Twilight Sparkle opened the windows to her library and stepped out onto the balcony. It was time for her first break of the morning, and she wanted to get a breath of fresh air and clear her head for a few minutes before she went back to her studies. Spike was still asleep, and Owlowiscious had just gone to sleep, so she was by herself for the time being. It was quiet outside, too, and just a little damp. Some pegasus ponies had gotten mischievous the night before and stayed up late making the rain fall.
Twilight sighed, enjoying the air. She was just about to go back inside when suddenly she noticed something. Twilight turned a little to her right and saw, hiding in the branches of the tree, a little bit of sky blue and rainbow peeking between the leaves.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight. “What are you doing in my tree?”
Rainbow Dash jumped, and then adjusted herself so that her head was sticking out in such a way that Twilight could see her, but nopony down on the ground would be able to. “Shh!” she hissed. “I’m hiding up here.”
“Hiding?” Twilight Sparkle made no effort to lower her voice, despite Rainbow Dash’s frantic gesturing. “Who are you hiding from?”
“Pinkie Pie!” Rainbow Dash whispered urgently.
“You know you can’t hide from Pinkie Pie,” said Twilight. “She always finds you.”
“Yeah, I know,” Rainbow Dash grumbled.
“Why would you want to hide from her, though?”
“It’s One of Each Day,” said Rainbow Dash.
“One of each day?” Twilight repeated, although she emphasized her words differently, clearly not understanding what Rainbow Dash was talking about.
“No, One of Each Day,” Rainbow Dash explained. “Once every year around this time, she-- eep!” Suddenly Rainbow Dash pulled her head back and disappeared into the leaves.
Twilight Sparkle was confused, but just then she saw Pinkie Pie on the ground below, hopping past. She was smiling and singing a nonsense song to herself:
One of each, one of each
It’s time for Pinkie’s One of Each
Cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins
Time to bake all kinds of stuff-in
Nothing’s out of Pinkie’s reach
When she’s baking One of Each!
“Hi, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight called.
Pinkie Pie hopped around in a circle and then stopped, sat down, and looked up at the balcony. “Hey, Twilight!” she said in a bubbly, chirpy voice. “Want to come to Sugar Cube Corner today? It’s One of Each Day!”
“It’s the day for one of each, silly!” Pinkie laughed. Twilight decided not to press it. It didn’t take much time knowing Pinkie to realize that she found everypony else as strange as they found her.
“I’ll see if I can stop by,” said Twilight.
“Good, ‘cause I need every hoof I can get to be ready for the party tonight!”
“Maybe I’ll come with you, then,” said Twilight.
“Oh, good!” Pinkie Pie clapped. “And tell Rainbow Dash that when she’s done hiding in the tree that she can come by, too!” Then she got up and started hopping again, off down the street to Sugar Cube Corner
Pinkie’s baking one of each today, today
Everyone loves one of each, hurray, hurray!
Pinkie, Pinkie, give us tasties
Bake them fast and please be hasties,
Pinkie’s baking one of each today, today...
As Pinkie sang and hopped away, Rainbow Dash groaned and flopped back. Her upper body showed through the leaves, front legs over her face.
“I told you, you can’t hide from Pinkie Pie,” said Twilight.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Rainbow Dash. “Well, there are worse ponies you’d need to hide from...”
Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and the newly awakened Spike the Dragon arrived at Sugar Cube Corner about ten minutes behind Pinkie Pie. Twilight wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary, and although that did give a lot of allowances for Pinkie Pie’s unusual demeanor, she was still caught off guard by what she saw: Sugar Cube Corner had been turned into a baking war zone. There were piles of bags of sugar and flour. A fine layer of baking grit was spread over the floor and counters. Dozens of mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, batter beaters, and baking tins were dirtied and stacked all over. It looked like Pinkie Pie had taken it upon herself to bake using every ingredient in Ponyville.
Fluttershy and Rarity were also there, both streaked with flour (although Rarity was decidedly cleaner than you’d expect someone elbow-deep in flour to be.) Fluttershy’s face was screwed up in concentration as she stirred a bowl of yellow batter. Next to her, Rarity had a plate of raw sugar cookies that she was giving sprinkles. Rarity’s way of putting sprinkles on a cookie meant magically lifting a single sprinkle up, holding it over the cookie until she found the perfect spot, slowly easing it down, and repeating until she decided that the cookie had enough sprinkles. So far, she had finished exactly one cookie.
Pinkie Pie leaped out of nowhere in front of Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, startling them both terribly. “Hi! Thanks for coming! I knew I could count on you! That’s why you’re my best friends!”
“So, what exactly are we doing here?” asked Twilight. “You and Rainbow Dash mentioned a One of Each Day thing. What’s that about?”
“Oh, that,” said Pinkie. She hopped around in a circle before she explained herself: “Well you know I love parties, right? Well, duh, everypony knows that. Silly me. And you know I’m here at Sugar Cube Corner because I like making cupcakes and things that you need to have a good party, right? But there are so many different kinds of yummy treats that we make here that I almost never get to make them all, and isn’t that so-so-sooo sad? So on One of Each Day, I make sure to make one batch of each kind of everything that we have, and then we have a big huge party where everypony in Ponyville gets to eat sweets and treats! Isn’t that just so super wonderful!”
Twilight Sparkle blinked a few times while she let what Pinkie Pie had just said settle down in her brain. Whenever Pinkie Pie explained something, it was a lot to take in. But this seemed pretty straightforward, if a little hare-brained.
“Well, that sounds... fun,” said Twilight Sparkle truthfully. ‘I guess I can take a break from studying for this,’ she thought. ‘At the very least, I’ll probably learn something about friendship that I can report to Princess Celestia.’
Pinkie Pie jumped up and threw her front legs around Twilight Sparkle, pulling her in an enormous hug. “Yay! I knew you’d love it! Now come and help me frost these cakes!” Pinkie Pie showed Twilight a row of cakes on the counter: chocolate, vanilla, velvet, carrot, all kinds. There was one of every kind of cake Twilight Sparkle could think of. She picked up a spatula and dipped it into a bowl of frosting.
The door to the cellar opened. Twilight looked up. “Who else is here?” she wondered out loud.
Her question was answered right away by a triumphant cry coming out from the cellar stairway: “Cutie Mark Crusaders Delivery Ponies!” Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo came through the doorway, working together to move an enormous bag of flour. They pushed from one end, raising it up, and letting it flop over. Using this method, they pushed it up against the wall.
“Yay! Another job done!” Scootaloo cheered.
“Let’s see them cutie marks!” Apple Bloom twirled around in a circle as she desperately tried to see her flank.
“I got it!” Sweetie Belle gasped. “Hey, guys, I got it-- oh, no, wait. Sorry, it’s just some flour.”
“Aw.” The Cutie Mark Crusaders hung their heads in disappointment.
Pinkie Pie bounced up to them. “Thanks for bringing up the bag for me! Were there any more?”
“Nah,” said Apple Bloom, “that was the last one.”
“That makes it the last one in Ponyville. That’s okay, it’ll be enough,” Pinkie Pie said. “Sorry about your cutie marks.”
“Yeah,” said Sweetie Belle. “Hey, maybe we could stay here and help Pinkie Pie. Then we could get our baking cutie marks.”
“Nah,” said Apple Bloom. “I already tried that one. It... it didn’t turn out so good.”
“Hey, Pinkie Pie, is Applejack coming?” Rainbow Dash asked. She was still standing near the door, not doing anything.
Scootaloo perked her head up. “Hey, Rainbow Dash is here! Awesome!” She dashed up so she could stand next to her. “I’m gonna bake whatever you’re baking, okay?”
“Then there won’t be one of each,” said Rainbow Dash.
“No, I mean, I’m going to help you.”
“She’ll be here soon with the apples,” said Pinkie Pie.
Twilight Sparkle looked up. “What?”
“Rainbow Dash asked if Applejack was coming. I didn’t want to interrupt ‘cause that would be rude,” explained Pinkie Pie.
Twilight, meanwhile, had moved the cake she was frosting over to the table with Rarity and Fluttershy. Rarity had almost finished her second cookie. Fluttershy had her pink mane tied back, but there was still enough at the base hanging loose that she seemed to be hiding behind it. “Hey, girls,” said Twilight. “So, Pinkie Pie roped us all in, huh?”
“I love One of Each Day,” said Fluttershy softly. “Sugar Cube Corner almost never has time to make the kinds of cookies that my little animal friends can eat. Too much sugar isn’t good for mice and bunnies. But on One of Each Day Pinkie Pie lets me bring home treats to all the little animals.”
“Yes,” said Rarity, “and it is so nice to take a break from sewing sequins and instead make the dough and batter my canvas. I can’t do this for very long, of course, it’s so much messier than a dress shop, but if Pinkie Pie wants our help, then I shall give it freely.”
“That sounds like the beginning of a letter to Princess Celestia,” said Twilight.
“How is the princess doing these days?” asked Rarity.
“Busy as always,” answered Twilight.
The time seemed to fly by in the kitchen. Before Twilight knew it, she had frosted two dozen cakes, six batches of cupcakes, and a tray of brownies before she realized it wasn’t a flat cake. Fluttershy had mixed more bowls of batter than Pinkie had, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders were helping by washing mixing bowls as quickly as they could, checking their flanks in between but secretly hoping not to receive a dish-washing cutie mark. Applejack cut up a whole thing of apples, first for the baking but then for snacks, as everyone needed a piece of fruit now and then to even out all the batter and icing they were licking between baking. Rarity had finished four cookies now, and Rainbow Dash had finished the rest.
“Time for lunch!” Pinkie Pie sang after a seemingly endless morning of baking.
“Ugh, no thanks,” said Rainbow Dash. “I’m stuffed.” Her stomach was bulging with cake batter and apples, more of the first than the second I’m sorry to say.
“Aw, don’t be like that, Dashie,” said Pinkie Pie. She dropped a cupcake in front of Rainbow Dash’s nose, which was on the floor with the rest of her. “I made this one special for you. There’s one for everypony. It looks like just sweets but it’s actually very healthy.”
“Great,” said Rainbow Dash. Still, to keep from offending Pinkie Pie, she stuck her tongue out and scooped it in.
Pinkie Pie had a “Lunch Muffin” for everyone. “I made these the night before,” said Pinkie Pie. “I’m so happy you all came to help me.”
“Us too?” Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom looked hopeful.
So the ponies took a break from baking, and instead sat in a circle, eating Lunch Muffins (which were flavored with each pony’s favorite thing to eat for lunch), talking, and laughing. Except for Rainbow Dash, who had eaten herself into lethargy. The Lunch Muffin put her over the edge and she was snoring on the floor.
“She looks like Spike when he tries to help me on an all-nighter,” said Twilight.
“Come to think of it,” said Rarity, “where did Spike go?”
“Home,” said Twilight. In fact Spike had gone to find enough towels to clean his beloved Rarity, who had complained once of flour dust, and hadn’t come back yet. He was too ashamed to return without what he promised.
“Well, it’s awful rude to fall asleep durin’ a party,” said Applejack. “Hey, somepony get a bowl of warm water and dip her hoof in it--”
“How crude!” Rarity said with a ladylike gasp.
“Aw, I’m just teasin’,” said Applejack.
“Well, you really shouldn’t make such vulgar jokes, then. It’s frankly quite disgusting.”
“Oh, so now I’m disgusting, is that it? Well, you’re a fussy li’l--”
Twilight cleared her throat. “Maybe you two should be setting a better example for you sisters, girls?”
Rarity and Applejack clammed up immediately.
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Sweetie Belle innocently.
“Yeah,” said Scootaloo. “I wanted to see a pony fight.”
“If Rainbow Dash was awake, she wouldn’t approve of what you just said,” Twilight said sternly.
“Yes she would. Who do you think I learned that from?”
Rainbow Dash gave a loud snore.
Pinkie Pie jumped up, having finished her lunch muffin. “Okay! I’m going to see what else is left to do!” She bounced away into the next room.
Twilight stared after her. “Was she just... quiet?”
“I think she was thinking,” said Rarity.
“Pinkie Pie sure is acting strange today.”
“Aw, she always acts a little funny on One of Each Day,” said Applejack. “It’s just how it is.”
“This merits further study,” said Twilight.
Then, from the other room, came an ear-splitting shriek.
“Pinkie!” Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders all stampeded into the next room, trampling Rainbow Dash who woke up with a very confused start. “Ouah? What?”
In the next room, the ponies were surprised to see Pinkie unharmed, given how she had just screamed like she was being murdered. Her hooves were over her mouth and her eyes were wide, and she was staring at an empty space on the wall.
“Pinkie Pie!” said Twilight. “What happened?”
“It’s gone!” Pinkie squeaked.
“The last bag!”
Pinkie Pie pointed to the wall. “Don’t you see?”
“She means the bag of flour we brought up,” said Sweetie Belle. “It’s not there.”
Scootaloo looked at Sweetie Belle. “You noticed that?”
“The last bag of flour,” said Pinkie Pie. “We need it to finish One of Each. Without it... why, without it this would just be Almost One of Each Day! And it’s not!” She grabbed the face nearest to her, Fluttershy’s, and cried, “It’s not! It’s just not!” and shook her for effect. When she let go, Fluttershy hunkered down behind Rainbow Dash and hid her face. Pinkie Pie continued, “How could this have happened?”
“Well, darling,” said Rarity gently, “maybe you miscounted your flour. Maybe you didn’t have as much as you think you do.”
“Miscounted my flour?” Pinkie looked at her in disbelief. “Miscounted my flour? Do you miscount your bolts of dress fabric? Does Twilight miscount her books? Does Applejack miscount her apples?”
“Sometimes,” said Applejack.
Pinkie ignored her. “Does Fluttershy miscount her bunnies? Does Buttons miscount her buttons? Does Medley miscount her musical notes? Does Cherries Jubilee miscount her cherries? Does Bright Eyes miscount the baby ponies in her nursery?”
Rainbow Dash leaned over to Twilight and whispered, “Who is she talking about?”
“I have no idea,” said Twilight. “Incidentally, she skipped over you.”
“Hey, yeah!” said Rainbow Dash out loud. “You forgot me! I don’t ever miscount my... uh... things in my Wonderbolts collection.”
“See?” Pinkie shouted. “Rainbow Dash agrees with me! The flour was stolen!”
“Right!” Then: “Wait, what?”
“I can understand Pinkie Pie going for this sort of nonsense,” said Rarity, “but you too, Rainbow Dash?”
Fluttershy spoke up, very softly, “Um, I think Rainbow Dash is right. You see, when the little fillies brought up the bag of flour, they put it aside. It was the only unopened bag of flour, and none of us have actually opened any bags yet.”
“But what could have happened to the flour?” said Applejack. “I mean, it’s not like somepony coulda just come in here, scooped up a huge bag, and hauled it off.”
“Not a pony,” said Pinkie Pie darkly. “But someone could have. A dark, twisted little creature, with big, big eyes for seeing at night when no one else can, and huge hands for taking things that don’t belong to him. He sneaks into good ponies houses and snatches things he wants! Then he takes them back to his cave!”
Sweetie Belle and Fluttershy were trying to hide behind each other. Applejack was shaking like a leaf and holding onto Apple Bloom. Twilight, however, was skeptical. “And just who is this?”
Pinkie Pie took a deep breath. “He’s... the Taking Things Away Goblin! Crack! Pthwoom!”
The frightened ponies screamed. Pinkie started to sing,
You better not have something that the goblin WANTS
Because there is no obstacle to him that DAUNTS
He’ll take your cupcakes, muffins, apples, or croisSANTS
And carry them back to his lair in verMONTs!
Hide your goods! Hide your things!
Hide your bits! Hide your strings!
Hide your necklaces and rings!
Hide your princesses and kings!
He sneaks into your house!
He has a bag of dust
He’s quiet as a mouse
Or a windy gust
He sprinkles the dust
On your thing
It weights a ton!
He carries it out!
The Taking Things Away Goblin cannot be STOPPED
He keeps all of the ponies’ things that he has COPPED
His picture is so horrible you’d think it’s SHOPPED
He’s ugly, mean, and horrible and can’t be TOPPED!
Pinkie Pie finished dancing, standing up on her back hooves, wobbling a little, out of breath.
“That’s... quite a song,” said Twilight.
“Me and Vinyl Scratch are going to cut a demo,” said Pinkie Pie.
“Twilight,” said Rarity, “please tell Pinkie Pie there’s no such thing as a Taking Things Away Goblin.”
“Well...” Twilight said. “That does... actually sound a lot like a creature I’ve been reading about recently. I wish I had my book with me...”
Pinkie Pie slapped a book into Twilight’s hooves. “There!”
Twilight blinked. “Where did you get this?”
“From your library!” Pinkie Pie waved her hooves. “Read, read, read!”
Twilight opened the book and read the passage she was thinking of.
“Purloinious, the Coveting Goblin, lives deep in the wilderness of Equestria. Purloinious has no possessions of his own except for a sack of magic dust. He sprinkles the dust on the walls of pony homes, which allows him to pass through them. Then he finds something he wants. He does not necessarily go after things that are valuable, they must only be valuable to their owner. When he sprinkles dust on an object, even the largest boulder becomes light as a feather. He then carries it back to his secret lair, where it brings him no joy.”
“See!” said Pinkie, pointing at the book and looking at the others triumphantly. “The Taking Things Away Goblin!”
“I guess you could call him that...”
“Where does it say he lives?” asked Rainbow Dash, looking over Twilight’s shoulder. “Let’s just fly over there and get the bag back!”
“It doesn’t,” said Twilight. “Only that his lair is in the most isolated part of Equestria he could find.”
“Well, that’s no good,” said Applejack. “Shoot, you could look all over the countryside and never find ‘im if that’s all we have to go on.”
Pinkie Pie was sitting on the ground, hoof to her chin, thinking. “I think I’ll be able to find him...”
“How will you manage that?”
Pinkie looked thoughtful for another minute, and then said, slowly, “I am going to show you ponies something... that you can never tell another living pony as long as you live, not even each other.”
The others agreed.
“Except we can’t tell the fillies,” said Applejack. “They can’t keep a secret.”
“Can too!” shouted Apple Bloom. “I never told anypony you still wet your bed a few times a year!”
“Mah point exactly.” Then, to the others, “It ain’t nothin’ to be ashamed of. Lots of ponies have the same problem.”
“Not especially,” said Rainbow Dash to the others aside. “I just sneak into her home a few times a year and dip her hoof in warm water.”
Rarity muttered something about being surrounded by vulgar ponies.
“So do you Pinkie-swear not to tell the secret?” Pinkie Pie said.
The other ponies recited:
Cross my heart
Hope to fly
Stick a cupcake
In my eye!
Pinkie Pie opened the door to the cellar. “The secrets begin here.”
“Pinkie Pie, sugar cube, we been to your basement before.”
“Yeah, it’s no big secret,” said Scootaloo. “We were just down there a few hours ago.”
Pinkie Pie shook her head, and then hopped down the stairs. The others turned to follow.
Rarity and Applejack turned to their sisters. “Can we trust y’all not to go off lookin’ for Polonius or whatever his name is while we’re down there?”
“Probably not, no,” said Apple Bloom.
“We are precocious,” agreed Sweetie Belle.
“Unless you agree to let us come with you to find the goblin,” said Scootaloo. “We want to try for our goblin-catching Cutie Mark!”
“Absolutely not,” said Rarity.
Applejack leaned over. “Just lie, say yes an’ well cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“I’m not lying to my little sister.”
“Aw, shucks, I do it all the time.”
“Yes, and she’s a little hooligan.”
“She is not! She’s just got a lot of spirit.”
Now the Cutie Mark Crusaders were heading towards the door. Applejack and Rarity quickly followed them down the stairs, trying to head them off, but they were all in the basement before the big sisters were all caught up.
“Don’t worry,” said Pinkie Pie. “They’ll never tell anypony what they saw down here.”
“Are you sure?” asked Applejack, uncertainly.
Pinkie Pie giggled.
“It’s dark,” said Twilight. “Here, let me put on a little light--”
“No!” hissed Pinkie Pie. Then she put her hoof against the wall, held it there, and then picked it up and placed it a little higher. She pressed one ear to the wall.
Fluttershy sniffed the air. “Um... it smells a little... strange down here.”
“That’s just a mildew smell,” said Twilight. “It’s damp in this corner. I think we’re near the well. That must be why all the dry goods are over on the other side.”
Rarity immediately started trying to pick up all her hooves off the ground without falling flat on her belly.
Suddenly, the ground under them shifted, and began sinking.
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...”
“This is so AWESOME!”
“What is this?”
“A dumbwaiter,” said Pinkie Pie happily.
“Pinkie Pie! What a thing to say!” said Rarity.
“No, silly, that’s what it’s called.”
“Well, where are we going?”
“Down!” Pinkie Pie pointed down, then covered her mouth and giggled.
They went down, all right, In just a few moments they were so far down that only the adult pegasus ponies could get up, because the area all around them was nothing but walls. Fluttershy again hunkered down and tried to hide herself. Rarity paced, thinking of more mildew. Twilight watched Pinkie curiously. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, however, were so excited they couldn’t hold still.
Suddenly, the ground stopped moving. All nine of them were now on a small patch of ground surrounded on all four sides by a steep, slick wall.
“Shh!” Pinkie pushed her hoof against the wall, and it opened like a swinging door. The other side was pitch dark, though, so they were hesitant to follow as she walked out of their sight. Stumbling over each other, the other five followed her.
“Ladies and gentlecolts,” said Pinkie Pie.
“There ain’t any gentlecolts here,” said Applejack.
“I give you... THE PINKIE CENTER!”
The lights came on so suddenly, the ponies were momentarily blinded, for these were some of the brightest lights they’d ever seen, brighter than Celestia’s sun it seemed, and white as Rarity’s coat after a bath.
They blinked a few times, but when they saw where they were, they were speechless.
“Do you like it?” Pinkie asked, bouncing around. “Huh? Do ya do ya do ya? It’s a real bummer trying to keep it a secret from you guys, but you know, it’s gotta be done. I can’t wait to give you guys the grand Pinkie tour! Where do I start?”
Pinkie hopped around in circles in the center of the room. It was enormous, but even more amazing than the fact that there was an enormous chamber underneath Sugar Cube Corner was what was in it. The floors, walls, and ceiling were all white tiles, with enormous bright lights fastened to the ceiling. The whole place was decorated with streamers, balloons, and confetti, like it was one of Pinkie’s parties.
“Over here is my map of Ponyville,” said Pinkie Pie. It covered the entire west wall, and detailed every house, business, and bench to be found in all of Ponyville and it’s closest outlying areas. Several cutouts of ponies were tacked to the houses, with different numbers on notes stuck to them. “It tells me where everypony is, and how many days left until their party. See, Lyra’s birthday is coming up in ten days, so she’s a ‘10,’ and next month Octavia is going to get a letter from Princess Celestia asking her to join the Royal Band to perform at all future functions and galas, so she’s going to need a party to celebrate and see her off.”
Twilight picked up her left hoof and saw a crudely-drawn cutout of herself on it. “Um, what’s this?”
“Oh, your party already passed. I had to make your cutout in a hurry because there was still so much more to do to get ready for your party. Rainbow Dash, you’re sitting on Gilda’s cutout.”
“Why does Gilda have a ‘3’ on her?” asked Rainbow Dash at the same time Applejack asked, “Well, how do ya know that Octavia’s gettin’ a letter when she don’t even know herself?”
“Ooh! Ooh! Over here!” Pinkie Pie hopped to the north wall. It had a colorful banner at the top reading, “PINKIE CENTER!” the same way it would read, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Under that was an outline of a generic pony with a blindfold cutie mark, looking like the traditional picture on a “Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Pony” game mat. This one, though, was gargantuan, and there were a lot of holes clustered around the blank tail area, as well as some quite a ways off. “This is where I experiment with new and better party games! I’m working on a new Pin the Tail on the Pony that’s soo, soo huge!” She picked up a giant tail attached to a dart and threw it, landing near the pony’s rump but not close enough. “I haven’t worked out all the bugs yet, but it’s gonna be great!”
“Wow,” said Twilight, “That’s... innovative.”
“Sometimes at night it tells me to do things.”
Pinkie pointed to the east wall, which clearly had the most noticeable feature on it: an enormous, boxy, gray computer going all across the wall and halfway up, covered with buttons, dials, and blinking lights. There was a small office chair at the work station, a twelve-inch screen, a pony keyboard, and a trackball. Pinkie Pie jumped into the chair and spun around a few times, going “Wheee!” before settling down and scooting up the computer.
“This is how I keep track of all the parties,” said Pinkie Pie. “It’s supposed to tell me about special events in their lives, their personal information, and where they are at any given time... I think it can be used to find this nasty Taking Things Away Goblin.”
“What is that?” Fluttershy was looking up at the computer in awe.
“It’s called a ‘computer,’” said Twilight.
“What’s a computer?”
“I’m not sure, exactly...”
Pinkie was already furiously working away at the station, her brow furrowed. Eventually she hit a big fuchsia button and a hatch opened to the right just above her head. Inside was a punchbowl filled with pink punch, with Gummy floating around in it. Eyes fixed on the screen, Pinkie poured herself a cup of punch and drank it. It was impressive how she never stopped working, like Twilight, only about parties.
Finally, she jumped up. “A-ha! I found him!”
“In Gulchy Gulch,” said Pinkie. “He lives behind a giant boulder at the bottom. You go along the edge of the Everfree Forest until you get to the gulch, then go straight down! You can’t miss him!” She bounced around in a circle happily. “I found him, I found him,” she sang.
Then suddenly she stopped and looked at the others. “You promise you’re not going to tell anypony about what you saw down here, right?”
“I know I promised,” said Twilight nervously, “but... well, Pinkie, this is kind of a big thing. I’m not sure how I can just never talk about it again.”
“Yes,” said Rarity, “you know how Twilight is about keeping secrets.”
“Now wait a minute--!”
“But this was a big thing,” said Rainbow Dash. “I mean... Pinkie, how did you even build this?”
“A government grant.” She reached over to the punch and poured five more glasses. “Well, okay. How about we celebrate your new-found knowledge with a drink?”
“Ew!” Rarity recoiled. “Pinkie Pie, I’m not drinking punch that Gummy’s been bathing in!”
“But you always drink my punch.”
Rainbow Dash took a cup. “She’s right, you do.”
Twilight levitated her glass and took a drink.
Suddenly, she looked around. She was standing outside Sugar Cube Corner with a saddlebag on her back. Spike was fastening it. The others- Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo were all standing around, too, and the adults also had saddlebags.
“Wait,” said Twilight, “how did we get here?”
“We walked,” said Pinkie. “From inside.”
“No,” Twilight shook her head. “We were just... downstairs in... under your basement.”
“No,” said Pinkie, “we were in the room deciding what to do about that old goblin, and we decided to go after him. So we came out here! And here we are!”
“Right,” said Twilight, “but we found out how to get to the goblin because you found him on your--”
Suddenly, Pinkie Pie popped out of Twilight’s saddlebag. “for-EV-er!” she reminded her.
Twilight looked at her bag, then in front of her where Pinkie was tightening her own saddlebag. “Wh-- how did you-- Pinkie--?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Twi,” said Spike, “you’ve been in the kitchen all day, then you went outside.”
“You weren’t there, Spike.”
“Uh, yes I was,” said Spike.
“That’s right, dear,” said Rarity, a bit strangely, “he was being a dear and wiping the flour off my coat.”
“Apple Bloom-- didn’t you watch us go downstairs? And you were mad? And you said something about your sister wetting the bed?”
Apple Bloom, meanwhile, was trying to cram things into her sister’s saddle bag. “Shoot, I ain’t never gonna get my cutie mark for bein’ a porter.”
Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash. “Dash, back me up on this!”
Rainbow Dash shrugged.
“Does-- does she do this to you every year, too?”
Fluttershy just looked at her.
Pinkie jumped up. “Okay, everypony, ready to go?”
“Cutie Mark Crusaders Goblin Hunters go!”
Rarity rolled her eyes.
“I’m ready, let’s go!” Rainbow Dash jumped up into the air.
Pinkie pie hopped off, taking the lead, and the troop of ponies followed behind her.
They were quite a sight as they left Ponyville. Ponies in the streets stopped and stared as the parade went by. Some peeked out of their windows to get a good look. Pinkie Pie held her head high, and she had an air of seriousness about her that was normally only present when her hair was flat.
Then they were out of Ponyville. The paths were pleasant to walk on in the mid-afternoon, the rolling hills comfortably sloped, and the air fresh and crisp. At first they talked and laughed on the way, joking as if they were on their way to a party instead of a goblin’s lair. However, the closer they got to the Everfree forest, the quieter they became, and once they hit the edge, they were solemn indeed. There was much less laughing as they walked alongside it and much more serious talk about goblins and magic dust, and how you defeat the two when they’re together.
Eventually the ground suddenly came to an end, and started going down. Rainbow Dash flew ahead to scout, but the rest of the ponies had to make their way down on foot, over slippery rocks with unstable footing. Fluttershy had to be carried, and the rest took it upon themselves to take turns with her on their back and her face buried in their mane. Twilight levitated some awkward rocks out of the way.
Several times they lost footing and slid, but there was always a pony behind to grab the tails of the ones in front, and in that way catastrophe was prevented. The Cutie Mark Crusaders proved to be excellent going downhill, as they were smaller and did not upset as many rocks. Finally, after much climbing, they reached the bottom of Gulchy Gulch.
“Here we are,” said Pinkie Pie. She pointed to a boulder on the gulch floor in front of her. “He lives in a cave behind this.”
“A giant rock?” said Rarity, looking up skeptically.
“Dumb rock,” said Sweetie Belle.
Rainbow Dash flew up to it and started to shove. “Come on, ya stupid rock! Move!” Scootaloo ran to the same side and started shoving, too. “Yeah! Stupid rock!”
“That’s not going to work,” said Twilight. “There has to be another way.”
The ponies sat down and thought about the best way to get through a giant rock without having magic dust to enable you to pass through it or make it light as a feather.
“Hey, Twi,” said Spike, “Did the book tell you what kind of magic the goblin uses?”
“It did say.”
“Do you think you could try to do that with your horn?”
“I think so,” said Twilight. “I’ve never done it before, but it didn’t look too hard...” She stood up and leaned over to the rock. Her horn started to glow, and then she glowed, and the rock glowed, and her friends glowed. “It worked! Come on, girls, let’s go through.” She turned around to see Fluttershy hiding behind a rock. “Fluttershy, can you look after the girls while we’re inside?”
Fluttershy perked up.
“What?!” Scootaloo was incredulous. “You said we were coming with you!”
“Yeah, what gives?”
“Yes,” said Rarity, “We did say you were coming with us. After all, Gulchy Gulch may be dirty, but it’s not dangerous like the forest. But you can’t expect us to let you come in to find a possibly dangerous goblin.”
“No fair!” Apple Bloom pouted.
“Life ain’t fair, sugar cube,” said Applejack, and she stepped through the rock. Rainbow Dash zipped through, followed by Rarity, then Pinkie Pie and finally Twilight with Spike. Scootaloo ran after them but smacked into the rock.
“Owww,” she groaned.
“Now now,” said Fluttershy. “Come over here and I’ll tell you a nice story about bunnies.”
“I’d rather run into a rock,” grumbled Scootaloo. “Some adventure!”
Inside, it was pitch dark. Twilight and Rarity lit up their horns and looked around. “It’s dark here,” said Twilight. “Everybody stay close.”
“Something grabbed my flank!” said Rarity.
“Spike!” Twilight scolded
“You said stay close!”
“Come on,” said Pinkie Pie, “we’ve got a flour-stealer to find!”
They went further into the cave, past the dripping stalactites, the questionable blobs on the ground, and what was certainly a rat, according to Rarity.
As they went further, they could hear faint singing that grew louder and louder as they went along:
What foolish mice come down my hole?
What possibly could be their goal?
For surely they do not seek me
How foolish would that action be?
A pegasus, two unicorns
Two Earth Ponies to taste
I’ll cook them
No, bake them
Into a cake, them
Else the flour goes to waste
“My flour!” said Pinkie Pie indignantly.
Silly, silly ponies
With their silly, silly goal!
They’ll taste fine
When they’re mine
Silly don’t affect the taste
Not to me
Not to me
Then suddenly he was there in front of him. He was hunched over, his big bat-ears flat against the side of his face, his enormous eyes glaring at them, his enormous hands twitching, ready to grab. “I like to eat ponies,” he said.
“Yeah, I got that,” said Applejack flatly.
Pinkie stamped her hoof. “We’re here for my flour,” said Pinkie Pie. “You took it!”
“That which was once yours has now become mine, by way of my actions.”
“We’re here to take it back,” said Pinkie Pie. “Right girls?”
“Ain’t this a lot of work for just a li’l ol’ bag of flour?” said Applejack, as the rest of the ponies agreed.
“Maybe,” said Twilight, “but it’s important to Pinkie.” Then, addressing the goblin, “We’re not leaving here until we get that bag back, Purloinious.”
“Yeah,” said Applejack, “what in tarnation could ya possibly want with a bag of flour, anyway?”
Purloinious leaned close to Pinkie Pie’s face. “If you ponies want it, then I want it.” He cackled, and then started bouncing way down the cave tunnel.
“After him!” shouted Pinkie, already following her own command.
“Pinkie, wait--” but she was gone, so they had no choice but to follow.
They ran down the corridor, dodging rocks and stalagmites, following the sound of the cackling and Pinkie’s panting. Applejack was on her tail, followed by Twilight, then Rarity and Rainbow Dash, who was frustrated with having to run instead of fly and angry that the cave was too narrow for her to go around her (painfully slow) friends.
Suddenly, the ground ran out under Applejack’s feet and she scrabbled to get back on the ground. Pinkie Pie and Twilight reached out and grabbed her from empty space, only to have Rarity collide with them and send them falling. Rainbow Dash zoomed out over the empty space and under them all, and once Rarity got her footing the others were able to ease back up.
“What the hay just happened?” said Applejack.
“The ground’s gone,” said Pinkie.
Purloinious cackled. They saw now why the ground had run out: They were in an underground cavern, deep past the walls of the gulch. There was an island out in the middle of the open area, piled high with things: a comfy easy chair, forgotten books, stuffed dolls, umbrellas, empty wooden pails, mixing spoons, and anything else you could possibly think of. It was in the middle of a deep crater that went down, down, down, into the darkness.
Purloinious was standing on top of his treasure pile. “See? See what I have here? My things! My treasures!”
“Those aren’t yours, Purloinious,” said Twilight. “You stole them.”
“Hey, if they’re important to you, they’re important to me.”
Pinkie Pie narrowed her eyes. “You won’t ruin One of Each Day,” said Pinkie Pie. “Not for me.”
“I don’t know what that means,” said Purloinious.
“You’re a big old meanie. You take things that don’t belong to you just because you don’t have anything of your own.” She stood up on her back legs. “Well, I got something you can have! A party!”
“What?” said Purloinious.
“What?” said the other ponies.
“If you give me my flour back, then tonight’s One of Each Day Party will be Purloinious the Goblin’s Very Own Party.” Somehow, Pinkie Pie’s voice was still angry and threatening.
Purloinious cocked his head. “You’re saying what?”
The other ponies were equally confused. “We came all this way to throw a party for a dirty, thieving goblin?” said Rainbow Dash.
“I know you need a party,” said Pinkie Pie. “Don’t ask me how I know it.”
“Please, please don’t ask her how she knows it,” mumbled Twilight to herself.
“But I could only find you ‘cause you need a party. And we can’t throw it for you if you don’t give us back the flour.”
Purloinious stared at them, head still tilted to the side. “Wh... you want to throw me a party? ... Of my very own?”
“Parties are the most bestest thing ever,” said Pinkie Pie. “Why don’t you also help us finish baking- we’ll need an extra hand for all the time we’ve lost, and then you’ll have something else- results to show for your hard work!”
Purloinious slowly walked down his pile, very carefully, as someone accustomed to walking on surfaces with unsure footing. “I... I don’t know what to say...”
Pinkie Pie smiled at him. Then she turned around. “Come on, girls, help us carry this flour bag back to Sugar Cube Corner! It’s heavy.”
So they all went back to Ponyville. If they looked strange before, it was no match for how strange they looked now with a stooped-over goblin following them. If the Cutie Mark Crusaders were disappointed for being left out of the cave adventure, they forgot it right away upon seeing the goblin come out with them, and chatted nonstop with him the whole way home (with Fluttershy taking point far away from him)
Everypony was curious seeing them march back into town with a goblin, but Pinkie Pie would say nothing except to come to the party tonight. Then they went inside, and the baking resumed. Pinkie Pie disappeared soon after they’d started on the last tasks of the day, and reappeared with a huge smile just as they were finishing. “Come see!” she cried.
Come and see what? The enormous pavilion she’d set up in the center of Ponyville, with every pony in town coming out to see. She’d set up tables with colorful paper tablecloths, and trays of all the treats spread up one way and down the other. When she showed Purloinious, his jaw dropped. “This is a party?” he said in disbelief.
“A party for me?”
“Wow,” he said.
“But please don’t take stuff from ponies anymore,” said Pinkie Pie.
Twilight, meanwhile, was sitting in front of Sugar Cube Corner, watching ponies talking, laughing, and eating. Fluttershy was carefully collecting a napkin full of bunny-safe treats to bring back to the meadow. Rarity was silently weeping as sloppy ponies crunched her beautiful cookie creations without stopping to admire the beauty. Rainbow Dash, who seemed so sick of treats earlier, was stuffing her face like a pig.
Twilight smiled, remembering how this day began ages ago, with Pinkie Pie asking for help on a puzzling project. She felt sure she knew how this next letter was going to go.
“Spike, are you still awake?”
“Uh-huh,” said Spike from behind her, face full of cake.
“Take a letter, please.”
Spike wiped the cake off his hands on Twilight’s tail. She didn’t notice.
“Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned a very valuable lesson about friendship. When something is important to your friends, it becomes important to you no matter how silly it might seem. And sometimes, the silliest things to your friends can turn out to be the most important, like a party that brings happiness to so many- even those you least expect. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.
“Okay,” said Twilight. “Now you can go back to stuffing your face.”
Twilight went back to the library not long after that, but not without noticing Purloinious and Pinkie Pie talking to each other, huddled off in a corner. She smiled. “Only with Pinkie Pie,” she decided, “can a missing bag of flour lead to friendship with a goblin.”
Twilight couldn’t wait for One of Each Day to come next year.