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The King and His Donkey Ears

Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, there lived a unicorn king named Neighsay. And his wife, Queen Cinch, ruled their kingdom very strictly and nopony ever dared to break the rules they made in fear of being brutally punished. One day, the King was in his room, staring at himself in the mirror as he was fixing up a new hat he was wearing.

“There. No one will notice them now.” He said to himself.

“Neighsay, darling?” A female voice said.

Neighsay quickly turned around to see his wife, Cinch standing in the doorway. “Yes, Cinch? What may I do for you, dear?”

“I just came to tell you that it’s time for your scheduled haircut.” The Queen said.

“It is?” The King asked nervously.

“Yes. However, I received word that your original barber has the flu and won’t be able to make it for fear of you catching it, too. So they’ve sent somepony else.”

That was when a young filly with a light brown coat, a red mane, yellow green eyes, freckles on her cheeks, and a pair of scissors for a cutie mark stepped in; she was carrying a saddle bag filled with brushes, combs, scissors, and other mane styling tools.

“Hello, Your Majesty.” She greeted.

“A filly? They sent a mere FILLY to cut my mane?” The King asked in disbelief and disgust.

“I’m afraid so.” The Queen answered. “And don’t even think about trying to get another barber. Everypony else is busy with other clients and Miss Babs Seed here is all you’ve got.”

“I may still be an apprentice, but I’m really good. Just give me a chance and I’ll prove it.” Babs Seed said.

Neighsay was growing incredibly nervous at this point. “Uh, you know what? Let’s not do this today. Just send her home.”

“What are you saying?” Cinch asked, sounding shocked. “She’s come for you. Besides, as King, your appearance is VERY important. Just let her give you a nice, easy haircut and everything will be fine.”

The King put a hoof to his head and looked away, not saying a word. The Queen shook her head before turning back to Babs.

“Now, Miss Seed. Be a dear and give my husband a decent haircut, won’t you?” She asked.

“Of course, I’ll do my best.” Babs said with confidence.

“You’d better, or you know the consequences.”

“Uh… yes, ma’am.”

And with that, the Queen walked out of the room and closed the door behind her, leaving the filly mane stylist alone with the King. Acting fast, Babs set her saddle bag down and got her things ready for Neighsay’s haircut. Finally, she was all set.

“Okay. Go and have a seat, Your Majesty.” Babs instructed; Neighsay reluctantly sat down on the cushion with his back turned to the filly. “Now if you’ll just remove your hat, we’ll get started right away.”

“I can’t do that.” Neighsay said quickly.

“What? But I can’t cut your mane with this hat on.”

“No! You must cut my mane with it on!”

“But I said I can’t do that.”

“That’s why I said not today!”

Having enough with the King’s childish behavior, Babs decided to take matters into her own hooves. She reached up behind and snatched the King’s hat with her teeth, but he used his magic to keep the hat on his head. And after a few seconds of pulling back and forth, Babs finally managed to pull the King’s hat off, but she gasped when she saw what was underneath. She saw that King Neighsay had the long ears of a donkey.

“Oh no! What have you done, you fool?!” Neighsay shouted, covering his ears with his hooves.

“What in the…? What happened to your ears, Your Majesty?” Babs asked.

Neighsay didn’t want to tell her anything, but he eventually gave in and told the filly what happened to him.

“It happened just yesterday afternoon.” He explained. “I was down for a walk at the beach when I heard something. It sounded like singing, so I decided to follow it. But when I made my way to the source of the sound, I discovered that the singing was coming from three vile creatures! They looked like ugly horses with fangs, fins, and long fish tails. I couldn’t accept that the beautiful music I was hearing was coming from such hideous beings. So I told them to be silent and leave my kingdom or they would suffer the consequences. But do you know what they did to me?”

“No.”

“They glared at me and said, ‘You insolent pony! Those tiny ears of yours are useless! This is what such ears will get you!’ And in a bright red flash, I discovered these donkey ears and I’ve been hiding them ever since.”

“So those creatures cursed you because you didn’t like their singing?”

“There was much more to it than that, but… yes.” The King then turned his head to Babs and narrowed his eyes at her. “Now listen up, young filly. You mustn’t tell ANYPONY about this!”

Babs’s eyes grew wide. “What? Why not?”

“These ears are humiliating! And if anypony found out about them, I would be the laughing stock of the entire kingdom!” He put his hat back on. “Tell no one, or else.”

“Uh… or else what?” Babs asked, taking a nervous step back.

“If you DO tell anyone, I’ll have you executed at once! UNDERSTAND?!”

“…Understood, Your Majesty.”

As she was walking through the village to head to her next client, Babs kept her mouth shut and didn’t talk to anypony she passed by; she didn’t even stop to say hello because she was so afraid that she would accidentally spill King Neighsay’s secret. When she was approached by her closest friends, she quickly fought back the desire to tell them what she had just learned and ran off without saying another word. Then she made her way to her next client’s house; she was due for another appointment. As Babs was cutting her customer’s mane, she remained silent while focusing on her work.

“Hey, you’re awfully quiet today.” The happy pink mare who was having her mane styled. “Is everything okay? Why don’t we chat like always?”

“Oh yeah? What would you like to chat about?” Babs asked, trying to remain calm.

“Anything, really. How’s your day going so far? Did anything interesting happen today? I heard you went to cut the King’s mane today. How was that? Do tell.”

Babs nearly froze, her memories of the King’s donkey ears quickly coming back. “The King? Oh, uh… His Majesty is fine, as usual. Could you excuse me for a second, please?”

She then walked off to another room, took a cushion from the sofa, and screamed her frustrations into it; the poor filly had no idea how difficult it was to keep such a secret. She wanted to tell somepony, but she knew she couldn’t or she would be punished. After a minute or two of trying to calm down, Babs finally regained her cool and set back to work. But she was so focused on the King’s ears that she almost didn’t realize what she was doing until she was finished.

“All done, ma’am.” Babs said, passing her client a mirror.

The mare looked in the mirror and gasped. Babs tensed up and covered her eyes with her hoof in fear, realizing what she had just done. She had just styled the mare’s hair to look like a pair of donkey ears. But when she opened her eyes, she saw that the mare didn’t seem upset.

“Ooh, what a cute new manestyle! I LOVE it!” She exclaimed, hopping up and down excitedly; Babs sighed in relief.

Over the next several days, Babs kept quiet about the King’s ears, but the secret consumed her. And during that time, the donkey ear hairstyle grew quite popular around town and it even became all the rage. Almost everypony in town was wearing their mane like that; even the Queen had her mane done exactly like it… which shocked the King, to say the least. One evening at the stroke of sunset, Babs finally had enough. She was having dinner with her older sister, Sunflower, when she cried out,

“I can’t take it!”

“Can’t take what?” Sunflower asked.

“Oh, Sunflower! It’s awful! I know something about the King I shouldn’t tell anyone! If I do tell anypony, he’ll have me killed! But I’m going to be sick if I don’t say it out loud! It’s practically eating me up inside!”

“A secret about the King?”

“Yeah.” Then, Babs had an idea. “Hey, wait. Isn’t there some place I can go where I can talk about it?”

“Well… there is an old pond in the forest outside of town. Nopony ever goes out there.”

“That’s PERFECT!”

“But are you sure you—”

Before Sunflower could say another word, Babs was already running out the door and towards the forest. When she finally made it to the pond, she grinned.

“Wow, my sis was right! I can shout out the secret here all I want!” She said, but then she looked around to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She giggled. “What am I worried about? The only ones listening out here are these silly reeds. And what can they do?” Taking a deep breath, Babs screamed out, “King Neighsay has donkey ears!” And she quickly flopped down onto the ground in relief, breathing deeply. “Phew! I am so glad I finally got that off my chest! I’m feeling better already.”

That night while everyone was asleep, a wind blew in the forest and the reeds that surrounded the pond rustled and carried the echoes of Babs’s words through the breeze.

King Neighsay has donkey ears. King Neighsay has donkey ears. King Neighsay has donkey ears. King Neighsay has donkey ears. King Neighsay has donkey ears. King Neighsay has donkey ears.

At the sound, a few donkeys raised their heads in recognition and a few ponies chuckled to themselves at the follies of their ruler. And soon enough, everypony in the entire land knew the King’s terrible secret… and the King was not happy at all. He summoned Babs to the castle that very night and the terrified filly stood before the King, awaiting her fate.

“Young filly, you’ve broken your promise!” He screamed at her.

“No, Your Majesty! I didn’t! I never told anypony!” Babs said, trying to explain herself.

“Likely story! Who did you tell?!”

“Nopony, I swear!”

“Hmph. I’ll know the truth soon enough.”

That was when a unicorn guard in gold and white armor ran up to the King; it was the Captain of the Guard.

“There you are, Captain. Did you find out who spread the rumor?” Neighsay asked.

“Yes, sire.” The Captain said.

“Well, who was it?”

“No, Your Majesty. Not a who, but a what. The reeds did it, sire.”

Neighsay was dumbstruck when he heard this. “The… the REEDS?!”

“That’s right. It was the reed leaves whispering the rumor in the wind.” The Captain replied.

Babs’s expression changed from scared to surprised. “Huh, didn’t see that coming.”

“Then if it was the reeds, that means that this child is innocent.” Queen Cinch said, walking up to Babs. She turned to her husband. “Now that everyone knows the truth, why don’t you go ahead and take off that silly hat once and for all, my dear?”

Neighsay sighed in defeat. “Ugh. I guess there’s no point in hiding them anymore.” He activated his magic and removed his hat, showing off his enlarged ears. “I can’t believe it. All of this happened because I told off those creatures.”

“What creatures, dear?” The Queen asked.

“I think he’s talking about the Sirens, Your Majesty.” Babs told Cinch.

Neighsay’s eyes popped. “Sirens…? …YOU KNEW WHAT THEY WERE ALL ALONG?!”

“Uh, sort of.” Babs casually answered. “They’re creatures with the ability to charm ponies with their music, but they also use their power to stir up trouble and feed off of the negative energy. And I have a feeling that they cursed you not because you caught them trespassing, but they saw that you resisted their music and called them ugly, I guess.”

“And you know all of this how?” Queen Cinch asked.

“I learned about the Sirens in school. Pretty recently, in fact.”

“Well, why didn’t you say something before?!”

“I didn’t know before! Geez, gimme a break! But I guess this whole mess could’ve been avoided if you weren’t acting so high and mighty and nasty in the first place.”

Neighsay groaned, putting his hooves over his face in frustration. Then he let out an exasperated sigh. “You’re right, Babs Seed. I never should’ve insulted those creatures to begin with.”

As he spoke that last sentence, a magical transformation began to take place. The King’s ears had shrunken back to their original size. Cinch, Babs, and the guards on duty all gasped while Neighsay gave them a confused look.

“What?” He asked, unaware of the event that just transpired.

“Um, dear? You might wish to take a look at this.” Cinch said levitating a mirror over to her husband.

Neighsay looked in the mirror and saw that his was back to his old self and the curse the Sirens had placed upon him was lifted. He gasped.

“What?! But how?” He asked in disbelief.

“Maybe it’s because you finally learned your lesson, Your Majesty.” Babs said.

“Yes. And you know, you’re still yourself, even if you had enchanted donkey ears.” The Queen added.

The King paused, then he got up from his throne and walked up to Babs. After a moment, he put a hoof on her shoulder and said, “…Thank you, for everything.”

Babs smiled at him before they shook hooves. From that moment on, both the King and his Queen lifted most of the rules and laws they’ve set and they ruled their kingdom with kindness, Babs Seed was rewarded for what she had done and was made the new official royal mane stylist, and they all lived happily ever after.