Good Intentions
IC date: Spring 69, 1007
OOC date: May 30, 2012
PCs: Manyara, Blackbird
GM: Manyara

It's late at night when there's a soft rustling at Manyara's tent. Surely long after most ponies have gone to bed, at that. "Miss Manyara?" comes the soft call, as Blackbird sits hunched in the entrance of the tent, looking sleepless, restless, and unhappy but resolved. "Is…is it too late to call?"

Late as it is, a soft candlelit glow is still coming from the half-open tent flap — does the tent ever close? One would almost think the Abada had been expecting a visitor; a small teatable has been set up in the main room, with cushions for seating, and a tray of sandwiches was set out, beside a cheerfully bubbling teakettle. Manyara herself is rummaging for something in her personal quarters, half-in, half-out of the curtain; she perks up a bit at the voice, backing out with a small sack in her teeth, which she sets down quickly to smile over at him. "Oh, no, no, of course not! Visitors always welcome. Come in, come in!"

Blackbird seems, if anything, less reassured by the food set out as he steps in. He gives Manyara the sorriest, most patheticly bedraggled look. "Ah, thank you…" He slinks over to the table and sits on a cushion. "How's the evening find you, Manyara?" he asks, polite but it's pretty dang obvious he's got something weighing on his mind.

Manyara smiles, scooping up the sack again and moving to set it on the table. "Oh, quite well, thank you. And what of you, professor? You seem troubled," she observed, moving to settle onto the opposite cushion.

Blackbird stares at the table, seemingly memorizing the wood grain as his eyes move in minute gestures. Finally, he looks up at her. "Huh? Oh… Yes. I've come to ask for… council, I guess. If you'd be so kind, of course; I don't…want to intrude."

Manyara shakes her head. "Oh, no, of course, it's no intrusion! I'm happy to be of assistance. It's what I'm here for, after all!" She takes a moment to pour herself a cup of tea, offering a cup to Blackbird as well. "Tea, professor? I have cocoa if you'd prefer."

"Tea would be wonderful," Blackbird replies gratefully, and when she offers the cup, he accepts it to cradle it in his hooves and blow on the hot liquid to cool it. "As…I'm sure you're aware, Sadaka, the little zebra foal, is my ward. She's a darling little girl, but an orphan, and she has amnesia. As far as the zebras on the ship she came in on can tell me, she showed up in the middle of the ocean, sick as a dog, and they took her here to shore." He paused for a little sip. "I've looked everywhere for her rightful parents, and I've used all the resources at my disposal. Even dug up old contacts I'd prefer to keep forgotten. But there's just no sign of them."

Manyara nods thoughtfully. "Mmm. It is a mysterious origin, to be sure." She tilted an ear thoughtfully. "In such a location, where she came from or where she was bound could be anypony's guess, I'll grant. A shipwreck, perhaps? Perhaps that would be on record… or perhaps she was thrown overboard in an accident. If she does not remember, one can only speculate, I suppose."

"I've looked for shipwrecks, but nothing's turned up," Blackbird replies in despair. "And I certainly can't care for her. I'm a terrible pony parent. She's been in more danger and more trouble in my care than she even was on her own. I don't even remember to /feed/ her sometimes. And…I had a dream — don't laugh — that something terrible would happen to her because of me. So I need to find her parents, right away. Before that happens."

Manyara blinks over at him. "Why would I laugh? I think everypony who cares for a child has those worries, professor. It's just natural. I'd think /being/ worried makes you a bit less than 'terrible' just on that evidence alone." She tilts her head. "I'm afraid, though, I don't know of any zebras who've lost a filly at sea… I can check some contacts I suppose, but I've travelled far. It would likely not be a swift search."

"Because… Because I'm an earth pony who's confessing to premonitions. I get them once in a while. This is one of them. And I can't…stop seeing it." Blackbird rubs a hoof over his eyes, trying in vain to eradicate his sleepiness. "Being worried is one thing, but failing to adequately care for a foal is quite another. The road to Tartarus is paved with good intentions." The earth pony slumps unhappily, quite tortured with his own inabilities. "No, thank you, that's quite alright. Time's already wearing too thin, and I've been…examining my options."

Manyara eyes him thoughtfully for a moment. "One often meets their fate on the path they take to avoid it," she says slowly, pausing to sip at her tea for a moment. "What options have you been considering? Town orphanage, perhaps? Another set of foster parents? …I am afraid I am not a viable option to take in a little one," she adds as if suddenly considering the possibility, "My work is a sort that is… difficult to share."

"Unfortunately, we don't really…/have/ an orphanage," Blackbird groans. "Otherwise I'd have taken her there first." Well, that's probably a lie. The teacher has White Knight syndrome bad enough that he'd more than likely have taken her in anyway. "I was thinking that her best possible bet is to find her real parents. I'm sure they miss her. And…the only way I can think of to do it…at least at this late juncture, is…" The earth pony stares into his tea for a long moment, before his green eyes lift to look at the abada. "Is to wish for it," he finishes, with more than a little bit of dread in his eyes. "I just don't see any other way."

Manyara blinks and peers at him over the table. "You mean to wish for the child to find parents?" she asked, sounding almost thoughtful at the concept.

"Yeah. Specifically— to find her real parents." Blackbird fidgets, hooves resting once more around his forgotten mug of tea. "I've thought very hard about it, and I just think… I think it'd be best for her to have real parents who can care for her the way they ought."

Manyara nods slowly, thinking for a moment. "Ah. I suppose I see what you're getting at. But what is a 'real' parent, in the end? I imagine you have something in mind besides another set of foster ponies."

"Her real parents," Blackbird retorts, as if this were easy. Duh. "I mean…I don't know who her real parents are, and…she says she doesn't remember anything, really, but if she thinks really hard she sometimes has ideas. Somehow you must be able to find them with your…your wish magic?" With his tail twitching uncomfortably, the earth pony shifts in his seat. "Ordinarily, I'd never make a wish. I'm a pony who believes in working for what you need, and I have a lot of sins to make up for. But this is…this is another pony's life. This isn't some foalish filly with a love potion. I need to be sure she's safe."

Manyara looks over at him, nodding a bit. "And you're absolutely convinced that you are not the right pony to keep her so?" she asked gently, tilting an ear. "She did not seem at all unhappy. I daresay she is quite fond of you."

"And I'm very fond of her," Blackbird replies forlornly. "But I just… I led her straight into the home of a ponygeist. And I get wrapped up in work and realized at midnight that I never got her dinner. And when I do remember, half the time we get ice cream, because it's so hard to be a good parent. I'm not the parent she needs, no matter how much she might want it to be so. I'm a terrible choice." If it were at all possible, he manages to slump even further, chin thunking down on the table. He's so bedraggled.

Manyara sighs and glances down for a moment before nodding slowly. "…You are an intelligent pony, Blackbird. As I'm sure you're aware, such magical solutions have… costs. Are you… prepared, to deal with what may come of it?"

Blackbird sits up again, rejuvenated in part by her potential agreement. "Yes, yes anything! Take it out my hide if you must. I just want her to be better cared for!"

Manyara nods again, though while he looks quite perked up by this, she looks somewhat as though she's having to actively try to keep her usual calm smile. "Alright. I presume I don't need to brew a potion or chant a spell for effect?" she asked with a small chuckle. "Pop them out of thin air, I cannot. But… I can assure you that the spell will be cast… parents will arrive to claim her shortly."

A look of pain crosses Blackbird's face, but it's fleeting, replaced instead by resolve. "No, it's fine. Thank you, Manyara. I'm so grateful for your help. What do I owe you?" He turns to reach for his saddlebags…only to realize he left them at home. His expression falls. "I'd have to run home to get it, but I'd be right back—"

Manyara waves a hoof lightly. "Don't worry about it. This is a special circumstance, I'd say… something of a… charitable act." She tilted an ear. "It's a worthy cause, helping a little one."

"Well…that's very kind of you," Blackbird replies, dipping his head. "Though I really would feel better if I could compensate in some way. Maybe Sadaka and I— erm. Well, at least /I/ could bake you something in return. It's not much, but…"

Manyara blinks and smiles. "I think that would do nicely. I am quite fond of all manner of baked goods." She smiles good-naturedly. "Most particularly a good gingerbread, if you know a recipe."

"Gingerbread? You got it." Blackbird smiles back at the abada, and stands, dipping his head in a bow. "You've taken a huge weight off my mind. Thank you /so/ much. I'll be back tomorrow, gingerbread in hoof."

Manyara nods. "I'm glad to have been able to assist, professor. I hope this helps you sleep better, if nothing else."

Blackbird smiles wanly. "A tough thing to aim for but something I hope to attain." With that, he bows, and carefully makes his way out of the tent as his light heart wars with his heavy stomach. He did the right thing, right…?