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Bramble Rose

The Lost Library - Unfair Trade

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"Hey, watch out there, Coconut!" The red stallion called out, laughing as he leapt over the sprawling tan mare on the ground. "When you challenged me to a race I thought you could at least walk a straight line!"

The mare gritted her teeth and surged to her hooves, kicking the loose stone that had betrayed her footing and then racing after the stallion who had just claimed the lead. "I just felt like taking a quick break!" she called back, "After all, not like I'm worried about you winning!"

The two ponies raced through the jungle, ducking under low branches, blindly plunging through leaves and ferns, laughing as one, then the other would take advantage. Frond slipped round a corner faster by running up a fallen log to leap over the boulder they were circling, and then Coconut got ahead again by diving through a narrow gap between trees to avoid going around the grove, leaving a few hairs from her coat behind, the fit was so tight. His larger form would never have made it through. Their taunting didn't last long as they soon needed all their breath for the race, neither willing to give an inch to the other.

Finally they burst out of the jungle into a clearing, stumbling into a ten foot tall statue of a pony, broken and half-covered in vines. "Whoah, whoah!" Coconut gasped, sliding to a stop, and Frond circled around the clearing, desperately sucking in air.

"What is it?" he asked, once he'd gotten in a dozen breaths or so.

Coconut circled around with him, looking up into the sky. "Where exactly are we? I've never seen this statue before! Why's there a pegasus statue in the middle of the jungle?"

Frond frowned, and craned his neck to try to look past the jungle. "Which way's the volcano?" he asked, also realizing that he had no idea where they were. "I thought we'd have come out on the beach again before now."

"Are you sure you were supposed to turn left back at the stream?"

"I was just following you."

"You turned left first!"

"I was just avoiding that spider web that you ran into!"

"You're just trying to make excuses since I'm two races ahead, and only one race from a hundred victories!"

"Pfft, you wish! I'll take these next three races easy! If we can figure out where we are..."

Their playfully bickering voices sounded through the jungle which hadn't seen ponies for at least a decade. Birds took to the sky to fly away from the unfamiliar racket, and prey animals went quiet, waiting to see what these strange creatures would do. And a small, blue lizard stuck its head out of a hole in a tree and skittered along the branch and down the trunk into the bushes. It peeked slowly out of the leaves to see what the ruckus was all about.

"Hey, check it out!" Coconut was saying, poking her hoof at the ground, and prying up a long rod. "I think this is a horn."

The stone horn was broken at the base, and looking up at the statue, they could see that it fit perfectly onto the rough, broken part at the forehead. "Hey, it's not a pegasus statue ... it's an alicorn statue!" Frond exclaimed. "Let me see that!"

He reached out for it, and Coconut drew away. "Hey, I found it! I can put it back!"

"I'm the better climber!"

"Yeah, and maybe you climb up on it and it breaks under your weight, huh?"

They both scrabbled for the horn, which slipped from both their grips and went tumbling into the bushes. Both ponies went diving for it, and there was a terrible shrieking from the bush as they stumbled onto the small blue lizard, which went scampering backwards, eyes glowing a bright silver.

"Hey, there's the horn!" Coconut cried, not even noticing the lizard as she squeezed into a narrow space to reach for the broken bit of statuary. There was a sudden silver flash, and suddenly that narrow space was even tighter than before ... Coconut couldn't get out; could hardly breath! The blue lizard scampered away safely, the tan pony unable to reach it now.

"Nnngh... Help!" Coconut rasped. "stuck!"

Frond grabbed hold of a hoof and pulled, small hooves scrabbling helplessly in the dirt. "Wait," Frond said, confused by the odd angle, voice light. "I think I'm in a hole here..."

There was a brief pause as all Coconut could hear was a throat-clearing. "Hole here... hole... what's wrong with my voice? I ... uh ..."

Coconut grumbled and planted large tan hooves against the ground, pushing firmly, and with a sudden pop, pulled out of the narrow space and landed heavily on Frond, who collapsed under the larger pony. Coconut stood up, brushing off his large form, "What the heck was - " he started to ask with a deep voice, then stopped. "What the ... why are you so small ... why am I ..."

He looked over himself again, and at the pony beneath him. "Why are you a mare?! Why am I a stallion?"

Frond stood up, shaking her head to clear it. "I'm a what? What are you talking abou-" she stopped and looked up at the now-taller stallion opposite her, then down at her own leaner form.

A set of paired cries of confusion and dismay sounded through the forest, and the lizard grinned its little lizardy face as it slipped away. It looked up at a parrot above it, and its eyes glowed silver once more. Suddenly, the parrot dropped down to the ground, and the blue lizard took off into the sky on brand-new, rainbow-colored wings. There were new creatures in the jungle! Creatures she had never seen before! She wondered what sort of interesting new abilities she could take from them ...

It had been a week since their last stopover, a week on the endless sea in a tiny little floating cart. And Doctor Whooves decided that now was the perfect time to teach Trixie how to run the self-propelled contraption.

"No, see," he tried to explain for the twelfth time. "First you throw this switch. Then you pump this doohickey. THEN you pull this lever once you've brought the pressure up on this gauge... " He waited as Trixie did just as he said, then continued, "Then, when it fails to start, you give it a good KICK!" The words weren't even out of his mouth before Trixie was kicking the engine. "nonono, you don't just kick it without waiting! First you have to wait for it to start for a couple seconds! Then, after a couple heartbeats, THEN you kick it!" He sighed and brought his hoof to his face. "It's all in the timing!"

He was so caught up in trying to teach her how to use the cart that he didn't even notice the thin wisp of smoke on the horizon, coming up out of the peak of a volcano just barely visible.

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Trixie could be best described as frustrated. Why did the Doctor insist on leaving the luxurious cruise ship that the pair of them, well with the help of a couple others, so heroically rescued so soon? It was certainly a more pleasant ride that the contraption the pair now found themselves in. The linear could have easily taken them to.. Well to wherever Whooves believed where powerful magic was hidden according to his other equally absurd contraption that he kept referring to as his manavane; looked more like the obscene offspring of an umbrella and some clothes hangers.

Whooves was impatient though, his manavane apparently picked up some sort of strong vibe along the ley-lines, and he insisted that they had to leave since the direction was well off course for the cruise ship. Trixie felt they could have convinced the captain to alter his course out of gratitude; that way she could have spent a few more days sipping Mai-Tais while lounging on the sun warmed deck being served by the cutest staff while admiring the scenery, that scenery being Bon-Bon, but noooo, he didn't want to be a bother! Why did she listen to him again?

It was a very good question, the answer was of course her continued desire to learn new kinds of magic; magic so rare and secret that hopefully no other living unicorn, or lavender alicorn, would know. She would never actually admit it but she also wanted him around to keep her honest about potential new sources of magic; to learn the magic instead of depending on and becoming slave to powerful artifacts that threaten to again corrupt the azure unicorn's soul.

A more immediate concern and question was why she couldn't get this ridiculous, convoluted, flank backwards monstrosity to do what she wanted!! "Arrrrgh… This preposterous machine refuses to work for The Most Patient and Mechanically-Inclined Trixie! Your instructions must be wrong! What is the point of kicking it after it has started… Wobbling! Or whatever it is doing!" Trixie gave the self-propelling engine that moved the cart a swift kick with her hind leg, it didn't help as the device simply gave a gasp of blue smoke and once again fell silent.

Trixie sat on her haunches in incredulous disbelief, holding her forelegs out towards the device, "see! It hates Trixie! Either that or it's defective! After all who could possibly hate the Loving and Caring Trixie!?" She held her head up high for a moment, eyes closed, before she opened one to peer at Whooves, "don't you dare answer that!"

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Doctor Whooves gave a shrug. "I don't know. You're great to have around! Glad to have somepony who can almost keep up their end of the bantering! Little slow at times, but perhaps my expectations are just a bit high." He grinned and winked at her, then turned towards the horizon to scan. "AH! Ah-ha! Land ho, heave to, and other nautical terms! Looks like we've found a stopover!" He reached for his tri-corner hat automatically, but frowned as he found nothing there, having forgotten that Trixie had already reduced it to ashes and shreds. "Though your choice of how to deal with my hats sometimes leaves much to be desired." He eyed her sideways. "As if your choices of hats were any better..."

A switch, pump the crank, pull the lever ... kick! The boiler hummed to life with its rasping VWORP, VWORP, VWORP, and blue smoke started billowing out of its stack as the floating cart caroomed through the waves, leaping off one wave and landing heavily into the trough, bouncing across the rolling seas towards the evidence of land ahead. "Hoho! A volcanic island, is it? I bet I know where we're headed off to now! This is a common stopover, the isle of Manea Kea, lovely little place, has great mixed drinks, and boy do they know how to party!" He let go of the wheel to shimmy across the cramped little cart, standing on his hind hooves and swaying his hips. "Lala la la! lala la la!" The cart swerved alarmingly, and he unconcernedly reached over with one hoof and twisted the wheel, putting them back on track. "Created during the Time of Discord, there used to be a lot more land around here ... but Discord decided that underwater cities would be all the rave. Ancient alicorn ruins were lost - even predates the time of the Doctors! No idea what they used to be, just that they used to be there!"

The cart jolted as the wheels found solid ground, pulling it up onto the clean white beaches. Whooves took his bearings, twisted the wheel left, and drove along the beach for a time. "Wooooo, haha! Always a bit disorienting being on land again after such a long sea voyage. Stop the island from rocking! But here we go, a lovely place to stop for a day and resupply." He pulled the cart around a bend in the rocks and they were in a lovely holiday town, full of all sorts of signs and decorations to attract tourists.

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Trixie huffed, he did dare to answer! At least he was complimentary about it, in a back hoofed sort of way, "The Honest and Insightful Trixie doesn't banter, she makes truthful observations! For example, this irrational contraption simply refuses-". Before Trixie could finish her latest pronouncement about Whooves' temperamental cart, the brown earth pony spotted land, thank Celestia! The sooner she could put her magnificent hooves on solid earth, the better. Things were finally looking up, that is if Whooves could resist making jibs at Trixie's beauty and fashionable sense to prop up his own fragile ego, "the Stylish and Classy Trixie would have you know that this beautiful chapeau is the same style worn by the magnificent Starswirl the Bearded, the greatest unicorn thaumaturge that ever lived! It represents the desire to learn and master magic for the most astute of practitioners! You on the other hoof are forbidden to wear anymore clownish abominations upon your mane for the sake of decency!"

As much as Trixie would have liked to continue to educate the ignorant earth stallion on the finer points of headpiece fashion, she was more interested in getting to the island as quickly as possible. Unfortunately the way Whooves ran his mysterious cart on the water could make a sea serpent green with illness. As they bobbed and weaved their way along the waves, Trixie held on for dear life, when she didn't have her far more green than blue head over the side, heaving away as the wagon when up and down, up and down… She could hear Whooves regale the history of the island and what they could expect, but the words just went in one ear and out the other as Trixie focused on just trying to keep her stomach from leaving her body in protest.

After what felt like forever but in reality were mere minutes, the itinerant pair had finally made landfall, Whooves though kept prattling on as he drove the cart along the beach, ignoring Trixie repeated calls for him to stop so she could get out, which at first were mere sickly mumbles. After several minutes Trixie finally summoned up the mental strength to leap out of the cart as it arrived at town, not caring how fast it was moving or how unstable her legs were. All she knew was that she wanted solid ground under her hooves again, no matter what. But the fates scowled upon her as she discovered this mystery island Whooves had brought her to somehow had fluid ground! While it looked perfectly stable to the naked eye, she could feel it pitching and heaving underneath her. What had Trixie ever done to deserve this torment! Whooves' assurances that it was all an illusion and that in a few hours it would feel as solid as it really was were no reassurance at all. Trixie knew illusions! This wasn't an illusion, this was a tragedy!

As annoying as Trixie's personal situation was, she remained astute enough as a keen adventurer of magic to notice something was simply "off" about the town that Whooves claimed was a tourist hub,especially given that they were in the middle of the tourist season. The streets were almost empty, and the few ponies that were about quickly darted from building to building, as if they were scared of being outside on the beautiful sunny day. "This seems like no tourist spot that Trixie has been to, and Trixie has been to all of the finest tourist spots in Equestria!" Usually as working staff making a few extra bits, but ... no need for Whooves to know that.

As they walked closer things went from simply off to downright strange. The ponies that were running about, she could swear one had bird claws for fore hooves, it must have been the after effect of being on that ridiculous cart in the water! That is until she saw the unmistakable appearance of a frog hopping past with a unicorn's horn on it. Bright blue bananas were on display at a local stand. Trixie hadn't been traveling with the Doctor long, but she was starting to get a feel that things were like this everywhere he went... "Doctor, Trixie think something's wrong here... Really wrong, Trixie means even using the standard of having to be around you, this is... well, just wrong!"

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The nice thing about taking time off each summer to see the world was how it provided opportunities to see many things that one never saw back home. For example, when a travel agent convinced Derpy Hooves to take a weeks’ vacation at a resort town, she knew right off the bat that it’d be a drastic change of pace from life in Ponyville. Instead of smiling faces, picturesque cottages, and grass by the stream to lay on, Derpy would get to see smiling faces, picturesque huts, and sand by the ocean to lay on!

Little did the young mare know that she’d get more of a change than she bargained for. Derpy Hooves had only been touring the village for less than a day, and already she was witnessing things never before beheld by the pegasus. Streets mostly deserted. The occasional townspony with fish flippers or monkey tails. Definitely unlike anything back in Ponyville, that’s for sure!

We find our pegasus, wearing a lei and a garish aloha shirt, eying a stand containing another never-seen-before delicacy. The fruit was shaped in the form of an apple, but at the top sprouted long narrow leaves that almost reminded Derpy of a pine branch. She figured that ‘pineapple’ would be a good name for this mystery fruit. Only problem was, the stall owner had not been seen at all ever since the pegasus stumbled, and she had been waiting for thirty full minutes. And she was getting really really hungry for a snack.

“Hello?” Derpy loudly asked one more time at the unattended stand, using her hooves to maximize the volume of her voice; “I’d like to purchase a pineapple thingy please! HELLLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!” Derpy did not even notice a pair of newly arrived visitors, an earth pony and a unicorn, walking from the direction of her back.....

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The sounds of the tropical forest filled the mare's ears as she down the path to the Resort town. Presteza was extremely excited to be in the Gallopocus, It wasn't everyday she got to see such beautiful exotic flora and fauna such as this. So many beautiful and mesmeric colors could be found in this place that she'd never seen before were practically stretched out before her eyes in almost every direction... or at least it would have if some of the taller members of the aforementioned flora had not been as thick and plentiful as they were. For now all that the painter needed to focus on was staying on the path to the village on her map.

Over the next hill, The hat wearing mare caught a glimpse of some rooftops from what looked like cottages of some sort; That must be the town! On her way here the freckled painter had already worked up a bit of an appetite, before she'd even had those roofs she taken several sizable bites out of her distinctive straw hat. Might as well finish it now since she'd probably be able to get another hat as a souvenir from the village once she arrived.

No sooner did she set foot in the village did she notice something was off; noone was out here! This was hardly a welcome fit for the world's next greatest artist. She didn't expect a big brass band to welcome her... but that would be nice, but at least somepony could have been around to say--

HELLLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”

Yeah, that! speaking of greetings, Presteza knew who that voice belonged to and she had to make sure to give an old derp eyed friend a hello too. Quickly looking around the area the she soon saw her gray coated friend yelling into what looked like an empty food stand being approached by two ponies from behind, "Hiya, Derpy! those two friends o' yer--" THe mare froze a moment and blinked a couple times once she saw Trixie. Presteza never forgot a face and Trixie was a truly recognizeable individual; Presteza had gotten to interact with her up close some time ago in a show of her in a certain casino and needless to say Trixie's show left quite the impression.

The painter waved to Trixie and her companion," Well if it isn't The great n' powerful Trixie! It's great ta see ya again!... oh is that stallion yer coltfriend?" she asked playfully

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Doctor Whooves looked around, and nodded. "I think you're right, Trixie. You know, I remember when I was a foal ... there wasn't nearly so many monsters and emergencies. When I started travelling with Doctor Whooves - my predecessor - I used to think it was just him finding all the weird stuff ... but I think Equestria must just be getting more and more dangerous, because I haven't had a week's rest in years. Yet ponies still act like it's so surprising to see all this stuff."

He strolled nonchalantly down the street, and grinned at the horned frog. "Well, that's peculiar." Then his eyes settled on the bright blue bananas. "Oh. Oh my! Now that's worth trying!" He stepped forward eagerly, and lifted up the blue bananas, giving them a sniff. "I wonder if these taste as interestingly as they smell!" He looked around for the vendor, and tossed off an offhand, "Here, let me get that for you." He flipped a couple bits onto the fruit stand. "This should be enough. Come along, Hooves," he said casually, as if it had only been a few minutes since he'd seen her last.

Though he was taken aback when someone suddenly recognized Trixie. And suggested ... "Ah! No, no. Nothing like that. Ha-ha." He leaned closer to Presteza and murmured behind his hoof, "Touchy subject, best drop it ... she gets jealous if I start paying attention to other mares... Doesn't want to admit it." Not that he was all that good at the whole 'whispering' thing. He straightened up. "Oh, have we met? I'm Doctor Whooves, this is Derpy Hooves. No relation. Now, hrm. Let's find somepony who knows what's going on, shall we? This is most peculiar."

He reached out his hoof and casually snagged one of the ponies running past. "Here, what's going on?"

"AHHH!" cried the pony in fear. "No, don't linger! It'll swap you! Get inside!" He wriggled free of Whooves' grip and went galloping off down the street.

"Well, that's deucedly peculiar," said Whooves. "Swap us? Swap us with what? What's that even mean?" He grinned. "How interesting."

Up above, a pale blue lizard settled onto a rooftop - it was no longer a mere 9 inches long. Now it was almost three feet long, and had a nice, long snaky tail. Elsewhere there was a snake that was much, much shorter, and a panther the size of a kitten ... the Swapper perched up on that rooftop, which creaked faintly under its weight, and peered down at the four below. Ah! New ponies to help!

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Of course Whooves took the most blasé approach to eerie quiet of the town, the fact that some of the animals looked like a magic experiment gone wrong, and blue bananas, one would think he'd be at least upset about the blue bananas, after all what would a blue banana daiquiri taste like? On second though, scratch that he may like it even more because it was weird. Not as half as weird as he was acting, suddenly nonchalantly walking up to some pegasus mare and inviting her to join along with them?! What the hay?! "Wait a minute! Who is she? Do you know her?!" He was actually being more… Doctor than usual; there wasn't some weirdness gas floating around was there? Who was she kidding, that wouldn't even affect him.

There was one other pony she recognized as soon as she heard her illustrious name, it was Presteza, a young and pretty cute unicorn mare who volunteered as an audience member for one of Trixie's shows. That particular show didn't go over so well, but there was no need to relive that day; especially with Whooves around, if he heard, he'd never allow her to live it down. "The exceptional and intelligent Trixie certainly remembers you as well Presteza, among her other adoring fans of course." What did annoy Trixie was that the cream colored unicorn made that same common assumption that Trixie heard every single time her and Whooves went anywhere new! Some ignorant and assumptive pony always would presuppose, Celestia above knows for what reason, that her and the Doc were an 'item'. "Certainly not! We are just traveling companions, only because he is fairly competent in helping Trixie discover new magic to learn. Even if the ravishing and available Trixie was interested in stallions, and Trixie certainly is not, she most assuredly would not be attracted to him! I mean C'mon! Trixie can do better; just look at him, he's weird! Sure, he's smart, resourceful, and clever, but so very, very weird!! How else would you even explain him? You on the otherhoof, Trixie must admit, is pretty cute."

Any further denial from Trixie about that false assumption was cut short when some panicked pony blurted something out about others being "swapped" by something. "Trixie knew it! Every single time we come to a new place!!" She was upset as much as she was excited! Something strange was afoot and that could only mean something magical; as she had never heard of a swapper that meant it was new magic too! She turned and grabbed hooves' face and looked him in the eye, "adventure is ahoof! Fortunately for you my dear little earth stallion, you have one of the most talented and powerful unicorns with you, what would you do without Trixie's wonderful gifts, hm? Now watch as Trixie solves the mystery once again by finding the very magic that has terrorized this quaint little village!"

Trixie focused her mind and her horn started glowing a bright, intense lavender glow as her the purple of her eyes became increasingly pale, almost transparent as her vision revealed to her the magic ley lines that permeated everything, as well as sources of magic as glowing objects. There was the grey peagsus, Presteza, and Whooves, each having a different dim glow representing pegasus, unicorn, and earth respectively, although Whooves was always oddly bright, and off color for an earth pony, she had never figured out why. As interesting as that was, that was about as determinative as Trixie could get, for the entire place itself was a cornucopia of dizzying colors! The bananas were magic, the unicorn-horned frog was magic, the ridiculous fruit that Derpy was holding was magic, even some of the stones showed magic! All different colors, all foreign and warped and she couldn't trace them all back to the source! She was almost blinded by it all! If there was a source, it was hidden among all the magical "noise".

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*GASP* Another pony, and it sounded like the painter gal Presteza no less! And upon turning around, Derpy Hooves saw two other figures walking in her direction; one of them a very familiar figure blasting his way from the past. Doctor Whooves; he was right about the strangest pony Derpy ever met in her entire life. Back in the days where the blonde-maned mare was still figuring out how to make a living, she spent time serving as an assistant for the Doctor. In retrospect, those were some pretty amazing times, encountering weird things while struggling in vain to find a silly place called the Lost Library. Derpy guessed that Whooves found that library by now, or else he wouldn’t be here on a tropical resort island.

The young mare however felt miffed as it seemed Doctor Whooves barely even paid their reunion any mind. No “nice to see you again,” no “it’s been too long,” or even a simple “hey there.” The stallion acted as if none of their past... work history ever happened. “No relation huh?” Derpy questioned indignantly, hovering up into the Doctor’s face; “I used to be your assistant, you know. Sure, I was far from the best assistant in the world,” that was putting it rather mildly, coming from the accident prone pegasus; “But we shared lots of interesting times together. Why do you act like we’ve never met? Oh, and why did you leave Ponyville a while back without telling anypony goodbye? I’ve had to check up on your cottage while you’ve been away, and every time I do, I think I’ve broken something of yours.”

Doctor Whooves might have been paying more attention to that frightened local pony however. Was this going to turn out into another incident where something bad happened? And who’s that new unfamiliar-yet-familiar unicorn accompanying the Doctor? Derpy supposed her questions would soon be answered.....

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"Ah! No, no. Nothing like that. Ha-ha." He leaned closer to Presteza and murmured behind his hoof, "Touchy subject, best drop it ... she gets jealous if I start paying attention to other mares... Doesn't want to admit it." Not that he was all that good at the whole 'whispering' thing. He straightened up. "Oh, have we met? I'm Doctor Whooves, this is Derpy Hooves. No relation. Now, hrm. Let's find somepony who knows what's going on, shall we? This is most peculiar."

The silver maned smiled brightly once she heard the earth pony speak up, he sounded like he was from her home city of Trottingham! She really hadn't expected to run into another Trottingham resident on her travels but it was always nice to hear that characteristic accent coming from a mouth other than her own. He sure seemed one of the more colorful and friendly sorts of ponies too which was always a plus! While the young artist continued to look him over she couldn't help but notice the stallion had this strange presence to him... but that was nothing especially special, plenty of other ponies often seemed to carry a certain air about them (or in the case of a certain stallion in Ponyville a lack of clean air.)

"Well it's nice ta meet ya docta! I'm Presteza, The world's -future- greatest artist!" she spoke up with her usual boisterous introduction and a proud puff out of her chest. It only seemed to sound cooler each time she said it and fed her ego more and more with each word. It took a moment or two for her to reign herself back in so she could continue speaking rather than basking in the applause that was most assuredly sounding only in her head, "Anyway, I didn't expect ta see another Trottingham native in the area... let alone one with a celebrit--." The mare cut herself off to notice the sight of the doctor nonchalantly catching a galloping local by the hoof and trying to get an idea on why the town was so barren. It seemed that Derpy was willing to take advantage of that pause to say some choice words to the doctor.

“No relation huh?” Derpy questioned indignantly, hovering up into the Doctor’s face; “I used to be your assistant, you know. Sure, I was far from the best assistant in the world,” that was putting it rather mildly, coming from the accident prone pegasus; “But we shared lots of interesting times together. Why do you act like we’ve never met? Oh, and why did you leave Ponyville a while back without telling anypony goodbye? I’ve had to check up on your cottage while you’ve been away, and every time I do, I think I’ve broken something of yours.”

Presteza gave derpy a rather flat look, that was a bit hypocritical of her; Derpy had yet to give Presteza a greeting of her own. The young painter wasn't sure what Derpy's relationship with the doctor was, but that was no excuse for ignoring the world's best artist ever. After all that she and derpy had been through... love poison, races... okay maybe that was all they'd been through together but she could at least have been more polite to a friend!

"I don't think that's wot 'e meant derpy. I think he meant like you're not blood related to 'im. Ya know, like a sister?" She said with a slight chuckle before pointing a hoof accusingly at the mare in question,"speakin' o' time shared time tagether how come I didn't get a hellon from you?" after a moment a smile spread over Pressy's lips to show she was really just teasing Derpy a bit.

"The exceptional and intelligent Trixie certainly remembers you as well Presteza, among her other adoring fans of course. Certainly not! We are just traveling companions, only because he is fairly competent in helping Trixie discover new magic to learn. Even if the ravishing and available Trixie was interested in stallions, and Trixie certainly is not, she most assuredly would not be attracted to him! I mean C'mon! Trixie can do better; just look at him, he's weird! Sure, he's smart, resourceful, and clever, but so very, very weird!! How else would you even explain him? You on the otherhoof, Trixie must admit, are pretty cute."

Trixie was the same as Presteza remembered her; considerably more boisterous than herself, but that had a sort of charm to it. Her way of brushing of the assumption of a relationship between her and the doctor was a little suspicious, especially seeing as she saw fit to mention several of his better points that really made him sounds like great coltfriend material. The weirdness that the great and powerful Trixie brought up only sounded like a plus for the peppy little painter; weird ponies are just some of the most interesting ponies! What Trixie added at the end brought a bit of a blush to the mare's cheeks, she had a coltfriend already... but it was always nice to hear a compliment from a pony who was actually next to her. She knew Merlot had his work to see to but a while ago she figured anypony she wound up dating would be her traveling companion , oh well you can't always get what you dreamed of right?

"Wow! Thanks, Trixie!" said the cream colored mare, the freckles on her cheeks shifting a bit with her smile at the soft blue unicorn. The mare looked herself over and chuckled, "I never figured ya for the type that goes fer my, "disheveled adventurer" look I got goin' on!" she said with a slight chuckle. While doctor took his chance to speak with the pony he so casually caught , the painter's ears couldn't help but twitch in their direction and listen in...

"Here, what's going on?"

"AHHH!" cried the pony in fear. "No, don't linger! It'll swap you! Get inside!" He wriggled free of Whooves' grip and went galloping off down the street.

"Well, that's deucedly peculiar," said Whooves. "Swap us? Swap us with what? What's that even mean?" He grinned. "How interesting."

Any further denial from Trixie about that false assumption was cut short when some panicked pony blurted something out about others being "swapped" by something. "Trixie knew it! Every single time we come to a new place! adventure is ahoof! Fortunately for you my dear little earth stallion, you have one of the most talented and powerful unicorns with you, what would you do without Trixie's wonderful gifts, hm? Now watch as Trixie solves the mystery once again by finding the very magic that has terrorized this quaint little village!"

An adventure?! Really?! This was even better than Presteza thought! experiencing adventures was such a favorite past-time of this little mare that it might make a therapist of equestria wonder if there was some questionable deeper reason for her fascination with putting her life in danger. By the princesses, this young painter even had fun during the nightmare night invasion where she got to have an adventure involving changeling's and a fake rainbow dash. She even joined a magic based guild some time ago in the hopes they could show her a fun time with plenty of adventures. She'd even become friends with a certain, slightly crazy adventure loving Daring Do fanmare based on their common love for that fictional figure they both loved to read about. "Hold on... Did ya say where ever he goes he finds adventure?..." The mare thought for a moment and smiled mischievously at the group before her and then zeroing in on the doctor. "So Doctor! I hope ya don't mind a second companion on yer travels... cause there's no way I lettin' an equine adventure magnet get away from me!"

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Doctor Whooves was quite ready to ignore Trixie's inevitable outburst, but he blinked in surprise as Derpy began to scold him. He hadn't meant they weren't friends... just that both their name involving 'hooves' didn't mean anything ... more. And why? Because... there was that thing ... then the ... and she had said ...

But all that came out from the puzzled stallion was "I *said* come along Hooves..." After all, that had always been how he'd let her know he wanted her around before ... On one instance it'd even been how she'd identified him from a whole hoard of copycat hims!

He gave Derpy the most plaintive look of "Please don't do this to me" that he could summon up, and then quickly turned away, feeling terribly awkward. "Well, so, pleasure to meet you, Presteza! Quite a few unicorns popping up around me seeking to be Great! It's a fascinating thing!" He grinned impishly and lifted his hoof to speak behind it again, "She's not very convincing, is she?" he said, referencing how strongly Trixie had protested to her attraction. Smart, resourceful, clever, 'but' weird. He wasn't sure what sort of insult she'd intended to put in after the 'but', but she obviously couldn't resist talking about why she liked him so much. "Lists all my good points, none of my bad. What she's really envious of is actually my sense of timing. I mean, everyone knows you don't solve the mystery at the beginning of the adventure..."

There was a sudden silver flash of light, and then all the world was a morass of bright colors, a shifting and swirling cacophony of colors! Whooves hadn't seen colors like this since last time he'd eaten those bad mushrooms! Except maybe when he'd drank from that bad cactus... either way, he staggered and nearly fell, feeling like his head was a little bit heavier than usual. "Erg.. what psychadelic malaise is this?! Is anyone else seeing this?"

Slowly the glow around his horn faded away, and the magic spell Trixie had started stopped affecting him. He put his hoof up to his forehead, not yet noticing that he was now a unicorn... nor that Trixie wasn't. And of course, he also didn't notice the wand-and-moon cutie mark on his flank, nor the hourglass on Trixie's... "Wow... that was ... Whooves did not even eat any of the strange food in this place as of yet ... right?" He looked at the blue bananas in his hooves. "Hrm. Perhaps Doctor Whooves should reconsider his decision to partake of these festively colored Musa."

His horn gave a sudden shower of cerulean sparks, and he stumbled backwards as they fell across his vision. "ACK! Trixie, there's no need to go shooting fireworks at the good Doctor! What did Doctor Whooves even *do*?!"

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She didn't know if Whooves knew or not, but even in her magical trance Trixie could hear and understand every word he said. Why was that stallion so full of himself?! As far as she could tell, mares weren't ever falling all over him every time they visited someplace new. Only pony Trixie could think of that was once an item with the pompous stallion was that insane "adventurer" Pathfinder, although the gray pegasus they are with now seemed to have some feelings for him and did he call her "Whooves"? Ex-wife maybe? Oh that would be so delicious!!

As hard as Trixie focused, there was no way to detect the source of magic, only that it permeated everything around the and was incredibly powerful, how powerful was hard to determine, but certainly past the abilities of anypony she knew except those who were blessed to be alicorns. She would have to try another way, but before the azure unicorn could contemplate on how, Trixie's eyes inexplicably regained their deep lavender color and the beautiful magical aura disappeared in flash. How? She hadn't cancelled her spell yet, what could have caused the azure earth pony to lose her magic? "This makes no sense! The Great and Powerful Trixie simply does not drop a spell mid-cast! Obviously, something is interfering with the Great and Powerful Trixie's magics! I doubt you can comprehend the inanity involved here! It's as if there was a splendid and wonderfully refreshing pool that suddenly lost its clear and crisp water, except it's less of a refreshing pool and more of an invigorating waterfall! And it less lost its water as it suddenly had a segment where the water simply disappeared falling in, and reappeared falling out! And instead of water, it was a magnificent and indulgent honeyed milk! Made of radiant light! You know what? The Great and Powerful Trixie commands you to forget about the pool!"

Suddenly sparks, sparks everywhere, flying out in every directions from the top of Whooves head. Fortunately Trixie spun and danced around the sparks with brilliant timing, the blue earth mare avoiding each and every flare impeccably as if the whole ordeal was choreographed! She even had the precision to pull Derpy skillfully out of the way of one of the errant blazes of light, dipping the gray mare in a dance move without uttering a word, just a wink and a smile upon her face, before finally focusing back on the out of control stallion. "And do not accuse me of magical miscreantism, Whooves! You always blame me for your own inadequacies! If you want to stop getting sparks in your face, then stop producing them from your own horn!" She huffed indignantly and turned away. Then she suddenly stopped with an incredulous expression, "and since when do YOU have a horn?!"

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"I *said* come along Hooves..."

With that frustrated request from Doctor Whooves, all of Derpy’s complaints from a moment ago disappeared from her mind. “Y-yeah, sure thing Doc!” she responded cheerfully. No matter how confused the mare got over a situation, there had been hardly ever a time when the right course of action revealed itself with the simple instruction “come along.” Always simple to understand, even if the Doctor himself on numerous past occasions made barely any sense.

"I don't think that's wot 'e meant Derpy. I think he meant like you're not blood related to 'im. Ya know, like a sister? Speakin' o' time shared time tagether how come I didn't get a hellon from you?"

Derpy Hooves admitted that Presteza’s explanation made tons of sense. The pegasus had almost nearly forgotten how her name and the Doctor’s sounded virtually alike. Nopony could distinguish between Hooves and Whooves, so of course he’d go out of his way to clarify the nature of their partnership. Meanwhile, Derpy scratched the back of her head while sheepishly addressing her other oversight; “.....I didn’t forget about saying hi, Pres. I just... got preoccupied, that’s-”

Getting preoccupied happened quite a lot when one was around Whooves. It happened once more before Derpy could finish saying hello to Presteza, for a bright white flash engulfed the Doctor and his new lady companion. Good thing Derpy and Pres were behind the others as they did their own thing, or else those two mares might have gotten hit too. On impulse, Derpy pushed her unicorn friend backwards with an extended wing, as Miss Hooves herself found herself compelled by an act of Trixie to dip backwards, to dodging the strange magical blast.

When the sparks subsided and Derpy could clearly see again, she knew just by observing Doctor Whooves that something was seriously wrong. “Doc!” the young mare cried out a few seconds later; “What happened to you!? You’ve never referred to yourself in the third-person person! What gives?” Very perceptive of Derpy, for most ponies indeed refer to themselves in the first-person. The pegasus thought this one thing so strange that she didn’t realize the Doctor’s new horn until Trixie pointed it out.

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"Well, so, pleasure to meet you, Presteza! Quite a few unicorns popping up around me seeking to be Great! It's a fascinating thing!" He grinned impishly and lifted his hoof to speak behind it again, "She's not very convincing, is she?" he said, referencing how strongly Trixie had protested to her attraction. Smart, resourceful, clever, 'but' weird. He wasn't sure what sort of insult she'd intended to put in after the 'but', but she obviously couldn't resist talking about why she liked him so much. "Lists all my good points, none of my bad. What she's really envious of is actually my sense of timing. I mean, everyone knows you don't solve the mystery at the beginning of the adventure..."

The painter chuckled at Trixie and the tie wearing earth pony,"Nope, she really isn't ... and in my case it's a case of seeking ta be great but -going- ta be great, try not ta ferget that, Doc!" the mare said in a proud and matter of fact tone. There was no way this little mare was going to let herself believe that there was any chance she'd fail at her aspirations. At the mention of the stallion's sense of timing, Presteza glanced at his flank and noticed the hourglass. "Ah! So that sense o' timin' must be wot yer marks all about, eh?", the mare said with a friendly smile on her face. The young mare was still pretty excited by about the prospect of an adventure with a couple familiar faces around.

After some words from both the doctor and her friend, Derpy seemed to be recoiling a bit from her little outburst earlier; even seeming a tad embarassed. Presteza hadn't known Derpy very long to be honest and there wasn't very much that she knew about her, a lot of times Derpy's actions could seem random and really any outcome in any event that involved this gray pegasus was hard to predict... but her and Pressy had gotten along well in the past, with the silver maned mare even helping her out when she had a bad case of congestion one day. It was rather funny to see how seriously her friend took that playful accusation from her before. Presteza was fully prepared to say that she was just being playful but before she could...

“.....I didn’t forget about saying hi, Pres. I just... got preoccupied, that’s-”

"Erg.. what psychadelic malaise is this?! Is anyone else seeing this?"

"Wow... that was ... Whooves did not even eat any of the strange food in this place as of yet ... right?" He looked at the blue bananas in his hooves. "Hrm. Perhaps Doctor Whooves should reconsider his decision to partake of these festively colored Musa."

"ACK! Trixie, there's no need to go shooting fireworks at the good Doctor! What did Doctor Whooves even *do*?!"

"This makes no sense! The Great and Powerful Trixie simply does not drop a spell mid-cast! Obviously, something is interfering with the Great and Powerful Trixie's magics! I doubt you can comprehend the inanity involved here! It's as if there was a splendid and wonderfully refreshing pool that suddenly lost its clear and crisp water, except it's less of a refreshing pool and more of an invigorating waterfall! And it less lost its water as it suddenly had a segment where the water simply disappeared falling in, and reappeared falling out! And instead of water, it was a magnificent and indulgent honeyed milk! Made of radiant light! You know what? The Great and Powerful Trixie commands you to forget about the pool!"

Derpy had pushed her back and away from a strange magical light that had engulfed the doctor and miss Trixie. After she was on the ground she felt the shady shelter of a small wing over her and her friend shielded her from the magic. Opening her eyes the mare peaked out under from her friend's wing and witnessed the strange spectacle before her and the grey pegasus protecting her, the incredible combination of colors before her were truly mesmerizing. After the mysterious magical malaise of colors dissipated she poked up her head and noticed some things were VERY out of place; the doctor had a horn and had switched marks with Trixie... and Trixie was now an earth pony with an hourglass mark! Well this was an unexpected turn of events... and not only did it turn out they had swapped species and talents, but speaking patterns too. It looked like the doctor wasn't even aware of the change himself yet as his horn was currently releasing a shower of magical sparks in front of him.

"And do not accuse me of magical miscreantism, Whooves! You always blame me for your own inadequacies! If you want to stop getting sparks in your face, then stop producing them from your own horn!" She huffed indignantly and turned away. Then she suddenly stopped with an incredulous expression, "and since when do YOU have a horn?!"

“Doc! What happened to you!? You’ve never referred to yourself in the third-person person! What gives?”

Trixie was doing an excellent job of dodging the sparks with an astounding display of agility. The now earth pony even managed to snag Derpy out of the way of the sudden light shower emanating from the doctor's horn. Once those two were out of the way of the sparks, the painter broke into a gallop towards the doctor, forsaking the grace and agile approach Trixie made use of for a straight on charge and then skidding to a halt in front of the doctor. Hoping to cut off the stream of sparks, Presteza decided to make use of an old trick that her mother taught in the case of magical malfunctions such as this. Lifting one of her hoof to her lips she licked it and then placed it on the doctor's horn. There were many times when Presteza's magic would act up as a filly due to her inexperience back then... but her mother always had a remedy for it, the very one that pressy was making use of on the doctor. once the spark shower ended she laughed a bit awkwardly and finally spoke up after her two friend's had,"I think 'e kinda borrowed yers, Trixie... ya seem ta have kind switched cutie marks too!"

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Doctor Whooves' eyes slowly cleared of the many colors that existed only inside his own vision, Trixie's spell slowly wearing off, but that didn't stop the colors all the other ponies could see. And seemed to be accusing him of. "What?! The Clever and Fantastic Doctor Whooves has many wonderful qualities, Miss Trixie, but having a horn is not one of them! And Miss Hooves, the good Doctor does *not* speak of himself in the third person, such a habit would be ridiculously overblown and - " He stopped, actually listening to himself. "Huh. Listen to that! One supposes that he ... I mean, I ... do indeed ... huh."

His hoof came up the side of his face to touch at his forehead ... then his horn ... sparks still shooting out like fireworks from it. then Presteza's damp hoof touched at his horn, bending it slightly. The fireworks stopped while he wobbled a bit, feeling suddenly off-kilter. "Unbalanced Harmony!" he swore. "That does feel exceedingly peculiar! What a phenomenon!"

He'd always had a slight envy of the precision that unicorns could achieve with their horns - and as a clockmaker, he'd always had a desire for precision. Ever since he took on the inherited name 'Doctor Whooves' instead of his born name, he'd felt the lack even more - the journals of the Doctors before him were full of unicorn ponies performing feats of magnificent magic, and pegasus ponies doing fantastic aerial stunts. He could read up on magical theory all he wanted, and with no false modesty involved, was one of the more informed in pure theory in all of Equestria ... but he'd never had the slightest bit of hope that he might be able to put his extensive knowledge to use, and usually felt like he could never be as good a Doctor as those who had gone before...

"Ha... ha ha .. HAHAHAHAHA!" He laughed delightedly, his hooves following the length of horn a couple more times, a disbelieving grin of pure delight on his face. "Magnificent! Fantastic! The Clever and Fantastic Doctor ... " Then something Presteza finally clicked.

"My CUTIE MARK?!" he cried, and turned around in a quick circle, staring at his flank. There! "The Doctor's dignified and tasteful cutie mark has been replaced by Trixie's garish and showy one?! This is unheard of! A cutie mark is the soul of a pony! This is quite impossible! Ridiculous! No magic can affect a cutie mark! It is ... " Another single burst of sparks exploded from Doctor Whooves' horntip - just a tiny burst - as he finally ran out of words, just staring with his jaw dropped.
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Trixie wasn’t sure what to think at first about her former earth pony compatriot suddenly becoming a unicorn. Part of her wanted to laugh at his predicament but part of her was annoyed by his new found abilities! “What gives here? Did you forget that Trixie is the magical one and you are the one that, well, you drive the cart! There is no room for two unicorns, well, three unicorns in solving this dilemma, and trust me, there is a dilemma, after all how else would you be a unicorn. Come along, Whooves, we have a mystery ahoof! Just let me use my magic to….”

“My magic to……”

What was wrong?! Trixie suddenly found herself unable to cast her magic detecting spell again, in fact she couldn’t summon any magical energy at all! The spell wasn’t that draining and even if it was, she should still feel some summonable magical energy within her, but instead there was just this feeling, which she could only described as passive, that she was somehow connected through the ley lines to the natural world around her. Was that always there and she couldn’t feel it beneath her active magical energies before? It didn’t make any sense and the azure pony was becoming quite apprehensive.

Her unease was suddenly dialed up to eleven when she heard Whooves scream about his cutie mark was gone replaced by… by.. Trixie galloped right up to the unicorn stallion and stared right into his eyes from a few scant inches away. “What?? What did you say??” She narrowed her eyes as she looked into his, leaning first left, then right, but never breaking her gaze, as if seeking some answer in his eyes. Then she quickly turned Whooves about with a newfound strength she hadn’t realized before and much to her disbelief, there it was, her magnificent cutie mark, copied on Whooves’ flank! “What is the meaning of this? Copying my cutie mark, I mean I know everypony wants to be as skilled and beautiful as I, but really!” Trixie turned to look at her own blue flank to show off, “besides mine is the origggg- What.. WHAT! WHAT IS THIS ABOMINATION!!”

There it was on Trixie’s thigh, an hourglass cutie mark. Whooves’ cutie mark. What in all of Equestria was going on here?! Then the realization hit her like a ton of brick, a scenario almost too horrible to even contemplate, but she needed to know… Trixie nervously brought her forehoof to her forehead and tried to feel her horn, becoming increasingly desperate as she couldn’t find what was supposed to be there, “my horn!!! My beautiful horn!!!” Her eyes grew wide and her pupils dilated as the full force of what had happened finally dawned upon her! “I.. I.. I’m an earth pony! With a look of disgust she knew it was even worse than that, if that were possible, “Oh Celestia above ... I’m ... you!”

"What? How? How did this… HEY! Whataminute! Did you call Trixie’s cutie mark garish and showy! You can talk!” Trixie pointed with disdain at her own new representation of her destiny, “what the hay does this mean anyway? That you like making clocks? Obsessed with telling time? What kind of a talent is that!! Give mine back!!!”

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Well how about that? It seemed both Dr. Whooves and Trixie switched not only their species, but their cutie marks as well. Whooves was now a magician that couldn’t use magic spells, and Trixie was... whatever a hourglass was supposed to represent. Now, Derpy Hooves could have been the sane voice on the street and called an end to the bickering before things got even worse. But an erroneous comment from the Doctor prompted Derpy to shout this over Trixie;

“Actually Doc, right before Twilight got her wings, several of our town’s residents somehow swapped their cutie marks with each other. That accident caused untold amounts of chaos for Ponyville when that happened. Checkerboard storms, out of control animals, lame comedians; it was like the second coming of Discord- no wait, more like the third, because he broke free of his statue that one time if I-”

Needless to say, Derpy was rarely ever in a position to correct Whooves. “So yeah Doc, magical cutie mark swaps are in fact a documented phenomenon, meaning your previous assumptions are out of date.” Ha! Spoken like a true smarty!

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Doctor Whooves' eyes slowly cleared of the many colors that existed only inside his own vision, Trixie's spell slowly wearing off, but that didn't stop the colors all the other ponies could see. And seemed to be accusing him of. "What?! The Clever and Fantastic Doctor Whooves has many wonderful qualities, Miss Trixie, but having a horn is not one of them! And Miss Hooves, the good Doctor does *not* speak of himself in the third person, such a habit would be ridiculously overblown and - " He stopped, actually listening to himself. "Huh. Listen to that! One supposes that he ... I mean, I ... do indeed ... huh."

His hoof came up the side of his face to touch at his forehead ... then his horn ... sparks still shooting out like fireworks from it. then Presteza's damp hoof touched at his horn, bending it slightly. The fireworks stopped while he wobbled a bit, feeling suddenly off-kilter. "Unbalanced Harmony!" he swore. "That does feel exceedingly peculiar! What a phenomenon!"

"Ha... ha ha .. HAHAHAHAHA! Magnificent! Fantastic! The Clever and Fantastic Doctor ... " Then something Presteza finally clicked.

"My CUTIE MARK?!" he cried, and turned around in a quick circle, staring at his flank. There! "The Doctor's dignified and tasteful cutie mark has been replaced by Trixie's garish and showy one?! This is unheard of! A cutie mark is the soul of a pony! This is quite impossible! Ridiculous! No magic can affect a cutie mark! It is ... " Another single burst of sparks exploded from Doctor Whooves' horntip - just a tiny burst - as he finally ran out of words, just staring with his jaw dropped.

“What gives here? Did you forget that Trixie is the magical one and you are the one that, well, you drive the cart! There is no room for two unicorns, well, three unicorns in solving this dilemma, and trust me, there is a dilemma, after all how else would you be a unicorn. Come along, Whooves, we have a mystery ahoof! Just let me use my magic to….”

“My magic to……”

Her unease was suddenly dialed up to eleven when she heard Whooves scream about his cutie mark was gone replaced by… by.. Trixie galloped right up to the unicorn stallion and stared right into his eyes from a few scant inches away. “What?? What did you say?? What is the meaning of this? Copying my cutie mark, I mean I know everypony wants to be as skilled and beautiful as I, but really! besides mine is the origggg- What.. WHAT! WHAT IS THIS ABOMINATION!!”

“I.. I.. I’m an earth pony! With a look of disgust she knew it was even worse than that, if that were possible, “Oh Celestia above ... I’m ... you!”

"What? How? How did this… HEY! Whataminute! Did you call Trixie’s cutie mark garish and showy! You can talk!” Trixie pointed with disdain at her own new representation of her destiny, “what the hay does this mean anyway? That you like making clocks? Obsessed with telling time? What kind of a talent is that!! Give mine back!!!”

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Once presteza withdrew her hoof from the doctor's newly obtained horned she couldn't help but enjoy the little back and forth between himself and his friend, Trixie. The two seemed almost made for eachother with how easy it was for them to converse... even if they seemed to get on one another's nerves a bit. The circumstances that resulted in the swapping of the two ponies' physical traits was still a mystery for the moment but to make sure she didn't lose any traits she valued in herself she took a couple steps back from the doctor and his friend-who-happened-to-be-a-mare in case the oddity was limited to their immediate area. Soon she found herself back at the side of her friend while she elaborated on an event that had occured in Ponyville...

“Actually Doc, right before Twilight got her wings, several of our town’s residents somehow swapped their cutie marks with each other. That accident caused untold amounts of chaos for Ponyville when that happened. Checkerboard storms, out of control animals, lame comedians; it was like the second coming of Discord- no wait, more like the third, because he broke free of his statue that one time if I-”

Needless to say, Derpy was rarely ever in a position to correct Whooves. “So yeah Doc, magical cutie mark swaps are in fact a documented phenomenon, meaning your previous assumptions are out of date.” Ha! Spoken like a true smarty!

The freckled pony froze for a moment as she heard Derpy elaborating on how swapping cutie marks was actually quite possible. The young Reared and let out a loud whinny of frustration,"AAAAAAAAAAUGH! Why is it I'm never around fer all the weird stuff that happens in that town?!"The mare sad before calming herself down and letting out an exasperated huff. This was starting to get a bit annoying, Presteza left her comfy and sheltered life in her family's manor to seek adventure and grow... but for some reason it looked like most of the adventurous stuff seemed to focus on Ponyville. Then it hit her, what was she complaining about? She had an actual adventure -and- a mystery on her hooves right here and now! Who or what was swapping traits between ponies on this island? Would she and her friends be able to solve this magnificent mystery before they were all a big mess of switched up bits of eachother?! only time will tell...

"Oi, Trixie!" She shouted, "Maybe you should try and give the doctor a crash course in how ta use magic..." After a moment of thought, Presteza realized given how cross Trixie was with the doctor at the moment it may take a bit more to get her to oblige. Changing her voice to the kind of tone one would expect a flirtatious fan to use when adressing a celebrity she added on another statement," I mean, I'm sure an incredible magic user such as yourself could easily teach a stallion how to use some magic... and now you just have another species of pony's magic to conquer and prove your the best at." Hopefully Trixie's ego still was in there deep down in her now earth pony form...

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As everypony kept talking and talking and talking, Doctor Whooves felt like a teapot left on the stove too long, the tension and frustration just building up. What was going on? Why was everypony trying to show him up all of a sudden? Why couldn't they just see HIM? Was he forever going to be having to prove himself against all his predecessors?

"Can't you all BE QUIET?!" He threw his head upwards, and a jet of sparks and fireworks shot upwards from his horn, letting loose with a haphazard and chaotic barrage of fireworks across the sky. Giant sky blossoms exploded with every color of the rainbow, pierced through with a spray of whirling whistlers. Crack-a-BOOM! VWEEEEEEEEE! sizzlesizzlesizzlepoppop!

Finally, his horn glowing red-hot from the release, he slumped downwards, feeling a LOT more relaxed, and perhaps more than a little worn out and sad. He glanced up at the aching heat, pursed his lips, and blew up over the new horn, cooling it off a bit.

Now. To focus on speaking normally, and not let this ... whatever ... get the better of him. He turned to Derpy. "One thing at a time, then. The Clev-... Doc-... " He cleared his throat. "I. Am aware of the events surrounding Twilight's ascension to princessdom, being well-versed in the bizarre goings-on around Equestria and especially Ponyville. Through my detailed research, I have determined that those events were intrinsically entwined with the Elements of Harmony, and thus are exempt from the normal rules surrounding such mystical matters as these. Worry not, The- ... I ... will figure out the theoretical and intellectual ramifications of these events, given some time to think."

He turned to Trixie, then. "And for your information, the talent associated with ... MY ... cutie mark is an impeccable and magnificent sense of timing, something The Doctor would think that a showpony such as yourself would have some awareness of, and value for. But worry not, Trixie, there is no chance that The Doctor will become a better showmare than you, even were he to suddenly gain a desire for the stage." He found a cocky little grin on his lips at the little snipe hidden in that reassurance, and quickly wiped his hoof over his face to wipe the expression off and return his normal in-control demeanor. Where had that come from? Still, other than a tendency to sound like he'd swallowed a thesaurus, he felt he'd kept himself rather well under control there.
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Trixie was outraged, how could this have happened!? Stuck as an earth pony with no way to manipulate magic, not to mention on the most boring looking cutie marks ever! Watching Whooves amateurishly use the same magic she had spent a lifetime masterfully honing into a work of art! “Of course you’ll never be a true snowpony, how could you?! You think just having a horn makes you an artist of the stage, don’t make me, er, Trixie, laugh! HA! As for timing, so far all you managed to do is arrive just in time for another disaster, how is that timing!!?” Trixie stopped for a moment and contemplated what she just said. “Wait a minute… Your special talent is always being in the right place and time for mayhem?!? What crazy special talent is that?!! That’s like finding bananas as a special talent! Except bananas are useful and disasters aren’t! Maybe banana peels. I could use a good banana daiquiri right now. You know what? Forget about the bananas!”

Trixie shook her head, hoof pressed between her eyes. Why was she babbling in this insane way? This whole town was insane! With blue bananas! And that’s why she was thinking about bananas. And it was a clue! She picked up one of the bananas. “Like this banana. Let’s not forget it. It’s blue, right?” She picked up a carton of little yellow berries. “And these … these are a greenish yellow. Like a banana!” She picked up one berry from the carton and popped it in her mouth. “Ah! Blueberries! Except yellow!” She took a bite of the banana. “Bananas, except blue!” She picked up a carrot. “A green carrot!” *CRUNCH* Then she reached over and grabbed up a pear. “And an orange pear!” She took a juicy bite, then spat it out, dropped the orange fruit, and wiped her hoof off on her flank. “Ugh, still a pear.” Ptoo, ptoo.

This wasn't getting Trixie very far at all, at least with spell casting she could again attempt to find the source. “Earth pony magic. Feh. How absurd. What is there to master, growing potatoes? At least if I had obtained wings instead of earth … whatever it is that makes an earth pony what it is… dirty hooves? At least if I had gotten wings, I could at least fly above and perhaps spot a better clue than fruit!”

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OOC: This will be my last Derpy post in this thread. I'm going to assume that my successor, once they've been picked, will take it from here.

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Oh, how much did Derpy Hooves want Trixie and Doctor Whooves to stop bickering amongst themselves and start working together to solve the mystery of this tropical island. The rantings of a magician turned... errrr, doctor, produced one useful idea however. “Wings?” Derpy excitedly hovered upwards; “I’ve got wings! Lemme’ do the scouting for you guys!”

Heroically raising a foreleg towards the heavens, the googly-eyed pegasus did not wait for anypony else’s input before she commenced soaring above the seaside resort. “Never fear,” proclaimed the bold pegasus; “Derpy Hooves is here!” This hadn’t exactly the first time the young mare had been placed in a situation requiring her to step up and help save the day. Fortune strangely seemed to favor Miss Hooves on those past occasions; whether it’d be the case this time thought remained... up in the air, as it were.

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"Can't you all BE QUIET?!"

He turned to Trixie, then. "And for your information, the talent associated with ... MY ... cutie mark is an impeccable and magnificent sense of timing, something The Doctor would think that a showpony such as yourself would have some awareness of, and value for. But worry not, Trixie, there is no chance that The Doctor will become a better showmare than you, even were he to suddenly gain a desire for the stage."

“Of course you’ll never be a true snowpony, how could you?! You think just having a horn makes you an artist of the stage, don’t make me, er, Trixie, laugh! HA! As for timing, so far all you managed to do is arrive just in time for another disaster, how is that timing!!?” Trixie stopped for a moment and contemplated what she just said. “Wait a minute… Your special talent is always being in the right place and time for mayhem?!? What crazy special talent is that?!! That’s like finding bananas as a special talent! Except bananas are useful and disasters aren’t! Maybe banana peels. I could use a good banana daiquiri right now. You know what? Forget about the bananas!”

“Like this banana. Let’s not forget it. It’s blue, right?” She picked up a carton of little yellow berries. “And these … these are a greenish yellow. Like a banana!” She picked up one berry from the carton and popped it in her mouth.“Ah! Blueberries! Except yellow! Bananas, except blue! A green carrot! “And an orange pear! Ugh, still a pear.” Ptoo, ptoo.

“Earth pony magic. Feh. How absurd. What is there to master, growing potatoes? At least if I had obtained wings instead of earth … whatever it is that makes an earth pony what it is… dirty hooves? At least if I had gotten wings, I could at least fly above and perhaps spot a better clue than fruit!”

It seemed that the doctor had managed to snatch up some of trixie's traits, including her ego. Presteza had not seen very much of trixie since that time she attended her show. There, the Showmare had no need to yell out for ponies to pay attention to her. It seemed that Trixie was also rather skeptical of the usefulness of the doctor's talent,"Well, Trixie... I wouldn't mind a talent for finding the most interesting of events. Like that whole ascension business. Seems I hit the Jackpot this though!" The painter grinned proudly before she pulled the galloped over to the earth mare's side. "Think about it and I'm sure you'll figure it out, My dad's an earth pony and he's super strong! Earth ponies are the hardier of equestrians in broad strokes. Depending on their talent they often have a closer relationship with nature, can make stuff grow quicker and things... but honestly I think we should probably get this fixed before ya get the chance ta try that last part."

As her new friend began pointing out the various oddly colored fruit, Presteza took one of the blue bananas and peeled it with some precise magic. The inside was a lighter shade of blue, "Same color as my eyes! Sweet!" The mare grinned and took a bite,"Mmm... huh. has a blueberry taste mixed in." The painter poked one of her saddlebags and soon a tiny purple head poked out. A small bat sniffing a bout and going wide eyed at all the fruit, "Fressy, ya gotta try some o' this stuff, ma--" The little fruitbat had already gotten on it and began to suckle on a strawberry the size of an apple at the side of Trixie's hoof.

“Wings?” Derpy excitedly hovered upwards; “I’ve got wings! Lemme’ do the scouting for you guys!”

Heroically raising a foreleg towards the heavens, the googly-eyed pegasus did not wait for anypony else’s input before she commenced soaring above the seaside resort. “Never fear,” proclaimed the bold pegasus; “Derpy Hooves is here!”

*chew chew chew... gulp*

The painter turned to the doctor,"Oi! Doc, did she take off like that back when she traveled with you?" Was a real shame that she was gone though... Some how Pressy felt she might not be seeing much of her googly eyed friend for quite a while, a feeling of sadness welling up in her for a moment before she looked back to Trixie. "So, Trixie, Does bein' an earth pony feel any different? I imagine the head feels a bit lighter since the horn's gone..."

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Doctor Whooves blinked as Trixie and Presteza both made comment on the fruit. Something clicked there ... the fruit wasn't just altered, it was ... yes, just as the passing pony had said, it was swapped. Just as he and Trixie had been. In fact, this reminded him of something, it was ... it was ... Whooves blinked in confusion. What was wrong? He *always* remembered the trivia he'd read in the nick of time.

Well, perhaps it just wasn't the nick of time, yet.

He was distracted by another bright flash of white light, rather like just a few minutes ago. Everything felt very strange for a moment, as he staggered around with his balance completely thrown off. Whooves wasn't the only one - Derpy came plummeting from the sky and slammed right into Trixie, knocking both of them into the bushes. He stumbled back into somepony very large, shook his head, then went running over to the bushes. "Derpy? Trixie?" he called, then blinked, cleared his voice. "Are you all right?" Nope, voice was still weird. He started rummaging desperately through the leaves.

Inside the bushes, Trixie was having problems mainly because her wings were all caught up in the branches - when the branches were parted, and there stood a lovely tan unicorn mare holding out her hoof to help her out. Her brown hair was long and impossibly curly, and she had a bright, easy smile on her face, as the sun shone around her. "Ah, thank goodness you're OK!" she said merrily. "Let me help you out!"

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Trixie stared at the multicolored fruits, convinced that it was the key to this whole strange affair, when suddenly there was that white flash of light once again.  Wait ... why should she care about a bunch of stupid fruit?  The Great and Powerful Trixie did not care -

CRASH!

Everything was grey flank and blond tail, and entirely too close a look at an hourglass cutie mark, and then branches and leaves in all sorts of uncomfortable places.  The world spun around her, the light filtering through the leaves somewhat blinding her. She tried to right herself, but the branches pulled painfully at her back.  She wasn't sure just what part of her back, but there was definitely something painful there.

And then something was thankfully blocking the light.  Somepony.  The branches parted, and there was ... was ... who?  Was that Doctor Whooves?  What happened to his mane?  And that smile?  He always seemed convinced that mares were falling for him left and right, and she'd never really understood why he thought that, but that smile ... she had to admit, something about him ...

He took her hoof and pulled her out, and she let a yelp at the pull on her back ... but at least she was free!  "Thank you," she said in relief.  "The Great and Powerful Trixie ... wait ... Doctor?"  Doctor Whooves was ... no longer taller than her.  He was ... rather more pleasant looking all over, in fact.  He was a rather cute mare!  Which immediately made everything he put her through constantly at least a little more bearable.  When they were fixing all this, perhaps they could just leave that alone.

And behind him, well, that ungainly looking big brute of a stallion must be Presteza.  Wait!  Whooves also did not have Trixie's cutie mark any longer!  She turned around in a quick circle, looking for her own flank, and ended up in a heap on the ground as her hooves tripped over each other.  But she didn't care, her cutie mark was ...

"BUBBLES?!  Why do I have bubbles?  What sort of a cutie mark is bubbles?  What are bubbles even supposed to mean!?  I'm sorry, that was mean, I'm sure bubbles are a very nice cutie mark, but ... no, wait, what am I saying?  NO they're NOT!  They're - no, I'm sorry, I yelled again.  No, I'm NOT sorry I yelled!  Sorry, sorry.  AUGH!  The confused and bewildered Trixie just doesn't know what's going wrong!"

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Derpy squinted at the scenery below and closed one eye for better focus. Aside from the village, there was nothing but palm trees, beaches, and crystal blue seas. Normal island stuff really.

Wait...What was she scouting for anyways? Call her Ditzy, but that part didn't seem quite clear to her. She slapped her forehead in frustration. Ugh. Typical clumsy, off-beat Derpy. Now she's gonna have to fly all the way back down and ask a goofy question. Sure she's accepted these things about herself, but it still gets a little tiring at times. If only she could be on-beat for once. Like have some supernatural sense of timing or something. That way, everything would look completely intentional all the time and everypony could fully appreciate her unbridled charm.

A white flash of light sent her into temporary disorientation. That was weird. Good thing she had wings to put on the breaks....

 

Or not.

 

"Look out below!" Cried Derpy as she plummeted right into Trixie. The impact sent them tumbling into a bunch of leaves, and Derpy was pretty sure she just gained a mouth full of foliage.

 

Soon Derpy was met with an upside-down image of a very familiar yet different looking mare. Derpy simply stayed in her position while Trixie crawled from the bushes. There was something about that brown mare she just couldn't place. Until Trixie addressed her as 'Doctor'

 

"Doc- Scuse me..." She spat out a bunch of leaves. "Doctor!? As in the formerly male Doctor? Well that's just... that's interesting actually. Kind of distressing. But mostly interesting. Also what in the bloody tartarus happened to my voice?" She gasped and slapped a hoof over her mouth. "Blimey... I never say that. I never say most of these things!"

 

Her attention was soon drawn to Trixie, who was babbling on about bubbles. Namely, the bubbles that are now firmly planted on her bum. Upon hearing Trixie question the meaning of wobbly soapy floaty things, Derpy heroically leaped to her hooves, ready and willing to school this fellow pony on the mysterious ways of the bubble. "I'll have you know..." She stumbled to the side. "Whoo head rush... I'll have you know that bubbles can mean plenty of things. It could represent the ability to warp through countless bubble universes. Or perhaps bend all bubbles to my will. That would be rather amusing at birthday parties, you know. But alas, it represents something even greater...my personality. Or at least it did. Either way, I'm proud to call it my- hourglass!?"

 

Derpy looked in awe for a moment before chuckling. "So that explains it. I suppose I'm not quite Derpy anymore then, am I? Maybe I'll call myself Derpy Whooves! Wait, no no, that's quite redundant... did I mention that you make quite a lovely pegasus? Oh bugger, that must mean I can't fly anymore. So I'm an earth pony. That explains the sudden feeling of extra weight. I didn't think I ate that many leaves on the way down!"

 

She glanced at the Doctor, then to Presteza. Oh my... the Doctor didn't just become female. He and Pressy swapped genders! And Pressy was looking quite dashing to be honest. But no, Derpy had to focus! There were more pressing matters to be dealt with! More important questions to ask!

 

"Sweet Celestia, do I usually talk this much?"

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