My Little Pony Monthly Issue 44 (November 1, 2000)
My Little Pony Monthly Issue 44 (November 1,
My Little Pony Monthly
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The Haunted Shop
by Clever Clover (Swordrat@aol.com)
Brightblade had spent several weeks cleaning and rearranging the antique store and was preparing for the grand re-opening. It was now nearly dusk on the day before the scheduled event. Medley, who had been helping him prepare for the big day, was hanging a banner above the door. After tying off the banner to the cornices, Medley fluttered lightly to the sidewalk next to Brightblade. “Well, what do ya think, BB?” she asked.
“It looks good. Thanks for the help. Will you be able to give me a hand with the opening tomorrow morning?”
“No, I’m teaching a class tomorrow morning, but I’ll stop by in the afternoon.”
“That would be great.”
“Would you like to go out for some ice cream?”
“Sure. I’ll take one more look around and lock up. I’ll be right back.” Brightblade had already checked the store several times, but he wanted everything to be perfect for the re-opening and didn’t want to take any chances. He had been misplacing things all day; it at times seemed as if things were disappearing or moving about on their own.
Brightblade went into the store and looked around. All looked to be in order– all, that is, except for the crack of light coming from under the storeroom door. “Hmm, I could have sworn I turned that light off.” He made his way through and around the now neatly arranged shelves of antiques to the back of the shop. As he opened the door, the light went out. “This is weird,” the pony mumbled. He flipped the light switch to make sure it was working. The lights came on as normal. He turned the lights off and, as he turned to leave, he heard something. He paused and listened. Nothing. “I must be imagining things.”
Medley was standing just inside the shop. “What’s up?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Brightblade replied. “Probably nothing. I must just be nervous about tomorrow.”
Suddenly there was a loud crash from the storeroom. Medley jumped in start. “What was that?” she asked nervously.
“What’s wrong, you don’t believe in ghosts, do you?” Brightblade asked jokingly. He wished he could say he didn’t believe in ghosts, but having been to the underworld, he couldn’t deny them. He was just trying to calm Medley’s nerves, though he noticed that she didn’t seem to need calming. “You wait here. I’ll check it out.”
The sun had just set and the only illumination in the shop was from the streetlights outside, lending an eerie atmosphere to the small shop. Even though he had no reason to, Brightblade felt a chill run down his spine. “I can’t believe I’m so nervous,” he thought to himself. “Even if it is a ghost, I’ve faced their kind before. Now if it were one of those Fu*by thingys, that would be scary.” He smirked at the silly thought; still, those little furballs were showing up everywhere. Even Medley had one. She had tried to teach it to sing and to play an instrument, but it just tried to eat her flute. Brightblade shook the frivolous thoughts from his mind as he reached the storeroom door.
The flame-maned stallion cautiously opened the door. He thought he saw a blur of motion out of the corner of his eye as he peered into the dark room. A gust of cool air washed over him. He turned on the lights. The room was just as he had left it just minutes ago, except that a pile of junk that he had planned to donate to Goodwill had collapsed, spilling all over the floor. The window opening onto a back alley was open.
“I don’t remember opening any window,” Brightblade mumbled. He went to close it; it was stiff and squeaked loudly as Brightblade pulled it shut. He heard a stifled giggle from the back of the storeroom. “Who’s there?” the pony asked as he spun around. There was a shadowy figure barely visible behind a shelf of antiques. “Okay, come out from there, whoever you are.”
A small yellow pony stepped out from behind the shelf. “I’s jus’ me, Unca’ Bwi’b’ade,” said the baby pony.
“Baby Racer?” Brightblade said in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”
“Me’s lookin’ fo’ a ‘alloween costume, unca’.”
Brightblade sighed. “This isn’t a costume shop, Baby Racer, and I’m not your uncle.”
“Bu’ Aunt Medley said you’d me my unca’ when you mawied hew.”
“What! I think you mean she said I’d be your uncle IF I married her.”
“Oh, no, I said ‘when’,” said Medley from the doorway. “I thought you’d understand, being such an optimist and all.”
Brightblade shook his head. “Baby Racer, you can have one thing from that stack,” he said, pointing to the donation pile. “Then we’d better get you home. It’s late and your parents are probably worried about you.”
The baby pony excitedly jumped into the disheveled heap. After a few moments he came up with a brightly-colored Easter egg. “Ooh, cool wacing stwipes,” he said. “But I need somptin’ scawy.” A minute later he came up with a wooden sword. “This pewfict! Me’s gona be Squire! He was hewo jus’ like my unca’ Bwi’b’ade!”
Brightblade shook his head. “Cute kid. But why’d you have to tell him we were getting married?”
“Oh, what’s the harm? He’s only a baby.”
Brightblade sighed in resignation as the trio exited the shop.
How The Unicorns Got Their Horns
A Fairy Tale by the Ponies Grimm
C. Alan Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
(Author’s note: This story takes place several months before the events depicted in the 1984 animated My Little Pony video that introduced Dream Castle (TM), Spike, the Sea Ponies (TM) and Megan. Your welcome comments and critiques may be sent to email@example.com.)
There is a land that you visit when you are asleep. If you approach the Land of Dreams from the west, your path will lead you to Dream Castle and its ten magical inhabitants. At first glance, you may be surprised to discover the castle is home to a herd of ponies though some have wings and a few have spiral horns on their foreheads.
It is a tradition in Dream Castle that on the first evening of the week, each pony takes its turn and reads a special story for the enjoyment of the others. This evening was very special for Ember, the youngest pony in the castle. Tonight was her first night to ever be given the role of storyteller. In preparation, she had spent days in the castle library pouring over old dusty books of ancient legends looking for the perfect story.
That evening, Cotton Candy, Moondancer, Bubbles, Applejack, Glory, Firefly, Medley, Bowtie, and Twilight made themselves comfortable on the floor of the Grand Hall in front of the great fireplace. Ember nervously paced back and forth, her little hooves click-clacking on the stone floor.
“Oh, Ember, please be at peace,” Glory said finally. “You’re making me dizzy.”
Twilight spoke up. “Ember, we all know you will tell a wonderful story. As we are all here, why don’t you start?”
Ember sighed and looked at the group sprawled on the floor around her, eager to hear her narrate her first tale. “I did memorize the story,” Ember confessed at last, “with all the hard words, but I think I forgot how to tell it. It’s all confused in my head. I don’t know where to start.”
Twilight thought for a moment. “I remember some good advice I read somewhere,” she said after a moment’s pause. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Ember blinked as she pondered Twilight’s advice, took a deep breath, and said, “This story is about unicorns because Twilight is my best friend and she’s a unicorn. It’s a story about how they got their horns.”
* * *
Long, long ago when the Land of Dreams was young, there were no unicorns. There were no winged ponies either, but that story comes later. But there were earth ponies-- lots of them-- and they lived in the Meadows of Cyll. The peoples of the great City of Dreams and Reverie had not yet discovered them. (“A city,” Ember added, “that I’ve never seen since you all found me here when you came to Dream Castle, but maybe someday I’ll see it?” And she looked wistfully at Twilight.)
In those days, the books say the ponies lived in great herds separated by bloodlines and genealogies. (“That big word,” Ember said with evident pride, “I just learned yesterday. It means knowing who your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents and all the others were going back as far as you can.”)
Anyway, there was one pony herd that had mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and all sorts of first, second, and third cousins; and they were very proud that everybody in their family had hide blacker than midnight when the moon was new. One day a filly was born, which wasn’t so strange because there were new colts and fillies born every season; but this filly was very different. In a family and bloodline of ebony hides, this filly gleamed whiter than snow. In fact, when the sun shone on her, it made a pony’s eyes water to look at her.
Yet after the initial surprise, she was loved even though she was different. She was healthy and a good little filly; and on her second birthday when ponies were named, they called her Snowdrift on White Roses or Snowdrift for short. (“Just like the name you all gave me is Ember on the Hearth,” Ember said, “and Twilight’s full name is Twilight’s Peaceful Glow, and Applejack’s full name ...” Twilight gently cleared her throat. “We know our names, sweetheart. Please continue?”)
All went well until after her fifth birthday. Suddenly, Snowdrift started to grow horns--big thick cow horns--one out of each side of her forehead right above her eyes.
Her family was shocked. No pony had ever seen or heard anything like it, and they could not explain why a pony would suddenly grow thick ugly horns. It was too much for the pony herds, gentle and accepting as they were. What had happened to Snowdrift was too strange even for them to accept, and the other ponies shied away when Snowdrift went to graze. It broke her heart. Even though she had grown horns, she still was the same sweet pony she had always been. Finally, in her loneliness and sorrow, Snowdrift simply left the Meadows of Cyll and went out into the world that no pony had ever seen, up and over the high hills that sheltered the grazing lands that the ponies had known for countless generations.
She walked for days seeing nobody except squirrels, rabbits, and deer that simply ignored her. She lived off bracken and the sparse grasses that grow under the thick forest trees.
One day Snowdrift heard a thin cry. Somebody was weeping as if their very heart was breaking and their strength almost spent. Concerned as well as curious, she followed the sound and came upon an old, thick stump. Inside, she saw the strangest creature she had ever seen in her life.
Today, we call them the Hidden People and humans call them the Fay or fairies, but until Snowdrift looked into that stump, no pony had ever seen one. Something like humans, fairies are very beautiful, very delicate and very magical. (“And,” Ember said interrupting herself, “there are lots of stories that say we ponies may have fairy blood in us too which is why human children like us. Don’t you think?”) A little fairy girl-child lay curled up in the stump weeping, her face streaked with dirt and her once beautiful dress torn and stained.
“Hello?” Snowdrift asked.
The child looked up from her crying. “Who’s there?” she asked. “Momma?”
Snowdrift blinked at the question as she was standing right in front of the fairy child and then suddenly understood. Even though the child’s eyes were crystal green, they looked at her aimlessly. The child was blind.
“No,” Snowdrift replied. “But I’m a friend. What are you doing here?”
“I got lost,” the little creature cried. “Some of the other children took me on a picnic and we all got lost.” At this she sniffled. “They sat me down on a rock and told me to stay while they tried to find their way back. They said that because I couldn’t see I would slow them down; but that was yesterday, and they never came back. I felt around and found this stump and I’ve been here since, but now you’re going to take me home!”
Snowdrift blinked in surprise. “I want to help you and I will, but I don’t know where your home is.”
“But you’re a Fay,” the child said indignantly. “You live in the glade.”
Snowdrift swallowed hard. “I’m not one of your people. I’m different.”
A puzzled look came to the little fairy’s face. She made her way to her feet and fearlessly reached out her hands to Snowdrift’s face. With a touch as delicate as a breeze, the fairy brushed her fingers over Snowdrift’s features. The little pony could see the confused surprise on the fairy’s face. When the soft fingers brushed over her horns, the child gasped.
“You’re a talking cow?” she asked.
Snowdrift laughed in spite of herself. “I don’t know what a cow is, but maybe that’s what I am,” she said.
Taking a firm grip on the pony’s horns, the child stepped out of the hollow stump. Her fingers continued their inquisitive investigation and stopped when they encountered Snowdrift’s mane. “I don’t know what you are,” the fairy said. “You don’t feel like any animal I’ve ever felt before.”
“We call ourselves ponies,” Snowdrift said, “but I’m different even from my own people.” There was an awkward silence. “For some reason, I grew horns,” she said eventually.
“Can you help me get home?” the child asked, changing the subject upon hearing the pain in her new friend’s voice.
Snowdrift sighed. “I don’t know where your home is.”
The fairy thought for a moment. “When we left for our picnic, it was morning; and I could feel the sun on my face. That means we were walking toward the rising sun.”
As it was past noon, Snowdrift knew that if the girl had been walking toward the rising sun in the morning, her village must be in the direction of the setting sun.
“I think I can at least take you in the right direction,” Snowdrift said. The fairy child took a firm grasp on Snowdrift’s mane to walk beside her, but within minutes, the pony knew the pace would be too slow. Blind, the child stumbled over every twig and root.
“Climb up on my back,” Snowdrift said after a moment’s pause. “I can carry you. Hold on tight to my mane and keep your face near my neck so the branches don’t scratch your face.” In a few minutes, the girl was carefully balanced on Snowdrift’s back. Neither knew that it was the first time in all the Land of Dreams that anyone had ever ridden a pony.
Snowdrift hoped beyond hope that she was walking in the right direction. Her ears were sharp and the pony knew that if she just walked within a reasonable distance of the girl’s village, she might be able to hear the everyday activity that was going on.
As they walked, Snowdrift asked her new-found friend her name. “Lothissa” she said. “And yours?”
“Snowdrift on White Roses. My family just calls me Snowdrift.” Here she choked as she suddenly remembered the family she left behind so many days ago. Snowdrift wondered if they might be glad she was gone and once again fell to thinking how unfair it was that horns would suddenly grow from a pony’s head. Coupled with the knowledge that she most likely would never find Lothissa’s home, Snowdrift began to feel quite sad.
In the distance, Snowdrift heard the sound of running water; and minutes later, Lothissa squealed with joy. “I hear the Ramble,” she said. “We’re close to my home!”
The sound grew louder, and Snowdrift could feel the fairy’s hands tighten on her mane. “That doesn’t sound like the Ramble at all.”
Walking out of the trees, they came to the edge of a raging river, its water beaten into foam over massive rocks. The far shore was simply more forest.
“Snowdrift,” Lothissa said, “look far upstream and tell me what you see?”
Snowdrift looked to her right where the sun was now a red globe sinking quickly below the horizon. “I see nothing, but forest,” she said. “Wait. There is a hill very far away. Its top is bare rock.”
“Does the rock have three small peaks?” Lothissa asked excitedly.
“Yes, I think it does.”
Lothissa clapped her hands in joy. “Then this is the Ramble, but we’re far downstream where I’ve been told the boats of my people cannot go. My village is right below that hill. If we go upstream we’ll come to the bridge eventually. It can’t be too far.”
Snowdrift felt a quiver of anxiety. The hill was truly far away and they would not make the journey before night caught them in the woods. Though sleeping on forest loam had not bothered Snowdrift, she didn’t want to disappoint Lothissa by having the child spend another night far from family and hearth. Nonetheless, as the red globe of the sun slipped below the horizon, Snowdrift accepted the inevitable.
“It will soon be too dark for me to see,” she told Lothissa. “We will have to spend at most one night in the woods.”
Lothissa’s lower lip trembled, but she did not cry. Snowdrift carried the fairy child to where the Ramble’s currents slowed safely enough to both have a drink of the cold, clean water. Though the grass that grew alongside the Ramble was fine for Snowdrift, for Lothissa they had to hunt until they found some berries growing in the shade of the old forest.
In the last dying shreds of daylight, they found a large patch of springy moss and they settled down for the night. At Lothissa’s request, Snowdrift told the fairy the story of the Meadows of Cyll and how she left her herd because of the strange horns on her head. When the great pale moon arose, Snowdrift then told the story of the pony in the moon. (“Which,” Ember interrupted, “is going to be my next story to read when it’s my turn for story night. It’s all about ...” “Maybe,” Twilight said gently, “you might want to finish this one first.”)
When Snowdrift had finished her story, Lothissa was fast asleep. Snowdrift tried to stay awake--she really did--but when the sun came up the next morning, she woke up to discover she had fallen asleep in spite of herself.
Once again it was cold water and grass or berries for a meal and Lothissa carefully got on Snowdrift’s back.
Lothissa was singing a silly song about a cow jumping over the moon when suddenly they turned at the sound of a low growl off to the side. They had surprised a bear at its morning breakfast.
Bears are very near-sighted and this one simply stared and blinked at them trying to see if they were friend or foe. Carefully, Snowdrift began to step away from the animal hoping to give it a wide berth. However, bears have minds of their own and many times do the unpredictable.
With a roar, the bear charged; Snowdrift yelled at Lothissa to hold on tight, turned on her hooves, and ran for dear life. The fairy knew enough not to ask distracting questions. Even though blind, she could hear the roars and the crashing of the underbrush behind them. Within moments, the pony and fairy came to the Ramble. With the bear on Snowdrift’s tail, there was no time for thought. The pony leaped into the water; immediately the strong current began to tug her and the child on her back downstream to where the rapids rumbled and roared. With all her strength, Snowdrift swam for the opposite shore that seemed impossibly far away.
Struggling to keep her head above water, Snowdrift shouted encouragement to Lothissa; suddenly they found themselves at the headwaters of the rapids. With a gasp from Snowdrift and a cry of alarm from the fairy-child, they were plunged under the first set of waves. When they finally surfaced for air, Snowdrift miraculously felt the bottom of the river under her hooves. A few lunges and a desperate moment when the river current threatened to sweep them away, pony and rider finally stepped out of the swirling waters to the opposite shore.
“We made it!” Lothissa cried. “What were we running from?”
“A bear,” Snowdrift said, between her gasps for air.
The pony looked upriver and suddenly groaned. The bear had not given up its pursuit. Diving into the water, its great strength allowed it to ignore the pull of the river current. With a roar, it ran up the riverbank and turned toward them.
“It’s still coming!” Snowdrift cried. She reared and spun to run downstream when, caught by surprise, Lothissa fell off Snowdrift’s back to the ground.
“Quickly!” Snowdrift said in a frenzy of fear. “It’s coming! Climb back on my back!”
“Help me!” Lothissa cried.
In moments of crisis, necessary actions become crystal clear and we act on them without hesitation. Snowdrift did the only action open to her. She lowered her head, her horns pointing at the bear only a few paces away, and she charged.
The bear stopped its attack, reared, and swung a huge paw at the charging pony. Its paw struck Snowdrift’s left horn directly on its sharp point and the bear bellowed in pain. However, the strength of the blow was so great that Snowdrift felt herself swatted aside and she tumbled to the ground. Fighting to stand, fighting to see through the growing blackness, the pony’s ears were filled with the cries of Lothissa, the agonized roars of the bear, the sound of the Ramble’s rapids, and, strangely, the approaching sounds of voices yelling Lothissa’s name. Then all was silent.
Snowdrift woke up slowly. First, she was aware that her head and neck hurt very much. Then, she dimly heard the noises and voices that sounded much like the Meadows of Cyll.
“Mother?” she asked faintly. “Father?”
“Nay, little one,” said a strange voice. “We are no kin of yours, but we are friends.”
Slowly, Snowdrift opened her eyes to gaze into the deep blue eyes of a delicate, elderly woman. Snowdrift lay on a simple bed of straw inside a simple hut. Through the open window she heard the voices of many people.
“Lothissa?” Snowdrift asked, unable to even lift her head off the straw where she lay.
The old woman smiled kindly. “Thanks to you, she is well. You must rest now. We have given you strong herbs that will heal your pains, but you need to sleep.”
Satisfied that Lothissa was safe, Snowdrift allowed sleep to take her.
When she woke again later, Snowdrift saw Lothissa sitting next to her pallet, the fairy’s quick, deft fingers embroidering an elaborate pattern on a silky piece of material. In spite of her handicap, the fairy’s sense of touch allowed her to create a beautiful work of art.
“Lothissa?” Snowdrift asked.
Lothissa dropped her embroidery in her lap with a shout of joy. “You’re awake!” she said. “Nana! Snowdrift is awake!”
The same elderly woman Snowdrift had seen the first time she awoke walked through the door, a bright smile on her friendly, wrinkled face. “You are awake, little one!” she said. “How are you feeling?”
Suddenly, Snowdrift realized that the pains that she had felt in her head and neck were completely gone. “I’m fine,” she said with some surprise.
“Wonderful,” the old fairy-woman said. “There are many that wish to meet you and all that wish to thank you.”
Snowdrift got to her hooves and shook the straw from her mane. “There is nothing to thank me for. I am glad that Lothissa is back safe and sound with her people.”
The fairy woman laughed. “Our little pony is humble. No, the search party saw you dive into the river with Lothissa on your back. They saw you brave the rapids as you fled the bear. And they saw you charge the bear with little hope of survival. When they chased the bear away, they were surprised and grateful to see you still lived.”
“You know what I am?” Snowdrift asked. “Lothissa told me she had never heard of ponies.”
The old lady shook her head in agreement. “My granddaughter hasn’t, but the stories I heard when her age talk of ponies. “However,” she said, a puzzled look on her face, “I don’t remember ever hearing of ponies having horns.”
Snowdrift looked down at the ground and shuffled her front hooves. “Ponies don’t. Somehow, I was born with these horns, the only pony ever to grow them.”
The old woman reached out and stroked the nearest horn. “Let’s be grateful then that you wear them. They saved our Lothissa as well as yourself.”
That night the entire village celebrated Lothissa’s return and Snowdrift’s courage. There was feasting with all manner of food. At the head of the feast, Snowdrift sat between Lothissa, Lothissa’s parents, and her grandmother. She watched with wonder as during the meal all the revelers were entertained with jugglers, fire-eaters, magicians, gymnasts, dancers and musicians. The pony’s head swam with all the expressions of gratitude.
Toward the end of the evening, Lothissa’s grandmother stood and raised her hands. Immediately, all were silent.
“People of fairy,” she said to the crowd before her, “we are honored to have a wonderful creature of legend with us. Not only are we blessed with her presence, but she has also returned our Lothissa safely to us at her own great peril.”
Snowdrift pawed nervously at the ground. “It really was nothing special,” she said in a low voice. Lothissa’s grandmother ignored her.
The old woman turned to address Snowdrift. “My friend, there is something special that occurs each year for we are an ancient people who remember the ancient enchantments. Each year, our village can make one wish and one only. We draw lots to see which person will have the privilege to make that wish; then we agree with their heart’s desire and the wish comes true. Because of your bravery and because you returned Lothissa to us, we have decided as a village to allow you to make that wish. You may have anything that your heart desires, and we will be in agreement with it.”
Snowdrift’s jaw dropped in surprise. Any wish she wanted? It seemed too good to be true. She felt the weight of the horns on her head and cried for happiness. “I want these horns to be removed from my head!” she said. “I want to be just like all the other ponies.”
Lothissa’s grandmother smiled. Snowdrift turned and saw Lothissa clap her hands together in delight.
“No!” Snowdrift suddenly cried out. “Wait.” She looked at the old woman. “You’re sure that I can have any wish I want?” she asked.
The old woman nodded her head. “Yes. There are some limits as even wishes must have limits, but we can wish away those horns in a second.”
“Then,” Snowdrift said, “if I can have any wish I want, I want Lothissa to be able to see again.” There was a gasp from the crowd.
“No!” Lothissa cried. “It’s your wish.”
“Yes,” Snowdrift agreed. “It’s my wish. I want Lothissa to see right now.”
The old woman leaned close so only Snowdrift could hear. “That is a great wish that comes from a great heart, but know this my friend. The lot for the wish had fallen to me this year and I, myself, was going to wish for Lothissa to gain her sight. However, since this year we decided as a village to give the wish to you, I will get the wish next year. You can have your horns removed now and Lothissa will see next year.”
Snowdrift closed her eyes. She thought of being like all the other ponies and able to go home from her self-imposed exile. Then she thought of Lothissa, blind for another year.
“No,” she said. “If it’s my wish, I want Lothissa to see right away. A year is a long time to a young child. I wish for Lothissa to have her eyesight now.”
“Then, my little pony,” Lothissa’s grandmother said, ignoring Lothissa’s sudden protests, “it will be so.”
The first thing that Lothissa did with her new eyes was weep with gratitude, her arms hanging tightly to Snowdrift’s neck as the people of fairy broke out in cheers. As for Snowdrift, she felt such happiness she determined in her heart never to complain about her horns again.
That night, Lothissa’s grandmother came to the simple hut where Snowdrift was staying and asked her to come outside and look at the stars.
“You have made this old heart happy,” she told Snowdrift as the stars blazed overhead. “My granddaughter has her sight, but you still have your horns.”
Snowdrift simply smiled. “I’m just glad that Lothissa can see these stars and see her family and doesn’t have to wait another year.”
“Then,” the old woman said, “as you have blessed Lothissa, and you have blessed me, and you have blessed my people, so do I bless you; and though a blessing is not a wish, I thank you and bless you from the very depths of my heart.”
Suddenly Snowdrift cried out as a strange feeling overwhelmed her. It felt as if her horns were moving and twisting. Lothissa’s grandmother gasped in surprise at the wonder occurring before her. Not even a fairy grandmother knew of the enchantment of a blessing that came from a heart overflowing with gratitude.
Weeks later at the Meadows of Cyll, Snowdrift cantered out of the forest with Lothissa riding on her back. All the other ponies gasped in wonder at the spiraled horn that grew from the center of Snowdrift’s forehead, a single horn that glowed brightly in the noonday sun.
Later, Snowdrift’s children also bore spiraled horns as well as their children and their children and their children. Today, the descendants of Snowdrift all carry the beautiful spiraled horn, not as a mark of shame, but in honor of a noble heart that showed both great love and courage.
* * *
The next morning after breakfast, the ponies of Dream Castle reveled in the warm morning sun. Twilight lay in the meadow and little Ember lay against her. Together they enjoyed the pleasance of the morning.
“You did very well last night,” Twilight said. “I’m very proud of you.”
“I told that story for you,” Ember said shyly.
“Thank you,” Twilight said simply. “Snowdrift’s kindness reminds me of yours.”
“Thank you,” Ember replied.
Together they watched the birds chase each other among the trees.
A Wrenching Problem
by Barnacle (KrzdRaptor@aol.com)
Dr. Malcolm Shane was sitting in his underwater cell, pondering his position. He wasn’t free like he should be—free to take over the world and to seek revenge on those miserable ponies that had meddled in his affairs! He would not let them go unpunished. He had to get past the sea ponies.
Suddenly, he saw a change in his cell door. There was no explanation—one second the main beam making up the door had been strong and sturdy as it always had been; and the next second it became a gnarled, twisted board that hardly fit in with the construction of the rest of the door.
Puzzled by this odd occurrence, Shane swam over closer to the entrance. He pulled slightly on the changed piece of wood, and it gave way under the pressure. With that plank removed, the entire door simply began falling apart. In no time, there were only remnants left of the one barrier before Shane and freedom.
Smiling smugly and seeing no Sea Ponies around the deeply-submerged jail cells, he slipped away into the ocean. Now... now... now there was nothing to stop him!
* * *
After Barnacle and his group made it out of the mountains and all the troubles they’d had there with Bouldiers, and Warlords, and caves, and Dakytins, and mazes, and all the rest, they figured it was time for a little break. With that in mind, they stayed in Dream Valley for a few weeks just reveling in the normalness of the place. But for a pirate, normal can quickly change to boring, so it wasn’t very long at all before they moved along to their final destination and their home, Calimidad Island.
But that was about a year ago...
* * *
Barnacle awoke to the sound of a pounding hammer somewhere far below him. He cracked one eye open just a bit and could see right away that it was already getting quite late in the morning. He groaned and rolled over, but the hammer kept up its constant pounding. Finally, the pirate captain jumped out of his hammock and leapt at the railing that circled the platform on which he had been sleeping.
Several of the trees on that side of the clearing had platforms built on them at different heights, and most of these were connected by rope bridges and bamboo walkways. Each of the platforms served as a different room and thus all of them together formed a house of sorts. This was Barnacle’s dwelling.
From his vantage point up in the top of a mighty tree, Barnacle could see the entire forest clearing below him that acted as his home’s courtyard. Running through the middle of this clearing was a wide and deep stream that emptied into the ocean just a bit farther down. At the far end, where the trees gave way to a sandy beach, there was a massive bunk of timbers and planks that were slowly taking the shape of a sailing ship.
“ARR, what ya think y’re doin’ down there!?” Barnacle cried down at the construction site.
From somewhere below decks, Barnacle’s first mate, Kracken, popped his head up and shouted back, “I’m doing what I’ve been doing every day since we got here!”
“But do ya have ta be doin’ it so loud?” Barnacle replied.
“I gotta work when the inspiration strikes!” Kraken said with a smile.
“ARR, I think I’d like ta do a little striking a’ mine own right now...” Barnacle muttered as he turned his back to his over-zealous first mate.
“Huh, did you say something?” Kracken asked, but Barnacle had already disappeared from his “room” and was making his way down a rope ladder to the kitchen platform. Shrugging, Kracken went back to his hammering.
Grinding his teeth, Barnacle set about finding something to eat. He wished there was some other way to finish his new ship, but he knew there wasn’t. At the very least, he wished that there was some faster way or one that didn’t involve so much noise. As it was, Kracken and Pierre had been working on it almost nonstop since they had started. Barnacle found it a little unsettling that the two of them were so caught up in the work that they hardly even took time out to eat and sleep. But that got the pirate captain thinking. “ARR, Kracken, where’s yer partner?”
Pausing in his work but not turning around, Kracken said, “Who? Pierre? He had to go into Port Scurvy to get some more nails.”
“ARR,” Barnacle replied. Now that he thought about it, the place was actually rather quiet for this time of day. Davey and Jones were probably still sleeping in their Bushwoolie holes out on the beach. And without Pierre, the early morning portion of the work was cut in half; but that still didn’t account for Protius and Malteeze.
Those two weren’t officially members of Barnacle’s crew, but they had continued to travel with the pirates since they had first met back in the Kingdom of the Bouldiers. Frankly, Barnacle didn’t mind all that much since Malteeze was a hard worker once he got started on something, and Protius had quite a head on his feathered shoulders. However, they would often wander out into the jungle and disappear for days at a time and finally return with little to no explanation as to were they had been. The pirates expected a certain degree of strangeness from the three-foot-tall enlightened parrot and his powerful feline student; but sitting under a waterfall meditating for a day and a half seemed excessive by any standards. At first Barnacle had questioned them as to the benefits of these exercises, but the cryptic answers he got from the philosophic shaman were usually stranger than not knowing at all. After a while, he had just stopped asking entirely.
On a sunny day like this, Barnacle thought, they’re probably out swimming with sharks or something equally strange.
And speaking of strange...
Barnacle was busy digging through a cabinet when he happened to glance down at the stream, and to his surprise he saw a large grayish shape walking out of the water. As he continued to watch, the thing walked all the way up onto shore and then stopped to have a look around. At that point, Barnacle had a chance to get a good look at the person standing in his front yard. He looked vaguely human, but his skin was a slick grayish-blue and his head had the massive bulbous shape of a whale’s.
Instantly, the pirate was wary of this stranger. Perhaps it was because during his last adventure, Barnacle’s entire house had been looted by the other pirates living on Calimidad. This was nothing strange for an island inhabited entirely by pirates and beach bums, and Barnacle might have even been upset if not for the fact that he had nothing worth stealing. In fact, this act of pilfering from one’s neighbors while they were out on adventures was kind of like a Calimidad tradition; but all it really succeeded in doing was periodically cycling everyone’s possessions around the island.
But no, Barnacle was not wary of this whale-man because of that. There was something else. Maybe it was the small pair of eyeglasses perched on the tip of his nose that made him appear smarter than the average pirate. However, Barnacle was quick to remind himself that there was no such thing as an average pirate.
Apparently, the intruder felt confidant that no one was around and began to walk toward the ship looking intently for something. However, if he had taken the time to look up into the trees he would have seen Barnacle observing his every move. And until Barnacle knew for sure what the whale-man was up to, that was all he was going to do. As the whale-man began to circle around the hull of the ship, he finally caught site of a tool box and went right for it. After a quick inspection of the contents, he picked it up and hurried back toward the water casting a backwards glance over his shoulder.
It was then that Barnacle cried out, “ARR, you there, ya best be puttin’ those back were ya found ‘em if ya want to live to try it again!”
The stranger stopped dead in his tracks and looked up to where the voice had come from. An irritated expression spread across his face as he caught sight of Barnacle amidst the branches.
“My apologies,” the whale-man said. “I did not know that these belonged to you. I believed that they had been abandoned here in the jungle.”
“ARR, abandoned right next ta a construction site?” Barnacle said.
The stranger ground his teeth, obviously bothered, and then sat the tool box down on the ground. “As I said before, my apologies. You see, my name is Dr. Malcolm Shane and I simply needed to borrow a few of your wrenches to finish a little project I’m working on.”
“ARR, I don’t care who ya are or what you’re doin’,” Barnacle replied. “If ya had really wanted ta borrow ‘em ya would’ve asked and not snuck in like a thief!”
“Then perhaps we could come to some understanding,” Shane suggested.
Maybe it was the eyeglasses and maybe it wasn’t; but the longer Barnacle talked to this Malcolm Shane, the more he didn’t like him. “ARR, perhaps you should just crawl back into that river and go back were you came from.”
Shane started to plead his case again, but Barnacle cut him off and pointed to the stream. With an exasperated toothy grin, Shane said, “Very well,” and then slunk back into the water and disappeared somewhere up stream. Barnacle continued to keep an eye on the stream for a while before he was sure Shane was gone, and then he returned to his breakfast.
After he was finished with his small meal, Barnacle crossed over to a different platform that was more isolated from the rest. This was his office were he did most of his planning. Currently the room was strewn with drawings and schematics of the new ship they were building down below. Unfolding one of the papers, Barnacle took a moment to admire the design.
It wouldn’t be nearly as large or grand as his old ship, the Lucas, but it would be a serviceable craft that would allow him and his crew to have some adventures again. After awhile, he went over to his desk and busied himself the rest of the morning making minor changes to the plans and tweaking details. His original scheme for the new ship was to use it just long enough until he could afford something bigger and better. But after spending all this time building it, he wasn’t so sure he’d be able to get rid of it that easily. The ship didn’t even have a name yet, but he and his mates were all growing attached to it.
Barnacle was finally stirred from his musings by Kracken calling his name from somewhere down on the ground.
“ARR, what is it?” Barnacle asked as he made his way to a bridge that led down to the ship. Kracken, however, was no longer working there but standing below him.
“Have you seen the 5/8 inch wrench?” Kracken asked.
“ARR, it’s in the tool box over by the river,” Barnacle replied. “Some slimy sea urchin tried ta make off with it earlier.”
“Are you sure he didn’t succeed?” Kracken asked. “I don’t see it anywhere.”
“Hold on,” Barnacle said as he made his way down to the ground. “It’s right over there...” he was saying as he walked over to Kracken; but to his surprise, the toolbox was not where Shane had left it.
“See what I mean?” Kracken replied.
“ARR, I don’t be likin’ this,” Barnacle said, his eyes narrowing. “I don’t be likin’ this one bit.”
“Ya think the guy might have come back for it?” Kracken asked.
“ARR, maybe,” Barnacle said as he looked into the trees and thought. “I’m gonna go check something out.”
“Do you want me to come along?” his first mate asked.
As Barnacle strapped on his sword belt he said, “No, it’s probably nothing; but if it is, I think I can handle it. Why don’t you see if you can get the rudder working?”
“The rudder,” Kracken said as he took a look at the ship. “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to get around to that for awhile.” And then, as quickly as that, the tools were forgotten and Kracken was back to work.
With one last glance around the area to make sure they hadn’t missed the toolbox, Barnacle set out into the jungle, following the stream inland. He had not gone too far at all when he caught sight of a path on the opposite bank and what looked like tracks coming out of the water. After a short swim, he arrived on the far shore and began to examine the tracks there in the soft mud. At first they looked human, but a closer inspection revealed that they were much too flat and smooth for a human’s foot. They looked more like a flipper.
This was likely where Shane had come out of the water, Barnacle concluded. Since the tracks were still quite fresh and heading further inland, Barnacle decided to follow them. From the edge of the water they took off down a narrow path through the dense jungle and quickly disappeared altogether as the forest floor turned more solid. Barnacle continued to follow the trail, though, because that seemed like the only way to go at the moment.
After following the path for a rather long time, Barnacle came to a short rocky ridge that rose up in front of him. It was a simple matter to climb this ledge since it was no higher than his head, but it meant that he was now starting up the side of the mountain that stood in the center of Calimidad Island. Some people claimed that it had been a volcano at some point but that it was now extinct. Barnacle had never seen Mount Calimidad erupt, but every once in a great while a small tremor would ripple through the island to remind everyone that they had chosen to live on the back of a volcano. And extinct or not, that is something that everyone should never forget.
But today, Barnacle just hoped that he wouldn’t have to climb all the way to the summit. He’d been there on several occasions and knew that it was quite a walk, and especially so just to recover a few tools which might not even be there. But he’d come this far already and had found nothing, so he figured he might as well keep going-- at least for a little while.
The path picked up again on the top of the small ridge and the pirate once again followed it. Only this time, the slope was definitely angling up at the mountain and getting steeper the farther he went. This was beginning to slow Barnacle down considerably when the path suddenly cut to the left along the slope of the mountain. But after not more than a hundred feet, the path turned back up again.
When Barnacle saw this, he was about to take a break at the turn and rethink his plan when he caught sight of a structure of some kind just a little farther up the old volcano. Moving closer, he could now see that there was indeed something built right in the path that looked like a large round building of some kind that curved back into the jungle on both sides. It was apparent immediately that it was very old. The massive stone blocks from which it was built were rough and pitted. Vines and other jungle plants climbed up the sides hoping it would take them into the sun above the massive trees that formed the nearly impenetrable canopy high overhead.
Making his way around to the side of the structure, Barnacle wasn’t long in coming to an opening in the wall. A high arched gate stood hanging open which allowed the pirate to take a look inside. The structure appeared to be a large circular wall that was thick enough to contain a few rooms. On the inside of the wall he found a short cobblestoned court yard and at the very center of the complex stood a short, round, tower-like building. Everywhere he looked Barnacle saw vines and plants growing. Obviously, the place had not been used for quite some time.
But across on the other side of the yard, a door leading into the tower was also hanging open; and as the pirate looked, he thought he caught sight of movement inside. Loosening his sword in its sheath, Barnacle cautiously started out across the courtyard. The wide open space between the outer wall and the tower looked like the perfect place to catch someone off-guard and Barnacle had no intention of that someone being him. He crept forward, constantly scanning the rooftop of the ancient structure for any sign of movement.
Just as he made it a little farther than halfway across the yard, a loud hissing noise sounded off to his right. Quickly he drew his sword and spun to face whatever might challenge him; but to his relief, all he saw was a jet of steam shooting out of an old tarnished copper fitting in the ground. After a moment the steam stopped and everything seemed to return to the way it had been.
Continuing in his advance, Barnacle made it the rest of the way to the tower without incident. Careful not to made too much noise, the pirate stepped through the open door into the tower. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim lighting; but when they finally did, his eyes opened wide in surprise.
Standing before him in the middle of the room was a massive device that stood well over a story tall. At first glance, the design was beyond him; and even as he stood and persisted to look, he only became more mystified. Whatever this thing was, it consisted primarily of three large pillars of machinery and other complex gadgets that connected a platform below to a tangled mass of more intricate devices above. Suddenly, Barnacle tore his eyes from the strange contraption standing before him and shook his head in disbelief. For whatever purpose it had been built, he sensed that it could not be good.
But as he looked around the rest of the room, he suddenly caught sight of a smaller and infinitively simpler object sitting on the floor not far in front of him. It was the tool box that he had come in search of. However, no sooner did he see this than he did also see movement from the direction of the towering machine. Quickly he raised his sword, and the whale-man from earlier stepped out from between the pillars. It was Dr. Malcolm Shane.
Holding up a small wrench, Shane said, “Sorry about the tools, but I really needed to finish my Whale Machine.”
Barnacle didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or just attack. Instead, he simply asked, “Whale Machine?”
“This wonderful device you see standing before you, of course!” Shane exclaimed quite proudly. “Well, in all honesty, the term ‘Whale Machine’ may not be entirely true anymore. You see, the original was designed by the great Atlantean Nur-Ab-Fin to turn men into the most powerful creatures on the planet... whales!” Gesturing to himself, he continued, “As you can see, it worked rather well. However, Nur-Ab-Fin later abandoned his plan and instead decided to concentrate his efforts on the controlling of minds; and thus he incorporated that capacity into the device as well. From my intimate knowledge of the original, I have assembled this replica. I have refined the design so it only controls minds and no longer turns people into whales!”
Again Barnacle didn’t know what to say. He stood there for a moment thinking all this over before he replied, “ARR, so why did ya need ta steal my tools if ya had all this?”
“In my rush to order the proper components needed, I neglected to remember a 5/8 inch wrench.” Holding up the wrench again for Barnacle to see, he added, “I was not about to let my bid for world domination come to a premature end simply because I lacked a 5/8 inch wrench!”
“ARR, world domination?” Barnacle asked. “Ya think that thing is gonna give you the world?”
Shane chuckled to himself. “Yes,” he said. “Not only did I modify the design to remove the Whale Metamorphosis Matrix, but I also boosted the power of the Mind Controlling Assembly! With just a few more parts, I will be able to control the minds of everyone in Ponyland!”
Boldly taking a step forward, Barnacle said, “ARR, I think not.”
“You think you can stop me?” Shane gloated. “You can try but you will fail, I guarantee you that!”
“We’ll see,” Barnacle replied; and then, holding his sword forward, he charged the diabolical fiend. However, before he even got close, from out of nowhere sprang a rather large crab that swatted Barnacle’s sword aside with its massive claws.
“Keep him busy while I finish with the Whale Machine,” Shane told the crab and then ducked behind the machine to finish installing the last few components.
Meanwhile, Barnacle dove across the floor to recover his sword. Just as he got it in hoof, he rolled over onto his back to block a crushing blow from the crab. Parrying that, he then rolled to the side and jumped to his hooves; but the crab was right in front of him, blocking his path to the Whale Machine and Malcolm Shane.
With a heavy snap, the crab swiped its pincer just mere inches from Barnacle’s face, thus forcing the pirate to fall back. There was nothing he could do. His opponent was too heavily armored, and its lethal claws were much too quick and powerful. Yet, he had to stop Shane somehow or else the whole of Ponyland would become nothing more than his slaves.
Suddenly a loud hissing sound sprang up from his side. Both Barnacle and the crab stared in surprise. Another fitting like the one from outside was mounted in the floor here as well. This one, however, was connected to a heavy length of hose that fed into a whirling turbine of some sort. This in turn appeared as though it provided power for the Whale Machine itself.
But just as Barnacle saw this, he heard Shane laughing evilly from the far side of the room. “Now, victory is mine!” he cackled as he snapped the last piece into place.
Without a second thought, Barnacle leapt sideways past the crab and sliced through the steam hose with his sword. A moment later, the Whale Machine went dead and Shane’s troubled howl rose from it’s midst. “NOOOO!!!! I was so close!!!”
The crab, though, was not about to stop its attack just because the power had been cut. It charged Barnacle at full speed with both its pincers snapping wildly in front of it. Rolling quickly forward, Barnacle snatched up the severed end of the steam hose and directed it at the enraged crustacean. A cloud of scalding steam poured out of the end and fully enveloped the crab for a split second before the creature turned and fled from the tower in fear.
“ARR, the only good crab is a steamed one, I always say,” Barnacle declared as he picked himself up off the floor. Turning to Shane he said, “Now what? Can I be havin’ me tools back now?”
Shane looked up at the pirate, fuming and with fire in his eyes. “You’ve ruined everything! I was so close! All those months spent in Atlantis, studying old maps, discovering the perfect place to set up my operations, all of it for nothing! Nothing!!!”
“ARR, Atlantis, sure,” Barnacle said. “Why don’t we go down and see the authorities in Port Scurvy so they can be lockin’ ya up.”
“This time, I think not!” Shane replied and made a dash for the door. “Better to cut my losses and regroup for another day than to rot in prison.”
Barnacle jumped in front of the charging whale-man but it was no use; Shane’s massive size easily pushed the pirate out of the way. By the time he got back to his hooves, the doctor was nowhere to be found.
Returning to the tower building, Barnacle looked over the Whale Machine but could make neither heads nor tails of it. In the end, he figured it would be safest to destroy the whole thing in case Shane decided to return and fix it. A few well-placed slashes with his blade and suddenly the entire device started to shudder violently and long cracks began to split down the lengths of the seems. As hot steam began to spray out, Barnacle ran for the exit. He reached the courtyard not a moment too soon as the Whale Machine exploded behind him, taking the entire tower with it.
As Barnacle got to his hooves and turned to look at the smoldering crater that used to be an Atlantean outpost, he considered the whole situation that had just transpired. A mad scientist building a Whale Machine in the middle of a jungle island to take over everyone’s minds– the concept seemed more than a little strange, and Barnacle found it hard to believe any of what Shane had said.
Picking up the toolbox, Barnacle started back down the mountain side. Unfortunately, Shane had made off with Barnacle’s 5/8 inch wrench in the chaos; even though he had won, he still didn’t get what he had come for. Shaking his head, a smile crossed Barnacle’s lips as he chuckled to himself, “A mind controlling Whale Machine?” Rolling his eyes he added, “ARR, I’m sure.”
The Tamara and Baby Noddins Gossip Hour!
by Tabby and Sugarberry (TabbyMLP@aol.com and Sugrbery@aol.com)
Baby Noddins: Oh. Hewwo, Tamara.
Tamara: You’re here! You’re here! Sit down! You’re late!
Baby Noddins: Where’s Twabby?
Tamara: What do you mean, where’s Tabby?
Baby Noddins: I thought I was gonna gwossip with her.
Tamara: I’m none too happy with the arrangement either.
Baby Noddins: Where’s Twabby?
Tamara: She had to go to some Pokémon convention or something.
Baby Noddins: Aww. Don’t you wike me, Tamara?
Tamara: In a generic sort of way I suppose I do.
Baby Noddins: Oh.
Tamara: So, Baby Noddins. What have you been busy with? Nothing too exciting, I would imagine?
Baby Noddins: Miss Cornstalk gave me a really boring assignment.
Tamara: Are you sure it’s boring, or you just don’t want to do it?
Baby Noddins: I tried, but it was too boring. Miss Hackney was nicer.
Tamara: Well, what is the assignment?
Baby Noddins: Oh... it’s about science and math and stuff.
Tamara: You’re right. That is boring.
Baby Noddins: What’s Twabby up to, Twamara?
Tamara: I told you, she went to a Pokémon convention!
Baby Noddins: I mean, what’s she been doing besides that?
Tamara: She’s been... at the SSSS every evening, not to mention Pony Hut and KFC and the Estate Manor...
Baby Noddins: My mommy doesn’t let me eat out.
Tamara: Lucky for you, your mommy can cook!
Baby Noddins: Twabby can’t?
Tamara: Nope. She’s a menace when it comes to kitchen work.
Baby Noddins: Ooooh. I see. She could hire me as her cook!
Tamara: And just how well do you know how to cook?
Baby Noddins: I know lots! I watch mommy do it all the time.
Tamara: I don’t think Tabby’s that desperate yet.
Baby Noddins: Okay. What happened to Tiffany?
Tamara: Tiffany is in Vulcanopolis. Don’t you read the paper?
Baby Noddins: Didn’t she marry some rich guy or something?
Tamara: A rich guy with a last name!
Baby Noddins: *gasp*
Tamara: Yes, BN, you were born about twenty years too late.
Baby Noddins: Who is it?????
Tamara: Remember the stallion with his head in the punchbowl at Tabby’s reception?
Baby Noddins: Oh yeah! That was fun.
Tamara: Well, that’s him.
Baby Noddins: Guido??? She married Guido???
Tamara: She’s not married yet.
Baby Noddins: She’s not??? You mean I still have a chance at Guido?
Tamara: Well, it would be a long shot, BN.
Baby Noddins: Someday I’ll find somebody with a last name.
Tamara: I’m sure you will.
Baby Noddins: Tabby is sooooo lucky. She’s got two wast names now!
Tamara: And a mansion! Have you been to her mansion, BN?
Baby Noddins: My mommy didn’t want me to visit her.
Tamara: Is your mother afraid she’s a bad influence on you?
Baby Noddins: No... she just doesn’t want me gettin’ in her way. She says that’s what I do.
Tamara: But BN, you were her flower girl! Surely you hold a special place in Tabby’s life.
Baby Noddins: But mommy don’t think so.
Tamara: Maybe you and I could go visit Tabby together sometime.
Baby Noddins: OOOH!!!! Could we?????
Tamara: As long as your mother okays it.
Baby Noddins: She will!!!!!!! She will!!!!!!!!
Tamara: We’ll have to wait ‘till Tabby’s back, of course.
Baby Noddins: How long she gonna be gone?
Tamara: Just three days, I think.
Baby Noddins: That’s forever!
Tamara: If you study hard for those three days, they’ll pass very quickly.
Baby Noddins: Really?
Tamara: Plus your grades will improve!
Baby Noddins: Oh. Well, I don’t like Baby Fallin’ Leaves again.
Tamara: Why would that be?
Baby Noddins: She got cockleburs in my hair.
Tamara: Cockleburs? Oh, I remember those from when I was a foal! They’re a menace!
Baby Noddins: Yes. BFL shoulda told me her yard wasn’t safe when we went out to play.
Tamara: She has cockleburs growing in her yard?
Baby Noddins: In the back, yah know. I ran into them, and then they were stuck all over me.
Tamara: Did your mommy have to cut them out?
Baby Noddins: YES!! She had tah cut my hair!! My poor, poor hair!
Tamara: I thought it was a lot shorter than it used to be.
Baby Noddins: It’s BFL’s fault.
Tamara: Did you know that velcro was designed after cockleburs? That’s how good they stick.
Baby Noddins: Then I don’t like velcro, either.
Tamara: Just remember to stay out of the cockleburs.
Baby Noddins: Toby likes Elaine, don’t he?
Tamara: It would appear that way.
Baby Noddins: I asked him at the SSSS the other night, yah know. He said so himself.
Tamara: You asked Toby if he liked Elaine?
Baby Noddins: Elaine was there, too.
Tamara: Oh, poor, poor Elaine!
Baby Noddins: Why?
Tamara: She’s a very sensitive pony over things like that.
Baby Noddins: Oh. That might explain why she got all red in the face like that.
Tamara: Oh, poor, poor Elaine!
Baby Noddins: Did I upset her? Toby wasn’t upset.
Tamara: You’ve got to understand, Baby Noddins. You don’t just discuss personal things like that in front of other ponies.
Baby Noddins: Ooooooooh.
Tamara: How would you like it if BFL asked Baby Drummer, in front of you, if he liked you?
Baby Noddins: I’d beat her up ‘cause I don’t like Baby Drummer.
Tamara: Okay. Maybe I phrased that wrong. How would you like it if Baby Drummer told you, in front of BFL, that he liked you?
Baby Noddins: Then I’d beat him up.
Tamara: Well, let’s talk about something else, shall we?
Baby Noddins: What were you for Hawoween, Twamara?
Tamara: I don’t engage in such childish ideas.
Baby Noddins: I wanted ta be Twabby, but Mommy wouldn’t let me die my coat and hair.
Tamara: Not to mention that Tabby would have had a few things to say to you if she had found out.
Baby Noddins: In the end I just put on a nurse’s cap and said I was a Pokémon nurse, like Twabby.
Tamara: So basically you went as Tabby, anyway.
Baby Noddins: Yeah.
Tamara: Did you get lots of treats?
Baby Noddins: Yup. Lots of stuff. But Baby Drummer tried to steal all of it.
Tamara: He did?! You whapped him, I hope?
Baby Noddins: Yeah. He tried to take Baby Falling Leaves’, too, and that was a bad move. She beat him up good.
Tamara: Gee, now I feel sorry for Baby Drummer.
Baby Noddins: He don’t deserve your sympathy.
Tamara: Do you have anything else to say, Baby Noddins?
Baby Noddins: Oh yes, I do.
Tamara: Anything important that would interest our readers?
Baby Noddins: I have lots n’ lots of ‘portant stuff!
Tamara: Maybe we should just be signing off now.
Baby Noddins: You mean we’re done talkin’?
Tamara: Yes. I think that would be best for everyone involved.
Baby Noddins: Oh.
Tamara: So, goodnight!!
Baby Noddins: ‘Night everybody!! Wait-wait, I just ‘membered somethin’ really ‘portant ‘bout the new My Little People an’ they’re really limited edition an’ they’re only available at–
–click– And now, a word from our sponsor...
The Dream Quest
by Moon Lightning (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Venture past Dream Valley and further still past the Friendship Gardens. Beyond the constellation Pegasus lies the distant planet of Cerian, a water world dotted with floating glittering isles and full of unexplored wonders and bright dreams. The planet is protected by a water shield surrounding the entire globe making the world’s air pure and free of impurities.
In this world inside the purple mountains by the sea lies a pony community, a small village. Here Dreams and visions from many places seem to come to them in the winds that blow through the mountains. No pony dares to venture out into the vast unexplored world full of new wonders and many other creatures. Only Dreams seemed to travel beyond the mountains.
This is a tale to be sung for generation to generation. Some unicorns dare to venture into the unknown guided by the Dream Gem. Let the gem be their guide, their keeper, their source of dreams... because you know what they say... be careful about what lies within dreams.
THE DREAM QUEST
Stormy skies seared the pristine beauty of the fiery sunset. The distant thunder was a tell-tale sign of the coming menacing storm. With eagerness, a white unicorn stood poised upon a cliff top while the wind played with her golden-orange hair.
Sounds as if a thousand dolphflitters were flying at once, Misty Moon thought. She smiled when an image of a tiny purple dolphin with butterfly wings came into her mind. She snorted and laughed to herself for ever thinking about dolphflitters at all. “They are just a story, just like those mythic ponies from the place called Dream Valley,” Misty Moon reasoned to herself and smiled again when she remembered the stories her dam, Twinkle Clover, had told her about those ponies in Dream Valley when she was a foal.
Laughing aloud, Misty Moon remembered Wishing Star telling everyone that he actually had seen the mythic ponies; but no one had believed him– except for Misty Moon, who still loved the old stories and thought maybe– just maybe– some of them could be true. She hoped so, anyway.
A strike of lightning lit up the mountain sky and the thunder pounded Misty Moon’s chest. She yelped and wheeled towards the direction of a hidden pathway behind her. I think I better get off this cliff now, Misty Moon thought; but aloud she said, after another flash of lightning lit up the sky, “Yes, down would be good!”
Carefully picking her way down the well-worn path made by her hooves, she stopped by an old sugar maple tree. There, hidden by the dense leaves, she found her hidden hole in the bottom of the tree. Rolling out the round rock in front she got into her “treasure chest”.
Carefully, Misty Moon whipped off her camera’s lenses and placed them in the dry hole along with her memory box, an old lantern, a diary, and a photo book. Tears came to Misty Moon’s eyes when she remembered her mother using the camera. Ever since her mother had died when she was a foal, her father had despised anything that had to do with cameras– including mother’s old snapshots that she had taken and adored. So Misty Moon took the camera and photo book and hid them in her treasure chest without her father knowing about it.
After rolling back the stone and checking her tin can alarms tied to the tree’s branches, she rode off to her home in Wind Mere Valley, a well-secluded place hidden in the sheltering purple mountains– a place so hidden that news or anything hardly reached it. The stories from Dream Valley were myths and stories that seemed to whisper in the Dreams of all ponies at night– perhaps gifts of the dream-sending dolphflitters; but then, they were considered dreams, too.
It was midnight and well after the storm when Misty Moon finally reached her adobe home– or “soddies” as the younger fillies and typical cool colts called them. Adobe brick was the only material that seemed to hold up well in the area, a typical dry but relatively cool-warm climate.
Misty Moon snorted, sick at the sight of her pink adobe house. “Adobe, always adobe,” she mused between clenched teeth as she came to her cobblestone pathway. “You would think they would have found something new to build with by now.” Careful not to make a sound with her hooves on the pathway, she finally decided to walk on the grass instead. She knew that Leaf Whirl, the family gardener, would probably scold her in the morning.
“Where were you?” a young filly cried from an upstairs window.
Sisters! Oh, she will be the end of me yet. You would think she would know when to be quiet. Especially when someone is sneaking home this late. If my father EVER found out! Misty Moon thought and hissed “Quiet! “ through clenched teeth.
Unfortunately, that was not enough for this particular filly. She had been waiting all afternoon and night for her sister, and curiosity was eating at her thoughts. “You’ve been out takin’ pictures haven’t ya?” she sang excitedly. She loved this secret business but did not have the memory to keep quiet about it.
“Sure, Prim Rose! Tell it to the whole world!” Misty Moon said sarcastically to her sister while climbing up the flower terrace and entering her bedroom.
“Oh, okay!” Prim Rose whispered and then yelled out the open window “MISTY MOON HAS A CAMERA AND IS TAK...”
Frantically, Misty Moon grabbed Prim Rose and quietly shut the window so she would not make even more noise that necessary. “Not really!” the older girl yelled; and then when she saw Prim Rose’s lower lip quiver in an attempt to burst forth in a sob, she said quietly, trying to pacify her, “Remember how you like secrets? And how you love waiting to hear about my pictures?” This was said in a silly play voice that she knew her sister loved to hear. It worked.
Laughing, all upsetness gone, Prim Rose added “ ‘Bout the gardewns and the pritty fwowers!” in a quivery voice.
“Yes!” Misty Moon answered, making a stuffed doll say “You like pictures and Adventures!” Prim Rose laughed in delight when Misty Moon made the stuffed Raggedy-Mare-Ann ride on the bed. “Now all Adventurers are sleeping as you should be. I will tell you my stories later.”
While Misty Moon was tucking the little white unicorn in and looking at her sister’s sweet cherub face, she whispered, “Goodnight, you little imp.” She left Prim Rose sucking her hoof in her sleep nestled in with her rag pony. The stuffed pony’s red yarn hair reflected off of Prim Rose’s long silver mane that still had its foal curls in it that the young pony loved to brush.
Misty Moon sighed as she walked to her own bedroom. I seem to be playing “mother” a lot these days, she thought sadly. Oh, mother, we miss you so. After a few moments, she was asleep as well.
The next day was as clear as yesterday had been stormy. No one could tell a thunderstorm had been there the night before... except for Misty Moon, that is. Misty Moon smiled and took a deep breath of the fresh morning air. A great celebration was in full swing today, and Misty couldn’t wait to join in! It was Princess Morning Star’s birthday, and the ponies were rejoicing over the happy event.