• Published 13th Oct 2019
  • 425 Views, 32 Comments

The Life and Times of Everypony - Leafdoggy



A collection of short stories set in the same ever-evolving world.

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The Rare Creatures Convention (Fluttershy, Maud)

Appleloosa was always a simple town. Just a tight-knit family of ponies, making the most of every day in their dusty little town. For the vast majority of the year, nopony was likely to show up, and nopony was likely to leave. They had a way of things, and they stuck to it.

That is, unless it was one of the rare days they were hosting something.

Appleloosa was an attractive destination for all sorts of faires and conventions. They had nothing but space, and their rodeo stadium was more than big enough for anything you may need it for. Plus, city ponies have always gone wild at the thought of getting a glimpse of the simpler life.

So, when the train shuddered to a stop and opened its doors this time, it didn’t really shock anypony to see how many tourists piled out. It wasn’t an extreme amount—it was a fairly niche convention—but it was certainly more than Appleloosa’s average traffic.

It was also, Fluttershy noted as she stepped off the train and into the station, far more of a crowd than she was generally comfortable with. “Oh,” she said nervously, “I really hope the convention is more spread out.”

“Everything is more spread out than something.” Maud Pie walked up beside Fluttershy and gave her a blank look.

“I suppose you’re right,” Fluttershy said. “Come on, let’s just get into town. It’ll be better there.”

The ponies of Appleloosa always went all out when tourists were around. They got by fine their own, so they didn’t really need the attention, but they liked to have fun with it. The streets were lined with pop-up stalls offering hot food, ponies offered balloons and candy to children, fliers advertising the next rodeo were everywhere. There was nowhere in town that the desert air wasn’t filled with all sorts of sounds and smells.

Fluttershy and Maud made their way along slowly. Fluttershy knew well that she wouldn’t be able to keep herself away from some of the attractions, so she had made sure to arrive at least an hour early, and she was right to do so. Between Fluttershy wanting to try every snack that caught her eye, and Maud stopping every five feet to examine some pebble or rock she couldn’t find back in Ponyville, they weren’t making it there any time soon.

“So,” Fluttershy mused as they made their way away from a stall selling candied apples, and towards another promising something they called appled candies, “who do you think this ‘mystery speaker’ that invited me is?”

“Maybe it’s just a pony named Mystery,” Maud offered.

Fluttershy thought for a moment. “No, I don’t know anypony named Mystery.”

“Then I guess we don’t know.”

“It’s just so odd,” Fluttershy said. “I mean, I was probably going to come anyway. Why invite me?”

“To make sure you come,” Maud said.

“How odd.”

Even with the early start, they wound up being late. Maud had found a particularly red patch of stone that she just couldn’t wait until she got home to take a look at, and it took them a full twenty minutes to find a microscope in town. They weren’t egregiously late, though, and on the bright side it meant they didn’t have to wait in line.

Appleloosa doesn’t actually have a convention center. Nopony could convince them to make a building that large that would sit empty for most of the year. What they did have, though, was a big stadium, and resourceful ponies. It wasn’t hard to erect makeshift walls where they were needed, and while Appleloosa only had a couple pegasi, they were able to fashion enough cloud cover to keep the convention in shade. It made for a unique venue, if nothing else.

At the entrance to the stadium, a tall, thin pony with white fur and a blazing orange mane stopped them and stuck out a hoof. “Tickets?”

“Oh, yes,” Fluttershy said. She reached back into her bag and pulled out the tickets that the mystery speaker had sent her, handing them to the pony.

He looked them over for a second, and then raised his eyebrows. “Oh! You’re the lady of the evening’s guests! I apologize for not recognizing you, I’m not very good with faces.”

“The lady of the evening?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yes, the afternoon’s mystery guest. She’s asked me not to spoil the surprise, but you can call me Broken Dawn.” He pulled out a pair of VIP passes on lanyards and slipped them onto Fluttershy and Maud’s necks. “Please, if you need anything at all, feel free to ask me. I am at my lady’s service, and as her guests, I am at yours as well.”

“‘Kay,” Maud said.

“Thank you very much, Dawn,” Fluttershy said with a polite smile. “I hope you’re able to enjoy the convention at some point, too.”

“Too kind, too kind.” Broken Dawn stepped aside, beckoning them inside with a hoof. “I shall try.”

The two walked excitedly down the long, dim hallway leading into the convention. The opening into the stadium grew wide as they neared it, and the sight on the other side bloomed into a grand gathering of ponies. The visiting ponies scurried every which way, going from adventurers regaling them with stories, to animal handlers who had brought creatures with them, filling the air with excited chatter as they did. Fluttershy’s eyes lit up in delight as she took it in.

“Where do you think we should go first?” she asked Maud with a wide grin.

“I have no preference,” Maud told her.

“Oh, how to decide…” Fluttershy thought hard for a minute before deciding. “You know what, if I don’t see the animals that are here right away, I’ll get distracted every time I notice them. Let’s head that way.”

All of the live animals had been put at the far end of the stadium, with their handlers being given whatever tools they might need to make them comfortable. Dividing walls so they couldn’t see the other animals, grassy floor mats, that sort of thing. The organizers had decided that, despite them being so close potentially causing problems, it was still better than having a convention where ponies couldn’t avoid the animals if they wished to.

One side effect, though, was that the entire section was very loud. Maud and Fluttershy became acutely aware of this fact as they approached, and Fluttershy needed earplugs by the time they finally got there. Luckily, she’d taken to carrying some with her ever since discovering how sensitive her ears had become.

Fluttershy loved every second she spent with the animals. From spectral hounds to baby hydras, every stall came with a new set of wonders. She talked endlessly with the handlers as she doted on the animals, learning their stories and every bit of information she could about the creatures. If it hadn’t been for the ponies who lined up behind her, subtly reminding her that she was holding things up, she may never have left them.

After they had been physically pushed away from a pony who was raising a gargoyle, a creature that piqued not only Fluttershy’s attention, but Maud’s as well, the next booth held a familiar sight. It was being shown off by a withered old mare, her blue fur faded, her mane gray, and covered in more than her fair share of scars. Behind her, looking regal as it preened itself, sat a burning red phoenix.

“Oh, wow,” Fluttershy said, “I hadn’t expected there to be a live one here! Isn’t that lucky, Maud?”

“Probably,” Maud said.

“So, ya know ‘bout phoenixes, do ya?” The old mare asked them. “Or, least, you think so.”

“We’ve, um, had a bit of experience with them,” Fluttershy told her. “Hello! I’m Fluttershy, and this is Maud.”

“You can call me Banshee,” she told them. When she looked them over, Fluttershy noticed that she seemed to have a glass eye. “Not my name, but you can call me it!”

“It’s wonderful to meet you, Banshee,” Fluttershy said. “What’s your bird’s name?”

“Not my bird,” Banshee said, “and her name’s Banshee.”

“That’s… Confusing,” Fluttershy said.

“Not for me it ain’t!” Banshee let out a short, cackling laugh. “So, what’ve y’all got to do with phoenixes?”

“I tried to take care of one, once,” Fluttershy said. “I didn’t do a very good job, though.”

“My girlfriend has one,” Maud said.

“Well, now, ain’t that somethin.” Banshee leaned forward and stared at Maud with her good eye. “Can’t say I recognize ya. Here I was, thinkin I knew where every one of these birds in Equestria were, but unless you’re datin Celestia I must be missin one.”

“I want to learn more about them,” Maud said.

“Ain’t much to learn,” banshee told her. “There’s the whole rebirth thing, and their feathers are real useful, but they’re just birds. Dumb birds, at that.”

“Aww, they’re not dumb,” Fluttershy said. She called the phoenix, and it flew over to perch on a railing beside her. “They’re just… Stubborn, I think.”

Banshee shrugged. “Makes no difference to me, long as I know where they’re at. Can’t have poachers gettin hold of one we don’t know about, see? They come back, one’s all they’d need.”

“Oh, how horrible,” Fluttershy said, frowning.

“Well, don’t you worry your batty little head,” Banshee said. “I’ve had the phoenix population on lockdown for more years than I can count. Assumin I know about yours, that is.”

“You know about it,” Maud said. “So there’s nothing you can tell me?”

“Hmm…” Banshee scratched her chin. “Well, if ya eat one of it’s feathers, you’ll bond and it’ll always be able to find ya. Real gross, though, and they can get real annoying if they like you. I don’t recommend it.”

“That works,” Maud said. “Thank you.”

“Anytime. So, hey,” Banshee said, looking at Fluttershy, “any chance you’re that mystery pony that’s runnin this thing this year? You kinda look the type, what with the ears and the eyes and all.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t know who she is. She did invite me personally, though.”

“Now ain’t that a proper conundrum.” Banshee scratched her mane. “Aw well, we’ll see soon enough. Y’all go have some fun.”

“Thank you, Banshee!” Fluttershy smiled at her, and Maud nodded. “It was lovely to meet you.”

With that, they had reached the end of the line of stalls. From where they stood, the pair could see the entire stadium, crowded with happy ponies. They could also now see the stage where the mystery guest would be speaking. It had been set up facing the stadium’s bleachers so that as many ponies as possible could see the show, and the huge backdrop, combined with the seclusion it caused, left the entire area cloaked in a deep shadow.

“Huh,” Fluttershy said. “It doesn’t look like there’s anypony there.”

“They must be somewhere else,” Maud said.

“You would think somepony would be setting things up for later, though.”

“I guess.” Maud paused for a bit before continuing. “We should go see more booths.”

“Oh, right, of course,” Fluttershy said. “I’m sorry, I just got distracted.”

The rest of the convention wasn’t nearly as organized. Ponies had been free to set up wherever they wanted, so long as they left room for visitors to walk, so the entire stadium was a mish-mash of tiny tents and shaky stalls. There were ponies showing off their art, some promoting their businesses, and a fair few who had set up stations purely to talk about something that interested them. Most popular, though, were those with stories. Ponies, amateur to pro, who dedicated their lives to exploring and learning. Information was the most valuable thing to ponies interested in cryptozoology, and they had a wealth of it.

Fluttershy was no exception. She absolutely adored hearing every little detail she didn’t already know about an animal, and it took very little for a story to draw her in. While other ponies would hear a story, ask a few questions and leave, Fluttershy stayed at each booth until the pony ran out of things to say. Or, occasionally, until Maud dragged her away.

As they rounded one corner, Fluttershy gasped and pointed down the line of booths. “Maud, look!”

“Okay.”

“It’s Tree Hugger! Let’s go say hello!”

Fluttershy started trotting along excitedly, and Maud followed slowly after her.

“It’s she your ex?” Maud asked.

“Oh, I don’t really think of her that way,” Fluttershy said. “She’s a really good friend, I wouldn’t want an old fling to get in the way of that.”

Fluttershy waved as they walked towards Tree Hugger, trying to get her attention. It took a bit of effort, and they were almost right on top of her when it finally worked, but she did eventually see Fluttershy. When she did, she smiled wide and waved for Fluttershy to follow her.

Fluttershy caught up to her in the more secluded lane that sat between two rows of booths. “Hello, Tree Hugger,” she said giddily, wrapping her friend in a warm hug.

After the hug, Tree Hugger grinned again and put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “Dude, it has been way too long. How are you?”

“I’ve been just wonderful lately,” Fluttershy said. “Oh!” She pointed as Maud walked up to them. “This is Maud Pie. She’s Pinkie’s sister.”

“Oh, yeah, I’ve met Pinkie’s sister,” Tree Hugger said. “I hope you’ve mellowed out a bit since last time.”

“You’re thinking of Limestone,” Maud said.

“Nah, right now I’m just thinking about how rad it is to see Fluttershy! Especially with the new look. Like, you’re giving off a whole new vibe. It rules.”

“Aw, thank you!” Fluttershy said. “Look, it even came with teeth.”

“Sick,” Tree Hugger said as Fluttershy showed off her fangs. “Wish I had teeth.”

“Teeth like that, you mean,” Maud said.

“Sure, if you say so,” Tree Hugger agreed. “What are you doing here, though, Fluttershy? Did you get a new pet or something?”

“I was invited, actually,” Fluttershy told her. “I guess I’m the mystery speaker’s personal guest.”

“Ohhh.” Tree Hugger laughed. “Yeah, that tracks.”

“You know who she is?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah, I’ve done some work for her,” Tree Hugger said. “She isn’t the best at calming things down, so she keeps in contact.”

“Can you tell us who she is?” Fluttershy pleaded.

“Nah, that’d totally ruin the flow,” Tree Hugger told her. “You’ll know when you’re meant to know.”

Fluttershy sighed. “I suppose you’re right.”

“Actually, I’d head over now if I were you,” Tree Hugger told her. “You’ll probably want to be in the front row when she calls you onstage.”

“When she what?” Fluttershy’s eyes went wide. “W-Why would she do that?”

“Dude, she invited you. She wants to meet you.”

“B-But couldn’t she meet me in private?”

Tree Hugger chuckled. “That isn’t really how she does things. You don’t get a name like hers by doing things in private.”

Maud walked over and patted Fluttershy on the back. “We can leave,” she said.

Fluttershy took a few deep breaths, then sighed and shook her head. “No, no, she went to a lot of trouble for me. I can handle it.” Maud nodded. “Although, I do think we should probably head over so I can prepare myself.”

“See you around, Shy,” Tree Hugger said. She walked away without waiting for a response.

After taking a moment to collect herself, Fluttershy led Maud to the stage. The stadium seemed to get darker and darker the closer they got, and at some point Fluttershy realized they were wading through a thick fog around their hooves.

A familiar pony stood in the entryway when they got there. “Ah, lady Fluttershy, how wonderful of you to join us,” Broken Dawn said. “You’ll be happy to know that I did, indeed, get a chance to view the attractions. I quite liked the tales of that Helsing fellow.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Fluttershy said. “Um, if I may ask… Am I going to be, um, called up onstage?”

“I know not the whims of my lady,” Dawn told her, “but I would say it is likely, yes.”

“Oh…”

“I apologize if that is uncomfortable for you,” he continued. “However, neither you nor I can affect how this night will play out.”

“I understand,” Fluttershy said. “Um, may we go in and sit down so I can prepare myself?”

“Of course.” Dawn stepped aside and gestured to the bleachers. “As you can see,” he said, “the first two rows are marked as reserved. My lady wished to make you as comfortable as possible. Please, sit wherever you please. The staff will take up the remainder of the reserved space.”

“Thank you very much,” Fluttershy said. She led Maud to the far side of the stage and sat in the corner, hiding in the shadows. Maud sat quietly beside her.

The lighting on the stage was strange, to say the least. It wasn’t as dark as it had seemed at first, but at the same time it almost looked darker. There was a thick fog all along the floor, and soft light filtered through it, making it glow. Above the fog, though, was nothing. There wasn’t even enough light to see the back wall.

Slowly, ponies filtered in around them. The darkness made them speak quietly, and the bleachers were soon filled with a quiet chittering, like a hundred ponies all sharing secrets amongst each other. Finally came the staff, although Fluttershy didn’t recognize any of them. She hadn’t seen a single one of them out on the show floor, and with their strange, sharp fashion and strong, bold colors, she felt like she would remember if she had met any before now.

When Broken Dawn walked up on stage, all conversation immediately stopped. He walked slowly to center stage, his heavy hooffalls echoing dully through the room. When he reached his mark, he stood stock still for a moment before snapping to face the audience.

Broken Dawn cleared his throat. “Ponies of Equestria, it is my humble honor to be the one to introduce you to this evening’s mystery speaker. A woman all of you have surely heard of, yet few have laid eyes on. A pony who has shaped this land from the shadows for generations. Here tonight, her first public appearance in over three hundred years, I give you… Dracula!”

A murmur grew in the crowd, but a second later it was drowned out by the sound of fluttering wings. Hundreds, thousands of bats seemed to emerge from nowhere, spilling out from the darkness on the stage. They swirled around, the massive cloud spinning faster and faster as it condensed in on itself. The current of air drew up the fog around it, and just before it seemed like the swarm would vanish completely, the fog rose up in a column and covered it.

Then the fog exploded, blasted apart by some unseen force. Standing there, the air still swirling around her, was the most imposing force anypony in the audience had ever seen. She was easily as tall as Celestia, if not taller, and her metallic gray coat was stark against the blackness behind her. Even more stark were her mane and tail, a huge wave of blinding white with thick streaks of darkness running through it. The flowing black seemed to radiate darkness, threatening to overtake the light at any moment. Leathery wings sat still on her sides, and a long, impossibly sharp horn adorned her head.

She was dressed simply. A tattered black cape, etched with indecipherable red accents, fluttered in the moving air. She stepped slowly to the front of the stage, her blazing red eyes staring into the soul of every member of the audience. She stopped when she reached the edge, and waited.

The world was silent. The wind died down. Nopony spoke. Hardly anypony was even breathing. Even the silence itself seemed too loud.

Then she spoke. Her voice was sharp, commanding. A voice to pierce the mind itself.

“Good evening.”

Silence.

“I am Lord Dracula, Queen of the vampires. I have been such since I wrested power from my father countless eons ago. I will be such long after you all have passed on. Such is the curse of the power I wield.”

More silence.

“I have decided to appear before you today for many reasons. Firstly, though, I was invited to speak, and speak I shall. Today, my dear little ponies, so curious as to the wonders of the world, I shall tell you of the extinct.”

Yet more silence.

Then, noise. A whistling of rushing air. Before anypony could realize what was happening, a blade flew from the audience at Dracula, followed closely by a rugged pony in a tattered coat. He ran full speed towards the vampire queen and leapt to strike her down.

Dracula didn’t move. A wave of shadow spread from behind her and swallowed the blade. When her horn lit up, coating the pony in a bright red magic and lifting him into the air.

Dracula held him there, dangling awkwardly, and began to speak. “This is why I chose to speak to you all today. Because you are a threat. Because curiosity may give way to hatred as easily as it may give way to enlightenment.”

She waited a moment.

“I watched you all, today. Assessed you. As of now, I’ve no reason to fear you. However, I come today with a warning. We have no desire to attract the attention of ponies, but we protect the creatures of the night.”

There were whispers all throughout the audience. She let them go, instead focusing her attention on the pony she had caught. She set him gently down on the stage, and he took a moment to stretch his sore legs.

“Thank you for the assistance, Helsing,” She told him.

“Any time, D.” With that, he hopped off the stage and walked back to his seat.

“Now!” Dracula stomped her hoof on the floor, and the room fell silent once more. “On to my business. I’ve come to finally meet the newest member of my family. Fluttershy, could you join me on stage?”

“O-Oh, um…” Fluttershy muttered under her breath, but she slowly managed to push herself up. Her legs shook as she stood, and so she flew slowly up to the stage and stood face to face with Dracula.

Instinctively, Fluttershy moved to bow, but Dracula used her magic to drag her back up. “No, you needn’t bow to me,” she said. “I am not like my father.”

“Oh, o-okay,” Fluttershy stuttered.

Dracula looked her over, her cold red eyes gazing into Fluttershy’s very being. Fluttershy could hardly keep herself upright.

“No wings?” Dracula finally asked.

“I-I, um, didn’t like them,” Fluttershy said.

“Well, there’s no accounting for taste.” Dracula turned and addressed the audience. “Ponies, feast your eyes upon Fluttershy, the first new vampire in over a hundred years!”

There was a slow, cautious and confused applause from the audience, but the staff ponies all erupted into cheers.

“This is especially exciting for me,” Dracula said, “because there’s finally another vampire who I have yet to rule out as a potential successor!”

“W-W-W-” Fluttershy couldn’t get any words out.

“Oh, don’t fret about it, young one. We’ve all the time in the world to sort things out.”

“I, um, uh…”

Dracula laughed and gestured grandly to the audience. “Ponies! This concludes our talk. Please, enjoy the rest of your evening, and feel free to tell your friends about me! They’ll never believe you anyway!”

With that, the fog swirled back up, and Dracula dissolved into a flood of frantic bats. They filled the stage, completely surrounding Fluttershy, and seemed to close in on her. Before long, Fluttershy couldn’t see anything at all outside the swarm.

Then the bats flew away, and she was outside. The sun had just begun to set, casting the world in a fiery glow, and the sound of bat wings echoed in the distance. Next to her stood Maud, and past her, Dracula.

“Cool,” Maud said.

“What just…” Fluttershy was still having trouble speaking.

“I thought that we should actually talk,” Dracula said, “now that I’ve had my fun.”

“O-Oh.”

Dracula walked in front of them and got comfortable in a patch of grass. “I’m afraid I don’t know your guest.”

Maud and Fluttershy sat across from her.

“I’m Maud.”

“She’s Pinkie Pie’s sister,” Fluttershy said, “if you know who she is.”

Dracula sneered. “Oh, I know Pinkie Pie.”

Fluttershy frowned. “Do you not like Pinkie?”

“She vexes me. Millenia of life, and she’s the only creature in history I can’t stay hidden from.”

“Aw. She’s really nice if you get to know her, though,” Fluttershy said.

“She’ll break you eventually,” Maud added. “It’s easier to just be her friend.”

“Look, we’re not here to discuss my relationship with a little pink proto-demon. I need to make sure you know how to stay healthy.”

“I haven’t gotten sick so far,” Fluttershy said.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t,” Dracula told her. “Are you sharpening your fangs?”

“Um…”

“Do it. You don’t want to know what it feels like to break one because it was dull.”

Fluttershy nodded fervently.

“Also, go to your doctor and learn how to keep track of healthy blood levels.”

“But I’m not—”

Learn.”

Fluttershy gulped. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Sunglasses on bright days.”

Fluttershy nodded.

And on it went, Dracula listing things off and hammering them into Fluttershy’s head, for quite a while. By the time they were done, the sun was only a sliver over the horizon. Maud had fallen asleep, and every so often she let out a quiet snore.

“I think that’s everything,” Dracula finally said.

Fluttershy let out a sigh of relief.

“I’m impressed with how well you’re adapting,” Dracula said. “How did you turn, anyway?”

“Um, my friend Twilight used a spell to do it. It was supposed to be reversible, but… Well, we kind of messed that up.”

“The princess?” Dracula raised an eyebrow. “What’s the Princess of Friendship doing casting dark magic?”

“She’s just like that,” Fluttershy said.

“Was it an accident?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, I wanted to do it.”

“You are an odd pony,” Dracula told her, “and an odd vampire, at that. You really might make a good Dracula someday.”

“Oh, I don’t know if that would really be for me…” Fluttershy frowned. “I’m sorry.”

“We’ve got plenty of time.” Dracula sighed. “Hey, sorry for taking so long to get in touch. You know how it can be. Hundreds of years of nothing, I wanted it to be perfect.”

“I really appreciate the help,” Fluttershy told her, “and we’re friends now, so it seems perfect to me.”

Dracula laughed. “Very odd vampire.”

Fluttershy yawned. “I think we should probably go home. Um, is there any chance you can do that bat thing to…”

“Hmm… No.” Dracula grinned wickedly at her. “Learn to do it yourself. You may need some more juice, though.”

Before Fluttershy could respond, a swarm of bats flew away from where Dracula had been sitting.

As Maud snored, Fluttershy gazed up at the sky and locked eyes with the Mare in the Moon.

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