• Published 12th Apr 2016
  • 14,954 Views, 12,558 Comments

Three More Things! - Tatsurou

Uncle Chan tries to balance running an antique shop, fighting demons, and being a Chi Wizard with being a loving Uncle to his nephew, his somewhat removed niece...and three little ponies who drive him straight up the wall.

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Christmas Cheer

Apple Bloom sat quietly, wrapped in a blanket as she stared into the fireplace beneath the shop's chimney. The fire burned cheerily, but it was a magic fire. It gave off warmth and light, but it didn't burn anything. She'd tested it herself by sitting amidst the flames for a full hour. She came out a bit dehydrated and overheated, but unburnt and without even a trace of soot in her coat. She'd prepared such a fire specifically for tonight, with a little bit of help from Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

Briefly taking her eyes off the fire, she glanced around the room. Nearby, an evergreen tree stood tall, decorations hanging form its branches. Everything from tinsel and lights to colorful spheres and little plush dolls of everyone they knew and cared about danced amidst the green needles, light flickering over the metallic surfaces as the vary-colored lights shimmered over the tinsel like a field of stars. Atop the tree, a star glowed faintly, illuminating the rest of the room only faintly, including the five stockings hanging from the mantel of the fireplace. Names were painstakingly hand-sewn into each of the stockings. Uncle, Jackie, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo...

She paused as she spotted a waver in the air beside her. "Sweetie Belle!" she hissed angrily. "What are ya doin' up?"

Light seemed to warp, and before long the unicorn was fully visible. "Drat," Sweetie Belle pouted. "I thought I'd managed to make that invisibility spell work!"

"It fights the pendant, remember?" Apple Bloom pointed out. "There's no such thing as a 'perfectly normal invisible unicorn', after all." As Sweetie continued to grumble, Apple Bloom pressed again. "Now what are ya doin' up?"

"I was going to ask you the same question," Sweetie chided. "You heard what Uncle said! Santa won't come until after we're asleep!"

The three fillies had caught the excitement of the rest of their class when the discussion of Christmas had come up. They'd written their letters to Santa, much like the rest of the class, asking for whatever it was they wanted. At school, however, it had just been part of the exercise, and fitting in with a human society, little more from Apple Bloom's perspective than further practice holding a pencil - or pen - with a hoof instead of her mouth. After all, the way the teacher had talked about Santa was the same way she referred to the fillies, as something perfectly ordinary that her mind didn't register as being magical. The same way Jackie spoke about such beings as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

But then they'd talked about it with Uncle...and he'd spoken of Santa differently. He spoke with the conviction of knowledge, not belief. Santa was apparently a fundamental aspect of Chi Magic studies, as real as unicorns and demons and just as important, a focal point of Good Chi. He even had a special way of sending off their letters to Santa to ensure they would reach him. After that, each of the fillies had written a new letter to Santa, asking for something other than the usual toys or 'feel good' wishes.

Apple Bloom glanced away. "Ah...ah'm hoping Santa can gimme what ah asked for a little sooner..." she answered softly, refusing to meet Sweetie Belle's gaze. "Ah mean...it's not like we're human kids, right? Maybe he'll make an exception as far as the 'must be in bed', since we're magic?"

"Why are you so eager, anyway?" Sweetie Belle asked curiously. "What could it be that you want so badly?"

"Ah...ah asked fer..." Apple Bloom lowered her gaze. "...ah asked him ta take mah magic away..."

"What?" Scootaloo demanded from the rafters, dropping down beside the others. "Why the hay would you ask that?"

"Yer supposed ta be in bed, too," Apple Bloom grumbled.

"The question stands," Sweetie Belle added her own insistence.

"You should understand pretty well, Sweetie," Apple Bloom countered. "Remember Mumbo?"

Sweetie Belle shuddered. Around Thanksgiving, a wanna-be wizard had stopped by the shop looking for things for his own attempts at magic. He had no real talent, but he'd read enough that he believed he could do anything if he put his mind to it. Uncle had refused to sell to him, since reckless use of magic was dangerous. 'The Magnificent Mumbo', as he'd called himself, had countered by trying to kidnap Sweetie Belle when the fillies were on their way home from school, while Scootaloo was towing her and Apple Bloom in the wheelbarrow. Unfortunately for 'Mumbo', Scootaloo was using her cloud that day, rather than her scooter, and it was still built up grey from Halloween. The trio had decided not to mention the event to Uncle, since Scootaloo didn't want a lecture on zapping people with lightning...or even to admit to Uncle that she could make lightning.

"See?" Apple Bloom pointed out. "And you can hide yer magical nature just by not using it. Scoot can easily defend herself from anything, or just fly out of reach. But me?" She pawed at the wooden floor as plants sprouted between the boards, withering as she moved away. "Ah can't even walk around without leavin' evidence Ah'm all magical...and what kinda defense do ah got? Ah can't even control most of what mah magic does yet, outside mah garden..." She lowered her eyes. "And if I get snatched for something - like as a vessel or sacrifice for some Earth spirit/god/demon/whatever - you two and Uncle will try ta save me...and all that'll do is put ya in danger cause of me..." She blinked away a few tears. "If...if all my magic is gonna do is put the ones ah care about in danger...than ah don't want it!"

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo immediately pulled Apple Bloom into a tight hug, doing their best to comfort her in her sorrow. So focused had they been on her anguish, none had noticed the sound of bells, or hoofsteps.

"So that is what your letter meant, Apple Bloom," a kindly old voice said in the barest of whispers from before the fireplace.

The three fillies spun, their eyes going wide in awe as they stared at the portly figure in furs, red trimmed with white. His full beard and mustache nearly swallowed his face and covered a good portion of his chest as well. "...Santa..." all three breathed in awe, able to not just see Santa for what he was, but to feel the vast amounts of Good Chi focused in every cell of his very being. Apple Bloom, being the most scientifically focused of the trio, began to get a glimmer of how Santa could traverse the whole world in a single night. There was so much Good Chi focused in him, he was the living magical equivalent of a black hole, his very existence warping the fabric of magic and space-time wherever he walked, the effect controlled by his gentle, compassionate nature so it did no harm. No wonder the normal laws of physics, or even magic physics, don't apply to him, she thought silently.

Santa knelt down before the fillies. "I'm actually glad all three of you are here," he explained as they approached him nervously, the trio being even more in awe than when they'd been in the presence of Pachamama, a genuine god. "You see...it isn't actually in my power to grant what you three asked of me in your second letters. I can give presents, but I can't grant miracles."

All three fillies hung their ears in disbelief. "But...but ya got so much power..." Apple Bloom whimpered. "Ya...ya can't...?"

"I wouldn't take your magic away from you even if I could," Santa interrupted. "It is a part of you...and to do so would, in the long run, be a great cruelty, wounding your very soul." He shook his head gently. "And cruelty is one thing I cannot abide, and will not do, even when asked by one who has been as good as you have." As Apple Bloom hung her head, he turned to Sweetie Belle. "And Sweetie Belle...I know you meant well, but even I do not have the power to give back years of life. Even if Uncle wanted it - which he does not - I cannot add sand to his hourglass and restore his youth to him. Magic such as that always has a price, one that neither I nor your guardian will pay."

Sweetie Belle sighed sadly. As the three fillies had grown, she'd noticed Uncle beginning to struggle a bit more to keep up with them. His joints became more stiff, he took longer each morning to wake up, and he'd started going outside less and less often. He pushed himself for the sake of the fillies...but Sweetie Belle had worried, and asked Santa to make Uncle younger again. She knew it was a long shot...but feeling how much magic Santa had inside him had given her a bit of hope.

Scootaloo hung her head even as Santa turned to her. "Guess what I asked for was kinda stupid anyway..." she muttered.

"Not really," Santa replied, "and it was well meaning. But no power in this or any world can join two worlds together, and even if it were possible the raw magic of the land you come from would overwhelm - and overwrite - this one if I even tried." Noticing the despair on the fillies faces, he smiled warmly at them. "Now don't be like that," he gently chided. "It's a good thing you are awake now...because while I can't grant the wishes as they are written, I can give gifts based in the sentiment behind them."

"Huh?" all three fillies asked, looking up in confusion.

Smiling widely, Santa touched his finger to the side of his nose, and the tip of that finger glowed as he focused his magic there. Leaning down, he touched the finger to each of the fillies' 'pendants of normalcy'. The pendants flared with shimmering light as they absorbed the magic, almost more than the pendants could contain. "There is your present, Apple Bloom," he explained. "Your wish came from a desire to keep yourself and your loved ones safe...and this magic will prevent your magical nature from drawing the attention or ire of any purely human threat. Animal threats you're all well equipped to handle...and Uncle will surely teach you three how to handle yourselves against those threats that are magical, and more than human."

Apple Bloom smiled widely, tears in her eyes. "T-thank you, Santa..." she murmured gratefully, hugging him as much as she could.

"Ho ho ho," Santa chuckled, returning the embrace even as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo piled onto him as well. "Now, I can do more..." He pulled back and waved his hand over their faces. "But for now...it's time for you three to wake up." He snapped his fingers.

He smiled to himself as he watched that special bit of spatial warping kick in. The three fillies would wake up the following morning in their beds, fully rested, as though the entire event had been naught but a dream. He used that when children who were otherwise good snuck down to see him. After all, it was the faith in the magic and spirit of Christmas that made it so potent. True knowledge of it got in the way of that, unless those who knew were also of a magical inclination, and knew how big a part of magic belief that it would work was. Standing upright, he got to work, leaving the presents under the tree and filling the stockings before turning to the last few gifts. "Hmm..." he murmured to himself as he rolled up his sleeves. "These might be tricky..." With a beckoning motion, he called Scootaloo's cloud over to him. "Might as well start with the simplest ones..."

Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo awoke in bed with a start. The sun was high in the sky, showing it was well after sunrise. They weren't sure why they'd slept so late, but they were very relaxed and happy. "I had the strangest dream," Apple Bloom muttered. "Santa came and put magic in our pendants..."

"After telling us he could grant the spirit of our requests, but not the letter?" Sweetie Belle asked, eyes wide.

"And then told us to wake up?" Scootaloo added.

Eyes wide, the trio raced downstairs to find Uncle and Jackie already awake and waiting for them. "Children that sleep in late on Christmas morning," Jackie joked. "Will the miracles never cease?"

Scootaloo blew a raspberry in protest, startling laughter out of all present. She then gasped, however, as she spotted something floating beside the tree. It looked like her cloud, but it was now a bright cyan. A note hung nearby, and she raced over to read it. "Your cloud now lives, and will come when you call, and support the three of you without additional magic," she read carefully. "His name is Cumulo."

As she spoke the name, the cloud zipped over to her, leaving a rainbow contrail behind it as it moved. She hopped up onto it eagerly, for some reason that alone making her warm and happy inside as she snuggled into the cloud.

Sweetie Belle opened a large present with her name on it, and found several mannequins in the shape of the fillies, obviously designed to hang clothes from...especially since different outfits already hung from them. While the three had never had much to do with clothing aside from their Halloween costumes, something about the sight of clothes hanging from pony-shaped mannequins was very comforting to Sweetie.

Uncle gasped as he opened a narrow package with his name on it. "Aiyah!" he called out in surprise. "Is Chi Master Fong's lost Joint Ail potion recipe! Been searching all over for this! Help ease joints for years!"

Sweetie Belle smiled widely, realizing what Santa had done for her wish.

Apple Bloom glanced around, looking for something that might be for her...until she noticed a note pinned to the tree. Walking over, she read it.

Apple Bloom,

Check the back lot.

Gasping, Apple Bloom raced out to the back lot, a part of the property that the group rarely used and mostly ignored. What she saw there stunned her beyond belief, and she felt the need for confirmation. "Girls! Jackie! Uncle! Come quick!"

The four summoned quickly raced out to see what had caused Apple Bloom's excitement...only to come screeching to a halt, their eyes lifting. "Aiyah..." Uncle breathed, staring up at the apple tree that had not been there the day before, and the plant life that bloomed so readily around its roots in an otherwise bare lot.

Jackie walked up to the tree, placing his hand against it. "It feels...so alive..." he murmured. "More than any other tree I've encountered..."

"It gives off magic..." Uncle murmured as he rested his own hand against it, noticing the parchment seal on the rope around the trunk, keeping the tree's magic self contained. "It's from...where the fillies are from...but how?"

"My letter to Santa!" Scootaloo spoke up as Apple Bloom leaned happily against the tree. "We'd felt so out of place here in San Francisco...I asked him to bring a bit of home here."

"I asked him to help you fight aging!" Sweetie Belle squeaked out.

"I asked him to help keep us safe..." Apple Bloom murmured, still leaned against the tree, feeling warm and safe as though cuddled between two larger ponies.

Smiling softly, Uncle knelt down, pulling the three fillies in a warm embrace. "Uncle is so proud of you three..."

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