• Published 1st Apr 2014
  • 15,413 Views, 1,427 Comments

Puppets of Tragedy - Iridescence T Wind

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

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Behind the Strings

Ever since a young age, I've always been obsessed with the dark side of stories. What lead to the wicked witch becoming so wicked or the boogie man becoming so terrible. Often times I'd watch a movie for the villain rather than the block head hero who seems to either get a lucky shot or have plot armor because they're the main character when the villain is far more interesting to listen to. Of course, my favorite of these are the tragic tales that are actually explored, even in the slightest. A brother denied a kingdom, a sociopath that was downloaded into a machine against her will, and even when a villain has won and gone on to create a united nation, only for a relentless psychopath of a samurai to hunt him down despite all of his resources.

So it wouldn't be a surprise that I had taken up the hobby of creating movie props at a young age, to live out the fantasy of pretending to be them, and act out their roles and tried to feel like they did. With countless games and movies having been memorized as a child, the hobby grew into an active role as I found myself taking part in more and more technical aspects of theater through high-school and eventually found a well paying job as a prop designer and art director for several small scale films. Once a hobby, had now turned into a profession akin to art, while not the best of jobs, and work in a competitive business of theater was ever scarce, there was surprising joy in aspects of my life that I hadn't considered until a stream of requests for various cosplay gear started coming in from past colleagues of my theater classes and I had went to work in carefully crafting each individual piece that was going to eventually show up at this collection of fandoms in Comic-Con.

Among the requests I've gotten, some were for heroes, but the vast majority of them were unsurprisingly villains which was pleasing to my past work, and as requests all but flooded in for last minute preparations, I had the luxury of refusing or modifying a few of them at least. After all, its hard to make a costume for a robot that stays stationary upside down on a ceiling and expect it to be able to walk through the front door right?

My latest request was a humanized version of a certain draconequus from a show meant for little girls, a rather popular one at that of which I, myself had been a minor fan of. While it was not the most challenging project by far, it took more than one try to get his horns right on the hat I had been working on all night. My latest attempt to do so had resulted in my favorite tool, a dremel tool I used in carving out foam had worn out its head. Normally a dremel tool was used to cut into foam by removing chunks similar to a miniature saw and carving tool. Some of the stronger ones could even be used to cut into wood or metal as well, though for most of my projects the lower end ones were better for the job.

With the due date for the project looming around the corner, and tickets to this convention of gaming and anime within my grasp, this lead to the interesting circumstances that would lead me to this prop shop. Most of the other stores were closed at this hour, and It couldn't wait until morning unless my client was to wear one of the failed attempts at recreating discords horn. Something I wouldn't be able to live with if it were to transpire. My reputation was for the accuracy of my props, the only exceptions of that rule being when a prop would be far too large for a human being to handle, or if the size of the prop would make it look ridiculously over-sized in comparison to the costume that went with it.

I had to admire though the store owners own style of crafting props though. They looked so real, and several of these intricately designed props were such a steal for their low prices. A large metal sword a random kid was admiring actually shimmered in the light as if it was the real thing for Petes sake. I'd have to ask the manager his secret, but first I'd have to acquire a replacement dremel, and perhaps some more crafting supplies to replace all of the EVA foam that I had used up recently. One particular kit however, a box set with all the tools and supplies needed for crafting some props, including a few straps attached for carrying it like a backpack, caught my eye. On the front it was depicted with all the tools I need, and more.

I won't lie, I love shiny things, and all the tools depicted on the advertisement for the kit was extremely shiny looking. I could hear my wallet groan as it expected a several hundred dollar price tag that usually came with these kits but when I checked, my jaw practically dropped to the floor.

"Only twenty bucks?!" I exclaimed in surprise, "you got to be bucking kidding me; that's low!"

To complete the unexpected event the shop keeper, who was as generic as an old man could get while leaning on his counter merely grinned at me, "Find something you like stranger?"

I nodded, while picking up the box in my traveling pajamas. Hey, I know that look, there's nothing wrong with a sweatshirt that has been turned into a robe while wearing sweatpants, sneakers, and a tank top underneath it. It's a perfectly manly look, especially when you spend a month trying to make it look like a white and blue traveling robe with sleeves that one would only see in an anime. The kind that went way past the hands and you could probably tie someone up with like an insane asylum while looking like a kimono. My parents had deemed it a fashion disaster, I deemed it cozy. That and somehow cute, I could hear a few suppressed giggles as I lifted my new treasure up and onto the counter. Suppressing the urge to roll my eyes as people commented on what a kid was doing alone in the store in such a get up, I also added a blank mask and marionette doll to my selection for my own use. After all, what fun is there in going to a con full of props and costume homages to your favorite shows and not having at least some of your own to show off?

The shop keeper grinned, looking down at me literally. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not exactly the tallest of individuals around, being four feet and five inches tall. "This'll be all?" He asked me, and I nodded. His smile grew wider, "That'll be fifty even, I don't believe in that 99 cent nonsense. It only leaves you with a penny to spare out of each dollar that most people seem to never use."

I nodded again, and reached to pull out my wallet and he commented again, "Interesting choice of language by the way, a fan of the show?"

I sighed, pulling the wallet out and starting to count the mess of fives and ones inside it, "More or less, needed to get some replacement tools in order to finish the final costume piece of a discord cosplay for a client of mine. Kind of hard not to get absorbed by the show when several of your clients routinely ask you to ponify their costumes or ask for one of a kind pony variations of things that shouldn't be ponied. Nothing compared to the quality of the stuff around here though."

The clerk raised an eyebrow at that, "Discord you say?" his smile grew wider, "Tell you what, I'll hold onto this stuff for you in the back, if you show me what you have so far. If it's good, I'll even let you keep this stuff for free and maybe show you a thing or two."

"You have to be kidding." I told him plainly. It was a rough world, truth be told, there was no way that simply showing a stranger what I had would score me a lesson in how he made his props so realistic, and that much money worth of free crafting supplies. It just simply wouldn't make sense in the slightest.

But sure enough the grin was still on his face and his voice was completely serious, "I'm not. Or am I? Come back within the hour and find out."

Of course, I could bore everyone with the frantic high speed sprint in robes through the night time streets of the city back to the hotel, the hurried pace as I nearly tripped over myself countless times on the way back. And near collapsing of exhaustion from a pair of twenty minute sprints at the front desk. But that would be as boring as watching all the in between bits of random traveling the hobbits had to do between the scenes of action in lord of the rings.

He provided me a life sized manikin to put the costume on in the backroom and I obliged, the seemingly random pieces of clothing coming together quite nicely and more easily recognizable as the suit version of the draconequs. The only thing imperfect about it was the horns on the hat, the remaining one having yet to be carved fully, painted, and attached. As is, the half carved horn was placed on a nearby work table.

The aged shop keeper pulled at his beard as he circled around the costume, nodding here and there with all the seriousness of a man choosing his fashion line. Apparently he was satisfied at what he saw, as he turned to me, "I see your only missing the antler."

I nodded while admiring his various works in progress, "Indeed, It's been a troubling how many sheets of foam and wire I've gone through trying to make a perfect replica of the antler. Made a few nice ones, but they always turned out below my satisfaction..."

"Well lets see if we can fix that, shall we?" He turned towards the incomplete horn and gestured at it, "And maybe improve the costume a bit as well so it'll match the rest of our colorful friend here."

I nodded as we got to work. Well it was more him working and me looming over his shoulder watching what he was doing, though conversation started up again as he cut into the foam with a soldering iron that had its tip replaced with a scalpel that looked like it belonged in a medical drama, not a prop making table. "So are you a fan of villains, kid?"

I nodded, before realizing he wouldn't be able to see that with his gaze focused on cutting the foam accurately, "Yes actually, ever since I was a little kid, why?"

"Ah, recently then," he teased and I resisted the urge to pout, after all grown men don't pout, at least not publicly.

Instead I sighed,"I'm an adult."

"I know. Now tell me, what interests you in villains over heroes? Would think you'd have more fun designing a costume of Princess Star-Butt rather than the above average quality of these sort of costumes."

"Twilight." I corrected, "And It's because of potential of tragedy."

This gave him pause, as he turned to look up at me, I could of sworn I saw yellow and red eyes if only for just a second, "Tragedy?"

I nodded, "It's something that irks me in most stories about heroes going after villains, is that often time they aren't evil by the definition of it. Circumstances caused them to behave how they do, out of grief and anger over something they believed was wrong. The hero in comparison usually ends up removing the villain from the equation, completely ignoring this problem like a obedient block head leading into the game or story repeating a short while later. Like Equestria beating down its villains first without any questions asked as to why they were doing what they did."

The old man chuckled, resuming his work, "And you think the heroes are the real villains here?"

My head shook with my reply, "No, they're more akin to a neutral party accidentally taking the wrong side against Villains created by a mistake of someone else. Like discord not having a friend until Fluttershy gave him a chance, or the history of Luna falling from being good because no one gave her respect she duly reserved for her beautiful night."

"Things can often be more complex than they appear, that is true. How would you show them the error however?"

I shrugged, "I'm just a human being in an another universe entirely, what could I do? If anything, I'd try to show them the difference between a tragedy and a real villain. People who have no excuse to why they do evil versus those who still have a chance of redemption."

"An anti-hero then." the old man concluded for me, shortening what I said to two words, " or he who would fall so that others would rise."

I sighed, "One person wouldn't change their views. They would need to be shown several examples, and forced to learn these details in order to win, rather than just shooting everyone with a magical rainbow and calling it problem solved..."

"Well then, Alexander Herrington." the old man told me, moving away from the horn, unsupervised he had already completed it, a feat of which I was surprised. How was the paint already dry? When had he painted it? Wait, he knew my name, "I think your going to have quite the task ahead of you then"

Dumbfounded I asked him the first thing that came to mind, "How did you know my name?"

The old man ignored my question as he placed the horn against the hat and let go, somehow it stuck in place and he turned to me, holding out a once blank mask, now decorated with a simple set of block shaped eyes and a triangular hole for the mouth, both covered from the inside by black fabric giving it, I took it and admired the closer look as I could see thin yet intricate markings that seemed ordinarily hidden from a few feet away. The only way I could imagine those lines becoming visible would be if someone intentionally got it dirty to color in the lines. He gestured at me to put it on, "you've put a lot of care into your costume, I can respect that. This mask will serve as a reminder to you that the best kept secrets are behind the facade we put up for our public faces."

My moved it up, placing it on, the inside of the mask was surprisingly softer than it looked, and clung to my face as I wrapped the string around my head to keep it in place. As I looked into his workshop mirror however, the world went white. Vaguely I could hear him snicker, a fading voice among the glow, "Enjoy yourself Alex, or do you prefer Xander... Whichever way, my real gift for you is the chance to teach them the lessons you desire. Oh and don't worry about your clients, I'll make sure everything arrives on time."

As my consciousness faded into black, I sighed, "This is a dream isn't it?"

"Only if you want it to be." he answered cryptically, "Then again, what fun would there be in making sense?"

Author's Note:

Hope this is a good start. And as per usual, always looking for editors. Alexander, or Xander, as he prefers to be called, is going to have an chaotic adventure. Or maybe not, who knows. Find out next time on Puppets of Tragedy.

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