84w, 3dAussie Bronies
Near the edge of the township the little mauve mare had said her goodbyes and trotted off about her own business, inviting me to drop into the public library. Apparently she was some kind of caretaker librarian and lived in a giant tree.
I had to laugh, she had been so wound up in explaining her frankly incomprehensible theories that she had never thought to tell me her name.
Or why she was wandering in the Everfree Forest. That place had a reputation across all of Equestria.
I hauled the cart into Ponyville’s rather quaint main square about an hour before sundown. Perfect timing for a village this small. It offered enough time for the locals to gather but not enough to become bored. After magically unfolding the stage and deploying the sign I snuck a look through the wagons peephole.
The peephole was my own little addition to the caravan and had saved my flank on many occasions. It allowed me to surreptitiously observe ponies as they reacted to the presence of the flashy caravan in their town centre and tailor the entertainment I offered to suit the situation. On a few rare occasions I had simply packed up the stage and left, convinced that a lynching awaited the next magician to attempt a performance in that town.
What I saw was not encouraging. The locals had gathered around the stage with bags of fruit and vegetables. I had a strong suspicion that these ponies were not intending to offer me a nutritious evening meal. ‘Oh well, looks like I need to win them over quickly tonight. Hmm, luckily about half the crowd are foals. If I can interest the foals the adults will follow.’ It was time for a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
'deep breath... focus... '
I started with a dramatic wall of mystical smoke with a gentle eerie sheen. Now for the dramatic voice spell... “Distinguished mares and gentlecolts of worth,” I boomed, stepping silently through the smoke with an elegant forgery of a Canterlot high-brow piaffe. ‘Damn it, some of these punters are already clutching their fruit. Can’t they give a pony a chance?’
I worked the illumination into distant lightning on my stages false horizon. The silhouettes of volcanoes threw plumes of smoke into a hazy sky.
“I, your humble narrator, will take you on a journey through the mystic ages, to a time before the benevolent rule of the Royal Sisters.” At the word ‘humble’ the whole crowd visibly relaxed. Some of the fruit was returning to the paper bags and ponies began to smile a little. Something very bad must have happened here, I resolved to ask one of the pundits after the show.
A dropped my voice to a magical stage whisper directed at the foals who had clustered at the front of the audience “Come, come closer little ones and prepare yourselves to learn the harrowing truth. Murder, romance, betrayal and a sea of fire await you as I recount the horrific tale of...” 'Big breath, reinstate the stage voice' “TROGDOR!” Some very cheesy stage lightning and a convincing roll of thunder drew an excited squeal from the foals.
The atmosphere around the square relaxed completely. ‘Trogdor’ was old carnival fare, foals and adults alike knew what to expect. Lots of silliness, hammy violence and unambiguous justice dispensed to please the foals (and the foalish at heart.) Lots of sly adult humour and a few dirty jokes that would go right over the foals heads but keep the adults amused.
“...burninating the countryside! Burninating the peasants!” I rumbled through my magical enhancement. The foals laughed and the adults winced good-naturedly at the mangled equestrian. They knew that their hyperactive offspring would be shouting it all day long in the playgrounds tomorrow as they improvised swords from sticks and beat the sap out of trees.
I gave the audience a quick scan from the corner of my eye. Somepony was not enjoying themselves, I could feel it.
It was her, the prolix purple prodigy from the Everfree. I nearly lost a beat in my dialouge. ‘Great Celestia, I think I can feel her eyes burning a hole through me.’ The feeling was so strong I tested my wizard hat with my hoof to make sure it was not on fire, disguising the action as a dramatic flourish to end the first act. The curtains closed and I started a gramophone to provide suitably eerie intermission music while I took a breather.
Safe in the familiar surroundings of my caravan and bouyed by the genuine applause and hoof-stomping of the Ponyvillians, I threw a glance out of the peephole. ‘Perhaps I just caught her at a bad moment, she seemed so friendly earlier in the day.’
I leapt back a stride from the hole in shock ‘She’s still scowling and she’s LOOKING RIGHT AT THE PEEPHOLE.’ I noticed that she had been joined by two other young mares, an exquisite white unicorn and a strong orange earth pony sporting a stetson hat. She was waving her hooves to make some kind of point, gesturing at the caravan. The other mares looked confused and were obviously placating her.
I saw her pull a large faceted gem from her saddlebags and peer into it with a sour expression. Something about that gem seemed very familiar to me but I had no time to give it further thought. I’m not an accomplished magician and preparation of the spells for the second act would take most of the time set aside for intermission.
‘This purple pony prodigy has a pretty pout’ I surmised, resolving to put her from my mind as I arranged my materials for the second act, taking a small pinch of white powder from a certain little pewter box. This night I needed a little extra .. oomph.
“for it was TROGDOR!”
Sweat dripped down the inside of my robe and spangled hat. I was panting and exhausted but I knew from long experience that my mystical mist would hide such worldly weaknesses from the audience. It was becoming harder and harder to concentrate. ‘Why are they staring at me like that?' Now there were six young mares in a cluster with my earlier acquaintance and none of them looked particularly happy. Well, except for that pink earth pony. 'Is that a baby DRAGON with them?’
Despite my reservations I had begun the second act with a grim determination to wipe that scowl off the librarians pretty face. She was a unicorn after all. My time at the academy had shown me that unicorns who specialised in magic were, as a rule, jealous of their abilities and harshly critical of those around them who could not measure up. I would show her!
I had been unsuccessful. If anything she was frowning harder now, but I was content. I had been spurred into giving the most intense and magically draining performance of my life, making my illusions deeper, more spectacular and more real than I had ever dared in the past. I estimated that I had just enough energy to close the show before collapsing in an undignified heap.
Intense magical fire engulfed the stage as the villain met his mandated death. Not really true to the original myth of Trogdor, but ponies only really know the story as it is told in these modern times. Celestia help the performer who would attempt to change the formula in a small town like Ponyville.
Bits rained onto the stage to generous applause as I took my bow. Initial creepiness notwithstanding, Ponyville seemed like a nice place. I promised the crowd a matinee and evening show on the following day and drew the curtains. ‘By Luna's twirly horn, I need doughnuts. Preferably a whole box of them. With sprinkles.’
Luckily, I had just the thing in my storage trunk, all the way from Canterlot.
I swept the bits off the stage and folded the panels back together with the last of my magic. Counting my haul could wait until morning. Farmers and small town ponies were usually generous but threw smaller denomination bits than in the cities. Occasionally in a hamlet like this I would wake to find a gift of produce or somepony offering me breakfast, which always made me smile.
I shucked my robes and hat into the ‘clean when I can’ pile and sank into my reading chair. I was beginning to yawn.
‘Wow, I’ve really knocked myself out. Maybe that was a little too much tonight, a pony can hurt themselves expressing too much magic. I need to be more careful’ I thought as I wearily hoofed open the doughnut box on my lap.
I was asleep before I could even choose a flavour.