• Published 14th Nov 2020
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Diary of a Pasta Pony - Miyajima



Excerpts from the term-time diary of Penne Pasta, the first unicorn in the pasta family for generations, as she learns the ropes in Canterlot.

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19/09 - 29/09

18/09/998

“Dear Diary”.

That’s what I’m meant to write, isn’t it? I’ve never kept a diary before. It was my birthday last week, and my family sent me this as a present. Said since I was moving out and going to study in Canterlot, I might want someone to talk to.

I wanted to tell them that actually, I was looking forward to the peace and quiet. Do you know what it’s like growing up with seven brothers and sisters, living on the same farm as your aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grand-aunts and grand-uncles? Noisy! That’s what it’s like!

Well, there we go. Barely two paragraphs in and I’m ranting at a book. I guess Mama knows me well. So… What else should I put here?

Introductions, I guess. I’m Penne. Penne Pasta. “This diary belongs to Penne Pasta DO NUT REED THAT MEENS U FUSILLI

Guess I should’ve put that first.

So yes, I’m Penne Pasta. Of the Pasta family of farmers. If you weren’t just a book I’m sure you’d have heard of us. We literally invented pasta. That thing ponies everywhere eat? That’s us. You’d think we’d be richer, but I guess patents didn’t exist when great-great-great-great-grandpappy Lagane was around.

I’m a unicorn. First one in the family for three generations! I spent the first few years of my life thinking I just had a weird-shaped head. Didn’t even realise I could do magic until I started going to school. I guess my folks tried, it’s just difficult when you’re an earth pony, and everyone else is an earth pony, and the last time anyone saw a unicorn in town was like three years ago during a fayre.

This year I finally wore Mama and Papa down through constant nagging until they agreed I could take the entrance exam for the Canterlot School for Gifted Unicorns. I still think they’re disappointed that I passed. I mean sure they smiled and clapped and packed my bags for me and came all the way here with me and are actually making a thing out of it and staying like two whole weeks like it’s a second honeymoon or something – BUT I KNOW DEEP DOWN THEY’RE DISAPPOINTED.

“No Pasta ever dealt with magic!” is what Grandmama Angeli would say to me through a mouthful of the stuff. Yeah, yeah. We’re good, hard-working earth ponies. We grow wheat. We grind the wheat. We mix it into dough. We shape the dough. We sell it. It’s this whole THING.

Well maybe I wanted more than to sit on the farm all day working with my hooves and horn in the kitchen, kneading up yet another batch of dough and cutting it into pretty little butterflies or shaping it into letters. So what if I’m going to end up just like Crazy Uncle Lasagna. He does well for himself! You can barely tell he spent several years in intensive psychiatric care.

Oh, note to self, visit Uncle Lasagna’s shop in Canterlot when I have time.

Wait, is this going to be a journal or a to-do list?

Too late now, I guess.

I’ve still got lots to unpack so I guess this’ll do for today. Classes tomorrow!

  • Penne

19/09/998

Yo diary wassup

Dear Diary,

I’ve finished unpacking and have settled into my room here at the Canterlot School for Gifted Unicorns. Mama and Papa took me out for dinner last night, but they spent most of the meal complaining about the starter (a pasta dish, obviously). I just tucked into a nutloaf. Honestly I’m SO looking forward to eating things that aren’t pasta. Like noodles!

That’s what students eat, isn’t it? Noodles. Boil a kettle, pour it over, add something that might have once been flavour, and eat. If I’d ever had noodles back home they’d tan my hide. I remember sneaking to the shop when I was old enough and the shopkeeper slipping me one of those pots with noodles and vegetables in it that you can just eat. I think it was the knowledge of disapproval that made it taste SO GOOD.

Still, I shouldn’t grumble, I guess. In the Pasta family there’s always plenty to go around. I was never hungry as a filly, although I think I put on a few pounds because of it! I’ve heard that Canterlot has gyms you can go to to exercise and lose weight. I’ll have to try it!

But mostly I get to learn about magic! It’s honestly so exciting.

Well… Actually it was really embarrassing. I walked into the classroom and everyone was younger than me. I guess normally unicorns start learning magic before they’re nearly legally adults. I must have been burning bright red when the teacher asked me to demonstrate a basic spell for the younger students and the best I managed was a squeak of magic that fizzled out immediately.

The kids were friendly though. I think they were looking up to me – and not just literally! One little girl, she must be barely old enough to go to school, she sat down beside me at lunch and took out the biggest sandwich I’ve ever seen. Like twice the size of her head. She looked over at my apple and carrot and immediately cut the thing in half and thrust it at me without saying a word. I’ll have to get her some sweets or something.

‘Or make her some butterfly pasta’, yes, thank you disembodied internalized voice of my Mama. Kids always love the butterflies. Maybe once I’m a bit better at magic I could make them actually fly! That’d be cute. I’ll note that down for later.

So what did I learn today? Basic magic theory, I guess. How unicorns exert their will on the world by channelling through their horns. The teacher gave me a bunch of supplementary materials to read through in my spare time. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do compared to some of the others. I heard that even the youngest unicorns at school start experimenting with modifying spells after a few weeks. I barely know how to cast them! The fact I can hold this quill and write in this diary is considered dangerously impressive by my family’s standards.

One of my pieces of ‘homework’ is to memorize Amber Night’s Six Laws of Stable Magic before tomorrow. They’re going to make us all stand in front of the class and recite it in turn. It’s some of the most fundamental stuff about magic and how it relates to everyday life. I’m going to copy them out here, that might help me remember it.

  1. What is magic?
    Magic is the force that connects us to the world around us, the tool we use to shape the world around us, and the lens we use to study the world around us.
  2. How does magic connect us?
    Magic connects us to each other through the bonds of friendship. In friendship we shape ourselves, refining our flaws and bettering our hearts.
  3. How does magic shape the world?
    Magic shapes the world through friendship with the world. The unicorn speaks her mind, and the world answers. The pegasus plants his feet in the sky, and the sky stops him falling. The earth pony gives back to the earth, and the earth feeds us all.
  4. How does magic help us understand the world?
    Magic helps us understand the world by better understanding ourselves. It is the foundation of knowledge, the cornerstone of truth, and the light that banishes the darkness of ignorance.
  5. Where does magic come from?
    Magic comes from the union of the Five Elements of Harmony; sometimes called truth, compassion, loyalty, happiness, and charity.
  6. How must we use magic?
    Magic must be used with an open heart. Magic cannot hide behind lies, selfishness, cruelty, malice or treachery.

They’re pretty profound words. And that’s just the first six, there’s over two hundred Laws of Stable Magic in total – I hope they don’t expect me to memorize every single one of them. Tomorrow we’re going to try out some of the experiments I read about in the textbook. They’re meant to be really simple but it’s so much more advanced than anything I’m used to! I hope I don’t mess up and turn the teacher into a potted plant or something. I’ve heard that happens.

  • Penne

20/09/998

Dear Diary,

Well, that was a bucking disaster. You do not know true shame until a foal barely old enough to lisp his way through the incantation has to step in and save you when your spell begins to overcharge and you can’t figure out how to stop it. The teacher just looked so condescending. Alright! I’m nearly nearly twice his age! I’m old enough to have a job! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO BASIC MAGIC!

And yet I still passed the entrance exam, so buck you Ms Focus. I mean I failed the practical portion of the test, sure, but it’s not like I’ve had the practise growing up! Papa used to buy me books on magic, or stories about unicorns when I was younger. I imagine he didn’t really know how to deal with me being different, so he tried his best.

I’d read those books under my blanket, barely lit with the smallest spark of magic I could conjure from my horn (thank you, Basic Cantrips for Fillies and Foals, 5th Edition), lost in a world of magic as I devoured stories about Star Swirl the Bearded, the Two Princesses or the Lost Crystal Empire until Fusilli would throw something at me because I was ‘stopping him from going to sleep’.

Whatever Ms Focus thinks, I earned my place here at this school, and I’m going to be the BEST bucking mage the Pasta family has ever seen!

Right after I’ve, you know, mastered the basics…

  • Penne

21/09/998

Dear Diary,

Introduction to Potions and Alchemy today. I figured I’d be good at this, since, y’know, I spent most of my time growing up helping in kitchens. Our teacher, Prof Snakegrass, is pretty cool and/or terrifying. Walked into the lab, everything was dark, just slivers of light poking through blackout blinds on the window, then the door slams shut behind us and he appears at the front of class in an explosion of green light and smoke! And he’s got mad eyes, like a cat’s, with slit pupils. I overheard one of the other kids say he’s descended from bat ponies, like the ones that pulled Nightmare Moon’s chariot.

He kept the blinds down the whole lesson, so we had to work either by candlelight or with magic lights, which was spooky and very atmospheric (admittedly, I thought it was awesome). Just went through some of the basics of potions today, what they’re made of, how they distil magical essence, that sort of thing. Next week we’ll get to look at all the proper equipment! Going to feel like a proper wizard, standing there with a big, musty tome and stirring a cauldron full of bubbling purple stuff!

  • P

P.S. I just looked up Prof Snakegrass’ picture in the school prospectus and he’s got FANGS. So cool.


24/09/998

Dear Diary,

Been a busy couple of days. Mama and Papa took me out for dinner again last night, fresh from their tour of the royal palace. I think my parents are dorks, of course – what kid doesn’t? But there was something adorable about watching Papa gush over the ‘fluted columns’ and ‘gorgeous historical stained glass portraits’. Who knew he was such a fan of architecture? I think Mama was quietly hoping this newfound passion would translate itself into picking up a hammer and nails and doing some DIY around the farm!

They asked me how school was going. I lied. Said everything was going great and I’m doing well in all my classes. They just nodded sagely, because 'obviously' I’m doing great, I’m a Pasta. Not sure I really have the heart to tell them I’m already getting private tutoring from a filly half my age…

Cosma’s great. She’s the one who gave me her sandwich on my first day. She’s a bit older than I originally thought, just looks really young. She’s taken to sitting next to me at lunch, so I guess I’m her friend now? First couple of days she didn’t really say much, and then suddenly on day three she launched into this angry rant about how Ms Focus didn’t know one end of her horn from the other and that she should’ve been placed in the advanced class but got failed on her theory test. Watching her wave her baguette around, punctuating every point with a jab of bread and another lost slice of tomato, I just burst out laughing.

It’s been nice to have someone to talk to, even if we have mostly bonded over hating Ms Focus. I told Cosma I’d flunked my practical portion of the exam, which apparently she’d aced. Top of the class. So we struck a deal, she teaches me the practical bits, and I help her study the theory.

I also promised her I’d make her some pasta butterflies. Guess I’ll have to move visiting Uncle Lasagne a bit higher up the list. He runs Canterlot’s only specialist pasta shop; stocks the best flour from back home, and spends all his spare time making the most crazy shapes and colours – stuff like you’ve never seen!

At our last family reunion he boasted that Princess Celestia herself (well, her chamberlain anyway) had requested a dish of ‘rainbow angel hair’ pasta for some royal function or other. Uncle Lasagne refused! Said he couldn’t possibly make angel hair ‘better than her Royal Highness’ own mane!’

And you wouldn’t believe it. The Princess herself came down to the shop the following week and sat for a ‘fitting’ – letting Uncle Lasagne get exactly the right shades and colours of her mane to make the ‘perfect’ dish. You should’ve heard him go on about it – you’d think he’d fallen in love!

Of course after that pasta enjoyed a brief boom in popularity across the city. People were queueing up around the block for it until some bright spark figured out he could make some money off the trend and set up a street cart. Two weeks later, so Uncle Lasagne says, you couldn’t move through Canterlot for carts selling spaghetti.

‘Fashion’s a fickle thing’, he said, ‘and the next week it was like no one had ever heard of pasta’. Business went back to being slow, but honestly I think he likes it that way.

  • Penne

25/09/998

Dear Diary,

Just a quick entry today. It’s difficult to form a new habit and I’m trying to remember to do this. Mama says it’ll be nice to have something to look back on once I’ve come home, to remember my time in Canterlot. I must have cringed pretty hard because she looked a bit hurt by my reaction.

I’ll make it up to her. I’ll try keeping this diary for my first year here – during term time, anyway. If I remember right, that’s from Last Harvest through to the week before Hearth’s Warming, then starts again on First Thaw through to First Budding, have a break, and the last term up to Summer Sun Celebration.

Then I can edit this a bit and give it to her as a gift! I think she’d like that.

So uh, school was alright, I guess. Warm today. Cosma’s coming over to my room tonight and we’re going to watch 'The Thing From The Fridge'.

Did I mention I like corny old horror movies? I feel like I probably should have.

  • Penne

26/09/998

Dear Diary,

Cosma LOVED the film. I think I’ve introduced her to a whole new world of shoddy special effects, natty costumes and dodgy scripts. She’s asked me to compile a ‘best of’ list that we can watch over the term, so I’m going to have to go shopping.

Schoolwork was light today, so me and Cosma wandered around the school a bit to get used to the campus. It’s not a huge space; being in the middle of the city means everything’s kind of cramped around a big square (which I am told by Papa is called a ‘quadrangle’ and is surrounded by ‘cloisters’), and the school buildings themselves stretch all over the place really chaotically. Most of the space is used for teaching ponies like us, but we saw there’s a couple of buildings dedicated to magical research. Walking past one of them there was a bright flash of light and then a mango came flying through an open window, grew wings, and flew away. We heard a pony (can’t have been much older than me, actually, but I couldn’t see her clearly) scream in frustration and run out after it in a flash of purple.

The main hall is off one side of the quad and is where we have assemblies and big events, then there’s another couple of smaller halls used for magical exercises during school hours, and student groups the rest of the time. The library’s an imposing building with a spiral tower (looked like it was deliberately made to resemble a unicorn horn) that, weirdly, can be seen from anywhere in the quad, even where you think it shouldn’t be possible. Like, directly outside it and facing away from it. I brought this up but Cosma said not to think about it too hard, it’s a magic school, and magic doesn’t obey the rules.

I wanted to ask why we were bothering to learn all the rules then, but decided not to.

Oh yeah, last thing, the school canteen is AMAZING, all the plates float and bring your food right to you – there’s also this loop they do around the tables so that if you see a dish you like, you can just pull it over and try it! I ate way too many hay fries and was also introduced to buttered asparagus in chilli sauce. I swear I was breathing fire, it was so spicy.

  • Penne

27/09/998

Dear Diary,

Second week at school’s going well. They had a showcase in the Grand Hall today for all the different clubs and societies you can join. There was a bit of a scuffle between the Gardening Society and the Farming Society over who had use of the school’s allotments. One of the older students told me it happens every year, and it’s been an ongoing feud for over a decade. Both societies were going around with clipboards, trying to drum up new recruits so aggressively you’d think they were arming for war.

They’d been exchanging insults for over an hour when ‘Flower Power Squad’ (as the more militant wing of the Gardening Society preferred to call itself) led by club secretary Dahlia grabbed the Farming Society’s mascot (a very large carrot confusingly named Dusty) and took a massive bite out of it. Soon both sides were flinging spells back and forth, and school security was forced to intervene, but not before the brawl had broken up several of the other stands.

I’m thinking I should stay out of it, although given my background in farming, joining the society might be interesting. Grow something other than wheat for a change. I guess I’ll see how much time I’ve got outside of classes and homework.

The Daring Do Appreciation Society also looked pretty intense; they’d set up a full obstacle course on the lawn, complete with sets and traps! I sat there for a while watching as ponies lined up to have a go, it was great. One of them nearly got to the jewelled statue at the end, then they stepped on the wrong tile and got hit right into the water by a big stick wrapped in cotton. Cosma and me both signed up for Film Society; they’ve apparently got a really good projector and rent out one of the bigger classrooms once a week for movie night. Maybe I can convince them to do a showing of the Scarecrow trilogy. Fusilli thinks they aren’t as good as the two 'Blood and Ketchup' films, but I think 'Scarecrow III: The Last Straw' is some of Fair Price’s best acting work. He totally deserved the award that year. 'Platinum in Love' was absolute trash and I’m not afraid to say it.

  • Penne

28/09/998

Dear Diary,

Today we learned more about the basics of magic. Channelling energy through your horn, reciting spells to aid focus, that sort of thing. Growing up I assumed it was as simple as ‘think what you want and do it’ – and while that’s sort of what magic’s like, it turns out there’s so much MORE.

Mama and Papa go back home tomorrow. I feel a bit weird about that. I guess once they’ve gone it’ll be like I’ve really left home and struck out on my own. It’s not like being one of the day students who live either here in Canterlot or down in Ponyville, they can just go home at the end of the day, but I have to live here now, independently. At least until the holidays. At first I was really excited by the idea of being a big, independent pony and finally having a room to myself, but now I’m here I just feel a little scared by it all.

But I’m sure I’ll be kept busy. Lots to learn, lots to study, and lots of homework. Two hours per hour of lectures, apparently. It’s mostly been questionnaires and things so far, and some simple maths problems about balancing magical forces. That’s one thing that I didn’t know about magic; you’ve got to draw energy from somewhere to use it. Ultimately all magic is powered by your heart and inner Harmony (or Discord, if you’re, you know, EVIL) but even then it needs a boost from your body, like how you get tired when you do a lot of chores and then get hungry.

Casting magic without properly preparing your body and mind can be really dangerous, Ms Focus said. In the past, before the Princesses raised the sun and moon, there used to be groups of unicorns who would do it – but the job would wear them out and they apparently used to pass away really young. I wonder how the Princesses managed? What about being an alicorn makes you better at this sort of thing?

Then again maybe I shouldn’t think like that. Princess Luna went mad, and now Princess Celestia is the only alicorn. Or I thought so, anyway: Cosma says there's also Princess Cadence, she's the last descendent of the Crystal Empire ponies. Weird how that didn't come up in my story books!

Papa said it was our love for Celestia that gave her the power to raise the sun and moon, and maybe that’s not just a story we tell the little colts and fillies. The Princess is the school’s patron and I hear that she visits regularly. Maybe one day I’ll be able to ask her – although I think I'll be far too embarrassed to ever speak to her directly!

Oh, almost forgot, tonight I’m making proper noodles for the first time! Not the instant stuff. I’m really excited to try it. I wonder how different it'll be from spaghetti?

  • Penne

P.S. Maybe I did something wrong but they tasted EXACTLY like spaghetti.


29/09/998

Dear Diary,

End of week two! Just got back from the station after seeing Mama and Papa off on the train home. They said they’d try and write to me once a week and come visit again with some of the family soon. I guess that’ll be nice? I dunno. I don’t really want Fusilli messing with my stuff – although he’s probably already wrecked our room since I’ve been gone.

We did some more practical exercises today, focusing on levitation and picking up heavier and heavier objects. I think it was intended to be some object lesson about how the weight correlates to the force needed, but I remember Star Swirl writing that a powerful unicorn can ‘lift a mountain as if it were merely a feather’. Maybe he was just being poetic or something. I could barely lift a stack of books...

In the afternoon we had a lecture from a guest speaker which was pretty cool, all about magic in non-pony cultures like Griffons and Yaks. I didn’t know Griffons could even do magic! It’s not like pony magic, though, it’s dark and powered by greed. All about manipulating people. It sounded REALLY COOL but also, you know, REALLY BAD. The sort of thing you’d expect to see a villain use in a comic.

I feel like that might be a bit racist

After the lecture I got to meet some of the other students: the lecture was a cross-year thing so everyone got to attend. There’s a group of fillies in the final year of their studies who are around my age. They were really nice! Minuette, Lemon Hearts, Twinkleshine and Moon Dancer. They said I should come hang out with them after school one day; there’s this great place in town that serves the BEST hay hash.

I felt a bit better knowing I’m not the oldest pony at the school (just in my year, yaaay) but, yeah, did make me feel a bit awkward when they learned I was in first year and didn’t really know how to do any good magic. I could tell they felt a bit awkward too. Maybe I should ask what societies they’re in, I could hang out with them that way and then we don’t have to talk about magic so much.

I’m still on the fence about joining Farm Soc. I was kinda keen on Garden Soc but the way those Flower Power fillies went around picking fights really put me off, and I’m not sure I want to deal with that.

Oh. I hope they don’t learn I’m from a farming family. That might suck. Pretty obvious though, isn’t it? Not many ‘Pastas’ in Equestria. It’s not like I’m a ‘Sparkle’ or a ‘Feathers’.

Oh mare. Not many unicorn farmers at all. Thinking about this is making me queasy. I don’t want to get picked on just because my family grows wheat. Why couldn’t I come from a cool family that does magic or sells books or something?

Maybe I should start going by another name… Penne Glitter Shine Blossom Rose

Nope, nope, none of those. Arrrrrrgh. Right. Not going to think about it. Just keep my head down, avoid Dahlia. It’ll be fine. Don’t join Farm Soc. Don’t poke the Ursa Major.

  • P