• Published 19th Jul 2012
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The Best of All Possible Worlds - McPoodle

The philosopher Voltaire finds himself in the most-frustrating place imaginable: Equestria

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Chapter 3

The Best of All Possible Worlds

Chapter 3

Voltaire tried writing several drafts of his letter to the king, but failed to reach the right tone, one that got the king to laugh and forgive him without actually saying that the writer was in the wrong for expressing his opinions through his fiction. The fact that he had considered Micromegas too dangerous to put his own name on it was not a point in his favor. Eventually he failed and fell asleep. He dreamed that Ivan had come up to the door and stared at him through the bars until he turned into a unicorn.

He awoke (still human) to a cold breakfast waiting for him on his writing table (along with an invitation to meet Jordan’s daughter at 4 o’clock that afternoon), and a stupendous hangover. He drowned his sorrows in port wine, and was soon in a good mood again, at least until he had discovered that he had kicked over the ink pot during the night and he no longer had anything to write with.

Voltaire considered calling for Jordan, but he felt guilty for what the king had put him through, and decided to bother him as little as possible. Remembering the confiscated pencil in his possession, he decided he’d use that, at least until he had come up with a draft he was satisfied with. He cleaned his breakfast knife with the napkin, and then used that to sharpen the point on the pencil.

“All hail Friedrich the Great,” he began, which in German looks like this:

Heil Friedrich dem Großen...

Before his eyes, the loops of the e’s, the d’s and the o’s started to darken, until they looked just like the ovals in Oscar’s cell.

Voltaire fearfully rose to his feet, and the blackness in the shapes shifted as he did so. Looking at the pencil in his hand, he suddenly realized that these were not eyes watching him, but pits. Or portals, Voltaire remembered. Just as Oscar promised the king.

He reached down and placed a finger over the “o” in “Großen”, and felt the opening under his skin. He used the pencil to draw a big circle on the paper and tried to reach through it, but only found his hand contacting stone.

This was an exceedingly strange mystery. What would Newton do? he asked himself, mentally addressing his hero. The great Sir Isaac would apply logic to the problem, and so would he. Oscar had drawn what he had seen through these portals, but Voltaire only saw stone. Oscar’s portals had only been drawn around the middle of his cell, so perhaps...

Voltaire picked up the piece of paper. It was clear that the darkness he was seeing through the hole was different, and what he felt when he put his hand up to the hole was different as well: a different stone. He walked around with the paper and when he came near to his bed, he suddenly saw daylight.

Through the hole was a blue sky, and something far in the distance flying downwards far slower than should be possible. He saw clouds, but something was definitely wrong with them: they were all on their sides. He carefully tilted the paper some more, and finally spotted the ground, far to his left.

Voltaire shook his head in wonder. Not only had he discovered a portal to another land, but this land was sideways! Struck with inspiration, he laid down on his bed so his feet were now pointing in the direction of the other world’s “down”, and was thus able to get a better look at things.

He was looking out from the side of a tall castle or palace, nearly two dozen feet off of the ground. The castle extended above him for several hundred feet. The castle must have been on top of or on the side of a tall mountain, because a green valley stretched below him a thousand or more feet down. The valley stretched as far as the eye could see, bounded on one side by a low mountain range. It was certainly inhabited, because he could make out the rectangular plots of fields and orchards, but they were too far away to make out the farmers.

But there was, Voltaire realized, a way to see the inhabitants of this land up close. From the bed he could look out of the outer wall of the castle. A few steps away, all he could see was the rock that made up the castle wall itself. But closer to the door, he ought to be able to see inside the castle.

The human stood up and cautiously walked towards the door of his cell, his marked piece of paper before his eyes. For four steps, all he saw was the dark insides of a wall, but then his view emerged into a great wide hall.

Tilting his head sideways, Voltaire saw a crowd of colorful ponies all looking in the same direction. Some of the ponies wore robes, and some did not. The ones that didn’t wore their manes arranged into elaborate waves of multiple colors. Voltaire guessed that the ponies following this elaborate fashion were the mares, and the others were the stallions. Since they all wore the same fashion of hairstyling, they were probably imitating their ruler. And since they were all facing the same direction with looks of awe in their little pony faces, that must mean that their ruler was over there, in a direction that Voltaire could not see however he tilted his little window.

He decided he needed a much bigger window.

Voltaire took every piece of paper he had, and arranged them to form a large square on the floor. He had no way of attaching the pages to each other, so he was very careful as he drew the outline in pencil not to let any page slip away. Finally he completed the large circle and waited.

The view through the large window was much clearer than before. Slowly and deliberately, Voltaire planted his hands on the paper outside the pencil circle, and leaned his head through.

He finally saw the ruler of the ponies. And that sight was so astonishing that he forgot which way gravity worked in their world, and fell right through.