The Maker

by kovabomb


"Somepony's watching me."

The world is a wonderful and beautiful place. Its picturesque wonders have inspired many a work of art, be it painting, song, or written page. Interestingly, there are times that nature’s scenes appear taken from the pages of a storybook, or to have leapt from the painter’s canvas or the bard’s lyric. Indeed, one could entertain the thought that the two inspire each other in a never-ending cycle of creation, a thought that has further tickled the minds of philosophers and thinkers across time.

It was such a pictorial scene that framed the community of Ponyville one spring day. The Sun shone high in the noontime sky as life and color filled the avenues and byways of the Equestrian town. Ponies of all kinds, be they Unicorn, Pegasus, or Earth Pony, could be found trotting the streets, caring for foals, tending to shops, all adding to the life that filled the neighborhood.

There was one pony that was particularly busy that day, cantering from place to place with packs on her back and a list close at hoof. But though she went about her errands with purpose, she was very much aware of the vibrancy around her and made a point to appreciate as much of it as she could as she passed. It was a lesson that this Alicorn Princess, one Twilight Sparkle by name, had learned time and again during her vivid life in Ponyville.

As Twilight left the Town Hall, she scratched a satisfied checkmark next to “Appointment with the Mayor,” then gave her to-do-list one last critical scan. Far be it from the studious Alicorn to miss anything on a checklist of any kind. Finding a mark next to each listed task, Twilight gave a contented sigh and, using her magic, stowed the list and her feather pen away in her saddlebags. With all her errands complete, the mare turned down the street and began a leisurely trot back to The Castle of Friendship; her home.

As she made her way through the avenues, Twilight’s now unoccupied mind took in the full myriad of sights, sounds, and smells that permeated the town’s busy streets. Colts playing an animated game of ball in the alley, barkers and shopkeepers tending to their work and wares, fruits and vegetables enticing customers with their scent and color, the chime of the Ponyville clock tower; all these things and their subtle beauties were not lost on Ponyville’s lavender localite.

With a small sigh, Twilight recalled the time when she wouldn’t have given a second thought to her surroundings, except when it directly involved her predetermined task or her studies. As a young Unicorn, it had been a common sight to see the mare with her muzzle buried in a book, almost completely oblivious to the ponies around her. What had finally managed to pull her from her studies? Her unexpected yet blissful discovery of true friendship. Through the fires of adversity and necessity, Twilight Sparkle had forged a powerful bond between herself and five other mares who came together to defeat a powerful threat to their homeland, a bond that was cemented, personified even, by the magical relics that she and her friends came to wield that day: the Elements of Harmony.

From that time on, the six friends had continued to grow and learn from each other, overcoming their fears and differences, learning valuable lessons about friendship, one another, and themselves. With every challenge they faced, great or small, they grew closer together and the magical bond they shared grew stronger. Until one day, that bond came to fruition and Twilight ascended to take her place as a Princess of Equestria. The recollections of that fateful event brought a smile to Twilight’s face.

Though she had left her life as a Unicorn and a student behind, she was by no means estranged from the friends she had made. Nowadays Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie were practically inseparable and their names were becoming known all across Equestria. Sharing thrones together in Twilight’s castle, they had traveled to many places, met many new ponies and creatures, healed some old wounds, and build new friendships. And while the pomp and circumstance of Twilight’s royal title sometimes came to bear, their fame had thus far remained rather placid in nature. It was a fact Twilight was grateful for. She didn’t share Rainbow’s thirst for the spotlight, nor Rarity’s socialite hunger.

While no longer the recluse she had been, Twilight still enjoyed the quiet life of study and the company of her close friends, something Ponyville provided plentifully. True, the frontier community saw its share of excitement and Twilight had her royal duties to perform, but she found it a refreshing balance to the usual calmness that prevailed. Indeed, Twilight could safely say that Ponyville had become a true home to her and Spike; it was here her heart had found its roots, knit together with those of her friends.

As chance would have it, while Twilight was caught up in her thoughts of friendship, she passed the workplace and domicile of Pinkie Pie, the happiest and most eccentric of her inner circle. While not planning a detour, Twilight hoped that she would see the pink party pony and offer her a greeting. And sure enough, the princess did spot her, sitting at one of the outdoor tables with a plate of pastries. It was about the lunch hour for the confectioner after all. Yet, something was off about this fairly common sight. Where a smile and bright eyes almost always could be found, there sat a forlorn and distant expression. It was the sad face of a pining lover.

Twilight paused for a moment, analyzing this unusual scene. To her knowledge, there was no current stallion friend of Pinkie’s who was close enough to her to bring such a look of despondency to the pink earth pony, though it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. But if lover’s lament wasn’t the answer, what was it? This Twilight knew: if something could get Pinkie Pie into such a funk, it didn’t bode well for anypony. The Alicorn decided that some cheering up was in order, both for Pinkie’s sake and the good of the rest of pony kind. With some trepidation, Twilight made her approach.

“Hey Pinkie,” Twilight said, mustering as much good humor as she could.

Pinkie didn’t respond. Her expression remained unchanged, her eyes staring out into space. Twilight grimaced inwardly. Was it that bad? A quick glance confirmed that Pinkie’s mane retained its usual frizz and brightness, the absence of which would indicate true emotional trauma.

“Uh, Pinkie? Hello?” Twilight raised a foreleg and waved it in front of her friend’s face. With a start, Pinkie turned and blinked.

“Oh,” Pinkie exclaimed, “Hi Twilight. I didn’t see you there.”

“Ah-ha,” Twilight nodded.

Pinkie’s expression had brightened significantly, but the melancholy was still there. Twilight knew she would need to choose her words carefully.

“Pinkie,” Twilight began, “I was passing by just now and I couldn’t help but notice that you looked a bit… distracted.”

Pinkie’s face fell and she heaved a heavy sigh. “Yeah, I guess I am a little distracted,” she said as she popped a cupcake into her mouth. She’d only chewed once when her face twisted with unpleasant surprise. She continued to chew, focusing on the taste in her mouth, and then swallowed.

“I think it’s even gotten into my baking!” Pinkie cried. “Here, taste this.”

The baker pushed a cupcake toward the surprised Alicorn. Knowing better than to question Pinkie’s judgment in sweets, Twilight took a magical hold of the proffered treat and tasted it. She chewed critically, comparing the sensations of her tongue to her memories of Pinkie’s usual vanilla cupcakes. After a moment, she swallowed, meeting Pinkie’s waiting eyes.

“You know, I think you’re right.” Twilight hesitated a moment, trying to phrase her next sentence tactfully. “I mean, don’t misunderstand, it still tastes good, just not... as good.”

A determined look came to Pinkie’s eyes. “Well, that settles it,” she declared. “If my distractedness has gotten into my baking then something must be done about it!”

“What are you going to do?” Twilight asked warily. She never could nail down how Pinkie could shift from one mood to the next so fast, though she did have her theories. That volatile personality also made traversing Pinkie’s personal problems hazardous.

Pinkie reared up, raised a hoof into the air, opened her mouth,… and paused. She held that position a moment, her eyes shifting in their search for an answer. Failing to find one, the pink pony sank to her haunches and frowned.

“You know,” she said after another moment of thought, “I don’t know.”

Twilight set her bags down beside the table and took a seat across from her friend. “Would you like to talk about it?” she asked.

Pinkie’s expression brightened again as she returned to her own seat. “Yes, Twilight, I would. I always feel better after I talk to one of my friends, and you are just about the bestest friend a friend could want.”

Twilight smiled. She had won another small victory in weathering the random tides that made up Pinkie’s personality. That random energy also had a way of infecting those around the free-spirited pony, and Twilight was happy to see its positive side at the surface again.

“So,” Twilight asked confidently, “what is it that’s got you so preoccupied?”

Pinkie’s face grew serious and she stated, very matter-o-factually, “It’s my Pinkie Sense.”

A world of alarm bells rang out in Twilight’s mind, a slight twitch tickling her eye. Twilight had lots of experience with the inexplicably precise predictions of the Pinkie Sense. Usually, when Twilight was around to witness Pinkie’s sudden and involuntary feelings and impulses, it involved something unexpected happening, mostly to her and mostly it came crashing down on her head. Still, though she didn’t understand it (and likely never would), she had come to trust it and to heed Pinkie’s warnings. Those who ignored it often ended up in varying degrees of pain.

“Your… Pinkie Sense?” Twilight uneasily asked.

“Yeah, my Pinkie Sense.”

“Um…, dare I ask, what sense could possibly get you so upset?” Twilight steeled herself for the answer. Whatever it was it had to be quite a doozy.

“Oh, no, no, no, no, Twilight,” Pinkie assured her shaken friend. “It’s not something I’ve sensed, it’s something I haven’t sensed.”

Twilight was taken aback, not quite comprehending her friend’s words. “Something you haven’t sensed?” she finally managed, a mix of fear, relief, and curiosity swirling in her heart.

“Yeah, something I haven’t felt for a long time,” Pinkie said, a distant look coming to her eye. “A warm-and-fuzzy tummy.”

Twilight was intrigued. Though she still felt apprehensive, she was genuinely curious to know more. “I don’t think you’ve ever told me about that one,” she said. “What does it mean?” What could be so interesting and common to the party pony that going without it for so long could sink her into depression?

“It means that somepony is watching me,” Pinkie said.

Twilight blinked, her thought process jamming momentarily before whirring into overdrive. “Umm, Pinkie, how is somepony spying on you something to be missed?!” she asked incredulously.

“Oh no, silly filly,” Pinkie laughed, a smile once again gracing her muzzle. “Don’t you remember? Itchy Neck means somepony mean is spying on me. Warm-and-Fuzzy Tummy means somepony nice is watching me.”

“A nice somepony… is watching you?”

“Yep!”

Twilight didn’t understand. More than anything, she was concerned.

“Why? Why would somepony be watching you?” Twilight pressed. She could think of several reasons, not all of them good. “And do you know who this somepony is?” Where would he be watching from? What motivation or intention could he have? Was he a stalker? A secret admirer? There were so many questions running through the troubled mare’s mind, too many to ask all at once but questions that still needed answering all the same.

“Nope. I don’t know who they are or why they’re watching,” Pinkie simply said. “I just know that when they’re watching, they’re having just as much fun as I am and they have my best interest at heart. It's like I'm feeling those good feelings right along with them, almost like a party! A party where you can't see or hear anypony else but you know they're right there with you.” There was a confidence in Pinkie’s voice and expression that diffused some of Twilight’s worries. Pinkie really didn’t feel threatened by… whoever her watcher was. “They want to see me learn and succeed,” she continued. “That’s how I know they’re nice.”

A light went on in the lavender mare’s mind. “You said ‘they’ just now,” Twilight interjected. “Is there more than one somepony?”

“Now that you mention it,” Pinkie mused, “I guess so. It feels more right to say ‘they’ than ‘he’ or ‘she.’ That’s kind of funny, actually. I might have had an entire audience watching me! How cool is that!? My own life audience! If I just knew where they'd scampered off to.”

So many questions. So many implications. Twilight mentally cleared her schedule. Somehow, this seemed too important to pass up.

“Pinkie, could you come with me to the castle?” Twilight asked as she strapped on her saddlebags.

“Sure, Twilight,” Pinkie replied, rising to her hooves. “What for?”

“I think this calls for some research.”