• Published 20th Aug 2020
  • 448 Views, 25 Comments

A Town's Story - RoMS

Luster Dawn hates field trips. Especially when it's about gleaning a story on an event that tore a no-name town apart: Ponyville.

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3. Memories

Luster stared at nothing. It was much better than looking dumbfounded at that pink ball of nervous enthusiasm, and her painfully beaming smile. She did say she wouldn’t be laughing at that ordeal from years ago. But here she was. Very much, painfully smiling.

Because looking away didn’t hide that smile’s brightfulness enough… Luster shut her eyes, hard. And for good measure, she dropped her face into her hooves.

What was that nonsense her Teacher had had her walk into? Breathe in, breathe out, Luster. Breathe in. Breath–

Her body stung with a furious envy to run out, away, and back to Canterlot. Luster didn’t care if the cushions her withers had sunk into were comfortable. Damn Teacher Twilight, she hadn’t taught her teleportation yet.

Everything she’d heard so far from Pinkie Pie was weird — heck, it was downright incomprehensible.

So, why was she, Luster Dawn, here? She found herself asking that again. Not the first time that afternoon, and certainly not the last. She was betting on it, sadly for herself. But she prided herself in being down to heart, a realist. So, yeah, why did Luster Dawn have to listen to those earth ponies again? She couldn’t even invent a proper reason. Damn that town, damn them, damn her Teacher.

No, Luster! That’s Pinkie Pie. Just Pinkie Pie… You know Pinkie Pie. She’s Teacher Twilight’s funniest — cringiest and wall-crawling — friend. Stop. Breathe. And breathe even harder again.

A long ponderous moment passed before Luster finally opened her eyes, a drawn-out sigh on her lips.

“Can you translate?” Luster whinied at Cheerilee and Mare, trying not to cause herself an aneurism by pressing her two hooves through her temples and into her skull. “What’s even a doozy?”

If she had Teacher Twilight under her hoof, Luster would be asking her how she’d dealt with Pinkie in the past. Well… Not dealt, endured. That was, of course, if her mighty alicorn Self was there to share her survival tips. But Teacher Twilight definitely wasn’t. And so Luster only had a pair of earth ponies for help. One teacher, but not her teacher, and an old mare…

Luster wanted advice and she only got a trio of short answers: Cheerilee’s repressed chuckle, Mare’s click of her tongue, and Pinkie’s knowing look.

Let it go; Luster got the unhelpful memo.

“It’s hard to explain,” Mare finally said.

Luster looked up from her hooves, her jaw clenched tight. The old mare cleared her throat, pinched her lips, and blew air into her cheeks. Silence was a harsh mistress. Even Mare seemed to struggle making sense of the pink hurricane by her side.

Meanwhile, Luster was wishing for a desk to lean on, she would love something hard to drum her hooves against.

“Can you help me out, Pinkie?” Mayor sighed, her shoulders drooping in defeat after a wring of her legs.

“They’re hunches,” Pinkie explained, a hoof to her chin. She giggled, and glanced at the ceiling — as if the right words were printed there. “It just tingles sometimes, somewhere, you know. And when it happens, I know something’s about to happen. Well, likely happen. That’s all.”

“Likely?” Cheerilee asked, an eyebrow raised as she leaned forward to catch a better glimpse of Pinkie’s hesitant smile. “The Pinkie I know wouldn’t mess up a doozy.”

“Eh,” Pinkie replied, waving her hoof dismissively. “I’m older now; not as sharp as I once was. I got sweeter and mellowed out, in a sense.” Pinkie poked at her chub. “Case in point.”

“Speaking of old, Pinkie. I am not, uh, that old,” Mare said with a frown. Three pairs of eyes locked on her and she went to bite her lips. She threw her hooves up before turning to Cheerilee, who she jabbed with a hoof. “Come on, hun. Pinkie did say I was very much old... Can’t you help?”

Cheerilee threw her head back against the sofa’s headrest, and laughed. “You’re digging your own grave on that one.”

“Right.” Mare sighed, hanging her head low. She looked askance at Pinkie Pie, that damn erratic storyteller. “Alright, I wasn’t that old, Pinkie.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Let’s rewind a bit, please,” Luster cut, motioning for silence, which the three mares gave her. She pointed her hoof at Pinkie. “So. You’re a seer?”

“Come again?” Pinkie asked with a tilt of her head. “A what now?”

“Ahem, let’s try not to get into the details,” Cheerilee offered pleadingly with a cough in her hoof. “You don’t want to go down that route this early in the afternoon. It drove Twilight crazy once. So, let’s not do it again.”

“Oh, I can totally explain again!” Pinkie said eagerly, a hoof to her heart. “I–”

Mare’s hoof forcefully closed Pinkie’s mouth shut.

“Ah, come on,” Luster protested, huffing and blowing a strand of mane out of her face as she struggled to find a way out of here. She extirpated herself and instantly slammed her hooves against the carpet. “I’m sure there’s a rational explanation to th–”

Luster was often oblivious; she knew it. But it was hard not to get the warning when both Cheerilee and Mare frantically shook their heads in unison, eyes wide and staring. Pinkie bit on her lip to repress a laugh, her back end writhing on the sofa. She definitely wanted to speak, and was fighting the urge. So. Damn. Hard.

“Alright, anyway,” Luster acknowledged in defeat, hanging her head low and falling back in her soft pillows, “let’s focus on this weird story instead. A black ball that ate Twilight’s castle, right? What about it? I mean, it’s like a Monday, or a Tuesday in Canterlot. Accidents happen right? ... Right?”

The three mares exchanged glances. Sighs flew like bullets.

“Remember when we said it took about two years for power to be handed over to Twilight?” Mare said.

“Yeah. Duh. You said that like thirty minutes ago.”

“Well, there’s a reason…”

“Alright. Let’s hold it there,” Luster said after a long, vocal grunt. “I’m a bit disappointed, not going to lie.” She threw her legs above her head and stretched, her shoulders giving a satisfying pop. As three questioning stares answered her, she rolled her eyes. “Yeah. You know. Teacher Twilight sent me across the country to this nowhere town to listen to a story that I know already ends well.” She pointed at the heaps of items that littered the living room, forcing her eyes as wide as equinely possible, as if to prove a point. “Like… You’re all here, right? No changeling overlord, no draconic destruction, or Tartarus mayhem as far as I could see when I arrived. Not even the buildings look new. I mean, Ponyville doesn’t look young by any means, it’s an old town like you, Ma’am — eh, I mean. It’s well-aged, like fine wine.” Good catch, Luster. “Ponyville, the town, the outskirts, the valley… Everything turned out just fine. How can that be her greatest failure? Right?”

Luster offered an open hoof, as if to hand out a well-wrapped and sorted-out case, or whatever one gave their debate opponent after a well-wrought rhetorical argument.

Pinkie Pie, Cheerilee, and Mare, formerly Mayor, were indeed there. Intact, though ten years older. Nothing anypony could do would alter that latter fact, though. Not everypony could be an alicorn after all. But they were alive, and the town was fine. There was no reason to make a big deal out of this story. And so Luster went back to her first question. Why was she here? What was so important about this story? This failure that appeared, for all intent and purposes, to be inconsequential.

Her mind fluttering away, Luster pondered what she would look like with wings stapled to her back. Taller for sure. She quickly wiped the smirk off her face when Cheerilee raised an eyebrow. The reverie was over.

“I mean. Sorry to be blunt,” Luster argued, “but understand me. There’s no suspense to this story! This is going to be boring. I can tell. And Teacher Twilight likes stories with suspense, like those dusty, old Daring Do drabs–”

Cheerilee set her hoof on Mare’s shoulder, the former mayor having leaned forwards. Earning Luster’s befuddled look, she said, “Yearling is a good friend.”

“No offense. Again,” Luster muttered, biting her lip. “What I really mean is that Teacher Twilight must have had a reason for me to come here to listen to a story that’s supposedly about that big mistake of hers. I can’t believe she’d send me here to fetch a list of facts I could have gotten from the Canterlot Library.”

“Who wants tea?” Mare asked, standing and heading for the kitchen.

Luster exchanged glances with Cheerilee and Pinkie, everypony was silent except for the sound of Mare’s hooves against the parquet.

“You’re one real pain in the butt, Luster.”

That wasn’t Cheerilee who spoke. But Pinkie. And Luster’s jaw dropped. She hadn’t expected that from her mentor’s friend. But in hindsight…

Luster nodded and looked down.

“I–” Luster sighed, her face contorting, “am.”

A crash of plates and swearing burst in from the kitchen. Lips pinched and with wrinkles on her forehead, Cheerilee excused herself and trotted out of the room, leaving Luster staring at Pinkie, and Pinkie at her.

“I’m… sorry.” It hurt to say.

“You should say that to Cheerilee and Mare,” Pinkie advised. After all, they are the ponies who invited you in.”

Luster nodded; she hadn’t much to add, and still, “There’s no point in hearing a story about Teacher Twilight if it’s not from her own mouth.” Still, she had some add-ons to give.

“Who said it’s actually about her, her, right?” Pinkie asked. “Did she tell you directly it was about herself?”

Luster rubbed her muzzle and sniffled. Her confidence chipped away. “N– no. I mean, maybe… Shouldn’t it be? It’s supposedly her big mistake, right? She’s the most important pony in Equestria after all?”

“Maybe it’s about the town. Ya know, we’ve had a lot of really crazy things happen here? For Twilight, it’s all sentimental and stuff.”

“Coming here does feel like a punishment more than a lesson.”

“It’s likely both,” Pinkie giggled.

Luster’s shoulder slumped and she nodded. “It’s likely both.”

As the smell of hot green tea started to crawl into the living room, Luster and Pinkie let silence take root, which Luster wasn’t ready to break first. A story had a goal, a moral. Teacher Twilight wouldn’t have sent her here to share in just a mistake of hers. Maybe it was about a spell, or an error she did and that she shouldn’t try to reproduce or attempt. Like until after her graduation… or maybe ever? Teacher Twilight had done something to the town and she had to learn from it.

“A mistake, right?” Luster muttered, prompting Pinkie to give her a questioning look. “Teacher Twilight wants me to learn from it. She made a big mistake.”

“That, she sure did,” Cheerilee said as she trotted back in the living room, Mare behind her with a plate of tea cups in her mouth. “A big, black, round mistake that terrorized the town.”

Luster offered to help set down the plate and distribute the cups but Mare refused. Soon enough, everypony had their tea the old-fashioned way.

“So the ball?” Luster asked. “What do you mean by terrorize? Like, did monsters come out of it? What about Twilight? Was she inside? What happened?”

Cheerilee raised her hoof and Luster clasped her lips. “We called it the Wall,” she said, met with Mare and Pinkie’s nods.

“Sounds kind of stupid,” Luster commented.

“Ah-ah!” Pinkie exclaimed, pointing her hoof at Cheerilee and Mare. “Told ya it was a stupid name.”

“Even after ten years, you still hold a grudge on this one, Pinkie,” Cheerilee giggled. “I’ll give it to ya, for once.”

Mare rolled her eyes, took a sip of tea, and cleared her throat, calling everypony’s eyes on her.

“So, uh, what did it, the Wall I mean, do?” Luster asked.

“It ate the town.”