• Published 26th Jan 2014
  • 4,470 Views, 512 Comments

The Heart of an Author - Oroboro



Mystery. Love. Magic. Murder. Truth. These are all important elements in the murder mystery Fluttershy has written, and is now asking Twilight to read. But she struggles to solve the mystery in which it turns out she's the protagonist.

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Chapter 4 - Golden Slaughterer

“Hey. Hey! Twi, are you in there!?”

“Nnnnnnnhgh…”

There was an incessant pounding coming from… somewhere. Was sleeping in a bit longer really that much to ask for?

“Twilight. Twilight, helloooo. Can’t sleep in forever.”

When Twilight slowly opened her eyes, her senses were immediately assaulted by a sharp pain in her neck. Groaning as she stood up, she realized she had fallen asleep in the library, and with a mild sense of horror, that she had drooled all over the book she was reading.

“NnnRainbow Dash? Izzat you?” Twilight asked in the middle of a long yawn. “You don’t have to keep knocking like that, just come in.”

There was a slight pause, and then a sigh of relief from behind the door before the handle began to jiggle fruitlessly. “It’s locked Twi, I can’t get in. Not without busting it down.”

Twilight frowned, still trying to parse her way through the cobwebs in her sleep addled mind. “Locked…? This is the library, why would I lock the door?”

When Rainbow Dash continued to jiggle the door handle to emphasize the point, Twilight rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and began walking over to the door on unsteady legs. When she got there, Twilight stopped, her eyes going wide. Not only was the door locked, but the chain lock and bolt were set too.

That shouldn’t be possible, right? Thinking back, she definitely didn’t remember locking anything herself. And she was pretty sure this was the only entrance to the library.

“Any day now, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said impatiently.

Filing that thought away for later, Twilight undid all the locks on the library door and swung it open to confront Rainbow Dash. Just what was so important that –

Twilight’s breath caught in her throat and her eyeballs threatened to burst out of her sockets as she saw what was adorning the outside of the door and on one of Rainbow Dash’s fronthooves.
Was that… blood?

“Is that… yours?” asked Twilight, unsure of what else to say as she gestured towards the red marks streaked all across the library door. Her brain seemed to have short circuited for a second, and she couldn’t properly process the scene in front of her.

“Huh? No, of course not,” Rainbow Dash said, scratching her head. “Wait, are you saying you didn’t put this here?”

“That’s…” Twilight closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but this wasn’t the time to panic. Gingerly, she reached out and touched the door with one of her hooves. It was still wet, and –

Ah. This was red paint. Of course.

Rolling her eyes as hard as she could, Twilight leaned over, elbowing Rainbow Dash in the ribs. “Geez. That was a good one, RD. You suuure got me! Now if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to –“

“Why would I scribble red paint all over the library door? That’d be a pretty lame prank if you ask me. Plus, Fluttershy would get all mad and make me clean it up,” Rainbow Dash said, waving a forehoof dismissively. “Speaking of Fluttershy, have you seen her around? It’s breakfast time and I’m starving, but I can’t seem to find her anywhere.”

“...Okay,” Twilight said after a few moments of contemplation. “If it’s not some kind of practical joke, then why is there…” Twilight took another look at the door, to see exactly what was drawn there. Three intersecting lines, a couple of smudges around the outside… “A crude drawing of my cutie mark on the library door in red paint?”

Rainbow Dash simply shrugged in response, and Twilight let out a sigh. “Last time I saw Fluttershy was last night after the story. I think she said something about checking up on the princesses?”

Rainbow Dash frowned, bringing a hoof up to her chin. “Hmm. Weird. She’s not in her room, already checked. Neither were you, I guess, and you were here, so whatever. I’ll go look around some more.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow, giving Rainbow Dash an exasperated look. “You could just go make your own breakfast you know. Just because Fluttershy is acting like a servant here for whatever reason doesn’t mean you have to treat her like one.”

“Aww come on, Twi. It’s not like that. Her food’s just really good, you know?” Rainbow Dash said, grinning sheepishly. “Whatever. Maybe I can convince Applejack to whip something up.”

“Rainbow, you should really let those two… be.” Twilight let out a sigh as Rainbow Dash sped around the corner and out of sight before she could stop her.

After taking the time to stretch and fully wake herself now that Rainbow Dash wasn’t demanding her attention, Twilight realized she was actually pretty hungry herself. She made her way towards the kitchen, trying to work out the stiffness in her neck along the way. It hurt, but in some ways it was oddly nostalgic. She hadn’t fallen asleep doing research in a long time.

Twilight made it to the kitchen easily enough and didn’t have any problem gathering what she needed. She was by no means a star cook, but making a few sandwiches for herself and her friends wasn’t exactly a monumental undertaking either. It would pale in comparison to last night’s feast, but it was the thought that counted. Poor Fluttershy must just be exhausted from working so hard.

***

Five minutes later Twilight found herself coughing up a storm as Rarity levitated the burning remains of ‘breakfast’ into the sink, dousing them with water.

“How did this even happen?” Twilight wondered incredulously.

“Don’t worry about it, dear. I deal with it all the time whenever I forget to lock the kitchen up whenever Sweetie Bell’s around,” Rarity said, brushing some ash off her coat.



“Hey!” I’m not that terrible of a cook!”

Fluttershy blushed, clearly trying to stop herself from giggling. “Sorry.”



“It’s fimh,” Applejack said, talking through a mouth full of apple before swallowing. “I mean, this’ll do for a morning snack and all. Storm’s still blowing, so not like any official business is going on today.”

Twilight let out a light sigh. “I was really looking forward to seeing Shining and Cadence. How long do you think it will last?”

“My best bet is tomorrow,” Rainbow Dash said as she entered the kitchen with a rush of wind. “But yeah, I still can’t find Fluttershy anywhere. Or Pinkie Pie, for that matter.”

“Just what do you mean by ‘anywhere’?” Rarity asked, frowning.

“I mean I’ve searched every single room in this mansion, including the attic and the basement. Everything except the princesses’ room. I knocked a bunch to see if they knew anything, but I didn’t get a response,” Rainbow Dash said as she paced back and forth.

“Couldn’t they just be hidin’ somewhere? Under a bed or in a closet or somethin’? Or maybe they’re just moving from room to room as yer looking around,” Applejack said.

“I guess,” Rainbow Dash said, shrugging. “But why would they?”

“You have a point,” Twilight said, trotting over to the kitchen window. “Do you think they’re outside then?” She could see from here that her shield was still intact, even as the storm raged on outside, drifts of snow piled up against the barrier.

“I could check again, I guess.” With a sigh, Rainbow Dash sped off. Twilight watched her fly past the window and around the mansion grounds.

“So uh, Twi,” Applejack said, moving in close to stand by the window. “You find anything about that legend in those books last night?”

“Huh? Oh right, that. No, I didn’t find anything substantial. Just vague bits and pieces here and there. I really have no idea where Fluttershy and Rainbow even got the story from.” Twilight paused, turning to raise an eyebrow at Applejack. “Just what about all this has you so bothered anyway?”

“Oh, well,” Applejack said, looking away. “Not much really. Kind of embarrassing if I think about it. Just uh, kind of reminded me about some old Apple family legends and was wondering if there was some connection.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes suspiciously, but before she could dig deeper Rainbow Dash popped up outside the window, tapping on the glass.

“Uh, guys. You’re going to want to come see this.”


“This is…” Twilight said, trailing off.

“Just like at the library, yeah,” Rainbow Dash said.

The four were gathered around a shed located in the back corner of the garden. While normally just an unremarkable (if sturdy) shack meant for holding tools, it was currently decorated with swatches of red paint similar to what was on the door to the library. If one squinted, they somewhat resembled the shape of a balloon with a butterfly on the inside of it.

“Are you suggesting that those two are… in there? Hellooo? Fluttershy, Pinkie, it’s okay if you say something now, we’ll just pretend to be surprised!” Rarity said. She was twirling her mane in her hooves, looking agitated.

“Can you open it?” Twilight asked, her voice collected and calm.

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “It’s locked, and I don’t know where the key is. Plus I think it’s chained from the inside as well. Just blast it open Twi. Better safe than sorry.”

“Who the hay puts a chain lock on a garden shed?” Applejack asked as Twilight lowered her horn.

Twilight focused her magic, bringing it to bear against the comparatively flimsy shed door. Rather than blowing it to smithereens, she used the force to snap the hinges loose, catching the door with her telekinesis and laying it down gently.

What lay inside the shed burned a stark image into Twilight that would haunt her nightmares for the rest of her life. The world she knew and loved was gone forever.


Twilight’s eyes were locked to the pink form on the floor of the shed, lying in a pool of what she desperately hoped was red paint.

“P-Pinkie Pie…?” she heard her own voice say, soft and weak.

Moving over to Pinkie’s side, she rolled her over cautiously. Her eyes were closed with a soft smile on her face, like she was sleeping.

Her flesh was cold beneath Twilight’s hooves.

“H-hey… come on, this is a joke right? Something like this couldn’t actually happen, right? I mean, you’ve had some pretty poor tastes in jokes before, Pinkie, but this really takes the cake. Hah! Get it? Takes the cake…” Twilight’s voice cracked as her whole body began to shake.

“C-come on, Pinkie.”

Pinkie’s form remained still and limp, a cold reminder of the harsh reality she had suddenly found herself in.

This couldn’t actually be real, right? It was just some horrible nightmare. A vision brought on by all the scary stories. A prank by Discord, or just a changeling impersonating Pinkie, or…

“Oh sweet Celestia, that can’t be…”

Twilight heard a soft voice behind her, seemingly miles away. Trying to blink through the tears, she looked up, and her heart froze again.

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no!

In the back of the shed there was what could only be described as a ‘mess’, some sort of macabre work of art that few would believe could have originally been a pony.

But the red stained yellow feathers and tufts of fur scattered around told a far worse story.

“Flu-“

Twilight’s words caught in her throat, unable to even face the truth that was in front of her. She closed her eyes, placed her hooves over her ears and screamed as loud as she could, trying to make everything go away.


“What in Tartarus is this!?” Twilight yelled, throwing the book to the floor and whirling around to face Fluttershy.

Fluttershy shrieked at Twilight’s outburst, her ears lying back and shrinking beneath the presence of the suddenly livid mare. “It’s, uh, I told you already, it’s a m-murder mystery, Twilight…”

Shaken by what she had just read, Twilight tried to blink back her tears and fumbled with her words. “Mystery! You said it was a mystery! There was nothing about me having to read, in graphic detail, about the horrible deaths my friends suffered!”

Fluttershy tried to become even smaller as Twilight snorted and stomped her hooves, bearing down on the shivering pegasus.

“Why would even you write something like that? Why would you ask me to read something like that!? It’s just…”

Twilight took a step back, shuddering. She was already so immersed in the story, to even consider something like that happening… she suddenly had the strong desire to track down Pinkie Pie and give her long hug.

“I… I was just trying to…” Fluttershy burst into tears, her sobs wrenching another wound into Twilight’s recently battered heart.

Twilight closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm her frayed nerves. It didn’t work very well – she could still feel her hooves shaking and her teeth grinding themselves to points as her heart wrestled with all sorts of conflicting emotions.

“Fluttershy…” Twilight said with gritted teeth, her eyes still closed as she tried to shake her head clear.

“I-I’m sorry, T-Twilight!” Fluttershy said, choking out the words in-between wracking sobs. “P-please don’t hate me…”

Twilight took another deep breath, counting to ten this time. She could deal with this. She was the ‘Princess of Friendship’ after all. And this was all just fictional anyway, right? She shouldn’t let a book shake her up so much. She’d read on through the deaths of her favorite characters before, and it’s not like any of her friends were really hurt, right?

In her mind’s eye she could still picture Pinkie Pie lying there, cold and limp but still smiling.

“Fluttershy…” Twilight started up again, putting on a forced smile. “I don’t hate you. But surely you understand that reading about… that is something that is significantly emotionally distressing?”

Fluttershy nodded weakly before mumbling, “It’s important…”

“Good! In that case, I’m sure you understand that it’d probably best if we don’t continue this from here on out. I’ve just got too much bias to look at something like this objectively. But no worries! I’ve got a number of friends in the Equestrian Writers Society that would be more than happy to do some pre-reading and editing for you, and without all those pesky –”

“No!” Fluttershy ‘shouted’, her voice rising ever so slightly. Her eyes were wide with fear and her lip was quivering, but she locked eyes with Twilight, her expression pleading. “Please… Um, I mean, I’d really really really appreciate it if you could, um, see it through to the end. I know it’s a lot to ask.”

Twilight stared at Fluttershy, a blank look on her face. Was she seriously still asking this?

Fluttershy closed her eyes and took a deep breath, looking away. “I… this is very important to me Twilight. And it can’t be anypony else. It has to be you.”

Twilight continued staring for a few moments before sighing and covering her face with a hoof. “No. Well, maybe. I mean, I don’t know!”

Grimacing, Twilight turned towards the door. “Look, I need some fresh air. I’ll take a walk and think about this. Sorry, Fluttershy, but this is asking a lot… maybe too much. Just help yourself to whatever you want while I’m gone.”

Not wanting to see Fluttershy’s reaction, Twilight teleported away, leaving her all alone in the library.


The door to Sugarcube Corner opened with a merry jingling, and Twilight heard Pinkie call out from the back of the shop.

“I’ll be out in a second!”

Twilight took a moment to take in the familiar smells and warmth of the bakery. Coming here was a good idea.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corner, what can I get you – Woaah!” Pinkie jumped up into the air as soon as she saw Twilight, her hair standing on end. “We’ve got a baked goods emergency here! I’m going to need 50 CCs of frosting, stat!”

“Uh, hey Pinkie. What are – Mmff!” Twilight’s greeting was interrupted when Pinkie Pie rushed over and shoved a cupcake into her mouth.

“Tmfs rmmry imhmt nemessmmry,” Twilight tried to say, but was unable to overcome the frosted goodness. Despite her objections, the confectionary was absolutely delicious, and she found herself savoring every moment.

After finally managing to swallow, Twilight turned to Pinkie Pie, who had on her widest grin. Unable to resist smiling herself, she reached over and embraced her friend in a tight hug. “Thank you, Pinkie. I needed that.”

“No problem Twilight, that’s what I’m here for! You look like you’ve seen something scary. Like a nightmare! Everypony gets them occasionally, even me! I’m pretty good at dealing with them though, and it’s pretty easy. Lemme show you!”

Pinkie Pie began bouncing around Twilight excitedly, and Twilight could feel that she was about to burst into song. Laughing, she pulled Pinkie Pie back to the floor. “It’s a bit more complicated than that, Pinkie.”

“Hmm…” Pinkie Pie pondered for a short time, then smacked her hooves together as a light flashed in her eyes. Disappearing for a second, she came back with a couch, pushed Twilight onto it, and sat next to her in a comfy armchair of her own while wearing a pair of glasses and blowing bubbles out of a pipe.

“Tell ze Doctor Pinkie about your problems,” Pinkie Pie said in some sort of faux accent.

After recovering from her own laughter and wiping the tears from eyes, Twilight laid back, allowing herself to relax somewhat.

“Well… can you keep all of this a secret? Not necessarily for my sake, but for Fluttershy’s?” Twilight asked, resting her forehooves behind her head and looking up at the ceiling.

“Absolutely,” Pinkie Pie said, already going through her usual promise motions. “I take doctor-patient confidentiality very seriously!”

“Well, Fluttershy came to me with this book…”

***

“… And then I just kind of blew up at her. Even then, she still wants me to keep reading, so I figured I’d cool off a bit and then came here.”

Pinkie Pie gave a curt “Mmmhmm” and scribbled on her notepad, the same response she’d given to everything for the past half hour.

There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments before Pinkie Pie looked up and said, “Well, continue.”

“Seriously?” Twilight asked, rolling her eyes. “And then you fed me a cupcake and then we hugged and I felt better and then we decided to do this pretend therapy thing and now it’s right now.”

“I see…” Pinkie Pie said, tapping the rim of her notebook with her pencil thoughtfully.

“Are you even actually writing anything down?” Twilight asked.

Smiling so hard her glasses flew off of her face, Pinkie Pie flipped the notebook over to show Twilight. “Look, I drew a picture of me skiing down a mountain made entirely of cake!”

Twilight let out a sigh, covering her face with a hoof. “Were you even listening to anything I said?”

“Of course I was, silly!” Pinkie Pie said, looking somewhat offended.

After a few more moments of silence, Twilight gave an exasperated, “Well?”

“Well what? A story's just a story, Twilight! Did you stop and think that maybe Fluttershy isn't doing this for the shock value or to make you angry? She doesn't seem like the type to not have a reason."

Twilight frowned, unable to form a concrete objection. “Yeah, but…”

“And just think! You’re the book expert, Twi, you should’ve seen this already! When a story really puts a heroine through the wringer, when she loses a lot and has to try her very hardest to succeed, what happens at the end?”

Twilight’s eyes widened, the light at the end of the tunnel shining in her face. How could she have missed something so obvious? “A happy ending. Of course!”

Beaming, Pinkie Pie nodded enthusiastically. “Maybe it’s dark now, but I’m sure it won’t stay that way forever. You just gotta believe in Fluttershy and do your best!”

“Thanks, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight said, pulling Pinkie into another hug. Stepping away, she smiled and turned towards the door. “I should probably be getting back. Fluttershy must be an absolute wreck by now. I hope she’s still there.”

“Give her some of these; it’ll make her feel better!” Pinkie Pie quickly shoved a box of baked goods into Twilight’s hooves. “Oh, and I know she seems adamant about only you reading the book, but if you can get her to change her mind that would be awesome; I wanna know how it ends! Ooh, and then she could write one starring me next. That would be fun!”

Twilight levitated the pastries behind her as she left Sugarcube Corner, stopping to wave one last time before the doors closed. Pinkie Pie continued waving until Twilight was completely out of sight, then turned to get back to her neglected work, smiling.

She stopped halfway there, a frown crossing her face as a thought occurred to her. “Unless Fluttershy’s story is actually a tragedy. Yeesh. That would be rough!”


Twilight opened the door to the library to find Fluttershy hovering in place with a feather duster in her mouth, dusting off some of the higher bookshelves. The room in general seemed a little bit cleaner than she had left it.

“Oh. Um, hey Twilight,” Fluttershy said as she landed and placed the duster on a nearby table. “I just figured I’d help clean up a bit while I was waiting for you to get back.”

Fluttershy looked up at Twilight with an expectant, hopeful expression, her eyes still somewhat puffy from crying earlier.

Smiling, Twilight handed her the box of pastries. “Here, have some of these. Pinkie made them special.” Taking a bite of a cupcake herself and swallowing, Twilight continued, “And I’m sorry for yelling at you like that, Fluttershy. I let my anger get the better of me. I’ll keep reading.”

“Yaay!” Fluttershy threw her forehooves around Twilight, her wings carrying her up and down excitedly. “Oh thank you, Twilight! I was so worried you were going to say no.”

Twilight gently extracted herself from the pegasus’ grip, helping Fluttershy back to the ground. “I can’t promise I’ll… enjoy reading about stuff like that happening to my friends, but I should be able to handle it.”

Fluttershy nodded, sinking backwards slightly. “I understand, Twilight. And, um, I’m sorry I didn’t properly warn you about what was coming.”

Frowning, Twilight turned to the book resting on the table, her throat tightening slightly at the thought. “Is there… more stuff like this? Later on?”

Fluttershy’s face fell, and she was silent for a long while before finally answering, “Yes,” in a tiny voice.

Twilight closed her eyes, sighing. She could handle this. Happy ending. “Well, Fluttershy, I’m trusting you. You said this was important after all.”

Fluttershy nodded emphatically and Twilight made her way to get comfortable again.

“Did you, um, talk to Pinkie about this?” Fluttershy asked once the two had settled down.

“I did,” Twilight said, nodding. “Don’t worry though; I made her promise to keep it a secret.”

Picking up the book again, Twilight took a deep breath, turning to the page she had left it at.
Those horrible words were still there, staring her right in the face. She almost thought about skipping ahead, but a scene like this in a mystery was probably one of the most important, and contained all sorts of valuable clues.

She could handle this.

Author's Note:

Thanks to Sereg, Kalan, and JeffCvt for editing!

Namesake for the title

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