The soup Fluttershy made was delicious. While I wasn’t a good cook by a long shot, I was actually a low key soup enthusiast. After all, making soup was so easy, a child could do it. Just throw stuff into water, let it cook until it almost breaks apart by just looking at it, mix everything up, throw some salt and pepper at it and you end up with delicious soup. Thus, even I with my terrible skills could easily make it.
Aside from my crude cooking techniques, Fluttershy's soup was actually well prepared. The vegetables were carefully selected and chopped so that the resulting taste would be in harmony, while still providing something tangible to bite down on in the form of solid vegetable. Even if she had forgotten about it slightly, the taste was still flawless and actually sort of reminded me of my mother's cooking.
’I wonder what she’s up to’ I thought to myself. ’I wonder if my disappearance was already discovered…’
Since I took a few days off in order to go to the concert, it might be a while until someone realized that I was gone, especially since I went alone. None of my friends were able to clear their schedule for it, but I wouldn’t just let a chance like this go by, so flying solo seemed to be my only choice.
Rainbow Dash excused herself shortly after my meal, saying something about having unfinished work to do. Fluttershy on the other hand still continued to fuss over me, apparently assuming that I was about to break apart or something. She was a really sweet and caring… mare? Even going so far as to offer me her guest room to stay at for a while.
Which lead to me currently sitting on “my” bed and staring out the window. I was able to take a bath a bit earlier, which was an adventure in and of itself, trying to figure out how to wash my body was interesting and… educational. I garnered a few strange looks from Fluttershy when I came out of the bathroom still wearing my hoodie, which was now quite damp, due to me not completely drying off my fur. She seemed like she wanted to ask something, but apparently, her shy nature got the better of her.
Truth be told, even though it was apparently common to not wear clothes, I felt kind of naked without my hoodie. So even though it was kind of uncomfortable on my newly sprouted wings, I put it back on before getting out of the bath.
For the first time since arriving in this world, I had what could be considered some downtime. First was the shock from finding out I had changed into a weird new body and familiarising myself with it. Then blindly wandering around a dubious forest in hopes of finding some sort of civilization, before finally figuring out I had been transported to another world entirely.
I let out a deep sigh while looking at the beautiful star-filled night. Back on earth, the only places you’d be able to see something like this would have been far away from any kind of civilization, since light pollution hid the true night sky from sight. As a self-proclaimed creature of the night, the view had a somewhat calming effect on me, while I contemplated the situation I found myself in.
Since it appeared that Fluttershy had turned in for the night as well, I pulled off my hoodie over my head with some difficulty. Manipulating things with my weird hoof-magnets was easier than I first thought, yet I was still far away from mastering it. I decided to continue examining my new body in more detail, as a continuation of what I did in the bath earlier. While Fluttershy had mentioned that I apparently could do magic things with my horn, and I was incredibly curious about what I could do, I didn’t want to risk doing so without someone teaching me first; I didn’t want to risk blowing myself up after all.
So for now, I focused my efforts on my wings. Contrary to how fast I was able to get used to walking on flat and inflexible hooves, these wings were strange, to say the least. After all, they were basically extra limbs that I never had before. For some reason, finding the muscles used to move them, wasn’t all that hard. Moving them in the way I wanted to on the other hand… seemed almost impossible.
Moving my wings accurately seemed to be a very nuanced thing, requiring minute adjustments. As it was, I didn’t have that accuracy around, so every time I flexed my wing muscles, they violently spasmed about, even managing to hit me in the face at some point.
I did try for a while, but it looked like this would take a lot of practice. Maybe I should ask Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash to teach me at some point. Especially Rainbow Dash seemed like she was a pretty proficient flyer.
With a sigh I let them return to their resting position at the side of my body. For now, I’ll just have to do what I can.
While I was sitting there, looking at the stars, I realized that I knew pretty much nothing of this world I’ve stumbled into. I wasn’t particularly smart or anything, but even I knew that information was invaluable in a situation like this. Knowing this, I resolved myself to try and gather as much information as I could tomorrow. I’m sure Fluttershy will be more than willing to help me out, since she was so caring after all. I could even reason any suspicion away by saying that I never learned, since I was in the forest for such a long time.
Feeling the day catch up with me, I nestled myself into the comfortable bed, falling asleep soon after.
I awoke with a start to the ferocious roar of an animal nearby, immediately getting into an upright position and looking for the source of the danger to my life. After frantically looking about for a bit and confirming that there was indeed no giant creature trying to eat me inside Fluttershy's home, I let out a sigh of relief. Cautiously, I made my way over to the window and precariously looked outside.
Much to my amazement, Fluttershy could be seen wrestling with a bear in front of her house for some reason. What was even weirder about it was that she seemed to be winning. Looking at the shy mare, you’d never guess that she was capable of something like this, so it seemed like some sort of re-evaluation was in order.
Having nothing better to do, I continued silently observing her for now, in an attempt to learn more about this world and my host. After a while I noticed that the bear wasn’t actually fighting back, and aside from the occasional pained roar actually looked quite pleased with what was going on. I noticed that the bear had a surprising range of emotion it displayed on its face, which wasn’t too unusual, considering that he was being wrestled by a freaking pegasus.
Their match was over after a while, and the bear was hugging and licking Fluttershy. If I’d had to wager a guess she was probably being thanked. I knew Fluttershy was some sort of animal caretaker, but the fact that she was looking after a bear was quite surprising. For now, I should probably head downstairs and make it known that I was awake, because judging by the sun it was already noon.
Now that I was able to use my weird hoof magnets, putting on my hoodie was considerably easier than it was the last time, albeit not without its difficulties. My wings didn’t seem to like their woolen prison, the way the hoodie pressed them against me feeling slightly uncomfortable.
I made my way downstairs, where various smaller critters eyed me curiously as I passed them. Yesterday I was a little out of it, so I didn’t really pay too much attention, but there actually was an incredible amount of animals present in Fluttershy's home. Birds of all types and colors were resting on sticks hung around the ceiling, even a few squirrels sneaking about, while the ground was dominated by things like mice, rabbits and even a duck or two.
Uncomfortable with this many eyes resting on me, I opened the front door and stepped outside into the warm summer breeze. Fluttershy was still in her front yard, talking to the bear.
“Good morning,” I said as I cautiously approached the two.
Normally I wouldn’t even think of approaching a bear that was easily five times my size, but he seemed docile enough, and if he tried anything, Fluttershy could probably save me like it was nothing.
“Oh, good morning, did you sleep well?” Fluttershy asked, turning away from the bear to look at me.
“Like a log,” I replied. “Haven’t slept this well in quite some time, your bed is really comfortable.”
“Oh I can only imagine,” Fluttershy said. “You really looked like you needed it, so I thought it would be good to let you sleep in a little.”
“Thanks,” I said, suspecting that she probably thought I hadn’t seen a proper bed in forever, instead of just having to sleep on a cheap and shitty one back home.
“Are you hungry? I’ve put some lunch aside for you earlier,” Fluttershy told me, making me realize that I actually was quite hungry.
“I could go for something to eat right now, yeah. But first, who’s that?” I ask, pointing a curious hoof at the docile bear behind her.
Fluttershy took a confused look behind her, a surprised look on her face, as if she forgot that there was a giant bear right behind her for a moment. “Oh! That’s Harry the Bear. He might look intimidating, but he’s a real sweetheart.”
Just to prove her point she started scratching Harry behind his ear, which caused him to practically melt into her hoof with a goofy smile.
“Ummm, nice to meet you, I guess…”
I awkwardly stretched out my hoof in greeting, unsure if the bear would even get what I wanted, or how to properly do this, really. True to my suspicions, instead of doing literally anything with my hoof, the bear opted to give me a big ol’ lick across my whole face. A deadpan look adorned my face as some saliva started dripping from my now drenched face, while Fluttershy giggled off to the side, apparently thinking the display was cute. I dragged my leg across my face in an attempt to get some of the Gak™ off my face.
“Come on, let’s get inside and get something inside of your stomach,” Fluttershy said after my stomach grumbled a bit. “It sounds like you’re really hungry.”
I followed Fluttershy back to her house while still trying to clean up my face as much as possible, while Harry the Bear lumbered off towards the back of the house. She led me back into her kitchen and I sat down at the same spot I was in yesterday.
“I only made a few sandwiches for a light lunch, they’re filled with some nice daffodils,” Fluttershy said as she pulled out said sandwiches from a bread box. “I hope you like them.”
I blinked a few times as my brain jumped through a few hoops. “Uhh, yeah. Sure.” It wasn’t impossible for a human to eat flowers, but it was still considered very weird, so having them served to me like it was regular seemed a bit weird. Still, it was entirely possible that flowers were a staple food for ponies, so it was probably best to just roll with it.
It might even be tasty, since I’m now a pony, and all that jazz.
I carefully started eating the offered sandwiches and had to discover that it was actually not that bad. The daffodils had a sweet and savory taste, with a slight hint of bitterness. All in all, not the most logical flavors to put in between two pieces of bread, but it was edible. I wolved down the three sandwiches while Fluttershy simply watched, sipping on a tea sitting in front of her, which she provided me with a cup of as well.
Fluttershy waited patiently for me to finish, although I noticed pretty early on that she wanted to talk about something, from the way she was fidgeting about while looking at me. I was able to make a pretty educated guess, since there was an elephant in the room ever since I came here and it hadn’t been properly addressed yet.
“Umm…” Fluttershy tried to get my attention when I finished eating, which she already had anyways. “I’m really sorry, but I don’t think you told me your name yet…”
I froze and got immediately nervous. Apparently, I had missed the pink giraffe standing right behind the elephant. My head started racing, considering a few things at once. I had no clue how names worked in this world, but judging by the three names I’d gotten to know, “James” would most likely stick out like a sore thumb. Then again, was there really any point in hiding my real name from them? Technically I really wanted to keep the fact that I’m not from around here under wraps until I was sure I wouldn’t get dissected on a table somewhere.
But would a name such as James even cause them to suspect anything? Maybe they’d just think I was a bit quirky or something. That’s when I remembered the headcanon Fluttershy had about me and made a decision.
“Uhh… This is… it’s like…” I stammered a bit and looked down at the table while scratching the back of my head with a hoof. “I don’t really know my name…”
I could hear a tiny gasp coming from Fluttershy, causing me to look up at her. She looked at me with a look of pity, while looking around nervously. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know…”
“It’s okay,” I immediately intervened before she could start an apologetic tirade. “I didn’t really have a use for one.”
“Oh, but I can’t just call you ‘colt’ or something similar all the time,” Fluttershy fussed. “We need something to call you by…”
Fluttershy hid her eyes behind her mane, while starting to mumble about several things. I felt a twang of guilt when I saw that, because I most likely unintentionally triggered some sort of nervous breakdown within the poor pony. My honor as a man couldn’t let me just sit idly by and watch it happen, so I tried something that could potentially get her to calm down.
“Would you like to give me one?” I asked, slightly louder than normal to make sure I’d get through to her.
“Give you one?” Fluttershy froze and immediately established eye contact from behind her mane. “But, giving a name is the duty of the mother… I couldn’t just give you one…”
“Giving a name is the duty of the mother?” I asked, tilting my head slightly at this new bit of information about this world. “Why?” I said quizzically.
“Oh, well, a mother sort of… feels what the name of her foal should be,” Fluttershy explained shyly. “Twilight told me that it’s a form of natural magic, but it hasn’t been researched that well…”
’Huh, so there I something like natural magic in this world… I wonder if it’s just regular old instinct, or actual magic…’
“But I still need one right?” I followed up. “I don’t think we’ll find my real mother, so you might just as well.”
Fluttershy blushed and hid even deeper behind her mane, giving a little squeak. Meanwhile, I realized what I just indirectly insinuated with my statement and mentally facepalmed.
“Look, uhh, why don’t we just choose one together?” I suggested. “I’m sure we could figure something out.”
Fluttershy reappeared from behind her mane, eyeing me curiously. I could already tell that I’d have to be careful around her, since she really held up to her own name. She seemed more agreeable to this idea, since it didn’t imply that I wanted to adopt her as my surrogate mother.
“Together?” Fluttershy asked. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea,” She added slowly, while sitting back upright, apparently regaining some of her confidence. “Can you remember anything about the name you had once?”
I mulled over the question, technically, I knew perfectly well what my name was, but I had dug this hole and now I needed to lie in it.
“I don’t, I’m not even sure where to start when giving somepony a name.”
I had picked up on the ‘somepony’ thing yesterday and had to make a conscious effort to use it in order to blend in properly. Fluttershy had a conflicted look on her face, seemingly thinking very hard about something for my sake.
“Well, is there something you really, really like?” Fluttershy asked slowly.
“Music, I guess?” I said the first thing that came to mind, and since I got brought here right after an amazing concert, music was still at the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t even a lie, since whenever I could, I’d listen to all kinds of music.
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Fluttershy exclaimed, clapping her hooves together a few times while smiling happily. “Why don’t we make it something related to music then?”
“Sure,” I replied. “So something like… uhh… metalhead?”
I just kinda blurted out the first thing that came to mind and immediately cringed right after the words left my mouth. Fluttershy had a confused look on her face, tilting her head slightly to the side.
“What does metal have to do with music?” Fluttershy asked.
“I’m… not.. Sure…” I replied, mentally kicking myself over and over.
Judging by the level of technology I’ve seen so far, electrical instruments most likely weren’t a thing. Much less the music genre of metal, which heavily relied on these instruments. Thinking about it, I actually got lucky that the concept of music even existed in this world.
“That’s okay,” Fluttershy smiled. “But it was a good first try! How about something like… Gentle Song?” Her face scrunched up and I could tell she was trying her darndest to think of a good name.
“Eww, that sounds like a name for a girl,” I said, deciding to act the part of a small boy. Females had the cooties after all.
“Oh, I suppose…” Fluttershy said, looking somewhat sad, and in doing so making me feel bad for rejecting it so blatantly.
“Uhhh…” I stammered a bit trying to come up with a name using musical terms that sounded too girly. “Steady Beat?”
I just threw together the first two things that came to mind, hoping it wouldn’t sound as stupid as my first try. It didn’t. Apparently, Fluttershy thought so too, as a smile spread on her face.
“That sounds like a wonderful name,” she replied. “Would you like me to call you like that?”
“If it doesn’t sound too stupid, sure,” I said, trying my best to give the pony equivalent of a shrug. “Steady Beat it is.”
“Hello Steady Beat, I’m Fluttershy,” she held out her hoof, apparently going for a proper introduction, now that I had a name.
“Hello,” I said, bumping her hoof with mine. “I’m Steady Beat, but you can just call me Beat, if you’d like.”
Steady Beat was a good name, but somewhat of a mouthful, which I just realized. Might as well go for nicknames already. I knew those were a thing, since I heard Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy calling each other “Shy” and “Rainbow” respectively.
“Pleased to meet you,” Fluttershy said, still smiling for a while, until it somewhat dropped of her face, apparently switching back to nervous mode. “So, now that you have a proper name, there’s something else we need to discuss…”
Oh right. The elephant. Forgot about that guy.
“Rainbow Dash came by earlier, wanting to check up on you, but I told her to let you sleep in,” Fluttershy began to explain. “I asked her to inform the mayor of your… situation, though. If anypony would know something about foals that have gone missing, it would be her.”
’Oh great, the authorities are already informed… I highly doubt my cover story will hold up against a thorough investigation.’
“I also asked her to let you rest for today, but would it be okay with you to meet with the mayor tomorrow?” Fluttershy asked. “I’m sure she’d be a great help.”
Fluttershy looked at me hopefully, breaking right through all of my defenses. On one side I really didn’t want to meet with the mayor of all people, on the other, meeting them could be extremely educating about how this world worked. It seemed a bit strange that they’d go straight to the mayor for something like this, but judging by the size of the village I saw, they might not even have a police force.
Plus, I felt like Fluttershy would probably break apart if I said no.
“Sure,” I answered. “I’d love to.”
Fluttershy's face brightened up considerably at my words. “If you’d like, I could show you around town when we’re going there, I need to stock up on animal feed as well,” Fluttershy added, definitely more excited now.
“That’s a good idea, I’d love to see… what is this town even called?” I asked upon realizing that I had no idea where I was.
“Ponyville,” Fluttershy answered promptly. “It’s a rather small town, but it’s lovely.”
The urge to laugh was hard to resist, but I did my best. Whoever named this town didn’t have a shred of imagination in them. That, or they just loved terrible pun-like city names.
“Well then,” Fluttershy interrupted my thoughts. “What would you like to do today? I have finished tending to the animals, so I can help you with whatever you like.”
I took a second to consider her offer, which actually was pretty convenient for me. Just as I thought yesterday, acquiring information should be my top priority, and Fluttershy would most likely be able to provide them. Though the real problem was asking for them without arousing suspicion. Sure, I was assumed to be stranded in a forest for probably years, but I’d obviously displayed a certain level of intelligence up until now, so asking for things that would count as general knowledge here could raise some alarm bells.
That, or Fluttershy would start to fuss over me even more.
“Could you maybe read a book to me?” I asked, remembering that I’d seen a bookshelf earlier. “I’d like to just have a day to relax and calm down.”
“Oh, but of course,” Fluttershy smiled. “What kind of story would you like to hear? I have a wide variety of books here.”
“Possibly one that is based on true history, if it isn’t too much to ask,” I replied, following Fluttershy as she got up and started trotting towards the bookshelf in her living room.
“I know just the one then,” Fluttershy said. “Young colts and fillies love this story. Why don’t you go take a seat on the couch and I’ll be right with you.”
Just as requested, I made my way over to the couch and hopped onto it, trying to get comfortable. Some of the animals inside the hut were giving me curious looks again, a few birds actually alighting on the backrest of the couch to inspect me closer. I tried to not pay them too much mind, but the white bunny on the other side of the room was giving me the stink eye, so he was kind of hard to ignore.
I didn’t even know bunnies could give the stink eye. Must be just another quirk of this world.
Fluttershy soon joined me on the couch, carrying a book on her back, bearing a stylized symbol of the sun. She climbed on top of the couch and over me, somewhat awkwardly lying down next to me at first, but then snuggling up to me so I was resting against her barrel. I almost shirked away at the sudden physical contact, but Fluttershy acted like this was perfectly natural and a normal thing to do. So aside from stiffening up a little, I tried to not let her catch on to how uncomfortable I was.
The book was placed in front of us, so that we both could look at it without problems and Fluttershy then actually proceeded to use her wings to open the book to the first page. I was amazed at the display of dexterity the feathers had, but considering I was now able to pick up things with a flat hoof, I wasn’t too surprised.
“Now then, are you comfortable and ready to go?” Fluttershy asked, looking down at me.
“Yeah, as ready as I’ll ever be,” I smiled up at her before looking back at the book.
The thing that I immediately noticed was that pony writing was definitely different from the Latin alphabet, which caused me to frown, and I was, once again, happy that I could at least talk to the ponies. With any luck, it’d just be different symbols, making translating it as easy as finding the correct cypher. I really hoped this to be the case, because this could become quite the issue if it wasn’t.
“Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria,” Fluttershy flipped to the real first page, that was more or less just a two-page illustration with some writing in a corner. “There were two regal sisters who ruled together, and created harmony for all the land.”
Fluttershy continued to read while I tried to get a little more comfortable. Now that I was over the suddenness of the bodily contact, this was actually pretty nice. Like snuggling up to a big ‘ol fluffy dog. I leaned a little bit more into Fluttershy, while listening to hear read, and at least attempting to figure out how their alphabet worked at the same time.