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/yandere/ My Little Yandere: Steamy Magic

By BlondieAnon
Created: 22nd October 2020 10:51:51 PM
Modified: 22nd October 2020 10:28:14 PM

  1. >Be you
  2. >More importantly, be you and sore everywhere
  3. >You were looking in your bathroom mirror after taking a shower and... something happened
  4. >Are you outside?
  5. >You open your eyes and manage to bring your innermost thoughts to life
  6. "Ah... that sucked. That sucked."
  7. >You see trees
  8. >A bright, blue sky
  9. >Wasn't it winter?
  10. >Your back audibly cracks and pops as you sit up
  11. >You see six ponies around you, taking stances as if they're ready to pounce you
  12. >"Watch out girls, he could be a threat." The purple one warns
  13. >"Don't move a muscle if you know what's good for ya!" The blue one threatens
  14. >"How utterly beastly..." The white one says with a hint of disgust
  15. >"He's no beast I ever met." The yellow one murmurs
  16. >"Well ya meant one now... but he don't look too dangerous to me." The orange one speaks up
  17. >Before you notice what the hell, the pink one is sitting on your lap
  18. >"He's not dangerous at all, else Twilight wouldn't have brought him here!"
  19. >Wat
  20. "Wait, wat."
  21. >You don't bother to remove the pink pony from your lap because you still lack clothing
  22. "I was brought here?"
  23. >The purple one visibly falters
  24. >"Well...you're from the steam dimension, aren't you?"
  25. >You give her an incredulous look
  26. "I'm from... MY BATHROOM. What the hell?!"
  27. >You're still mostly wet, even
  28. "Why am I surrounded by technicolor horses, why is one in my lap, where is my towel, and why did you try to summon a monster from... a steam dimension?"
  29. >Your tirade causes five of the six ponies to visibly let their guard down
  30. >"We needed him to make a Ponyville sauna, of course! Hot steam perks a pony up past the point of being pooped!"
  31. >The pink pony on your lap was all too happy to chirp up
  32. >You look down at her and sigh
  33. "Good luck to you... now take me back."
  34. >The purple one clops up to you
  35. >"I... don't think I'll be able to quite yet. If you didn't come from the right dimension, that means my calculations were off and..."
  36. "...and?"
  37. >She gives you an apologetic smile
  38. >"It means... I don't know where you came from so I couldn't, in good faith, send you 'back' because I could end up sending you into a real steam dimension or something worse?"
  39. >You stare at her
  40. >You look down to stare at the pink horse that has made herself comfy by laying on her back on your lap
  41. >You look at the other four that have long stopped their combative stance and more meander around in their own ways
  42. >All of them except the pink one look embarrassed or apologetic in some form or another
  43. "If I were a steamin' demon, and you wanted my help, why would you even threaten me like that?"
  44. >The ponies try to mutter their own excuses, none of them daring to look you in the eye
  45. >"Well... Twilight didn't say anything about steam monsters coming out looking like you. So, you know... it's understandable?"
  46. >That was the blue one that spoke
  47. >This isn't going to go anywhere good, is it
  48. >Like a table, you flip the pink pone off of your lap and stand up
  49. >You absolutely tower above them with your... average human physique
  50. >All eyes are on you
  51. >Parts of you, anyway
  52. >You should feel embarrassed but you're too annoyed to actually care
  53. "Start from the beginning or I am going to unleash my true powers and show you the power of Joe Cartoon."
  54. >For one reason or another, they oblige
  55. >You find out that you're in Equestria
  56. >An orchard, specifically
  57. >You figure out all of the names of the ponies
  58. >And that their entire scheme was completely hair-brained to begin with
  59. >As everyone explains their own parts of the story, they introduce themselves
  60. >The pink one, Pinkie Pie, somehow ended up in your lap again
  61. >You're really not sure of when she found her way there but you were too worn down to care
  62. "So... the teal-deer of this is that I'm stuck. And you little dorks have absolutely no clue of what to do. And you promised your little town that you'd make a big sauna."
  63. >All of them nod, almost in unison
  64. "Why not boil a lot of water?"
  65. >Five of the six turn their heads to look at Twilight
  66. >She gives you another awkward smile
  67. >"It would... take a lot of work? And... I'm almost never wrong with my calculations..."
  68. >You let out an elongated sigh, looking over the six
  69. "Ok... how about this. I help you guys, you help me. I could say that you all owe me for calling me a beast, and for ripping me out of my own home for the sake of some pedestrian pony party. But I want this to be fair and give you all something of substance to help show that I'm not secretly going to destroy you all for awakening me from my thousand-year slumber."
  70. >A few of them give awkward laughs
  71. >"R-right... in that case, we need a place we can keep you."
  72. >Twilight seems like the leader, since she's the one who has the defacto voice
  73. >"Applejack! You're the strongest of us and your orchard has a ton of space! You could hide him, right?"
  74. >Applejack, who had been almost entirely silent the entire time, suddenly jolts to life
  75. >"Wait, whut... you can't mean that! What happens if he really is a monster? What if someone comes by?"
  76. >You can feel the care they have for your wellbeing
  77. >You're pretty sure you brought up your name once before already but none of them seemed to remember it
  78. "Yeah, what if the naked human is seen without clothing, which I still need by the way?"
  79. >Twilight shrugged, as if the matter were settled
  80. >"Well... you have a barn, don't you? And if we need it, we have the Elements of Harmony and Celestia!"
  81. >Fluttershy speaks up
  82. >"But, oh... shouldn't we tell her right now what happened?"
  83. >Twilight's face morphs in an instant to one of terror
  84. >"Heavens, no! If Celestia found out, she would wrap my horn in cement, turn me to glue and take away my Canterlot library card!"
  85. >No one speaks for a few moments after hearing that
  86. "I'm so glad that my concerns vastly don't outweigh your ability to read books."
  87. >She nods to your faux-agreement
  88. >"You're obviously a human of great intelligence to get that!"
  89. >You look at Applejack and shrug
  90. "So... you got a blanket or something I can use? And evidently I'm going to be staying in a barn?"
  91. >You've already submitted to fate, there's no reason to fight it
  92. >Especially with the pink pony incessantly sitting on your lap
  93. >The orange animal glares at Twilight before focusing on you
  94. >"Yeah... I reckon we aughtta get going."
  95. >The band speak among themselves as you get up, trying to make like it isn't awkward to be full-frontal in front of six girls
  96. >Even if they are horses
  97. >Eventually they all fly, trot, poof, or bounce away
  98. >Until it's just you and Applejack
  99. "So...you run this orchard, huh. Guess you could use a hand for now?"
  100. >She perks up, nodding
  101. >"Well it's my family's but I sure do run the most important parts! Let's get suited up and I can show you around, Anon!"
  102. "Lead the way."
  103. >Despite you holding out your arm, she starts walking only when you do
  104. >She seems level-headed enough
  105. >She remembered your name, too!
  106. >At least you might be able to get a good tan now
  107. >Applejack takes her time showing the orchard to you
  108. >Every row has a story
  109. >Every tree has a tale to tell
  110. >Despite her practiced pitch to impress, the trees are indeed pretty massive
  111. >A lot of them have hoof prints in the same spots, almost marking them like how someone could mark cattle with a brand
  112. >They're pretty tall for you, so they must be massive for her and pony kind
  113. >You don't particularly mind walking around out in the open, but you do hesitate when she turns to face your direction
  114. >She's a little less than waist high so there isn't a lot of room to hide
  115. >"So! What'cha think? Bet you don't got something this well storied back home, huh?"
  116. >You cross your arms, nodding at a tree that seems permanently bent in one direction due to how often it's been bucked
  117. "Yeah... it's pretty amazing to see just how resilient those trees are. What's your growing season, anyway?"
  118. >The orange fruit mogul puffs out her chest
  119. >"Only year 'round!"
  120. >She falters
  121. >"... you know, some years. A little magic don't hurt but you can't go telling everyone that sort of thing, you know? Celestia would be in a tizzy if she learned about giving these darlin's their own little suns."
  122. "Your own little trade secret, huh... all of the pros have their own ways, right?"
  123. >She grins at your understanding
  124. >"Darn tootin'! Anyhow... next is the barn, I suppose..."
  125. >She sounds almost disappointed
  126. >You can't help but feel relieved
  127. "Yeah... got a sort of tarp I could use? And for bed... well, I guess something my size is kinda rare, huh. Got anything better than bare floor? I laid on that for a year before when I couldn't afford a mattress and that just ruined my back something bad."
  128. >You bring up your arms and cross them over your chest, your shoulders and back popping
  129. >You don't pay attention but Applejack's reaction but when you bring your arms down she looks a little in awe
  130. >"That's... hard living right there."
  131. >She stamps down a hoof
  132. >"Alright, it's settled! How about I set you up something good? You can pay me back by helping me work the orchard? You got the size, the power, heck, you'd almost beat me in a competition!"
  133. >You scoff
  134. "Almost? Sounds like a challenge to me. But for now... mind if we check out that barn and something I can wear? I'm away from home, I'm naked, I don't have my vidya and I'm not sure if I'll ever make it back. I appreciate you striking up a deal so it isn't charity but... well, you know."
  135. >You can't help but sound defeated
  136. >You aren't sad
  137. >You aren't even all that mad
  138. >But you know that due to the whim of some purple dork, your life as you know it is just gone
  139. >Applejack doesn't look at you
  140. >"Yeah... I don't think Twilight will apologize for a bit because she has the best intentions. But she can be a little... thick at times. But on account of everyone else, I am sorry this happened to you."
  141. >You wait just long enough for her to finish before heading into the barn
  142. "Yeah... I'll try to not get in the way until then."
  143. >"I'll make it up to you somehow, or I ain't the best pony in Ponyville for keeping her word."
  144. >You don't hear anything beyond the first word, not that it particularly matters
  145. >You kinda put yourself down
  146. >You sit yourself down on the closest rectangular bale of hay... after adjusting yourself so nothing pokes into anything sensitive
  147. >You sit there for you don't know how long
  148. >The orchard is pretty quiet, outside of the echo of birds
  149. >At least the birds mostly sound the same
  150. >You hear a dog too
  151. >A dog?
  152. >A brown and white dog rushes into the barn, stopping a few feet in front of you before giving a few quick barks
  153. >You show said doggo your hand
  154. "Hey there, guy. Something familiar for once, huh."
  155. >The dog comes up to you and rubs his head against your hand
  156. "Lemme guess, you're Applejack's manager or something, right? Come to whisk me away like Watabou or something?"
  157. >"Winona can't talk, silly! Now get on out of here, you got something to do don't you?"
  158. >Applejack's voice
  159. >She slides through the doors, carrying something bundled up on her back
  160. >It's some sort of shade of blue
  161. "What the hell's that, a tent?"
  162. >She stops in front of you, turning to her side
  163. >"Well I hurried over to Rarity lickity split and if you could believe it, she was sizin' you up! Now she ain't got all of the details down but she made you a little something to get you going."
  164. "Thanks... was that the one who called me beastly?"
  165. >You had body hair but you weren't some animal
  166. >"Yeah... she's a little weird too. I think she meant it as a compliment. She was in a panic about how she didn't have enough of one color in excess."
  167. "Right... I suppose she'll want something in exchange for this too I take it?"
  168. >You undo the ribbons that held the garment to the pony's body and pluck it from her frame
  169. >You hold it out and it looks like a tunic
  170. >Or a mix between a tunic and a butcher's apron
  171. >You mentally refuse to believe that it's based off of a dress design
  172. >"I don't think so... she called it an emergency and she wasn't too proud of that one. She's a bit of a fashion victim, so... yeah, you know the type."
  173. >You stand up and guffaw
  174. "Yeah, I think I do. Still, this was nice of her. Feels a bit more manageable than a snow tarp."
  175. >You turn your back to Applejack and equip your new armor
  176. >It manages to go all around your torso, but it goes down further in the front than it does the back
  177. >There are no sleeves to it, which isn't the worst thing
  178. "Hey... why's this blue, anyway? You said she's a fashion victim, right?"
  179. >You turn to face her and hold out her arms
  180. "Not too shabby, huh?"
  181. >"Yeah, she said how blue is a winter color and since it's summer here, it doesn't... uh..."
  182. >Her words trail off when you reveal yourself to her
  183. >Her eyes dart down from your face to your waistline
  184. >She looks almost disappointed for second
  185. >"...uh... yeah, it looks good."
  186. >You feel a smidgen better
  187. >At least you feel a bit more normal
  188. "So... what now? Mind if I have the day off before I get started on stuff?"
  189. >You sit back down on the bale, still taking care to adjust yourself
  190. >"Well I suppose... but you gotta do me a favor if you do."
  191. >Of course
  192. >You sigh, throwing up your hands
  193. "Naturally. You're already a slave driver, aren't you."
  194. >She tries to smile away the not-so-compliment
  195. >"Now now, don't be sour. I just wanna know about where you're from! You gotta have a home to go back to, right? How about you tell me all about it and we can... I don't know, bring some home here? We don't honestly use this barn for a whole ton outside of the winter so if you wanna make this into a sort of room or something... well, it's sure big enough, right?"
  196. >She had a good point
  197. >You shrug
  198. "Alright... well, where do I begin?"
  199. >You tell her all about your world
  200. >About your job
  201. >About how your apartment is actually pretty decent now that you bought some good wood furniture
  202. >It was a small, short table
  203. >But still
  204. >You go into the games you play
  205. >The shows you listen to
  206. >The things you write
  207. >Hours pass that you talk about everything, from the car you drove to the food you ate
  208. >The sun had begun to set, giving the barn interior a somber aura
  209. "So... yeah. I'm not missing a ton of things. But I don't exactly feel good about being ripped away from all of that, as soon as things started turning around."
  210. >Applejack watched and listened without complaint
  211. >You could tell that she was watching you with interest
  212. >Of course there was nothing else to focus on in the nearly abandoned storage unit
  213. >You watch her face
  214. >She watches yours
  215. "...got anything to say?"
  216. >"All of that sounds... crazy to be honest. So you really don't know any spells?"
  217. >You scoff
  218. "Alright. Here's a thing for you."
  219. >You point at her
  220. >And squint your eyes
  221. >She leans back, her face scrunching
  222. "Without moving from this spot, I'm going to electrify you."
  223. >Your voice drops down to a bold baritone
  224. >Applejack's eyes widen and focus on your hand
  225. "Eye's up here, tater tot."
  226. >Your hand morphs from a pointing shape with your index finger to a thumb pointing at your face
  227. >Applejack visibly tenses
  228. >You do the magic trick
  229. >The People's Eyebrow
  230. >The sheer audacity of the 'trick' and the straight face you do it with is truly electrifying
  231. >"Whoa?!"
  232. >The crowd (of one) goes wild!
  233. >You maintain the thunderstorm of facial expressions until the novelty wears off
  234. >You're both left in the barn with hardly anything to say
  235. "Yeah... how's that for some magic."
  236. >Applejack giggles, shaking her head
  237. >"That's a terrible trick! You're terrible!"
  238. >You chuckle and shrug
  239. "Yeah well... that sort of look caused entire stadiums to go crazy. Thousands and thousands of people.Imagine an entire army of fans, losing their shit all at once from one look."
  240. >You both sigh
  241. >"So... are you gonna be alright sleeping out here?"
  242. "I don't have much choice now, do I?"
  243. >"Well my bed is a little too small for a, a, human you said?"
  244. "Should I be glad or sad at that tidbit?"
  245. >She lets out this... goofy 'hur hur hur'
  246. >"I, uh... how about I go grab some dinner. My granny probably made some stuff. Maybe tomorrow I could introduce ya to her?"
  247. "Already introducing me to the family, huh... not moving too quickly?"
  248. >She gives another awkward-sounding laugh
  249. >Just your luck that the best luck you've had so far with a female horse of all things
  250. >Though to be fair
  251. >You always had that sense of animal magnetism
  252. >Applejack leaves the barn after tugging out a large cotton tarp that originally serves as a wagon cover
  253. >"I'll be right back, don't you worry none except for getting comfy!"
  254. >She gallops out in a full dash before you get a chance to reply
  255. "R...right."
  256. >Thankfully the tarp is massive
  257. >You find a mess of wild hay and fold the tarp in half before setting it down
  258. >Like a dog or cat, you sit down on it and extend out to a full laying position
  259. >You roll back and forth, maintaining a complete stone face
  260. >This isn't fun for you
  261. >You roll back and forth harder, putting your weight into it
  262. >This still isn't fun for you
  263. "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
  264. >You keep rolling in the hay until you land on your back
  265. >The tunic is a bit out of place but you feel far more comfy.
  266. >Lacking in a proper blanket or pillow, sure, but it's pretty warm all things considered
  267. >"Uh... I didn't know you were the sort who likes a roll in the hay."
  268. >The color drains from your face
  269. "Oh. H-hey there."
  270. >You purse your lips and look straight up at the roof of the barn
  271. >No holes
  272. >Surprisingly good work with the nails given none of these things have hands or thumbs
  273. >Applejack appears at your side, on firm ground
  274. >A little wagon is connected to her, containing a large platter that's covered by a lid
  275. >Both of them are really fancy, with an apple-red jewel at the tip of the handle
  276. >"My little sister and my grandma were trying out some new stuff today so you can give them your feedback!"
  277. >You feel a little bad for her bringing out the finery on you of all people
  278. >Of all things that you are, given you're probably as alien to her as she is uncanny to you
  279. >You reveal the dish and set the platter lid to the side on the tarp
  280. >You see what looks like a mix of apples, bacon and potatoes, all in one gloriously huge helping!
  281. >There's even a large soup spoon already dug into the mass of material
  282. >The potatoes look like red potatoes
  283. >The apples still have their red skins on them too
  284. >The bacon is, of course, reddish
  285. "...This is some nice stuff. What's the occasion?"
  286. >Applejack sits opposite of you, gauging your reactions with a gleeful, proud gaze
  287. >"Well, gotta expand the recipe book somehow, right? Applebloom said that red things always taste good, but I personally think she just got that from eating so much candy. Y'know, red things can also be really hot or spicy too... she wanted to add some peppers and a red string of licorice to it too. Grandma managed to keep her in check for the most part. Evidently apples and potatoes go together, who'da thunk it?"
  288. >Applejack and Applebloom
  289. >On an apple orchard
  290. >You take a spoonful to taste test
  291. >You take another spoonful
  292. >It's still quite hot but you're willing to risk a burn for more
  293. >With how much she's telling you, you're not sure if she's trying to impress you or if she just enjoys bragging about her family
  294. "Your grandma... is she... uh, named Apple-something?"
  295. >The orange pony laughs and shakes her head
  296. >"Now don't be silly, of course not! She's named Granny Smith."
  297. >You look at her
  298. >You aren't frowning
  299. >But you aren't smiling either
  300. "I... see... who else do you have in your family?"
  301. >She beams even wider
  302. >"Well we got Big Mac, Apple Strudel, Braeburn, ol' Apple Rose, Auntie Applesauce, Goldie Delicious, Hayseed Turnip Truck, and that doesn't even count Uncl--"
  303. "Stop. I get it."
  304. >You can't tell if she's being genuine or not but it's enough to make your head spin
  305. "That's... a big family, you know?"
  306. >"Well sure, it's how a family oughta be!"
  307. >You nod and eat more in momentary silence
  308. "I've never had a big family like that. Seems like it would be a nice thing to have."
  309. >You don't say more than that
  310. >It isn't really a sore spot for you
  311. >But it kinda is
  312. >Applejack seems to pick up the cue that it's not all that positive a topic
  313. >"Well... why don't you just make a big family then? You know, everyone starts small and then they work their way up!"
  314. >You chortle at the idea
  315. "That takes a ton of time... besides, where I'm from? Big families are almost nonexistent."
  316. >The answer takes her off guard
  317. >"What? Why?"
  318. >You shrug, letting some of the food sit to cool down
  319. >Despite how much you've eaten, the mountain remains untamed
  320. "I guess that's how it is. I would like a big family, but I would have to worry about money. About having a place big enough to have all of the kids."
  321. >Of finding another human, given the obvious biological differences
  322. >To her, who owns so much land and has so many relatives, she probably can't fathom your issues
  323. >"Sounds like you're surrounded by city slickers... why not just find someone who wants a lot of kids and then? Like a country girl with land or something?"
  324. >You scoff
  325. "Right, find myself a unicorn of a girl and settle into a new life and lead to at least six kids? In my world that's very rare."
  326. >Applejack frowns at your negativity
  327. >"Well I ain't ever seen a darn unicorn have land like..."
  328. >She trails off
  329. >"Well anyway, why don't I let you relax for the evening and turn in whenever you get the chance? I wake up early so be prepared to get started for your first day of work!"
  330. >You nod, giving her a half-assed salute
  331. "You got it, Boss Hoss. I wake up early but I don't have my alarm anymore so if I sleep in too late... just jump on me or something. I'll wake up."
  332. >Applejack grins at the acknowledgement of being your boss
  333. >"Yer darn right you will! Just wait, I can tell you're gonna do fantastic!"
  334. >You bid her a good night and watch her strut out, her ego appropriately stroke
  335. >You finish more of the mountain of sweet, meat, and spud
  336. >With this dish there is no dud
  337. >You can't help but feel full like a stud
  338. >You just realized that you don't have anything like boots or even shoes in case of mud
  339. >You shake your head violently
  340. >That was weird
  341. >You finish eating what you can, which amounts to maybe half of it all
  342. >To keep it safe from any outside force, you put the lid back onto the platter and lean onto your back
  343. >You try to contemplate where you are, what this means for you and what will happen if you can't ever get back
  344. >You try to think about what little family and contacts you have that might vaguely miss you
  345. >You fall asleep like a bear entering hibernation
  346. >You have a weird dream
  347. >You find yourself surrounded by horses
  348. >You end up riding one away from the rest while wielding some sort of lever action rifle
  349. "HE-YA, INTO THAT VALLEY!"
  350. >Something shoots you from somewhere and hits your shoulder
  351. >You tumble off your horse and down a slope, landing in a rough patch of prairie brush
  352. >The entirety of your torso hurts
  353. >Especially your shoulder
  354. >It feels like a kiloton weight crushing your joint
  355. >You fail to move away from the brush that's poking into your back
  356. >You feel warm wetness on your shoulder
  357. >Your neck
  358. >You're bleeding out
  359. >You struggle in vain to defy your fate
  360. >You feel more warm wetness on your neck
  361. >It doesn't feel like bloodflow
  362. >It feels like a warm, wet rag that's dragging itself along your throat
  363. >Over your windpipe
  364. >You groan
  365. "...b..."
  366. >You can hardly focus on anything but the weird sensation on your neck
  367. >It keeps repeating itself
  368. >You can feel the pressure on your shoulder letting up
  369. >Are you saved?
  370. >Or are you just dying?
  371. >The warm, wet motion stops
  372. >You struggle to let out a groan
  373. >You aren't yet awake but the dream starts to fade away
  374. >The sensation begins again
  375. >It starts at the side of your neck, to the front, and ends at the tip of your chin
  376. >It feels so relaxing
  377. "...ah..."
  378. >Your hand twitches and reflexively goes up to your throat
  379. >It's wet
  380. >"W-Winonna, get offa Anon! He's up already!"
  381. >You hear Applejack's voice
  382. >You don't hear anyone or anything else though
  383. >You groan and open your eyes, feeling that the stiffness on your shoulder was real
  384. >You're laying on your back, and your tunic is all disheveled
  385. >You actively choose to ignore that your lower half is completely exposed and currently more awake than the rest of you
  386. >You focus your attention on the pulsating coming from your shoulder than anything else
  387. >You touch your neck again
  388. >It's completely slick
  389. >Not just from nearly the back of your neck, but all the way up to your chin
  390. >It almost reaches your bottom lip even
  391. >You sit up, watching Applejack going to the entrance of the barn
  392. >"Get back here ya scamp!"
  393. >She turns to you and beams
  394. >"Well you're up, anyhow! I saw Winona in here lappin' at yer face and thought that she was just trying to wake you up."
  395. She seems to ignore your morning glory and focus on you, though you can see her eyes move everywhere
  396. >"So, how'd you sleep? Did you have any good dreams from eating all of that sweet stuff?"
  397. >You look behind you and see that a lot of hay fragments punctured through the tarp
  398. >That must've been what that sensation was from the dream
  399. "I... guess so, huh."
  400. >You sit there, just completely unsure of what to make of everything
  401. >The talking pony kinda put everything back into perspective again
  402. >You bring up part of your tunic to dry your throat off
  403. "So... what's first for today?"
  404. >"Well, first we gotta--"
  405. >Before she can rattle off a list, the purple unicorn, Twilight, practically poofs into existence from thin air
  406. >"Applejack, great, you're here, I think I can figure out where Anon came from! I run a few tests on him, cross reference my tomes on mystical bipedal creatures, and--"
  407. >She looks at me
  408. >And notices more than my face
  409. >"By Celestia's legacy?!"
  410. >She maintains a hard stare
  411. >Applejack stares too but she doesn't seem all too bothered
  412. "...what. Did the tunic magically change color or something?"
  413. >You raise your hands and wiggle your fingers at them at the notion
  414. >You look down to test your theory
  415. >And you are still exposed
  416. >You calmly put the front of the tunic over it, keeping a stone faced expression
  417. "...You said you can run tests on me and find out where you yanked me?"
  418. >Twilight does a short doubletake and looks at you as if it's a surprise your face exists to her
  419. >"I, uh... come again?
  420. "You can find out where you yanked me from. Tugged me off. Jerked me. The vortex of magic that sucked me into this world. Get what I'm saying!?"
  421. >You're a little annoyed already at how easily she lost her train of thought over nothing
  422. >Applejack turns her face away from you as you rant and rave
  423. >Twilight has a poor deer-in-the-headlights look that only gets worse the longer you go on
  424. >"...just tell him that you're gonna help him, sugarcube."
  425. >You can hear Applejack murmur to Twilight
  426. >"Right! Right, well, can't spend all morning stuck and rigid in place, right? Let's go!"
  427. "Wait, what?"
  428. >Before you can think, you're surrounded by purple energy for a split second before just poofing out of existence
  429.  
  430.  
  431. >Before you have the thought of contemplating where you are and what happened, you're farted back into reality
  432. >You're sitting inside... a house?
  433. >More like a lab or a library
  434. >You're surrounded by dozens of shelves seemingly chiseled into the walls, along with plenty of etchings of flowers, wispy patterns and other esoteric imagery
  435. >The centerpiece of the area looks like some tree stump that was just grown out of the floor, flowering out into a table
  436. >It must be recent mess, as you can see tens of books open
  437. >Some are paired off
  438. >Some are held up in the air
  439. >There are even scribbled notes on the wooden floor
  440. >You just barely register that they form something resembling a pentagram before you hear a 'poof' from behind you
  441. >Twilight stands there, beaming at you
  442. >It kinda sends a chill down your spine
  443. >You're beginning to believe that this is some flowery, girly Cathedral of Shadows or something
  444. >"So! I've been busy researching and realized what went wrong!"
  445. >She sounds far too happy about that
  446. >Like it's just some sort of personal test rather than a life that was ruined
  447. "That's... groovy, perplexing purple pony. What exactly happened?"
  448. >You readjust to sit in front of her, since standing doesn't seem like it would fit
  449. >You're not even sure how well you'd fit if you stood like Gandalf in Frodo's home
  450. >"Well you see I focused on a steam dimension because we need a steam being-"
  451. "A steamin' demon, if you will."
  452. >"Right, that, and I focused too much on the focus of the steam itself rather than the cause of the steam! So you must have thrown me off without knowing any better!"
  453. >She lets out a triumphant laugh, as it was a joke
  454. >"So, silly you, I honed in on you instead of what I was supposed to and well, here you are! But I'll have you know that as Celestia's favorite pupil, her head researcher into the occult and otherworldly experimentation--I haven't told her about researching this sort of thing yet--you're in the best hooves in all of Equestria!"
  455. >She smiles with a squee
  456. >Somehow
  457. >For some reason you can't comprehend
  458. >You don't believe her
  459. "Uh... huh."
  460. >"AAAaaaaaaaand, because I'm one of the holders of the Element of Harmony, you really can't do better for having friends either! I'm kinda like your ace in the pocket. So, as my new friend, you can help me research a way to get you back home!"
  461. >She starts to step toward you, eyes focused on you with a laser focus
  462. >A pencil and a notepad poofs over her head, enveloped in an eerie purple glow
  463. >"So, can you tell me about your home? How much steam did you have that would throw off my calculations? Are you familiar with monsters, demons, or elemental entities that subsist off of magic? Are you a magical being, yourself? What's the lifespan of your species? Are you happy to make a friend as much as I am?"
  464. >You can't help but feel weirded out at her energy
  465. >You kinda can't really shut her down since she is your only real way home, but too many of the questions sound so outlandish it's hard to answer them in a serious manner.
  466. "Well... I'm from Earth, and--"
  467. >Twilight rushes up to you smiling a little too hard
  468. >"Earth? Like our Earth, Earth? Earth pony Earth? Are you maybe similar to dragons due to your bipedal nature? Stars above, are you from outside of our atmosphere?!"
  469. >Did she just call you an alien
  470. >You poke your index and middle fingers out into her nostrils, making her sputter and step back
  471. "Hold your hor... er, hors d'oeurvres. First off, the Earth I'm from is full of humans. We don't have little purple unicorns poofing guys out of barns and certainly don't have pegasus creatures that agree that I am, indeed, a "beastly" manner. And yes, I am still sore about that because I'm hardly an animal outside of be...eeenyway. Can we start somewhere a little more basic? Like a normal interview format or something?"
  472. >Twilight sniffles from your nasal sneak attack before flinging the notepad and pencil away so fast you haven't a single clue where they went
  473. >"Of course... this must seem rather surprising to you, especially if you aren't accustomed to seeing this sort of magic all over the place."
  474. >From books to notes and the occasional beaker of fluid, everything lowers to the ground
  475. >Now that it's all moving, you're only now realizing just how much she was spreading out her influence
  476. >You feel something queer all around your body
  477. >You feel yourself floating, but just enough to the point that you know you aren't sitting on solid ground
  478. >None of you is
  479. >"Now I'm going to make a magical imprint of your form so I can cross reference it later. Now please, start wherever you like and don't mind the floaty feeling. Ok?"
  480. >You start to complain but then you feel something very distinct... touch you
  481. >Not only is it intrusive, but it goes through your tunic
  482. >You clear your throat and try to ignore the possibility that you may be getting magically fondled
  483. >She smile on Twilight's face doesn't sooth you all that much
  484. >Especially when part of you twitches from the pure sensation of it
  485. >You try to speak and immediately feel something curl around your throat, along with your face
  486. >You can hardly breath
  487. >Time starts to melt as more and more of your vision turns purple
  488. >You can't see anything now
  489. >You're sure your eyes are open
  490. >You try to think but immediately feel something invading your head
  491. >Your name
  492. >Your age
  493. >Your favorite color
  494. >Where you're from
  495. >What it's like to chew Five Gum
  496. >Memes
  497. >Dreams
  498. >Movie scenes
  499. >Video games
  500. >Vivian James
  501. >Everything speeds up around you as purple envelopes your body completely
  502. >Everything that you are, were, and could be, are all tested, questioned, and brought out for examination
  503. >You feel a sharp, sudden sensation
  504. >You're on the ground
  505. >Twilight's standing over you, holding up a vial
  506. >The vial is three quarters filled with something milky white
  507. >It seems so much darker now, that your eyes aren't filled with that damned color
  508. >Did the sun go down already?
  509. >"Anon... you really are a fantastic subject. I don't know how it was for you, but for me? It was the best possible thing."
  510. >She sounds pleased with herself
  511. >You're not really sure what to think
  512. >You don't feel like you're cut off from anything
  513. >But
  514. >You feel exhausted
  515. >Too exhausted to move
  516. >You close your eyes, groaning
  517. >At least you have your voice
  518. >"Anon, I know you're tired... but listen, how about we continue? And... tomorrow I can fix you breakfast or something? I don't know how to cook, I hardly have a kitchen here as is, but I can have someone bring over something! That sounds good, right?"
  519. >You can't respond
  520. >You feel muddled
  521. >Befuddled
  522. >And downright put through the wringer
  523. >"I don't want to be so rude as to read your mind a second time so I will take that as a 'yes'! Don't worry, we're so much closer to you going back home!"
  524. >You feel relief, to some extent
  525. >At least you're going to leave this nightmare soon
  526. >Maybe
  527. >You internally scream as you feel yourself lift up again, feeling some incomprehensible force holding and gripping onto every part of you, keeping an impossible hold onto everything
  528. >You feel a familiar sense of pleasure well up
  529. >All goes purple again
  530. >You find yourself on the floor
  531. >Sorta
  532. >The sun has come up again and you feel like you're laying on air
  533. >It's kinda unnerving
  534. >You wobble from your back onto your knees, away from the purple platform that was made to be your bed for however long you were here
  535. >It had to at least be a full day now
  536. >You don't feel hurt or sore or anything
  537. >Like magic, presumably, you feel alright
  538. >Well-rested
  539. >Nothing aches
  540. >The... sensitive pulsating you feel under the front tunic flap feels different too
  541. >You're not sure what the hell but you want out
  542. >You walk around the room you were poofed into
  543. >It's pretty small and everything looks like it's made of wood
  544. >Outside of a book stand or two, everything looks like it's just been carved or hollowed out
  545. "...So I'm inside of a tree. Great."
  546. >"Why yes, you are! You don't have trees in your world this big anymore, so it must be impressive, right?"
  547. >You flinch at the sound of that proud, somewhat manic voice
  548. >Twilight trots down the stairs behind you, humming some sort of tune you recognize
  549. >That's a song from your world
  550. >"Yesterday was so fun! I learned so much but I didn't have a chance to write any of it down... good thing we aren't rushing, right?"
  551. >You want to jump through the window to escape but you have no clue how high up you are
  552. >For all you know, you're in some tower that is miles off the ground
  553. >You feel petrified on the spot
  554. >Is this fear?
  555. >"...I'm sorry if I got a little carried away. You understand that, sometimes, you just go a little too far a little too soon?"
  556. >You hear hooves clop over from behind you, to beside you, until she's standing in front of you
  557. >The apprehensive look on yourself tells her enough
  558. >She gives you a sheepish smile
  559. >"Listen... I am sorry. I was just immersed in it all and... you know, you enjoyed it too."
  560. >The color drains from your face
  561. >"Filled up five vials before you ran dry... you could do some serious damage if you were that energetic. But who knows what would happen between human and pony, right?"
  562. "Please stop talking and take me back. I would like to go back now."
  563. >You speak in as solid a tone as you can muster toward her
  564. >She laughs and turns away from you, trotting to five thick books that sit from the floor halfway to your shoulder
  565. >"These... I wrote from yesterday. And this is just your basic physiology, biological functions, mental faculties and affinity toward magic! I think I owe you an apology, it was more than just the steam that directed me to you!"
  566. >She turned to face you again
  567. >"You're... an anomaly. Even in terms of humans."
  568. >You try to keep a straight face
  569. "So I'm autistic due to my hobbies. What's the deal?"
  570. >"Not just that! But so much more! I'm sure Celestia would reward me with my own castle if I could triple the amount of books I have on you!"
  571. >Your body is physically fine but you can't help but shake a sense of sickness going on in your gut
  572. "I would like to go back to that orchard now... I said I'd help Applejack. And while you consult whoever you are, I would like to help out since she's letting me stay at her place."
  573. >"Oh well you know you don't have to. I could take care of your bodily functions, easy! Did you know that I found a way to teleport fresh, clean water into someone's body? You don't even need breaks, and you probably didn't even feel time go by at all!"
  574. >She lets out a corny laugh
  575. >"I mean would you really wanna go out and work in the dirty fields and trees that have bugs and whatever else like that? Applejack is certainly more than capable an--"
  576. "I WOULD LIKE TO GO BACK, PLEASE TAKE ME BACK THERE."
  577. >You practically scream at her
  578. >You can't lash out at her or attack
  579. >Whether you want to believe it or not, if you somehow rid yourself of her, you would be stuck
  580. >To an extent, you need her
  581. >But the panic in your voice is too real
  582. >She looks at you in shock
  583. >"...Ok... geez, I guess you did promise you'd help her. You know, I offer her help all the time, but she says that magically tainted apples taste weird or something. I don't see why, apples are apples, right? Anyway, I have to compile all of this and your outbursts are frankly a little bit much this early in the morning..."
  584. >She lowers her head as she speaks, sounding so casual that it's making your head spin
  585. >"So, I'll see you later! Don't tell anyone what happened!"
  586. >Wait, what
  587. >Before you can react from her words, you poof out from her home and back into the barn
  588. "What the hell does that mean?"
  589. >You ask too late
  590. >Your voice and appearance causes a sudden shout
  591. >Applejack is where you were sleeping yesterday
  592. >She's halfway finished building some sort of bed frame
  593. >All of the materials are there, including at least a half dozen blankets, a giant quilt, dozens of pillows of various sizes, and an apple-shaped clock that's already been nailed against one of the barn support beams
  594. >"Holy moly, Anon, you scared me there! Where've you been?"
  595. >It takes a few seconds to realize that you're back
  596. >You don't break, but your face falters
  597. "I'm... uh, I've been... busy."
  598. >Your voice audibly falters
  599. >She can instantly tell and rushes over to you
  600. >She grimaces, looking at you as if you have some sort of stain on you
  601. >"You smell like those magic apples... what in tarnation were you two doing? You aren't gonna grow a unicorn horn or anything now, are you?"
  602. >She chuckles at her own words, looking at you
  603. >Expecting you to chuckle with her
  604. >You don't
  605. "I've been... busy, ok? I'm sorry for being late. I didn't know... I really didn't."
  606. >You harden your face with everything you have but you can't keep your voice stoic
  607. >The apparently titled earth pony walks around you, as if gauging something, before walking to the pile of pillows and bed parts
  608. >You sit there, staring at nothing, as she drapes you in two blankets-one for each side of you-and builds something resembling a pillow fort around you
  609. >"There... y'all are gonna feel better with some TLC, ok?"
  610. >You don't reply
  611. >The lack of reply causes her own expression of carefree happiness to slip
  612. >"Y-yeah... I'd be tired too if I had to listen to that book worm talk my ears off. Especially about all of that magical hooey. I bet she told you about picking apples with magic, huh. I bet she thought she was the smartest pony in the world at that idea, right?"
  613. >You don't blink or shift your gaze to anywhere in particular but you nod
  614. >That action alone causes her to perk up
  615. >"Heh, those unicorns think that magic can do anything for them, like it's, well, er, magic. But that don't make it the best because it's easy, right? I bet without that flashy light hullabaloo they wouldn't know what to do with themselves."
  616. >You don't reply
  617. >You feel tainted
  618. >You feel drained on a mental level
  619. >You can feel, somehow, that something inside of you was toyed with and put under strain
  620. >It isn't exactly in your head
  621. >And it isn't exactly in your heart
  622. >But it's inside
  623. >Applejack seems to pick up on this
  624. >"You listen here, Anon... you're safe and sound in this here little blanket bunker. I'm... I'm gonna go have a little talk with Twilight. You stay here, ok?"
  625. >Her expression turns painful, dropping any pretense of everything being ok
  626. >"I'm gonna get Big Mac in here with something for you. He's a strong guy so if you wanna talk to someone and I'm not the one you want to speak to..."
  627. >She trails off
  628. >She gives you one last look
  629. >"I'll be back as soon as I can."
  630. >She trots off from your vision but you can hear her break into a breakneck gallop as soon as she clears the barn doors
  631. >You could swear that you heard her shout something outside but you're too out of it to pay attention
  632.  
  633. >You sit there, covered in blankets and generations-old quilts
  634. >All of them smell like some form of horse or fruit
  635. >One of the quilts has an orange on it
  636. >A fucking orange
  637. >You start to laugh at that masterful examination
  638. >You quiet down when you see a big, red horse trot in, connected to another one of those miniature trolleys
  639. >It visibly looks surprised when met with your face
  640. >Hopefully because you're human and a completely new entity
  641. "...One of Applejack's relatives?"
  642. >It looks at you, eyebrows risen slightly before they droop down to a neutral state
  643. >"Eeyup."
  644. >Sounds like a male
  645. >You nod
  646. "Yeah... hey. You... uh, you know Twilight?"
  647. >His trot is slow and calm, though his relaxed eyes are nailed to your face
  648. >He stops once the trolley is in front of you
  649. >"...eeyup."
  650. >You nod again
  651. >Neither of you move for a while
  652. >He shakes himself free of the trolley collar that hooked around his shoulders
  653. >"...magic, huh."
  654. >He speaks
  655. >At least he isn't one of those slow sorts
  656. >Was he familiar with Twilight and her... magic?
  657. "...Eeyup."
  658. >The red pony faces you
  659. >It seems like he's trying to read your expression
  660. >You aren't hiding anything
  661. >But you feel drained in body and spirit
  662. >After a time he nods and begins to trot off
  663. >He must not have anywhere better to go since he really isn't trying to book it
  664. >You speak up when he nears the barn door
  665. "Hey, guy. Thanks. I really need to make it up to you. And Applejack. I really didn't know what was going to happen. I don't want to be a burden. You know?"
  666. >...
  667. >"...eeyup..."
  668. >You're left alone in the barn again
  669. >You feel so out of place
  670. >You aren't even sure of what you should be doing
  671. >What happens next?
  672. >How do you get back home?
  673. >You drag an arm out from underneath the pillow fort toward the now-familiar bejeweled platter cover
  674. >Was this just what you were eating the day-no-two days prior?
  675. >Was it one day or two?
  676. >You really don't remember
  677. >You pop the lid off, though the weight of the lid is extreme and your arm drops with just enough leftover restraint that it lands pleasantly enough
  678. >It's an apple pie
  679. >A small, personal sized pie
  680. >You can tell because the center has a shape of an apple cut out
  681. >Of course
  682. >You can also smell the mix of caramelized apple and cinnamon
  683. >You just sit and watch the pie for a few minutes
  684. >You really need to pay these ponies back
  685. >Your stomach growls enough to the point that you drag the trolley closer to you
  686. >You scoop your hand under the pot pie-sized treat and lift it toward your face
  687. >You aren't completely able to move like a normal human, but something about the scent of the pie invigorates you
  688. >You dig in, taking out a large bite
  689. >Almost immediately, you feel something... flood into you?
  690. >Or more like something's draining from your body
  691. >You take another bite
  692. >And another
  693. >The more you nibble and bite into it
  694. >The more you devour it
  695. >The more you feel like yourself again
  696. >By the time you're halfway through, you feel the purple cloud in your head clear up
  697. >After finishing all of it, you feel warm again
  698. >You feel a little tired, and sore, but you hardly feel as terrible as you did just moments before
  699. "That's... one helluva pie."
  700. >"Y'darn right it is!"
  701. >Applejack trots into the barn, as proud and as happy as she was last time you were out and about
  702. >"It's a little... family secret recipe. It's supposed to help cure magic saturation."
  703. >You shake your head at her
  704. "You what? Magic saturation?"
  705. >Applejack sits down next to you
  706. >Not opposite of the trolley to look at you, but she's sitting and almost leaning against your quilted side
  707. >"Well... lemme put it this way. Twilight's a bit of a bucket for magic. And we earth ponies are like... cups. Now you, I don't know. But you certainly ain't a bucket like her."
  708. "I... thanks? Should I be happy about that?"
  709. >"Well, yes and no. No, because it means you aren't able to really find your own way home. But yes because it also means that you aren't reliant on it. It means anything you can do on your best day, you can do on your worst. You have your own strength, you know?"
  710. >You shrug
  711. "I... guess so, sure. So what's the saturation?"
  712. >"Well, magic is everywhere, or so I'm told. Nature, stars, trees, animals, you know, everywhere. But if you get too much in you at once, or if it's forced into you, it can mess with... you. Not, like, your physical you. But your inner you."
  713. "..uh... huh... so what, did the saturation of magic screw with my... what, my soul?"
  714. >Applejack shrugs too
  715. >You can feel it
  716. >"Iunno. I guess."
  717. >It sounds completely insane
  718. >But it doesn't sound completely wrong
  719. "So... what happens if I'm oversaturated for long enough?"
  720. >Applejack shivers
  721. >"It ain't pretty. You turn into... I guess magic. Like, a familiar. You get bound to whatever magic saturates you. In this case... would'a been Twilight."
  722. >You can't help but shiver, even under the warm bed gear
  723. "She knows about this... right?"
  724. >Applejack snorts
  725. >"I.. had a talk with her. You ain't going over there again unless I'm watching it happen."
  726. "Why?"
  727. >No answer
  728. >You shift your shoulder, testing that she didn't somehow fall asleep on you
  729. "Why's that?"
  730. >Applejack clears her throat
  731. >"You... uh. You owe me. This ain't a charity, right? And you said you'd help me."
  732. >You chuckle
  733. >You were worried that there may be another reason
  734. "Yeah, yeah... I got you, bossmare."
  735. >You feel a weird shiver from the side Applejack is leaning against
  736. >"Your darn right you do. But for right now. How about we take some time off, huh? You gotta let all of that magic stuff drip out."
  737. "I don't know.. do I get paid time off so early?"
  738. >You shift to get up but Applejack stamps down on your shoulder, stopping you from getting up
  739. >She's actually kinda strong
  740. >"You're staying put, Anon."
  741. >You look at her to convince you that you should at least take a walk and you see it
  742. >A concerned, intense glare
  743. >Almost as intense as Twilight
  744. >You yield and relax
  745. >Only after a few moments does she ease off of you
  746. >"You're my responsibility, got it? And... you're kinda alright, so I ain't gonna let you out of my sight"
  747. >What sort of ass backward compliment was that?
  748. "Alright... alright. I got it. Until I pay you back, no freedom for me."
  749. >You sound downtrodden
  750. >You're sure she probably meant that as a good thing but you couldn't help but feel like you got the short end of the stick
  751. >She seems to have picked up on it because she nudges your side with her nose
  752. >"Oh come on, don't be glum! How about you tell me more about where you're from."
  753. >You furrow your brow, shaking your head
  754. "Didn't I already do that? Yesterday? Day before?"
  755. >You swear you did
  756. >"Well maybe you did a bit but why don't you tell me more? Tell me more, that you didn't tell me before."
  757. >She sounds insistent
  758. "Well... alright. Where do I begin?"
  759. >"Wherever you want, but... alright, how about you?"
  760. >She sounds eager for it
  761. >At the worry of repeating yourself, you start from the beginning
  762. >Where you came from
  763. >Your history
  764. >You start getting that vague sense of deja-vu
  765. >While speaking you feel a spike of panic and look at the orange pony that had gladly gotten comfortable against the fabric mountain of Mt Anon
  766. >She looks up at you, perplexed
  767. >"What?"
  768. "...nothing. Anyway, I was..."
  769. >You couldn't help but feel like you were reliving Twilight's interrogation
  770. >Just with less purple energy and more apple-scented products
  771.  
  772. >By the end of telling Applejack everything about your life, your old life, the life you aim to get back to, you've relaxed into the home made fort
  773. >Applejack listened intently, occasionally asking you a question that went above and beyond the basic of "what's your favorite time of the day"
  774. >You sighed, watching the bed frame
  775. >It seems big enough for you, but it's still only halfway done
  776. >The clock says that it's only around noon
  777. "...what happened when I was there?"
  778. >Applejack shifts against you when you finally change topics
  779. >"Well... I knew you'd probably be gone for a while. But I didn't know how long. So I thought, while you'd probably be here for a spell, that you could use a bed. I kinda feel funny about keeping you in the barn, on account of you being some giant critter that nopony has ever seen before. I told all the guys at the house about you but didn't really go into detail. Believe it or not, this sort of thing happens from time to time."
  780. >She nods as if it were indeed a matter of fact
  781. "Well it must, if summoning some fire demon was something you dorks thought of without any preparation. What the hell were you going to do if I was some violent beast? I could throw the unicorns like darts, treat those two pegasus-pegasi-whatever, like paper airplanes."
  782. >You look down at her
  783. "And I'm pretty sure I'd confuse you for a real apple pie and devour you on the spot."
  784. >She scrunches her face at you, taken aback
  785. >"...come again now?"
  786. "Well the apple on your butt. I'd probably start there, any monster my size would."
  787. >This makes her give an awkward 'hur hur hur' of a laugh
  788. >"Yeah... well, anyway, we do have those elements of harmony. And Twilight and Rarity are pretty good with magic, so it's not like they couldn't zap you something fierce. On top of me bucking you, Rainbow Dash flying into you, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy... uh..."
  789. >Her voice falters
  790. >"Well, we have our ways of getting through danger alright. You would've have been any different."
  791.  
  792. >She waves her front legs to form an X
  793. >You don't want to press any further because of what you experienced firsthand already
  794. "Right... so, did youuuuuu maybe worry after I didn't just poof back?"
  795. >You didn't want to be obvious but with how she's been reacting, you had to wonder
  796. >"Well sure. When you didn't come back I had thought that Twilight conjured up a bed and something for you. I didn't have a clue that she would've done... other stuff."
  797. >You flinch at the shoulders out of reflex
  798. "...did you know that she'd do that?"
  799. >Applejack stands up, stamping the barn floor
  800. >"Why heck no! Who would ever allow that?! To you, no less! I know Twilight is a little weird at times with her magic voodoo crud but that was beyond the pale!"
  801. >She glares at you
  802. >"Now I may be a lot of things, but I'm not heartless!"
  803. >You lift your hands from under the fort
  804. >Who knew that she would freak out so much?
  805. "Hey, chill, alright? I didn't mean anything by it. I don't know you from Adam, and I certainly don't know what to expect here. You guys basically zapped me here to begin with."
  806. >Reminding her of why you were here made her go to the defensive again
  807. >"Well... I'd have done a lot better about choosing the right world or something for a steamin' demon..."
  808. >She turned her head and scoffed, clearly irritated
  809. >"I don't get why Twilight has to do all of that stuff without our input... when she makes a mistake it's on all of us, not just her. But she likes taking credit when things get fixed up too, all for Princess Celestia."
  810. >You shrug at her, as if that name is supposed to mean anything
  811. "Who now?"
  812. >Applejack clops her hoof against her head
  813. >"Right... ok, how about I tell you stuff about here next? Kinda need to know, don't you?"
  814. >Obviously but you're sorta at the mercy of whoever comes around
  815. "Yeah, I'd like to know. Tell me what you can, alright?"
  816.  
  817. >You shrug off the outer layers of the fort while she begins to tell you of... the story of creation of the world, the stars, and everything else?
  818. >Why does this sound familiar to you?
  819. "Wait... one question. If Celestia is the all-god/mother/whatever... shouldn't she be a queen instead of a princess?"
  820. >Applejack raises hoof to speak
  821. >She acts like she's going to say something
  822. >She doesn't
  823. >She puts her hoof back down
  824. >"...ok, good point."
  825. >What type of answer was that?
  826. >She speaks more about how everything happened as it did
  827. >Grand Galloping Gala
  828. >How they had a force known as the Elements of Harmony
  829. >She kinda didn't do a ton of details when it came to those elements
  830. >You could guess that she either didn't want to brag about it or didn't know how to
  831. "So that's why you're such a ragtag group."
  832. >Applejack nods twice before realizing what you said
  833. >"Who's ragtag? I told everyone before that wearing some matching uniform would be silly! Don't tell me we look ragtag without that sorta thing..."
  834. >You stifle a laugh
  835. "Don't worry, you all looked... kinda threatening. I mean, to me, not really, personally. But I'm sure to some people you'd be very spooky."
  836. >You get the feeling that she doesn't fully believe you but she shrugs the worry away
  837. >"I suppose. So, what do you want to know next?"
  838. >You look around the barn, trying to think of some topic
  839. "...what're you gonna do for the rest of your day? You put me on light duty, right?"
  840. >She pivots to the apple clock on the wall, letting out an extended 'hmmmm'
  841. >"How about you help me get this frame set together? Having an extra pair of..."
  842. >She looks at her hooves
  843. >She looks at your hands
  844. >Then back to her hooves
  845. >"...uh... eyes... that can help. And once we get it all settled up, we can get you a real bed set up and you won't have such a bad sleep!"
  846. >A bed did sound nice
  847. >Though one thing keeps poking at the back of your head
  848. "Listen... I don't know if she would or wouldn't do it, but what do I do if she comes back?"
  849.  
  850. >The question itself causes the hornless pony to give a disgusted sigh
  851. >"That ain't gonna happen... I'll stand watch if I have to. She had an entire day with you, and from what she told me, it was disgusting. I can't let her do that again."
  852. >The more you listen to her, the more it sounds like she was personally slighted for it having happened
  853. >"Now there ain't any sort of... anti-magic charm stuff that I know about that ain't complete hooey. But how about another one of those pies? We still don't know what you can or can't handle so... maybe you need another one or two?"
  854. >You want to accept but you can't help but ask
  855. "Lemme guess... at a premium, right?"
  856. >She looks at you again with a palpable level of disdain
  857. >"I told you I ain't heartless."
  858. "But you'll charge me for helping you build a bed and for having other food."
  859. >She stutters and stumbles over her words
  860. >"Well that's obviously different, ain't it?!"
  861. "Is it?"
  862. >"It is!"
  863. >You look at each other until a mutual silent accord is made
  864. "...you're cute."
  865. >The look on her face is priceless
  866. >"Wh-what in the heck did that come from!?"
  867. >You stretch your arms and yawn
  868. "Boy, am I officially rested up now. I could sure go for helping out building a bed frame so I don't have to take another roll in the hay."
  869. >You stand up, towering over her
  870. >Since resting and eating that pie, you feel like yourself again
  871. >But something still... tickles in the back of your head
  872. >The mere thought itself of what it could be makes you shiver
  873. >"That ain't an answer!"
  874. "Sure it is, now let's get to work."
  875. >"Now hold on a--"
  876. "Yes, holding! I'll hole the frame, you hammer away. Good thinking boss!"
  877. >"Don't you turn it around like that!"
  878. "Don't worry, I'll turn the frame around so you can get everything."
  879. >"You sly devil, stop it!"
  880. >You two bicker and keep it up well into the project, only stopping to ask real questions about what's next or which nails are for what parts
  881. >By the time you finish, it looks... really good, actually
  882.  
  883. >The wood was pretty hefty and the nails remind you of those blacksmith nails that are basically big, metal spikes
  884. >You test it by rattling each corner
  885. >Nothing shifts, buckles, or budges out of place
  886. >Applejack watches you inspect it with a puffed out chest
  887. >"That right there is the best wood in Ponyville, I tell you that for free. Best you haven't seen any better, huh?"
  888. "I'll say... the wood in my world is really shit, if it's for common furniture."
  889. >You look at her with pursed lips
  890. "Imagine a thin plank of wood that's just a panel of wood splinters held together by glue and other resin."
  891. >She squints at you with a dropped jaw
  892. >Before she can ask what the hell, you nod
  893. >There's even a full dozen posts across the center of the frame, to help support a mattress
  894. >Or whatever you can find
  895. >To test it further, you sit on the side, on one of the struts
  896. >Sure enough, it can support one Anon-sized human
  897. "Neat... what can I use?"
  898. >Applejack shrugs
  899. >"Well you got that tarp, still. Pat it off, set it down and it'll be a really good basis, right? All of those pillows and blankets, you can set that up however."
  900. >You look at the remains of the anti-magic pillow fort
  901. >It looks like it would suit you, but it seems a little much for one person
  902. "Sure, yeah... that sounds good."
  903. >You lay back on the frame completely
  904. >Though it isn't the most comfortable thing, you can feel that each strut is spaced out evenly so no parts of you are hanging loose or without support
  905. "Now that's nice..."
  906. >You close your eyes
  907. >"Don't tell me you're gonna sleep like that. Not even a rock beast would sleep without some sort of bedding!"
  908. >You yawn
  909. "Yeah... well I get as hard as one alright sometimes. Gotta be able to roll with the punches, you know?"
  910. >"Man, you're unreal..."
  911. "Uh huh... yet here I am..."
  912. >Before you know it, you lose consciousness
  913. ...
  914. >You find yourself in Twilight's home again
  915. >You can see... yourself
  916. >Floating in the air, your tunic off and with Twilight mumbling things to you
  917.  
  918. >Except it's not the you floating
  919. >You can hear her words in your head
  920. >While she's pacing around you, you can see her magic going over you, top to bottom
  921. >It keeps stopping when at your crotch
  922. >It doesn't sound like an incantation
  923. >You don't really get it
  924. >You feel warmth on your crotch
  925. >You groan
  926. >You instantly regret it
  927. >Twilight stops focusing on the floating you
  928. >Her head snaps right toward you, her body facing the floating Anon
  929. >Her eyes widen to an impossible level
  930. >Her purple eyes bore into you
  931. >"I ̛to͝l̵d̸ y͞o͝u ̴n͞ot́ t́o ̸t̢ell̶ a͘n̴y͞on͝e͘ do̶ ̴y͜o͟u kn͠ów what̨ ̵t̀h͘i̵s meąns̴ ̢she ̕won't̛ st̶ǫp ͜me ̡fro͡ḿ f͢i̷nis̶h̶i͢ng̕ ͞my r͘e̕s͡e̛a̢rch͡ ̴̶̛͝I'̶̢ll̷͝ ̧͟s͠͝h̛͜͝o̷̸w̷̷̡ ̡͡͝y̡o̵̵͡ú ̨t̸h̛a͟t̷͞ ̷yơư̴ ̷͘we̛͞r̷̵e̷̕͜ ͘t́h́͘e͠ ̵͟͡r͠͞iģh̢t̸ ͡͞on̢e,̴̧ ̛d͠o͞n'̀̕͢t̸̀ ̢f̴́͟ig͢͝h̶̸t i͞͠t,̴͟ ̸̡̢l̵̷̢e̸͞t̶̵͟ ̧͝m̧͝è̕ ̷̡in̡̛͡,͟͞ ̴̵̛͟͢t̷h̶̡̢̀́e̵͡ ̷͢͞ş̛́͜è̸͞e̢̕͜d̢͡ ̵h̴̨̢͞͞à̢̀͠͞s̡̛͘͡ ̨͜͟͞a̶̧͢͟l̴̨̧͝ŕ͜e͜͠a͢͟͝d̸̨̢͟y̵̴͡ ̵́b̵̢̨̀e͢͝͞e̴̛n̷̢͜͞ ̵͜p̷̛͜l̡̢a͜͡ǹ̵͘͘͢t̕͠͠e̡͢͡d̕͡,̶̕͢ ̶̨̀ḑ́o̷̡n̴̶̛͘'̧́͢͝͡t̡̀͜͞ ̴̵̀̀b̵̵̡̀́e̸͠͝ ̷̵̸́à̢́̕f̨͢͢r̡̀͜͝à̢̕i̶͝d̢͠,̕ ̸̸̛̀͜I͜͡ ̷̸̕̕w̸̛͘͜͞o̵̧̕͡u̧̕͜͠l̴̸̡d̷n̷̵'̛͝t̸̨̧͘ h̸̶́͠ư̸̢͠͞r̷̛̀t̵̡̛ ̵͟͡y̧̛o̢̧ú̸͟, ̧̨̀̕͜ļ̵e͘̕͟t̵́͞ ̸̧̀m̶̴̛͝ę ̶̶̀͟i̷͜͡͞n̛͟͠,̡̡͞ ̶̶͢y͠ǫ̴̶͘͞u'̴̸̢̢͢ŗ̷͘e̸ ̨v̴͘͟ę͜r̴̶͢͜͞y̢͟͞ ͡v̵a̕͝l̨̀͘͜u̢̧͡à̡̨́b̨l̷͘͠͞é̢̕ ̵̶̀͠͞t̸̢́́ó̸͡ ̧̕͘͞m̸͜͠ę͟͞,̨̛͘͠ ̷͝Į̵̶ ̶̨͝͝S̵̴͠Ȩ̡͟È͡͡ ̡̨̀Y̛͞Ơ͜͠͠͞Ų̡̕"
  932.  
  933. >You bolt upright
  934. >You let out the most dire of panicked screams, flailing about until you realize where you are
  935. >Evidently you hit Applejack or something
  936. >She's covering her face with one of her hooves, and is at the side of the bed
  937. >Was she trying to wake you up or something?
  938. >You calm down only after looking around, glad to see absolutely zero purple objects
  939. >You can hear your blood surging in your right ear
  940. >You can feel your heart racing
  941. >Your mouth is dry
  942. >Your head is spinning
  943. >You fight the urge to drop back down just due to knowing for a fact what will happen if you let yourself doze off again, even for a second
  944. >"Jumpin'... what happened, Anon?"
  945. "Twilight fucking happened. Did you not see that? Who the fuck can turn their head like that?! What the shit are you things!?"
  946. >Applejack looks visibly hurt from your raving but you can't stop yourself
  947. "The fuck did she do to me?! How could she see me when she was looking at the me from the..."
  948. >You try to slow yourself, your head clearing
  949. "...Applejack, what the hell happened. I doze off for a second and... I'm back at Twilight's. I can see her gawking at me, putting her magic on me. I make a sound and she fucking looks at me from the back of her head and it sounds like she's screaming at me from inside my own head, translated through a busted stereo speaker and so god damned loud it would've deafened me."
  950. >She watches your freakout without saying a word
  951. "Just... what the hell, man. She isn't supposed to be able to do that. How could anything?"
  952. >She puts a hoof on your leg, which causes you to visibly jump
  953. >"I'm right here, Anon. I'm not gonna let that sort of thing happen again."
  954. >You can't help but laugh at her
  955. >But it isn't funny
  956. "Yeah? You and what army, huh? She could have fucking split my head open and licked my brain for all I knew, and no one would know any better. Would you know if I was fucked like that, huh?"
  957.  
  958. >She doesn't reply yet
  959. >But she does after a moment of deafening silence
  960. >"I know someone, a zebra... if you're serious about this sort of thing being that bad, we can talk to her and... I don't know. She isn't a unicorn but she can still do magical stuff. Potions and all that stuff, you know?"
  961. "Yeah..."
  962. >You stop yourself from giving another sarcastic answer
  963. "Yeah... I guess. Can we go see her now? Or do I just gotta sit around in this barn?"
  964. >You're starting to feel claustrophobic
  965. >Especially since you know she knows you're here
  966. >And if you're stuck, it means you can't just drop off her radar
  967. >That sense of dread makes your stomach turn
  968. >Applejack tries to give you a smile
  969. >"Listen, in here is alright... out there? Well, other ponies are gonna see you and it's gonna raise questions and..."
  970. >You look at her
  971. >You feel resignation yet again
  972. "...sure. Yeah, I get you. Summon a fire demon and have him power your little town party. Have a weirdo like me and suddenly things are out of the ordinary. Sure, do whatever you can."
  973. >You bring your hands to your head, closing your eyes
  974. >You've never been more terrified in your life
  975. >You like horror movies but this is so far disconnected
  976. >You practice at trying to maintain a deliberate, slower breathing pattern
  977. >You completely shut out whatever Applejack was going to say
  978. >Breath in
  979. >Hold
  980. >Relax
  981. >Exhale
  982. >You breath in and out a few times to try to calm yourself
  983. >The scent of freshly cut wood is, of course, only the bed frame
  984. >But you can only think of Twilight's home
  985. >You don't open your eyes
  986. >Just in case
  987. >Just in case
  988. >Just in case
  989. >Just in case
  990. >You refuse to open your eyes
  991. >You just need to be sure
  992. >You bring your legs up so you can have something to put your elbows on
  993. >"Listen real quick... I'll be back, ok? I'm gonna have Fluttershy come over and she can keep you company. You like animals? She knows pretty much any animal in the world at this point!"
  994. >You refuse to answer her
  995.  
  996. >You rub your closed eyes with your thumbs
  997. >You can finally feel yourself slowing down
  998. "Yeah... sure, ok."
  999. >You focus keenly on breathing
  1000. >Not the wood scent
  1001. >Not anything else
  1002. >"You'll see! With some rabbits, a bear, birds, bees, whatever, you'll feel right as rain!"
  1003. >It sounds like she's unsure
  1004. >You don't hear desperation but you can hear her strain her voice
  1005. >She sounds normal
  1006. >Maybe that's how she's straining herself
  1007. "Sure, yeah... just give me a minute, ok? I'm ok. I am. Just give me a minute, and I'll be alright."
  1008. >You almost repeat yourself as if on auto-pilot
  1009. >Whatever happened, it was going to be ok
  1010. >You like rabbits
  1011. >Including that one that always took the wrong turns at Albuquerque
  1012.  
  1013. >After what feels like hours, you manage to clear your head
  1014. >You know it was most likely just a lame dream
  1015. >But a niggling part of you worries that it wasn't
  1016. >Nothing about all of this shit made sense
  1017. >You're alone at least
  1018. >As far as you know
  1019. >The front of your head pounding, you sluggishly stand up and stretch
  1020. "...Applejack wasn't kidding. Maybe a blanket or something would be good."
  1021. >Wanting to make good of the frame she went through the trouble of assembling, partly with your help, you gather the tarp and shake it loose of all of the hay needles and particles
  1022. >Setting that down as a bedspread, you layer it with some of the quilts you were given, leaving a blanket to have over yourself and... too many pillows to outline the head area
  1023. >It looks pretty sparse
  1024. >But it's covered in character and family history, even if it isn't your own
  1025. >You sit back on the frame
  1026. >It's still not all that comfortable compared to your own mattress but it'll do
  1027. >You get the feeling that you're still tired, that sleeping would be a good idea
  1028. >You shake your head, instead settling on closing your eyes with your legs crossed
  1029. >You focus hard on what you could, and should, do
  1030. >If you just hoofed it, how reliably could you stay out of everyone's sight?
  1031. >Would it even be safe to do that?
  1032. >You couldn't leave because you owed Applejack and her clan
  1033. >You also had no clue of what would be safe to eat in this crapshoot pony world
  1034. >Your tunic is still pretty nice to have, too
  1035. >You gotta thank that Rarity pony too
  1036. >By the end of it all, you can't imagine that you can do anything but wait
  1037. >So you turn your thoughts to what, specifically, you can do
  1038. >Given how big you are relative to everything else, is there any sort of monster to slay?
  1039. >You always wanted to try killing some beastly horror
  1040. >On the off chance you died, at least it'd mean that you'd be safe from another one of Twilight's examinations
  1041. >Maybe
  1042. >The thought makes you shake
  1043. >"I see he seems to focus, would he mind company from us?"
  1044. >"Oh... I don't know. Applejack didn't say anything about that. Maybe he's meditating?"
  1045. >Two female voices
  1046. >One noticeably deeper while the other one sounds soft and wispy
  1047. "Don't mind me, you don't have to leave me alone. Just thinking on how to avoid that purple pone."
  1048. >You hear a mix of surprised and amused reactions
  1049. >"Twilight Sparkle has left you vexed? I have heard from Applejack that she has you hexed."
  1050. "I'm perplexed as to what she'll do next."
  1051. >"Uh... I'm here because I was asked to be. Should I come back later... maybe?"
  1052. >You regretfully open your eyes
  1053. >You wanted to believe that you were meditating or focusing or something valuable
  1054. >Instead, your eyes just hurt
  1055. >It didn't feel like the saturation from before, but more you were just fatigued
  1056. >Like an entire day's worth of activity finally caught up to you and punched you in the sternum
  1057. "No, it's alright. I'm just... I don't know how I am, really."
  1058. >You can feel your eyebrows droop when you look at the pair
  1059. >The yellow pegasus looks familiar to you
  1060. >The zebra carrying a pair of large saddlebags on her flank and sporting a short mohawk is completely new
  1061. >"Easy, I am Zecora and a friend of Applejack. She has asked me to come help you get your vigor back."
  1062. >You shift your sight to her
  1063. "I feel out of whack. She popped up in my dreams so I can't even hit the sack."
  1064. >Fluttershy can't tell if you're doing it on purpose or not, but she claps her hooves together
  1065. >"You must be pretty witty to keep up with Zecora like that!"
  1066. >Zecora doesn't seem all that phased by it
  1067. >You aren't mocking her
  1068. >She trots up to you, eyes locked on your body
  1069. >You get the feeling that she's not looking at you per say
  1070. >"Magic is what I can smell... unicorn magic can become hell."
  1071. >You give a fatigued shrug
  1072. "Applejack gave me a sort of pie or something to help with something called 'magic saturation'. You know what that means?
  1073. >Zecora nods, shuffling off the bags
  1074. >"Magic saturation is an ailment most serious. I am not surprised if you have been delirious."
  1075. >All of this talk goes over Fluttershy's head, but the topic of Twilight causes her considerable concern
  1076. >"Twilight has done something to you? She summoned you here to be our 'steamin' demon' but that didn't cause that much harm to you through that, did it?"
  1077. >Zecora goes through her bags, setting up a small workstation while Fluttershy sits at the foot of the bedframe
  1078. >You look at the softspoken mare and give a heavy sigh
  1079. "I don't know what she's like to you... but it wasn't good. She kept me under some sort of freaky stasis for a day. She drained me entirely. I tried to sleep after and I could hear her talking to me in my sleep. And I don't think she was happy with that."
  1080. >The expression on the bird-horse is one of shock
  1081. >"You aren't telling me that she hurt you... are you?"
  1082. >You sigh and close your eyes again
  1083. >You prop your head against your arm
  1084. "You can call it whatever you want. I don't think any of you are going to believe me."
  1085. >"Eyes open, stay awake! If you don't, your soul will be easier to take."
  1086. >That makes your eyes shoot open
  1087. >You furrow your brow and stare at the zebra mixing together something
  1088. "... what the hell does that mean?"
  1089. >Zecora doesn't reply until she adds a bottle of some sort of sludge to a wooden bowl containing a number of raw roots and what you could only glimpse at being the remnant of some creature's lump of flesh
  1090. >"I have seen a hole in you. A piercing in your soul that would let anyone through."
  1091. >Fluttershy gasped, switching from you to her
  1092. >"Twilight did that? It had to be on accident, didn't it?"
  1093. >"Accident or on purpose, I do not know. But this spiritual injury has got to go."
  1094. >So that's why you feel that breeze
  1095. >On a more serious note, you can't even begin to imagine what that could possibly look like
  1096. "Are you saying she broke me?"
  1097. >"Like an egg, she cracked. Whatever is inside of you is inside deep and very densely packed."
  1098. >She takes a weird looking pestle and mashes into the bowl, focusing back on her job
  1099. >You look at Fluttershy
  1100. "...does any of this make sense to you?"
  1101. >You don't try to but you sound hopeless
  1102. >"I... I don't know anything about magic."
  1103. >She stammers, though she picks herself up
  1104. >"But I can tell, you aren't dangerous. And... you look like you're hurt. But I don't know where."
  1105. >She gives you a faint smile
  1106. >"But I can smell dog on you. One that isn't from here at all so you must have friends back home waiting for you!"
  1107. >You grimace
  1108. "...yeah... but not if I can't go back home in time."
  1109. >That remark makes her mood plummet
  1110. >"O-oh... I'm sorry..."
  1111. >You yawn and lean back
  1112. >Despite the light outside, the headache you feel and the weight on your eyes have become painful enough to make tears form at the corner of your eyes
  1113. >Before you manage to lay back again
  1114. you hear the pestle drop to the ground
  1115. >"I have prepared a strong medicine, too much for a pony but for you it should be a full dose. Drink it all at once and let me continue to diagnose."
  1116. >You have no clue why she's so hellbent on the rhyming but you nod and lean down to take the bowl prepared for you
  1117. >It smells like vile hippy shit
  1118. >You've eaten tofu at least five times in your life so you feel like this is the only natural progression from that
  1119. >You tilt your head back and choke down the concoction
  1120. >You take a second to conemplate the ingredients and what that stringy mass of something is when it reaches your throat and your body doesn't allow you to swallow
  1121. >You visibly gag on it and try to gulp it down
  1122. "Alright... what did that do? How is it supposed to h e l p . . . ."
  1123. >During the few seconds it takes for it to slide down your gullet, you feel your entire world blank out
  1124. >You fall over from your sitting position, diving face first onto the ground
  1125. >By the time you hit the floor you are so deep in a sleep that you can't even dream
  1126. >But even there, in that abyss, you just can't be left alone
  1127. >You stand in the middle of pitch darkness
  1128. >Opposite of you is a tall, dark purple horse with... a horn and wings?
  1129. "You're... not Twilight."
  1130. >"I am not, but she is a dear friend of ours. What manner of creature are you?"
  1131. >You grimace
  1132. >Hopefully that isn't going to bite you
  1133. "Well I am stuck here due to Twilight grabbing me from my world to yours. I'm a human."
  1134. >You can't really read her expression
  1135. >But you get the feeling that she's judging you
  1136. >"We sense... a taint. Part of you has been taken away."
  1137. >You hold out your arms
  1138. "Yeah, and it's killing me."
  1139. >You pause
  1140. "Alright, I don't know if it's really killing me. But it's freaking me out. What am I supposed to do about this?"
  1141. >"This is curious. Normally we do not address... 'humans'. But it sounds like we do owe you an answer."
  1142. "It'd be nice if you did. A zebra named Zecora gave me some sort of concoction and it knocked me out. Last time I slept, I saw Twilight messing with me. I made a noise and it was like she was... screaming in my head. She looked monstrous."
  1143. >As you speak, the void starts to mold into Twilight's room
  1144. >You stumble back as Twilight forms, in mid-screech
  1145. "What the hell is this?!"
  1146. >"A reconstruction. We wish to see what you see. This image is...twisted."
  1147. "Yeah, you know her, right? She poofed me from Applejack's farm to her place, wherever that is, then she put me into some sort of stasis. I couldn't move, I couldn't think, I couldn't do anything. It felt like it was flooding me entirely."
  1148. >The pegasus/unicorn hybrid struts with purpose to the caricature of Twilight
  1149. >And your floating body
  1150. >You hear something of a gasp
  1151. >"What is she doing to...?"
  1152. >That is something of a detail you missed
  1153. "She... is attracted to me, I have reason to believe..."
  1154. >The revelation of where the magic is glowing is evidence enough of that
  1155. >"We... see..."
  1156. "Focus, lambchop, please. She did something to me and there's magic saturation and now something's missing from me, and now... what the hell?"
  1157. "First I'm told that I'm affected from something like magical saturation by someone who can't use magic. Then I'm told by a zebra that I have some other issue or something. Now you're telling me I have a part missing. Why does no one have an answer?"
  1158. >The decidedly regal horse turns to face you
  1159. >You can see that she's concerned
  1160. >"We... are not sure. You are not a natural creature to this world. You are certainly different from anything we have ever seen. Your aura, and your dreams, are familiar but alien to us in countless ways."
  1161. >She looks back to the twisted Twilight face
  1162. >"But... Twilight is indeed the root of our quandaries.We will have to visit her."
  1163. >You shrug
  1164. "'We' as in us, or 'we' as in you and some sort of magical SWAT team?"
  1165. >"The former. We are sure that Twilight could not have hurt you in such a way. But you are indeed filled with Twilight's magic."
  1166. "Great... so will that necessarily harm me by itself?"
  1167. >You get a shrug as an answer
  1168. >"If you are not meant to handle magic, it will expel itself, or it will be need to be expelled. If you are meant to handle magic, you will need to learn to control it."
  1169. >You give a sharp, singular 'ha'
  1170. "Right... me, magical. I don't find it insulting, just crazy to believe."
  1171. >"If we did not see you, we would not have believed it ourselves."
  1172. >No further quips come to mind
  1173. >You can't honestly think of anything to ask
  1174. "So... what now? Can you help me get home? Can you help me with any of this beyond what you've done? Is there any way I could help in return?"
  1175. >You get a sad smile in return
  1176. >"You are quite kind to offer aid when you are in such a situation... but no. We can not help beyond this. But we are familiar to your aura now. If you wish it, we may protect you while you sleep. It may stop another dream like... this."
  1177. "And... if it doesn't?"
  1178. >"Then we will be here to fight it together. Return to the waking world, we will turn to our sister and seek her council."
  1179. >It seems like everyone you know is wanting to help out
  1180. >Even people you don't know
  1181. >Or ponies
  1182. >Whatever they are
  1183. "Alright... so how do I do that?"
  1184. >"I see you are already back. Have we gotten on track?"
  1185. >You open your eyes
  1186. >You're in bed
  1187. >Your nose hurts like hell
  1188. >Along with your face
  1189. "God damn... that sucked. Who let me fall like that anyway?"
  1190. >"...sorry"
  1191. >You hear Fluttershy squeak out
  1192. "Forget it. I went on some sort of spirit journey, I think... either of you ever seen a dark purple pegasus/unicorn that uses dated language?"
  1193. >"Oh, Princess Luna! She's an alicorn, and if she's helping us, it's as good as solved!"
  1194. >Even when happy, she sounds very quiet
  1195. >Kinda reminds you of how so many people ask you to speak up or repeat yourself
  1196. "Yeah... except she really didn't know what to do. She said she'd have to ask her sister. And that she can keep an eye on my dreams."
  1197. >"Princess Luna is pony royalty. At this rate you will have the support of an entire sorority!"
  1198. >Though her deep voice didn't have much inflection resembling joy, she was smiling
  1199. >You didn't feel tired anymore, which was neat
  1200. >Maybe a side-effect of the so-called Luna
  1201. >You couldn't help but shake that something big is happening on all fronts
  1202. >Enough to be something resembling a two-part episode
  1203. >But you're stuck in the same barn as before, and unable to actually participate
  1204. >So this is the feeling o being a side-bit character in a series...
  1205. "So... what now?"
  1206. >Fluttershy and Zecora look at each other
  1207. >Fluttershy gives a whistle and the barn doors open
  1208. >Dogs, cats, birds, a bear, and a lizard flood the place!
  1209. >The lizard looks kinda derpy
  1210. >It doesn't have any teeth either
  1211. >"WE PARTY!"
  1212. >The pink pony from before that kept taking a place on your lap before pops her head out from the ground like a freaking mole
  1213. >"Twilight told me you liked animals and that this would cheer you up!"
  1214. >Everyone, you included, looks at her
  1215. >"...what? Twilight didn't tell you already?"
  1216.  
  1217. >wat
  1218. "...wat. Twilight didn't tell me what?"
  1219. >The animals seem to chill around the barn after entering
  1220. >Zecora and Fluttershy don't seem to know what's going on
  1221. >"She said that you were feeling down in the dumps, that you were having friends over and that I should bring these speakers and then she had music that I never heard before but said that it came from where you were from and that if I played it you would be happy and that we could have more fun and Applejack would take that apple out of her-"
  1222. "Wait, hold on. What speakers?"
  1223. >"These speakers!"
  1224. >Pinkie bursts out of the ground, sitting on top of a shiny, brass speaker that's glowing purple
  1225. >The purple makes you sweat
  1226. >Four more jettison out of the ground, from the four corners of the barn
  1227. >"Oh wow... you must have put a lot of effort into this one, Pinkie."
  1228. >Fluttershy is more in idle awe than anything else
  1229. >Zecora remains stoic at the sight of the speakers, but the purple lights don't sit right with her
  1230. >They don't fit well with you either
  1231. "What's... uh... what's the song?"
  1232. >"Hit it!"
  1233. >Pinkie performs a hoofstand with one leg and all of the speakers start up instantly
  1234. >Your jaw drops
  1235. >You stand up, only to fall to your knees
  1236. >It's Jun
  1237. >It's the fucking opening to Cromartie High School!?
  1238. >It sounds crystal clear
  1239. >And it's still all in Japanese
  1240. >Pinkie sways back and forth, going from front hoof to front hoof to the guitar
  1241. >Zecora remains alert
  1242. >Flutter looks at you, perplexed at the Japanese language
  1243. >"...is this what singing is like in your world, Anon? What is it?"
  1244. >You are amazed beyond comprehension that anyone, much less Twilight fucking Sparkle, can know of this song
  1245. >But... only she could know
  1246. >Did she hear it in your head, or from your memories?
  1247. >You don't think too deeply about it
  1248. "It's... home. It's from my home."
  1249. >You listen to it in awe, as it's the full song and not just the opening
  1250. >Some of the dogs invited howl at some of the riffs even
  1251. >By the end of the song, you feel nostalgia unlike anything else
  1252. >You haven't been here for longer than a few days but in an instant you feel that exact sensation of loss, of yearning
  1253. >Pinkie flips off the speaker and lands perfectly, inches from in front of you
  1254. >She gives you a wide, pleading smile
  1255. >Her purple eyes seem so bright
  1256. >"You'll forgive her, right? Does this help?"
  1257. >You sweep her up in a hug and spin her around
  1258. "Oh hell yeah it does! This is freaking awesome!"
  1259. >The speakers suddenly rumble
  1260. >Everyone listening to it seem surprised
  1261. >The rumbling grows louder
  1262. >It's an engine revving!
  1263. >Driver's High starts blaring
  1264. "That's it, baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-beh!"
  1265. >One was blind luck, but a second followup?
  1266. >Any fatigue you felt, any depression that banged against your skull, any life you felt drain from your muscles, all were revitalized
  1267. >Everyone starts to vibe with the music, once they see you getting into it
  1268. >The language barrier does seem a little odd to get used to, surely, but the focus on the tunes brings everyone together into a feverish party
  1269. >Except Zecora
  1270. >She doesn't seem too impressed by it all since her expression really doesn't seem to change any whenever you look at her
  1271. >Though to be fair, she probably isn't the partying type
  1272. >It continues for hours without break, as if you're in a trance
  1273. >Pinkie leaves every now and again, tugging in tables on wheels that contain sweet, sour punch, water, snacks and all sorts of confections
  1274. >All of it seems ideal
  1275. >Eventually Applejack runs into the barn
  1276. >"What in tarnation is going o--"
  1277. >You sweep her up and hold her close, dancing to Today Is A Diamond
  1278. "Applejack, you've been missing it! It's been so awesome, you don't know!"
  1279. >From her panting, she sounds like she's been running everywhere
  1280. >She struggles to push herself away from you
  1281. >"Now hold on, how did any of this happen!?"
  1282. "Twilight's done it! These are songs from my home, I don't know how but she did it!"
  1283. >"Twilight?! That don't make sense, I wa--"
  1284. "I don't it doesn't! But it's here, haha!"
  1285. >The latest song finished, the speakers fade out for a few seconds... only for 24 Hour Princess to start
  1286. >"Wh-what the heck, you don't even speak in that language!"
  1287. "That means she has to have learned about it somehow! I love these songs!"
  1288. >Normally you'd probably blast them in your apartment on a day off but you'd never think you'd be so excited to hear them again
  1289. >Despite her struggling, human beats pony in terms of strength
  1290. >By the time you're done dancing with her, she's dazed, her hat is on the ground and she's smiling
  1291. >Only when you set her down does she shake her head and retrieve her hat
  1292. >"Now hold on a darn second, Anon! I spoke with Twilight, we gotta talk!"
  1293. >You sigh
  1294. "Alright... I guess we gotta figure out what her deal was, right?"
  1295. >"Don't take tooooooooooo looooooooong!"
  1296. >Pinkie screamed, hopped up on punch and leading a conga line that involves almost all of the animals in tow
  1297. >Except for the birds and that derpy looking gator
  1298. >She's wearing the gator as a hat, but at least he seems like he's digging the music going off of how his head is bobbing around
  1299. >You step out of the barn, the speakers still going
  1300. >Thankfully the barn is so far and away from everywhere else so there's not going to be any noise complaints
  1301. >"Anon, what the heck are those speakers? They're glowing purple, like they're from Twilight!"
  1302. "Oh yeah. Evidently she prepared it all as a way to make it up to me or something. Even Pinkie was in on it! She popped up like a freaking Diglet! Was that magic too, because that was cool and freaky."
  1303. >"Well.. n-no, that's kinda just how Pinkie is... but back on topic, what did Zecora and Fluttershy do? I mean... you're up and about, you're moving, you're... smiling..."
  1304. >She smiles too
  1305. >"Does this mean they did it? They helped?"
  1306. >You shrug, losing the hype from the music
  1307. "Well... no. Evidently I gulped down something and met a big pony with a horn and wings. She said that I... might be capable of using magic. Or something like that, like if I'm not meant to have it, I'll have to expel it. Like with that life saving pie of yours. Or if I am capable of having and holding magic... I guess I need to learn how to control it."
  1308. >Applejack looks at you like you've been drinking
  1309. >The sudden mood swap, the energy gain and how Twilight was behind it all just didn't seem to play well on her face
  1310. >"That's... you aren't a unicorn, how can you even use magic?"
  1311. >You shrug
  1312. "I haven't a clue. But what if, right?"
  1313. >It doesn't sound like it is a good idea to her since she doesn't seem to share your lackadaisical demeanor
  1314. >"Well... I don't like it. We gotta get you away from magic, not closer to it! That barn is absolutely flooded with it now!"
  1315. >You shrug again
  1316. "Yeah well... where's the harm if it's just residual or something? Pinkie and all of the others will be fine, right? The animals too?"
  1317. >"Well sure, but..."
  1318. "And keep the pies coming and it's all like a sieve, right?"
  1319. >"I don't think that's gonna be good, sugarcube...you can't just dip and wash it all off like water. If you keep it all near you and we don't even know for a fact what it does to you..."
  1320. >She's making a lot of sense
  1321. >You can still hear the music but it isn't really pushing you like it was before
  1322. >It feels almost like you're coming down from a high
  1323. "Yeah... well, what about your blankets and pillows and my frame? Can we move that somewhere?"
  1324. >Applejack puffs out her chest
  1325. >"Well sure as shoot can! I plan at least five steps ahead, and we can set you up something far nicer lookin' than our barn!"
  1326. >You tap your chin
  1327. "Didn't you say it was good to stay in the barn though? To make sure no one sees me who shouldn't?"
  1328. >Applejack waves a hoof at you
  1329. >"Well you're still on the orchard, and it ain't like everypony's here on a day to day basis."
  1330. >She leans toward you, grinning
  1331. >"And... if yer fit enough to dance and listen to music... tomorrow should be a breeze for work, right?"
  1332. >Color drains from your face
  1333. >You double over, clutching at your stomach
  1334. "O-oh... oh man... that punch... it punched me from the inside. Seriously."
  1335. >"Now now, we got medicine for that! You're gonna help me buck every tree in the orchard, and we're gonna buck all day!"
  1336. "Oh man, I wish I could but--"
  1337. >"Now on the count of three, we're gonna go back in there and grab that frame and I'm gonna show you where to stick it!"
  1338. "You see, I get really sleepy when-"
  1339. >"One..."
  1340. "You know you're cuter when you're counting down to z-"
  1341. >"Two..."
  1342. "Oh come on this is my favorite song! Just five more mi-"
  1343. >"Three! Saddle up!"
  1344. >After some crying and pouting that befits your status as a responsible, sensible adult, you go back into the party to drag out the wooden almost-bed
  1345. >But you both do go back into the barn to at least enjoy the more mellow afterglow of homeland music
  1346. >Twilight can't be that bad if she put all of this together
  1347.  
  1348. >You end up sleeping under the stars after Applejack and you drag out the bed frame and everything else she gave you
  1349. >Due to the party, you sleep pretty hard
  1350. >You don't have any weird dreams
  1351. >At least 'weird' by previous standards
  1352. >You find your thoughts going toward who started the party, Pinkie Pie
  1353. >She had the most gorgeous purple eyes
  1354. >A lot of things have been conveniently purple lately
  1355. >Or maybe it's been your imagination
  1356. >Or coincidence
  1357. >You wake up before the sun
  1358. >You feel groggy but at least you wake up without feeling something licking your neck
  1359. >sitting up, wrapped up in blankets, you scan the orchard
  1360. >Your thoughts turn to magic
  1361. >To Twilight, by proxy
  1362. >Applejack said that a lot of the trees have some sort of magic to them to allow for even winter collection, didn't she?
  1363. >And that Zecora supposedly uses some sort of shamanic magic too
  1364. >Earth ponies are a thing but so are unicorns
  1365. >But they treat magic different and have different capacities for it
  1366. >And pegasi are something else entirely
  1367. >You rest your chin on your palm while you silently recap details
  1368. >You're tempted to just ignore everything and roll with it
  1369. >Twilight, or Pinkie, or whoever brought up those speakers played music from your world
  1370. >More so, they were some of your favorite tunes
  1371. >That meant a lot to you
  1372. >You wipe your face with your tunic
  1373. >You keep forgetting that you're wearing it
  1374. >You'd think the breeze would remind you more
  1375. >You muse to yourself until you see the sun on the horizon
  1376. >You hear trotting behind you
  1377. >"Good morning Anon! You sure are an early riser."
  1378. >You nod
  1379. >Sounds like Applejack
  1380. "Yeah, I kinda woke up early. That party... does Pinkie usually do that sort of thing?"
  1381. >Applejack stops behind you
  1382. >"What, speakers, music and treats? Yeah, but that was quite a trip. Twilight sure did outdo herself, didn't she?"
  1383. "I guess so... hey, you don't sound so bothered by it now."
  1384. >You turn to look at her
  1385. >You see Applejack
  1386. >But it's just a skull
  1387. >With bright, burning purple vortexes for eyes
  1388. >"AH SAID, ¡∩OY ɹOℲ I pIp HפI˥IM,,
  1389. >The voice grates and grinds with the crackle of the bare jawbone until even the trees catch fire from the audible friction
  1390. >You shriek and flail to escape
  1391. >"Anon!"
  1392. >Your eyes open
  1393. >It's morning
  1394. >It's a bit of an overcast day so it isn't painfully bright to your eyes
  1395. >You can hear yourself hyperventilating
  1396. >Applejack's voice sounds clear as day
  1397. >"You're, uh... a funny sleeper, you know that?"
  1398. >She sounds worried
  1399. >You manage to catch your breath, the corners of your eyes blurry with tears
  1400. >You try to laugh but it comes out as some manic panicked sound
  1401. "Yeah! Y-yeah... m-man that party wiped me out. Ha ha... man you ponies sure know how to go for it, you know?"
  1402. >You laugh it all out of your system, no matter how pathetic it sounds
  1403. >By the end you're pretty sure you're forcing it to help sound normal
  1404. "T-that party, huh... d-does Pinkie usually do that sort of... uh... thing?"
  1405. >You repeat what you said before to her
  1406. >You tempt fate and wipe your eyes before turning to her
  1407. >She looks normal
  1408. >She looks worried
  1409. >She looks like she's staring at someone that she doesn't know how to help
  1410. >"Yeah... she's a real party pony. Zecora told me all about it. Fluttershy too. I'm glad you had a great time but..."
  1411. >You can tell that she's struggling to say something
  1412. >Or to not say something
  1413. >"You... gotta help me today, and if you're so pooped out from one of her normal parties, I know you wouldn't survive a really big bash!"
  1414. >She lets out her own laugh, but it sounds unnatural
  1415. >She purses her lips after realizing her wording
  1416. "Yeah... yeah, I've been really dragging my feet with this sort of stuff. I'm sorry. I really didn't anticipate getting stuck or distracted."
  1417. >You wipe your eyes again with your tunic, sitting up
  1418. >"Anon, I... no... you don't have to apologize for anything. Please don't apologize."
  1419. >She picks up something with her mouth
  1420. >Something wrapped up in a bright red bandanna
  1421. >She sets it on the corner of the frame
  1422. >"It's to get your strength up to par. We're gonna be busy today and I reckon we can sweat all of your worries out!"
  1423. >She sounds hopeful
  1424. >You reach to feel it and it has the particular shape of a pie
  1425. >Still hot too
  1426. >You gingerly unravel it and drag it closer to your body, keeping it on one of the quilts
  1427. "Thanks... hey... what did Zecora have to say? She didn't seem all that happy whenever I looked at her."
  1428. >You recall dancing like mad
  1429. >You don't even remember when you ever had that sort of hyperactive energy
  1430. >Not that you were all that lazy
  1431. >"Well... she said that you were all over the place. Happy. But she said that she was concerned that you were... compelled to..."
  1432. "Compelled to party? Wouldn't that be Pinkie's super power or something if she's used to doing that?"
  1433. >"Well that's the other thing... Fluttershy told me that Pinkie seemed different too. She doesn't normally have purple eyes. I mean, she gets into costumes and makeup and a lot of really silly outfits. But they seemed like they were glowing from magic."
  1434. >Applejack keeps her eyes on you
  1435. >"Possibly Twilight's magic."
  1436. >You shrug
  1437. "So... what does that mean? Twilight is also the one who made those speakers pop up out of the ground too, right? Or does Pinkie have that ability too?"
  1438. >You shift yourself
  1439. >It doesn't give you a good feeling in your stomach to think that there's collaboration
  1440. >But the look in her eyes when she spoke to you
  1441. "She asked me if I would forgive her."
  1442. >"Come again?"
  1443. "Pinkie. She looked at me like she was sorry and asked if I would forgive her. But maybe she meant Twilight? I don't remember Pinkie doing anything wrong."
  1444. >That look is fresh in your mind
  1445. >It was sweet
  1446. >Genuinely sweet
  1447. >"Well... eat up, alright? I ain't letting you out of my sight for a second today!"
  1448.  
  1449. >You eat up, glad to have some food that isn't pure sugar
  1450. >Almost fitting your thoughts, this pie tastes a little less sweet than before
  1451. >Still apple, obviously, but no cinnamon to it
  1452. >You think so, anyway
  1453. "Another one of those magic-sapping pies, right? I may need some severe draining..."
  1454. >You sit with your legs crossed and idly grab the corner of the front flap of your tunic to wipe your face
  1455. >Applejack looks like she was about to say something but only a choked "fwoah!" comes out
  1456. >She sputters out something while you refocus on eating the pony's pie
  1457. "Something up?"
  1458. >She laughs and waves her hoof dismissively
  1459. >"I think you might be onto something, partner. I had some other things to do this morning so I had Applebloom skimp on some of the sugars since I saw some of what you were eating at Pinkie's party. Is it pretty good?"
  1460. >It's a pretty ideal size, though the last fifth of it, mostly the side of crust, is pushing past your comfort zone
  1461. "Oh yeah, for sure. Mind if I come back to this after an hour or two?"
  1462. >You scoot off the bed and stretch in front of her
  1463. >Some of your points audibly pop
  1464. >Maybe you're flexing just a little to try to impress her
  1465. >Your arms raised up, you notice that she isn't looking up at you
  1466. >Not at all
  1467. >You clear your throat
  1468. "Ready to buck like crazy?"
  1469. >Applejack jumps at your words, her face contorted into one of shock
  1470. >"W-what?!"
  1471. >You get the idea of what's going on in her head
  1472. "Apples, right? Bucking with both legs planted firmly on the ground."
  1473. >Your eyes narrow while sticking to hers
  1474. "Hard enough to make the damned trees shake. You feel me?"
  1475. >"Sweet mother of Celestia, I've been waiting for this for days now."
  1476. >She says in the most blank, serious tone
  1477. "Well then, let's get right down to it. Where's the first tree and what do we collect apples in?"
  1478. >Your question absolutely confuses her
  1479. >"Wut?"
  1480. "The apples. We're gonna go collect them, right? Do you have some sort of wagon or machine or... something we can collect them in?"
  1481. >After a small explanation of what to do, you help Applejack get out a pair of wagons
  1482. >They're pony-sized so they don't look massive, but supposedly apples 'stack well'
  1483. >Given the size difference, you drag around your wagon with a little rope
  1484. >You kinda feel like a kid, dragging around something so small
  1485. >At least you make your stop at the first row
  1486. >The plan is that you and her go through all of the rows and shake loose whatever is ready
  1487. >Evidently if it comes off the tree, it's good and matured enough
  1488. >You don't know enough about how apples work to question her ways
  1489. "So... how do we do this?"
  1490. >"Psh, like this."
  1491. >Applejack struts to her first tree and shakes herself loose from her wagon
  1492. >"Heeee-yaw!"
  1493. >With enough force to break your shins in half, she bucks with her back legs hard enough to make the tree vibrate
  1494. >Conveniently enough, all of the apples fall out directly into the wagon
  1495. >"Come on now, you got it with that big body of yours. Let's see what you got?"
  1496. >You face your tree
  1497. "Alright... man versus nature. Believe in the craft."
  1498. "Waa-tah!"
  1499. >You palm strike the tree!
  1500. >An apple, singular, falls out in front of you
  1501. >It doesn't even look that appetizing
  1502. >You hear a snicker behind you
  1503. >"Oh come on! Beat it like it owes you bits!"
  1504. >You glare at the tree
  1505. "Alright you son of a birch, let's do it"
  1506. >You take a step back and charge forward!
  1507. >Another palm strike!
  1508. >Critical hit!
  1509. >Another apple falls out and lands perfectly on your arm
  1510. >It has a hole in it
  1511. >"Aw sugarcube... you know it's fine if you can't do it! Took me years to perfect my skill and you can't just do it overnight you know."
  1512. >This is humiliating
  1513. >And frustrating
  1514. >Tossing the trash apple to the side you take a step back
  1515. >You raise your leg and lunge forward, moving like you're going to kick in a door!
  1516. "Fuck you!"
  1517. >You lean in when you feel yourself connect
  1518. >The tree itself seems to shift, almost like it's going to erupt from the earth or snap in half
  1519. >You remove your leg and are rewarded with a small shower of apples
  1520. >Some look better than others, but sure enough it looks like you kicked the shit out of it
  1521. >Or at least the apples
  1522. >The slight condescending words from before don't come this time
  1523. >"D-dang... you sure bucked that one into next week."
  1524. >You huff and look down at the apples
  1525. "So... which ones do I grab now?"
  1526. >You and Applejack sort through the spoils
  1527. >It's a far cry from efficient, compared to her, but it's pretty decent you think
  1528. >You both move of your wagons to the next tree
  1529. >As before, she masterfully strikes the very soul of the oak, sending almost a dozen apples directly into her wagon
  1530. >She smirks at her wagon and looks expectantly at you
  1531. >You're still a little frustrated since you expect her to look down at you
  1532. "Alright motherbucker. I'm going to kick the shit out of you and you're gonna give me the sweet stuff or I'm going to personally chop you down, ignite you with the sheer power of will and use you to boil whatever tea these little neighsayers drink. You got that?"
  1533. >The tree solemnly swears to ignore you
  1534. >You inhale
  1535. "Alrighty then."
  1536. >You kick with a half turn, striking the side of the tree with your shin
  1537. >You immediately drop down
  1538. >Why the fuck would you kick a tree like that
  1539. >You aren't even wearing any protective gear
  1540. >At least as you drop, apples drop around you
  1541. "Jesus..."
  1542. >Applejack laughs at you
  1543. >It certainly isn't with you
  1544. >"You gotta be consistent, Anon! If I bucked every apple tree five different ways I'd never learn how to do it well just once!"
  1545. "Yeah, yeah... save me the sermon... god damn it."
  1546. >"Hey, check it out though! A lot of the apples that came down look good!"
  1547. >You can hear shuffling around behind you
  1548. >You glance around and sure enough, a good chunk of what fell is pretty prim and proper looking
  1549. >You look at your shin while Applejack collects the haul
  1550. >Is it really that sanitary if she's picking up everything with her mouth?
  1551. >How do they cook and all that, anyway?
  1552. >You shake the thought out of your head
  1553. "So... I'm not getting out of this unless I break my legs?"
  1554. >Applejack scoffs
  1555. >"I said you ain't leaving my sight today so you better harden up buttercup. These trees ain't gonna bite, you just gotta get used to it."
  1556. >You are used to physical labor but you're hardly capable of emptying out half an orchard through aggression
  1557. "Alright fine..."
  1558. >You sigh and shed yourself of your tunic
  1559. >You wrap the fabric around your shin, using the flap to tie it all together
  1560. >It looks a little shoddy, but it's pretty tight
  1561. >You're gonna need the protection anyway
  1562. >You stand up, deciding to yourself that you're good to go
  1563. "Alright, if I can't walk by the end of today I'm gonna rely on you to drag me back."
  1564. >"Alright you big baby, as long as you don't shirk... off..."
  1565. >She stares at you, dropping an apple she was in mid-pick up
  1566. >You aren't the most fit man in the world
  1567. >You're far more strong than fast, and your muscles look far more thick than lean
  1568. >The first tree can attest to that, if it felt like commenting
  1569. >But you're sorta pale in a lot of places
  1570. >"..."
  1571. "Now how's about them apples. Let's get going, I'm only comfortable if I can make this more awkward for you than for me."
  1572. >Since she is a horse, it's not like you're going to have all that many thoughts pop up
  1573. >But it has been a day or two now since... whenever
  1574. >Feeling more and more frustrated than humbled, you drag your wagon to the next tree
  1575. >Applejack flings the apple she first failed to pick up into her own wagon and picks up her pace
  1576. >You proceed to kick the shit out of the rest of the row of trees
  1577. >While Applejack's wagon is perfectly balanced and stacked high, your wagon ends up looking like a mess of various colored and sized apples
  1578. >The row finished, you both retrieve a new pair of empty wagons
  1579. >Limping a little, you side-kick tree after tree
  1580. >A kick for being drawn into this world
  1581. >A kick for Twilight magically probing your soul for an entire day
  1582. >A kick for all of that magical saturation affecting you
  1583. >A kick for each nightmare you've had
  1584. >A kick or Zecora giving you that nasty tasting shit
  1585. >A kick for that dream pony that hasn't helped you with your nightmares
  1586. >A kick for Applejack for making fun of you
  1587. >A kick for being stuck
  1588. >A kick for being helpless
  1589. >A kick for the anger
  1590. >A kick for the worry
  1591. >A kick for the fear of never going back home
  1592. >A kick for a chance of revenge
  1593. >A kick for good measure
  1594. >At the last tree of the second row, you practically run at the tree and kick it
  1595. >You kick the tree so hard it actually snaps
  1596. >It lurches over to the side, crying in astonished silence
  1597. >It's not completely broken in half but the damage is done
  1598. >You hear a gasp behind you
  1599. >"Anon! What the heck?!"
  1600. >You spin to face her her, the kicking having spurred you to a high level of outright fury
  1601. "W͘H̴̛͜A̡͘͞T̷͠"
  1602. >Your practically scream at her
  1603. >She takes a defensive stance, staring at you in disbelief
  1604. >"Y...your eyes, Anon."
  1605. >You bring one of your dirtied hands up to your face and rub your eyes
  1606. "What, what's in them?"
  1607. >You look at her again
  1608. >"They were... uh... a little more purple than usual."
  1609. >You were bursting with energy, everywhere
  1610. >You were absorbed in your thoughts and the process
  1611. >Now you just feel self-conscious
  1612. >You blink your eyes multiple times, rubbing them again
  1613. "No... no they weren't. I'm sorry, I'm just frustrated, I..."
  1614. >You kneel down, the pain in your leg coming back all at once
  1615. >It didn't even feel like it hurt during the entire row but now that you lost your concentration, it all came back
  1616. >"Hey now, no need to apologize. Bucking's a mighty fine job if you got a lot of frustrations pent up, you know? But that... that was a little weird. You ok?"
  1617. "Yeah... I'm alright. I just need a little break."
  1618. >You were getting to the point that it was kinda fun, like some kung fu training montage taking place
  1619. >Then it felt like it was like a way to vent frustrations
  1620. >Then it felt like it was instead fueling your frustrations
  1621. >Sweating in the early noon sun, you gingerly rub your shin
  1622. "I was thinking of Twilight, I guess. I was thinking about a lot of things."
  1623. >"Yeah, I can see why thinking of her would rile you up... how did you feel? Nothing else looked weird about you but that was kinda spooky."
  1624. "I don't know. Nothing hurt. I felt stronger. I felt more motivated. I wanted release."
  1625. >A funny expression plays on her face, since she looks your body over
  1626. >"Yeah, I'll say."
  1627. "The longer I went, the more that momentum filled up. Is this normal? Aren't I supposed to be losing magic since I had that pie?"
  1628. >Applejack shrugs, moving to collect the apples you kicked loose
  1629. >"I haven't a clue, sugarcube. Maybe you're supposed to have some. You ain't a unicorn but you share similarities to them."
  1630. >You look at her flank and begin to ask a question, only to see her tail flicker to the side
  1631. >You see something that doesn't normally come to mind but for some reason it stands out
  1632. "...ha... ha..."
  1633. >You tear your eyes away, trying to ignore her actions and your reactions
  1634. >"I ain't gonna punish you for, uh... overbucking the tree. But these things are grown to last, you know?"
  1635. "Well how the hell am I supposed to know how much is too much?"
  1636. >"I ain't bickering at you none! I just didn't know how strong you really were. Strength is a scary thing to those not used to it. To those who are... it's just potential."
  1637. >You remove the tunic from your shin
  1638. >It's a little worse for wear, due to part of it scraping up against so much tree bark
  1639. >Your shin looks a little brown
  1640. >Not that bad for bruising but it looks pretty big
  1641. "Yeah well... if it were lifting or carrying or stuff I'm used to, I'd be more used to it. This kung fu carpentry shit isn't something anyone from my world would do."
  1642. >You sigh and lean back, letting the breeze cool your body off
  1643. >Applejack eventually finishes picking the best apples and adding them to your wagon
  1644. >She leaves one and kicks it toward you
  1645. >"Snack with your break, greenhorn?"
  1646. "Lay off... I'm pent up and letting it out in dangerous ways."
  1647. >The earth pony sits near you, nudging the apple against your leg
  1648. >"And what's a less than dangerous way to let it out?"
  1649. >You look at her
  1650. >She's smiling
  1651. >Not a normal smile
  1652. "I suppose it depends."
  1653. >"On?"
  1654. "Who's watching."
  1655. >Both of you look around
  1656. >As wide and as big as the rows and columns are, not a single person or pony is visible
  1657. >"You know... how we were talking about big families?"
  1658. >Applejack steps between your legs
  1659. >"It's a plan I have of having one, myself. More helping hooves, more room to grow... can finally work to expanding the orchard. I haven't ever seen another young buck buck apples as hard as you have. You're very strong, Anon... I like strong. If we can cultivate some skill, you'll make me look like an awkward filly trying to bump an apple off from the top of a shelf."
  1660. >The way she's talking is stoking a fire inside
  1661. >The way she's looking at you is inescapable
  1662. "...you know, I'd like at least three. Could go up to six if all works well."
  1663. >She spins around
  1664. >Her tail flickers and her backside is exposed
  1665. >"Don't you worry about counting and stopping on a number. Just buck."
  1666.  
  1667. >Time passes for you and Applejack
  1668. >By the end of it, you're both relaxing against the broken tree
  1669. >You feel... content
  1670. >Applejack looks just as happy, looking up at the sky
  1671. >"You know... I know it's selfish... but I really would not be against it if you stayed here. We gotta get you a better place to sleep, of course... and I gotta properly introduce you to everyone. Hur hur... can you imagine the look on everyone's faces?"
  1672. >She sounds almost giddy
  1673. >You pat her flank, giving her a jolt
  1674. "Honestly? Staying here really wouldn't be that bad, provided you stick around me."
  1675. >Maybe your head isn't in the right place but you do like how open the fields are, and how nice the weather has been
  1676. >This whole magic business... what if you can control something like that?
  1677. >Could be a fucking Isekai situation for all you know
  1678. >Actually that thought sends a chill up your spine
  1679. >You aren't dead
  1680. >No way
  1681. "Hey Applejack..."
  1682. >You want to ask if you're dead or not
  1683. >But you know that wouldn't come out right
  1684. "My leg's a bit tender but we only got two rows done. Should we continue?"
  1685. >Applejack looks at the wagons, then at you
  1686. >"You ain't exactly got a lot going for you on the bucking part... and truth be said, I'm kinda afraid you might kill another one of the trees here."
  1687. >You start to speak but she cuts you off
  1688. >"And that ain't no fault of your own, I know you didn't mean it... maybe it's that magic that's still in you."
  1689. >You shift uncomfortably in place
  1690. >The scent of mare on you is certainly new, but that doesn't bug you as much as it would compared to someone more normal
  1691. "...maybe I gotta talk to Twilight again. It's been a few days now, and she had a hand in that party. Maybe it'll be alright."
  1692. >Applejack, visibly uncomfortable with the idea, gets up and stares at you
  1693. >Her hind legs are just a little wobbly
  1694. >"Now hold on, you can't seriously expect that! What if she does that crazy magic crud to you again?! You know, you're still having nightmares too!"
  1695. "I know... trust me, I know. But maybe she's had a breakthrough. She found a way to get all of those songs to come out through those speakers, right? That means she has to know something about my world by now. And what if I can use that magic stuff for something useful? Even some of the trees here use it for the yields or something, right? Even Zecora uses it... everyone has some form of it, so what if me being here leads to having that too in some form or another?"
  1696. >She looks over you like she's trying to find a hole in your argument but nothing comes up
  1697. "If you join me, you can make sure nothing funny happens, right? Didn't you say you'd talk to others about it too?"
  1698. >She still doesn't seem to happy about it but she doesn't have any arguments
  1699. "Does that sound good?"
  1700. >"If it was your magic, why would it be Twilight's color?
  1701. >You shrug
  1702. "I have no clue. Why, does every unicorn have their own color or something?"
  1703. >"Kinda, yeah."
  1704. >That sounds kinda silly to you
  1705. "Well... in that case she can siphon it out of me. Or maybe help me use some of it for something useful.I don't know... there's gotta be some way this can work."
  1706. >There's a bit of desperation in your voice
  1707. >You need there to be some sort of good news with this
  1708. >You can't be some hopeless, helpless sort that's relegated to kicking trees and spending your spare time having nightmares
  1709. >Applejack nuzzles her face against yours
  1710. >"You'll be alright. 'Cause I'll make sure of it. Twilight tries anything and I'll... I'll..."
  1711. >Her voice falters
  1712. >"I'll... make her sorry. That's for sure..."
  1713. >It sounds like she's trying to force herself to say that
  1714. "Yeah... you're the only one I can trust fully, AJ. I don't know about anyone else. But you, I know will be in my corner."
  1715. >She pulls her face away, beaming
  1716. >"Yer darn right I am! I'm the best pony you could ever have in the world! Just watch, I'll take care of everything and then some!"
  1717. >You can't help but laugh
  1718. "Yeah, I'll take your word for it. How do we even contact Twilight anyway? Does she just pop up whenever or is there some sort of bat signal?"
  1719. >You flinch, almost expecting her to pop up out of nowhere
  1720. >Applejack looks around, unsure of what you were expecting
  1721. >"Er... something up?"
  1722. "It's nothing. Just getting paranoid I guess."
  1723. >Her tail flickers around
  1724. >She looks over you
  1725. >You still don't have your tunic back on
  1726. >"Say... why don't we take a break and you can go get washed up? Might be a little soon for everyone to know that we're, uh... you know."
  1727. >She gives an embarrassed smile
  1728. >You nod
  1729. "Yeah, I kinda prefer daily bathing... this hasn't been optimal."
  1730. >You lean over to the side
  1731. "What about you? Gonna take a bath too?"
  1732. >Applejack lets out a loud, awkward laugh and shakes her head
  1733. >"Ah ha ha...no, I took a bath this morning. No need to do anything."
  1734. "But what about--"
  1735. >"There's nothing that needs to be cleaned up, trust me!"
  1736. >You give her a queer look
  1737. "But...?"
  1738. >"Nothing needs to be done. Trust me."
  1739. >The last two words she speaks are spoken slowly
  1740. >You clear your throat
  1741. "Well... alright. where can I go take a bath?"
  1742. >"Well get up and I'll show you!"
  1743. >Fair enough
  1744. >You stand up, dusting yourself
  1745. >You clear your throat and kick some dirt over a portion of the ground
  1746. >Applejack crooks an eyebrow at your action, only to scrunch her face
  1747. >Picking up on it, she turned away from you and kicked up a cloud, letting out a loud, obvious series of coughs
  1748. "Right... ready?"
  1749. >"I'd say so, let's go!"
  1750. >You let Applejack lead you away from the rows of trees
  1751. >After a few steps, you turn your head
  1752. >You thought you heard something
  1753. >No one could have been around so you let the thought pass
  1754.  
  1755. >Following Applejack, you've seen more of your new world than you thought possible
  1756. >Away from the barn is yet another, bigger barn that's adorned with apple-shaped decorations
  1757. >Even so far away, you can make out the characteristic shape
  1758. >The ground is starting to get far more hilly too
  1759. >The air is clean at least
  1760. "Hey App, where are we going?"
  1761. >Applejack gallops ahead at your question, to the top of a hill
  1762. >You chase after, huffing as you go
  1763. >You can think clearly, you don't feel all that muddled anymore
  1764. >You're not completely sure if you were in your most proper mindset with Applejack earlier
  1765. >But you don't regret it either
  1766. >When you reach her, you see the hill dip into a steep valley
  1767. >A pond is at the bottom
  1768. >A quick glance around shows that you must have left the orchard
  1769. >You must've left the entire property now
  1770. "That's quite a secret spot... why here?"
  1771. >"It's a special spot that I found, back when I was a filly and charting a map of everywhere around Sweet Apple Acres. Even back then I had a dream of expanding to the point that we can grow and raise everything. I always told myself that when I'm finally ready for a family, I'd show my handsome, strong young buck it. So no matter how much may change, we will always have our own little spot."
  1772. >She looks at you with a warm smile
  1773. >"What do you think of it?"
  1774. >You are at an utter loss for words
  1775. >Sweet Apple Acres sounded like a mouthful
  1776. >You feel your stomach drop
  1777. >She's been very proud and open to you, and what she's said is... above and beyond anything you've ever been told before
  1778. >"Anon? Come on, don't leave me hangin'!"
  1779. >She grins at you, coaxing out an answer
  1780. >You must look shellshocked or something
  1781. "Yeah... yeah, I like it."
  1782. >You sit down at the top of the hill
  1783. >More like you fall with some semblance of dexterity
  1784. "I... I don't know what to say. That's a really big thing to say, you know? I've never had anyone say something a tenth as... important as that."
  1785. >Applejack beams and nudges your shoulder with her hoof
  1786. >"So you like it then."
  1787. >What about going back home?
  1788. >To be honest, outside of media and old world ways, would you genuinely miss if you didn't go back?
  1789. >What would you have to gain, going back to working for a living versus starting a family and owning land?
  1790. >You look at the orange pony
  1791. >It is a pony
  1792. >You haven't a single clue how you'd even have kids
  1793. >But then magic exists too
  1794. "Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Depending on the weather, we might wanna look into installing some sort of steps or path. Something that wouldn't bring much attention to it so any overhead view wouldn't exactly give it away."
  1795. >Applejack bucks the air, giving a sharp 'yee-haw!'
  1796. >"Now see, that's what I'm talking about! One view and yer already planning a future for it!"
  1797. >She leaps against you, wrapping her front legs around you
  1798. >"I almost gotta thank Twilight for this one... minus all of that magic crud she's done to you."
  1799. >You chuckle and hug her back
  1800. "Glad to see you haven't forgiven her completely."
  1801. >The hug remains
  1802. >For a lot longer than you thought
  1803. >You can tell that she's very emotionally involved
  1804. >But you don't feel the same
  1805. >Not because it doesn't sound great but because you just feel so unsure of your future
  1806. "So... why didn't you wanna share a bath with me?"
  1807. >Applejack gives you one last squeeze before letting go
  1808. >"Because I'm gonna fix us up something real good for a lunch and we're gonna share a meal up here with absolutely no one around! It's a real good idea, and while I'm prepping up some of the best recipes we got, you can take a dip and clean up body and mind."
  1809. >You cock an eyebrow
  1810. "You think that water's gonna be that good for me?"
  1811. >She chuckles
  1812. >"Well you're gonna be thinking of me, ain't you? That'll help you a whole ton!"
  1813. >You can't argue with that
  1814. >You stand up, stretching
  1815. >Your leg is discolored from the kicking but it doesn't bother you at the moment
  1816. "Sounds like a plan. How about I swooce my way down and go for a swim, you work your magic, we enjoy ourselves and... go back to bucking...?"
  1817. >Applejack gives you a much wider grin
  1818. >"Oh you bet, bucko."
  1819. >You were referring to the trees but her energy is encouraging
  1820. "Sounds like a plan! I'll get to it. I'll be here and for the record, I know how to swim... there isn't anything down there, right?"
  1821. >She shrugs
  1822. >"It always looked clear to me so nothing more than a bug or something?"
  1823. >She bumps her head against your knee
  1824. >"Worst thing that happens is that I save you and you reward me."
  1825. "Ha, my hero."
  1826. >With that, you finally split paths
  1827. >You focus more on finding the best route down
  1828. >When you look back after a few steps, she's gone
  1829. >You're alone again
  1830. >You end up taking a bit of a winding path to make sure you don't slip and fall
  1831. >By the time you reach the edge of the pond, you can tell that the water is clear
  1832. >Far more so than any pond or lake you've seen back in your world
  1833. >You leave your tunic a few yards away from the edge and slip in
  1834. >It's cool
  1835. >You slip in fully until you're up to your chest
  1836. >It goes deeper yet but you feel pretty good about not being completely at the mercy of whatever's lurking in the depths
  1837. >Call it an innate fear
  1838. >You end up floating on your back after the initial fear passes
  1839. >The sky looks so clear
  1840. >You even see a random pegasus flying by, leaving behind a rainbow or something
  1841. "This is one trippy world... what's going to happen to me? Twilight spooks the shit right out of me. Applejack is... really sweet. I could use something more than a tunic too."
  1842. >You see something out of the corner of your eye
  1843. >You go upright and see what looks like a fucking shark fin
  1844. "Oh fuck."
  1845. >You feel a hard rush of cold panic go through you
  1846. >You want to start swimming as fast as you can but you're paralyzed
  1847. >The fin starts to reveal more of itself to you
  1848. >The creature of the pond is coming straight for you
  1849. >Move
  1850. >Move fucker
  1851. >MOVE FUCKER IT'S COMING TO YOU
  1852. >Your body tenses up
  1853. >You're gonna die but you're going to beat the fuck out of it or scream like a little girl trying
  1854. >You raise one of your fists and let out a primal roar!
  1855. >The shark's head rises out of the water and lets out it's own scream
  1856. >Her own scream
  1857. >The shark is Pinkie Pie
  1858. >You both scream at each other for two completely different reasons
  1859. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH"
  1860. >"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH WHY ARE WE SCREAMIIIIIING"
  1861. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!"
  1862. >"I'M HERE TO SURPRISE YOU!"
  1863. >You want to shout at her more but something sticks out to you
  1864. >Her eyes aren't purple
  1865. "Hey, what happened to your eyes?"
  1866. >Pinkie Pie bugs out her eyes at you before rubbing her chin with her hoof
  1867. >"Oh, that must be due to Twilight. She isn't watching us this time."
  1868. >Wait what
  1869. >You feel a chill go down your spine
  1870. "Wait... what do you mean watching us?"
  1871. >"Well she helped set up the party yesterday for me! In exchange, she wanted me to make sure you were having fun, and boy were you! You're a regular party animal! "
  1872. >That made sense
  1873. >You kinda already knew that Twilight had a hand in it, but she was watching through Pinkie's eyes too?
  1874. "Was she... experiencing the party through you?"
  1875. >Pinkie nods
  1876. >You can almost hear something rattling around in her head
  1877. >"Sure did! She kept telling me to kiss and do other stuff to you but I couldn't while other people were watching!"
  1878. "Wait, what?"
  1879. >Before you know it, she pushes her face against yours
  1880. >You taste cotton candy and something warm whip around inside your mouth
  1881. >She pulls away, beaming
  1882. >You're at a loss of how to react
  1883. >"Now that was from Twilight!"
  1884. >What
  1885. "...why are you doing that now that she can't... see that? Or whatever she did?"
  1886. >"Well that's easy! She'd get jealous! But I felt what she felt and after the party I know sure why she likes you so much now!"
  1887. >You try to swim backward
  1888. >She's swimming forward, with the grace of a duck
  1889. >"Twilight doesn't want you to fall for Applejack's 'evil seductive schemes' but she's ok with me being her eyes and hooves on the outside because she's super busy researching more about you and your world so you don't have to leave since you'll have everything you could ever want here, wouldn't that be awesome?"
  1890. >She speaks almost too fast to understand
  1891. >But she did say 'evil seductive schemes' with a deep voice, as if it were more a joke than anything else
  1892. >"And I know that if I promise to be her eyes and keep both of those eyes on you, she won't need to overextend herself and keep her magic on me!"
  1893. "You're letting yourself be a freaking puppet? How's that supposed to be good?"
  1894. >"Because, it means I get to be around you more! And as long as she isn't looking through my eyes... whatever we do is kept hidden, even from her."
  1895. >You back up until you're sitting in the shallows
  1896. >Pinkie looks at you with a sultry smile
  1897. >"I saw you bucking wood with Applejack, you know... Twilight would turn you both into trees for that. Thankfully she doesn't have to know..."
  1898. "What the hell does that mean? She wouldn't really do that, right?"
  1899. >Pinkie giggles out something that sounds like the part of a song
  1900. >"Probably not! But still... I like you, Anon. I wanna have more parties with you, whether or not anyone else is invited or anyone else is watching and telling me to do things for their shared experience. The last time Twilight read my mind she had a headache for five days so my noggin is like a steel trap!"
  1901. "Nothing in, nothing out?"
  1902. >Your voice is unimpressed
  1903. >She snorts and laughs at your answer
  1904. >"You're funny too!"
  1905. >You feel a pair of hooves rest on your knees
  1906. >"How about it, Anon? Private party and Twilight doesn't find out that you bucked apple seeds into Applejack? I'm dressed like a shark, you don't even have to act like I'm here..."
  1907. >You don't have it in you to answer her
  1908. >"You can even hold me by the fin!"
  1909.  
  1910. >For some reason, the way Pinkie offered her fin for you to hold was tempting
  1911. >The gaze she gave you was that of pure mischief
  1912. >Seductive mischief, but still
  1913. >You can't find the strength to push her away but your mind is reeling for some sort of excuse
  1914. >Applejack can't see this
  1915. >You know that she's not going to skin you, but you don't fully trust her
  1916. >You also don't know what the hell Twilight would do to you
  1917. >Before Pinkie can open her mouth and proverbially seal the deal, you stammer out something
  1918. "T-tonight! Party idea tonight!"
  1919. >Pinkie looks up at you, her mouth open
  1920. >She sticks her tongue out before smiling
  1921. >"A party! What kind?"
  1922. "A, I, uh... a party I've had at home before. You don't tell Twilight, you... go off however you got here. And tonight we head to the barn, just the two of us. We make use of those speakers and... I'll tell you more when it happens. But you have to keep it a secret!"
  1923. >You watch her like a hawk while the wheel inside her head turns
  1924. >It's almost as if she's thinking if she should ignore you and act like a shark and eat, or if she should listen and act like a pony
  1925. >However a pony acts when she's been able to swim and dig underground without a speck of dirt on her
  1926. >Her eyes lock onto yours
  1927. >She leans forward just a bit more
  1928. >The expression in her eyes cause a reaction
  1929. >There is contact between you and the very tip of her tongue
  1930. >In that instant, you scramble away while she giggles like mad
  1931. >"A private party probably packed with prickly rolls in the hay! I love it!"
  1932. >She practically jumps and lands on top of the water itself
  1933. >"I'll bring snacks and drinks and, oh! We're gonna need mood music too and all sorts of neat things I gotta prepare!"
  1934. >Before you have the capacity to tell what the hell, she gallops off at full speed, the shark fin splitting in half to form some hackneyed glider
  1935. >"I'll be baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!"
  1936. >You sit there, in the shallows of the water
  1937. >Naked as the day you were born
  1938. >Whatever Pinkie did, it wasn't magic
  1939. >But it was enough to make you question your sanity
  1940. >After it hits, you just crack
  1941. >You laugh
  1942. >You laugh hard
  1943. >You're not sure if you find it funny but God damn it, you're laughing harder than you ever have before
  1944. >A pink pony nearly gobbled you whole, only to run off so fast that she could fly into the air
  1945. >And you gotta find a party theme to top it off
  1946. >You don't intent to scream it but you can't control your tone
  1947. "What the FUCK is even going on?!"
  1948. >You thrash around to expel all of the pent up adrenaline-fed energy you and end up on your back
  1949. >Floating in the shallows
  1950. >You don't want to go deeper into the water because you don't want anyone else to ambush you or do worse
  1951. >You just watch the sky for a while
  1952. >You try to relax, and you do
  1953. >To an extent
  1954. >Every time you see something even vaguely purple, you flinch
  1955. >You do get around to closing your eyes, when you focus all of your thoughts on calming your breathing
  1956. >Applejack will be back soon, with food
  1957. >Probably food that will get rid of any magic buildup you have in you
  1958. >Fuck how that works but the more the better, right?
  1959. >After that, she can help you feel more normal
  1960. >And go from there
  1961. >Your leg still hurts
  1962. >Your thoughts start to space out
  1963. >This is comfy
  1964. >Fuck
  1965. >FUCK
  1966. >You bolt upright, your eyes shooting open
  1967. >You're still exactly where you were, but you were getting to be too comfy
  1968. >You can't fall asleep again so soon
  1969. >Even if Twilight doesn't come or something else happens, you really do not want to risk it
  1970. >You sit up, grumbling to yourself
  1971. >You could go for a good nap but you just don't trust anyone enough to just saunter off to dream land
  1972. >You loudly yawn and decide to just sit there
  1973. >It works for a few minutes, then you remember that you're severely out of your element
  1974. >You've gone camping before, but you've also been able to take a nap without too much worry beyond snakes or spiders
  1975. "Doesn't at all compare to fucking dick sucking ponies but what do I know, right?"
  1976. >"Well gosh Anon, that doesn't sound like that compares to all that you were thinking about..."
  1977. >A particular accented female voice replies behind you
  1978. >You give a startled yelp and splash away, turning to the source
  1979. >It's Applejack
  1980. >Of course it is
  1981. >Who else would it be?
  1982. >You see that she has a pair of woven baskets on her back, along with a big blanket that's folded a few times over
  1983. >"You're getting pretty jumpy... y'alright, sugarcube?"
  1984. >You want to try to explain things but you end up just bringing your arms up and shrugging with an unconvincing 'eh?'
  1985. "I'm... I'm a bit stressed right now. A lot of this stuff has been happening and I kinda feel like I'm just not in control of anything. Like everyone has some fucking scheme for me and I'm just along for the ride."
  1986. >You look at the freckled pony, almost expecting an answer
  1987. >She opens her mouth to give one but stops herself
  1988. >"I--uh... you will find a way. And I'll help! I ain't gonna push you into anything, no siree, but I will give you the tools to do it!"
  1989. >She nods at the end, her hat jostling back and forth
  1990. >At least she's convinced
  1991. >You watch her, not so moved
  1992. >Waiting for a response, she only smiles wider
  1993. "Yeah... yeah, I appreciate you doing that for me."
  1994. >You shake your head in resignation
  1995. "I felt like I was stuck out here for at least a full week. I wanted to take a nap but I just couldn't keep to it. Kinda felt like if I did, I'd end up at Twilight's again or something."
  1996. >As soon as she heard 'Twilight', she saunters up to you, water barely touching her hooves
  1997. >"Well get you out of that water, dry your hands and help yourself to some good stuff! And I got food for us too!"
  1998. >You laugh with a single 'ha' and shake your head
  1999. "You're really something, you know that?"
  2000. >You practically crawl out of the water and sit on some nearby grass, taking the baskets and blanket off from her back
  2001. >With a few flicks of the wrist, you lay out the red and white blanket
  2002. >It is an actual blanket, but it feels rough and sturdy
  2003. >Kinda like a horse blanket
  2004. >Applejack lays on it, watching you sit down near her
  2005. "Applejack... I just wanna say 'thank you'. I really mean it. You don't know just how bad it is with all of this."
  2006. >You lazily shake your head
  2007. >Or maybe it's just mental fatigue
  2008. "I mean, not all of it, all of it. You're a real blessing. Pinkie too. And Zecora and whoever the hell. But this has been almost a nightmare too."
  2009. >You lean against her and immediately feel her lean against you too
  2010. >You watch the surface of the water, thinking of how Pinkie could have even found you out here
  2011. "I don't know if it's the magic, the sights, the others. But it has just been really messing with me. It's hard to get used to here, you know?"
  2012. >Applejack nods against you, the rim of her hat rubbing against your side
  2013. >You pluck it off of her and put it to the side
  2014. >She appropriately pushes more of her head against you
  2015. "You're... the only sense of normalcy I have. And even then, that doesn't feel like a lot. But it is a huge deal to me. And I just wanna say that I'm glad you're here."
  2016. >You look down at her and see just... a split second of a manic grin on her face
  2017. >You try to ignore it because it's probably just your imagination but your mouth still twitches into a dire frown for just a moment
  2018. >"W-what's wrong, Anon?"
  2019. >Her face is that of concern but her tone is of pure joy
  2020. >You're afraid that she's in on it
  2021. >You're absolutely fucking terrified that she isn't really looking out for you
  2022. >You block out the thoughts as hard as you can
  2023. >She's your normalcy
  2024. "So, uh... what did you bring down for lunch again? I feel like I'm kinda slow today."
  2025. >Applejack leans to the side and bits down onto one of the baskets, dragging it close
  2026. >"Your favorite! This time I made it a bit more of a mix. Apple pie and potato, something a bit more hearty. You liked the potatoes, right, so I thought we could try new recipes and build up a book. You know, like what families do when they're still laying down groundwork."
  2027. >You chuckle and nod
  2028. "Yeah... every recipe begins as just some random mixture, right?"
  2029. >You pop the top and see that there's a bit of whipped cream on it, with a cherry on top
  2030. "Heh, special occasion for the cherry?"
  2031. >Applejack just chuckles and nuzzles her face into your arm
  2032. >"I'll let you just wonder on that one."
  2033. >You hesitate to ask
  2034. >But you ask anyway
  2035. "It's... uh, whatever that anti-magic stuff is that you have, right?"
  2036. >"Oh you better believe it!"
  2037. "Good... nice. Thank you."
  2038. >The pie's sliced too, you didn't notice that before
  2039. >Presumably with a knife
  2040. "Hey, uh... did you bring any utensils or something? Eating with my hands isn't too bad but I'm kinda starting to miss having a little something to poke my grub with."
  2041. >"Yeah, I had a feeling since... you know, swimming and stuff. Check the napkin underneath the pie"
  2042. >She speaks but her eyes are closed
  2043. >Your nuzzled arm is more or less magnetized to her now
  2044. "I appreciate that."
  2045. >"I'll make you appreciate far, far more soon too, just you wait."
  2046. >You hear that
  2047. >It wasn't a whisper
  2048. >You are not sure how to respond to that either
  2049. >But she is reliable
  2050. >She has helped
  2051. >Even if something doesn't gel with you, she is your safest lifeline and you'd be crazy to flush that down the toilet
  2052. >You just really hope that she doesn't change her mind about you
  2053.  
  2054. >You spend the rest of the day down in the little circular valley with Applejack
  2055. >There was minor talk about getting back to bucking apples, but both of you had genuine concerns about damaging anymore trees
  2056. >Neither of you had any answers as to why you were evidently making use of magic but you weren't too happy to have it
  2057. >Sure, you could view it as having super powers
  2058. >But they would be from Twilight
  2059. >It could lead to her being able to see through your eyes, like she's done with Pinkie
  2060. >And worse
  2061. >You presume that she's always capable of doing worse
  2062. >You would be utterly crazy to not believe that she would do worse
  2063. >Given the time and place, you end up far closer to Applejack as well
  2064. >With it being your newly dubbed secret place, there's no need to worry about hiding evidence
  2065. >When the sun begins to set, you both make your way up, happy and content
  2066. >While the mixture of apple and potato in pie crust with some cinnamon is unusual, you can't help but love it
  2067. >Just as she feels pride in making it for you, you feel pride in having something so delicious made for you
  2068. >Not just anyone, but for you
  2069. >While part of her worries you, what she's done and spoken about has just been your weakness
  2070. >She's like the girlfriend you never had
  2071. >Just... a pony
  2072. >That talks
  2073. >And cooks
  2074. >After giving your tunic a wash in the pond and letting it dry out, you wear it while walking back to the orchard
  2075. >It looks visibly worse for wear
  2076. "So Applejack, what are you gonna do about those speakers that popped up in the barn? I kinda wanna see if I can get those to work again. Did you hear those tunes that came out?"
  2077. >She looks at you with palpable irritation
  2078. >"You mean you want to fiddle around with Twilight's magic-infused gadgets? How do we know that's safe?"
  2079. "We... don't..."
  2080. >You visibly deflate and sigh
  2081. "Well... there's still a chance that it'll at least play music. And I miss that stuff."
  2082. >You did promise Pinkie some sort of barn party, so you have another reason to be in there
  2083. "We've been having that anti-magic stuff going through my gullet, right? If I haul those out of the ground or something, that'll at least... uh... decontaminate the barn, right? We gotta do that anyway."
  2084. >Your argument is sound
  2085. "Obviously, I won't be staying stuck in there, but if we could somehow renovate it..."
  2086. >You shrug
  2087. "Well, it wouldn't be the worst place. Barns aren't the best for insulation but if..."
  2088. >You feel a bitter taste in your mouth
  2089. "If... there's no way for me to go to and from here back to my place, I gotta get something comfy, right?"
  2090. >There's no real great way to broach the topic of being homesick without shooting down the talk of all sorts of things that couples do
  2091. >But... you're not really a couple
  2092. >Not yet anyway you guess
  2093. >Applejack doesn't ever reply to you, and you can't see most of her face due to her hat's positioning
  2094. "...if I have nightmares again tonight. Could I rely on you to help me?"
  2095. >The idea of her cuddling up to you at night passed by but you didn't want to be that overt
  2096. >"Well of course you can, Anon. I just... don't trust Twilight on this sort of thing. She's a really good friend, you know. But this... you... she's really just crossed the line on it. I don't know what's going on in her head. You really do belong to be home, and with your own kind of people..."
  2097. "But... to be completely honest, I've never met a female of my kind that's a fraction as good as you've been to me. And honestly, if I could get a few select things to take with me? Fuck my world, man."
  2098. >You let out a loud laugh
  2099. >Applejack looks at you with complete confusion
  2100. >"Uh... what? Why wouldn't you miss your home? Your own kind of people?"
  2101. >You snort and shrug
  2102. "Please. Do you know how much my world sucks? I've seen... excessively little of what's here. But I like it. And I like you."
  2103. >You pause but don't think before continuing
  2104. "And even Twilight is kinda cool, because she has magic at all."
  2105. >Both of you stop in your tracks
  2106. >Applejack is further astonished by your words
  2107. >"You're kidding, right?"
  2108. "No, not really. Magic doesn't exist in my world. Technology does, and it's maybe like magic, in a way. But it's just so much... less, I guess. I'd like to have a few things from my world that I'm attached to but what else could I want?"
  2109. >Applejack nods, understanding your view
  2110. >Maybe not fully getting it, but emphasizing with it
  2111. "I don't have a lot in life, you know. Me vanishing would suck for a few people but if I could... I guess get in contact with them every now and again, it'd probably be fine."
  2112. >You're not sure if you want to leave your home behind but it never felt like a home
  2113. >You certainly didn't have any future promised and shown to you
  2114. >You certainly didn't have a female talking about starting a big family in a wide rural environment
  2115. >You clear your throat and bring up your hands, rubbing your shoulders
  2116. "I guess I gotta thank her, you know. Otherwise... I guess I wouldn't have ended up here."
  2117. >Your awkward, roundabout wording reaches her
  2118. >"Heh heh. Alright. I'll give her kudos for bringing you here. And I'll forgive her for that."
  2119. >Her smile turns bitter
  2120. >"But she ain't gonna have me forget that she's done some really bad things too. And you better remember that too, next time she pops up."
  2121. >Applejack's steps turn into stomps
  2122. >She huffs out hard through her nostrils
  2123. >"If she weren't my friend, I would knock her harder than you knocked over that tree..."
  2124. >Her steps lighten up again
  2125. >"But... this is also a good time to fight fire with fire, right? The more you get them apples inside of your belly, the more you feel better! We're learning stuff together, you and I. Probably will even outdo her when it comes to research too."
  2126. >You shiver hard at the word 'research'
  2127. "Yeah... how about we avoid using that word. I've lost track of time here with all of this stuff going on but trust me, no one remembers the result of her stuff more than me."
  2128. >The two of you continue to chat until you reach the barn
  2129. >Despite the foreboding feeling of... something being in there, it looks perfectly normal
  2130. >You can even see the fancy brass speakers that are still jutting out of the ground
  2131. >They don't look all that heavy
  2132. >"You sure... you're gonna be alright in there?"
  2133. "Well sure. Yeah. I mean, the worst that happens is that you hear me scream and you can rush in and save me, right?"
  2134. >"Or I don't hear you at all and you're in Twilight's clutches..."
  2135. >That didn't help your nerves that much
  2136. "Glad to see you're positive."
  2137. >"Sorry."
  2138. "No... no you're not."
  2139. >You shake off any fear you might have and step forward, like you're crossing the threshold of a fog gate
  2140. "Alrighty then... time to face the music."
  2141. >"Sounds like a plan big A, just... you know. Scream if you need anything."
  2142. >You flex and pose, doing your best to put on an Austrian strong man's accent
  2143. "I will scream like the strongest girly man you've ever seen, ja."
  2144. >Applejack snorts and laughs
  2145. >"Yeah, ok Mr. Muscle. Go kick those things over or whatever you're gonna do."
  2146. >You wait and listen to her walk off before relaxing your pose
  2147. "This won't be so bad."
  2148. >Then it happens
  2149. >The doors creak closed, and slam behind you
  2150. >You jump off the ground and look around, prepared to see purple
  2151. >A pair of spotlights erupt out of nowhere and focus on one of the speakers
  2152. >Somehow, it's hollowed out and Pinkie Pie rises from it
  2153. >Pink mist bursts out with her
  2154. >She stands on two legs, her front legs crossed as if they were arms
  2155. >She's wearing a fucking luchadore mask
  2156. >You feel like your soul has left your body
  2157. "What the shit."
  2158. >What comes from her mask, which covers her face, sounds like a weak attempt at a raspy voice
  2159. >"POOOOOOOOOOONESAW IS REAAAAAAAADYYYYYYYY!"
  2160. >You can only stare in disbelief
  2161. >Mostly because it comes out as 'POMMMMMMSRRR MMP RRRRRRRRRDYYYYYY'
  2162. >Pinkie stands there, waiting for you to do something
  2163. "What the hell is going on?"
  2164. >She begins to monologue at you, through her mask, while changing poses at lightning speed
  2165. >Most of them are attempts to be threatening
  2166. >Some of them are deceptively seductive
  2167. >For over a minute her faux-angry muffled mumbling continues
  2168. >some of it even reverberates through the three other speakers, giving her a bit more of a threatening presence
  2169. >If you could understand her
  2170. >When she finishes, she looks at you with a raised eyebrow, expecting some sort of reaction to your blank face
  2171. "If I pull off the mask, will you die?"
  2172. >Pinkie brings her hooves up to the mask, struggling to take it off
  2173. >She manages to fit it over her snout and gasps for air
  2174. >"I said I asked Twilight for what sort of things you liked when she was probing your mind and she said 'wrestling' and zapped a lot of what you've seen into my head so now I'm a total fan and we can have that party!"
  2175. >You're not sure of what to say
  2176. "A wrestling party."
  2177. >"Yes!"
  2178. "And why would that be a good idea?"
  2179. >"Because then we can grapple each other and no one can say it's wrong because we're just kayfabe!"
  2180. "That doesn't really mean anything because we aren't playing any characters."
  2181. >She looks at you with a confused expression, like she never considered the logistics of everything
  2182. >Her shiny, bright blue eyes focus on you while the gears turn in her head
  2183. >She fumbles and pulls the mask back down, though it's a few inches off center at the mouth
  2184. >"MMMPH TMM DY"
  2185. "You what?"
  2186. >Before you can react, she takes you by surprise and leaps off the top of the speaker!
  2187. >In slow motion, you watch her attain a fantastic vertical leap with you as her target
  2188. >Inch by inch, you see her eyes nearly cross as she roars out some indescribable words
  2189. >When she lands, her stomach connects with her head
  2190. >You go down hard
  2191. >The impact leaves you dazed and confused
  2192. >The belly of Pinkie "Belly Flop" Pie rubs against you, from the bottom of her rib cage to between her hind legs
  2193. >She slides off of you almost like a snake on purpose
  2194. >You open your eyes, more amazed than hurt
  2195. >You lay flat on your back, staring up at the top of the barn
  2196. >You question your life choices that have led you to this exact circumstance
  2197. >Pinkie pops up into your view, upside down to you
  2198. >"MMMR MMM MM'MY?"
  2199. "If I take the mask, will you die?"
  2200. >"Mmm bmmm mmmMMmmm pmmfmm."
  2201. >With her guard down, you bring your hands up and slap the sides of her head
  2202. >The disorientation works, as she goes full derp-eyed
  2203. >You scramble to your feet and grab hold of her by her shoulder and her mask
  2204. "SUPLEX CITY! POPULATION: YOU!"
  2205. >Before she can properly react, you suplex the soft pink pony that's maybe a third of your size
  2206. >From the front in front of you, with you crouched
  2207. >To you standing tall, with her completely vertical and in the air
  2208. >To you bending over backwards, her back hitting the ground at full velocity
  2209. >The speed of your move also hurts you to the point that you flop over, grabbing the small of your back
  2210. "Oh fuck, Christ why did I do that..."
  2211. >You don't see Pinkie but all you can see is pain
  2212. >You struggle to turn onto your stomach, only to see... no one
  2213. >Pinkie isn't there
  2214. >How the hell did she get away after you floored her with the force of a mediocre god?
  2215. >You feel pain shoot through your spine when you feel her bounce onto your back
  2216. >"MMM-MM MMMPLMMMS MM!"
  2217. >She somehow locks your arms with her front legs and pulls back, raising you up
  2218. >HOW IS SHE MANAGING A HOLD LIKE THIS?!
  2219. >"MMMHMMPT!"
  2220. >You gargle out a pained scream
  2221. >It feels like she's unstable
  2222. >You keep feeling her sliding against your back in quick, unsteady grinding
  2223. >You flex and tense up before flinging your head forward
  2224. >You accomplish the impossible and headbutt the dirt with amazing grace
  2225. >But also fling her off of your back, into one of the speakers
  2226. "Jesus fuck..."
  2227. >Battered and possibly concussed, you drag yourself to a sitting position
  2228. >You can't see straight to save your life and you can only hear ringing
  2229. >Pinkie Pie charges at you before she sees that you've stopped going along with it
  2230. >She skids to a stop, her head bonking into your chest
  2231. >"MMM YMMM MMMK?"
  2232. >You grab onto the top of the mask and jerk it up, raising it up so she can talk
  2233. >"Are you ok, Anon? Do you submit already?"
  2234. >You look at her
  2235. >At all three of her
  2236. >And shove her over
  2237. "Wrestling's dangerous as hell. Where did you even get a mask?"
  2238. >She tries to stand up and walk toward you but the mask covers her eyes
  2239. >"Well from what I saw, isn't it supposed to be dangerous?"
  2240. "They roll with impact, it's not a straight murder!"
  2241. >With the sonar of a bat, she practically pivots on a dime and steps until she bonks her head into you again
  2242. >"But you were having fun, right?"
  2243. "Well... alright, first off."
  2244. >You yank the mask off of her and toss it to the side
  2245. >She looks just as dazed as you, her eyes rolling around in her head
  2246. >"Hey, I can see you again!"
  2247. "Listen, Pinkie, I gotta get rid of these speakers. I wanna be able to go back into the barn an--"
  2248. >As you're talking, Pinkie darts her head toward you
  2249. >She hits her mark and kisses you, scoring a critical hit as it happens while your mouth is open
  2250. >You sputter and lean back, but not before tasting Pie
  2251. "Alright, stop. Twilight can probably hear me or something and I don't want to be around somewhere she ca--"
  2252. >She darts toward you again, stealing another kiss
  2253. >With extra
  2254. >You sputter again and escape, ending up on your back
  2255. >In a flash, she's on your torso
  2256. >Her eyes roll around in circles like a cartoon before they re-center and focus squarely on you
  2257. >"One more count and I win by pinning!"
  2258. "Dang it, will you listen? If Twilight finds out she'll skin me al--"
  2259. >One last kiss
  2260. >This time you don't have a way to escape it
  2261. >It's as viscous as it is playful
  2262. >Teasing
  2263. >It only ends when you remember you have arms and grab hold of her torso, lifting her up enough that she has no choice but to end the kiss
  2264. >Huffing for air, you stare at her with wild bewilderment
  2265. >You can hardly focus but you can see her smiling like only she could
  2266. >"You lose... and I win! Where's my title belt?"
  2267. >You stare at her, just unable to know what the hell
  2268. >She gives you a cheeky smile
  2269. >"You want to get rid of the weird speaker things because you're worried Twilight might have them to spy on you, on top of having me spy on you, and you'd like my help because only then would the barn be safe for you to sleep in again, right?"
  2270. >You wait to answer, expecting something else
  2271. >Obviously she can't kiss you again due to the distance you put between each other
  2272. "...you were listening?"
  2273. >She smiles wider, giggling
  2274. >"Of course? I'll have you know that I listened to everything you've said!"
  2275. >The way that comes out does little to ease your woes
  2276. "...So..."
  2277. >Pinkie slides away from you, down your torso until she comes to a stop
  2278. >"And then there's this..."
  2279. >You clear your throat, trying to distract from the obvious turnbuckle that she's found
  2280. "Pinkie... let's not and say we didn't. And clear out the speakers. And then-"
  2281. >She hops up
  2282. >And onto you again
  2283. >And up again
  2284. >And down again
  2285. >Far harder this time
  2286. >You lose your ability to accurately think
  2287. >While this wasn't a title match, you lost far more than your pride and confidence in your strength of body and will
  2288.  
  2289. >You don't dream when you pass out, Pinky giggling and bouncing on your lap with reckless abandon
  2290. >You wake up, eventually
  2291. >You didn't dream at least
  2292. >But you don't think what you entered was an actual sleep, either
  2293. >You're still laying on your back, on the dirt
  2294. >It takes a minute for your vision to focus
  2295. >The speakers are gone
  2296. >Pinkie is gone
  2297. >The entire dirt floor is swept clean too
  2298. >You work yourself up enough to sit up
  2299. >Everything feels sore
  2300. >The you-sized face print in the dirt is also gone
  2301. >You wipe your face and realize that you're clean
  2302. >Mostly
  2303. >A quick check to where you were battered reveals that you were cleaned there too
  2304. "...huh."
  2305. >Your back and shoulders creak as you stand up, stretching
  2306. "Well... I guess the barn is done, finally."
  2307. >A bit paranoid of who might be listening in, you make sure you don't say anything you don't want anyone to hear
  2308. >Or anything
  2309. >At least no nightmares
  2310. >You crack your neck and wrists before opening the barn doors
  2311. >Sure enough, it seems like everything's solid and all's right in the world
  2312. >No sign of those speakers though
  2313. >Now, in direct sunlight, you can't help but notice the state of your tunic
  2314. >It's downright thrashed
  2315. >It's not threadbare but there are a few small tears and stains on it
  2316. >Most of the stains are from mud or dirt
  2317. >Some are from food because being an uncultured swine that sleeps in a barn has led to you using your own clothing as a napkin
  2318. >For this exact moment
  2319. >This very minute
  2320. >You feel free
  2321. >If eyes are on you, you're blissfully unaware
  2322. >If you're in danger, you haven't the faintest clue
  2323. >It feels good
  2324. >Deciding that there's no reason to, you just decide to go walk off
  2325. >Your shin hurts but everything's either sore or a bit numb at this point
  2326. >You walk into the orchard, since it's the only place you're familiar with
  2327. >Before you know it, you find yourself picking apples
  2328. >Not bucking or kicking the trees like a moron
  2329. >Just... picking the ones in reach with your hands
  2330. >Before you're aware of yourself, you've already made four piles of apples that go up to your waist
  2331. >You don't particularly feel worried or scared
  2332. >You don't feel much of anything at all, to be honest
  2333. >That isn't a bad thing, since you're at least being productive
  2334. >You do feel a bit hungry but you wouldn't want to just swipe an apple to eat it
  2335. >For all you know, eating the apple by itself makes your mouth bleed or some other chaotic result
  2336. >Besides, you aren't much in the mood to both work and eat
  2337. >By the time you see Applejack trotting around in the distance, you've made your fifth pile of apples
  2338. >You watch and even give a little wave when she comes up to you
  2339. >She looks a little concerned
  2340. >"Good morning... y'allright Anon? I kinda thought you'd have gone to sleep on your bed."
  2341. >She looks at you like you have something goofy on your face
  2342. "No... no, I kinda got stuck messing with those speakers for a while. Got Pinkie to pop up since I didn't know where to stic--"
  2343. >"Wait, Pinkie was here?"
  2344. "Yeah."
  2345. >"Why?"
  2346. >You shrug
  2347. "I saw her pop up out of one of the speakers... and the first time I saw her, she burst out of the ground without a spec of dirt on her. Should I really question anything she does?"
  2348. >Applejack opens her mouth with a squint to answer
  2349. >She sighs and shakes her head
  2350. >"No... no you shouldn't. I don't get it either."
  2351. >She peeks to the side, looking at all of the apples you picked
  2352. >"Dang! You've been working this entire time, I see."
  2353. >You give her an apathetic thumbs up
  2354. "Yup. I still owe you, and I got nothing else to do."
  2355. >Applejack grumbles something before clearing her throat
  2356. >"Well it'll take some time to put those into carts and some such... hey, how about an idea?"
  2357. "An idea?"
  2358. >You parrot her like a snake
  2359. >"That's right, sugarcube! How about some new duds and a... uh... checkup?"
  2360. "A checkup?"
  2361. >"Sure! Zecora ain't seen you in a day or two now and... well, how's that magic stuff affecting you?"
  2362. >You shrug
  2363. "At this point? I can hardly tell."
  2364. >Regardless of how you meant that, she bucks the air with both her hind legs
  2365. >"Well don't that beat all, it's been working! Today's a real red letter day, ain't it!"
  2366. >You nod, unable to really reach her level of excitement
  2367. "Yeah, it's not too bad so far. So how am I going to get those things? I can't just go waltzing into... wherever they are, right?"
  2368. >Applejack nods to herself, like you're catching on
  2369. >"That's right, I don't think the commonponies are ready for you yet."
  2370. >You're not sure what that means
  2371. >You stand there, watching her without any of your usual mannerisms
  2372. >"So... uh... the duds... you remember Rarity?"
  2373. "I remember being called beastly or something to that effect."
  2374. >She tries but fails to stop herself from chuckling
  2375. >"Well you are a pretty strong one when you want to be... I don't doubt that anymore to say the least."
  2376. >She leans up at you, beaming
  2377. >"I slept super hard last night thanks to you!"
  2378. >That brings you out of your lackluster funk since you grin despite yourself
  2379. "Just wait until I'm excited."
  2380. >She shivers with a quick "hurhurhur"
  2381. >"Alright, enough with the dream talk, we gotta skedaddle!"
  2382. >She takes off into an excited trot and you follow
  2383. >Having relatively long legs does wonders to keep up pace with her
  2384. "So where's Rarity and Zecora?"
  2385. >"Well we thought the barn would kinda be a little harsh for you since you've already spent so much time in there so... we're gonna take you over to the other animals!"
  2386. "Other animals?"
  2387. >Did she imply you were an animal?
  2388. >"Well sure! Got chickens and sheep but in due time I want to get a lot more once we expand!"
  2389. >You nod to yourself
  2390. >From where you've been, you haven't seen much of anything from just how vast the land has been
  2391. >Not like you've been able to explore all that much anyway
  2392. "I like chickens, Eddy"
  2393. >You say with a slightly derpy tone
  2394. >"Come again?"
  2395. >She trots along while looking back at you but you wave your hand away
  2396. "N-nevermind. Small joke from back home."
  2397. >You're surprised at how neatly the hen houses are built
  2398. >There's four of them, surrounded with a mesh fence that seems so well made that you could mistake it for chain mail that's frozen in place
  2399. >The workmanship on the coops isn't anything to sneeze at either, given it was all built without thumbs
  2400. >You're broken out of your trance of intrigue by a sharp whistle
  2401. >Applejack is little beyond, outside of a segment of white fence that goes on longer than you can see
  2402. >It's kinda neat to see more of the place, now that you aren't some mistake to usher into a dark room
  2403. >Now you're a project
  2404. >Your stride takes you to her side
  2405. >On the other side of the fence are two familiar ponies
  2406. >Or one pony and one zebra, rather
  2407. >Both are surrounded by sheep
  2408. >Somehow, some of the sheep are wandering off stark naked
  2409. >"Rarity has materials with her so of course y'aint gonna be wearing unwashed wool or anything like that. I told her that she could have the wool in exchange for her help, and you know how great wool is for winter!"
  2410. >You shrug and nod over to Zecora
  2411. >She has a small work table set and at least a half dozen bottles and bowls that you can only tell aren't empty
  2412. >She doesn't look impressed
  2413. >Or angry
  2414. >Or anything at all, her face is stoic and focusing on the sheep being sheared
  2415. >Only to turn her attention to keenly you
  2416. >You flinch
  2417. "So... uh... she seems happy."
  2418. >"Yeah, I wanted to visit her but turns out she's been wanting a gander at you again. I guess she sees some sort of hokey, spooky air about ya."
  2419. >She chuckles, shaking her head dismissively
  2420. >"I ain't so sure you're all that much to worry about."
  2421. >"But then again... you could call me a bit biased."
  2422. >She winks at you, smiling
  2423. >"Annnnywho there are witnesses and I gotta go get those apples you done went and picked. I'll be back later!"
  2424. >As focused as ever, she leaves your party of two back to the orchard
  2425. >You feel a little out of place, since you aren't sure of what the right protocol is
  2426. >You don't see any gates to go through
  2427. >And Zecora is still keeping you in her cross hairs
  2428. "Aaaaaaaand... fuck it."
  2429. >You step over the fence, taking care to not plow through it
  2430. >It's not exactly tall for a human to begin with
  2431. >By the time your eyes go from your feet back up to ahead, Zecora has strongly averted her gaze
  2432. >Given Rarity seems horn deep in sheep, you steer a little more toward toward the zebra
  2433. "Hey there. Applejack said that you were looking at me?"
  2434. >You meant to say 'for' but the wrong word came out
  2435. >She gives you one test glance before returning her full attention to you
  2436. >She even resumed her stoic face
  2437. >"It is true, you are who I seek. But... I do hope Rarity will make you something to stop any pony from getting a surprising peek."
  2438. >There is an uncomfortable silence between you two
  2439. "...you're welcome."
  2440. >You aren't sure of what else to say
  2441. >You sit down, ignoring the less than pleased frown she has
  2442. >"Applejack says you used magic on a tree."
  2443. "To be fair it mocked me."
  2444. >"You should know that this isn't a joke."
  2445. "And yet it was the tree, not me, that broke."
  2446. >Zecora frowns more
  2447. >"I can sense it inside of you."
  2448. "Yeah, I know, I'm fucked. What else is new?"
  2449. >"Anonymous, do not belittle this threat."
  2450. "And why shouldn't I? I'll just end up in your debt."
  2451. >You reply almost as fast as she speaks, not giving her enough time to make a rhyme of her own
  2452. >Not that you're trying to mock her or anything
  2453. >There is a tension that's palpable
  2454. >You don't believe there's anything else that could happen that wouldn't suck
  2455. >More magic cleanser or supressor?
  2456. >More bad dreams?
  2457. >More threats or implications?
  2458. >Zecora breaks first and sighs
  2459. >"I do not do this for my own ego or to believe I am great. I do this because inside of you I sense fear and hate."
  2460. >She nods at the various containers she has on her little table
  2461. >"I was told of your magical feat. I am worried because it may spell your defeat."
  2462. "Well yeah... I'm worried too. But let's be honest, what can I even do?"
  2463. >You give her a defeated sigh
  2464. "Twilight's supposedly watching me from above. Pinkie Pie's not much help either. Applejack... I don't even know. I'm not one step closer to any sort of resolution here. And I'm not one step closer to even knowing what tomorrow is going to bring. If you've ever thrived in that chaos, you'd find it disheartening too."
  2465. >You wanted to stop there, but something inside went loose
  2466. "It's demoralizing. It's terrifying, if I were the sort to be so easily scared. You see a lot of weird creatures here, I'm sure, but they are probably from here, in some capacity. I'm not, I don't have any reason to believe I am."
  2467. >The conversation dies pretty fast from that extended outburst
  2468. >You can hear Rarity humming while sheering sheep
  2469. >Was she humming before?
  2470. "Anyway... yeah. I did end up magically kick a tree's ass. What does this mean?"
  2471. >"I do not know, as a matter of fact. But it would be wise if we proceed with tact."
  2472. "Sure. But does this mean? Is this something to extract?"
  2473. >"No, not to be exact."
  2474. >She lays a hoof on the table and nudges a bottle toward you
  2475. >"This is a purifier. It burns like hellfire."
  2476. "Glorious. What do I take with it?"
  2477. >"Nothing. It will require strength t-"
  2478. >At the word 'nothing', you grab the bottle and gulp down the opaque yellow fluid in one go
  2479. >You place the bottle back on her table
  2480. >Zecora looks shocked
  2481. >Rarity's humming stopped
  2482. >Even the sheeps have stopped, with a few of the newly-naked ones gawking at you
  2483. "What?"
  2484. >Almost in an instant you whip your head back and forth while your left shoulder shakes uncontrollably
  2485. >As soon as it began, it stopped
  2486. >It really doesn't seem to have any initial burn that's harsher than some potent alcohol laced with pine cone spines
  2487. >You look at one of the sheep that is staring at you with it's jaw wide open
  2488. "What're you looking at, cue ball?"
  2489. >The sheep bounces off
  2490. >Everything goes back to normal, humming included
  2491. >Zecora takes a moment before talking
  2492. >"The purifier will cleanse all that is in you, magic or not..."
  2493. >Her voice lingers as if she's not sure of what she should wait for
  2494. >"I have had this brew... it is an understatement to call it 'hot'."
  2495. "Next step?"
  2496. >You're fond of her word games and how much effort it must take for her to consistently speak like that but you're starting to feel a knife point of aggression poke through
  2497. >"Next step is a reagent. It is what is administered to stop violent movement."
  2498. >She points her hoof toward another bottle
  2499. >Clear as water, but with a visible vapor cloud of something hovering over the mouth of the glass
  2500. "What, worried I'm going to spazz out?"
  2501. >"It is next because the purifier is the worst... to not require it, you are the first."
  2502. >You cock an eyebrow at her and drink it anyway
  2503. >Another gulp, which must be a bit more tough to swallow if you were pony-sized
  2504. >Almost immediately, it numbs your throat and travels down
  2505. >While you can still sit just fine, you do feel a bit woozy
  2506. "Ahlwright..."
  2507. >You slur your word, trying to focus on your tongue
  2508. >You know it's there but you can't move it
  2509. >"You are doing splendid. Next are some berries and apples that Applejack and I have blended. Magical energies are suspended, provided your body allows for their effect as intended."
  2510. "Ah foud mu maji wuh ahwedy go."
  2511. >You give her an incredulous look while speaking with a paralyzed tongue, as if you didn't sound absurd
  2512. >"The first drink does more than you think, the second helps you remain calm while the third acts as a balm."
  2513. "Uh, natterly."
  2514. >You glance down and wipe drool off of your chin
  2515. >"Twilight is the cause, is she not? Should she try to connect to you, she will feel what you did not claim was hot."
  2516. "Ahhhhh at woo ssoper?"
  2517. >"It should. But if she wants you enough, it might not be enough to consider you good."
  2518. "Gwey."
  2519. >While you've been focusing on Zecora, you can't help but tell that the humming has been steadily turning into giggling
  2520.  
  2521. >You go through all of Zecora's tonics and slimes, bravely swallowing whatever she pushes your way without concern for your wellbeing
  2522. >It'll probably help
  2523. >Her rhymes and vaguely worded promises should make you immune to anything with a horn now
  2524. >As well as immune to any magic-related maladies, illnesses, viruses, coughs, colds, headaches, eye strains, high blood pressure, and you're pretty sure you heard something about cheaper car insurance
  2525. >"Anon, are you listening? Your eyes are glistening."
  2526. >You snap to attention
  2527. "Yeth. Thorry. Are we done?"
  2528. >Your stomach isn't doing so well, sloshing with so many types of liquids and jellies
  2529. >So much of it had such an extravagant taste that your taste buds are completely burnt out
  2530. >At least you aren't drooling anymore
  2531. >"We are indeed. Might I add, your unflinching bravery during this ritual is that of only the strongest of steed."
  2532. >Zecora gives you a genuine smile
  2533. >"I am proud of myself. After this, I will need to restock my shelf!"
  2534. >By the time you gulped down every goop known to zebra, Rarity finished sheering the last sheep
  2535. >All of them watched you, stone-faced, swallow everything
  2536. >You may become a porcupine that has been turned inside out in a few hours but for now?
  2537. >Fuck it
  2538. >Twilight may as well be a show pony to you now with all of these fabulous lumps of something rumbling in your gullet
  2539. "Tho Rawity. Ready to sthitch me up thome new dudths?"
  2540. >The poor unicorn has tried her best to keep from laughing at you, but that snipped the last strand
  2541. >"Baaaahahahaha! Oh darling, you're divine! I don't know how you could have possibly gone through all of that!"
  2542. >You frown at her and do your best to imitate Zecora, who's content with herself and loading up her bottles and bowls
  2543. "Keep that up and I'll pound you flat, then I may justh wear you ath a hat!"
  2544. >The numb tongue is wearing off, but the taste left on it is sickeningly sweet
  2545. >Rarity keeps laughing, wiping her eye with her hoof
  2546. >"Whew... oh my. May I add that I would be the most gorgeous hat you've ever worn? 'Beastly'... oh, how I've been so wrong in judging you, darling. You're no more harmful than a baby dragon."
  2547. >Regaining her composure, she starts to circle you
  2548. >Over a dozen of her trade tools and needles all start to float out of her bag
  2549. >The bag is almost as big as you
  2550. >The sight of her blue magic aura kinda makes your skin crawl
  2551. >"Grass stains, mud stains, wrinkles from excessive stretching, microtears along the stitching and..."
  2552. >She narrows her eyes at you
  2553. >"Listen now, you may be out in the middle of nowhere but at least try to keep yourself from acting in a beastly manner, hm?"
  2554. >You purse your lips and avert her judging gaze
  2555. >You can't exactly say anything without implicating anyone
  2556. >But something tells you she knows far more than just what she can see
  2557. >How well can horses smell, anyway?
  2558. >"Arms up. I'll mend this but there's only so much I can do without needing to just throw it in the wash... you do know what bathing or washing is, right?"
  2559. >Now it's your time to return the judgmental glare
  2560. "Ath you thaid, I'm in the middle of nowhere. Running water ithn't exactly everywhere."
  2561. >She gives a sympathetic nod before disappearing behind your back
  2562. >"Arms up."
  2563. >She repeats yourself and you lift your arms up
  2564. >The tunic glows and lifts itself off of you
  2565. >As soon as the tunic leaves you bare, a few tape measures wrap around your torso and arms
  2566. >"Now then, would you be so kind as to tell me what you've been doing for the last few days? No lying now, my mouth is a steel trap and I can only help you as much as you help me."
  2567. >Aren't steel traps always closed?
  2568. "Well... parties... kinda."
  2569. >You clear your throat
  2570. "Heavy lifting and movement. I may have kicked some trees with it wrapped around my leg as a sort of bracer. Was around some water and mud but didn't pay it much mind I suppose..."
  2571. >"You what!?"
  2572. >The tape measure around your chest tightens hard enough to squeeze your ribs
  2573. >"Have you no respect for anything?!"
  2574. >She stamps her hoof down
  2575. >"Listen, you and Applejack may be a couple now bu--"
  2576. "Wait, what?"
  2577. >You finally lower your arms and turn to face her but a blue aura covers your face
  2578. >It's stopping you from moving your head at all
  2579. >"Uh... please don't tell her I said that. She told me in confidence and since you're the other half of the secret..."
  2580. "Steel trap, huh."
  2581. >"Oh shush, it's fine since it's you anyway."
  2582. >You relax, trying to wave away the blue lights
  2583. "So... I guess everyone knows now?"
  2584. >You aren't against that sort of thing being said
  2585. >You do like her
  2586. >But you kinda aren't sure if you would say it yourself
  2587. >You still do want to go home
  2588. >At least for a bit
  2589. >"Oh no, not everyone, darling. Just yours truly. Rainbow Dash doesn't care, not that I'm aware of. Fluttershy thinks you're nice and she's usually spot on with her animal magnetism-"
  2590. >You grunt and loudly clear your throat
  2591. >"I'm an animal too, don't get so worked up. We're all animals. Call it empathy instead?"
  2592. >Your only response is a sigh
  2593. >She's not exactly wrong
  2594. >"Anyway, where was I... oh yes, Fluttershy told me about you when you were all down in the dumps. I will admit, you did spook me just a teensy bit, when you first popped up. But you can't blame a mere mare for being scared of what she doesn't understand, right?"
  2595. >The variety of tones she goes through and her natural cadence is truly that of some posh, upper class pony
  2596. >Or at least one who really wants to be seen as that
  2597. >"So Applejack... to be honest, I haven't seen her happier. Not regarding anything that isn't apple-based anyway... do you like apples that much? Maybe it's just her apples you find so-"
  2598. "Come on, I'm not going to gossip about that with you of all people! Christ, have some tact."
  2599. >She's obviously trying to pump you for juicy information to share around the water trough but you aren't buying it
  2600. >"Alright, alright... I'm sorry. Better?"
  2601. >"Anyway... yes, Applejack likes you quite a lot. And you seem the exact sort that would be strong enough to really do her some good with work on all of this mostly-tamed land. I was starting to worry she'd end up a workhorse and ignore us completely."
  2602. >At least information pumping works both ways
  2603. "So... what's Applejack like? I mean, how was she before I popped up? How do you mean, that she's been... noticeably different?"
  2604. >You hear a giggle from behind you
  2605. >You haven't been paying attention but an amusing little show of fabrics being cut, folded and sewn has been going on in front of your face
  2606. >"Not going to gossip but you want to, huh... alright, I'll play along. It is only about her."
  2607. >Evidently, Applejack's main passion was, or still is, Sweet Apple Acres
  2608. >To the point that whenever there's a public appearance or event, she's always the first to set up a stand and advertise
  2609. >But she's also fiercely protective of her land and her products, to the point that she's never hired anyone outside of her family to work
  2610. >She's also strong
  2611. >You knew that, but apparently she's strong for earth ponies
  2612. >Which are both incredibly strong compared to unicorns and pegasuses
  2613. >Pegasi?
  2614. "Hey, Rarity. Is it pegasuses or pegasi?"
  2615. >Rarity snorts in amusement
  2616. >"Really?"
  2617. "Well yeah. Evidently they aren't where I'm from or I wouldn't ask."
  2618. >"Aaahhh... oh, Anon. We can't be gifted in every aspect."
  2619. "What's that supposed to mean?!"
  2620. >She avoids your confrontation and goes back to talking about Applejack
  2621. >It works since you lose your aggressive edge while hearing about her
  2622. >There haven't been that many suitors due to all of the hard physical labor that would surely be entailed
  2623. >After what feels like an eternity, she finally finishes discussing Applejack in worrying amount of detail
  2624. "So... do you think she really likes me? I'm not a... uh... well, I'm a human."
  2625. >"Mm. Yes, I'm aware, darling. And let's put it this way, if she didn't want you dressed up and pampered by the best fashionista in all of Ponyville, and possibly in all of Equestria, she wouldn't have given me all of that wool. Do you know how much that stuff is worth, depending on what's in fashion?"
  2626. "Not really. I've been kinda... stuck in a barn."
  2627. >Your response makes her laugh at least
  2628. >"You are too much, do you know that? Funny and strong... and don't think I haven't seen or heard of you flashing everyone. I'm almost worried for her."
  2629. >You want to say something back at her but you'd better not
  2630. >"She's not rich like... Manehatten millionaire rich. But this land is worth an awful lot, and everything she makes. Her family has come a very long way to get to this. The fact that she adores you as a person as well as an asset to the family business is an astonishing feat. She strikes me as the sort who would chop up her happiness and bury it in a ditch if it meant her family name got out there more."
  2631. >That hit you pretty hard, right in the stomach
  2632. >Right where all of those quasi-liquids are still stored
  2633. "I suppose... but what about that red guy, Mac? And surely she has others here too, right?"
  2634. >"Well sure, she has help. But she's the foreman of it all. She works herself to the bone, on top of leading projects, sales, even down to her own packaging! I dare say the only thing she doesn't do all of is the cooking."
  2635. "Her cooking is really good..."
  2636. >"Then tell her that! Remind her just how good she is at what she does. I can spend a day or two alone but I don't know how long she spends just... working. It is a virtue, honestly, but it can also be a curse. Dispel that curse. For her sake and mine."
  2637. >You glance at the snipping and sewing magic show in front of you
  2638. >It has plenty of flourishes and looks like it would go amazingly with a dance and song but you couldn't be paid to care about that
  2639. >Looks like she is making a jacket though
  2640. >You even see some straps and shreds of leather floating around
  2641. "So... what's Pinkie and Twilight's take on all of this?"
  2642. >The fabric dancing in the air freezes on the spot
  2643. >If only for a second
  2644. >"Well... Pinkie seems to enjoy playing with you. She's been bouncing all around town, more so than usual you see. She's... how she is. I don't really think any of us could really wrangle her in. If she forces you into any overly silly parties, it's ok to tell her 'no'. Just don't say that too much."
  2645. >She gives an embarrassed laugh
  2646. >"She's more of a socialite than I. And be careful about anything slathered in red... she likes hot sauce."
  2647. >Her voice turned to a spicy flavor of disgust for those last four words
  2648. >"As for Twilight... well, I'm not stupid. Frankly, I'm concerned for her as much as I am about Applejack. And both of them seem to focus on you, but for different aspects. I have also heard of what she's done, if any of that mystical 'magical saturation' hooey is to be believed. Let me tell you this, darling. Have you been feeling any illness from me? Any nightmares?"
  2649. >Well you did just finish off a twelve course hell that's supposed to more or less make you immune to it now
  2650. "Zecora's stuff isn't snake oil, I would think."
  2651. >That seems to poke a hole in her pride
  2652. >"Oh... well yes, that is right, now isn't it... anyway, I hardly doubt all of that is real. I've never seen it."
  2653. "Well, is Twilight stronger than you, magically? However you judge or quantify that?"
  2654. >"That is a good point. She's always... let's just say 'special'. She was first sent here to learn about friendship! Could you imagine living a life where you'd need a lesson in how to make friends?"
  2655. >Your face scrunches
  2656. "Yeah... ha ha... who would ever have a problem making friends..."
  2657. >"But back to the point, she... I don't know. I've spoken with Spike and she must be studying hard on something big. Maybe it's to get you back home?"
  2658. "But what about Applejack?"
  2659. >"What about Applejack indeed... my, this is but a pickle you've fallen into."
  2660. >You couldn't just go back to home
  2661. >Not now, when you've already had a taste of a new life and what could only be seen as the promise of a real future to look forward to
  2662. "What's the whole deal about the reason I was put here? Why do you guys need to summon something from another world for a sauna?"
  2663. >Rarity stumbles over her words for a moment
  2664. >"W-well, uh... we get travelers here..."
  2665. "Good for your economy."
  2666. >"And they need a place to relax, don't they?"
  2667. "I suppose as much as anyone else."
  2668. >"So... we... decided that if we could get a source of steam that never ran out, we could run a little steam house and have a place to relax as well."
  2669. >You swear this isn't the first time you've heard this but your memories of the last few days have become one big blur
  2670. "Why not use wood?"
  2671. >"Wood costs money...?"
  2672. "Jesus Christ."
  2673. >You give an exasperated sigh
  2674. >You keep forgetting that you've been brought here for such a lazy reason
  2675. >But it wasn't all bad
  2676. "Listen, you about done here?"
  2677. >"Yes, yes, almost there. Applejack will like this."
  2678. "Will I like it?"
  2679. >"Well of course you will! You don't want to be naked all day, do you?"
  2680. >You begin to speak but she shushes you
  2681. >"You're speaking to a lady, don't go there."
  2682. >Dammit
  2683.  
  2684. "Hey Rarity."
  2685. >"Mmmyes, dear?"
  2686. >You watch the fabric, fur and leather dance
  2687. >It has done a good job at keeping you occupied
  2688. "Applejack seems to like me a lot..."
  2689. >"That's an understatement if I've ever heard it."
  2690. "Yeah. I've only been here a few days. Is this sort of thing normal to her, as far as you know?"
  2691. >"Honestly? I've seen ponies all around fall in love far faster for far more... skin deep reasons, let's say."
  2692. "So this isn't anything to worry about?"
  2693. >"Not that I'm aware of. Are you worried about a mare going head over heels for you?"
  2694. "Kinda. I could never imagine a female of my own species doing that. I've never seen anything like it."
  2695. >"Do you not want the attention then?"
  2696. "No... no, I want it. I enjoy it. The food I've had here has been absolute best I've had in I don't know how long. I suppose I just don't know how well I can understand it."
  2697. >"Women are a complicated subject, Anon. Are you grateful?"
  2698. "Well, yeah, of course I am."
  2699. >"Then be grateful. Show her. And make sure you don't stain your clothing while you do so."
  2700. >You hear some 'oh ho ho ho ho ho' behind you
  2701. "I'm speaking to a lady but you get to make those types of comments?"
  2702. >"That's right. I'm also making and mending your clothing so I get a say in what will make it last longer."
  2703. >Well she's got you there
  2704. >The flurry of magic in front of you finally looks like it's coming to an end
  2705. >"Right, well, here is your shirt."
  2706. >The tunic you wore is in front of you again
  2707. >It looks like nothing has changed, at a glance, but it looks like it's been layered
  2708. >"I double-stitched all joints, sewed on a second layer of more sturdy quilt on the inside so it'll feel a mite softer against your skin, and the..."
  2709. >She clears her throat
  2710. >"The front area that goes down has been widened. You really must stop showing everyone your jewels, darling, really."
  2711. >You want to say something snarky but you don't want to be ungrateful
  2712. >You grab the tunic out of the air and fit it over yourself
  2713. >Sure enough, it feels like it isn't just some shirt anymore
  2714. >It feels a bit more solid, a bit more weighty
  2715. >You stand up as you put it on, feeling that it does go down a bit lower all around
  2716. "Very nice... I appreciate it."
  2717. >"That's not all, darling."
  2718. >A cloth jacket stops in front of your face
  2719. >The shoulders, collar, and the lining is all leather
  2720. > There's even a leather apple on the right chest
  2721. >The center of an apple has an 'A+J' on it, but it looks so minor you didn't see the plus sign at first
  2722. "Whoa... ho ho ho... lee shit. This is what she wanted you to make?"
  2723. >You grab the jacket out of the blue aura and slip it on
  2724. >It fits like a dream
  2725. >The sleeves go down to your wrists
  2726. >The arms fit right
  2727. >It hangs off of you, but isn't too loose
  2728. >There aren't any buttons to it, but you hardly mind
  2729. "This is fan-freakin'-tastic, Rarity. All of that wool for this and a patch job?"
  2730. >"Well, you aren't exactly pony-sized, so you take a lot more. I can't just give you a patchwork piece either, now can I?"
  2731. >You move around, flexing your arms and folding them over every which way
  2732. >Everything feels solid
  2733. >More solid than any clothing you own back home!
  2734. >The color is all a basic beige with a light brown leather, but that works for you
  2735. "So... that's it then?"
  2736. >You turn to Rarity, who's already packing her bags
  2737. >"That's it. Go show off to Applejack and give her my regards, would you? And remember what I said about the staining!"
  2738. >You scratch behind your head
  2739. "Yeah... don't worry, I'll be better about that, trust me."
  2740. >With that, step back over the fence and... you're not sure where to go.
  2741. >You could still use a good pair of boots and at least a belt, but you aren't really all too needy
  2742. >You don't see Applejack over at the orchard but she's probably over there
  2743. >Or the barn
  2744. "Sure, let's give that a shot..."
  2745. >You stride over to the barn, quite proud of your outfit
  2746. >The apple bit is cute, but you can't help but think that it's a little brand
  2747. >Not that you mind
  2748. >You knock on the barn a few times before opening one of the doors
  2749. >You step in, seeing a pony rummaging around in the corner
  2750. "Hey, Applejack. Thanks for the coat. Kinda spoke with Rarity and... well, I guess I've given you too little credit. I appreciate you doing so much."
  2751. >The pony raises it's head up from the bag
  2752. >Your heart stops
  2753. >It's Twilight
  2754. >"Ohhhh hi Anon! You look like you're right at home here! I just thought I'd bring over some things... you know. Because I knew you didn't have a lot. But it looks like Applejack's taking good care of you!"
  2755. >You flinch too hard to do anything
  2756. >She trots up to you, her eyes staring into yours
  2757. >She sounds like she's happy for you, but her eyes are frantic, like she hasn't had a chance to relax in days
  2758. >She stops in front of you, glancing over your new clothing
  2759. >"My my... mymymymymymymymymymymymy, Rarity is such a great friend to make this for you! And what's that apple on the front?"
  2760. >You want to say something to her, anything, but you feel paralyzed on the spot
  2761. >"A plus J... Anon plus Applejack, maybe? Well isn't that cute! That is cute. You two make a good couple together."
  2762. >Only then do you feel like you can finally manage something
  2763. "T...thanks."
  2764. >"You know... I think you and I should have a little talk."
  2765. "Here, right? I think it'd be good t--"
  2766. >Before you can finish, a purple glow envelopes you
  2767. >You expect something to happen
  2768. >You stare at Twilight
  2769. >She stares at you
  2770. >Nothing's happening
  2771. >Was that goofy Zecora crap working?
  2772. >The magic energy dissipates around you
  2773. >You aren't sure what you should do
  2774. >"That... was unexpected. Ok. We can talk here if you like. I didn't think you'd be that prepared."
  2775. "Twilight... I'm confused. What are you doing here, what did you try to just do, and are you alright?"
  2776. >"Yeah, Twilight... just what in heckfire are you doing here?"
  2777. >That's Applejack's voice
  2778. >You hear her stomping up to your side from behind
  2779. >Twilight looks like she's over the moon
  2780. >Or incredibly stressed
  2781. >You can smell ozone in the air from the tension between the two ponies
  2782. >You're by and far the biggest creature in the barn but you can't help but feel like you would be the first one to physically break apart
  2783. >You don't dare turn your eyes away from Twilight but you can hear angry huffing from the apple mogul
  2784. >"Applejack, you're here too! That's GREAT, that means I can talk to both of you! That was my initial plan anyway."
  2785. >"Enough small talk, git talking or git going!"
  2786. >The contrast between the two is enough to make your stomach drop
  2787. >If things escalate, who knows what might end up demolished
  2788. "Hey, first off... can I ask some things?"
  2789. >"Oh, of course Anon! You were first in m-"
  2790. >"Anon, now ain't the time for that! She's just gonna lie to you or worse!"
  2791. >"Oh come on, Applejack, should we really be judgmental and claim ulterior motives right now when we both know--"
  2792. >"Nu uh, don't you dare go there!"
  2793. >Applejack takes an earth shattering stomp forward
  2794. >Out of your peripheral vision you can see that she looks angry enough to buck a unicorn's head clean off her shoulders
  2795. "Hey, calm the hell down!"
  2796. >You crouch down and slap Applejack's chest to push her back
  2797. >Her fury turns to you before it melts into fear
  2798. >"Whatever she says ain't true, sugarcube!"
  2799. >What the hell's gotten into her?
  2800. "Listen, that crap Zecora gave me works like a charm and then some! As long as that gunk is going through my system I'm as good as invincible."
  2801. >Now if she decides to go nuclear, it may still suck but if you have any magical protection, you're that much better off
  2802. >Your attention turns to Twilight
  2803. "Now, you want to talk to both her and I... let's start with me, alright?"
  2804. >"Oh, yeah. Sure, of course, Anon."
  2805. >Twilight shoots Applejack a smug look before smiling at you
  2806. >"So, I've been keeping track of you best I can, to protect you you see and one of the weirdest things I've noticed is that you've been eating some really weird things that I've found have been used to sedate ponies! Now isn't that just the kooky? And best of all, it was stopping me from giving you magic! Because, you know, I've been looking into your world and how to send you back, which I'm sure you feel right at home now, and I found out that if I keep a magical tether to you, I can learn more about you! And I know you've been using my magic because yesterday it spiked more than once! I have even been able to see through your eyes! But only for a moment. Isn't that great? You can be a magician or wizard!"
  2807. >Her rapid fire explanations go over your head but a few details stick out
  2808. >Drugging
  2809. >Magical tethering
  2810. >You can magic
  2811. >You shake your head and close your eyes
  2812. "Ok, what?"
  2813. >Twilight smiles wider at you
  2814. >"I've been trying to give you magic so you can use it because I really want to give you something valuable to help you adjust, and that it was working well despite Applejack drugging you with anti-magic ingredients that are also known to sedate ponies, and that I brought you some books to read because I know you like reading and relaxing and I thought that I could help you read and show you more magic that I know you would like!"
  2815. >She smiles with a squee, focused entirely on you
  2816. "That... that doesn't make any sense. I've had nightmares almost every night I've been here. That's just magic saturation."
  2817. >Twilight's smile turns concerned
  2818. >"Magical what now?"
  2819. "Y... yeah. That's when my body is... uh... Applejack, what were the details again?"
  2820. >Your head pivots to Applejack but she has a deer in the headlights look
  2821. "That's why you gave me that stuff, right, to ward it off?"
  2822. >"Yeah Applejack, tell us about this magic saturation theory of yours..."
  2823. >Twilight peeks beside you, glaring at Applejack
  2824. >Still with a smile
  2825. >"W-well, it's... uh... well it's true..."
  2826. >She doesn't sound all that confident
  2827. >For some reason, you aren't so sure, yourself
  2828. "Applejack... when I was gone for that day, and came back, didn't you say something like I had too much magic in me or that my capacity for it was low or something?"
  2829. >You've been through so much the details have blended together
  2830. >You've been trying to keep track of time but with every new event and encounter, it's all just become one mosaic of technicolor ponies
  2831. >Not having a watch or phone hasn't helped
  2832. >Applejack doesn't answer
  2833. >At least, if she did, you've lost interest in waiting after so much time of silence and uncomfortable facial expression
  2834. >You focus back on Twilight, who snaps to attention
  2835. "Twilight... why have I been having nightmares? Why have I been feeling drained all over?"
  2836. >"Oh, that! Well... I admit that it's probably scary to be here. And that day you were here, I will admit, and I do apologize, but I did get a little... intrusive. I did look into your mind and your heart. You see, at first, I thought you were more a monster or spirit for me to dissect and learn about, but the more I went into learning about you the more I discovered who you are and how you are and that made me want to dig deeper and harder and maaaaaaybe I might have gone a little overboard? On top of that, I wanted to extract part of you and replace it with a little bit of myself because... I..."
  2837. >Her voice turns more flustered and more heated the longer she rattles on
  2838. >"Well... I-I wanted to give you a part of myself. And I know now that it wasn't the greatest thing to do right off at the start because it maybe messed with your head and heart a little too much! I've been siphoning myself from you and been replacing it with more raw magical energy so you can use it independent of me and now that you've been here, it's my hypothesis that you're acclimating faster than I initially believed you could. Isn't that great?"
  2839. >Most of it flies over your head
  2840. >The more she speaks, the more you feel your stomach turn
  2841. >The lack of confidence from Applejack is equally unsettling
  2842. "But... your occult shit..."
  2843. >"Yes, well, I couldn't take risks beforehand! I had to be careful, and maybe giving you a little numbing zap to the heart would... suppress your inner violent urges if you had any? I mean, I couldn't risk my friends getting hurt. But now that I know you aren't some steamin' demon, I feel just terrible about it. You would've taken the same precautions, right?"
  2844. >The information is dizzying
  2845. "But... Applejack wrapped me up in blankets and stuff and... didn't you two talk?"
  2846. >You shift between Twilight, who seems all too happy to expose everything
  2847. >And Applejack, who actively averts your gaze
  2848. "You ran off and said you'd be back."
  2849. >"Y-yeah... and I did."
  2850. >"Applejack, you asked me to stop researching. Do you know what pony you said that to? I told you it was to send Anon back. We both thought he was just a monster at the time and we've done worse to actual threats."
  2851. >"It ain't like that... you didn't see the look on his face! The hurt in his eyes! You dang near could'a killed him!"
  2852. >"I nearly killed him?! Applejack, sweetie, you kept him in a barn for days and isolated him from everything! You kept him cooped up like another barnyard prize project! What do you know about care?"
  2853. >Twilight's smile finally fades
  2854. >Her horn starts to glow, as does your leg
  2855. >It feels better but it is bruised with a variety of brown and purple blotches
  2856. >"And what is this? If Anon broke his leg, what would you do to help him? Would you have even taken him to a doctor? Would you tell him that he didn't need it or to just toughen up?"
  2857. >That hits Applejack as hard as it hits you
  2858. >You knew that you weren't supposed to be seen, because other ponies and whatever would freak out
  2859. >Right?
  2860. >As if part of her still resides in your mind, Twilight quickly follows up
  2861. "Anon, Equestria has been led by an alicorn for over a thousand years, Ponyville has seen the return of Discord, a giant amalgamation of creature and chaos given form, and I once saw Fluttershy nearly break a bear's neck, to which she later claimed was just a massage to ease tension. Do you honestly think anypony would have seen you and just lost it?"
  2862. >You don't have an answer for that
  2863. >How could you?
  2864. "I... don't know?"
  2865. >"Right, and how could you, when you've been cooped up and made to lay on the dirt like some dog?"
  2866. >Your hand finally drops from Applejack's chest
  2867. >You didn't notice but you were clenching at her chest tufts before your arm lost all strength
  2868. "So... what about that dream pony that popped up? I spoke to one in my dreams."
  2869. >Twilight beams at you
  2870. >"Princess Luna! Yes, she came to me along with Princess Celestia."
  2871. "But... she told me she'd protect me from nightmares or something. She said that she'd help me out."
  2872. >Twilight nods to your concerned words
  2873. >"Yes well, once I explained the situation and what was going on... well, I got quite the chastising. I mean, I had to go to great lengths to make sure they didn't interfere or take you away and lock you up in a dungeon! I gave my official Human Anonymous reports and after they agreed that the best place for you would be here... if only because you were already getting familiar with your immediate surroundings. I mean, they can't just help every single poor soul that pops up or else they'd be pooped!"
  2874. >That sounds far more insulting than it was probably meant to be
  2875. "So... I wasn't important enough to help or for her to keep her word."
  2876. >"No, you were! I just had to promise her that I'd keep track of you for her, and that any nightmares you had must be allowed to play out, otherwise we wouldn't know how you reacted to such situations."
  2877. >You were crouching but you find yourself on your butt
  2878. >You bring your hands up to your head
  2879. >You really were just some experiment gone wrong
  2880. "So... what am I to you. Any of you."
  2881. >"Anon, you're the greatest find I've ever had! I even had Pinkie Pie throw you a party as a way to apologize and show you that I was making progress with learning about your world! That has to be something worthwhile, right?"
  2882. >"Aw phooey with that, I'm the one who got you dressed up and even made that bedframe for you!"
  2883. >"A bedframe with no mattress, Applejack, really? Next you're going to tell me that you did it all out of the goodness of your heart."
  2884. >"It's better than you fiddling and messing up his everything!"
  2885. >"Excuse me but it was required and it was to give him something he would have never gotten otherwise!"
  2886. >"And since when is giving someone something they don't naturally have a good thing!"
  2887. >"You can tell me once I give you some brains!"
  2888. >"That's it, I've had enough of you!"
  2889. >"What are you gonna do, buck trees and treat me like an animal that has to have her medicine mashed in with her food?"
  2890. "Fucking stop it, both of you!"
  2891. >You shout, trying to both cover your ears and massage your head
  2892. >If you were in another country, you could at least default to the played out spiel about how you were an American and that you had rights and flail around to make a scene
  2893. >But you were in another country
  2894. >Another world
  2895. >Another reality
  2896. >And absolutely no one cared to see you as anything more than a monster at the start
  2897. >Applejack did, but Twilight's criticisms aren't wrong either
  2898. >But Twilight gave you a sign that you weren't just cut off from home
  2899. >But neither of them could be reliably honest to you
  2900. "Just.. can you please just stop. I can't handle this."
  2901. >You sound pathetic
  2902. >You feel pathetic too
  2903. >Applejack sidles up to your left while Twilight rubs her face against your right side
  2904. >"I'm sorry for putting you through so much, Anon. If I knew what you were sooner, I would have just... sent you back. Or at least I would have treated you better and made sure you weren't being lied to like some other ponies."
  2905. >"Anon, I didn't mean to keep you cooped up... I was just scared for you. You looked like a wounded animal and I knew there was more to you than that, but I didn't know how to do anything about it. I saw what you could do but I didn't think about... safety, because I never needed it."
  2906. >Both of them sound like they mean it
  2907. >But how can you tell if they're serious?
  2908. >How can you tell that this isn't some scheme between the both of them?
  2909. "Just... what did Zecora really do to me? Is she in on this?"
  2910. >Applejack shakes her head, sitting at your side
  2911. >She leans into you
  2912. >"Zecora has told me before about magic and how it works... and it sounds right to me so I just listen to what she says on those matters. All of that stuff you drank today was to completely immunize you to magic. If what Twilight said is true, I guess it must have either kicked out or cut off whatever she had. It's some old warrior's ritual so I guess it's supposed to be good enough to save a life."
  2913. >Twilight mutters while trying to affectionately stroke you with her head
  2914. >"That's totally not how magic works, by the way..."
  2915. >You couldn't care less
  2916. >You really couldn't
  2917. "Twilight... what did you even have to bring over?"
  2918. >Twilight snaps back to focus on her mission, trotting off to retrieve something
  2919. >She comes back with a book in her mouth
  2920. >Sighing, you grab hold of it with both hands
  2921. >City Of The Dead
  2922. >By S.D. Pony
  2923. >The drawings on the front cover looks like two ponies, wielding guns, against zombiefied ponies and other creatures
  2924. >"I may have noticed that when you were young and growing up, that you read that book more than anything else. So... I went through as many of your memories as I could and transcribed it all down. I may have taken a few liberties here and there."
  2925. >Did she... really write an entire book for you, from secondhand memories?
  2926. >You're not sure if you should be astonished that she could do that or terrified that she could go through so many things in your head to the point that she could write a literal book that's based off of a book you read countless years ago
  2927. >"And... that's not the only one, either. Some other things you know a lot about, like movies or those interactive video games you have a ton of memories of... well, you know what adventure books are, right? They aren't anything like the real deal that you're used to, but you still choose what to do and you can still win or lose horribly!"
  2928. >Rather than going back to the pile, they all float toward you and land in a neat stack that comes to be as tall as the unicorn herself
  2929. >"All of them are transcribed by hoof so they may not be completely what you remember but... it's more of home. And I want you to feel at home while you're here. If you want still want to go. I could really use a partner like you, and your entire world's worth of knowledge and experience could unleash an infinite amount of possibilities for us all here! We've had a rocky start, but maybe I can make up for it and we can... start over?"
  2930. >Applejack tenses up against you, so much so that you can feel her shaking
  2931. >"I promise you can have the best food, rooms, and everything else in Equestria! Even if this occult stuff doesn't branch out and you aren't a physical specter that feeds off of emotions or ambient temperature, we could completely change the world!"
  2932. >Twilight smiles at you
  2933. >It's an apologetic smile
  2934. >But she does seem genuine about it
  2935. >"Please?"
  2936.  
  2937. >You sit there
  2938. >You can feel everything whirling around your head at a dizzying speed
  2939. >Everything Twilight's saying, and everything you think you're thinking blends together
  2940. >When will this end?
  2941. >When will you get home?
  2942. >Warmth drains from your face
  2943. >The purple unicorn turns blurry
  2944. >You have no clue of what's happening until the back of your head hits the ground and all cuts out
  2945. ...
  2946. >Applejack and Twilight watch as Anon falls back, as limp as a doll
  2947. >"Anon?!"
  2948. >"Great Celestia what have you poisoned him with through that superstitious zebra!"
  2949. >Immediately, Twilight looks at Applejack as if she were somehow behind it
  2950. >The look on Applejack's face is a mix of unfathomable terror and shock
  2951. >He seemed just fine while gulping down all of that forest slime
  2952. >She wasn't exactly sure, herself, of what was in it but she had come to trust Zecora's brews and concoctions even if she didn't really believe in them
  2953. >"H-he ain't poisoned, it's to get all of that magic hoodoo out of his head!"
  2954. >"Hoodoo, Applejack? I was giving him power! Power to do more than anything you could accomplish!"
  2955. >"You were giving the damned stud nightmares! You haven't once seen the look on his face when he's tried to act like it wasn't bothering him!"
  2956. >"Nightmares are just the mind's way of dealing with trauma, whether or not it makes sense!"
  2957. >"Exactly!"
  2958. >Applejack stomps her hoof down
  2959. >"Trauma! Trauma you caused! I've done my gosh darned hardest to try to give him a sense of normalcy and you have to come up and just... RUIN IT!"
  2960. >Applejack distances herself from Anon's body, staring down the magical tyrant
  2961. >They've never fought before, not really
  2962. >But this was something far more important
  2963. >Twilight shrinks back from the earth pony's anger
  2964. >Genuine anger, not just irritation, frustration or her characteristic stubbornness
  2965. >"Applejack, it was all with the best intentions... I had Pinkie throw a party for him, even. I saw how happy he was through her eyes!"
  2966. >"You surrounded him in magic even more than before and spied on him! You couldn't even talk to him directly! You damaged his mind and told yourself and him it was for his own good! You don't know what's good for him when you don't even know him!"
  2967. >That makes Twilight laugh
  2968. >A smug, condescending laugh
  2969. >"And you do, is that it? What have you done that makes you any better off? You kept him locked up, you let him roam around like a domesticated pet and you fed him an entire orchard's worth of apples because it's not like you have anything to offer!"
  2970. >Her smug aura vanishes the second Applejack takes another stomp forward, stepping hard enough to crack the ground
  2971. >"We did what anyone normal does! We talk! We talk about ourselves, each other, we found out how we're different but how we're similar! We clicked and... er..."
  2972. >Despite her rage, she's unable to spit out the last bits
  2973. >"We, uh... well, I know we're compatible."
  2974. >Twilight's eyes go wide
  2975. >"You... you what?"
  2976. >Applejack, flustered, still tries to keep her composure
  2977. >"Y-yeah! And you know what? It was good! It was natural! And I didn't have to cast a stupid spell on him to do it either!"
  2978. >This is what makes Twilight change to the offensive
  2979. >"That... that wasn't for you. That isn't for you! You're not supposed to do anything like that! I thought Rainbow Dash or Rarity might do something like that so openly but you? I thought you'd be the last one to just give it up without a thought!"
  2980. >That hits hard
  2981. >"You rotten... it wasn't random! And it wasn't for no reason, either! I can't believe you'd think that!"
  2982. >Neither of them are ready to budge from their perspectives
  2983. >Until they remember that Anon is still down and out
  2984. >Applejack rushes to his side, trying to figure out whether or not he's ok
  2985. >"We can beat the tar out of each other later, we gotta take care of him! If it weren't for you, we'd be outside and enjoying the day!"
  2986. >While Twilight heavily disagrees with her lip, she takes to Anon's other side
  2987. >Though she's no medical student, she is aware enough about the curious biology of humans
  2988. >A quick attempt to use magic on him ends in a fizzle
  2989. >"Oh for... I can't examine him with magic. But he seems ok."
  2990. >"Seems?! Twilight, he's out like a rock and this doesn't seem like what he's done before!"
  2991. >"Well alright, so what do we do?"
  2992. >"You don't know?! You're a bookworm but you can't... just help me out, ok?"
  2993. >Applejack bites onto the shoulder of Anon's fabric
  2994. >Twilight just watches her start to drag him off
  2995. >"Want to explain what you're doing?"
  2996. >Applejack signs and shakes her head at the clueless brainiac
  2997. >"I made that bedframe for him, and it has more than enough blankets and pillows. It's better than letting him sleep on the ground, right?"
  2998. >"Oh-right. I knew that."
  2999. >Twilight dips her head under Anon's knee, pushing up as much as she can to lift up his leg
  3000. >It's just barely better than nothing, but it is enough to make dragging him out a little easier
  3001. >No one's around to help or ask them questions
  3002. >The frame is still a distance away too
  3003. >Both of them stop, eventually, though Twilight is the first one to stop
  3004. >Applejack sighs, huffing
  3005. >"Come on, Twilight. Can't you do anything outside of magic?"
  3006. >"If you didn't make him drink all of that, I would be able to zap him to the moon and back if I wanted."
  3007. >"Yeah well you can't, can you! You can't rely on magic to do whatever you want!"
  3008. >The bickering doesn't continue more but the tension hasn't died down
  3009. >"There's got to be a better way... how about I take the frame, you take Anon, and we work together on this?"
  3010. >It was a good idea
  3011. >A whole lot better an idea than dragging him through the dirt when he was so pleased with his new clothing
  3012. >Before they know it, Anon is wrapped up in a blanket and on the sturdy bed frame
  3013. >Turns out that even though Twilight couldn't put her magic on him, she could still affect other things
  3014. >Like blankets
  3015. >Both of them, riled up and strained, watch him
  3016. >"Did my magic really hurt him so much?"
  3017. >She sounds dejected
  3018. >"Well... yeah, it did. I'm sorry sugarcube but you made it hell for him without even trying."
  3019. >"But... you..."
  3020. >"I was looking out for him, Twilight. It wasn't the best way to go about it, I know that much. I didn't take any pride in leaving him restricted neither. But I kept thinking that he would just be gone if he wandered off. Either because of you, or someone else, or because he might just vanish into the unknown."
  3021. >"I wouldn't let that happen."
  3022. >"You say that but you don't know... just like I don't know what I've been doing wrong. We're full grown mares, we can be honest with our faults."
  3023. >"Alright, that's fair enough. So what do we do?"
  3024. >"What do you mean, what do we do?"
  3025. >"Exactly what I asked, Applejack. Do we just... let him stay here? What if he wants to leave?"
  3026. >"What if he doesn't?"
  3027. >Neither of them speak for a while
  3028. >Twilight breaks the silence, her tone apprehensive
  3029. >"Do we know... really what he wants?"
  3030. >Applejack doesn't answer
  3031. >But she does speak
  3032. >"If you can watch him for a few minutes, how about I get us some grub, huh?"
  3033. >Twilight's sad face twitches to a smile for a second before fading
  3034. >"Yes. Thank you. I haven't exactly been taking care of myself for the last few days."
  3035. >Though they agreed to a plan, Applejack doesn't budge an inch
  3036. >Twilight doesn't comment on that
  3037. >He could wake up any second now, and if he does and she's not there, he might be worried
  3038. >Or what if he doesn't wake up
  3039. >He has to wake up soon, right?
  3040.  
  3041. >You think you had a dream
  3042. >In it, Twilight and AppleJack were on you
  3043. >Twilight stared into your eyes, glowing with that accursed purple aura
  3044. >Applejack hugged around your entire body like some living cage
  3045. >Both of them muttered something to you about you being theirs, or that you weren't going anywhere
  3046. >You were terrified
  3047. >But
  3048. >You felt something resembling warmth
  3049. >A part of you that you couldn't neglect was resonating with their words
  3050. >You were wanted
  3051. >You were genuinely wanted
  3052. >Before you could ask either of them anything, your eyes opened
  3053. >It's dark out, but you can see
  3054. >You struggle to shift around
  3055. >A glance down shows that it's just a blanket, not the orange pony
  3056. >You let a mournful sigh leave your lungs
  3057. >Only to seize up when you hear Twilight's voice
  3058. >"So that's what I found in his mind. He was scared, and felt powerless. I didn't think so far ahead that I considered that I was overpowering or scaring him, but part of why I tried to give him magic was so he wouldn't feel so weak. You understand where I was coming from, don't you?"
  3059. >Is she talking to you?
  3060. >You don't answer
  3061. >You silently shift on the wooden slats of your bed frame, feeling different joints pop and shift
  3062. >You didn't want to attract any attention
  3063. >"Well I guess so. I guess I ain't any better. I told him he owed me so he would feel more reason to stay. I ain't such a cruel pony... but he seemed like a responsible sort so... maybe I used that against him. If anything, I owe him."
  3064. >You hear Applejack sigh
  3065. >"We spoke a lot, you know. Wants a big family, loves living out away from cities. Maybe I was thinking... you know... he could stay here. I mean, he didn't seem like he was against it. But maybe I could'a done better expressing that. I wanted to build more than just that shabby frame for him. And..."
  3066. >You hear her clear her throat
  3067. >"I was thinking. Maybe if I could ask Celestia, she might be able to make sure that... you know."
  3068. >Twilight gasps
  3069. >"Applejack, you're serious?! Is that a good idea?"
  3070. >"Well shoot Twilight, I ain't gettin' to the point that I'm gonna look for just any stallion! I know I'm young but I wanna start now too. And I think he wants the same thing. It's selfish but I was honest and he was too. And maybe it just got me a mite too giddy."
  3071. >"Well... weirder things have happened, I guess..."
  3072. >Are they really discussing you?
  3073. >They sound so level-headed about it all
  3074. >You hear Applejack gulp down something
  3075. >"Now... I haven't thought out all of the details. But, say if he can't go back. Which I hope he can, if that's what he wants. But say he can't. He's gonna be alone here. So I went and just opened up everything. Yeah, I know, I didn't let him wander none. And yeah, I didn't really do a ton with him. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what I could do, without chasing him off. I mean, can you blame me?"
  3076. >She sounds like she's on the verge of tears, but hasn't yet let herself get to that point
  3077. >She definitely is strong
  3078. >"You aren't wrong... I guess this is a bit awkward, since I was having the same ideas. I let him stay here until he would want something more... academic. Then after going through the growing pains of getting magic, we... er... he and I could go to Canterlot for a bit. Formally introduce him to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and then see what their thoughts were on this."
  3079. >"I guess that ain't a bad idea, is it."
  3080. >"She would certainly know better than either of us. And she would probably know how to send him back to his world."
  3081. >"Twilight... please be honest with me. Do you think he would go back if he had the chance? Would he really just up and go?"
  3082. >Twilight doesn't answer
  3083. >Not for a few moments
  3084. >"I don't know. I think both of us handled this pretty poorly."
  3085. >"Can't we... just... you know, what if we..."
  3086. >Applejack is at a loss for words
  3087. >"I know we can't lie to him. You certainly can't. We've done enough of that, no matter what shape it was in. He needs friends now more than ever. And... if either of us have any ideas or plans with him... we should maybe be a little less..."
  3088. >"Crazy?"
  3089. >"I was going to say 'insistent' but... yes. Less crazy."
  3090. >Applejack laughs
  3091. >It's less than a happy laugh
  3092. >"I... I don't know what's with me. I feel like if I let him get away, I'm done for."
  3093. >"I know what you mean. He's a discovery that's once in a millennia... imagine what it would be like to have someone like him around for a lot of things..."
  3094. >They both go silent
  3095. >You've been staring up at the late evening sky the entire time, your body having since long relaxed
  3096. >Applejack speaks up
  3097. >Her voice is wavering, like she's not sure she wants to speak
  3098. >"I... I ain't gonna lose to you, Twilight. I think I can give him a lot. And he wants a lot of kids, he said so himself. And I want a lot too. Even if I didn't have the acres to tend to. I ain't gonna let you or anyone else take that from me."
  3099. >Twilight replies to that with a laugh
  3100. >"Applejack, that's sweet. But it isn't your choice to make. If he happens to fall for... let's say a unicorn that knows him inside and out, could you blame him if he just followed his heart?"
  3101. >"Wha... what are you saying to me, Twilight Sparkle?"
  3102. >"I'm saying, Applejack, my best friend, is that I'm not going to let you ruin my plans either."
  3103. >You can hear how far calmer Twilight is
  3104. >Except you can hear venom in her voice
  3105. >That 'you' sounds so bitter that it could wilt a flower
  3106. >They both sound like they're dead set on you
  3107. >But you heard the name Luna too
  3108. >What did Twilight really say to make her just up and stop helping when she said she would?
  3109. >What would this Celestia make of all of this?
  3110. >Living on the orchard wasn't perfect, but it was nice when you didn't have Twilight's intrusions nearly split your head open
  3111. >Neither of them are talking
  3112. >One's eating something, the other is drinking
  3113. >Something inside tells you that you gotta break the tension somehow
  3114. >You violently cough
  3115. "WU-HAUGH!"
  3116. >Both ponies scream and before you know it, you're face-first in the dirt
  3117. >"Twilight, you flipped the frame over!"
  3118. >"He surprised me!"
  3119. >"Get it off him before you hurt him any more than you already have dangit!"
  3120. >You groan and curse your inability to stay quiet
  3121. >At least the blanket loosened up around you
  3122. >Covered and surrounded with blankets and pillows, you rub your poor nose
  3123. >It isn't the biggest nose in the world and yet somehow it's the only thing that feels pain from all of that
  3124. "Thanks... no really, thanks. I was getting too comfy around here..."
  3125. >Applejack immediately dashes up to your side, rubbing her face against your shoulder
  3126. >"I'm sorry, sugarcube... did we wake you up?"
  3127. >You actually lean into her, knowing fully well her intentions
  3128. "No, I... uh, I kinda just came to on my own."
  3129. >The bed frame lands gracefully behind you
  3130. >A cup and a pair of biscuits float up to your chest
  3131. >"Applejack brought some snacks and drinks for us. We were waiting for you to wake up and... I guess you must've been sleepy. But that's alright, you usually sleep pretty hard when you're exhausted physically, right? These should help you."
  3132. >You can't shake how wary you are about her magic but you do take one of the biscuits
  3133. >As soon as you take hold of it, the magic around it dissipates
  3134. >It's a lot better than eating something that glows
  3135. >You defeat it with one chomp, watching where most of their conversation most likely took place
  3136. >A big picnic blanket
  3137. >A basket
  3138. >A pair of plates
  3139. >Even a kettle
  3140. >And Twilight, sitting on one side, looking at you with the sweetest smile you've seen on a technicolor pony
  3141. >"We were planning on having lunch with you but Applejack didn't pack enough... or I guess it's more fair to say that we were both a little more hungry than we initially thought."
  3142. >The jabs they're throwing at each other is unreal
  3143. "It's... fine. Really, it's nothing to worry over. I'm made of sterner stuff."
  3144. >"Oh, I know you are! But you know what they say about spears and bending, right?"
  3145. >Your eyebrow raises at her
  3146. "Come again?"
  3147. >Twilight's smile turns awkward
  3148. >"Oh... er, I'll explain later. But you're fine so that's alright, right?"
  3149. >She stands up and starts to approach you, from the side that isn't being assaulted by Applejack's snuggling
  3150. >"Applejack and I were talking about what we could do for you. Together, not with us at each other's throats and making things worse for you by being shortsighted or... over productive."
  3151. >She rests at your side, gently leaning her head on your arm
  3152. >"We're going to work together now. So, no matter what, you will get what you need. This includes a portal home, too!"
  3153. >At the mention of a portal, you can hear something of a sniffle from Applejack
  3154. >The sleeve of your jacket feels wet
  3155. >"If... you want one. It's really ok if you don't want, but..."
  3156. >Twilight's voice falters for only a second before she continues
  3157. >"Just in case. Right? Whatever your choice, you have me every step of the way."
  3158. >That reveal, that split second, tells you that she really did not want to say that
  3159. >Applejack isn't saying anything else and has resigned herself to burrowing her head underneath your arm, silently sniffling and whimpering
  3160. >Your hand goes to her side, stroking her
  3161. >"Because, you know... it's my fault that you're stuck here. And I gotta help you, even if it means..."
  3162. >Twilight is trying to force herself to speak more, as if it's completely fine
  3163. >You can see just one tear slip down her face despite her smile
  3164. >But she's not smiling or even looking at you
  3165. >She's just staring off ahead
  3166. >You bring up your hand and hug her with it
  3167. >She looks at you with a panicked look on her face, only to retreat back to her staring ahead
  3168. >You can see her lower lip tremble when you start to pet her side too
  3169. >From her shoulder down to her flank
  3170. >For Applejack, it's more from between her shoulder blades and down her spine to her tail
  3171. >You've been around animals more than long enough to know how to multitask
  3172. >You're not sure of what to say
  3173. >What can you say to this?
  3174. >You do want to go home
  3175. >At least, part of you does
  3176. >Even if it's only temporarily
  3177. >But at what cost?
  3178. "Don't worry... we'll figure this out. We're in no rush, right? And we got that sort of... spa or whatever that goofy thing is, right? I got my work cut out for me, there's no way I'll coward out now and leave you two..."
  3179. >Say the rest of it
  3180. >Say the rest of it now God damn it
  3181. "...alone to deal with this."
  3182. >That's better
  3183. >It was a lot easier to look forward to going home when you were isolated and wracked with nightmares
  3184.  
  3185. >You end up spacing out while petting the two ponies
  3186. >Neither of them are happy
  3187. >You aren't happy
  3188. >You just wanted to go home
  3189. >To go back to your normal life
  3190. >To go without those God damned nightmares that made time melt and killed your sense of inner peace
  3191. >Now you can't imagine going home without ruining lives
  3192. >You refuse to believe that you're so unique or that you're so special
  3193. >But then you are actually in the position to make two mares cry
  3194. >One made you a bed frame by herself
  3195. >The other wrote a miniature fucking library based off of your memories and did some sort of magical fuckery to try to give you magic
  3196. >At a dire cost you gladly don't want to pay
  3197. >But still
  3198. >You don't know too much about this world enough to care and be some grand innovator
  3199. >But the thought of owning land, of living in a nice, rural area with a sweet girl and making a large family with her?
  3200. >You really want that
  3201. >Applejack has had some suspect moments that make you worry
  3202. >But you don't completely see that as a reason to overlook all of the potential good
  3203. >And what about Pinkie?
  3204. >Is she going to pop up?
  3205. >What if she tells Twilight about Applejack?
  3206. >They had time to talk, maybe she already knows
  3207. >But then that wrestling match and...
  3208. >Applejack stopped crying, and violently nuzzled her face into your side, hiding herself from the outside world
  3209. >By feeling her side, you wonder if she might have fallen asleep
  3210. >You glance over to Twilight and she quickly looks back to you
  3211. >Yup, she's awake
  3212. >She looks a little rough and puffy from her tears
  3213. "Hey there."
  3214. >She giggles and smiles at you
  3215. >"Hi."
  3216. >You feel something tug at you
  3217. "Twilight... I'm sorry that I've been a bother since I got here. I never wanted to cause anyone any harm, emotional or otherwise."
  3218. >You want to include that you wish you were sent home immediately
  3219. >But you wouldn't be honest then
  3220. >Twilight laughs, gazing at you
  3221. >"Anonymous... you haven't hurt me at all. Even if you did, I would never complain."
  3222. >The way her words come out are luscious and pure adoration
  3223. "But you should. I don't want to see you hurt. Or to see App--"
  3224. >As soon as you attempt to bring up Applejack's name, Twilight lunges up to you
  3225. >She kisses you
  3226. >Hard
  3227. >Her tongue bursts out, slathering over your lips
  3228. >In the moment, for a split second, you reciprocate the kiss
  3229. >Your lips part only just
  3230. >That's enough for her
  3231. >She thrusts her tongue into your mouth, her intensity tripling
  3232. >She nearly pushes you back from the initial push
  3233. >Not wanting to risk Applejack waking up and seeing this, you push back
  3234. >She only huffs out through her nostrils and intensifies only harder
  3235. >The heat of her tongue and the force behind her actions are dizzying
  3236. >You've kissed Applejack but it was far more relaxing, far more mutual
  3237. >This is a starved mare devouring what was given in front of her
  3238. >You haven't closed your eyes during any of this
  3239. >She hasn't either
  3240. >Locked by something you can't explain, your eyes are on hers just as hers are on yours
  3241. >Every now and again, she pushes her head forward just to make you push back
  3242. >Another huff and your own tongue comes to life
  3243. >It attempts to wrestle against hers
  3244. >She's all too yielding
  3245. >At first
  3246. >Her tongue coils around yours, slithering over every corner of your mouth
  3247. >Effectively washing your mouth of any taste you could have that doesn't belong to her
  3248. >You can almost tell what she's thinking from the open, glossy stare she has aimed at you
  3249. >It says "mine"
  3250. >"mineminemineminemineminemineminemineminemineminemineMINEMINEMINEMINEMINEMINEMINEMINEMINE"
  3251. >Except it's not just your imagination
  3252. >Like a stereo going from dead to full blast, you can hear her frantically screaming into your head
  3253. >As loud as she is, it isn't ever loud enough to hurt
  3254. >In that moment, all you see is purple
  3255. >And it's true
  3256. >You are hers
  3257. >Just when her frantic, panting mental screaming gets to be too loud, she pulls back
  3258. >Her tongue lolling out, she stares at you with a wide smile
  3259. >And a few strands of saliva connecting your mouths, proof of her cleansing
  3260. >She slowly retracts her tongue, licking her lips
  3261. >You're thunderstruck
  3262. >You do the same
  3263. >She glances down at the sleeping Applejack curled into your side and visibly grimaces, only to changes faces once more when her eyes meet yours
  3264. >She mouths three words
  3265. >Three words that you can hear in your mind
  3266. >They're staggered, barely contained syllables
  3267. >"I"
  3268. >"Love"
  3269. >"You"
  3270. >Your heart skips a beat
  3271. >Curse your biology
  3272. >Curse your internal and innate weaknesses
  3273. >Curse whatever you need to because in that heated moment, you think the same three words to her
  3274. >That makes her smile even more
  3275. >It's an expression of utter glee and love
  3276. >And of victory
  3277. >After a few blinks, your vision goes back to normal
  3278. >She's the only purple around
  3279. >You lick your lips again, bringing up the hand you were using to pet Twilight
  3280. >You can only taste her
  3281. >And what she was eating before
  3282. >You try to overcome it
  3283. >Despite feeling your physical self pulse with the need to conquer and own
  3284. >You've gotten a strong sense of self control over the years
  3285. >But a lot of you wants to pin her down and impale her
  3286. >Maybe it's something in your eye or how you're voluntarily breathing
  3287. >But she knows it
  3288. >She knows it and that smile grows only ever wider
  3289. >She wants you to do it
  3290. >She wants you to make her your mare
  3291. >She wants you to use her body to give you as may foals as you desire
  3292. >Applejack isn't the only one who would be willing to give you what you need
  3293. >She would give you a family rivaling that of Applejack's entire lineage, in one generation
  3294. >She's too good at this
  3295. >You close your eyes and clench your hands into fists
  3296. >You force yourself to steady your breathing
  3297. >As much as you can
  3298. >She keeps staring at you
  3299. >You can feel it
  3300. >Despite your eyes being closed, it's almost as if you can see her perfectly in the void of darkness
  3301. >Staring at you
  3302. >And smiling
  3303. >And dripping
  3304. >And waiting
  3305. >But you can't
  3306. >Or you won't
  3307. >What would you say to Applejack?
  3308. >You are a couple
  3309. >...are you?
  3310. >You've known her for literal days
  3311. >And she's already mentioned you living on her land, starting a family, having your own little secret pond
  3312. >She's hit you just as hard with Twilight, but in her own special way
  3313. >It really is astonishing
  3314. >But you can't taste her in your mouth
  3315. >And she hasn't gotten you to the point that you might burst from five solid seconds of stimulation
  3316. >Your breathing does eventually slow
  3317. >You're better than this
  3318. >You're stronger than this
  3319. >You will not be swayed
  3320. >You will not be controlled
  3321. >If you could be alone for a few minutes you know you could purge all of this pent up need
  3322. >Then the thought hits you
  3323. >What if you're not ever going to be alone again?
  3324. >That is good, obviously, in a sense
  3325. >But it also means that you won't be able to... self-regulate
  3326. >That would put you at a dire disadvantage
  3327. >You eventually open your eyes, feeling heat on your face and on your lap
  3328. >Twilight's smile subsided
  3329. >Not nearly as crazed and hungry
  3330. >But more comfortable
  3331. >"Applejack's tea is really the best, isn't it?"
  3332. >She gives you a wink, letting the tip of her tongue wiggle out of her mouth for a little bit too long
  3333. "Y... yeah. She really makes the best stuff..."
  3334. >"Really? I'll have to make you some tea sometimes. I think you might like mine better. Call it intuition."
  3335. >She seems so happy with herself
  3336. >You glance down to Applejack
  3337. >She's actually asleep
  3338. >You can even hear her breath, if only barely
  3339. >What if Twilight decides to brag?
  3340. >What happens if she doesn't?
  3341. >"Don't worry about her, Anon. She's been up for a long time. We both have. You worry us sometimes, let me tell you!"
  3342. >And just like that, she sounds like a normal dork again
  3343. >Except she keeps extending her tongue with certain words
  3344. >Just for you
  3345. >Once the heat of the moment passed, Twilight returned to your side
  3346. >She was quite happy to snuggle up to you, completely ignoring her sleeping friend
  3347. >You could imagine the age-old adage of "you snoze, you lose"
  3348. >At least it wasn't something more violent like "you nappa, you get slappa"
  3349. >Twilight said something to you and you weren't even paying attention
  3350. >You shook your head
  3351. "S-sorry, I was distracted. What was that?"
  3352. >She giggled
  3353. >"I said if you keep moving your hand, you're going to start something."
  3354. >You were petting her
  3355. >From shoulder to flank
  3356. >But it eventually gravitated toward her hind end
  3357. >Less petting and more massaging
  3358. >Your fingertips were dangerously close to exploring more
  3359. "S-sorry."
  3360. >You said that but you didn't withdraw your hand
  3361. >Given the sleazy smile she gave, she was taking pride in how helpless you were against her
  3362. >Maybe you are
  3363. >Her fur and tail is different than Applejack's
  3364. >Speaking of, her tail is covering part of her
  3365. >This frustrates you more than it should
  3366. >Your index finger dances along the outline of her tail, only for it to flicker at you
  3367. >She's teasing you
  3368. >She's looking at you too, with the most innocent smile
  3369. >"Bit for your thoughts?"
  3370. >Her tail flicks up and away
  3371. >The way it moves, it's to signal to you that it's away
  3372. >You really shouldn't be this easy to tempt
  3373. >But you are
  3374. "Yeah... about that spa. Or whatever it was that you said you couldn't just fuel with wood. Very hot place."
  3375. >And boy was there warmth radiating
  3376. >"Oh, that! Yes, well as you know I brought you here because I thought you were from a steam dimension, so I thought that you would be a steamin' demon but evidently that isn't the case. We came to the conclusion that bringing something like that here wouldn't be so bad because when in doubt, we could just zap him back! Or that was the initial thought..."
  3377. >If it were cold out, you could imagine that she would be steaming right now
  3378. >Your fingers get ever closer to your goal, and while she smiles and nuzzles your side, she doesn't do a thing to show a single reaction
  3379. >"Given you being my result, I think I should stick a fork in the occult studies and call it done... I didn't think I would be dealing with anything really dangerous or risky!"
  3380. >You scoff, stroking a far more intimate part of her with just your index finger
  3381. "What, you think I'm dangerous?"
  3382. >It was amusing
  3383. >She thinks so too and smirks at you
  3384. "Well look what you've done to me and Applejack. I shudder to think of what you could do to Ponyville..."
  3385. >She visibly shudders when she says the word
  3386. >In part due to your direct action
  3387. "I suppose... maybe you have a point. But hey, I'm not like this with just anyone."
  3388. >Which was true
  3389. >Mostly
  3390. >You weren't at all like this with Applejack
  3391. >And Pinkie Pie had her own flavor of everything
  3392. >Twilight was doing a lot to stroke your ego, and you lacked the capacity to defend against it
  3393. "Anyway... have you tried chemistry? What are more practical ways you could get everything to stay steamy, if wood is really such a big cost?"
  3394. >Twilight flops her head against your leg, letting out a long, drawn out 'hmmmm'
  3395. >You nudge a finger against a certain rounded part, making her flinch
  3396. >She waits to answer, adjusting to your own form of teasing
  3397. >She deserves it, honestly
  3398. >And it's a drop in the bucket compared to what she's done to you
  3399. >"Well... chemistry isn't my strongest suit. Alchemy is nice, and I've mixed a good few potions before but it was never my talent, as you can obviously tell."
  3400. >You keep rubbing and poking against her pearl, a bit absent-minded
  3401. "Obviously?"
  3402. >"Cutie mark, Anon."
  3403. >You look down from her face to her flank
  3404. >That's what that goofy marking is
  3405. >Her hind leg is twitching hard, occasionally kicking out
  3406. >Serves her right
  3407. "Well, still. You gotta know someone who can do that, right? Let's see..."
  3408. >You bring your middle finger in, giving her pony pearl twice the attention
  3409. >She shifts her head and exhales into your lap
  3410. >Right against a very specific part of your lap
  3411. >Only fabric is in the way
  3412. "In my world, we have these pocket hand warmers, right? They're pretty much just iron filings-dust, basically-and... I think salt. Expose it to air and it heats up. It's pretty mild but there are some hardcore variations..."
  3413. >"Mmhmm..."
  3414. >Twilight nods, opening her lips
  3415. >She begins to mouth your erecting pole
  3416. "And uh... let's see..."
  3417. >You squeeze her pearl between your index and middle finger, watching her flinch and shake
  3418. "I guess if we get enough of that, we can mix the two together? But that might not be enough. It would be hot but it kinda dies after a few hours..."
  3419. >"Mmhmmm"
  3420. >If she's listening, she doesn't show it
  3421. >She's enthusiastically mouthing you through the tunic flap
  3422. >It's starting to be too much
  3423. >You nudge her warm, leaking flank with a finger
  3424. >She doesn't stop but she looks up at you
  3425. >She was almost a little cross-eyed with her focus
  3426. >You nod at her
  3427. >She seems to get the idea
  3428. >Her horn begins to glow and the tunic flap lifts up
  3429. >Just enough to cover her mouth
  3430. >A new world of heat is discovered
  3431. >And her tongue is just as hungry now as it was moments before
  3432. >You renew your assault on her, closing your eyes
  3433. "So... we find enough... mix it... and..."
  3434. >As soon as her tongue uncoils around you, you burst
  3435. >As you do, you hear something spray out from her
  3436. >You can even smell it
  3437. >Smells like hot mare
  3438. >You grip her flank with the strength of a human man, legs trembling and hips jutting
  3439. >She doesn't stop, no matter how much you give her
  3440. >Even after you're done giving, she doesn't stop
  3441. >You're unable to speak, and your side is paralyzed from Applejack
  3442. >Unable to think straight, you push your two fingers into her
  3443. >That causes another spray that hits part of your hand
  3444. >Neither of you are willing to accept defeat, though only she can expel more from overstimulation
  3445. >Eventually her stamina dies first
  3446. >She stops twitching, her intense suction finally dies down
  3447. >If you didn't know better, you might have thought that you were the only thing in her mouth keeping her from screaming
  3448. "...so what do you think?"
  3449. >You break the less than perfect attempt at silence, huffing
  3450. >Twilight looks up at you, keeping her mouth full
  3451. >She nods
  3452. "Al-alright... first thing's first..."
  3453. >You slide your fingers out from her and hold them up to her nose
  3454. "We gotta find a mine. Or some sort of... iron mill? Processing plant? Can you figure out where you guys collect iron? Even if it's scraps and other raw bits, we can just shred them?"
  3455. >Twilight finally relinquishes you from her maw, only to clamp down on your entire hand
  3456. >It's kinda funny to see just how easily your hand fits
  3457. >Rather than letting her tongue lash over your hand, you grab onto it
  3458. >Her eyes widen at the capture
  3459. >You smirk
  3460. "You're quiet all of a sudden. Something up?"
  3461. >She slowly shakes her head, the tip of her tongue curling around your wrist
  3462. >Whether or not you're under her influence, you haven't a single clue
  3463. >But right now, with your fingers wrapped around her tongue, your taste in her mouth and part of you going to her stomach
  3464. >You know that she's yours
  3465. >The world looks just a bit more purple than it did before
  3466. >But this time it may be because all you can focus on is her
  3467. >You were enjoying your time with Twilight, believe it or not
  3468. >She eventually relinquished your hand, but only to the point that she insisted on licking or nibbling your fingers
  3469. >You've had animals do worse so maybe you just didn't think much about it
  3470. >What you did think about, however, was that you could still consider Twilight to just be a pony but still be sexually attracted to her
  3471. >Good thing no one would really be around to care
  3472. >You glance over to your other side
  3473. >Applejack had shifted, or slid, into laying on her side, with her face pressing into your leg
  3474. "She's... really tired..."
  3475. >Picking up on how you were no longer watching her, her jaw twitched
  3476. >Not enough to bite down, but enough to notice
  3477. "Was she really that tired?"
  3478. >The unicorn pushes your fingers out of her mouth with her tongue, acting as if a bitter taste were in her mouth
  3479. >"She's fine, everyone sleeps."
  3480. "Yeah but... I don't know. I can't just leave her like this. If she wakes up without me around, she might think the worse. I guess I would if I were her..."
  3481. >No matter what, you couldn't just leave her
  3482. >Even if she regularly left you
  3483. >It made sense because she lived here
  3484. >You might too
  3485. >Maybe
  3486. >You hear a frustrated growl from the unicorn and she devours your hand once more
  3487. >She's really attempting to gain your attention
  3488. >Chuckling, you form a circle with your index finger and thumb
  3489. >Immediately, she pushes her tongue through it
  3490. >You can feel her staring into the side of your head
  3491. "Twilight... do you really dislike Applejack?"
  3492. >Twilight doesn't answer at first, instead focusing on the circular entrance you made for her tongue
  3493. >She eventually pulls back
  3494. >"Of course not. She's one of my best friends. But... it doesn't mean I'm ok with you being with her. You deserve better, frankly, and I don't think she's cut out for it."
  3495. >That's cold
  3496. >Her tone is just as frigid, and sounds like a factual statement
  3497. "You don't know that..."
  3498. >"Yes I do. Why don't you think she has someone already?"
  3499. >You give her a harsh glare
  3500. "Why don't you, if you think you're so better?"
  3501. >You pull your hand out of her mouth and her tongue follows
  3502. >She stares at you, unblinking, while the tip of her tongue waggles against the tip of of your middle finger
  3503. >"I don't have someone already because I don't care about ponies that aren't interesting to me. I don't care about ponies that aren't willing to challenge me. I don't care about mundane earth ponies, or bird-brained pegasi."
  3504. >She sounds almost bitter
  3505. "So... why not a unicorn like yourself?"
  3506. >She starts to smile with that stare, her tongue still out
  3507. >"Because they're weak. You're strong. You could beat any pony in anything. With my help. You know so much more than anyone else in my world, you could change the face of Equestria. When we have foals, they will be able to do anything in the world at all."
  3508. >Still staring, she leans forward, letting her tongue trail up your hand, up your wrist, to your arm
  3509. >You can feel her trace one of your blood veins, that look blue in the bright sun against your pale skin
  3510. >"I'm not the element of love, but our love will be told for generations. Just as our discoveries."
  3511. >Whether or not you admit it, what she says sounds enticing
  3512. >It's by and far different than what Applejack has ever mentioned, but it's still pleasant promises
  3513. >The way she stares at you, you believe that she means it
  3514. >With magic, who knows what can or can't be done
  3515. >You gulp at the sensation of her bringing herself to her hooves, tracing your vein to your upper arm until she reaches your shoulder
  3516. >"Come with me, Anon. What are you waiting for? I am ready. I will make sure my body is ready."
  3517. >Her open offer and promises are enough to make your head spin
  3518. >You do not have any capacity to adequately talk her down or deny her
  3519. >There's only one thing on your mind that stands out and shines through the purple
  3520. "But... Applejack. I owe her. Whether or not she just said that to keep me here, it's true. No matter what happens, I can't take advantage of what I've been given here."
  3521. >Twilight's face twitches to a frown
  3522. >It's like it's a genuine inability to comprehend your position
  3523. >"She'll understand. We can make her understand if we just show her our results. Our discoveries, our technical advancements. Our family."
  3524. >The sheer force of her coming on so strong is finally allowing you to think a little more clearly
  3525. "L-listen, Twilight... one thing at a time, please. I said that there's no rush. We get things done, one at a time, and... we just go from there. What will happen will happen. It's like playing an RPG, you know?"
  3526. >No, she probably wouldn't know
  3527. >Still, you continue
  3528. "We're starting at level one, and by end game we'll be in our fifties or higher. And then post-game we'll reach even greater heights. Right now, we're still at the lower levels. We gotta build things up. Get stronger. Be tested by adversity. Only then do you know that you have something solid and worth defending and keeping."
  3529. >As you speak, her smile returns
  3530. >The happy gleam in her eye comes back too, turning back to an adoring gaze
  3531. "We level up. We face our bosses and challenges, and come out stronger for it. When it comes to... any portal home... that can wait. I promise. Until everything's settled here, I give you my word."
  3532. >Twilight hugs you
  3533. >You think you got through to her
  3534. >You did mean it
  3535. >There's no way you couldn't mean it
  3536. >You wish Applejack was awake for you to hear it, since you would say it to her too
  3537. >You don't know who is or isn't genuine, or what their real plans are
  3538. >But part of you is starting to like both of them
  3539. >You don't think you should
  3540. >Especially due to what Twilight did to you
  3541. >But it's because of her that you find yourself so conflicted too
  3542. >Maybe she had a good reason to do what she did
  3543. >Maybe you were overreacting
  3544. >Maybe you just need to be stronger
  3545.  
  3546. >"Anonymous. You're so sweet."
  3547. >Twilight hasn't let go of you
  3548. >You kinda don't want her to
  3549. >Going from hardly anyone paying you attention or giving you affection to this is a lot to take in
  3550. >But that hard shell you grew is still there to protect you
  3551. >And it keeps her words from making you instantly fall for her and agree to anything
  3552. >But the heat and proximity of her hug
  3553. >It is really, really hard to not melt
  3554. >It's almost as if she knows exactly what to do
  3555. "Yeah..."
  3556. >The way she presses her body against you
  3557. >The way she nuzzles the side of your face with hers
  3558. >You really aren't able to defend against this
  3559. "Twilight..."
  3560. >"Yes, Anon?"
  3561. "That spa..."
  3562. >You hear something resembling a growl
  3563. >She releases you from her hug
  3564. >"You're so dutiful. A good trait to have as a father, I'll have you know! Trust me, I've done a lot of research into ideal traits. Just as an ideal trait for me, as a mother-in-training, is to love my husband and the father of my children to the ends of the earth and beyond."
  3565. >Jesus, she's hitting hard and doesn't know when to stop
  3566. >You're borderline flustered at this point
  3567. "So, iron mines... workshops. Factories? Do you know where we can get some? If that iron oxidization can be done enough in something resembling a... big bowl or whatever, could that work? Could use coals too. Some countries from my world have little hot boxes that make steam."
  3568. >You motion with your hands as you speak, derailing your own train of thought
  3569. "Wait. Coal. You guys got coal, right? Why not just find some of that?"
  3570. >Twilight watches you Rain Man your way through the situation
  3571. >Your deduction skills make her eyes sparkle
  3572. >"Oh Anon, of course we have coal! But it's not the most affordable thing and... well, a steamin' demon would still be free."
  3573. >She smiles as if it's all the explanation you deserve
  3574. "...is there no community fund toward this? You guys didn't have any sort of fund raising?"
  3575. >Twilight shakes her head
  3576. >"No. Everyone thought it would be a good idea but no one really needs it so... no one is willing to put down any bits. It sure sounds like a good idea for Ponyville to have though!"
  3577. >You scrunch your face and look at her
  3578. >You're finding this difficult to believe
  3579. "Twilight."
  3580. >"Yes, Anonymous?"
  3581. "Purple dream."
  3582. >That makes her heart skip a beat
  3583. >Her tail flickers and her eyes shine brighter
  3584. >"Yes?!"
  3585. "...is this really for your town or just for you and your friends?"
  3586. >"Well they're the same thing!"
  3587. >You aren't sure if she's giving you fake answers or if she really just attempted to summon a demon from another dimension for something so petty and ill thought out
  3588. "... what is the capacity of this spa, sauna, spauna thing you want? How many ponies did you want in it at once?"
  3589. >Twilight finally breaks eye contact from you, tilting her head to ponder the concept
  3590. >"I... don't know... Everyone gets a turn, right? So I guess it doesn't matter if the capacity is for two ponies or twenty."
  3591. >She looks into your soul again, happy as can be
  3592. >You find it hard for her to be this dense
  3593. "YOU HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT ANY SPECIFICS AT ALL, HAVE YOU?!"
  3594. >You throw up your arms, falling onto your back
  3595. >Thankfully you avoid from landing on the sleeping apple mogul
  3596. "You're telling me you, on a whim, wanted to build a place that has steam, so you decided to summon a fucking fire demon--"
  3597. >"Ahem, steamin' demon, Anon."
  3598. "A FUCKING FIRE DEMON!"
  3599. >You screech, your voice breaking
  3600. "To just... magic one up? Don't you have something like this in your world already?"
  3601. >"We sure do, in Manehattan. But not in a tiny town like Ponyville."
  3602. >You feel the life drain from your body
  3603. >What are these punny names
  3604. "Alright... so let's go bit by bit. We get charcoal and pour water on it, you get steam. You boil water, you get steam. We combine the two, add some goofy herbs and spices, bam, you have a scented spa."
  3605. >To you, an internet-educated man of modern culture, it seems like a no-brainer
  3606. >Of course, it would take some time and effort to collect the resources and to find the right building but it would be considerably affordable to anyone with the right mindset
  3607. >Twilight, however, does not have the internet
  3608. >She falls on your lap and slithers up until her head is resting on your chest
  3609. >She audibly swoons
  3610. >"What even were you in your world? Why didn't I think of that?"
  3611. >You shrug, feeling even more of your life leave your body from shame
  3612. "Warehouse worker. Education isn't worth much anymore."
  3613. >Twilight practically vibrates
  3614. >"Brains and brawn! I knew I wasn't wrong when I summoned you!"
  3615. >You're not sure if that helps
  3616. "Yeah... so let's rethink this. A small room or a hut. Small pit where we can pour water on hot coals. Water containers we can boil with high heat. That won't cost a lot, right?"
  3617. >Twilight waits to answer, presumably due to her thinking it all over
  3618. >"Good question! I don't know. But I can ask around. Between all six of us, we can figure it out and have a grand time!"
  3619. "Seven."
  3620. >"Come again?"
  3621. "Well... I know there are six of you but I can't just sit here and do nothing."
  3622. >It takes another moment before Twilight catches what she said
  3623. >"Oh! Oh, yeah, totally. Applejack will be there too, of course."
  3624. >That's cold
  3625. "You really should ease up on her."
  3626. >"When should we do all of that?"
  3627. >You shrug
  3628. "I have no clue, I'm stuck here. If you could assemble everyone here, we could assign duties or something."
  3629. >Actually, you're eight, not seven
  3630. "Wait, Zecora too! She probably has a good selection of herbs and scents, and I bet she could help us out."
  3631. >Twilight audibly reacts in an almost disgusted manner
  3632. >"Do you really need her to show up too?"
  3633. "Hell yeah. Her shit's all goofy but she's given me some really great stuff."
  3634. >"Stuff that I don't like..."
  3635. >That's partially why you respect her
  3636. >You want to keep yourself guarded
  3637. >At least until you think you can trust her
  3638. >You can, right?
  3639. "Either way, can you do that? When Applejack wakes up..."
  3640. >You glance over to her
  3641. >She's sleeping a little too hard, given your recent noise level
  3642. >You don't suspect anything
  3643. >But
  3644. "...yeah... when she does, she can grab her and whoever else. And then we can figure it out. We already have a plan so that's half the battle right?"
  3645. >Twilight slithers up your body more, until you're face to face
  3646. >You keep watching Applejack but Twilight is dangerously close
  3647. >"Hey Anon."
  3648. "Mm?"
  3649. >"Look at me instead."
  3650. >You don't want to try to argue or anything
  3651. >But you want to watch Applejack
  3652. >"Anon, look at me. I'm doing a goofy face."
  3653. >You can see, out of the corner of your eye, that her eyes have gone full derp
  3654. >But you still watch Applejack
  3655. >Specifically you watch her chest, to make sure she's still breathing
  3656. >She is
  3657. >But it's shallow breathing
  3658. >"Anon, look at me. I'm sleepy too."
  3659. >You've never seen her sleep before
  3660. >"Anon, I'm cute when I sleep too."
  3661. >Has she wanted to sleep with you?
  3662. >"Anon, you can do anything to me in my sleep."
  3663. >The idea of doing that on the frame she made, wrapped up in familial blankets and quilts sounds comfy
  3664. >"Anon, I'll play with you when you sleep too."
  3665. >Please wake up and help with this
  3666. >"I'll wake you up in a special way too."
  3667. >At least move a little
  3668. >"If you don't look at me, I'll scream."
  3669. >She's ok, right?
  3670. >"I'll do it."
  3671. >Twilight didn't do anything to her, right?
  3672. >"I'm doing it."
  3673. >She wouldn't use her magic on others, would she
  3674. >"Last warning, Anon."
  3675. >You refocus to Twilight
  3676. >She looks like she's on the verge of tears
  3677. >The shift in focus surprises even her
  3678. >She sniffles, but smiles wide
  3679. >"That's so much better. Don't look at her, ok?"
  3680. >You don't think you can confront her about it
  3681. >Not alone, anyway
  3682. "Twilight."
  3683. >"Yes Anon?"
  3684. >She pushes her face against yours until your lips are together
  3685. >You see her eyes dart from Applejack to you
  3686. >As if showing her just how much more successful she is
  3687. >You lean your head back as much as you can
  3688. >Which isn't much given you're laying on grass
  3689. "Can you grab everyone so we can get started on this? I'm kinda starting to look forward to this whole spa business."
  3690. >Twilight doesn't react to you
  3691. >You don't know if she anticipated you to be so focused
  3692. >"Right... right."
  3693. >She darts her head forward for a kiss but ends up hitting your chin rather than your lips
  3694. >"Sorry... I'm a little excitable. I'll go get everyone and be right back, ok? I'm gonna... I'm gonna go."
  3695. >She doesn't get off of you
  3696. >She's making you feel very awkward
  3697. >"You'll miss me, right?"
  3698. >For some reason, that stabbed you right in the heart
  3699. "Yeah... of course. But we gotta take care of business first. Right?"
  3700. >You give her a quick squeeze of a hug with the arm you've devoted to her
  3701. >That makes her visibly relax
  3702. >"Thank you. You're right... you're very much right. We have a mission to do. And together, we'll see it through."
  3703. >She slides off of you in a sluggish manner
  3704. >"Alright, I'll be back soon! Take care of Applejack for us, we don't want her to cause any further complications!"
  3705. >She stands up and explodes in a blast of purple
  3706. >Did she always teleport so... violently?
  3707. >Freed from her pressure, you focus on Applejack
  3708. "Hey, AJ... you alright?"
  3709. >You nudge her
  3710. >The faintest of nudges
  3711. >Her head jerks up
  3712. >She looks like she's been sleeping for weeks
  3713. >Her eyes are a little derped out with some saliva drooling out from the corner of her mouth
  3714. >"Whozza... ahm up, ain't no..."
  3715. >She lets out a loud, unladylike yawn, shaking all over
  3716. >"Whoa... how long was I out?"
  3717. >You sigh, feeling relief
  3718. >But you can't get the feeling that this is a little too convenient
  3719. "Too long... you had me worried, you know."
  3720. >"Worried, nuthin'. You slept longer than I did and it wasn't even a real sleep!"
  3721. >Another loud yawn and she looks more normal
  3722. >"Where's that Twilight, anyhow?
  3723. >She scans the immediate area
  3724. >She notices the semi-dried puddle of mud and dirt
  3725. >She looks over you
  3726. >You're sure she can smell well on top of it all
  3727. >Her eyes narrow
  3728. >"What has she done to you, Anon?"
  3729. >Aw shit
  3730. "Twilight is... I don't think she's playing subtle anymore. B-but listen, I got a plan for the spa thing. You know, the reason why I was brought here."
  3731. >You explain to her the basic ideas, and that Twilight went to gather the gang
  3732. >And that Zecora is also required
  3733. >Applejack smirks at you
  3734. >"Clever dog, Anon... we get Zecora here, we can make everything Twilight-proof! That way she can't sabotage anything and blame me for it."
  3735. >Wait what
  3736. "She would do that?"
  3737. >"Only one way to find out, right? That's why we gotta protect ourselves, just in case."
  3738. >She stumbles to her hooves, yawning again
  3739. >She still looks like she's tired
  3740. >Exhausted might more be the word
  3741. "Listen, you want me to come with you? It'd be better if we-"
  3742. >Applejack shakes her head
  3743. >Multiple times
  3744. >You're not sure if she's doing that to wake up or to answer you
  3745. >Either way, she's at least moving toward the general direction of the little picnic area she set up when she was speaking to Twilight
  3746. >"I'm gonna grab Zecora again and..."
  3747. >She yawns yet again
  3748. >"And we're gonna get all set up. I sure hope she ain't minding us bothering her so much. I got some stuff here I didn't let Twilight touch so y'all eat up now."
  3749. >Before you can even talk to her more, she gallops away
  3750. >You gotta give her points for being so focused
  3751. >But something is worrying you about her
  3752. >Worse yet, you're kinda just left here with nothing you can do
  3753. >Again
  3754. >You wanted to go with her and help too
  3755.  
  3756. >Rather than sit around and wait for the pair to return, you get up and dust yourself off
  3757. >You feel... quite satisfied from Twilight, honestly
  3758. >And you feel kinda annoyed at Applejack
  3759. >You were worried, no matter how valid a reason, and she just brushed you off!
  3760. >You still are happy for what Rarity made for you, though
  3761. >Applejack did pay a lot for it in raw resources
  3762. >The tunic is far more solid than what it was before
  3763. >And the jacket is really nice
  3764. >It's just something you wouldn't
  3765. >You really shouldn't be ungrateful but she isn't doing so great on her side either
  3766. >That bruise on your leg still doesn't look all that great
  3767. >After circling the area around your bed frame a few times you shrug
  3768. "I need a bath..."
  3769. >Not that you mind how slimy you are, but you do need to scrub off
  3770. >The scent of mare on you is really nice
  3771. >But
  3772. >It's hardly appropriate given a lot of ponies are going to be here soon
  3773. >What would Twilight have done if Applejack was right there?
  3774. >Though it could be seen as bad taste, you head to the little pond that Applejack introduced to you to wash off
  3775. >It's not like she couldn't find you
  3776. >You kinda do taking baths too
  3777. >You miss shampoo
  3778. >And soda
  3779. >And vidya
  3780. >Maybe once you're back you should go through those books Twilight wrote for you
  3781. >Your headaches and everything have pretty much subsided at this point
  3782. >Can you really hold a grudge to her, now that you know her intentions?
  3783. "Kinda... but not really..."
  3784. >You mutter to yourself to break up the silence
  3785. >You haven't been stuck outside this long for a while now
  3786. >You kinda like it
  3787. >You're much careful this time around going down the steep incline to the pond
  3788. >Scouting it out, it really does look like it's secluded pretty well from all but an aerial view
  3789. >You strip down and sit at the edge of the pond
  3790. >Last time you were here alone...
  3791. "...Pinkie?"
  3792. >Nothing
  3793. "Pink... ponk. Punk. Penk. Pank."
  3794. >You hesitantly check over your shoulder
  3795. >Nothing
  3796. >You squint and scan the pond's water line
  3797. >Nothing
  3798. >You sigh
  3799. >Finally you can be alone
  3800. >"Psst."
  3801. >You flinch
  3802. >What the hell was that?
  3803. >"Psssst."
  3804. >You don't get it
  3805. >You're alone
  3806. >A sense of deep dread filling your gut, you look down
  3807. >A pony face, covered in dirt, is staring up at you
  3808. >An inch away from your crotch, even
  3809. >You let out your best, most masculine scream
  3810. >You scramble out of the way while the earth itself erupts!
  3811. >Out comes a slightly dirty pink pony
  3812. "Jesus Christ! How do you find yourself in these situations?!"
  3813. >"I'm a flower and got watered, yay!"
  3814. >She stands on her back legs, basking in newfound freedom
  3815. "You make no sense, explain!"
  3816. >She doesn't seem to mind your shouting, instead going down to all founds and hopping over to you
  3817. >"Easy, Twilight told me to keep an eye on you so I told her that I'd keep both on you! She told me that she knew you were gonna be here to clean up because you had fun with her!"
  3818. >That's
  3819. >Uncanny
  3820. "When did... how did...?"
  3821. >She doesn't seem to pay attention to the notion of personal space and hops right up to you
  3822. >"Magic link, remember?"
  3823. "No I don't!"
  3824. >You try to stand up but she bellyflops onto your legs
  3825. >"Well that's ok! I'm here to help with the spa too!"
  3826. "It's not o-wait. You know about the spa plan?"
  3827. >"Well of course! I even saw what you and Twilight were doing..."
  3828. >She smirks at you
  3829. >She is indeed a dirty pony
  3830. >Wait
  3831. >Eye check
  3832. >Her eyes aren't purple
  3833. >So Twilight isn't spying on you at this exact moment
  3834. "Y... yeah well..."
  3835. >You sigh
  3836. "Don't tell Applejack, ok? They're evidently patching things up or... something. They aren't trying to murder each other, which I think is a good thing."
  3837. >She's laying on her side so it's not as if she's overtly trying to do anything to you
  3838. "Why do you like sitting in my lap so much? That's the first damned thing you did when I popped up."
  3839. >Pinkie giggled and shrugged
  3840. >"Pinkie sense tells me you're nice!"
  3841. >What the fuck is a Pinkie sense
  3842. "You don't know that. I could've been a murderer back home."
  3843. >She's unconvinced
  3844. >"A murderer of a lot of things, but not animals and certainly not ponies!"
  3845. >Well she has you there, doesn't she
  3846. >You sigh and bring your hand up to pet her dirty mane
  3847. "Alright fine, you have a point."
  3848. >"You look happier than before too! Did Twilight help you out that much?"
  3849. >You frown
  3850. >Well, part of you was quite happy to get some much needed relief
  3851. >Something about Twilight's words worked well on you too
  3852. "I... can't say. But she's really not the monster I thought she was. Maybe."
  3853. >"Well of course she's not a monster! She wrote a ton of those books for you in between rubbing herself against them!"
  3854. "Well she must've been writ--what."
  3855. >That didn't gel well with you
  3856. >"Yeah! She kept telling herself that because she was getting them all wet that the books would last longer and that you would like reading them more!"
  3857. >That's...
  3858. >That's out there
  3859. >You frown, trying to find a way to voice your complaints
  3860. >Nothing comes out
  3861. "Were you... watching her?"
  3862. >"Of course I was! She didn't know but I did it took with a few books after she was done!"
  3863. "Ok, stop. You're making me not want to touch them."
  3864. >"It's fine, the ink is water proof!"
  3865. "I said chill, pink creature!"
  3866. >She giggles and rolls around on your legs until she finds herself between them
  3867. >With her back on the ground, she looks up at you with the widest, most pure smile
  3868. >"You're funny."
  3869. "Thanks, I don't try to be."
  3870. >"You know, Twilight really likes you."
  3871. "Yeah... yeah, I know."
  3872. >"Do you like her too?"
  3873. "Well... I guess so. But I also like Applejack too."
  3874. >You shrug, sighing
  3875. "I like both. I like Zecora because she's helped me a whole ton. I like Rarity because she made me my clothing, twice! I like you because you helped set up that party, presumably-"
  3876. >"I did!"
  3877. "Yeah, there you go. Have I even been here for a week yet? It's been absolute chaos for days now. I couldn't sleep, I had nightmares, I didn't feel like I was even alive, now I have an outfit, I have books, I have a bed to sleep on..."
  3878. >Rather than watch her, who's watching you, you watch the pond water line
  3879. >You rest a hand on her chest and give her a pet, out of sheer reflex
  3880. >She giggles, pushing her chest out against your hand
  3881. >"See? Pinkie sense never lies!"
  3882. "Well alright, you got me there. Grew up around animals far more than people, and like them that much more, so you win."
  3883. >"Yay!"
  3884. >Her legs kick out, all of them thankfully short enough to avoid hitting your face
  3885. >"What do I win?"
  3886. >Her personality is infectious, you'll give her that
  3887. "Hm..."
  3888. >You bring down your other hand on her
  3889. "Even more petting!"
  3890. >You scrape your fingers along her ribs, occasionally going down to her belly
  3891. "Alright... I'll give you this much, you are a cool gal."
  3892. >She's been the only one who's been actively goofing around with you, to be honest
  3893. >Even if it was on Twilight's orders
  3894. "Hey Pink. Is it alright if I ask something?"
  3895. >You don't sound hopeful at all
  3896. >She picks up on this and looks at you with her smile
  3897. >Upside down or no, it makes you smile
  3898. "Whatever's been going on with Twilight and Applejack and whoever else... can you just be my friend for all of this?"
  3899. >She rattles her head up and down, giggling even more
  3900. >It must be a thing that she does normally or something
  3901. >"Of course I can be your friend? But what about Twilight and Applejack? Aren't they your friends too? Twilight's been mighty friendly!"
  3902. >You choose to ignore her second statement
  3903. >But your body still reacts
  3904. >Her mane feels soft
  3905. "I... I don't know, honestly. Twilight has done a lot, helping with the party and then the... uh... books. But she also really fucked with my head for a while too. That's a new sort of pain I didn't ever think I'd feel."
  3906. >You loll your head to the side
  3907. "And then there's Applejack... she's said a lot of the right things about having a family, having a less complicated life... she seems like super nice mother material. But... she hasn't really tried to be my friend. Is that a stupid thing to complain about?"
  3908. >Pinkie's smile turns to more of a grin
  3909. >"So... it takes more than a few rounds of Bounce On Anon to be friends?"
  3910. >You stammer for a bit and nod
  3911. "W-well... yeah. That... sort of thing..."
  3912. >"Should be like a game?"
  3913. "Yeah! It should be fun, not just some mechanical function."
  3914. >"Like a wrestling match?"
  3915. >You look down at her to offer a rebuttal
  3916. >The grin she's giving you is downright lecherous
  3917. >Once more, your body reacts
  3918. "That... that doesn't count."
  3919. >"Oh yes it did."
  3920. "No it didn't."
  3921. >"Yeah-huh."
  3922. "No, nu-uh."
  3923. >"Why didn't it then?"
  3924. "Because you came out of nowhere! I ended up sore all over and..."
  3925. >"You sure bruised me up too, big guy."
  3926. >As if to emphasize it, her lower legs casually spread open
  3927. >You avert your eyes, still petting her ribs
  3928. >She giggles once more
  3929. >"Oh come on, if you won you would have done the same to me!"
  3930. "What? That's silly, I wouldn't do that."
  3931. >"You wouldn't want to take what would have been your prize...?"
  3932. >What is it with these ponies and their words
  3933. >You try to ignore the physical reaction she's been getting out of you
  3934. "...no comment."
  3935. >She stretches, sighing
  3936. >"Boy, Applejack and Twilight don't know what they're missing... isn't it nice to just relax under the sun with a good friend?"
  3937. >You nod, sighing
  3938. "Yeah... it really is. You know, I haven't had a friend to just hang out with for a long time now. I was so used to just sleeping, working, playing games and..."
  3939. >You purse your lips
  3940. "...self... soothing..."
  3941. >Pinkie laughs at your awkward tone
  3942. >"You mean what you did in me?"
  3943. >You purse your lips
  3944. "...suuure..."
  3945. >You clear your throat
  3946. "Either way, my life was pretty bleak when you looked at it. I lived alone. I had no one who visited me. I only had vaguely-shaped, long term goals to keep me anything resembling happy. And no matter how much time went on, those long term goals still looked to be far off into the distant future. "
  3947. >Though she's still smiling, you can tell that she can tell that something's up
  3948. >You find yourself staring at your hands like they're not even yours
  3949. >Maybe it's some sort of vacant gaze or that you seem like you're looking right through them but
  3950. "And now... I don't know about Twilight. She's going from one extreme to the next of hurting to helpful. Applejack... I think may not really want to hang out with me. But do what, I don't even know. I'm some alien to this place. I wouldn't know where to go or what to do. And I feel like that's something that would be used against me, like I'm supposed to know. I'm kinda lost here. I don't even have the agency to just waltz off into the woods and do whatever nature has in store for me because I'd probably cause more issues that way. And I just don't really want to be a bother. I feel like I need some sort of goal to work toward, otherwise I feel like I'm being a waste."
  3951. >"Hey..."
  3952. >Pinkie stretches up, rubbing her front hooves against your stomach
  3953. >"You shouldn't think like that... look at how much excitement you've brought to everyone so far! I bet Zecora doesn't get to do much with all of her weird bottled up gunk! And when has Rarity ever gotten a chance to work on anything but ponies? You've even gotten Twilight to come out of her home when she's spent weeks on that cult stuff!"
  3954. "That whole occult business?"
  3955. >"Yeah!"
  3956. >That's what brought you here
  3957. "I guess... but now I'm kinda just told to hurry up and wait. Again."
  3958. >She almost kneeds against your stomach as you pet her
  3959. >Maybe her own method of trying to pet you?
  3960. >"That's why you got ol' Pinkie Pie! Say the word and 'poof', I'll be there!"
  3961. >You're a little worried that she may, in fact, be some sort of weird demon genie
  3962. "Thanks... but... for now, can you kinda just stick around? In the event that Applejack or Twilight wants to be alone with me, can you kinda... I guess keep an eye out, in case anything weird happens?"
  3963. >You're not sure what Applejack would ever do to you that's weird
  3964. >But you know that once all of that magic-retardant shit cycles through your system you're fair game to anything Twilight could cook up
  3965. >"Maaaybe... I'll do it on one condition!"
  3966. >Aw shit
  3967. >Of course
  3968. "I-I can't pay you, so..."
  3969. >That makes her laugh
  3970. >It's always a genuine laugh too, nothing that looks or sounds forced
  3971. >"I don't need payment or money, silly!"
  3972. >She grins at you again
  3973. >Even upside down, that grin is laced with ulterior motive and hunger
  3974. >"Pinkie promise me you'll always be my best friend."
  3975. >Well, despite the lucha loss you took, she has been the most friendly one here through everything
  3976. >And she's already been spying on you on Twilight's behal, for lack of a more eloquent phrase
  3977. "Of course. If you ever got any issues or need help or... whatever, I guess, lemme know. I'm not on anyone's chain."
  3978. >"Yay!"
  3979. >The sheer excitement of her reaction causes her to jump up into the air, despite having laid on her back
  3980. >You flinch at how she whips her body around, landing on all four hooves
  3981. >Between your legs no less, so nothing got stomped on
  3982. >Thank fuck for that
  3983. >But with her newfound height, she leans in until she's an inch away from your face
  3984. >"And... a kiss. I don't kiss friends... but I would really, really, really really REALLY like a kiss from you."
  3985. >She lets out a soft giggle when she sees the physical reaction her words caused
  3986. >"You don't seem to dislike the idea..."
  3987. >You really shouldn't
  3988. >You really, seriously shouldn't
  3989. >Things are goofy enough between the two ponies
  3990. >But she has been your friend
  3991. >And...
  3992. >Without saying anything, you end up kissing her
  3993. >Or rather, she kisses you
  3994. >She kisses far less aggressively than Twilight, though you still end up tasting her tongue
  3995. >It's just as playful as her, and twice as energetic
  3996. >She tastes sweet, too
  3997. >More than just sugary or creamy sweet
  3998. >For however long the kiss lasts, she eventually breaks it off
  3999. >"Puah..."
  4000. >She lets her tongue hang out
  4001. >She winks at you
  4002. >"Thanks. I was starting to wonder if I'd never get to find out what it was like!"
  4003. "S-sure... y-you too..."
  4004. >She giggles and turns around, bending over
  4005. >You can see her actively winking at you
  4006. >"Last one in's a rotten egg!"
  4007. >She bounds off and dives into the pond
  4008. >Well she was dirty
  4009. >You are too
  4010. >Both in body and mind, evidently
  4011. "H-hey, don't cheat!"
  4012. >You stumble to your feet and head in
  4013. >Given how shallow the pond is at the edge, you'd be insane to dive in anyway
  4014. >Whatever thoughts you can or can't help, you find yourself smiling
  4015. >You've made a friend
  4016. >A really good friend
  4017.  
  4018. >Though there's the occasional flirting overtone, you have a lot of fun in the pond with Pinkie
  4019. >You aren't fully sure if you should be so open but with how she acts, it really doesn't seem like she would be the sort to backstab you or sell you out to Twilight
  4020. >After all, she still has information on you that Twilight doesn't know, like when you were with Applejack
  4021. >Most would consider naked wrestling a euphemism but with her?
  4022. >It's real
  4023. >She'll dive under and upend you by grabbing your leg and breaking the surface
  4024. >You'll put her in a headlock and go 'glub glub' while keeping her head under
  4025. >She'll torpedo headbutt you
  4026. >You'll grab her and suplex her, almost assuredly getting water up your nose in the process
  4027. >By the time you're both tired and finished trying to do the other one in, you both paddle to the shore
  4028. >You're a tiny bit more battered than you were before
  4029. >Pinkie seems pooped and then some but she's happy as can be
  4030. >"Wow... I had never known that Marco Polo could involve that stuff!"
  4031. "Yeah... that's... that's the real deal!"
  4032. >You heave between words, clearing your nose and throat of water
  4033. >You're both clean at least
  4034. >Before you know what's what, Pinkie drags herself to you and puts her head on your stomach, facing the pond
  4035. >You can see that even with the back of her head visible, her mane still has that curly consistency
  4036. >You end up petting her, sighing
  4037. >This is far more your pace
  4038. >No nightmares
  4039. >No talk of owing anyone and of working
  4040. >Just a little rough housing and horseplay
  4041. >With the occasional grope or lick from her, of course
  4042. "This has been awesome... I think this is the first day since I've been here that I really felt a bit carefree."
  4043. >The pink pone giggles
  4044. >"Now that's what I love to hear! You really shouldn't worry so much, you know?"
  4045. "Sure... but every pony here is pushing something on me. And a lot of their offers are seriously tempting too..."
  4046. >"Yeah? Which ones?"
  4047. "Well.. Applejack saying she wants a family... Twilight offering one too, and then some."
  4048. >You feel yourself react to both of their words
  4049. >"Ooh, I see exactly what you mean!"
  4050. >Not thinking anything of her facing your lap, you nod while looking up to the sky
  4051. "Yeah... I want a family, too... I want that with someone who I know wants me."
  4052. >"Well, you know... I came from a BIG family! From a farm, too!"
  4053. >Who knew that Pinkie was a farm girl?
  4054. "Huh... yeah? What did you guys have?"
  4055. >"Rocks."
  4056. "...huh?"
  4057. >"Rocks, silly!"
  4058. "H... how do you..."
  4059. >"Well rocks are really hard, so you could say that we got used to dealing with hard, rocky-shaped things!"
  4060. >You jump a little when you feel a hoof press up against your very own rock
  4061. >"You have an affinity with animals... I have an affinity with rocks! It's really as natural as can be!"
  4062. >You don't know why but you find yourself laughing
  4063. >You don't know if she's serious about the rock farm but you did find that funny
  4064. "Ah... this place is just... all over, huh."
  4065. >You don't exactly do anything to stop her from touching you
  4066. "Hey... maybe this isn't the best thing to ask, but... between Twilight and Applejack. Neither of them are going to stop, I don't think. I don't really know what they'll do. Who should I trust? Who should I believe in?"
  4067. >Pinkie doesn't answer you for a while, deciding to keep prodding and exploring you
  4068. >"Well... who makes you happy?"
  4069. >A very obvious question
  4070. >A question so obvious you don't know how to answer it
  4071. "I... don't know. Both have done a lot for me. Both have... not really been the most helpful, in some ways. But I can't really be so demanding."
  4072. >"Is it demanding to want to be made happy?"
  4073. >You're trying to ignore her hoof-focused manipulation of you but it's getting difficult
  4074. "W-well not really, but..."
  4075. >Your hand tightens into a fist while holding her mane
  4076. "Pinkie, you..."
  4077. >"Shhh... I'm just polishing a really neat rock I found in the pond! Did you know that if a rock is flat it can skip along water? I once skipped a rock across a river and hit the other side!"
  4078. >She's just carrying on as usual while her front legs and hooves indeed polish away
  4079. >Getting the idea that she may know it's better to act like nothing's going on, you follow along
  4080. "S... sure... yeah..."
  4081. >"Oh wow, Anon! Have you ever seen what happens when rocks get super duper hot and they get thrown hard enough? They explode!"
  4082. >What is she even going on about?
  4083. "How do you even...?"
  4084. >"It's easy! This rock looks like it's going to go off any second now! I bet it'll be like a volcano! Did you know that lava is really just melted rocks?"
  4085. >Before you can ask her what she's talking about, your vision doubles
  4086. >The rock she was polishing did indeed explode
  4087. >You stifled any noises as well as you could, the polishing leading to an even more bombastic eruption
  4088. >It eventually ends, with Pinkie's giggling ringing into the distance
  4089. >"Wow! I didn't think a pond rock would just explode like that!"
  4090. >She twists her neck, looking at you
  4091. >Her face is plastered in white strands
  4092. >"Good thing I can take another bath, right?"
  4093. >You're astonished
  4094. >She really must have some rock farm-born skills
  4095. "Holy... shit."
  4096. >Pinkie sticks her tongue out and winks at you
  4097. >"Guess this really is a lucky pond, huh?"
  4098. >She slithers off of you and back into the shallows, dunking her head under to clean herself off
  4099. >You have the sneaking suspicion it may take more than a dip like that to erase all traces of evidence
  4100. >Once she washes off most of the white, she slithers back between your legs, resting her chin on your waist
  4101. >"So... did you know that spas have really hot rocks too?"
  4102. >The grin she gives you is just too much
  4103. "You and the rock knowledge! Yes, I know..."
  4104. >"How can I help with the spa stuff?"
  4105. >You didn't forget but you're glad that she paid attention
  4106. "Well... can you find smooth rocks like that, maybe big enough for ponies to sit on? And coal? Enough to fill... well, I guess that barn. If we can fill that up with steam and really get something going that lasts, it'll be a success."
  4107. >The barn may not look the best for a spa, and might not have the normal atmosphere, but at least it'll be there
  4108. >She nods, watching your every movement
  4109. >"You can count on me!"
  4110. >Honestly you need very little else but you aren't sure you would really want to put all of the responsibility on one pony
  4111. "And... uh... Pinkie. Best friend of mine."
  4112. >"Yes? Yes?!"
  4113. >Pinkie beams at you, excited that you called her your best friend
  4114. "W-when it comes to Twilight... are you still... spying on me for her?"
  4115. >Her smiles only widens further
  4116. >"She thinks I am. Buuut... remember when my eyes went all purple and I could have her see through my eyes and I learned a lot about her directly through her? Maaaaaaaaaaybe I went and learned enough to want you for myself too?"
  4117. >You are not sure if you should be glad, worried, or worse
  4118. >"But you know... best friends can also become more too. And if Twilight hurts my best friend ever ever EVER again!"
  4119. >Her smile degrades into a sly smirk
  4120. >Those bright, shiny eyes hold something a little more malicious than before
  4121. >"I'll throw a very special surprise party for her."
  4122. "H-hey now, don't..."
  4123. >"What? It'll just be a party. And I LOVE giving parties... best friend."
  4124. >She giggles again
  4125. >Things aren't going to be getting any easier
  4126.  
  4127. >You didn't anticipate it, but you were tuckered out after playing around
  4128. >Given how colorful and goofy looking the ponies were, only one was really as cartoonish as you expected
  4129. >Even if she was partially blackmailing you
  4130. >And polished your rock
  4131. >While laying there, you could hear her humming something
  4132. >You didn't think you'd be attracted to any of these...
  4133. >Animals
  4134. >Because that is what they are, technically
  4135. >Little talking ponies
  4136. >At least Applejack was a good cook
  4137. >You're kinda hoping you'll be able to have some good stuff from her again
  4138. >Maybe later you can...
  4139. ...
  4140. >You feel something weird
  4141. >Something licking your neck
  4142. >Again
  4143. >You try to grumble something but it persists
  4144. >Did that Winona dog find you again?
  4145. >The licking goes from your neck to the tip of your chin
  4146. >You grumble something and grab at the creature licking you
  4147. >You feel a mane
  4148. >Your eyes crack open, ready to catch the culprit who's been hounding you whenever you sleep
  4149. >It's... Applejack?
  4150. "Wha...?"
  4151. >The soft sun doesn't hurt your eyes but it takes time to adjust
  4152. >She has an absolutely shocked look on her face
  4153. >"O-oh, you're up... y'see, Winona, uh..."
  4154. >You grimace at her
  4155. >You feel a cool breeze go over you
  4156. >Whatever pink pony was on you is long gone now evidently
  4157. "...was that you before too?"
  4158. >"I..."
  4159. >She looks like an absolute deer in your headlights
  4160. >"...sorta?"
  4161. >You sigh
  4162. >This is far the least weird thing that you've woken up to
  4163. >But it kinda isn't that shocking
  4164. >Very little shocks you here anymore
  4165. "...well go on. Don't let me being up now stop you, I guess."
  4166. >You don't sound annoyed
  4167. >But you don't really sound happy either
  4168. >Applejack nods and sits down, going back to licking your neck
  4169. >Rather than it being a sexual thing, it seems more like grooming
  4170. >Maybe
  4171. >You don't know what is and isn't sexual with these things anymore
  4172. "Zecora here and all that?"
  4173. >Applejack nods, eyes glued to you while she licks the front and sides of your throat a few more times
  4174. >When she finishes, she gives an awkward smile
  4175. >"She sure is. Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash too! I guess Twilight is getting Rarity an' Spike. Everyone's gonna be here!"
  4176. "What about all of that spooky ... anti-magic shit?"
  4177. >Applejack chuckles
  4178. >"She thinks she's so clever... but she don't know that I got tricks too."
  4179. >That doesn't sound comforting
  4180. >Your eyes focused on her say so
  4181. >She waves her hoof and shakes her head
  4182. >"W-well it ain't nothin' bad! Not for you. But with everypony around in one spot, she won't ever try anything bad!"
  4183. >She has a point
  4184. >But with Pinkie Pie there too
  4185. "Was... Pinkie already here or something?"
  4186. >"Her? No, but I found her out and about. She said something like how she was in a super happy mood because she was planning something big."
  4187. >She lets out a goofy laugh
  4188. >"Could you believe that pony gets all worked up over rocks of all things? She wouldn't stop talking about the darn things!"
  4189. "Y... yeah... makes me wonder if she came out of some sort of goofy... rock ranch or something."
  4190. >"You're closer than you think, it's a rock farm! A farm for darned boulders and pebbles!"
  4191. >She pats her hoof on your chest while she laughs, ending with a 'whew'
  4192. "Ah... that's a really funny thing right there, I tell you what."
  4193. >She hops onto your torso, sitting on your stomach
  4194. >"I had a feeling you'd be here, y'know... I really gotta give you a real tour of everywhere soon. Can you imagine Granny Smith's expression when she's gonna find out she got herself a grandson-in-law?"
  4195. >Wait, what
  4196. "G-grandson-in-law?"
  4197. >"Well sure! I mean, what else would y'be?"
  4198. >You are almost sure now that you're one misstep away from being chased by a guy with a chainsaw
  4199. >Or a pony with a chainsaw
  4200. >Whatever happens, a chainsaw will be included
  4201. "Well... I guess Twilight would have a few words to say with that, huh..."
  4202. >She snorts and climbs off of you
  4203. >"As if she gets a say in anything we do! She can sit on her butt and throw magic all day, she ain't stoppin' us."
  4204. >She huffs and stomps down on a patch of muddy grass
  4205. >"Well... either way, why don't you get dressed? You're a right sight for sore eyes but it ain't too appropriate for the others, right?"
  4206. >She gives you a wink
  4207. >She eyes linger on her body until she looks down
  4208. >She frowns for a fraction of a second
  4209. >"Hey Anon... you been eating alright? Y'look like you've been... well, I want you nice and ready to go. We got a lot of work to do, remember?"
  4210. >You shrug and look down at yourself
  4211. >You weren't exactly... cleaned up from your polishing
  4212. >Fuck
  4213. "Yeah... I guess idle hands and being alone for once let me kinda..."
  4214. >Applejack sighs
  4215. >"Well dang, you could've waited for me at least... y'know, you really shouldn't be doing that sort of thing!"
  4216. >What is she, a puritan?
  4217. "I've been told that before... sorry. I guess you know how it is. Pent up and..."
  4218. >She shrugs
  4219. >"Well... you're a tall, handsome, young buck. I should really not neglect you like that..."
  4220. >She's not wrong but you kinda don't want to just be some sort of trophy either
  4221. >You really want to tell her that
  4222. >But time and place and all that
  4223. >You finally drag yourself out of the pond, shaking yourself off before getting dressed
  4224. >You still really like the jacket
  4225. >You could use a pair of boots or something but all the grass and dirt is pretty soft
  4226. >Applejack watches you get dressed, beaming with pride
  4227. >It is true, you wouldn't have even clothing without her
  4228. >"Ain't you just as pretty as a picture. Well let's go show them what we got!"
  4229. "You got it bossmare."
  4230. >That extra bit of ego stroking makes her strut with pride
  4231. >When you make it back, you can see that most of the pony gang is all here
  4232. >You haven't seen the blue pegasus since you first popped up but everyone else is at least somewhat familiar
  4233. >Zecora keeps her eyes on you as if she's studying you
  4234. >Rainbow Dash is smirking at your attire as if she has a joke in mind at your expense
  4235. >Pinkie smirks at you with another reason entirely and gives you a wink
  4236. >Fluttershy is just happy to be there, bobbing her head to a tune she has in her head
  4237. "So... hey there guys. So my plan is--"
  4238. >"Alright, Anon and I hatched up a plan to get our spa goin'! He--"
  4239. >"We need rocks!"
  4240. >Pinkie shouts over Applejack
  4241. >"Big, heavy, flat rocks! Like skipping stones but something a giant like Anon could use to skip across an ocean!"
  4242. >None of these are exactly what you had in mind
  4243. >Did you even really go into detail with Applejack?
  4244. >She woke up and just hauled ass
  4245. "Applejack, STOP. I didn't talk to you about what I had in mind. Pinkie, you chill your butt, they don't need to be that big."
  4246. >You knife hand at Applejack and point at Pinkie with two fingers without thinking it over
  4247. >You sorta forgot yourself and glance at them
  4248. >Everyone's surprised by your mild outburst
  4249. >But no one's really mad it seems
  4250. "...so... this spa business. We have a mostly empty barn that only I've slept in. So... we use that as the spa, right? We get some rocks to chill on and use to help maintain heat, we get some coals, splash a little water on them and bam. We get steam. It's like a hot shower except a few degrees bigger. That's kinda why I'm here to begin with, right?"
  4251. >No one answers for a moment
  4252. >Until Rainbow Dash speaks up
  4253. >"So...why are you dressed up like Applejack's little helper?"
  4254. >She bawls out a laugh, pointing at you
  4255. >Fluttershy raises her hoof before speaking
  4256. >"Hi, it's me again, Fluttershy. I was at the party Pinkie threw with the weird music. I, for one, really like your clothing. It suits you very well and looks very rough and tumble."
  4257. >Pinkie beams at you nodding
  4258. >"One hundred and five hundred percent understood! I'll find the rocks, no problem! But... coal aren't rocks."
  4259. >Applejack purses her lips, effectively shown up
  4260. >"Well...I guess that ain't the plan I had in mind... but it ain't a bad one..."
  4261. >You hold out your arms as if expecting someone to interject or otherwise interrupt you
  4262. >"If this is your plan and you have had time to assess, I'm sure you will lead us to a great success."
  4263. >Zecora seems happy, though
  4264. >Add one more to the work force, sure, why not
  4265. >You turn to Applejack, expecting some sort of retort
  4266. >"Well..."
  4267. >She blushes, flustered
  4268. >"Y-you heard the man! Let's git!"
  4269. >Everyone looks at each other
  4270. >Only Pinkie gives you a bit of a silly salute and starts hopping off
  4271. >"Oh right... guess no one knows where to find charcoal then do they..."
  4272. >"You know we don't need charcoal. We have dragon's fire!"
  4273. >Twilight gallops up to you from behind, Spike on her back
  4274. >The little purple dork looks like he was shaken awake
  4275. >"Twilight, you said we were going to get ice cream... and you said that Rarity would be here."
  4276. >"Never you mind that, she'll be here! She's grabbing some stuff that we can use to spruce up the barn!"
  4277. >Wait
  4278. >Did you even tell Twilight that you were using the barn?
  4279. >Who's telling who what with all of this?
  4280. "Right... I'm not even going to ask. Twilight, does... uh... dragon fire need something to burn on?"
  4281. >You switch glances between Twilight and Spike
  4282. >Spike shrugs
  4283. >"Iunno, I used it on a torch before and it kept burning for days"
  4284. "...was it hot?"
  4285. >"Well it was fire, dude. So I guess?"
  4286. >This is starting to annoy you
  4287. >You sigh and point to Twilight
  4288. "Twilight, darling, do you understand what's going on?"
  4289. >Twilight glares at Applejack with a smug smirk and clears her throat as if she were presenting a royal declaration
  4290. >"Of course, Anon. Pinkie is going to get rocks for us ponies to sit on, and smaller rocks for you to pour water on, creating steam. The rocks will be heated by baby dragon fire, which means that the more water we add on, the more steam we have! We will be having our spa in the barn you've been locked away in for days without break, and Rarity will be here soon with some tapestries and stretches of fabric so it won't look like a dirty, smelly ol' barn when we're in there!"
  4291. >She gives you her proudest smile
  4292. >Applejack looks highly suspicious
  4293. >"Wait a darn sec... when did Pinkie have time to tell you what was going on?"
  4294. >Twilight doesn't even answer that, scoffing
  4295. >"I mean it's all so obvious when you just look at it that way!"
  4296. >That's the last straw
  4297. "Twilight."
  4298. >"Yes?"
  4299. >"Unicorn with the one and only horn."
  4300. >"Yes Anonymous?"
  4301. >Her smile grows as wide as her pride
  4302. "If it was all so simple and obvious, WHY AM I HERE TO SOLVE THIS FOR YOU."
  4303. >No one has an actual answer for you
  4304. >Twilight's smile turns apologetic
  4305. >"Because... a steamin' demon could just stand in place and we'd get steam without rocks...?"
  4306. >You're surrounded by little technicolor idiots
  4307. >Fluttershy raise her hoof up again
  4308. >"I don't know anything about steam or fire, so... um, I appreciate your work on this. I've never been to a spa before and I've heard that it works wonders on wings!"
  4309. >You sigh
  4310. "... Spike."
  4311. >"Sup?"
  4312. "... can you set me on fire?"
  4313. >"Why?"
  4314. "Because I'm tired of this shit."
  4315.  
  4316. >You set the ponies to work once you're talked down from your self-immolation fantasy
  4317. >Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are clearing off the roof and checking the windows of the barn to make sure that steam won't escape through anywhere but the front doors
  4318. >Applejack is sweeping up the floor of the barn, to spruce it up as much as possible
  4319. >Spike is wandering around, finding small twigs to belch fire onto to teach you more about the age-old mystery that is fire
  4320. >You are sitting on the dirt in front of the barn
  4321. >Twilight is sitting next to you
  4322. >Not too close
  4323. >But definitely close
  4324. "Twilight."
  4325. >"Yes Anon...?"
  4326. "...why has all of this happened because you guys just couldn't figure out that water plus fire equals steam?"
  4327. >You're past the point of mad
  4328. >You just wish you were brought into all of this shit for something... important
  4329. >Like saving the land
  4330. >Or having a princess to help
  4331. >Or anything that some manga writer would run into the ground over the course of five hundred chapters and two full length movies
  4332. >Twilight's ears flatten against her head
  4333. >She nudges her head against you
  4334. >"It's not all that bad... right? You got to meet me... and the others, too. Of course. And... well, we had fun."
  4335. >Her voice drops an octave, to a very apparently unhappy tone
  4336. >"You had fun with Applejack..."
  4337. >You can't help but shiver at the way she sounds
  4338. "....you were told?"
  4339. >Did Pinkie rat you out?!
  4340. >"Oh yes... Applejack told me when we were watching over you. I didn't think she would just... mount you like an animal like that. I certainly know how much of a temptation it is, of course..."
  4341. >Her dark, knowing chuckle says that she probably has wanted the same thing
  4342. >Given what you and she did, it must have been close enough to count
  4343. >"Did it feel good, Anon?"
  4344. >You grimace
  4345. "I'm not telling you that."
  4346. >"Did it compare to me? I think we were more intimate... she doesn't know your taste like I do."
  4347. "I said I'm not talking about it with you."
  4348. >She giggles
  4349. >"It's ok to not say anything... I know you better than she does. I know that only I can really take care of you."
  4350. >She isn't going to shut up about this, is she
  4351. "...Pinkie Pie told me that she's your spy."
  4352. >Twilight doesn't reply for a moment
  4353. >"...yeah, and is that bad to keep an eye on you when I'm not around?"
  4354. >You shrug
  4355. "Well sure... but you can trust her, can't you?"
  4356. >"Well of course I can!"
  4357. >She sounds confident
  4358. "Sure... but what if Applejack has someone watching me too? And watching you?"
  4359. >Twilight's mood sours
  4360. >"And what pony would ever help Applejack when I'm obviously the right choice?"
  4361. >You shrug
  4362. >You were fucked with by her ever since you popped up
  4363. >You kinda wanna fuck with her too
  4364. >And test her with something
  4365. "Well... what if some pony just wanted what was best for me?"
  4366. >Twilight laughs a single haughty 'ha'
  4367. >"And who knows what's best for you? Who else loves you like I do?"
  4368. "Twilight... I know you wrote those books for me. And then after, to give them a special touch..."
  4369. >You smile, watching her shock out of the corner of your eye
  4370. "Oh yeah! I stuck my nose deep into those books... and funny enough, they smell just... like... you. In the most delicious way."
  4371. >Her face scrunches
  4372. >For once, she seems the one who's caught flat-footed
  4373. >"I... I didn't... to a book, even? No... no, that's just..."
  4374. >She gives a ragged exhale
  4375. >"That's just... improper!"
  4376. "And yet I know for a fact you did it."
  4377. >Twilight fidgets in her place
  4378. >"...what else do you know...?"
  4379. "What, you want me to tell you?"
  4380. >"Yes, I do."
  4381. "Why? What would you do about it?"
  4382. >"Fix it."
  4383. >You chuckle
  4384. "Why don't you read my mind like you did for the books?"
  4385. >Her voice turns violently annoyed
  4386. >"If you didn't have that stupid zebra brew and goo I would and we would be off in some isolated place bucking like mad."
  4387. "And yet I am an unreadable enigma to you..."
  4388. >She lets out a frustrated growl
  4389. >It sounds more cute than threatening
  4390. >But you also know that her magic is some serious shit
  4391. >"I'll find out, the second my magic works again. And I'll have Pinkie watch you twice as much. And I'll find out exactly what I need to make sure you're mine."
  4392. "Unless I find a way to counter it and outsmart you."
  4393. >She gives a hard huff
  4394. >"Anonymous... you're a beautiful, magnificent creature."
  4395. >She giggles
  4396. >"But you aren't going to outsmart me."
  4397. "I could."
  4398. >"But you won't."
  4399. "I might."
  4400. >"I won't let you."
  4401. "Why?"
  4402. >"Because I was made for you. And you were made for me. Why else would I draw you out here from an infinite number of worlds and possibilities?"
  4403. "You just wanted a monster to fulfill your petty wants."
  4404. >She doesn't have a quick answer to that
  4405. >Her voice falters
  4406. >"That... I didn't know better..."
  4407. "Now you do?"
  4408. >"Yes."
  4409. "Convenient..."
  4410. >"Anon..."
  4411. "Yeah?"
  4412. >"You can wear clothes Applejack paid for. And you can sleep on that rickety pile of toothpicks she made for you. And you can eat the food she makes. But remember that I brought you to this world. We're tied by more than magic. What I did wasn't just some mistake."
  4413. "And if it was?"
  4414. >"Then... I brought you here and did something terrible on top of it. And I'll defy fate to make you mine."
  4415. >You scoff
  4416. "You're all for fate until it no longer suits you?
  4417. >She shrugs
  4418. >"I'm still trying to learn that occult stuff. And it says that fate is a big thing."
  4419. "You know what? Fair enough."
  4420. >Her face droops to a sad smile
  4421. >"I can't be the villain here..."
  4422. >Damn it
  4423. "Don't worry... you aren't. You had the best intentions, I'm sure."
  4424. >You don't notice but her eyes dart to you to read your expression
  4425. >"No... I mean it... I might be really bad for having done this... it was a simple fix like you said... I ruined your entire life just for something so silly..."
  4426. >Well now you feel bad
  4427. "Come off it... it's alright. Really."
  4428. >"I don't know... Anon... can I have a hug...? I'm not a bad pony, I promise..."
  4429. >Oh for the love of
  4430. "...alright. But just a hug."
  4431. >She nuzzles into you and you wrap your arm around her
  4432. >You can stay stern up until a girl is sad
  4433. >Or a female pony
  4434. >Boy do you know she is a female
  4435. >While she actively nuzzles into your chest, you look ahead, bored and just waiting for everyone to finish up with their chores
  4436. >"Hey Anon, floor's all swept up! We can have everything going on and no one will know it's on the..."
  4437. >Applejack pokes her head out from between the barn doors
  4438. >To see you giving a dead bored stare ahead
  4439. >And a Twilight Sparkle gleefully rubbing against your side
  4440. >With your arm on her
  4441. >"...dirt..."
  4442.  
  4443. >Applejack trots up to you, squinting at the scene before her
  4444. >You really couldn't care less
  4445. >She went from sad to happy far too fucking quickly
  4446. >"Anon... what's she doing?"
  4447. >You look down at her, retaining a face of bitter acceptance
  4448. "She's playing victim and satisfying herself using me because she has no other outlet for physical intimacy beyond Spike and I think he has a habit of hauling ass whenever she gets that nutty look in her eye."
  4449. >"Oh Anon... I'm such a poor... naughty pony..."
  4450. >She's trying to keep up the charade despite having lost any validity of sympathy
  4451. >Applejack shares your expression
  4452. >"Now Twilight, that's just sad."
  4453. >Twilight giggles as she cuddles you
  4454. >She glares at her competition, grinning
  4455. >"I don't see anyone else cuddling up to him, do I...? Who's really the sadder sight?"
  4456. >Applejack's eyes widen
  4457. >God damn it
  4458. >The earth pony looks at you
  4459. >"H... hey Anon..."
  4460. >Oh dear Christ not you too
  4461. >"I'm... uh... I'm sorry too?"
  4462. >Your grimace widens at her
  4463. >"I mean... you know... for the tree stuff."
  4464. >Your face or heart doesn't budge for a moment
  4465. >"And... I, uh... I feel bad for it."
  4466. >She tries to smile at you
  4467. >But then remembers that she's trying to score sympathy points and puts on her best sad face
  4468. >Twilight stops in mid-cuddle and looks at her with a wry face
  4469. >"Come on Applejack, even I didn't..."
  4470. >She stops herself and looks up at you
  4471. >"I mean..."
  4472. "Fuck it. I can't have a conversation with you two and we're waiting for everyone else to get done."
  4473. >You shake your head and lift up your free arm
  4474. >"A-alright!"
  4475. >She dashes under your arm and watches your arm fall onto her
  4476. >"Heh heh heh..."
  4477. >She chuckles and glares at Twilight
  4478. >That just killed it for the unicorn
  4479. >"Anon... you know, she hasn't really done anything bad. I've done far worse."
  4480. "Yes. Yes you have."
  4481. >Applejack's jaw gapes open
  4482. >"T-that ain't true! I completely left you alone for long stretches of time! I didn't even let you hang out and we didn't even do anything but try to work!"
  4483. "I really don't care right now."
  4484. >Twilight puts on her best sad face
  4485. >She's far more experienced at demanding pity points, you can tell
  4486. >"I ruined Anon's poor, fragile mind... look at him! I've drained all life from his face!"
  4487. >She points to your stoneface
  4488. >Did you really fall for this before?
  4489. >Applejack goes from Twilight's hoof to your face
  4490. >"Y-yeah, well... I..."
  4491. >She sighs
  4492. >"Nevermind, I ain't gonna do this... I just don't want you to be the only one getting his attention. I'm sorry for trying to get sympathy points, Anon."
  4493. >At least she can be the bigger pony
  4494. >This does not please Twilight
  4495. >But she knows better than to keep pushing it
  4496. >You gotta wonder if she's really like this or if it's just because she can't use magic to impress or subdue you
  4497. >Fluttershy pokes out from behind the barn's window, gliding around to the front
  4498. >"Ok. I cleared out all of the spider webs, and made sure that we weren't bothering any spiders. Rainbow Dash is checking for holes in the roof just like Anon said and I--"
  4499. >She stops
  4500. >And looks at a grimacing you with a happy Twilight under one arm and an embarrassed Applejack under the other
  4501. >"O-oh my..."
  4502. >She lands, watching the scene
  4503. >"M... may I join, Anon?"
  4504. >Your lips twitch and purse up
  4505. "Sure... why not..."
  4506. >Applejack and Twilight watch in amazement as Fluttershy looks over the scenario and sees that your lap is empty
  4507. >"Alright... excuse me."
  4508. >She trots onto your lap and circles around like a cat before sitting down
  4509. >The ponies under your arms stare in astonishment
  4510. >It was indeed that easy
  4511. >She didn't even need to guilt you
  4512. >Rainbow Dash is the next one to fly out
  4513. >"Hey Anon, the roof is fine! Why did you even have me check that?"
  4514. >She doesn't even notice you until she lands, looking at the barn
  4515. >"I think I helped raise that... last Spring? Hey Applejack, where are y-"
  4516. >She turns to look at you
  4517. >And sees a now-flustered Twilight
  4518. >And an even more embarrassed Applejack
  4519. >And a pleased, relaxed Fluttershy
  4520. >"Woah..."
  4521. "Rainbow Dash."
  4522. >She jumps at your voice
  4523. >"W-what?"
  4524. "Wanna join? Evidently I'm the cat's meow."
  4525. >You hope she doesn't want to
  4526. >She looks over everything and shrugs
  4527. >"Sure, I guess."
  4528. >She flutters up and sits on your shoulders, with your head between her legs
  4529. >"Hey... nice view."
  4530. >Who's missing at this point, Rarity and Pinkie Pie?
  4531. >Twilight tries to clear her throat
  4532. >"I... uh... isn't it a little crowded around here?"
  4533. >Applejack glares at her
  4534. >"Maybe you should leave then? Shouldn't you be helping Pinkie with those rocks?"
  4535. >"Oh, I think I have enough adequate space, Twilight. Thank you though."
  4536. >"Eh, it's alright."
  4537. >Everyone except Twilight seems fine with the current situation
  4538. >And you
  4539. >You steady your breathing, finding your zen in the situation
  4540. "Twilight."
  4541. >She perks up
  4542. >"Yes, Anon?"
  4543. "I'm blaming you for this."
  4544. >The hurt expression on her face is priceless
  4545. >She can't do shit to you
  4546. >Not while you're clad in pony armor
  4547.  
  4548. >You know, you're starting to warm up to these ponies
  4549. >Despite the last few days, having four ponies around you is pretty comforting
  4550. >Two of them are just happy to be around you
  4551. >One keeps giving you this dejected look
  4552. >The other one seems happy but she's keeping a close eye on where your hands are
  4553. >Which you've kept on your knees, aiding your zen pose
  4554. >You are, indeed, the Poneman
  4555. >Rainbow Dash has gotten comfy to the point that she's been resting your head on top of yours
  4556. >Fluttershy in your lap has actually dozed off too
  4557. >Outside of the chaos, you really feel like you can clear your head of all of this
  4558. >You don't really remember the last time you ate though
  4559. >You want to ask Applejack about fixing up a lunch but you kinda want to have something a little... different
  4560. >You trust her
  4561. >Obviously
  4562. >But given the weird stomach feelings you've been getting from her food, Zecora's concoctions, and how you haven't been in your right mind since you first came here?
  4563. >You kinda could go for just a normal burger
  4564. >And a soda
  4565. >Christ alive you'd whip every single pony in arm's reach around by their tails and scream 'so long gay bowser' for a soda
  4566. >You, surprisingly, aren't disturbed by... what's happened when it comes to intimacy
  4567. >Passive, willing or otherwise
  4568. >Not that you would normally go for that sort of stuff
  4569. >Maybe you could just chalk that sort of thing up to everything else that had just piled on
  4570. >This
  4571. >This current situation feels right
  4572. >You breath deep and close your eyes
  4573. >Now you're just playing the waiting game
  4574. >Pinkie's grabbing a variety of big rocks
  4575. >You have dragon fire that'll evidently do the trick
  4576. >Rarity is... somewhere doing something
  4577. >Who the fuck knows about Zecora, she's off doing anti-magic shit
  4578. >Wait, will that somehow interrupt dragon fire?
  4579. >Screw it, she's probably already doing all of her stuff anyway
  4580. >You are still kinda looking forward to going back home
  4581. >But you enjoy the attention you've been getting too
  4582. >It's kinda cool being tall and strong in a world full of short, weak ponies
  4583. >The mutual attraction going on has helped too
  4584. >You never claimed to be a particularly normal man
  4585. >"Hey Anon. What's with the cuddle pile?"
  4586. >It's Pinkie
  4587. >You feel her hug you from behind, standing on her back two hooves
  4588. >You're properly surrounded in pony armor now
  4589. >Only the most sinful of gods would dare strike y
  4590. >What the fuck is that thing poking into your back
  4591. >"Hey Anon... is that a rock in my pocket or am I just happy to see you?"
  4592. >You burst out from your position, ponies flying in every direction
  4593. "THAT'S WHERE I DRAW THE LINE GOD DAMN IT, WHERE DO YOU G..."
  4594. >Your rage immediately dies down after you whip about face
  4595. >To see a cackling Pinkie Pie with a long, narrow stone poking up from between her hind legs
  4596. >Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, so rudely awakened, glare at her with varying levels of bother
  4597. >Twilight looks mortified
  4598. >Applejack seems mildly amused
  4599. >"Ok sugarplum... now that was funny."
  4600. >Your heart rate stabilizing, you look over the area around here
  4601. >There is only the one rock
  4602. "Pinkie Pie, was that all you found?"
  4603. >She giggles and points her hoof to the side
  4604. >"No siree I got a dozen like this and better on a wagon! Maud told me that they're very sensitive so we shouldn't say anything mean to them, but other than that they're as sturdy as it gets!"
  4605. >As if to test her, you give the rock a wry look
  4606. "Fuck you, rock."
  4607. >The rock cracks
  4608. >Everyone, you included, flinch at the sound of part of it chipping off
  4609. >Oh shit
  4610. >Pinkie gives an impossibly deep gasp
  4611. >"Anon how could you say that?! Maud explicitly said to NOT say something like that!"
  4612. "I thought you were joking!"
  4613. >"NOTHING'S A JOKE WITH MAUD, ANON!"
  4614. "WHO THE HELL IS MAUD AND WHY DID SHE SEND YOU OFF WITH TEMPERAMENTAL LUMPS OF STONE?!"
  4615. >Another shard of the rock chips off with an audible crack
  4616. >You widen your stance and crouch down, as if you're getting shot at
  4617. "JESUS, GET IT INTO THE BARN ALREADY!"
  4618. >Pinkie somehow manages to lift up the flat, wide stone that's as big as her and hauls mane into the barn
  4619. >Fluttershy floats down and picks up the broken off chips
  4620. >"Maybe some kind encouragement would help... rocks can be really strong if you're strong with them."
  4621. >She sound so sure of herself
  4622. >Rainbow Dash already went off somewhere, leaving you alone with the two ponies that have been chasing after you for days now
  4623. >Twilight looks... surprised, to say the least
  4624. >"Pinkie really wasn't kidding, huh."
  4625. >Applejack scrunches her face and shrugs
  4626. >"I wouldn't think too hard on it, Anon. Pinkie's family is a little unusual when it comes to them and their rocks."
  4627. >She chuckles and nudges her head against your leg
  4628. >"Can you imagine an entire family having just one sorta passion?"
  4629. >Your brow furrows as you look down at her
  4630. >Then up at the orchard
  4631. >And back down to her
  4632. >It takes her a few moments before she realizes your point
  4633. >She clears her throat, stamping her hoof down as if to clear up a cramp
  4634. >"W-we ain't obsessed with apples you know... we just know which ones are best for what and... stuff like that..."
  4635. >"Pot, meet kettle."
  4636. >"Oh you can it, Twilight! You ain't any better with them books!"
  4637. >"Please, that's a totally different thing! Maps, tomes, novels, novellas, pamphlets, textbooks, guides, manuals, all of those are completely different!"
  4638. >"You're completely different you dumb smart idget!"
  4639. >You step away from the dueling duo
  4640. >You aren't going to interject on that, they're both cute and they're both stupid right now
  4641. >You oversee the installation of the rocks into the barn, carrying what you can
  4642. >Digging out a small pit in the center of the barn, you put the most circular rock over most of the pit
  4643. >Dragon fire still probably needs oxygen, doesn't it?
  4644. >You follow by setting up seven rocks around the pit, spread out evenly to sit on or lay against
  4645. >It'll be a clean place to sit at least
  4646. >Due to how wide the barn is, you also set some up at random, close to the corners and a pair near the barn doors
  4647. >With everything sealed except the doors, it'll be pretty steamy so anyone wanting to have a less intense sweat could sit there
  4648. >Maybe you could ask Rarity to set up a small tent-like thing too, for a smaller section that would be easy to get out of and easier to see in
  4649. >For sake of illumination, you help make a few more smaller pits
  4650. >The dragon fire stuff keeps poking at the back of your mind but you're sure you can make it work whether or not you need wood or it needs magical burritos or some shit to work
  4651. >Though Pinkie seems fine with the labor, everyone else pairs up just to shuffle around the stones once they're all placed
  4652. >Satisfied with your work, you lead all of the ponies back out
  4653. >Twilight and Applejack are still arguing
  4654. >"At least I know how to spell thesaurus!"
  4655. >"You're gonna have a sauras when I'm done with you, you... the! Then you'll be known as Thesaurus Sparkle!"
  4656. >"And you'll still be known as--"
  4657. "GIRLS!"
  4658. >You bark out in your most stern, authoritative voice
  4659. >Both of them jump a foot before turning to address you
  4660. "Pinkie, Dash, Fluttershy and I got the stones unloaded the stones while you two bickered."
  4661. >You glance at Twilight
  4662. >She gives you her best apologetic smile
  4663. >But she's trembling too
  4664. "Can you find Spike and send him over?"
  4665. >She nods and hurries off
  4666. >Your attention falls on Applejack
  4667. >You can tell she's not used to being bossed around, especially on her own land
  4668. >But she appears keenly focused on you
  4669. "Applejack."
  4670. >"I-I do."
  4671. >Those are the first words that come out of her mouth
  4672. "What?"
  4673. >"Wut?"
  4674. >You give her a queer look and sigh
  4675. "Wanna check out the inside of the barn with me? I wanna go over some design choices to give everyone a lot of variability in where they can sit. I also wanna bring up how if Rarity can set up a little tent or something we can have something a little more light."
  4676. >Applejack gives a solid salute
  4677. >"You're the boss, Anonymous!"
  4678. >Huh
  4679. >Welcome change from her always reminding you that you owe her
  4680. >She follows you from your right and a full step behind, watching how every other pony is doing something
  4681. >Zecora, Rarity and Spike are still MIA but you have bigger priorities
  4682. >The barn's pretty dim when you walk into it, since only the front door is open
  4683. >The grey stones stand out pretty well from the dirt floor
  4684. >The pits you more or less clawed out by hand are maybe a few inches deep but it's a good indicator
  4685. "So... main sitting area. More private areas in the corners. Lights here, here, there too... and..."
  4686. >You pivot on a heel to point at the barn doors, with a stone on each side
  4687. >"Set up a tent or something there where it's more grassy and... I don't know. What do you think?"
  4688. >Applejack just looks at you, awestruck
  4689. "...what?"
  4690. >"Well, I uh... I guess I didn't think you were the type to actually..."
  4691. "Do stuff?"
  4692. >"Take control."
  4693. >She gives you a bashful smile
  4694. >"You certainly ain't like the Anon I saw that needed a hug and a blanket..."
  4695. >You awkwardly try to twitch your mouth into a smile and shrug with your arms raised
  4696. "Yeah well... that type of stuff kinda hurt. You know?"
  4697. >"No no, I ain't meanin' it in a bad way! I just... it's nice to see you take things as they are and make it into something."
  4698. >She awkwardly laughs, rubbing the back of her mane with her hoof
  4699. >"I mean, it certainly lets me know that you'll be a stern father, right?"
  4700. >You begin to say something to her
  4701. >But you do see it as a strong compliment
  4702. "Yeah... hopefully not overly so. Thanks."
  4703. >You smile at each other
  4704. >She really is the sort you would want to start a family with
  4705. >Everyone has their weird little quirks anyway, right?
  4706. >"Say Anon, after all of this... can we really have a-"
  4707. >"Hey, Rarity's here!"
  4708. >Rainbow Dash peeks her head into the barn, visibly excited
  4709. >"Let's get a move on and get this party started! I wanna bake like a potato!"
  4710. >"Have a freaking clue Rainbow Dash, Anon and I are trying to-"
  4711. >"Yeah don't care, hurry up!"
  4712. >The blue bully ducks her head back out again
  4713. >Applejack lets out just the most adorable angry 'uuuuuuuugh'
  4714. >"Unbelievable!"
  4715. >She looks up at you, her lips curling like she wants to try speaking up again
  4716. >You nod and nudge your head in the direction of the exit
  4717. "Let's get down to business. We ain't going anywhere until this is done, right?"
  4718. >Your confidence renews her confidence
  4719. >"That's right!"
  4720. "Then let's go and get the next step done!"
  4721. >You're starting to get proper excited too
  4722. >You've never honestly been in anything like this outside of a particularly long, hot shower
  4723. >Being in a dark, steamy area with only faint traces of light also sounds like some cool Dark Souls shit
  4724. >You don't think that there could be any risks or traps that would come from such darkness
  4725. >It's not like you'd be alone
  4726.  
  4727. >With the barn coming together, you're looking forward to seeing how things finish up
  4728. >Rarity's already in the process of unloading her wagon
  4729. >She has entire bolts of fabric
  4730. >Who's going to pay for that?
  4731. >If Applejack dug anything into your mind, it's that everything costs something
  4732. >Best to not think of it
  4733. >You watch as the two pegasi grab bolts of their own, immediately flying off
  4734. >Everyone already seems like they know what they're doing, except you
  4735. "So... what's with all of the stuff? I thought we were just going to make a tent or something connected to the front?"
  4736. >Rarity smiles at you, winking
  4737. >"Oh darling, you can't expect me to do so little for something so grand! We have the entire barn to cover! And then there's the walkway, fabric to cover the rocks and add a little cushioning, and..."
  4738. >You distance yourself from her, hands up
  4739. "Alright, alright, I get it... gotta have a woman's touch."
  4740. >Applejack keeps a step beside you
  4741. >Rarity and the two birdbrained ponies are prettying up the barn
  4742. >That just leaves...
  4743. >You freeze
  4744. >Pinkie Pie talking to Twilight
  4745. >You can't presume that they're always talking about clandestine topics
  4746. >But something tells you that they are
  4747. "Hey, so what else we need? Spike out there grabbing wood or something?"
  4748. >They look at you unison
  4749. >The way they're smiling makes you flinch
  4750. >Applejack huffs and steps in front of you
  4751. >"He asked if y'all've seen Spike or not!"
  4752. >Pinkie giggles and bounces away, leaving Twilight
  4753. >She looks quite content
  4754. >"Why the temper? We're almost ready to soak! Spike IS gathering spare firewood, thank you for asking. Pinkie Pie is in charge of the snacks that we'll have in the tent but away from the steam so it won't be soggy."
  4755. >Applejack audibly huffs
  4756. >"That ain't bad but... shouldn't I be taking care of that? My barn, my land."
  4757. >Twilight gives her a dull look
  4758. >"And yet you aren't doing it. We're going to be ready before long and you're glued to Anon like a lost filly!"
  4759. >The catty pony remark leaves the apple overlord stunned
  4760. >"That's..."
  4761. >She glances at you and runs off
  4762. >"Just you wait, no one ain't outdoin' me on this!"
  4763. >You can only sigh at her speed
  4764. >Especially because she's leaving you alone with Twilight
  4765. >"Finally, I thought she'd never leave. How are you doing, Anon?"
  4766. >You almost flinch at her words
  4767. >But you're still immune to magic so it's not like you have a lot to worry about
  4768. "Fine... fine."
  4769. >With you standing, it's ever more apparent to you that she's really not capable of doing anything to you
  4770. >She trots toward you, nodding
  4771. >"Good! Very good. You know, with all of this stuff going on, you've really brought a lot of us together. We haven't done anything as a group for a while now either."
  4772. >You shrug, nodding
  4773. "Well... sure. You're welcome."
  4774. >"Wanna make a foal under the cover of darkness while everyone's enjoying themselves?"
  4775. >Your eyes nearly pop out of your head
  4776. "I..."
  4777. >You clear your throat
  4778. >You still remember the little moments you had before
  4779. >You did not remember, however, that words don't need to be said face to face to have an effect
  4780. "No? No, I'm... I'm alright. Thank you though."
  4781. >Twilight stops just in front of you
  4782. >Rather than looking up at you, she's looking up your tunic
  4783. >"I mean, hard work should be rewarded with hard rewards, right?"
  4784. >You step back, giving her your best stern look
  4785. >It doesn't do much when you've already succumbed to her more than once
  4786. >Willing or otherwise
  4787. "There's a time and place for that, you know."
  4788. >"Like when Applejack's sleeping right beside you?"
  4789. >She giggles something sinister, taking another step forward to look up your tunic
  4790. >"I bet I can guess what you'd like to do to work up a sweat... I can't use magic on you but I can make us near impossible to find. Wouldn't that be fun?"
  4791. >It kinda would be
  4792. >But she doesn't know that you think that
  4793. >Hopefully
  4794. "No, I'm good. And you won't be convincing me otherwise. I'll be hanging out with Applejack and everyone else, there won't be any chance to... do that. And we have two ponies supplying us with snacks so, you know, food is there too."
  4795. >You think you're being pretty sensible and solid on your stance
  4796. >You certainly feel more in your head than you have in the last few days
  4797. >You think
  4798. >Ever since you've been here, you've questioned your capacity, sanity, willpower and wants at every step
  4799. >This purple little... minx hasn't helped
  4800. >She nuzzles your leg with her head
  4801. >"Pony wants cream, Anon... pony needs it..."
  4802. >The way she says it
  4803. >What she says
  4804. >You shiver hard before taking a few steps back
  4805. "Alright, we're done here. I'm gonna go away now before you... I don't even want to know."
  4806. >Thankfully your brisk walking pace is faster than her light trotting
  4807. >"But Anon! You could even have my milk!"
  4808. >She sounds desperate
  4809. >Worse, you almost feel sorry for her
  4810. >But you know better
  4811. >If she's genuine, that's one thing
  4812. >But if she's only going this route because she can't puppeteer you
  4813. >That's another
  4814. >You can't let yourself forget what she's already done to you
  4815. >You gotta watch yourself once the steam starts piling on
  4816. >Speaking of, you see Spike hauling back a log that's twice as big as he is
  4817. >Or more appropriately, he's trying to drag it back
  4818. >You scoop it up with both arms, watching him fly off the ground as well
  4819. "Lend you a hand?"
  4820. >Spike scampers up onto the log until he's sitting on it
  4821. >"Heck yeah! This is so much easier..."
  4822. >Nothing will happen if you have a witness around you
  4823. >Was he around when Twilight zapped you to her place at the very beginning?
  4824. "Hey Spike."
  4825. >"Sup?"
  4826. "Did you see me over at Twilight's, when I was still new to here?"
  4827. >He shrugs, idly scratching at the log
  4828. >"Nah, not really. She didn't want me there and sent me to find some dumb eggs. I spent an entire day doing fetch quest after fetch quest, all for three eggs. And here's the thing, they weren't even real! They were all, like, glass bottles of stuff. Probably perfume or something, am I right?"
  4829. "Sure... could be, you know how chicks are."
  4830. >"Ha, I sure do!"
  4831. >He sounds like he's making an effort to seem cool
  4832. >You kinda feel for him, if he's surrounded by girls all the time
  4833. "So, Spike... what's the skinny on Twilight?"
  4834. >He looks at you funny
  4835. >"The what?"
  4836. "Well she seems to like me. And... I don't know. I don't think we ever got a chance to talk and it seems like you would know her the best."
  4837. >"Really?"
  4838. "Well yeah. If I gotta ask anyone about one of the chicks here it's gotta be through the only guy, right?"
  4839. >The masculine compliment makes the dragon's chest puff out
  4840. >He lets out a deep 'hur hur' and nods
  4841. >"Yeah... yeah, that's right! So, it's Twilight you wanna know about, huh... well, you're kinda weird for liking her. She's... a weird pony. I mean, she's always looked after me so I guess she's like... my older sister or my mom."
  4842. >It takes him a second a realize what he just said
  4843. >"Wait wait wait... are you interested in Twilight in that way? Are we gonna be brothers or something?!"
  4844. >You choose to not answer
  4845. "How much wood you got for us to haul, anyway?"
  4846. >"Well Applejack has like a dozen of these that are in some sort of wood shed. Probably for winter. So we use a few of those and we should be good to go, you know? You got me thinking about the dragon fire question, and I think I might be able to..."
  4847. >He really may as well be Twilight's little brother
  4848. >He talks as much as she does
  4849. >Three logs later and he's still talking, though he's taken to just chilling on your shoulder
  4850. >"...Rarity chased me out. But man was it a sight! I never thought I'd see her doing that!"
  4851. >Who is this girl-starved mad lad?
  4852. "Yeah... don't tell Twilight but that's something every chick does. Whether they're like me, or like the ponies here."
  4853. >Spike guffaws and wrings his claws together
  4854. >"Oh man... you're serious too, aren't you!"
  4855. >After another three logs, you're casually shooting the shit together
  4856. >Pretty much discussing anything and everything a guy like him can't discuss with a mare
  4857. >It's also doing wonders for buttering him up on details about Twilight
  4858. >"And then there's that little diary she writes in. She's been writing in like, a hundred of those. When I asked her what they were for, she told me to go chase birds or something. I mean I did, I even caught one too but... I had to let him go. Otherwise I think Fluttershy would've been mad at me. You know, she's cute too. Kinda creepy because she looked at me really funny when we first met her. 'We' being Twilight and me. What makes you interested in Twilight, anyway? She has no sense of fashion, she really didn't make friends all that easy for the longest time. Did I mention she lives in a tree?"
  4859. >Another three logs in and the barn is completely covered in a bright, breezy blue
  4860. >Spike swoons at Rarity calling out orders
  4861. >"Ain't she a beaut? I mean come on, she's the epitome of what it means to be a woman!"
  4862. "I suppose... what makes her so great, anyhow?"
  4863. >"Just look at her, dude!"
  4864. >She does look alright
  4865. "Honestly? I think Applejack's way better. Rarity's more... dainty?"
  4866. >The dragon scoffs at you
  4867. >"Yeah right... man, what a lame option... almost as lame as liking Twilight."
  4868. "Fair point. But I like a lot of lame things."
  4869. >Spike mumbles out something
  4870. >"Well, you know... I guess it's not 'lame' lame. But you got some funny tastes."
  4871. >By the time you haul over the last of the logs, you have a full on tent set up in front of the barn
  4872. >The barn itself looks like it's just a big blue mass, without a single sliver of brown or red visible
  4873. >Rarity chuckles to herself, proud of her work
  4874. >Both Applejack and Pinkie Pie have a few tables stocked with snacks
  4875. >You're surprised they made them that quickly
  4876. >It wasn't honestly that much time, was it?
  4877. >You did walk at a rather leisurely pace
  4878. >Spike hops off from your shoulder, flocking to Rarity's flank
  4879. >"Amazing work! I've never seen a better barn!"
  4880. >"Ugh, Spike... must you use that specific word for our new sauna?"
  4881. >She really is a charmer
  4882. >You head to Applejack's table
  4883. >Outside of a few plates of apple-related items, there's one that has your name on it
  4884. >Literally, there's a fritter or cookie with a letter on them and they all spell "A N O N S S N A C K S"
  4885. >Glancing over your shoulder, you quickly swipe a few of them and rearrange the others to "A N A S S"
  4886. "Heh heh..."
  4887. >With your poached bounty of brunch, you devour what you can while watching everyone celebrate the progress they've made so far
  4888. >You know, you haven't seen Zecora in a while
  4889. >Some of these cookies taste kinda weird too
  4890. >You don't 100% taste apple
  4891. >They are good though
  4892. >And you are hungry
  4893. >On your last cookie, you hear a loud 'ahhem'
  4894. >"Well now, ain't you a mite peckish? I didn't think you'd eat so many at once!"
  4895. >You quickly stuff your face before turning around
  4896. >You gulp hard before smiling at the country home pone
  4897. "Can you blame me since it's you making it?"
  4898. >You lean down to her
  4899. "Hey, where'd Zecora go? Are we good on the magic stuff?"
  4900. >As if she thought of everything, she nods
  4901. >"Of course we are. She even helped with the cookies too!"
  4902. >Your smile drops
  4903. "...what did you feed me?"
  4904. >Applejack sheepishly chuckles
  4905. >"Eh heh... well... you know... stuff that'll help?"
  4906. "Help who, exactly?"
  4907. >"Well... you."
  4908. >She scrunches her face
  4909. >"And me."
  4910. >She brings her hooves together
  4911. >"Usss.....?"
  4912. "Applejack... you know we gotta be careful with this spa thing, right?"
  4913. >"Don't worry! Nopony ain't gonna see nothin'! And you know how it is, Rarity already knows we're a couple and Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy... well, they ain't ones to care."
  4914. >She reaches for her ponytail, stroking it
  4915. >"And... well, we gotta celebrate, right? I mean, I definitely gotta give you a reward. The way you stood up to everyone and took control is..."
  4916. >She's certainly giggly today
  4917. >"Well it ain't a bad thing, you know?"
  4918. >You glare at her
  4919. >She does her best to look cute with a smile
  4920. "...well we'll see. But you stick close to me. Like glue, alright?"
  4921. >She nods faster than you can see
  4922. >"You got it, buckaroo! I ain't gonna leave you alone for a second in there!"
  4923. "Work on your wording... but good girl."
  4924. >You really should've asked before eating
  4925. >But as long as it makes you immune to Twilight's magic, you can afford to feel normal
  4926. >You get the feeling that now that she's had a proper taste of you, she might feel compelled to do more
  4927. >You can't help but feel proud too, for the barn turning out as well as it has
  4928. >"Alright, everypony! Let's get Spike in there and let's bake!"
  4929. >Rainbow Dash is certainly eager
  4930. "Speaking of which, did anyone get those buckets of water?"
  4931. >Can't really have steam without the stuff
  4932. >Twilight struts up, six of them levitating over her
  4933. >"Right here? Shall we, Spike?"
  4934. >Spike, torn away from his sneaky peeking of the prissy unicorn, sighs
  4935. >"Alright... dang it..."
  4936. >Grabbing hold of the last log, you lead the party of four into the barn
  4937. >It's pretty dark already
  4938. "Hey Spike, wanna light this one real quick?"
  4939. >"Sure you won't catch fire too?"
  4940. "Don't get my hopes up, bud."
  4941. >One half blow-half belch and a burst of green later and the log you're holding is covered in bright green fire
  4942. >It's definitely hot but something about it feels off from what normal fire feels like
  4943. >You crouch down and set the log against the others at the center
  4944. >All at once they go up into a bright green bonfire
  4945. "Alright, now we're cooking! Go and light the other ones, yeah?"
  4946. >You reach out behind you and a bucket handle floats to your hand
  4947. >"Happy to be so helpful, Anon! Unlike some ponies..."
  4948. >Applejack keeps her mouth shut, if only because she's quite confident in her own little cooking tricks
  4949. >You wait for the rocks over the logs to heat up, watching Spike run from corner to corner to light up the other logs in the pits
  4950. >The place is actually pretty well lit now
  4951. >Hopefully the barn won't burn down
  4952. >"Uh... what're you waiting for, Anon?"
  4953. "Heat."
  4954. >As if to point it out, you start to pour the water onto the flat rocks
  4955. >All three of the creatures jump at the loud hissing
  4956. >But sure enough, most of it turns to steam in an instant
  4957. >Though it takes multiple buckets, steam starts to fill the barn up until the corner flames have been obscured to the point of looking only like ethereal green masses
  4958. >Even though the trio is close to you, their features are more than obscured
  4959. >You can tell who's who, but you can't really see their expressions
  4960. >Applejack's stuck still in place
  4961. >"Is... this... uh... are we in trouble?"
  4962. "What? No. We have another two buckets to pour onto the rocks to keep things going so we're really not in danger of running out anytime soon."
  4963. >Twilight scoffs, walking off into the hot fog
  4964. >"I mean, obviously, right? I've made steam through my tea kettle before..."
  4965. "And yet YOU COULDN'T DO THIS!"
  4966. >"Hey, it's done! Get in already, it's time to roast!"
  4967. >Rainbow Dash springs in, her wings spread
  4968. >The entire rest of the group follows
  4969. >"I may need to redo my hair after this..."
  4970. >"Oh wow. The green lights look so pretty! It is warmer than I imagined though..."
  4971. >Applejack hops onto one of the sitting rocks
  4972. >Outside of them being covered in fabric, they really are sizable enough for even you to sit on
  4973. >She stomps down on the the stone, making more than a ruckus
  4974. >"Head toward the big lug and the big fire!"
  4975. "Hey, who are you calling a lug?"
  4976. >"Applejack says that you are a lug... but for making all of this, I say you deserve a hug!"
  4977. >Though you can't see her, you can definitely hear Zecora
  4978. "Hey, where were you? Where are you?"
  4979. >As distinct as her voice is, everyone is chatting and wandering around
  4980. >You can hear Pinkie laughing and popping in and out of the steam, surprising everyone at least once
  4981. >You sit down on the ground next to the rock Applejack's on
  4982. "This ain't too shabby.... brighter than I thought."
  4983. >Applejack scoots closer to her until she's leaning her head against your arm
  4984. >"Sure is romantic though, ain't it..."
  4985. >"Oh come on, leave it until you two are alone!"
  4986. >Out of freaking nowhere, Rainbow Dash just has to come in with the interruption
  4987. >"Rainbow Dash, let the young couple be! Did you see what I made him? If I were her I wouldn't-"
  4988. >"THEY AREN'T A COUPLE, UGH!"
  4989. >You shake your head at Rarity and Twilight's interjections
  4990. "Best we stay casual for now, huh?"
  4991. >Applejack sighs and nods
  4992. >"Dang it... alright..."
  4993. "Besides, shouldn't you focus on getting soaked in hot air?"
  4994. >You can hear her inhale to say something
  4995. "I know what you're gonna say, don't."
  4996. >She scoffs
  4997. >"Spoilsport..."
  4998. >You enjoy the shenanigans of the entire party goofing around and playing in the mist
  4999. >It's only getting thicker too
  5000. >You strip off your coat, feeling the heat
  5001. "This really is nice..."
  5002. >You lay it behind the orange mare
  5003. "So are you really fine with us using the barn like this? What if something happens to the structural... integrity... or... something?"
  5004. >She nods
  5005. >"Iunno. I guess not? I mean, it ain't none more than hot water, right? The wood for this ain't really cheap, if that's what you're meaning."
  5006. "Oh no, nothing like that. I just don't wanna wreck anything."
  5007. >The pony nuzzles your arm
  5008. >"Ah... we should really start to make things more official, don't you think?"
  5009. >Not thinking too hard on it, you nod
  5010. "Well I guess so. I mean I'm kinda... what, your employee, your partner, and aside from that..."
  5011. >"You ain't my employee Anon. I... kinda said that so I know you'd stay. But I ain't gonna hold that over you. But partner sounds good."
  5012. >She pauses
  5013. >"Just... please no more tree kicking, alright?"
  5014. >The two of you watch the fire until it's become so obscured that you can't hardly see anything beyond a flickering green shape in front of you
  5015. >Maybe Spike's fire is doing a killer job on the steam already in the air or something
  5016. >You are absolutely drenched, though
  5017. >Enough that you said 'screw it' and stripped yourself of your tunic
  5018. >Of course Applejack knew but she frustrated herself by staring at you and not being able to see anything
  5019. >You even teased her about it a little which didn't help
  5020. >Eventually, everyone, Zecora included, find their way to the center
  5021. >Rarity and Fluttershy are absolutely wasted from the heat, spread out and sighing or yawning from the atmosphere
  5022. >Rainbow Dash keeps playing with one of the spare buckets of water, cackling whenever the fire hisses from a new splash
  5023. >You don't know about the rest
  5024. >Applejack is in full shutdown mode
  5025. >You nudge your elbow against her
  5026. "Hey. I'm gonna get up real quick and grab another one of those snacks. You want anything?"
  5027. >"Anon, if I ain't gonna make it... let them know that I died like roast in the oven."
  5028. >You're not sure of ponies sweat but she looks pretty content
  5029. "Sure... just make sure no one eats you."
  5030. >You pat her shoulder and stand up
  5031. >Either the fires have died down or the steam has gotten insane but you only vaguely know where the exit is
  5032. >Watching your step, you set out from the familiar safety of the stone circle
  5033. >Five steps in, you don't know where the hell you are
  5034. >Another twenty steps in a straight line and you still aren't really sure of where you are
  5035. >You don't want to jinx yourself
  5036. >But you might get the idea that you're... not going to have a good time
  5037. >"Oh Anon... are we lost...?"
  5038. >Oh shit
  5039.  
  5040. >You physically prepare yourself, as naked as you are
  5041. >As thick as the steam has become, you can still at least see the green flames in the distance
  5042. >Sorta
  5043. >Twilight trots up to you, smiling
  5044. >You sigh
  5045. >You were worried you'd see some sort of nightmare creature or some shit
  5046. "Yeah, you know where the exit is? I've been kinda... walking in circles. I think."
  5047. >She smiles at you, biting her lower lip
  5048. >"You haven't been. I've just been using magic."
  5049. >Your face pops from confused, to concerned, to even more confused
  5050. "Hold on now. I'm immune from Zecora's crap. This entire place should be immune to your shenanigans."
  5051. >Twilight giggles
  5052. >"I know! But she didn't get the water, now did she?!"
  5053. >Fuck
  5054. >Twilight laughs as if she won a particularly riveting game
  5055. >"Oh Anon... Anon Anon Anon. You really are smart. It's like been playing a game of Chess!"
  5056. "Yeah well wait until it's time to king m..."
  5057. >Something doesn't sit right with you
  5058. "Wait, you guys got Chess?"
  5059. >Twilight tilts her head to the side
  5060. >"Yes? Why?"
  5061. "Is it called... horse... Chess... or something?"
  5062. >You lean back and squint as you ask
  5063. >Twilight isn't amused
  5064. >"Yes, Anon. It's called Pony Chess and everything is pony. The knights are little human faces, the pawns are ponies, the brooks are ponies, the bishops are actually Catholic priests and the King is Celestia while the Queen is also Celestia but with a bigger horn."
  5065. >The dull shock on your face is indescribable
  5066. "...Can I see the pieces?"
  5067. >"NO YOU WEIRDO, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PONY CHESS, IT'S JUST CALLED CHESS."
  5068. >You jump at her outburst
  5069. >Now that you know that you're effectively drowning in Twilight's magic, you're not completely sure of what you should or shouldn't do
  5070. >"Now... outside of all of that... won't you have a sit down with me?"
  5071. "You know, I've been thinking of it, I'm tempted to. But I should really go outside to get a breath of fresh air. You get it, right?"
  5072. >You give her your best smile
  5073. >You inhale
  5074. >No you don't
  5075. >Rather, you can't
  5076. >What?
  5077. >You take a step forward, trying to inhale again
  5078. >No dice
  5079. >What?!
  5080. >"Oh my, Anon... you really do need to step outside for some air! Did you know that since steam is just fire and water, that there's no possible way Zecora could've treated dragon fire or water I got from a lake far, far from Ponyville?"
  5081. >This sneaky, cunning pony
  5082. >You dart your head back and try to scoop the steam against your face
  5083. >It doesn't work
  5084. >You almost feel like some sort of invisible shield is around you
  5085. >Or that the steam is alive and just hates your face
  5086. >You stagger a few steps forward, toward one of the flames
  5087. >It looks like one that everyone else is sitting or laying at
  5088. >Twilight casually walks beside you
  5089. >"You know, I'm going to bet that you didn't expect this. I mean, you had a really good idea! And everypony is having a calm, soothing time too! They're breathing in my steam as naturally as they would normally!"
  5090. >After a few more steps, you hack out something and stagger forward
  5091. >You're still standing
  5092. >But this ain't good
  5093. >You've always had fun holding your breath for whatever reasons but this is starting to push it
  5094. >Has it even been a minute yet?
  5095. >"You really take my breath away sometimes, Anon. Is it too silly to say that I've taken yours away too? I think I would sound more like a movie villain if I said that... but those lines are in action movies too, right?"
  5096. >You drop to one knee, gasping for air
  5097. >"You know, you can have it back, Anon. All you need to do is ask. Say it with your heart and I'll give you everything you could ever want."
  5098. >She can read your thoughts or something
  5099. >Twilight giggles
  5100. >"I can, Anon! You don't need to be panicked, I promise! All you need to do is ask!"
  5101. >Not going to happen
  5102. >Twilight steps in front of you
  5103. >She looks puzzled
  5104. >"Why not, Anon? You don't even dislike me. I can see deep into your mind, your heart, your soul. And I can see that you do like me. Even if you're worried about admitting it because you like Applejack too."
  5105. >She's not the only one you like
  5106. >"Oh, Pinkie, Rarity, and even Zecora too?"
  5107. >Twilight giggles again
  5108. >"Well, it's good to like your friends. And they are your friends."
  5109. >Exactly
  5110. >Your fist begins to pound the dirt
  5111. >It feels solid
  5112. >You're making it even more solid, packing in as much of it as you can
  5113. >Making sure that there's no possible iota of steam
  5114. >Hopefully Zecora did some sort of goofy shit to take care of the soil
  5115. >"What are you doing? Anon, you really need to say something... I don't want you to suffocate!"
  5116. >You try to lean down but end up with your face smacking into the dirt
  5117. >She did it before
  5118. >Hopefully she does it again
  5119. >You scoop a handful of dirt against your face
  5120. >Into your mouth
  5121. >And scream into the soil
  5122. >It at least means that you aren't in a vacuum
  5123. >PINKIE
  5124. >"Anon, why did yo--"
  5125. >Pinkie's head pops out of the ground
  5126. >"Anon, my pinkie sense was tingling! This stuff is gr... eat..."
  5127. >Immediately, you can feel air rush into your lungs again
  5128. >And a lot of dirt
  5129. >You sputter hard, spitting out the dirt
  5130. "Oh thank Christ. Pinkie, you gotta teach me that trick."
  5131. >"Oh sure Anon, it's easy once you get used to how to deal with the pebbles and hard lumps! Why are you eating dirt ,anyway? I have plenty of chocolate stuff out there that, when crumbled up, looks like soft, yummy soil!"
  5132. >Pinkie's head pivots toward Twilight
  5133. >She's just as confused as she is surprised
  5134. >"Hi Twilight! Great spa, isn't it!"
  5135. >The purple unicorn is completely stunned
  5136. >No pony expects Pinkie
  5137. "Yeah... I, uh... I just got a bit light-headed. Ain't that right, Twilight? You were helping me find the exit in this maze."
  5138. >Twilight's ears fold back and her expression changes on a dime to a meek smile
  5139. >"Oh... oh! Y-yes, how silly of me! I must've lost my... sense of direction too..."
  5140. >Pinkie's head slides back and forth
  5141. >"Oh you sillies, do you need me to help? Wait, before you answer, Anon!"
  5142. >She beams at you
  5143. >"Check this out!"
  5144. >While she was turning back and forth before, she starts to rotate
  5145. >Faster
  5146. >And faster
  5147. >Until she's a spinning blur
  5148. >"Foo-o-o-o-o-o-o-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w m-m-m-m-m-m-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!!"
  5149. >Like some cartoon mole, she sinks back down and starts to tunnel off into the distance, a small bump in the ground acting as a path to follow
  5150. >Twilight looks up at you as if she's completely caught off-guard
  5151. >"Anon... what just happened?"
  5152. "Easy. The steam and all that crap was your realm. But the dirt wasn't."
  5153. >"But how did Pinkie...?"
  5154. "I'm the alien in this world and you're asking me how did Pinkie, regarding anything?!"
  5155. >Her shock turns to a sly smile
  5156. >"Anon... I love you. That was clever... not as clever as me, but quick thinking."
  5157. >You inhale hard to help regain your wits and walk off
  5158. >"I mean it! You know I never would've allowed you to get hurt from it, right? It's like Chess! Like Chess!"
  5159. >These fucking ponies
  5160. >You follow Pinkie's trail until you see something resembling light
  5161. >The exit!
  5162. >Or entrance, now that you're in the tent
  5163. >The heat is far less oppressive but it's still pretty dense
  5164. >You can hear Rarity sighing
  5165. >"Anon, this really was quite the idea... and to think, I didn't even bring any cucumbers..."
  5166. >It takes you a second to acquire her, given the white body, but you do find her splayed out on a rock as if she were posing for an artist
  5167. >Her eyes are closed at least
  5168. "Yeah, well... I think I forgot too. Anyone else leave here?"
  5169. >"Aside from Pinkie Pie acting like a sugar-powered drill? No, darling, I haven't. And I'm going to keep my eyes closed, in case you're obscenely nude."
  5170. >You raise an eyebrow and begin to retort
  5171. >But you end up meandering and nodding
  5172. "I... yeah, yeah. That's for the best. I'll warn you when I'm coming back in so you'll have time."
  5173. >"MUCH appreciated, Anonymous."
  5174. >You step through the tent flap and you're in open air again
  5175. >And boy is it a mite chilly
  5176. >You see Pinkie, having popped out of her tunnel, sitting as if she were waiting on you
  5177. >"Anon's a dirty bo-oy!"
  5178. >You glance down and wipe your face more
  5179. >"No, not there!"
  5180. >She points with her hoof
  5181. >"There...!"
  5182. >You turn, bring your leg up to cover your shame, and shriek like a girl
  5183. >For a second before you realize she's seen you there before
  5184. >And then some
  5185. >You keep your leg up and frown at her
  5186. "I'll have you know that steam is a very healthy way to clean off body parts."
  5187. >"So why did you call me? You are my best friend, so of course I'd help!"
  5188. >You open your mouth so you can begin to weave a fantastical tale of nothing that somehow led to your mouth full of dirt and screaming into said dirt until
  5189. >"It was Twilight, wasn't it?"
  5190. "What? No, who? Twilight? No, she's alright."
  5191. >Pinkie smiles at you
  5192. >It's a very wide smile
  5193. >"Anon, we're best friends."
  5194. "I know. And I'm completely thankful for that."
  5195. >"And best friends don't lie to each other."
  5196. "You're right, they do not."
  5197. >"Was it Twilight?"
  5198. "Yeaaaaaa...nnn... yes, she surprised me is all."
  5199. >Pinkie's expression doesn't change
  5200. >"You wouldn't lie to me, would you?"
  5201. "No, of course not. I don't do lying."
  5202. >"Then why aren't you telling me the truth why you'd eat dirt like I imagine you'd eat pony?"
  5203. >Woof
  5204. >That causes a quick mental image in your head but it doesn't linger enough to distract you
  5205. "Because... she's... Spike told me how awkward she can be. And she... is awkward. She can be. And it isn't her fault, she's just... weird. You know?"
  5206. >Pinkie's smile actually mellows out
  5207. >"You know... you kinda got a point... did you know that she once made a group of ponies fawn over an old doll she had?"
  5208. "I... did... not?"
  5209. >"Oh yeah! She ended up requiring Celestia's help because dozens upon dozens of ponies started to fight each other for it! If that ain't a perfect example of how weird she is,I don't know what is!"
  5210. >She snorts and laughs at the fond memory that you surely don't share
  5211. "Yeah... I guess that's right. Magic sure is funky like that, ain't it."
  5212. >Pinkie stops in mid laugh, in a split fucking second, and smiles at you again
  5213. >The sudden change is enough to make you feel a cold chill go up your spine
  5214. >And it probably isn't just the cool wind on your steamed, sweaty body
  5215. >"Are you sure you're ok, best friend?"
  5216. "Yeah. What's to worry about, I'm fine. Just, you know."
  5217. >"No, I don't."
  5218. >Her voice isn't monotone
  5219. >But it's close enough for concern
  5220. "I'm just... I'm glad I didn't pass out, naked as I was and in some dark corner of the barn. I can't drag down things by having Twilight, of all ponies, find me and think I was dead or something. I don't do great with heat and... just feeling things kinda closed in around me. What would she or anyone else think, right?"
  5221. >Her smile relaxes again
  5222. >Like some fucking lie detector mode
  5223. >You aren't lying, of course
  5224. >"Weeeeeeeelllllllll okidokiloki! Wanna have some punch and some chocolate cupcakes? They can still be ground up until they look like sweet mud pies, icing included!"
  5225. "In a more controlled setting, sure. But for now, I'll keep it clean-ish."
  5226. >You sit down at the side of the table she set up
  5227. >Seems like you aren't the first to pick apart the snacks on both hers and Applejack's stuff
  5228. >You don't feel nearly as bad grabbing some stuff then
  5229. >"Anon, you should try some of that! And oh, that too! Rainbow Dash likes those so leave two out for her. Oh and..."
  5230. >She rattles off the list of everything she made, who prefers them, and to what extent so if they had to pick between one of the two, she'd know which one they would prefer, and more
  5231. >But she stops when it comes to you
  5232. >"But for you... well... try what you like! I don't put anything in my food that shouldn't be there so you know it's safe!"
  5233. >Halfway through eating a cookie you nearly spit it out
  5234. >Nearly
  5235. >You don't want to waste food
  5236. >You gulp it all down, bypassing the wise idea to chew
  5237. "I... uh... who would do that?"
  5238. >Pinkie snorts and laughs, trotting over to sit on your lap, as she's always done before
  5239. >Her rump wriggles against your lap, which is new, but she otherwise stays still
  5240. >But it was still enough to cause a minor rise out of you
  5241. >"Well I mean, Applejack's been doing that for sure. I don't know how, but I bet she has an entire cookbook of ancient, ancestral recipes!"
  5242. "So... she puts stuff in her food like everyone else does, to make food?"
  5243. >You're really not sure how much she knows
  5244. >Either independently or due to Twilight's information
  5245. >"Maaaaaaaybe!"
  5246. >You shrug, playing it off
  5247. "Yeah well... what if I like Applejack's cooking and the way she does things? She's a pretty alright mare..."
  5248. >Pinkie stifles a giggle, nodding
  5249. >"Sssuuuuuuuuuuure she is... I bet she wouldn't know how to have fun if her lower leg was bruised up!"
  5250. >You glance down to your leg
  5251. >The bruise is still there
  5252. >And she's probably seen it when it was worse
  5253. "Well nobody's perfect."
  5254. >"I guess... I mean look at you! You have a perfectly pink pretty pony sitting in front of you, and you're only eating the food on the table!"
  5255. >"I'm still here darling! Please, Pinkie, do not tempt the weird creature to eat you in any capacity! Wait until after my spa time, at the very least!"
  5256. >Pinkie looks around
  5257. >"...Where did Rarity come from?"
  5258. >Thank God for Spike's crush
  5259. "Thank you, Rarity! I do not wish to devour any of you ponies, I promise!"
  5260. >Your shout is met with a long, drawn out sigh of a 'riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhht'
  5261.  
  5262. >Between Pinkie giving you guff and trying to casually tempt you to play with her and Rarity loudly coughing whenever things sound like they're progressing too much, you've felt pretty safe
  5263. >You've cooled off mostly from the sauna, and helped yourself to a fair amount of the snacks
  5264. >It's been maybe a week and you already miss meat
  5265. >Rainbow Dash eventually comes out, yawning and panting
  5266. >"Holy cow, it's hot in there! How does anyone last so long in that?"
  5267. >She sees you sitting on the ground, naked as can be
  5268. >And Pinkie Pie on your lap
  5269. >She grimaces
  5270. >"Ew. Pinkie, what are you doing there."
  5271. >She isn't even asking
  5272. >"Well I'm sitting, and I got the best seat in the barn!"
  5273. >She scoots from side to side
  5274. >Part of you is sandwiched between her hind end and the ground
  5275. >You've stopped trying to fight against her, both because she hasn't done anything really dangerous and because you're tired of getting chastised by Rarity for doing nearly anything
  5276. >You keep a stone face of vague annoyance
  5277. >It's better for endurance's sake
  5278. >She helps herself to a few of her preferred snacks, as Pinkie mentioned, and flies off
  5279. >"I'll be back later, keep that stuff fired up for me!"
  5280. >You wait until she's well out of sight before speaking up
  5281. "So... did she really just fly off like that?"
  5282. >"Yeah, she does that from time to time. I bet she's just working up another sweat so she can come back and sweat!"
  5283. >Sure
  5284. >That's how that works
  5285. "Well... I don't know about you, but I wanna go back in. I'm hoping that... uh..."
  5286. >That Twilight doesn't try to suffocate you again?
  5287. "I've cooled off enough."
  5288. >You grab the pink pony's sides and lift her up
  5289. >She left a little bit of a mess on you, since there's a strand connecting her to you
  5290. "...well now."
  5291. >She giggles and wriggles out of your hands
  5292. >She stands to the side, beaming with pride
  5293. >"I guess all of that steamy stuff got me steamed up too! I'm ready to head in if you are!"
  5294. >Good thing Rarity can't see this
  5295. >You stand up, trying to ignore how much you're standing at attention
  5296. >You really don't recall ever having so much consistent energy
  5297. >Probably helps because you can't do anything else like play your vidya
  5298. >And screw reading for a while
  5299. >You ignore Pinkie's excited commentary about your physical state and walk back into the tent
  5300. >As soon as you lift the flap and enter, you're assaulted by a solid wall of wet heat
  5301. >You see Rarity, laying on her back, snooring with a rag over her eyes
  5302. >Due to reasons, you look over her
  5303. >She seems to have the same physical characteristics as the other ponies
  5304. >But some aspects are...
  5305. >Different
  5306. >Maybe Spike would like to know about her condition so he can look over her
  5307. >For her own safety
  5308. >And as a reward for pestering you so much
  5309. >Pinkie follows you into the barn proper
  5310. >After having stayed outside, it seems even darker than before
  5311. >Maybe the steam has thinned a bit
  5312. >The green fires from Spike are really good markers of what's where too
  5313. >"Oh, center one is where the stones are! Just don't squash your pebbles against your stones, it might not feel too good!"
  5314. >She giggles with a snort and trots ahead
  5315. >You keep pace, enough so you aren't left alone
  5316. >You see Twilight's silhouette on one stone
  5317. >Applejack on another, she seems awake
  5318. >Fluttershy, oddly enough, is the most energetic of the bunch since you can see her flapping her wings back and forth
  5319. "Hey there, everyone. Sorry, had to step out for a bit. I got lost in the steam, if you could believe it..."
  5320. >"It's true! Poor silly tripped and ended up eating mud pie without the pie!"
  5321. >Though you can't see her face, you can tell that Twilight is staring at you
  5322. >"...that's right. He really should be looked after better..."
  5323. >Applejack huffs, a little annoyed
  5324. >"Y'should've at least woken me up so I could go with you! Sit your hind down, we were talking stories."
  5325. >Story time?
  5326. >Yay
  5327. >You sit down, hooking an arm around Applejack
  5328. "So what're we telling?"
  5329. >"G... ghost stories..."
  5330. >Fluttershy nervously flaps her wings harder, trying to clear up the steam
  5331. "Spooky. You know, I got some stories..."
  5332. >"Yeah? What sort of ghost stories do your folks got?"
  5333. "Well... magic is usually a pretty mixed thing in my world. Sometimes it's a great, fantastic force for good. Other times... it's something only demons and monsters use."
  5334. >Your eyes naturally dart to Twilight for a fraction of a second
  5335. >A shiver goes down your spine because for that fraction of a second, she smiles wide enough to reveal the white of her teeth
  5336. "And... other times. Well, magic is just used as a tool. Now why I specify using them as tools..."
  5337. >You proceed to tell a story about a machine of unfathomable technological prowess
  5338. >A machine that hates
  5339. >A machine that hates and hates and hates and hates and hates and hates AND HATES AND HATES AND HATES
  5340. >A machine that hates humans
  5341. >But
  5342. >A machine that keeps five humans alive
  5343. >By the end of it, none of the ponies are happy
  5344. >Twilight looks intrigued, yet aghast
  5345. >Fluttershy made an excuse and ran out of the sauna
  5346. >Pinkie Pie had no jokes to tell
  5347. >Applejack, the one closest to you, ends up clinging to your arm like a tourniquet
  5348. >"That's... disturbing... your world doesn't actually have a computer like that, does it? How did it keep everyone alive? How could that not be magic?"
  5349. >As terrifying as it was, Twilight just can't help but want to find out the details
  5350. >You respect her a little for that
  5351. "Well... that's the question. If you have a creation of such unimaginable power, how can you ever gauge what it can or can't do?"
  5352. >That wishy washy comment tears it for Applejack
  5353. >"N-now hold on there, you ain't gonna go back to your world if that can happen! I ain't gonna let you!"
  5354. "Oh come on, I'll be fine. If it happens, it'll be long after I'm gone."
  5355. >None of the three appreciate your answer
  5356. >"That's nothing to joke about!"
  5357. >"Don't even talk like that!"
  5358. >"I'm not going to let you die of old age! Even Celestia is well over a thousand years old!"
  5359. "Wait, she is?"
  5360. >"Of course she is! I've told you about her before, didn't I?"
  5361. "...did you?"
  5362. >Your uncertainty stuns Twilight for a bit
  5363. >Applejack gives a loud huff, keeping her close cling to your arm
  5364. >"Celestia ain't gonna let that happen either... not so sure about you being immortal like her though..."
  5365. "Speaking of Celestia, when can I see her? If she really can send me back home..."
  5366. >You should change course on your train of thought
  5367. "...or, I mean, if she can at least return me to grab some stuff. It's important, you know. If I were the... uh... whatever she is, I'd probably wanna know about some alien popping up too."
  5368. >Applejack shrugs
  5369. >"Well it ain't the biggest priority... she can maybe give us some help..."
  5370. >She emphasizes 'us'
  5371. >"Well... if you're so convinced that you absolutely NEED to see her... why don't we go tomorrow for a quick introduction? I want to show you Canterlot and other things anyway!"
  5372. >"No way! You ain't gonna sneak him off to some hoity toity city, even to see Celestia, without me!"
  5373. >"Ugh, Applejack, don't you have better things to do?"
  5374. >"Better than keeping Anon safe and happy? You bet your bottom bit I don't!"
  5375. >"Your bottom couldn't keep Anon safe if his life depended on it! Just face up to facts!"
  5376. >"My bottom!? Y-you're gonna need more than magic to save your mouth after this!"
  5377. >You watch both of them go at it, each coming up with more personal and creative attacks
  5378. >Pinkie Pie, who's been silent the entire time, nudges your free arm with her nose
  5379. >"Hey Anon?"
  5380. "What's up?"
  5381. >"You know... they really are good friends. But sometimes they just butt heads."
  5382. >You'd hate to see what happens if they aren't friends
  5383. "So...did they do this before I came here?"
  5384. >"No... not really, no. It's kinda weird. But some of their insults are at least funny!"
  5385. "You're not even wrong."
  5386. >"Yeah? ! Well I bet you couldn't even swallow Anon's-"
  5387. >You bring your spare hand to Applejack's face and give her a slap
  5388. >Not even a real slap
  5389. >Just a pat on her cheeks with your hand
  5390. >She looks at you with wild confusion
  5391. >Then you pat her cheek again
  5392. >The look of shock on her face is cathartic
  5393. >You end the combo with a boop to her nose
  5394. >Her eyes widen and hear ears flatten against her head
  5395. >Neither of you say anything to each other
  5396. >She loosens her grip on your arm and bows her head down
  5397. >"...I'm sorry Anon... and Twilight."
  5398. >Twilight looks at you like you just cast some sort of runic curse on her
  5399. >"Anon?! What did you just do to--"
  5400. >You reach over and do the same to her
  5401. >Though it's a tiny bit more forceful a series of slaps
  5402. >You do want to get back at her just a tiny bit
  5403. >Rather than booping her nose, you take hold of her face and jam your thumb in her mouth
  5404. >She looks absolutely dazed
  5405. >And in love
  5406. >You glare at her, refusing to say a word
  5407. >Twilight visibly shivers and bites down on your thumb
  5408. >After some heavy huffing, she shakes hard
  5409. >"Thorry Applejack... Anon..."
  5410. >You try to pull your hand away but she bites down on your thumb harder
  5411. >The lustful look in her eye is maybe a little more than what you expected
  5412. >After giving a soft whinny, she lets go
  5413. >Pinkie watches in silent awe as you end the arguing without a word
  5414. >You look at your slightly slobbered hand and wipe it against your leg
  5415. >"Do me next! Do me next!"
  5416. >Pinkie's cheerful and eager to be taught a lesson
  5417. >Rather than assaulting her, you turn your head to face her, gently bonk her forehead with your own and go "doink"
  5418. >She sits there, expecting some profound expression
  5419. >And sits there
  5420. >She doesn't look impressed
  5421. >She looks like she bought a giant roll of fireworks and it fizzled out
  5422. >And yet she doesn't say anything either
  5423. >Between Applejack being humbled, Twilight smoldering and Pinkie Pie seeking the deepest recesses of her soul of whether or not the doink was worth it, there is peace
  5424. >You can finally enjoy spa in peace and quiet
  5425.  
  5426. >With the ponies pacified, and the steam finally starting to fade, you're left with more heat and less humidity
  5427. >Compared to how you were the very first day you popped up, you've felt like you've gained some confidence
  5428. >Whether or not you would ever outwardly admit it
  5429. >You care for these talking horses
  5430. >You're also very much attracted to them, physically and otherwise
  5431. >You should be surprised but you aren't
  5432. >You find yourself leaning over to Applejack
  5433. >You kiss the top of her head, which hasn't gone unnoticed by her
  5434. >She giggles and leans against your arm
  5435. >That attack you unleashed on her, as silly as it was, seemed to work on her
  5436. >You had no clue how the hell it was going to work but you just felt the need to assert yourself
  5437. >She started to really not push you around once you decided things for yourself and for her
  5438. >You still like her
  5439. >The talk of having a farm to live and work on
  5440. >And to have a big family
  5441. >It's been a week that you've been here, if that
  5442. >But you want that life
  5443. >You really don't believe that you will ever get another chance for that
  5444. >Your eyes wander to Twilight
  5445. >She's been watching you, but looks away with a coy smile when you finally show attention to her
  5446. >You
  5447. >You don't hate her
  5448. >How could you
  5449. >She brought you here
  5450. >You really don't like the nightmares she gave you
  5451. >Or how you felt like you were going to outright fucking die
  5452. >She violated you on a level you didn't comprehend even
  5453. >And yet here you are
  5454. >Hanging out with her
  5455. >Having done things with her
  5456. >You dislike her about some things
  5457. >But you don't have it in you to hate her
  5458. >You're just afraid that she might turn that against you to do more
  5459. >You know for a fact that she's scheming something up right now
  5460. >Your body reacts with a twitch
  5461. >The crazed, lustful look in her eye is quite something indeed
  5462. >Applejack had that look too
  5463. >But it was more of confidence
  5464. >She hasn't done much to hurt you
  5465. >Except what she's been putting in your food
  5466. >You really don't think you've ever been this sexually active and hungry
  5467. >Though it certainly hasn't worked in her favor since the other two ponies nearby have taken advantage of that as well
  5468. >You think
  5469. >This really feels like the first time you've had a clear head
  5470. >You look down at the last pony
  5471. >Pinkie
  5472. >You're still genuinely not sure what her deal is
  5473. >She is a neat friend
  5474. >A horny little beast
  5475. >And possibly going to stab you in the back
  5476. >But she's really hard to hate too
  5477. >You don't hate any of them
  5478. >But you especially don't hate her
  5479. >Who else would challenge you to a lucha match?
  5480. >Even if it ended in a lot of things ending up lightly bruised
  5481. >Your eyes go to the green dragon's fire
  5482. >You're probably not the only one thinking hard on things
  5483. >But one thing keeps ringing back in your head
  5484. >A way home
  5485. >That Celestia pony, too
  5486. >If she can send you home, even if just long enough to sort your affairs
  5487. >You might honestly just move some of your stuff here and call it a done deal
  5488. >But with that anti-magic crap that's still in your system, would that stop it from happening?
  5489. >Would it even work?
  5490. >Could you live with yourself if you were unable to come back?
  5491. >Who could ever see such a drastically different life and go back to a normal daily grind of work, internet, and introspective fantasizing on one day being able to afford a permanent home?
  5492. >Nevermind a family
  5493. >Nevermind friends that wouldn't abandon you over petty reasons
  5494. >You really don't want to break the calm silence
  5495. >Applejack's nuzzling your arm
  5496. >Twilight's watching you with a smile
  5497. >Pinkie is in your lap, head on your knee and not even grinding herself against you
  5498. >But she was for a bit
  5499. "Guys... I really need Celestia to send me home. At least for a day so I can bring my stuff and settle some affairs. I don't think I should go back to my world and just... act like this didn't happen. I can't. But I can't just drop everything I had and stay here with nothing."
  5500. >The silence takes on a new tone
  5501. >More morose
  5502. >Twilight speaks up first
  5503. >"We know Anon... all of us know."
  5504. >Applejack nuzzles your arm harder
  5505. >"But you ain't leaving for good either. Celestia will make sure of that."
  5506. >"I will too."
  5507. >The sound in Twilight's voice tells you that she's deathly serious
  5508. >Pinkie doesn't speak up until she shifts herself in your lap
  5509. >"You know... what if one of us goes with him? I mean, we have the powers of harmony. We can track each other through that because it's super power magic. And we can make sure that nothing happens to Anon!"
  5510. >For being the goofiest airhead that could break physics, she has a point
  5511. "Yeah... yeah! Why not?"
  5512. >You reflexively look at Applejack
  5513. "I mean, let's say you have some of... tracker on you or something. Magic, whatever. Can't there be a way to hold onto that, like a tether? Then once I'm done, we just yank on the tether and come back h..."
  5514. >You were almost going to say 'home'
  5515. "...here."
  5516. >Applejack's eyes go wide
  5517. >"You'd take me to your world?!"
  5518. "Gotta learn more about me. What better way than to show you for a bit?"
  5519. >You can feel Twilight's eyes boring into the side of your head
  5520. >"Absolutely not Applejack! If she's unable to use magic, she could get lost in limbo with you and... and then there'd be no way to rescue you!"
  5521. >"Yeah... it'd just be you an' me... with no interruptions."
  5522. >Applejack went from sounding stunned to sounding almost hopeful
  5523. >"No way in Tartarus, Applejack!"
  5524. >Twilight growls
  5525. >"It... it isn't for us to decide. Celestia knows best. She's above and beyond anything any of us could understand about magic. Especially about... whatever world Anon is from. We'll have to obey her counsel. She may even be the only one who has the magic and knowledge available to do this, if it's even possible."
  5526. "Why wouldn't it be? You pulled me out of the ether."
  5527. >She shakes her head, sighing
  5528. >"No, not like that! That was... it was a mistake on my part. A miscalculation. Something that I didn't have control over. Either I didn't understand something or I did something wrong. The fact that I don't even know what I did wrong shows that you coming here to brighten up our lives is... is a fluke. Pure dumb luck."
  5529. >She sounds frustrated
  5530. >You can understand why
  5531. >"Whatever I don't know, I know Celestia knows. That's why I'm her student and not the other way around. Anything we're dreaming about... we don't know if it's safe. For any of us. And we can't take that risk. I'm not losing Applejack to space and dimensional flux just so she can go sight seeing."
  5532. >That's
  5533. >Surprisingly genuine of her
  5534. >"Likewise, I can't let you go back to your home if you're going to just end up in your world... in a rock. Or fused to some animal or another one of your kind. We need to know far more before we do anything. Because we will only have one chance at this."
  5535. >Applejack wraps one of her front legs around your arm
  5536. >Her hoof slides into your hand
  5537. >"I ain't too proud to admit it... Twilight's right. There's a mighty big mystery that could end really badly if we don't do this right. And I sure don't think anypony can give us even an inkling of an answer except for Celestia."
  5538. >Pinkie, listening intently, just decides to stay in your lap and smile at the collective brainstorming
  5539. >She's contributed more than her share anyway
  5540. "Alright... so before any of that, we go to Celestia."
  5541. >"And she's in Canterlot."
  5542. "Right. How far is that from here?"
  5543. >"Well it ain't far, right Twilight?"
  5544. >"Right, Applejack. If we send her a letter, I'm sure she could prepare transportation for us-for Anon-in the morning."
  5545. "And from there?"
  5546. >Both of them look at each other
  5547. >Then at you
  5548. >And shrug
  5549. >"We don't know."
  5550. >They say in unison
  5551. >"Ohh, stereo!"
  5552. >Pinkie giggles with a snort at their mutual reactions
  5553. "Alright... that's fair enough... so it means that tomorrow we'll see for sure."
  5554. >Once the steam dissipated, Twilight was the first to get up
  5555. >"Well... this was nice."
  5556. >She looks at you
  5557. >She looks like she's come to terms with something
  5558. >"How about when you come back we have another spa day?"
  5559. "Yeah... that sounds good. You alright with the barn being used to cook us again?"
  5560. >You turn to a standing, stretching Applejack
  5561. >"Sure do, sugarcube! Boy, I'm thirsty after all of that too... did anyone else end up napping?"
  5562. >"I think Fluttershy did... where is Fluttershy, anyway?"
  5563. >Pinkie slinks out of your lap, sensing that now is a good time
  5564. >"Where is anypony, now that I think about it?"
  5565. "Well... that's a good question. Rarity was keeping watch out there, right?"
  5566. >Your eyes dart down to Pinkie
  5567. >Her eyes dart up to you
  5568. >It was still a little awkward having her listen to everything going on
  5569. >Rarity is really skilled, there's no doubt, but something about her just seems weird to you
  5570. >"Speaking of Rarity, I'm guessing she may know where Spike is too... he gonna be able to put out these flames without the barn catching?"
  5571. >You stand up, grabbing your clothes without worrying on giving the ponies a view or two
  5572. >You weren't tired
  5573. >You don't think they were either
  5574. >But there's a sense of finality in the air
  5575. >"Oh, certainly. He's done weirder things with himself and fire."
  5576. "...well he's at that age."
  5577. >Presumably
  5578. >You have no clue how dragons age
  5579. "Just knock first if he's in another room."
  5580. >"Oh boy you're way too late on that little nugget..."
  5581. >The four of you walk out of the barn, immediately feeling far cooler air in the tent
  5582. >Fluttershy and Rarity are talking
  5583. >Rainbow Dash is laying half out of the tent, groaning
  5584. >"You guys finally came out! I don't know how you could spend that much heat."
  5585. >"And that clothing... darling, don't ruin it by drenching it in gross sweat. Have Applejack was it proper, will you?"
  5586. "Thank you, Rarity. You seen Spike? What about Zecora, I don't recall seeing her anywhere during all of this."
  5587. >"Spikey-wikey is doing me the most generous favor for me. I was thinking, since we're already playing with fire and insisting on being sweaty and dirty..."
  5588. >Rainbow Dash groans out something, presumably taking offence
  5589. >"I decided that we should have a fire outside, enjoy the nice... far cooler air. And have some smores. Really mark the occasion."
  5590. >"Whew, alright Rarity! I never even thought of that!"
  5591. >Pinkie hops to the unicorn and tackles her with a hug
  5592. >"Pinkie, please! This dirt is going to stick!"
  5593. >"S'mores, huh... ain't that a camping snack?"
  5594. >Applejack looks at you with a quirked eyebrow
  5595. "Well it's roughing it for Rarity, that's for sure."
  5596. >"I hope he gets back... I need to start on my letter as soon as we get back home."
  5597. >Twilight heads outside the tent, stepping over the blue pegasus
  5598. "Give her credit for being dedicated..."
  5599. >You certainly know what that dedication gets her
  5600. "Flutter, you ever see Zecora?"
  5601. >Distracted by the small fighting taking place between the marshmallow and cotton candy ponies, she only notices you after a few seconds
  5602. >"Oh! I'm sorry Anon, I haven't. She's always been a very quiet type. Maybe she's out taking a walk? I know that I should have done that, but the spa was so comforting for my throat! It was sore before but now I feel like I could speak for days and not even feel a tingle!"
  5603. "Eloquently spoken. Thanks, I wanted to thank her for some stuff."
  5604. >You sidestep the ponies out into the raw outside
  5605. >The sun's setting
  5606. >You haven't ever seen a sunset like this back home
  5607. >You wouldn't even really have the time to appreciate it, unless you were on vacation
  5608. >Without thinking, you just start to walk toward it
  5609. "God damn... what a week it's been. So..."
  5610. >You begin to speak
  5611. >To no one in particular
  5612. >Maybe just to yourself
  5613. "Say I go back. An hour is too short. A day is probably enough time... but what do I bring? Consoles? Laptop? Twilight gave me enough to read for years. Do I bring clothing? Boots are a must. And my hats. What do I do about the rest of my stuff? I guess my money won't be worth anything... family..."
  5614. >You really don't have many relatives
  5615. >Your mom and maybe an uncle
  5616. "Do I tell her... something that makes me sound like a drug addict? I can't just vanish without saying anything. If Applejack is with me..."
  5617. >You laugh to yourself
  5618. >You haven't ever heard of a funnier joke
  5619. "Sure, lemme just show up with a talking horse and tell my mom I'm gonna..."
  5620. >You sigh
  5621. "Gonna tell her that I could start a family..."
  5622. >Do you deserve this?
  5623. >Would you even be a good father?
  5624. >What if you didn't even have human kids?
  5625. >Your head spins enough to make you nearly trip over yourself
  5626. >When you come to, you find yourself on a hill
  5627. >A very particular hill
  5628. >You look down and see the secret spot
  5629. >The secret spot that's so secret that Pinkie could just pop up out of nowhere
  5630. >Rather than walk down into the round valley, you sit down and watch the sun
  5631. "Maybe I already died and just popped up here. Twilight's Satan. Pinkie's a demon. Applejack's...."
  5632. >And angel?
  5633. >Even she worries you a bit
  5634. >But she's done so little against you that you can't really say you mind having food that she's fiddled with
  5635. >She's a good cook though
  5636. "If I get sent back and can't come back... what the hell do I even do with myself. Do I just go crazy and tell people talking ponies and magic exists? Do I just blow my head off and... call it a good game?"
  5637. >Your stomach drops like a lead weight
  5638. "...it's gonna be that, isn't it. I can already tell."
  5639. >You can hear how close you are to tears
  5640. >You've successfully defeated yourself
  5641. >"Please don't do that... you ain't getting left behind."
  5642. >Who is that?
  5643. >It sounds like Applejack
  5644. >You watch her come into view and sit at your side
  5645. "...you been listening by chance?"
  5646. >"Well you ain't exactly trying to hide."
  5647. "Yeah..."
  5648. >"Why'd you wanna go and take a walk? I didn't notice you were gone until you were already a pip in the distance."
  5649. >She laughs with a 'hur hur'
  5650. >"Y'know, Spike finally came back. Poor boy's been running ragged since it was Rarity asking him to do stuff."
  5651. >You nod
  5652. "Yeah... I don't get what his deal is at all with her."
  5653. >You don't answer further
  5654. >You just watch the setting sun
  5655. >"...do you really need to go back home?"
  5656. "Well... if I couldn't come back here. No. But, if I do that? I lose everything I've ever had. My family, how little it is, will think I ran off or was murdered and they'll never see or hear from me again. It'll wreck them."
  5657. >"You make a good point... I couldn't do that to Applebloom. Or Big Mac. Or heavens, Granny Smith..."
  5658. >You snort
  5659. >You forgot just how goofy the names were of all of these technicolor ponies
  5660. "Yeah... yeah, you do got a big family, don't you."
  5661. >"I will once we make one."
  5662. >She sounds so confident
  5663. "What if we can't?"
  5664. >Applejack gives you a confident chuckle
  5665. >"Between magic, tried-and-true home remedies and a lot of effort? We ain't gonna stop until we see results, buster."
  5666. >You smile and nod
  5667. "Sounds good to me..."
  5668. >You feel Applejack sidle up until her side is against yours
  5669. >"I... know I ain't the most socially keen pony. I got my family, and my family is like a business. So I don't really go and meet any ponies casually. You certainly ain't no pony but..."
  5670. >She audibly flounders, like she's trying to pick and choose her words
  5671. >"You sure left an impression on me, Anon. It ain't been easy on me. Sheesh, it ain't been easy on you either..."
  5672. >She mumbles the second half of her statement
  5673. >"But... you ain't owe me nothin'. I know I was a little hard on you but... well, you know..."
  5674. "No, I get you. I guess I would've done the same if I saw someone and went 'holy hell, I can't let that escape'. Right?"
  5675. >"Well, I ain't gonna think exactly that, it just sounds petty..."
  5676. >She draws a figure in the grass with the tip of her hoof
  5677. >"I just... I don't know what's right. I ain't got no clue what's proper-like. For... you know. Courtship. Dating... a-and... more."
  5678. >She does seem to be a little socially awkward
  5679. >You're sure she must be some sort of professional mastermind, to handle some generation-long family business
  5680. "Yeah... but I think it works for me. You don't need to change. I like how you've been."
  5681. >You finally break eye contact from the lowering orb of space fire to look at Applejack
  5682. >She just looks embarrassed
  5683. >"Y... you mean that?"
  5684. "Sure do."
  5685. >"What should we name our first colt?"
  5686. >She blurts out
  5687. >After a few seconds, her eyes widen like she just realized what she said
  5688. >"Er... uh... n-nevermind..."
  5689. "Heheh. We got time to talk it over."
  5690. >You wrap your arm around her
  5691. "But you know that we're gonna have a lot of naming to do, too."
  5692. >Applejack shivers a little under your arm
  5693. >"Dang straight we are... we're gonna be perfect."
  5694. "And we're not gonna let work run our lives."
  5695. >"Well... the acres ain't gonna run themselves..."
  5696. "Sure but you aren't alone. We aren't going to be alone. I'm guessing your family kept together, and the business is proof of that. If it were the other way around..."
  5697. >You shrug
  5698. >Another time, you can tell her more about your family
  5699. "Well, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But I just don't want to put work above my family is all. I don't ever want to lose my family for money."
  5700. >"I knew you were the right one, with talk like that."
  5701. >She sounds proud
  5702. >Your eyes go back to the sunset
  5703. "If I can go back, could you come back with me?"
  5704. >"To your home?"
  5705. "Well... it ain't like here for you. It isn't my home. It's just where I sleep and keep my stuff. I don't have a home. I haven't felt like I've had a home since I was a young kid."
  5706. >"That... that don't sound right."
  5707. "No... no, it doesn't."
  5708. >"Well you don't even need to ask. I'm gonna chase you down to the ends of Equestria, and drag you back the second you decide you ain't gonna father me up some foals."
  5709. >You scoff
  5710. "Yeah? That a threat or a promise?"
  5711. >"It's both. Twilight has a lot of her magic and crap like that... but I ain't no pushover neither."
  5712. "Yeah, I don't doubt it."
  5713. >The conversation dies down for a bit
  5714. "Sleep with me tonight. All of this stuff is rattling my nerves."
  5715. >"You don't even need to ask."
  5716. >Something pokes the back of your mind
  5717. >Where's Applejack's dog been?
  5718. "...Applejack."
  5719. >"Mm?"
  5720. "...the first few days I was here."
  5721. >"Mm?"
  5722. "...who or what was licking my neck?"
  5723. >Applejack immediately gets up
  5724. >"Whewee, I am just about ready for some s'mores. You ready for some s'mores? I'm ready for some big s'mores."
  5725. "Applejack..."
  5726. >She begins to trot down the hill, toward the barn-turned-spa
  5727. >You get up and start to follow her
  5728. >You can see a nice green fire in the distance
  5729. "Hey, you're gonna answer me!"
  5730. >"Speak up, I can't hear ya, I gotta get back to the gang!"
  5731. >Her trot goes into a full gallop
  5732. "You little bumpkin, answer me?!"
  5733. >"Last one there's a rotten orange!"
  5734. >You chase after her back to the group, entering a full sprint
  5735. >You knew something about her was more than a little off
  5736. >Evidently that sort of thing is your bag
  5737. >You just barely manage to out-run Applejack to the growing fire
  5738. >Every pony is there, save for Rainbow Dash
  5739. >"Hey, why's everyone outside?"
  5740. >Speak of the devil
  5741. >"Hey there RD, you missed the end of the steam! We're gonna hang out and make some s'mores. Y'want some?"
  5742. >"Oh lame... better have enough for seconds!"
  5743. >"Sure do, thanks to Rarity!"
  5744. >Applejack splits off from you to talk to Rainbow Dash
  5745. >"Hey, I'm the one who brought all of the stuff here! Little credit! Guys, come on!"
  5746. >Spike follows them, desperately seeking credit for his thankless grunt work
  5747. >You really feel for the little dude
  5748. >The evening turns to night while everyone celebrates and enjoys their melty delights
  5749. >Gratitude is split up between Twilight, Applejack
  5750. >And you
  5751. >Since you came up with the exact plan and solved the mystery of how to create steam, you were given a bit of a joking nickname of being the group's steamin' demon
  5752. >Everything feels nice
  5753. >Like you're a part of a group
  5754. >Even Twilight hasn't been doing anything unusual
  5755. >The fact that she's been friendly and amicable itself has been unusual
  5756. >She notices you eyeing her and smiles
  5757. >It's a bit of an amorous smile, but she doesn't change her attitude
  5758. >Maybe it's for the best that you're surrounded by so many other witnesses
  5759. >And maybe friends?
  5760. >You don't exactly believe that you're their friends
  5761. >But you're at least allowed to enjoy yourself among them
  5762. >After a third round of s'mores and dramatized stories about past shenanigans, fatigue starts to set in
  5763. >Rarity leaves first
  5764. >Spike follows, naturally
  5765. >Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy leave together, supposedly because something about night time flying and the buddy system
  5766. >Pinkie Pie leaves too, citing that she hasn't been so partied out in a while
  5767. >So it's just you, Applejack, and Twilight
  5768. >"Ahh... oh, Anon. This was such a fun day."
  5769. "Yeah..."
  5770. >All three of you are distanced out evenly, the flame in the middle
  5771. "So Spike gonna be ok walking off like he did? I tell you, the guy's gotta just really let some things out."
  5772. >"Oh sure. This isn't the first time Rarity has got him so hooked."
  5773. >Applejack chuckles
  5774. >"Boy, that dragon sure is whipped... could you imagine being so hopelessly hooked?"
  5775. >You stare at her with a deadpan expression
  5776. >Twilight smirks at the orange pony
  5777. >"...I ain't hooked."
  5778. "Right."
  5779. >"Whatever you say, Applejack."
  5780. "You're not one to talk either."
  5781. >"I mean it, I ain't whipped!"
  5782. >Despite everything that has happened, you manage to all share a laugh
  5783. "Twilight... why are you being so helpful?"
  5784. >"I already told you why, didn't I?"
  5785. "Yeah. But... I want to know the real reason."
  5786. >Twilighth sighs
  5787. >"I guess it's only fair that you doubt me after everything."
  5788. >You almost expect her to start calling herself a bad pony again but instead she seems to consider it a serious topic
  5789. >"You really came through for all of us. And you made this a lot better than it would've been otherwise. You've shown a lot of us that you aren't just a pretty face and a magnificent, yet alien man."
  5790. "I'm pretty?"
  5791. >"If you didn't help organize it as much as you did... well, I don't know. But we all do appreciate it a lot."
  5792. >These ponies seemed all into the idea of going far for someone on a whim
  5793. >You're thankful
  5794. >Despite the issues
  5795. "I'm glad I could help. Next time, we know what to do."
  5796. >After next time...
  5797. >You're glad that there will be a next time
  5798. "If... when... I stay here. Will it be ok? Am I breaking any rules of nature or something?"
  5799. >Applejack lets out a defensive snort
  5800. >"Who says it won't be ok? We got dragons, pony-eating plants, magic, a thousand year old princess! What makes you so wrong?"
  5801. "I don't know. I mean... I suppose I don't wanna live here for the rest of my life and not even know what's outside of your land."
  5802. >"Our land."
  5803. "R-right..."
  5804. >Twilight joins in, rubbing her hoof against her cheek
  5805. >"Well you know MY offer still stands..."
  5806. >You glare at her
  5807. >"Relax, I'm joking. Almost."
  5808. >She flashes a lusty smile
  5809. >But it fades when Applejack snarls
  5810. >"Ponyville is a nice town. Once we introduce you to everypony, it'll be fine! When it comes to adventuring out beyond... well, we're going to Canterlot, aren't we? That will really introduce you to a lot of ponies. You certainly won't be a secret. Who knows, maybe that might give you a greater sense of wanderlust or you might realize that spending your days in one place isn't that bad an idea."
  5811. >This does give you a little bit of information to chew on and digest
  5812. "You're not wrong..."
  5813. >You shift to focus on Applejack
  5814. "If I'm gonna be someone important here, I can't live in a barn..."
  5815. >Applejack averts your eyes, trying her best to give an awkward smile
  5816. >"I know, sugarcube... I really ain't ever gonna be able to live that down."
  5817. >She gets up and points out to an empty stretch of land
  5818. "We'll just build ya a home then! I mean, we got the main house, but believe you me, it ain't gonna hold every colt and filly we'll have. And it certainly ain't gonna hold you! So... over the course of however long, we're just gonna get you settled into to something proper."
  5819. >She sits back down, nodding to herself
  5820. >"I already started on that there frame, and you got clothing. I think we're on pretty good track."
  5821. >Given how ideal the weather has been, and how soft the sunshine has been, you really haven't ever missed being inside and
  5822. "Sure... but something tells me the clothing is more for modesty's sake than warmth."
  5823. >"You can take it off if you like."
  5824. >"Well you can go without too!"
  5825. >Twilight and Applejack reply at the same time
  5826. >Then shoot a mutual death glare to each other
  5827. "Nice."
  5828. >You lean back, sighing
  5829. "I guess we'll just have to take it one day at a time then... you're gonna get that letter done, right?"
  5830. >Twilight's eyes open wide, as if she forgot
  5831. >"O-oh! I admit, I guess I just got carried away. I'll return with Spike in the morning and we'll have our way to Canterlot! You're gonna love it, and they have multiple shops for tourism and more!"
  5832. >You could go for a 'I visited Canterlot but all I got was this lousy t-shirt' shirt
  5833. "I'll be sure to bring my... uh..."
  5834. >"I got you covered, cowpoke."
  5835. "Thanks AJ."
  5836. >Twilight gets up, but you can see that she really doesn't want to
  5837. >"Right... well... I'll go now. Don't go vanishing anywhere, ok? Celestia is not the sort to stand up, and after the letters I've sent to her about you, she's very interested in meeting you."
  5838. "You've been sending her letters?! What have you said?"
  5839. >"Ok, have a good night, don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
  5840. >She farts away in a cloud of purple
  5841. >Leaving you alone with Applejack
  5842. "Has she always been this..."
  5843. >"Weird?"
  5844. "Yes."
  5845. >"Atypical?"
  5846. "Yes."
  5847. >"The type who's probably thinking a million things at once?"
  5848. "Yes!"
  5849. >"Yes."
  5850. >AJ gives you a sympathetic nod
  5851. >"It takes a long time to get used to. I'll tell you when I've gotten used to it."
  5852. "Thanks for being honest on that."
  5853. >"Honesty is my element of harmony, sugarcube!"
  5854. >She puffs out her chest, full of pride
  5855. "Being honest is a... what?"
  5856. >"I... I'll tell you later."
  5857. >If it turns out Applejack is some Sailor Moon thing, you're going to have to really cut loose on her
  5858. >The thought alone causes a physical reaction
  5859. "Applejack."
  5860. >"Yes, Anon?"
  5861. "It's late."
  5862. >"Yeah... maybe we should get some sleep..."
  5863. "We're going to bed now."
  5864. >She stands to attention
  5865. >"Yes sir!"
  5866. "And I'm going to call you Sailor Apple."
  5867. >"A-aye-aye, cap'n!"
  5868. >You both stare at each other for a few moments before sprinting off to the mattress
  5869. >Though it's very late, it's the perfect time for some considerable stress testing
  5870.  
  5871. >You slept good
  5872. >You slept real good
  5873. >Waking up was another matter
  5874. >The first thing you see is a white pony with brilliant gold armor
  5875. >And the most confused grey eyes
  5876. >You're used to seeing ponies
  5877. >But you don't think this guy's used to seeing you
  5878. >You blink
  5879. >He blinks
  5880. "Yo."
  5881. >"WAAAGH!"
  5882. >He stumbles back, letting out a panicked scream
  5883. >That's enough to wake up Applejack, who's half under you
  5884. >Her head darts up, eyes still mostly closed
  5885. >"Whu?! Wussat?"
  5886. >Another pony, donned in the same armor, trots up
  5887. >"Good morning there! Princess Celestia requires an audience with you!"
  5888. >Same really fancy type of armor
  5889. >And centurion helmets too
  5890. >You get of of Applejack, covering yourself with a pillow
  5891. >And part of her with another pillow
  5892. "Celestia?"
  5893. >"Yes, uh..."
  5894. >He looks over you, still a little confused by your sausage fingers and small face
  5895. >"Sir..."
  5896. >He steadies himself and stands at attention
  5897. >"It has been told that this appointment is the highest priority in Equestria, and that..."
  5898. >He can't help himself as he looks at you
  5899. >And at Applejack
  5900. >"How in the world do you even..."
  5901. >He mutters but shakes his head
  5902. >Equestrian military at it's finest
  5903. >"Sorry, and that any requirements you have will be met! Please, follow us to our chariot. Princess Celestia told us that you were a large creature so you will be using her personal chariot to travel by air to Canterlot. Specifically, our Princess's castle."
  5904. >It's a lot to take in but Applejack seems on board
  5905. >"Alright Anon, we're set up! With these two fellas flying us there, we'll be there in no time! And in a fancy chariot befitting of Princess Celestia herself... talk about rolling out the red carpet."
  5906. >You watch her shake herself awake and hop out of bed
  5907. "Flying? In a chariot?"
  5908. >The first soldier trots back up, his initial terror finally subsided
  5909. >"That's right, sir! We're pegasi!"
  5910. >As if to show off, he pushes his chest out and his wings spread wide
  5911. >And smacks the second guard's helmet, nearly knocking it off
  5912. >"Ack...! Sorry, Duty..."
  5913. "Duty?"
  5914. >The more professional pony, also a pegasus now that you notice, backs away and fixes his helmet
  5915. >"Yes sir. Tireless Duty. With me is-"
  5916. >"High Morale!"
  5917. >You watch the two
  5918. >That armor really does not look like it's light
  5919. >Despite how serious it is, and that you're genuinely one step closer to going home, you can't help but focus on one singular thing
  5920. "Heh... duty."
  5921. >Duty looks at you with a perplexed look
  5922. >Morale stands there for a second before he snickers and nods
  5923. >"Ha. Duty... nice."
  5924. >Evidently this isn't the first time Mr. Duty has been notified of this unfortunate
  5925. >"Yes... yes it is nice. Please gather what you need and meet us at the front of the property."
  5926. >He gives a curt nod and trots off
  5927. >Morale follows shortly after, snorting every few steps
  5928. "Well... that was a thing."
  5929. >"Thing, nothing! Come, on let's get dressed and let's go!"
  5930. "Wait, what about breakfast? What's this about flying? In the air?"
  5931. >"Horse feathers, Celestia will give us a breakfast worthy of kings! Let's go!"
  5932. >She gallops around you before going off to join the guards
  5933. >The chariot is in view, sure enough
  5934. "Ah... shit..."
  5935. >Deciding that you've already committed to all of this, you quickly get dressed and follow after the trio
  5936. >Only when you reach the chariot do you really understand how big it is
  5937. >Applejack whistles, nodding
  5938. >"This sure is an honor, Anon. Just don't fall off, ok? It might be one of those little social faux pas situations if you do."
  5939. >Realizing that you probably won't be a mere few inches off the ground, your face goes pale
  5940. "...guys, do we need to fly?"
  5941. >Morale, having hooked himself up to the front of the chariot, nods
  5942. >"That is correct, sir! It'll be over before you know it!"
  5943. "That's what I'm afraid of..."
  5944. >"Oh come on, you've done worse I'm sure!"
  5945. "Yes, but none of it challenged man's place regarding altitude."
  5946. >Shaking her hind end twice like a cat, Applejack springs up onto the chariot
  5947. >"Aha! See, it ain't nothin'!"
  5948. >God damn it
  5949. >You can't exactly puss out at this point
  5950. "Alright... fucking flying horses, I swear..."
  5951. >Using the ornate side as an improvised step-ladder, you climb onto the chariot
  5952. >On your stomach
  5953. >Applejack snorts with a smirk
  5954. >"Come on now, you really gonna show the world how awesome you are by laying down like that?"
  5955. "Shut up!"
  5956. >Your voice cracks, you're so confident in yourself
  5957. >"Are we ready, sir? Once we start, we aren't stopping until we've made it!"
  5958. "Just... just give me a second, alright?!"
  5959. >You grumble and ascend to a kneeling position
  5960. >You brace yourself by grabbing onto front fancy metalwork, effectively anchoring yourself to it for better or worse
  5961. "Alright, let's go!"
  5962. >"You're such a weirdo sometimes, Anon..."
  5963. >"Roger that, sir! You can trust us, we've only crashed once!"
  5964. "WHAT?!"
  5965. >Instead of answering, the pair blast off into a full gallop
  5966. >Your knuckles turn white as it picks up speed
  5967. "Applejack I gotta say this quick because if they crash and I die, I'm done. Listen, I-"
  5968. >As fast as you can speak, you don't manage to finish before they take flight
  5969. >The chariot smoothly glides off the ground until you're off of the earth entirely
  5970. >And then it continues until you're eye level with the top of the trees in the orchard
  5971. >And then it continues until you're twice as high up than even the highest tree
  5972. "I laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-"
  5973. >"Anon?"
  5974. >"Anon, you ok?"
  5975. >"We're here!"
  5976. >You're pretty sure you screamed the entire way
  5977. >You feel worse now than Twilight ever made you feel
  5978. >Hearing Applejack cheer and hoot and holler didn't help
  5979. >Fighting your painfully stiff muscles, you poke your head up from over the front of the chariot
  5980. "Woah..."
  5981. >You can see that you're up in the mountains
  5982. >Not just that, but you're so far above most of this Canterlot place
  5983. >The two guards that flew you here flap up until they're on either side of you
  5984. >"Sir, we're... uh... here..."
  5985. >"Are you alright? You sure got a pair of lungs on you!"
  5986. "Yeah... thanks guys."
  5987. >Your voice is just a little hoarse
  5988. >It takes a few minutes but you're good to step off of the chariot with little help
  5989. >Applejack looks concerned but you assure her that all's fine
  5990. >As fine as can be, given you were sure that you were going to spend entire minutes falling to your death, Crank style
  5991. >The two metal-clad pegasi take their posts on both sides of a large, rounded entrance
  5992. >"Man... last time I was here, I really wasn't payin' that much attention to the scenery. It sure is nice, ain't it?"
  5993. >Talking to her does help take your mind off of the worryingly strong breeze that comes with such high altitude
  5994. "Yeah... breathtaking in the most real way."
  5995. >She seems to know the place better than you so you let her lead
  5996. >Inside
  5997. >Inside is
  5998. >It's a throne room
  5999. >An honest to God throne room, complete with sprawling red carpet, dozens of ornate pillars
  6000. >With even a series of unique stained glass windows that would put any European cathedral to shame
  6001. "Holy... shit..."
  6002. >You completely forget yourself for a moment
  6003. >After turning around, you feel Applejack poke your knee with her hoof
  6004. "What's up?"
  6005. >"Anon... Princess Celestia's waiting for us. Let's be a little, uh... proper for a bit?"
  6006. >You stop in mid-spin and look at the end of the red carpet
  6007. >Sure enough, a very large white horse is sitting on a throne
  6008. >Even from where you are, you can see that she has quite a sizable horn on her
  6009. >As if she could tell that you were gawking at her, she spreads the largest pair of wings you've seen yet
  6010. "W... what is she?"
  6011. >"Princess Celestia is an alicorn, Anon. She's been leading pony kind for over a thousand years now. Now don't run, just walk."
  6012. "But it's a long walk..."
  6013. >"Tough cookie, sugarcube, that's how this royalty thing works."
  6014. >You stay focused on Celestia while walking, finding yourself manually keeping your stride
  6015. >Only when you reach the foot of the stairs up to the throne do you stop
  6016. >"Hello, Anonymous. Welcome to Equestria. Welcome to Canterlot castle."
  6017. >Don't say something smart
  6018. >"Hey there."
  6019. >Your leg jerks from Applejack kicking you
  6020. >Right in the bruised shin, no less
  6021. >"Good morning, Princess Celestia! I'm honored you wanted to call us, him, here!"
  6022. "Yes! Yes, good morning to you, Princess. Celestia. I'm... yeah, I'm completely speechless by your... generosity."
  6023. >The stoic face she had quickly melts to a smile
  6024. >She went from very much turning her nose up at you to leaning her face down
  6025. >Is she smiling
  6026. >"Well good morning to you too, Applejack. I had a feeling that you would be coming with him."
  6027. >"W-well of course! You know I ain't gonna let him see you and stuff all alone!"
  6028. >Wut
  6029. >Why did the entire atmosphere of the room change?
  6030. "I-I, uh... you wanted to see me?"
  6031. >"Yes I did. I've been watching you, since you first were summoned to our world. You are from another world, so of course you are something... someone... that I would have to keep track of."
  6032. "Yeah?"
  6033. >A familiar feeling bubbles up within you
  6034. "Then what the hell was going on when Twilight was soul fucking me with that magic shit?!"
  6035. >Applejack's smile shatters like a mirror dropped from an airplane
  6036. >"Anon, language!"
  6037. >Celestia nods sympathetically
  6038. >"No, he is correct... Twilight did apologize to him, but I feel the need to apologize directly as well. I have allowed her more or less free reign over her studies of the occult. While I did not explicitly agree with her trying to summon a... a 'steamin' demon', I knew that she and her friends would be able to take care of any risk."
  6039. >Her smile widens at you
  6040. >"And what a risk you've been..."
  6041. >That look in her eye
  6042. >It freezes your blood
  6043. >She knows
  6044. >"Twilight is quite... inspired, because of you. Far beyond what I've seen before. Likewise..."
  6045. >Her gaze turns to Applejack
  6046. >She freezes in place
  6047. >"Applejack... my sister has told me of your dreams..."
  6048. >You've never seen orange turn to grey before
  6049. >But Applejack is getting pretty close to it
  6050. >"Y-you know my..."
  6051. >Celestia nods
  6052. >"Oh my... yes I do. And I must say, you always have been so committed."
  6053. >Applejack tries to steady herself
  6054. >"T-thank you, Princess Celestia!"
  6055. "Dreams? Wait, that's Luna, isn't it? Where is she? I thought I was going to get a lot of help with things. I remember my first few days here and..."
  6056. >The wind leaves your sails before you can even set off
  6057. "Just... so many people gave me so many different answers."
  6058. >"Princess Luna has done what she thought was right. You being here was as much a test for you as it was Twilight."
  6059. "Twilight... God damn it, Twilight's been behind nearly everything here!"
  6060. >You're finding it more and more difficult to keep your cool, even in front of this world's goddess-emperor
  6061. "Where is she? What am I supposed to do with this shit?"
  6062. >You want to continue shouting expletives but you don't feel good badmouthing her after everything for some profane reason
  6063. >Celestia's smile fades away, showing genuine concern
  6064. >"I understand your frustration, Anonymous... it could not have been easy to have been ripped from your world so suddenly. And subject to such... unusual things."
  6065. >She inhales before continuing
  6066. >"But... it also looks like you've found love here, in Equestria. With one of my most special ponies. The pony that possesses the element of honesty."
  6067. >Applejack rubs the side of her neck with her front hoof, trying her best not to smile
  6068. >"It is quite a miraculous thing, to find a special somepony."
  6069. >She glances to you, before focusing back on Applejack
  6070. >"Or somehuman."
  6071. >"Well it ain't nothin' Princess, you know we just... well you know!"
  6072. >She giggles to herself, unable to keep a straight face
  6073. >"Despite this great stroke of luck... I am sorry that I am not unable to undo the pain Twilight Sparkle may have caused. Whether or not you wish to believe that it wasn't intentional, I believe that she did what she believed was right."
  6074. >Of course she would defend her
  6075. >"...to make up for her mistakes, I come to you both with a question."
  6076. "A question?"
  6077. >Applejack perks up
  6078. >"If you could have any one thing in the world... or worlds, in your case, Anonymous. What would it be?
  6079. >"Family!"
  6080. >Applejack answers without a pause
  6081. >You very nearly answer the same thing
  6082. >Actually, you do answer the same way
  6083. "My family."
  6084. >"I can see why you two fit so well together."
  6085. "Celestia-Princess Celestia-I'm not from here... but I don't really want to leave. I would like to stay, if I could."
  6086. >"I don't think that would be an issue, Anonymous. A lot of ponies would be quite upset to lose such a unique friend."
  6087. >Your head dips to the side as you bring up your hands
  6088. "But... my family. My mother. The few belongings I have. If I had just one day to visit my home world, I could bring back what meager possessions I have. I could speak to her, let her know that I'm safe... that maybe she could come with me."
  6089. >You feel yourself becoming unusually emotional
  6090. "I gotta let her know I'm ok. I can't leave her thinking that I went and died or something. Even if I couldn't bring back so much as a pair of shoes. Could you help me with this? Send her a letter or something?"
  6091. >Celestia nods sympathetically
  6092. >"I understand you completely... it is a terrible thing to be separated by your parents, or your children."
  6093. "Especially with this sort of... situation."
  6094. >"Is that your most honest wish?"
  6095. >You look down at Applejack
  6096. >She nods at you
  6097. >You turn back to the large talking alicorn
  6098. "Yes. I'm happy to stay here. I do want to start a family. And because family matters, I can't ignore what little family I do have. I couldn't live with myself otherwise."
  6099. >"Very well, Anonymous."
  6100. >Very well, what?
  6101. >Very well, as in "too bad"?
  6102. >Celestia stands up and begins to descend the red steps
  6103. >When she steps down, you feel something
  6104. >You feel
  6105. >Underwhelmed
  6106. >You can't help but raise your eyebrows at the... not so massive pony
  6107. >She's just around eye level with you
  6108. "You're... I thought you'd be bigger."
  6109. >You blurt out without managing to think it through
  6110. >Celestia smirks at you
  6111. >"Thankfully you seem as big as Twilight said you were. Her letters are very detailed."
  6112. >You step back, utterly stunned
  6113. >What in the holiest of hells has Twilight said to her?!
  6114. >She walks past you and to one of the massive stained glass
  6115. >It's an orange one
  6116. >She stops in front of it and leans forward
  6117. >The very tip of her horn taps against the mural
  6118. >Before your very eyes, the entire mural starts to melt and morph until it becomes some orange-tinted shimmering wall
  6119. >"This will take you to where you were, before Twilight brought you here. This portal will remain open for a full twenty four hours. Once it closes... I am afraid that I will not be able to open it again."
  6120. >With the entire pane swirling without a sound, she steps back and smiles
  6121. >"Applejack, can I trust you to bring Anonymous back home?"
  6122. >Applejack, mesmerized by the portal showing an image of your bathroom, sputters
  6123. >"O-of course, Princess! I ain't gonna leave his family behind! And I ain't gonna leave my family behind neither! We're gonna combine and grow no matter what! Ain't that right, Anon?"
  6124. >You find yourself looking at the portal
  6125. >You can get your clothes
  6126. >Your stuff
  6127. >If you could somehow convince your mom too...
  6128. >You might really be able to have everything you could want
  6129. >"Anon, don't leave me hanging here1"
  6130. "Y-yeah, Applejack... yeah. We're gonna do this, one and done. After that, we can get started on things proper. And, uh..."
  6131. >Is this really happening?
  6132. "And, uh... yeah.. yeah, why are we wasting time?"
  6133. >You hold out your hand to the orange pony
  6134. "Ready to see my place? We'll get a timer set, enjoy for a bit... and, well, let's move stuff over. Hope you'll have space for it."
  6135. >Romantic focus, Fabio
  6136. >Applejack pushes her head against your hand
  6137. >"Your stuff ain't gonna be nothin', sugarcube. Before you know it, it'll feel just like home."
  6138. >Celestia ascends her steps again, taking her seat on her throne
  6139. >"I will watch the clock for you, Anonymous. I trust you won't take any risks."
  6140. >It still feels hard to believe that this is real
  6141. "Alright... this is gonna be awkward. And it's gonna be weird."
  6142. >"I'll be right besides you, Anon. And no matter what, I ain't goin' anywhere if it's away from you."
  6143. "Well... alright then. Let's get going."
  6144. >You're unable to overcome your nerves
  6145. >But you're not alone
  6146. >With Applejack, you step into the portal
  6147. >You're gonna have a hell of a time trying to explain why you've been fucking a tiny talking pony
  6148.  
  6149. Epilogue
  6150.  
  6151. >Twilight giggles
  6152. >She does that every time she sees you now
  6153. >"Good morning! How are we feeling today?"
  6154. >You can barely move, same as the last few days
  6155. "I'm... I'm feeling better, Miss Twilight."
  6156. >"No, please. As I said before, just Twilight is fine. I promise."
  6157. "Alright... I'm feeling better, Twilight. But I can't really move."
  6158. >"Oh no... well, you are still weak. But look at you, you're doing so much better now!"
  6159. >She looks over you, smiling
  6160. >Something about her smile makes your skin crawl
  6161. >But you know that she's doing this to help you
  6162. "When will I be able to walk?"
  6163. >"I think... maybe another week. You can speak fine. You can think fine... I think. You really are beautiful. And strong. Celestia bless you."
  6164. >Her tone takes on a starved, eager twist
  6165. >You start to feel awkward, despite your positive physical reactions
  6166. >Something about her tone just affects you
  6167. >You don't understand it
  6168. "Is it... time for morning draining again?"
  6169. >"Oh yes... I'm afraid it is."
  6170. "Please don't bite me this time, Twilight."
  6171. >"I can't help it if you're so delicious."
  6172. >She awkwardly walks over you, sitting her lap down against yours
  6173. >You can already feel yourself growing against this feeling of intense heat against your lap
  6174. >She takes hold of one of your limp limbs
  6175. >She puts your hoof against her chest
  6176. >You can feel her heart
  6177. >It's beating a mile a minute
  6178. >"I won't go easy on you... Anon."
  6179.  
  6180.  
  6181. FIN
Yandere Anonymous Twilight Sparkle Applejack Pinkie Pie

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