• Published 10th Mar 2014
  • 2,029 Views, 64 Comments

How Equestria Was Made - Feo Takahari

Two sisters find an empty snow globe. At a touch, it fills with light and life--but darkness lurks within it as well . . .

  • ...

Further Deeds of the Goddesses

On the edge of the school playground, Annie sat alone at a small table. In front of her was a sketchbook, fresh and unmarked, with a picture of a unicorn on the cover. Rather than look at it, she watched her fellow students as they took turns on the slide.

She’d read a book once in which a mean old adult hated the laughter of children. Perhaps she was all grown up already--watching these kids set her teeth on edge.

It was an alternative school, and many of them had come there because they’d had no alternative. Like her, they’d been unable to function in regular schools. Most had simply been bullied, as she had. A few had suffered far worse offenses, things they wouldn’t even talk about. She was nothing special compared to them, and she knew it.

Some of the kids had tried to talk to her at first. She knew they meant well, and she pushed them away gently. At her old school, she’d just been the weird kid, a walking punching bag for anyone to use. She wasn’t ready to trust again.

Some of the teachers had tried to connect with her. They’d searched for subjects she’d liked, and tried to engage her on an equal level. But at her old school, the teachers had done nothing to help her. She wasn’t ready to open up again.

She opened the sketchbook and put pencil to paper, outlining narrow eyes and a cruel smile. Danny Winters stared out of the page at her, real as life.

She hadn’t minded so much when he’d kicked her, though it angered her that teachers always believed that she’d started it. Her ruined backpack was easily replaced, and even her broken Pony Princess was really just a toy. But he had a kind of power--with a snide smile or a cutting joke, he could make people into their opposites. Students who were normally kind and friendly would watch him humiliate her, and they’d smirk and join in.

She could almost hear his voice. You should see the look on your face! And then that laugh . . .

She tore the page out and crumpled it up. She’d throw it in the trash later. Then she put pencil to paper once more, outlining two ponies playing chess in a cave.

She was ready to draw again. And maybe, someday, she’d be ready to feel like a human being again.

For now, she was going to feel like a pony instead.

-- -- -- --

Once there were three pegasi, two parents and a foal, and they loved each other dearly. They prayed faithfully to Polly, and they believed that their prayers were rewarded. They lived peacefully, harming no one, and they considered themselves happy.

The father’s death was a simple accident--the local weather team was transporting a lightning cloud, and they accidentally let a bolt fly loose. The mother sank into loneliness and sorrow, growing far too fond of fermented cider. The foal watched, but there was nothing he could do.

One night, the weather team prepared a storm to clear the air after a forest fire. They advised all townsfolk to stay indoors, but the mother was drunker than usual, and she didn’t heed the warning. She rushed up into the sky, kicking at the clouds to break them apart, yelling something about taking revenge.

The wind hit her hard, and she landed badly. Ordinary treatments weren’t enough to let her fly again. Unicorn magic could fix her wings, but the few healers who could perform the spells charged exorbitant amounts, and a pegasus who couldn’t fly had few ways of earning money.

The mother sank deeper into self-pity and self-hatred, blitzed on cider all day every day. And the foal watched, but there was nothing he could do.

One day, years after the mother’s crash, a pegasus appeared in the foal’s bedroom. By then, he was nearly a stallion, and his first impulse was to attempt violence against what he thought was a burglar. But when he saw her cutie mark, a stylized sun, he realized this was Polly herself, come in answer to his prayers.

“Do you want to ask for anything specific?” Polly asked. “Your prayer was pretty vague.”

“I want my dad back,” the foal said. “That’s all.”

“I can’t do that,” Polly said. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know where dead ponies go. I don’t think I can die here, so I can’t go there and bring them back.”

“Then I want my mom to stop drinking,” he said. “I want her to be like she was before my dad died.”

“She drinks because she’s sad,” Polly told him. “I can’t just reach inside her brain and make her happy. It wouldn’t be right.”

“Why not?”

“I could make you happy that she drinks. I could make you want her to keep drinking. But that would be wrong, wouldn’t it?”

The foal shuddered. “That’s horrible. But isn’t there anything you can do?”

“Maybe,” Polly said. “I’ll have to find something to make her want to stop drinking. It will take time to figure it out.”

The foal sighed. “Look, if you’re not gonna do anything else right now, could you at least heal her wings?”

Polly frowned. “Isn’t there magic for--”

“On it,” a cold voice said. “Don’t worry, little pony--your mother’s gonna be fine.”

The foal looked around in confusion, while Polly merely sighed. “Maybe Annie can fix this better than I can. I’ll just go now. I’m sorry.”

A great many healers found a hooded earth pony at their front door, her cloak hiding her cutie mark. She told them each a story of a broken-winged pegasus who needed to fly again. A great many of those healers shut the door in her face when they learned they wouldn’t be paid, but one at last agreed to help. Physically, at least, the foal’s mother was okay again.

Those healers who refused to help were plagued for two days by diarrhea and vomiting. None of them died from it, but all proclaimed their repentance.

The earth pony appeared unhooded before the youth, and he knew her as Annie. “See? I helped when Polly wouldn’t--”

“Why now?” the youth asked. “I prayed for years. Why did you only come now?”

Annie seemed surprised by this. “Um, it was time.”

“Why was it time?” the youth demanded. “Why wasn’t it time after Dad died? Tartarus, why wasn’t it time before he died? Why couldn’t you stop that bolt?”

There was no flash of light or puff of smoke. One moment, only Annie was there. The next, Polly stood beside her. “Because we’re not gods,” Polly said, “even if everypony thinks we are. We don’t know everything, and we can’t be everywhere at once. We just help where we can.”

“Then what good are you?” the youth asked.

“I don’t know,” Polly said. “But I’d rather do something than do nothing.”

For the first time, the youth really looked at her. She wasn’t any bigger than him, and her mane wasn’t any more flowing. She didn’t glow with an inner light, nor blaze with a hidden fire. The all-powerful, undying figure he’d worshiped all his life was only a pegasus, just like him.

The youth collapsed to the floor and cried.

A vision came to young healers who were just starting out in the craft. It asked them to minister to the poor and the needy. It was a request, not a command, but a healing order was soon established, its labors funded by donations at Polly’s temples.

As for the mother, and whether she found a purpose again . . . well, that’s another story.

-- -- -- --

“It’s not good enough,” Annie said.

“What else can we do?” Polly asked.

“I don’t know,” Annie said. “I don’t know!”

Annie stared down at the floor, and Polly stared down at Annie, and neither of them said anything for a very long time.

“I’m going back in,” Annie said.

Polly grabbed her by her shirt collar, making sure not to touch bare skin. “Oh no you don’t. You’re going straight to bed, and you’re getting a good night’s sleep. We can work on it again tomorrow.”

-- -- -- --

The recess bell rang, and a river of small children flowed out the door onto the playground. The teacher smiled to see a few stragglers--the morning’s lesson had evidently proven interesting. Still, none of them ultimately resisted the call of slides and tire swings.

None save one.

Annie was filling up a sketchbook, outlining detailed landscapes in plain black and white. She didn’t look up when the teacher approached, but she turned the book and set it down. “You can see it if you want, Mrs. Wilcox.”

Mrs. Wilcox studied the page. It was only half finished, but it was leaps and bounds above anything Annie had done for art assignments. For that matter, it was more expressive than many of the drawings the eighth graders made. Even in pencil, with no colors added, precise shading created the illusion of a vivid sunrise over a grassy hill. And at the base of the hill . . .

“Horses?” she asked. “I’ve never seen you draw anything living before.”

“Ponies,” Annie said. “At first, I wanted to make something like my Pony Princess dolls, but those are silly. These need to be better.”

Mrs. Wilcox thumbed through the pages. A pony with bat wings, fighting some kind of scorpion monster . . . A pony with a horn, riding on a griffon’s back . . . Two ponies playing chess inside a cave . . . “These are really good,” she said.

“You don’t need to patronize me, Mrs. Wilcox,” Annie said, still looking down at her desk.

The teacher combed through her memory, trying unsuccessfully to think of another time she’d heard a child Annie’s age use the word “patronize.” She’d taught gifted students before, of course, but Annie always made her feel distinctly outmatched.

“There’s going to be a schoolwide art contest in March,” Mrs. Wilcox attempted. “Almost every year, the grand winner is from seventh or eighth grade. But I think you might win with one of these.”

“They’re not perfect,” Annie said. “Not yet.”

“They don’t have to be,” Mrs. Wilcox said. “None of the other drawings in the contest will be perfect.”

Annie finally looked up to meet the teacher’s eyes. “They do have to be perfect. There needs to be a world that’s better than Earth.”

Mrs. Wilcox called Annie’s parents that night, leaving a message saying that she was worried about their daughter. Annie deleted it before anyone else could hear it.

Author's Note:

Edited by Rakni and Razalon.