“Where does this big speaker go, Scratchie?” asked Octavia.
Scratch frowned. “You shouldn’t be moving it, Tavi. It’s heavy!”
Octavia scoffed. “It’s fine! Oof… mostly fine! I’m strong enough, Scratchie, don’t worry.”
“Yeah, but… we have a roadie for a reason, Tavi! Townsponies don’t want to see you lugging equipment. Besides, I can carry my decks but look at that thing! What if it topples over and smushes you? You know my magic isn’t strong enough to stop it.”
“I’ll pretend it’s Stout Heart. You know, when he’s all spent afterwards. It shall inspire me. Big Macintosh can carry the other speaker.”
“You should carry the amps!” argued Scratch. “Or actually, not even the amps. We’re splitting the take three ways, Tavi, and he doesn’t even play, and he’s super strong. This is his part to do, and I do the wiring and sound-checking, and you sell the tickets, remember?”
“And plan the acoustics,” added Octavia. “I told you about that, Scratchie, that’s why I’m trying to carry the speaker.”
“You’re dragging it,” complained Scratch. “It’s got all grass stains around the bottom.”
“I’m sure it’s seen worse stains than that, Vinyl Scratch.”
Scratch winced, grinning. “Got me there.”
“And you simply aren’t taking the acoustics seriously,” said Octavia, “it’s like you think you can set up the speakers any old place, and they’ll be fine!”
Scratch blinked. “Uh… they kind of will. Haven’t you heard me play, Tavi? We’re going to rock this whole town.”
Octavia pouted. “Indeed I have heard you play, and your strength of personality overcomes much, but I’m convinced it will be even better with proper speaker positioning. There’s a bit of a natural amphitheater over this way, and we can position things so there isn’t a tiresome echo off that cliff. You’ll see.”
“Echoes are cool,” countered Scratch. “I’ve played in basements that are just one big echo, and it’s nuts: the place just fills up with sound.”
Octavia shuddered demurely, and stuck out her lower lip. “You must trust me. Anyhow, I am opening for you, and I know what my cello will need. Didn’t you see me trotting around and clapping my hooves together, and listening?”
“I do trust you,” said Vinyl Scratch earnestly. “Even if I think you shouldn’t be moving those yourself.”
“Big Macintosh will move the other speaker,” said Octavia. “I’ll show him where it must go.”
Scratch scratched her head, and looked in all directions, as Octavia labored.
“Where IS he?”
Big Macintosh looked this way and that, wide-eyed and nervous. Heads turned to stare at him: he knew his appearance in the little Neighpon town was causing a stir, but it couldn’t be helped.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement: a pegasus, streaking across the sky, clad in some sort of uniform that was all angles and spikes. Or was it even a pegasus? There was no telling. He ducked back into the shelter of a doorway, and was startled by a squeal.
He whirled, to see that he’d been backing up into a little cafe, and had nearly squished an earth pony mare. Her eyes were even wider than his: she hadn’t even recognized his species until he turned, she’d been forced back into the cafe by a titanic farm horse rump that dwarfed her. The cafe smelled of rice, and fish, and vinegar, and of unrecognizable scents of fermented things.
She made a little squeaky noise, and stammered “Kyodaina o shiri no akuma,” too awed by him to talk common pony language. Perhaps she was begging his forgiveness, or greeting him in some way?
Big Macintosh gulped. “Uhhh… h’lo.”
The mare stepped back again, and looked him over, her eyes wide with wonder. She gulped, and said, “Welcome! I… it… welcome!”
“Thankee,” rumbled Big Macintosh. “Uhh… nice place y’ got here.”
The mare licked her lips. “Cherry BLOSSOMS! If that doesn’t work, nothing will. I can see why she has sent for you.”
Big Macintosh blinked. “What’s gonna work? Didja say ‘she’?”
“Is your dangura upon the same scale as the rest of you?” asked the mare, stepping closer, fascinated.
“My whut? Ah mean, most likely!” said Big Macintosh. “Jes’ a minute. Somepony sent for me?”
“To help with our Kirin,” explained the mare.
“Happens Ah’m looking for somepony, funny you should mention it. You know where Ah could find,” said Big Macintosh, and gulped, and hoped… “Hina?”
“Of course!” cried the mare happily. “I knew it! She has sent for you!”
Big Macintosh’s eyes flew wide as saucers. “WHUT?!”
“I will bring you to her right away!”
Big Macintosh whinnied, and bounced into the air in glee. “YEEHA! Mah love!”
The little mare bounced too, beaming huge smiles. “She will feed the Kirin for months this way!”
She dashed off, and Big Macintosh thundered in pursuit, shaking the nearby houses. Ponies stared out their windows in alarm, thinking some monster was attacking, and their shock was only increased by the spectacle: a delighted Neighponnese mare, leading a giant stallion whose erection dropped and then flailed around as he ran, barely avoiding being stepped on. Big Macintosh’s whole psyche was fizzing with romance, as he envisioned his Kirin love awaiting him, crying out “Oh, Big Macintosh! Thank goodness you returned to me! I’ve been waiting for simply ever, darling!”
There was a slightly larger house, and a door. He screeched to a halt, because smashing down the door might be thought of as rude, and since his helper had pulled up outside the door. He panted, his eyes wild, his mane unkempt.
“Eee!” squealed the little mare. “Were I a unicorn, I might squirt just from looking at you!” She peered under his belly, and gulped. “And be very frightened!”
“Where is she?” pleaded Big Macintosh. “Here?”
“This is the house of Hina!” replied his helper.
“Hello?” called a voice from inside. In Big Macintosh’s flustered mind, it seemed like the voice of Rarity, which made sense to him as he’d imagined Hina speaking rather in the manner of his first great love.
“Don’t start!” pleaded the little earth pony mare. “I will go fetch the Kirin!”
“Whut?” blinked Big Macintosh, but she’d scampered off before he could react, calling out “Daitana! Daitana! Where is he?”
“Hello?” called the voice from inside. “Come in!”
Big Macintosh, his heart pounding, pushed open the door and stepped inside.
If Rarity had been transported suddenly to Neighpon, she could not have lounged any more sumptuously than the elegant, yellow-green unicorn that awaited him. She looked him over, gasped, glanced quickly up to his eyes with an intelligent gaze, then back down to the battering ram this strange, huge horse brought to her.
“Well, that’s frightening,” she said. She looked again. “And yet, perhaps possible. Maybe. Curse it, Daitana, I shall ask for some healing magic if this goes awry!”
“Ah beg your pardon?” said Big Macintosh.
Her eyes ravished him, and she shuddered at the deep rumble of his voice. “Ahnnn. Or not. He is nothing if not thorough!”
“Who is?” asked Big Macintosh, confused and beginning to droop.
“Daitana,” replied the elegant unicorn. “You are the one for whom he sent?”
“Now jes’ a minute,” said Big Macintosh. “Ain’t nopony sent me. I’m lookin’ for somepony and they said she was here. And she ain’t!”
“Who, then, do you seek?” asked the reclining unicorn.
“Ah’m looking for Hina,” said Big Macintosh, peering into all corners of the room imploringly.
The unicorn mare blinked.
“But I am Hina,” she replied.
Big Macintosh’s jaw dropped. “Aw, horseapples! Um, no offense? But you ain’t the right Hina, ma’am. It’s a Kirin lady I’m lookin’ for.”
Her eyes widened.
“Hina-RIN!” she exclaimed.
“Er… mebbe?” said Big Macintosh, taken aback.
Hina made a face. “How vexing! I guess it’s just as well. Then it’s a misunderstanding? Daitana didn’t send you?”
“I ain’t never met a Daitana,” said Big Macintosh. “Seems like I remember somepony said she was Hina-rin.”
Hina nodded. “Yes! I remember because we share a name. It is like our Daitana-shi. Ah… I should not say that, I should say Daitana-sama, but he is so new here and so aloof, we have taken to calling him Daitana-shi…”
“You know where Hina-rin is?” pressed Big Macintosh, urgently.
“No!” protested Hina-not-rin. “I am sorry! You need her help? But with an honorific like that, she must be friendly. And perhaps young? I am sure I’ve heard of her, again, because we share a name. I am sure I am very honored, but I don’t know where Hina-rin lives.”
Big Macintosh drooped, in every sense. Hina, the unicorn, gave a little whinny of dismay.
“I am so sorry! I see your great disappointment. Surely Daitana did not send you, for he would have explained our need. And anyhow he is not here.” She pouted, frustrated. “He is never here, when I am willing. And I am forever willing to welcome him to this, our charming town, and provide him with the energy he needs. It is harder and harder to keep from releasing it, and I am pent up and frustrated.”
Big Macintosh backed up a step. “Beggin’ your pardon?”
Hina whinnied in outrage. “Not you too? What am I, a dead fish to stallions?” She shook herself. “But no! You are doing us a kindness, making it easier for me to avoid spilling my magic across my ceiling and walls. And probably burning my house down,” she added.
Big Macintosh frowned. “Ah don’t mean to offend y’all. I am mighty confused. So, what did you think was fixin’ to happen here?”
Hina, the unicorn, sighed.
“Our Kirin, Daitana-shi, is odd. He is quite new to our town, and though he claims to be happy here, we cannot feed him. It is said that he’s so low on magic that he could not make love to a unicorn mare and be restored to health. It’s said this shames him, that he would not drink from the fount of our willing horns if he cannot deliver the highest of ecstacies inside us.”
“Huh,” said Big Macintosh. “Nice fella?”
Hina snorted. “Foolish Daitana-shi! I personally have allowed myself to become so pent up, he might only breathe upon my ravishing vagina and perhaps lick my nipples and I would fountain forth magic in great quantity for him to feast on! It is insulting that he scorns our bounty!”
Big Macintosh blinked. This unicorn seemed to resemble Rarity in more ways than one: her opinion of her beauty was also bountiful. Perhaps this Daitana kirin simply didn’t like her arrogance?
Hina sighed again. “He begged off, Mister Huge Horse. He suggested that he might find some wonderful lover, and on some other day, he would drink my magic while another lover brought me to glorious orgasm… since he could not do it justice, as low in power as he was.” She snorted. “Again, foolish Daitana-shi. I could feed five Kirin with my horn, and he turns his nose up at it.”
“That’s a thing?” asked Big Macintosh.
“What do you mean?”
“Is it a thing?” asked Big Macintosh. “This gittin’ another pony to help. Feedin’ a Kirin by ballin’ the unicorn for her. That’s a thing?”
Hina frowned. “Not especially. It should not be necessary. It would work. You wish such a task? Daitana is not here, so you should not start with me.”
“No, no!” said Big Macintosh. “I mean when I find my Hina. Er, Hina-rin. Do you mean Ah could feed her full of magic just by fuckin’ a unicorn just right?”
Hina-not-rin made a face. “I suppose. From what I saw of you, it would either be hugely effective, or you would hurt her and require the Kirin’s healing powers. Some mares could stand it, I suppose.” Her eyes grew brooding, sultry. “I’m not sure I’m not one of them. With all this withholding, I could take a dragon, or one of the pink demons, and still orgasm. Perhaps you had better go, or I will waste our gift for our Kirin despite my best intentions. And be injured by you, making it even less proper.”
Big Macintosh looked offended. “Ma’am, Ah am a gentle-pony. I ain’t damaged no mare yet. Ah’m a proper stud-pony, I am, good enough for a Princess. Heck, even some stallions!” He winced, remembering. He blinked. “Wait a minute. What pink demons?”
She ignored this. “Our Kirin is not here. And I am still not convinced your penis is safe… and everything about this situation is not proper! If Daitana did not send you, who did? Why do you seek a Kirin, when you seem well? Why do you flirt, knowing my issue must be saved for our Kirin?”
“Whaddya mean, Ah’m flirtin’?” demanded Big Macintosh. “I told you the truth! Ah know what I am!”
“Yeah… IN TROUBLE!” came a wry voice from the doorway.
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia were looking in at him. Octavia was frowning, and Scratch was smiling, but not with her eyes.
“Oh, horseapples twice,” moaned Big Macintosh.
“We’re almost ready to play,” said Scratch. “Leave the groupies for AFTER the gig, okay? You need to come and lift some speaker cabinets, right now!”
“Ah’m sorry! Ah’m sorry!” protested Big Macintosh, and turned to go, as Octavia and Vinyl Scratch were already racing back to their improvised stage.
“Huge horse!” called Hina, the unicorn.
Big Macintosh’s ear turned. “Eyup?”
“She is probably in the capital,” said Hina. “Good luck, strange huge horse. Head north.”
He blinked. “Thankee.”
“Go and lift your speakers!” ordered Hina. “Perhaps I will come and listen to your music.”
“Eyup,” replied Big Macintosh, and off he ran.
As the musicians and their roadie galloped to the eastern outskirts of town, gentle hoofsteps were heard at the outskirts of town to the west.
She appeared, walking out of a leafy bower as if her presence bestowed upon it a blessing. She smiled, not at anypony, just for sheer love of existence and the beautiful things she shared… and that were shared with her.
Not a Kirin. Just an earth pony. Only an earth pony. Simple, grey, with green eyes and sandy mane and tail…
She was Kichona, and she walked dreamily as if the ground wasn’t quite real. And she looked fondly to the east, hearing the first strains of music, recognizing that the wandering minstrels were preparing to play, and she vowed to go and enjoy their art.
She looked behind her, to the west, and the leafy bower, with even more fondness. She’d enjoyed his art every bit as much. More, perhaps.
Kichona looked faintly smug… but also, proud. Her body felt like jelly, and he hadn’t used any of his magic, not the tiniest amount. Of course, she was not a unicorn. Some might think it unfitting that the town’s new Kirin should worship a simple earth pony mare, should bring her to endless, gloriously exhausting orgasm with just his cock… and his caresses… and his kisses, in fact all the evidence of his wild, passionate emotion.
Kichona politely did not agree. In her deepest heart, she held an iconoclastic thought: her lover, the Kirin Daitana, was completely free. There was no duty he did not willingly accept, and everyone knew the Kirin were pledged to Neighponnese ponykind. Well… If he chose to pledge his life and his love to just one little Neighponnese mare, he had a perfect right to, thought Kichona defiantly… or, at least, with whatever serene defiance she had, to be defiant with. It was difficult to be defiant when one quivered as one walked.
No, there was no defiance. How could there be? There was only love, their most perfect love, and every time she saw him she melted away completely, surrendered to everything he was. How could she not? And, miraculously, gratefully, her feelings were returned. Hers was not to question why this great difference had happened. Hers was to appreciate it, in fullness, and this she had been doing in the leafy bower for hours on end.
Of course, that wasn’t the only way of love: far from it, he expected many other things besides, and she celebrated many other things about him.
But oh, his lovemaking was exquisite, even without magic enhancements.
Kichona blinked. What was that noise? Was it he, rushing to be with her again? But he moved with such dignity, never such a heedless gallop. Admittedly, he stuck to the ground ever since he stopped drinking unicorn magic. He’d been uncomfortable with that intimacy, he said, and when he fell in love with earth pony Kichona he’d cut it right out and began to walk like a normal pony, and not on clouds. It seemed responsible, after all if he would not be fed magic in that manner then he’d want to save it for important things. But this hurry of hooves couldn’t be her Daitana, surely?
It was not. It was Suzume, silly young Suzume. He’d heard the music, and he was racing out of the woods to beat her to the minstrels’ concert.
Kichona squealed, “Not there! The holes!”
As Suzume galloped heedlessly into town, not looking where he was going, he cleared a ridge on the way out of the leafy bower, soaring into the air for a moment and coming down with a thump of hind legs and boldly extended front legs. And, before he could think or react, the hole, the dreadful residue of the giant Neighponnese burrowing moles, was right there waiting for his terrible mistake…
Suzume went down, with a scream. His foreleg had snapped.
Without an instant’s hesitation, Kichona charged to his aid. “Oh, Suzume! No, don’t thrash, be calm, we will find help! Daitana! Daitana!”
They were quite far from the village, still. In the distance, ponies could be seen heading still further out of sight: silent tiny figures, trotting to the music performance. Kichona could somehow hear faint strains of the music, even though it seemed to be a stringed instrument. How could it resonate so fully, and be heard from so far away?
“Lie still!” ordered Kichona. “I will go to the town, and bring back a…”
Suzume squealed, “No!”
Kichona blinked. “What?”
The colt’s teeth chattered, and he sweated. He gulped, and he begged, “I am dying. Don’t leave me!”
Kichona’s ears splayed in frustration, but then she bowed her head. “Minu ga hana,” she said softly, and then she carefully hugged the terrified colt. “No you’re not. It is not true, you’ll be fine! But I will stay with you, dear Suzume. I can find help from where we lay.” She drew a deep breath. “Daitana!” she shouted, once more. “Hear me!”
In the distance, the half-heard, beautiful strains of the minstrel’s cello mingled with the sobs of the agonized colt. He began to froth at the mouth.
“Breathe, Suzume!” urged Kichona. “Not in that hasty way!” She hugged him again. “Oh, please, calm yourself! Help is coming! DAITANA!”
Where was he? He’d spoken of exploring the forest, finding rare plants or fungi that bore trace elements of magic to consume. How far could he have gone, pursuing such things?
No more tiny figures could be seen. They’d all gone to the music performance.
“DAITANA!” cried Kichona.
And then… there he was.
Appearing from between the trees, on the far side of the leafy bower. Looking her direction, as she frantically waved him down. Galloping with graceful speed and elegance to join them, his huge deep eyes warm with concern, his bearing speaking of caution and awareness, slowing as he approached the mole-holes.
“Kichona!” he cried. “What has happened here?”
She looked imploringly at him. No answer was needed, as she cuddled the sobbing colt’s head, staying well clear of his dismayingly crooked foreleg.
Daitana paled, taking in the situation. “But…”
“We must take him to the pony doctor!” insisted Kichona.
Daitana brightened. “Oh, of course! We will take him to the pony doctor right away!”
Suzume’s lip quivered. “But…” he whimpered, and looked pointedly at the Kirin’s very un-sparkly horn.
Daitana winced. “My power is weak,” he admitted. “I’m young, and perhaps foolish…”
“Oh pooh,” said Kichona loyally. “Suzume, we can help you like ponies of old once did. Don’t look at my Daitana so helplessly! Let’s get you to the doctor. We will all work together to make you well.”
“Right away?” said the colt, lip quivering.
Kichona pouted. “We’ll get you to the doctor right away. Do Kirin exist only to fix your foolishness?”
“Oh, Kichona,” sighed Daitana.
“Well, it’s true!” protested Kichona. “This colt came heedlessly running, in the belief that the town’s Kirin would fix up any distress, even distress for no good reason!”
Then, she hushed, as her Kirin’s cloven hoof gently touched her lips.
“Do we distinguish this now? Call some distress good? Scorn other distress as bad?”
It didn’t convince his Kichona. “And if they do not care for themselves? Or each other?”
Suzume didn’t follow the implications of the discussion. Not for him, concerns of morality, or questions about self-reliance and the abuse of protectors versus the benefits of security as an accepted, felt reality of whatever cost. Suzume wasn’t inclined to debate.
Suzume was still a very little colt, and his leg hurt with terrifying intensity, and the grownup and Kirin seemed to have forgotten him.
Daitana and Kichona exchanged one glance.
“Lift him onto my back!” said Kichona. “Keep that hoof clear. To the pony doctor!”
“If she is watching the show…” began Daitana.
“Fetch her!” urged Kichona.
Suzume didn’t notice how their town’s new Kirin barely used any magic… he was distracted with his woe, as Kichona and Daitana jockeyed him onto her back. Daitana’s horn did light, but its energies were focussed on the colt’s sad injured leg, exerting some soothing power while it could.
Kichona nodded, before he’d even finished. “Slowly, of course, my love. I’ll do my best. You go quickly, and fetch the doctor!”
He galloped off once more, cloven hooves pounding the grass. Kichona began to walk, but Suzume whimpered piteously. Hearing this, the earth pony mare slowed, and slowed further, until she was drifting forward with a dreamlike smoothness.
Step by calm, meditative step, she headed for town and the doctor’s office.
By the time they arrived at the doctor’s office, night had come. Suzume, on Kichona’s back, had fallen asleep after a lot of crying. She’d sung soothing lullabies to help him forget his pain, though she sang very quietly: she still wanted to hear the concert, for the music had seemed all the more beautiful and passionate as she gradually approached it.
It had turned to an exciting, compelling thumping, and she could see ponies dancing wildly in the distance, and she wondered what was keeping Daitana. Surely he could not have abandoned his purpose and gone out dancing?
He had not. Kichona saw him walking up the street. He had Dittsui, the doctor, by the ear. Though he wasn’t quite dragging her by it, all the same it seemed like he was prepared to, if he deemed it necessary.
“Ow, quit it!” protested Dittsui. “I expect a thorough healing of my poor ear, and what could you possibly need me for anyway? We have a Kirin and that’s you and let me go back and dance some more!”
Kichona giggled. “Dittsui-san!” she called. “Be good!”
“Kichona! You should be able to talk to this crazy Kir… good heavens, is that Suzume?”
Daitana released her, and Dittsui trotted up, complaints forgotten, to study the sleeping colt. Her horn lit, inquisitively.
“That’s a bad break,” she said, and turned to Daitana. “Heal it!”
The Kirin blushed. “We will use classic methods…”
“What for?” blinked Dittsui. “We have you!”
“He must heal naturally,” said Daitana. “I am still too weak.”
“How? Hina’s been going around telling us she’s going to pump you full of so much magic you’ll pop!”
Daitana winced. “It would not be right… to have such a thing. You assume… I mean… what if I said I had never fed that way?”
Dittsui cheered. “What an honor!”
“What do you mean, an honor?” protested Kichona.
At that, Dittsui gulped. “Oops. I am sorry, Daitana-sama. We don’t talk of this before the earth ponies and foals.”
Kichona bridled. “And which am I, Dittsui? I think I know what you mean.”
“Oh, all right then,” said Dittsui. She turned to Daitana again. “You don’t think you can get her off without some magic in the tank? See here, I’ll send for Hina right away and personally lick her to orgasm while you wait! Then she can do me, though I’m afraid my boyfriend is sooooo good I can’t save it up like Hina can…”
“No, no!” protested Daitana, who’d blanched and looked helplessly at his beloved Kichona.
“None of that,” said Kichona. “What if he doesn’t want to? We’ll do classic methods, you must know them.”
Daitana gulped. “Mostly classic methods,” he said.
He dared not argue with Dittsui further. Every word filled him with guilt, but in the presence of his Kichona he could not bear the notion of guzzling magic from the town’s vain, self-centered councillor: a governance position that seemed inevitably held by the… juiciest unicorns Neighpon had to offer. They, the Kirin, had struggled so hard to rein in the fiercest and greediest ponies, and somehow it persisted: Neighponnese ponies could turn even generosity into a kink, could turn even the willing venting of their power into a way to be superior.
He’d seen Hina. She’d drooled (though, admittedly, cutely) and could not stop staring at his mouth. She’d begun to wriggle, and dribbles of magic leaked from her horn. He’d never met her, but all the same his magic unerringly sensed the tone of her thoughts, and he recoiled. Hina had been nearly overcome with pride. She saw herself as part of a system to sustain him, and she knew that between her magical juiciness and her devotion to her purpose, she’d bring the town the most magically-potent Kirin for miles around. No other unicorn could rival her, and nothing else equine even entered the equation. She would be his constant companion, and his greatest supply, almost like an extension of him.
The traces of scorn in her thinking dismayed him. The glee in her own bounty disturbed him: Hina assumed he’d gravitate to her as the most powerful, and rejoiced in the idea, acting like he would immediately begin suckling on her horn while screwing her senseless.
The way she’d become angry at him when he made excuses and fled? That horrified him. He was so new to that type of nourishment! Other Kirin had fed him until so recently. The first unicorn he’d fed from had been so shy and nice. So humble! The other Kirin, a female, had licked her and used magic to stimulate her, and she’d blushed so cutely, and her horngasm was delicious but not overwhelming. Still, it had filled him with a power he’d never imagined. The next one had been a male unicorn he’d met on the road, and that one had clopped off for him, insisting on the honor of sustaining a journeying Kirin. He’d been a traveling silk merchant and apologized that his power was not as great as his wealth. It was such a… piquant contrast between that unicorn stallion’s comfort and opulence, and the deep humility he felt about his magical capabilities.
And now, this?
Daitana knew the townsponies would not accept him leaving this colt injured. He wished no such fate for the unfortunate foal. But the idea of guzzling from vain Hina’s horn, while his beloved looked on and Hina sneered at her for the earth pony she was… no!
So, his horn lit, and he strained to extract the final, hoarded scraps of his magical energy, and he reached out with a flickering tendril of thaumic force.
“You know,” said Dittsui, “I have lubricating salves in the office, right? If a physical connection will help I’m almost sure I can fit some of you up his anus.”
Daitana shuddered. Neighponnese unicorns could be horrifyingly practical about use of their Kirin.
“Nay,” he replied, and concentrated.
Inside the colt’s leg, bones shifted and merged. His eyes flew open in shock, but then Daitana had soothed the nerves and removed all pain, which itself consumed further magic. Every tiny aspect of healing demanded more magic, and he sweated as he forced himself onward…
Suzume chirped, “YAY!” and leapt off Kichona’s back, to be caught physically by a frantic Kirin.
“He must use a cast!” begged Daitana.
“What?” blinked the doctor, Dittsui.
“A cast,” insisted Daitana, “a splint. He will heal, but must not jump around for a while. Please!”
Dittsui regarded him in puzzlement. “You aren’t very good, are you? Is it okay if we get another Kirin? We’ve got really good unicorns here, we ought to be able to have much better Kirins than you. No offense meant.”
Daitana interposed himself between his lover and the doctor. “Oh, certainly, none taken! Just do the splint, okay? I don’t want him to hurt himself.”
“You don’t even talk like a Kirin,” complained Dittsui. “Can you, like, get repaired by other Kirin or something? It’s weird.”
Daitana gulped, and took a deep breath. “We appreciate… your capable help and splint… which you’ll do now, please?”
“Oh, sure, I totally will. I was just saying you’re not much of a Kirin,” replied Dittsui. “Of course I’ll do my part. And you should go and find a unicorn and get recharged. What, does Hina scare you? We really should get a bigger Kirin for this town. If you can’t drink from Hina it’s going to be a problem, she’ll only get more pent up. She’s, like, totally committed to feeding you so if you can’t take it, we’re gonna need a Kirin who can.”
His eyes were distraught. Behind him, Kichona’s eyes seethed, but rather than lash out, she lowered her head and took a breath to calm herself.
“Thank you, Dittsui,” she said courteously. “We appreciate your—your honesty. Suzume, don’t jump about, Dittsui will fasten a thing to your leg to help it heal and strengthen.”
“Awwww!” whined the colt.
“That’s right!” said Dittsui. “It won’t hurt. It’s for helping keep your leg straight, ponies in olden days did that!” She winked at him. “If you’re good, maybe we’ll have another Kirin come and do it all at once for you, won’t that be nice?”
“And you should be grateful,” scolded the doctor. “We’re going to have Kirin so powerful that they won’t have to do uncomfortable things to get a better connection into you. And you should be grateful for this Kirin, too! He’s set and knitted your bones and taken away the pain, say thank you!”
“Thank you,” repeated Suzume, dutifully. He frowned. “What do you mean, uncomfortable things?”
“Special Kirin things that you earth ponies shouldn’t have to know about,” explained Dittsui, “now walk gently this way, soon I’ll have you trotting in safety…”
As they walked into the doctor’s office, they didn’t even glance at how Kichona was leading their balky Kirin away.
“I’m no good!” sobbed Daitana. “I am a mere foal, useless!”
Kichona hugged him fiercely. “No you’re not! Calm down. Everything will be all right, I promise.”
They’d ducked behind a house, out of sight from the townsponies, before Daitana had burst into tears.
“They only want to use me, and I can’t even do that!”
Kichona frowned, and nuzzled her despairing lover. “They are just ponies, like me, Daitana. Forgive them. What can we do, to work through all this?”
Then, she gasped. Daitana’s head had lifted and his eyes transfixed hers. “Not like you,” he said. “There is nothing like you.”
“Oh, Daitana,” she said, and hugged him tighter. “I’m fine. It’s you I care about, now.”
“What if I can’t drink from this Hina?” he asked.
Kichona made a face. “I could stand her smugness. Are you afraid she will choke you? You told me about these unicorns. You said your first ones were not so overwhelming.”
Daitana’s expression was woeful. “You should not have to stand that…”
“It’s all right,” said Kichona winsomely. “I’m only an earth pony mare.”
“No!” insisted Daitana. “You’re not. You have the most beautiful soul, Kichona. Your face, your body, are incomparable. You are all ponies, and th… the only…”
He trailed off, shocked at what he was saying.
Kichona’s eyes shone. “Daitana? I love you, of course. I know Kirin are said to love all ponies, though of course unicorns are just more important, and now I know why that is. You told me, and silly Dittsui knows all about it, and I can’t give you that.”
Daitana’s mouth opened, and Kichona’s hoof gently touched his lips, silencing his protests.
“What are you trying to tell me?” she asked. “Be honest.”
Daitana gulped. “I don’t love all ponies…”
Kichona’s eyes narrowed, indulgently. “Silly. Yes, you do. It’s obvious. Daitana. What are you trying to tell ME?”
He sank into those loving emerald eyes, and his heart spoke.
“I love you, Kichona. Stay with me. Marry me.”
A pause, then…
“Don’t stop loving other ponies. Don’t stop loving ponykind, Daitana.”
He gasped. “Who among them? Who among them would respond so graciously?”
“I mean it!” protested Kichona, tearing up. “I don’t want you to change! Some things are important!”
He began to trot with glee. “Who among them would see my deepest heart? Who else could be given the very soul of a Kirin, all to herself, and respond, no, this must be shared?”
“Daitana, promise! I couldn’t bear it if we just pleasured each other and gave no help! Promise you’ll not turn away from the other ponies!”
“You said ‘we’!” crowed Daitana.
Kichona pouted, and stamped a hoof, quieting him. She gave him a hard stare through brimming, tearful eyes.
“Yes, I will marry you and be your special pony, even though you belong to all Neighpon,” she said.
“And then we’re going to be a Kirin TOGETHER!” insisted Kichona.
He blinked. “Of course!”
“Not of course,” retorted Kichona, wiping tears of joy with the back of her hoof, and sniffling. “I’ve loved the way you treat me. I could tell this was happening. Daitana, I have to step up! You’re young, you’re learning. You see the faults in silly ponies and it puts you off. I’ve got to teach you to love!”
Daitana moved closer, smiling, pressing his body against hers, feeling her heart pound with emotion.
“And who among them,” he asked gently, “could do that as faithfully as you?”
“Oh!” sobbed Kichona, and then they were wrapped in a mad, clinging embrace: his Kirin body tingling against hers, her mare body warm and solid next to him.
Eventually, their hearts slowed, and nuzzles gave way to quiet words.
“What will we even do, Daitana?” she asked.
“Please don’t ask me to be intimate with that Hina unicorn?” said Daitana imploringly. “You say you could stand her smugness. Yet how could I? I just can’t do it.”
“I wouldn’t like it,” admitted Kichona. “She thinks she’s better than earth ponies. She thinks she’s better than me. That makes me sad, though I don’t want to punish her for it.”
“They don’t like me,” said Daitana. “They think I’m not much of a Kirin.”
“They’re wrong,” said Kichona with a kiss. She frowned. “We must work out how to get you magic, though.”
“Maybe not from here,” said Kichona. “Maybe not right now? Another Kirin will come here, and Hina will have a wonderful time.”
“She will,” grumbled Daitana. “I’d rather not see it. I still find all that distasteful and strange, and when you add her greed and scorn, there is nothing of that world that I want.”
“Maybe you will get used to it?”
“There must be some other way,” brooded Daitana. “My searches of the forests yielded nothing that would serve me. Perhaps we can search elsewhere?”
“Will we go?” asked Kichona. “I’ll go anywhere with you.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Do you have a preference, my love?”
She thought. She glanced east.
“Those musicians! We didn’t see their performance, and it sounded lovely. Let’s go and ask them where they’ll play next!”
And with that, the two cantered off to the outskirts of town…
…where they found nothing. The stage, the cart, the musicians: all were gone as if they’d never existed.
Kichona pouted, tearful again. “Oh, crud! They’ve already gone, and the music was so pretty and fun, and now how will we find them?”
Daitana was trotting to and fro, inspecting the ground. “So much grass trampled! And I cannot heal it. That colt’s leg took everything I had.”
“But your mind,” corrected Kichona. “And heart,” she added. “And are you looking for musician tracks?”
Daitana snorted in amusement. “Musician scats? Do you think they poop musical notes?”
A different voice cut in. “The big ‘un would leave different poops, hehe!”
It was a little old town-stallion, grinning toothlessly at them. He added, “Never saw a pony so huge! That was somethin’! All the mares, they couldn’t look away!”
“Big one?” asked Daitana. “There’s a way to track them?”
“Hello, Zaidan,” said Kichona. “You are well?”
The old pony nodded. “I am, thank you, Kichona.” He looked at them again, shrewdly. “You’re moving on, hmm?”
“Why do you say that?” shot Daitana, while Kichona said, “Yes.” They glanced embarrassedly at each other.
“I didn’t think you’d be staying,” said the little old stallion to the Kirin. “You didn’t match this town. But… it seems something in this town still matched you!”
Kichona just smiled. Daitana said, “Did you say there was a big musician? And we could track him? By his…”
The oldster cackled. “Had you going, there! No, that’s not so different, but all the same, I heard your sweet lady ask how you’d find them again.”
Daitana frowned, uncomfortable at how this aged earth pony seemed to see right through him. He gathered his Kirin formality. “Sir! Elder horse. Please come to our aid? We did not hear the music. Please tell us where all the musicians have gone.”
The old pony stallion nodded in satisfaction. “Nice! That’s polite. Well, they weren’t all musicians. The big ‘un, he was for liftin’ boxes and things. I think they call it road crew? He was in a fearful hurry. The other two, they were starting to mingle with the crowd, and the big fellow is just packing everything up like about ten of the pink demons all stuck together. Didn’t seem possible.”
“But where did they go?” pleaded Daitana.
“I can’t tell you that, not exactly,” said the old pony. “But I can tell you this: the two musicians, the grey one and the little unicorn with the glasses, they didn’t understand what he was doing. And he pulled them out of the crowd and herded them onto the cart like they were just some more boxes, and off they went. And the grey one asked, “But why must we leave, can’t we stay the night?” and the unicorn answered, “Beats me. But we were going to head north anyway…”
Daitana and Kichona stared at him, waiting. The old pony shrugged.
“That’s what they said. So… I don’t know how you’ll find them. But I’ve narrowed down where you might look.”
Daitana and Kichona looked at each other. She smiled. He shrugged.
As one, they began to trot down the path… heading north.