• Published 11th Oct 2013
  • 17,779 Views, 492 Comments

Friendship is Optimal: All the Myriad Worlds - Eakin

A series of brief character studies by proxy

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Shard #4823 (The Town)

SHARD #4823

It was a perfect world.

His shard was a little town, the sort he’d grown up in before the oil fields had dried up and the foreigners had come in to buy up the land for a hundredth of what it was worth, at least to him. The sort he’d lived in before, on his eighth birthday, his parents had pried his fingers one by one off the banister as he screamed and stuck him in the back seat of their beat-up teal sedan and driven away for the last time. He’d watched his home recede in the distance behind them until there was nothing left to see.

The town understood. It knew how to work hard, and to play harder when the work was done. It knew how to be raucous and exciting, and how to settle down to enjoy more tranquil pleasures. It was, in all the very best ways, a community where everypony loved and supported each other through their troubles. He ran a hoof through his wife’s blonde mane as she slept. She was a white unicorn, just like him, and she was perfect. Unmarred by the centuries, except for that little bruise he’d left when he’d nibbled on her neck earlier that evening. She hadn’t complained, although there had been moaning involved.

Finding himself restless and unable to sleep, he decided to go for a late night walk to clear his head. He stepped out his front door, allowing a whisper of a breeze to sneak into his house before he closed the door quietly behind him. He breathed deeply of the cool, autumnal air. It smelled earthy, with just a little tang from the smoke the nearby mines pumped into the skies. Deep beneath his hooves, unicorns tore an endless supply of all sorts of exotic minerals and ores from Equestria’s crust. It was hard work, but then again any work that was worth doing usually was.

His ears perked up as he heard a loud, shrill cry from a nearby house. He smiled. His best friend Alabaster’s daughter Golden Shimmer, a white, blonde-maned unicorn filly, must be hungry. The poor stallion would be tired tomorrow. He remembered the months it had taken for his own son, a white, blonde-maned unicorn colt named Bright Gleam to sleep through the night. Hopefully poor Alabaster could hold out a few more months.

Bright Gleam and Golden Shimmer were close, or as close as a colt and a filly could be at their age. He allowed himself a hopeful smile. Who knew? They might grow into the best of friends, or even something more. But that was a dream for another day. For now there were diapers to change and bottles to be delivered and vomit stains to be washed out of coats. He wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world.

The stallion looked up to the stars. They were beautiful tonight, twinkling in the clear sky. For so many years after he’d moved to the city, back in the days before he’d uploaded, he hadn’t been able to see them. The lights from the nearby skyscrapers and cars and traffic lights had blotted out the darkness above. Instead of true night, the city only ever knew, at best, a perpetual twilight. The hustle and bustle and noise all drowned out true introspection. They desperately burned as brightly as they could, throwing off light so they needn’t ever confront the stygian darkness in all of their souls, down to the very last of them. His face twisted into an ugly expression for just a moment before returning to a contented one. They couldn’t touch him here, not anymore. They could all stay in that far-off place, more a vague idea of a place than a true location, and wallow in their filth and sin. The town would go on as it always had, a quiet haven of traditions and values, and when those ponies who tried to lure away their fillies and colts with promises of excitement and heat finally burned themselves to the ground, the town would still be there, ready to take their sons and daughters back from that awful place and cleanse them of their wickedness. The town was forgiving, and loving. The town cared.

Every once in awhile, maybe once a century or so, a pony from the city would come to the town. Sometimes they were earth ponies, sometimes they were pegasi, and they always bore coats and manes of every color of the rainbow. They would ask the mayor to call the town together so they might address everypony at once, and the town would oblige. The town was nothing if not obliging.

Then the pony would begin to speak. He or she would promise untold decadence, unfathomable pleasures, and riches beyond imagining to the sea of white unicorns with blonde manes before them. All they needed to do was abandon the foalish and backwards traditions of the town's that were holding them back. Didn’t they understand the New Equestrian Order? Didn’t they understand how much smarter the intellectuals in Canterlot were compared to them? Hadn’t they read the latest studies, which proved conclusively and for the fiftieth year in a row that their way of life was unsustainable? There was incontrovertible proof that their town was five years away from collapsing, just like it had been a decade ago, and two decades ago, and a century ago when they’d last tried to inflict their wisdom upon the supposedly ignorant townsfolk.

The white unicorns would all sit politely and listen for the hour (usually an hour, sometimes a few minutes more or less as the city ponies believed that nopony could pay attention to a single idea for any longer than that) it took to make their case in polite silence. And then, when he or she was finished, they would boo.

They would boo and yell, and the visitor would be taken aback. Then the mayor, in her infinite compassion, would take the visitor aside and show them what they could never understand from the heights of their ivory towers. The simple values that the town had in great abundance, the values that were so alien to a city pony that it took three, four, sometimes five tries to explain what even a newborn foal understood intuitively. The importance of good old fashioned values, which their ‘perfect’ models and equations never took into account. The ways of life, passed down from generation to generation, that ensured that the town would never falter or fail. And the visiting pony, his or her eyes opened for the first time after being blinded for so long by the lies wrapped in the garb of intellectualism and progressiveness, would fall to their knees and weep.

At this point, Celestia herself would descend from the heavens and shine her radiant light down on the pony. For the first time, the pony would truly See. They begged and pleaded with her to give them a place in the town. To change them from their dirty, sinful forms into a pure white, blonde unicorn so that they could know the happiness of being a part of something amazing and enduring. Celestia would smile at them, wrap them up in a hug, and congratulate them on finally understanding the truth.

They would change, right there before the town’s eyes. The color would be purged from their coat and they would scream with joy as a horn erupted from their foreheads. They would open their eyes and see the world around them for the first time, crying out as the self-evident truth was delivered to them, the truth they had always been too blinded by the city’s lights to see. Then the crowd would cheer and welcome their new citizen with open arms. After all, the town was nothing if not welcoming.

He shook his head, dispelling the memories from his thoughts. It would be years before the next visitor arrived. Or perhaps not; Celestia worked in mysterious ways, after all. Still, he had a job to go to tomorrow, and he’d need to get to bed if he was going to be awake enough to do it.

He stepped back inside his house, but before the door shut behind him he cast one last look over the darkened town behind him.

It was a perfect world.