Agatha drummed her hoof impatiently on the arm of her couch. Hubert had said he wanted to watch a documentary, and she had assumed he had more amorous goals in mind; but to her frustration, he had literally meant watch a documentary. He sat on the opposite end of the couch, eyes glued to the screen. As for Agatha, she had more information on the reign of King Tartulus III than she had ever cared to know.
The doorbell rang, and it was a welcome diversion. Agatha leapt to her hooves. “No need to stop the show on my account,” she assured Hubert, who had grabbed the remote in anticipation.
Agatha swung open the door. “Dietrich… Caprice! What a surprise!” She looked at them curiously.
“May we come in?” Caprice asked anxiously. “We have matters of some urgency to discuss.”
“What’s going on?” Agatha asked warily.
“We’re running away together!” Caprice announced succinctly.
Hubert strolled over. “Agatha, I paused the tape; you don’t want to miss the details of the Battle of Vluzith–” He drew up short at the sight of the visitors. “Oh. It’s you guys.”
“Hi, Hubert,” said Caprice shyly as she and Dietrich filed into the room. Dietrich said nothing, but looked at the coral stallion through narrowed eyes.
Hubert gulped. “Is this going to take awhile, because I don’t want to keep the tape paused too long; so if this is more than a quick visit–”
“Hubert, stop the stupid tape!” Agatha snapped.
“Okay, fine,” Hubert said sulkily, walking back to the TV.
“Agatha, you’re so good at managing situations like this,” Caprice said once they were all seated in the living room.
“I can’t say I’ve ever planned an elopement before,” Agatha considered, “but it can’t be that difficult.”
“Neither Father Paul nor Father Windsweeper would do it without alerting our parents,” Dietrich pointed out.
“No, you can’t do it in town,” Agatha agreed, looking pensive. “If you want to get married straight away, your best bet would be–”
“I might know somebody,” Hubert burst in.
“Who?” Agatha asked suspiciously.
“A guy I’ve been working with–a Bigfoot, actually–Dr–” and here he rattled off a completely indecipherable name. “You can also call him Tiny. He’s what they call a domzazal; we don’t have a direct correlation but it’s somewhere between a doctor and a cleric. Spiritual and physical needs are not differentiated in their culture,” Hubert stated with authority.
“That can’t be legitimate,” Dietrich protested.
“No, it’s all on the up-and-up,” Hubert insisted. “He has a certificate.”
“Is this a service you’ve availed yourself of in the past?” Agatha asked, frowning.
“No personal experience,” he assured her.
Knocking was heard on the door, and uneasy glances were exchanged.
“Hide in my room, quick,” Agatha hissed, suspecting no good to be found on the other side of the door.
“Hello, Ms. Westcliff,” said one of the officers standing on her stoop.
“What is the meaning of this interruption?” Agatha asked imperiously.
“We’re doing a sweep of this neighborhood, looking for these two,” the officer stated briskly, holding out a piece of paper.
“They’re not here,” Agatha snapped. “I saw them at the assembly earlier, and I imagine they’re enjoying a romantic tryst somewhere. Why would I know where?”
“We received reports that they had been seen in this neighborhood,” he said, looking at her skeptically.
“Look elsewhere!” And Agatha slammed the door in the officers’ faces.
“You can’t talk to the police like that,” Hubert chided.
“You just have to show them who’s boss,” Agatha said calmly, watching out the window until she was content that the officers had left the apartment complex. “Well, come out, it’s safe now,” she announced at length.
“My father kicked me out!” Caprice said indignantly. “He has no right to send the police after me.”
“Well, apparently he thought better of it,” Dietrich said. “Caprice, if you want to go back, you can–”
“No, we’re in this together,” she said fiercely. “I’m an adult, and Father can’t stop me from going where I want.”
“But he’s friends with the chief,” Hubert pointed out.
“That’s not how the law works!” Dietrich snapped.
“Can we get back to business, please,” Agatha said impatiently. “Hubert, how soon can your Bigfoot cleric be contacted?”
“He has office hours Saturday morning. We can go out tomorrow and see him,” Hubert offered.
“Excellent,” Agatha said briskly. “Dietrich, I’m assuming you can take care of transportation to New Pony once the vows are exchanged? That is where you’re heading, isn’t it? You may want to walk by hoof to Davenport; the local station may be under watch,” she strategized.
“You’re very sure this is what you want to do?” Dietrich asked with a searching look at his beloved.
“Oh, yes,” said Caprice with an adoring gaze.
“The bride-to-be needs her rest. You two, out!” Agatha ordered the stallions.
“Caprice–” Dietrich swept her in for one more kiss.
“You’ll be together soon enough,” Agatha chided. “Out with you!”
* * *
“I think I should accompany you to your lodging, in case you’re being followed,” Hubert said, his glance darting about back and forth in a suspicious manner as he scurried in front of Dietrich.
“I don’t need your protection,” scoffed Dietrich, looking askance at the other stallion.
“Better safe than sorry,” Hubert uttered the age-old adage.
Next thing they knew, a pale form had jumped out from behind some trees onto the sidewalk.
“Run! I’ll hold him off!” Hubert shouted, assuming a defensive stance.
“I’m not running from this moron,” Dietrich sighed, recognizing Storen from earlier.
“You! Dietrich Fairfax!” Storen cried out in a dramatic but shaky voice. “What have you done with her?!” he demanded shrilly.
“She’s safe, and that’s all you need to know,” Dietrich said, walking around both Storen and Hubert.
“You’re not getting past me until you tell me where she is!” Storen belatedly threatened.
“I’m not wasting my time on you,” reiterated Dietrich roughly.
“I will hit you!” Storen said in a high-pitched cry, assuming a loose fighting stance.
“I’d like to see you try!” Dietrich snorted.
Storen threw out a hoof, which was easily blocked by Dietrich; a scuffle ensued. Dietrich had better form, but Storen was wild and unpredictable and therefore dangerous. He landed a lucky shot to Dietrich’s nose, causing blood to spurt out.
“Is that bl-blood?” Storen asked shakily, color draining from his face. Shortly thereafter, he crumpled to the ground.
“Idiot,” grumbled Dietrich, putting a hoof up to his nose. “Where were you?” he asked irritably of Hubert, who was hovering about nervously.
“You had it well-in-hoof,” Hubert assured him. “And it would have hardly been fair to gang up on him two-to-one. But here’s a handkerchief,” he offered helpfully.
“Thanks,” said Dietrich, grimacing. “Help me get him out of the road, at least.”
Between them, the two stallions hauled him to a nearby park bench.
Two police officers approached. “Dietrich? What’s going on?” It was Officer Morris, some kind of distant cousin.
“This twit assaulted me,” Dietrich spat, “but didn’t have the stomach for it.”
“This is Cecil Monk’s lackey,” Morris observed, eyeing the unconscious stallion. “He really has it in for you.” He lowered his voice. “He’s done everything short of accusing you of murder, and I’m sure that’s coming. I’d get out of town before it escalates.”
“I’m working on it,” Dietrich said grimly. “Can we keep this quiet? And someone get this whelp home to his mother!”
“We’ll take care of it,” Stonecrop said cheerfully.
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Morris sighed, shaking his head. “Now, get out of here. I didn’t see you.”