The Purloined Pony
Welcome! If this is your first time reading this Choose Your Own Adventure story, make sure you look at this section first! If you’ve played before, you can go on ahead to page 1 and begin your journey.
In a Choose Your Own Adventure story, YOU get to be the star! In this particular tale, you will take on the roll of Carrot Top, a young Earth Pony filly living in the quiet town of Ponyville. As you read, you will be faced with a series of decisions. Some may seem small and others momentous, but all will affect the story which you create. Each time you are given a choice, you will be instructed to go to a certain page. Simply click the hyperlink to go on, and keep reading to find out what happens next. There are 18 different endings to choose from! Some are happy, others...not so much. But each is unique. You can read this story over and over, and never follow the same path twice!
Now that you know how to play, why don’t you go ahead over to page 1 and begin your adventure.
Note: hyperlinks ahoy! If you’re the type of reader who likes to go back and see where the other options lead but who hates having 30 tabs open, you might want to keep the Table of Contents page open, and write down the pages you’ve visited on a scrap of paper. You can also make a copy of the Table of Contents (open the page, go to ‘file’, select ‘make a copy’), which you can then edit directly, if you want to cross off the pages you’ve already been to or make notes about story branches. Or you can just barrel on through and hope for the best. Your call, really.
Another Note: If you want to know more about the story, check out the Q & A. Warning: may contain mild spoilers.
* * * * * * *
First of all, let me recognize Lauren Faust and the crew behind FiM, as well as the various authors of the Choose Your Own Adventure™ series (especially my personal favorite, Inside UFO 54-40). Without their creative endeavors, derivative works like this obviously could not exist.
Next let me thank my editors/pre-readers, Anonymous (who doesn’t want any recognition, pah!) and Lightsideluc. You can imagine what a pain it would be to edit a sprawling piece like this, and their assistance was invaluable.
More kudos to Luc (yes, he gets two acknowledgements; he’s just that awesome!) for writing the CYOA-ish story on Ponychan that got me thinking this direction in the first place. If you haven’t seen the thread already, go check it out--it’s pretty darn funny and definitely worth the read.
And last but certainly not least, thanks to you, the reader. Writing stories is fun--why else I would I do it?--but knowing that people enjoy what you’ve written enough to actually read it (and comment on it, hint, hint) is a real boost. And double-extra thanks to any of you who are reading this sentence right here. I mean seriously, reading all the way through the acknowledgements? That’s dedication! I just want you to know, I appreciate it.
It is a beautiful summer morning in the magical land of Equestria. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the carrots are selling like hotcakes. And the carrot hotcakes are selling even faster than that!
You’ve served the citizens of Ponyville your carrots and carrot products for years now, but today is by far the best day for sales that you’ve ever had. You know the reason, too: Applejack usually sets up an apple cart right next to yours in the market square, and the two of you have a friendly rivalry, seeing who can sell the most. Today, however, she appears to have taken the morning off, leaving you with no competition for customers. While you’re a bit sorry that you don’t have your friend here to chat with as you work, you certainly can’t complain about the boost it’s giving to your business!
As another satisfied patron wanders off, you count the bits in your moneybag with a grin. You’ve already practically emptied your cart, and it isn’t even noon! Good thing too; there’s a storm scheduled for tonight, and you still need to tarp down the baby carrots you planted two weeks ago. You fold up your market stand, preparing to head back to your farm.
As you’re closing up, a young stallion named Caramel approaches you. “Excuse me, Carrot Top!” he says. “I can see you’re packing up to leave, but is it too late to get a cup of that carrot custard of yours?”
You smile at him and ask, “Why, did you drop yours in the dirt?” Handing him the last custard in your cart, you tell him “Don’t worry about it then, this one’s on the house.”
Caramel looks confused. “Drop what on the where? What are you talking about?”
“You were just here not five minutes ago, and you bought a carrot custard from me then. Don’t you remember?”
Caramel scrunches up his face as he thinks. “Hmm...nope. Oh well. Thanks anyway!”
You roll your eyes as the colt wanders off. He has a reputation throughout town for being a ditz; he’d probably lose his own shoes if they weren’t nailed to his hooves! You finish your packing, and begin to head out towards your farm.
But before you’ve gone more than a dozen steps, you hear a familiar voice calling your name. Turning around, you see Twilight Sparkle running towards you, looking very worried.
“Oh Carrot Top, am I glad to see you! You aren’t hurt, are you? Are you okay?”
Twilight’s been something of an odd duck ever since she came in from Canterlot, but asking you if you’re injured when you’re right in front of her and clearly in fine health seems strange even by her standards. “Um, I guess so? I’m not sick, if that’s what you mean. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some work to do on the farm...”
“NO! No more fieldwork! Not until we get everything figured out! I...Urgh,” Twilight shakes her head, “Never mind. We’ve got a BIG problem, and I need you to come with me. Hurry!” And without waiting for a reply, she dashes off towards her library again.
You look at your empty cart, and think about all the work you have left to do. Following Twilight around all day would be a real pain, but it sounds like something serious is going on.
The Purloined Pony: Table of Contents
If this is your first time reading, start with the introduction...
...and if you are a completest/enjoy recursive links, you can access the Table of Contents here.
Questions and Answers (WARNING: may contain mild story spoilers)
Q: Why is there a Q & A section, and why should I read it?
A: It’s here to answer a few questions about the story that I didn’t know where else to address. All the questions (except this one, obviously) have been asked by readers, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to answer them here.
Q: This story is pretty neat! When are you gonna do another CYOA?
A: Um, probably never. As it turns out, writing a CYOA like this is a LOT of work, and this project devoured pretty much all my free time for more than a month. Maybe I’ll give this style of story another crack someday, but don’t wait around for pony CYOA #2.
Q: Have you written anything else?
A: Yup. All my pony stuff is here.
Q: GAH! Why so many hyperlinks?
A: Sorry, but I didn’t really know what else to do. I’ve got about 90 pages I need to tie together, you know? You’ll just have to deal with it, I guess.
Q: How many different story paths are there?
A: Beats me. Lots. There’s 18 endings, but if you added up all the different ways you can get to each of them...hundreds, probably. Of course, there’s only 86 actual story pages, so many of those paths are gonna cover a lot of the same pages.
Q: Tell me more about brownies and boggies.
A: Well, that’s not exactly a question, but since you asked nicely... Brownies are mythological creatures from the British Isles. In folklore, they are generally described as kindly household spirits, invariably male, who will do household chores at night in exchange for small gifts, usually food. They are very shy and reclusive creatures who apparently seek nothing in life save to serve. The brownies in this story are based entirely on my own memory of stories involving brownies which I was told or read as a child. I make no claims to have researched anything about brownies in historical literature or anywhere else before I started writing.
Boggies...well, I thought that they were also creatures from folklore, but when I did an internet search for them, it turned up nothing. Apparently, ‘evil brownies’ were a product of my fevered childhood imagination.
Q: Where did you get the words Ceanntighern and Bhrùnaidh-mòd from?
A: They’re Scots Gaelic for “Head Lord” and “Brownie Assembly,” respectively (though in modern parlance, mòd refers specifically to gaelic musical festivals). Since the brownie legends come from Scotland and northern England, it seemed an appropriate language to use for their ‘strange, guttural tongue.’
Q: Your favorite CYOA as a child was Inside UFO 54-40, huh...
A: Yup. And if you know what that probably means about this story, good for you! Now don’t spoil it for the other readers!
Q: Louis Ponyet? Really?
A: Hey, I thought it was funny. Who cares if no-one else gets it (what are they teaching kids in school these days?) Besides, if Faust can have ‘Filly-delphia,’ then I can have ‘Louis Ponyet.’
Q: Why didn’t you describe the appearance of the brownies/boggies in more detail? I really want to know what they look like!
A: Conservation of detail. Also, its really hard to dump information in CYOA stories; you always run the risk of readers either finding a path that lets them skip the exposition and then being confused later, or one which makes them read the same long, detailed description twice. The important thing is that we can all agree that they’re small humanoids; the reader is free to imagine the rest however they please.
Q: Yeah, but I want to know how YOU think they look.
A: Alright, but let’s get two things clear: first, you’re still welcome to envision them however you like. When you read, you’re supposed to use your imagination, after all. Second, I make no claim that the following descriptions have any historical basis; see my comments about brownies in folklore above.
Brownies are small humanoids, about 6 inches tall. They have squat, spindly legs and arms, ending in disproportionately large hands and feet. Although this gives them the appearance of being awkward and clumsy, they are remarkably fast and agile. Their heads are about twice as wide as they are tall, often wider than their shoulders. They have large, gaping mouths which stretch nearly from one side of their face to the other, and narrow-set eyes topped by heavy brows. The nose of a brownie is little more than a nub when he’s young, but grows throughout his life; elderly brownies have long and spindly, but still very thin and narrow, noses.
At the sides of a brownie’s head sit two large, pointed ears. These ears stick almost straight up, and are often gnarled and irregular. A brownie’s forehead is small and heavily lined. Atop his head sits a small tuft of hair (the only hair they sport above their necks, for brownies never grow beards or mustaches no matter their age), usually jet-black and straight. Despite their predilection for cleanliness, brownies seem to have immense trouble keeping their hair neat; brownie hair quickly takes on the appearance of an impenetrable rat’s nest. As a result, most brownies chose to wear flat caps when going about their work.
There is no doubt that the brownie is, by human standards (and presumably pony standards as well) an ugly creature, but its comforting demeanor and ever-present smile leave no doubt as to its benevolence. They always dress simply, in leather shoes and pants, with buttonless vests and, of course, their flat caps. They seem to prefer earth-tones, but the coloration of their clothing varies from brownie to brownie.
Boggies appear physically identical to their kin, but there is no mistaking the malice of the creatures. Where the brownie will always be smiling and laughing, the boggie grumps and glowers. The closest he gets to a smile is the malicious leer he wears when he knows he’s about to do something wicked. Boggies despise work, and will wear whatever they can force others to make for them. If they have no slaves or servants to make clothing for them, they’ll dress in animal skins.
Q: There’s something else I want to know! How should I ask it?
A: Okay, I made this question up too. Anyway, you could just ask your question in the thread/comments section you reached this story from. If you need to contact me privately for some reason, you can e-mail me at [email protected].
Thanks again for reading!