I saw Fleur de Lis in the bread line tonight. That’s right, the supermodel. The last time I saw her face was on some magazine cover, forelegs around her crazy-rich hubby; it’d been late afternoon, I think, at a newstand on my way back to home from the library. Or maybe I was going to see Princess Celestia.
I miss afternoons.
I don’t even know how I recognized her. Fleur de Lis I mean. She looked like a skeleton with a dirty mane stuck to it. I wonder if ponies still ask her for autographs? Maybe I should’ve. I can just picture it: “Ms. Fleur? I’m a really big fan! Could you sign my journal? Sorry it’s all tattered and gross. Or how about signing this book on the Elements of Harmony that I lifted from the royal library? What? It’s not like the princess is around to miss it. It’s not like we’re ever going to find the Elements of Harmony again or see sunshine either. Just sign on the inside front cover, and make it out to Moon Dancer, Worst Personal Student of Celestia Ever.”
I should’ve said something like that; something bold, and confident, and… different. That’s me in a nutshell: I should’ve done a lot of things differently.
Okay, I know I have to stop thinking about this. I know I failed. I know I ruined everything. I can’t say it enough, but maybe if I write it all down it’ll help?
Okay, it’s like this: I was Princess Celestia’s personal student, once. I know, right? What’s the Princess of Equestria want with some friendless, near-sighted pony with tape on her glasses and the ugliest mane in recorded history? It turns out I’m pretty good at magic, good enough that the Princess decided to teach me herself. I got better at magic, but the annoying ‘friendship lessons’ that she kept throwing in just didn’t stick. Sorry, Princess.
Let’s just skip ahead to the part where I ruined everything. It turns out friendship is related to magic, which is why I only was only good at casting spells, never great. That’s my working theory, anyway. The point is I had one chance to stop Nightmare Moon from taking over Equestria. One. I found the Elements of Harmony, but not ponies enough to make them work, and now Nightmare Moon has them. If I wasn’t so… me, then maybe things would’ve turned out better. Sorry, Equestria.
I keep thinking I should leave. Canterlot doesn’t need me. Not like it ever did. Celestia did once, but we both know how that turned out.
Except where would I go and how would I get there? It’s not like the train stops here anymore. I’d have to walk from here to… somewhere. I’m betting “as far away from Nightmare Moon as possible” is a popular choice.
First I’d have to get off this dumb mountain. And then I’d be stuck in one of the little towns that have to deal with Nightmare Moon on a regular basis (no thanks!) or the Everfree Forest again (double no thanks!). It’s probably pointless. It’s probably suicide. But at least plotting my escape from Canterlot is something to do.
It’s pouring rain out, and all these dumb trees are funneling every drop right on top of the little shelter I made, which is about ten parts leaves and twigs, and a thousand parts magic. I don’t feel like explaining how hard getting water-repelling spells to stick on wood and stuff that hasn’t been properly denatured is. Ugh.
At least my books are safe. All two of them.
I don’t know why I’m still lugging around this tome on the Elements of Harmony. It’s already fallen into the ‘wrong hooves’, all things considered.
Could somepony else do some good with it?
I don’t know.
They’d probably just get depressed when they see how bad off we are. Nightmare Moon has the Elements, the one thing that could’ve changed everything. What’s somepony going to do, wait for her to take a vacation and pick the lock on her vault? That’s if she didn’t just disintegrate them or drop them in a bottomless pit.
I’m still too close to Canterlot. I’d say I can still smell the rotting garbage, but that’s probably just my coat and mane. Why didn’t the rain wash it off?
I miss the Canterlot slums. I even miss hiking through the forest. All these dumb little towns full of brainless little ponies carrying on like everything’s normal make me want to scream! There’s no more daylight, food is scarce, and we’ve got an evil monster for a queen! How can you keep going to school, and shopping at the market, and… living?
Some random pony came up and said hi to me. It was… weird.
Maybe that’s why I liked Canterlot so much. It’s dirty and mostly abandoned, but it’s quiet. Nopony bugged me there. Nopony cared that I spent all my free time looking through old books to see if I could fix everything (spoiler: nope).
But me being a friendless shut-in is exactly what got us here, isn’t it? Ugh.
Maybe I should just go back home.
Maybe I should just lay down in the middle of the road and wait for a cart full of happier ponies to run me over.
I feel better now. Not fantastic, but better. Leaving Canterlot burned me out more than I realized, I guess. Well, make that leaving Canterlot with a ten pound guide to my single biggest failure weighing me down.
The Ponyville Public Library (not open this late, but not locked either) just gained a new reference book, minus the little card in the front from the Royal Canterlot Library that fell out somewhere in the forest.
Somepony in the library can figure out what to do with it; I’m done trying to.
I don't know why I don't think about writing as much now. Maybe it's because I'm not carrying as heavy a load; when I stop to rest I actually have enough energy to do stuff besides move a quill around.
Does that mean I'm going to dump this journal somewhere, too? Definitely not in a library. Ponies don't need to see all this.
It’s been three days (which still sounds weird to say) and everypony I meet is still partying. The last town I passed through was like one endless conga line.
Somepony fixed everything, which is great! Now everypony isn’t living with my mistake anymore, which is also great.
Except I don’t want to go home. If I do I’ll run into ponies I know, from the slums or from the school. It doesn’t matter who, I don’t want to face any of them. That goes double for Princess Celestia; she’s got to have the world’s biggest “I told you so” waiting for me.
Well she’ll just have to keep waiting. The next train leaves at dawn (still weird!), and nopony’s big on checking for tickets right now. Next stop: nowhere important.
Apploosa. That’s where I’m headed. I found an old map in the trash, and it’s the train’s last stop, which makes it perfect. I don’t even care that I have to double back through a bunch of those little villages near Canterlot. Apploosa is super far away from everything I’ve ever known, so I can pretend I’m somepony else.
No, not pretend.
I’ll be somepony else.
Equestria, say hello to… Sun Sparkle? No, the sun doesn’t belong in my name.
Fresh Start? Too on the nose. Ponies will get suspicious.
Amber…? Forget it.
What’s it matter what ponies call me? I’ll find a way to make ends meet. I’ll have a quiet, boring life sweeping up trash, serving salt licks, or something else unfulfilling. It’s more than I deserve.
Twilight blames herself, not me. She’s almost got me convinced, but it doesn’t matter, right? The point is she caught me skulking around Ponyville looking for a free meal. I was just passing through, but then this purple mare is in front of me and smiling and talking and so excited she’s bouncing on her hooves. Did I mention she was smiling? Seeing ponies smile at me takes more getting used to than seeing them in the daylight.
We talked for a really long time, and I met all the other ponies (and a dragon!) that… finished saving Equestria. I almost put “did what I couldn’t” right there, but I’m not not going to think like that anymore. Twilight didn’t save Equestria on her own. She had a lot of help, starting with me pointing her towards the Elements of Harmony.
I just hope Princess Celestia knows it too. I can’t believe Twilight and the others convinced me to go see her. I keep thinking she’s going to be mad or disappointed, and I’m not sure which would be worse, but Twilight swears it’ll be fine. We’ll see.
Either way I’m coming back to Ponyville afterwards. I’m going to take Twilight’s advice and give this friendship thing a second chance.