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Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.

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Asterisk · 11:00am July 21st

“Has it seemed quiet around here lately?” Rarity asked.

Starlight Glimmer considered the question. It was summer, which meant that the Friendship School was on break, with only a few students still haunting the corridors in pursuit of independent studies. Sandbar was volunteering ten hours each week in the school library, as transparent a ploy as Starlight had ever seen to justify spending time around Yona, who was in there every afternoon translating chalk rubbings of old Yakyakistani cenotaphs into modern Equestrian. At some point, Starlight supposed, she would have to intervene directly and coach the young stallion onto the correct path to wooing his heart’s desire, since it didn’t look like he was going to find the guts to do it himself. It would hardly be the first time she’d offered a guiding hoof in such matters – part of running a successful model society at her old town required matching ponies with their ideal mates, because sometimes ponies weren’t always bright enough to sort themselves out in the most efficient pairings. They needed guidance, which she was happy to provide without even being asked.

And now she was a guidance counselor. And it was nice. She took a sip of her chai tea latte. “I suppose it has. Is that a bad thing?”

“No, it’s quite nice actu—”

“Yes!” Rainbow Dash slammed her hoof down on the table, rattling all their cups. “Finally. Thank you for asking. It’s boring and it needs to stop.”

There was grumbling around the table as ponies mopped up spilled drinks. Several glared at Rainbow Dash, which might have evoked a sheepish apology had she been capable of interpreting non-verbal communication.

“If you’re bored, Rainbow, you can help me grade final assignments,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Compass Call wrote a lovely dissertation on friendship and bonding rituals among the breezies, and he wants to submit it for publication. You could help edit—”

“Ugh, nah, I’m good.”

“But you just said you were bored.”

“No I didn’t.”

“You did,” Starlight said.

“That’s what I heard,” Applejack added.

“Clear as a cucumber!” Pinkie piped in.

Rainbow scowled at them. “Okay, if I did say I was bored, what I meant was that something exciting needs to happen! Like, a monster attack! Those are always great. When was the last time that happened?”

“Three days ago,” Twilight said. “Harpies attacked the Ponyville Miniature Poodle Fancier Annual Pet and Pamper in the park. Remember? The Guard came and everything.”

“That was so sad,” Fluttershy said. “Those poor poodles.”

“Oh, yeah.” Rainbow gazed up at the sky, her eyes unfocused. “Yeah, that was pretty cool, I guess. Do you think they’ll come back?”

“The poodle fanciers?” Starlight frowned. “I think they disbanded.”

“I meant the harpies.”

Starlight considered the question. She didn’t know much about harpies. “I’m not sure. Fluttershy?”

“Not for a while.” Fluttershy cradled her milk in her hooves and gave it a little swirl. “They’re migratory. It will probably be years before we see them again. Maybe by then the poodles will be back too?”

“Circle of life,” Applejack said. 

“Anyway, if you’re bored and don’t want to help with grading schoolwork like you’re supposed to as a member of the faculty, you can come with me to…” Twilight squinted at the pamphlet floating before her. “Bro… Bronycon? I think I’m pronouncing that right.”

“Uh.” Dash squinted. “I dunno. Sounds kinda gay.”

Twilight scowled. “Dash, that’s highly inappropriate to say in 2019. Also, aren’t you attracted to mares?”

“Yeah, but that’s awesome gay.”

Starlight leaned across the table to peer at the brochure. “What is Bronycon?”

“It’s some sort of get-together in the human world. Sunset Shimmer says all the, quote, cool kids, unquote, go to it. It’s about ponies! In the human world!”

“Human-world ponies?” Rarity made a face. “I’ve seen pictures of them. Brutish things. Animals.”

“No no. Ponies like us! Apparently there’s a corporation that uses our images to generate billions of dollars in toy sales.” Twilight flipped the brochure over. “This is like those Daring Do conventions. There will be panels, discussions, a vending hall, a bookstore*, more types of artwork than I knew existed, and a single coffee shop attempting to serve thousands of guests.”

Rarity tilted her head. “What was that after the vending hall?”

“Which one? The bookstore*?”

“Yes, that… why are you saying it like that?”

“That’s how it’s written.” Twilight flipped the brochure over again and frowned. “There’s an asterisk next to it.”

“What’s it mean?”

“I’m… I’m not sure. There’s no explanatory note.”

“There has to be,” Rainbow said. “You must be missing it.”

“No, I’m not!” Twilight flipped the brochure over again and shoved it up against her muzzle. “Come on, where’s the note?”

“Maybe there isn’t one,” Starlight said. She took the last sip of her latte and set the empty cup down. “Anyway, Rarity, are you still planning that trip to Manehattan next week?”

“Oh, I’m not sure now, darling. They say there’s a heatwave coming, and you know how bad Manehattan gets during a normal summer. Can you imagine it being even hotter? And it’s so muggy in that city! Honestly Rainbow I don’t know why you weather ponies can’t keep the temperature down just a few more degrees. Would that really be so hard?”

“Look, every year some city has to get the heatwave,” Rainbow said. “This year it’s Manehattan’s turn. You want Fillydelphia to get it twice in a row or something?”

“No, of course not. But maybe you could spread the heat out a bit? I’m sure the Crystal Empire wouldn’t mind being a few degrees warmer. They’d hardly even notice.”

“So, wait,” Pinkie said. “Is hot weather good or bad for fashion? Like, are there more sun hats but fewer saddles?”

“You know, I don’t even own a saddle?” Starlight said. “Never saw the appeal.”

“Well, perhaps it’s best you don’t own a fashion boutique, then,” Rarity said. She sniffed. “Why, what mare doesn’t own a saddle! Even Twilight, who you know I love like a sister, she owns several saddles, and she is hardly the most fashionable… Twilight? Darling, are you alright?”

They turned back to Twilight, who ignored them. She scowled at the brochure. At some point she had conjured up a quill from one of her pocket dimensions and was fervently marking up the paper.

“Where is it?” She drew a line across another bit of text. “There has to be a note! You can’t just put an asterisk next to something and then not have an explanatory note! It has to mean something!”

“It’s probably in small type at the bottom,” Starlight said. “Did you try looking for small type at the bottom—”

“Yes! Of course I did! That was the first place I looked!” Bits of Twilight’s mane were starting to come unglued. She stood from her seat and leaned over the table, glaring at the brochure, and flipped it over again. “Where is it?”

“Maybe they forgot to add it,” Pinkie said. She edged her way around the table, away from Twilight. 

“You can’t do that!” Twilight lifted the brochure and held it up to the sun, as if its rays might reveal the hidden note. “What kind of monster puts an asterisk next to an item and doesn’t explain what the asterisk means? That’s misleading! It’s fraud!”

“Twilight…” Rarity started. “Ponies are staring.”

“It’s unbalanced! You have to balance the equation! Starlight, tell them! Tell them!”

“Sorry, Twilight.” Starlight shrugged. “We might never know what it means, and we’ll just have to accept that.”

“No! No! We can’t just leave it like that! I’m going to this convention, and I’m going to find whoever made this brochure, and I’m going to find out why they put that damn asterisk there!” Twilight’s horn flared, blinding them all, and when sight returned the mare was gone. The singed remains of the brochure drifted down onto the table like snow.

“Bring back souvenirs!” Pinkie shouted.

“Well.” Rarity sighed. “There she goes again. I swear, the oddest things will set that mare off.”

“Now I wanna know what it meant, too,” Applejack said. “Not, like, that bad. But a little bit.”

“It was probably nothing,” Starlight said.

“It must’ve been something important, though.” Rarity poked at one of the smears of ash. “Why else put it there?”

“Oh, who knows these things?” Starlight waved her hoof. “Maybe it’s only for a limited time, or you need a special badge to access it, or maybe it never existed at all and I just added the asterisk because Twilight used the last of my empathy cocoa this morning without asking me if it was okay and you know how much I really love that cocoa and it helps me get my day started on the right hoof and if I don’t get it I feel grumpy all the way to lunch? Maybe that was it. We’ll probably never know.”

The others were staring at her. Rarity sighed.

“What?” Starlight folded her forelegs across her chest. “Would you rather I tried to destroy the world again?”

* But seriously, there is a bookstore. And it's going to be awesome. No special badge needed.

Hope to see you all there.

p.s. buy my books

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Comments ( 17 )

See you there! May all your asterisks be balanced.

Heh, nice. :)

I can only assume you intentionally left the asterisk off the start of your note at the end, there's no way you didn't see that opportunity. :trixieshiftleft:

Hey, that's a good idea, actually.

So instead of destroying the world again, she gets Twilight to do it for her? Eh.

Advertising as an art form!

I am looking for the like button for this blog...………………… WHY IS THERE NO LIKE BUTTON FOR THIS BLOG!!!!!

Have fun at BronyCon.:twilightsmile:

“Not for a while.” Fluttershy cradled her milk in her hooves and gave it a little swirl. “They’re migratory. It will probably be years before we see them again. Maybe by then the poodles will be back too?”

“Circle of life,” Applejack said.

Oh my god. I'm laughing so hard I can't breathe.

I'm also going to need the Totally Unsafe Stories you're selling on the down-low. :raritywink:


This is a common refrain with me, but: I don't get it :fluttershysad:

Harpies follow the poodles. Poodles return, harpies return to eat poodles, poodles disband and harpies move on until the poodles return, etc etc.

Coincidentally, this thing
has an asterisk above "order".

Not going to lie, an unpaired asterisk* sets me off almost this badly and I'm upset about it for hours afterwards.
Don't do this people. Just...don't do it.

*Or any other such things used to denote extra information on a subject.

You have become the very thing you hate.

Sorry, that was wrong of me to do that.

*his story should be longer. Bad CiG.**
**Although, if someone meddled with my morning coffee, I'm not responsible for any adverse outcome, and no jury in the land would convict.

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