• Published 16th Nov 2012
  • 6,426 Views, 355 Comments

In Search of Knowledge - thehalfelf

Twilight and Cheerilee re-write an old textbook, and Cheerilee struggles with something she thought would never be a problem

  • ...

In Search of Letters

In Search of Letters

Miss Twilight Sparkle,

The text you requested, Ponies Big and Small, is not in our library of books, nor is there mention of it in the records of publication for the last two decades. The only time it appears is the year 974, approximately 38 years ago. We hope this clears up any confusion.

Silver Scroll,
Royal Canterlot Archives, Director of Literature

To The Equestrian Education Board,

It has recently come to my attention that one of the core textbooks used in schools all over Equestria is horrendously out of date (attached is the letter from the Royal Canterlot Archives regarding the book in question.) As a scholar myself, I recommend having the book updated, or finding a new one altogether.

Twilight Sparkle,
Student of Princess Celestia

Miss Twilight Sparkle,

Your recommendation and actions regarding Ponies Big and Small has been noted. It is a shame that nopony else before noticed that such a core piece of our educational system was so old and out of date. It has been put on the agenda for debate when the Board next meets in full, three months hence.

Lord Brighthoof,
Chairpony of the Equestrian Education Board

Lord Brighthoof,

Three months is much too long of a period, especially when the issue is present now! This is exactly the time of year that teachers everywhere are using this book to attempt to teach foals one of the fundamentals of our society, and life in Equestria as a whole. Is there some sort of emergency meeting or such you could call to remedy the error immediately?

Twilight Sparkle,
Student of Princess Celestia

Miss Twilight Sparkle,

I understand the issue and the urgency of the matter, but we are unable to do anything at this time. We need the time for the board members to travel, and to find a suitable replacement. If you can recommend something yourself before the period, I will try to have an emergency meeting called.

Lord Brighthoof,
Chairpony of the Equestrian Education Board


Twilight Sparkle tossed the last letter, the last useless letter, haphazardly on the top of a pile on the desk in her room above the library. Nothing, she mused, another rejection. Why is it so difficult to find a book like this? Buried under the stack of negative letters poked the corner of Ponies Big and Small, as though mocking her efforts to replace it.

She glanced over at the ever-dwindling supply of blank paper and ink on the other side of the desk. I guess there’s one pony I could still ask...

Dear Princess Celestia,

Sorry, this isn’t my friendship report, nor is it the paper you asked me to write on the governmental system of smaller pony tribes south of Equestria. I am writing to ask for help. Not that anything is wrong, I love living here in Ponyville, though I still miss Canterlot and my family there.

I recently was visited by three of the fillies here in Ponyville. They were looking for help with an assignment from school, and of course I offered to help. But during the course of my aid, I noticed that the textbook they were using, Ponies Big and Small, was the exact same edition I used under your tutelage.

I inquired to the Royal Canterlot Archives on newer editions, so I could request they be sent to the school here to be used in education, but they informed me that the book hasn’t even been updated in over thirty years! So, I wrote to the Equestrian Education Board and requested that they change the book. They agreed, but the hard part is finding one.

Apparently the book they have been using has worked great, and I did enjoy reading it and learned a lot from it, but I feel that there has to be some new information on the subject. I just can’t find a suitable replacement.

I was hoping that you might have an idea or something to help us find some way replace this old book. Thank you, Princess.

Your faithful student,
Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight waited a moment, admiring her hoofwork as she waited for the ink to dry. After a couple minutes, she rolled it up into a scroll, sealing it as she had been taught. A quick spell and a touch of a horn sent the letter off on it’s way. Now all that was left to do was wait.

From experience, Twilight knew that Celestia was probably in the middle of the Day Court right now, which meant her letter would be routed into the princess’ private chambers to be read later. That meant it would be at least a couple of hours before a reply would come.

Bored, the lavender pony got up and plodded down to the main floor of the library. Spike was standing on a small stepladder, reshelving those books that had been turned in recently. He was humming a merry tune and swishing his tail to keep the beat. Twilight suppressed a laugh.

She trotted over to the librarian’s desk and began rummaging for the check out sheet. Running a hoof down the list of names, Twilight looked to where each book was supposed to be, checking it off it the book was in the correct place, leaving it blank if it was still out. Unfortunately, due to Spike’s diligence, and the overall lack of ponies who did a lot of reading in Ponyville, by the time she was finished, Celestia’s reply still had not arrived.

With a groan, Twilight whacked her head on the desk, causing a resounding thump. Startled, Spike fell off the ladder, dropping the books he had been holding, along with several from the shelf he was organizing at the time.

Twilight quickly rushed around the desk and over to her assistant’s side. “Oh my gosh, Spike, are you okay?”

“Yeah... ‘M fine,” Spike replied, dizzily waving one claw in the air. “This nice floor broke my fall.”

A burst of lavender energy quickly lifted the books on the fallen dragon, stowing them safely on their shelves before returning to lift their victim to his feet. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you like that.”

Spike dusted himself off. “Don’t worry about it. Did you get any answers for your book search or whatever it was you were doing?” he asked, grabbing another stack of books from the check-in cart and beginning to replace them on the shelves.

“Yeah... all of them were no.” Twilight looked over at the shelf dedicated to textbooks. “I sent a letter to every single company or pony who ever printed a decent textbook, but none of them had what we would need.”

“What are you going to do? You promised Cheerilee you would find her something."

Twilight sighed. “I don’t know. I sent a letter to the Princess, but maybe I should just go tell Cheerilee it doesn’t look like she’ll get the books she needs... I’ll be back later.” After receiving a nod from Spike, and strapping on a one-sided saddlebag with a few bits, just in case, the lavender pony moved over towards the door.

Just before she opened it, however, it pulled itself open, aided by an aura of light blue magic. “Oh, hello darling!” the pony on the other side of the door said. “What a coincidence. Were you going somewhere?”

“Hello, Rarity,” Twilight replied, stepping back to let her friend enter the library. “I was just going over to Cheerilee’s house to tell her something.”

“Really,” Rarity said, cocking an eyebrow. “I did not realize you two were close.”

“We aren’t really, but I offered to help her find a book for her classes.” Twilight looked down at the floor. “But I haven’t found anything... I was on my way to tell her.”

“Oh, don’t be so down about it. Knowing you, you’ll have something figured out before tomorrow morning.”

Twilight waved a hoof dismissively. “Oh, I know. I have a couple letters I still haven’t gotten a reply from, but I don’t think any of them will turn up anything. At the most, maybe the letter I sent to the Princess will give me an idea. Either way, it’s been a couple days. She’s probably wondering how the search is going.”

Rarity paused for a moment, lost in thought. “Well, I know you’ll get it done how it needs to be. I was just stopping by to return that book you lent me on dress patterns awhile back.” The book levitated itself out of Rarity’s saddlebags and onto the check-in cart. “You were right. It was interesting, and I learned a couple more things.”

“That’s great!” Twilight smiled and returned to the desk briefly to cross it off the list. “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Not right now, darling, but if you want to leave now, my house is on the way to Cheerilee’s. We can walk together.”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll be home later, Spike. Don’t forget to finish reshelving!” Twilight called as she walked out the door after Rarity.

“Sure,” Spike grumbled. “You go with Rarity, and I’ll stay here and do all the work... As usual.” With a mighty sigh, he pulled a massive gem from a stash behind a group of books nopony ever checked out and took a big bite. Stymied, he returned to his task.


“So, if you don’t mind me asking, what were you using that pattern book on?” Twilight asked as the two set off down Mane Street in the general direction of the Carousel Boutique.

“Do you remember the dresses that Aloe asked me to make?” Rarity asked, turning her head to see Twilight shake her head.. “You didn’t? No? Well she asked me to make a dress for her and her sister, for a convention something-or-other. They asked for a specific pattern, that I knew, of course, I just couldn’t remember exactly how to do it.”

“Oh, sure,” Twilight replied with a bob of her head. “Happens to me all the time. I read something in a book and need it a few months later and I can’t exactly recall it and I start to go a little crazy and... uh, continue. Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright, darling,” Rarity said after a brief fit of giggles. “I just needed the book to look up the pattern, and make sure I had it right. After all, Aloe threw in a few free premium spa passes along with the payment, and I couldn’t just take those with a dress that didn’t earn them.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Premium passes? I didn’t even know they something like that.”

“Oh it is divine!” Rarity squealed. After assuring the other ponies in the street that she was perfectly fine, she continued, in a smaller voice, “The only problem is that I only get four, and there are six of us...”

Twilight nuzzled the side of Rarity’s head. “I’m sure it will all work out in the end, Rarity.”

“Of course. I’ll figure something out, even if I have to buy more for the others,” Rarity replied with a flourish as the duo stopped on the doorstep of the Boutique.

“Just remember,” Twilight said as her friend opened to door to her home. “They are your vouchers to give. Don’t let the others bother you about it, because I know how much that can get on a pony’s nerves.”

“He-he... You aren’t still upset about the whole deal with the Gala tickets, are you?” Rarity rubbed one hoof against the other nervously.

“Of course not.” Twilight smiled reassuringly. “So, I’ll see you at Pinkie’s party this weekend?”

“Of course,” Rarity said as she walked into her home. “See you then.”

“Bye, Rarity.” The door shut, leaving Twilight alone in the dying light of the afternoon. Shivering against the chilling bite of the wind, she set off towards Cheerilee’s house.

Cheerilee’s house was built in the classic style of Ponyville; Stout, strong houses built with wood harvested from the edge of the Everfree, and Whitetail Wood--replanted afterwards, of course. Her house was brightly colored, like most of the town, a creamy white with pink shutters topped by a yellow hay roof. Twilight quickly took all of it in as she raised her hoof to knock for the second time that week.

Some scratching, scrambling, a thump, and a “one moment, please,” later, Twilight was looking into the face of a pleasantly surprised Cheerilee.

“Twilight, what are you doing here? Not that you aren’t welcome, but... Come in, please.” Cheerilee stepped back, allowing the other pony to enter the small house.

“I just came by to tell you that I, uh...” Twilight stared into space, voice trailing off. Cheerilee held her breath. “I wasn’t able to find a book for your teaching. I’m sorry.”

Cheerilee stepped back into the doorway. “Is that all?” The magenta pony let out her held breath in a nervous laugh. “You act like it’s some big problem. You don’t need to find one, I can work with what I have.”

“But I said I would help! I sent letters to every single textbook printer I could find out about, and every single one had nothing! Absolutely nothing! You’d think there’d be more out there about the different kinds of ponies! I just don’t understand why--”

In the middle of Twilight’s rant, Cheerilee cut her off. “Twilight. What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a spot of gold light over her friend’s horn.

“Huh? Oh, just a letter. Probably another rejection. Hold on.” A short burst of lavender magic, and the spot of light expanded into a circle before resolving itself into a scroll. Seeing the seal holding the letter shut, Twilight said, “I think I might accept that invitation to come in, if you don’t mind.”

Cheerilee stepped to the side once again, allowing Twilight to enter and sit down on the couch. She unrolled the scroll and skimmed through it, eyes becoming wider by the second.

“Twilight, is everything alright?” Cheerilee asked.

“This... this letter is from Princess Celestia.” The teacher sat down across from Twilight. “As a sort of last resort, I sent her a letter asking for help, but... you might want to read this for yourself.” The unicorn levitated the letter over onto the table between them. Cheerilee leaned over and began to read.

My faithful student,

I followed up on your letter, and sent my own to the Royal Canterlot Archives, and was informed that the company that initially published the book in question had gone out of business before a second edition of their textbook could be finished.

So, in lieu of your report on the governmental systems of ponies in the Badlands, you may, if you wish, finish the second edition of Ponies Big and Small, to be submitted to the Equestrian Education Board. With their approval, we shall send your book to print, and use it for the curriculum for the next school year.

It is entirely up to you, but I recommend speaking with the teacher. Between her knowledge of the basic educational method throughout Equestria, and your mind, the two of you could make a textbook that would not need revision for some time.

Take your time, and reply back to me with your answer.

Princess Celestia

Cheerilee looked up into the anxious face of Twilight. “Well,” the magenta pony said, “what do you want to do?”

“Well, would you like to write it with me?”

Hmm, Cheerilee thought, The new book would be great, and being able to work with Twilight even better... “Sure.”

Twilight smiled, and flipped over the letter.

Dear Princess Celestia,

We’ll do it.

Your faithful student,
Twilight Sparkle

Author's Note:

This chapter marks the last one to be edited by Phantom Shadow until May, which makes me sad... Not really much else to say... Parts of this chapter had to be rewritten a couple times, I must've run out of creative juice or something. We think we got it all figured out, though.

So, I'll see you all in three weeks or so when the next chapter comes out.