Plucking off the headphones situated on her small, flat-screen television, Rainbow Dash leaned forward to slip the bright white and electric blue headphones onto her head, slightly stirring up her already scruffy polychromic mane more. One moment, her ears could detect the sounds around the cellar’s small room, the near-perpetual rumble of the small air conditioner used to fend off the early summer heat, the clicks of the charcoal computer chair as the wheels underneath shifted the chair to conform to its cyan-colored inhabitant’s movements, the lively hum of her Ybox singing a sweet melody that would entail enjoyment, laughter, and, most importantly, ponies being crushed under her hardhearted hooves; and then the next, nothing but muffled noises she couldn’t make out. The deep cobalt blue cushions of the headphones’ earpieces slipped to a large extent down her face from its intended station. Rainbow openly let out a curse as she ripped them off her head. With her hoof, she pushed the earpieces back into their comfortable position. When she was sure they would stay in place this time, Rainbow Dash shoved the damnable things back onto her head, slowly retracting her hooves supporting the earpieces, and breathed a thankful sigh of relief when they actually held their place.
“We’re going to have to get you a new one, aren’t we?” said the voice of a mare, the tinges of solemnity subtly guiding her words.
Dash swiveled in her chair to regard her pink cohort, whose own poofy mane was partially contained by the band of her hot pink headphones. “Yeah, I think so. Though, I’m gonna miss her.” She fondly stroked the snow-white band hugging the top of her cranium, directing an affectionate gaze to the headphones as doting memories of her time with them flickered past her mind’s eye. “She was my first,” she simply stated.
Pinkie Pie placed a sympathetic hoof on her friend’s foreleg and smiled lightly. “Don’t worry; we’ll get the girls together and hold a funeral for Blanca.”
Rainbow Dash matched the smile while a little voice in her head chided her for getting teary-eyed over a pair of headphones. She swung around in her chair to face her television, digging through the small shelf of game cases sorted out in no particular order before grabbing the one she needed. The case’s artwork depicted a blocky stallion wielding an equally blocky, teal-colored pickaxe. He was surrounded by a plethora of pixilated creatures, both malicious and passive, which included a silvery wolf sporting a crimson collar, a brown and grey cow, and a saddled pig. Also, a larger-than-life spider with soul-piercing red eyes; a zombie pony with the look of death and hunger for flesh reflecting in its empty eyes; a bony skeleton Unicorn armed with a drawn bow in its grimly grey magical grip; and another monster that was the aching bane of every player of the game, a blocky creature standing upright on four legs, two in the front and two in the back, with patches of sundry shades of green dotting its body. Its black mouth hung limply in a permanent grimace; and its evil eyes were but dual, empty pits of torture and despair, for the second any player who was to be fortunate to make eye contact with those soulless eyes in-game was definitely their last. Although most weren’t so lucky, only able to comprehend the hateful hiss filling their ears before an explosion and everything fading to black (or red with the stone-colored slates appearing on-screen, carrying the choices of respawning or exiting the game).
A duet of plastic cases popping open sounded in the room as both Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash pulled out the little silver discs reading “Minecraft: Ybox Edition” and placed them into their respective systems’ trays. A small slap from Pinkie sent hers retracting back into the Ybox while Rainbow elected the much gentler way of simply pushing the button. Picking up their controllers, they scrolled through their messages, looking for that one game invite that they were promised.
“I don’t see Lyra’s invite. Do you?” Rainbow Dash asked as her magenta eyes scanned, rescanned, and re-rescanned her messages for the gamer pic of a chocolate cake before turning them to Pinkie, who just shook her head, throwing her unruly, bubblegum-colored curls every which way.
Rainbow Dash sighed, swiped her phone from the desk, and sent a text to Lyra asking her what was going on, though using more…colorful words. She leaned back in her chair, resting her white controller and her phone encased in sky blue on the oak computer desk set before her.
* * *
Across town, a panicked, sharp scream emanated from a two-story house with a wood-carved sign reading “Bon Bon’s Confectionaries” dangling from a chain just above another wood-carved sign that read “Open.” In the second floor apartment’s living room, a mint-green Unicorn was on the verge of an emotional breakdown as her Ybox offered her the disappointing message that the internet connection had been…disconnected.
Lyra whimpered from the lavender couch as she softly tossed the controller in her magical grip and the headphones on her head onto the cushion beside her and stood up on all fours, briskly trotting over to the television stand. Using her magic, she pulled the bulky black box off the middle shelf and examined the backside. All except one of the black wires was still connected, snaking from the system to the back. Looking to the back of the shelf, Lyra could see the cable and the culprit behind its detachment—a quite fluffy yellow tabby, innocently licking his paw to clean his ears.
Lyra’s eye twitched briefly at the cat before a low growl came from between her clenched teeth. She forced the stand aside with her magic before dragging the feline out with the cat bawling in Lyra’s aura. Lyra held the cat up to her face in fuming scrutiny. The cat had her tail between her legs and a grumpy expression, her blue eyes narrowing in a glare Lyra was more than happy to return.
“Bonnie!” the mare barked, turning around to head downstairs with the guilty party levitating beside her. She flung the door to the stairs open as hard as she could and stormed down into the shop area of the building. Lyra took a minute to scan the shop for Bon Bon, noticing ponies she knew that waved to her, but frowned when they saw the livid scowl sprawled across her face and the magically flying cat. Finally catching the Earth mare across the room with her back toward the rest of the room, talking to Blossomforth, Lyra stomped over to her lover, bearing a grimace as she passed customers who did nothing but cock a brow in her direction.
“Hey, Lyra,” Blossomforth said when Lyra stopped behind Bon Bon, her head lowering timidly.
“Hello, Blossomforth,” Lyra replied impassively as Bon Bon spun around. “Steal anypony’s park bench lately?”
Blossomforth opened her mouth, but Bon Bon cut her off. “Lyra! She apologized for that, and we agreed to let bygones be bygones!” Bon Bon noticed her new cat floating irritably in Lyra’s mystic grip and heaved an exhausted sigh. “What’d she do now?”
“She unplugged the internet from the Ybox again,” Lyra answered, pressing her green nose against the cat’s pink nose. The cat hissed aggressively and took a swipe at Lyra’s face, missing the ducking mare by a whisker. Lyra flashed a “See what I mean?” sort of look to Bon Bon while holding the demon cat a distance from her.
“Well, first, you know Sweet Plum doesn’t like it when you hold her with magic,” Bon Bon said, plucking the angry cat from the field of magic and placing her on Lyra’s back. Sweet Plum sat down and resumed her earlier venture to bathe herself. “Just put her in the bathroom for now if you’re going to play games with the girls.”
Lyra didn’t say anything. She nodded to Bon Bon and Blossomforth—who had been looking on with a most shy case of curiosity—turned, and returned back upstairs. She dumped Sweet Plum into the bathroom, shutting the door tightly behind her, hurdled the back of the couch to reconnect the cable to the Ybox, and began sending invites to the other five.
From the coffee table, a short jingle consisting of the plucking of a harp played as Lyra’s phone vibrated. Lyra picked it up, holding it out in front of her, and saw it was a text from Rainbow Dash.
WTF lyra? Wheres our invites?
Rolling her eyes, Lyra pressed “Reply.”
* * *
Dash’s phone vibrated against the wood of her desk. She quickly picked it up as she raised her tired head from the very same desk and read the text without even looking to see who it was.
Sorry. Bonnie’s new cat Sweet Plum got behind the TV stand again and unplugged the internet cord. Just sent the invite.
Rainbow Dash sighed. “Okay, Pinkie, Lyra had some pussy problems and we should be getting the invite any m—”
A gleeful, shrill screech rang through the air, piercing the muffled tranquility of Dash’s headphones as Pinkie shook with delight in her custom-made pink computer chair, expelling her joy by clapping her hooves together at the request from Lyra to join her in a game of Minecraft. Dash shot a glare toward her friend.
“Do you have to do that every time you get an invite?” Rainbow Dash asked with the threads of irritation woven into her question.
A succession of vigorous nods and a set of curls bouncing uncontrollably answered her inquiry while Pinkie kept her eyes glued to the small TV in front of her to accept the invite. “Dashie, I spend every other day giving out invitations to parties, bashes, celebrations, festivities, shindigs, gatherings, merrymakings…”
“Those are all the same thing,” Rainbow commented.
“…baby showers, bridal showers, dinner parties, barbecues…”
“Ponies don’t normally eat meat….”
“…bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, wedding, orgies…”
“…What?” Rainbow Dash barely said as she cocked a brow toward the back of her friend.
“…but I never, never, NEVER, get to feel the joy of getting invited to something myself. So whenever I DO get an invitation to something, I make the most of it.”
Rainbow said nothing as her mind made an effort to forget what she had heard. And when each endeavor failed just as miserably as the last, she simply turned and started up the game.
* * *
“Filly, I’m going to Berry Punch’s now,” Vinyl Scratch called to the kitchen from the front door of her and Octavia’s house. Everything about the mare was normal, with the exception of the concerned frown that had replaced the usual carefree smile. She turned to her better half, which was dumping a bag of cheese-flavored crackers into a purple plastic bowl in the kitchen. “Are you sure you don’t wanna go?”
Octavia nodded, tossing the empty bag into the trash from across the room. “I’m sure, Vinyl. I need to get a bit more practice before next week’s performance. You two go have fun.”
Vinyl eyed the suspicious bowl of crackers. “Since when do you eat crackers when you practiced? You always said no food or drink around your cello.”
“There’s a ‘Housewives of Manehattan’ marathon on tonight, and I’m going to watch a few episodes before and after I practice,” Octavia replied quickly.
“Why can’t you just record it? I mean, that’s why we bought the DVR, right?”
Octavia furrowed her brows and dryly said, “Vinyl, I can’t record it because somepony filled up the rest of the space recording a week’s worth of ‘Pimp My Carriage.’”
“Well, I’m sorry if I find Rim Job’s custom carriages appealing to me,” Vinyl defended excessively peevishly. “I haven’t been able to watch a lot of them since Pinkie’s been running me ragged all week with a crap-ton of parties. You know what?” Vinyl pulled out her phone from her saddlebags, “I’m just going to call Berry Punch and tell her I’m not coming so I can watch them.”
“NO!” Octavia screamed; and when Vinyl reared her head at her outburst, she cleared her throat and recovered her mannerly composure. “Just go on to Berry Punch’s, and we’ll take care of it when you get home.”
Vinyl looked Octavia up and down. “Okaaaaay,” she uttered hesitantly, “I’ll just go then. See ya later tonight.” Octavia held her breath as she watched Vinyl turn and proceed out the door. For half a minute, Octavia just stood there before speedily trotting over to the large bay window beside the front entrance. There was no sign of Vinyl anywhere outside, and Octavia released her breath in relief.
After grabbing her crackers and her phone, Octavia moved to her sanctum of the house, a small room beside the bedroom that housed her cello, amongst other things. Vinyl seized the basement of the house for herself and her “music,” so Octavia took a room for her own hobbies and her career, including her own little guilty pleasure.
The room was indeed small, only large enough to accommodate her cello and a music stand in the back of the room by the lone window. The afternoon sun shone through the silk navy blue curtains as Octavia advanced to the lone love seat resting by the door, facing a moderate-sized television and a bare coffee table. She laid the crackers and her phone on the coffee table, went over to the TV stand, and touched the buttons to awaken her babies from their slumber. The television flashed on; her Ybox began humming; and as she placed her headphones over her ears, a single thought passed through her mind:
“I wonder what Vinyl would think of me if she saw me like this?”
* * *
“Mommy, it’s five o’clock,” Dinky Hooves stated as she trotted into the kitchen and faced her mother, who was setting a fresh batch of blueberry muffins onto the counter, letting the fresh scent fill the air.
Derpy nodded to her daughter with a warm smile. “Thanks, muffin. When these cool down in a half-hour, you can go ahead and have one, okay?”
“Okay,” Dinky replied as she watched Derpy wash her hooves before walking into the living room of their little cottage. She followed, silently observing her mother pop a disc into the video game system and attempt to put on a pair of scarlet red headphones with a microphone. They were first backwards, with the microphone sticking out toward the back of her neck, before Derpy muttered a “Shoot!” and fixed them.
“Mom,” the filly began, “why do you play video games?”
Derpy gave an unbalanced gaze at her daughter, her right eye the only one to make eye contact. She redirected her look to the white controller in her hooves, mulling her answer previous to looking up to her only daughter with wide grin.
“Dinky, why do you read books?”
Dinky smiled a little as she proudly replied, “Because books contain some of the greatest adventures: fantasy stories of brave knights rescuing damsels in distress, who’d-done-it detective novels or the tales of treasures never before discovered.” Dinky raised a brow as the smile disappeared. “Why?”
“Well, for me, that’s what video games are, and then some, because I actually get to experience that adventure myself, to some extent. Understand?”
Dinky took a second to think it over and gave a nod complemented with a small smile.
“Good,” Derpy said as she picked up her controller and started the game. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got friends to go adventuring with.”
* * *
A single blob of cake, gracelessly flipping its wispy chocolate hair over its fluffy yellow body, flew through the air and splattered across the broadside of an overturned table in the private dining hall of Canterlot Castle. Carefully, Princess Luna poked her head out from behind her own cover, another overturned table across the room, glimpsing over to Cakebeard’s table. It was spotted copiously with more of the cake piece’s brethren, clinging to the tabletop by their frosting. A corner of Luna’s mouth twisted upwards in a lopsided grin.
“Surrender now, mighty Cakebeard!” she demanded loudly, yet not quite with the volume and rigor her Royal Canterlot Voice would bring. “If thou so shall, I shall leave thee with one of thy wings!”
There was a minor stillness in which nopony moved; even the bewildered staff of cooks and servants who had been watching the spectacle go on for the past half-hour remained motionless in suspense, eyes flickering between Princess Luna and the concealed Dread Pirate Cakebeard.
Luna’s request was answered, ending the silence abruptly as Cakebeard revealed herself and towered high over her cover, the respective red and yellow blotches of fallen ketchup and splattered mustard speckling and staining her once gleaming pinkish-white coat, sometimes even coexisting in the same area to create the occasional unnatural orange spot. A green leaf of lettuce was glued by a dab of mayonnaise to the orange phoebus on her plump left flank.
“NEVER!” bellowed the mad pony-pirate, hoisting jagged carrots and slices of pizza with mushrooms and bell peppers with the golden glow of her horn. “My crew, the crew of the Devil’s Food, shall have their cake and eat it, too!” The half-smile ripened into a wild grin on her muzzle. “And you shall pay for your insolence to my pastries!”
Luna only managed to duck behind her cover before the assault of carrots and pizza rained upon her, unremittingly pounding against her cover and bouncing off. With her magic, she gripped a piece of the three-tier cake, formerly the very definition of both beauty and perfection, the kind only fit for royalty, and flung it overhead, as if firing it from a mortar.
Surprisingly, the onslaught stopped, the thunks of offensive cuisines surrendering to a mortal quietness. Cautiously, Princess Luna crawled to the left edge of her table and peeked past to the villain’s covering. Her eyes widened upon the sight.
The piece of cake Luna shot aloft had arced and had landed onto Cakebeard’s left eye, caking a good deal of her muzzle, left ear, and mane with the milk chocolate frosting. Her right eye, the only eye still open, presented self-disappointed shock as it readjusted to look at her younger sister while she stood agape.
And then there was a chuckle, by Cakebeard herself, followed by another and another. Her stunned expression faltered at the hooves of her amusement, reforming into a wide smile as her golden-shoe-clad hoof rose to wipe away the dessert from her eye. She walked out from behind her cover and approached Luna, who had a similar merry air about her while standing up from her own cover.
“I apologize, Tia, I did not intend to strike you in the face.”
“Cakebeard” waved the apology off. “It’s quite all right, Luna. I do suppose we did take it just a bit too far anyhow. Besides,” she wiped a small glob of cake from her cheek, “that was a very accurate shot.”
Luna shrugged. “Only a lucky shot by the means of blind-fire.” Glancing at the wall clock behind her sister, Luna cringed as the clock struck two minutes after five.
“Um, Tia, normally I would be more than happy to assist the maid staff in cleaning this mess in which I had a hoof, but I have some prior commitments with some friends—” Luna was hushed by one of her sister’s hooves pressing against her lips. Celestia regarded her sister with kindness, bright eyes, and a grin. Wordlessly, she nodded and jerked her head to the hallway.
“Go. I will aid the servants in cleaning up our mess. You go and have fun with your friends,” Celestia said, sighing with delight the final word being directed to her Luna.
Luna nodded and moved quickly to embrace Celestia with her forelegs. “Thanks, Tia.”
“It’s no problem, Lulu,” Celestia replied, enfolding Luna with a wing to reciprocate the hug. The moment lasted only a second, ending it when Celestia broke from her sister. “Now go, they’re waiting.”
With a light up of her horn and a courteous bob of her head, Luna quickly teleported to her private chambers. She took the few moments to feed grasshoppers to Atticus, her cuddly black tarantula in a terrarium, before moving to her couch. It was a midnight black color and velvety to the touch, customized luxury only a princess could know. She sprawled across the entire length of the couch, sparking her horn to put the game disc into the tray, headphones over her ears, and her controller hovering out in front of her, all simultaneously. Within seconds, she accepted Lyra’s invite and began loading a game with five other players.
* * *
As Dash, Pinkie, Octavia, and Derpy spawned in different places within the same region of the map and Luna and Lyra spawned where they had saved the world, six messages appeared on screen:
SweetMelodies51 joined the game.
DshDestroyer354 joined the game.
PartyHard503 joined the game.
TrebleClef joined the game.
MuffinMuncher20 joined the game.
DreamWeaver joined the game.
And as soon as these appeared on the screen, everypony heard the same high-pitched, wired voice shout, “HI, EVERYPONY!!”
A quartet of “Hi, Pinkie,” followed, the others now partially deaf from the outburst.
“So, Lyra,” Rainbow Dash said as she—or rather her character, Daring Do—stood still right where she had spawned, in the middle of a snow-covered forest, “you said you and Luna built some stu—”
Suddenly, there was that telltale hiss, causing Dash to yell “AAH!” and attempt to flee. But it was too late. There was a loud “BANG!” as Dash’s screen turned red, with the words “You Died!” at the top in white and the options to leave the game or respawn floating just below it.
“Dammit!” Rainbow Dash yelled just as everypony else erupted into earsplitting, mirthful laughs as the notification reading DshDestroyer354 blew up. appeared on everypony’s screen. Rainbow Dash irritably tossed her controller onto her desk and covered her face with her hooves.
“Wow, Dash,” Lyra said around each snicker, “I think that’s a new record for you.”
“You know what, Lyra? Bite my furry blue flank,” Rainbow Dash snapped back as she picked up her controller and selected to respawn. Within a couple of seconds, she respawned—right in the middle of the crater of dirt the Creeper had created.
“Sorry, but my doctor said to avoid fat,” Lyra quipped.
“Buck you, Lyra. So, what are we supposed to do?”
“Hold on, the Princess and I have to get in place and then I’ll teleport y’all,” Lyra said, putting an unnecessary accent on her last word.
“Y’all?” Octavia repeated.
“Y’all.” Lyra affirmed.
“Howdy, y’all,” the voice of Applejack rang throughout everypony’s ears. Luna, Lyra, Octavia, and Derpy froze at the new voice, unexpectedly wary about its presence. Rainbow, however, turned to Pinkie Pie with a smirk. Pinkie gave a wink and, with just the right amount of twang, said, “How’d y’all like to buy some Sweet Apple Acres cider?”
“A-Applejack?” Derpy muttered.
Dash gave an amused snort as “Applejack” said, “Eeyup, that’s mah name.”
“Girls, I would like to introduce you to the Mare of a Thousand Wonders, Pinkie Pie,” Rainbow Dash introduced dramatically, as if she was the hype-mare of a magician…that is, if a magician needed a hype-mare. “And one of those wonders is that she can somehow impersonate anypony she meets.”
“Yeah-yeah!” Pinkie added in Rainbow’s voice rather than her own.
The others said nothing; they just went about their business, letting a silence fall amongst them. Derpy, who’s gruff biker pony skin named Francis spawned a little ways from Dash, began instinctively mining spruce wood from the nearby snow-crested trees and crafting them into planks, then into a crafting table and sticks, and then into a sword and pickaxe. Octavia, a professionally dressed Creeper in a crisp suit that didn’t want to sit in one place, began running toward the end of the icy biome, quickly approaching a sandy desert in the distance. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash met up for their usual game, which consisted of Pinkie crouching in front of Rainbow Dash, presenting the digital backside of her gator character to Dash while the rainbow destroyer alternated between a crouching stance and standing up, illustrating a provocative scene of Daring Do having her way with an alligator. Under normal circumstances, the highly esteemed princess of the nighttime world would join them in their little game, tag-teaming PartyHard503 the Alligator by mimicking Rainbow Dash’s movements with the groin of her (go figure) Nightmare Moon skin. However, Luna was occupied with assisting Lyra with setting up their secret to be unveiled, which took only a minute.
One by one, the host of the game began teleporting the others to her location in a forest of oak and birch. Roughly four blocks high, a hedge of mossy cobblestone stood and obstructed their view ahead while the grove’s thick brush overhead hindered their view in every other direction. An iron door, accompanied by a lone stone button, was placed into the wall, allowing everypony to see through the little window and look at a wild pig that, like the thousands of other passive mobs the girls had seen, looked as if it had poo-brains.
“Okay, fillies, gather ‘round,” Lyra directed, drawing the others around the Jack-of-Blades-skin-wearing lyrist. “So, since we’ve all gotten every achievement including ‘When Pigs Fly,’ I thought it would be nice to have a seed that we could use for games that we build, and in that seed would be the base of our operations, our very own, tailored village.”
“Wait, that’s what you have for us?” Rainbow Dash asked, disappointment and displeasure gilding her scratchy voice. “You and Luna just build some houses for us?”
“Oh, Dash, Dash, Dash,” Luna tut-tutted, “they are not just ‘some houses.’ They are customized and fitted to each of your personalities and your likings; such was Mrs. Heartstrings’ and my intentions prior to construction. We are confident that each of you will adore your own quarters in this server.”
“And without further ado, Luna and I would like to welcome you to your new homes.” Lyra pressed the button to open the door, and the six filed through to the other side. “Welcome to Pony Park!”
Everypony ooo’d and awe’d over the sight before them. Arranged in an angled semicircle, seven houses, each much more unlike and special than its neighbors, stood erect and pristine in the clearing of the forest that encased it. The perimeter of the area was marked by the same four-block-tall wall the girls just passed through, the tops of trees popping out above it. In the center of the square clearing, roughly a hundred blocks in diameter, was an eighth structure, made of clay brick. Dozens upon dozens of torches and glowstone were buried into the ground and placed against the walls of houses and the stone border surrounding the complex, surfeiting the area with a faint golden light in the setting sun.
The house on the far left looked nothing special at one’s first glance. It was made from typical brightly colored birch plank block, stood only a story high, and was topped by birch stairs to create a slanted roof. It did not boast a porch or a patio; only a set of cobblestone stairs complemented the exterior of the simple abode. However, through the glass pane windows one could see the blocks of pink wool coating the interior of the house. A goofy sign just outside the door read, “For the hardest of partiers.”
To its left, if looked upon with a level eye, was a tower of ladders connected to dirt blocks and a one-by-four pillar of water falling into a vanity pool. But as one traced the ladders upward, he or she would spot the residence approximately fifty meters in the sky, a large cloud of pure white wool holding what looked like a cloud palace enclosed in blocks of glass. Through a perfectly sized hole in the glass and wool, the waterfall exited the cloud and fell to the ground to feed the small pond. A sign stood proudly by the ladder, reading, “For the dashing destroyer.”
Next was a building of exquisite design. Fabricated generously from stacks of oak and spruce wood planks, the domicile had a strange yet intriguing architecture about it. The first two meters from the ground were reserved and made the eves of the roof jut out from the main wall more so than the other houses’. The eves were two blocks long on all sides of the house. Most of the building looked to be inside the roof, since it took up nearly three-quarters of it. In the roof itself was the occasional cube of lapis lazuli adorning the otherwise odd structure. Combining the contour of the house, the oak planks coloring the building the golden shade, with the spruce darkening the roof, which insinuated the impression that it was recently baked, and the lapis dotting the head of the house, the dwelling looked both up close and from a distance much like a blueberry muffin. A nearby sign happily displayed, “For the adorable muffin muncher.”
In the center of the neighborhood was a lone single-story building made of smooth stone. It had one door, completely lacking of any other details—no windows, no stairs, no comfort. And a peep through the door’s window only revealed an empty darkness devoid of any kind of hope. It wasn’t raised off the ground like the additional houses, unremarkable to everypony excluding its resident. “For the majestic weaver of dreams,” read an ordinary sign.
If the game’s yellow tetragon of a late afternoon sun could cast dark, perfectly angled shadows, a tall one would be sent over the plain building to the right of the next house; in fact, the edifice would have eclipsed every other house near it. If counting the pairs of windows served to be correct, the main portion of the stone brick building stretched to a lofty six stories high; but it didn’t end there. Rising up from the roof for at least another fifteen stories was a five-by-five pillar of simple cobblestone, seemingly racing the cloud house to the very apex of the world. At the summit of the tower, the girls could see a ring of glowstone built into the top row of blocks. Surrounded by blocks of pure gold, a sign beside the door read, “For the sweet-toothed musician.”
Second from the right was a homely little cottage about two stories high. It was made from bright birch planks and boasted a small porch and a chimney of red clay brick. It had a slanted roof, made from the same birch as the rest of the house. As did most of the others, window panes were placed in the wall to let the natural white light flow in from the sun. In size, one could estimate that it held the same dimensions as the house on the far left. It was wholesome, if unexceptional, and inviting, contrasting deeply with the cold stone building standing as the midpoint of the semicircle and the looming fortress next to it. Resting beside the door, a sign said, “For the bearer of the treble clef.”
At the very end of the half-circle of houses lay another cut down dwelling, made from oak planks. It was short, only a single story, and the only atypical thing about it were the roses, probably a whole stack of them, which completely covered the house’s lawn. It, too, had a sign by its doorstep that read, “And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain.”
“I’m guessing that one over to the right is Rose’s,” Rainbow Dash said, regarding the creators of their village.
“Yep. She volunteered to referee some of the games Luna and I have ideas for, so we made her a house,” Lyra answered. “And before you ask, the one in the middle is the communal enchanting hut with a Nether portal in the basement. So, how do you girls want to do this? Do each of you want to go explore your own first or—” Lyra stopped herself when Octavia, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie, and Derpy all ran off, leaving her and Luna in a cloud of dust as everypony heard Derpy yell, “MUFFIN!!” Lyra and Princess Luna simply sighed to themselves before following the others.
* * *
The climb was long and tedious for little Dashie, the very opposite of what flying would be like. Unfortunately, despite Daring Do being a Pegasus like herself, she could not simply take to the air as she would in real life because Lyra had set the world to Survival Mode, forcing her to drudge up the ladder to her new home.
During the climb she could hear the others taking in their own houses. Pinkie had a cake shower; Octavia had a jukebox and every record available in Creative Mode (including the broken record, much to her surprise); and Derpy was simply stoked about getting to live inside a muffin. According to Lyra, everypony had a dispenser in their house: cake for Pinkie, iron swords for Luna, redstone for Lyra, cookies for Derpy, and various records for Octavia and her jukebox.
And Rainbow Dash was an eager beaver to see what was in her dispenser.
After nearly two minutes of climbing that insufferable ladder, she reached the top and stepped onto her cloud. Unlike the others’, Dash’s place was more than a regular building. A large space of wool-crafted cloud jutted out from the house itself, giving it a plushy white lawn. A large waterfall poured off the edge through a properly sized hole in the glass walls (probably meant to protect the wool from lightning strikes that would set it ablaze).
Hopping up the small incline to her house, Rainbow Dash noticed a lack of a door for the doorway. It was merely a two-block-tall opening in the side of the house; but where there was a lack of a proper entrance, the sky bastion made up for it in decorum. The first room was small, holding a couple of large chests against the left wall and a crafting table and two furnaces to the right. Part of the stream that flowed outside ran across the room. Two paintings covered spots of the walls, one of a spider and another of a karate pony. In the room, though, the thing that really stood out was the spruce staircase that led upstairs, distinguished from the background by the brilliant white wool.
Rainbow Dash didn’t see her dispenser anywhere, so she bound over the water and ran upstairs. From the looks of it, the room she entered was the Minecraft equivalent of a bedroom, with two beds lying beside each other and two bookcases for nightstands on the side opposite to the staircase. A quick survey of the room revealed to her what Rainbow had been looking for—tucked away against the ceiling in the top right of the room was the dispenser and its wooden button right below it. Brash as always, Rainbow Dash didn’t even check the contents of the dispenser before sprinting to push the tan-colored button.
And it was a grave mistake.
On the exact moment Dash pushed the button, there was a click; and her evil little green friend, the Emperor of Explosives itself, popped out from the hole in the dispenser and landed right on top of Rainbow Dash. And it was quick on the ball, too, preparing to explode before it even had both pairs of legs on the ground. Rainbow didn’t even get a hoof to backpedal before the Creeper detonated, making her screen turn a bloody red for the second time that day.
On the verge of her most vicious rage-quit she had ever felt, Rainbow slammed her controller down on her desk with enough force to dislodge a piece of the controller’s shell, her headphones and ears filling with unrestrained mirth as the now-common announcement DshDestroyer354 blew up. reached each of the other’s screens. From across the room, Dash could hear Pinkie giggling with the sporadic snort and rested her head on her desk.
“Well, Dash found her dispenser,” Luna giggled.
“I told you Creeper eggs would be funnier than books,” Lyra stated matter-of-factly.
“Lyra, I’m going to come to your house and stab you thirty-seven times,” avowed Rainbow with composed conviction, “Then, I’m going to throw you into the river that runs through the Everfree so nopony will find your body. And Bon Bon will forget all about you, thinking you merely left her, and move on, falling in love and marrying somepony else.”
“That won’t happen. If she did suspect that I left her, Bonnie would probably come looking for me (probably to kill me). Then she would find my body, and torture and kill you when she finds out you were the one that murdered me. Sure, she may seem like a gentle and motherly mare, but she’s surprisingly very sadistic and spiteful when you cross her. Trust me; I’ve experienced it too many times.”
Dash didn’t respond, instead hunted for an apt remark in every corner of her mind. Finding none but a revenge plot, she just relented with a sigh and respawned. Lyra teleported her immediately back to Pony Park.
Rainbow dashed to her house, scaling the ridiculously tall ladder as hastily as she could manage. A large hole was visible from the first floor since the second story’s floor was only one block thick. Rainbow Dash quickly ran upstairs and found what she had hoped for: Creeper eggs from the dipenser. They were floating on a block in the wall that the Creeper didn’t destroy.
Dash collected the eggs and the remainder of her gubs, ensuring the eggs were in her immediate inventory, and hopped out of her house and dove into the pool below. She swam ashore, now illuminated by the glowstone and torches since night had finally fallen; did a quick take of the surrounding houses to find Lyra on the first floor of her own fortress; and sprinted forward. Equipping a sixteen-count stack of eggs to her hoof, Rainbow Dash threw open Lyra’s door, spotting her prey by a small chest along the east wall, and curled her mouth in a madly rancorous smirk.
“BUCK YOU, LYRA!” shouted she, before inundating the blindsided Unicorn, who only managed to turn a degree before the onslaught, with Creeper eggs being fired with the fury of a thousand hellfires. As the eggs broke, whether against the wall or on the face of Jack of Blades, Creepers spawned, a dozen and four in under five seconds.
Lyra let out a startled yelp and tore to the backside of the stone brick building by a ladder leading up to the story above. From a chest, she pulled out an impressive-looking (and possibly enchanted) diamond sword.
“What’s going on?” asked Derpy.
“I’m getting my revenge!” cried Dash with the manic tone of a possessed mare. She let a wicked laugh roll across her tongue, escalating in volume (and with it, malice), and left through the entrance as Lyra began defending herself against the horde of hissing Creepers.
The sixteen Creepers were too much for Lyra, even with the sword’s enchantment of Power III; and she was forced to retreat to the next level. This, however, didn’t matter much, for she had stashed enchanted bows, a chest-full of arrows, and pickaxes on the second story.
“Lyra, do you necessitate some assistance?”
“Nah, Luna, I got this.”
Lyra packed a couple of bows, a sole stack of arrows, and an iron pickaxe (she didn’t bother using the diamond pickaxe for something so trifling) into her on-hoof inventory. In the middle of the floor, she picked a three-by-three square hole and instantly saw the monsters swarm to her position. She armed herself with a bow and began firing off shots in as rapid a succession as she could manage, mowing through the explosive grass below her and killing Creepers in the matter of only two or three seconds each. Shame the achievements and awards were disabled from working in Creative Mode; Lyra really wanted the Creeper gamer pic and the Creeper ball cap.
The Creeper horde was reduced to nothing but a pile of experience orbs and gunpowder, only taking a minute out of Lyra’s day and forty arrows.
“Like shooting Silverfish in a barrel,” Lyra commented smugly as she hopped down through the hole to the first floor and collected her spoils, ten pieces of gunpowder and enough experience to advance her from level one to level three.
Still brandishing her enchanted bow, Lyra took to finding the culprit behind this swiftly, seeing that Dash had returned to her own cloud house.
“I’m coming for you, Dashie,” remarked she with a sneering, brutish coldness, taking to a sprint across the illuminated court and up the ladder.
Upon entering the house, Lyra noted that Dash was on the second floor, probably waiting with more Creeper eggs. An inventive idea triggered a light bulb above Lyra’s head, and she began digging down into the wool and created a small two-by-two hole that gave a gorgeous view of the tarn below.
“Lyra, I’m waiting,” the impatient destroyer sang out.
“Then wait no longer.” Punctuating her note, Lyra mined the block Rainbow Dash was standing on, plunging Dash down through the hole. As the blur of Dashie dressed up as Daring Do passed before her, Lyra jumped into the hole after her, cycling past her inventory to her diamond sword before her hooves even touched the water. With her opponent in range, the Unicorn gave a swipe and struck true.
“Aah! Lyra, stop! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Dash pleaded as she shored.
“Luna’s fat flank you are!”
“Oh, sorry Princess, it just kinda came out.”
Luna huffed into her mic. “It’s not that you used my name; it’s what you said.” She regarded her crescent-moon-bearing black cheek with a glimpse. “My flank is not fat. Tia’s however—”
DshDestroyer354 was slain by SweetMelodies51.
“Dammit, Lyra!” Rainbow cried in frustration, although holding back a wave of laughter was something of an effort for her. She respawned, was teleported once more by Lyra, and tried to flee the still-peeved Unicorn. She only managed a step before being clouted by Lyra’s sword again.
“Now, Dash, what did you learn?” asked Lyra, who had taken another step towards the Pegasus in response to Dash moving another hoof to backpedal. Luna and Octavia had gathered in the Pony Park courtyard and surrounded Rainbow Dash.
“Um, that Luna has a fat flank?”
This remark was rewarded with Nightmare Moon’s hoof clobbering Rainbow Dash.
“Okay, okay! That Luna totally does NOT have a fat flank!”
“Umm…that Pinkie has been strangely quiet throughout this entire thing?”
Rainbow Dash turned and eyed her companion, who had evidently long ago taken off her headphones. Pinkie was giggling to herself and every so often sung a bath time tune; as she did so, she pressed the button below her cake-filled dispenser. Dash cocked a brow.
“Apparently, Pinkie is still taking a cake shower.”
“Come on, Rainbow, you know what I’m talking about,” Lyra said, stepping forward.
“Actually, I don’t.”
“Admit it, Dash.” Lyra took a swing at Rainbow Dash and connected, knocking the Pegasus back a couple of blocks. “I’m better than you at this game.”
“Pffth, you wish,” Rainbow huffed.
“FIRE!” cried Derpy. All eyes turned themselves to Derpy’s house, which now looked less like of a muffin and more like the fraternity for Blaze. The pyre covered the entire house, obscuring (and surely roasting) the lapis blueberries; Derpy’s poor muffin was no longer an appetizing abode, but a conflagration that threatened the beautiful architecture.
“Derpy, how in the hay did you set your house on fire?” Octavia asked in a rather frantic yet unsurprised voice.
“Yeah! Luna and I made sure that you didn’t have any flint and steel in your chests!”
“I-I don’t know! It just sorta…happened.”
Lyra freed a hoarse sigh from her throat. “Alright, I’m done with this. It’s getting late, Bonnie’s already making dinner, and things are not getting better for me. I wash my hooves of this weirdness.”
“Wait, we did not show the others our own houses,” Luna mentioned.
“We’ll do that next time. Besides, don’t you have night court to tend to?”
Luna gave a shrug even if the others couldn’t see it. “Nopony really comes into night court. In fact, last week was the last time I had somepony attend; and he seemed… edgy and shivered through every one of his words, as if he was scared of me even though I was assure that all fears of me had been extinguished.”
“Maybe he had, ya’know, smoked something,” Dash offered.
“Hmm,” Luna hummed, swirling the idea around in her head and across her tongue. “It is possible; he did say that somepony or something called ‘TOK’ was coming for ‘The Warper.’”
The five ponies stood in silence, mulling this needless and eerie information until Lyra said with a loud, insisting voice, “Well, I think it’s time we call it a night!”