The Power of Carrot Compels You - Chapter 1
Written by Skytower
“As a great philosopher once said,” Carrot Top mused as she paced back and forth, “‘To the lonely, there is nothing more wonderful than a friend; to the weary, there is nothing more comforting than a bed; and to the hungry, there is nothing more beautiful than a fully stocked larder.’”
She stopped pacing and turned to face Derpy Hooves, who was sitting at the table in the middle of Carrot’s kitchen. Derpy wore an oddly focused expression as she turned the quote over and over in her head, lips moving as she tried to piece its meaning together.
Eventually she came to a word that she liked. “I am the hungry,” she announced.
Even after all that? Carrot wondered, but she nodded and said, “Right you are, missus. And since you are a such a hungry pony, I’d like you to take a look at this.” She stepped to the side and gestured with a hoof to the object behind her. “Derpy, would you describe this as a beautiful larder?”
Derpy gave it a dubious look. “That?”
“Carrot, that is not a larder. That is a fridge.”
“Fridge, larder, same difference. Just pretend it’s a larder, will you?”
“But it looks like a fridge,” Derpy persisted. “I can tell from the outlet, and from having seen quite a few fridges in my ti-“
“STOP!” Carrot put a hoof to her head. “Okay, so it’s a fridge,” she relented. “Would you care to describe the fridge for me?”
“Describe it? How?”
“Well, would you say it’s a beautiful fridge?”
“I think it’s a lovely fridge.”
Carrot stomped her hoof in annoyance. “C’mon, focus, Derpy. Remember the quote? Remember how a stocked larder-“
“-remember how a stocked fridge is a beautiful fridge?”
“Good. Now Derpy, I want you to tell me: does this fridge look stocked to you?”
“I can’t tell, the door’s closed.”
Carrot felt something inside her snap. In a single fluid motion she strode over to the door of the enormous black box and threw it open. The warm light of the fridge washed over the kitchen as Carrot bellowed, “EMPTY, DERPY! EMPTY AND SOULLESS! MY REFRIGERATOR HAS BEEN VIOLATED! SOME REPULSIVE EIGHT-LEGGED CREATURE HAS COME IN THE NIGHT AND SUCKED MY FRIDGE DRY OF ITS VITAL ORGANS AND NUTRIENTS!” She paused for breath. “CAN YOU GUESS WHO THIS LOATHSOME CREATURE MIGHT BE, DERPY HOOVES?”
Derpy’s eyes wandered back and forth as they took in every detail of the interior of the fridge, from the barren racks to the vacant cupboards to the small mountain of crumbs, wrappers and banana peels left on the floor. She turned to Carrot. “It was me!” she said proudly.
“Right!” affirmed Carrot, still seething. She slammed the fridge door shut, stalked over to one of the kitchen cupboards, pulled it open and withdrew a small box. Carrot carried the compact container to the kitchen table and plonked it down in front of the pegasus.
“Do you know what this is?” she demanded.
Derpy’s eyes revolved around to focus on it, and she gasped. “Mama Macadamia’s ‘Magical Mare’ Marvelous Mulberry Muffin Mix!”
Carrot nodded. “Exactly. This is the reward I got you for yesterday, when you helped me reorganize the dishes without breaking a single one.” Derpy clopped her hooves in delight.
“Thank you, Carrot, thank you thank you thank you!! I can’t wait to start making the-”
“HOLD IT!” Carrot held up a hoof. She tapped the side of the box. “Over on this side, Derpy, you will find the list of ingredients that we need in order to make these muffins. Can you read the one on the top of the list for me, please?”
Derpy stopped clopping and peered at the side of the box. She furrowed her brow, trying to focus on the tiny words. “The first ingredient is… milk!”
“Yes it is. And where do we normally keep the milk?”
“In the fridge!”
Carrot watched the pegasus’ face slowly shift from one of excitement to one of puzzlement, and then to one of concern, and then to one of comprehension, and finally to one of abject horror.
“No!” Derpy whispered.
Carrot nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
“No! It- it can’t be!” whispered Derpy again, slipping from her chair.
“Oh, yes it can,” said Carrot, watching her as she collapsed to the ground.
Both of Derpy’s eyes began to well up. “I-I didn’t mean to… This can’t be happening… There-There must some mistake…”
“No, Derpy, I’m afraid there is no mistake. Last night, in a moment of weakness, you went and cleaned out the entire fridge, depriving us of our whole stock of refrigerated goods, including milk, and now, because we have no milk there will be no muffins. These are, indubitably, unalterably, the facts.”
Derpy burst into tears.
Carrot left her to her misery and walked over to the fridge, where she began to clean up the mess left from the previous night. She cleared out the trash and scrubbed down the racks, but even as she finished drying she could still hear Derpy sobbing from the other end of the kitched. “You gonna be all right?” she called.
“THE WORLD HAS ENDED!” Derpy wailed. “I did it! I ruined it! It’s all gone to pieces!” Derpy buried her face in her hooves.
Carrot walked over and gently put a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s not as bad as all that. We can go up to the farm and ask the cows for more milk. I still owe you those muffins, remember?”
“I don’t deserve them,” came the muffled reply. “I’m a horrible pony and I ruined the muffins and I ate the whole fridge and the world is ending and everything tastes of lemons and sadness.”
Carrot straightened up and glared at the pegasus. “Derpy Hooves, you are not a horrible pony and if I ever hear you talking about yourself that way again I swear will drag you down to the edge of the Everfree Forest and throw you to the manticores and hydras and Celestia knows what else lives in there. On the other hoof, if you get up right now and pull yourself together, I promise we can go and get enough milk for a whole ‘nother batch.” She held out a hoof to pull Derpy up. “Whaddaya say?”
Derpy sniffed and looked up at Carrot with big yellow eyes full of hope. “Do you really mean it?” she asked.
“Of course I mean it,” said Carrot. “When have I ever lied to you?” She winked.
Derpy wiped away a tear and grinned. Before Carrot could help her up she had sprung upwards on her own and dashed out the door. Muffled exclamations of joy came from somewhere outside.
Carrot sighed with relief and walked into the living room to fetch her saddlebags from their place next to the hearth. As she was putting them on, something made her look up. Lined up on the mantelpiece was the collection of photos of her and Derpy that they’d had taken over the past year. There were pictures of the two of them touring the Appleloosan Orchards, fleeing from a bear in the Everfree Forest, eating muffins at the Ponyville Baker’s Fair, eating muffins at the Baltimare Cabbage Festival, eating muffins at Carrot’s last birthday party, of Carrot choking on a bad muffin during her last birthday party, of Derpy jumping up and down on the unconscious Carrot’s stomach during her last birthday party, and of the two of them planting carrots shortly after the last Winter Wrap Up. Carrot couldn’t help but smile as she looked over the photographs. They were good memories – well, most of them, anyway. Having Derpy around for the last year or so had certainly made her life a much more interesting one.
Derpy stuck her head back inside the door. “Carrot, what’s up?” she asked. “We are going, right?”
“Hm? Oh yeah – I’ll be there in a second.”
“Hurry up! Somewhere in the space-time continuum there are baby muffins, lost and alone, just waiting for us to birth them!” Derpy disappeared. Carrot smiled and shook her head, then left to join Derpy in the cool morning air.
Ponyville was just beginning to wake up. The side streets were practically devoid of life, while in the square in the center of town, the daily vendors scrambled to finish setting up their stands before the first ponies of the day began to trickle in.
Carrot had chosen to take them through the square in order to reach the cow barn on the other side of town. It meant they had slightly further to walk, but she was hoping to make the best of it by grabbing something from the street vendors on the way. Now, she peered suspiciously at the carts and stalls around them, daring them to contain the single oddity or ingredient that would make this trip worthwhile.
Derpy, on the other hand, paid little attention to their surroundings as they proceeded through the square. She hummed a little tune to herself as she walked, and idly wondered whether muffins had birthdays, and if it would be polite for ponies to celebrate them once in a while.
“You know, lately I’ve been thinking of trying out some sort of apple-carrot combination,” Carrot said as they passed Applejack, still putting up the signs on her daily apple stand.
Derpy clapped her hooves together. “Ooh, that’s gonna be amazing! We can start doing the apple-carrot muffins right after we’ve gone and made the mulberry ones, okay?”
“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking muffins this time around,” Carrot said, craning her neck to sneak a glance at Applejack’s prices. “I was actually thinking about a quiche, or maybe some sort of glorified salad…” She realized that Derpy was no longer trotting next to her and turned around. The pegasus was staring at her from a few paces back.
“Derpy, are you all right?” she asked.
“Not muffins?” Derpy said in a faraway voice.
“Well, it’s not that muffins aren’t great, but sometimes it feels like we never make anything else,” Carrot explained. “I mean, I know they’re your favorite, but there’s no harm in trying something different, is there? Just for once, maybe we could lay off the baked goods and have something else, like soup or a sandwich or maybe even plain vegetables… would that be all right?” She looked at Derpy pleadingly.
Derpy walked over and gently patted her friend on the head. “I think all the excitement has gotten to your head, poor dear,” she said kindly. “When we get home I’ll go and get started on the muffins and then you should go rest up.”
Carrot groaned. “Derpy, I’m serious,” she said. “It really wouldn’t kill you to try something different for a change. The world doesn’t revolve around muffins, you know!”
Derpy laughed. “Carrot, I swear, you say the strangest things sometimes!”
She trotted away happily.
Carrot rolled her eyes. She started to follow, but she noticed movement in an adjacent side street and turned. Rosie Hoof, the milkmare, was standing in front of somepony’s house, dropping off a bottle of milk.
“Hey, Derpy, wait up a sec, I just saw- Derpy?”
Derpy was already halfway across the square. Carrot looked and saw Rosie gathering her milk basket up, about to leave. Carrot swore under her breath, checked to make sure Derpy was not in the immediate path of any oncoming carts, and then took off down the street.
“Rosie, wait up!” she called. “I’ve got an order for ya!”
Rosie stopped and set down her basket. “Well, morning there, Carrot,” she said brightly. “I ain’t got no deliveries planned for you ‘till Tuesday – what’s up?”
“We had a bit of a… refrigerator accident,” Carrot admitted.
Rosie raised an eyebrow. “A refrigerator accident? What, did it fly off into the stratosphere or somethin’?”
“Not exactly…” Carrot said carefully. “Derpy took it upon herself to do some early spring cleaning.”
“Spring cleaning?” Light dawned. “Ah, I see. Doin’ the necessary taste-testin’, clearin’ out the old to make room for the new?”
Carrot nodded. “Something like that.”
“What got hit?”
“Eesh. That’s gonna cost a pretty penny t’replace. Tell ya what, I’ll letcha have this bottle for free t’help ya cut back. My condolences.” She grabbed a bottle out of the basket with her teeth and dropped it in Carrot’s saddlebag.
“Thanks, Rosie,” Carrot said gratefully. “I owe you one.”
“No problem. Say hello to lil’ miss bottomless belly for me, will ya?” Rosie winked. “Where is derp-eyes, anyway?”
Carrot waved a hoof dismissively. “Oh, she’s around somewhere. I left her alone for a bit while I came and talked to you.”
“You left her alone?” Rosie’s face betrayed a look of alarm. She checked to make sure the street was empty and leaned in close. “Carrot, are you sure that was the right thing t’do?”
“What? She’s a full grown mare, she can look after herself,” Carrot said defensively. “Rosie, she’ll be fine. She’s only roaming around the square. Worse things have happened.”
“Worse things have happened,” Rosie said darkly. “Look, Carrot, I’m glad she’s rooming with somepony as reliable as you, but ya gotta keep an eye on her, you hear?”
“I can keep her out of trouble, don’t you worry.” Carrot started back towards the square. “Thanks, Rosie! See you later!”
“Both of you take care now!” she called.
Carrot stepped back into Ponyville’s main square. Things had gotten a little busier as the first few ponies from around town trickled in to shop, work, or just hang out and talk. She started for the center of the square, keeping an eye out for any blond-and-grey ponies as she did so. The square was pretty big, and more ponies were pouring in even as she watched. Carrot bit her lip. It was going to take some seriously keen searching to find a pony in this crowd. She started forward.
“Carrot! Over here!” Caught off guard, Carrot turned. A small Derpy-shaped object was waving at her from the other side of the square. “I found muffin sauce!” Derpy called.
Carrot raised an eyebrow. “Muffin sauce?” she called back, trotting over. “You mean like icing?” Getting closer, she saw the table behind Derpy, which was loaded to the brim with long, thin, red bottles.
“Not icing, Carrot!” Derpy said as Carrot approached. She gestured excitedly to the racks of bottles. “Sauce! Actual sauce! For the muffins!”
“Really? I didn’t realize you put sauce on muffins,” Carrot said, plucking a bottle off the table to examine.
“You don’t!” said Derpy. “Nopony puts sauce on muffins!”
“Well then, what do you want to get it for?” Carrot stared at the bottle.
“Experimentation!” Derpy’s eyes spun wildly in her excitement. “Remember what you said, about wanting something new and different to eat? I wanted to make you happy, but I wasn’t sure what I could do to muffins to make them new and different enough for you. But then all of a sudden I saw this sauce and that’s when I realized, what’s an ordinary muffin with a little sauce on it?” She beamed. “A brand new muffin, that’s what!”
“Derpy, this bottle has a picture of a flaming skull on it,” said Carrot.
“Ah, come on, Carrot! It wouldn’t kill you to try something different, now would it?”
“I’m not entirely sure that’s what the skull is meant to represent,” Carrot said, eyes traveling over the various warning labels plastered to the side of the bottle. “Derpy, exactly what kind of sauce is this?”
Derpy shrugged. “I don’t know,” she said. “But we could try asking the seller!”
Carrot looked around. “Where is the seller, anyway?”
“She’s not here!”
Carrot blinked. Derpy pointed to a sign on the ground next to the table. Carrot moved around the side of the table to get a better look at it.
“’For Sale,’” she read aloud. “’Three Bits, Best Buy In Town, Guaranteed. Please Leave Money In Jar.’ Well, that’s not a lot of help.” Carrot looked next to the sign and then under the table. “Derpy, did you happen to see a jar anywhe-“
Derpy was balancing the glass jar on her head.
“Oh, right,” said Carrot. She watched the jar as it wobbled violently from side to side. “Are you sure you’ve got that?”
“I didn’t take eight years of ballet school for nothing,” said Derpy proudly.
“I didn’t know you took eight years of ballet school.”
At the sound of their names, the two of them turned around. Pinkie Pie was bouncing her way towards them from the other end of the square, an enormous smile on her face.
“Hiya, guys!” she said, screeching to a halt in front of the table. “Haven’t seen you out and about in a while!”
“Hallo there, Pinkie!” Derpy said cheerfully. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, same thing you are, silly! I’m here for that taste of good ol’ hot spicy goodness, mm-mm-mmm!” Pinkie grabbed an armful of bottles off of the table. “Although I’m surprised to see you here, Carrot! I didn’t know you did any cooking with hot sauce!”
“Er... Actually, it was Derpy’s idea,” Carrot said. “Is all of this really hot sauce, then?”
Pinkie held up one of the bottles. “Well, DUH! You can tell by the picture, see!” She looked at the flaming skull. “Ooh, and it looks like these are extra hot! Boy, I can’t wait to see Twilight’s face when she gets a load of these babies!”
“Planning another one of your pranks, I take it?”
“Oh, no, this is even better! It’s a surprise birthday present!” She turned to make sure that nopony was watching, and then beckoned them closer. Derpy and Carrot trotted forward, and Pinkie leaned in conspiratorially. “Twilight absolutely loves hot sauce,” she hissed. “Drinks that stuff straight from the bottle. What I’m gonna do is pour this hot sauce into the cupcake mix and bake it directly into the cupcakes for her birthday tomorrow, so she’ll take a bite and have her whole world lit up with that delicious fiery flavor!” She giggled.
“Twilight Sparkle likes this stuff?” Carrot looked again at the bottle she was holding. The flaming skull and crossbones stared back at her.
“It’s not half bad!” Pinkie said, rooting around in her hair for some money. “And that means it’s more than half good! And with cupcakes, it’s one hundred percent good! Although now that I think about it, cupcakes aren’t half bad either, which means if they’re more than half good and you combine them with this hot sauce which is also more than half good you’ll get over a hundred percent good! Which is great!” She stopped when she saw Carrot’s expression. “Or something like that,” she finished, shrugging.
Carrot shook her head to clear it. “Well, uh, whatever the case, I’m sure they’re going to turn out great. Good luck with your baking!”
“Thanks! Oh, but Carrot, I forgot to ask - do you and Derpy want to come too? I just know that Twilight would love to have you the two of you there. The more ponies, the better!”
“That would be... very kind of you,” Carrot managed, “but I’m sorry to say that me and Derpy won’t be able to make it. There’s just so much baking to get done, we’ve got tons of batches to do... I don’t know if we’ll be all caught up by tomorrow. I’m sorry, it’s just too much.”
Pinkie nodded. “I gotcha. See you around some other time, then!” She tossed a few bits into Derpy’s jar, waved goodbye and set off down the road at a bouncing pace. Carrot watched her until she’d rounded the corner, then turned back to Derpy.
“Hot sauce with muffins?”
“Can we get it?” Derpy begged. “Just to see what it tastes like?”
“It’s going to taste like liquid fire encased in magma from the hottest depths of hell,” Carrot said. “It will sear your lips and turn your tongue to ash. You will barely be able to tell there is even a muffin under there. Are you absolutely sure that you want to get this?”
Derpy knelt down and clasped her hooves together. She summoned the saddest expression she could possibly imagine, and looked up at Carrot. “Please?”
Carrot wanted to continue telling her how bad of an idea this was, that the word “hot” in “hot sauce” really wasn’t an exaggeration, that all those warning labels on the bottle had been put there for a reason, and above all, that mysterious little red bottles abandoned on a table without any proper description were best left alone and unconsumed. But Carrot looked into Derpy’s huge, soulful, slightly mismatched eyes, and just didn’t have the heart. She gave up.
“Alright, these are the rules,” she said. “We will get only one bottle. We will test it on only one muffin. We will apply the tiniest amount of sauce imaginable to it, and then we will go and eat it out by the lake, where there is plenty of water to drown yourself in immediately after you’ve gone and taken a bite. Is that clear?”
“Yes!” Derpy whipped the money jar off of her head and held it out. Carrot flicked a couple of bits into it and stuck the bottle of hot sauce in her bag.
“Okay, that’s it,” she said. “I ran into Rosie and got some replacement milk from her, and I think we’ve got everything else we need in the pantry, so…” She stopped and looked at Derpy. “You didn’t eat anything out of the pantry, did you?”
“I swear upon a muffin’s honor that I ne’er did such a thing.” Derpy saluted.
“Right then, I guess we’re set. Shall we head home?”
“Let’s shall!” Derpy spread her wings abruptly and launched herself into the air. “To home, to muffin, and to victory!” She flew off.
Carrot, taken by surprise, broke into a run. “Derpy, wait for me!”
“Wait?” Derpy laughed. “Waiting is not a thing that can happen! We have milk, we have sauce, and we have nothing to wait for! Come, Carrot! There are muffins to be made!”