A light knock on the door gave me reason to get up from my seat. As I made my way over to answer it, I passed the creature. The green reptile seemed adequately entertained by bouncing up and down on a stray balloon that had been lying around. Under normal circumstances, I’d have wondered why the balloon wasn’t popping, or how the creature was maintaining balance so perfectly, but by then, I’d learned not to dwell on things of that sort.
I opened the door, and Twilight stood there. I waited for her to say something, but she remained mute. She appeared somewhat nervous.
“Did you need something?” I asked in as gentle a tone as I could muster.
Her eyes wandered past my shoulder to the green creature, who now stood on the ground next to a deflated balloon.
“I see you’ve met Gummy,” she said casually.
“So it has a name, then?” I asked. “Interesting... what is it, exactly? A crocodile?”
“Alligator,” she corrected.
“I don’t see a difference in the two. Then again, I wouldn’t know much about that.”
“Well, Gummy is your pet. I assumed you had some reason for picking an alligator in the first place, as opposed to a dog or—”
“Twilight,” said a completely unfamiliar voice. “Now is not the time for idle conversation.”
I resisted the urge to invade Twilight’s personal space and peer around the edge of the doorway.
“Oh. Um, of course, Princess. Pinkie, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
Twilight stepped aside, allowing room for the mysterious individual to walk through. From around the corner appeared a pony whom I’d never imagined I would encounter. I’d only seen pictures of her in storybooks. Her very mane emanated pure light, which flooded the room with a brilliant hue. She stood there, proud and dignified, and did not utter a word. She seemed to study me with intent, and I merely bowed in respect. I didn’t see any other choice.
After what seemed like an eternity, she spoke. “Rise, my little pony, and tell me your name.”
Her voice was powerful. It was rich and reassuring, while concurrently inspiring respect and obedience. I felt as though a poor choice of words would seal my fate.
“It’s alright,” said Twilight, obviously sensing my distress. “She only wants to help.”
I calmed myself to the best of my ability, and rose from my knees. “I-I believed my name to be Pinkamena, but I was recently informed that ponies refer to me as Pinkie Pie,” I stated.
“What age did you believe yourself to be?” she asked.
“Eleven years, Your Highness.” I was trying to be as formal as possible.
“You speak like no eleven-year-old filly that I have met before."
"Do you, yourself, have an opinion in this matter? What say you to all of this?"
I searched for the right words. “I believe myself to be in a state of discord,” I started. Twilight cringed upon hearing this, but I disregarded her obvious discomfort. “I have been told that everything I know is not correct, or rather, has long passed. I feel unable to ascertain the truth of these recent claims. How am I to react to such a thing, Your Highness?”
“What else would you have it be, besides the truth?”
“A dream, perhaps?” I suggested.
“Ah, but such is not the way of things,” she said with a smile. “Have you not already had a full night’s rest, and time to ponder things? Have you not previously considered that very possibility?”
“I have,” I admitted.
“With that in mind, how likely do you believe this to be a mere reverie? Do you believe it is common for ponies to realize they are dreaming before waking from them?”
“I wouldn’t know."
Princess Celestia raised an eyebrow, likely expecting elaboration on my part.
"I wouldn't consider myself familiar with dreams that don't adhere to the laws of the world. I do not live a life of thrilling adventure and joy. Rotating hard, lifeless rocks around a field is all I’ve ever known, and I suppose it makes sense that my dreams are so ordinary, and match my normal life so closely. I usually can’t tell the difference between the two."
"Have you grown partial to this lifestyle?" asked Celestia.
“Not really. I’d be lying if I said I don’t envy those who wake up each day feeling excited for the day to come.”
“But Pinkie!” Twilight cried. “That is your life now! You love everything about—”
Celestia held up a hoof. “Have patience, Twilight. You must not let your emotions get the better of you. Simply telling her who she is will not be enough to convince her.”
Twilight stopped her outburst, and lowered her head in resignation.
Celestia returned her attention to me. “You must overcome all doubts if you are to make any progress.”
“I don’t know how. Please, Your Highness... please tell me how,” I begged.
Celestia looked at me with pity, seeming to sense my anguish. Suddenly, her horn was wrapped in a golden aura. She stepped forward and lowered her head towards mine. I didn’t want to show it, but my legs were shaking and I had to force myself not to back away.
Her horn made contact with my forehead, and I expected the worst.
“Calm yourself, Pinkie Pie. Your mind must be relaxed and free if I am to perform this spell successfully.”
I hesitated, but quickly realized that I had no other choice but to trust her. I took a deep breath, and freed myself of all apprehension. My pulse slowed, and I felt at ease.
Moments later, my peace of mind was disrupted when I was hit by an indescribable sensation. The feeling washed over me, probing every crevice of my mind until I could think of nothing else. I felt as though the privacy of my thoughts was being violated, and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not figure out what it was, and the intensity continued to increase.
Just as I thought my head was about to burst, it stopped. As suddenly as it came, the feeling simply disappeared. I was truly perplexed.
I looked up at Celestia, who in turn looked down at me.
“Well?” she asked.
What did she expect me say? I didn't feel any different. Had she done something to me that I wasn't aware of? Perhaps this was just another trick played by my subconscious.
But... this wasn't a dream.
I stopped myself. This wasn't a dream. I was suddenly sure of that, but I didn't know why.
I looked around, and my perception of my surroundings felt completely altered. By some otherworldly power, I felt certain that everything around me was, in fact, real.
I looked up at the princess. "What... how...?"
"We'll give you time to mull things over," she told me. "In the meantime, I have some things I wish to discuss with Twilight."
Celestia turned around and made her way to the door, but Twilight remained where she was. She looked at me with questioning eyes, expecting me to tell her what had just transpired.
"Come, Twilight. We must leave her to her thoughts. She will come to a conclusion on her own when she is ready."
Twilight hesitated for a moment, but eventually obeyed the princess and followed her to the exit. Upon leaving the room, Twilight gave me one final glance before shutting the door behind her.
“I don’t understand, Princess. What did you do?”
Celestia remained silent as the two of them walked through the empty streets of Ponyville. The morning was still new, and they had just a few minutes of privacy before the town would be bustling with activity.
Twilight wanted to spend time with Celestia. She truly desired to enjoy the company of her lifelong mentor, but she knew it would not be so. There were more pressing matters at hoof, currently.
“What kind of spell did you use on Pinkie? What was it supposed to do? Did it succeed?”
“Thirsty for knowledge as always, I see. Very well, I will tell you,” she answered.
Twilight’s eyes widened in anticipation.
“That spell was one I developed long ago. Granted, the situation then was quite different, but I believe it achieved the desired result.”
“What was that result, exactly?”
Celestia paused for a moment. “Have you ever found it difficult to differentiate between dreams and reality?”
Twilight was thrown off by the sudden change in subject. “Yes, I suppose I have, on occasion. I’m pretty sure everypony has felt that before.”
“Indeed. The reason I ask this is because Pinkie Pie is, or rather, was, stuck in a similar situation.”
“Was?” asked Twilight.
“For her, the increasingly blurred line between dream and reality had all but faded. In most occasions, ponies only experience this for a few seconds upon waking. However, because of the monotonous lifestyle she was used to, likely mixed with denial, she was unable to realize the truth on her own.”
Twilight tried to imagine the horror of being trapped in a state of dreamlike uncertainty, and found it hard to comprehend.
“The spell I cast freed her from this prison,” continued Celestia. “The line has become crisp and clear, and she will be able to accept the situation for what it is: the truth.”
“But what about her memories?” asked Twilight.
Celestia’s head lowered in apparent sadness. “My abilities are limited, as I’m sure you are aware, Twilight. Even with my countless years of experience, there is only so much I can do.
“This disease confounds me, to the point that I feel inclined to research it myself. Despite this, I am bound by the throne, and my obligations to Equestria must come first.”
Twilight felt the utter hopelessness returning.
Celestia sensed her student’s distress. “Listen to me, Twilight. This is possible to fix. Though it may seem beyond our grasp, I know it is a task worthy of your ability.”
“My ability?” asked Twilight incredulously.
“Yes. You have yet to fully understand your potential, Twilight.”
“I-I don’t get it. What are you telling me?”
“Allow me to be as clear as possible. It is up to you to save the Element of Laughter from herself. You shall forsake your friendship studies for the time being.”
“What?” asked Twilight in shock. “How can I be expected to do that? Where do I even begin? I don’t have the background, or the means for such a task!”
Twilight began to pace back and forth, spouting nonsense in a panicked attempt to verbalize the thoughts running through her head. “Quills! I’ll need loads of quills. What else? Ah! I can’t forget the ink, and the parchment! I’ll get Spike right on that.” Twilight continued her frenzied to-do list.
“You must calm yourself, Twilight,” instructed Celestia. “Only with a clear and focused mind will you be able to succeed. If you allow the weight of the task to overwhelm you, failure is inevitable. Tell me, do you wish to help Pinkie?”
Twilight took a deep breath. “Yes. Of course I do.”
“Then allow that desire to drive you. Think not of doubt or hopelessness, but instead keep your sight fixed on progress and success.”
Twilight seemed unconvinced.
Celestia sighed. “In a world such as ours, one thing has always reigned true: What can be hoped for can, indeed, be done. You will persevere, Twilight. I have the utmost faith in you."
They continued to walk through the streets in silence. Celestia allowed Twilight some time to gather her thoughts.
Minutes passed, and Twilight spoke. “Neurology is a subject that I’ve barely scratched the surface of. I guess I’ll have to delve much deeper in order to have a decent understanding of it. That would be a good place to start.”
Satisfied, Celestia nodded her head. “Very good.”
After a full circle around Ponyville, the student and teacher eventually arrived back at Sugarcube Corner. They stood at the doorway, and Twilight was unsure what to say in addition to what had already been discussed.
“I must take my leave, for now,” said Celestia. “Let me remind you that you have full access to the Canterlot library, including the ‘Starswirl the Bearded’ wing. If you find yourself lacking in a book, scroll, or any other resource, do not hesitate to ask me by letter. I will make it my priority to have it sent to you.”
“Thank you, Princess.”
With that, Celestia unfurled her wings and gracefully leapt into the air. Twilight watched as her beloved mentor grew smaller and smaller, until she vanished completely into the morning sun.
I sat there, staring outside of the window in anticipation. Twilight and the princess were conversing, and though I couldn’t hear what they were saying, their body language suggested seriousness.
A mere twenty minutes had passed since my encounter with the princess, during which time I had made my way down to the first floor, taking care not to wake the others. Numerous questions had rolled through my mind, but they were quite different than before.
Rather than the existential questions that had burdened my mind before, I was now trying to figure out how I should approach this situation in a practical way. Though reality had somehow revealed itself to me through that spell, the fact remained that I had no recollection of my life here. I only had the words of others to go by. While I had no reason to doubt them, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to accept and adjust.
Rainbow Dash and Applejack walked into the room, stopping in their tracks when I came into view. They stared at me for a moment.
“Good morning,” I said, taking the initiative for once.
Rainbow Dash rubbed her eyes. “Um, good morning. We didn’t realize you’d be up this early. Is everything alright?”
“That don’t sound too convincin’,” Applejack said. “What’s on yer mind, Sugarcube?”
I sighed. “I’ve basically had the truth given to me, and I’m not sure whether I should be thankful or resentful.”
“I don’t get it,” said Rainbow Dash.
“Remember how I was arguing last night that all of this could be a dream?” I began.
“Well, that’s no longer an issue for me. Princess Celestia paid me a visit this morning, and—”
“Hold on, the princess was here?” Rainbow Dash interrupted. “What for?”
“I was getting to that. Anyway, I talked with her for a bit, and she used a strange spell on me. I can’t even begin to speculate how she did it, but I now feel certain that all of this is real.”
“What good is that going to do?” Rainbow asked, her tone suggesting disappointment.
I opened my mouth to speak, but the front door opened at the exact same moment. Twilight stepped inside, exhibiting a demeanor that, as strange as it sounds, seemed both positive and negative.
“Twilight, I need to tell you something.”
The unicorn looked at me. “It’s okay, Pinkie. Princess Celestia already told me what she did.”
“Oh. Well, alright then.” I assumed we were on the same page at that point.
“Now that you know you’re not dreaming, let me ask you something. What do you intend to do?” Twilight asked without much hesitation.
I thought on this question for a minute or two. Twilight stood there, patiently awaiting my response. The question brought countless possibilities to mind.
What was I to do?
I stood erect, allowing my resolve to take hold. “I intend to do what needs to be done, and I no longer have any reason to doubt your word. If I am an essential component in defending Equestria from harm, I can’t ignore my duty.”
The three ponies looked at each other, and a smile spread across their faces simultaneously. Not a smile of amusement, but a smile of true happiness.
I managed to smile back. “If this is who I am in the world, then so be it.”