December 5, 2020
Borealis shows up at Aurora’s room, she asks him in. He wants her to be executrix and trustee for his will and trust. She agrees, of course, and he says papers will be coming from Uncle Grits eventually. When he leaves he heads to the library to see Joneigh. He wants her to be an alternate executrix and trustee of the same document. She agrees and he heads to city hall looking for Autumn. He asks the same of her and she also agrees. Next on his list is Jimmy, who agrees. The trust will own the house and the trustees could, if a majority agrees, kick Borealis out. This clause is discussed by the trustees. They all eventually sign the will and the trust agreement.
The group are invited to Borealis’s new home for dinner. Jimmy brings Shucks and Aurora brings Constable Hobb. When they get there, Borealis welcomes them and points them toward the drink cart, says dinner is almost ready, and hurries back to the kitchen. Kronk takes over the drink mixing. Autumn takes the salad she and Joneigh brought into the kitchen and Joneigh takes a vase of flowers into the dining room. Autumn stops in the doorway and boggles at the chaos and items being manipulated about the kitchen by telekinesis and the large number of timers. The dinner all comes together (Borealis mentions how when his platoon took turns being in charge of cooking). At dinner Borealis makes a small speech to this ‘sorta family’. Mint Slush and Mountain Berry will be moving into his house along with Starbeam. There is a room for Moonbeam if he wants to stay there or actually move in. He adds that his father is looking for and interviewing for servants for the house.
Early morning and Aurora is on her run. She sees a sort of glimmer in the empty pasture across the main road from the Wately Mill and the granary and a creepy house appears! Meanwhile, in the speeding vehicle, Night Messenger asks Hurryup if she wants to stop at her mother’s before they unload at the house. She says no, and he gives Prow Lee the location (telepathically, which freaks him out). Soon Aurora sees the car streak by and enter the drive to that house. She follows and sees the honeymooners making out in the drive as Prow Lee unloads the boot of the car.
Aurora notices that Hurryup is taller than she used to be. She compliments the couple on the house and grounds, etc. Hurryup thanks her. As Prow Lee steps up to the side door, he seems to be whisked inside, then he reappears at the door in a sort of butler’s uniform instead of his normal attire. He appears to be taller and his voice has gone very deep when he asks if Aura is joining them for morning tea. Aurora says that she doesn’t want to impose, but Night Messenger says it is no imposition. Prow Lee snarls under his breath about impositions and violation of body autonomy and he makes an obvious effort of concentration, and he returns to his normal height, normal attire, and his smoked glasses. Aurora thanks the couple for the invitation and they go in through the front door as Prow Lee is yanked back into the house via the side door (cue the big cartoon hook here). He is opening the front door as they approach and direct them to the front parlor. Aurora notices Zero Fail dressed in a strange costume with an obvious fake pair of sideburns and buck teeth, a battered hat, and saddlebags loaded with gardening tools. Zero Fail slips Aurora a note. Prowl Lee refers to the disguised Zero Fail as, “Gardner McYokel.” Night Messenger doesn’t remember hiring one, but Prow Lee reminds him when and where he did.
After tea, Aurora heads home and the honeymooners go across the street to visit Hurryup’s family. When Aurora is back home she reads the note, which asks her not to say anything in front of Night Messenger, as he and Prow Lee haven’t figured out what he’s really up to.
Later that day, Hurryup shows up at the library with a book that is years past due and a big bag of pennies. “I am returning this book and paying my fine.” Joneigh grabs the book and looks through it as Bristol wanders out and takes the money from Hurryup… he comes back and gives her a penny in change.
Hurryup asks, “Am I back in good standing? I want to borrow a book.” Joneigh says, “Hurryup is on probation and can’t take out a book out, but we could hold it in reserve for her here, and she can read it when she is at the library.” Hurryup says she wrote the name of the book down and hands Joneigh a note: The Red Book, by Ruby Nameless. Joneigh tells her that it isn’t there, it has been sent to Walter Pickmane in Fillydelphia for repair, and it’s been there a long time, which isn’t like him.
Hurryup suggests they go there to find out why and if he is okay. Joneigh doesn’t think a group needs to go, it is something she can do herself. She gets Bristol to cover the library, goes to tell Autumn she is leaving, and after a stop at the house to get anything she needs she flies east.
She arrives in Fillydelphia, finds a room and has dinner, then goes to bed, as she is tired. The next morning she finds Walter’s shop and there is a closed sign on the door. She knocks anyway. There is no noise from inside the house, so she moves to look in a window. She notices glittery stuff all over the porch and when she lifts her hoof there is gold leaf on it. The room looks disheveled: books knocked over and papers strewn around. She looks to see if there is a lighted or open window above the shop. She goes to the back door (locked), knocks, then tries it when nopony answers. She flies up to peer in windows of the living quarters and the rooms look as though they have been ransacked. She goes to the roof to see if there is an access door up there; there is and it is unlocked. Autumn calls her on their card and chatters at her about how her flight was and did she eat and how many books did she take to read and Joneigh grits her teeth, closes the door and tries to get her off the damn card.
She sneaks down the stairs and of course there is one creaky step. At the bottom there is a hall and doors, but she goes to the main room. It obviously had been searched and there is gold leaf everywhere. She investigates. There are a couple of spots where there are book dust covers, and near them are little black spots amongst the gold leaf. When she checks closely, there is impression where the gold leaf had been applied, but didn’t stick to the red book. At the main workbench, there are lots of tools and lots of gold leaf; several of the sharp tools are sticking out of the wall as if thrown at someone and missed. There are sketches laying around the floor, showing different ways to apply “The Red Book by Ruby Nameless”; so he had been working on the book.
She finally finds the book in the parlor meant for customers at the bottom of a pile of books that had fallen over. She decides that maybe Walter was here and having a fight with someone—an intruder?—and some ponies (police?) came in and took him away, leaving a calling card behind, and locked the place behind them. The card is for a certain Inspector Barnaby. Joneigh picks up the card and retraces her steps to the roof and heads off to the inspector’s office.
When she meets the Inspector, he tells her that Pickmane will be in hospital for quite some time. She is dismayed. The inspector wants to know if she knows of anyone who had a grudge against Pickmane. She does not; she is from out of town and did most of her interaction with Walter via post. He tells her the doctors may be able to tell her more. The name of the hospital is Ravenstone. On the map, that place is listed as a sanatorium.
Joneigh decides to eat before she goes to the hospital and while she is eating, she calls Autumn. She tells the story and she is going to get some research done on Barnaby and Ravenstone. She arrives and is warned not to agitate Walter: don’t mention books, gold leaf, or book covers. She is all, “Buh?” As she passes a potted plant, she automatically looks behind it—half expecting to see Hurryup there, as usual—and finds a note in an envelope. It is a note from Night Messenger seeing if she needs help from Hurryup or anyone. She thanks him and says she will scream for him. Then she meets with Walter.
Walter tells how, after repairing the binding of The Red Book, that each time he tried to emboss the title on the cover, a moment after he finished, the gold leaf would fly off in flakes. After several attempts, he realized he was hearing laughter when the book rejected the title. He decided to make an outer dust cover instead of putting the title on the cover itself, but whether he made the title and author’s name in gold leaf or black ink, the cover would throw it off as soon as he wrapped the dust cover around the book. The laughter got louder each time, and sometimes the book would leap off the table and attack him. Things escalated until somehow the book had maneuvered Walter into a position where he got a hoof caught in one of the book vices, and then the book carved Walter’s name, the titled of the book, and the author’s name into Walter’s flank. His screaming during that is what caused the neighbors to call the constables for help.
Joneigh is expressing sympathy and taking notes. Then Pickmane suddenly asks, “Do you hear the laughing?” Joneigh listens. “No.” Pickmane gets more agitated. “Did you go into the shop?” “Yes.” “It followed you! It’s come for you! It’s HERE!” By this point Pickmane is clopping about in circles and babbling louder. The orderlies come and wrestle him down and take him back to his room. He keeps ranting and getting more agitated all the way.
Joneigh leaves Ravenstone and heads back to her hotel, but calls Autumn in flight. She tells her an abbreviated version of how things were at the hospital and suggests that she contact the honeymooners to help get to Fillydelphia fast to help with the problem. She continues on to dinner at the hotel bar and Autumn goes to rally the troops.
In the hotel bar there are a pair of earth ponies, a young filly and a not-so-young stallion. He is obviously dying his mane and tail and has a prosthetic hoof. He is telling a tall tales to impress the filly. They go off toward the restroom. Eventually, a rather irritated filly comes back across the bar, followed by the disheveled older stallion… who heads to the bartender asking if there is a back way out and winks at Joneigh on the way by (she looks behind her, shrugs, and goes back to her dessert). The stallion goes out the back door. Joneigh finishes her meal and heads up to bed.
Prow Lee’s car pulls up and as the group are figuring out rooms and luggage, they overhear several employees discussing the mess in the bar restroom, which now has glitter everywhere. Autumn checks with the concierge to see if Joneigh is in —he thinks she may be in the bar. Autumn doesn’t find Joneigh, so calls her. They agree to meet in the restaurant. The whole group is there and Joneigh is catching them up. At one point the waitress apologizes for the gold glitter being on a glass or two as it just gets everywhere. Joneigh notices it on a glass and says that is gold leaf, like was all over Walter’s place. Then she makes the connection between the restroom, the stallion, and the glitter. She explains. Aura says, "In a public restroom?! Eugh! How gross.”