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[Canterlot University]A Missing Ledger (Attn: Blueblood)

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Life at Canterlot University was... Different at best for Medō. She was away from her friends, away from her family, and so far hadn't done very well in the making new friends category. This was partly in fact that she spent most of her time studying trying to get everything she needed done as quick as she could. It wasn't that she disliked Equestria... It was more that she wanted to go home. She missed her sister and only ever got to see her during holidays and end of year. One thing her time did do was smooth out her accent a bit. Her Equestrian now sounded much more authentic than broken and conversation came easy for her as long as the talk about herbs.

 

She currently found herself sitting at the desk in her dorm looking over advanced herbal medicine V and how to combine different medicines that she'd already made without causing negative drawbacks. Such herbal remedies could be useful for treating multiple symptoms and issues at once and most of them made sense to her. She was also experimenting herself by following the instructions in the books but she wouldn't know until later when she could show them to the instructor till know if she did it right. All looked like was a pill and the instructor would have to dissolve the pill to know if it had been mixed properly. She was excited and was eagerly awaiting class.

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So.... Canterlot University.  The trails all led here.

 

The Empress Yu Yue was finally starting to come into her own as ruler of Long Guo, and as part of that had conducted several audits of the Imperial Bureaucracy, in order to make the operations of government fully transparent to her and her inner council.  As the Bureaucracy had a continuity that outlasted entire dynasties, it had a bit of a bad habit of keeping the Emperor/Empress in the dark about its operations, often continuing projects begun by long-dead rulers regardless of the wishes of the current administration.

 

*It was honestly kind of funny watching them squirm as we read out the budget line-by-line.*  The Imperial Finance Bureau had been saved for last, and boy had that been a trip.  Feng Yinhaitao had felt privileged to be at the Empress' side as she exercised her power.  Was it too much to say that she flexed?  That might be there mere impressions of an idolizer.  Nonetheless, quite a few legacy expenses were left on the cutting room floor (though, to be sure, one or two were also added that would no doubt bedevil future Imperial administrations).

 

That left only one thing unaccounted for, a small but non-trivial annual payment, one of the last things the prior Emperor had specifically requested.  Discretion had been specified, to the point where not even the financial long sun had been able to tell their Empress what it was for.  Well, unknowns were dangerous, and who better to look into the dangers of the unknown than Empress Yue's Famously Fearless Feng?

 

 

Of course, there was the slight issue of Feng actually being famous in Equestria, having taken top prize as an international contestant in the previous Iron Pony competition.  Hence, his decision to break out the old undercover gear.  Mane dye, scale scrubber, contacts, the works.  Thus, when he stepped on campus, his green mane and tail were now a dark blue, while his shiny golden scales were now more a dirty bronze.  A pair of contacts made his striking red eyes a less-striking hazel, and the whole thing was capped off with a conservative business suit completing the look of a foreign, but not interestingly exotic, longma bureaucrat here to check up on the expenses.

 

He'd traced the expense to this university, and only a little checking had revealed that the amount was equal to the room, board, tuition, and book cost of a student here.  So it was an Imperial Scholarship, but of whom?

Surprisingly, the registrar had been forthcoming.  Having simply asked how the student here on the Imperial Scholarship was doing, he'd been given not only Medo's name and description, but her full transcript as well.  But that still left the question as to why the old Emperor had been so generous to her, one which only one pony could answer.  And that was the pony upon who's door Feng was currently knocking....

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~~~Medō Asai~~~

 

 

 

 

The knock at the door came at a startle for Medō. After all, she hasn't been expecting any visitors and her dorm mate had a key. She'd have no reason to knock. She collected herself and then looked at the herbal pills that were in front of her and sighed. She say then asked for a moment so she could she who this was and what they wanted. With any luck, they were a solicitor and she could tell them that she wasn't interested and move on. Would take no time at all and she could get back to work.

 

What she saw though when she answered the door though wasn't what she was expecting at all. It was a longma!!! And it didn't look to be one from the school. In fact, he looked a bit older. His scales looked like an aged bronze, with a brown coat, and a blue make and tail. She'd never seen this pony before in her life, but if he wasn't a student here, then he was looking for someone. The fact that he knocked on her door meant that he was looking for either her, or somepony that she knew. She had to admit through, the suit made him look quite dapper. 

 

"Hello... Is there something I can help you with?" she asked wondering more as well if perhaps the pony was lost and just looking for directions. Canterlot University got a lot of prestigious guests since she's been here and she can say from first hoof experience... It was really easy to get lost if you aren't used to the layout already.

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Feng bowed, in response to the open door, a traditional greeting.  "Good morning, Medo-san."  He hoped that was the correct honorific, but it wouldn't be fatal to his cover if it weren't.  "My name is Kong Fui, from the Imperial Bureau of Finance."  He watched her face carefully for reactions to that title.  He didn't necessarily suspect malfeasance, but if there was any bilking of the Treasury going on here, Empress Yue would want to know.  "I've been tasked with checking up on a few things, do you mind if I come in to ask you some questions?"

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

When the Long had introduced himself, Medo kind of cocked her head to the side. What in the name of Equestria did the Imperial Bureau of Finance possibly want with her? She wasn't wealthy by any means so there wasn't any possible way for her to even thing of trying to fudge numbers or anything to try to work a system. She'd first have to be able to have bits to even attempt! Plus there was the fact that she wasn't that kind of mare. To try to take advantage of something and cheat other ponies out of what they had worked hard for was beneath her and her family. In fact if she ever considered even thinking about that she was sure her family would disown her. When he further addressed the fact that he had been tasked on checking up on a few things, she arched an eyebrow once more. However the fact that he had addressed her by name and honorific meant that she was definitely the mare that he was looking for even if his information was off.

 

With that in mind, she stayed polite and respectful and when he asked to come inside, she nodded and lead him inside. "Please come in... I'll try to answer whatever questions that you have, but know that I will have questions as well... I can't really say that I was expecting you, so I don't know what you're doing here, o what you'd have to do with me... Nor have I really cleaned up a bit. If I knew I would be getting a visitor, I would have," she commented. If Kong would look around the room though, he would see that aside from her desk where she had obviously been tampering with herbs, the rest of the dorm was near spotless. She definitely kept well hygiene in order.

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Bowing his head once again as he entered, Feng made his way into the middle of the apartment, trained eyes scanning the place for clues as to its owner's character.  Honestly, the dorm spoke well of Medo; there was evidence both of academic and personal diligence, to the point where he was willing to conclude that resources were not being totally wasted.  The mare was getting an education, and making the most of it.

 

"That will be no problem, I am used to messier surprise visits."  Boy howdy, was that an understatement.  Being a Watcher meant often breaking into the inner chambers of scum and villainy.  He took a seat opposite her, where he could get a good look of both her facial tics and body language.  She had been shown to be reserved and sincere, which if continued boded well for his mission.  "You are here on a scholarship, correct?  A full ride, I understand.  That testifies to the faith that one had in your abilities; but are you connected to your sponsor in any other way?"

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

 

Medo watched as the longma made his way into her room and began to, what she could presume, was meticulously go over everything that was wrong with her room. Some of the books on her shelves were out of order considering that she was still using a couple of them but that was no excuse to put them up in haste! When he told her that he was used to messier visits, and that this would be perfectly acceptable for their little meeting. He took a seat across from her and she sat down as well as he started talking about the scholarship that she was given. Almost instantly she felt like maybe she had done something wrong. He asked what connection that she had to the sponsor. She tilted her head a bit.

 

"I am here on a scholarship program... and am hopeful to remain here on it... If I have done something that could lead to the revoking of said scholarship... then I pray you inform me of what I've done or haven't done so that I could fix it... If my family found out.... I'd never be able to see them again... And I can honestly tell you that I have absolutely no clue who gave me the scholarship. All I know is that I got a letter in the mail and it said that all expenses were paid, and what my start date was. I got this letter about a month or two after the Emperor left after I found the herbs to help his sick filly get better," Medo answered.

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As Feng listened to Medo relate her answer, he held a serious look on his face, with forehooves steepled under his muzzle.  He held this look for a solid two or three seconds after she finished, in silence, before it cracked.  But he couldn't hold out forever, and with a sound like a ruptured air pipe, the visage of the 'career bureaucrat' was broken by the grin of a lifelong rogueish troublemaker.  A hastily placed hoof failed to stop a strangled laugh from coming out, and he had to expectorate a few chuckles before he could speak again.

 

"Wow... seriously, you're smart enough to come here, but couldn't put two and two together after that?"  He broke out in laughter fully now, his voice now returned to something closer to a normal register for him.  He suspected that she'd never stated the story so succinctly before, and thus had never an opportunity to actually utter her last sentence, but with that one statement, she'd cleared up the whole situation for him.  "Now why couldn't the old qilin have just made a note, and saved me the trouble of the trip, and the treasury of the expense?"

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

 

 

Medo's ears folded back a bit when she heard the longma start laughing at hey and she turned her head away from him, grimacing a bit more with each chuckle that left his mouth. She felt embarrassed and just wanted to be done with the interview now... He likely didn't believe anything she said, and should probably start packing her things as soon as he left. Then he stated that she was smart enough to come to a place like this, but not able to put two and two from her story together. This didn't help her self esteem and she just remained quiet.

 

When she heard hey mention about the old Kirin leaving a note for him in the ledger instead of making him take a trip and using the treasury for the expenses. She arches an eyebrow looking back at him... She sighed looking back to him, getting her voice back, although a bit more irritated than it was a few moments ago. "Well, I mean I always presumed, but there was never any evidence, and nopony would give me any information on it! And a pony just doesn't claim to be on a full ride from a Royal figure without proof," she said taking a deep breath and then sighed.

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Feng's laugh eventually subsided, and he raised a hoof to brush a tear away from the corner of his eye.  "I'm sorry, It's just... do you have any idea how much of a tizzy Imperial Bureaucrats get when they can't account for a line-item expense?  Especially when the Empress herself is conducting the audit?  I'm just remembering the looks on their faces... and imagining what's going to happen when I finally reveal what it was!"

 

Taking a deep breath, he settled back in the chair, still smiling, but less jocular.  "You have any idea how much I've wanted to meet you?  I- we all, owe you a thanks for saving Yu Yue's life.  I know she herself has often wanted to see you again, but we couldn't find you!  And now we know why."

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

 

As the Long continued. It seemed more that he wasn't laughing at her as he was the situation. He went on to explain that the empress herself was doing an audit on the finances and he was remembering the looks on the imperial Beaurecrats faces when they couldn't explain what the missing funds were. Only that they were going to her. He further added that they had been wanting to meet her for a while now and could never find her. She arched an eyebrow.

 

"Well I wasn't exactly trying to hide or anything. We ran into each other once while I was here a few years ago. I recognized hey, but I don't know if she recognized me. It was during the gala a couple of years ago. Although I am surprised that absolutely no pony else was told about me. I'm just a humble farm mare. There really isn't anything to keep a secret about," Medo responded to him still trying to figure things out. Though by his response, she figured a trip to Long was going to be in her near future. Surely get instructors would give her leave if she was summoned by they empress herself.

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Feng blinked, he recalled the gala, but he had been on hidden security detail at the time, and his assigned monitoring area hadn't intersected with Medo's itinerary.  "Hm, I suppose she didn't, or at least, didn't tell me about it."  It was a surprisingly casual thing for an Imperial Bureaucrat to say about the Empress, as if he were in a position to listen to her confidences.  "I really don't understand the secrecy myself either, but it's good to get that all cleared up now, at the very least!"

Now fully relaxed, Feng shifted himself in his seat to let his wings unfurl out to the sides.  Like pegasi, longma felt most comfortable if a little air could circulate underneath.  "I suppose details about visits can be worked out with your instructors; no reason not to wait for a semester break, in any case.  That said, do you still have any questions for me?  It's really only fair, since I dropped in on you so unexpectedly."

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

 

When the Longma replied to her, it became apparent that he was a part of the inner circle of ponies that surrounded the Empress. She could also notice that was relaxing a bit more and was quite a bit more... Not laughing at her. Still though, thinking about the comment she could easily why he could come to that conclusion. He added, once he made himself more comfortable, that the arrangements of her visits could be worked out with her instructors, and that there was no reason that they couldn't be in between semester breaks. She was a little apprehensive about that cause it would take more time away from her family. At the same time though, this way royalty, and the ones that were footing her bill here. They had the right to know who they were paying to get an education. When he asked if she had any questions, she paused in thought. 

 

"I have a couple," Medo started. "The first being what kind of crisis is Long in that required such a fine tuned audit to begin with. I've been here for a few years now and will actually be graduating soon, and this is the first time anypony from Long or Neighpon alike that want family in regards to the situation. I suppose I also need to ask what will become of me once I graduate? I can't imagine the Emperor would do all this without some sort of contengency. What would also become of my family in Neighpon?" It was just a start to all the questions she had that she could now get answered, but she didn't want to overwhelm him either. If he was just a financial advisor, he may not have all of her answers.

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Settled back, smiling easily, Feng met Medo's questions with the breezy familiarity of an old friend.  "No real crisis, a general audit is just part of the succession process.  Keeps the bureaucracy from turning the Jade Throne into their own plaything, you know?  You have to do one at least once every generation to make sure that everything is in line and accounted for.  Dynasties have been ruined by letting things get out of hoof, so this is more a measure to prevent crises and root out nascent corruption.  Hence, why line-items with no stated purpose are looked into.

 

"As for future plans..."  Feng shrugged.  "The last Emperor who set up your scholarship didn't write any down, so as far as we know, it was probably just a reward out of gratitude.  The offhand and informal way it was set up seems in line with that."  Being a Watcher meant being an on-the-fly analyst as well as a spy and warrior-guardian.  "But that was then; I don't know what Empress Yue will say.  I don't think she'll add any strings to the offer, but if you want a position within Long Guo, you're pretty much guaranteed it, I'd say."

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~~~Medo Asai~~~

 

 

 

 

Medo felt a bit of relief when she heard that there was no real crisis that had spurred the audit, but rather proactive crisis prevention. That this happened whenever the dynasties changed to make sure there wasn't any corruption within the ranks. It was why line by line items with no purpose were looked into. He also added that the old emperor didn't see anything else up with her scholarship but basically assured her that if she wanted a position in Long Guo, she was pretty much guaranteed it. 

 

"Well. That is relieving at least that nothing has troubled the nation enough to spur such an intensive situation. I can respect the empress for making sure everything is in check. That being said, I suppose that would depend on what positions are available at the end of the year. I don't want to run somepony else out of their spot. That being said, where is Long at right now in terms of herbal medicine? What kind of resources and herbs are available in that region? What's the most common sickness there? Perhaps while I'm here I can work on something that would treat some of the specific ailments that plague long and Neighpon both," she asked. 

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This was somewhat beyond Feng's paygrade, or technically below it.  He didn't actually know how much the infirmary head was paid; should he ask her?  "Hm, I have to confess that I don't know the answer to any of these questions.  I'd say that we lead the world in herbal medicine, but that might just be normal patriotic exaggeration.  I could introduce you to a few experts at the palace that can give you a better picture of the situation, but beyond that, I'm afraid I can't help you."

 

He stretched out, wings flapping.  Sitting still for so long wasn't exactly comfortable to him; if Medo was skilled in reading body language, she would be able to tell that he was typically a very active stallion.  "Any other questions?"

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