• Published 10th Jan 2016
  • 1,000 Views, 52 Comments

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 five: The Homebrew Enchanters’ Club

Author's Note:

This chapter is the first of the original chapters published in this story, i.e. that were not part of the OC Slamjam competition. It described an important event in the genesis of the personal spell caster industry. Resemblances to actual events and participants are entirely on purpose. Can you catch them all?

The wake: Spike the Dragon

I got to the wake a bit late because I had to deal a few issues with the florists/caterers. Turns out they’d sent the edible arrangements for the buffet to the funeral home and the commemorative arrangements to the castle! It’s a good thing the main reception hall of the castle has a lot of extra space, and that the castle kitchens – and Sugarcube Corner – were up to putting together an impromptu spread for two hundred ponies, dozens of other equines, gryphons, diamond dogs, minotaurs, various overdressed celebrities of indeterminate specie, and one hungry dragon! I don’t think any guests noticed anything amiss, but I had a sneaking suspicion that we’d see carrot, celery and spinach based flower arrangements (with zesty flavoured dipping sauces) at the funeral the day after!

I had to bend over slightly as Twilight, Applejack and Dash each gave me a hug. Falcata saluted – this being a public occasion. Manny bumped my offered fist with his hoof, as did Whirligig, Dr. Product and the young mare with him, which I presume was his daughter Ripple.

“Mister Prime Minister!” She curtsied, and hesitated before offering her hoof. I ignored the delay and gently tapped it with the knuckles of my closed claw, as it’s not unusual for ponies to be intimidated when meeting me for the first time. After my most recent growth spurt the only ponies left that can look me straight in the eye are Big Mac and the Canterlot princesses...
... or maybe it was the whole dragon thing.

Twilight pointed to the screen I had erected next to the coffin. It showed a continuous series of photos from Firefly’s life, some of the them with captions that Falcata, Manny and I had spent days putting together.

“A lot of ponies are watching the show you three put together, some of them looking at it more than once! That was a really good idea of yours, Spike!”

I blushed. “Yeah, well Manny provided one of the newest multimedia spell caster units, and Falcata was able to get photos and stuff from ponies in town and even some of his relatives. We learned a lot we didn’t know about Firefly doing it. I’m glad others will get the chance to do the same.”

Every pony grew quiet as pictures of Firefly as a foal flew by on the screen.

“Spike did the incanting for this,” said Manny into the silence. “This is running on a prototype cantrip package from a little spellware startup based in Caballo Alto, and it’s still quite buggy. Spike has been one of the real pioneers developing these types of applications.” He glanced at the filly. “Did you know, Miss Ripple, that Spike wrote some of the first major spells for the original spell caster platform?”

“Uh-huh!” said Ripple nodding, to my surprise. She smiled at me shyly. “DragonSoft designs the best enchantment compilers and spell interpreters on the market, as well as some of the best games. Mr. Spike is a real celebrity in the field of Information and Enchantment Science.”

Dash flew up just high enough to put her muzzle near my ear. “Hey, Spike. You have a fan!” she whispered, sotto voce, then dropped back to the floor, laughing.

“Certainly not as many as you do, Dash,” I said to cover my embarrassment.

“But you were there!” Ripple gazed up into my face, eyes wide.

“Uh, where?” I answered lamely.

“At the first meeting of the Homebrew Enchanter’s Club! Where the whole personal spell caster revolution started! I saw a picture they took with you in it!”

“Oh, there.” I nodded. “That was a few years ago. Yes, I was there.”

“Squeeee!” She hip-hopped in place and smiled up at me. “Can you tell us about it? I mean, what really happened!”

I looked towards the screen next to Firefly’s casket, and as coincidence would have it, it was showing a photo taken at that very meeting. There were Firefly and Manny with one of the first spell caster units as I stood at the front of the group, less than half my current height, almost lost in all those ponies’ legs.

“Sure,” I said. “Of course nopony knew how important that meeting would be for the future of spell casters. It was just a bunch of magic aficionados, with funny ideas of what to do with Manny and Firefly’s invention...”

Chapter five: The Homebrew Enchanters’ Club

The note visible on the top of the stack read:


HOMEBREW ENCHANTERS’ CLUB . . . you name it.

Are you building your own spell matrix? Magic mirror? Animated spellbook?

Enchanted device? or some other arcane black-magic box?

Or are buying time from a mage-for-hire?

If so, you might like to come to a gathering of ponies with like-minded interests.

Exchange information, swap ideas, talk shop, help work on a project, whatever . . .

We are getting together Wednesday nite, March 5th, 7 pm at the home of Gordon Prench

614 18th Ave., Canterlot (near Marsh Road) .

If you can’t make it this time, drop us a card for the next meeting.

See ya there,

At the bottom, in hoof-script was an added note:

Hope you can come. (signed) Fern Moor

There will be other enchanters there.

Spike’s eyebrows rose as he read the text.

“Wow! Isn’t Fern Moor the head of the Equalist culture movement? That dude makes waves wherever he goes. So why’s he so interested in spell casting platforms?”

Spike, Firefly and Mild Manners sat around the small kitchen table in Manny’s apartment. The unicorn floated one of the invitations from the stack in the middle of the table closer to his muzzle and examined it. “We’ve met him a few times on campus. He saw us doing some basic spell testing on the hoofball field and came over to check us out. He was real excited about the spell caster and saw it as a way of countering the power of big corporations that monopolize access to high-powered unicorns, and as a way to reduce the influence of the nobility, who are disproportionately unicorns.”

“Wow, but isn’t he like a unicorn noble himself?”

Firefly grinned. “Yes he is. So is Mr. Prench, the other co-founder of the club. But we all think everypony can benefit from personal spell casters, unicorns included. Princess Twilight seems to think so too.” His eyes lit up. “Do you think that’s why she agreed that you could help us with this event?”

Spike looked at the invitee list, took an invitation, and tossing it into the air made it vanish in a puff of green fire. He then checked off the first name on the list. “She was pretty supportive of my volunteering, not least because she knows about my mad organizational capabilities, and my draconic mail forwarding skills.”

Both stallions’ jaws had dropped open. Manny was the first to recover. “That will save us a lot of bits on postage,” he managed, while still looking awed. “So, Spike, we’re grateful, but why did you volunteer?”

Spike laughed. “Being the Element of Magic’s number-one assistant, I have a lot of interest in magic and a better education in the subject that most unicorns! Not to mention that Firefly promised me an all-I-can-eat visit to Pony Joe’s for donuts, so don’t count those bits just yet!”

Mild Manners straightened his tie and brushed off his tweed jacket. “There must be a hundred ponies here tonight!”

Firefly smiled. “Don’t be so nervous, Manny! I count maybe fifty or so.”

“Even so, who would have thought so many ponies would be interested in spell casting artifacts? I mean, these ponies are going to ask questions - tough ones!”

“I’m sure they are. But we’re ready for them, Manny!” He raise a hoof. After a moment Manny bumped it with his own. “Don’t worry! None of them can get deeper into arcane systems and subsystems than you can, Manny. Trust me, we’ll be fine.” He gestured to the front of the room where Spike stood up on a chair. There was a large easel on a tripod behind him on which Manny had drawn a series of diagrams, although the page in view at the moment was blank.

Spike coughed to draw attention. “Members of the Homebrew Enchanters’ Club,” he enunciated in a showpony’s voice. “It is my great pleasure to introduce two ponies dedicated to the dream of making truly complex magic both accessible and usable by any pony, no matter their tribe, education or economic situation, and in the comfort of their own home. These ponies are Firefly and Mild Manners, and tonight they are introducing their new spell casting platform.”

There was polite applause as Spike hopped of his chair and Firefly and Manny replaced him in front of the group.

“Uh...” started Mild Manners, “We, that is Firefly at first, noticed the problem with mana storage. Uh, and then I had an idea for a design, and then he showed me a larger system that had a spell matrix, and, uh...” he swallowed, and turned to the easel, flipping it open.

There were murmurs from the audience.

“Um, wait, that’s the leyline interpreter...” He flipped back a page. “And that’s... “ He paused and scratched his head.

The noise from the ponies grew louder. Manny shuffled through the pages until Firefly laid a hoof on his withers.

“Maybe,” Firefly spoke up, “before we go into details, we can just explain our intentions with this device.”

He faced the audience squarely.

“Since recorded history spell magic was the province of the few. Not only because some ponies possessed a horn with which to focus magic, but also because magic was poorly understood. The magical arts, spells that could do wonderful things, were secrets to be hoarded, not shared. Magic became a tool used to compete with or dominate others, instead of making the lives of all ponies better.”

The murmuring died down.

“With the arrival of the scientific method, Starswirl the Bearded and Clover the Clever helped take magic from those dark ages and turn it into a science, where every generation could build upon the achievements of the last, and the Hearthwarming Accord made it possible for unicorn mages to spread the benefits of magic to all the tribes. The result is Equestria’s current society, a truly great achievement.”

Heads began to nod.

“But the game isn’t over yet! What if it were possible to give all ponies not only access to mages, but the ability to do magic themselves? What if any pony could create spells and do magic whether unicorn or pegasus or earth pony? What if any average unicorn could cast any spell of they could conceive, not just the few spells they struggle from foalhood to master?”

Eyebrows rose. Firefly felt he now had their undivided attention.

“What we propose is a unified personal spell caster that is so easy to use that any pony could use it, not just high level mages. With the personal spell caster, the entirety of Equestrian society can benefit from the power of magic to do mundane things like run a small business, teach foals in school, keep track of recipes and music collections... the list is endless!”

Firefly paused for a moment. There were a few whispered comments and even a few laughs as members mentioned their own favorite applications of magic.

“I’m sure I won’t get many arguments about it from the members of this club. We are the ponies who are already trying to deliver this vision of personal spell casting. However, there’s a problem. There’s two groups of ponies in this room: those who are experts in magical artifacts and can hoof together spell matrices, linking them up to mana stores and leyline controls in order to build functional arcane hardware, and those ponies who can design enchantments, spells and cantrips, the spellware that make the hardware do fun and useful things. For every hardware pony out there, there are dozens if not hundreds of spellware ponies. The plain truth is that most ponies who could use a spell caster could never build one themselves!”

An earth pony stallion whispered loudly to a blue-coated unicorn mare: “Or that have access to arcane components from work that they can liberate!”

That got widespread laughter.

“Well, that’s where Manny and I thought we could make a difference. What we’ve built is a fully pre-integrated personal caster. The enchanter doesn’t need to add anything - they just start to enchant it themselves! No alchemists’ micro-forge, mana conduits, or leyline probes needed! That is our vision, and that is what we have built in the Cobbler One!”

“Cobbler?” called out a pony. “Why would you name a sophisticated arcanological tool after a pastry?!”

“Sir,” said Firefly, “I assume you know exactly how to use a cobbler, don’t you.”

“You mean the pastry?” The pony raised a single eyebrow. “The type that goes into one end of a pony and comes out the other in a... less ordered state?” Several ponies laughed.

“Yes!” replied Firefly. “I mean that type of cobbler.”

The pony grinned and called out. “Make that a big ayyyuup!”

“Well, then,” Firefly crossed his forelegs, “You should be able to use one of our spell casters!”

The room erupted in applause and whistles. With a smile Firefly turned back to Mild Manners. “So Manny, let’s go through the design, subsystem by subsystem, starting of course with the central spell execution matrix.”

Manny flipped the easel to the correct page. “Well, this is one of the most interesting aspect of the design! Instead of having separate storage for incantations and data we have the same storage system, simplifying the overall matrix design tremendously...”

An hour later, they had gone over the entire design and the audience was running out of questions.

“So that’s the Cobbler One. What do think?”

The ovation was both loud and raucous.

“This is more than enough innovation for a single evening, right?” Ponies turned their faces towards Firefly, whose smile became just a bit pinched. “Well, before we go, just one more thing...”

The ponies quieted down immediately.

“Now, after building a spell platform anypony can use out of the box is great, right? But how are ordinary ponies going to write spells and incantations? Unicorns go to school for years to learn the complex languages grammars of arcane spellcasting specialties. The large magic conglomerates like Illuminated Business Mages have their own schools teaching custom spell languages and arcane symbology systems. That doesn’t sound like the scale of effort a typical pony would put up with, does it?”

The blue-coated unicorn mare nodded vigorously. “That is truly a truly vexing problem!”

“Well, I’m happy to announce that every Cobbler One personal caster comes equipped with a BASIC spell interpreter! Our Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Incantation Code interpreter makes it foal’s play to create and edit spell, cast them in a controlled fashion, and save them for later use, or to share with others. With BASIC, anypony can become a mage, and share with others how they do things. It’s our belief that the Cobbler One will finally deliver the vision of magic for the masses.”

The applause was thunderous. When it had finally died down a pony called out. “Where do I get me one?”

Mild Manners grinned from ear-to-ear. “You can place your orders at any Bargain Barn in Equestria at the low price of six hundred and sixty-six bits only!” He and Firefly held up stacks of papers. “Or you can sign an order here tonight!” Ponies converged on the pair.

It was a long time before they were able to leave. As promised, they took Spike out to Pony Joe's’, where he ate half a dozen doughnuts before declaring their contract delivered in full. He was fast asleep on Firefly’s back before they even got back to Manny’s apartment.

Back at Manny’s kitchen table, Firefly counted out orders for Cobbler Ones they had received while Spike snored peacefully in the basket Princess Twilight had packed in his luggage for the short trip.

Firefly’s gaze locked with Manny’s. “Dude!” he said. “Looks like we’re in business!” His grin faltered when Manny’s expression failed to match his own. “Manny, is there a problem?”

The unicorn swallowed nervously. “Yeah. Where are we going to find the money to buy the components to make all these units?”

Firefly scratched his head. “I guess I’ll have to sell some of the more valuable enchanted objects and magic books in my collection,” he replied.

Manny scanned his apartment. “And I might be able to sell some of my furniture. Do you think it will be enough?”

Firefly took the stack or orders in hoof. “With this, I’m sure I can get a loan for the rest!” His grin returned. “Waddaya say, partner?”

Manny’s worried face finally relaxed. “I say it looks like we’re in business!” He offered Firefly a brohoof. “So how many of these do you think we’ll actually sell?”

Firefly shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe a few dozen. Who knows, maybe in a few years we’ll have sold hundreds even! Wouldn’t that be truly amazing?”

The wake: Spike the Dragon - Part 2

Spike laughed at the disbelieving expression on the filly’s face. “Yeah! That’s what he told me on the trip back to Ponyville, hundreds!” He turned to Firefly’s partner, who grinned sheepishly.

“I assure you,” said Manny, “that’s exactly what happened. At the outset we never imagined it would amount to more than that.”

“I can’t believe it!” said Ripple. “I...” Ripple’s eyes grew wide as she stared at the vestibule of the reception hall. “Is that... ?”

Spike turned around and caught sight of a pale blue unicorn in a very expensive business suit.

“Well,” he said acerbically. “It was kind of inevitable ‘she’ would show up!”

“Spike!” said Twilight. “I’m glad she’s come.”

“Really?” asked Rainbow Dash.

“Really!” replied the princess firmly.

Together they waited as Trixie approached.