• Published 15th Aug 2013
  • 4,310 Views, 181 Comments

The Minuette-ventures of Princess Twilight Sparkle - Sharp Spark

Twilight and Minuette are perfectly happy and just want to be left alone. Unfortunately, Ponyville is particularly prone to mysteries and disasters, and -somepony- has to deal with the mess.

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Ghost Partum Depression

"Thanks for coming, Twi'," Applejack said. The pleasant smile faded as she saw the blue mare trailing along behind her alicorn friend. Her voice turned cold. "An’ you brought company. How nice."

“Oh, be reasonable, Applejack,” Twilight Sparkle chided. “I know you aren’t on the best terms but if you took the time to actually get to know Minuette, I’m sure you two would be fast friends. After all, you both like… Um...” She paused, thinking. “Okay, nevermind. But you certainly get along well with Rarity, and what do you have in common with her?”

“That’s different. Rares’ and I have an understanding and—”

“Understanding?” Minuette butted in. “I thought you farm-folk just called it a ‘roll in the hay’.”

Applejack’s face flushed bright red. “Hey! It ain’t like that.”

Minuette’s nose wrinkled as she lifted a hoof and tried in vain to shake some dirt off it. “Fine. A roll in the mud.”

Applejack’s eyes flared and Twilight hurriedly interspersed herself between the two. “Wait wait wait.” Her eyes narrowed briefly as she shot Minuette a stern glance. The other mare just rolled her eyes and turned away as Twilight looked back to Applejack with a pleading expression. “Come on, at least try to be nice? For me?”

Applejack sighed. “Alright. I’ll be civil.” She glanced past Twilight over at Minuette, who had taken the opportunity of being out of Twilight’s sight to stick her tongue out. “But I ain’t gotta like her,” she muttered under her breath.

Twilight’s horn lit up. “Ouch!” Minuette said, jumping as something pinched her hard in the flank.

“You behave too,” Twilight said sternly.

“You didn’t even see me doing anything!”

“Reasonable inference.” Twilight smiled brightly, ignoring Minuette’s grumbling. “Now Applejack, what did you need from me, anyways?”

“Well. There’s been a problem an’...” Applejack took her hat off, then reconsidered and put it back on. “Shoot. I don’t know quite how to put it, but I think the farm’s haunted.”

“Okay,” Twilight said.

Applejack blinked. “Okay? I thought ya woulda laughed at that. Or gone on about how there ain’t no such thing as ghosts using a lot of big fancy words.”

Twilight bit her lip. “Well. Normally, yes. But you’re not exactly the kind of pony who’d make up a prank like that. Plus, given some of the strangeness I’ve been through recently, I’m willing to accept that there are some things that currently exist outside the scope of recorded scientific knowledge.” Her hoof tapped against the ground as she thought. “Though I admit that Occam’s razor indicates that the most likely situation is a coincidental combination of sensory stimuli easily mistaken as paranormal activity.”

“There’s the Twilight I know,” Applejack said.

“Whatever. It’s probably an owl or something,” Minuette muttered.

“I got good reason to believe it ain’t.” A smile flickered on Applejack’s face. “Actually. You willin’ to put a wager down on it?”

“I’d feel bad taking your bits,” Minuette shot back.

“Then how ‘bout this. Applebuck season’s coming up right fast. If I’m right and it’s a ghost, you come by and help us for… how ‘bout a week? And if I’m wrong, well. I’ll deliver a barrel of our finest cider, free a’ charge.”

Minuette grimaced. “Cider? Ugh. Fruity, watered-down swill.”

“Gee,” Applejack said stonily. “I can’t for the life of me see why we aren’t best friends.”

“Fine.” Minuette sniffed. “I’ll take your bet, and then sell your barrel of cider and buy something real to drink.”

Applejack spat on her hoof and then raised it for a shake. She took one look at Minuette’s raised eyebrow and shook her head as she lowered her hoof back to the ground. “Fine. Let’s go. The darn thing’s probably causin’ a ruckus in the ol’ barn in the east fields again.”

“We should have come earlier,” Twilight murmured to herself as they approached the barn. Unlike the bright red buildings that served as the Apple family’s home, this barn looked to have been around a while. The elements had worn the paint down to spotty slivers of rusty brown, and the barn’s door had been broken off long ago, leaving only a portal into darkness that looked uncomfortably like a mouth. The lengthening shadows didn’t help – the sun was almost hidden behind the rows of apple trees in the distance, leaving only an orange haze in the sky. Somewhere far away a lone timberwolf howled and the alicorn flinched.

“Naw,” Applejack said, trotting forward unperturbed. “It don’t start movin’ around much till it gets dark anyhow.”

Minuette followed. “Yes. Let’s go catch this ‘ghostly’ raccoon or mouse or whatever and move on with our lives.”

Twilight hesitantly followed, taking a deep breath as they moved forward into the darkness of the barn. She stuck close to Minuette, taking some comfort in the other mare’s coat against hers even as she tried to put on a brave face. “It’s… awfully dark in here,” she said. Applejack stepped away from the light coming in the doorway and into the gloom and Twilight lost sight of her entirely.

There was another clatter that set her heart racing faster, followed by some muttered curses. Minuette shifted, and Twilight almost jumped as something touched her before realizing the other mare had just put one foreleg across her shoulders reassuringly.

Light suddenly flared up and Twilight let out her breath. Applejack was standing there, having located and lit an old oil lantern. The farmpony raised an eyebrow. “Thought y’all unicorns could just do a light spell thing.”

Twilight blushed. “Oh. Right.” As Applejack trotted over to hang the lantern on a hook against one wall, Twilight concentrated and the tip of her horn started glowing. A wan light supplemented the lantern and revealed the spacious interior of the barn.

Twilight kept her horn down and ready as she slowly scanned the room. It was clear that this barn was used more for storage than anything else. Hay bales were piled up in neat order next to stacks of lumber and tools.

In the corner, a flash of movement caught her eye and she jerked her head in that direction, increasing her light to try and penetrate the gloom. “Stop right— Oh.” She sighed out in relief at seeing an equine shape wearing an oversized bow. “You almost scared me to death, Apple Bloom!”

“Sugarcube,” Applejack said evenly. “Apple Bloom and the Crusaders are spending the night at Rarity’s tonight.”

The figure moved forward and Twilight realized with a chill that it was much larger than a filly. It wasn’t even moving its legs. It was simply floating forward, all four hooves an inch off the ground.

It moved into the light and Twilight saw with horror that the creature’s eyes were gaping black sockets. Its mouth opened impossibly high, and then it wailed, an otherworldly cry that was quickly joined by screams from Twilight and Minuette both.

Twilight stumbled as she tried to run in reverse and her butt hit the ground just as the ghost darted forward with uncanny speed, swooping through the air and right at her. She couldn’t look away as the ghost charged, but instead of crashing into her, the creature flew through her body, leaving only a creeping chill behind.

Twilight screamed again for good measure, as the ghost began flying around them in circles, herding the three ponies to the center of the barn. The lantern’s flame flickered in the sudden wind, painting the walls of the barn with eerily dancing shadows.

“A g-g-ghost!” Twilight gasped out.

“Yeah,” Applejack said. “That’s why I asked ya to come, remember?”

Minuette seemed on the verge of tears. “I’m going to have to do work!” she wailed. “I hate work!”

“I can— We can—” Twilight gulped, trying to figure out a plan.

Aaaapplejaaack,” the spirit moaned. “Aaaaaapplejaaaaack, my daaaaaughter.

Twilight felt her blood run cold. “It’s… it’s…”

Her mouth couldn’t form the words, but something in her head clicked. The bow - it was the same bow that Apple Bloom wore. And this barn, which the Apples seemed to purposefully use less than any other, in one of their smaller fields. There had to have been a reason for that. Maybe this had even been the very place that… As the pieces all lined up, she felt even more sure. This is where an untimely accident must have occurred.

Applejack sighed. She took off her hat and swatted it at the ghost irritably. “Y’all quit that already.”

The ghost howled in an agonizing pitch and sped up, whirling around them as the very barn itself began groaning and creaking under paranormal stress.

“Applejack, you’re upsetting it!” Twilight thought back to the myths and legends she had read. Science may not have had much to say on the subject, but folklore was a predecessor to science, to some extent. Accumulated knowledge passed down over generations. She shivered. “It must have unfinished business here. You have to talk to it… To her.”

“Alright,” Applejack said. “Hey, you, ghosty thing! Shoo! Beat it already!” She grimaced. “The cows can’t get a lick of sleep with you makin’ all this racket and they’re a whole two fields over.”

Twilight turned to Minuette, trying to give her a meaningful look. “She doesn’t realize,” she whispered. Minuette frowned, nodding slightly.

Twilight took a deep breath. “Applejack,” she started, “I don’t know quite how to say this, and I know it’s not what you want to hear, but—”

“That’s the ghost of your dead mom,” Minuette said. “There. Not so hard.”

Applejack froze, hat still in an upraised hoof from where she was waving it at the ghost. She turned to the other two ponies. And then to both of their surprise, she laughed, a series of loud barks that rang out to echo in the barn.

Twilight and Minuette both stopped to stare at their friend. Even the ghost stopped its swirling and hovered, its head tilted.

Applejack managed to get ahold of herself. “No it ain’t,” she said, grinning. “Ma ain’t dead.”

Twilight bit her lip. “Now, I know everypony experiences the cycle of grief in a different manner and on their own schedule, but you have to realize that—”

“Naw,” Applejack cut in. “She’s livin’ with Pa in a nature commune up near Whinnyapolis.”

Twilight blinked. “Seriously?

“Seriously?” Minuette echoed.

Seeeeeeriously?” the ghost chimed in.

Applejack placed her hat back on her head. “Yup. Unless she ate the wrong kinda mushrooms and fell in a well or something since I saw her last Hearth’s Warming. But I don’t think they even have a well.”

“But—” Twilight said. “You— They— Granny— Apples!”

Minuette frowned. “I think what my lovely and well-educated partner is trying to say is… Why haven’t we ever seen them? Why aren’t they here, in Ponyville?”

Applejack shrugged. “They’ve been gone since I wasn’t more than a little filly. Said they wanted to get more in touch with nature.”

“You live on a farm,” Minuette said.

“Ya ain’t saying anything I didn’t point out myself.” Applejack rolled her eyes. “Apparently farming’s a crime against the Mother Earthmare, all carvin’ up the earth to plant seeds and pulling out weeds and whatnot. Not to mention sellin’ your crops is supportive of the bourgeois capitalist system aimed at keeping down the common pony. Least they had sense enough to leave me, Bloom, and Mac with Granny to be raised normal and all.” She sighed loudly. “Trust me, visiting them once a year is plenty. Ain’t much more than a hooful of skinny ponies who haven’t taken a bath in a decade.”

“But…” Twilight’s brain and mouth finally hit sync. “But everyone in town thinks you’re an orphan!”

“Twilight,” Applejack said. “My parents are hippies. I’d rather ponies just think they were dead.”

Minuette raised one hoof to press against her forehead. “Okay, okay. But then… what exactly is that?” She flung a hoof out at the ghostly figure, still floating in confusion near the three of them.

“How the hay am I supposed to know?” Applejack said. “Some kinda ghost. That’s why I asked y’all to help get rid of it. Shouldn’t you have some sorta book on exorcisms or somethin’?”

“There’s really no established scientific protocol for dealing with a paranormal disturbance,” Twilight said, using her patient lecturer voice, “and most of the existing literature is highly contradictory and untested.”

“Can you just blow it up?” Minuette asked.

“Oh.” Twilight hummed to herself. “Probably.”

“That’ll do.” Applejack looked around the barn. “Just don’t make too big a mess.”

“Get ‘em, Twilight!” Minuette said. “Science it right in the face!”

Twilight’s horn lit up with a huge crackle of energy as magenta arcs of power traveled up and down its length. She lowered her head, taking aim at the spectre that had frozen, eye sockets growing wide.

Hoooooold ooo—” Not seeing Twilight flinch as the noise of the spell grew to a fever pitch, the ghost coughed and waved its hooves. “Wait wait wait,” it said, voice notably less sonorous and more squeaky. “Stop. Let’s talk about this.”

Twilight’s eyes narrowed but her head tilted up slightly. “You’re haunting my friend’s barn. And apparently impersonating her mother.”

“An’ doing an awful job of it,” Applejack muttered. “Ma hates runnin’ around in circles wailin’.”

“Well, yes. I’m a ghost.” The figure leaned back to cross its forelegs, sternly glaring at the three. “I don’t go around threatening to explode you living ponies up for… for… breathing air and circulating blood.”

“Then why here?” Minuette asked. “This has got to be the most boring place to haunt in all Equestria.” Applejack shot her a look, but she held her ground. “I’m not making fun of your stupid farm. It’s a barn.”

“It’s nice and roomy,” the ghost said. “And I really thought the dead mother thing was going to be a classic touch, up until the part where she wasn’t dead yet.” The ghost sighed, the sound coming out in a mournful wail. “I’m kind of sick of ponies anyways. The last place I was in kept getting ghost hunters showing up with cameras and stuff and really, that’s just tacky.”

Twilight tapped her chin. “Wait… oh! You were the ghost from the old mansion on the outskirts of town? I know they just tore that down.”

“To put in a new Barnyard Bargains,” the ghost groused. “And I didn’t want to be stuck haunting the toilet paper aisle so here I am. I guess I’ll have to figure out somewhere else to go.”

“And scare some other pony?” Minuette said.

The ghost shrugged. “It’s an unliving.”

“Hold on,” Twilight said. “Maybe we can work something out. Applejack? Minuette?” The three of them gathered together, putting their heads down as they whispered furiously in conference. The ghost floated a little closer, tattered ears perked up to listen in until Twilight looked up to stare sternly in its direction. It morosely floated back.

After another moment or two of dialogue, Twilight nodded and turned back to the ghost. “Okay, uh… We might have a deal for you.”

“I’m listening,” the ghost said cautiously.

“So,” Twilight said. “This should be to everypony’s mutual benefit.” Applejack grumbled something under her breath and Twilight reached over to poke her in the side. “My friend Applejack here is offering to let you stay in this barn, under certain conditions. First of all, no loud noises or scaring bystanders.”

“But that’s what I do,” the ghost said. “I can’t not do it.”

“You haven’t heard all the conditions. Second, you help out in the nearby fields to scare off any crows or rabbits or fruit-bats that might try to eat the crops.”

The ghost perked up. “Oh. Oh, that sounds fun.”

“And third, you allow me to come by and run some rudimentary tests on you. Just enough to publish a small scholarly article. I’ll keep all information private, of course.”

The ghost hesitated, bobbing up and down as it considered the deal. “I don’t know. I don’t really like instruments and measurements and science things.”

“Or she could just blow you up after all,” Minuette said.

“On second thought, your offer sounds great!” the ghost said.

“But remember, no banging on things and causing a racket in here,” Applejack said.

“Not even a little chain-rattling?” the ghost said.

Applejack’s eyes narrowed as she frowned. “Can ya keep it quiet?” The ghost nodded enthusiastically, and Applejack sighed. “Fine. But if I hear the cows complainin’ again…”

“Hooray!” the ghost said. “I mean… Hoooooooooraaaay.” It swirled around the room in one final circuit before swooping up to vanish in the darkness of the hayloft above. After a moment of silence, the ponies below heard the very faint clinking of a section of chain being gingerly shaken.

Applejack smiled. “Ain’t how I figured that would go, but thanks for settlin’ it, Twi.”

“I always have time for a friend. And I love it when there’s a solution that means everypony gains something in the end.”

I didn’t get anything out of that,” Minuette grumbled.

“Yes you did.” Twilight threw one foreleg across Minuette’s back to pull her into a side-hug. “You learned a lesson about making unfortunate bets and will soon have all the benefits of a week of good honest labour.”

“Eeyup,” Applejack said. “I figure we’ll start nice and early next Monday.”

Minuette’s hoof hit her face. “Forget the stupid ghost. You two are the scary ones here.”

Author's Note:

Super busy and have no time to write = feel like you have a million creative ideas. Finally get some time to yourself again = completely creatively blocked. How does that happen? Anyways, in a desire to get the words flowing again, I sat down and kicked this out in an afternoon. Not my best, but a fun exercise. Hope you enjoyed.

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