• Published 12th May 2013
  • 4,442 Views, 188 Comments

The Nightbook - Sunset-Chan



Twilight Sparkle finds herself slowly drifting away from her friends as her OCD grows worse and worse. Trying to find a solution, she finds infantilism for herself. Meanwhile a cold winter approaches, bringing with it the greatest challenge yet.

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I. Lady Labyrinth

Definitely coconuts. Those would've really tied the room together, she thought. With the way the quills and the scrolls were laid out before her on the otherwise blank, wooden table it would've improved the Karma of this room, if that was the proper appellation. Three coconuts were all she would've needed. One on the most upper shelf right to her, one in the cupboard to her right and one above the door, because she was feeling very mischievous today. Still, there was a schedule to keep. She concentrated on one quill and a purple aura began to surround it, lifting it up into the air. She levitated it across the table and then dipped it into the ink, all while her thoughts drifted through a dictionary that only existed in her head. She let some of the dark blue liquid drip back into its pod before she let the feather glide over the paper.

It touched the paper softly, going in lines and curves, meant to be smooth and fine but were raw and misshapen. Twilight stopped after the second word, looking over the word again. "Dean Princess," she intoned, a frown forming on her face. The line of the r had been too long, Twilight couldn't help but grumble. Writing with hoof or magic had never been her strength. And she couldn't ask Spike, considering how he was helping Rarity over the weekend. She took the paper, rolled into a perfect ball, before laying it carefully into the bin, taking another, unfolding it carefully and spreading it before her with a perfect angle. At this rate it was going to be a long night and sadly, her faithful assistant had been freed from his duties for the day. Something about helping Rarity with digging up gems. As always, he was more faithful to food than to anything else.

At least this wasn't some important letter, just some minor scientific question that Twilight wanted to ask about certain historical events surrounding the dig site at Maneville. The ruins were hopefully not older than the princesses so they surely had to know what was up with them and the night was still young.

With a smile she looked outside the window, the sun smiling at her.

A moment passed.

"What?" she asked in the smallest of voices.

Another moment passed.

"What?", she spoke in a voice louder than before, slowly turning away from the table. She couldn't have spent the entire night on writing letters.

Her eyes turned to the ground as she stepped onto something. The ground was covered in papers and the bin she had thought to be empty was already full, leaving many messed up scrolls spread across the room. Twilight managed to do nothing but groan but let it rest for now. If she’d worked through the night, that meant she needed to start the day without the scheduled four hours of sleep.

She was pretty sure that that wouldn’t prove to be that much of a problem, considering how sleep was a waste of time anyhow. With a grin she turned back to her letter, picking up what she thought to be the pen and trying to get the first word on paper. However, instead of the feather, she had picked up the ink and in one swift motion spilled it over the paper. She realized the mistake the instant the liquid spilled in a humongous blot and barely avoided a table-encompassing disaster by lifting the ink up immediately. Then came a moment which she spent staring at the mess and felt inclined to do something about it.

Spike!”

Yelling that had been her first instinct but as no answer came all she could do was facehoof. He wasn’t there, so she had to do it on her own. Easy enough, she thought and dropped the soaked paper in the bin, getting the kitchen roll to right what was wrong.

She came back with the roll and immediately tore one paper off, somehow managing to screw even such a simple task up and ripping it a bit. A frown formed on Twilight’s face. Normally, she wasn’t one to care about something like this but right now it was as if the universe just wanted to spite her. Being as aggressive as one could be against the non-entity called ‘universe’ she threw the towel away and ripped another from the roll, this one looking like a perfect square. She spent the next two minutes folding it properly and then wiped the table with it. The process was repeated until the wooden piece of furniture sparkled cleanly.

Twilight found that most of her ink was gone now and she also was out of paper to write on. With that, this had been the most counterproductive night she’d had since last week, where something similar had happened. She thought the coincidence a bit amusing but quickly moved on to the next bit on her agenda. Getting her checklists for the day from her checklist cabinet and adding to get new quills from Sofas & Quills. She was the closest thing to a core customer the shop had and that was also something she was proud of. Oh, the sweet discounts she got.

She took out the first of her scrolls and quickly moved to add the items to her list. She finished as quickly as she was able and as she left the house it was already noon. Her stomach was grumbling and so was she, considering her schedule was messed up in the worst way possible and she was happy to note that she hadn’t added a morning shower to her to-do list today. So she couldn’t be far too late.

Her day started with her walking to the only restaurant in Ponyville where she got herself a sandwich to eat and some coffee to help her stay awake, as she felt her body growing more and more aware of its lack of sleep. Sadly, the drink ruined the taste of the flowers in her mouth, making her fast more of a chore than she’d liked. Still, she ate it up, drinking in specific intervals, chewing an exact number of bites and setting the cup down in a perfect angle to the plate.

After she finished, Twilight looked at the plate again. There was not a single scrap of food left and the clock struck that half and hour had passed. For one sandwich and a coffee. She had spent most of the time laying out everything neatly after every single bite. Her mouth twitched.

I’m getting worse, she thought. She had always gotten easily agitated or nervous, scared of failure and the like. A character trait that had made her fearful of every single possible mistake she could make in front of her mentor, she remembered. In her time in Canterlot she had spent as much time as possible for her studies, not to impress Celestia but to not make her angry. It was a trait she’d always wanted to let go off, but as she had tried to, a long, long time ago, it had come harder than she had anticipated.

She paid for the meal without further analysis of the matter. She had a schedule to keep and time to think about her growing dislike for mistakes could wait for later. Now, the next thing on her timetable was. . .

The pony shook her head, told herself off and, with everything that had happened this morning, the schedule could screw itself for once. One could almost call it a decisive motion that she went and took a very spontaneous walk in a random direction.

Ponyville was well-alive during this fine day. The flower trio tried to outbid each other on the market, with Carrot Top quietly wasting away at her booth, her eyes transfixed on the sky. On her way to nowhere particular, Twilight even spotted the local mailpony, carrying far too many packages on his back and visibly struggling with each step. Lyra Heartstrings was for once not busy plucking her harp. Instead the aquamarine unicorn had seated herself on a bench and enjoyed a milkshake, while some stallion sitting by her side – probably a tourist – was showing her a fotoalbum and yapping on about the awesomeness of this place and that place. Twilight even spotted Rarity and Spike galloping past her, but neither seemed to notice her, even though she lifted her hoof to greet them. Twilight frowned at that, but let them be. It was probably something important they were doing.

Her way lead her through the town and then out of it, down the dusty path to Sweet Apple Acres. It was one of the most used trails in the area, as the acres were one of the nicest spots for everypony. There was some nice scenery there and watching the sunset from any of the hills was something most ponyvillian couples did at least once, or so Twilight had heard. That and there was something else that drew quite a few ponies close.

The smell of apples filled her nose, a sweet smell, coupled with the sight of the many, many apple trees, whose fruits were all ripe for the harvest. As she drew closer to the fence that warded the Apple family’s land from the rest of the world, she thought that Applejack would soon be really busy. Maybe I could find some time off to help, Twilight thought, resolving herself. Work was a good way to get her mind off her own faults.

She found Applejack sitting by the fence, half asleep with two baskets by her side. She took her afternoon rest not as seriously as other ponies, Twilight knew and there were only so many times she even took one. Some ponies took their work as their life and could barely exist outside, although Twilight had never quite gauged if Applejack counted herself among this kind. Sure, she would often work hard on the farm but she was helping other ponies out just as much. A week prior, the orange earth pony had aided Bon Bon when her roof had been in need of a good fixing, the rainwater falling right through it and atop her head when she’d tried to sleep during more grimy weather. So, yeah, she existed outside the apple farm, too.

Really, seeing Applejack like this, just lazing about, that felt weird. Twilight Sparkle walked up to the fence and leaned on it, although she said nothing.

The late summer heat came down on her, so she was glad that the trees' shadows offered her at least some chance to cool down. That and after the long walk she could feel the hurt of her hooves. Still, Twilight found herself relaxing somewhat and just enjoyed the windless air for a moment or two. Applejack didn’t even seem to notice her at first, her eyes were half-open and stared emptily into the distance. It took her a few moments, maybe minutes until she tilted her head a bit in Twilight’s general direction and lifted her hat a bit. Twilight looked at her.

“Hey, Applejack,” the unicorn said and gave her best smile.

“Hi, Twi. . . you look horrible," Applejack responded in a groggy tone of voice.

Yep, Twilight thought instantly, definitely the Element of Honesty.

“Just had a small slip up tonight. Letters are always so hard to write.”

“Are they?”, Applejack asked, sounding like she was sleep-talking.

“Well, you know, the lines are pretty hard to get down correctly and-”

“Twi, the lines aren’t really that important. As long as you can read the letters it’s just fine.”

A simple attitude from a simple mare, Twilight knew and it was something she really adored Applejack for, but whether this statement was true she didn’t know. “I think it’s important,” she said. “Getting every piece right, getting every line right. There’s beauty in that, you know?”

“Twi, as your friend I feel inclined to tell you something. You’ve been getting worse and worse over the last few weeks. Remember the last time we were at Sugarcube Corner and you somehow thought that Pinkie had a few sprinkles on her milkshake too few?”

That had been a mess, Twilight knew but kept her face straight. “They were less than I had.”

“How about that draft you presented the mayor for the next winter wrap-up.”

She had optimized the teams, made sub-teams, check-up teams for those and check-up teams for the check-up teams together with notary teams that would document everything. Maybe she’d gone a bit overboard, her friends had told her so before.

Twilight sighed, “What are you getting at?” She knew the answer already, though.

“You never kick back, Twi,” said Applejack, looking at her acres again. “You take everything serious, that’s something everypony admires, I know, but you never rest.”

“I do rest.”

“That so?” AJ seemed skeptical. “What’re you doing in your free time then?”

“I read books and plan out my schedules.”

“Is that it? No wonder you get no sleep. A pony can’t work every single day, Twi. We all need to lean back and take a nap sometime. Taking a step back and just looking at your work, maybe, or... I dunno.” Applejack sighed and Twilight noted how she seemed to think about her own words.

“It’s not so easy, you know,” Twilight blurted out. “Ever since before I went to the dig I’ve been uneasy about everything here, all this social stuff, the responsibilities. I mean, I like it, organizing the Winter Wrap-Up and all, but I’ve never fielded anything as big as that before. I do things my way, as perfectly as possible, AJ, I always did. It just takes a lot longer with all these big things to do.”

"And the quality of the work starts to suffers, too?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Twilight was open with Applejack. A pony could be open to her friends, she knew and the orange earth pony with the cowpony hat was one of the easiest ponies to talk to, because honesty was basically her virtue. She never lied, she never talked behind other ponies’ backs and sometimes she even said just about the right thing.

“You really should try letting go of it all, that’s all I can say, Twi.”

There was a pause, then. Twilight didn’t really know, after all, whether she could truly appreciate life lessons from another pony, a bit of pride bristling inside her. Still, she decided to ask: “And how do you think I could do that? I mean, I relax when I read and I include fun times on all my schedules.”

Applejack sighed. “I mean: Letting go. Try to free yourself from your schedules, do something impulsive.”

Like when I came here? The question came easy to Twilight but she didn’t ask it, instead she tried to put on her best smile. “Well, maybe I’ll try one of these days.”

Applejack returned it, slowly lifting herself from the ground. “You do that,” she told Twilight. “I’ll have to get back to work now. Winter’s coming soon enough and I want to get the harvest in before the Running of the Leaves next week. I guess I’ll see ya 'round.”

“Yeah,” was Twilight’s answer as AJ took her baskets and left her by the fence to ponder by herself. The talk had been a short one, but good, even though she had no idea how to ‘let it go’. Twilight decided not to worry and headed back to Ponyville, getting back to her schedule and running her errands.

She went to the market to get some food and bottles of water for drink. Not only that, she found some young mare handing out pamphlets for some newfound service, dubbed the Canterlot Mail Order Service, which was a nice thing. After getting some quills from Sofas & Quills she decided to go home.

Later that night, with Spike having returned and she laying beneath soft covers, Twilight was still thinking. Letting go, Applejack had said, letting leave of control. But how did a pony let go? That was the question, or at least one of them. Why a pony would do something like letting go of her responsibilities was another. Twilight liked having control over her life, she saw it like she was controlling the weather, with white, grey and black clouds as well as sunny skies and starry nights. All she could do was to control the clouds as well as she could. What would happen if she'd ever let go of the clouds, even for but one moment? Everytime that question came to her she could do nothing but shudder. How was she supposed to find joy in that?

She thought about the swings once more, how she’d always read books and somehow still tried to find a moment to have some fun on her own. Far too late though, since there had never been any swings for her in Canterlot. It felt like a bit of childhood coming to her, not a childhood she had never been given, not a childhood she had wanted when she had been a child. Maybe something she longed for now?

Twilight thought about that and as the night approached its end she was still awake with her thoughts. The unicorn came to the conclusion that maybe she should try something out. It was a queer idea, driven by a single thought and she didn’t want to throw herself into the cold water. So, before the sun reached the horizon, Twilight was up again, by her table with quill and paper, trying to write as carefully as possible. Not the letter from yesterday, though.

Therapy was something that took time, something that was best documented and if she wanted to get out of this hellhole of never ending thoughts and perfectly arranged plates, then she had to do a bit of therapy for herself. She had no idea where she would end up with this however and so Twilight concentrated on one quill and a purple aura began to surround it, lifting it up into the air. She levitated it across the table and then dipped it into the ink, all while her thoughts drifted through a dictionary that only existed in her head. She let some of the dark blue liquid drip back into its pod before she let the feather glide over the paper.

It touched the paper softly, going in lines and curves, meant to be smooth and fine but ending up raw and misshapen. Twilight stopped after the second word, looking over the title again.

The Nightbook

That suited her well and as the morning started, she was already thinking about what to do exactly.

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