• Published 1st Nov 2012
  • 33,385 Views, 1,622 Comments

The Equestrian Wind Mage Classic: Season 1 - LordSiravant



After a teleportation spell goes wrong, Vaati finds himself in Equestria. The world's most powerful mage is about to learn about the world's most powerful magic: Friendship.

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Episode 4: Hired Hoof

Episode Four: Hired Hoof

Twilight opened the door to her library and took note of her surroundings. Spike saw her enter from where he stood on a stepladder, shelving a couple books and said, "Hey, Twilight!"

"Hey, Spike," Twilight answered before noticing the reason she had come back in the first place.

Vaati was sitting in his usual spot, engrossed in whatever book he was reading. As she approached, Vaati either didn't seem to notice her, or was just ignoring her. She blinked in surprise when she read the book's title: Daring Do and the Wooden Mask.

"Huh, didn't take you for the adventure novel enthusiast, Vaati," she said.

Vaati looked up. "I didn't either. But I've already read all your magic and history books, so I was running out of ideas. Then I happened to notice this book here, and its title caught my eye. I must say, this is an interesting read."

"Why this one?"

"Because the eponymous mask bears some startling similarities to an old legend in my world concerning the Heart of Darkness, Majora's Mask. It was a mask containing the sealed spirit of the God of Evil, Majora. Anyone who wore it was eventually corrupted by the mask and turned into Majora's puppet. He's rather like Discord, only far more malevolent."

Twilight inwardly shuddered. The legends she had read about Discord were somewhat unpleasant, but to hear about something that could have done even worse than him…

"Though I doubt you approached me for the purpose of quizzing me about my taste in fiction. What do you want?"

Twilight blinked as she remembered why she was bothering the mage to begin with. "Listen, Vaati. It's been more than a month and a half since you moved in…"

"…Mmhmmm?"

"And though I'm really grateful you helped us deal with that parasprite infestation last week..."

"…I never want to experience that again."

"…My friends and I have been talking…"

"That's all you ever do."

Twilight sighed audibly, and just spat it out. "Vaati, you need a job."

Vaati just gave her a deadpan stare, as if he were trying to gauge if she was actually being serious or not. "You're really bad at jokes, Twilight," he finally said. "Just stick to being a doormat, will you?"

Vaati then went back to reading his book. Groaning, Twilight put her hoof on the book and pushed it down, forcibly getting Vaati's attention again. "I wasn't joking, Vaati. Ever since you came here, you've been pretty much living off of me. I pay for all the food you eat, and it's starting to hurt my savings. You need a job so you can make a living like everypony else and stop being a leech."

Vaati frowned. "I take offense to being called a leech."

Twilight just glared back. "I'm not backing down on this. You. Need. A job."

Vaati quirked an unamused eyebrow. "And who exactly do you think will hire the local freak?"

"My friends are all willing to hire you. You could try each one of their suggestions out until you find one that suits you. You can help Applejack on the farm, Rarity with her dresses, Fluttershy with her animals, Pinkie Pie with the bakery, or Rainbow Dash and the weather team."

Vaati's lip curled slightly. "And if I refuse?"

"I kick you out. You won't make a very good impression trying to force your way back in, and you admitted you tolerate me more than my friends."

Vaati growled before slapping the book shut and tossing it aside. "Well, if I have no choice…"

Twilight smiled enthusiastically. "See? I knew you'd come around, Vaati!"

Vaati spent the next few minutes fantasizing unpleasant things happening to Twilight as she rambled on about the importance of jobs. Finally, he said through gritted teeth, "So…where to first?"

"Well, since I talked to Applejack first, we'll first head on over to Sweet Apple Acres. They could always use an extra hoo…well, hand, in your case, on the farm."

Vaati scoffed. "Me? Work at a farm? I am a legendary sorcerer! Such grunt work is beneath me!"

"Applejack said she's buck you in the legs if you didn't show up."

"Ugh! Fine! Let's go."

Vaati then stormed out the door, Twilight hurrying to catch up. The two of them walked in silence up to Sweet Apple Acres, immediately catching sight of Big Macintosh hauling a cartload of apples towards the barn. "Hey, Big Mac!" Twilight yelled, waving a hoof.

The large red stallion looked over at them and nodded in greeting. "Howdy, Miss Twilight," he said in a deep, baritone voice. "If yer lookin' for Applejack, she's out buckin' apples over there."

Bic Mac pointed over towards the orchard, where they could see Applejack bucking one of the apple trees, its fruit tumbling neatly into some baskets. Vaati's face contorted into a bitter scowl. "Let's just get this over with."

Twilight trotted ahead of the unhappy sorcerer to greet her friend. "Applejack!" she called.

Applejack turned towards them and grinned devilishly. "Well, look who decided to drop in," she said smugly, looking at Vaati. "Twilight was tellin' me you were lookin' fer some work."

Vaati sarcastically laughed. "Oh, I'm sure she's done a good job forcing all that nonsense into your head. I don't want a stupid…"

Applejack nonchalantly bucked the tree behind her without looking away from Vaati, a good-sized crack appearing in the bark. Vaati just stared blankly at her for a moment.

"…I mean, a job sounds wonderful."

Applejack smiled again. "That's what Ah like to hear! Judgin' from the looks of it, ya ain't ever done some honest hard work in yer life, have ya?"

Vaati smirked cockily. "Unnecessary when I have magic."

"Lookie here, mister. This here's an Earth Pony farm. We ain't ever had to use magic, and our business's been boomin' fer generations now! There won't be any magic mumbo jumbo here in Sweet Apple Acres!"

Vaati stared at Applejack incredulously. "You're kidding." He turned towards Twilight. "Tell me she's kidding."

Twilight shook her head. "A little hard work now and then never hurt anypony."

Vaati threw up his hands. "This is bloody unbelievable! Ugh!"

"Oh, quit acting like a child!" Twilight chided. "We're just going to see if you're cut out for farm work! If it doesn't suit you, we'll try something else."

Vaati blinked for a moment before smirking.

"And don't try to worm yer way outta it by doin' a mediocre job," Applejack said. "Or else you'll get to have a little meetin' with Bucky McGillicuddy and Kicks McGee!"

At Vaati's questioning glance, she motioned towards her back legs, which made his eyes widen ever so slightly. "Rrgh…fine. Just what exactly do you want me to do?"

"Well, Ah'm busy buckin' the apples, and Bic Mac's takin' them to the barn. Our garden could use some plowin', though."

She pointed towards the garden, where a plough was sitting. Vaati stared at it for a moment before turning back to Applejack. "I hope you realize how much I curse your existence."

Applejack just smiled good-naturedly. "Aw, you'll warm up to me eventually."

Vaati briefly considered taking that phrase literally and setting her on fire. Oh, he was sorely tempted, but his sane side won out in the end. With a displeased grunt, Vaati turned around with a dramatic flourish of his cape and strode towards the plough. "I'll keep an eye on him," Twilight said.

"Alright, Twi. Ah hope this works out, though."

Applejack then went off to continue bucking apples. Twilight turned around and headed over to the garden to oversee the mage's progress. Vaati stared at the plough for a few moments before sighing in defeat as he grabbed the handles, since, as a human, he couldn't strap the harness to him like a pony would, and pulled.

The plough didn't move.

Vaati pulled on it with all his might, but the farming implement refused to budge. He grunted in exertion as his pale face started to go red. Twilight put a hoof to her mouth to stifle her laughter as the sorcerer struggled. Realizing this was going nowhere, Vaati went to the back of the machine and began pushing on it as hard as he could, gritting his teeth as he broke out into a sweat. Still the plough didn't move an inch.

He pushed and pushed, his feet sliding along the ground until his legs finally gave way, causing Vaati to fall flat on his face.

It was too much for Twilight. The purple mare broke out into a fit of hysterical laughter and fell on her back. Vaati opened his eyes as he heard her guffaws. One of them started twitching.

Tears started coming to Twilight's eyes as she laughed on the ground. Suddenly her laughter was unceremoniously cut short when she heard the sound of an explosion not far away. She jerked her head up to see bits of smoldering wood falling from the sky, and a charred pile of wood and metal right where the plough used to be. Vaati was walking towards her with a look of tranquil fury on his face. "Get up, we're leaving," he growled. "NOW."

Still in shock, Twilight didn't protest as she got to her hooves and followed the disgruntled mage out of the farm before Applejack could find him. Once they were a fair distance from the farm and back in town, Vaati grunted, "Any more bright ideas, Twilight?"

"Well, the farm thing didn't work out, I guess," Twilight murmured before brightening immediately. "Rarity! We'll do her next!"

Vaati groaned. "Urgh, she's even less tolerable than Applejack!"

"Oh, you'll do just fine!" Twilight answered. "You wear clothes all the time. Surely you'd know a thing or two about fashion!"

"Just because I wear clothes doesn't mean I know how to make the—"

"We're here!"

Vaati looked up at the impressive structure everypony knew as Carousel Boutique and groaned in displeasure. The two of them walked up to the front door, and Twilight rapped on the door a couple times out of courtesy. A few seconds later, the door opened, revealing Rarity, who beamed at the sight of her friend. "Ah, Twilight! Vaati! I knew you'd make it!"

"You knew we were coming?" Vaati asked with a raised eyebrow.

"But of course, dear Vaati! I knew you were heading to Sweet Apple Acres first, and you don't strike me as the 'farm' type, so I knew working for the Apple family wouldn't work out. You obviously have more refined tastes!"

Vaati smirked despite himself. "That's rather…generous of you, Rarity."

Rarity chuckled. "Oh, it's no trouble at all! Come inside, won't you?"

"Actually, Rarity, I have some errands to run," Twilight declined. "Vaati, you'll be working with Rarity on whatever she needs help with. I'll be back in about an hour."

Vaati sighed and walked past Rarity into the boutique. "Have a good day, Twilight!" Rarity called before shutting the door.

The fashionista then turned to her potential employee, who was silently taking in his surroundings. Several pony-shaped mannequins, some with completed dresses attached, sat in several areas of the room. The place was a mix between neat and cluttered. Rarity trotted up to the Wind Mage and smiled. "Alright, Vaati! Work has officially begun! Before we start, have you ever designed clothes?"

"No," Vaati flatly replied.

"Well, never too late to start!" Rarity chirped, summoning a piece of parchment and a pen with her magic and bringing it over to Vaati.

The sorcerer just stared at the pen and paper hovering in mid-air. "And what, exactly, do you expect me to do with this?"

"I want you to design a dress!" Rarity answered.

Vaati glanced past the pen and paper at her. "You do realize dresses where I come from are designed for people who walk on two legs, right? Designing a dress for a four-legged creature would automatically designate you as the town kook."

"You told me you've never designed a dress before, bipedal or quadrupedal," Rarity said. "There's nothing strange about learning about the latter first."

Vaati glanced back at the pen and paper and sullenly grabbed them out of the air, grumbling incoherently to himself as he went over to a nearby workbench and sat down. The mage began scribbling away as Rarity patiently waited. After a few minutes, Vaati put down the pen and stood up, showing the paper to Rarity. Whatever was on it, it made Rarity's eyes widen to the size of dinner plates and she laughed nervously. She was unable to form coherent words for the longest time, and finally just put it off to the side face-down on a table where nopony could see the horrific image Vaati's mind had spawned.

"Ahaha, perhaps we should start out with the basics," Rarity chuckled uncomfortably, moving over to a long table flanked by large rolls of colored fabrics and a shelf stocked full of buttons, ribbons, and other clothing accessories. "I'm going to need you to hold onto these for me, please."

Using her magic, she handed various objects over to the mage such as spools, ribbons, and glue. "Guh," Vaati grunted as he tried to balance all the stuff with his two hands.

Unfortunately, Vaati was not paying attention to where he was walking, and his foot suddenly stepped on the tail of Opalescence, Rarity's cat. Before Vaati could process the sound of an angry cat, the mage suddenly found his face engulfed in white fur and sharp claws. "GAAAHHH-AAAAAAAAHHRRRGGGGHHHH!"

Opalescence mercilessly clawed at Vaati's face, hissing and yowling in fury as the sorcerer dropped everything he was holding and tried to pry the cat off his face. "SWEET MOTHER OF DIN, SOMEONE GET THIS FREAKING CAT OFF ME!" he screeched over Opalescence's hissing fit.

Rarity had no idea what to do. She couldn't just pry off Opalescence with her magic; she could run the risk of seriously injuring Vaati. "Opalescence! B-bad girl!" she yelled. "Get off of him this instant!"

"AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!"

Vaati stumbled all around the room, knocking over various mannequins and fabric rolls as he desperately tried to free himself from the claws of Opalescence. "Oh no, Vaati, watch out!" Rarity yelled, trying to steer the beleaguered sorcerer clear of any breakables. "To the left! The left! Ooooh!"

Vaati was a little too preoccupied to notice Rarity was yelling at him…or that he was about to crash into the collection of spare mannequins in the corner of the room. "No Vaati STOP!" Rarity cried.

CRASH.

Rarity slowly uncovered her eyes and took in the destruction. The boutique was a complete mess. Buttons, fabric, and ribbons were strewn everywhere. Vaati lay in a pile of broken mannequins, barely conscious as Opalescence jumped off him and went to go lay down somewhere else like nothing had happened. Rarity cautiously edged her way over to the sorcerer's prone form. "Um…Vaati, dear? Are you alright?"

Vaati's slightly-dazed, but murderous expression clearly said it all.

XXXXXX

One hour later

"Gah! That bloody stings!"

"Just hold still!" Twilight snapped as she applied a damp disinfecting cloth to a squirming Vaati's face.

The unhappy mage's face was covered in scratches as they sat on a park bench. Twilight frowned as she finished disinfecting Vaati's wounds. "Well, guess working for Rarity isn't gonna work out after all."

Vaati slowly turned his head and glared down at Twilight with the most sinister 'you don't say' expression he could muster. Twilight laughed nervously. "Ahaha, well I suppose Fluttershy could be next…"

"I was just mauled by a bloody cat, Twilight," Vaati groused. "Considering my current track record with animals, I'd rather steer clear of the animal caretaker until further notice."

Twilight sighed. "Alright, we'll try Pinkie Pie next, then. If that doesn't work out, then we'll try Fluttershy."

Vaati groaned once again. "Oh, Goddesses help me. Not her…"

"What's the worst that could happen?" Twilight said, getting off the bench. "Pinkie can be grating sometimes, I'll admit. But all you guys'll probably be doing is baking cupcakes. That doesn't sound too bad, does it?"

Vaati stood up as well with a resigned sigh. "Considering my luck…" he grumbled under his breath as he and Twilight headed towards Sugarcube Corner.

Twilight opened the door, Vaati reluctantly following her inside. To his surprise though, it wasn't Pinkie Pie that was waiting for them. It was Mr. and Mrs. Cake, her aunt and uncle, as Vaati recalled. "Afternoon, Twilight," Mr. Cake said, tipping his hat towards the visitors. "Afternoon, Vaati. I take it you're here for that job offer Pinkie suggested to us?"

"Yes, unfortunately," Vaati gruffly responded.

Before anything else could be said, Pinkie burst out of the kitchen, dusted in flour and a wild grin so unnervingly happy it intimidated Vaati plastered on her face. "Vaati Vaati Vaati I'm soooo glad you made it we're gonna have so much fun making cupcakes!" she squealed without taking a single breath.

His eyes wide, Vaati instinctively took a step back. "Twilight, I don't know about this…"

"Oh come on, it's gonna be fun!" Pinkie chirped, bouncing over and pushing Vaati towards the kitchen, which for some reason Vaati likened to entering the gates of Tartarus. "We're gonna make cupcakes and muffins and cakes and all sorts of cool stuff! Come on come on come on!"

Before Vaati disappeared into the kitchen, the mage turned his head towards a giggling Twilight. "If I don't make it out of this, I'm haunting you forever," he growled.

Twilight just smiled and waved.

XXXXXX

A few minutes later

Vaati looked down at himself. A white apron a little small for his size was situated around his midsection. His normal cap, which was now off to the side where it, theoretically, wouldn't get cake batter all over it, had been replaced with a chef's hat. He really did look quite ridiculous.

"Alright, Vaati!" Pinkie cheerfully declared. "Time for your first lesson in making cupcakes! Listen carefully and watch ol' Pinkie Pie work her magic!"

A cheery musical tune appeared seemingly out of nowhere, catching Vaati off-guard. "What in Din's-?"

"Pay attention, Vaati!" Pinkie chided.

Vaati's glare intensified as Pinkie began singing to the strange tune, performing the actions as she did so.

"All you have to do is take a cup of flour,
Add it to the mix!
Now just take a little something sweet, not sour,
A bit of salt-just a pinch!

Baking these treats is such a cinch,
Add a teaspoon of vanilla.
Add a little more, and you count to four
And you never get your fill-a!

Cupcakes, so sweet and tasty,
Cupcakes-don't be too hasty,


Cupcakes! Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcaaaaakes!"

The second she finished, the music popped out of existence. Vaati's mind completely failed to properly process the events that had just transpired, and could only stare at her with his mouth slightly hanging open. "Now it's time to—uh, Vaati? Are you okay?" Pinkie yammered, waving a hoof in front of the sorcerer's face.

Blinking, Vaati's mind reasserted itself, reacting to Pinkie's hoof-wave. "Pinkie Pie," he stated, dead-pan. "Never, ever do that in front of me again."

"Do what?"

"The singing…just…don't."

"Awwww," Pinkie griped before she immediately perked up. "Anywho, let's get the cupcakes in the oven! Oh, whoops! Forgot to turn it on, haha, silly me!"

While Pinkie was momentarily distracted, Vaati thought quickly. There was no way he was going to put up with this. But he couldn't just leave. He needed a distraction. Right before Pinkie turned her head, Vaati cast a quick spell on the batter. Pinkie didn't notice and put the batter into the cupcake tins while Vaati looked on, slowly edging towards the door. Humming a cheerful tune, Pinkie opened the oven door and stuck the cupcake tins on the rack. She promptly shut the door then started tinkering with the timer. Vaati smirked. It wouldn't be long now…

Suddenly the oven began shaking violently. "Oh, Pinkie!" Vaati cried. "There appears to be something wrong with your oven!"

Pinkie looked over at the oven and saw the commotion. "Omigosh, you're right! What in Equestria could that be?"

Without warning, the oven door flew open, and a grotesque abomination comprised of sticky batter lurched out of it, growling murderously. It took all of Vaati's willpower to put on a mask of terror and not snicker evilly. Pinkie's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as she saw the monster. Then, the pink mare brought out a candy-cane battle axe seemingly out of nowhere and brandished it defiantly. "So, we meet again, Cake Creature," she snarled, causing Vaati to curiously raise an eyebrow. "I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN YOU!"

Pinkie dramatically leapt into the air and engaged the aptly-named "Cake Creature" in a battle to the death, hacking away at its doughy exterior as the monster lashed out at her. Knowing this was his chance to escape, Vaati grabbed his cap, slipped out the kitchen door, tore off the apron and hat, and took off out the door before the Cakes could see him leave. He felt no regrets about casting that particular little spell on the cake batter. Judging from the looks of it, Pinkie could probably take care of herself. All he had to do was get away, far away, and wait until Twilight forgot about the job hunt.

All those plans went out the window when Vaati crashed right into Twilight.

"Twilight! Ah, blast it all!" Vaati snarled as he untangled himself from Twilight's flailing hooves and got to his feet.

"Vaati! What are you doing out here?!" Twilight demanded, also getting to her hooves. "You're supposed to be-!"

"After an entirely-unforeseen and traumatic series of circumstances that have nothing whatsoever to do with me," Vaati quickly explained, "I have decided that working for Pinkie Pie is not an option."

Before Twilight could answer, a guttural roar intermingled with Pinkie's battle cries and crashing noises emanated from the bakery. Mr. and Mrs. Cake ran outside in a panic. "We're leaving," Vaati growled, roughly grabbing hold of Twilight and teleporting them away from the scene.

They reappeared back at the library on the second floor, having gone unnoticed by Spike. Vaati let go of Twilight as she fumed. "Would you mind telling me what the hay that was about?!" she demanded.

"Let's just say Pinkie got a visit from an old friend," Vaati vaguely explained. "And I decided I had overstayed my welcome."

Twilight groaned and facehoofed. "Why are you making this so difficult?"

Vaati smirked. "You could always just give up this crazy little endeavor of yours."

Twilight glared stubbornly at him. "Absolutely not."

Vaati groaned. "That leaves us with two options now," Twilight continued. "Working at the weather center with Rainbow Dash or taking care of animals with Fluttershy."

"My cat scratches still sting," Vaati complained. "I think I'll avoid the animals as long as possible. Besides, my command over the winds and the weather is without equal. Surely I could be of use to this 'weather factory'."

Twilight beamed. "That's the spirit!"

XXXXXX

Twilight and Vaati walked up to Rainbow Dash's cloud house and looked up at the impressive structure. It was comprised completely of clouds, with Greek-styled columns and several fountains and pools of rainbow-colored fluid scattered around. "Rainbow Dash!" Twilight called up.

A few seconds later, Rainbow Dash poked her head over the side of the ledge and smiled, "Hey guys! What's up?"

"We're here to see if Vaati can help you with the weather," Twilight explained.

Rainbow laughed. "I don't need any help, Twilight! I can do it all myself!"

"Welp, we tried. Let's go," Vaati quickly said, turning to leave.

Twilight froze him in place with her magic. "Not so fast, mister."

Still holding him still, Twilight looked up. "Look, Rainbow. Could you please put aside your pride just this once? Vaati needs a job, and we've already tried Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie."

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. "Why didn't they work out?"

"Vaati blew up Applejack's plough, got mauled by Rarity's cat, and Pinkie Pie…well, I really don't know what happened there."

Rainbow Dash heaved an exaggerated sigh. "Oh, alright! Get up here and we'll talk more."

Twilight let go of Vaati and teleported up to the cloud, while Vaati morosely floated up to the top. Both ponies blinked in surprise as they saw Vaati touch down on the cloud's surface without falling through. "Whoa, you can walk on clouds too?" Rainbow asked.

"Why do you act surprised?" Vaati retorted. "You ponies do it just fine. Besides, anyone with enough magic coursing through their blood can walk on clouds in my world. Me, the Hero of Legend, the Princess…and probably even Ganon, though considering that fat pig's girth, he'd probably fall through anyway."

Rainbow Dash snorted laughter while Twilight raised a curious eyebrow. Vaati took this moment of inactivity to glance over at the rainbow fountain next to him. Pointing at it, Vaati said, "What is that?"

Rainbow looked over at the fountain. "Oh, that's my rainbow fountain. That liquid stuff is what rainbows are made of."

Looking at the liquid, Vaati suddenly realized he hadn't eaten or drank anything since morning. "Is it edible?" he asked.

Vaati didn't notice the wide grin that appeared on Rainbow's face as she explained, "Yeah, of course it is! It's got a little bit of a kick though. Why, you thirsty?"

Vaati glared at Twilight. "Well, thanks to a certain someone, I haven't eaten anything since this morning. I'd at least like something to tide me over until I can convince her to buy us lunch."

"Well go ahead. I don't mind," Rainbow answered, suppressing a snicker.

Twilight glanced suspiciously at Rainbow Dash as Vaati produced a wine glass out of thin air and dipped it in the rainbow fountain. He sniffed it a bit before downing it in one gulp.

It was a mistake he would never forget.

His eyes suddenly went as wide as dinner plates as his cheeks puffed out and his face turned red. Sweat began pouring down his face as Rainbow Dash's snickers rose in volume. Finally Vaati spat out the rainbow fluid, tongues of flame shooting out of his mouth. Only one word managed to worm its way out of Vaati's mouth.

"HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!"

Rainbow started laughing hysterically as Twilight stepped back in surprise. Vaati twisted around, screaming incomprehensibly as magic engulfed his entire body. "Oh no!" Twilight gasped in realization before glaring at a still-laughing Rainbow. "Do you have any idea what you've done?!"

Rainbow looked up, her laughter instantly dying when she saw Vaati. "W-what's he doing?!" she cried, panicking.

"He's losing control of his powers!" Twilight screamed. "Take cover!"

The two mares instantly bolted, trying to get as far away from the unstable mage as they could without falling off the cloud. It wasn't enough.

An explosion, followed by an intense gust of wind, destroyed the entire house, knocking them both off the cloud and onto the hard ground. As globs of rainbow fluid splashed all around Rainbow Dash took in the damage with an expression of utter horror. "My…my house…"

Her house was wrecked. Half of it was completely gone, and other parts were covered with scorch marks. Vaati was nowhere to be found. For a split-second, Twilight feared the worst; that the explosion had killed him. "Vaati! VAATI!" Twilight panicked, looking around. "Vaati, where are you?!"

Rainbow Dash just sat numbly on the ground, staring at the ruined structure. "My…house," she mumbled.

Twilight fled the scene, calling out Vaati's name desperately as she ran towards the main part of town. "VAATI! VAA-!"

Finally she found the mage dipping his head into the creek, guzzling down the stream water. The mage's clothes were blackened and torn in some places, and his hair was frazzled. He was making quite the scene, as some of the townsponies had gathered to watch him in confusion. Twilight breathed a sigh of relief and trotted up to him. "Vaati, are you alright?"

Vaati swallowed and whipped his head around. Twilight immediately yelped and jumped back in shock and sudden fear.

Vaati's face was contorted into the most terrifying glare she had ever seen. His pupils were now slit like a cat's, and his canines had sharpened considerably. The crowd all gasped in shock and backed away. "Do I look alright to you?!" Vaati roared, his voice booming across the whole town. "The next time I see that accursed Pegasus, I am going to FORCEFEED HER EVERY SINGLE DROP OF RAINBOW FLUID IN HER HOUSE!"

Twilight's blood ran cold at the sorcerer's malicious expression, averting his gaze. It reminded her of…oh she shuddered just to think about it…

Nightmare Moon.

"No more job-searching for today," Vaati growled, Twilight flinching at his biting tone.

"No…" she sighed in defeat. "We're done."

No more words were exchanged as the pair walked home. The townsponies warily returned to their everyday activities, careful to steer clear of Vaati's path. By the time they reached the library, it seemed Vaati had calmed down some, as his eyes had returned to normal and his fangs had gone.

They said nothing to each other for the rest of the night, and eventually went to bed to continue stewing their emotions in their dreams.

XXXXXX

"Hey, freak show! Whatcha doin'?"

Vaati looked up and regarded the group of older Minish standing over him with disdain. "Reading," he answered gruffly. "Something your puny minds fail to comprehend."

The oldest boy, obviously the leader, clicked his tongue. "Smart mouth as always, huh freak show?"

"Smarter than yours, at least," Vaati snidely quipped. "Now, if you don't mind, I was just getting to the part about Demise's fall, so if you would kindly go away, and take the stench of your stupidity with you, that would be fan-!"

WHACK!

Vaati suddenly found himself lying on the ground, stars obscuring his vision. His cheek stung from where the bully had punched him. "Heh heh, nice one, Chip!" one of the other bullies congratulated.

Vaati shook his head and got to his feet, rubbing his throbbing cheek. Chip sneered at him, crossing his arms. "So, ya ready to apologize for dissing me and my boys yet, freak show?"

Vaati snorted. "For what, pointing out the fact that you're all denser than a retarded Moblin?"

"You're one to talk, since either your mommy or daddy was a monster!" Chip snapped.

Vaati gritted his teeth and clenched his tiny fists. "You don't know that."

"Oh yeah? Then why else do ya look like a freak?! Look at you! Your skin's a funny color, your hair's purple, and your eyes are red, for Din's sake! No way could that've come from two Minish parents!"

"Shut up," Vaati growled.

"Oh what? Is the widdle-biddy monster gonna cry? Boo-hoo-hoo! You know why you're an orphan, freak show? I bet it's because your daddy ate your mom after you were born!"

The three bullies were laughing their heads off as Vaati glared murderously at them, magical sparks flashing from his hands. "S-SHUT UP!" Vaati screamed.

Without thinking, the child yelled angrily and thrust his hands forward, sending a small bolt of energy right at Chip. The teenage Minish yelped and brought his arm up to his face to shield himself as the blast connected with his skin. However, there was not much energy in the blow, so the only injury Chip received was a burned elbow. Chip looked at the burn on his arm before glaring menacingly at Vaati. "You little RUNT!" he roared. "Get 'im, boys!"

Vaati turned to run, but the bullies easily caught up with him and knocked him to the ground. The two goons held Vaati's arms and legs down while Chip got on top of him and started punching him in the face and stomach, the evil bully showing absolutely no mercy. Vaati screamed in pain and sobbed in fear as the beating progressed. Vaati's choice of reading spot was his downfall; very few people went there, and Vaati's cries were drowned by the hubbub of the town activities. So no one came to his aid. Nobody ever did.

It seemed to last forever until Chip finally got tired of abusing the poor child and got up. "Giles, Tiku! Let 'im go. We're outta here."

The two goons released Vaati's limbs and flanked their boss on both sides. Before they left, Chip looked over his shoulder and sneered. "I knew you were a monster, freak show! No one's ever gonna love you!"

The boys laughed as they departed, leaving the young orphan broken and bleeding in the alley.

XXXXXX

Twilight's ears pricked as they picked up a strange noise. The unicorn blearily opened her eyes and groaned quietly. She stole a glance out her bedroom window and saw Luna's moon shining brightly in the sky. As she began to take note of her surroundings, her brain finally managed to register what she was hearing, and immediately jolted her fully awake.

Weeping.

Twilight glanced at Spike, but noticed that the only noise the baby dragon was making was his usual snores. That only left…

"No. No way," Twilight quietly assured herself. "He's too…"

Then she stopped to listen. It was coming from Vaati's bed. Silently, the unicorn pushed aside her covers and trotted up to Vaati's bedside.

The mage's eyes were squeezed tightly shut, and a muffled sob escaped his throat as tears streamed from his eyes and stained his pillow. Twilight's jaw dropped slightly, but her shock was soon replaced by concern. It was obvious he was having a bad dream, but what could be so bad that it could make the unflappable, arrogant Vaati the Wind Mage cry like a young child?

In the end, it didn't matter. As scary and unpleasant the sorcerer was, he was emotionally distressed and he needed help. Twilight snuck onto the bed and snuggled up close to Vaati, her horn softly glowing as she cast a soothing spell to calm him down. "Shh, it's alright," she gently whispered. "Everything's going to be alright. Shh…"

His sobbing slowly descended into small hiccupping before the mage was silent once more. Knowing he needed someone's comfort, slept with him for the rest of the night.

XXXXXX

Meanwhile, the Princess of the Night awoke once again, tears streaming from her eyes. Celestia quickly awoke as she heard her sister's crying. "Luna, dear, what's wrong?" she asked.

"I bore witness to the sorcerer's dreams once again, dear sister," Luna whispered, going over the awful events in her head. "I…I saw one of his childhood memories. Tia, what he has suffered…'tis unbearable! His kind are so brutal! T-they tormented him, beat h-h-him, called him a monster…He…he was orphaned as a child…"

Celestia held back her tears in order to stay strong for Luna. Pity welled up in her heart for the distant sorcerer, but her first concern was Luna's well-being. Still, this was some form of progress. Vaati's dreams were inadvertently telling the princesses more and more about the secretive mage, and the more they knew, the better chance they had of finding a way to help him face his demons, or…if worse came to worse…

No. Celestia didn't even want to consider that this time. It was still too soon to judge. Still, her thoughts wandered to the castle gardens. To the statue. To him. Was he any different?

XXXXXX

The next morning

Vaati slowly opened his eyes and grumbled sleepily. He then noticed that something was bundled up next him, keeping him warm and strangely comfortable. Vaati blearily glanced over his shoulder to see Twilight curled up against his back, still fast asleep. The mage blinked in confusion, but he was still too groggy to form coherent words. Why in Majora's name was Twilight curled up next to him like a housecat?

And more importantly, why did this put him slightly at ease?

It surprised him how difficult it was to regain his grouchy, bitter composure. Grumbling some more, the mage slid out of bed, careful not to disturb her. He wasn't ready to put up with her nagging quite yet. Spike was still asleep too, the young dragon snuggled in his bed and snoring like a lumberjack. Quietly, Vaati cast a quick spell on himself to clean his clothes and make him smell fresh. He was hundreds of years old, but one thing was certain; he never outgrew his hatred of baths.

Rubbing his eyes, the sorcerer sighed. His dream last night was the most unpleasant he had had in a long time. How he hated the memories of his youth. Though it was ironic that those events were instrumental in shaping him into who he was now. But what was he? The greater irony was that he more or less proved Chip's point. He was a monster, hated and feared by everyone. No one ever truly cared for him, not even the sage, Ezlo, who took him in, promising him tutelage and only giving him chores. Even the ponies of this world, as friendship-happy and cheerful as they were, were growing increasingly uneasy around him. Did he revel in that fear? Not too long ago, he would have quickly answered 'yes' without a second thought, and be firmly convinced of that belief. Now…

Now he wasn't so sure.

Vaati descended the staircase and sat down the kitchen table, placing his face in his hands. Just what was this world doing to him? He was being wracked by uncertainty and self-doubt, two things he hated with a passion.

He was used to being reviled. Kindness was a totally alien concept to him. Even as he desired friendship and family, he pushed potential friends away because of his fear of getting close. The fear of his world, horrible as it was, changing. A deep sadness welled up in his icy heart, one which had hung over his head every single day of his life until the cap had become his, and he obtained the ultimate power.

He couldn't think straight. His mind kept revisiting those awful memories, and a voice he had ignored for far too long whispered in his ear; the voice of his deep-rooted self-loathing. Monster…You're a monster…No one's ever gonna love you!

"I don't care," he whispered, trying to block out the voice. "I don't care. I don't care. I don't…"

He did care.

It had never changed. He had only pretended it had.

A choking noise involuntarily escaped his throat. His eyes stung and felt wet. It took a moment for Vaati to understand what was happening.

He was crying.

The sorcerer buried his face in his hands and quietly sobbed. Unbeknownst to him, it did not go unnoticed. Twilight awoke and immediately noticed the bed was empty, meaning Vaati had gotten up. As she reached the stairs, she looked down and saw Vaati sitting at the table, silently crying his eyes out. The sight tugged at her heartstrings, and she slowly descended the staircase. Vaati didn't seem to hear her, so she quietly entered the kitchen and set to work.

Several minutes later, Vaati's sobs had lowered to mere sniffles. Suddenly he heard the clatter of a tray being set down in front of him. He lifted his head and saw a truly delicious-looking breakfast set out in front of him. A large slice of hot apple pie, one of Pinkie Pie's famous cupcakes, a freshly-peeled orange, and a large glass of ice-cold milk awaited him. Standing next to it was Twilight, a comforting smile on her face.

The two of them just stared at each other for the longest time. No words were needed. The shy smile on Vaati's face said it all.

After finishing off breakfast, Twilight levitated the dirty dishes into the kitchen and began cleaning them in the sink. Vaati sat at the table for the longest time, contemplating. He felt so strange. He couldn't find a reason to maintain his cynical and mean-spirited disposition. Not around her, anyways. She had showed him kindness. When he needed it most, she had been there for him.

Twilight trotted out of the kitchen, finished with the dishes. But before she could speak, Vaati interrupted her. "Twilight?"

"Yes, Vaati?" she asked, her smile never leaving her face.

"…Thank you."

Twilight's eyes sparkled with joy as she hugged the flustered sorcerer. "Alright, alright, get off, get off," Vaati huffed, prying Twilight off of him.

Something else was needling him in his head. He had a nagging feeling he had to do something. He had to make it up to her for her kindness. "Twilight…you don't suppose Fluttershy is still willing to hire me, do you?"

She gasped in surprise before grinning widely. "You still wanna job search?!"

Vaati flinched slightly. "Don't make a big deal out of it please."

Twilight managed to compose herself. "Sorry. Shall we go, then?"

The mage stood up and straightened out his cape. "One more thing, Twilight," he said. "Keep what happened just between us, okay? Or else I'll dropkick you into the river in front of the entire town."

Twilight chuckled. "Now there's the Vaati I know and love."

Twilight giggled at the slight blush that broke out on Vaati's face before turning towards the door. The two of them walked outside and greeted Celestia's beautiful morning before heading towards the Everfree Forest, where Fluttershy's cottage sat on the edge of town. As they approached, they noticed Fluttershy sprinkling bird seed out for her chickens while her pet rabbit, Angel, looked on as he lazily munched on a carrot.

Noticing the two visitors, Angel hopped over to Fluttershy and tapped her on the shoulder while pointing towards them. Fluttershy looked up where Angel was pointing and saw them. "Oh, hello Twilight," she greeted, shrinking back nervously as she regarded the intimidating sorcerer towering over her. "Um…h-hello, V-V-Vaati."

"Hey Fluttershy," Twilight responded, smiling. "How are you doing?"

"Oh, um, just fine," Fluttershy answered in her usual timid voice.

"We're here for the job offer you had for Vaati," Twilight explained.

"Oh!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "I-I'm sorry, i-it must have slipped my mind."

"Do you think I'd be a good fit?" Vaati asked, trying to sound polite so as to not scare her as much.

"Um…I-I don't know…Taking care of animals is a huge responsibility."

Hmph.

Vaati blinked and looked behind him to see Angel crossing his paws, glaring at him. Yeah, that's right. Look at me. Look at the cute little bunny rabbit. You're a creep, you know that? Stay away from Fluttershy if you know what's good for you.

Vaati glared back at the rabbit. "You would do well to keep that to yourself, rabbit."

Angel recoiled in shock as Fluttershy and Twilight gasped. Oh crud! You can hear me! Angel yelped.

"Darn right I can hear you, cotton wad!" Vaati snapped.

"Vaati…you…" Twilight stuttered.

"Y-you can t-talk to animals?" Fluttershy finished, awestruck.

Vaati smirked, chuckling in amusement. "Good Goddesses, I actually almost forgot. As a Minish, I have the ability to communicate with animals. It's not unusual for my kind to hold conversations with dogs, lizards, even the occasional cat or chicken."

Fluttershy's face broke out into the most ecstatic grin Vaati had ever seen. "Oh, you could be so much help, Vaati!" she chirped, her excitement overriding her shyness. "You can keep animals calm when I fix them up, and feed them, and…oh, I'm so excited I could just scream!"

The Pegasus then squealed very quietly, failing at said scream. Vaati raised an eyebrow. "So does this mean I'm hired?"

Fluttershy managed to calm down and nodded her head. "Yes. Come to my cottage tomorrow at 6:30, bright and early."

Twilight danced in place. "You did it, Vaati! You got a job!"

Vaati grinned. "Heh. Suppose I did, huh?"

"VAATI!" a familiar voice suddenly cried.

All eyes turned to see Applejack standing a short distance away, looking quite angry. "Finally Ah found you, ya varmint!"

Vaati blinked in confusion. "What is it, Applejack?"

"You blew up our only plough! And a new one's gonna cost us a mighty bunch'a bits! Bits that were supposed to be for fixin' our old barn!"

"Well what do you expect me to do about it?"

A savage grin creased the farmpony's face. "Hold still."

Applejack then charged right at the sorcerer, his eyes widening in shock and terror. "Time for me to take my leave!" he yelped before bolting, Applejack pursuing him relentlessly around the cottage.

Twilight couldn't help but chuckle at the scene. Despite the previous trials, things were definitely looking up.

XXXXXX

Dear Princess Celestia,

I write to you at Twilight's behest, as she felt this was something you should know about. I, of all people, have learned a valuable lesson in friendship today. Strange, though. For the longest time, I was without friends, and for the longest time I convinced myself I didn't need any. Twilight has proven to me otherwise. I learned that pushing others away for the sole purpose of retaining my miserable existence out of fear of change is an unwise course of action. I discovered that friendship is not something to be laughed at or hated, but embraced. My only regret is that it took me two-hundred and seventy four years to learn that.

I grew up without kindness, and it made me a bitter person. But Twilight has shown me what it is like to have friends, to know someone who cares. I think I'm going to enjoy my retirement after all.

Sincerely,

Vaati Picoru, Sorcerer of Winds

P.S.—I got a job.