I followed Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash inside. I immediately noted that the inside was just as much a home to various critters as the outside was. Every free space seemed to provide housing for an animal, a few of which seemed really interested in me; most likely because they had never seen me before.
Birds were nesting near the ceiling, a couple of ferrets were chasing each other over by a couch, and a small white bunny was sitting on a comfy looking pillow, eying me suspiciously. I would have wondered what it’s issue was with me, but I was promised food and was following the yellow pegasus on auto-pilot to her kitchen.
Fluttershy immediately pulled a few vegetables out from her fridge and laid out some bread on a nearby table. While I wasn’t too fond of the vegetarian lifestyle, right now I’d take even a vegan meal. I absent-mindedly registered that she had a fridge, which meant they had at least some level of technology, which put my mind somewhat at ease.
It was already hard enough to adjust to an alien world, but if I had to make do with middle-age technology only, I’d probably have gone crazy. Fluttershy went to work on cooking what might have been a stew while I hungrily eyed the bread on the table. I was really hungry, but I wasn’t about to just tear into the first food presented to me. I needed to be on these ponies good side if I wanted to survive for now.
I was jerked out of my musings by a blue hoof tapping my shoulder, Rainbow Dash apparently wanted my attention.
“Hey, squirt? You okay?” The blue pegasus asked. “You were lookin’ kinda out there…”
“Yeah… yeah, I’m okay… just, just really hungry,” I answered her.
“Oh my, please don’t hesitate,” Fluttershy said quietly. “You can start eating the bread, since the soup will still take some time to finish.”
“Don’t mind if I do, then,” I said and hopped up on one of the chairs.
I greedily reached out for the loaf of bread on the table and was immediately presented by my next challenge; I had no idea how to properly handle it so I could comfortably eat. Mentally shrugging I just started pawing at it like a cat would a toy and slowly brought it closer to me. As long as I could get it close enough to my mouth, I’d be able to eat.
“What are you doing?” Rainbow Dash asked curiously, as she sat down in a chair next to me.
“I’m… trying… to eat… this bread,” I managed to get out while trying to somehow mash the loaf into my face-hole.
“Why don’t you just, like, pick it up?” Dash asked, sounding more confused this time.
“Well, that’s kind of hard to do with hooves, isn’t it,” I snarked at her. I didn’t really like it when people sounded like they thought they were better than me because they knew something I didn’t. “These things aren't exactly made to… pick up things…”
My semi-annoyed rant petered off as soon as it started when I started to pay more attention to what Fluttershy was actually doing. She was making soup, for sure, but more importantly she was grabbing and holding things with the flat of her hooves, which should have been impossible.
“Sure they are,” Rainbow Dash chuckled next to me. “See?”
And just like that, to prove her point, she picked up the bread that was lying in front of me. I followed her hoof and the bread with my eyes, baffled by the fact that the hooves in this world seemed to work like magnets that worked on everything.
As if magnets weren’t confusing enough before.
“You mean you can’t do this?” Rainbow Dash asked me skeptically, her left eyebrow raising as if to ask me if I’m for real.
“Umm… No one ever taught me?” I stammered out.
Apparently, being able to pick up things like that was a common skill possessed by everyone. If so, it was most likely taught at a very early age, which would make me seem fairly suspicious in my opinion, or at the very least like someone in desperate need of an occupational therapist.
I shot Rainbow a sheepish smile, hoping she’d buy into my white lie. She seemed just about to say something when we were surprisingly interrupted by Fluttershy who apparently had left the soup to simmer and joined us at the table.
“Oh no,” she said timidly. “You poor thing you must have really been abandoned at an early age if you haven’t even learnt something like that. It must have been horrible, but don’t worry, you’re safe now.”
“Yeah… must have been really difficult…” Rainbow Dash confirmed in a suspicious tone and I couldn’t help but feel like she might be onto me.
As much as it pained me to abuse her trust in me, Fluttershy seemed to be somewhat gullible, so I might be able to use her as a shield against Rainbow Dash. The blue pegasus put down the loaf of bread back in front of me and gestured towards it.
“Why don’t you try learning now then, it’s really easy,” Rainbow Dash said, and I couldn’t help but hear a challenge in it.
“Umm… okay?” I answered. I was still extremely hungry and not really in the mood for learning games, but it felt like the safer bet to play along for now. As a side effect I’ll at least learn how to pick up things, which should make eating infinitely easier. “Can you teach me?”
“Huh?” Rainbow Dash looked stumped, as if she didn’t expect something like this. “You… uhh… You just pick it up… like this... “ She awkwardly picked up the loaf of bread again and I shot her a deadpan look. Apparently Rainbow Dash had no idea how to teach anyone anything, so I redirected my eyes towards Fluttershy, my last hope.
“Oh,” she replied when she saw me staring at her. “You’ll have to forgive her. She’s more of a mare of action than a tutor.”
“Heh yeah,” Rainbow Dash replied, apparently getting saved by Fluttershy just as much as I was. “Once you’re as awesome as I am, you can just do things like that, no sweat.”
Rainbow scratched the back of her head and made it a point to not look at me while chuckling weakly. I was starting to see just what type of character Rainbow Dash was. A sportive muscle-head with some sort of superiority complex. Also known as the type of person I really didn’t like.
“Umm… I’m afraid I’m not much of a teacher either, this is more of Twilight’s thing,” Fluttershy said meekly. “But, if you’re okay with me trying I’d like to help.”
Seeing Fluttershy nervously fidgeting in her seat must’ve been one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, so there was no way I could have refused her. “Yes please, I’d love to learn this.”
Fluttershy seemed to brighten up a bit at my words and her eyes appeared from their hiding place under her mane. Shy and always happy to help, while also being somewhat of a pushover. I was starting to feel bad about just lying to her face like that, but as long as I couldn’t be sure whether they’d dissect me on a table once the truth got out, I would have to keep up the charade.
“Alright, I’m sure you at least know that every creature on this planet is a being of magic, right?” Fluttershy asked me and I pretended that I did by nodding. “Well, us ponies can use this magic to varying degrees, depending on your race. But ,one thing everypony can do, is use the thaumatic field that is attached to each of their hooves. Or… at least that’s what Twilight said it was called,” she said while trailing off a bit.
“Well, anyways, you can use your innate magic to pick up things with your hooves!” Fluttershy explained to me, recovering a bit from her bout of insecurity. “I can’t really remember how I was taught specifically, but first, close your eyes.”
I was starting to get curious about who this Twilight character was, but still paying attention, I did as I was instructed.
“Calm down, take regular and deep breaths and focus,” Fluttershy said, and I tried to comply to the best of my abilities. “If you really try, you should be able to feel how the magic flows through your body. Twilight told me that it feels slightly different for everypony, but I’m sure you’ll know what it is once you feel it.”
After Fluttershy had spoken these words, she stopped talking, apparently leaving me to my own devices. Kicking my suspension of disbelief as well as my imagination into overdrive, I let out a deep breath and started doing my best impression of somebody meditating. I really had no idea what I was doing, so I just tried to stay calm and watch out for anything that felt out of the ordinary.
After a while of nothing happening, just before I was about to give up and give in to my hunger, a faint feeling seemed to envelop my whole body. If I had to describe it, I would have said that it felt like I could feel my blood flow throughout my body. Yet, something was off, instead of the pulsing sensation originating from the heart, this felt like a more constant flow. It even had a somewhat cool sensation to it, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine.
“Alright, I think I can feel it,” I said, my eyes still closed.
“Then try to focus on the area around your hooves,” Fluttershy said, the smile on her face carrying over on her voice.
I once more did as I was told, but this time with a lot more enthusiasm. It just caught up with me, but apparently I was about to use actual real life magic, a fact that seemed amazing and outlandish to me. I had actually not even realized what I was being taught about, due to my hunger, but this was actually really cool.
Sure enough, it felt like the weird stream seemed to over-extend somewhat where my hooves were. Similar sensations could be felt around the area where my wings were, while the horn on my forehead felt like all of these “magic streams” were coalescing there. Maybe my horn was to my magic what my heart was to my blood?
“All you have to do is to imagine your magic grabbing the thing that you want to pick up, and it should work,” Fluttershy said, sounding expectant this time.
I nodded and felt with my hoof for the loaf of bread in front of me, my eyes still closed since I didn’t want to lose this sensation and fuck the whole experiment up. I made contact with the product without issue and took a deep breath.
’Well, here goes nothing,’ I thought to myself and imagined myself picking up the bread with my hand.
The image just came to my mind, most likely because it was what felt most familiar to me, and I pulled my hoof upwards with a jerk. I heard some soft clopping from in front of me and curiously opened my eyes to find Fluttershy beaming at me and apparently applauding, which caused the sound. I took a look at my hoof to confirm what she was on about, and sure enough, the bread seemed like it was stuck on my hoof.
“Well done,” Fluttershy said. “You’re a fast learner!”
“Not half bad,” Rainbow Dash said to my right. “But that’s still just a basic skill, I’m not that impressed.”
“Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy called out, seemingly offended on my behalf. “It’s not his fault he couldn’t do it before.”
While Rainbow Dash was busy being chewed out, I was busy staring at my hoof. The bread just hung there, blatantly defying every law of physics that ever existed, painting a huge smile on my face as it did so. While I was staring at the marvel right in front of me, my stomach decided to remind me that I was still quite hungry.
The rumbling noise caught everyone's ear, stopping Fluttershy from berating Rainbow Dash and spurring me into action. I started obliterating the bread, soon enough noticing that it’s dryness demanded some assistance in the form of liquids. Fluttershy had brought a pitcher of water with her when she sat down and I eagerly grabbed it, pouring myself a glass of clear water without even thinking too hard about it and downing it eagerly.
Fluttershy seemed to watch me happily while Rainbow Dash was sulking next to me, until Fluttershy's eyes went wide.