I remember how all the ponies at school use to pick on me because my eyes weren’t normal. It hurt a lot since I knew that I was just like them, and yet because of that simple difference they acted like I was a hideous monster. The bullying wouldn’t stop for a long time, but my mom always told me that I was special. She said that even though I was different, I would grow up to be somepony that was respected whether it was in one way or another. I didn’t think that would lead me to be a mail mare, but that’s what happened in the end.
Yet, something was off as a found myself lying on the ground, my eyes from an uneventful sleep. Last thing I remembered was soaring to deliver a letter to someone in Cloudsdale, but now I could feel grass against my fur. There was a possibility that I had fallen unconscious during my mail run (it has happened before) but I don’t think that was it. My memory seemed to just skip from flying in the air to laying down here with my eyes closed, and after a few moments I was finally confused to the point where I needed to open my eyes. It was hard, as they felt incredibly heavy, but I was soon able to.
“Oh, you're okay!”
The first thing to enter my vision was the blurry figure of a yellow pegasus standing over me. Her pink mane covered one of her eyes, and she stay a fair distance away from where I layed. As my vision completely cleared I was able to make out who this pony was, only to realize I had no idea who they were at all. Her mane was long, almost touching the floor before it curled back up. Looking to her flank I could see that her cutie marks was that of three butterflies. She seemed nice, so I gave her a smile as I staggered back onto my hooves.
“Don’t worry, I’m completely fine!” I told her confidently. “This isn’t the first time I’ve fallen unconscious while flying after all.”
“Um… okay,” The pegasus said, trying to hide behind her mane. “Though… I-I don’t think you fell from, well, the sky. I woke up here too and I’m a… horrible flyer.”
I didn’t get what she was trying to say, but a quick glance at my surroundings told me that she might be right. I seemed to be in some sort of fancy garden with a stone statue of some weird mismatched creature standing tall in front of me. A large building seemed to surround the garden on all four sides made entirely of stone. If I remember from school correctly, the style that came to mind as I looked was gothic, though that might be wrong. Still I don’t remember being anywhere near a large building like this when I was flying earlier. It brought up a bunch of questions, but I figured I would hold off on them and find out who this pony in front of me was.
“I can see what you mean. This definitely doesn’t look like anything close to what I saw before waking up,” I explained to her, looking at the sky before looking back to her. “Oh! We haven’t introduced ourselves. You can go first if you want.”
“O-oh! Sorry,” She apologized to me, the look on her face made me feel like I said something wrong. “Well… I guess I should since we don’t know each other. I am Fluttershy, a resident of Ponyville and the Ultimate Animal Caretaker, I guess.”
“Wait, you're an Ultimate too?” I asked her, giving her a yelp in surprise.
“Yes I… kinda am. I mean I like animals and everything but I didn’t think taking care of my pets could make me an Ultimate,” She rubbed her front hooves against each other, looking away from me. Fluttershy definitely lived up to her name, though the fact she was an Ultimate did surprised me. “Sorry if this is personal but… you said something about also being an Ultimate? Or did you know someone who was?”
“Well I am an Ultimate, though it isn’t as special as yours seem to be,” I told her, rubbing the back of my head. “The names Ditzy Do, and as weird as it may sound, I am the Ultimate Mail Carrier.”
As I said that I could see the confusion on her face. It wasn’t that much of a surprise, considering that the words ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Mail Carrier’ aren’t something you would expect to hear next to each other. I was given the title because of how reliable I was, though truthfully I’m really unlucky. Falling unconscious during a delivery is not the worst that’s happened, though I do always manage to get the package to the right place in the end. Honestly, they should have given the title to someone else that didn’t seem to knock over every package. I’m still surprise none of them have broken on me... save for maybe that piano.
“Well it’s nice to meet another Ultimate, I guess,” Fluttershy told me. I know she was trying to be nice but the extra ‘I guess’ at the end did make it sound a little less kind. “Though as you said it is a little weird. Guess it doesn’t matter as long as you're okay with it right?”
“I never said I wanted to be an Ultimate, it was just a title I was given by the Princesses,” I told her. “Though, we can talk about that later. We should find out where we currently are, because I don’t know about you but I’m completely lost.”
“Yeah, I guess we could but,” She turned away as she continued to speak. “I know there are other Ultimates here as well. I… don’t really feeling comfortable talking to ponies I haven’t met before.”
“Then I’ll talk for you. I love making new friends anyway,” I told her.
She nodded her head and showed me to a door that was located on the right wall of the garden. I think I was right when I said the style was Gothic, because this place made me feel like I was in a funeral. Opening the door, we were greeted to the inside of what must have been a castle, two curved staircases leading to a second floor was to our left and right. The floor was definitely marble, and a very refined one based on how it looks. In front of us was another pony, and if Fluttershy was to be believed, she was also an Ultimate.
“Excuse me miss, could I ask-” She put a hoof on my mouth, silencing me.
“Sorry, I don’t want to talk right now, I’m so confused,” She said, before starting to pace around the room again.
The pony in question was a purple unicorn with a stars for her cutie mark. She had a straight purple mane with a sole pink stripe going down it. We watched as she continued to pace around the room for a while, giving theory after theory as to what this place could be. Everytime she came up with a new one she would shoot it down with something else that she seemed to discover whether it be the style or smoothness of the stone walls. While it was interesting at first, I eventually got tired of waiting and intervened.
“Look we have no idea where we are either okay,” I said putting my front hooves on her shoulder and making her looking into my eyes, or whichever one she decided to focus on. “I just woke up in the garden and I am just as confused as you are, okay.”
We stood there for a few second before she asked me “Aren’t you curious about the statue?”
“Huh?” I was caught off guard by the question, and before I could answer she continued to explain.
“You know, the weird statue in the middle of the garden,” No, I already knew what you were talking about but- “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it, but I thought there was only suppose to be one of them. That is what Celestia said anyway, and obviously something isn’t right about this place because Celestia is always right. This shouldn’t be a problem, but it still makes me wonder when someone got the time to make it.”
“Um… yeah, sure,” I really had no idea how to respond to something like that, but I better get her name while she is still silent. “Well considering what Fluttershy told me I’m guessing that you are an Ultimate. Am I correct?”
“How could you not realize that I’m an Ultimate,” She freaked out as soon as I finished, in fact she seemed to freak out too easily. “I am not only the Ultimate Magic Researcher, but also the personal student of Princess Celestia. The name is Twilight Sparkle.”
Despite her earlier paranoia, the way she introduced herself made her seem filled with personal pride. That said, her reason for being an Ultimate made much more sense than mine did. No doubt being Princess Celestia’s personal student instantly made her special. I had heard about a unicorn that had become close to the princess, but for it to be this pony was rather unexpected. I was really interested in knowing how she had managed to become so close to the Princess, so I decided to ask her.
“Could you leave me alone, I have more important things to do than make conversation,” She said pushing me to the side before starting to theorize everything from why we were here to why it reminded her so much of Canterlot Castle.
“She… didn’t seem very interested in talking,” Fluttershy said, stating what I had figured out pretty well at this point. “Perhaps we should look for someone else… or perhaps we could just head back to the garden.”
I was already making my way to a hallway on the left side of what I decided was the entrance hall. I would check outside later, I wanted to know who else was inside right now. As soon as I turned the corner I found a stallion looking at the walls in curiousity. His coat was brown, an hourglass for a cutie mark. His mane and tail were rather normal compared to the other two that I have met so far, being a darker brown than his coat.
“Don’t you think this is absolutely fascinating?!” He asked us as we made our way up to him. He certainly wasn’t shy about talking like Twilight seemed to be.
“Wh-what do you mean exactly?” I was surprised to hear Fluttershy actually talking to him. Perhaps she already knew him.
“Why the sophisticated design of the walls! It is definitely all earth pony made,” I guess I should have expected him to say that, given how much he seemed to like staring at them. “I’m not much into architecture, but most of the time things like this are made by unicorns due to how tall and detailed they tend to be. However you can tell from the uneven cutting of the stone that it was done by hooves, and earth ponies are the creators of the gothic style. That is what they say in the history books at least.”
“So you're a historian then?” Considering how he seemed to know the origin of the style it would make sense.
“Actually I’m a scientist, made a time machine which earned me my title as an Ultimate though no one really cares,” He seemed a little down as he said that, and I could understand when you have an invention that no one pays attention to. “Well, such is the fate of the Ultimate Scientist Doctor Hooves, but one does not let a simple defeat go unanswered.”
“Wouldn’t making a time machine… make you the Ultimate Inventor?” Fluttershy asked. I was surprised at how easy she seemed to be speaking to this Doctor Hooves… wait a second.
“Actually, I know who you are,” I shouted in realization. “I’ve made deliveries for some of the books that you have written. You’ve made a lot of discoveries in the area of non-magical teleportation and other things involving space-time, right?”
“Ah, so you are a mail carrier than?” I nodded my head. I wasn’t all that interested in science, but I’ll admit that I’ve taken a peek at some of those books during my deliveries. “In that case let me give you some advice. No matter what others tell you, no matter what they think of your work, don’t let them get in your way. Those books are the true reason for my title as Ultimate, but I will show the world that I can someday literally change history.”
I understood what he meant, but in a rather different way. I was always bullied by the other kids at school for how my eyes looked, saying that I looked dumb and stupid. When I told them I wanted to be a mail mare they would laugh, but I had reasons for saying such things. Making deliveries would make ponies happy, even if they didn’t know who I was. I never planned on becoming an Ultimate for such a thing, but my job has made me happy. Plus I can buy lots of muffins as well!
Doctor Hooves went back to examining the walls of the castle while we made our way to the end of the hall. At the end we were left confused as we were met with a stairway that was blocked off with lots and lots of barbed wire. I could just barely make out what was ahead, and I couldn’t understand why they would even put the wire there in the first place. Everything seemed at least slightly normal until this point, and I got an uneasy feeling looking at it.
“An absolutely bizarre sight isn’t it,” I looked to see yet another stallion in the hallway standing right next to me. “Well not as bizarre as the large dome over this castle that’s for sure but bizarre nonetheless. I’ll have to ask whoever made this place what the reasoning is for putting this here.”
“Um… who are you?” Judging by the attire of the pony he definitely was no scientist or researcher, making him a bit of an oddity compared to the other two I have met so far.
“Oh, pardon me for not introducing myself to you,” He zipped in front of us, standing on his hind hooves and holding his hat in his front right. “I am Flam, and though I have obtain the title of Ultimate Con artist I can assure you I am completely trustworthy.”
Yeeeeaaaaah, might not be the best idea to announce your ultimate talent when it is something like ‘Con Artist’. I've made plenty of mistakes and even I know better then to say things like that, especially when you seem to be proud of it. Counterfeiting is a crime after all, and for a very good reason.
“How can you be a Ultimate for something that is considered a crime?” It wasn’t something I would normally ask, but it was something that I need to know.
“No one ever said that a ponies had to be completely good to be an Ultimate,” The way Flam said that seemed way to cheerful for someone with a talent for that. “Besides, I’m only one half of that talent. I need my brother to pull off anything truly incredible, as he has the exact same Ultimate as I am.”
That didn’t really make things any better, knowing that he had a brother with the exact same talent as him. At least, from the way he phrased it, he couldn’t pull off anything crazy without him.
“Well, whether you're an Ultimate or not I’m turning you in when we get out of here.” I told him, though he didn’t seem all that worried about it.
“If you find a way out than go ahead, but if you think that door in the entrance hall is going to get you out of here then you then, well, better think again,” That statement left me confused. Wouldn’t the entrance lead us outside? “There’s a giant glass dome around this castle, and most likely no way out save for teleportation.”
A glass dome covering the castle? If that was the case then I wouldn’t have been able to get inside. The same would been said for Fluttershy, Flam, and Doctor Hooves. However, even if there was a dome, they couldn’t just make something that big by the time everypony started waking up. So much for being trustworthy, though I had my doubts on how much I could trust Flam from the very moment he told me his ultimate talent.
“Y-you can’t mean we’re… stuck here, right?” Fluttershy asked. Looking at her she was shaking uncomfortably.
“That would be correct, but if you can find a way out I’m sure everypony else here would be happy to get out,” He tipped his hat to us as he continued his lies. “Of course, I can understand if you don’t believe me; I am the Ultimate Con Artist after all. I’m the last pony you’d probably trust.”
With that he took off, leaving Fluttershy shaking violently in place. I didn’t like finding ponies untrustable, but Flam seemed way to okay with being a con artist for me to trust him at all. However, the look of worry and fear on Fluttershy’s face made me terrified as well. Flam was getting to her head badly, something that I refused to allow. I came up to her and started patting her on the back in hopes to calm her down, but that’s when I heard what she was whispering to herself.
“A-Angel, Mr Bear, are they all going to be okay without me?” That’s right, she was the Ultimate Animal Caretaker. Learning that she might not be able to leave must have made her really worried.
“Don’t worry Fluttershy I’m sure he was just trying to get in our heads,” I explained to her in an attempt to calm her down, though I had to admit even I was a little afraid of a dome covering this place. “No way that’s true if both you and me could get here. He said himself that the only way out would be to teleport, so obviously the only way in would be the same.”
“But what if he is telling the truth?” She asked me. “Wh-what if we are locked in for the rest of our lives and my animals think I’m... dead?! What if they thing I was eaten?”
“How about you... go relax in the garden. I’ll come back and find you once I meet everypony, okay?” She needed to relax. I didn’t want her to freak out about something that might not even be true.
Fluttershy didn’t even nod as she ran off back to the garden, tears covering her face, and leaving me all alone. I felt kinda bad, like I had accidentally told her to leave me alone and that I didn’t want her aroudn. However, that wasn’t what I had to be focusing on! There were other ponies here that I haven’t yet met that were waiting to become my friends. Looking around the hallway I found a single door to my immediate left... the only one in the gigantic hallway. For something as big as a castle it definitely felt empty. I wonder where the kitchen is, or if this place even has a kitchen...
... I could really go for a muffin right now. Stay focus Ditzy, that isn’t what you should be thinking about right now.
“I don’t understand how you could find this place at all ... dazzling,” As soon as I opened the door I immediately started to regret my decision. “No author, even if they write such silly adventure stories, should find such a gloomy place like this lovely.”
“Those stories aren’t silly, and who are you to decide what I like and don’t like!” Compared to the melodrama I heard in the first pony, a white unicorn with a twirly purple mane and tail, the second one seemed much more calm and relaxed. “Besides, once we get out of here this place it might make a good location for the next Daring Do book.”
Wait… did she just say what I think she did? I looked to the owner of the second voice, and my eyes lit up in glee and joy. The pony in front of me was wearing a dark purple cloak over their tan-ish fur, wearing an old fashioned hat with a white bow going across smack in the middle. I saw her turn to me, and her eyes widen greatly as I rushed to hug her. I didn’t need her to introduce herself to me. I mean, pretty much everypony knows about A.K. Yearling, the Ultimate Author.
“Excuse me, could you please let go,” Realizing I was invading her personal space I quickly backed off. “Thanks, I’m guessing you already know who I am.”
“Who wouldn’t know who you are?!” I couldn’t contain myself as I spoke, I was pretty much overflowing with questions to ask her. “I’ve read all your books and it’s crazy just how real and intense it makes me feel! What are you doing here? Are you here looking for the location of your next book?”
“Not really. Like most ponies here I woke up in the garden a few hours ago,” So everypony woke up in the same spot, that’s a little fishy. “There seems to be at least thirteen others here besides those of us in this room. Speaking of which, do you think you could explain to Rarity over here that Romantic Drama’s are not the only good genre of books. I can’t seem to get it through to her.”
“Well at least I can tell what good style is compared to you,” I looked back to the white unicorn from earlier. “You obviously have not been keeping up with the recent trends in Equestria, and I can tell you that this is as far from trendy as possible.”
“Fashion trends does not translate to architecture, so don’t act like you understand it.”
“Yeah, and who are you to say anything about that when all you are is an author. I personally believe, as the Ultimate Dressmaker, that you must stick with the times and know trends,” So Rarity is the Ultimate Dressmaker, that definitely explains a lot about her personality. “It might look old but a keen eye like mine can tell you that a lot of this rather new.”
“Still, not everyone has the same opinions Rarity. If you want A.K. to trust you maybe you should try to see it from their perspective.” The gasp that followed from Rarity as I said those words sounded rather forced, but was all too real considering what came next.
“Well I never!” She stomped the ground in anger. “I knew you weren’t a pony of high standing given the eyes, no offense of course, but I didn’t think you would actually side with her. In that case, I guess I’ll just have to find someone in this dull stone monument that actually knows real fashion from past… wonders.”
With that Rarity stormed off, leaving me and A.K. Yearling alone in what I believed was the living room (the fireplace, couches, and a pair of end tables is what lead me to believe that). Rarity was clearly a character, and something told me I would be dealing with her drama a lot. A big exhale from A.K. Yearling told me that she had been dealing with the dressmaker for a long time before I had come in. The smile on her face as we looked at each other made me want to squeal (which I thankfully didn’t).
“That’s not how I expected this to end but... thanks,” My mind was screaming at how much I wanted to fangirl right now. “I don’t think I ever got your name miss…”
“Ditzy Doo, Ultimate Mail Carrier,” I tried my hardest to not go beserk. Questions could wait till everyone left, though I had to wonder why everyone was actually staying. Had Flam really been that convincing. “I hope you don’t mind me asking but what does the A.K. in your name stand for, or is it a pseudonym?”
“It’s a pseudonym, but I never really thought about what the A.K. stood for. In all honesty it just sounded right in my head,” Well, I guess that makes a lot of sense; A.K. did seem like a rather strange first name. “Well it’s nice to met you Ditzy, and don’t listen to what Rarity said about your eyes. I’m sure that even a pony like you could become royalty.”
Oh. My. God. I had to quickly say thank you before leaving the room and exploding in fangirlism. A.K. Yearling had just said that I could be Royalty, and she wasn’t even bothered by how weird my eyes looked! Waking up in this castle may have been weird and concerning, but meeting her had just made this one of the best days of my life. I’ve read every book she’s released, gone to every convention concerning her, even cosplayed as some of her characters (a skill I still need to work on), nothing could make this day bad anymore.
“Excuse me miss, are you okay?” The accent of the pony who had just started to talk to me initially made me think it was Rarity, but looking at the pony I realized I was wrong. Her fur was grey instead of white, and her mane and tail was an even darker shade of gray.
“Yeah I’m fine, I just can’t believe that I just met A.K. Yearling and talked with her,” My voice had gone extremely high pitch from the excitement I was currently under. “This has to be the best day of my life.”
“Well it’s good to see your happy,” She put a little smile on her face. “Oh where are my manners! The names Octavia, the Ultimate Cellist,” I was slightly confused as I didn’t understand exactly what a cellist was. “It’s what someone who plays the Cello is called. I’m not that well known yet, but someday I will play on the greatest stages in all of Equestria.”
“Well I hope that you reach that goal,” I felt bad for thinking she was Rarity, as it was clear that Octavia was very different from the Dressmaker. “Sorry that I didn’t know what your ultimate talent stood for, but it sounds like somepony who studies cells or watches over a prison.”
“Trust me, you're not the first to make that assumption,” Hearing that made me feel even worse, but she didn’t seem that upset over. “However I won’t let something so simple as that keep me from my dream. I hope that wherever you go you reach your dream too!”
She was the second pony to say that to me, though to be honest I didn’t really have anything else planned for my life. Working at the Post Office was my dream job, and I didn’t really care about anything other than making sure those around me was happy and eating muffins. Speaking of muffins, I still haven’t found the kitchen or dining room and I was really hoping to find one before leaving this castle. I hadn’t had a muffin since dinner time last night and a castle like this must have muffins… right? No, you can leave that for later, focus on the task at hand Ditzy.
Knowing that it wasn’t on this end of the hallway I made my way back to the entrance hall where Twilight was still theorizing why we were here. Making my way past her and into the hallway on the far side of the room I found that it was nearly identical to the one I had just been in. The stairs at the end of the hall were blocked off with barbed wire just like before and only one door was present on the hallway’s left side. Seeing how it was the only place I had yet to check inside the castle, it became my next destination.
Going through the door I was met by what was clearly the dining hall. A large central table with a wooden perimeter and legs and a glass inside stood in the middle of the room. Plants of various kinds - all of which I didn’t recognize - lined the outside of the room giving the room a rather relaxed feel. Another door was on the far right corner of the room, which I predicted was the kitchen, and I was eager to immediately run over if a strange object on the far left corner hadn’t caught my attention.
That object was a small black metal ball that was attached to the top of the ceiling. It had a camera like lens on the front of it, which sent a shiver up my spine as that idea ran through my head. Does that mean we are being watched right now? That wouldn’t make any sense if this place was as old as it looked, but Flams words earlier started forming again in my head. If we really were being watched, than had they somehow managed to trap us? No, he’s a Con Artist and ponies like that weren’t to be trusted.
In the end I decided to just leave the strange object be and head to the kitchen where-
“I still think that whoever lived in this castle wouldn’t be so picky when it comes to food,” Guess I wasn’t the only pony who was looking for something to eat.
“Excuse me, does anyone knows if-” I was cut off yet again (though this time it was spoken and not in my head) by a loud exaggerated gasp.
“Oh my gosh, a new pony!” As soon as I heard the high pitched sqeaky voice a pink blur rushed into me and knocked me over. “Hi, I’m Pinkie Pie, the Ultimate Party Planner! You also woke up in the garden right? Are you also an Ultimate? What’s your name?! Birthday?! How about-”
“Pinkie, let her breathe for Celestia’s sake,” Another pony came into view as the pink blur hopped away with a large smile on her face. Her fur was a cream-like color and a pink and blue mane. “Well, since she introduced herself I might as well do the same. The name is Bon Bon, Ultimate Candymaker. Anyway, mind if I ask why you are here?”
“If you are talking being in the castle, I’m probably as confused as all of you,” Honestly, neither Bon Bon or Pinkie looked all that concerned but I know better to think otherwise. I did hide my despair under a smile a lot during my high school years, wouldn’t be surprise if Pinkie at least did the same. “If you mean why I’m here in the kitchen, I was hoping to find some muffins to eat?”
“Well, as strange as it is you’re not going to find any muffins here,” My mind broke as I heard those words from Bon Bon. How could there not be a single muffin. “I guess if you're looking for something they do seem to have a lot of bagels here.”
“Plain, cinnamon raisin, vegetarian, gluten free, this place seems to have every bagel you could ever want!” Forget what I said about Pinkie hiding her feelings, that voice of hers could probably take down a Manehattan skyscraper. “Seriously though, as the Ultimate Party Planner I can’t let a single pony go without knowing their birthday. If I didn’t know, then how would I your birthday party!”
Already upset that there wasn’t a single muffin in the kitchen, I tried everything I could to get out without having to answer. That didn’t work out in the end, and after much help from Bon Bon I managed to escape with most of my insanity left. That Pinkie Pie, even if she didn’t mean any harm, was easily going to drive me and some other ponies up the wall. At least she seemed genuinely happy, though maybe a little to happy about the entire bagel thing.
Leaving the kitchen and dining hall I decided to do one last sweep of the entire inside of the castle. Coming to the conclusion that no one else was inside the castle and that there wasn’t anyplace I could check that I haven’t yet, I made my way to the front entrance. Flam’s words once again crossed my mind, and I knew that by opening these doors I would be ultimately proving him wrong. With that in mind I opened them without any hesitation, feeling hope as the sun greeted my eyes…
… and then immediately that feeling of hope was crushed as despair filled my body. Flam was right: we were all trapped in a giant glass cage surrounding a gigantic castle.