• Published 12th Oct 2012
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Lunarium - Tramper

In an alternate timeline where magic has vanished together with Discord, six fillies from the city of Canterlot go to find its burial ground and reawaken the ancient powers.

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Chapter 7 ~ There Are Some Muffins Left For You (V2)

Smart fillies don’t cry,” her father had told her once.

He’d hit her and she hadn’t been able to sit for days. It wasn't just that one time, either. He had always been easy to anger. All she needed to do on some days was smile at him and he would throw a bottle at her. Sure enough, he hardly ever hit when he threw stuff, and later on he would merely ignore her, yet she wanted to make him happy.

Twilight Sparkle wasn’t a filly that cried often, and only ever for a short time. She was a smart filly, still growing, still learning. Yet she didn’t feel like stopping herself now. Her father wasn’t coming back anymore, because she was sick all the time and he didn’t need some useless unicorn filly dragging him down before his marefriends.

She was freezing and shaking, sobbing and gasping for air, and her heartbeat only grew louder, like drums in a rolling crescendo. And yet still, she felt warmth, and heard somepony tell her something.

“It’s okay, everything's fine.”

Nurse Redheart once told her something like that, with a bright smile. She’d been there, always, even when nopony else wanted to come, even when Twilight had said she didn’t want anypony to be there. Nurse Redheart had been there for her. Now she wasn’t, so it should’ve been okay to just let the oncoming pain take its natural course. It hurt, sure. She wanted it to stop, sure. But. …

“Sssssh, deep breaths, Twilight, you’re fine, you’re doing good. Calm down and then how about some of this tea, hm?”

But a stranger was there, talking to her like it wasn’t over. She wanted to ask why, but then she felt his hoof going through her hair, her mangy hair nopony cared about. Octavia still played in the background, still that familiar, hopeful tune. It was calming to Twilight. Not just that, of course. The feeling of the blanket against her cold body, the moving stars above her and then Hugh gave her the tea.

She took a sip of it immediatey. It was warm and tasted sweet, yet she felt the cup in her hooves shaking, small waves touching the edges of it. Her throat was still dry, so the wetness felt extraordinary in her mouth, she pretty much chugged down the rest of the tea.

Twilight had no idea how to feel, as this was completely new territory for her. The tears did stop, after a while, almost on their own. The drumming grew quieter, the pain dissipated, and Twilight could tell that she felt much better–which, sadly, didn’t mean as much as Twilight wanted it to. Hugh didn’t even stop hugging her when she was done crying, instead told her how she was a good filly and that everything was alright.

A stranger served just fine for hugs too, as it seemed. Her own papa hadn't been quite the pony for them. Every time she'd cry he would rage, which would result in more crying, which would somehow result in Shining and her papa arguing and then in both leaving her.

Early on had she learned that this was more of a family thing, as ponies who didn't belong to her family came more easily to a crying filly. She knew that from the kind nurse Redheart. Well, maybe Hugh too. For these moments there were only his arms, Octavia playing in the background and her shrinking pains. She noted how it felt different than her normal hurting, deeper than that. She wondered if the pain wasn't actually physical, but that was impossible.

Twilight was a smart filly and smart fillies never hurt like that.

Still contemplating the emotions that washed over her, Hugh Jelly picked her up gently. As he did so, she was still wrapped in the colorful blanket, and she was happy that he didn’t say anything bad about it.

Of course, there was still the issue of why he was lifting her up. This kind of closeness to some stranger felt weird. Nopony ever heaved her up like this, tak. She’d seen it with younger foals, ones who couldn’t yet walk properly, but she had no real idea whether this was something unusual for her age.

No matter, if he was going to carry her around it would save her strength, and that was awesome. It also meant she could take another sip of the tea as she just rest on his arm.

"You come, too, Octavia. I think they should be ready now,“ the stallion said warmly.

Octavia looked up and at him, her ears turning towards the sounds of the others. She started to smile, revealing lines of perfect little teeth with only one missing on the upper row. Then, she jumped down and ran out into the corridor.

Between remaining sniffles Twilight had to wonder what he had meant and why the grey filly had reacted like that.

She didn't have to wonder long, however since the place wasn't that huge. From the only hallway she spotted about two other rooms, aside from the bathroom. One was on the end of the hall, closed, probably where the parents slept and the other was by what Twilight presumed to be the front door.

Behind the entrance was a room, not big, but not small either. It was neither kingly nor for beggars. It was simply, for lack of a better word, home. The kitchen itself was simple in the way it was built, but the red-and-white walls made it appear very comforting. But the table in the middle was what truly stood out. It was carved from oak and its legs had the forms of the first ministers.

Twilight knew how they looked and she knew their legends.

There was Firefly, who had dared the last dragon to a race; Twinklestar, who, in her time, had banished all the paperwork from Equestria; Mjölna, who had been the first to unite the pony tribes long before Equestria was formed, and – Twilight had to think who the one right in her sight was, the left leg of the table, although it seemed like she didn't belong.

A unicorn in a simple robe, staring at the wall with dull expression.

Then she remembered the name. This wooden creature was a folk hero amidst the unicorn population, a story her father had told her with great pride, a thing that had, once, given her hope.

She was the last unicorn capable of doing magic, Clover the Clever, a pony who had lived for more than a hundred and fifty years.

On the table were small cups of tea, coffee and warm chocolate, while muffins were piled up on a tablet in the middle of the scenery, right beside an empty flower vase.

Though the sight of the sweets made her mouth water, it was the ponies around it that caught her attention a second later. There were those she did know, but a number of strangers she hadn’t seen before.

Lyra was waving happily at her when she spotted the filly on Hugh's back, but Trixie's mood seemed immediately fouled. The tiny unicorn who sat on a little cushion beside Lyra harrumphed the moment she saw the pony she had brought out here.

Twilight wondered what she had done to get this kind of reaction. It just seemed strange that Trixie hated her now, was it because she hadn’t been able to do her magic show? Had she even performed it? Strangely enough, Twilight couldn’t remember. All she caught in her memories was a strange feeling of sadness, but not much else, so she just dismissed it. Hopefully she could ask Trixie about it later on.

Then there was a tall, slender mare with a brown coat spotted with white and a long, dark brown mane done into a braid, just like her tail was. She looked at Twilight with a smile but the small filly noticed that her eyes seemed as sleepy as Hugh’s. It was weird, but she looked like a nice enough pony.

To each of her sides she spotted a pegasus filly. The one on her left was a bit smaller, had a deep black coat with a mane pretty much the same color, playing with two muffins like they were toys. She was also making (probably) accurate sounds according to it, presumably enacting some sort of muffin-laser-battle, to which Twilight would’ve loved to hear the background story.

The one on the right was a bit bigger, and also seemed to be a bit more heavy. Not only that, but Twilight didn't even notice her gray coat or pale mane at first. No, what she spotted was something different entirely. The filly’s eyes, like two golden suns in a white sky, staring off into two different directions. The weirdness meters were topping themselves over and over again today.

The weird eyed filly noticed her staring and started to grin as mister Jelly sat the young unicorn down. Before anypony else could say something she already opened her mouth, directing her first words directly at Twilight Sparkle.

"There are some muffins left for you.“

Considering the filly delivered the line with an awful lot of enthusiasm, Twilight felt overwhelmed by her already, but examined the muffines nonetheless. They had a chocolatey brown texture and seemed to have berries as an ingredient. She knew not which kind, because she hadn’t read that many books on berries, and she also didn’t know whether it was smart to eat some. So she simply took a sip of her tea.

It was warm and tasted so sweet, Twilight let it gladly warm her body. She only had one blanket left to cover her and she was shivering beneath it. The drink would help only a bit and she heard her stomach growling, begging for something to eat. If a muffin would do? Probably, but she didn’t quite know if she really should.

She looked at the stallion, "can I take one?“

He seemed to genuinely think for a moment, Twilight began to wonder if that question was even right to ask? She was starved, yes, but what if they'd throw her out or yell or something worse.

She really expected the last, adults were always good at coming up with 'something worse', and some nurses had gotten some strangely amused looks whenever they’d been able to hurt Twilight and the 'tips' their own neighbours had given them for raising a filly had made her own papa tell her to never talk to these ponies again. Grown-ups sometimes even managed to scare grown-ups.

A shiver ran down her spine.

In the end, though, he gave her a good answer.

“Of course, silly.”

The words that told her that she could take one were the best she heard today. She immediately made a grab for one.

It was still warm in its wrapping. The smell of the berries filled her nose and as she took the first bite she felt its deliciousness in her mouth.

It wasn't like she hadn't had muffins before but the last time was so long ago. She remembered snow falling and a young Shining laughing and their papa looming over them, smelling of a strong cider brewage. Shining had told her that these were raspberries, and they were impossible to get during winter.

"Do you think you'll be fine?“ She heard Trixie ask after a few moments.

The piebald filly didn't look like she knew whether she should be worried for Twilight or not. A hint of the hatred remained in her voice, however.

"Yeah,“ Twilight answered with her mouth full.

Trixie wanted to say something else, but just shook her head. She wasn’t wearing her hat and cape anymore, but they were probably in the box she kept on her lap.

Twilight took the chance to have a look around, wondering about all these ponies. The mare was making the black filly stop to play with her muffins with but a single movement, without ever saying a word. Octavia was eating in a fairly refined manner–though crumbs still ended up falling down her lap nonetheless–while the wall-eyed filly was munching down muffins at record speed.

They looked like a family, sure, but then not really. She grasped the chance; “Is this really an orphanage?”

The question was directed at Hugh, the only pony here of whom she was sure to be able to answer her question. He stifled a laugh and gave her another kind smile, he did that a lot, unlike most ponies.

"You're at our household, not anything official, but you could say we take children in when they’re without a home. Well, technically, she does well,“ Hugh said, pointing at the mare,"I present my sister, Madame Hooves.“

She gave but a nod and a smile, but still didn't say anything. Twilight put on a thoughtful frown, wondering why she didn’t speak. Hugh laughed at that.

“Sorry, she doesn't talk. Lost her voice at an early age, actually. You’ll get used to it, I’m sure. Anyway, that one,“ he pointed at the muffin muncher, "is Derpy, my niece and the other one,” he pointed at the black one, "is Raindrops, she's another 'friend of the family' like Octavia, whom you've already met.“

Twilight looked at the grey filly who gave her a friendly smile while grabbing for a cup, although her being refined immediately stopped as she toppled it over and spilled the tea all over the table. Madame Hooves gave her but a disapproving look and then moved into a motion that seemed so routinely handled, Twilight didn't quite believe she was watching a pony and not a robot.

"Oooh, and I'm Lyra!“ Lyra said loudly, raising her hoof.

"Yeah,“ Twilight answered to that,"I know … And I'm Twilight and that's ...“ She looked at Trixie, distant and mad and in need of some cheering up, "Starswirl the Bearded!“

That got a laugh out of everypony with Lyra leading, "she called you 'bearded'!“

Trixie looked just forlorn. Twilight didn't quite get why until Hugh Jelly turned towards the little magician.

“Starswirl was an ancient pony who lived before the founding of Equestria, a mighty magician who jumped through time and back.”

Trixie nodded as if the only thing that reached her was “mighty magician”, but her smile grew with that, and Twilight felt proud of herself.

However, there was one thing she did catch on to as Hugh explained–with the way he phrased it Twilight couldn't help but think that he didn't appear to believe what he told the guests at the table. As if he didn't believe that magic had once been a part of Equestria. Yet it had been, and unicorns had once wielded power.

She didn’t say that, he was kind to her and she didn’t want to ruin everything.

Maybe it was because she had read the stories about the princess of love, maybe it was because she was still so small. Shining had always told her that only foals believed in fairy tales, even though he liked Cadenza's story more than she. Not that he’d ever admitted it, but it had been there.

So she smiled and ate and thought of magic, and as they delightfully fed on the raspberry muffins, she felt something moving in the back of her head. Something twisted itself into shape and out of a hole, but what it was, she couldn’t tell at first.

But the laughter of children and the falling sky were not things easily forgotten, nor was the sound, the horrible sound and the whole land of candy with the darkest pit in the sky.

She thought of magic, and how she’d done it.

From one moment to another Twilight, a pain ran through her tiny body like a spear, and then like a poison, spread to every end. It was her brain that started to hurt the quickest, and the most. Her heart was beating again and she lost her string of thoughts. Now, she just immediately fell on her back, away from the table. As the ponies around her jumped up, she rolled herself into a ball. She didn’t want to give the pain a large room to spread, she didn’t want it to be there at all. Then the tears came quickly.

The sting was different from her normal pains though, and this time the hurts brought something else but crying and more pain.

They brought her memories of rainbow fields, air that tasted of lemons and cotton candy clouds with moustaches and top hats made of chocolate and with these memories came the snipping of scissors and mud bleeding from an eye.

Then the voice came back, too. The old, kindly voice of the wise goat. Again, it was in the wind around her, filling the whole room. A ghostly whisper only in her head and for nopony else.

She might have felt somepony turning to hug her. She might have seen faces, both familiar and unfamiliar, gathering around her. She might have heard somepony else telling somepony to get her another blanket, someone saying to breathe calmly, to take it in, to take the dive and then another voice saying that they needed to go to the hospital.

All those things made her feel safe, they really did. Yet the illusion was as quickly shattered as it had appeared. The darkness came all of a sudden, and then all the feelings and all the noise just vanished.

Only the voice of the wise goat remained.

You're awfully happy for a pony that is seconds away from dying.

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