A collection of random stories from the Prompt-A-Day group's challenges
A random collection of prompt-driven one-shots. Each has been lovingly hand-crafted. The subjects are as diverse and colorful as the ponies which they describe. Oh, who am I kidding? The proof-reading was perfunctory, at best.
"In retrospect," they said, irritated, "getting them was the easy part."
“Tell me about it,” I muttered. It was supposed to be a simple gig. Ransom. Of course, everypony knows that you don’t go after your primary target directly; that’s just stupid. There’s security to consider—we were clever, but we probably couldn’t think of anything that a contingent of Royal Guards hadn’t already thought of, and planned to neutralize.
The secondary targets were a bit risky, too. Sure, they didn’t travel around with a phalanx of Royal Guards, but they were powerful ponies in their own right. Element bearers was just the first of their accomplishments. All of them were known to be cunning and resourceful; the pink one was rumored to be able to defy the very fabric of reality when she so chose.
But the tertiary targets—there was a plan. Three foals, none of them could use their powers yet, and we knew that anypony’s heart would bleed for them. We could set the ransom however high we wanted, and—
Which led us up to today.
The foalnapping had gone off without a hitch. Really, it was too easy. Scar had just dropped down on them with a small airship—borrowed from the Royal Hangars—and before he’d even begun his ‘free candy’ pitch, they’d jumped aboard.
There was a bit of a dicey moment when the pegasus tried to take the controls, but Peg-leg Pete offered them one look at the ballast control panel, and their eyes lit up like . . . well, like the ballast control panel.
And then the ship was at cloud height, and they couldn’t have gotten off even if they’d wanted to.
The transfer went off mostly without a hitch—it was harder to corral them than we’d imagined. The pegasus was easy enough; she was just staring out at the clouds passing by. Scar dropped a bag over her head easy as you please.
The unicorn weren’t much trouble, either. She was sittin’ by herself, running her hoof across the floorboards. Seemed kinda lost without her friends to tell her what to do. I think she’s a little slow.
It was the earth pony that was the biggest challenge. She’d somehow got herself up in the rigging—shinnied up a rope, most like—and was galavantin’ around topsides like she didn’t have a care in the world. Never mind that a fall from that height’d left nothing but a stain on the ground. Peg-leg Pete—bless his heart—convinced her that everyone else was playing pin-the-tail-on-the-pony and got a bag over her head. Spun her around a few times, and watched her stagger right across the gangway onto the other airship.
And then we got them back to the lair, neat as you please. Tossed them into their cell. Sent a letter to Ponyville demanding ransom. Sent a hooffull of hair off of each, just to prove we had ‘em. They didn’t like that too much . . . except for the unicorn. She said something about cutie marks, all three cheered, and then they were cuttin’ their own hair off.
That was this afternoon. Now it’s roundabouts midnight, and I’ve never been so scared in my life.
Them three are demons. They belong back in Tartarus. Five minutes—five everloving minutes—and they were out of their cell. Don’t know how. I barred the door myself.
The airship’s gone. The unicorn accidentally set it on fire. While using the engine to make toast.
The earth pony re-organized our lair. By re-organized, I mean destroyed. She knocked down all the walls, presumably with the intent of putting them back up again in some other order. However, before she could, the lumber was confiscated by the pegasus, who had an inkling to build a really cool scooter park. She even convinced the earth pony to help her.
Scar fled before the frame of the airship had cooled. I don’t blame him. Peg-leg Pete, bless his heart, stayed until the pegasus suggested it would be cooler if he pretended to be a helpless stallion, tied to a Catherine Wheel covered in fireworks. How the hay did they get fireworks?
So now I’m barricaded in my office, trying to dig my way out the other side of the mountain before they find me. Celestia help me, I think I hear scraping outside my door.
It had probably been a nice sign once—as nice as warning signs ever are, anyway. It was made of white-enameled steel, and the block letters had been neatly hoof-painted in a brilliant red. But time took her toll, and now there were trails of rust down the sign. The lettering had faded to a dried-blood maroon, with the brush marks clearly visible.
More recently, the final ever had been added—this was scrawled crudely across the bottom of the sign, written in soft coal held in a filly’s uncertain aura. She had picked up the sign, which had been lying face-down on the scarred soil, and propped it back up, then added her post-script.
The sign had been fairly well-protected, so that it was still somewhat legible. The rock face had not been; thus the names that the filly had written next to the sign were lost forever, erased from the stone as if they had never been. Perhaps that was well, for such was the nature of time. Memories fade, so it might be right for the memorials of those who have passed to fade, too.
The colt knew none of this. He had been out playing in the woods, alone. A rousing game of hide-and-seek had ended abruptly when his companion’s parents had called them home for dinner, leaving him to his own devices. He didn’t much mind; he often found the company of other ponies nearly intolerable. He wanted to be an explorer, like Daring Do—they wanted to play their silly games. Sure, they could pretend . . . but pretending never found them anything new in the park, except for the lost clasp from Sweetie Belle’s saddlebags. Rarity had made them for Sweetie’s cute-cenera, all those years ago.
He’d happened to glance down into the woods, and the light had been just right, and he’d seen a path. It wasn’t much of a path—it was the memory of a path. He knew that nature abhorred straight lines, though, and there was one right in front of him.
Curious, he pushed his way through the shrubs that surrounded the park. He wondered how he’d never seen it before.
It ran off north of town, curving to the west as it went. He occasionally saw small signs of ponycraft at his hooves—a splintered baulk of timber, adz marks still vaguely visible, a rusty spike, and the occasional soft black rock. He didn’t know what those were, for he’d never seen coal before. He’d picked one up in his mouth, grimaced at the taste, and promptly spit it back out.
It was a grand adventure. There had been ponies here once, and now there were not. It was like discovering an ancient civilization. Each artifact was mentally catalogued, and he vowed to come back with saddlebags and pick them up.
He’d gone farther than he’d intended. His quick look into the woods had turned into an idea of just getting up to the next stand of aspen and seeing what was there . . . before too long, he’d walked nearly five miles into the woods.
The rumbling in his stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and should probably get home sooner rather than later. He was about to turn around . . . but just up ahead at the top of a small rise, a delectable patch of thistles beckoned to him.
He cantered up to them and greedily buried his muzzle into the delectable purple flowers, biting their heads off one-by-one until he’d denuded the entire patch. A whisper of the wind carried a metallic bang to his ears, and he turned in surprise at the source of the noise.
• • •
He walked the streets of a long-abandoned town, his eyes wide with wonder. It was obvious that most of the usable materials in the town had been salvaged for other projects, but the shells of small homes still lined an overgrown street, their roofs and windows long gone. A more-substantial stone building still stood in the center of the abandoned town, and a line of tracks—narrower than any he’d ever seen—pointed like an arrow up to a small rock wall, where a dark hole beckoned.
He trotted alongside the rails, stopping to examine a string of small hoppers. The hoppers were filled with the same black rocks he’d seen on the path to the ghost town. Whatever that rock was, somepony had wanted it very much—enough to build all of this. He grinned. It was probably valuable, and it had just been left behind. He would take a small one back with him. He’d go to the jeweler’s, and see what he could get for it. Then . . . then, he would come back here. He’d find them all, all the oily black rocks that were scattered about.
He looked up at the yawning entrance. The rails led there; it was obvious where the black rocks had come from. There’d be more left inside. Bigger ones, he was sure.
He wasn’t sure how it had happened, but he had reached the rock face. Behind him, the empty town spread out in the small valley. Ahead of him, richness beckoned.
For a moment, a voice in his head urged caution. The cave would be dark, and he had no candles, no lamp, no nothing. But he could go in just a little ways, have a look around . . . there was some light that would come in through the entrance, he was sure.
He took a step inside. Then another. Tool marks on the wall showed where ponies had scratched at the rock to prise loose its treasure. Dry, splintery supports bowed under the weight of the earth.
He glanced down once at a small white rectangle, propped against the wall of the mine. There were markings on it . . . just like the signs and posters around town. He considered it carefully, before he looked back down into the mine.
The sign said, "Do Not Enter. Ever." Too bad the colt couldn't read.
Have you ever woken up in a strange place with no idea how you got there? It’s a pretty unpleasant feeling, let me tell you. It’s hard not to panic.
Now, imagine that you’re not only in a strange place, but you’re in a strange body. I did what anyone would do. I ran around screaming for a good long while, before collapsing, curling into a fetal position, and crying my eyes out.
I’m not sure it helped my situation, but at least it didn’t attract any unwanted attention.
I finally stood back up and decided to do the mature thing, and re-assess my position. To do that, I’d first have to see what changes had been wrought. I still had four legs, and I could feel my ears and tail responding, so whatever had changed me hadn’t been too cruel.
Everything seemed . . . bigger, though. From a distance, the forest looked the same as it always had but . . . oh horseapples, the forest! I’m in the Everfree forest!
I had to get out, before something worse happened. My granny had told me—in no uncertain terms—that anypony who goes into the Everfree never comes back out! I hoped she was wrong . . . but some strange transformation magic had already corrupted my body. It might already be too late.
I galloped in what I hoped was the right direction, my stupid new legs covering only a fraction of the ground I should have been able to cover. Still, it wasn’t a total loss; I was able to race under fallen trees that I would have had to jump over in my former body.
The howling of a distant predator froze me for an instant, before I leapt at a tree and scrabbled my way up to safety. I couldn’t climb trees before, I thought. That was small consolation. Once I reached a safe crutch in the tree, I noticed that my formerly beautiful tail had been replaced with a length of fluffy rope. Batting a hoof in the direction of my mane, I was distressed to discover that it had vanished entirely; even worse, a glimpse at my hip revealed no cutie mark. I had totally lost my identity.
A closer howl reminded me that I might lose more than that. I clutched the branch tightly and tried to blend in.
I spent the rest of the night in that stupid tree. It was cold and uncomfortable. A pony—even a former pony—should not sleep in a tree. But the new dawn gave me some small hope: I was still alive, and seeing the sunrise oriented me. I knew which way Ponyville was, so at least I could go back home. It would be safe there, and the librarian—Twilight Sparkle—would know what had happened to me, and could change me back.
The first part of the morning—rather longer than I’d like to admit—was spent descending the tree. Getting up it had been easy; getting back down turned out to be an entirely different affair. I almost fell several times before figuring out I had to descend rump-first in a kind of controlled fall. That’s not fair; squirrels can see where they go when they descend trees, I thought. But I finally got all four paws on the ground, and trotted off towards the east. Towards Ponyville.
When I reached the road, I breathed a sigh of relief. That lasted all of one second. My feet slipped out from under me and I began sliding uncontrollably down the road—which was now made of soap. I crashed in a heap at the bottom of the hill, dodged a group of stampeding bunnies on stilts, and fell into a puddle of chocolate milk.
Shaking off my coat as best I could, I looked wide-eyed into what my home had become. Houses floated upside-down in the sky and ponies ran around in a panic. It was worse than the parasprites. What happened?
I wove my way through the now-unfamiliar streets, hoping to find an answer at the library. Something had happened there, too: there was a gigantic hole in the wall. Through it, I heard Twilight ordering Spike. “Pack our bags. We’re leaving.”
My ears flattened. If Twilight was leaving, there was no hope. I was stuck like this forever. I would spend the rest of my days as . . . a cat.
"Do you hear that?" The mare nudged her companion. “The G-string is flat.”
“Huh?” The unicorn stopped bobbing her head for a moment. “The what is what?”
Octavia glared over at Vinyl. “The G-string on the second cello is flat. About a quarter step.”
“Huh.” Vinyl squinted at the stage, in the general direction of the cellos. They were hard to see, even if the ponies playing them were standing—they were kind of in the back. She’d agreed to go to this Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant or concert or whatever it was the the Royal Canterlot Philharmonic Orchestra was playing at as a favor to her marefriend. She had not expected that a philharmonic orchestra had so many instruments. She knew that the quartets that Octavia usually played in were an atypically small group, of course, but she’d assumed that a classical band had—at most—twelve ponies. How many more could be needed? At least she hadn’t said that to Octavia. “You know, once you hear it, you can’t really un-hear it.”
Octavia shifted in her seat. “I hope she tunes it before the intermezzo.”
"Do you hear that?" The stallion knocked his hoof on the wall. “That dull thud’s the hallmark of good construction. They don’t build ‘em like that anymore.”
“Yes, dear,” his wife replied, rolling her eyes out of his sight. Ever since reading through the latest Daring Do adventure, her husband had fancied himself an expert on architecture, especially in Canterlot. He’d put dents in half the furniture at home, and nearly gotten himself kicked out of his in-laws house when he accidentally knocked through a newly-plastered wall.
“Nowadays, it’s all shoddy craftsponyship. It—”
“Will you shut up?” A orange-vested construction pony stuck her head over the wall. “By Celestia, we poured this wall yesterday. Don’t you recognize a Noble Pegasus’s Pizza Parlor when you see one under construction?”
"Do you hear that?"
“That, Daring Do, is the sound of inevitability. That is the sound of your demise.”
“Cut! Somepony go check on the dragon.”
“Did that sound good? Should I emphasize ‘inevitability?’ or just leave it flat?”
“Try emphasizing the ‘thats.’ See how it sounds.”
“Reset and try again . . . everypony in place? On three. One . . . two . . . three!”
"Do you hear that?" That, Daring Do, is the sound of inaudibility. That is . . . oh, ponyfeathers.”
"Do you hear that?" The mare nudged her companion. “The bass drum is late.”
“What?” The grey pony stopped bobbing her head for a moment.
Vinyl glared over at Octavia. “The bass drum is late.”
“THE BASS DRUM IS LATE! Oh, to Tartarus with it.” She slapped the console with her hoof. “I said, the bass drum is late. She’s just off the beat.“
“Oh. I heard that. I thought the bass drum was in 12:8 time, while the rest of the band was in 4:4.”
“What?” Vinyl looked perplexed.
“Well, it sounds to me like he’s playing triplets with rests on the first and third eighth-note of each, but since that would be silly to write out, he’s in 12:8, playing rest, beat, rest, and so on. It—”
Vinyl looked at her incredulously.
“No, you know what, this is Unicorn Kid. The bass drum is probably late.”
“Yeah. Now listen to this wicked drop.” Vinyl unmuted the console.
"I don't even know what that means,” she said. The words were easy to understand, but that tone...
“That’s the problem with Germane,” I replied. “It’s all compound words . . . but they all sound angry. Remember when we were practicing the language? Wo bist du?”
She giggled: just the reaction I’d been hoping for. “Yeah. I mean . . . ja.”
“Excellent, mein frauline. Du hast ein geschenk.”
“No. I mean, nein. Sie haben ein geschenk.” She laughed again; music to my ears.
• • •
The trip had started out badly. A missed connection in Prance had forced us to decide between spending the night in a shoddy motel, or at the train station hoping against hope that the snow storms blowing across the continent wouldn’t delay the express train. I’d wanted to wait . . . but the look on her face told me that a night in a second-rate hotel was better than a night on a station platform.
While she was in the shower, I resisted the urge to call the station and get an update on the train. I almost—almost—asked the next morning if it had gone through reasonably on time. But the memory of the night before stopped me—who was I to question what had turned into a very good night indeed? Certainly we wouldn’t have had the same freedom on the train.
Afterwards, as we lay back on the saggy double bed, she whispered in my ear how much she’d loved it. I wiped a stray bit of cream off her lips before I kissed her. “Me, too, babe. Nopony makes eclairs like the Prench. Who knew a cafe would be open this late?”
The good mood had come crashing down the next afternoon. The train had left the station late, but—no doubt due to an obsession with the Germanes being in ordnung, it had arrived at the platform precisely on time. Our luggage was efficiently off-loaded, and we were left to our own devices on the streets of Riesen-Pferd. Since it was a bit chilly, my wife and I were both wearing our cloaks.
The ponies there were nice enough—although, like most Germanes, they sounded angry whenever they spoke. They lacked the hospitality of the Prench or the generosity of the Shetlanders . . . still, everything was tidy, and the populace was frustratingly law-abiding. The signs had been neat . . . but I’d screwed up, mis-translating a street sign. I blamed it on the way they’d run words together into long, almost incomprehensible compound words.
As the day wore on, we’d wound up in a small park, rather than our hotel. The centerpiece seemed to be a fountain featuring a small herd of ponies standing with their right forehoof extended. A strange, cabalistic symbol had been carved in place of their cutie mark. My wife took off her cloak and draped it across a bench, enjoying the afternoon sun.
Other ponies that came into the park mimicked the extended-forehoof motion, eying us with suspicion. My wife finally tucked her wings in tight, which seemed to help the mood a little bit.
The first two ponies I’d asked for directions had just glared at me and not spoken. One of them had the decency to shake his head; the second spit at my hooves. I finally became a bit uncomfortable at the crowd that was gathering, and we took flight away from the mob of unicorns.
We retraced our route and arrived back in the central part of town. There sure weren’t many pegasi around. There was a newsstand featuring with prominently-displayed copies of Der Spiegel; a large gathering of unicorns in the cover photo were all making the forehoof-salute at a unicorn dressed in a military-style blouse.
“Do you know the way to the Im Falschen Ort Zur Falschen Zeit Hotel?” I asked hopefully.
“In der Hölle brennen,” he said, pointing up the street. “In der Hölle brennen.”
My wife flipped through her phrase book before giving a cute shrug of her wings. “I don’t even know what that means.”
My girlfriend glared back at me. Well, maybe girlfriend is the wrong term to use. I guess fillyfriend would be right—at least, now.
We were both bronies. Not the weirdly obsessed kind, who had a virtual army of MLP ponies in their bedroom, or the kind who lurked around fanfiction sites. Sure, I had a Derpy toy—who doesn’t want one of those?—but that was as far as it went. We watched the show, we occasionally looked at nice, SFW pictures on Equestria Daily, and speculated on whether Twilight would lose some of her adorkableness now that she was an alicorn. I’m pleased to say that the season premier showed that she kept it all.
Oh, and I might as well admit that I had—on some occasions—viewed a bit of clop. Just a teeny bit. A few images here and there. At first, it had been an accident (damn you, Google). Still, it wasn’t like I secretly wanted to . . . well, you know. With a pony.
Why would I? I had a cute girlfriend who also liked ponies. What more could a boy want?
Well, maybe a little action. Something more than kisses and hugs, if you know what I mean.
Still, it was mostly good. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle with a cute blonde in front of a TV? Who wouldn’t be envious that she hugged me tightly during the Nightmare Moon flashback? Or that she’d baked cookies beforehand? Yup, my life was pretty much perfect.
And then we fell through the portal. God, you’d think someone would have put caution tape around it, or something.
I should have known from Equestria Girls that anyone going through the portal into Equestria is going to turn into a pony. Both Twilight and Sunset Shimmer were proof of the opposite reaction, anyway.
• • •
As soon as I managed to get to my feet—sorry, hooves—I looked around in wonder. I’d like to say that I figured out how to stand pretty quickly, but that would be a lie. It’s nothing like crawling; for starters, it seemed like half the joints in my arms and legs bent the wrong way. Just standing up was a major production.
A feminine yelp next to me got my attention. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one who’d gone through the portal. My girl was also a pony, now, and she was having just as much trouble as I’d been having getting to her hooves.
Naturally, being the gentleman—gentlepony—that I am, I helped her to her hooves, before pointing off towards the Crystal Castle. “I hope that Princess Cadance is really there, and I hope that she can really help us. And I hope that they speak English.”
“I just hope that they’ve got something warm. Are you chilly? I feel a little drafty.” She took a couple of hesitant steps forward and froze. Both of us looked at each other for a moment, wide-eyed. I glanced down under my chest, then back up at her.
She snapped her tail down, but it was too late. The damage had been done. I looked at her hopefully. “Come on, we’re natives now. Show a little . . . uh, plot.” I reached a hoof towards her.
The streets of Canterlot are mostly deserted, which is a blessing.
Her hoofbeats ring out in the still night air. She wishes she could muffle them, but she cannot. Perhaps it is for the best, as it gives warning of her passage to other ponies—ponies who might be trampled underhoof if they were to cross the street unaware.
Still, deserted does not equal empty. She is forced to detour around a small cluster of unicorn laborers, who look open-mouthed as she passes. One of them drops a brick, and the others snap their heads around at the loud crash it makes as it breaks on the cobbles.
She skids around a corner, gains a little bit of speed on a long downhill straightaway—only to be cut off by a deliverypony with a wagonload of barrels. He stops right in the middle of the street, forcing her to make a hard choice—ease her pace and go around him, or jump the wagon?
But it really isn’t a choice. She’s already late—far later than she should be—and she simply cannot miss her appointment. She adjusts her stride, and leaps over the wagon.
Down a side street, and then into a park. She knows it’s a little bit quicker, and there won’t be anypony in the park to impede her passage this early in the morning.
The dirt paths are more comfortable under her hooves. There’s something honest about dirt that the unicorns who built Canterlot have forgotten. She kicks up clods of earth as she passes, and mutters a silent apology to the poor pony who will have to rake the path smooth in the morning.
A small trail branches off the main path, and she turns down it. It will allow her to bypass the new fountain that is the centerpiece of the park. The moonlight makes the trees look strange and sinister, but she has no fear of them. There are no living monsters in Canterlot anymore.
The path ends at a low stone wall, which she clears easily. She is now in the high-class business district of Canterlot. Darkened jewelery stores and fashion stores line both sides of the street. The soft glow of the crystal streetlights illuminates some of the display cases, sending rainbow flashes across her vision.
Around a corner, and she’s back on the main street. There’s a proposal in the Nobles’ Council to change the name of the street, but she’s always been partial to ‘Castle Way.’ Simple and to the point. Banners in honor of the Summer Sun Celebration hang high overhead, strung by pegasi between the buildings. Yesterday, there was a parade which went all the way to the castle steps. Her heart had swelled with pride as rank after rank of guards marched through the streets, bookended by two marching bands. Showmares had done tricks for the crowd, and earth ponies had passed out candies. In the afternoon, a group of pegasi had performed stunts over the city.
She gallops down the street, a one-mare parade. There is no marching band in front of her.
She takes the steps into the castle courtyard two at a time. As soon as she reaches the top, she turns to the east, rushing through the statue garden without a moment’s hesitation. There are some who remember why there’s a statue of a draconequus in the garden and who think it’s foolhardy to have it there—so close to the castle. So close to the Princess.
She thinks it’s better to have it under watchful eyes than hidden away.
The hedge maze isn’t her first choice of destination, but the large open field alongside the castle is filling up with ponies, all waiting for the sunrise. They will delay her, and she cannot afford to be delayed.
She keeps close to the neat-trimmed outer wall of the maze. It blurs by her as she moves, almost as fast as the wind. This is the fastest she’s run in many years, and it’s a liberating feeling. She can dimly hear the noise of the gathered ponies, talking among themselves. They don’t know what to expect, as this is the first time Celestia will raise the summer sun—but they all expect something wonderful, and a small part of her wishes she could be with them, watching with the same wide-eyed wonder they are. But she cannot.
She finally clears the maze and rushes through one of the many flower gardens that surround the castle. A pegasus gardener watches in amazement as she pauses under a small raincloud to rinse off her coat. She smiles up at him pleasantly. She does so love the gardens, and it’s nice to see that they are well cared-for. It was not so many years ago that pegasi and earth ponies weren’t welcome in Canterlot, but that has changed. Many things have changed, most of them for the better.
She covers the final stretch easily. A screen of trees hides her from the massive crowd, which is good. She’s grateful that she’d planned for that from the beginning.
She finally reaches her destination. It’s not much to look at: a set of hastily-constructed wooden stairs, rising up the hillside to a wooden platform. Temporary bracing is visible even in the moonlight, and the wood’s still green. Nevertheless, the treads are smooth and splinter-free, which is a blessing.
She steps lightly up the stairs and onto the small platform.
She is not late. She is, in fact, precisely on time. She allows herself a moment to gather her thoughts before stepping forward.
She is just behind a stage flat, nestled between two diagonal braces. She’s completely hidden from the crowd. She can hear them all out there, and wonders just how many ponies came to see the Princess raise the sun.
She takes a deep breath, lights her horn and stretches her wings and rises above the flats.
This is a well-known fact around Ponyville. It’s frequently the topic of conversation, as nopony knows what use twenty four rooms in a house would have. Conversations often hinge around the purpose of each room in the mansion. It’s assumed that Mr. Rich and Diamond Tiara each have their own bedroom and their own bathroom; some ponies believe that Mrs. Rich has her very own bathroom, as well. Naturally, no mansion is complete without a kitchen, dining room, foyer, ballroom, and living room of some sort. It’s assumed that Mr. Rich has a study, and there may or may not be a private library. However, a simple count would indicate that is only around a dozen rooms.
Debate continues on what does or does not count as a room, but that’s really irrelevant. The fact is, there are twenty-four of them. Naturally, somepony needs to clean every one of those rooms—except the kitchen. The kitchen is the duty of the cook, who will allow nopony into her domain.
I know twenty-three of the rooms intimately, more intimately than even the Rich family. I have been into every nook and cranny of every one of those rooms with a mop and dustcloth. I have cleaned every pane of every window in the house, inside and out.
I know where every bit and bauble in the mansion is located. I know that Diamond Tiara has exactly 257 dolls, and I even know what order to put them in. She is very upset if they are out of order.
This was not a bad job. I wish to stress that I enjoyed the job very much, from the time before Diamond was born, throughout her foalhood, and through most of her education. I enjoyed the job until yesterday afternoon, in fact, when I quit suddenly.
I usually did a little tidy-up in Diamond’s room right before she got back from school. It was kind of a routine for me—major cleaning was done on Moon’s Day, as she had spent the weekend messing up her room. For the rest of the week, there was little enough to do, except for a quick tidy-up. I nosed the door, expecting to just have to neaten her bed, straighten out her desk, and be done.
The door was locked, which was odd. Of course, I had a key. When I pushed the door open, I heard an odd scuffling from inside, but the thing which caught my attention immediately was a large crate in the center of the room. One side had been pried off, and splintered boards were strewn about the floor haphazardly.
I levitated the crate and all the boards out into the hallway. I could deal with those later. I was curious what had come in the crate—and who the idiot deliveryponies had been that had just left it in the room like that—for there was nothing new in the room.
Strangely, her bedspread was also gone. She’d had a habit of hiding her covers when she was a foal and still wet the bed occasionally, but that was long ago. The rumpled sheets were still on the bed, so that was an unlikely theory.
Sighing at the confusing behavior of young mares, I opened the closet intending to find another bedspread. Whatever had happened to the other was none of my business anyway.
Inside her closet, in the very back—beyond her formal dresses and saddles—the comforter was draped across some large . . . something. With a exasperated huff, I grabbed it off with my telekenesis and pulled it towards myself. I took one step back out of the closet before I realized that there was some kind of . . . creature hidden under the blanket. It had skin like a pig, but weird monkey arms.
I flung the blanket back at it and slammed the door shut, just as Diamond walked into the room.
“What’s all the commotion?”
“Get back, miss! There’s a monster in your closet!”
“Pfft.” She waved a hoof at me. “That’s just a human. Lyra was talking about how all the cool ponies had them as pets, so I asked daddy and he got me one. It came this morning, but I didn’t have any time to play with it before school.”
She boldly walked into the closet and with some scuffling and a meaty thump, coaxed it out. It was clutching the blanket around itself with one hand, while the other rubbed its backside.
“See? Nothing to worry about. You just have to hit it a couple of times, and it cooperates.” She grinned at me. “I’m sure you’ll have no trouble with it.”
“Well, I have to go to school, so somepony will have to take it on walks and give it baths. And feed it too, I suppose.” Her eyes hardened. “You have to, ‘cause you’re my maid.”
“Not anymore.” I tossed the feather duster on the floor. “I’ll have nothing to do with this monster.”
“I’ll tell daddy!” She shouted as I left. “He’ll fire you.”
“He can’t,” I said smugly. “I already quit. Good day, miss.”