• 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 six: The Magic of Distribution

Author's Note:

This is the second new chapter (i.e. written after the OC Slamjam and not part of the contest.)

Why Trixie?

Well...

I JUST WANTED ME SOME TRIXIE! Not necessarily a huge dose, just some.

So there.

When I first conceived of the notion of the Personal Spell Caster revolution I just felt Trixie would have naturally gravitated towards the industry, being a unicorn on the fringes of acceptable society. I was sure she would come to see the spellware industry as her ticket to greatness, and so I found her a place in my story.

Besides, I've written Trixie as a character before and truly enjoyed being in her tragicomically self-centred world (see Filial).

So Trixie it is, without further ado...

The wake: Trixie

When Trixie arrived at the wake she had expected to be confronted with a hostile line of ponies. She was pleasantly surprised when she was received in a fashion befitting the leading publisher of operating spellware and enchantment packages for all serious personal casters, and this despite Trixie’s few and quite inevitable disagreements with Cobbler Corp over the years.

Of course, Trixie did not become one of the richest mares in Equestria without first being a superlative businesspony! So she bowed to that princess, lest her armoured henchpony, also present, take exception and prevent Trixie from paying her respects to her honoured competitor. Greetings were politely exchanged, except with a young earth pony mare who stared at Trixie with a slack jaw. Trixie ignored the obviously star-struck filly, and focused her attention on the living pony she most wanted to speak with at this get-together.

His smile was warm, and it did Trixie’s heart good to see it. “Thank you for coming, Trixie” said Manny. “It means a lot to me that you came.”

Trixie could tell his thanks were sincere. It had been years, but Trixie admits having many fond memories of those early days of personal spell casting, many of which involved the quiet scholar, so unlike his brash partner.

"Of course Trixie came! We were all part of the wild movement that has improved the lives of ponies all over Equestria. Yes, we have had our differences, but what we have achieved together is undeniable.”

Trixie could not help but again notice the young mare who stood between Spike and her father. Her prior immobility had resolved itself and produced a loud squee, which had attracted my attention. Her smiling countenance then captured it altogether.

“You’re Trixie Lulamoon, the CEO of Microspell!” She squeed again, which, if unnecessary, was nevertheless totally charming under the circumstances!

“Indeed I am, miss...”

Twilight Sparkle chose that moment to enter the conversation. “Ripple’s dad teaches at Canterlot University, and Ripple is entering her freshmare year at C.U.”

Trixie studiously maintained her gaze on the youngster.

“And what shall you be studying, Miss Ripple?”

She positively beamed at being addressed by Trixie. “Mathematics and Enchantment Science. I’m particularly interested in operating spellware. It’s such an honour to meet you!”

Such a perceptive young mare! “Well, the honour is Trixie’s.”

However pleasant was this discourse, Trixie was nevertheless here for a purpose, and so she turned back to Mild Manners. “Tell Trixie true, Manny. Have you and Filthy mended fences?”

The poor stallion’s ears drooped. “No. Not really. He hasn’t shown up here yet, and he hasn’t replied any of the notices I sent regarding the wake and funeral either.”

Trixie was shocked! She placed a hoof on Manny’s shoulder. “It is such a pity that we did, all of us, go our separate ways after that frantic first year. Sadly, it was perhaps destined to be so, when all that success came so quickly to we who were so unprepared for it.”

Young Ripple’s eyes grew wide. “You mean you had no clue either how successful the PC business would be?”

Trixie laughed. “None of us did, young Miss Ripple! How could we? Most of us were barely older than you are now! What we did was totally unprecedented, and through the entire adventure we... what’s the pegasi expression, Rainbow Dash?” – Trixie frowned in concentration – “Oh yes. Trixie recalls it now. We were flying by the seat of our pants!”

The look of sheer wonder on the filly’s face made Trixie feel both proud and more than a little nostalgic. As if the events of the last weeks had not already led Trixie to recall and reflect deeply about about that time in her life! That look, and the little blue showmare that was still the beating heart of Trixie, convinced this older and wiser Trixie to make an offer to the filly.

“Would you like to hear more of those early days, Miss Ripple, when a few ponies who believed in magic set out to change the world?”

Ripple and her father both nodded vigorously, and so, generous to a fault, Trixie felt obliged to comply.

“Well, it all began shortly after the very first West Canterlot Enchanters’ Fair...”


Chapter Six: The Magic Of Distribution

Filthy Rich, Firefly, Mild Manners, Trixie

Filthy Rich slicked back his long wavy mane and adjusted his tie. He didn’t need to look in the mirror to know that everything was in its proper place. A quick glance around assured him the same was true for the neatly laid out wares of Rich’s Bargain Barn.

Mr. Greenleaf, owner of the local Hay Burger fast food outlet, approached in a huff. “Hello Mr. Rich,” he said. “Have those Cobbler Two PCs come in yet?”

“PCs?”

Green leaf smirked. “Nopony says personal caster anymore, Mr. Rich! I have a friend who runs a donut shop in Canterlot. He got a PC on advice from Spike, who’s been a customer of his since way before he and Princess Twilight moved out here. Joe says he’s using it to manage his inventory. Given the mind-numbing number of flavorings and types of sprinkles he uses, keeping stock has been a major drain on his time over the years. He says it now takes him less than half an hour to update his inventory every week, and that includes producing new orders!”

Filthy adjusted his tie. “I know just how he feels! I've been using a Cobbler One to keep inventory for the Bargain Barn for several months now!” He smiled and raised an eyebrow. “I figured most businesses would have some use for one, so I negotiated an agreement to be the exclusive reseller of Cobbler Corp products in Ponyville!”

Greenleaf gave him a sly look. “Ha! You’ve always had the eye for finding the next big thing, haven’t you, Filthy?”

“He certainly has!” agreed a filly’s voice. Greenleaf turned around to see Filthy’s daughter, Diamond Tiara, saunter up while sporting a smug grin. “And I’m going to get one of the first units!” she asserted.

Greenleaf pursed his lips. “And why would a foal need a PC? You don’t have an inventory to manage!”

Her smile died and her eyes became slits. “My dad is the richest pony in Ponyville” she replied through gritted teeth. “So if I want a PC, I WILL GET A PC!” Her smile returned preternaturally fast. “Isn’t that right, daddy?” she asked sweetly.

“Yes, sugarlump,” said her father. “You’ll get the very first one!” He winked at Greenleaf. “Now, Diamond, don’t you have some homework to do?” The phrase was a longstanding code between he and his daughter that meant he was engaged in business and that she should leave him to it. She nodded, the very picture of sweet innocence, and trotted out the door.

As he watched her leave one of his ears drooped. It was odd how, of late, Diamond always came into the store when she had something she wanted from him. He flicked his ear until it straightened up of its own accord. Naw. It’s just a coincidence.


“What do you mean, you’ve only made five?!”

Filthy Rich’s normally wavy dark-gray mane was suddenly a study in frazzles. “I’ve orders for fifty-eight, which I’ve promised customers would arrive at the store on Monday!”

“We’ll have more by then, Mr. Rich,” replied Firefly.

“It took you three weeks to make five!” The shopkeeper started pulling alarmingly on his mane. “So you can make another fifty-three in three days?”

“No.” Firefly shook his head. “We can make three more.”

“WHAT!”

“Look, we said we’d try to get fifty units done by the end of the month, but most of the injection molded cases we’ve received aren’t usable! We’ve changed supplier, but they’re producing cases by hoof until they can get production up to speed.”

All the while he spoke, Filthy nervously nibbled his tie. “And when will that be?” he asked.

“They’re telling us two months.”

“WHAT!!!”

“But I took down payments!” The merchant cradled his head in his hooves. His tie, its tip wet, dripped as it dangled like a soggy pendulum. “I’ll have to give... refunds!”

“Mr. Rich, I’m sure if you just explain to them –”

“– explain what?! Do you think customers care about cruddy cases?! NO! they’ll just cancel their orders and go elsewhere! Aaaargh!!” he wailed.

“Daddy!” said a filly’s voice.

“WHAT SUGARLUMP!” he replied.

The grayish foal looked up at Filthy with narrowed eyes. “I get mine first. Don’t forget, you promised.”

“AAAAARR–” The merchant stopped mid-wail. He swallowed and shook,fighting to regain his composure. A moment later he stood stock still, and with a lick of his fetlocks resumed slicking his mane back into shape.

“Yes, sugarlump, you’ll get yours first. It just arrived. Mr. Firefly will set it set up in your room and teach you how to turn it on,”– his eyes narrowed –“won’t you, Mr. Firefly?”

Firefly was taken by surprise, but at least the merchant wasn’t shouting at him anymore. “Er, of course, no problem,” he said.

Filthy nodded. “Good!” He looked down at his chest, and turned to face his daughter.

“Sugarlump, let’s go get daddy another tie.”

The filly smiled sweetly. “Yes, daddy!”

Firefly’s stomach felt queasy as he watched them go.


Mild Manners turned a whiter shade of cream. “If Filthy Rich cancels any part of his order we’re cooked! We don’t have the cash to pay him back! We don’t even have enough to pay for the new cases!” Hitched up tandem, they pulled the rented delivery wagon back to the Ponyville stock yards.

“I know!” said Firefly, looking miserable. He stopped, forcing Manny to stumble to a halt.

“But what else could I do, Manny? If I didn’t tell him then he’d just explode twice as much later! We’re lucky he still wants those units, otherwise our retail sales venture and Cobbler Corp are over before we even started!”

He sighed. “I’ll call a meeting with our investors. They funded us to get the first fifty units made, maybe they’ll be willing to give us a loan.”

“And why–” Manny sounded angry “–would they do that, when we haven’t yet been able to deliver those fifty?”

Firefly snorted in annoyance. “Filthy said he has paid commitments for fifty-eight units! Fifty-eight! We have at least that much in verbal commitments from the CasterLand and the Bit Store!”

“Yes, but those aren’t purchase orders, they’re just words!” Manny grumbled.

The trip back to the yards was a quiet one.


They sat in the sitting room, in the private quarters of the Carousel Boutique.

“It’s a common mistake for a business just starting up to sink too much capital into inventory, Darling.”

Rarity was unhappy, though she was doing her best to hide it. She glanced at Fluttershy stroking Angel Bunny’s white fur and sighed in resignation. For some strange reason Opalescence always made herself scarce whenever Angel was around.

“But,” objected Fluttershy in a soft voice, “they couldn’t know the case supplier would be so bad!”

“Still, we must ask ourselves the question, are we perhaps throwing good money after bad?”

“It’s not that bad!” insisted Fluttershy. “I’m sure they’ll get some money back for the first case supplier.”

“That could take months, Darling! And, trust me, running a business is all about cash flow!”

“But –” interjected Firefly, “we have those first fifty units sold already, Mr. Rich said so. That’s cash in the bank the moment we can deliver! And we’ll never get to the next fifty if we can’t deliver the first set!”

Rarity sighed. “True enough. But this is asking us to take quite a risk, and it appears Fluttershy and I are at loggerheads on the matter. We’ll simply have to consult our senior partner in this venture.”

Firefly raised an eyebrow. “There another partner I haven’t met?”

Fluttershy laughed. “Oh, you’ve met him. He just tends to be a generally silent partner.”

Rarity smiled. “Indeed, we go to him for sound business advice. He’s the real angel investor of our venture.”

Firefly’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“We would never dream of doing something so gauche, Mr. Firefly!” said Rarity in a serious voice, although the corners of her lips did curl up slightly.

Fluttershy stroked her bunny. “So Angel, what do you think? Do we extend Cobbler Corp a short-term loan?”

The little white rabbit looked first at Fluttershy, then at Rarity, and finally turned his beady little eyes on Firefly, who swallowed under the intimidating gaze. The bunny wrinkled his little pink nose, and then nodded twice.

Fluttershy clapped her forehooves together and breathed out a semi audible “Yay!”

Rarity got up and came over to shake hooves. “Congratulations Mr. Firefly! Angel is one of the toughest investors I know. But Celestia knows he’s done a marvelous job managing Fluttershy’s finances since even before her modeling career!”

The yellow pegasus held up the bunny in her forelegs and nuzzled him, to his obvious embarrassment. “I don’t know what I would do without him!” She cooed.

It took Firefly a moment to find his voice.

“Neither do I!”


A week later Firefly had four additional Cobbler II units ready. Added to the eight already delivered, that tallied up to an even dozen. By scraping and then repainting they were able to repair some of the defective cases, so they were hoping to deliver perhaps another ten units before having to wait for the production from the new case manufacturer.

After loading them onto the Bargain Barn’s dock, he entered the store to go see if Filthy Rich had more orders. He was halfway through the store when a flashing display caught his eye. He read it and froze in his tracks. In flashing red neon, it announced:

Be amongst the first in Ponyville to own
The Brand New Vega Victor ™ Personal Caster
Powered by Microspell™

Firefly rush up to the display. It hung above a table on which reposed several metallic boxes looking like nothing so much as toasters with wings. At the back of the table were two more signs. The leftmost read:

Vega Victor in stock now!

And the second:

Cobbler Two available for order only.

Filthy Rich stood proudly next to the table, demonstrating one of the toaster shaped units.

Firefly seethed, but kept silent until Filthy finished his demonstration and the prospective customer walked away.

“We signed an exclusivity agreement!” Firefly hissed, trying not to shout.

“Yes, which states that I have exclusive rights to sell Cobbler Corp products in Ponyville.” His smile was predatory. “But it says nothing about the Bargain not selling other brands of PCs. I have a copy in my office if you want to have a look.”

“We’ll sue!” said Firefly in a trembling voice.

“I truly doubt that, Mr. Firefly,” retorted the merchant. “There is the question of your late delivery on my purchases. Recall that you yourself told me that I wouldn’t get any more units for at least two months. I merely did what I needed to do in order to meet commitments to my customers: I have secured an alternate source of supply.”

Firefly’s mouth dried up. He had no reasonable counter to the stallion’s arguments.

“And besides,” added Filthy Rich, “despite transferring many of our customers over to the Vega unit, we’ve still been receiving additional requests for the Cobbler II. I might even purchase more when you finally have your production issues worked out.” He tilted his head. “Unless of course, you wish to cancel our contract, which you can do with three month’s notice...”

FIrefly ground his teeth, and didn’t trust that he’d be able to shut his mouth once he opened it, so he turned on his rear hooves and left the Bargain Barn. He was halfway back to his apartment when he remembered the rented wagon he’d left at the back of the Bargain Barn. With a growl he pivoted on his hooves and tromped back in order to return it before his rental was up.


Firefly was crossing the entrance of the Bargain Barn to get to the loading dock when a mare called out his name.

Mr. Firefly! Oh Mr. Firefly!”

He turned and spotted a pale blue unicorn mare with an even paler blue mane, wearing a smart-looking business suit. Something about her was familiar.

“Er, yes, that’s me.” He tilted his head. “I recognize you. We’ve met before.”

Her smile brightened. “Yes indeed! It was at the Homebrew Enchanters’ Club almost a year ago. You gave quite an impressive presentation! Trixie should know, as she herself is an acknowledged expert in putting on a show.”

Firefly blush at the compliment, but one of his ears drooped in confusion. “Thank you, and, uh, who is Trixie?”

The mare’s eyes widened and her smile faded. “Why, I am Trixie! Didn’t you just say you recognized me?!”

“Well, yeah,” he blushed a deeper red and scratched the back of his head, “of course I did... er... miss Trixie... that is.”

Her smile returned. “Well, then, Trixie wishes to thank you. Your presentation was truly a revelation to Trixie. Trixie agrees wholeheartedly that the formal magical establishment is far too stuffy and looks down upon the more creative uses of magic. The personal caster is going to change that forever, as you so aptly put it those many months ago! Since then Trixie has realigned her priorities and devoted herself to personal casting, more specifically in writing operating spellware and a BASIC spell interpreter optimized to different spell casting platforms!”

“Oh, really!” Firefly blushed again the moment the words left his mouth. “Wow! It’s just so awesome to meet up with ponies who feel the same way I do about spell casters. So, has anypony shown interest in using your spellware?”

“Certainly! Why just last month, Trixie closed a licensing deal with Vega Systems for use of my spellware on their new Victor spell caster! The local retailer in Ponyville is the Bargain Barn, and the name of my company is Microspell.”

“Micro...” Firefly felt his stomach drop. “The Vega...”

“Yes! Trixie normally avoids Ponyville. But today is local launch of the Victor spell caster, and so Trixie made an exception.” She looked somewhat nervously towards the castle. “And Trixie should be getting inside and away from... prying eyes.” She gesture to the Bargain Barn’s entrance. “Would you like to come-in and get a personal demonstration of Microspell’s superior spellware?”

Firefly chuckled uneasily. “Ha, well, ah... I have a rental cart I need to return before the hour’s up. Maybe I’ll come by later.”

Trixie’s smile wavered, but returned a moment later. Firefly thought it might have been tinged with a bit of regret.

“Oh. Of... of course.” she said. “Trixie is sure a successful entrepreneur such as yourself must be a very busy pony.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “I am.”

“Well then, good luck with Cobbler Corp!”

“And good luck with your launch, Trixie.”

“Thank you, Mr. Firefly. It means a lot to Trixie to have your encouragement. Perhaps you can come by later?”

“Perhaps,” he answered. “Goodbye, Trixie.” He waved a hoof, and trotted around the corner to the loading dock. A last glimpse of the blue mare showed her waving back.


“You told her WHAT?!” Firefly’s ears were flat against his neck. It had been a week since he’d met the mare at the bargain Barn, and only now, sitting in Manny’s apartment in Canterlot with partially-built Cobbler Two units all over the room, did his partner tell him about having had discussions with Trixie before.

“I told her how to build a simple BASIC interpreter,” said Mild Manners. “She was one of the few mares who attended that meeting, and she was kind of pretty, despite that quirk of referring to herself in the third person. But, Firefly, she was really interested in how it worked! She’d had enough formal magic education to really understand what my spellware did, even though she dropped out of Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. Talking about stuff like this is why we attend these meetings! Half of the design elements for the Cobbler One and Two I picked up chatting with ponies at meetings of the Club.”

Firefly sighed. “Yes, and now she’s turned into a major competitor! If you hadn’t given her all that information then Vega could never have gotten the Victor out so early, and Filthy Rich wouldn’t be selling competing products to our customers!”

Manny facehoofed. “You know what, Firefly?”

“What?” He sat dejectedly on his haunches.

The doorbell rang. Manny spoke over his shoulder as he went to investigate. “If she hadn’t, and Filthy Rich didn’t have the Vega Victor sales to fall back on, what do you think he would have done?”

Firefly thought back to his shouting match with the merchant. “He would have sued our sorry flanks to get his down payment back.”

“And where would that have left us?” asked Manny as he opened the door. The postmare hoofed over a stack of letters, most of them identifiably bills. Manny looked Firefly in the eye as he trotted back into the living-room/assembly-area. “I’ll tell you where it would have left us: bankrupt!” He began sorting through the pile. “Face it! The only reason Cobbler Corp still exists is that Rich didn’t end up losing money. And that’s only because he was able to transfer a lot of our sales to units he could actually deliver!” Manny took one letter from the pile and sighed.

“So where does that leave us now?” asked Firefly. “It’ll still be almost six weeks before we can ship anything. Will we even have customers for those units?”

Manny opened the envelope. “You yourself said Filthy told you that he was still getting some orders in for our units.” He pulled out a sheet of paper, and frowned.

Firefly felt the pit of his stomach go cold. “What is it? A letter from the Bargain Barn?”

Manny nodded. “I don’t think we’ll have any worries with inventory.”

Firefly hung his head. “Wow. I guess it was good while it lasted.”

“Nuh-uh,” said Manny. He grinned rakishly. “Take a look. He’s ordered another two hundred units!” He held out the purchase order on Bargain Barn stationery.

Firefly charged up to the unicorn and pulled the paper against his own face. He read a moment, and smiled.

“Manny?”

“Yes, Firefly.”

“We’re in business!” he shouted.

Holding hooves they jumped around Manny’s living room, shouting like a pair of colts on a sugar high!


The wake: Trixie part two

“So at that time you didn’t view Cobbler Corp as a rival?” asked Ripple.

“No,” replied Trixie. “ It wasn’t big business like it is now. We were all just starting out. Sometimes we competed for customers, sometimes we cooperated on projects, and sometimes we did both at the same time! We were exploring uncharted waters. There were no rules, and we were the Wizards of Everfree Valley!”

“But Microspell and Cobbler famously butted heads, more than once!”

Trixie looked down at her forehooves. “We all... made mistakes along the way. A good measure of it was inexperience, but not all. Some of it was just healthy competition.” She looked up and grinned. “And some of it, more than most ponies would imagine, was all for show, a way to get attention from the fickle press!” Her expression softened. “But It doesn’t mean we didn’t have a high degree of regard, or even affection, for each other.”

“Still,” said Ripple, “even the recent press said you and Firefly weren’t on speaking terms.”

“Sadly, we weren’t,” said Trixie, looking back down at her hooves. “But a few weeks ago, Firefly sent Trixie a letter. It explained his situation, and his... true feelings. There was also an invitation to meet before... before.” She raised her gaze, and sniffed. “Trixie went to see him. I’m... I’m so glad I did.”

She smiled through her tears. “Trixie has... one more conversation to have with Firefly,” she said softly and waved in the direction of the coffin. “If you all would excuse me...”

Several heads nodded. Manny placed a hoof on Trixie’s. Taking a deep breath, Trixie went to visit Firefly one final time.