Little Applejack and the Magical Berry-Banu
“But Granny Smith, I'm bored~”
“Oh come now, you silly filly. How can ya possibly be bored?”
“Applejack and Big Macintosh are busy out in the orchards and my friends are all traveling for the vacation. I want to do somethin' too!”
“Well, come on over here and take a seat. Let old Granny Smith tell you a story.”
“A story? I'm too old for stories.”
“Oh, come on now. How about I tell you a little story about Applejack when she was about as small as you.”
“Applejack? Ooh, yes yes yes. She never talks about when she was little! What was she like?”
“Heh heh, she was a feisty one. Sit down, sit down. Let me tell you...”
~ - ~
Oh, this was several harvests ago. Applejack and li'l Big Macintosh were playing one morning with Braeburn, who happened to be visiting with your uncle. As they ran through the orchards, they came upon this large, golden apple. It was the biggest they had ever seen. They kicked it down from the tree and rushed back home to show off what they found.
It just so happened that I was home at the time, and the three little ones ran up to me and showed me the apple. They all looked so very excited. It was a sight to see, I tell you what.
But that happiness eventually turned to feuding. They got into a good argument over who should be the one to eat it. It got to the point where they wouldn't even agree to split it up between them. After a while, they turned to little old me and asked who should be the one to get the apple. Now, how was an old mare expected to deny any of these little ones? I came up with a bit of a plan to hopefully have them cool their heads.
I told them I would keep the apple safe, and they should go out on a little adventure for the day. Go out and find something amazing, I told them. The one pony who brings back an item that interests me the most would get to have the apple.
As is only possible with youth, the three quickly forgot their quarreling in the face of a new game. Without so much as a thank you, they dashed out the door. I tell ya, these young ones just don't have any respect.
Anywho, they trotted along the road away from the orchard until they came across a fork breaking off in three directions. They agreed to meet there again just before nightfall and each went along a different path. Big Macintosh took the path going northwest, Braeburn went due west, and Applejack turned to the south.
Big Macintosh was the biggest of the three and made light work of covering quite a distance. He eventually came upon a town he had never visited before. It was an impressive town, so he thought, and all of the townsfolk seemed to be unicorns. He figured in a town like this, he was bound to find something amazing.
Being a quiet sort, he mostly wandered along the roads gazing at the sights. He was eventually stopped by a shopkeeper who did not recognize him. She asked him what a newcomer might want in this town, and Big Macintosh, ever the talker, bluntly stated he was trying to find something amazing. The shopkeeper nodded understandingly and ushered him into the store.
While Big Macintosh waited and took in the store's strange retinue of goods, the shopkeeper dug around in her cupboard and pulled out a rolled up carpet. He wasn't sure of what to make of this as she unrolled it on the floor in front of him. It did not look like anything special. A two-tone carpet with a border pattern of florets in an unimpressive shade of beige.
The shopkeeper, however, wasn't lying about its impressiveness. She went on to explain that this carpet was imbibed with mystical unicorn power and was capable of instantly transporting anypony to any location he desired.
Quite naturally, Big Macintosh didn't believe a word of it. The shopkeeper persisted, however. She suggested he have a seat upon it and wish to travel to some place. He felt completely silly as he set down next to her, closed his eyes, and thought about the tree where he found that golden apple. Before he even opened his eyes, he realized he was no longer in the store. His eyes popped open and it was true. There before them was the now bare tree that once held the golden apple.
Amazed, Big Macintosh turned to the shopkeeper, who closed her eyes. The moment he blinked, he was back in the store. He wanted nothing more than to have the carpet, but he confessed that he had no money with him. The shopkeeper decided to just give it away. Apparently the unicorns in the town, herself included, had little interest in traveling.
With the amazing carpet on his back, Big Macintosh turned away from the town and started on his way back toward the join in the road. It was a rather large carpet, however, and he hastily tired himself. Now, I don't know what was going through his mind before, but it was by this time he realized the fact that he was carrying a carpet that can magically transport him wherever he needed to go. He unrolled it there on the road, sat down upon it, and within an instant he was back on the spot where the three split up.
– That doesn't sound much like Big Macintosh...
Hush now, little filly. The story's not over yet. Braeburn had his own road to travel. Admittedly, it was a rather boring road. He never did come across any towns, but he did come across one other traveler.
Not expecting to meet another pony along this road, the traveler asked what business a little colt like Braeburn had. Being the out-going individual he is, he went on at great length about what he referred to as an epic quest. Smiling politely, he listened to every word.
When Braeburn asked about anything amazing, the traveler said he might have just the thing. From one of his saddlebags, he showed Braeburn a spyglass made of ivory. While there didn't seem to be anything amazing about this little tube, the traveler assured him of its powers. He told him that it had the ability to show not just things already in sight, but anything around that he needs to see.
Naturally, Braeburn scoffed. He was passed the spyglass and looked through the lens, half expecting to pull it away with a ridiculous ink ring around his eye. However, instead of the rock a few metres down the road, he saw me caring for the cows in the barn. Surprised, he continued to look and worried about the apple. Within an instant, he was looking in the kitchen and saw the golden apple still safe on the countertop.
Pulling the lens away from his eye, he could not believe he was still on that road. The traveler, however, had a large smile on his face and was holding back a laugh. Braeburn rubbed his eye and realized that, despite the lens' impressiveness, he came away with an ink ring around his eye.
He stood there frustrated as the traveler had his laugh. By the time his composure returned, he thanked the colt for the laugh and said he could keep the spyglass. It may've been something of an apology, but I don't think Braeburn was interested; he was still fuming from the trick.
Still, he realized he had something truly amazing. As the traveler turned and went on his way, Braeburn hid the spyglass away in his saddlebag and went back along the road he came. Just before nightfall, he rejoined with Big Macintosh and sat down.
– Come on, Granny Smith! I thought you said this was a story about Applejack!
I'm getting to that, so just hold yer horses. Anyway, Applejack. Just like Big Macintosh, she came upon a town while traveling. This town, however, wasn't quite so friendly or interesting. All of her howdees fell on deaf ears as the townsfolk resolutely ignored the stranger.
Stubborn as she was, she continued to explore the town for something amazing. Near the corner of one building she saw a beautiful vase. Mother-of-pearl white etched with what looked like gold and silver, it was quite understandable for her to be enamored by it. She trotted up to look inside of it, and quite clumsily knocked it over. Apparently, it was a very fragile vase and burst into many small pieces.
The homeowner, who was watching all of this from his window, angrily burst out and confronted Applejack. He yelled at her for coming into a town that didn't want her and for knocking over his vase. He threw a rag down at Applejack's hooves and told her to clean up the mess and leave.
She felt sorry for her clumsiness and hurried to gather up the pieces of the vase. She started to clean up the smaller pieces with the rag, and before her eyes they began melding back together. Dumbstruck, she began to clean up her neat pile with the cloth, and it all came back together until the vase was whole again.
She had finally found something amazing! She turned to the vase's owner and asked what sort of cloth this was. Tersely, he did not answer, but told her to leave the town. Unwilling to return without anything to show, she asked if she could keep the cloth. If it meant she would leave faster, the owner ruffly agreed. Without another word, Applejack galloped away from the town without so much as a glance back. She had something amazing.
It was almost dusk when Applejack rejoined Braeburn and Big Macintosh on the road to the orchard. Eager to brag a bit, they each told of their amazing items. Big Macintosh told of his carpet that could instantly transport anypony to wherever he or she desired. Applejack told of her cloth that could mend things that are damaged with a touch. Braeburn felt he topped them all with his spyglass that could show the holder anything he wished to look upon.
With a fresh coat of ink around the eyepiece, he passed it to Applejack. She looked through the spyglass and her jaw dropped. Braeburn was grinning until she turned to them and said that someone was about to eat their golden apple. Stunned, they all jumped onto Big Macintosh's carpet and wished it to carry them back to the kitchen.
By the time they arrived, your uncle had already taken a bite. The three had stopped him, but the damage was already done. Applejack, however, told them it was okay. She rubbed her cloth over the bite and, when she pulled away, the apple was whole again.
It was about this time that I came back into the kitchen to see what the hubbub was about. In an instant, the three little ones were upon me, telling their tales and about their amazing items. I realized that I could not simply declare one of them more amazing than the others. They had all taken part in ensuring that the apple prize was not eaten.
It was getting late, and I wouldn't be much of a granny if I let them stay up past their bed time. I decided to wrap this up with a simple test of strength. We gathered near an open field and I told them that whichever pony throws a horseshoe furthest will get to eat the apple.
Braeburn went first and threw his horseshoe a good distance. He was feeling very proud of himself until Big Macintosh threw his and easily landed beyond the first. Unwilling to lose, Applejack summoned all of her strength and threw her horseshoe as far as she could. It went so far that nobody was able to see where it landed.
Since they couldn't see it, the two colts began to think that Applejack was just tricking them. She didn't throw a horseshoe at all; she only pretended. At the time, I decided that they may've been right. I gave Big Macintosh the apple and sent them all to bed.
– Did Applejack really not throw a horseshoe, Granny Smith?
Heh heh, we'll see. Naturally, Big Macintosh was the only one who was fine with this arrangement. Braeburn and your uncle left the next morning, but Applejack still felt cheated. Celestia barely raised the sun that day when Applejack ran along the field in the direction of her horseshoe.
She looked every which way along the path, but couldn't find it. She started to wonder if she would never find the thing. Her persistence was rewarded, however, as she came across the very one she threw among some boulders. She was quite impressed with her feat, as she was a good distance from the field.
She turned to head back when a voice greeted her from near the horseshoe's landing. Startled, Applejack turned to the voice and saw a pony crouched in an easy-to-miss cave entrance. She approached and saw that the pony was a beautiful horned pegasus, not much older than she was.
The pegasus apologized for startling her. She explained that she knew all about her and her relative's adventures to find something amazing. Applejack was too shocked to ask how this all came to be known. When she saw that Applejack was about to lose to Big Macintosh's horseshoe, she used her magic to lift it further. However, the magic was a little overdone, and brought it down in front of her cave.
Applejack was still silently shocked by these revelations. Again, the pegasus apologized when she realized she had not introduced herself. She said her name was Berry-Banu, and that she was exiled to this cavern for the rest of her days. The polite introduction seemed to bring Applejack back to her senses. Feeling sorry for Berry-Banu and still angry at Big Macintosh and little old me, she asked if she wanted to be her friend.
Never having a friend before, Berry-Banu agreed and invited Applejack into her cave.
– So Applejack just trusted this stranger and entered a dark cave all alone?
Hush, this is a story. Just sit back and don't worry your little head too much about the details. Where was I? Ah, right. Berry-Banu and Applejack became fast friends and spent the day playing tag among the caverns, swimming in the underground pools, and climbing around the rock columns. She still wasn't ready to argue with my decision yet, so she decided to spend the night with her new friend.
Naturally, I started to get worried about that little filly after Celestia put away the sun for the night. I called out for her, but never heard anything back. I called out some neighbours, but not a single hair could be found.
It wasn't until the next morning that Applejack decided to leave Berry-Banu and head home. She promised to come back and play again soon, and the pegasus said her goodbyes until next time. I was very angry with Applejack; but, after she explained she was just looking for her horseshoe and spent the night with a friend, I decided no harm was done. I forgave her and thought nothing more of it.
Over the next several days, Applejack spent more and more time with her new friend. She seemed happy and healthy, so I did not mind her absence much.
Eventually, though, I began to worry. She seemed to be spending too much time with this new friend. She broke her curfew more often and shirked chores she was expected to finish. I decided that this friend was becoming a bad influence. I confronted Applejack about this, grounded her, and forbade her from visiting Berry-Banu.
Obviously, that stubborn little filly was not happy about this. She raised a big huff and asked when she could visit her again. Half-mockingly, I told her she could visit her friend again if she made an apple wagon that was light as a feather even with a full load. She must've taken me seriously since she darted straight past my old bones and returned to her friend's cave entrance before I could stop her.
When the two got together, Berry-Banu asked what was wrong. Applejack told her that she wasn't allowed to visit any more unless she created a magical cart that did not become more difficult to pull. The pegasus did not want to lose her first and only friend, so she agreed to create the wagon I asked for.
Using her magic, Berry-Banu brought together ores and gems from the cavern's walls and melded them together into the most beautiful wagon Applejack had ever seen. Her friend helped her into the reins, and even that little filly was able to easily pull it back to the orchard.
I'll admit. I did not expect Applejack's friend to be able to make this. I thought she was just another Ponyville filly that she played with. Anyway, I won't go into the details, but lets just say I got a little greedy. I wanted to see what else this magical friend could do for me.
My hip was acting up since that morning, so I asked if there was any way for her friend to heal my woes. Applejack felt bad about asking her friend for so much, but agreed if it meant she could get out of trouble.
She went back to the cave and asked Berry-Banu if she could help heal my aching bones. The pegasus didn't seem too happy about this, but agreed to help. She explained that she couldn't heal me by herself, but there was a magical spring deep in the caverns with water that could heal any woe.
It was dangerous, but Applejack didn't want to lose a friend. She said she would go deep into the caverns and retrieve some of this water. Berry-Banu couldn't go, but gave her three items to help her on her way. From the ether, she summoned a ball of red twine, a wooden flute, and an empty crystal vial. She passed the items to Applejack and told her that if she let the twine roll away, it would show a path to the spring.
Applejack tucked the items into a saddlebag and set off along the tunnels. She held on to an end of the twine and let it roll into the darkness. She followed it along until it reached its end before a large lake that shimmered with her torchlight. Pleased with her progress, she pulled the stopper from the vial and trotted toward the lake's edge. Before the vial could touch the water, she met two eyes staring at her. The eyebrows furrowed and the form of a great dragon rose from the water.
Applejack stared, unsure of what to do. She had no way to defend herself, just the items Berry-Banu gave her. Hastily, she removed the flute from her bag and blew into it. The soft hoot was enough to stop the dragon from falling upon her. She continued playing and the dragon gradually relaxed. It lowered its head under the water once more. Applejack did not stop playing until the light from its eyes could no longer be seen from the surface.
With the danger presumably asleep, Applejack hastened to collect some water in the vial. She stoppered the filled vial and hurried back along the twine path until she was back with her friend. Berry-Banu was pleased with her safe return and wished her luck with Granny Smith, err, me.
Applejack came back and let me drink from the vial. Sure enough, as soon as that water touched my throat, the pain in my hip vanished. I was very impressed. I decided it was time to put this friend to the ultimate test.
I decided to wish for the impossible. I wanted her to bring me a pony with ridiculous qualities. Anything that popped into my head, I wished for. The pony was to be only 13-inches tall, have a long beard, hooves made of diamonds, different coloured eyes, and a horn made of coal.
Applejack took all of these crazy words to heart and returned to Berry-Banu immediately. The pegasus was understandably unimpressed with the request. She agreed to transform into the monstrosity and come back with her to meet with me. Unable to leave the cave alone, the pegasus transformed and hopped onto Applejack's back. She trotted out of the cave entrance and returned to the orchard.
When I saw that little pony with its bizarre proportions, I could not stop laughing. It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. Before I could calm down, though, the pony transformed back into the horned pegasus she was.
As you could imagine, I was shocked by this sudden reversal. The pegasus then confronted me and denounced my greed and impoliteness. I could barely get a word out as Berry-Banu went on. She told me how much danger Applejack put herself in to get the healing water and how I was wrong to doubt her during the horseshoe competition.
I think it's safe to tell you, little one, that I was noticeably mollified. I apologized for the way I acted and ensured the guest that I would be more polite. Berry-Banu seemed content with this and apologized to Applejack for yelling at her grandma.
The two left together. Berry-Banu, however, had one last apology to make. She was not supposed to leave that cave, and now had to leave for her disobedience. She apologized for not telling her friend about this, but felt that she had to do what she could to get her out of trouble.
Applejack did not want to lose her friend, but knew she had no choice. The two said their goodbyes. Applejack turned back to the farm while Berry-Banu spread her wings and flew off toward the horizon. Needless to say, I decided to not ground Applejack.
~ - ~
“So that's the end, li'l Apple Bloom.”
“What a cool story, Granny Smith!”
“Wasn't it now?”
“It's too bad that it wasn't actually about Applejack, huh? I already read a story just like that in The Afrasian Nights”
“Ahh, horse feathers. I guess you're a little too old for Granny Smith to trick you any more.”
“Heehee, it's okay Granny. Thanks for keepin' me company. I'm gonna go and see if Applejack's done yet.”
“Any time, little filly. Any time.”
- This story based on the tale of Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu from The Arabian Nights