Pony POV Serie
Feared And Loved Part 2
WARNING! SPOILERS FOR CLOVER'S GAIDEN CHAPTER!
“To what do we owe the pleasure?” another head asked. When it came to important diplomatic visits, she typically had one head speak on behalf of all five for clarity sake, but she was more comfortable letting each head speak for itself, and our relationship was a tad less formal. I’m not sure if she uses ‘we’ to refer to her five heads or as the Royal We.
“I came to you hoping to ask you a question, not as rulers of species, but as allies and as a fellow goddesses,” I beseeched. Yes, Queen Tiamat and I were rulers of two peoples, but that did not mean we could not have a personal conversation with each other. Particularly since Tiamat had little interest in politics outside protecting her children. “And I hope…as a friends…”
Let it not be said dragons are heartless creatures. They are driven by desire, yes, but that does not mean they care only for themselves. To Tiamat and her kind: friends and loved ones are considered possessions. This is far from slavery or an abuser claiming they own their victim, that’s seeing it from a pony perspective. It is difficult to explain in terms that make sense to a pony at all. But if there’s one thing that can be understood about their love; it’s that they will do anything to protect their horde. If a dragon cares about you, they will go to the ends of the earth to keep you safe.
“You may ask, Celestia,” said yet another head, all five giving me their utmost attention. This was no longer political. We were safe from the public eye. This was now just the two of us talking as friends.
“Thank you…As you know, Discordance Apophis Typhon recently escaped from his prison and caused my little ponies a great deal of harm…”
Tiamat snarled in fury. “And many of our children as well,” she snarled. “I’ve sent Bahamut to once again check on all of them because of it.”
I had noticed Bahamut missing from his typical resting place atop Tiamat’s castle (where he normally stayed while visitors were present. Close enough to come to her aid if needed, far enough to not be bothered by the guests). Bahamut was Tiamat’s mate and while not quite as powerful as she was, was another Dragon God like her. The Hooviets were fortunate Tiamat had chosen not to have him accompany her to the battle. I don’t know him as well, as he seems more reclusive than his bride is and ponies know even less of him.
I give her an understanding nod. “Yes, I believe we are both happy he is sealed away. From the sound of it, he is not enjoying his fate.”
“I do not doubt it, for a Draconequi, a creature of chaos; there could be no worse fate…But let us not give that self entitled brat the attention he so desperately craves. Continue,” the central head stated.
I nodded in agreement. “Yes…While he was free…he told me something that troubles me. I suppose Morning Star has taught him well…He told me that my subjects fear me because I’m a goddess. Because of what I am. He let me hear all their thoughts…their fears…I know as a goddess, I should be above this…but…”
“As their mother, you want them to love you?”
“…Yes…I came to you because I don’t believe Luna has the answer I need either. I was hoping you would…How do you handle being feared by the ones you want to love you?”
She gave me a smile. Tiamat may have been the terrifying Mother of All Dragons, but she was still a mother. She could still be tender. She could be kind. “Celestia, Discordance was not lying, he was telling the truth…but as your brother taught him to, he twisted it to suit his own ends.”
This intrigued me. “Please explain…”
“Fear is not a one dimensional thing, like all Concepts, He has different aspects. Discordance was right that they fear you, but he made you believe it was a different aspect of fear than it truly is,” the central head explained.
“He made you believe they fear you in the sense that they are scared of you, that they see you as something to dread. This is not the kind of fear your little ponies have for you,” continued to the right.
“Children fear their mothers, but not because they dread them as most ponies dread my children. They fear their mother’s disappointment, her punishments, her disapproving gaze,” explained the far right head. “But they do not fear her.”
“This aspect of Fear is one of His ways of helping life grow. It is what teaches a child to obey when their elders tell them something is dangerous, when they are told not to do something for their own good. A child who learns from their mistakes is a blessing to their parent, but a child who listens to their parent avoids making the most costly of mistakes, letting them live long enough to make more minor ones,” stated the head to the left of the central one.
“Celestia, our children do love us. That love means they feel safe when we are protecting them. When we arrived on the battlefield during our war with the Hooviets, our children felt safe because we were there. But when we told our children Equestria was our ally, they would not have listened if they did not fear our rage if they disobeyed that our orders,” the left most head continued.
“A wise pony who is often times misquoted once said ‘it is best to be feared AND loved,’” the central head said. “Love means your children, or subjects, desire to please you because they desire your happiness. Fear means they desire not to displease you, not to earn your ire, your punishments. It means they obey you when you tell them not to do something for their own good. This is why being feared and loved is best: together, they give a leader the tools to rule with compassion and kindness, but still be harsh when the situation requires it. Tell me this, Celestia; does the fact you fear Your Parents’ anger mean you do not love Them?”
My Parents are Empathy and Wisdom Incarnate. They love all life. But yes, I do fear Them being displeased with me. They have punished me, rightfully so. I earned it. And I know why. They punished Lulu, and she became a better Alicorn for it.
“Wanting your subjects to love you is natural, Celestia. The relationship of deities and mortals is a paradoxical one. We are above them, we are forces of creation who’s words shape existence…and yet, of all of us that feel anything towards life at all, only Discordance feels no obligation to helping life progress and grow. What do we receive in return from the mortals? Could we not have simply started the universe and allowed it to run its course? We receive nothing from them. Most of us don’t even receive their gratitude. But yet, in many ways, we exist to make their lives better. Is it not natural for us to desire them to love us for all we’ve done in nurturing them from the Big Bang onward?”
She was right. I remember my sister, Rota Fortuna, was always frustrated by how ponies viewed her concept as a controlling force, rather than a guiding one. That many blame her for their troubles when it was their own choices that guided their paths. Luna’s desire to be loved did not begin a thousand years ago…she’s always wanted to create a race of fully nocturnal ponies. I believe Luna’s mistake was believing any of us would disapprove of her desire to do so and always trying to find a way to do it without being seen. That’s part of the reason I told her she could make the Night Guard nocturnal this time around, so long as they knew it would happen. She was pleasantly surprised to find how many ponies would willingly become creatures of the night.
I slowly nodded. “You’re right…thank you, Tiamat…I needed that…”
“Any time, Celestia. You and Luna always have a place in our horde.”
Yes, that does sound somewhat disturbing to a pony‘s ears, but from a dragon, that was actually a rather touching statement.
“Can you stay for tea? I just received some new teacups from Strife for my birthday.”
Yes, I had tea and a friendly conversation with the five headed Mother of All Dragons. If you find that strange, then you should hear about my brother Mortis’ wedding. Ponythulhu was the ring bearer.
Most importantly, I’d gotten advice from a friend.
Hello again, I am sorry I kept delaying our meetings, things kept coming up.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Like Fluttershy going Nightmare and trying to take over the world?)
Yes, among other things.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Other things? Like what?)
I spun out of the way of a pillar of demonic flame as my sister flew in and sent the towering behemoth staggering with a sphere of lunar energy. The creature was a gigantic ash colored titan. It’s head was covered in horns and spikes jutted from its body. Demonic fire surrounded its hooves and where a mane would be, as it’s eyes, mouth, and nostrils glowed like a furnace. And that’s only what mortals can see.
We’d gotten word that during Discord‘s reign, one of the horrors sealed behind the Gates of Tartarus had managed to get a foothold in the mind of an innocent pony while he had Cerberus‘ ball grow giant and play fetch with the poor dog. It was one of a race of interdimensional beings who eons ago had come to this reality to turn it into a place of eternal suffering out of spite and hatred at being cut off from their own. Their goal to dominate the minds of all beings in the universe and torture them for eternity being something that could not stand had been the one thing that Our Mother and Entropy have ever agreed on. While the Draconequi stood guard to keep them from fleeing, my siblings Rota Fortuna, Princeps, Imperatrix, and Justitia battled these beings and sealed them away in Tartarus.
With its new victim, this entity had begun a cult which ultimately performed a ritual to opened a Gate enough for it to slip through. The Guard was presently dealing with closing the Gate and capturing the cult. Given we are only facing one, I assume they’ve succeeded in their first objective.
“Die!” the behemoth shouted, sending streams of flame at us.
My sister and I form energy fields around our bodies, letting the intense flames wash past us and into the night sky. I was thankful this was far from an inhabited area (an ocean side forest to be exact). I’d been very careful to avoid allowing cities to build over top of Tartarus Gates.
“Sister, I thought Rota Fortuna said these creatures were far stronger than this!” Luna called as the scorching flames faded.
I feel the creature try to worm its way into my brain but the attempt is shattered before it can succeed. The two of us already took precautions to protect our subjects from such attacks during this battle. “That’s because they’ve been fading away for eons now. It’s likely there are only a few left that have not vanished into nothing. Which is all the more reason to end this quickly before it can regain strength!” Despite it’s weakened state, me and Luna both had received numerous third degree burns.
“You cannot destroy me! Your siblings could not and neither can you!” it roared, sending a wave of searing heat right at us. Luna countered with a powerful surge a lunar wind, the two forces struggling and canceling one another out.
I gave a smirk. “Yes, about that. Do you believe us Alicorns have been sitting on our laurels in the eons you’ve been imprisoned?” I asked. “NOW!” I fire a massive stream of solar flame, blasting it backwards. Right next to the ocean nearby.
Luna’s eyes glow as the tides under the control of her moon suddenly shift, sending a massive wave of water rising up behind the giant.
‘Father, I beseech You, bless us this day that we may defeat this evil. Bless this water to weaken that which threatens all Your children,’ I recite in my head. I briefly feel a wonderful, familiar Prescience as the wave crashes down on the invader, sending a surge of steam into the air along with a roar of pain. Its flames are briefly extinguished by the water blessed in My Father’s name. No, this is not a demon, but I’ll get to why holy water was effective in a moment.
On cue, a rain of arrows fly from the clouds surrounding us, embedding themselves in the horror’s chest.
It begins to laugh as the wooden shafts ignite from its heat and its flames reignite. “Arrows? You believe that arrows wou-” it suddenly gasps in pain and clutches its chest in agony. Cracks begin to spread out from its wounds, light pouring out as it falls to its knees in pain. My family had found these creatures’ weakness since we’d defeated them in the event that despite our best efforts they escaped, something this one found out far too late.
“FRIENDLY INCOMING!“ Luna announces, prompting the pegasus soldiers that had hidden among the clouds waiting to launch the arrow strike to retreat as far as possible.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): ‘Friendly Incoming?’)
Essentially a warning to take cover because they’re in the line of fire for an incoming attack.
Both our eyes glow bright as we channel massive amounts of our power into our horns. We cross our horns, the light at the center looking like an eclipse.
The beast’s eyes widen in shock as a devastating beam of yellow, white, blue, and purple light erupts from our crossed horns and engulfs it. With a roar of agony, its torn from its feet, the beam ripping its body to shreds. The invader’s form is consumed by a gigantic explosion and reduced to bits of flaming rubble raining down on the surroundings. No, I do not regret ending that wretched horror’s life. These are beings that we only spared because there was no way to kill them at the time. Our troopers already knew the hell on earth the being sought to create when this began.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): What was in those arrows anyway?)
The arrow heads themselves were forged by us, allowing them to harm the creature by being imbued with Alicorn magic (though our Troopers’ impeccable aim was an asset we could not have done without, I actually am not good at all with a crossbow). They were also covered in a few drops of Fluttershy and Fluttercruel’s blood each.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): WHAT?!)
The secret we discovered was these beings were refusing to abide by the laws of the universe. As such, while they could be harmed by an Alicorn or a Draconequi, who are forces of creation, their bodies could not be destroyed by anything of this universe. But we found their weakness; Nature’s Law and Nature’s Fury combined. If injected with a mixture of the blood of an Alicorn and the blood of a Draconequus (or the kin there of), a body rejecting creation was being injected by both aspects of it. For as close a comparison as possible, they were deathly allergic to this mixture. In addition, contact with this ironically gave them a tether to the reality they so rejected, robbing them of the invulnerability that gave them and allowing them to be killed (though the injection would have killed it eventually, we would not prolong suffering more than needed). This was also why the holy water weakened it; Our Father is Existence itself, and thus anything blessed by Him is more effective on these entities who reject it.
Fluttershy’s…recent experiences and Fluttercruel’s parentage made their blood perfect, and thankfully they’d recently had a physical, giving us a sample to access quickly. In the future we can (and indeed have, just in case) make a combination of our own and Discord’s (we have our ways of extracting it from his statue), but time was of the essence and using their blood was the best and quickest option.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Princess, they don't take blood during a routine physical.)
They do when we have sensed something strange in them and desire it to be very thorough. As my sister said, we sensed Fluttercruel long before she made herself known.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): And you kept it on hand to put on arrows to smite an ancient evil, why?)
You're quite smart, my little ponies. Admittedly a natural mix of the two's blood is a more effective mixture than an artificial one. If those creatures had escaped while we were with our siblings, we would have had Strife and Mortis' children donate blood. It's just they're still in a mortal body, so it's more practical to extract blood from myself, Luna, and Discord as a preparatory measure. But yes, admittedly, I did keep it on hoof in case this happened.
Landing among our troopers, we were met by a SAS platoon armed with double-barreled air shotguns (presently loaded with various non-lethal rubber pellets) and gas grenades, donned in camouflaged armor and gas masks. The Commander removed his helmet (which has a special horn covering for protection, the helmets were also all blessed to resist the creature‘s control) and gas mask.
“Commander Rapier, status report,” I request, allowing the burns I had sustained to regenerate under my already regrown fur, as was my sister. We’d made sure that much had healed before landing.
“Your Majesties, the operation was a complete success,” Rapier reported with a bow and a salute. “We infiltrated the compound and stopped the ritual directly after that creature was summoned, preventing another from escaping. We then subdued all hostiles with no fatalities on either side. While several troopers and hostiles were injured, our medics say they should be fine. It would also appear it was as you predicted; they were under the creature’s control and were freed when it was destroyed. While unharmed, they appear to have been traumatized by the experience.”
I gave a frown. I had been afraid of this. These creatures’ control leaves the victim feeling violated and forces them to do horrible things while they can do nothing but watch. It makes me sick. “Understood, Commander. I will see to it that they are given the best psychiatric care possible.”
“Yes, Princess Celestia…Permission to speak freely?“
“Princesses, what was that thing?”
“A creature that looked on existence with envious and spiteful eyes and sought nothing but to take out its bitterness on all that lives,” my sister explained with venom in her tone. “But all that matters is it’s been destroyed and can no longer harm anyone.”
“We could not have done this without you, our little ponies, you should be proud of yourselves,” I announce, and meant every word. While four Alicorns defeated these invaders in the ancient past, they did so in the void of space. The amount of destruction that may have resulted from the remaining ones escaping and fighting myself and my sister in Equestria would have been impossible to fathom, not to mention the psychological damage they are capable of. With the Guard’s help; we were able to destroy it and close the portal before that could happen. “You are dismissed, Captain, mission completed.” My sister seconds my statement, prompting a cheer from the guards.
“You heard them, troops! Tonight’s drinks are on me!” Captain Squire announced. I would join him in a guise, after ensuring all the victims were getting psychological care.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Princess….Does that kind of thing…)
Happen frequently? Not quite, but often enough that we have protocol for it…What? You believed I relied on seven of my subjects to protect Equestria from every threat? While Discord and the Nightmares required the Elements to defeat, if the Guard or my sister and I can defeat a threat without them, I would rather not put Twilight and her friends in harms way. Which reminds me, I need to prepare for the passing of the Secretariat Comet next year…
Back to the point at hand, I hope you do not mind if I let the civilian’s narratives tell about Princess Gaia’s Day. I simply have another aspect of that situation I wish to relate to you, one that has given me a great deal of help.
I’m aware of how controversial my choices can be. I have my reasons for every single one of them, including my choice to reward Princess Gaia for the good she did. I think I’ll simply keep those private for now, because that is not what I want to speak of. Let it simply be known that my brief day playing with my subjects reverted to foals was wonderful and I enjoyed myself doing so.
As for Fluttercruel, the poor girl did nothing truly wrong. Good intentions simply backfired and she learned from it. I am proud to see her grow from a fragment of Discord’s evil into a wonderful mare. I’m still wondering how to portray her in the stained-glass window.
After I revealed my plans to use my Sunny Days identity to help Fluttershy to Twilight, she protected me. She was horrified by me doing this to myself…and it helped begin to shake loose the remains of my doubt that Nightmare Night and my visit with Queen Tiamat hadn’t already freed me from. And it made me desire something I have not had in a long time…not since Twilight was a little filly.
I asked Twilight to walk with me to the library. Twilight and Spike keep an impeccably clean home. I’d expect nothing less from them, but it still impresses me greatly to see a library that lacks a layer of dust on any of the books. I almost miss having the library in Canterlot this clean.
“What do you want to talk to me about, Princess?” asked Twilight, in a manner I’d missed greatly. The manner of an eager student or foal happily awaiting their caretaker’s next words. Compared to the ‘Smartypants’ Incident, the difference was like night and day.
“Twilight…Back at Mayor Mare’s office you defended me from what I intend to do to protect your friend,” I noted, looking down at her and giving a reassuring smile. “Thank you for that kindness.”
Twilight, unfortunately, just stares at me confused. “But you said I shouldn’t-”
“Worry about me, and that’s true. I’m thanking you for caring about me,” I explained, sitting down next to her. “It felt wonderful to be reminded how much my subjects, and you, cared for me. And for that, I thank you.”
Twilight blushed a little and gave a sheepish smile. “You’re…you’re welcome, Princess…I’m glad to help.”
Twilight may have her moments of ego, but for who she is, for what she’s done, she is a remarkably humble pony. There is no doubt about that. And I’m so proud of her for it.
“Twilight, I know you desire no reward, but I will give you something you wanted more than anything since you left Canterlot.” I knew the last Gala, while extremely entertaining for me, did not live up to any of Twilight and her friends’ expectations. In fact, in many ways, I’d given them their Gala dreams on this day intentionally (sadly I couldn’t find a date for Rarity, I don‘t have many Princes who would get along with her). While Twilight and I got to spend some time together, it was not nearly enough. I can’t believe I’d let that slip my mind in my fear of my subjects being terrified of me. “We shall spend the day together, just you and me.”
Twilight managed to do a most amazing thing and look simultaneously ecstatic and horrified at the same time. “Princess! I…I don’t know what to say. I mean I’d love to, but won’t everyone be on you every five minutes and-”
“Not a problem, Twilight,” I reply, slowly shrinking down, my mane becoming solid and pink as my horn and wings vanished. My Cutie Mark is replaced with three smiling suns. “I’ll be wearing a disguise,” I continued, even my voice changed.
Twilight stared in blind shock. “You…you can DO that?!”
I gave a nod. “Yes, I do it quite frequently in fact. What? You believed I don’t need a break every now and then from my duties as Princess?” I asked, giving a playful smile. “If I didn’t get away from those nobles once in awhile I think I’d go insane. I’ve got quite a few avatars and mortal forms to use. This one is named Sunny Days.”
Twlight didn’t seem to know how to respond to this revelation. "Y-you are Sunny Days? You're a TABLOID writer? The most famous one? Who writes insulting stories about YOURSELF?"
I shushed her lightly before she could start having a breakdown. "Yes, and Twilight, and I'd prefer you were the only one to know about it...Now come, let's have some fun."
Twilight just looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. “Are…are you sure Princess?”
“Yes, Twilight. I just want to spend the day with my faithful student, and enjoy it.” I came over and smiled. “And I know she’s wanted that for a long time too.”
Twilight gave a small smile. She stopped herself from bowing and simply nodded. “I’d love to Princess Celes-I mean, Sunny Days.”
“Glad to hear it. This will be more fun than the time I permitted myself to be kidnapped.”
“Oh don’t worry, Twilight, those crooks were more a threat to themselves than me, though I did end up needing to retire that disguise...”
“Hahaha!” Oh I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in eons!
“Princess! They…They just beat up an evil version of you!” Twilight whispered in disbelief as I laughed at this delightful little show Applejack’s little sister and her friends put on.
“Yes, I know. And good special effects!” I laughed as my stage self was defeated in a delightfully over the top and gory manner.
Twilight’s eye twitched. “Why are you laughing then?!”
I look her in the eye as I cease my chuckling. “Twilight, I write my own tabloids for a lot of reasons, you think I don’t have thick skin?” I questioned. “The only tabloids I’ve ever truly been hurt by were the…well, Molestia articles, for the same reason they hurt you. I even write articles about myself just for fun sometimes. These three are clearly parodying me. Why should I be insulted by a satire of myself? It‘s all in good fun.”
“…I…I think I understand.”
The show ended and I applauded loudly. “…Let’s watch it again!”
“With all due respect, your Majesty, I‘d rather not.”
As the festival continued, I think Twilight lightened up and came to enjoy it more as well, though she still took pains to make sure we had a schedule and got to visit everywhere we desired to. And I can’t say there could be anything that would make me happier.
We had a wonderful day, enjoying all of the festival’s many attractions. I admit…I may have eaten more ice cream than I should have, but if I am going to choose one day to indulge myself, it might as well be my day off. Plus, it was ice cream planet ice cream, I would be wasting a once in a million years opportunity not to enjoy it. I must apologize to Pandora for questioning her wisdom in creating that world.
Trixie’s new show was a wonderful display to watch, I enjoyed every second of it. I can see why she is an Element of Magic, her multitude of spells was fantastic. I’m assuming she’d taken to learning a lot once my student saved her. I’m very proud of her truthfully. Not every pony can come out of their shell as she has. And the joy in Twilight’s eyes at her friend’s success was nearly as wonderful as the show itself.
I am also proud of Fluttershy. While I must visit her to make clear she understands the responsibility that she now wields, I do admit that I am proud she is willing to accept what her actions have wrought, both good and bad...Though I'm somewhat ashamed that one of my little ponies would try to start a public stoning, even if there anger is understandable. Fluttercruel has also grown so much. She even now understands she has a soul of her own. I will not contradict my sister’s punishment, but I will admit I feel Fluttercruel may not have deserved it for a well intentioned mistake.
I do hope Fluttershy will feel up to defending her title at the next Quiet Game World Championships. She’s always a joy to watch. Still, even without her participation, that competition certainly beats the Grand Galloping Gala any day…I’m not sure if that’s a testament to how surprisingly intense that competition can be, or to how mind numbingly dull the Gala can be. Perhaps I should have a tournament at the next Gala.
After the wonderful day came to a close, I returned to Twilight at the library and shed my guise. “Thank you Twilight, I don’t believe I’ve had a more wonderful day in a very long time.”
Twilight gave a warm smile and hugged me. “No, thank you, Princess, it really was wonderful.”
I gave a nod and nuzzled my student…but Fluttershy and Fluttercruel’s words still echoed in my mind. “…Twilight, do your friends still feel guilt for what Discord made them do?”
Twilight blinked, looking confused. “I don’t think so…not anymore. Rainbow Dash did for awhile, but we finally helped her through it…Why?”
“I know someone who Discord hurt. The problem is, what he did to them. They enjoyed it in some ways, but their actions still make them feel guilty. What would you say to them?” I asked, grateful for my poker face.
Twilight looked thoughtful. “A few ponies here in Ponyville were like that. They ultimately needed to face the fact Discord used the things they loved against them. That he knew they wanted something and he gave it to them, but tainted it into something terrible. That Discord wanted them to feel guilty and doing so is letting him win. Does that help?”
I listen closely. And I understand what she’s saying. Discord knew how much I missed my foal hood and…one of my foalhood friends. And he twisted that against me. I will admit, I enjoyed being a foal again. It was what I’d done to my subjects that I was ashamed of. Spending Gaia’s Day playing with foals had shown me that desire wasn’t all bad. But she’s right.
“Thank you, Twilight, it most certainly should…”
I walked up to the statue in the middle of the maze, protected by distortions only I or Luna should be able to get passed. Looking up at Discord’s prison, I gave a small smile. “Discord,” I stated, looking into his frozen eyes. I knew he could hear me. “I know you wanted to hurt me…though I will admit, a part of me hopes beyond hope you gave me a new foalhood in an attempt to get back our days at Paradise Estate before your fall…But it also taught me a valuable lesson. I think in the end, you’ve made me much stronger than I was before.” I give him a smile. “For that, I thank you. Farewell…Dissy.”
I am Princess Celestia. I remember the big bang. I have seen things ponies can never comprehend. I am the Day itself…and my subjects fear me. But they do not hate me. They fear me as child fears their mother. I have guilt I must live with, but what a chaotic tyrant made me do is not among the things I should be ashamed of.
I now know that I am both feared and loved by my subjects as their ruler and their mother. And I both love and fear for them the same way. I am free.