"Oh, as long as the town has been settled, it's a real beaut, blessed by the Princess herself!"
"Its quite lovely." I compliment it.
He looks solemn and respectful, putting a hoof over his heart.
"Used to look happy before, wasn't weeping."
Blink at that statement.
"Really? That statue changed on its own?"
"Ayup. Once the town was gone and there were ain' no more ponies aroun' anymore, it began to weep. Ah think it misses her subjects."
I look sad at the statue, but shutter with worry.
"And no one from Canterlot ever came to see ?"
"Oh, there have been ponies here, on a pilgrimage just ta' see it, but that's about it."
"That's so…" I ponder it. "Then, she can't be too lonely."
"Yeah, plus I mean, ah pray to her 'ryday, telling her s'allright. Still not quite the same as havin' a townful o' ponyfolk."
"It would be quite nice if the town could be rebuilt.." I agree.
Look up at the skies, how late did it get?
Very late afternoon, it may be getting dark soon.
You will probably want to be back at the castle by then, as to not worry anypony.
"We should head back. You want to join us for dinner Back Water?" I offer the donkey.
He shakes his head with a smile.
"Sorry, folks' but this here town is my wife at this point an' she'd get awfully ornery if I left her alone just to eat somewhere else."
"Heh, alright. See you around."
I will say in farewells to the donkey and take Paradise to the castle again.
He says goodbye too, and walks beside you a bit sluggish.
He almost trips over a rock as he yawns…
Must have been a big, exhausting day for him!
"Want a ride?" I offer him.
He blinks at first, but then nods with a smile, fluttering up on your back!
"Hold on tight." I tell him and with a single warning flap, take off in flight and soar up to the castle.
He holds on, spreading his own wings to catch the wind, guiding you to a balcony.
"That's where Mom sometimes leaves from and arrives to! She's probably waiting for us there now!"
"Okay, coming in for a landing." I playfully make a whooshing sound again as I go for the balcony.
He giggles as you do and land, but he says "Uh-oh." when he sees the pegasus mare with the sparkly eyes waiting just behind the door of the balcony, tapping her hoof impatiently against the stone.
Step forward to her. Rubbing my head embarrassed.
"Sorry, we lost track of time."
"I see you couldn't manage another week without a new bruise, Paradise!"
She says to your brother, seeing the ruffled fur on his leg where he fell.
"And what in Equestria did you do with your tail to look like that, Kelani?"
"I painted lines on the old ball field." I pick up the tail, patting it to see how loose the ashes are.
It will need a good rinsing.
"Paradise, dinner is on the table. As for you."
She turns to you.
"Into the bathroom with you. You are not sitting down for dinner with a filthy tail like that. March march!"
She clops her hooves urgently!
I urgently move to the bathroom, carefully trying not to wiggle my tail at all to mitigate the damage
She ushers you in to the tub (a rather fancy one at that, spacious too!) and pulls a lever with her teeth…
Cold water washes over you from a pipe above as she does!
"Oh!" I gasp in surprise at the cold.
Then get my tail nice and rinsed in the water.
"Sorry, but warm water has to be rationed, and I'd rather have Malady and Paradise have it than you or me."
The mare picks up a brush near the tub and leans close to brush out the ashes, the water becoming a dirty grey as it drains down at the bottom of the tub.
"I understand." This is.. nice, being cared for like that.. by my mother.. I relax a bit as she helps.
"Thanks, its a little hard to reach there."
You did notice that she didn't miss a beat. Ever since you arrived and she got over her initial surprise, she has been treating you just like she does Paradise.
"Wou tho fakhe ahhte wou faha! Whump aheas!"
She says with the brush still in her mouth.
(Translation, since as a pony you can understand: You do take after your father! Dumb ideas!)
She pulls back, your tail clean, and she spits the brush to the side of the tub.
"You're a big colt, you can finish the rest. I'll make sure Paradise eats and take him to bed, but I'll be looking at your wounds when I'm back!"
My ears flop down when she mentions my wounds.
She leaves you to finish up, knocking on the bathroom door about ten minutes later.
That's plenty of time, I'm even drying off just now.
She enters, this time wearing a strange necklace made out of shimmering gemstones of different sizes and colors. None of them shine as bright as her eyes though.
She takes a towel in her mouth and lays it down on the ground.
"Could you lie down for me please?"
"If you don't want to tell me, you don't need to. I just want to know. I might worry more if you don't tell me."
"I wasn't going to.. but I saw some things in the town, so now I think I must tell you." lay down.
"I'm looking for the statues of Mother Nature, which together, will save the world from wilting under black tentacles."
"However, these ended up in the hooves of dangerous ponies, and I wound up caught in the middle of their shadow war."
She is silent for a bit… but then you feel her kiss your forehead, before you feel soothing magic slowly heal your wounds, even the scar on your chest.
Even as her healing magic is working, she speaks in a soft tone.
"Kelani… I am very proud of you.
This is nothing to hide from me because… I always suspected that you were meant to do great things."
She pauses, focusing on her magic a bit.
"Look at you, braving horrible, horrible things like that, just to help ponies and Mother Nature. I never had faith for Her like your father did, but that is because I knew it would never be me who would be in her favor. It would be you or Paradise."
I look at her with a smile of awe.
"Really? You knew?"
She shakes her head a bit, but then says "No." as you may not see that motion well.
"I just… felt it. My own mother told me to be proud of my legacy, that the Pegasi of Timbucktu have been destined for greatness. I know that wasn't true, if it was, they would have never let Queen Chrysalis destroy the most beautiful city pegasi ever made… but I knew that our blood and Equestrian blood mixing together would be something that… something that can hold a soul so bright it can triumph over any darkness. The moment I saw you open your eyes at me as a foal, I knew you had a soul like that."
She wipes a tear with her wing.
"Sorry… I'm getting a bit sentimental again."
"I never knew about the Timbucktu ponies." I scoot closer to her in curiosity.
"I only know it from the stories of my parents who were forced to leave after it was destroyed."
Despite this, she smiles, clearly being nostalgic to even recite the story.
"They called it the Jewel of the Skies. A thriving metropolis, center of trade between pegasi and all other flying creatures, gryphons, dragons, wyverns and more!"
She looks at you with her beauiful sparkly eyes.
"Everypony had eyes like me there and it was lead by a benevolent ruler, King Orion. He was said to have been loved by all for his wisdom, kindness and generosity."
I gasp in amazement at her story.
"It sounds wonderful."
"It truly was."
Her smile falters.
"It was this happiness and love that was their downfall. They were too happy to ever concieve evil taking root. Do you know what a changeling is, Kelani?"
Nod. "I've heard the nightmare night stories at least."
"They are these horrible creatures that feed on love and happiness and can take the form of anypony… alone and seperated they are weak, trying to blend in by pretending to be a pony others love. As a swarm, lead by Queen Chrysalis… they were an unstoppable force. She even disguised herself as a commander to call a retreat and draw everypony to the palace."
I frown deeply. "Being too trusting is bad too."
"Nothing was left afterwards, and the remaining pegasi fled, to Trotantium, Equestria, all over the world."
"I see…" hug her in silence for a moment, then start a new.
"…What I saw below, was a land which needs Mother Nature's power to restore it. The runes in the dirt which the paladins could not remove. I somehow.. know that she can do it."
She hugs you back.
"How? It is a very foul magic… it would take a tremendous amount of power, even for a deity!"
"I must ask her. Is there a temple to Nature nearby?"