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  • 46 weeks
    Formatting Delays

    Hello again.
    I have the first section of Two Hooves prepared to post. However I found the formatting I have on Word won't translate on Fimfiction, so I'm missing paragraph breaks and don't have an easy way of adding them. I'll be manually adding them, chapter by chapter, over the course of the next week. The first section will be up after that.

    0 comments · 30 views
  • 66 weeks
    First few chapters up soon

    When I started Two Hooves I intended on finishing the story before uploading any of it. But it's been years and I feel a lot of anxiety having nothing to show for all that time. I still have several hundred pages to edit, but I have the first 150 or so completed. I will be posting those as soon as I have finished formatting them.

    0 comments · 36 views
  • 80 weeks
    Apologies for the delay

    I meant to have Two Hooves finished by the end of the year. I'm very, very near to the end. But I feel that I need to take a break for my mental health. I will do my best to get the story out as soon as I can.
    Thank you again for your patience.

    0 comments · 52 views
  • 90 weeks
    Chapter 1-1

    This is the first chapter of the primary story of the sequel to "Four Hooves", called "Two Hooves". "Two Hooves" is made of a few stories: the continuation of Rarity's story from "Four Hooves", the continuation of Rainbow Dash's story from "Four Hooves", and "Two Hooves"' primary story, of which this is the first chapter.

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    0 comments · 105 views
  • 112 weeks
    Finished soon

    It's been years; I finished college before I finished Two Hooves. For years I'd say to everyone who asked that the story I was writing was "the most important thing in my life"(never said it was about ponies though). I'm tired of waiting for myself to finish what is purportedly the most important thing in my life. My seasonal job ends in a month or so and then I'm doing nothing but finishing Two

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    0 comments · 76 views

Chapter 1-1 · 3:59am Nov 12th, 2018

This is the first chapter of the primary story of the sequel to "Four Hooves", called "Two Hooves". "Two Hooves" is made of a few stories: the continuation of Rarity's story from "Four Hooves", the continuation of Rainbow Dash's story from "Four Hooves", and "Two Hooves"' primary story, of which this is the first chapter.
I'm still working to finish "Two Hooves" and hope to be done by the end of the year.
I'm hoping the copy/paste from Word hasn't messed up any of the formatting.
Regarding the parenthetical remarks at the opening, they are supposed to be in the Cambria font, rather than Calibri. That's to distinguish the narrator's voice from the rest of the text. I'll see if I can find a way to retain that difference when I import the entire work onto my page.

Two Hooves is the result of much research and many interviews. None of my efforts in assembling the events of this story would have amounted to anything, had I not received the generosity of the Historical Studies Department of the Academy of Advanced Magic. I am deeply indebted to them and their support throughout the process of my dissertation.

The events of the Equestrian campaign into Mohs in search of those culpable for the assassination of Princess Celestia extended over several months, and researching their particularities and minutia proved exceedingly difficult. In the case of many of the events and even with the motivations of particular characters, I have taken creative liberties. I have done so not to alter the story, but rather to keep it fluid. Though the story is nonfiction, fictional liberties assisted me in writing a work that is both accurate and progressive in its unfolding. For those wishing to explore the details of my research, all of my materials are available in the library of the Department of Cultural Studies within the Academy of Advanced Magic.

My dissertation follows Red Field because when it came time to write Two Hooves, neither the narrative, nor my conscience let him take any role but that of the main character.

Red Field was a smart pony. For his whole life, the black and white unicorn had been told he was smart. He could decimate any test presented to him on any subject with only a few hours of prior research. His Cutie Mark, a chessboard, was just one of the many indications that Red Field was an intelligent pony. His parents, knowing he held great potential, enrolled him in the Rockvale Community High School. Rockvale, a dusty town of agriculture offered a curriculum of dated workbooks taught by an aging faculty.

On a nondescript, arid day in Northern Equestria, he graduated.

Red Field walked home tired. The warm summer air mingling with the constant grey haze of rock dust hung around him and wrapped Rockvale in an ambient astigmatism. The after-ceremony social was still going on, but he went home anyway. Red Field knew he could have had friends, any number of ponies would have been willing to spend time with the quiet unicorn who buried his snout in books. Red Field knew he could have stayed; he was well liked and valedictorian, after all. But Red Field didn’t want to stay. He didn’t want anypony to ask what his plans for the future were.

He was going nowhere. His parents, rock and cabbage farmers, could never afford the tuition and travel expenses needed to send him to the Academy of Advanced Magic for colligate study. He had thus spent the last six years of his life earning a worthless degree in high school-level general rock science that would be his only education.

He kicked a rock, bouncing it down the empty road; everypony was at the graduation, there was nothing else to do in Rockvale.

He still could have stayed at the ceremony and just told ponies that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do now that he was done with school; that was true enough. Yet Red Field didn’t want to stay and talk. Because no matter how many different ponies he met, no matter how many specific and even esoteric conversations he began, the same question always came up: Why was a black on white pony, devoid of any trace of hue, named Red Field?

Red Field never answered that question. He never told ponies that he was born in a field of rotted cabbage, followed by an unusually meaty placenta and gratuitous wash of blood, and thus named for his gory entrance into the world. Red Field never told anypony that he hated his parents for naming him so crudely or for being too poor to afford sending him where he would flourish. And Red Field never told anypony how much he hated Rockvale for being a rockfarming settlement with an average IQ of 83 (he alone brought the average up a couple points). Red Field rarely told anypony anything. The petite stallion studied, read books, and grew more and more dissatisfied with his life as the years rolled by.

He reached his house, a modest shack standing before a field of granite slabs and red cabbage. He opened the door and walked to his bed, which lay beside that of his parents. He dropped his certificate of magic on the pallet and sat down in the mushy bedspread. The sun was setting, and he could hear the sound of the chirping crickets in the fields. He listened for a moment to the miniscule insects. Eighty-one degrees, with a margin of ten degrees error. His parents were still at the graduation ceremony, talking about how he was planning on being an engineer for the rock plantations. Red Field laid down on his bed. He felt the little scroll that informed the world of his moderate education squishing beneath him. A tiny black beetle climbed a book by his bed. He lashed out with his hoof and obliterated it. Red Field loathed bugs. The smashed carcass of the beetle adhered to his hoof, and he scraped at the disgusting splat furiously. He never told anypony how much he hated everything about Rockvale.

The next morning, Red Field’s father shook him as if he feared his son had suffered a stroke in the night. Red Field shoved him back to indicate his consciousness.

“Where’s your diploma?” The concrete grey pony asked. “Where did you put it?” Red Field rifled through his sheets for a second, then produced the creased scroll from under his body. His father sighed. “Red, you need to take care of this.” Red Field nodded but Cyrus frowned, unconvinced by Red Field’s wordless reply. “Do you know how many ponies in Rockvale even go to your school?”

Red Field did. “Forty six.” The number was fifty-two. “And out of those forty six, only twenty two graduated.” His father was correct on that. “And out of those twenty two, you were valedictorian.” His father pointed to the wall. “And I happen to know Peak Mining is looking to hire an engineer with a certification in general rock science.” His father gave him the scroll. “So treat this with respect, this represents all of that studying you’ve done for the past six years.” Red Field took the scroll and set it on his nightstand. His father sighed. “I’m sorry.” He gave Red Field a hug. “Happy graduation, I’m sorry you went home so early last night. You mother said you weren’t feeling well.” Red Field nodded and his father released him. “Well, nothing a little free time can’t cure!” He picked up his hardhat and pick and slung them over his shoulder. The wiry stallion stood for a second, looking at his son, as if he expected something. “Well, have a great day, I’ll be back at eight, your mother is with the cabbages.” As if she would be anywhere else. “So have fun. You’ve earned it.”

Fun. Which of the six non-residential buildings in Rockvale could provide that? Red Field turned over in his bed and gathered his small bundle of books which sat under his nightstand. He could return his latest batch of reading to kill some time. Tossing the books into a saddlebag, he began to regret having selected so many thick reference volumes that particular week. Struggling under the weight of the reading material, Red Field set out for the library; it was another wonderful day in Rockvale.

Red Field might have been smart, but he was not strong. Weighing a svelte 120 pounds, the little black and white pony had often been mistaken for a mare with his diminutive stature and blandly styled tail. His unstyled mane hung passably above his eyes and drifted down his back in an appropriately clean and unremarkable streak. This bland grooming hadn’t gotten him beaten up for “looking gay”, so he’d maintained the appearance throughout school. He had mostly escaped bullying through the small size of the school. Also, the general assumption among Rockvale families was that the weakest and most sickly ponies from each were the only ones with hopes of acquiring an education. Thanks to this reasoning, Red Field was roughly on physical par with his classmates.

He had spent his days surrounded by Spook, a nervous black stallion; Elroy, a glasses wearing unicorn who personified weakness; and Little Pip, who seldom spoke much louder than a whisper. They weren’t really his friends; though, they could have been. Red Field would have rounded out the hodgepodge of strange ponies as the emotionless intellect with no real direction for his life. But he didn’t want to add himself to the menagerie of pathetic ponies. Red Field wanted nothing to do with Rockvale.

For the past six years he had spent seven hours at school, then finished his bookwork, then gone to the library and read books. Earlier in the summer he had begun a quest to read every book in the tiny building, and by the end he hoped to be able to proclaim to not have learned a thing of relevance outside of tractor repair and cabbage fertilization. With about a hundred books left, Red Field was closing in on his goal.

He stopped at the steps of the rust colored building. The shack had been a supply locker for one of the cabbage plantations prior to the royal edict. Queen Twilight herself had drafted the mandate for each Equestrian town with more than 1,000 inhabitants to construct a library with at least 2,000 books. Rockvale had only 988 ponies, but Red Field had added a few cousins from the Tartlet family to the census. The bizarre Apple clan rarely entered the little town, and nopony was really certain how many of them there were. No one questioned the numbers, and Rockvale got its library.

Red Field pushed the door of the library open and walked to the desk. Instead of musty and moldy pages and bindings, the Rockvale library still smelled of oil and kerosene. Gasoline stained the concrete, and a few bolts still lay strewn about from decrepit trailers and combines. The young stallion dropped the bundle of books onto the desk, waking Mr. Whittaker. Mr. Whittaker, an old white pony slipping into senility, had been chosen to be the librarian, as any able-bodied stallions in the town spent their days flipping rocks. Mr. Whittaker yawned and pulled his spectacles to his eyes. He peered down at Red Field.

“Oh hello there, Red!” He said . Mr. Whittaker couldn’t see in the dim light, yet he was never wrong about the identity of his patron. Red Field was the only visitor to the library as reading was not a popular pastime in Rockvale. Mr. Whittaker opened each book and stamped the inside cover. “All set”. Red Field walked to the midpoint of the “F” section. Taking a seat, he counted off the next eight tomes in line. There was no order within the section since Mr. Whittaker had enough trouble keeping the alphabet straight.

The library of Rockvale amounted to some kind of miracle since Rockvale had no books. In lieu of this basic and nearly universal necessity, the citizens of the tiny town had substituted machine manuals and schematics. Red Field counted off a few titles.

Fire-retarding extinguishers, overhaul and troubleshooting, Vol.3.

Fire on Pages: What book censorship has to offer.

Besides mechanical literature, Rockvale also filled its library with conservative texts following the general political leaning of the agrarian township. He slid the next book from the shelf and squinted at the title. The only realistic part of the library was the dim light, which filtered through the few barred windows along the walls. Red Field blinked and reread the title. Firearms. He had never heard the word before. He looked for a subtitle or illustration, but the black book was identified only by the baffling compound word. Sliding the other books into his bag, Red Field walked back to Mr. Whittaker. He laid the strange text down before the wizened stallion. Mr. Whittaker had settled back into his rest. Noticing Red Field, he coughed and raised his glasses.

“Firearms.” He said aloud. He rubbed his chin. “Oh yeah,” he said softly. Mr. Whittaker turned the book over. “Thought they got rid of all of these.” He flipped through the pages and a little smile came to his face. “I remember guns.” He said fondly. He tossed the book back at Red Field and gave him a wink. “Lucky you found this.” He said cryptically. “You’re gonna love it.” Red Field looked down at the odd book, then slipped it into his backpack.

Red Field dumped his load of books of at his home and read for a little bit. He had just finished learning about C-class fire compressors and their relative inefficacy against type A fires if their mainstay valve was not properly lubricated when his mother entered the single room shack. She wore a faded and garish sunhat, which she hung immediately.

“Well hello there mister graduate!” She said. “How are you today?” He shrugged. She smiled and lifted a plate of cabbage and greens, which was mostly cabbage. “Forgot your breakfast this morning.” He stood and walked over and took the plate. She waited for him to finish, then washed his dish. “Mr. Nordstrom was telling me that we’re going to have a bumper crop this year, and I believe him. I came home little late because there were so many rows to finish.” She dried the plate and faced her son. Red Field got to his hooves. Around his mother, he wanted to be a good son.

Cyrus had swept Moonlit Night off her hooves ago, and she had promised to follow him wherever he went. Cyrus had ended up farming rocks in the little town of Rockvale, pursuing a dream of working his way up the ladder of success. Owning a rock and cabbage plantation was apparently the final and most unachievable rung. Moonlit Night loved Cyrus, and he loved her; Red Field was proof of that. Yet as Red Field watched his mother work every day tearing cabbage from the ground, he wondered about her happiness. Cyrus had yet to get past the third rung of his ladder in the eighteen years Red Field had known his father. Making matters worse, Rockvale was a terrible and mundane place, even causing a pink mare to go insane and flee to the equally tiny town of Ponyville. Moonlit Night didn’t deserve to live in such a place, no matter how in love she was.

“I wanted to tell you, there’s an opening in the Marble Sector over in Boulder Dash with Sysco. I know you don’t really like rocks.” She sighed. “But it might be nice to be a little closer to civilization, don’t you think?” Her face lit up. “Oh! And there’s mares out there who aren’t bigger than you!” She added with a laugh.

He nodded. She looked at the plain boards beneath her hooves. “I’m sorry we can’t afford to send you anywhere, Red. But maybe things will work out. I ended up here, but I met your father, so there’s always a silver lining.” Red Field felt sorry for his mother, especially when she made backwards analogies to cheer him up. She gave him a hug. “Please, Red, don’t think you’re anything but extraordinary. That mind you have is going to change the face of the world someday. And when it does, I want the world to know that you’re my son.” Red Field held his mother; he didn’t mention that rock farming technically qualified as changing the face of the world. Red Field didn’t often find the words to tell her much of anything.

That day was his first day in years with literally nothing to do. Red Field found himself listlessly drifting back into town. Central Rockvale wasn’t a town, just six buildings arranged in a square. Rockvale was a store that sold everything from thermometers to automatic circumcisers, a little doctor’s office that treated papercuts and referred more serious injuries to the clinic 108 miles away, a post office, the school, and a malt shop. The library didn’t really count as a building, but it was always added to the count whenever Rockvale wanted to impress tourists who never visited the town. The rest of the settlement was a scattering of houses and farms, all of which formed a patchwork of fields and rock gardens. Red Field stood in the middle of “downtown” and looked about. There was nothing to buy from the store. His eyes fell on the malt shop. He had never gone inside.

The little shop reminded him of an operating room, its slick tile walls and floors reflecting white fluorescent light. The air of the store was unnaturally cold. Red Field had only experienced air conditioning once in his life, when he’d gotten his tonsils out. His skin prickled with goose bumps as he took a seat on one of the red bar stools and picked up a menu.

“Well hello there sir!” He looked up. A brown stallion with a bushy mustache greeted him. “What can I get you?” Red Field pointed to a vanilla shake and clopped a pair of bits down on the counter. “Well, alrighty then!” Said the soda jerk. He went about preparing the malt.

Red Field looked around the shop; he was the only customer. A fly, beginning to succumb to a stupor brought on by the cold, struggled weakly against the glass window. Red Field saw a coin on the ground and used it to crush the little insect. The soda jerk was still scooping the ice cream at a leisurely pace. Red Field looked up; the menu board was a redundant restatement of the information contained on the menus atop the counter. That was pointless- well, actually, supposing there was an influx of customers, it could be advantageous to have a readily available description of offerings once the menus were dispersed. But then, how often did that happen? It could theoretically be an attempt to avoid losing potential customers should such an influx occur. But then, temperament of these hypothetical customers would need approximation.

“There you go! Enjoy!” The attendant set a tall glass of foaming malt before Red Field. Red Field nodded his thanks. His first malt was a satisfying experience. The glass drained with a curious expediency, and Red Field felt a touch of unhappiness at the sight of the empty glass. He sat for a few minutes, trying to calculate the volume of the container. “Need something else?” Asked the attendant presently. Red Field hesitated; he had nothing better on which to spend his graduation money. He pointed to the same beverage on the menu. “Sure thing!” .

Red Field returned to perusing the menu. The store advertised a “buy seven malts and receive one free deal”. He started to think on the relative profits garnered from such a deal. His gaze returned to the board, the I and E were in incorrect order in the word receive. He looked for something with which to distract the jerk. The attendant was just starting for the blender when the fly-encrusted coin whipped through the air and pinged into the kitchen. The stallion cocked his head in confusion and went to investigate. As he did, Red Field corrected the entropy on the board.

“Well shoot, did you see anything?” asked the confused attendant as he returned from the kitchen. Red Field shook his head. He walked home after his aimless dessert. He might as well read tomorrow’s book that day, then have dinner.

Red Fied was pondering the conclusion of an essay regarding deletion of the word rump from any literature that foals might reasonably gain access to when his father came through the door. Cyrus was sweaty and covered in granite dust.

“Red, need you.” He said curtly. Red Field followed his father out the door. He never helped his father in the field, and he knew why. “Now Brute Force fell and pulled a rotator cup, and we need you for a team lift.” His father related as they ventured out into the field. The field was in their backyard, actually, the field was their backyard. Rocks, all shapes and sizes stuck out of the dry ground like chunks of sludgy food in a puddle of vomit. Cyrus led him over to a flat boulder that was surrounded by the other rock farmers. Red Field knew some of them, didn’t recognize most of them, and didn’t care about any of them. One, Mr. Pie, Red Field instantly identified and edged away from. Ever since his daughter had run away, Mr. Pie had become even more of a cold and ill-tempered stallion.

“Ok then, got my colt! Let’s get this show on the road!” Cyrus announced. “Now Red, we’re gonna lift and you’ve gotta help us, we’re flipping this toward Mule Kick’s side.” Cyrus braced himself against the side of the boulder. Red Field emulated him along with the other stallions. “On three!” Cyrus shouted. “One, two.” Red Field took a deep breath. “Three!” For a second there was no noise save the grunts and snorts of the struggling ponies. Then came the ripping of grass as the massive boulder broke free of the ground. Red Field lifted with all of his might, which he knew amounted to next to nothing. “Start flipping!” Cyrus instructed between breaths. Red Field’s side began to raise their end, and Red Field attempted to aid them. As he raised his arms above his head, the Red Field saw the underside of the rock turn by his face. It was blackened by dirt and worms and maggots wriggled about in the caked dirt. He drew a sharp breath and kept lifting. “Nearly there.” His father said, his voice taut with exertion. Red Field felt dizzy from the strain, and a drop of sweat ran down his right foreleg. He was surprised he’d already started sweating and looked up.

A thick centipede skittered down his white leg and toward his face. Instantly, he recoiled and slapped at the Chilopod. He heard the angry shouts of the farmers as the rock toppled back into place. For a second the farmers panted and gasped as they recovered from the botched flip. Red Field feverishly scraped at the broken centipede that was smeared across his arm. He realized everypony was looking at him. He took a step away from the group, the fragments of the centipede still clinging to his arm.

“Is everypony okay?” His father asked quickly. The stallions murmured yes. Red Field knew they were looking at him. The dust settled around them as the tired farmers looked down at the smallest male of the group.

“Is that it?” Asked Mr. Pie contemptuously. Red Field turned and started back toward his house.

“Haha, that’s why he’s going to be an engineer. He’ll have this done by magic in a year!” His father laughed nervously.

Dinner was quiet. Red Field dutifully ate his greens and cabbage.

“I was telling Red that it’s a bumper crop this year.” His mother said softly. “We need all of the mares in the west field, since that’s where it starting to spoil.”

“I was just telling the guys that Red is going to whip up some contraption for us to flip the rocks without breaking a hernia.” Cyrus replied.

Red Field took a bite of boiled cabbage and continued to stare at the white porcelain plate.

Finally, when dinner was over, his father went to the porch, which was more a stoop than anything else, to smoke his pipe. Red Field silently washed the dishes as his mother ladled the embryotic mixture of boiled cabbage into a jar.

“Please.” His mother’s voice became a strained sigh. “We get it. Your father and I know you don’t want to be a rock engineer. You show us that every day.” She put her hoof on his shoulder. “But you don’t need to always be so stormy and distant, why can’t you just-” Red Field threw the plate back into the soapy water. He threw it with more force than he had estimated and it shattered. His mother gasped, and Cyrus reentered instantly.

“What’s wrong?” He asked in surprise. Red Field pushed by him and walked out into the night. “Red, stop!” His father shouted angrily. “You have no right to treat your mother that way.” He started after the monochrome stallion.

“Please, Cyrus.” His mother called from the door. “Red didn’t do anything.”

“What? I heard a crash! Moon, you can’t keep letting him do that!” They were going to argue for a while.

Red Field walked out into the fields of rocks behind the house. Dusk was falling, and the granite slabs somehow looked even greyer in the waning daylight. He looked in a southwestern direction, toward Cantorlot. He didn’t tell his parents he was planning on running away. He didn’t tell them he was going to journey to the great city and find a way to pay the tuition to enter the Academy of Advanced Magic. Red Field took a seat on one of the rocks. He wasn’t going to be an engineer; he was going to be an alchemist.

Night had fallen when he made his way back to the shack. He made certain his parents were asleep and carefully stepped around and over the few possessions scattered across the room. Taking his seat atop his little mattress, the black and white pony dug through his book bag until he found the black book with the odd title. By the dim glow of his horn, Red Field read the first line of the book.

“A six-millimeter round, at PONI load specification, generates between 1,500 and 2,000 Joules of muzzle energy. When the first equestrian firearms designer was asked why he’d made a weapon that could so effortlessly cause such grievous injuries, he replied “God made the pony with all of our fearful and wonderful differences. Firearms make ponies equal.” A smile crossed Red Field’s face.

“Interesting.” He said to himself.

The origin of Red Field’s name was a relative secret. Schoolteachers, his parents, and pretty much anypony who knew him simply called him Red. Yet some ponies, through some abuse of good-natured trust on the part of his parents, had discovered the mystery of his colorful name.

Red Field heard the hoofsteps of the Tartlet colts behind him. He continued down the road as if he didn’t know what came next.

Red Skin spoke first. “Hey, blood bath, where ya’ll goin’?”

Red Field didn’t reply, but kept walking toward town.

“Ya’ll gonna answer?” Beet asked.

Red Field shifted his saddlebag. “I am going to the market,” he said. Both snickered.

“Ah am goin’ t’the market!” Mimicked Red Skin. “Y’gawt some buks in there?” Red Field knew what was going to happen but kept walking anyway. Beet stepped in front of him.

“Ah heard ya’ll gawt onea them di-pol-mas.” Red Field stopped, he knew he had to answer them.

“That is correct.” He replied. Beet leaned in, and their eyes met. Red Field hated Beet more than his older brother. The stocky, buzz-maned stallion was more willing than his older brother to cross boundaries.

“Ya’ll gonna go t’college blood bath?” Red Field didn’t answer and Beet shoved him back. “Ansir me!”

“I might.” Red Field answered.

“Ya’ll better, y‘can’t flip jack shit from whut ah hear.” Said Red Skin with a snort.

“Hehe, yeah.” Beet put his arm around Red Field. “Leetle blood bath here got an asthma attack an’ had t’sit down. S’ok blood bath-”

“Gotten any letters from Appleseed?” Red Field seldom fought back against the pair. But he had been frustrated with having to deliver the cabbage to the market and was in no mood to handle the Tartlets, as well. His unspectacular graduation rounded out the pile of smoldering un-pleasantries of the past few days, and his temper broke with the two stallions.

“No.” Beet said quietly. His outrage seemed almost palpable.

Appleseed was the youngest of the Tartlet colts. He had often joined his older brothers in harassing Red Field. Appleseed was the only pony who had ever managed to make Red Field severely angry. Something about being beaten up by a colt half his age made Red Field take matters into his own hooves.

The Tartlet colts routinely ran into minor scuffles with the law of the town, Deputy Podunk. Usually they were ineffectually reprimanded and released. Yet during once such instance, when Appleseed had been found passed out in the general store, surrounded by thirteen empty sarsaparilla bottles, Podunk had chanced to take a look at the colt’s accumulated record. The bemused deputy even called the sheriff in nearby Tinsdale to confirm what he saw. Incredibly their records matched; Appleseed had apparently committed thirteen acts of violent sexual assault on a minor, all of which were unresolved.

What happened next varied from each Rockvale resident’s account. Some said Podunk covered up the unspeakable crimes and Appleseed was still hiding on Tartlet farms. Others claimed that Podunk turned a blind eye while the offending colt was taken to a distant relative. Yet Red Field and the other Tartlet colts knew the truth. They remembered Podunk and about five other deputies serving a freshly printed arrest warrant on a clear Sunday morning at Tartlet farms. Red Field hadn’t studied any law at that point, so he hadn’t realized just what prison the felonious colt might be sent to for his fictional crimes.

Red Field didn’t know where Appleseed had gone, nopony did. Six months passed before Red Field read about the severity of the possible punishment for a violent sexual assault on a minor from a copy of Equestrian law he had found in the library. Red Field burned the book and pushed back the horrible images that accompanied the knowledge of the possible fate of the Apple pony. A year later it still horrified him.

Nopony ever found out about Red Field’s forgery, and the Tartlet colts still believed Podunk to have fabricated the records himself. The mere mention of their incarcerated brother brought out the worst in the already obnoxious stallions.

“No we ain’t heard nuthin’ from him in awahl.” Beet muttered. “He stahped writin’ awahl back.” Red Field felt the regret coming back. Beet slapped him across the face. He said angrily.

In a moment they beat him. Red Field had been beaten by the Tartlets many times before. Their blows followed a strength reduction curve of exponential degree. They typically focused their attacks on his midsection, with kicks to his head interspersed. Most assaults lasted about five minutes or until somepony saw them. The worst beatings came from a reminder of their imprisoned brother and their lightest from “lookin’ at them funny.”

They left him in a bloody pile. His stomach churned from their steel horseshoes, and his head was gashed.

“Jus’ lahk the filly ya’ll were born as.” Red Skin spat on the injured pony. The Apple ponies galloped away. Red Field lay for a time, waiting for the pain to subside. His head swam, and he stared up at the bright sun. Finally, he picked himself up. His stomach hurt, and he felt the blood run down his mane. He shakily picked up the bag that had been tossed to the side of the road. The cabbages had been crushed by the Apple ponies, and the wet pulp oozed out of the brown satchel. Red Field threw the bag down and ground his teeth together at the thought of his parents reaction to losing two days’ worth of work. Blood flooded his ears and he retched into the grass beside the road. In a few seconds he collapsed into the dust. The world throbbed and faded around him. Red Field was not a strong pony.

After a quarter of an hour, he felt well enough to rise. The sun hung at its zenith and steam rose from the watery cabbage. He picked up the bag and walked toward the market; maybe he could find a way to make the lost money back.

The farmer’s market sat about two miles out of Rockvale. Red Field often delivered the family cabbage to the market. An unspoken rule at Red Field’s home was to never mention that cabbage farming still made more than rock farming. Cyrus was not a proud pony, yet he did not want to acknowledge that his mare made more than he did.

Red Field reached the market, the ten or so stands displaying various tubers and fruits already packing up. He jogged over to Cargill, hoping to find something for the day’s money. Cargill was a burly white stallion with an abstract “C” as his Cutie Mark. He controlled all of the produce sales from Rockvale, and nopony thought to undercut him and sell to anypony else.

Cargill and Red Field were business associates and nothing else. But the two liked one another with a sort of mutual respect. After five years of cabbage delivery, the businesspony had noticed Red Field’s intellect and had occasionally brought him Sudoku puzzles from Cantorlot. Red Field admired the impersonal and formal manner that Cargill brought to Rockvale.

“Excuse me sir.” Cargill was rechecking his load as Red Field reached him. “I’m sorry I am late.” Cargill turned.

“Red Field, I was unsure of where you were.” Cargill didn’t even mention the blood or bruises; that was the kind of formality that Red Field loved. “You know there is a fifteen percent reduction for late transactions.” Red Field nodded.

“I’m sorry, sir, my produce was destroyed in an unforeseen altercation.” Cargill shrugged and went back to checking his cart. Red Field swallowed some bloody mucus; he didn’t want to ruin the wonderfully perfect relationship by begging. “Is there something I can do for the payment?” He asked as formally as he could. Cargill shook his head as Red Field knew he would. Red Field sighed and turned for home.

“Red Field, did I hear that you graduated?” Cargill was hitching himself up to his cart.

“Uh, yes sir.” Said Red Field.

“What are your plans?” Cargill adjusted his halter.

“I don’t know sir. My parents think I can get an internship at Peak Mining, and maybe that will lead to a-”

“What do you think of business?” Red Field paused, wondering if Cargill was asking him a personal question.

“I don’t know, sir. I don’t mind mathematics.”

“What about algorithms, for investments?” Red Field hesitated.

“I don’t know a lot about those.” Cargill shrugged.

“I need a number cruncher for my operations in southeast Cantorlot.” Red Field’s heart jumped. “It pays forty bits a day. If all of those puzzles I brought you are done correctly, then I would imagine there’s room for advancement in my company for you.” 280 bits a week was more money than he would ever make engineering rock flippers, and if he were in Cantorlot, he could eventually save enough to go to the Academy of Advanced Magic.

“I’d love that. What should I do to apply?” Red Field asked.

“I’ll add your name to the list of entrants.” Red Field’s heart fell. “I will be in touch in a week or so to let you know what turns.”

Of course, he hadn’t realized that many other ponies would want to be an intern for Cargill. He watched the businesspony travel down the path a little ways. He would learn everything he could about algorithms.

Red Field returned home, cleaned himself up, and washed the cabbage puree out of the saddlebag. Packing up his latest collection of books, he headed for the library. Mr. Whittaker was dozing behind the desk when Red Field entered the dim library. He clopped the books down on the desk, waking the elderly librarian.

“Oh, hello Red! How did you like the book on guns?” Asked Mr. Whittaker with a yawn. Red Field was already on his way to the A section.

“What?” Asked Red Field. Mr. Whittaker chuckled.

“Guns, boomsticks, the great equalizers.” Red Field hadn’t finished that book.

“They seem pretty interesting.” Red Field answered.

“I know you’re a brainy pony, but I know you like guns, every stallion likes guns.” Said Mr. Whittaker.

“The mechanics are interesting.” Said Red Field. He started toward the A section. He scanned the randomized offerings. Cargill’s offer still lingered in his mind. Out of nowhere, he had the chance to escape his future.

In a few minutes he found a book on algorithms. Sitting against the cold metal shelf, Red Field read the first line of the text. “Mathematical algorithms for estimating tractor wear.” He slammed the book closed.

The library held four and a half books that told him anything about algorithms; two of them were dictionaries. Red Field trudged home, the book bag slung over his shoulder. An internship with Cargill would give him a future, would let him achieve. He would design the best algorithm known to investors. And he was going to go to the Academy of Advanced Magic.

His mother was inside stirring a pot of cabbage soup. She looked up when he entered.

“Oh God, Red!” She rushed over to him. “What happened?” He had forgotten about the attack. Things in real life tended to fade into the background when he began to think about something.

“Nothing.” He mumbled. She took hold of him.

“Red, please, what happened?” She pleaded. He looked over her and out of the window overlooking the rock field.

“Nothing, mom, tell dad nothing happened.” He said distantly. Moonlit Night sighed. She understood. Red Field didn’t have bullies, he had “fellows bigger than him.” He got pushed around, for being “a little smaller than those guys”, and of course he didn’t mind. His father had often offered to teach Red Field to fight another colt, but Red Field had always declined. His father didn’t offer any courses on countering two or sometimes three burly Apple ponies that threatened broken bones if he resisted.

She put her hoof on his shoulder and gave her bruised son a hug.

“I’m sorry, did it happen after you sold the cabbage?” He had forgotten about the cabbage.

“Um, no, it was before.”

“Did you get to deliver it?” He shook his head.

“No, I didn’t.” He sighed and walked over to his bed.

“I got paid less because one of the cabbages had a bruise.” He pulled his graduation present from under his mattress. “You didn’t see the bruise.”

“Red, stop, don’t.” His mother refused the money. “You can just say that Cargill left early. Your father will understand, put your money away.”

“Do you think he might ask where the cabbages are?” Red Field knew that he had spoken too sarcastically.

“Red.” Her voice was quiet and injured now. “Please put your money away. Your father will understand.”

“Neither of us believe that.” Red Field said.

“Please, that’s your money.” He threw the bits across the room; the copper coins bounced and ricocheted off of the hardwood walls.

“I don’t care about it!” He shouted. “I just want my father to leave me alone, and I’ll pay any amount of money to get that!” She started to cry.

“Please, don’t be upset. Your father works very hard.”

“Harder than you? Hard enough to make more money than the mare he dragged out to Rockvale to pursue a dream of owning a rock farm?”

“He works harder than all of the other stallions. It isn’t his fault he-”

“What is his fault then? That I trip a lot? That I have no future? That I have to lie to him so he doesn’t get upset over not making money from his mare’s work?” They heard hoofsteps coming down the road.

“Please, Red.” His mother whispered. Red Field said nothing, and in a few seconds, his father entered the little shack.

“Hey! What’s with all of the bits laying around the room?” He asked with a laugh.

“Nothing.” Red Field answered. “I just tripped.”

Dinner was quiet, Red Field ate his greens and thought about algorithms. His father brought up Peak Mining again, to which Red Field did not reply. Finally, Cyrus counted out the twenty three bits collected from across the room. Both Moonlit Night and Red Field waited as the grey stallion surveyed the little pile of change. He burped reflectively.

“Don’t we usually make more?” he asked. Moonlit Night nodded.

“Yes, it…” She looked at Red Field, who was studying his empty plate, “One of the cabbages had a bit of a bruise. Red said that Cargill paid him less for that.” She said slowly. His father looked over at his silent son.

“That true?” Red Field nodded, still watching his motionless plate. His father frowned in thought. Three bits skidded over to the colt’s plate. “There you go son. Consider that a down payment on all of the labor I’m going to owe you after you invent a better rock flipper.” Red Field stood up and cleared his plate. He tossed the bits onto his mattress.

“Haha, how much do you got over there?” His father asked jokingly.

“Dunno.” Red Field answered. He cleaned his plate off and set it back in the cupboard.

“Where are you going?” His mother asked as he departed from the tiny house.

“Walk.” He said shortly. Beneath the subtle roar of the crickets, Red Field heard his father begin to complain about his ungrateful attitude.

He walked for some time, passing through the sparse town and reaching the cliff overlooking Peak mines. He climbed atop a boulder that sat just on the edge of the cliff. Far below him yawned the entrances of the quartz and salt mines. Based out of Yanhooyer, Peak Corp. soon owned all of the rock farms in Rockvale and the surrounding towns. For all of the residents in Rockvale, a job with Peak was synonymous with future success, provided they spent their lives working diligently and appearing neat to their supervisors. But Red Field didn’t want to spend his life working from engineering intern to director of engineering oversight. He wanted to learn magic, real magic, the kind that could theoretically annihilate the town of Rockvale by undercutting its economy with cheaply produced rocks.

Alchemy was an archaic art, the only institution teaching it being the Academy of Advanced Magic. Because of its highly complicated nature, and mixed reliability, the magical art had been pushed to the back of Equestria’s list of priorities. But things were different now; the new queen valued magic. She was even a graduate of the Academy of Advanced Magic. Red Field had often wanted to meet Twilight Sparkle. They probably would have been friends. He leaned back on the smooth rock. He would never meet her; instead, he would live in dusty Rockvale and churn out a living flipping rocks.

Cargill’s offer returned to him, and with it, the possibility of escape. He began to think on algorithms. According to the dictionaries and farming books, algorithms seemed to be a complex equation of sorts, with multiple variable entries, through which a final answer could be ascertained from a certain given value. They could apparently be used to project the life of a tractor, but how did that pertain to investment? Red Field realized that all he knew was a definition, and he could not possibly know more without books which he did not and could not acquire. Again Rockvale bested him. He struck the boulder with his hoof. The bruises from his beating pounded with blood, and he cursed.


Red Field nearly bolted. Spook sat at the base of the boulder, apparently he had not be aware of another pony either. Both stared at one another for a second.

“Sorry.” Red Field said as he recognized his classmate. “I thought I was alone.” Spook was much more shaken than Red Field. He nodded, but Red Field could see that he still trembled.

“Sorry for scaring you,” Spook said, clopping his hooves together anxiously.

“It was me, I’m sorry. I didn’t even see you down there.” Red Field sat down again on the rock. “I didn’t think anypony would come out here.” Spook swallowed.

“I do.” He took a deep breath and sat down in the grass below Red Field. “I came here a lot during school, mostly to get away from the Tartlets whenever they were in town.” Red Field chuckled, he wasn’t the only pony on the receiving end of Apple aggression. Spook looked up at him. “How come you left so soon after graduation?”

“I didn’t feel like staying.” Red Field said. Spook drew another deep breath.

“Your dad was telling everypony about how you’re going to be an intern at Peak, but you’ll be running the whole company by the time you’re married.” Red Field couldn’t hold back a bitter laugh. “Yeah, my dad’s the same way. I’m going to be a sports medicine doctor in Cloudsdale, and I hate blood.” Spook replied with a chuckle. “What’s your dad gonna say when he finds out you hate rocks?”

“Um.” Spook had never been this forward in school, and Red Field had trouble answering the dangerously personal question. “Probably nothing. I’m not planning on telling him.” Spook processed this for a time. The bugs began to appear, and Red Field was about to leave when Spook spoke again.

“Why don’t you ever tell him anything?”

Red Field had slid off of the rock and was making his way down the path back toward “town” when he replied.

“Because I don’t care what he thinks.”

Report Sorrow · 105 views · Story: Four Hooves · #Four Hooves #Two Hooves #Red Field
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