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Cooking swimmingly

by JDeck306

‘Being a student at Princess Twilight’s School of Friendship doesn’t look like the thing for me’ I thought, walking back home after a long day of studying. I haven’t ever gotten in trouble, so my folks can’t be annoyed about that. But why send me here? I get it, it’s a great school. In the two months I’ve been here so far, I’ve met many creatures, from carnivorous dragons and hippogriffs to herbivorous yaks and other ponies. The fact that all these creatures, who would have never met before, can now see and talk to each other on a daily basis, is astounding to me. But I still don’t get why I have to be a student.

In the distance behind me I can hear faint music playing. ‘Must be miss Pie, throwing a party for whatever it is now.’ There have been other ponies, including the Princess of Friendship herself, who claimed not to have any time for friends. All of those ponies eventually did make friends, some older groups are teachers at this very school. But me? Nothing. I’ve tried for years to convince my folks that I have no interest in making friends. Somehow, they still seem convinced that friends are necessary for anycreature’s life. I just can’t see it. I’ve tried so many times, and failed just as many. Nocreature else seems to like what I do. Every time I’ve tried anything, I’ve only driven ponies away. Why should other creatures behave any differently?

Before getting home, I went to the market and gathered some supplies. When I got home, I levitated my saddlebag to the countertop and headed to the kitchen. My folks put a spell on nearly everything in the house. They’re gone during the week, so if I do or touch anything I shouldn’t, they’ll know. As if I’d ever not follow the rules. Rules and my scheduling are the only bits of rhythm I’ve got left.

I’m not much of a talker. Whenever I can, I just use my magic to write words in the air for others to read. Anything I’ve ever said only seems to hurt others, and I still don’t know why. Nopony, heck, nocreature ever explains what I said is bad, and the teachers think I already know what I meant by my words.

‘Finally some peace and quiet, after a long day. Thankfully my folks didn’t “me-proof” my headphones.’ I turned on my music and started making my supper. At the end of the week, special shipments come through the market. Rare fruits and vegetables and such. I ask around during the week what the salesponies expect at the end of the week, so I can plan my meals accordingly. This week, Jackfruit, quite expensive, but nice, sweet, and a cunning substitute for hayburgers and things like that. You can only go so long eating fruits and vegetables, even if they’re in “meat” form. Out of all the foods I’ve cooked with and eaten over the years, Jackfruit seems to be the closest to meat in texture, including the “muscle tissue” of the fruit.

I put the chips in the oil, and neatly sliced the Jackfruit into chunks, kind of resembling a steak, from what I’ve seen other species eat. I’ve seen and eaten the odd piece here and there, having travelled quite a lot with my parents when I was younger. The Griffons and Dragons can eat most things, but they prefer fish and gems, respectively. Yaks have similar diets to Ponies, but the Changelings feed mostly on love. Sugary things like cupcakes are good food as well, so in Ponyville, they’re in luck. Only Mount Aris and Seaquestria, the homes of the Hippogriffs and Seaponies, I haven’t been to yet. The defeat of the Storm King crumpled his empire and everything south of Equestria was put back on the map.

The chips are done almost the same time as the Jackfruit steaks are ready to be taken out of the frying pan. I serve them up nicely on a plate and set the table using my magic in the meantime. I have to have a good and proper meal ready, so I made extra today. Tomorrow is this grade’s trip to Mount Aris, with the added option of visiting Seaquestria as well. I’m not the biggest fan of water or depths, but I am a fan of learning, so I chose this option too. Early in the morning I have to get to the train station, and we’re advised to prepare a meal for the trip there. I’ve not finished all the Jackfruit yet, I’ll get up early in the morning and make it my meal for the day. Cupcakes, some fruit, and a small bag of nuts. Quite a varied set of snacks.

At the train station, we’re explained the rules, and I seem to be the only one actively listening. “Every creature’s got to have a pardner, goddit?” says miss Applejack. Unfortunately, we’re an odd group. I’ll be walking solo again. Miss Applejack looks at me and nods, with an ever so slightly disappointed look. She, miss Rarity and miss Dash will be leading the class to Mount Aris where a group of Hippogriffs will be waiting to give us some facts about their home. “And don’t forget to take notes, this will be in your next test!” says miss Rarity. “Now c’mon, let’s get going!” Miss Dash says. The journey will take a while, so I find the quiet carriage, grab my book, and turn on my music.

After a couple of hours and going through my fruits and nuts, we arrive at the station. A large group of Hippogriffs is waiting. I recognise some of them, as they have been around the school before, like Silverstream, a senior strudent. We’re given a big tour, and we learn some of the lesser known facts about the mountain, like the drain in the main palace chamber leading to Seaquestria via a massive slide. Eventually, the group breaks for lunch. I don’t want to eat my leftovers from last night yet, so I’ll have my cupcakes. A bit of sugar, or in this case, a lot of it, will keep me going.

After lunch, the groups split. The groups of creatures who want to visit Seaquestria are lead to Silverstream and princess Skystar, who have the ability to let us breathe underwater. Here, again, we’re told the rules of needing to stick with your partner. Miss Applejack takes Silverstream apart and tells here something. They turn slightly to me and point, so I think I know where this is going. I don’t have a partner, so I can’t go underwater, or I might get in trouble. As they walk towards me, I expect the worst.

“You’re Turmoil, aren’t you?” I nod. “Well, Applejack told me about you, and how much you’ve been looking forward to visiting Seaquestria.” I start formulating a sentence to make appear in front of me, accepting the fact that I can’t go. Silverstream continues: “And we’ve decided to let you continue, even if you don’t have a partner now.” The sentence I was creating dissipates into thin air, as I’m at a loss for words. I quickly whip up the question: ‘What do I have to do extra to compensate?’ Miss Applejack chuckles at the magic sentence, and says: “Well, sugarcube, only thing you gotta do is enjoy yourself, ya hear? Silverstream here has asked her brother to accompany you just in case, but we know ya won’t cause any trouble!”.

As I breathe a sigh of relief, a white Hippogriff lands close by and walks towards us. He quickly introduces himself as Terramar, before leading me to the water from where we start the underwater expedition. All the students are given bubbles surrounding our heads, apart from the Hippogriffs, who transform into Seaponies. We leave our bags on land and set out to Seaquestria.
“The Hippogriffs didn’t always live in Seaquestria, but also didn’t live on Mount Aris” princess Skystar says, leading us to the beautiful underwater city. “Well, I mean, we DID live on Mount Aris before we lived in Seaquestria, but that was before Seaquestria even existed, and we were still on the mountain, but then the Storm King came and we had to flee and we had an ancient artifact that is now broken that Princess Twilight tried to steal that could turn us into Seaponies and we built this place!” I’m not surprised she’s able to say that much that quickly, miss Pie at the school is exactly the same.

“But right, the artifact”, she continues, “it was this beautiful magical pearl that only my mother, the queen, who isn’t here right now, knew how to use, and saved us all, but then we had nowhere to go but under water as we left our homes behind and had nothing anymore but the queen, such a great leader and the bestest mom ever, helped us keep hope and together we built this entire kingdom under the water with resources that we found and were able to gather, from shells and seaweed to rocks and driftwood from the surface of the water and made it our home until we were all saved by Princess Twilight and her friends! And did I mention that I helped? And that there were pirates too? Ooh, ooh, and an Absynissian from Klugetown! But right, where was I? Oh right, our home!” Bless her soul, but if nocreature stops her soon we’ll be here for a long time yet.

Silverstream steps, or, well, swims in, and stops princess Skystrar’s rambling. It’s about time we head back up to the surface, anyway. Terramar swims up to me and grabs me by my hooves, as other Seaponies help other students. On the surface again, I grab my towel to dry off, and grab my leftovers. I’ve been around others too much today, and it’s been exhausting, even if I learned a whole lot. As I turn to walk away to eat in silence, Terramar, now a Hippogriff again, stops me and asks: “Hey, where’re you going? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk with somecreature?”. I turn and conjure up: ’I prefer being alone. Nocreature in my class likes me anyway, and I’m sure none of the Hippogriffs here do either.’

I turn back to walk away as I’m suddenly stopped and pulled back to the group. Hippogriffs are quite strong, I forgot about that. ‘Well, no use in wasting energy trying to escape. I’ll just turn on my music and hope they ignore me’, I think. Terramar sets me next to another Hippogriff and sits next to me, with a big grin on his face. I can see he’s having a good time, but I don’t feel the same. As I grab my lunchbox with leftovers and open the box, Terramar immediately says “What’s that? Looks like fish. I thought ponies didn’t eat fish?” I explain in magic: ‘It’s Jackfruit. An exotic fruit with a similar texture as meat.’ I hope that’s the last of it. But then he asks: “Can I have some? Looks really tasty!”. I levitate a portion onto his plate, and he takes a bite.

He stops in his tracks. His eyes widen, and I prepare for a lot of shouting about how nasty it is. But, to my surprise, he gets a big smile on his face, and starts giggling. He grabs my shoulders and shouts: “This is AMAZING! Everycreature should try some! Here, taste this!’ he says, as he shoves past me and offers a spoonful to the Hippogriff on my other side. His reaction is the same, smiles and laughter. Do they actually like my cooking? No, that can’t be… can it?

Eventually, my plate is empty and all the Hippogriffs thank me for the meal. Shoulder patting and hugs are aplenty. Inside, I feel… odd. Happy, I think. Before we step back on the train, I turn back to Terramar, who happily waves back at me. Besides learning about the Hippogriffs, I learned something about friendship too. True friends like what you do, and encourage you to keep doing it.