• Published 10th Jan 2016
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Wizards of Everfree Valley - Dafaddah



A geeky young Pegasus decides that magic should be for everypony, and sets out to make his dream a reality.

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Chapter One: Fismits

Author's Note:

Fismits was my first entry into the OC Slamjam contest. Although people liked the overall scenario, I was roundly criticized for straying too far from the OC profile provided by Melon Rind's author. Of all the entries in the contest, this is the one I have edited the most, hoping to fix some of those issues. The storyline is essentially unchanged, but a few key actions of Melon Rind and elements of her background have been brought into better alignment with her OC profile.

Fismits won by vote, and I moved on to the next round, having learned my lesson: I took far more care to study the OC profiles in succeeding rounds!

The Wake: Rainbow Dash

I’m really not the type of pony who goes to wakes, even those put on by a best friend who happens to live in a crystal castle shaped like huge tree. However, I do make some exceptions, that being one of a hoof-full of lessons Fluttershy's taught me over the years. Okay, maybe it’s more than a hoof-full. So who’s counting?

Anyways, when I was a foal I always thought why bother? It’s not like the dead care! But ‘Shy says wakes are for the living, because being faced with death is hard for most ponies, and having a get-together is a way to show everypony that life goes on. I kinda get it, I guess. A lot of ponies felt some need, whatever it was, ‘cause they came from all over Equestria for Firefly’s funeral, and most of them were here at the wake!

Applejack was a bit miffed that none of his family had shown up. I explained to her that he was an only foal, that both his parents had passed away, and that pegasi weren’t into the whole extended clan business like a lot of earth ponies were. So the reception line for new arrivals was four ponies: me – his former boss in the Ponyville weather brigade, Firefly’s business partner – a cream coated unicorn stallion called Mild Manners wearing a prissy looking tie and tweed jacket, Firefly’s BFF Falcata – a golden-yellow coated pegasus and member of Twilight’s Royal Guard, and Twilight herself.

“You know,” I say to break the silence, “I didn't expect much from him when he was assigned here by the Weather Bureau. He wasn’t exactly Wonderbolts material, if you catch my driftl! Less than seven years later, and he dies a gagillionnaire, or whatever he’s worth.” I glance back at the heavily gilded coffin in the corner. “Was worth. He sure surprised me.”

“Flying isn’t the only way to excel, Dash,” said Twilight. “What Firefly and Mild Manners have done –” she nodded to the unicorn “– has changed the face of Equestria!”

I nodded. “Yeah, I have to admit, you can hardly go anywhere without seeing ponies using one of those spell casters.”

A rough looking yellowish earth pony mare came up. She was short and stocky, and her mane and tail were cut short, showing faded green waves and several scars which she hadn’t bothered to cover up. Pale yellow eyes looked uneasily past me to Falcata.

“Hiya, Fal,” she rasped.

“Miss Melon Rind,” replied Falcata. She waved her wooden left foreleg in Twilight's direction. “Her majesty Princess Twilight Sparkle.” The mare sketched a bow. “And this is Rainbow Dash. Firefly was part of her brigade when he first came to Ponyville.”

The mare’s eyes dropped to the ground. “Yeah. Everypony knows who they are.”

I tried not to smirk when Falcata’s smile faltered. To her credit she recovered almost instantly. “Lem... er, Melon Rind is a superlative metalsmith and one of the main armourers for Her Majesty’s Guard.”

“Hey!” I said. “That explains all the scars on your coat!”

Twilight shot me a look. “So Miss Rind... you knew Firefly?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“How so?”

Melon Rind looked away for a moment. “I went out on two dates with him. A few years ago.” She pointed at the casket. “Look, I was in the castle for some deliveries, and I’d like to pay my respects, if you don’t mind!”

I was winding up to let her know where she could put the ‘tude when Twilight grabbed hold of my withers, giving me another look. I zipped my lip and watched as the yellow mare stalked away.

Twilight sighed. “Firefly told me about her once. He was so nervous with mares. A mutual acquaintance set them up on a blind date...”


Fismits

Firefly and Melon Rind

Firefly sighed. Plate Pauldron was late, as usual.

He swirled the ice in his tumbler, reflections from his bright orange hoof provided the only colour left in the glass. The gesture exposed scars that scored his coat on the inside of his leg. He absentmindedly placed his hoof frog-side down on the table, reducing the visibility of the marks.

Feeling self conscious, he glanced over his shoulder to see if his wings were presentable. They were, minimally so. A few secondaries didn’t lie quite flat. Still, he didn’t want to be caught preening in public when Paulie and his friends arrived. He hated the whole cooler than thou attitude some pegasi wore like second skin. He would rather look like a shabby vagrant than be mistaken for that kind of stallion. He also noticed bright wisps of his fire-red mane as he moved his head.

At least you could've looked in the mirror before trotting out the door! he thought to himself. Another stellar start to a blind date on a Friday night. Good going, Casaneighva!

The bar itself was barely occupied. It was early yet, but Firefly had an early shift in the morning. An unforeseen low front was coming in off the Everfree. The thought of spending the morning alone with the weather brigade boss, Rainbow Dash, soured his stomach.

A commotion at the entrance caught his attention. He stood as Paulie finally trotted up to his table, followed at a slower pace by a short, heavyset earth pony mare. She looked like what he imagined a pony left in a dungeon way too long would look like: her coat a faded dirty yellow, a washed out green mane, and tail that looked as if they had been hacked short with a machete. To cap it all off, she sported an expression on her muzzle that clearly showed both foreboding and disappointment in equal measures.

“You didn’t say he was a pegasus,” she commented in a low voice full of gravel.

“I didn’t?” said Paulie as if surprised that he hadn’t. “Don’t worry.” He smiled greasily. “He’s kind of low key for a pegasus stallion.” He winked at her. “That’s kind of why I thought I’d introduce the two of you.”

Resentful yellow eyes probed into Firefly’s golden irises.

“Lemon... uh, I mean Melon Rind here, is the sister of a friend of mine. She’s visiting from Canterlot, here to do some custom work for Princess Twilight’s new guard detachment. She’s a blacksmith. Isn’t that fascinating?”

Firefly was at a loss as to how to respond. He had no interest in smithing, other than the aspects of it related to alchemy. The silence stretched on a bit too long.

The mare sighed. “Let’s get this over with,” she rasped. Without another word she sat down in the booth as far as she could from the pegasus.

Firefly finally found his voice. “Where’s Tour deForce?”

“Couldn’t make it.” Paulie grinned sheepishly. “Come to think of it, I’ve got a few things I need to take care of myself. I’m sure you two won’t mind if I just leave you to get to know each other!”

He took the utter silence from the booth as assent, and moved back a step. “Great!” He waved a hoof. “Tootles!” Spinning on his rear hooves he hightailed it for the exit.

Firefly’s quick glance across the table showed that Paulie’s abrupt exit hadn’t improved the mare’s mood, either. There was no mistaking the look of pure hatred she gave the departing stallion. Once Plate Pauldron was out the door, she turned a lidded gaze onto Firefly.

Yeah, thought Firefly. This is just great!

The two ponies stared at each other.


Melon gritted her teeth. Why do you keep letting yourself get talked into these disasters? Better cut him off at the pass, before he ends up wasting any more of my wonderful life droning on about those stupid stunt flyers. She leaned forward.

“I have no interest in the...” she began.

“... Wonderbolts!” he finished for her. The interruption left her feeling more than a little annoyed. However the stallion’s tone had been more amused than abrasive.

His fiddled with his empty drink glass. “You’re not the first earth pony mare Paulie’s introduced to me who started the conversation that way.” He blew air through his lips while keeping his eyes on his empty glass. “This is mostly an earth pony town after all.”

Embarrassment took some of the edge off of her anger. She crossed her forelegs. “So I hear.”

“If it’s any consolation,” he said with a tentative grin, “I don’t much care for them either.” His eyes widened. “The Wonderbolts, I mean! Not earth pony mares!”

Her eyebrows rose. Well. This is new!

The stallion leaned forward.

“Look, Paulie means well,” he said, “even if he hasn’t quite mastered the art of introducing ponies to each other.” He held out a hoof. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Rind.”

She glanced down at the orange limb. Noticing the jagged scars on his pelt, she hesitated a moment before proffering her own.

His ears drooped as he pulled the limb slowly back. “They’re scars,” he said softly. “I’m not contagious.”

Melon felt her face grew hot. “I wasn’t repelled, really!” she blurted out. “It’s just that I know scars when I see them!” She raised her own right forelimb to the light, showing multiple angry red lines and bald patches in her yellow coat.

She shook his hoof in greeting. “Pleasure’s mine.”

She bared her teeth in what she hoped was a grin. “So, how in the world does a pegasus get scars like that?”

The stallions’ eyebrows rose. She again felt the heat of embarrassment. “I mean, you rarely see a pegasus blacksmith!” she added breathlessly. “They just typically don’t have the upper body strength needed.” She winced internally. This guy’s gonna think I’m some sort of racist!

“I got these scars practicing magic,” he said laconically.

“As if a pegasus can do magic!” Melon heard her voice speak and was already cringing by the time her brain finally caught up with her treasonous mouth. Her ears drooped as she sighed and waited for the stallion’s reaction. I fully deserve whatever he dishes out! She was too embarrassed to look him in the eye.

A dry chuckle caused her to look up. “I’ve had that reaction before, too! But even pegasi can do magic, given the right tools,” he lifted his other foreleg showing similar scars on its pelt, “although there can be... complications.”

She raised her own left foreleg showing more of her own scars. “Complications? We smiths just call them artistic license.”

“Really?” His smile widened. “So, tell me about your art.

Melon straightened up, her mood improving for the first time that evening. She launched into a description of metalworking while taking a closer look at the stallion. He’s definitely different! she thought. And earnest. And he doesn’t look like some self-centered egotist with a stick up his plot!


Firefly wasn’t sure whether to be amused or appalled. The mare was disarmingly honest and straightforward in her opinions. She seemed like a different pony as soon as she started talking him about her trade, her discourse punctuated with shy little grins that made her look sweet. He grinned inwardly. A disarming armourer! The thought made him snort.

Melon’s smiled faded. “Did I say something amusing?” She leaned back from the table, her ears drooping.

“No!” his own grin disappeared. He shook his head. “I mean, yes! Er, I mean I what you said made me think of something funny.”

Her eyes narrowed over compressed lips.

You blew it, idiot! His withers slumped. “I meant that in a good way... and yes, I was paying attention.” She did not appear convinced. “It’s just, sometimes, I get these thoughts out of the blue.”

Her expression softened. “What do you know, I do that too.” She grinned ruefully. “I love smithing partly because it doesn’t involve much talking. Sometimes I’m working a piece in front of a customer, and I realize I’ve been thinking out loud the entire time! It’s gotten me into trouble before, especially on jobs like these.”

“Jobs like what?”

“Doing custom armour plate fittings in the field.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad!”

“Granted. But at least you don’t have to spend your whole workday pandering to a bunch of hot-shot flyers, each one jabbering away about how they're Celestia’s gift to ponydom!”

Firefly flapped a wing lightly, making Melon’s eyes widen.

“No offense meant!”

The shock on her face made him laugh out loud.

“None taken! I work for the weather brigade. Trust me, I know exactly what you mean!” She blushed brightly, making him laugh again.

Time to change subjects! He called to a passing waiter. “Another, please, and a hard Apple cider for the lady.”

“Why do you think a lady like me would like hard cider?

“You’re a blacksmith, and an earth pony.” He winked. “I figure you can handle it!”

She stuck out her tongue, and pointed at his empty glass. “So what are you drinking? Lemonade?”

He nodded mock seriously. “I learned my lesson at the welcome party Pinkie Pie threw me when I moved here.” He suddenly scanned the room. “You weren’t approached by a rather hyper pink earth mare with a frizzy pink mane, were you?”

Her gaze turned inwards. “Not that I recall.”

He sighed in relief. “Oh, good. If you’re in Ponyville for more than a day or two she’ll find you. Just remember, you’ve been warned.”

Her laugh was unexpectedly musical. “I’ll watch my step!”

They paused as the waiter delivered their drinks. She examined the amber contents of hers.

“I’ve heard so much about the Apples’ famous cider. I’m distantly related. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could just go to a local bar and give a try.” She raised her glass in a silent toast. He clinked his to hers, and they both took a sip.

Her eyes shot wide open. “Hoooo-wee!”

Firefly chuckled. “Ayyyup! My boss goes gaga over the stuff! I’ve heard her friends make sure she never gets her hooves on too much of it.”

Melon’s smile faltered. “So, your boss is Rainbow Dash. The element bearer.”

“Yes, she sure is.” He put his glass down, expression neutral.

She raised an eyebrow. “Something tells me you aren’t exactly overjoyed about it.”

He flicked an ear. What the hay! She’s just visiting anyway. He looked her in the eye. “Dash is pretty competitive, even for a pegasus. She pushes everypony hard, including herself. But, despite having another grounder as a best friend, she seems incapable of understanding that not all pegasi aspire to become ace flyers.”

“Grounder?”

“A pegasus that prefers living on the ground instead of in the clouds. One of the other element bearers, Fluttershy, is like me. She lives in a house near Ponyville. I have an apartment down the street I share with two unicorn stallions.”

“Oh? Why unicorns?”

He sighed. In for a bit...

“I’ve always been interested in magic since I was a foal. In Cloudsdale I saw unicorns do large scale industrial magic in the factories, so I decided that I wanted to do magic myself. In school, I found out how enchanted objects and alchemy let anypony do magic, and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do since.”

Anypony?”

“Uh-huh, anypony! Or do you think some unicorn hiding in the closet casts a spell every time somepony flicks on a light or uses a kitchen appliance?”

“Everypony uses magical appliances every day. I guess I hadn’t put much thought to how they worked.”

He grinned. “Well, I do. I just work with more powerful spell substrates and control objects. The only thing I can’t do is generate a mana field like a unicorn does.”

She nodded, but he wasn’t sure if it was just out of politeness.

“So how come you ended up in Ponyville’s weather brigade?”

He scratched the back of his head. “Well, my parents weren’t too hot on the whole magic thing. They wanted me to join the family sleet business. So I went to weather school and got pretty good grades, until finally I graduated and came here to join the brigade.”

“Were you peeved to have been sent to such a small town?”

“Not at all! I like it here. I'm free to learn about magic, and have access to a whole bunch of magic practitioners.” He grinned wolfishly. “But the only one amongst them even mildly interested in teaching magic is Princess Twilight.”

Melon’s expression became neutral again. “You’ve met the Princess?!”

He nodded. “I see her in the castle library all the time. She’s real eager to discuss magic.” He grinned sheepishly. “But then she’s so far ahead of me that her explanations often go straight over my head. Still, she tries.”

“She’d help some random pegasus just like that? You’re not pulling my leg?”

He shook his head. “Hey, I’m not name dropping, I swear! This is a small kingdom! Live here for a while and you’re likely to meet pretty much everypony!”

She nodded, deep in thought.

“What about you?” he asked. “Didn’t you say you were related to the Apples?”

“Distantly. Our families split a few hundred years ago. Our branch is small, not like the Apples. We’re a pretty quiet bunch, comparatively. It doesn’t matter, really because I’ve kinda left all that behind. Never had much of a hoof for farming. I left home to apprentice with a blacksmith. Since then I’ve made my own way and haven’t looked back.” Their gazes locked. “Sound familiar?”

A noise caused them both to look towards the entrance. Plate Pauldron approached, looking pleased and a bit sheepish. “I just knew you two would hit it off!” He squeezed-in next to Melon Rind. “So how was your evening?”

“It was...” began Firefly raising an eyebrow.

“... pleasantly quiet,” finished Melon with a sardonic grin.

Paulie heaved a sigh of relief. “Well, it’s been two hours and nopony needs a paramedic, so I guess I’ll put this one in the exceeded expectations box.”

Firefly looked at the clock in surprise. “Past ten already? I’ve got to get up before dawn tomorrow.” He turned to the mare. “Hey, it was a blast meeting you, Melon.”

“Really?!" Her eyes widened. "I mean, the pleasure was mine!” she corrected with a cough.

“Really!” he said. Her shy smile returned. That smile, more than anything else, gave him the courage to speak up. He licked his lips. “Are... are you free tomorrow night?”

She nodded. “I suppose I am,” she said, sounding very serious.

They stared at each other.

“Then let’s meet here again same time tomorrow!” On impulse, he rose and bowed exaggeratedly. “Good night, shield maiden!”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t push your luck, wizard wannabe!” Then she smiled, just to let him know she’d be there.

He was whistling when he left the bar.


The Wake: Melon Rind

I stared at the coffin.

“I wanted to let you know I’m over whatever it was that riled me up on our second date,” I told him. “Truth is, I can’t rightly recollect what it was, even though I’m usually pretty good at holding grudges!”

I chewed my lip.

“Not that it matters, now, anyways.”

I stared at the casket some more. Talking to the dead ain’t any easier than talking to the living!

The oak coffin had a lot of gold trim on it. I took a closer look and whistled.

“Nice gold-work on your casket by the way, and I should know!” I laughed. “It’s a shame to bury something so pretty, although I guess you’d be pissed if they didn’t, or at least without you in it.”

I reached into my saddle-bag and pulled out the small pendant I had forged the previous day. I traced the outline of a scarab in a circle with my hoof.

“I made this for you to take with you on to the summerlands. It’s your cutie-mark. I...”

Standing there in front of him, I couldn’t think of anything anymore to say.

So I pinned the pendant to his coffin, mumbled a prayer I hadn’t even thought about since I was a filly, turned and left.