For the most part, Derpy’s job was terribly difficult to mess up. Sure, sometimes she delivered the wrong package to the wrong house, and ponies got upset. Then she’d have to track down where their mail went and fly it back to them, which sometimes took all afternoon. Sometimes she flew into a cloud by mistake and dropped a few letters into it. Those would rain down a few days later, much to the disappointment of the recipients. Ponies didn’t seem to appreciate soggy mail very much. And every once in a while, a letter or package would get burnt by a dragon, or crumpled up upon impact with a griffon, or incinerated by a unicorn foal’s misguided spell, and somepony’s mail would be gone forever.
Aside from that, though, Derpy’s job as a mailpony was pretty simple. Deliver the mail, move on to the next house, the next letter. Repeat all day, or until the mail is gone. Then go home and do whatever until it’s bedtime. Sleep, wake, repeat. She got plenty of exercise from flying around Ponyville and swerving around pegasi who were an awful lot faster than her. Her diet consisted of healthy vegetables with the occasional muffin as a treat.
The only difficulty Derpy had was with figuring out what to do after her work was completed. She wasn’t the fastest mailmare on the team, but she usually finished all her deliveries before it grew dark outside, so she had plenty of time to spare. What should she do with that time, though?
She used to try to help the weather ponies, but after an incident with the town hall, the other pegasi politely told her that it wasn’t exactly her calling. Some days, she blew bubbles outside her house, but even that got a little boring. Other days, she hung out with Doctor Whooves, but often he was too busy unlocking the mysteries of time and space to notice she was there.
It was on a particularly dull day that inspiration struck Derpy, square between her crooked eyes. She knew how much a single letter could change somepony. While delivering, she’d seen ponies waiting for their mail with bated breath, hoping for good news. She’d seen ponies burst into tears of joy and sorrow alike after tearing into the envelope and reading its contents. Sometimes the news she brought was tragic, but sometimes it was joyous. Derpy had seen ponies receive college acceptances, baby shower invitations, and wedding announcements.
Whenever she delivered mail from the hospital, it was a give or take. Sometimes the news was wonderful, and the pony would hug Derpy for delivering such joyous news. On other occasions, Derpy saw the recipient visibly slump. Sometimes they’d cry silently, tears trickling down their cheeks, while others would glare at her, as though it was Derpy’s fault that they heard about such horrible news. In a way, she supposed it was.
Surely there must be some way to make up for that, right? There had to be some way she could influence the results, and see more happy, smiling faces than upset ones. That’s when she got her epiphany. It would take envelopes, stationary and stamps. That was alright, she had enough for it. The biggest cost would be time, which she had an abundance of.
Derpy plopped onto her kitchen table and slid into her chair. It would also take some extra consideration for each of her targets. She couldn’t lie, because that would be wrong, but she wanted to brighten their days anyway, and make it personal. Derpy knew plenty about most of the ponies in Ponyville. Surely she could come up with something nice for each one of them! She scratched her chin with a quill, tickled her nose on accident, sneezed, and got to work.
Starlight Glimmer grumbled to herself as she attempted for the twelfth time to balance a pencil on its tip. It resisted her determined efforts and toppled to the desk with a hollow-sounding thunk. She groaned at it. It, being a piece of wood wrapped around graphite and lacking a mouth, made no sound in response.
The problem, she decided as she watched the pencil roll off the desk and clatter to the ground, was that her mentor was the Princess of Friendship. That was all very well and good for everypony else, but for her it meant that their lessons were often interrupted by the map’s call. So, while Twilight got to explore Fillydelphia and Cloudsdale and fix other ponies’ problems, Starlight was stuck in the castle, left with little to do but avoid Spike (who was reorganizing his hoofball card collection) and try to creatively pass the time.
Today’s attempt was an experiment, balancing items of varying size on top of each other with her magic. Each try was cut short by the pencil tipping over, and she hadn’t made much progress. Certainly nothing to write to Twilight about, and Starlight didn’t expect something truly extraordinary to happen to Twilight while she was away. So, naturally, the bonk of the mailmare pegasus running into the closed portion of an open window made Starlight jump and jostle the table, tipping over the pencil once again.
She sighed and answered the window. “Hey, you okay? Is it from Twilight?” The other mare said nothing, she just shrugged and hoofed over a letter before fluttering lopsidedly away. Starlight tore open the envelope and unfolded the paper inside. Twilight wasn’t in trouble, was she? No, that wasn’t Twilight’s neat penmanship.
It… was… a note of encouragement? Starlight cocked her head at it, puzzled, and reread it.
Dear Starlight Glimmer,
I hope your day is nice. You’re nice. And you’re doing a real good job of being a student. Your magic is inspiring, and I’m a huge fan! Keep on learning about friendship, you’re doing a great job and a lot of ponies really appreciate it!
There was no signature. The letters themselves were scrawled in large script, but still readable. Starlight flipped the note over, but there was no hint to who wrote it, just a doodle of a smiling yellow sun and a stick pony in purple, with a unicorn horn atop its head. Starlight scoured the envelope, but there was no return address, just her name. How peculiar.
She shook her head and smiled, setting the note down on the table before trying to balance the pencil atop it again. It was a little easier, and the contents of the note made her feel a little lighter. She didn’t know she had fans. Twilight would want to hear about this when she returned. Maybe it’d make her day as well.
Maud’s day had been interesting. She found an unusual variety of feldspar, which she noted in her journal. Labradorite wasn’t often found near Ponyville, so she pocketed a few samples. Perhaps Pinkie’s fashion-sensitive friend would find it fascinating as well. Not only was it a stunning example of planar iridescence and a perfect example of igneous activity near modern-day Ponyville a long time ago, it was also shiny, and Maud remembered that Pinkie’s friend liked shiny things.
She set down one of the samples next to Boulder. Maybe he’d find it interesting, just like she did. He usually did. He was smart like that. She held up another sample to the light. Interesting, this one happened to be of the spectrolite variety. Maud reached over for her journal to take a note, but froze when her hoof touched something else. She didn’t remember putting anything on top of her journal, and last she checked, Boulder hadn’t either. Slowly, calmly, Maud turned to look.
It was a letter. That was funny, she hadn’t seen the mailmare deliver anything. Usually, that pegasus didn’t enter and leave without knocking something over. She wasn’t graceful or subtle, but Maud could appreciate her enthusiasm. She flipped over the envelope. No, it wasn’t the Geological Council with a report on her last sample. It didn’t even have a return address, just her name scribbled across it. Strange. She opened the letter and began to read.
Dear Maud Pie,
Wow, you sure do know a lot about rocks. It’s amazing how passionate you are about them. Pinkie tells us about how you’re doing all the time! You’re always super kind to everypony, and you’re really patient. Thank you for brightening all our lives. You’re amazing and really loved!
The corners of Maud’s mouth perked up for a split second before she pocketed the letter, tucking it next to her samples. She helped Boulder next to it. Time to visit Ponyville again. Maybe Pinkie would know who was behind this mysterious note. She’d pay her a visit after she stopped by the fashion pony’s house.
Gilda was having a truly horrible day. Now, most griffons didn’t mind having it rough every once in a while. Many actually embraced it. But, for Gilda, being friends with the pretty pastel ponies had made her soft and far too used to a life of cushy ease. Or, at least that’s what she convinced herself. Maybe it was friendship that had raised her expectations so, but she didn’t want to acknowledge that. As a griffon, she was supposed to be strong, proud, and totally not upset that it was raining the day she decided to visit Rainbow Dash.
It didn’t rain this much in Griffonstone. Gilda scowled at the mud beneath her claws. She’d scratch at it, but that would only get her messier, and there’d be no satisfying scores in the earth to show for it. She settled for kicking a puddle instead, enjoying the satisfying splash as flecks of mucky water flicked onto the windows of a nearby shop.
If only Dash hadn’t been busy on Wonderbolt duty. How was Gilda supposed to know that Dash wasn’t available? It wasn’t like that pegasus sent her a letter with her schedule or anything! No, that would be completely boring, a total waste of time… but it would have been useful here. Gilda scowled into the puddle at her claws. Her reflection stared back, fierce and angry. A flash of grey behind her startled Gilda out of her anger. She looked up, only to receive a slightly-soggy letter to the face.
Well! That was one way to receive mail. It was a bit more passive than the standard Griffon procedure of shoving it in the recipient's face, but the letter was still getting soaked by the depressing drizzle. Unfortunately, Gilda didn’t have anything better to do, so she stomped towards a tree and took shelter there, hunching over the damp letter. She tore it open with a growl of irritation. It wasn’t Dash’s schedule, that was for certain. It was written in scrawl that would almost make a griffon proud. Almost. Gilda rolled her eyes and scanned the page.
You’re a pretty neat griffon, you know that? I know sometimes ponies aren’t as tough and passionate as a griffon, but you still are friends with us, and that’s what matters. It’s always wonderful to see you around town. Thanks for coming back to visit. You make us smile!
Really? That was the sappiest, dumbest waste of time Gilda had ever seen! She crumpled up the soggy letter in her talons and took off towards Griffonstone. It would be a long flight back, and all she had to show for it was a crummy piece of paper. It didn’t even matter to her at all.
Coincidentally enough, those weren’t tears forming in the corner of her eyes, nor was that a smile threatening to creep up her cheeks. It was just the rain, nothing more. Gilda was a griffon, after all, and griffons don’t get touched by kind letters.
Twilight clapped her hooves as her friends settled down on their thrones. It had been a long week for all of them, but it was time for the different incidents to be addressed. Twilight found that discussing her problems with her friends helped her get a new perspective on things, and even the most catastrophic of dilemmas seemed manageable with the help of her friends.
Hm, that would make a nice friendship lesson. She made a mental note to write it down.
“Attention, everypony!” she called out. Rarity and Fluttershy faltered in their conversation and looked up at her. Rainbow Dash jolted awake from her impromptu nap, Applejack stopped slicing assorted fruit for the group’s snacks, and Pinkie froze in the middle of… whatever she had been doing. Were those balloons tied to fish? Twilight decided not to question or contemplate it further.
“I move to start the meeting. All those in favor?” She raised her hoof smartly, smiling expectantly at the others. They all stared back at her. Rainbow Dash picked her nose. Twilight decided that lessons in parliamentary procedure could wait for another day and took a deep breath.
“Alright. So, as you all may know, the friendship problem went exceedingly well. The cheese community in Fillydelphia is working together wonderfully, and other than Rarity’s new collection of vintage cheeses, we’ve got nothing to report. Anypony have anything of interest to talk about?” Twilight concluded, slumping in her seat.
Rarity looked as though she was about to speak, perhaps about her latest vintage collection, but Pinkie interrupted her with a well-timed flail. “Yeah! So my sister Maud- you all remember Maud, right? She certainly remembers you! Well, she was showing me this really cool rock, and it’s all shiny and sparkly on one end, at least when you hold it up to the light, and she had another piece for you to use, Rarity, but I left it at home. Whoops. Anyways, she had this note that she found, and it had this really nice message, and we don’t know who it’s from! It’s a mystery, and Maud discovered it! Isn’t that cool? Yay for Maud!” Pinkie began to applaud, unfazed by the lack of her friends joining in.
Rainbow Dash jerked away, having nodded off at the table. “Hey, that’s kind of funny,” she mumbled, propping herself up on one hoof. “When I got back from the Wonderbolts tour, I got this letter from Gilda. She said that she had received a strange note too, and it wasn’t signed.” Having said her part, Rainbow Dash let her head flop back onto the table. Apparently the weekly meeting had gotten in the way of her naptime.
Twilight blinked and cleared her throat. “As it turns out, Starlight Glimmer received a note as well, and I’ve received quite a bit of comments from other ponies about letters they’ve received. They’re all different, and all complementary, and none of them are signed. While I don’t think it’s a problem, it really would be interesting to figure out who’s behind all of this, don’t you think?”
Fluttershy nodded her agreement, turning away from where she’d been staring out the window. For a second, instead of the bluejays she’d been admiring, a grey pegasus with a pale yellow mane stared into the castle. The mailmare smiled, waved, and flew off, unnoticed by anypony there. There were always more letters to be delivered, after all.