An MLP:FiM fanfic by Tenure
It was the end of another long day for Twilight Sparkle. The sun was just settling below the horizon as she closed the library’s front door and drug her hooves across the floor. Spike had already fallen asleep on her back so Twilight levitated him to his bed and tucked him in. She tried to organize a pile of books on the floor but the effort was in vain; she was just far too bereft of energy to concentrate.
The day, already full with a missive from the princess asking her to do a census of the businesses in and around Ponyville, was packed even further with things her friends needed from her: There was the scheduled fitting with Rarity for her Gala dress, Applejack needed a hair restoration spell for Applebloom after the little foal and her friends decided to play ‘Cutie Mark Crusader barbers’, Fluttershy needed a helping hoof with a deer who’d broken its leg, and one of Rainbow Dash’s mistimed stunts put a hole in the roof of the Mayor’s office. It was definitely a busy day with nearly all of her friends. In fact, it sort of bothered her that the one pony she expected to cause chaos in her schedule was inexplicably missing. Where exactly was-.
“TWILIGHT! OPEN UP! I GOT THE MOST AMAZINGLY AMAZING NEWS!!!”
Speak of the devil, thought Twilight as she trundled over to open the door. No sooner had she unlocked it than Pinkie Pie crashed through, pinning the tired unicorn to the wooden floor and smiling widely; her eyes practically awash in happiness.
“Oh Twilight you’re never gonna believe the good news! I was baking in the kitchen when I got a letter in the mail-”
“Well actually Mr. Cake brought it to me but it was IN the mailbox outside and that’s nowhere near the kitchen-”
“And I’d have to be all SUPER STRETCHY to get the mail all the way from there-”
“Could you let me get up? I’ve had a tiring day and being pinned to the pine by a pink party pony isn’t peaceful.”
Pinkie stared Twilight up and down, just now realizing the predicament she had her friend in.
“Haha! Sorry, Twilight, I was just so excited.”, Pinkie helped her friend back to a standing and somewhat less mussed position.
“Now, what’s all this about the mail?”
“Oh! I got a letter from home! My dad is coming to visit here!”
“That’s great, Pinkie! When does he arrive?”
“Tomorrow evening! It’s been so long since I’ve seen him since my family is so busy on the farm and I’m gonna throw him the bestest of best parties to make up for lost time! I want all my friends to be there, too! So will you come, will ya, will ya, will ya??”
Twilight smiled at her friend’s irrepressible enthusiasm. “You know I’ll be there, Pinkie.”
Pinkie Pie bounced up and down with joy, “Great great great! I’m gonna go invite everyone else and dad will get to meet all my friends and we’ll have cake and treats and games and...” She continued speaking well after she was out the door with Twilight closing it after her.
After locking the door once more, Spike opened one eye tiredly.
He yawed and rubbed his eyes, ”Was that Pinkie Pie I heard wrecking the place?”
“Yes, Spike. Her father is coming to visit tomorrow and she invited us to a party in his honor.”
“Really? I heard she grew up on a rock farm or something... would be interesting to see how much... *yawn* how much of it is true or juspinkiebeingzzzzz...”
Spike had nodded off mid-sentence and was quietly snoozing away once more. Twilight blew out all the candles in the building save for the one she was carrying and made her way to bed. It would be interesting to know more about Pinkie’s family, Twilight thought to herself as she settled in for the night and blew out the last candle.
In her dream, Twilight was flying like a pegasus. She enjoyed it so much, she was reading a book on flying while flying, looking for more ways to enhance the experience. As she was reading up on mastering the loop-the-loop while in a corkscrew dive, a sharp, staccato rapping on the door dragged her back to consciousness. She looked out the window, the sun was barely a sliver on the horizon; a rooster sitting outside nearby creaked open an eye, flapped a dismissive wing at nothing in particular and went back to sleep. The knocking assaulted her senses once more.
Groaning, she pulled herself out of bed, and half-crawled to the door.
“Do you realize what tiiiiii...”, The words died in her throat as she looked up at the very serious-looking pony at the door. Brown with a grey mane and tail, he bore a pick-axe-shaped cutie mark and was bedecked in a tie, muttonchops, a wide-brimmed hat and the sternest expression she had ever seen a pony wear. He fixed her with a gaze that made her feel like she was about be disciplined for taking cookies when she wasn’t supposed to.
“I take it you are the librarian?” He asked.
“W-well yes and no... well I live here so I guess that technically makes me...”
“Good.” He reached into a saddlebag on his back and pulled out a piece of paper which he passed to her. “I require these tomes. I was told this was the last library in all of Equestria known to carry them.”
Twilight floated the list to study it at eye-level; it was just three books but the titles set her ill at ease. Especially the last one titled-
“So do you have the books or don’t you?”, he asked in an even but stern tone.
“Y-yes, of course!”, Without thinking, she scrambled for the books, pulling them down from the shelves as fast as she could. She withdrew the cards and presented them to him with a pen to sign, “You’ll need to sign these so I know who took them.”
“I shan’t be long with them, a day or two at most.”, He took the pen in his mouth and jotted down a quick signature on each.
“Thank you, um...” She looked at the signature on the card, “Clyde. Please be careful as one of those books is exceedingly old and possibly fragile.”
He fixed her with a stony glare, “I shall.” With nary a word of parting, he turned smartly around and walked out. Twilight let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding in and relaxed a bit.
“That was one serious pony. What an odd list he had though.” She said to no one in particular before locking the door and deciding to put it out of her mind. As the morning was already beginning, she decided to stay awake to start her morning rituals.
It was another long day for Twilight in Ponyville. Her census was continuing into its second day and already there were complications arising: The owner of Sofas and Quill Pens couldn’t decide whether to classify his business primarily as a stationary or furniture store; it was even more awkward and uncomfortable at Legal Council and Marital Aids. Too many rather frank questions from Spike after that particular visit forced her to drop him off with Fluttershy for the day.
Then there were the reclassifications: Rarity wanted a reclassification of Carousel Boutique from the simple ‘dress shop’ to ‘fashionista destination supreme’ but Twilight simply couldn’t fit all that into the tiny space meant for ‘other’. Applejack and Big Macintosh got into a strange argument over whether to call their stall in the square an ‘apple cart’ or an ‘apple stand’ and Ditzy Doo wanted to be reclassified as a ‘light truck’, causing Twilight to all but dive for some headache medicine.
The afternoon wound down a bit with the last few businesses in the square taken care of save for Sugarcube Corner. As she approached the building she thought she caught the glimpse of a familiar hat in one of the windows. A part of her was urging to head elsewhere but the more logical parts forced her forwards as it was silly to be afraid of a stern expression like that. She wasn’t a foal anymore and that old stallion wasn’t even related to her... still those eyes!
As she entered the doorway to the bakery, she was unexpectedly bowled over from behind and buried beneath bountiful boxes bursting with party supplies. As she pulled a box full of streamers off her head, she beheld the face of Pinkie Pie on top of her, who had apparently been carrying the boxes that were now covering them both.
“Twilight, we gotta to stop meeting like this.” She said with a worried look on her face. She leaned in conspiratorially and whispered “Fillies are gonna start talking.”
Exasperated, Twilight magically lifted both Pinkie and the boxes off of her, moving them to the inside of the shop. Mr. and Mrs. Cake were there behind the counter with nervous expressions on their faces.
“Welcome, Twilight! Sorry about the mess, dear.” exclaimed Mrs. Cake, sweat beading her brow, her eyes flicking back and forth from Twilight to Pinkie Pie.
Twilight looked around: But for a couple of streamers that fell out of Pinkie’s boxes the place was spotless.
“Oookay. Well you know the reason I’m here, correct?”
“There’s no one here yet!” Mr. Cake suddenly exclaimed.
Twilight looked at both of them askance, “I’m here for the census?”
Both the Cake couple looked at each other, then Twilight and inexplicably seemed to relax.
“Oh, right, the business census.” Mrs. Cake said, looking quickly looked to Pinkie Pie, then to the kitchen and back to Pinkie. The tension in her face eased as she directed Twilight Sparkle to the large preparation table near the ovens. “Let’s get on with it then, shall we?”
The meeting itself was fairly short and painless; questions were answered with little difficulty or changes and the Cakes had listed Pinkie Pie as ‘family employee’. The aforementioned pink pony was busy out in the party room with decorations and various other props, balloons and gimcracks of her trade.
Once finished, Twilight closed the record-book she was logging the entries into and smartly shook hooves with Mr. and Mrs. Cake. “Well that’s all I need, I hope to see you both at Mr. Pie’s party tonight.”
Mr Cake shook his head, “Oh, we’ll be far too busy in the kitchen, filling orders and making more treats for Pinkie if she needs them.”
Twilight smiled, “Pinkie is really lucky to have such a caring family like you.”
The Cake couple both turned their heads away and muttered barely intelligible agreements before a loud, crashing noise from the party room indicated that Pinkie probably needed help. The Cakes said hasty goodbyes and dashed quickly into the other room as Twilight made her way to the exit. The last thing she heard before exiting the shop was Mrs. Cake exclaiming, “But how did you tape yourself to the ceiling!?” She trotted out, chuckling to herself.
Picking up Spike from Fluttershy’s house had turned into its own ordeal. As Twilight approached, the distinct sound made by the sobbing of her friend Fluttershy increased the unicorn’s pace to the cottage. The sight that met her eyes perplexed her; Fluttershy was sobbing next to a very sudsy bathtub which Spike was arm-deep into with a clothespin over his snout. The recipient of his ministrations were obscured from view by the bubbles.
“Fluttershy! What’s wrong? Why are you crying... next to a bathtub?”
The gentle pegasus eased her sobbing and looked up with tear-stained eyes, “Oh Twilight! It was awful... there was this bear...the bear came up to Angel bunny and asked him if he had a problem with poop sticking to his fur... and... and Angel bunny shook his little head... and and... *Sob* The next part was HORRIBLE!!"
As Fluttershy resumed her wailing Twilight looked to the tub. The suds had cleared up enough to reveal a very cross Angel being scrubbed down by Spike. The smell that drifted over was unmistakable.
“Ewwwwww.”, Twilight exclaimed as her snout wrinkled and she reared back slightly from the implications of that unfinished story.
After much washing and a bit of magic, a grateful Fluttershy accompanied Twilight and Spike back to town for Pinkie Pie’s party. The sun had already gone down by the time they got to Sugarcube Corner and the party appeared to be just getting started.
A great big banner hung up against the party room wall declaring “Welcome Papa Pie” to all who entered. The table was full of confections, snacks and treats of all kinds from end to end. A few ponies had already shown up and were enjoying the refreshments laid out. Twilight spied Rarity and Rainbow Dash sipping punch and and having an animated discussion about style versus function concerning the suits the Wonderbolts wore during their shows.
“But darling, what’s the point of a skin-tight uniform if it’s not going to be dazzling?”
“It’s not supposed to dazzle, it’s their flying that’s supposed to dazzle.”
“Well it wouldn’t hurt to accessorize a little. That one, what’s her name... Spitfire is it? She would look simply stunning with a few ruby-studded barrettes in her mane.”
“Rarity, you’re missing the point-” Rainbow Dash looked up from her exasperated face-hoofing to notice Fluttershy, Spike, and Twilight Sparkle’s entrance and waved to them. Rarity followed Dash’s gaze and noticed the duo as well. The entering trio joined the fashion pony and multi-hued pegasus.
“Twilight, Fluttershy, so glad to see you.” Rarity said after another sip of punch. “If you’re looking for Pinkie, she said she was getting something special ready for her father’s arrival.”
Spike’s eyes lit up, “Oh, something special?!”, then he hesitated, “Wait, how excited was she?”
“So excited I have a pony from the weather team on standby with a raincloud in case of fires.” Rainbow Dash stated.
Spike considered the implications of that. “Whoa. This is gonna be awesome, isn’t it?”
Spike slid off Twilight’s back to alternate between discussing what the surprise might be with Rainbow Dash and fawning over Rarity.
Fluttershy looked around the room, “Excuse me but... where’s Applejack?”
Rarity’s jaw suddenly clenched mid-sentence and she bowed her head, pointing a hoof in a direction across the room, “With my little sister and her friends.” Rainbow Dash could only stifle a giggle.
The group followed the direction the dainty white hoof pointed across the room to a rather flustered Applejack affixing a small but fashionable hat to Applebloom’s little head. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were both wearing identical headgear; all three of them additionally wore matching pouts.
“There. Now you wear those ‘till Rarity tames those manes again. I swear, the things you three get into...”
Applebloom looked up from her pout. “Yer just angry cause I wear this look better’n you, sis!”
Applejack leaned back in surprise, “Why you cheeky little- Aw forget it. Jus’ go and eat some cake or somethin’.”
The Cutie-Mark Crusaders made their way to the buffet table as Twilight joined Applejack, “Cutie-Mark Crusader Barbers again?”
“Cutie-Mark Crusader Electrical Engineers.” The earth-pony said flatly as she watched the trio fling off their caps to reveal their manes had become rather frizzy and burnt afros.
“Yikes!” The sight was enough to make her flinch involuntarily. Applejack could only sigh and hauled herself off to go pick up the hats in another attempt to force the fillies to wear them again.
Time passed and more ponies showed up with the rising of the moon. By then, the party was in full swing and many were dancing, eating or talking. Some doing all three at once to the annoyance of their party-going neighbors.
Without warning, Pinkie burst into the party room, causing the record to skip. “The guest of honor is almost here, everypony!” Behind her she was dragging a massive stone dais sitting on top of a wheeled dolly. The dais was bare save for three large rocks sitting in a row and one larger than the others sitting in front of the three. She crammed herself under the dolly and the other party-goers just stared at the unusual set-piece.
“Five bits says the roof is blasted off.”, Dash whispered to Spike.
“You’re on.” replied Spike with glee.
A sudden rustling at the door brought all eyes towards it. The door opened. All eyes were drawn to the silhouette in the door-frame and Twilight was the first to recognize its owner, backing slowly up against the wall. As the figure walked into the light of the room, the rest of the ponies were stunned to silence by the look on his face. Dressed the same way Twilight saw him that morning, he still wore an expression that made a pony think he was about to either lecture the entire room or announce the death of somepony’s mother.
It was then that the decorative rock dais started to shake and shimmy. After a couple of moments the shaking was replaced with the entire top of the dais exploding in a shower of sparks, pebbles, confetti and streamers. Where the dais had been, a stage had now taken its place. The four rocks sitting atop it were now replaced by Pinkie Pie and a three-piece om-pah band. She was wearing a straw boater, a fake mustache, a red-and-white striped shirt, bow-tie and suspenders clipped to a belt around her midsection. After a stunned silence from the crowd of onlookers, The om-pah band started up tune with a waltzing rhythm and all on the stage started to sway to the beat. After a few beats Pinkie began to sing:
“Oh Papa Pie, Oh Papa Pie
Your daughter Pinkie welcomes you
With cake and punch and streamers high
We'll celebrate the whole night through!”
Twilight took a moment to look around: Most of the crowd simply stared transfixed at Pinkie’s newest spectacle, a few seemed to be unconsciously swaying back and forth to the beat. Her father stared at her, expression unwavering. Pinkie seemed to be oblivious to the silent response and continued on.
“So every pony give a yelp
No need to fear or run and hide
cause I need every pony's help
to welcome in my papa Clyde!”
With that she dove straight off the stage, flying straight towards Clyde. Twilight (along with half the crowd) winced in anticipation of the impact... which did not arrive. Pinkie had grabbed her fathers neck and was swinging around it as if her were an immovable statue. After a couple of circles, he rose on his hind legs and caught her with his forelegs in a motion smooth enough to suggest that this seemed to be a regular greeting for him. She lay in her father’s grasp with her legs in the air, still hugging his neck.
He was stone silent for a moment before warmth finally crept into his eyes and he smiled at her.
She gave him a quick peck on the tip of his snout, transferring the fake mustache from her to him. By now the entire crowd relaxed a bit more and were now advancing to greet the guest of honor. Clyde let his daughter go and she landed at a trot, dragging her father along to introduce him to every pony in attendance. Twilight tried to hide in the back but Pinkie managed to weed her out of the crowd quickly, after introducing the rest of her best friends.
“Oh, Twilight, don’t be such a nervous nelly! It’s just my dad.” Pinkie said as she all but dragged her friend over.
Twilight daintily shook hooves with Clyde as he smiled and introduced himself. “Hello miss...?”
“Twilight, Twilight Sparkle.”
“Miss Sparkle. A pleasure to meet you. Pinkamina sends letters to the farm and it’s good to finally see the friends she speaks so highly of.” His smile was still there but his eyes were now saying I have never met you before, that is the narrative. Follow it.
“A-and a pleasure to meet you, as well... wait, Pinkamina?”
“Yes, Pinkamina Diane Pie after her grandmother.”
Pinkie nudged him with a mock-scornful look on her face. “Oh daddy, even Granny Pie never liked being called ‘Pinkamina’, I’m just Pinkie here.”
“Whatever you say, Pinkamina.”
“Pff! Daddy, you’re so silly!”
“Oh, that reminds me.” He said, digging into one of his bags to pull out something small wrapped in a checkered kerchief, “Mama tried out a new cookie recipe, something herbal from an old cookbook, she wanted your opinion.”
Something about that statement tickled the back of Twilight’s mind.
He unwrapped the kerchief to reveal two small, dark cookies. Pinkie ooh’ed over the cookies for a moment before snapping them up in one bite. As she chewed her face took on a thoughtful expression as she rolled them around in her mouth from one cheek to the other. Twilight thought she saw the Cakes standing in the kitchen doorway out of the corner of her eye, when she turned, they were gone. When she turned back, Pinkie was still chewing and it appeared Clyde was beginning to sweat. After another few moment Pinkie swallowed and pursed her lips.
“They’re kinda... mediciney. Maybe add some more chocolate chips? OOH, or some raisins! They'd go real good with these!”
Clyde’s smile faded a bit, “Ah, I’ll keep that in mind. Well, I have to go talk to the Cakes for a bit, dear. There’s some things we need to discuss. After that, I’ll come back to... the party.”
As Clyde left the group to enter the kitchens, the tickle in the back of Twilight’s mind was becoming an itch. There was something decidedly off about his behavior and something about those cookies was simply nagging at her. She looked around: Pinkie was setting up the bobbing-for-apples bin filled with apples painted grey like rocks, Rainbow Dash was looking grouchy as she handed a small sack to Spike (She made a mental note to ask what was going on with that later.), Applejack was trying to keep her sister and friends from trying to use the Om-pah band’s instruments, and both Rarity and Fluttershy were eating at the buffet.
Feeling confident she wouldn’t be missed for a little bit, she snuck off to the kitchen. Inside, a worried Mr. and Mrs. Cake were talking to a now much more visibly despondent Clyde Pie. The noise of the party was drowning out their words so she crept up behind a nearby table. As she strained to hear, she would only get snatches of what was being said. “Failed... everything she could’ve...”
“Hi, Twilight! Are we playing hide and seek?”
Pinkie’s sudden whispering nearly made Twiilght scream in fright but she clasped both hooves over her mouth as she glared at Pinkie, who was now sitting right next to her behind the table.
“No, I’m not playing hide and seek. I wanted to hear what they were saying, your dad seems so sad.”
Pinkie gave her a confused look and Twilight just pointed a hoof up and they both peered over the table again, the noise of the party subsided enough to make their conversation into focus.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Mr Cake asked.
“I don’t know, “ Replied Mr. Pie, his head hanging low, “That cutie-mark of my daughter’s was supposed to be meant for so much more. I feel ashamed. Ashamed of what I allowed her to become... I think it’s time I gave up.”
Twlight’s attention was suddenly distracted by a sudden noise like wind being let out of a balloon. She looked to Pinkie and gaped. Pinkie’s hair had inexplicably gone from its curly, poofy state to being flat and smooth as if she had ironed it down. Tears were filling her eyes and her mouth was hanging open on a face flooded with an expression that was part disbelief and part immeasurable sadness. She had also risen up and knocked over a rolling pin, causing the others to quickly turn in her direction.
Mrs. Cake reached out, “Pinkie, dear, wait. We can explain!”
Pinkie didn’t wait, without another word she turned and ran from the room, practically knocking half the party crowd over as she fled the building, her throat full of sobs.
Twilight reached out after her friend as well, then turned to the others in the room after she ran. The Cakes had stricken looks on their faces and Clyde had simply disappeared. She looked back and forth between the couple and where Pinkie had fled in abject confusion. Her other friends came bursting through the door, apparently just as bewildered as Twilight.
Twilight’s confusion finally coalesced into coherent questions: “What’s going on here!? Did he really mean what he said?”
The Cake couple could only hang their head, “There’s a lot more to this than you’ve heard, Twilight.” Mr. Cake said,“We should probably take you to where Clyde had most likely gone, he can explain it a lot better than we could.”
An MLP:FiM fanfic by Tenure
The party was still going as the Cake couple led the group quietly out the back kitchen door. Twilight, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy all looked to one another uneasily as they were led out into the night. Applejack was the first to break the silence.
“Ah don’t know if we should all be goin’,” she said, “Somepony should be out lookin’ fer Pinkie Pie. Make sure she’s alright.”
“You’re right, Applejack.” Twilight said, “I think we need the whole story before we can resolve this, but she does need a friend right now.”
Fluttershy raised her voice tentatively, “I-I’ll go look for her. She’ll need a shoulder to cry on.”
Rarity also stepped up, “I will go as well. The poor dear will need as much support as we can give her until this sordid mess is straightened out.”
“Thank you both, I know we’ll be able to do something about this once we get the whole story from Clyde. Does anypony here know where she might have gone?”
The Cakes stopped in their tracks and turned.
“We might have an idea about that,” said Mr. Cake.
He drew a quick map in the dirt with his hoof, “Just go here and behind that third thicket with the yellow flowers, you’ll find an old shack. She’ll most likely be there.”
Fluttershy nodded and took off into the darkness with Rarity trailing behind.
Twilight looked at the couple inquisitively, “Wait, what would Pinkie be doing out in some old shack?”
“We don’t ask.” Mr. Cake said, trudging onwards once again; the others followed.
Mrs. Cake nodded, “Pinkie asked us for a private place away from town, all we could really give her was my hubby’s old tool-shed.”
Mr. Cake smiled, “The only use it ever got with me was making more sawdust, so I was more than happy to give it to her. Pinkie asks so little from us that we decided not to pressure her with questions about it. Funny how she was so happy with that broken-down old out-building...”
“There’s a lot ‘bout that filly that’s funny.” Applejack stated.
Mrs. Cake smiled, “She’s been that way ever since we knew her. Right from the day she came to live with us.”
“So how did she come to live with you two?” Twilight asked.
The plain between Ponyville and the forest beyond was lit up by the emergence of the moon from behind cloud cover as Mr. and Mrs. Cake slowed to a stop. They looked to one another and seemed silently to come to a consensus.
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell our side of things.”
Mr. Cake nodded, “By my reckoning it was about six months after that strange shock-wave incident.”
“I think the other ponies called it a ‘sonic rainboom’, dear.”
Floating in the back, Rainbow Dash seemed to puff up a bit at the mention of it.
“Right, it burst half the windows in Ponyville. Caused quite a stir from what I remember. Some ponies even wanted to sue whoever was responsible.”
“S-so you were saying about Pinkie Pie?” a suddenly nervous Rainbow Dash asked hurriedly from behind Applejack.
“Ah, sorry, I got off track there.” Mr. Cake replied sheepishly. “Well, it was also that year we found out from the doctor that we... couldn’t have foals of our own.”
Mrs. Cake nodded sadly and gave her husband a little nuzzle on the cheek.
“It wasn’t because of the rainboom was it?” Dash asked quickly.
Mrs. Cake looked at her oddly. “Huh? No, no. It was just... well it wasn’t that.” She looked to her husband. “Go on, darling.”
“We were both fairly despondent about the news and sales suffered a bit with our mood; we simply couldn’t put our hearts into our work....”
* * * Several years ago...* * *
“Dear? Do you smell that?” a young Mrs. Cake asked her husband.
“Well I d- oh NO! THE MUFFINS!” Mr. Cake dashed to an oven that was now wisping black smoke and pulled out a smouldering wreck in a pan. He dropped the pan on a table and stared at the blackened bits of burnt bran.
“There goes another batch.” he smiled weakly. “I guess I’m just not on my ‘A-game’ today.”
Mrs Cake looked worried, “Honey-bun, do you want to talk about it?”
“It’s that obvious, is it?”
“Well, I’d say the three batches of charcoal you made speak for you.”
The two sat down at a table and touched hooves, staring at each other.
“I’m sorry, love. It’s been stuck in my head ever since Little Mac came by the shop, saying his mother was pregnant again. Her third by my reckoning.”
Mrs. Cake nodded and rolled her eyes a bit; that Apple family bred like rabbits.
“I just feel ashamed I can’t give you that kind of happiness...”
She smiled and gave him a kiss. “You give me all the love and happiness I’ll ever need just by being here. Not having a foal of our own will never change that.”
Mr. Cake found himself smiling as he gazed into his wife’s eyes. They both shared that moment, losing track of time until a sharp knocking grabbed their attention.
Mr. Cake raised an eyebrow, “Who could that be? It’s so early the roosters aren’t even up.”
He opened the door and there stood a relatively familiar face.
“Clyde, is that you?”
Clyde Pie stood at the door and smiled at his childhood friend. Before either could say another word, a pink blur flashed past their feet and scampered around the room, only stopping when it collided with a large bag of flour the couple had out. The entire room was covered in a cloud of processed wheat.
“Yes it is, Cake, yes it is.” Clyde said, unfazed and covered in flour.
As the cloud settled, the form of a small filly coalesced in the middle of the mess. She was gazing this way and that as if she were trying to see the entire room all at once. She paused only briefly to shake off the flour to reveal herself as a pink pony with a poofy magenta mane and a cutie-mark of three blue and yellow balloons. She grinned up at Clyde.
“May I present my daughter, Pinkamina.”
“Daddy, this kitchen is so incredible!” Pinkamina shouted enthusiastically, “You could bake a group, no a town, no an army of cupcakes in here!”
The Cakes watched speechlessly as she zipped around the room, peering at things, only to finally dive at her father, catching his neck and spinning around on it to land squarely on his back.
“Do you like it here, Pinkamina?” He asked.
“Like it? I love it! It’s oodles bigger than the kitchen back at home. It would be so fun to bake here!”
Clyde nodded, “Well, let me talk to Mr. and Mrs. Cake here for a moment and I’ll see what I can do.” He shooed her outside for a moment before closing the door.
“That’s... quite a lively daughter you have there, Clyde.” Mr. Cake said, trying to process what just happened.
“Just so... energetic.” Mrs. Cake added.
Clyde bowed his head a bit, “Indeed. And that’s part of the reason I’m here, Cake. I have a favor to ask you; a very tall favor.”
The couple looked at him quizzically.
“Though it may not be apparent on the surface, my daughter labors under a curse.”
“A curse?!”, the couple exclaimed at once.
“Yes. One that I’m in no small part responsible for. It falls to me to find a cure for her before she’s lost to us forever.” The look on Clyde’s face was one of a pony tormented.
Outside, Pinkamina was chasing fireflies in the pre-dawn zodiacal light. She almost caught one, falling into the fountain nearby. Undaunted, she was back up and chasing them again.
“That’s terrible, Clyde.” Mrs. Cake said with a look of concern, “But... why did you bring her here? What can we do?”
“My daughter needs to be... away from the farm, in a place where she can grow around other ponies while I search for a cure. It may help her, being around others. I’d like her to apprentice under the two of you so that she learns a trade, as well.”
“But... but why us, Clyde?” Mr. Cake was now visibly confused.
“Well, this is a small community and word got around about... your troubles.”
Mr. Cake visibly winced.
“I know you’ll treat her more like family than I think we can as she is now. She’s too much of a reminder of what happened; little Inky is still afraid of her even now. Even the good wife Sue thinks this may be for the best and she cried; we both did over this. I know it sounds like a selfish request, but she needs a place that can she can be happy around others and I trust you both to give her the love and support she’ll need.”
The Cakes looked at one another and thought the same thing: This was a blessing. They could raise her as the daughter they could never have and fill a small but very present void in both their hearts. They also knew there was a lot more to this.
“Alright, Clyde, we’ll take her in. But you’re going to have to explain everything about this ‘curse’ to us.”
* * * The Present * * *
“A curse?!” Applejack said aghast. “Well what the hay is wrong with her?”
“Yeah, finish the rest of the story!” Rainbow Dash said, annoyed.
Mr. Cake shook his head. “That part’s for him to tell. It’s not our right to talk about it.”
Applejack tried to come up with a reply to this, “Well... but...I... she... aw, consarn it! Twilight, can’t you get ‘em to spill the beans? ...Twilight?”
Twilight’s attention seemed to be far away as she mulled over the story she was just told. There was something important, all those clues in the books she loaned out to Clyde Pie, especially-
“TWILIGHT!” Rainbow Dash had physically stopped her with a hoof to her chest.
Twilight looked up in surprise and gave her friend a stern look.“Oh, Rainbow Dash, you broke my concentration!”
“Well you were about to ‘concentrate’ your way into that tree.”
She looked up and and saw that she, indeed, was only a few inches away from smacking her snout right into a gigantic tree. Looking around she realized they were on the outskirts of the Everfree Forest.
“So he’s staying in the forest?”
“Not exactly, Miss Sparkle.”
Clyde’s sudden voice from behind coaxed a shriek out of Twilight as she jumped into Rainbow Dash’s forelegs. She looked sheepishly at her friend, who promptly dropped Twilight back onto her own hooves.
“How do you do that?!?” She yelled.
“Inter-Equestrian hide-and-seek champion for 20 years.” Clyde reached into his pack and pulled out a small scroll with his teeth, it unrolled to read that he, indeed, was a national champion.
Twilight had too many questions about this particular sport but decided to let the matter drop as there were far more important things to discuss. Before she could get a word out, however, her other two friends were in his face with angry expressions aplenty.
“How dare you make Pinkie cry like that!”
“She’s yer kin! How could you?!”
This went on for a few more lines from each of them before they were shocked into silence by a completely unexpected hug from Clyde. He smiled as he embraced both of them, each in a foreleg.
“I am so glad she has such good friends like you.” he said.
“Er... well...” Applejack found herself unable to comprehend just what was going on.
“I... uh...” the same with Rainbow Dash.
He released them and looked at everyone in turn, finally resting his gaze on Mr. and Mrs. Cake. “You both did the right thing bringing them here. I... was a coward. I couldn’t face her with the truth of it all. She should never be brought to remember it.”
“So you’re just going to let her live on thinking you hate her?” Mrs. Cake asked coolly, “Are you that cruel, Clyde Pie?”
It was almost shocking (and a little gratifying) for Twilight to see Clyde completely taken off his guard like this. He stammered a bit, trying to justify himself. She silenced him with an upraised hoof. “I think her friends deserve the full story so that they can tell her since you don’t seem brave enough.”
Clyde lowered his head, looking defeated. “You’re right. Perhaps it’s best if you fillies knew. As her friends, you deserve to know. First, though, let’s get somewhere warm.” He pulled a nearby bush aside to reveal a small cave entrance just large enough for everypony to get into comfortably. They all sat down around a small fire he had built up inside.
After they all had gotten comfortable around the fire, he finally spoke up. “Now before I begin, tell me: How much did Pinkamina tell you about her life on the farm?”
* * * Elsewhere * * *
The light of Rarity’s horn illuminated the shack with a faint ghost-light. Fluttershy hovered close by in order to keep from being hit by tree branches or tripping over roots and things.
“I don’t hear anything inside there...” Fluttershy ventured tentatively, “I think she might not be here.”
“We should check inside anyway. Just in case.” Rarity used her magic to pull open the door from a distance. It was dark and empty.
“You see? She’s not here. Let’s go before something happens.”
“Wait, do you hear that?”
A faint noise was coming from somewhere inside the shack. Rarity stuck her head inside the door-frame and peered around with her light. The shack was apparently empty, however the noise sounded as if it was coming from a carpet on the floor. Rarity moved it to reveal a wooden trap-door; light was spilling from the edges of the planks.
The two ponies looked to each other silently and Rarity cautiously lifted the door up. It revealed a spiral staircase leading down. After much hesitation, both ponies cautiously plodded down the stairs. The stairs continued on for several yards, ending at a small tunnel, the tunnel opening up into a very large room brimming with light flickering at random, throwing disorienting shadows across the room. The infrequent light illuminated bulging shapes covered in cloth all over the room. The wavering light gave the illusion that some of them were moving; at least they hoped it was an illusion. The pair spotted a figure hunched over at the far end near a table.
The figure straightened up and turned. Its eyes were obscured with blackness and flames appeared to be shooting from its mouth. Rarity shrieked as Fluttershy fainted.
An MLP:FiM fanfic by Tenure
After a great deal of shrieking and confusion, Pinkie Pie had managed to safely stow away her blowtorch and welding goggles, Rarity had managed to regain her composure, and Fluttershy had managed to regain consciousness. Pinkie still retained the sullen look and straight hair she left the party with. She dragged a small table and some cushions from a corner of the room for her friends to sit at while she rifled through a beat-up old school desk.
The others watched with bewilderment as she pulled out a left-hooved can opener, a rubber chicken, a string of party poppers, another rubber chicken, a giant slapstick paddle, a stuffed pony with a rubber glove on it’s head, and a giant novelty toothbrush. She finally emerged from it with a package of sugar cookies clenched in her teeth. Pinkie Pie returned and laid them out for her friends. Rarity marveled that despite everything, Pinkie still tried her best to be a good hostess. She nibbled on one with white frosting while Fluttershy nudged one experimentally, apparently concerned it might explode. All three friends seemed at a loss for words for a time.
Rarity finally broke the tension. “Pinkie Pie... have you done something with your mane?”
Pinkie Pie lifted a hoof to examine her now-straight hairdo and shrugged, “It gets like that sometimes.” She gave them a doleful look, “I’m sorry I ran out and ruined the party.”
Fluttershy moved closer to Pinkie and put a hoof on her shoulder, “You don’t have to apologize, we probably would have done the same thing.”
Rarity nodded, “The important thing now is to get all this sorted out.”
“What needs to be sorted out?!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, tears welling up in her eyes, “My dad hates what I do! He hates everything about me!” She sunk her head to the table, her expression full of pain, “I don’t know what’s going on anymore.”
Both friends came to her side and comforted her as best they could.
“Well that’s why Twilight and the others are going out to find your father and get the real truth of things.”
Pinkie looked at both of them, a trace of hope in her eyes. “Do you really think he didn’t mean what he said?”
Fluttershy patted her on the back, “I’m sure it’s all just a big misunderstanding.” Rarity nodded in agreement. Pinkie Pie smiled weakly in spite of herself and her friends returned it with interest, giving her a bit more confidence.
After a few cookie-nibbling moments, another thought entered her mind. “Pinkie dear, what is this place?”
Pinkie looked down in concentration, she seemed to struggle with an adequate description, “It’s... well... er... It’s... my place. When I want to think really hard about something, I go here.” She seemed almost embarrassed by this admission. Fluttershy and Rarity exchanged concerned looks; seeing Pinkie act in any way demure was like watching the sky turn plaid. It felt entirely unnatural.
“It also reminds me a bit of when I lived on the rock farm.” She looked up at her friends, “Did I ever tell you I lived on a rock farm?”
* * *
“A rock farm?” Clyde Pie asked in apparent disbelief. “I guess that explains the party theme...”
“Well that’s what I heard from Apple Bloom and her friends after they were done a-racin’ around, askin’ about all our cutie-marks.” Applejack asserted.
“So it wasn’t actually a rock farm?” Twilight asked tentatively.
Clyde fixed her with a level gaze, “Are you honestly entertaining the idea that there’s such a thing as a farm for rocks?”
“Er, well... Pinkie has said stranger things that turned out to be true...”
Clyde opened his mouth to retort but relaxed his expression, “I will concede that point, Ms. Sparkle.”
“Wait, but you are saying that it wasn’t true, right?” Rainbow Dash asked, mildly confused.
Clyde rubbed his chin with a hoof, “Well, there is a grain of truth in that. The ground was always full of stones and rock that we had to remove and put elsewhere. It’s no surprise that the years and Pinkamina’s mind has distorted the past like that. It seems like every day we’re hauling rocks out of that field.”
“But what the consarned hay do you grow?”, Applejack asked.
“Do you kiss your family with that mouth, Ms. Applejack?”
Applejack gasped, blushed and flattened her ears back in embarrassed consternation.
“Consarned is a bad word?” Rainbow whispered to Twilight, who shrugged in as much confusion as the pegasus.
“This might be more difficult to explain than I thought. I’ll take this a step at at time.” Clyde pulled over a map from a small stack of books and scrolls sitting in the far corner of the cave. He unrolled it and pointed to a specific section east of Froggy Bottom Bog.
“What’s there?” Twilight asked.
“There” Clyde stated, “is the location of our farm.”
Rainbow Dash was looking intently at the map. She appeared to be waving her hoof around the map, measuring and counting to herself.
“Wait a minute!” She suddenly exclaimed. “That’s the staging ground the weather team uses to gather storms when Ponyville needs rain!”
Clyde nodded sagely.
Twilight felt a little lost, “I’m... not following. So it’s cloudy?”
“A little cloudy? Twi, that area’s like our local storehouse for all the rain in the whole region! The sun rarely ever shines there because the sky is almost always overcast. Most times what they send from the weather factory is too much so we end up letting some water off at the bog to prevent flooding elsewhere.”
Twilight looked even more confused, “So it’s always wet, muggy and dark?”
“Exactly! Now I’m no farmer but I can’t think of any crop you could grow in a place like that.”
Applejack, who was a farmer, seemed to have an idea as an expression of understanding spread on her face, “Well I’ll be frittered ‘n fried...” She pointed a hoof at Clyde, “You done found the perfect place for mushroom farmin’!”
Clyde nodded, “Got it on the first try.”
Twilight still felt she had some pieces missing, “So, what does mushroom farming have to do with Pinkie?”
“To know that, you have to have an inkling about who she was before she became who she is today.” Clyde pulled a scroll out of his pack and spread it out. “This was once her pride and joy.”
* * *
Little Pinkamina Diane Pie proudly unrolled the parchment before Clyde, “I think it’s my best revision yet!”
Clyde looked at the contents of the scroll, it was a schematic for the component parts of something. Each part was labeled meticulously and with great care and Clyde had absolutely no idea what any of it did.
“It looks great, Pinkamina.”
“You have no idea what it is, do you daddy?”
“No I do not, foal of mine.” He said smiling.
“Wellllll, It flies.”
“In the sky.”
Pinkamina grinned widely and launched into an explanation of rotors, interchangeable gears and torque calculations. She stopped when she realized her father had the same far-away expression her sisters got when they asked the same question. She jumped up and gave her dad a peck on the cheek and he seemed to snap out of it.
“Wh-Wha?! Oh, oh I’m sorry Pinkamina. That was a lot to take in there.”
She smiled at him nevertheless, “It’s gonna make a lot of ponies happy, that’s what’s important.”
* * *
“Wait, wait, wait.” Twilight face scrunched up like she was trying to push a square peg through the eye of a needle. “So you’re telling us Pinkie was... a genius?”
Clyde nodded, “Yes.”
Applejack just stared, “Our Pinkie Pie?”
Rainbow Dash did likewise, “The party pony Pinkie Pie?”
The three young mares looked at one another and then back to Clyde.
“Tell us another one.” Rainbow said a tad sarcastically.
“I understand why you might say that, sometimes it’s hard for even me to believe it. That’s why I keep this to remind me as well.” He reached into his pack and pulled out a weathered envelope. It bore an old, broken seal that Twilight immediately recognized.
“No way.” She magically yanked the envelope from Clyde’s mouth and opened the note inside. The others watched as her expression took on increasing shades of disbelief.
"So what is it?" Rainbow asked.
Twilight dropped the scroll and sat in shock, "It's an invitation from one of the most prestigious universities in Canterlot."
Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked on in their own shades of disbelief.
"Yer tellin' us that she was invited to take college courses as a little filly?"
"It was an invitation to teach.", was Twilight's flat reply as the envelope and letter settled to the floor.
After a few moments the other two young mares regained the ability to close their mouths.
"I reacted the same way." Clyde said, closing his eyes, "She was a treasure: Gifted and brilliant in ways I couldn't fathom. Then it was all stolen from her."
"Stolen?!" All three friends replied at once.
"Yes, stolen..." Clyde lowered his head in sorrow. "By me."
* * *
Pinkie rolled up the 'honorary degree' she was using as a place-mat for the cookies. Rarity and Fluttershy took the document for prank fodder and decided not to question it. During the time they spent together, Pinkie reminisced about her younger days on the 'rock farm' which her friends took with a metaphorical chunk of rock-salt; especially when the pink pony herself could not remember if a rather impromptu invasion of alien celery was real or not. Regardless, they pressed her for more since it managed to lighten her spirits a bit. Despite their best efforts, however, the 5-ton dragon of Pinkie's uncertainty towards her father was still hanging around the room, made evident by her mane's current, persistent droop.
"It sounds like you really had a fun life on the farm." Fluttershy spoke tentatively.
"Yeah...", Pinkie's voice sounded lost in her throat, the look on her face switched again to a deeply troubled pout.
Rarity squared her resolve, it was time to help her confront this thing head-on."Pinkie darling, do you really and truly think your father doesn't like you?", Rarity moved a strand of Pinkie's mane away from her face.
"I... don't know. It might have been because of what happened with my cutie mark..." Her voice trailed off as her expression changed again to one of pained silence.
"Pinkie Pie." Fluttershy said softly, "You shouldn't hold onto this painful memory all on your own."
"Fluttershy is right, dear. We're your friends, sharing burdens like this is what friends do."
Pinkie Pie hesitated for a moment. "Well, it's all kinda muddled in my head but I'll give it a shot..."
* * *
Clyde cleared his throat, "Some time ago, there was a drop-off in the mushroom market thanks to some big carrot fad or another and the farm started to suffer. Our usual business dwindled down to a trickle and things started looking bad for the future. Sue and I decided to put off telling the kids about it until we... couldn't hide it anymore. No sense in worrying the family till we had something to worry about. That's when I was approached by the zebras; a zebra to be more precise."
* * *
"And that is the reason, I hear you're the best. Please farmer Pie, will you grant my request?"
"Shaman will do, if it's all the same to you."
"Right, Mr. Shaman. It's kind of a tall order making essence out of these mushrooms. These are supposed to be deadly if handled incorrectly. I mean I can grow them and all but I have to think of my children."
"I need the visions this mix will inspire to guide my tribe out of danger most dire. The mushrooms go rotten surprisingly speedy. I would not have asked if I wasn't this needy. I too have a child that I love oh so dear. I can take no more chances, can you mix it up here?"
"You know, if you didn't sound so worried and if I weren't in such bad financial shape, I would refuse you flat out. But it seems we're both desperate enough to go through with this."
* * *
"And just like that, a deal was struck. I would distill the potion and after a few months when it was ready the Shaman would come back and pick it up. It was supposed to be simple."
"I... take it that's not how it went?"
"Indeed, Ms. Sparkle. Something happened the day before the zebra was able to come and pick up his goods."
* * *
Pinkie got a faraway look in her eye, "I was pushing rocks to the west field with my sisters and Dad had just been fiddling around in the old silo and he looked so relieved and happy about something and it was the first time in ages since any of us had seen him look happy so we all decided to do an extra super good job on rock gathering to get him even happier-" She paused for an intake of breath.
"I was having a little trouble with this one rock and then mama called everyone inside for lunch. I didn't wanna deal with it later so I said I'd be back inside in a minute. Then... it happened!"
* * *
"I had just put the potion down on the kitchen counter and was reaching for a box to put it in when this horrible shock-wave suddenly ripped across the land. It swept away the clouds, shattered the windows and shook the farm up quite a bit. We all rushed outside to make sure Pinkamina wasn't hurt. Thankfully, all she seemed to suffer was a bad case of mussed hair."
Clyde silently stared into the fire for a few moments. "She was staring at this vanishing rainbow in the sky with a rapturous look on her face. It was strange to see; even reflecting back on it, that look in her eye felt almost prophetic."
* * *
"And that's when I knew I had to share that same joy I felt with my family! Everypony in the house just looked so down lately and I knew they needed something to pick up their spirits. I thought about it and came up with a great idea!"
* * *
"She asked me if she could use the old silo. I thought it was alright since I had taken down all that dangerous equipment and the potion was safe. No sooner had I said yes than she cleared out half the kitchen in a whirlwind of activity and galloped outside as fast as her little hooves could carry her. We didn't see her for the rest of the day and the entire night. That morning, we all heard faint music coming from outside..."
* * *
Clyde, Sue, Inky, and Blinky were stunned at what they beheld in the old silo. Ribbons and streamers arced all over the small space surrounded by bright, colorful balloons. An old record-player spun out a festive tune next to a table laden with confections and a punchbowl.
"Surprise! It's a party!" Pinkamina exclaimed with an expectant grin on her face.
Confusion seemed to rule the day upon their expressions at first, then wavering from a variety of expressions from shock to overwhelmed at her effort to bring them some happiness and finally settling on joyful smiles.
Pinkamina felt relief that her efforts produced the desired results.
"I'm so glad you like it! I even made the punch the way Granny Pie made it, with an extra helping of vanilla for an extra helping of yum!"
Clyde was the first to the table to help himself to a slice of cake. He wondered how she managed to bake this without the household noticing. His nostrils twitched as he smelled something horrifyingly familiar. At first he put it down to just the lingering aftermath of the distillation process clinging to his hat as he was sure he scrubbed that silo down as hard and thoroughly as he could. Then, as he poured himself a glass of punch he realized the source of the odor.
Even as he turned around to warn his family, he knew he was already too late. Thoughts raced through his head in rapid-fire: It was just the color of vanilla extract; the smell was very different but subtle enough not to arouse suspicion it could be anything else. He, however, was around it long enough to recognize even the faintest whiff. He cursed himself that he didn't bother to check the box he put the bottle in after Pinkamina cleared the kitchen out; he never even considered in the confusion of that blast that someone would grab it instead of the vanilla. He caught a glimpse of it near the edge of the silo next to a host of other ingredients. The container was half empty, lying against a bag of flour. That shaman zebra said even a drop would induce 'powerful visions' that she said she used to keep her tribe on the right path. The zebra said even he and his predecessors never went past two drops. There was enough in that bottle for an entire year's worth of visions. Pinkamina had emptied half the bottle into the punch. He remembered his own mother. She insisted everyone call her 'Granny Pie' after the children were born. Pinkamina took after Granny Pie in so many ways, especially when helping in the kitchen. One thing his mother always made a ritual of when making anything for family and that Pinkamina took to heart:
Taste-test everything before giving it to loved-ones.
He turned around just in time to see his daughter Pinkamina on the ground, twitching, staring at the roof and screaming.