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 Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones

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SwordSymphony

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PostSubject: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:27 am

In a room dimly lit by candlelight sat two ponies. One quietly sipped her tea, whilst the other looked at the tea cup in front of him.

"I see you've recovered quite well from your injury, Sword." The Alicorn Princess of Night commented, looking over the blue maned grey pegasus sitting across from her. He rubbed down his left side, tracing a barely noticeable scar down his barrel.

"Indeed, Princess Luna. Both mentally and physically, thanks to the competence of Ponyville's MD's and the relatively peaceful optimistic nature of the town itself I'd say. Even still, Canterlot is my home, so I decided to return."

"And about my offer to resume your former station?" She asked evenly, taking another sip of her tea.

"I did consider it for a good while before seeing you today. And at the end of my introspection, I must decline. I have served the needs of the many for 8 years now. 8 years of crawling through muck and grime, sleepless nights, countless deaths and injuries. After getting my first non-liquor induced good nights sleep in 8 years, I've decided I've done enough. I'm not saying that if you absolutely need me, you cannot call upon me, but I am saying you should find a new Lunar Agent to rely upon." Sword let out a sigh when he finished, pushing the tea cup to the center of the table between them. "And I no longer have to choke down tea you very well know I dislike. Why can you not keep a good pint of cider around?"

To that, Luna laughed for a moment before regaining her composure, setting her cup down. "Very well then. As agreed upon when you originally assumed your position, you were to serve for 4 years before collecting your pension. You opted to continue your service for yet another 4 years, for which I am incredibly grateful. Whilst I will miss your gift of awareness, I believe my next agent will be more of the magical persuasion. 8 years of foiled schemes at the end of a blade means this is the perfect time for me to change my approach towards dealing with Equestria's many hidden threats. I've taken the liberty of setting up your pension ahead of time, as I predicted your year away from Canterlot would change your perspective. As for why I don't keep a pint of cider around, you very well know why I don't keep alcohol in my private chambers."

Sword nodded, removing the silver band from his right foreleg, setting it on the table. "I suppose you'll be needing this back then?"

"No, you should keep it. It would take too long to train my next Agent in its use, and I can always make another one if the need arises. In addition, you may find yourself in need of it considering your former occupation. Arise, Sword, I'll see you to the palace gate." With those words, she lit her horn, both of them briefly popping out of reality, before reappearing outside the palace gates. "So, my wayward blade, what do you intend to do with yourself now. I don't imagine you spending your time idly tapping your hooves yes?"

"I may float about town for awhile. Perhaps take a few university courses, meet some new ponies, and go from there." Sword replied, starting off down the moonlit street. Stopping for a moment, he turn to face Luna one last time. "I can't say these years were a pleasure, Princess. But they were an honor."

"I... Thank you, Sword. Best of luck in your future endeavors." She replied before fading out of existence, and returning to her chambers. Sword started down the street towards his home.

"Well... maybe I'll take a look around Canterlot University tomorrow. Bound to be a few courses I skipped during my streamlined education. Maybe I'll pick up a an instrument. who knows...."

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:17 am

In a remote wing of the Canterlot University library, a pegasus with a white coat and her auburn mane braided into a pair of pigtails slumbers with her face literally planted into the table, an trio of open books about history and engineering laying open in front of her with a dozen or so stacked behind them. Beside one of her hooves is a very thick notepad heavily used, rows of extremely precise and strangely nonsensical writing filling the currently open page and, based on the slight raising of the paper, filling all the pages before it as well. The pegasus snores very softly, looking like a student who had tries to do an all-nighter in the library and failed in a comical fashion just a few hours in. Around her neck is a pendent with a heart-shaped ruby in a golden setting, looking like nothing more than an innocent piece of extravagant jewelry, albeit one entirely at odds with her otherwise modest dress.

A unicorn mare wearing petite glasses and her long light turquoise mane styled into a conservative bun held in place by a quartet of ornamental metal spikes with blue ribbons tied to the ends, appears out of the shadows of a nearby bookshelf, her saddlebags full of expertly-packed books and wearing a pendent similar to the pegasus but with a sapphire instead of a ruby. She walks over to the table with deliberate placement of her hooves to make noise, but the slumbering mare at the table doesn't stir. The unicorn looks over the rim of her glasses at the pegasus, her lips pressed together in slightly prim disapproval, before she sighs and wraps one of the books on the table in very luminous viridian magic, raising it up above the table slightly, closing one eye to judge its placement and where it's likely to land, does a little bit of planar adjustment, and lets the book go. A loud sharp crack comes from the book hitting the table next to the sleeping pegasus and she jerks awake.

"The tattoo isn't my fault, I swear!" she says in a voice younger than her appearance, an edge of panic in her tone, before she blinks and looks around. She looks down at her notes, at the book near her hoof, at her notes again, and finally seems to notice the unicorn looking over her and looking severely disapproving. She gives the unicorn a sheepish smile. "Oh... um... fell asleep, huh?"

The other mare sighs and picks up the book again, using it to lightly bop the other on the head. "You're also too thin," she says in an elegant upper-crust Canterlot accent. "I told you to remember to eat, dear, and I confess to being somewhat distressed that you didn't obey."

The pegasus rubs her head, giving a few false chuckles and looking somewhat chastised. "I forget."

"Clearly." The unicorn looks her up and down. "At least you're not skimping on all your dietary requirements." She gently takes the pegasus' head in her magic and looks at her eyes, turning her head back and forth as she examined her closely. "Slight iris ripple, healthy sheen in the coat, no decay around the wings and ear tips... good girl."

The pegasus sighs. "Auntie Chiti, I'm not a 'good girl' anymore. It sounds condescending."

"Until you're forty, your aunts, uncles, mother, and father have every right to call you their little girl, 'Dora," Chiti says with a toothy grin at her niece. "You could always rid yourself of those pigtails."

"But I like them."

"They make you look like you're six."

Dora huffs and crosses her legs, doing her best to glare daggers at her aunt. "They most certainly do not. It's a style thing, Auntie, this reversion thing that all the debutantes are doing. I'm trying to do effective camouflage."

"By doing intellectual heavy lifting in the library all day?" Chiti smirks at her, raising a delicate patrician eyebrow. "I fear to tell you this, my dear bookfilly, but modern fillies are supposed to be fashion-obsessed, empty-headed, vapid creatures that giggle incessantly and gossip mindlessly. Intellect, refinement, restraint, all foreign and anathema to them. I thought the brats of our nobles were bad but these spoiled creatures..." She shakes her head and clicks her tongue disapprovingly. "Well, I think I need to cut you off in any case. Time to get you back to your flat and into a proper bed."

"It's called a dorm."

"No, that's an architectural feature in classic post-migration designs as well as modern stylized mansions."

"Dormer, auntie, not dorm. Short for dormitory."

"Ah, so you live in a domicile of your own." Chiti smiles. "Excellent, dear."

"Um, no, I sort of share it."

Chiti looks suspiciously at her as she starts gathering the stack of books in her magic. "With whom?"

"Roomies that like to snog as much and as often as possible," 'Dora sighed.

"...your collective domicile permits mixed stallion and mare arrangements?"

"No."

Chiti stops and blinks at her. "...oh." She smiles at that and elevates the books as she finishes collecting them, sorting them deftly in midair into groupings according to their section of the library. "I'm pleased to hear that. Last I visited, I came away with the impression that Equestria was far too puritan and conservative to embrace all variations on love. It was a terrible tragedy, truly, and I'm overjoyed that I came away with the wrong impression."

'Dora picks up her notepad and closes it, tucking it into a smaller saddlebag along with several pens and pencils. "How'd you get it in your head that Equestria was conservative?  I've already seen things in university that would curl Lepi's mane."

Chiti stops to look at her again with a blink. "...I'm confident that that's not possible, 'Dora."

'Dora considers this as she steps away from the table and follows her aunt as Chiti goes from place to place, refiling the books with the alacricy and deftness of someone who had entirely memorized the layout of the library and knew where everything went without even having to look. "You're probably right," she conceded as Chiti pulled the last book from her now-empty saddlebags and put it in the appropriate location and order. "Stil, you get a little loco-weed in some of these prissy society fillies and you learn more than you ever wanted to know about flexibility and possibility. If you'd like, I have diagrams."

Chiti glances back at her niece as they exit the library and start towards the dormitory wing. "You diagrammed it out?"

'Dora shrugs. "I strive to be a disinterested scientist about things as much as possible. So yes, I diagrammed all I saw with as many notes as i could shorthoof as I watched. I have the notes back in my dorm if you'd like to examine them for your own research."

Chiti smiles at that and shakes her head. "I worry about you sometimes, my niece..."


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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:34 pm

Sometime around noon, (quite possibly later...) Sword's eyes groggily opened. Sprawled out in his living room chair, half a bottle of scotch and some gummie bears lying on the end table next to him Ugh..... think all I've had to eat in the last 24 hours is a fifth of scotch and some gummie bears... who's bright idea was that.. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up, lumbering off the chair and into the kitchen. Turning on the faucet, he splashed some water on his face, and forgoing the decorum of a glass, stuck his muzzle directly into the stream and quenched his booze fueled thirst.

Feeling slightly refreshed, he turned his attention to his refrigerator. "Fat fucking chance of anything being in there but just maybe..." opening the door, he sighed. "nope. Then again, first time I've stayed over 2 days in this place...." closing the door, Sword made his way back into the living room, turning a corner and trotting upstairs to his main bedroom, then turning again into the bathroom, starting a shower for himself. While the shower heated up, he took a moment to brush his teeth. Hopping into the shower, he quickly washed and shampooed his coat and mane, exited the shower, dried off and trotted back down the steps with a bit more vigor in his body. "Alrighty... normal life, part 1: Apply to Canterlot University.."

A short flight later, Sword landed in front of the Canterlot University admissions office, quietly stepping inside and approaching the counter.

"Good afternoon Miss. Could I please have an application form, and perhaps you could schedule an appointment with a Guidance Councilor while I fill this out?" Sword asked politely. The mare at the desk looked up from her records in front of her smiled and nodded, horn lighting briefly as a stack of forms floated over to him, along with a pen. "Here you are sir. If you'll sign your name on this roster here," she gestured to the counter, an empty roster sitting atop it. "I can schedule you for today if you want."

"That'd be great miss, I appreciate it. I'll get started on these. Shouldn't take me too long." Taking the offered stack of forms, he went and sat down, getting to work on knocking the most dreaded part of any undertaking out of the way: Paperwork. Name: Sword Symphony, Race: Pegasus, Gender: Male, Age: 27, fairly standard... and so the paperwork went until he came upon the references section. "ummmm.... well buck it, she's the only pony I really know well enough to list. Name: Princess Luna, Race: Alicorn, Gender: Female, Age: N/A Relationship: complicated Former Employer... Once that bit of awkwardness was over, he finished the rest of the forms relatively quickly, and placed them back on the counter for the attendant to review.

"Hmmm... good... good, looks like you're ready to pay the next... 4 years of admission up front?" She looked up at him for a moment. "Quite serious about your education aren't you? Continuing onwards....." When the reference part of the application popped up, the mare looked up again, this time with a bit of skepticism. "Princess Luna is your reference?" she asked.

"Yes. Will that be a problem miss?" Sword replied evenly.

"..... As long as the reference checks out I guess. the Counselor will see you now while I process your paperwork. Just follow that hallway there, and he'll be on the left." Sword nodded, and followed her directions, opening the door and stepping inside. The stallion inside was already standing, waiting to greet him, hoof extended. Sword met his hoof with his own and nodded politely at him.

"Good Afternoon Mr. Symphony, my name is Straight Mark, the admissions guidance counselor. A pleasure to make your acquaintance...

Some time later, after hashing out a rough class schedule, and going over campus policy, the counselor offered him a tour of the university, to which Sword politely declined. "I'm familiar with the campus grounds. Been here on business a few times in the past. Thank you for the offer though. I'll see all you ponies next Monday at the start of class. For now, I'm going to take a trot around the grounds.

"As you wish, Mr. Symphony. Canterlot University welcomes you. Have a pleasant day."

With that meeting concluded, Sword exited the office, and made for the main hall of the building. "Now if I remember right, the Library is to the left. I'd best stop by there and familiarize myself with the librarians. Always helps to know the staff I'll probably see the most." he mumbled to himself as he made his way through the halls on memory, passing a few ponies here and there, receiving a few odd looks at his age, but no comments made on the subject. Arriving at the doors to the library, he quietly opened the door and stepped inside, closing them behind him.

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:02 am

"Good day, sir." Barely has Sword closed the door and turned to proceed into the library than an older unicorn mare, small round-lens glasses perched on her muzzle and wearing what is likely a rather long sky-blue mane in a highly conservative bun, held in place with several ornamental metal spikes with blue ribbons matching her mane, seems to appear out of thin air, although a quick look beyond her would show that she likely just stepped out from behind a tall book cart. She looks to be in her late 40s although her manestyle makes her look well over a decade older, and she smiles a little at him. "Do you need directions to the headmaster's office? Many new hires have make a slight wrong turn and ended up here when they were searching for the main office to review their class assignment."

"Ssh!" The young librarian--looking to be no older than a just-graduated student--sitting behind the circulation desk hissed, although the mare was speaking in a perfectly even and definitely toned-down voice.

The mare's expression never wavers and she shows no sign of having heard the rebuke... except for her horn lighting and a small hardcover lifting off the return cart and flying over to very lightly bap the librarian on the head. "This is a place of knowledge storing and transmission, Librarian Bookworthy," she says primly, although she doesn't even look back at him or even really change her light smile directed to Sword. "The most efficient means known by ponykind for the optimal movement of knowledge between ponies is by direct mental invasion and psychic imprint. Because that is both evil and unethical, we use our voices."

"Index, this is a library," Bookworthy hisses.

"I just said that," Index replies. "I'm certain that's exactly what I just said, that this is a place of knowledge storing and transmission. You heard that, yes sir? Or did I just say it in my head and forgot to speak?"

"I heard you," Bookworthy says sourly.

"Outstanding." A dictionary leaves the cart and hover above the other librarian's head, causing her to look up at it very warily. "Now be a good colt and let the adults speak, or I shall be forced to upgrade my instrument of physical instruction until you learn circumspection."

Bookworthy blinks at her, because the dictionary looks somewhat intimidating. "Head Librarian, you're already using a dictionary."

"I know, the modern one in very lovely mechanically-precise and tightly-organized typewriting." From the return cart, a beautifully-illuminated leather-bound volume three times the size of the dictionary and four times as thick, rises into the air. "This is an exquisitely-preserved hoofwritten one from three hundred seventy-six years ago. It has more words, you see, and beautiful illumination."

Bookworthy eeps. "Point taken. I... could put the books away if you need to tend to the gentlepony."

"That's so sweet of you, Bookworthy!" Index looks over her shoulder and smiles brightly, not a trace of irony in her voice at all. "I'll tend to the old one myself--special collections materials require very specific training and knowledge--but if you would be a dear and take care of the rest."

"Yes Head Librarian, ma'am," the very chastened-sounding Bookworthy says, the dictionary following above his head until he gets to the return cart, whereupon it settles deftly, leaving the massive book still suspended in midair by Index, as if to remind Bookworthy that it exists and is poised for use.

When Bookworthy has left earshot, Index turns her attention back to Sword, delicately laying the giant dictionary on the top of a nearby shelf. "My apologies for Bookworthy... they let them graduate so young these days, and they're hardly prepared to be rational and well-regulated participants in the world." With her focus on him before and now returned to him, Sword would note that Index has oddly intense viridian eyes, the color of cut peridots, and her magic is of a similar coloration. "Now then, I believe I was going to direct you where you needed to go, sir?"


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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:45 am

Sword tried to spy the voice that greeted him almost immediately as he entered the room, spotting her as she stepped out from behind the cart. At her inquiry, he shook his head and smiled. "I think you might be slightly mistaken Miss. I'm actually a new student. I came...." As the colt by the desk interrupted him, his expression souring, muzzle opening to retort, but his greeter beat him to it, berating the poor colt in a manner he found quite amusing. When she finished with him, Sword's expression went from sour to bemused, nodding at her respectfully as she apologized for Bookworthy. "No apology necessary. The impatience of youth ever demands constant discipline, as my former teacher once told me. Now, before Mr. Bookworthy interrupted me, I was telling you I'm a student, not an employee here. Although whilst I have the head librarian at my disposal, I don't suppose you'd mind giving me a quick tour of the library. I reckon I'll be spending a fair amount of time here, what with studying now my primary occupation, and reading a distinct pleasure of mind."

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:02 am

Index beams at him when he mentions that reading is a distinct pleasure of his. "It gives me such joy to see the younger generations have proper appreciation for literature," she says warmly, hefting the ancient dictionary in her magic and moving it over to rest directly on her back. The apparent weight of the book doesn't appear to affect her at all, and as she turns to lead him further into the library, she seems to have no issues keeping it fully stable on her back and walking at the same time. "It also gives me joy to see a slightly older stallion, at least older than others at the university, coming back to improve his mind and educational achievements. His job prospects as well, I'm certain, although I have the luxury of regarding expanding my mind to be all the reward I need in return for study and reading for pleasure."

She walks him to the circulation desk, just a few yards in and turns to point towards the right. "To the right is our section on magical theory, including a new subsection added about ten years ago concerning a field of magical science called 'magitech'. We occasionally get visits from a researcher who's one of the leading theoreticians in the field. She's told me that the next frontier is a science called 'runes' although I'm not quite certain how this could be; runic magic appears to be primarily historical rumor and the basis of certain mythology. Magical weapons, armor, mythic arms from deities, that sort of thing." She sighs a little. "It's possible she's correct and I am not, which just proves that no matter how learned you become, there is always more to learn. She mentioned having a daughter who's also interested in magitech sciences--she appears to be a little younger than you are, sir--but sent her to study at her own alma mater, the University of Trotsford in Trottingham."

She next gestures to her left. "That section would primarily concern itself with the practical sciences. Engineering, metallurgy, mathematics, architecture, medicine, that sort of thing. I myself tend to linger there more often than the other wing because it's well and good to have a thorough understanding of theory but you hardly learn to cut a throat by looking at pictures. Similarly, you can hardly make great use of magic without actually applying it in a systemic and scientific manner." She starts around the circulation desk and turns her head enough that she can look Sword over thoughtfully. "But something tell me that you don't need to have practical application explained to you. I read you as... soldier, or something very much like it. You seem more deliberately aware of what's around you than the typical pony is, like somepony who wants to keep in mind every advantage to be had if something unexpected happened. 'Fair fights are for failures', or so a niece of mine has told me." She smirks a little. "You wouldn't think a filly could actually look shockingly adorable when saying those words but... she managed."

All while Index is looking him over and talking to him about her impressions of him, she's walking up a grand flight of stairs, again without the giant book on her back wavering at all, and she doesn't seem to need to look to know exactly where she's going. As they're going up, there's a student coming down, her saddlebags practically bursting with books and one placed directly in front of her face. From what Sword can see of her around the book, she has an auburn mane that's done up in rather prominent pigtails. She's holding the book in front of her by some strange contortion of her wings that cannot possibly be comfortable and she appears to be white-coated. Neither Index nor this new mare have any apparent way of seeing one another but almost in perfect synchronization, they sidestep each other. This effect of perfect synch lasts another ten seconds, just as the pegasus has left Sword's field of view, in a gasped "eep" and the distinct sounds of an unfortunate pony bouncing down the stairs, ending with rather prominent kerthump as the mare's weight in books hits the ground about the same time she does.

"I'm okay!" A rather youthful voice says from the wreckage of book and mare that's laying in a rather stunned heap at the bottom.

Index sighs and turns around to go back down the stairs. "Sir, I  have the rather dubious pleasure of introducing the living, breathing, walking, reading version of theory over practice."

"Have you no respect for the wounded?" the young mare says plaintively.

"I have plenty of respect," Index tells her with a smile as she arrives to stand beside the girl, who turns out to be a pegasus of rather skinny carriage who looks like she's too young to be in university. Prominently displayed on her flank is a cutie mark of three open books with one containing a beaker, another a heart, and the third a gear. "I refrained from laughing as you reenacted classic slapstick comedy without meaning to."

The girl heaves a very loud sigh and gets to her hooves, brushing herself off and starting to collect her scattered books. "Hi Auntie Index."

"Hello Dora dear," Index replies cheerfully.

Dora smiles a little as she looks at what is apparently her aunt, and then blinks at seeing Sword. "Um, Auntie?"

"Yes dear?"

"I can kick overly friendly stallions in the horsemeat just fine on my own," Dora tells her dryly. "I don't need a self-defense instructor to explain a more artful way to make them cry."

"A self-defense...?" Index looks back at Sword. "Oh, yes, I see it now. But no, dearie, he's a new student, not an instructor."

"Looks kinda old to be associating with us irresponsible party girls." Dora brightens. "Oh, speaking of that... I have my field notes!"

"Your... field notes."

"Yeah, my diagrams, remember?" Dora pulls out all the books from one of the bags and then removes a notepad. "I told you I was making field observations and I said I'd show them to you, but I got caught up in a bit of research and entirely forgot, which is really no excuse because it's terribly interesting material, but now I've remembered."

"I think later would be more appropriate, Dora," Index tells her, her tone becoming much more in keeping with an adult being very firm with a younger pony than the invincibly cheerful and friendly persona she's been projecting.

Dora's ears lay down a little. "Oh, sorry." She puts the notebook back and starts refilling her saddlebags. "Giving him the nickel tour?"

"I'd characterize it more as copper," Index says. "Nickel is a bit too valuable an element to be a proper analogy for a quick and cheap showing-off of one's place of work, even thought it's a library."

"...auntie, it's not that literal."
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:33 pm

Sword followed after her as she lead him further into the library, observing her carrying of the comically over-sized dictionary on her back. "That's an awfully large book. That mare is in pretty good shape for her age... he though as she continued. "Well I'm not that old Miss Index, only a few months past 27 actually. There's probably a class of students here finishing up their doctoral or masters degrees round here somewhere. As for my reasons for attending this academic institution, I'd say its more something to occupy my mind and expand my knowledge, and perhaps explore some previous interests I was unable to explore in the past. I am a rather fortunate pony in that I don't have a need for any future job prospects, though a degree would certainly improve those. In these regards, we're certainly of a like mind." he replied as she stops by the circulation desk.

Beginning her explanation of the magical theory section, he'd chuckle a moment at her apparent dissatisfaction with the lack of solid data for runic magic, tapping the engraved silver band around his right front hoof. "I'd say she's probably onto something. Magic can be deployed in numerous ways, by nearly every pony subspecies. It just takes an inquisitive soul to delve deep enough to discover so.." he remarked as she continued onwards. As she began her explanation of the practical science section, he'd nod along with her, marking this location for memorization, as he figured he'd spend a decent amount of time in this section. At her "cut a throat" metaphor, he'd wince ever so slightly. "Indeed you don't... Eventually you have to put theory into practice to determine its worth, no matter the subject matter." At her assertion of his previous profession, he'd nod and reply. "You've a keen sense of ponies there Miss Index. Yes, my previous profession was military in nature, and they certainly to preach situational awareness." Sword laughed a little at her nieces assertion. "You've a smart niece there I'd say."

Sword would continue following her as she began to ascend the staircase, continuing to note her unusual awareness until the mare burdened down with a boatload of books and the prominent pigtails began to descend. As the two mares passed each other, practically synchronized in their perfect avoidance of each other, Sword would cock an eyebrow curiously at them. "That... was not natural... or they've done that a million times before. What do I know?" Shrugging, he continued on up with Index until he heard the tell tale "Eep" of distress followed by the sound of a mare tumbing down the steps. Turning, he'd quickly descend the staircase to see if the mare was ok. When she verbally signaled that she was indeed fine, he'd shake his head, and begin rounding up scattered books for her. "If I may say so miss... it was quite amusing." He'd add on the end of Index's witty jab at her, grinning all the while. Upon hearing Index refer to her as "niece" , he'd connect the dots with her earlier referred to niece. "While I'm not currently a self-defense instructor, I wouldn't describe my methods as artful, to be sure. Art is for museums and concert halls, not back-alley fights with rowdy stallions and mares. And I'll have you know I'm only 27. Hardly that old..."

He'd let the two continue onwards for a few moments, his interest peaked by Dora's mention of field notes, but said interest dashed upon the firm dismissal of Index. " For what its worth, I think its worth a good pile of bits. And speaking of volumes of books, what in everything under the moon prompted you to try and carry half the library down the steps on your back? or..." He looks at Index. "Is this a common occurence for students here to strap a mule load to their back and then try to traverse hazardous terrain?"

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:26 pm

"Oh no, this bit of high irrationality by a highly rational mare is a feat rather unique to my niece," Index says, somehow managing to sound slightly exasperated and more than a little proud. "Although as with a great many things sir, there is always more to the matter than is readily apparent."

"It's all part of a thesis," Dora says, having already made significant progress in gathering the array of books into a neat pile for re-insertion into her saddlebags in just the short time that Sword had been pointing out that he's not that old and asking about what madness had inspired her to haul such large load of books around with her. "'Persistent Organizational Aether Constructs in Application to Physical Information Indexing and Retrieval' is the title I'm working with at the moment. It's a very new field, just starting to be taken seriously by academia due to the work done by one Viridian Rain, demonstrating the viability of using pre-Equestria runic alphabets to create magical conduits, that imitate mathematical algorithms and produce an infinitely replicable result..."

Index sighs at her niece. "Dear, you're talking to a normal pony. Flinging a stream of jargon at him as if he's one of your colleagues is rude and presumptuous. In ordinary terminology, please."

Dora blushes, looking chastised. "Sorry Auntie," she says. "And sorry, sir... I got a bit carried away." She clears her throat and lightly bites her lip a bit, trying to get back onto an even keel after being knocked off her game by Index. "Basically, sir, Miss Rain demonstrated that magically scripting a certain symbol set onto materials that naturally conduct magic allows you to put magical energy into one side and always get the same result out of the other side. She further proposed that the best system for organizing these symbols and causing them to produce the same result every time could be modeled by mathematics using a binary system. The concept is already used for certain technological applications--examining a pony's natural magical fluctuations for instance--but creating constructs of pure magical energy that remain functioning and always work in exactly the same way is new. What I'm working on is a magical indexing construct for immense amounts of physical information, such as a large number of books." She gives Sword a little shy smile. "I could show you what I mean, if it wouldn't inconvenience you at all. I've already devised the construct, but coming up with the runic algorithm to allow any unicorn to use it by just adding magic is a work in progress."

"As long as you don't grab and work the entire library at once again..."

Dora blushes. "It wasn't the entire library, it was just once shelf."

"Which took two hours to put back together and has never been the same since." Index smirks just a little. "Of course, neither has poor Bookworthy. I think the experience traumatized him."

Dora sniffs contemptuously. "Well, if he hadn't condescended to me and implied that I was all theory and no ability, I wouldn't have had to educate his ignorance. Trauma builds character and wisdom, which is why you bap him on the head with books when he's being a twerp. He's certainly getting better, though... he's only attempted to intimidate six freshfish this week instead of the eight last week."

Index covers her mouth with a hoof, looking like she's struggling to suppress a giggle. "Freshfish?"

"Freshcolts, frosh, newbies, nuggets, noobs, slaves, and that's just the list my roomies use." Dora looks Sword over. "I think they'll need a new one for you, sir. You might be new here but twenty-seven is eight years too old to be considered an innocent wide-eyed little nugget fresh from living with his parents. And I'm sure Auntie has already pegged you as 'soldier' which means you're probably a lot older than your physical years. I've got two sisters in similar lines of work, one of them younger than me, and both got old pretty fast."
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:57 pm

Sword blinked in confusion as Tetti explained her thesis to him. "Persistent Organizational... what?" he asked, completely lost as she delved into an explanation that flew completely above his head. Luckily for him, Index stopped her. "Its fine miss." He replied to her apology, smilingly as she bites her lip in what he finds a cute fashion as she explains herself again. "So, in essence, you're creating a magic device that projects a sort of coded object into physical reality then?" Sword considered something for a moment, before shaking his head slightly and dismissing the thought. "As great a help as I could be, it'd raise too many questions as to where a pony like me has an object beyond the scope of what she's making." "Yes, please do show me. I'm rather interested in what you've managed to create. And yes, your aunt already pegged me as ex-military, although I'm doing my best to return to the mentality of a stallion in their 20's. As it turns out, a certain amount of overzealous seriousness isn't good for a pony's health, but that's enough about me, I believe you were about to show me this construct creator of yours?"

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Fri Jan 29, 2016 9:13 am

Dora looks pleasantly surprised as Sword asks his question. "Precisely so, sir." She pauses and thinks. "Well, maybe not precisely so, but the specific intricacies of the construct would only be relevant to someone in the field. I'm very impressed, sir; you must have a very fine intellect to listen to me blather on about the work in professional jargon and pick out the most salient details from the terminology soup."
"Even more impressive is that he strung the salient details together in such a way as to understand their implications, or at least repeat it back in such a way that it conveys understanding." Index looks at Sword thoughtfully, and he'd pick up on her eyes narrowing very slightly and her look being mildly more attentive, gears visibly turning behind those viridian irises.
"You have to be able to understand information before you can sort it," Dora says idly, clearly not picking up on her aunt's more focused regard of Sword. "So it's not really surprising that he'd figure out what all the salient points mean when added together." She taps a hoof on the floor. "And I've just realized that I keep referring to you as 'sir' and 'he' without actually bothering to ask what your name actually is. Sorry, I'm not really good at social niceties, as Aunt Index would affirm."
"Two years later and you still refer to your roommates in general terms," Index says. "Do you even know their names?"
"Sure I  do."
There's a silence of about ten seconds. "Alright, and?"
"Hmm?" Dora looks at her aunt curiously.
"Their names."
"What about them?"
"You said you know what their names are."
"I do."
"So what are they?"
"What are what?"
Index facehoofs. "Their names, Dora, their names. What are their names?"
"G5677832 and G6782210," Dora says brightly.
"...you call them by their student identification numbers."
"Yes."
Index stares at her. "First, how did you find out the student identification numbers of your roommates? Second..." She sighs and shakes her head. "Second, I really have no idea what to say to that, Dora. It's pitiful, but in such an especially epic manner as to be fascinating at the same time."
"It's a handy way to maintain anonymity when I make notes."
"..." Index sighs and looks at Sword. "I give you my most solemn oath, sir, that my niece is not as eccentric as this exchange might lead you to believe she is. She's actually normal and does not in fact have slight touches of sociopathy like calling ponies by identification numbers."
"But it's really the best possible way."
"...Dora, just show the nice stallion your experiment before you force me to send a message to your mother admitting that I haven't been watching her daughter closely enough, and she's probably designing a secret bunker where she does terrifying experiments on ponies to learn the secrets to the universe."
"Don't be silly, Auntie Index," Dora says with a cheerful smile. Index actually looks fractionally relieved before Dora adds. "I'd be trying to learn parthanogenesis, not the secrets to the universe."
"...Dora, the experiment, before I get the nice stallions in white coats with butterfly nets."
"Fine, fine..."

Dora turns away from Sword and extends her wings before glancing back at her aunt. Index lights up her horn and tendrils of magic start flowing from her horn to the tip of Dora's wings. If Sword is paying close enough attention, he'd be able to see that intricate designs and runes have been inscribed into the feathers at the tips. Around her, several bands of light as tall as the rough height of a standard book flow into view. Then the channeled magic wraps around the books in her saddlebags and they all flow out of the bags in a stream and hover above her head before flying over to the bands, slipping into them and penetrating them so that their spines are facing Dora. With twitches and intricate movements of her wings, the books begin shifting positions rapidly, jumping from one set of bands to the next, moving up or down, moving left and right, sometimes even zipping behind the concentrating mare in a flurry of movement that seems simultaneously chaotic and tightly controlled. After about a minute, the movement stops and the bands full of books begin revolving around Dora at a sedate pace. She smiles and she lowers her wings, but the construct remains active and glowing an almost soothing greenish hue. She then reaches up with a hoof and touches one of the queues, sweeping right to left and the books spin to follow the movement of her hoof. She flicks her hoof up and the queue changes places with the one above; another flick and the queue that was on the bottom is now on the top with the top at eye level with Dora. She sweeps her hoof left to right and the queue spins in that direction, stopping when she catches a book with her hoof. She beckons the book forward and an outline of white appears around the spine and then expands, making the writing larger and easier to read. She taps this 'window' and it turns into a standard decimal system card, showing the title, subtitle, author, publication details, and number of pages. A twist of her hoof counterclockwise and the 'card' vanishes, whereupon she taps the book in question and it leaves the queue, turning around and opening as it's 'summoned' by the magic. She then sweeps her hoof over open book as if paging through it, the pages turning in a torrent of paper until she reaches what appears to be her objective, which is a hoof-drawn list of symbols with names for each symbol in small, exquisitely neat script. Dora turns to look over her shoulder at Sword, smiling proudly.
"I have the construct itself completed and can use it at will, but I have yet to devise a stable medium to summon it at will and make it easy to transport and use," she tells him. "I call it 'Ivy', sort of a play on the name 'archive'. I hope to perfect it and make it usable for any pony that wishes to use it, and I think it'll revolutionize research and library indexing, especially of physical information like books and pictures. I'm experimenting with several more sophisticated prototypes, but those are so far beyond the scope of the current project that I've had to relegate them to the back burner. Unfortunate, because they allow for much more sophisticated sorting and even a degree of subsapient information retrieval and indexing."
She steps out of the circle of the books and beckons for him to take her place. "Now that it's established, any pony should be able to use it, sir. Would you like to try it?"
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:19 am

"You flatter me Miss Dora. I promise you, I'm not quite a genius, but I spend enough time around brilliant minds like your own to take good guesses as to what they're on about." Sword replies, noticing Index's body language towards him changing slightly, him shifting back slightly, brow furrowing a little bit as he returned her inquisitive look, but without the subtlety of hers. "Yes....mhmmm... what?" Sword popped back into general focus to continue his discussion. "Yeah... Its fine Miss Dora. I don't believe I introduced myself anyways. My name's Sword. Sword Symphony."

Sword's eyebrow would raise by small increments as Dora's descent into absentmindedness, and Index's attempt to bring her into focus. "What an odd little mare she is... and I thought I saw the entire depth of oddity ponykind had to offer..." "Yes... I'm sure she's totally normal... completely... totally. I've met a mare like her before. So she's not entirely alone in her adorkable awkwardness. Of course, I doubt she's the personal protege of a solar princess, so perhaps not entirely like her. But yes, lets see this device of yours in action."

As Dora turns away from Sword to begin her demonstration, he'd run his eyes over the mare in an analytical manner. The runic inscriptions detailed on Dora's wings caught his attention for a good few moments, him drawing comparisons to his own runic device. "Well I'll be damned by the moon..." he muttered as the books come to center in front of her, before Dora starts rapidly filing through cues and rows of books. As she called up the 'window', Sword would squint at it before it vanished and she turned to him. "If this is what you'd call a basic prototype, I'm slighty afraid to ask what a more sophisticated prototype might look like. You've even managed to channel magic through your wings, and that's a rare feat indeed for a non-military pegasus, though it seems that's been accomplished though runic inscriptions rather than the hard way." When Dora offered him the chance to interact with her Ivy construct, Sword would look at Index for a moment, seemingly considering something before shrugging and stepping forward. "Sure, I appreciate the oppoturnity." Stepping into the circle, he extended his banded hoof to interact with the matrix she had established. An unknown consequence that he didn't notice was that whilst he was calling up a few books, his band began to glow slightly, runic engravings appearing in a flowing script round the circumfrence of the band. Having called up the few books he wished to check out, he removed his hoof from the matrix, the glow and script fading as he shifted the books to his back. "Now if only we could have one of these in every Library in Equestria. Quite a breakthrough Miss Dora. Unfortunately, I do have a few things I need to move onto today, and whilst conversing with you has been a pleasure, I'd like to check out these 3 books and get home for the day." He started towards the desk where Bookworthy used to be sitting, setting the 3 books on the counter, looking back at Index. "Could you give me a hand?" he asked politely.

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:12 am

"Sword Symphony," Index repeats thoughtfully. "That is admittedly one of the most artful names I've heard subsequent to my own generation. I'd almost think you assumed it after you'd chosen a career but not even extremely arrogant and insufferable nobles are so pretentious that they reinvent their name to suit their profession."
"It's brilliant!" Dora beams. "I dare say Mister Symphony, you must have had truly exceptional parents that they'd take a newborn colt and allude to the art of the blade when choosing your name. If they happen to still be around, I'd be delighted to meet them."
"Dora!"
"Auntie Index, I think a solider is made of stern enough stuff to withstand a loquacious mare he just met enthusing about his parents," Dora replied dryly.
Sword's mention of an adorkably awkward nerd that's the personal protege of a solar princess brings the gazes of both mares around to center on him, Index with that look of thoughtful consideration, Dora going absolutely crimson. "Y...you're comparing me to... T.. Twilight Sparkle?" she almost squeaks. "I'm... oh dear, I can't believe I'm being compared to Twilight Sparkle! I'm not even in the same relative dimension in space as a researcher and magical technician!"
Index gives her an amused look but doesn't contradict her, although her expression fairly clearly broadcasts her opinion that she thinks her niece is being absurdly modest.

Dora is still blushing fiercely when Sword makes his comment about being afraid to ask about what a more sophisticated prototype would look like. "W...well, it'd be more... um... not so fixed to a specific location as its primary axis of rotation and index centralization," she says. "T... the most... the most promising version, er, prototype... um, experimental... prototype version has a buried subsapient layer within the tertiary subdimension of depth, skimming the dominant fourth dimension although not quite moved at the pace of time. It sorta... um... floats between depth and time or the requisite density would be unattainable." She bites her lip lightly and blows out a frustrated breath before inviting him into the construct. "The spacing has to be exquisitely delicate, like trying to write dimensionally complete words on a piece of fishing line with your eyes closed. You very nearly need to invent a special space in between layers of the layers in between the layers of a subdimension, virtually a complete world attuned specifically to the runscript you're trying to write. You're essentially storing something that is real within unreality in such a way that you can freely surface and submerge it rapidly as each component is needed. And sapience? Oh, I can't even describe the complexity of using runescript to replicate sapience. Certainly it can be done by stripping the soul out of a pony and weaving it into the magical matrix of runescript, but the Royal Sisters would vaporize you out of existence for even thinking the thought."
"And they'd be right to," Index says heavily. "That way lays a darkness deeper than darkness itself."
"Quite," Dora agrees solemnly. "And that's why I kill myself over creating it artificially."

Virtually all of Dora's attention is clearly taken up by her chattering away about the steps of the task and its complexity but other than her brief comment, Index' attention doesn't waver at all from what Sword is doing and it wouldn't be difficult for him to feel her attention focusing on him. When he turns to her, talking about how he has things to take care of and stating his intent to check out the three books, Index slips smoothly into a gently smiling mask, behind which those thoughtful eyes continued to study him.
"Such a shame," Dora says, sweeping a wing through the construct, which causes the books, sans the ones Sword selected, to neatly flow into her saddlebags. "It's been nice to meet you, Mister Symphony, and it's always nice to have someone appreciate my work and flatter me by comparing me to Twilight Sparkle."
"Your talent isn't as humble as you pretend, Dora," Index tells her. "Now, I must see to Mister Symphony's selections being properly checked out. Good luck."
"Thanks Auntie Index!" And with that, Dora continues her aborted journey out of the library with her bulging saddlebags, clearly having already checked the books out. Index says nothing about this as she slips out the checkout cards and replaces Dora's information and due date with Sword's.
"I am deeply proud of her," she comments to Sword as she places the books back on his back. "She has a brilliant intellect and isn't quite as eccentric as she appears. It's unfortunate that there aren't many finely-made examples of runecrafting available to her; I'm certain she'd appreciate functional examples so she can derive how they were achieved." She smiles brightly to him. "Now, is there anything else I can to to help you, Mister Symphony? Directions to any particular place, or any other library resources I could help you access?"
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Feb 07, 2016 3:56 pm

Sword's expression locked up for a moment as both Dora and Index brought up the subject of parents and his name. "I.... don't know my parents. Mother was an Earth Pony, Father was probably a pegasus, but given the advances in genetics ponykind has made, he could have been an Earth Pony or Unicorn for all I know. Not that it..." his demeanor went apologetic, him smiling awkwardly. "I'm sorry ladies. To be more direct. I have no parents, my name was given to me by mentor when my talent manifested and I earned my cutie mark." As Dora began to gush over his comparison of her to Twilight Sparkle. he laughed and dismissed her modesty with a wave of his hoof. "I believe I agree with your Aunt's expression. Don't sell yourself short Miss Dora."

When Dora begins to expound upon the various ways in which an advanced version of her Ivy construct would work, Sword would scratch his head in confusion as she went way over his head and into realms of metaphysics and magical theory he had no experience with. "Whilst I doubt the Princesses would destroy you for a thought crime, they would certainly do so on the actions if you decided to do them."

"Well I'm sure there will be ample time in the future for me to pass along more compliments to you, we do attend the same university now." As Index circled round the desk, he turned to bid Dora farewell. "Have a good day Miss Dora..." He turns back to Index as she places the books comfortably on his back, "Your pride is certainly not misplaced, that niece of yours has a wit as sharp as a razor." When she beams at him, a signal more obvious than her other ones he gave her a contemplative expression. "Yes... I'm sure she would appreciate something like that... if it existed..." Hearing her offer for more information, he turned and looked at her for a good long while. With a smile, he spoke again. "Perhaps one day someone will come forward with such an example, but for now, it seems not. I appreciate your assistance, Miss Index. I don't need help finding the exit. Have a pleasant day." Opening the door and then closing it behind him, Sword let out a long sigh of relief, and started on his way out of the university, and eventually, home.

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:16 pm

((If I can internet from Texas, this is my first priority. Sorry I wasn't able to get it done before leaving.))
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:50 pm

'Dora turns and gives him a bright and grateful smile over her shoulder as she exits the doors. Index smiles after her niece before turning her eyes and her smile on Sword. As he contemplates her, he could swear that he sees actual flickers of magic behind the brilliant viridian of her eyes and tiny hints of thoughtful calculation--tiny movements at the edges of her muzzle, a very slight tightening of her smile, a little downward movement of her eyebows--behind her smile as she nodded. "I was pleased to meet you, and to assist you Mister Symphony," she says with genuine sincerity. "And I appreciate your kind words about my niece. Have a pleasant day, sir."

Index continues to smile as Sword exits, a smile that fades a little when he's gone but remains in place, subdued but still there. She lights her horn and pulls a piece of scrap paper from the small box on the circulation desk where they keep it for students who need to scribble down an indexing number so they can find the book they need. She writes the name "Sword Symphony--Chiti" in elegant cursive script on the scrap before folding it deftly into an origami crane and looks up. "Bookworthy," she says quietly and calmly, and the student librarian comes walking up a moment later.
"Yes, Head Librarian?"
"Please give this to the preservationist when she shows up this evening."
He looks oddly at the crane, shrugs, and tucks it into a saddlebag. "Yes, ma'am."
"Thank you." Index nods to him and then mounts the stairs, heading to the room to put the old dictionary away.

'Dora exits the library and starts towards her room, humming something instrumental and classical as best she can, considering that she can't imitate all the orchestral instruments at the same time. At least not safely, she reminds herself as she crosses the campus towards the dorms. Cute stallion. Shame he's probably way outside my age range, in maturity if not actual age. I wonder who his mentor was; something to ask him if I see him again and it's not too private. Nice of him to compare me to Twilight Sparkle. Everypony loves flattery and when it comes to nobility, you apply it with a trowel, not that he'd have the faintest notion of the momentary applicability of that notion by... um... whoever the clever diplomat was from way back when, the one that a rival referred to admiringly. She goes up the stairs to the room she shares with a couple roommates and knocks. There is no response, so she knocks again. When the second gets nothing, she presses her ear against the door, hears faint sounds, and then opens the door to find a pegasi and an earth pony locked in a rather enthusiastic and compromising position. "Sunny! Violet! C'mon you two!" she exclaims in irritation to no discernable response. Then she does what any sensible pony would do: she pulls out a notebook, a pen, and starts taking notes.
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:03 am

As Sword exited the University, he stopped by the administration office to pick up his schedule and start date. Once outside, he took to the sky above Canterlot, heading to the west district of the capital, a decidedly upper middle class neighborhood, landing a few blocks away from his home to stop at a local coffee joint, stepping inside and setting his papers on an unoccupied table, and stepping in line. Placing his order, he trotted back over to his table, looking over his class list. "Good.... Luna was able to legitimize my past education so I can skip the basic courses. I swear if I would have had to read Shakespeare again.... hmmm... Basic Magical Neurology... good.... Advanced Equine Physiology, Classic Literature... what?" Sword eyeballed his schedule again. "Hmm.... seems like I'll have to suffer through a few courses I want nothing to do with... Ah, thank you miss." He looked up, smiling at the waitress as she dropped a vanilla chai latte and a fried dandelion sandwich in front of him. "Luckily, I've an idea for a thesis.. but that's a few years in the future... and I need to perfect the process before starting it anyways." Taking a bite out of his sandwich, he continued perusing. "Calculus, now there's something that's going to be annoying. Basic Magic Theory." He paused for a moment, taking a sip of his latte. "Bet there's gonna be a few raised eyebrows when I pop in in there." Setting the schedule down, and piling his papers back into a neat pile before enjoying the rest of his lunch before leaving a few bits on the table as a tip and heading home.

Opening the door to his home, he stepped inside, closing the door behind him and setting his papers on a table by the door. He then moved upstairs, taking his band off and setting it on the end table beside his bed. With little else to accomplish today, he moved back downstairs and got on with his daily routine. Taking out one of the books he checked out in the library, and setting a bottle of amber liquid and a small glass on the table beside his chair, he plopped down and cracked open the book to the first page. "The first principle of magic is..."

Later on that evening, with a heavy buzz, Sword stumbled up the stairs and collapsed onto his bed, passing out in an instant and sleeping well into the next day...

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:31 pm

Chiti give a little sigh of contentment as she puts down her quills and closes the books she was working with, lifting the two copies into separate piles. "One for the Bitalian consul, one for the Archives, and the original safely to bed," she says to no one in particular, her magic sliding delicately around the frail volume she'd been copying and slipping it back into its container with loving care, sealing the end and lifting the entire thing into place on the shelf. She took a pair of scrap pieces from her pile and wrote 'Bitalian Consul, Bitalian Consulate, Ambassador Row' on one of the scraps which she placed on top of a pile of two books, and then 'Dusty Page, Scribbleblot Bookseller, 5561 Lunar Way' on an identical pile beside it. Satisfied with the evening's work, she walked out of Rare Books and into the main library, passing Bookworthy at the circulation desk. "The transcriptions are done and labeled," she says to him. "If Dusty isn't available, hold the pile for me at Reference and I'll take care of it."
"Um, yes ma'am," he says. She takes a couple steps towards the door before he nervously coughs. "Um, Head Librarian?"
"Yes Bookworthy?" She turns to him with a pleasant smile.
"Why do you send so many copies of transcriptions to a bookseller?"
She chuckles at the question. "Bookworthy, do you think that a comfortable purse of bits every two weeks is my only compensation from the university?"
He considered this a moment and his mouth made a small 'O' of comprehension. "Your own collection?"
She smiles more broadly to him. "I enjoy rare and old books. Dusty is a friend and he takes care of the matter for me."
"Alright," he nods. "I was just curious."
"Curiosity is a virtue, Bookworthy, and the intellectual variety the most so," she says. "Good night."
"Good night, Head Librarian," he says before returning to sorting circulation cards.

Leaving the library, Chiti trots through the halls at a pace more suited to a pony younger than her visible age, humming an aria gaily as she goes. Another couple books for the Archives back home, she says to herself happily as she leaves the library building and starts out across the campus, the moon already having risen while she was working. And yet so many yet to transcribe and arrange to be passed on! Tettidora will be so delighted when she gets home to put them all away. Her humming turns to a sonata as she slow a moment to admire the night sky, smiling at the little artistic touches in it, and slowing to a stop so she could take a moment and bask in the brisk cool of the night. Makes me think of home: clear skies, brisk cool... the only thing missing is the sensation of being lost in an ocean of sand when you look around...
From the library, it was only a few minutes' walk to a flat practically right next to the university, standard-rate housing that the generously-funded institution funded for its staff without family in the area. Not that there was anything standard about the flat--not even a vigorous argument with Chryssy had stopped her eldest sister from seeing to it that it was furnished far more comfortably than staff housing ought to be--but Chiti felt a certain measure of pride at having a living of her own doing what she loved best, and the house reflected it. There were the nice wooden fixtures, tables, chairs, a lounging couch, countertops, all the little touches of an owner that was rich enough to have the best but sophisticated enough not to flaunt it, but the real prizes were numerous fitted bookshelves deep enough to accommodate the sealing containers of rare books. Her favorite spot, though, was the very broad desk she seated herself at with a bowl of hot tomato soup and a tumbler of peach schnapps. A large book in modern Equiish lay open with two partly-completed blanks in Latin and Arabian on either side, and lifting a pair of quills, Chiti started on her favorite form of evening relaxation.

In a dorm on the other side of the campus, Tettidora was struggling to keep writing on the paper laid out before her with a yellow pegasus draped on top of her with the other mare's chin resting on her head. "Looks neat," Sunny said.
"It is neat, and get off of me."
"No." Sunny looked to a side. "Whatcha got a pocket Pony Sutra for anyhow?"
"It's not a Pony Sutra, and get off of me."
"No. So what is it?"
"Notes. Get off of me."
"No. Sure looks like the Pony Sutra. I think that's the Rising Lotus position."
"I know, I sketched it from observation. Get off of me."
"No. Observation of who?"
"My test subjects. Get off of me."
"No. Your test subjects look like a pegasus and an earth pony."
"They are. Get off of me."
"No. Any ones in particular?"
"That's private. Get off of me."
"Not until you tell me."
'Dora sighs. "A pair of extremely gauche lesbians I live with."
Sunny somehow managed to peer upside-down at her from above. "You're bucking me."
"No, Violet is bucking you, I'm just taking notes for research purposes. Get off me."
"No, and why the Hades are you... why do..."
"Because it's annoying, and I don't want to kick the two of you every other time I come home from classes," 'Dora says crossly. "Plus, I'm sure I can somehow make it into a research paper. 'The Sexual Habits of Young Adult Lesbian Couples' or something like that. Doctor Brown will eat it up."
"...the old stallion with the most creepy smile in the history of ever?"
"I don't find it creepy at all. Get off me."
Sunny finally does, and promptly grabs the chair 'Dora is in and turns it around so they can look eye-to-eye. "That's pretty sick, Dora."
"So am I, of living on a porn set," 'Dora pokes Sunny in the nose with a hoof. "Not that I care, but I'm getting sorta bored with exaggerated moans being my background noise instead of strings. I mean, Violet does the violin, you do flute, why can't the two of you make cool music?"
Sunny leers at her. "It is cool music, the coolest music ever."
"If your cookies weren't ambrosia, I'd totally kick your tail."
"If you weren't so cool about being a third study buddy, I'd pluck you in your sleep."
"Glad that's settled." 'Dora turns the chair around. "Promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep, go away."
"I've got a better idea." Tetti sighs as Sunny once again drapes herself over her.
"Get off me."
"No."
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:52 pm

Well after the sun had rose and the regular ponies had begun their day, Sword opened his groggy eyes, blearily looking around the room as he rubbed his head in a futile gesture to remove what felt like a lead weight resting atop it. With a groan, he stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom, turning on the faucet and dipping his muzzle into the stream, sucking down several large gulps of water to bring some life back into his arid mouth. Turning the shower on, he stepped inside and rinsed off. Feeling slightly revitalized and alive again, he exited the shower, dried off, and shuffled downstairs to the kitchen.

"mhmmm.. damn... forgot to set up the coffee maker..." he grumbled as he fetched a filter and filled the pot with hot water, emptying it into the machine's reservoir, then placing a few scoops of coffee grounds in the filter, closing the top of the machine and turning it on. Turning his attention to his now grumbling stomach, he grabbed a raisin bagel out of the fridge and popped it in the toaster, setting a half used container of cream cheese next to it. While he waited for his late breakfast to finish, Sword glanced at the clock in his kitchen. "Hmmph.... 11:27am... plenty of time to get to the bookstore to pick up my textbooks, find a local gym or dojo to join, grab a bite to eat at Donut Joes and then see what else I can get up to today."

*Ding!*

With an affirmative grunt, he grabbed the toasted bagels out of the toaster, slathered a generous amount of cream cheese onto them, poured himself a cup of coffee, and flopped down in his well worn living room recliner. Around an hour later, with bagels and coffee consumed, he retrieved his band, exited his house and took flight towards the nearest bookstore. Touching down a quick 5 minutes later, he went inside, scanned the shelves for "Educational Textbooks" and walked over to begin perusing the texts. " The Pre-Solar Era, no... Advanced Telekinesis, no.... Ah, here we go, Basic Magical Theory..." He pulled that one off the shelf and continued. "Calculus, ugh.... Pony Sutra... who the hell put that here?" He lifted that one and set it on an adjacent shelf, shaking his head with a bemused grin. "There we are, Anatomy and Physiology...." Claiming that one as well, he continued his search...

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:36 am

'Dora sleepily opens her eyes as the risen sun filters through the blinds she's placed over the window of the bedroom (which was more of an overly large closet) that she'd managed to finagle the RA into letting her be the sole occupant of. It hadn't been the most difficult wheedling she'd done--the RA was a nerd and a serious model-building hobbyist, and was easily bribed--but she'd had to be careful with her monthly allowance for a term. Subsequently, she reflected as she fell out of bed onto the floor, she'd been forced to learn to enjoy very plain food that was easily hidden from a vengeful mare pair in the back of a desk drawer. She sort of shuffled across the floor like an ornate winged worm until she was within range of the drawer and a knob at the front covered in bite marks from this morning ritual being repeated most days since she arrived at the school. A quick bite and pull and her chin was resting on the edge of a very sturdy desk drawer and looking at a large empty space that should have had delicious fresh cocoa beans, her one luxury.

The beans were gone. Tragedy stained her morning. This affront to all that was holy demanded a blood sacrifice.
Sunny woke up a few minutes later and looked up to see the shadow of a pegasus looming over her and the still-slumbering Violet. There was a butcher's cleaver held in a hoof and the apparition's eyes burned.
"YOU WILL RESTORE THE BEANS OR I WILL DESTROY YOU."
Sunny's pupils shrank. "...eep."

An hour later, fed, washed, and successfully beaned, a very cheerful 'Dora walked out of her dorm room with packed saddlebags to make for her first class of the day, Applied Magically-Moderated Thermodynamics, followed by a string of extremely creative profanity interspaced by the sounds of a pleasantly mellow female laugh that sounded like its owner was trying desperately to stifle herself. As usual, 'Dora arrives first, pulls out her textbook, and curls up to read it as if it was a light novel instead of a dense textbook in relatively small font. Hours later, Sword would be audibly wondering how the Pony Sutra got where it was and putting it in the proper place when he hears a familiar voice just an aisle over.
"I believe the pony who put that there was utilizing a rather creative association of Anatomy & Physiology with a manual for sexual positions and practices," 'Dora offers as she browses biology textbooks much the same way one might hoof through the light reading at an ordinary bookstore. "Good day to you Mister Symphony, sir."


At her flat, Chiti feels herself awaken but instead of taking immediate action, she lays still with her eyes still closed, breathing in and out, her ears flickering around in search of any sound indicating that she was inexplicably in the company of someone else. Literally ten minutes of subtly searching for such signs later, she lets the heatless viridian fire that was the physical manifestation of the changeling's shapeshifting magic sweep over her, exposing an adult changeling mare with the dragonfly wings and delicately shaped and styled chitin pitting common amount royalty, but otherwise exactly like the unicorn named Precise Index that Chiti used as her favorite guise: same proportions, same size, same facial features, same eyes, even the same style and color of mane. Having assumed her true shape, Chiti just... lays there, savoring the way that silk caressed her wings and the pleasant give of the bed under her. Her niece had her guilty pleasure and indulgence, and laying in her bed enjoying the sensations of relaxing in her true shape was Chiti's favorite way to start her day, a vivid reminder of who she was and all the memories connected to her identity--especially thoughts of her family.
Almost as if she had a clock in her head, at precisely fifteen minutes of the indulgence, Chiti resumes her guise and slips out of bed, immediately kneeling so she can pull, and tuck, and straighten the bed to something approaching military tightness and precision. Satisfied, leaving the bed looking as if it was never even touched the night before, Chiti bustles around her kitchen boiling water for a light barley tea and shredding a mix of fresh vegetables into a bowl and dressing it with a few touches of olive oil and salt before digging into her breakfast. Washing and drying the cup, bowl, and knife and putting them away, Precise Index gathers the few tools of her trade and goes to open the campus library for the day.
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:51 am

Sword looked up as he heard a familiar voice, peeking over into the aisle next to him, spotting one of the mares from the library he'd met yesterday. "What was her name again? D...Dai..no...Dora! Yeah, that was her name." Successfully remembering her name, he smiled and nodded at her, shifting his acquired books onto his back and walks down the aisle towards her. "And a pleasant day to you as well, Miss Dora. What has you here on this fine day? Simple browsing? I doubt you're here to buy a cart load of textbooks like I am." Shifting the uncomfortable weight of 3 college textbooks around on his back, he cracked his neck and laughed. "I don't suppose you brought a cart with you too? Might need one before I leave today."

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:07 am

'Dora beams to him. "I'm browsing books," she says in answer to his question about what she's doing there. "Textbooks are really underrated as a source of useful knowledge. They represent experts in a given field consolidating their knowledge and wording it in such a way as to educate a common pony in the essential principles of the field. It's a fine thing to have unlimited access to the library of course, and the benefit of the personal attention of the head librarian, but I'd be lacking if I didn't acknowledge how much I owe to perusing textbooks for source material and practical advice on what avenues to pursue in my own research. Taken together, a sufficient number of textbooks constitutes a broad encyclopedic overview of all scholarly subjects and by giving attention to their references, the name and relevant work of a hitherto unknown expert can be discerned and their work investigated to the benefit of the research at hand." She heaves a sigh as she partly pulls a biology textbook off the shelf, checks the title, and pushes it back. "Unfortunately, it's still a term until the newest textbooks and editions of textbooks are put to a sizable production run. Stealing advance copies has proved an unproductive strategy, and I've learned that there still exist teachers who are skilled in the art of boxing the ears of a wayward filly. Also, that withered old coot that teaches the three-class series on the history of Canterlot has a strong double-hoof buck and can indeed propel a hapless researcher the approximate length of a hoofball field."

She pauses to visibly cast her mind back and winces. "Couldn't walk right for a week after that, and I had my bells thoroughly rung by the coot's valiant attempt to damage a crossbar with my skull. It turns out that Mom was right: I'm very hard-headed, in a very literal fashion that I'm certain wasn't on her mind when she said it." She brightens again. "Anyway, if you'll wait here a moment, I'll go find a proper book cart for you to use in your curiously late initiation of your formal education." With that, she turns and walks out of sight; a moment later, Sword would hear the bell on the door ring as she exits. No more than three minutes later, the bell rings again and 'Dora appears with a wooden contraption obviously meant for carrying a heavy load on the back while spreading the weight around comfortably. "I fear it's not specifically for books, Mister Symphony, but I think it'll let you carry what you need without trouble."
Peering inside, Sword would be able to see that based on the chips and dust in the corners, the contraption is used to haul loads of bricks, likely for moving them from a heavy wagon to where they're being mortared into place. Given how long she was gone, it wouldn't be hard to conclude that 'Dora got it from somewhere quite nearby. "My full name is Adoring Data, by the by. I'm sure you can guess why I'm called 'Dora' instead. My parents have an... odd sense of humor."
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:31 am

"I wouldn't call them underrated, more... too dry for the average pony to take interest in when the knowledge contained therein has little practical application in their everyday lives. A carpenter has little need for knowledge on..." Sword peruses the shelf next to him for a moment, picking out a title at random. "The Art of Domestic Horticulture. It could certainly be an interesting read, but the knowledge has little use outside a narrow field. Indeed, most of what I've learned over my life can't be taught from a text. Its more of a kinesthetic process. Given your encounter with the professor, you might be coming up a bit short in that department. Fortunately, it seems you possess a durability beyond your appearance."

As Dora ventured off to fetch him some kind of book carrying device, he continued to peruse the shelf, grabbing a few more required textbooks for his courses, before turning to see the mare back before him, with what looked like a masonry cart on her back. "Well, not that I don't appreciate the tempt, and the enthusiasm with which you take to book transportation, I think there's a poor mason who's going to be missing a piece of his equipment. Besides I think I have a better arraignment. How about you give me a hand hauling these home, and I take you out for lunch, Miss Data. Over which we can enjoy a good talk about each others educational history and interests. As I'm sure a smart mare like yourself has figured out, I'm not exactly as uneducated as my educational history would imply." Heading up to the counter, Sword dropped a large amount of bits on the counter in payment for his books. "So, interested in my offer Miss Data, or would you let one of these mint textbooks hit the pavement as I struggled to carry them all the way to their rightful home on my bookshelf?" Sword would give her a knowing smirk as he waited for her answer.

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:04 pm

'Dora gives him a grin and a little wink at him saying that she possesses a durability beyond what her appearance would suggest, but doesn't say anything in response to it. "A poor mason, unlikely; with the constant demand for masons in Canterlot, they have a comfortable income. Missing this piece of equipment is also unlikely inasmuch as I paid him enough to replace it with a better-constructed model. Granted, this one has been well-crafted--the nails are in a line, the lumber cut cleanly and evenly, bolts used for the heavier structures, metal bands placed to secure--but it doesn't balance loads well and could certainly use improvement." She looks back at the contraption on her back and shrugs. "I suppose that if you don't have a use for it, I could always flutter my eyelashes at an engineering student and get some blueprints for how to properly reconstruct it for better carrying capacity and load distribution. Fortunately, it's more than sufficient for the task at hand."

Sword's offer causes her to smile widely and enthusiastically. "That sounds like a wonderful idea, Mister Symphony! Lunch and a discussion is always a pleasant way to pass the time, and even the peripheral involvement of books makes it all the more desirable. All the books that are too much for you, just place inside the carrying rig, with roughly equal distribution if you don't mind. I realize there's some dust and masonry fragments in the corners, but those shan't harm the textbooks."
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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:44 pm

"Well that was kind of you Miss Data, consider your lunch on me then for this favor of yours." Sword replied as the cashier processed his payment and handed him back a much smaller sack of bits, which he stashed under his wing. "If you'll let me see that for a moment..." Sword would take the mason pallet from her, exiting outside, and tipping it upside down, tapping it a few times to dislodge any stray paint chips and other bits and pieces inside of it. Balancing the pallet on his back, Sword would return inside, the cashier placing the stack of books on the pallet for him. "Alrighty then Miss Data, Shall we be on our way? Maybe along the way to my home you can flutter your eyelashes at me and tell me a little about yourself?" He said with a smile, starting on down the road towards his home.

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PostSubject: Re: Change(ling) Times (Private w/ Dualthrones   Sun May 01, 2016 10:29 am

'Dora nods happily. "Yes Mister Symphony, we shall certainly be on our way," she says. "And I'm quite pleased to tell you about myself, if you're willing to return the favor." She pauses--actually stopping in mid-motion between one step and the next to consider something. "No, that would imply an exchange is required, when I'm quite happily to talk about myself and can only hope you're willing to do the same, in time. But first, one small point of order: I've been told I'm cute, mostly by family, but I'm certainly no beauty. AS such, the fluttering-eyelashes trick doesn't work on ponies who're well passed the point of being a fresh-faced secondary school graduate seeing the world outside his town for maybe the first time in his entire life." She finally takes the next step in her walking pattern and then continues on as if it wasn't at all unusual to stop dead mid-step to think about something. "Though now that I think about it, I'm sure you were being more facetious than serious about me fluttering my eyelashes.

"At any rate, although I'm called 'Dora by everyone but family, my full name is 'Adoring Volume'." She smiles a little wryly. "I'm sure you can guess why I much prefer to be called 'Dora' rather than "Adoring'. I'm the third of four sisters, and the consensus among us four is that I'm the smart one, not that I accept that I'm smarter than them given the myriad of types of intelligence. My intelligence is more along the lines of analysis of complex esoteric subjects and how to magically apply them in a technical sense. My eldest sister's intelligence is along the lines of 'reading' a large-scale scenario, comprehending its permutations, and formulating an appropriate response. My second-eldest's intelligence is understanding other ponies very thoroughly without any need to make a complex study of them." She smiles a little. "Although she's made of so much nice that most ponies don't notice her 'reading' them. My younger sister's intelligence is..." She has to think about this a minute, although she merely slows her steps instead of stopping completely "...I suppose there's no better thing to call it than an art intelligence. She just knows how to do any kind of art and is amazingly good at it. She likes art so much that she decided that the ideal canvas was herself, and is working as hard as she can to look rebellious, and emotional and everything but an odd-looking but very well-adjusted mare in a long-term committed relationship."

She stops this time as she thinks. "And I'm getting away from what you actually asked me, sorry. I'm not really one for exceptionally fine things just because they're cool. I just need a bed, research materials and cocoa beans because they make me happy and I do all my good work without distractions like a couple roomies who can't keep their hooves of one another." She looks to Sword as she return to   walking. "So... um... was there anything I was bad at explaining, that you wish to know more about? I'm usually not this scatter-brained, I swear it."
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