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The Night Watch (Open to anyone)

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The Moon shined down on Ponyville as once again the citizens rested in their homes awaiting the dreams and protection that would be given by Princess Luna.  However within the Castle of Friendship, the Twilight Guard was preparing for their evening patrol.  The guards were at their stations and patrol routes were established and positions made as one Guard made his way down a hall addressing the patrols.

 

"Stay at attention lads and eyes forward!  We got a Princess to protect and there be no pussy hoofing around.  Stay sharp" Silver Blade said in his navel accent as he walked in his signature Twilight Armor. 

 

The infamous Pirate Captain had successfully infiltrated the Guard to further his plan to find a lost fortune and tonight had been assigned to manage the night watch.  After the chaos he had caused in Canterlot and no new leads in his search he decided to lay low and what better way then right under the nose if Equestrian Royalty.  Sighing as he scratched his blue beard, the pirate grumbled as he took a left into the Castle library to warm himself by the fire place burning inside.

 

Sneering into the flames he angrily tossed in some sticks for the fire as he muttered, "Damn you Iron Beak!"  It was bad enough the old salty Griffin had chosen to die before revealing the secret of Scarlet Mane's sword, but the trouble he had started to retrieve said blade insured he couldn't return to Canterlot anytime soon.  True no pony was hurt in his quick and silent raid, but the fires he had started to cover his escape with some of his crew members had caused a panic not seen since the Storm King's raid.

 

The sword was safely stored on his ship, "The Revenge" and last he heard the crew was raiding a few small fishing harbors on the southern coast just as he ordered to take attention away from himself.  Fortunately no one in the Castle knew who he really was, thanks to his real face never being on a wanted poster, but it hadn't been easy.  If it wasn't the Twilight Guard Captain watching him like a hawk, it was that blasted fire breathing assistant badgering him about the Castle's tidiness, to Twilight's first student giving him the evil eye every time he snooped around.

 

If Starlight Glimmer asked him why he was looking in the private rooms again, he would probably snap.  Sighing though the Twilight Guard known to all in the Castle as "Silver" removed his helmet and rubbed his head.  Looking up at the various books in the library he started to go through a few, tossing them on to a table looking for something specific as he did so.

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With the Demise of the Golden Oaks Library, Princess Twilight had graciously allowed Ponyville to use this wing of her castle as its public library.  Being the enthusiastic bibliophile that she was, not to mention having a great deal of sympathy for Princess Luna and fellow Night Owls, she'd even made it the first public library in Equestria to be open 24/7.  Of course, at hours like these, all the honest citizens of Ponyville were sleeping in their beds, leaving only such rogues as Silver Blade to stalk the night.  Well, Silver and another figure just emerging from a nap in one of the reading chairs...

 

There was a kind of snorting sound, followed by a smacking of the lips as the pony in the chair emerged from a doze.  In a kind of ambulatory slump, the stallion crawled over the side and arms of the chair, planting all four hooves on the floor.   The moonlight through the window gave a decent view of the unicorn; he cut a figure like a cross between an old-timey journalist crossed with a hobo.  Which was, all things considered, a pretty accurate description of Earth Writer, disgraced former reporter of the Canterlot Chronicle.  The beam of silver light caught his expression perfectly, cynical irony pickled in an ethanol solution.

 

"Yo, steeltoes."  He called out to the guard, rubbing the three days worth of stubble on his muzzle.  "Is her royal highness still running auditions for the post of royal propagandist?"

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Silver Blade instantly went for the dagger he always kept in his armored curiss as he heard the voice call out to him.  He cursed silently under his breath as he turned to face the pony who he had over looked in the Royal Library but relaxed when he saw it was just an old Stallion.  Releasing the dagger and keeping it hidden, the pirate turned to the voice and sighed in annoyance.

 

"Sorry ole Stallion, but I couldn't tell ya tha. I'm just in charge of the night watch and can't say what her majesty does in her spare time" he explained as he pulled out a book about pirate legends and opened it to face a painting of a beautiful red maned Pegasus Mare worth lime green fur smirking at him as she held up a Cutlass in triumph.  Smiling affectionately Silver blade traced his hoof across her face.

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"Hey!"  Some animation returned to Earth's moonlit eyes, and he huffed as he straightened out his hat and coat.  Still rumpled and stained, but in the clearer light, his face didn't look as worn by time.  Bad life choices for sure, but not the slow procession of years.  "I'm not that old.  Though I am old enough to remember the days when my name would have carried respect."  The stallion snorted, as if the messes plaguing his life were not all of his own creation.  "But I'm like you now, the sort the powerful don't give two bits about unless we make trouble."  Approaching closer, he caught a glimpse of the mare in the book.  "Heh, speaking of trouble, you really got to be careful about mares like that.  I got a story or two for you I could tell..."
 

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Oh what a day it had been!
 
Fire Walker welcomed the start of the morning with an steaming cup of coffee and an ‘Official Twilight Guard Scroll ‘O’ Things' scroll That Needed To Be Done’. Normally this would involve her usual morning of training ‘n’ education for the citizens of Ponyville! There were still plenty of ponies and other creatures who wanted to make sure there was no repeat of the many invasions the formally sleepy little village had been enduring over the last few years. And it seemed that rapstallions and mischief making-mares always had a new scheme. The latest crime had been done through the mail! Pen pals had become Pen Mal..s....factor...This was fixed when it was suggested that all outgoing and ingoing mail would be checked at Tartarus. Both the content of the letter and actual magical detection would also be applied. Hopefully they would also start checking incoming cakes or pies for files or chivs.
 
There were quick visits to Appleloosa and Manehattan. Items to retrieve and ponies to talk to. There was also her final stop at Las Pegasus! However, it was not for sightseeing and fun, instead she needed to have a chat with a security head at the resort town's largest hotel and casino! There she picked up tips on how to handle security during big events without the public even knowing they were being looked after. She still managed to snag a very tacky shirt souvenir for her fiancé, Swift Squall.
 
And now she was back home...Or at least one of her homes. She officially had a place in Fillydelphia and an small home she used mostly for storage in Ponyville. There was also her small little office/apartment in the castle itself. She found it to be rather cozy.
 
After the packages were deposited in Twilight's slot,  and the officer's own mail was checked. Fire Walker started to make the trek to her room for some shut-eye. However, her trip was cut short when she heard somepony shout...yell? Or was it just an HEY! The mare let out a sigh. It was not unusual for ponies to hang out at the library long into the night. Normally older students would hang out, hoping to take care of a paper they should had finished ages ago. This was rare as they now had their own special library located right in their school. Pajamas and bunny slippers were not frowned upon there.
 
Shouting was usually very frowned upon in an library. Especially if it could be heard into the rooms...Nopony wants a cranky Spike! And the urge to throw whoever was making the noise out of the castle did pop up in the mind of the mare..That would be rude...She would do something else.
 
"Good Evening fellows.", the mare pushed over a small rolling tray table topped with three cups of hot cocoa adorned with 'Fluffy Puff' marshmallows. A perfect beverage for a chilly night!
 
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Silver Blade nodded to the Stallion as he motioned to the title on the page.  Scarlett Mane, Daughter of the Dune, Terror of the West, and Queen of the Pirates!  The title screamed in bold black lettering.  "Very few can say they crossed swords with that most famous pirate to ravage the seas and survive"  Silver Blade said with a smile.

 

Motioning to what looked like a gold bracelet around her hoof he couldn't help but get a smile and a nostalgia on his face as he said, "Funny joke it be that she was born into wealth and nobility but chose a life of plunder, and pillage, and raids on the sea after falling in love with a dashing pirate Captain" he said in his swarthy navel accent

 

Yet the smell of hot chocolate quickly got his attention as well as the sound of a voice he had gotten to know over his time at the Castle of Friendship.  Quickly grabbing his helmet, he tucked I under his fore hoof and saluted Fire Walker as she came in. 

 

"Ah Captain Fire Walker!  A lovely evening to ye Ma'am.  Had I known ye would Grace us I would have worn me proper parade uniform" he said with a slight bow.

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This place was absolutely huge! Not as big as the mountain range back home, but still impressively spacious. If not for his occasional visits to the place when Applejack was stopping by to see Princess Twilight, Taira would have likely gotten eight types of lost in here. 

 

A place so full of powerful magic made the yokai's nose itch but if all these books didn't have the spell he was looking for he'd have to start looking in the archive in Canterlot, or try and dig up that ancient library city said to be buried somewhere in the Saddle Arabian Desert. Just the thought of all that sand in his fur made him shudder on the spot. If he could find this spell than this trip to Equestria would have been even more wonderful than it had already been! Even more smile inducing than that exciting race a while ago. 

 

While he'd ended up exposing his true self to almost half the town, he was glad to see most take his real appearance in good humor. Still, he figured he couldn't just start prowling the streets at night as an alicorn sized magical wolf with glowing eyes. There were far too many elderly ponies in this town and the last thing he wanted to do was scare somepony into an early passing. To take care of this problem he cooked up a smaller (though not by much), less ethereal form to wander the streets in: that of a normal wolf-dog. Given that wolves were apparently a rare sight in this part of the world, Taira soon realized that most just mistook him for an over-sized dog with a few scars on his chest and one across his muzzle. He made sure to keep any talking to a minimum like this though. It would still be a bit of a shock to meet a talking dog that... didn't have thumbs and mined underground.

 

 

As the large canine wandered the halls he felt his nose twitch as he caught the scent of something nice. Was that chocolate? With a toothy grin, Taira followed his nose until he came skidding to a halt in front of the door that Fire Walker just entered through. The visitor left staring somewhat awkwardly with the trio present, to break it he just gave his best bark and tried to look as harmless as possible. Seeing at this group seemed well armed and armored he could only assume they were the Night watch.

 

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“Good evening...erm.”, What was his name? This handsome fellow was assigned to the Guard..She had heard that somewhere, but where? Being the captain, she should have been contacted as soon as they had even suggested the stallion as a recruit. Full papers that showed that he was fully vetted for the position should have been on her desk before he was even considered for the part. “Silver.” Was that it? He had a helmet, and uniform, but that could mean anything. Was something odd going on? A simple command word could be said and the pony would be introduced to the many security features the castle now had. But she was not in the mood. She had a very busy day and she could hear her very comfortable bed call out to her. He also saluted her and she was not in uniform. Since her mission was dealing privately with mostly the public, she had worn an slightly enchanted winter coat. She looked good and felt nice and warm. You normally do not salute officers out of uniform.
 
The friendly mare placed a mug near the stallion. “No worries.” Parade uniform? She doubted the guard had nearly enough ponies to watch a parade, let alone start one. As she decided on her actions, something else caught her eye. It was a pup! Oh how Fire Walker was easily distracted by such wonderful creatures. And this one had a good bark! Probably not so wise....Waking up the castle residents was not a good idea. But he was a very handsome dog. He almost resembled an Shiba Inu but the tail was all wrong. And how did he manage to get inside the castle? They never installed a doggy door! Maybe Miss Fluttershy was staying over? Or did Starlight Glimmer finally get a pet?
 
"Hey Pup.", she tried to gain the attention of the adorable critter. She actually had a few cookies on her tray. Let's see. No nutmeg. No chocolate. No raisins or even macadamia nuts. These were dog-safe. "Have a cookie." Oh how she wouldn't mind having such an sweet dog at her side. She always wanted a pupper, but somehow ended up with a cute little Squeak Bat named Dander.
 
"So..", she turned back to the stallion, "What is your current assignment?", she could at least have a little fun with him before finding out the truth. If he needed help, she would try her best to aid him....Unless it was illegal. Then she would have to whoop him.
 
 
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Earth Writer chuckled as Silver Blade confirmed his suspicions about the pictured mare.  "Ain't that always the case, though, with high-born mares?  They're always out for plunder; just some prefer the company of sailors to tax collectors, heh.  Something to be said for that, I guess."  Further political commentary was stifled by the arrival of a rich smell of chocolate, followed closely behind by a pegasus mare.  Good thing, too, since the line of reasoning old Earthy was taking would hardly count in his favor if Princess Twilight did end up wanting a propagandist.

 

Nonetheless, he smiled and accepted the hot cocoa, sipping as Silver let slip her name.  "Fire... Walker?  I think we've met before, at the Crystal Faire, perhaps?  Or perhaps the Manehattan Friendship Expo.  I've been out of the country since."  Looking down at his disheveled appearance, he gave a sigh.  "Life ain't treated me well since, gotta say."

 

He cast a sideways look at the incoming dog, some buried reporter's instinct tugging at his brain.  *More than what meets the eye...*  But he wasn't a reporter now.  Not anymore.  What use was buried truths to him?  If it walked like a dog, and barked like a dog, it was a dog to him.  And dogs were to be petted, so he did.

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Silver kept eye contact with Fire Walker as she gave him a slight 3rd degree.  True he knew a professional soldier was a threat reguardless of gender, but in his many years as one of the most wanted pirates on the seas he had learned to keep his true intentions hidden well even from the most prying eyes.  As such he walked around the table with his helmet and set it down, bent down and picked up the young pup, and started to gently scratch it's left ear.

 

"I were assigned head of the Night Watch tonight Ma'am.  I can report all at der posts and last reports given showed no threats to be seen.  Twer a thought to appear in me grey matter to take a moment to venture in here and catch up on some slight reading before the next report" Silver said in his signature navel twang, a slight smirk on his features.

 

He then gently petted the pup's head as he set him down before saying, "After all our dear Princess Twilight does encourage a good book once in a Moon and tonight seemed as good as any.  What better way to honor the Princess of Friendships greatest lesson eh?" he said smiling a little devilishly.

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While it wasn't a warm cup of hot chocolate, Taira wasn't about to turn down a free cookie. As soon as the cookie was in range Taira eagerly chomped down in delight, accidentally giving the offering hoof a few licks of appreciation as well. Another appreciative bark filled the library once he'd finished up the treat.

 

For a second he could have sworn he felt some hint of suspicion coming off one of the stallion's at the table: the one giving him short side eye. It seemed that his curiosity was short lived. When Earth Writer approached Taira gave another happy bark which got him yet another pet. A wag of the tail and a slightly goofy look of enthusiasm got the yokai a ticket out of the doghouse... well in a manner of speaking. At least that was what he thought, The other stallion present scoop him up like he was a puppy! This pony was pretty strong. 

 

He would have tried to escape the hold but then came the ear scratches. The disguised Okami just melted in Silver's lap. Tongue lolled out and Tail swinging rapidly in delight while on hind-leg kicked at nothing. It felt as if all his worries just floated out from the scritched ear. He was almost disappointed when he was set back down. "How embarassing..." he thought to himself as he reacquainted himself with the floor. While he was there he decided to wander over to some nearby shelves to look over a few of the titles...

 

 

Edited by Pretzelparty

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Ra’nu was getting rather frustrated with his search... what little leads he managed to find had all been dead ends so far, and had eventually lead him to this new town. Ponyville... well, it sounded like an interesting place, especially with talk of someone else like him around. Maybe he had finally discovered an actual lead on his son...

 

Well, one could hope, at least. He knew it was late, but he figured he may as well get started by checking the library, which was located in the palace for some reason. Shrugging to himself, the disguised okami walked into the library area, stopping short at the group of ponies he saw there, and a wolf that was clearly enjoying the attention he was getting. Wait... was that Taira?

 

The ‘kirin’ raised an eyebrow at the wolf before giving the rest of the group a nod in greeting as the wolf was set down. He followed Taira off, hoping to meet up with his packmate and make up for lost time. 

 

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"I do believe we have run into each other during little events.", the mare responded softly while she kept her eye on Silver, "And I am sorry to hear things have not gone well for you as of recently, but I can say you're in the friendliest little town in all of Equestria.", a smile slowly made its way back onto the fuzzy red face of the mare, "If you need help, there's always some-pony around with a helping hoof." While it was no hoof, the mare pulled out a small card-holder from a hidden pocket with the help of her wing, "My mother, Write Stuff has been putting out these funny little paperbacks...Mostly romance adventure...Beach reads...But it was a break from her usual Military training guides...Did her good to move out of her comport zone.", she let out a chuckle, "The publishing company that prints her books." Which was printed on the card, "Also publishes the Burnferno and Gusty the Great series along with putting out newspapers in key cities, along with some rather popular magazines. Might be a good idea to look into them if you have not yet.."
 
The red mare was caught off guard as her previously unknown member of the 'Guard' picked up the rather large dog. She would never feel comfortable doing such a thing to an adult dog without his consent. Maybe a puppy. But a full sized wolf-dog? Thankfully the handsome creature was of good spirit and did not make a fuss. And it was extra adorable when he made his way to the books! He thinks he's people!
 
Two things were still bugging her. How the pup got in, and why they did not alert her of a new recruit. Also, she did not know who this guy was. All of the recruits were ponies she had known. Trusted. Trained with. This all was as fishy as an sardine's boxer shorts. But she would play along. See what he was up to. If he needed help, she would aid him...If he was up to no good..."Head of the Night Watch? Uh-hu." That was a little too much, "So, who assigned you with this task?"
 
There was yet another visitor..An Kirin....Wow. The library was one happening place during this late night.
 
 
 
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Earth could not, unfortunately, return Fire Walker's smile with anything more than half of one, and that cut with no small amount of cynicism.  "Well, if they're interested in buying my pen, it's currently for sale.  Just thought I'd give Princess Twilight offer of first refusal, as I was saying to your fellow officer there.  Not written much fiction before, but I could spin a pretty good yarn of a naive stallion in love, if she doesn't mind tragic endings."  He nodded towards Silver, sitting to rest his back against one of the shelves.  If he was being perfectly honest, it was the sale of his pen that had gotten him into this trouble in the first place.  He'd been let go from the Chronicle after the head editor discovered that his travel writing on Maretonia was essentially paid propaganda on behalf of his noble hostess.  Once his position at the paper was lost, the noblemare found no use for him, and subsequently had him kicked out of her house and deported, in shame and humiliation.  Hence, the stallion's expressed opinions on highborn mares.

 

Thumping his head against the books, he cast a weary, but interested, eye on the exchange between Fire and Silver.  Disruption in the Twilight Guard?  Fascinating.  Perhaps there would be a buyer for this information, a bit of juicy court gossip?  *Or Military intelligence* A dark and growing portion of the former journalist's brain pointed out.  He hadn't gone so far as to seriously contemplate any such treason of course.  Not yet, at any rate.  Give it a few more hungry months.

 

Bad thoughts, bad thoughts.  Best focus on the doggie.  Nice doggie.  "So, he just wandered in.  Is he one of yours, or does Twilight have a new pet?"

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On a nippy night like this, Opal would never pass up a walk. She loved the cold. It was a beautiful night, there were very few clouds blocking the moon and stars, and the wind was gently blowing. As she was wondering about, she caught glimpse of Princess Twilight's Crystal Tree Castle, of which she also heard serves as the public library. The princess was quite the bookworm, Opal heard while she was still living in the Crystal Empire. She must have a vast assortment of books. Opal decided visiting and looking around wouldn't hurt anyone, as long as it was still open.  She was new in town, and it was due time to look at the library. 
As she approached the castle, she noticed guards at the door. She gave a shy nod to the armored stallions and was allowed inside. A faint murmur of voices came from a room down the hall, which Opal thought must be where the books are. She peaks into the room seeing a red mare with a beautiful winter coat, a guard, and random stallion. Shyly, she walks into the room and heads over to look around at the books, leaving the ponies to their own business. She loves reading, however she hopes to find some sort of spell-book to study. 

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Silver Blade grunted as he continued to be pesterd by the Twilight Guard Captain.  He gave her credit, she certainly knew how to give someone the third degree but not quite so well as she thought.  Fortunately when you plan as long as he had his back story was packed tighter then cannon shot.  As such he leaned back a bit and cracked his neck non chalantly as he smiled at Fire Walker and said, "Luck o da draw I guess Captain.  Out of me self and the rest assigned to night duty I be one of the only few with past military discipline and training even if it were on her Majesty's Navy.  Still I suppose we could say a sea rat with Navy training is better then nought so I pulled the A Stallion post tonight."

 

Looking around he noticed that a few animals aside from their new canine companion had wandered in.  Not for nothing but he would have to chat with the guards about keeping their duties serious as a pair of dogs could wander in then who knows what else could pop off.  "Nay, her majesty hasn't had a pet since tha hooting pigeon if hers came about some time ago" he said as he looked around for said owl.

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While Taira managed to slip away from the rest of the group (but not too far) he'd found himself browsing the older spell section of this particular shelf. So many thick tomes with long words he didn't know ... and being Neighponese didn't help his lack of understanding. Suddenly her twitched his nose when he recognized a very familiar scent. That pup Nensho must have stopped by! Taira had caught wind of the wandering bodyguard's scent during the events of Nightmare Night, along with at least one other wolf that seemed a bit familiar... and maybe a fox? 

 

No time to dwell on that though, The old wolf walked over to the corner of the bookcase nearby with the intent of giving the young disguised yokai a silent greeting. The Kirin that did come around the bend was definitely not who he suspected. Taira's eyes went wide as saucers and... perhaps having forgotten his disguised status blurted out, "R-Ranu?!" In his normal voice, one that at least one mare in the room may recall from the running of the leaves.

 

Thankfully he was tucked away in the corner with his friend, so none managed to see the spectacle of a genuine talking dog. Taira hushed his tone and spoke quietly to his old friend, "Ranu? It's been... well a dog's age since I last saw you. I'd been hoping to run into you actually... Have you been well? Was your search fruitful?"

 

 

 

 

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The young officer’s ears drooped down as she slowly started to understand where the writer was coming from. He wasn’t someone who had big dreams and an eye for his future. This was somepony who was utterly defeated. He wanted to sell his pen. This was the same as an captain giving up his boat and settling for dry land. Or a farmer selling her land. Something really bad had happened to this stallion and he already had his white flag out.
 
“I’m sure Princess Twilight would say not to give up your dreams..And if you’ve hit a brick wall, to simply evolve with your skills.”, it had to be late as Fire Walker was very sure she had heard a familiar voice....But it came from the direction of the dog. Weird. She needed to get her flank in bed soon...
 
“Like I said, my mother writes military journals....And thing is, once you’re done with one of those, with the exception of an yearly update, there’s nopony begging for an ‘Royal Equestrian Counterinsurgency Field Manual 2: Revenge Of The Undeveloped Doctrine', so she had spent the last few decades just updating old books...A few new rules here and maybe an slight reworded set of standards there. Nothing big. Gal was bored, so she was encouraged to use her skills for other things. Fun things. She kept up with her journals, but at least had something else to look forward to doing."
 
More pup-talk. Did he belong to Twilight, "Not that I'm aware of....Could belong to Miss Glimmer....Or even Miss Lulamoon....Not sure if she's in town..." The dog was not that pest Discord in disguise became even a powerful creature as himself, he was TERRIBLE at being in disguise. There was always a tell-tale sign. Those goofy eyes. His nasty snaggletooth. Or kickable backside.
 
Speaking of that...She glanced back at Silver Blade. She did not know him,nor trust him, but it was too late and she was too tired to push him further. If he was up to no good, the castle would know. And there were ears everywhere. At least via spell. The amount of magic that flowed through the building would give your typical Thaumivore heartburn!
 
As her younger sister's little colt-friend would say, 'Holy Socks'. There was another visitor to the castle's library. She tried her best to get Opal Frost's attention without making too much of a noise, "If you'd like an hot cocoa just ask...", she added with a smile. She decided to make Hot Choc-Coladas tomorrow. At least for the adults
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The disguised yokai hummed slightly as Taira approached, turning towards him as he rounded the corner to their little secluded area. Ra’nu wasn’t really sure what the purpose of disguising as a dog was, but he knew Taira knew what he was doing. Usually. 

 

“It’s great to see you too, as it were. How are you faring?” He responded, also in hushed tones. While not that weird to talk to dogs, from what he’d noticed, having a one-sided conversation with one might be. “I suppose I could be doing better. Every lead thus far has gone cold, but I heard this was a good place to pick up the trail.”

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Opal's ears perked up at the sound of cocoa. Abandoning, her intent to search for a book, she shyly walked closer to the group with a small smile. "A hot cocoa sounds lovely, please, thank you. No marshmallows, but some whipped cream if you have any, please." Opal then nodded to the others as a silent greeting. Of course, her bangs fell down out of place, covering a very good bit of her face. "How awkward," she thought as she used her magic to put them back in their place.

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Oh, Earth was never going to give up writing itself; it was both in his name and in his bones, not to mention the only marketable skill he could use to put food on his table.  What he'd lost was any pride in his product, or shame for that matter.  Hence, why Fire Walker's attempt at encouragement drew out a laugh bitter as black coffee from the bottom of the pot.  "Oh, I did.  That's what got me in trouble.  There's surprisingly little demand for a freelance propagandist, if you can't fool anypony into thinking you're a real journalist anymore."

 

That was as close as he'd come in a while to a public admission of guilt; much of it was externalized into a resentment of the powerful, telling himself he'd been hard done by everypony involved, from the noble who'd entrapped him to the editor who fired him.  But with destitution looming, one had to discard grudges like so much ballast to keep afloat.  Sighing, he settled back in the chair with the cup of cocoa.  "Anyway, thanks.  I'll see her with a manuscript once I've got it finished."

 

His eyes wandered back to Taira as he took a sip.  Going off to greet the Kirin... who greeted back, apparently.  Once again, buried reporter senses were tingling.  "You know, I heard a story once, or read it, about creatures that could disguise themselves as animals... or, perhaps, were animals that could disguise themselves as ponies.  Who are also animals, I suppose.  Anypony ever wondered why that distinction doesn't seem weird?"  He addressed his question to Opal, as she'd just come up to the rest of the group.

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