why, even my employer will occasionally receive the unsolicited declaration of undying affection, and you have proven inestimably more charming in person."  Now this, this was flattery, though still spread thin enough to be blarney rather than baloney.  Such verbal munificence was meat and drink to the unicorn, of course, though given that the speech bubble on his flank was empty, the Wonderbolt might be forgiven for wondering about him.

As the port city came into view, Psmith pulled out his eyeglass again to peer at the structures coming into view.  "Ah, yes... a civilization not merely served, but practically born out of its machinery.  I had myself always thought of society as organic rather than mechanical; I wonder if much of what we consider foreign in it emerges from the difference in type as well as geography?"  He mused, following Kahmsa's hoof to the village upon the shore.  "Ah, so is your mother a Saddle Arabian horse, or a descendent of early migrants?"

Upon hearing the acceptance of his offer, though, Psmith's normally impassive face split into a smile that was... well, a little goofy to see.  It only flashed across for a lightning instant, but it was long enough to tell why his expressions were normally more subtle.  The young stallion did care for dignity, as was evidenced by the care in his most every motion.  But every once in a while, things slipped, and what's more, they slipped in silence.  He could talk for hours on nothing at all, but profound emotion could leave him speechless.

But not for long.  "Excellent!  I shall take advantage of your native connections to guide us to the ideal place to restore our tissues."

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"Gotta say, I don't really get a lot of fanmail. Not as much love for relatively new flyer like me. I do get a couple letter from a young filly named Wind Walker sometimes... She usually says she would usually write to Soarin but her Mother told her to try writing to all of us." The mare chuckled in a half-hearted manner. Khamsa's reputation as the lazy wonderbolt had spread among some the fans of the team. For some reason, possibly her status as half Equestrian on her father's side; Khamsa was almost useless in sphere of weather manipulation. Moving clouds took considerable conscious effort and even though she could walk on the cloud's she'd almost always slowly sink in and if she didn't pay attention she could fall through. Some of her interviews in the papers would detail how tired she seemed all the time and how she was unable to assist in any sort of magical flight trick. 

 

"I'm a little surprised that rumors about my plans on leaving spread to her so quick." The mare rolled her eyes and muttered something about a team member having loose lips or something like that, "But, anyway! You were asking about my family?" The mare perked up a bit as she looked back to her new companion on her trip home, "As for my mom she's a Saddle Arabian horse... Most of my family is larger than the average pony, but I was the runt so I turned out average sized in relation to most mares... go figure." She chuckled slightly as she watched the skyline of the city grow closer and closer until the Airship docked. 

"Hmm... I know a few good places, Just gotta figure out if they're still around. One nice place serves this amazing Kushari... Another's got the best Ful Medames in the country but that's a bit expensive. Then again.." The mare seemed to be deep in thought for a few moments before she shook her head as if dismissing the idea she was brewing up. While the ship was still Docking she'd look back to Psmith, "Got any type of food preferences though? Or is it entirely in my hooves where we eat?"

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Being a creature of society, Psmith was wise to all the polite elisions used to deliver insults within acceptable etiquette.  In all fairness to Wind Rider, the young filly most likely did not, and thus would not have been aware of just how much of a stab in the gut such written realism could cause in the recipient.  Especially when such is one of the few letters anypony bothers to send one.  Kahmsa didn't show it, of course, but Psmith could empathize with the pain that must have caused.

 

Making a mental note to have a word (or eight dozen) with Wind Rider when he got home, the young unicorn breezed along, "Oh, I hardly mind in matters of size, save in the minor but special matter of being able to look into your eyes when we are speaking.  It at least gives mine something interesting to fixate upon.  And if, as the poets say, they be windows into the soul, well!  I hope you will not shut your blinds."  There he was with the gentle flattery again, though he was becoming more conscious and intentional with it.  Knowing now what sort of feedback she was getting, he decided right then and there that she should have a contrast while on vacation.

"Kushari..." He spoke, semi-reverently, rolling the word on his tongue like the no-doubt tasty morsel it represented.  "Ful Medames... I do hope to be acquainted with the meanings behind those luscious words soon.  I shall trust you to introduce me to your old friends; I am but a guest, a stranger in a strange land.  I shall be like the good adventurer who trusts his native guide, and not the bad one which loots her sacred temples.  Of the souvenir shops, I make no promises.  One has so many friends back home to acknowledge, of course."

 

With no more than the usual fanfare, which consisted of shouting dockers, whirring machinery, and another normal day for the sky sailors, the airship docked at a tower topped with a brass cupola.  It was evidently polished regularly, as Psmith could not detect a speck of green corrosion upon it.  "Extraordinary," He remarked as the ramp was extended and the passengers began to depart.  "It never runs so smoothly at home.  No delays, no frantic whistling, or yells of 'pony overboard!'  But perhaps I have been unlucky on my previous visits to the airports."  Stretching out to fully unfold himself, he extended a crooked hoof for Kahmsa to take hold of.  "Lead on, Bolt of Wonder.  I am yours to direct."

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The flowery language of her new companion was stilll rather charming, if a tad difficult to understand... and was that a flirtation she heard? She smiled a bit at him and arched a brow. "If I wasn't so  sure my senses are still getting used to my homeland I'd say that sounded like a flirt, Mister Psmith..." Khamsa chuckled and was about to take flight before his second statement gave her pause. Friends? Now that she thought about it. Most of those she could in good conscience call friends were back in the Equestria or in the Wonderbolts... oh well, can always make new ones, right?  

 

She accepted the stallion's hoof and reciprocated that gesture. She chuckled a bit and walked off down the polished ramp. "Well... Not sure sure about introducing you to my friends... honestly I'm not sure if many of them live here anymore. I do know I've got someone waiting down at the base of the tower though. The dusty coated pegasus looked down over the edge and chuckled. "It's weird being in a zone where my kinda flying is a bit less... common." As she lead Psmith through the areas, the difference of the lands became more and more apparent. The two ponies where engulfed by waves of horses, all nearly matching Celestia in height. Seeing as all these much taller creatures were blocking a good deal of the view Khamsa thought a moment and sniffed at the air, a familiar scent meeting her nostrils. It was rich enough to reach PSmith's own senses as well. 

"I almost forgot Falafel." The mare strolled over to a cart that was hidden by a few more passing groups of statuesque natives. To those with sharper senses they may be able to get the scent of the fried food, "It's pretty common, they have some of this in Manehattan but it's not as good as the geniuine article." The mare took out some bits and hooved them over to the vendor. Seemed at this place they made them fairly fresh so the two had a bit more time to talk again. 

"So... you know a good deal about me. Tell me, Mister Psmith... what are your finer origins?"

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Flirtation?  Why, Psmith's mind hadn't been anywhere near the intention!  It was simply the normal flattery of one friend to uplift the other, though whether the hot air of one's ego constituted a stable means of support was another matter.  On the other hoof, now that Khamsa had mentioned it, the young noble had to admit that there were just possibly a few phrases among his loquacious torrent that might be construed as such.  "I can assure you, comrade, that when I decide to flirt with you, I shall inform you in as many words.  If you prefer not to wait upon my initiative, of course, you may request it of me, and I shall deliver!"

 

Chuckling softly, he accepted her escort from the docks to the busy streets.  The sight of so many horses looming over the pair could not fail to leave it's impression upon Psmith.  The lanky unicorn was of a decent height by pony standards, but seeing so much of a mass of horseflesh condensed and moving on four legs made him feel like a colt again.  "Comrade Khamsa, one hardly believes in such tales as The Land of Giants, but such traveler's tales seem to come from real travelers!"  He was visibly impressed, and inwardly slightly intimidated.  No doubt such nervousness would be dispelled once he got to talking with one of their number, and until then he was confident about remaining calm.

 

Food.  Food would help, and wonder of wonders, the Wonderbolt was leading him to a particularly appetizing sample of the local delicacies!  "Most excellent!  It is always an advantage to be real, and grow organically out of one's own culture.  One need not blend into all companies to be welcomed, but only true to oneself, showing the best of one's origins.  As for mine?  Well..."

He stretched out, shaking off the last of the joint kinks from the long airship journey.  "My father is Baron Psmith, of what holdings and fortune I shan't bore you with.  Among the titled, but more known for his eccentricities than his station.  Mother was and remains a society beauty, given to ennui.  Hence, I rather think them a good match; as she keeps his attention span focused on something other than his parade of hobbies, and he gives variety to her otherwise unvaried routine business of playing hostess to the rest of our little circle.  Which she does with aplomb, all the more impressive given my father's... prolictivities.  Don't get me wrong, I'm dreadfully fond of the old fellow, but he's rather trying to live with.  Every six months or so, he has a new idea on what the ideal scion of the nobility should do.  It makes for a well-rounded education and experience, if nothing else."

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"You kinda get used to it... my mom's still much taller than I am... how weird is that?" She asked with a playful chuckle in the stallion's direction. She took a hold of his hoof so as to make sure he didn't get separated in the sea of tall horses that filled this station. As she waited for the food to be offered she listened to the stallion's explaination of his lineage. She had to admit it sounded very interesting: particularly the subject of the baron. Someone who woulc experience so many things through hobbies was quite fascinating... was better to be diverse than to excel at only one thing wasn't it, after all? Maybe that was part of what got her into this mess she'd been in right now.

 

"I gotta say, your dad sounds like quite the character. Would love to meet him sometime. My mother is... a bit more down to earth if nervous an unsure on occasions. She's worked as an archeologist most of her life until this 'promotion' she told me about... I didn't even know that archeologists got promotions." She said with a shrug as the food was offered to the two on simple paper plates. What was on them were what appeared to be small spongy balls deep fried and breaded. When the pegasus took a bite of one and a serene smile spread over her face the insides could be seen to be a healthy bright green inside, the fragrance of chick peas wafting from the consumable.

 

The wonderbolt led Psmith over to small seating arrangement near the cart, watching the crowds move like waves and gazing out at the orange skyline, "It's ... strange to be home under these circumstances to be honest..."

 

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The simple holding of a hoof was a gesture fraught with meaning, ranging from 'I don't want you to get lost, dimwit' to 'I'd like to stay by your side forever.'  Khamsa, of course, probably meant something closer to the former than the latter, but that didn't stop Psmith from returning the sure grip with a smile.  "Indeed, comrade, it is one thing to travel to an exotic place, and see it filled with giants.  But to have one as an intimate domestic member of the family may be said to accentuate the concept of foalhood.  I do hope she keeps the looming to a minimum; while my own colthood was enjoyable, I shouldn't want to relive it!"

 

Speaking of which, the subject turned to his own father, and a comparison of parenting styles.  "Perhaps next time you are in Canterlot, you could stop by Chateau Psmith!  The gates shall not be closed to she who bears good news, and the visit of a Wonderbolt is always good news."  He was also quite prepared with an answer for how archaeologists got promotions.  "The Academic Brahmins, like any other social structure, have their hierarchy, which diligent effort may enable an equine to rise, or sloth to fall, for that matter.  The pinnacle of which, apparently, is Royalty, if the career of one Twilight Sparkle may provide lessons to the rest of us.  Imagine it, to come home and see the matriarch of the clan, bedecked in robe and tiara, and realize suddenly that all the pilfered cookies throughout your life would now bring serious consequences.  The blood, comrade, is chilled at the thought!"

 

Not that Psmith seemed anxious or frightened in the least.  Admittedly, it was difficult to be either when biting into a warm falafel.  The saffron and ginger, mixed with basil and chickpeas in the center, made for a flavor that was at once far away and exotic, and yet reminded one of home.  The traveler could often forget, in exotic lands, that those who resided there felt of that place that it was normal, the center of the world and happy, dull memory.  On such thoughts he mused as he looked over the skyline with the mare, though he chewed and swallowed before pontificating further.  "The home of one is always strange to another.  Is this home for you still, after so many years in Equestria?  My own experiences with far travel were always brief, save for a year-long exile in Manehattan, which as far as I'm concerned may as well be it's own independent republic, for all the resemblance it bears to the rest of Equestria, or the world, for that matter.  By bringing all the world to it, it has ceased to resemble any other place upon it.  Such combinations, comrade Khamsa, are like this falafel.  One may trace the ingredients, but the whole is unique, and distinct from each.  Just as you, perhaps, may be said to be neither horse nor pegasus, but something wholly unique and wonderful, again like the falafel."

 

Was it a compliment to a mare in this country to compare them to a baked good?  Psmith was about to find out.

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