• Published 23rd Mar 2020
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Do Ponies on Earth have Magic Dreams? - Tiki Bat

The story of an optimistic young night pony, the special pony that enters his life, and how the two of them follow their dreams to make the world a better place!

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Chapter 26: Campfire Songs

The crackle and popping of the warm fire stirred some nostalgic emotion inside of Stanley as he gave off an involuntary shiver in the cold desert air, scooting closer to the fire. He should have been used to this by now, especially given that he was covered head to hoof in a furry coat, but still, it didn’t give him full respite from the brisk air. He took a look around the small amphitheater with the fire in its center and shivered again, waiting for the rest of the village to file in for the evening festivities.

While his friends were off starting their new jobs, he was struggling with one of his own. He had come all this way looking for a new and more interesting life, and now he found himself with a job, one that felt like more work than it was worth. With each night, he felt more and more like the mediator of the village, something he had never intended.

As much as he was yearning for everything to begin, the relative solitude was at least a nice break from having to deal with annoying and often frustrating village stuff. Aside from him, the only other ponies around were Dawn, Gizmo, and Midnight, none of which were currently interacting, which left him plenty of time to shiver by the cold and reflect on his thoughts for the day.

Much like every other day, it would probably be filled with boring administrative stuff, like helping count the harvest, look at village supplies, work with Dawn to plan out trade opportunities… the usual boring old work that he started to find he wasn’t super fond of. He let out a groan as he gazed over at the mare that led the village, knowing that with her, a task that should take maybe an hour tops would wind up stretching through his evening, and into early morning.

It wasn’t that he was unhappy, it just wasn’t the kind of work he expected to do as a pony, which in retrospect was a silly thought. It wasn’t like becoming a pony would magically relieve him of all responsibilities and issues in his life after all. No, he would just have to bite the bullet and get used to it. He was hundreds of miles away from home, and far away from any other town, which meant that for all intents and purposes he was stuck in this place, whether he liked it or not.

And he did… at least some of it. Always one to look on the bright side, he thought about all of the good things he could at least look at. Patrick, one of his oldest friends, who was at least close by, and Midnight was proving to be a pony that he could just share his thoughts with and be comfortable around, despite only knowing her for such a short amount of time.

“Cold?” Midnight asked, giving him a knowing look.

“Huh?” He shivered, “That obvious, eh?” He nodded, still thinking about his time spent with her so far.

“Trust me, you’ll get used to it,” she reassured him, “I think it took me a good two or three weeks, but hey, it’s all good now.”

Stanley let out another shiver, “Just gotta think warm thoughts for now then, right?”

“That…” she glanced over to her home a short distance away, “Or I could go grab you a blanket or something.”

Stanley considered this for a moment before shaking his head, “I think I’m good,” he moved his hooves closer, adding, “for now at least.”

“You’ll get there,” she tapped a hoof on his shoulder. “Trust me, we all do.”

The yellow night pony leaned in a little closer to the mare, looking around at the amphitheater space, “So… you think this’ll actually work?”

“Hard to say,” she glanced over to Dawn and Gizmo, who were both sitting near each other, but still avoiding interaction, “what usually happens when you put two bull headed and stubborn ponies together and ask…” she paused, “No, tell them to play nice?”

“An argument or worse… which hasn’t happened yet.”

Yet,” she pointed out, recoiling at the stallion’s grimace, “But maybe this time will be different.”

“Hopefully,” he offered.

Stanley warmed his hooves by the fire again as a few more ponies trotted up to the small amphitheater-like space. Despite the time he had spent here already, he hardly knew any of them. A small frown spread across his face as he thought about this, but a quick shake of his head dispelled it. As a human this might have been weird or abnormal, but things were different for night ponies. It was hard to make friends out in the waking world when you were seemingly the only one around at night. Even being around another pair of night ponies didn’t seem to change it that much.

If anything it just left Stanley in an awkward position most of the time, with Dawn and Midnight not getting along very well and in turn being the pony that Midnight would vent to. Not to say he minded much. Having a pony that shared the same frustrations as he did was nice, but it was also obvious that he was filling a role that he shouldn’t have needed to fill in this village. A role that almost left him feeling more alone than he had back home. All the ponies in the world couldn’t change the fact that getting roped into being the village mediator every day was tiring and lonely.

Gentle music began to play as a bright blue unicorn mare with a deep scarlet mane trotted up with a guitar held in her magic. For a moment Stanley couldn’t remember her name, but then the conversation with Midnight that had set this whole thing into motion came back. Sweet Song, which seemed like a very fitting name for her just given this very brief first impression.

“Alrighty everypony! Who’s ready for some campfire songs and a little good old fashioned community fun?” She cheerfully shouted, failing to earn even a semblance of a smile from either of the two grouchy ponies.

“I think Giz and Dawn are!” Midnight volunteered the two of them, “They were the first ones here after all.”

Dawn shot Midnight daggers while Gizmo laughed from his place across the campfire, clearly amused by Dawn’s reluctance.

“Yeah, I agree,” Stanley added in, “You both have an important role here, why not get the fun started so everypony else can join in?”

Dawn’s scowl grew stronger, however Gizmo’s actually seemed to soften a bit, making Stanley smile.

“Ya think so?” Gizmo asked aloud, earning a cheerful nod from Midnight.

“Of course,” she cheered, “You two work so hard, you just need to let loose and have a little fun. Trust me.”

Dawn looked back over to Gizmo, the unicorn, and then finally the other two night ponies. Her scowl was still plastered across her face, but also mixed with an expression that seemed to imply she was considering this a lot more than she let on.

Finally her face softened and she gave a small nod, “Alright then.”

“That’s the spirit,” the unicorn gleefully replied before either of the night ponies could say anything, “Now I’m going to need some help from everypony for this first song. Whenever I pause I want you to stomp your hooves.”

With a spark of her magic the small collection of instruments that she had laid out behind her began to jump to life, starting up a cheerful little melody comprised of a drum, her guitar, and a tambourine.

With a final and cheerful round of hoof stomps, the unicorn doused her magic and took a seat, wiping away the sweat on her face, “Alrighty! I’m gonna need a break after that one, but we’ll have some more songs later!” She cheered, out of breath and panting from the magical exhaustion.

“So, that was fun, eh?” Stanley perked up.

“It was… a nice break from the norm,” Dawn agreed, “Though it was more of a distraction I’m afraid.”

“Hm?” Midnight questioned, “What do you mean?”

“There’s still a lot of work left to get done, and last I checked, there was still a sizable hurdle to get over.”

Stanley rolled his eyes and looked between Dawn and Gizmo, “That’s what tonight was for. You know, get to know each other a little more and actually see each other as ponies instead of…” he trailed off.

“Instead of arguing like a couple of bickering foals,” Midnight offered.

“It’s not arguing it’s directing,” Dawn replied with a roll of her eyes, “And the only reason it gets so heated is because Gizmo won’t listen to reason on what’s best for the village.”

“Because you won’t let me actually explain what’s going on and why we can’t do what you want,” he flatly replied, pulling the trio’s attention toward him.

“I give you plenty of opportunities to chat about it. You just refuse to actually compromise on your issues.”

Now it was Gizmos’s turn to roll his eyes, and Stanley could tell that this wasn’t going the way him and Midnight had hoped.

“I refuse to compromise because you want miracles. It’s not my fault that you’re too stupid to realize that a handful of earth ponies can’t even begin to do what one statistical deviant can.”

“It’s magic, how hard is it to figure out?”

“Okay, let’s switch tracks a little,” he fired back, “Why don’t you go manifest some dream that can explain to me exactly what you want? You bats can just take your thoughts and make them into a reality right?”

“That’s not how it works,” Dawn countered with a firm shake of her head, “Dream magic is complicated and unbelievably hard to explain to somepony that doesn’t experience it.”

“There you go, just like how earth pony magic is hard to explain and fathom for somepony who isn’t an earth pony.”

“I’m in charge of this place, I was voted into that place for a reason.”

“A reason that makes no sense considering the largest demographic of the village now. Maybe it made sense before you had the number of earth ponies that you do now, but the reality is that we don’t get a say in how we use our talents and magic. And you don’t understand why we can’t do what you want us to do. Not to mention you won’t even listen to why we can’t,” he shouted back.

“I’ve told you a thousand times now, there’s a proper avenue to air your grievances, you’re more than welcome to pursue it that way. We were shown a vision of what a thriving pony community could be, and I intend to follow those ideals like the way we were shown.”

The old earth pony muttered something under his breath and shook his head, clearly holding back saying what was really on his mind.

Before either had a chance to escalate their shouting match, Midnight stomped her hoof, scaring both the two agitated ponies and Stanley. “Can’t you two see what you’re doing? Because this isn’t what I’d call a healthy conversation, and clearly it’s only getting worse.”

Dawn looked at Midnight with an expression of surprise and confusion. Even without Stanley’s own limited understanding of the underlying issues, he could clearly tell that Dawn never expected an outburst like that from the usually reserved Midnight.

“She’s right you know,” he spoke up, “I realize that there’s a whole plan and process to everything here… but it’s clearly not working the way it oughta.”

“Finally somepony else gets it,” Gizmo muttered, earning a sharp glare from both Midnight and Stanley, “I mean— well… you get what I mean.”

“Yep,” Stanley continued, “which is why we really need to just sit down and make some tough decisions. I know it’s going to be frustrating and all, but you need to take a step back and look at the problems here and start talking about how we can address them.”

“What problems?” Dawn asked the yellow night pony, turning her nose up at the idea that there could be anything remotely close to a flaw in her attempt at creating a pony utopia.

“Well I’ve only been here for a short time, but I’ve already noticed some pretty glaring problems that I can tell are just going to lead to more trouble down the line. The earth ponies feeling like they’re overworked is probably the biggest, but there’s still plenty of other small things. Trust me when I say it doesn’t take an expert to realize that something’s up.”

“He’s right you know,” Midnight interjected before Dawn had a chance to chime in, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for a while but you’re always so interested in making sure everything is done the right way, as in Sunset’s right way, that you don’t see what’s actually happening.”

Dawn sat in silence for a few moments before shaking her head, “You don’t understand what running a village is like, it’s not just a simple trot in the park. There needs to be a careful balance to keep everything in line.”

“Which isn’t actually happening. You’ve got that vision stuck in your head of what a perfect pony society should be, that you’re not seeing the actual reality of it,” Midnight argued. “It’s a flawed vision that just doesn’t work in our world with the way it is right now. I’m not saying it needs to be a radical about face, and obviously we can’t compromise with every demand from all sides, but I think we really need to all come together, sit down for a big meeting and plan out a new routine for everything. Everypony gets a say, we can balance out what works and what doesn’t.”

“If you want to try and do that then you know the proper avenues to propose it with,” Dawn countered, “But until then we’re sticking to my plan.”

Without any further argument Dawn stood up and flew away, leaving the three alone again.

“So it’s gonna be more of the usual then eh?” Gizmo replied before shaking his head, “I don’t want to be the spiteful old stallion, but if things don’t change then Dawn’s going to find herself out of a workforce sooner than later, then she’ll really be in hot water.”

Midnight flashed him a frustrated look and shook her head, “I wouldn’t jump to that, a work stoppage is only going to make things worse for everypony.”

Gizmo shrugged, “Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better. You’re a nice mare, but kindness and a warm smile isn’t fixing the problems around here.”

“I know that,” she nodded, “It’s just… difficult.”

“Dawn said something about the proper ways to handle this and bring up our concerns right?” Stanley suddenly spoke up, an idea forming in his head.

“Uh huh,” Midnight acknowledged, “Every month we have a town meeting. To discuss things, look at harvests, motivate the workers, et cetera. If any pony has a problem then they can bring it up and have it addressed—“

She was suddenly cut off by Gizmo, “— Except that Dawn doesn’t listen to any of those problems.”

Stanley held up a hoof, “Okay, so let’s think of a way to handle this in a peaceful way that’ll get our point across then.”

“What’s your idea then?” Midnight asked with a furrowed brow.

“We get Gizmo to hold off on the strike for right now, and instead get him to rally all of the upset ponies during the meeting. Let their voices be heard by Dawn, and get a vote called for what we want to see. There’s a lot of earth ponies here, and I think a big problem is that there’s really only one voicing the complaints.”

“Okay, so get everypony to use their voice. And if that doesn’t work?”

Stanley shrugged, “Then Gizmo gets his strike and Dawn either gets strong armed into listening or there’s a village civil war here.”

Midnight frowned and shook her head, “Let’s just hope the meeting goes well then… I don’t think this place can survive being divided like that, especially when one half controls the food supply and the other half controls the water purification.”

“Wait, what now?” he asked in surprise, “I thought we got that from the river?”

“We get some of it from the river, mainly the water we use to irrigate and bathe with. The earth ponies handle the food supply, the pegasi help control the weather around the village and distill water from the clouds. The hoofful of unicorns here usually help that side of the village and the three bats, that’s us, basically handle admin stuff. So you’re more or less dividing the village in two, because last I checked the unicorns and pegasi weren’t up in arms about Dawn’s policies.”

“Great,” Stanley sighed, “So we’ve got labor disputes and classism now… the perfect model community if I’ve ever seen one.”

“That's… one way to put it I guess. Let’s just try and handle this diplomatically first, okay?”

“Yeah, no that’s the best we can hope for… I just hope this works.”

The sound of drums and tambourines started to ring out as Sweet Song trotted back into the space, starting up her next set.

As the music began to pick up, Stanley leaned close and raised his voice until it was just audible enough for only Midnight to hear, “Okay, let’s chat after this and get a plan in place,” he looked at the mare, “We’re not giving up on this place, we’ll get it all figured out. I promise.”

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