• Published 18th Aug 2011
  • 16,922 Views, 607 Comments

Binky Pie - Miyajima

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Realization

Death felt very out of his depth.

Of course, that’s not to say he was physically out of his depth, even though he was currently up to his neck in warm, soapy water, in the baths of the Ponyville Spa.

It had happened rather suddenly. He remembered cleaning up the jam from the floor of Pinkie Pie’s room, then carefully making his way down and out of Sugarcube Corner, the innate sense of all living beings to ignore what their eyes are telling them when they don’t wish to see it enabling him to sneak past the busy shop front and out of the door, leaving no evidence of his presence beyond jammy hoofsteps, a trail of flour and sodden, torn party streamers.

The next thing he knew, he was swept along by a white unicorn with a purple mane and an affected accent, into the spa to clean himself up.

There are few things as unstoppable and irresistible as Death.

Rarity is one of them.

“I must say, you look so much better without that cloak, although it certainly does add an air of intrigue and mystery about you! What’s the material?”

Absolute Darkness. The Fabric of Reality before the Universe began. Before the first ray of light began its journey from the-

“Yes, I can see it’s black, but is it silk? Cotton? It’s very unusual.”

Death was a little taken aback.

… Silk. he lied.

Rarity glanced over at the cloak as it hung on the rails beside the tub. It certainly didn’t shimmer like silk. In fact, it didn’t shimmer at all. There were no reflections, and neither was there any sense of depth. It was like a cloak-shaped hole cut in reality, revealing the darkness underneath. However, it was quite stylish. A touch macabre, perhaps, but it had a certain something.

Death himself was looking around at the spa, curious. The concept of bathing was barely understood on the Discworld as a form of necessary torture. The idea of taking that and making it into an act of leisure had yet to occur to even the most godlike and brilliant of minds. The water was pleasantly warm. Somewhere beneath the surface was a jet that gently churned the contents of the tub, creating bubbles from the various herbal soaps and mixtures that had been thrown in.

He had a bathroom at home, of course, because he understood that most wealthy, upper-class homes have one. Or at least an iron tub hanging above the fire in the living room. It was just that he’d never had cause to use it. Albert did, occasionally, and he recalled his ‘daughter’, Ysabell, having spent much time in there during her formative years. All thirty-five of them.

He observed carefully how Rarity acted, but had decided against attempting to emulate her behaviour. Despite her insistence, he could not quite understand the purpose in wrapping yourself in seaweed, placing sliced vegetables over your eyes, and then jumping into a pit of mud, in an attempt to get clean.

Rarity was busy observing him. He had such a beautiful, bleached white coat, and she simply couldn’t bear the thought of it being covered in jam, flour, bits of party streamer, and goodness knows what else. Besides, he was rather handsome, in a tall, mysterious stranger way. She was more than happy to pay for his bath. He didn’t seem to be much of a conversationalist, on the other hoof.

“So, where are you from, Mr. Door?” she asked, running a hoof along Death’s cloak as she peered over the railing at him.

Far away. he answered, after a slight pause. The conversation once again sat a lull. Rarity tried her luck with another.

“And... What brings you to Ponyville?”

A summons.

“... Ah, I see...” Rarity replied, the gears of her mind whirring and trying hopelessly to fill in the blanks of the dialogue. “A legal matter, is it? Well, I won’t pry.”

Like all things, the conversation died.

Rarity scraped her hoof on the wooden boards.

“... I’m afraid that as much as I would love to stay here, I really must get on... Drop by the Carousel Boutique when you’re ready, would you? I have something in mind for you. You’ll love it, I’m sure! And I so rarely get to make clothing for stallions these days... Well, I’ll see you there! Au revoir!”

And with that, she was gone. Death briefly wondered if he was meant to have interjected at some point. Mortals seemed to be such incomprehensible creatures, no matter what realm they hailed from.

Yet he had to admit... The bath was soothing. He could feel the warmth of the water soak into his coat, and the pleasurable shiver of the nerves that accompanied it.

He blinked.

Oh. … Bugger.


The Third Temple of the Pink Pony of Death* was in the process of emptying after a particularly successful high tea. The Reader of Etiquette said the final liturgy as the congregation filed out of the revolving door, each solemnly given, in turn, their little bag of leftovers.

As the Junior Hosts and Hostesses stacked the chairs on the tables and swept the floor of the hall, Grand Hostess Aminata Odham watched them with a practised gaze, the sort that long-suffering mothers give to their wayward children as they attempt to ‘help’ with the housework. You could have painted that smile on her face.

Beside her stood Guest of Honour Terrak Keksy, finishing his third helping of cake. It was a simple sponge with jam and cream filling, topped with a plain white icing and no extra frills. Remembering the reading from The Book of Proper Nourishment, 2:24 (‘thou shalt not talk with thy mouth full’), he swallowed before looking to the Grand Hostess.

“I must say, this cake is absolutely delicious. To die for, even. So, what did you want to talk to me about?”

Aminata turned to him, a slow and steady movement that seemed to affect only her neck and head, leaving the rest of her body rigidly still.

“Oh, I just wanted to thank you for your continual service to our cause. Your magic has been of great use in spreading the word, and I know you’ve received some persecution from the University because of your beliefs.”

Terrak paused. “Well... I wouldn’t call it ‘persecution’, it’s perfectly ordinary to wake up in the halls and find your slippers gained sentience overnight. And a taste for flesh.”

“Regardless, I feel I ought to reward you. If you would follow me...” she cut off any further reply and swept through the curtain that separated the main hall from the Blessed Sanctuary. Or the broom cupboard, as it was more widely known.

Terrak shrugged, gulped down another mouthful of cake, and followed. As he stepped into the enclosed space, Aminata drew the curtain shut and, turning, took a flask from the shelf.

“Punch,” she explained, at Terrak’s clueless expression. “A special mix, using some of the rarest ingredients on the Disc. I’d value your opinion on it.”

She poured out a glass of the stuff and handed it to the young wizard, who put his bowl on the shelf behind him and took it gratefully. He swirled it around in the glass, taking a sniff of the bouquet. Advanced Wine & Alcoholic Beverage Techniques was one course of the university’s vast and eldritch curriculum that he excelled in.

“Definite hints of Howondaland Swamp Boil... A pinch of Djelibeybi Sherbet? Ephebian Wine... Yes, quite the mix you’ve got here.”

Terrak knocked back the contents of the glass in one, a habit that all students of the Unseen University pick up eventually. If you linger with a glass of wine at the university’s dining hall, you’ll find there’s none left by the time you’ve finished.

He smacked his lips. “Odd taste. Almost a bit like...”

He paused when he realised Aminata wasn’t looking at him, but at a point behind him. He watched as she smiled. She was always smiling, but unlike the usual grimace, this smile seemed to show some actual emotion. Somehow, he didn’t like the look of it.

Without a word, she turned on her heel and walked away. Terrak made to follow, only to find himself brought up short after a few steps. He looked over his shoulder, his gaze following a thin, blue line tethering him to... to himself, lying on the floor, a smashed glass by his side and a very shocked expression on his face.

“... Ah,” he managed, as his mind, (or at least, whatever part of his now incorporeal self did the mental calculating,) joined the dots.

Before realization fully sunk in, there was a faint shimmer in the air to his left which soon resolved itself into the unmistakable shape of a bright pink, and profoundly worried, pony. She looked around frantically, trying to take in the whole room in a single glance, and spotted the corpse.

NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo... she repeated, running over to the prone body and kneeling beside it.

“... Pinkie Pie?” the ghost of Terrak said, moving towards her. As she heard him, she whirled around to face him, halfway between relieved and deeply upset.

Terrak! You died!

“Clearly.”

That wasn't supposed to happen!

This took him a little by surprise. “... Whyever not? I mean, not that I wanted to die, but...”

B-but, I knew you! You brought me here! You were nice! Why did you have to die? Why do I have to do it?

“... Well, isn’t it your... job?” Terrak replied, thoroughly confused. He knew, as all wizards did, that Death came to guide them personally for their first steps into the afterlife, but he didn’t expect the reaction to be quite so... emotional. “Don’t you do this all the time?”

Yes! … No! … I... I don't know! I just help! I don't know what to do! I remember things, but... Pinkie seemed close to breaking down in tears. She hadn’t known Terrak particularly well, but even that made the difference. She’d met him. All the times she’d helped Death, she was meeting these people for the first time, and giving them a nice surprise to what was, normally, a fairly unpleasant event.

But this was different. This struck a chord, deep in Pinkie’s heart. She’d never done The Duty solo, and the first time she had to, it was the pointless murder of a perfectly friendly and good-natured man who hadn’t seen it coming.

She couldn’t send him back. She didn’t know how. But she knew... she remembered, what would happen if she did. She couldn’t even share her own time, not now. She was Death, for all intents and purposes, and that balloon floating ominously in the Room of Hourglasses served as a constant reminder.

The ghostly mage laid an ethereal hand on her shoulder, breaking her train of thought.

“It’s alright. Truth be told, I was finding university life pretty boring, anyway. Spend the rest of my days cooped up in that dusty old mansion, nothing but fat tomes and mouldering old men to keep me company? I’d rather see what’s out there waiting for me. And personally, I’m glad you’re the one to send me off.”

Pinkie sniffed. Really?

Terrak nodded.

I’m... sorry I didn't bring you any cake...

“It’s alright, I’ve had plenty. … Could go for a quiche, right about now. I wonder if you can eat in the afterlife?” He shook his head. “Anyway, first I think you have to do something about this...” he said, pulling the blue thread with his finger so that it went ‘twang’.

Oh. Yeah. Right. … Uh. Pinkie concentrated, trying to will the scythe to appear. It seemed reluctant to answer her summons.

“... Maybe there’s a pair of scissors... Or a knife?” Terrak said, helpfully. Pinkie found one in the pile of dirty crockery and brought it back, holding it in her mouth. She carefully angled the blade above the lifeline, and cut it gently.

‘Ere. she mumbled through the handle, as the thin stream receded into Terrak. The ghost took a last look at his former residence.

“... Pity, that robe was new on six weeks ago. Could’ve saved myself thirty dollars. All those sequins going to waste. Eh well, I s’pose it’ll go to the freshers for fire spell practise.”

He walked around his body, examining it carefully, while Pinkie put the knife back. Despite the various Junior Hosts milling around the place, no one seemed to be able to see her, since, even in the Temple of the Pink Pony of Death, no one honestly expected to see the eponymous mare walking around with a cake-encrusted knife in her mouth. She returned to find Terrak amusing himself by waving his hand through the shelves, an activity he immediately ceased when he saw her returning, thrusting his arms behind his back, and taking on what he hoped was a dignified stance.

“What now?” he asked. Pinkie hesitated. She honestly wasn’t sure.

I... guess you go on to whatever's next. You don't believe in reincarnation, do you? That can get a little tricky.

“Nope, quite happy the way I am. Or was. … Is there a tense for referring to oneself after you’ve passed on?”

Present perfect. Pinkie replied, automatically. She blinked. … How did I know that? she said, half to herself, rubbing her chin with a hoof.

“Ah. ‘I am quite happy with the way I have been’. … Yes, that works.”

Silence descended as the conversation followed suit in passing on. Somewhere in the greater building, somebody coughed. Much like the little wisps of smoke from the boots of a man tragically struck by lightning, or the flaming wheel that rolls from the wreckage of a vehicle crash, the well-timed cough in a conversational lull is a fundamental law of the universe.**

“... If it’s too much trouble, I’m sure I can find my own way out,” the wizard said, at length.

Pinkie just nodded, smiling at him gratefully. The ghost of Terrak Keksy smiled, bowed, and exited stage left, through a wall.

The Pink Pony of Death was left feeling drained by the experience, emotionally and physically. She knew just enough to do The Duty, but not enough to really be Death. Although, judging by the new ‘memories’ that flooded through her mind, that wouldn’t be a problem for much longer.

The thought would have scared her. But Death was never scared. Instead, she thought about the young wizard who had been murdered, here, in a sanctuary built (or at least, cheaply decorated), in her name. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right.

This calls for extreme measures.

She turned, the glow of her sky-blue eyes piercing through the curtain that separated the cupboard from the rest of the building beyond. Somewhere out there, she knew, was the person responsible for Terrak’s untimely demise.

Pinkie Pie style.


* "NO LONGUR BLIT’ZS FIREWURKS! UNDER NOO MANAJMANT!! TRY OWR CHEEZ STRORS!!!”

** Of course, in some cases where coughs aren’t available due to the general lack of respiratory passages present, Tumbleweed fills much the same role. In fact, Natural Selection being what it is, a species of Tumbleweed has arisen on the Discworld that possesses specific powers of teleportation. It lives its life in waiting and breaks from its stem at precisely the most effective moment, before briefly popping into existence, just out of sight, to roll across the foreground before disintegrating from reality.

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