Pony POV Series
"Dark World" Part Five
By Alex Warlorn
I made Master proud again. I followed a gut instinct instead of a logical conclusion. Since I had virtually nothing to go on and no way to recover more at the moment, it was my only rational course of action given that I wished to complete this quest as swiftly as possible. The sooner this was resolved, the sooner things could get back to... normal? What was normal in Master's world? Abnormal was normal and normal was abnormal.
Apple Pie had felt familiar. So I had gone where I 'felt' she might be. Sweet Rock Acres outside of Ponyville, I knew the location, Liarjack had a habit of going out on a balcony and staring in its direction.
I didn't know how long I had before Master summoned me for what he wanted next. He could be anywhere doing anything at any time. Sometimes I barely had a chance to rest before he called me again, sometimes I had enough time to practice eighty new spells before he came back. Almost made me wonder what he was doing that moment.
"Hello ponies of Trotkyo, Neighpon! To help teach my adorable and wonderful minion Fluttercruel that chaos is about making yourself feel good and making others miserable is a means to an end, not an end unto itself (!) I, Discord-Sama-San-Kun The Super Kawaii, have selected you -via the precise science of blind dart board tossing- you fine, miserable ponies whose ancestors I had to enchant to keep from committing mass Seppuku (all I did was make the whole country a cheesy, plotless samurai flick, I just don't know what went wrong). Yes, you fine ponies who spend everyday it seems just waiting to die and continue to have children out of a sense of tradition more than anything.
"You have become utterly indifferent to my games and seem to rush towards my little princess and Angry Pie with open hooves whenever they come to visit and have only encouraged her behavior. So, you're getting the super Discord deluxe special!
"You lot over there are now cat-filly-ponies! Nice bell collars! Cute cat ears and all those other cliche cute feline things!"
"And you good pony! Let's give you some scales instead of fur, and a really long neck, divide up your psyche and give each one a head! Ta-da! The world's first hydra pony!"
"You lot over there, in sailor uniforms, you girls. Stand up on your rear hooves, readjust your spines, give you opposable-thumbs and, ta-da! Anthro-ponies!"
"What are these round things on our chests?"
"And where are you cute little foals running from? Let's see, and THERE! You look right out of Generation Three Point Five! Oh that takes me back!"
"?ytrap a evah ot stnaw ohW"
"And talk backwards! HAHA! And YOU there now resemble my cousin Ponythulu! Maybe later I should have you fight the Hydra Pony after making you both the size of buildings, you ponies love your giant monster fights. And next we have transparent hug and nuzzle happy slime ponies like you see on some websites!"
"Hey! Stop hugging me!"
"Now now, princess, no weapons. Now where was I? Oh yes, since I made a bunch of mares cat-filly-ponies, I'll make you guys dog-colt-ponies! Be sure to play nice with the fillies!"
"Bark-bark! Got no bone to pick with them!"
"You two hmmmm, what sour looks on your faces! I know! TA-DA! Kitsune-foxy ponies! Ooooh, looks like you love confusion and mischief as much as I do now... almost. Nice to see some ponies seeing things my way for once! I should have done that one sooner! HA! Don't think I didn't see you crack a smile for a second there my little Fluttercruel! Rapid fire! Android Maid Pony!"
"Observation: this is most illogical."
"Duh! That's the point! Next! You sneaking around the street corner! And now you're Fluffy Puffy Ponies! So round, huggable and soft! Hmmm, I think you might actually be copyrighted! But when have the copyright gods stopped me-?! Aren't you adorable! BWAHAHAH!"
"We feel so puffy and light. Anypony wanna a hug?"
"Oh don't grimace Fluttercruel! Enjoy the ride! And you four, chinese dragon pony! So many legs. The four of you won't mind sharing one brain right? Ha!
"And the coup-de-grace!... You hiding under the upside down tree! Nice mare! Brave mare! You get the special honor! And ala-kaaa-ZAP!"
"Since when is exploding an special honor?"
"I didn't explode her my princess! That's boring. Look!"
"Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!" "Oh my!"
"If you're curious what you are, you're called Breezies, that's the species name, not you, the person, or rather persons now."
"Oh my!" "Oh dear!" "Oh dear!" "Oh Dear!" "What's this!" "What's this!" "Don't hurt me more!" "Change me, er, us back!" "WOW! I can fly!" "I feel pretty!" "I'M A STALLION NOW?!" "Why aren't we all the same color?" "Just a bad dream!" "A happy dream!" "Erm. Which one of us is the original?" "I think we all are." "This is cool!" "This creepy!" "HOW IS MY COLT FRIEND GONNA ACCEPT ME, US, NOW-?!"
"Hmmm. I guess you could use a few more to have a viable population model."
"You had to open your big mouth!" "Sorry!" "Maybe this way we all get to still be with him?" "But I'm a guy now!" "Maybe some of him will be fillies?" "That's besides the point!" "Leave him alone!" "Zap-'em!" "How can you say that!" "Don't wanna be alone." "Everypony run!" "Everypony scatter!" "Everypony stand together!" "Everypony rush him at once!" "Everypony go off in pairs!" "Everyone Cluster together!" "Stop it!" "You're all crazy!" "You're crazy!" "If everyone else but us are crazy, does that make us the crazy ones?"
"Don't worry about having identical Egos, you'll individualize sooner than later! Now then! My recreated races, new species, and sideshow freaks! A parade in my honor, and more importantly that of maybe my minion learning a bit more about the many unique wonders of chaos! Look deeply at my waving swirlie baton now! Get in a rough, vague, ill defined line! And forward! We'll all have a swim with the self-animated inflatable pool toy ponies afterwards!
"And remember! No more anger! Your world is happy and mundane! Just ask the marching tori gates and dancing water coolers!"
Fluttercruel couldn't help herself anymore, she laughed.
Anywhere, doing anything at all.
So this is Sweet Rock Acres huh? I don't know what I was expecting but I have to say I'm kinda disappointed. No I did not speak out loud. I am not stupid. If a subject knows they are being observed, this shall invariably change their behavior. But first I needed to find her.
Stupid rock farm. Rarigreed wasn't completely interested in these places, she only seemed interested in 'ripe' rocks, however that works. How did these even work anyway? It was completely illogical. Did Master make them grow and make the inside edible? Then why were rock farms in the books from the Pre-Chaos Era?
(Isn't it rather hypocritical for such a logical pony to serve the antithesis of reason?)
If the voice hadn't had a source before, I saw no reason why it would suddenly have a source now. However. 'People work best together when they balance each other. A logical pony is the only one who could serve a Master who contradicts reason.'
(Don't you mean ponies 'instead' of 'people'?)
'The world is made up of more than just ponies. It would be self-centered.'
The rock fields went on for miles in every directions, ranging from sizes from boulders like Tom to pebbles. But, there was a sense of loose organization to it. Patterns. Like a classic zen rock garden. I felt the slightest tingle of magic flowing through these lines. It so sublime however I couldn't determine its nature with just a passive detection. My curiosity teased me again. Great. More complications. More details. I'd do that after I had observed Apple Pie and gathered enough information.
(And how do you intend to do that?)
With my eyes and ears of course.
(And do you think you'll gather enough data by the time your 'Master' calls you back? And what happens when he learns what you're doing? Do you think he'll like you prying into his private life? His little secrets? Do you really believe that if he thinks you'll learn something from her that he doesn't want you to that he won't shut off the source? He did instantly send the six of you home after meeting her.)
. . . And I'll never be at peace.
(Precisely. You need a more direct route.)
What do you mean?
That is illogical. She'll never answer truthfully and openly with one of Master's six after our purge of Ponyville.
And? So what then?
(You can't figure it out for yourself? A smart pony like you.)
If she won't answer one of Master's six. Therefore another must ask. But the fewer who know the better. And I don't have time to collect a proxy. Therefore I must ask. This is a contradiction.
(You are overthinking things.)
Simplest solution? Apple Pie just need not know she is speaking to one of Master's six.
The correct spells needed are obvious then.
It shifted to day.
As the saying goes: nothing else to it. I've had since the beginning of everything to expand my library of magic. I've replicated magic from unicorns, virgacorns, pegasi, hippogriffs, and changelings.
I retrieved the necessary spell from my mind, adjusted my own magic to cast it, and picked the most appropriate form I could imagine.
I magic up a mirror to check my looks, remember I can't use that kind of magic in this form, and use a nice nearby puddle. Perfect.
Now to trot into the rock farm and find the source of my contradictions.
Let's see. Several barns full of rocks. A farm house. A tool shed. An out house. Mostly made of stone blocks. Rock tools neatly organized. Rocks of all shapes and sizes, drab gray rocks, bright colored rocks, plaid rocks, night glow rocks (the non-radioactive kind), Pony Eating Rock, wait what-?!
The Pony Eating Rock opened its jaws, revealing its long pointy teeth, its tongue drooling at me, it had no eyes but I knew it was looking right at me! It made an intelligible noise that I think meant it was hungry. Why wasn't I moving? WHY WASN'T I MOVING-?! It opened its jaws up bigger and reached out its tongue, slowly wrapping around me.
"Here boy!" A stick of dynamite arced through the air and went straight into the Pony Eating Rock's mouth. It made a noise of surprise and exploded, forcing me to cover my face for protection. Can't regenerate where the subject might see me.
An Earth pony filly with an orange mane galloped next to me. She had a pale pink coat, but all pony colors are pale. I noticed her cutie mark was a bundle of dynamite. She pulled down around neck a pair of goggles.
"Ya okay?" She asked polite concern in her voice, greeting me like an old neighbor.
She was talking to me? "I am fine." Being eaten once by a dragon was bad enough.
"HEY! What did we tell ya about yer kind comin' round here?!" Shouted another filly, this one with a white mane and light gray coat, but decidedly a filly. Her cutie mark was a jack hammer.
The gray filly stomped over to the former giant pony eat rock, that was now several little Pony Eating Rocks. The small horde took one look at the second's filly's face and managed a good job of looking afraid at her stare. The second filly grinned, "Or maybe ya want to see how many of ya can fit inta a rock pie?"
The small horde of Pony Eating Rocks broke into a panic and hopped away as fast as their non-existent legs could carry them.
"AND DON'T COME BACK!" The first filly shouted at the retreating avalanche. Then gave a small kick to a random big rock hard enough to form a small crack in its surface. "You too!"
And the rock formed a frowning scared fanged mouth and got up on comically thin legs and skittered away following the avalanche.
I felt my jaw drop from my face.
"Sorry 'bout that. Annoyin' buggers," said the filly with the TNT cutie mark with slightly higher than normal volume, "Ah'm Cream Pie. Ah blow stuff inta cream."
"You don't say." I replied.
"And This here bundle of sunshine is Banana Pie."
"Howdy." Said the gray filly giving a quick salute kicking her hooves together.
"Welcome to Sweet Rock Acres!" they both exclaimed, their yell almost knocking me off my hooves.
The first pony crossed her forehooves and smiled while the second one smirked. "What can Ah do ya for?" Cream Pie asked.
"I'm, I'm looking for a filly named Apple Pie, orange coat, green mane. I think her eyes are orangish gold?" Why did that eye color feel familiar? And why did 'Cutie Mark Crusader Book Editors' keep popping into my head and making me shudder when I think of it?
"Sure we do! She's mah little sister!" Cream Pie answer, hopping up to me with a big smile. "What business ya got with her?" Asked in a perfectly open and welcoming manner.
Two pairs of blue eyes looked at me brightly.
I kicked my brain into overdrive. "I heard how brave she was in Ponyville when the elements of chaos came to town, and I wanted to meet her."
Their faces turned sullen.
"She shouldn't have even been there. Learin' magic is mighty risky." Said the filly whose special talent was apparently making things explode.
"If the Virgacorns wanna get hurt then that's their business, but Apple Pie shouldda known better than to get involved," Added Banana Pie.
"All the same I really want to meet her," I said.
Banana Pie looked at my flank curiously. "Nice cutie mark! What's it fer?"
My cutie mark now was a single little white star. It was impossible to truly fake a cutie mark, but a couple simple illusion and image spells let you at least cover up part of it. An old trick among celebrity ponies but effective and more reliable than a sticker.
"It's for star gazing," I answered without missing a beat.
The fillies said nothing, ponies had cutie marks for stranger things.
"Come'on! We'll take ya to big sister! She's likely in 'er room," said Banana Pie.
We trotted to the farm house, about the only thing not made of stone was the door and windows. From the sky, it probably looked unremarkable from above, which made it safer for them. -Of course Master would see that as a challenge.-
Cream Pie skipped, almost bounced ahead energized while Banana Pie stayed next to me taking in every detail of me, I'd be nervous if I could feel.
I notice scarring on Banana Pie's back, I couldn't tell if they were fang or claw marks, but it had been something big.
We were just at the front steps when the ground rumbled.
I felt it a lot sooner than I normally would have as a unicorn. The fillies kept straight faces and actually smiled a bit. I braced for whatever came next.
A diamond dog dug his way out of the dirt, his crystalline form resistant to the dirt and grim he had just been borrowing through.
"Peace, love, and mercy to all that lives." The diamond dog bowed at us.
"Howdy Guru Fido." Cream Pie waved. Banana Pie gave a quick salute.
"Greetings Earth Pony Cream Pie. Earth Pony Cream Pie. And... what may this Earth Pony's name be I ask?"
"That's right we didn't catch yer name," Banana Pie asked looking at me grinning.
"Oh it's... it's... it's-"
"Oh, are ya surprises at Guru Fido? He's a Diamond Dog. He's a dog and he's made of diamond!" Banana Pie exposed. Least she didn't start jumping from topic to topic.
"Technically my people are not made 'from' diamonds, but do have a very similar cellular structure to diamonds and share the same physical resistance," the Guru corrected in a relaxed, calm voice.
I knew all that. Ahem. During the day of chaos, the Diamond Dogs, used to running from danger, dug deeper and deeper into the Earth than they ever had before in the mad fantasy this would help them escape Master.
Meanwhile the Diamond Dogs' primary predator, the Quarray Eels were among the species driven extinct accidentally by Master's games (Master turned them into balloon animals, if I'm not mistaken, and no one called him evil for it). But this was the last thing on their minds.
According to what information we were able to extract over the centuries, they had found a jewel buried deep beneath the ground. Set in a chamber inside a series of tunnels clearly made instead of formed naturally.
The diamond dogs being greedy and covetous creatures, had all reached for it, and so they had all fought for it. The details differed at this point. Either the gem shattered, an unnamed Diamond Dog had held it for a moment and had randomly thought of wishing to be smarter, an impression of the jewels' previous owners acted, or the jewel's magic itself was disgusted by their avarice. No matter what happened, in a flash of magic, spreading through the tunnels, the diamond dogs had become the living crystal beings they were now, from the highest Alpha Male to the lowest pup and Omega Female.
For a couple minutes they tried to kill each other, their greed for gems still driving them, but then they simply, stopped, and thought, for a good twenty years. Turns out the crystal's energies had also increased their intellect and connection to the world at large. And with the Quarray Eels gone, and under Master's radar, they had the chance to stay in one spot and built their culture and civilization. Of course, this is all second hoof information.
What do you mean, 'lecture mode?'
I had known all this already. The simple fact was I had forgotten to invent an alias!
"What is your name purple Earth pony?" Guru Fido asked politely.
"It's..." Filly: Pony at the dawn of her life. Twilight. Between day and night. Light. Half light.
"I'm Half-Light Dawn." I managed at last.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Earth Pony Half-Light Dawn."
"The same." I played back. I began thinking of explanations for my reaction if need be.
"Guru Fido. Ya here for yer weekly trade?" Asked Cream Pie.
"Yes my dear I am."
"Whao okay just a tic'." Cream Pie galloped a short distance over into one of the barns. "HEY!" She called from within, "Watcha doin' in here?"
"Ya got a bedroom fer that!" And out was kicked a third Earth Pony filly.
She wasn't wearing that ridiculous white bonnet she had on when I first saw her selling rocks in Ponyville.
Cream Pie came out a minute later carrying four baskets of rocks with a surprising amount of ease, even for an Earth Pony filly.
"Greeting Earth Pony Apple Pie."
"Howdy Guru Fido."
Cream Pie hoofed off the baskets to Guru Fido, and then tossed a couple smaller stones on top of the one of the baskets. "A little somethin' for the Misses and yer litter Guru Fido."
"Thank you Earth Pony Cream Pie." The diamond dog then brought out several baskets of rainbow colored jewels which Apple Pie took back.
Master had a love/hate relationship with the diamond dogs, they kept peacefully accepting every drop of chaos he threw into the universe, and were a lot harder to drive insane than ponies and would often forgive him whenever he'd torment them.
(Discord doesn't deserve forgiveness.)
On the other hoof, their resistance to damage meant Master could play rougher with them. And Master liked to drive one crazy slowly over the course of a few years whenever he felt like he wanted a challenge.
"Um...Guru Fido...Before yah go could you...you know..."
"Of course, Earth Pony Apple Pie," Guru Fido replied with a somewhat solemn but still calm tone. He stepped off to the side and he and the three Pies all bowed their heads. I didn't want to stick out, so bowed mine and listened closer. "Magica, my friend, may your soul rest peacefully now that your journey is done...And may those who took you from us be forgiven for their sins..."
I feel a strange tightening in my chest...What was that?
After ending his prayer or whatever that was, the Guru gave thanks again for the trade and dove back down, collapsing the tunnel as he went.
"You do business with Diamond Dogs?" I heard myself ask.
"Yep!" Cream Pie said proudly assuming a statuesque pose, "Grandma said our ancestor was the Diamond Dog King Big Barkintosh."
Curiously came unbidden about that strangely familiar name. "I'd like to speak with your grandmother."
"Oh... she and ma got turned inta dragons by LMCBB Discord and flew off and never came back... they do send lots of nice letters from Dracotopia though," Banana Pie said, not quite as disturbed as one would expect.
Cream Pie and Apple Pie bowed their heads for a second.
Dracotopia... oh right, after alien invasion and the fall of old Avalon the dragons' numbers were so damaged that for the first time in history the dragons came together, in the name of survival, into one flight under Queen Tiamat rather than just gathering to mates and the Dragon Migration. After five hundred years it was an iron clad nation with each of its citizens an army until themselves and a sense of community unseen dragons before. They even watched over some of the ponies who were willing to swear their lives to Tiamat.
'Keep the world build in dialogue?' What are you talking about? You make no sense. Are you related to Master?
"I see," I said, not knowing how else precisely I was to respond to that.
"So who are ya?" Apple Pie raised an eyebrow at me.
"She's Half-Light Dawn, little sister," Cream Pie said, patting me on the back so hard I almost staggered.
I opened my mouth before they could continue, "I heard about how you survived what happened in Ponyville with the elements of chaos, and I wanted to meet you. I wanted to meet somepony so-" I struggled for proper wordage, "-awesome, cool and radical!" Huh?! Where did that come from?!
"Aren't those the same thing?" Banana Pie asked, blinking in a comical fashion.
"Well to her they clearly ain't." Responded back Apple Pie who trotted forward, "So let's all get formal introduced, Ah'm Apple Pie of Sweet Rock Acres."
I shook her hoof. "I'm Half-Light Dawn, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"Ditto!" The sun came down. "Dang! Wanna come inside? Ah'll show ya mah room."
"Can we talk about what happened in Ponyville?"
Apple Pie startled. She looked, hurt? "It's kinda, well, it's not really-"
"Please please please please PLEEEEASSSE? I'm going to go crazy if I don't hear about it from you! The source! I can't rest until I hear it all from you! Pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty please!" I trotted towards her and leaned forward and she leaned back as I got in her face.
"Well, Ah, uh,... maybe just a bit?"
I feel something inside me. Like a burst of something. Light, flowing, it pulled up on my facial muscles. I began to bounce around her.
The fillies all looked at each other then at me. "You okay?" Banana Pie asked tilting her head some.
I stopped myself. I felt a strange warmth in my face. What had come over me? I was supposed to get answers not more questions. "Uh, yes."
So into the farm house we trotted, right past a statue of an old pony who Cream Pie waved at while Banana gave another short salute. "Good-night Grandpa Rock Pie."
I am surprised that I was surprised when the statue smiled and saluted back. Rock Pie's cutie mark would, of course, be a pie full of rocks.
Inside an Earth Pony stallion wearing a ruffled pink apron (that matched his coat) with a red mane waved us in where he seemed to be making stone soup. Next to him were a bunch of blanks with what could been tiny city scape but were in a box scribbled 'circuit boards.' "Howdy girls! Whose yer friend?"
"Howdy dad! This here is Half-Light Dawn," Said Cream Pie, once more giving me a strong pat on the back. "She came ta see Apple Pie cause she survived Ponyville, and she nearly got eatin' by a rock."
"Ah thought we got rid of those things," He sounded annoyed.
"Don't worry, me an' Banana Pie weeded'em out," Cream Pie said happily like it was any other farm chore.
"Thought Ah heard an explosion, good job." The stallion then turned to me. "Well nice ta meetcha filly, Ah'm Apple Computer." That was a strange name. I saw his cutie mark was a keyboard, like a typewriter, and a screen with an apple on it. "Care for some rock soup?"
"Erm, I'm not hungry."
Nopony asked where my parents were, thank the Master.
It was more than just the fillies, the grandfather, and the father in the farmhouse, which was not small for being made of stone bricks, how long had it taken to be built?
In the hallway I noticed a couple pictures that were faded, brittle, and slightly decayed that showed an Earth Pony on the cello with a music cutie mark, and a yellow Earth Pony Mare with a heart: hammer and wrench. What was familiar about them? The yellow one in particular just teased at my mind. But it was forgotten in the horde of relatives I was introduced to.
There was a baby colt named Orange Burst, a female toddler named Apple Juice, who were the sons of 'Aunt Apples N. Oranges.' A middle aged stallion named Uncle Crab Apple. A young adult pony dubbed Blackbird Pie. A pair of (non-identical) teenage colts twins, called Red Jack The 40th or something and Black Jack. Fruit-Of-The-Knowledge-Of-Good-And-Evil (actually an adopted mare who was originally part of the Pear clan). Cherry Apple. A hippgriff named Cheery Pie (her parents still wondering where she got those genes). Minty Pie. Rocky Pie II. And Humble Pie.
My entire head spun from the congo line of names and face. And the sense of being grateful I wasn't having food shoveled down my throat this time. This time? Why was I even feeling grateful at all?
I heard myself asking, "Is there a family reunion?"
Apple Pie shook her head (Cream Pie and Banana Pie had gone back to their chores, apparently there was always more work to be done on a farm). "Naw. Not really. It just pays off to have, to have... some back-up help, cause somethin' happens to somepony. "
That was when I noticed as I peaked in rooms, for every two beds occupied, there was one that was empty.
We got to Apple Pie's room, it was meant for more than just one filly. There were bunk beds on all sides of the room. Something told me the one with the camouflage pattern sheets and hanging headband was Banana Pie's, and the one with tools scattered about with a 'Cherry Bombs Out of Cherries' book was Cream Pie's.
I noticed some of them were empty. Not that strange when you think about it. But just, the way they were folded maybe, or how items were spaced around them, or the 'more empty than empty' vibe they gave off, or how Apple Pie avoided looking at them, it told me much.
I looked at the empty and preserved bed above next to the one Apple Pie sat on that I assumed was her own. "Who slept here?"
(You shouldn't have asked that. It doesn't have to do with your questions.)
Apple Pie grimaced. This made no logical sense. Where was the filly who had laughed at Master's joke? Was this even the same filly?
"That there was Poison Apple's bed."
"Poison Apple?" I tilted my head. Had I heard that name in a fairy tale?
"She was Mah sister, Mah twin."
The green haired orange filly huddled close next to me. "Be quiet. We can get out of here. This castle is always changing but there's always a way out!" I whisper to her. The filly's cutie mark was an apple with a green skull.
"What about those bad mares?" She shuddered, she was covered in lashes on her back and face.
"Let me worry about them!"
Angry Pie turned around a corner and leapt at us. Maybe she smelled our blood. "FOUND YOU!"
"GOT YOU!" I blasted her through a wall.
"Hey, Ah never asked, what yer name?"
I smile at her, "It's Twilight Sparkle. Now let's hurry before more show-"
Discord appeared floating in a lounge position, "Now now Twilight, did you run off with one of Fluttercruel's toys?"
"Poison run!" I shouted at her.
She ran away as fast as her legs would carry her.
"Alright Discord." I gritted my teeth and lowered my horn, "I'm-" He snapped is finger. "-ready to obey your commands my Master."
"Be a dear and recapture that little filly running behind you that somehow escaped."
"Yes Master." I turned around and created several magical shackles from made from my own mana, they flew towards the fleeing filly like cobras, and clamped around her legs and began to drag her back towards me.
"Miss Twilight Sparkle! What are you doin'?!"
"I do not know any pony named Twilight Sparkle, you are confused, I am Twilight Tragedy."
Angry Pie crawled out of the wall and punched me in the face. I don't try to understand her reasoning. Fluttercruel flutters past Master and I give the end of the chains to her.
Angry Pie growled, "She'll never laugh at me again!"
Fluttercruel smiled, "She'll never laugh at anything again soon enough." She created a meat cleaver from one of her feathers.
"Ah never laughed at ya!" Cried out the unnamed filly.
"LIAR!" Angry Pie brought her hoof down so fast the filly's teeth flew.
"Dawn? Dawn! Ya okay? Yer were in Breezie Land." Apple Pie asked.
I looked at her, and then at her cutie mark. Another sensation, like my chest was being constricted
I didn't like it. I asked, "Apple Pie, so Poison Apple was your identical twin?"
"How'd ya know?"
"It's, just what everypony thinks when they think of twins."
"Oh right. Yeah. She was, then she got taken ta LMCBB Discord's castle by Fluttercruel. She ain't the first taken ta never come back."
"I see...." I came to this filly looking for answers, but I was becoming only more confused.
Thankfully, the subject was changed by the sound of a rather gigantic explosion from outside. "Pa! What happened!" called Apple Pie sticking her head out the bedroom door echoing through the stone house.
"Oh, just an old land squid wandered too close to the house! Don't worry none, Cream Pie got 'em!" called back Apple Computer, his voice as if it were a normal everyday occurrence.
"Oh! Okay!" Apple Pie replied, then turned to me. "Looks like the rock soup will have extra flavor tonight."
No, I wasn't surprised that they were going to eat it, ponies had given up their stigma about eating meat about five hundred years ago (though cannibalism was still considered a taboo by most ponies). What surprised me was how they just rolled with it. A monster attacks the farm, they just blow it up and move on like it's business as usual. Was Master's world really so predictable that ponies considered this normal? It couldn't be, ponies still panicked when Master sends a disaster down on them, unless they're either too badly broken or insane to care. But these ponies were neither!
"Ya wanted ta know 'bout Ponyville?"Apple Pie finally asked, rousing me from my thoughts.
"Oh! Yes I did! Everything about it! Tell me!"
"... Mah best friend's name was Magica. She was a Virgacorn. She had purple stripes, yer cutie mark actually kinda reminds me of hers." I said nothing. "She'd come by, just buy a tiny cherry pebble or two, but who she really came fer was Guru Fido and the other Diamond Dogs who come by. She'd spend hours at first just talkin' to'em. She kept wantin' to learn from'em. One day Guru Fido couldn't make it. Ma suggested she help me with mah chores, told her all clever like it would be somethin' new to learn. So she did. Heh! She caught on by the end of the shift. So Ah asked her if she wanted to play. Heh, turns out she was mighty too tired for runnin' and jumpin' so we ended up playin' games inside instead.
"After that, she'd play with me after she was talkin' to Guru Fido and Ah was done with mah shift. Guru Fido then told'er she needed to learn from other Virgacorns, not a Diamond Dog she wanted ta learn. She wanted ta learn MAGIC. Yeah, da Forbidden Fruit, er, not my Great Auntie, she wanted to learn it though LMCBB Discord didn't want ponies learin' none of it."
"Doesn't stop the Hippogriffs from trying to impose order on the weather."
"Yep! So there she was! Doin' somethin' crazy as wantin' ta learn magic! An' the one kind of crazy LMCBB Discord doesn't like!"
I wasn't surprised at her openness, ponies had woken up from the fantasy of Discord REWARDING those who betrayed their friends and family to him or expecting leniency within two hundred years of Master's reign.
So I was surprised to learn she thought the young mages might have been revealed to Master by a member of her own family. No Master did not tell me how he learned, it didn't matter, he commanded and I obeyed. All I knew was that we hadn't a 'snitch' in over seven hundred years.
We had occasional defectors, spies, and mad ponies in love with Fluttercruel, but not anyone who clung to the delusion that betraying a secret of someone they cared for would grant them anything from Discord except his attention, and only the ponies who were already mad or reckless sought that out. True, Ponyville was FILLED with mad or reckless ponies, but it was Master's most base policy to ALWAYS let ponies know WHO had betrayed them WHEN they had been betrayed. Preferably not only them but the entire town on a gigantic TV screen...For some reason he enjoyed having Traitor Dash watch it when he did that.
Sorry, that's ahead of the narrative.
"So Guru Fido introduced us to some Virgacorns who were lookin' for students. Our tutor's name was Abstract Symbolism. Ah also finally got to meet Magica's other friends, Puella and Caster. They were siblings. Puella and Caster's family it turned out was lookin' fer someplace ta live and we...always have spare beds so we offered. Their parents' just moved out, they said there too many painful memories."
"Why do you stay?" It wasn't like Master didn't know where they were or had no interest in them.
"Memories stay with ya no matter where you go. Runnin' solves nothin'. And Mah families needs me, Ah can't just run away. Puella and Caster were a riot, butting all the time, but the moment there was somethin' that needed doin', you think they were one pony. It's dang plain amazing. Virgacorns, their magic ain't the same, Ah mean, the way magic works fer one ain't how it works fer another, Ah mean, they still follow the same rules but it's like us Earth Ponies, everyone's magic is special."
"Yes. They are."
"Puella's magic could fix or make things, Caster's magic could break or unmake things, it was amazin'."
"What about Magica?"
"She was super-amazin'! She could look at any spell and learn it super fast! Our tutor never saw anything like it!"
"You keep saying 'your tutor' so a Virgacorn was teaching you Earth Pony magic?"
"It ain't impossible, Ah sured learned a lot more from Symbolism than Ah did from Mah parents, but ya can't tell'em that though!"
"You have my word."
"'Cross yer heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in mah eye.'"
I repeated the gestures and words, that sense of nostalgia again. But I was no closer to my answers.
"That's been in mah family since like forever."
"I'll take your word for it. So, what was it like around them?"
"... Around Magica it was like everything could suddenly make sense, no matter how crazy things got, no matter what Conductor Boss Discord threw at us, she could make sense of it, and it felt, just good to know some pony could make sense of it."
"Order out of chaos
" Just like the stars.
"Yeah, somethin' like that. Fer Caster and Puella, it was crazy, but in a good way. No matter what they disagreed on, they always came through, no matter how much they argued, they always arrived at a solution. Puella liked things pretty, Caster liked things rough. And when somepony ELSE came down on one of them, they were always there to stand up for each other. They should have been enemies with how they acted. But... it was like they were missin' parts of each other and their siblin' filled in. Crazy but, a fun crazy. The one thing they always agreed on was how much they loved each other and how much they loved their parents. Ah, Ah had to tell'em what happened."
I didn't ask about Magica's parents. I found myself thinking about Caster and Puella...something seemed...beautiful about how she described them. No. I have to get my question answered.
"And Poison Apple... she knew a whole dang full lot 'bout alchemy. Whenever she wasn't doin' chores she'd be readin'. Ah think Ah might been her only real 'friend.' She'd do crazy things to get'em, the library in Ponyville, ponies who held onta really old books that were fallin' apart. She wanted to know."
"Where are her books now?" I asked before I could control my tongue.
"Uncle Crab Apple wanted to burn 'em, so we could have at least a funeral pyre... Ah got dad to bury'em. Didn't feel right to see'em just, gone."
"Where are they buried?"
"Just under the house. Ya curious?"
"Not about that." What were the right questions? "What makes you laugh?"
"Can you tell me, what makes you laugh?"
"Why ya wanna know that?"
Think of a good lie, think of a good lie, think of a good lie! "I just want to know. You can tell a lot from a pony from what makes them laugh." Angry Pie would beat me to a pulp if she heard me say that.
"Ah! Okay!... Ah guess Ah find contra-contrawick, control-tic, er, things that make sense on their own, but when ya put'em next to each other, that suddenly don't sense though they made sense before. Those make me laugh."
"Yeah! That's it! And things like ironing boards are funny too."
"You mean irony."
"OH yeah, heh... you kinda sound like Magica. Heh-heh."
"Why are you laughing now?"
Her mouth was smiling, but her eyes were sad. Not logical.
(Music for this part: silhouette mirage ending credit roll - sega saturn I think the Jpop song is called: "Though I cry I'm happy inside.")
"Because, remembering Magica is gone is sad. But you remind me of all the fun I had with her, and those memories are happy. It's all so contrary! And how can I not laugh?"
"She really was your friend wasn't she?" Why was I asking so many tangents? Counter-productive.
"Yep! She was... " How can a pony be smiling happily and have misty eyes at the same time? "And she's gone and... and she can still make me laugh and cry! It's like our friendship is magic."
I respond without thinking. "No. Magic is tragedy. No matter how perfect or beautiful something it is, it can all come crashing down."
She giggled again. "And there's another contradiction. What we both said makes sense, but when said together they can't make sense! Yer funny!"
We both make sense? But...it's a contradiction, it's not supposed to make sense at all...
"I'm not trying to be."
"A lot like Caster... he'd try to be funny, his jokes would all fall flat, but whenever he snarked, he was a riot. Geeze, here I go again. Ya know normally when a pony goes away ya just say yer sad, accept they're gone and move on. But... now that Ah'm tryin' it, Ah don't MIND thinkin' so much 'bout em! Ya know Puella's ma wanted her to be a florist, her pa wanted her to be an an archer, but she wanted ta be a mage, no if, ands or buts. Stubborn as an Earth Pony like they say."
"You mean stubborn as a mule, right?"
There had been members of Apple Pie's family who had the tell tale larger ears, colored different muzzle, or different tail, but I hadn't seen an Earth family in centuries who didn't have at least one member who did show some traits of the donkey tribe. If anything, it had rendered Earth Ponies MORE tenacious and indestructible.
In a way, this rendered Liarjack and Angry Pie to be as much outdated models as... TD, Fluttercruel, Rarigreed, and myself.
"Hey, you sad too?" She asked.
"I don't get sad," I replied evenly, forgetting about staying 'in character' though I hadn't really put much effort into acting like a filly. It all just came, naturally.
"Well ya looked sad fer a tick, no, Ah think ya looked old." Had my transformation begun to revert? How? HOW-?! "Ya reminded me of the way grandpa always gets. Just starin' out far away, like ya were in some big desert." Thank Master.
"It's nothing, I've lost, I've lost stuff too," I tripped over myself, I didn't want to cover myself with answers that would be just bait for a curious child to ask questions of me instead of the other way around.
"Ya lost yer family. It ain't that somethin' ya can hide. And ya lost yer friends too."
Friends? Comforting the crying Traitor Dash and accepting a kind nuzzle from Liarjack. Talking with Spike. But tragedy didn't have friends... or did it? "No. I still have some friends."
"What are their names?"
"I came here to ask you questions remember?" I tried to steer things back on course. I wish I had brought something to write with. A donkey doll with her own matching note book and quill flickered in my mind. Why did, she, it, feel so important? Wandering filly brain. "So things that clash with each other make you laugh?"
"Not really 'clash', they're things that shouldn't fit together but do Ah think is a better way ta put it, Ah haven't really -thought- about what makes me laugh. Do ya?"
"No. Not really."
"See? But there is this one verse that's mighty funny I think. The weird thing is that every copy I've found doesn't say who wrote it."
I invited, "What is the poem?"
Apple Pie made a small cough and jumped on top of the bunk beds.
"Did you hear the lie that's completely true?
Two brothers, only-childs both:
At noon on the stroke of midnight they stood back to back and faced each other.
They drew their swords and shot each other.
The paralyzed stallion clapped.
The deaf mare heard it all.
The blind mare saw it all.
The numb pony felt it all.
And the mute pony will speak witness if you don't believe."
Apple Pie fell on her back giggling.
I looked at her, and listened. And spoke calmingly, "I do not see the contradictions:
The brothers could have been adopted.
When it is ever noon one place, it is midnight in another.
They could have turned their heads to see each other while sitting being back to back.
Ponies have experimented with swords that double as projectile weapons.
The stallion might have been a unicorn using magic to move his body.
Maybe the ponies who were missing their senses lost them after the brother shot each other.
And there was an entire story based around the idea of a supposedly mute pony who revealed to be perfectly able to speak when he needed to give vital testimony at a trial."
"Heh... you sound just like Magica again. She'd say the same thing. There are no contradictions, only reasons that haven't been discovered yet. 'All truths together would hold neither contradictions nor chaos' she'd keep yacking like a school ma'am. Blech. Dang I miss it."
"You say you miss it, but you sound like you didn't care for it. Another contradiction."
"Heheh, yeah. Come on now, don't you at least think it's a little funny how two conflictin' thing can be in the same thing? Is there any RULE that says a tear and a good laugh can't come from the same pony?"
"... No, there is not.... But how can your family endure this? Living so close to Ponyville? And still continuing tradition? All of you, in spite of everything you've lost, of everything you continue to lose right next to everything you gain. Like a cup spilling over as water is poured into it. And yet I see so many of your family smiling. You just lost your friends, doesn't that bother you at all?"
It was illogical. The magic of tragedy crushed, it destroyed but
but this family they
they went against model. No matter what happened, what tragedies they faced
they just plowed through and kept going with smiles on their faces. It
it made no sense,so why did I think this contradicted Master?
"Ma had a sayin' before Conductor Boss Discord made 'er a house sized flyin', fire breathin' lizard. 'Be thankful fer the lemons,' she'd say." She looked sad again and STILL SMILED! And I had seen ponies forced to smile under Master's magic before, but this, this was nothing like that! "When life gives ya lemons, don't throw 'em back, and don't try to burn life's house down with a combustible lemon. Ya'll be left with nothin' except yer pride, which ya can't eat. Or ya'll be hated by everypony who actually LIKES lemons. And ya'll only get squashed by the skyscraper sized angry mommy-lemon as it falls on ya anyway."
A sound escapes my mouth, I feel the light again like I did before. What was that?
"Heh! So yer a filly after all! For a tic' Ah thought ya might be a stallion Big Boss Discord made a filly, Pa's met three of those."
"I am not, nor have ever been a stallion." I said matter-of-fact.
"Ah know, Ah know, Ah was only jokin'! Mah point is what point is there in stoppin' just because things are bad? That's quitter attitude and it don't solve nothin'. No way, we ain't quitters. When life gives us lemons, we take 'em, thank life kindly, and keep right on goin'."
Why did I feel like I was just locked in a room with Angry Pie for five minutes?
"Hey! Wanna see somethin' funny?"
I nodded for the distraction.
Apple Pie reached under her bed and pulled a tiny cage. Inside was a hamster on a, well, a hamster wheel, running in place.
"Meet Groundhog, and yeah Ah know he's a hamster, but Ah didn't know that when Ah caught 'em munching on pebbles.... Just look at 'em. Always runnin' in his wheel, the more he runs the more he doesn't get nowhere. The only way for 'em to get anywhere is... " She took a tiny pebble and tossed it precisely and carefully into the wheel, Groundhog stopped, and looked around confused, and went off to a stone block to naw his teeth and to feed himself from his tray. "Is ta introduce somethin' new ta the loop. But Groundhog can't do it himself, or he just keeps goin' and goin' and goin' in circles. He's weird that way. But Ah think it's also kinda funny."
I didn't quite get the joke. But I would admit it was somewhat interesting.
What happened next? Nothing of any true significant what so ever. I merely yawned. Apple Pie invited me to spend the 'evening' and we play a few board games (I am proud to declare I won most of them, and Apple Pie was an amazingly good sport about it... not that games matter of course!). She told me the ghost story of the headless horse, which I am sure I had heard somewhere before, (maybe it was one of the spirits Applebloom had helped pass on, there were so many. Yes ghosts and zombies exists, why is that strange for me to say?).
I wasn't able to tell much about myself of course, and I couldn't do any of the magic I really knew because I was in the form of an Earth Pony, but I was able to tell her a couple adventure stories, though I can't remember where I read them.
Like I said, nothing of any true significance at all.
After, I thought to ask the question I should have at the beginning, the key to all my questions. "I heard you laughed at Discord's joke. Why?"
"Because Ah thought it was funny."
What? "That's it?"
"In spite of the violence the elements of chaos must have brought on Ponyville?"
"Yeah they did but... Ah've learned, that laughter is a precious gift 'round here. Ya need ta take it when ya can. Weather a joke is black, white, or plaid, ya need to accept it fer what it is. Besides, it's not like he was laughing at me... "
"B-But he was joking about the loss you had just suffered. SO I HEARD!"
"Yeah he was. But... heh, there ya go, contradictions again."
"Maybe you laugh just to cover the pain?" I asked calmly and logically.
She smiled and waved me off. "Naw, Ah laugh to get rid of the pain, not pretend it isn't there. Big diff'. And besides, everythin' was crazy, losin' so many friends then and there, and Boss Discord bein' all kooky 'bout it? Kinda crazy ain't it? And why not laugh at all the crazy?"
"That's what Ma-Mister Discord always says." That was too close a slip. I was more tired than I thought. This place, her... "I-I have to go."
"What? Where are ya goin'?"
"I d-don't want you to know."
"Because... I don't... I don't want you... to be upset." W-Why did it feel like I meant that?!
"Ah don't get it."
"T-thank you for the time Apple Pie, and thank you for speaking with me, it was, it was, it was a p-leasure!" I nodded my head twice and ran using that Earth Pony body for all it was worth. What had I been feeling?! How could I be feeling?!
I ran like fifty Fluttercruels were after me. Out of that house. Out of that rock farm. Away from the oddly familiar pictures and ponies and strange feelings. I didn't even think to change back.
I knocked a random pony over as I ran, I looked back, wondering who they were. But I had to keep running!
This was supposed to make the curiosity go away! Why is it making it worse?!
I ran, I ran, keep running! Run away! Back. Home. Home! Why do I feel like running to the library?! No! Th-That's not my home! THAT'S NOT ME!!!
Back to Master!
Where I belong!
With Master, nothing needs to make sense! With Master I don't have to feel!
I gallop back to the castle in a blur, back, back get back!
I see Ditzy/Derpy! I don't see the black birds. Must be regenerating. She's started a new lap, she's a filly again, too little for a Cutie Mark.
I skid to a halt in front of her. She climbs over me and keeps going. I trot alongside her unbidden, like my body is on autopilot. I feel my mouth open.
Hey little filly! You have questions? Well. My name is Derpy Hooves! Or Ditzy Doo, I remember being called both. I never thought much about fate, if it exists, I still need to make my best choices, and if it doesn't exist, I still need to make my best choices, no matter what I'm going to. I'm scared I'll lose Dinky before I finish. What I want more than anything is for all my family to be back together. I love my muffins more than anything. What makes me happy is muffins, I mean muffins like the kind you bake, and bubbles, bubbles are so pretty. What matters most are those you love. But what about you? This is funny, I've met two purple ponies now and- hey! HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? Don't go into the bad castle! It's bad!
Knock over one of the dirt maids! She giggles at being more dirty herself now. Laughing. Like Apple Pie. Did Poison Apple laugh like her too?
THE DEAD DON'T MATTER! The dead want nothing. The dead are nothing. The dead have nothing. The dead are nonexistent. They are non-factors. They have no influence. Once you're dead you're dust! Nothing else! You might as well have never existed! Yes yes yes! That's it!
I've run into... that grave. It's not Angry Pie's adopted children.
It's that unicorn's grave. Stupid ever changing palace! Stupid ever changing paths! Stupid ever shifting rooms! This whole castle is a creature of chaos itself!
The sun comes up over the grave of the elderly blue unicorn. She was so old. I don't remember how long it had been since everything began when I saw her. She was just so old. How could any pony live with a body as ancient as that?
I hear Guru Fido's prayer ring in my head again, but my mind keeps trying to put a name I can't remember in Magica's place, why?!
The dead don't matter! Only Master's will and well-being matter!
There's no name on her gravestone. But I recognize it all the same. While it shifted around, the tiny plot of grass it's on does not change shape. A contradiction. The kind Apple Pie would laugh at.
Apple Pie, so many siblings, so many brothers and sisters, cousins, and whatever. I wonder what it's like to have a brother. ?! What does that matter?! Agh!
The questions! The Feelings! They won't stop! They keep coming! Go away! Master make them stop! LEAVE ME ALONE!
I RUN AWAY! Have to get away from it! It's wrong! It's unnatural!
Room! Room! Room! Find room! Found room! Found . .. room...
I'm too tired to bother changing shape back to my real self. I'm too tired to get into bed. I'll just... the potted plants. I'll just lay here, next to them, such soft leaves, so comforting, so welcoming. Can Earth Ponies talk to plants and know what they're feeling? I remember a tree being treated like royalty by... somepony. No, that's just silly, a silly pony. Soft potted plants...