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A Lonely Mage (Open)


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"Author willing to pay for interviews - no qualifications required, anypony welcome. Inquire at the old cabin in Whitetail Woods."

 

With the flyers put up around Ponyville, all that was left was for Carrot Curls to return home and wait for somepony to bite. Her newest book is sure to sell well - but first she needs data on magic in the life of the average pony, and where better to get it than good ol' rural Ponyville. She made her way through the nearby familiar woods, and it wasn't long until she spotted the old cabin she'd inherited from her mother. Yikes. She hadn't been home in years, and it showed. Vines crawled up the outside walls, and some of the roof shingles had fallen off - probably from nearby storms. Still, it was largely intact, and the key in her hat still worked just fine. Thankfully, no one saw fit to burglarize anything - not that there was much to steal here. A few quick spells later, and the place would look fit to live in again. As is, it was dark, dusty, and stuffy in here - not ideal interview environment.

 

As she set to cleaning up, Carrot Curls got to thinking. It'd basically just been her and Presto on the road for the last few decades. She hasn't held more conversation than buying goods and services from any other pony in weeks. In fact, if you don't count work-related conversation, she can't remember the last time she just talked with someone. Sure, she's been productive, and royalties from her books have supported her wandering lifestyle, but they didn't guarantee her anyone to talk to on the way. In fact, as pulled open some blinds and cleaned some windows, she thought about how she kind of hasn't really made any long lasting friends for her entire life. She's already a full-grown mare, and she's not getting any younger. Maybe... maybe she should settle down? She's back home, and she could make the place downright comfortable if she set to it. Maybe she's done enough travelling, and she should actually make some friends...

 

Thoughts for later. Surely someone would come knocking any minute now. After all, who wouldn't want free bits? ... Granted, you'd have to wander into the woods and enter a lonely, decrepit cabin on the trust of a flyer, but still! Free bits! Carrot Curls sat herself down at the table, content. She set aside some ink and parchment for notetaking. There were plenty of seats for interviewees, just in case more than one showed up at a time. Light and fresh air breezed through the open windows. The place looked livable again, if a little old. She'd even fixed up some juice, chilled to perfection (magically, of course). Now it was just a matter of time.

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When Placidity came inside, mentioning the flyer, Tranquility was not sure whether it was even worth for them to go. It wasn't so much that she didn't want to, but more that she felt it more logistical if she didn't and just let some other ponies go. From her sister's recollection, the flyer was kind of vague, and as far as she was aware, that old cabin wasn't just old, but it was kind of abandoned for quite a while, she couldn't entirely remember if she had been there before, but if she had, then she was sure it would be quite rustic. Of course, Placidity managed to somewhat convince her to go. It really helped that Tranquility was extra willing to help another, who she was assuming to be some kind of researcher of sorts. 

 

The day was slow, and they had no booked appointments. Maybe if Placidity had gone through with her brief plans to run for mayor, than the slots wouldn't have opened so fast, but she wasn't really willing to go through with it. She was sure there were others that were more likely to be qualified for the job, and she pulled out real fast. That didn't really matter for Tranquility, it just gave her more time to work on her own projects, and moreover, gave them the opportunity to go to the cabin in the first place.

 

"How long exactly has that cabin been abandoned for? Maybe it wasn't quite abandoned as ponies think," Tranquility said to her sister, privately, though if there were anything around to hear, it wouldn't really matter. 

 

"From what I've managed to gather from the ponies who didn't seem to want to go... long enough. Not a very good answer I know, but it's what we have," Placidity replied leading the way. "But, I was able to find out basically where it is."

 

"That isn't very certain, but we're lucky this is just Whitetail, and not Everfree, otherwise this would be more of a rescue mission. Of course, I trust you know enough of where to go," Tranquility commented. "Though, in that case, maybe we'd find that one pony that actually knows how to live out there properly." Emphasis on Pony.

 

"Yes, well, if I'm right, than I'd have to say that we're almost there." That was a bit of an understatement. Within ten seconds of Placidity's statement, they had arrived at the cabin. The cabin still looked like it had been around for quite a while, and there were clear signs of natural decay, but it was still clear that somepony lived here. Now of course, were they still there at this very moment? That's what Placidity had to find out. She would knock on the door and switch to her projected voice. She could have casted it inside the house for more clarity, but that would surely freak out whoever was there. Psionics weren't normal, nor was an artificial sounding voice. "Hello to whomever may be there. We have come upon request from such a flyer that was presented in town."

 

 

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Aha! Interviewees, and not a minute too soon! Carrot Curls went to the door, and it gleamed with her orange magic as it floated open. She tried to put on her most welcoming smile, which was more eerie than warm (Carrot Curls was never good at smiling for photos).

 

"Ah, hello, that'd be me. Please, come on in." She stepped back for the pair to enter, gesturing towards the table with the tray of drinks and pitcher of orange juice in the middle of the room. As she did, Carrot Curls scanned the duo up and down, and didn't really hide her wandering eyes either. A pair of unicorns who looked completely unrelated to each other. Hm. Seems like as fine a first few interviewees as any.

 

"Make yourselves comfortable." Her uncanny smile faded into a more natural, subdued expression that portrayed calmness rather than any ill intent.


The inside definitely looked better than the outside - especially since cleaning the outside of the cabin had completely slipped Carrot Curls' mind. The furniture was comfortable, functional and sturdy - Carrot Curls' dad would be proud. A kitchen was visible from the main room in the modest dwelling, and a couple of lanterns hanging from the ceiling lay unlit - daylight provided plenty.

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It sure was nicer inside than outside. That speaks insight towards the recent arrival of such pony who probably did not have the time to fix up the exterior, though with the seclusion within the forest, was that really necessary? The unicorn twins made their way inside the building, in an outwardly quiet method, one which was not quiet inwardly. During such procedure, one might be able to notice the glow of their horns, though with their natural skills, it is quite faint.

 

"Did you have to say it like that? Not a very good first impression to make if it doesn't represent us," Tranquility inquired over her sister's statement. Though it was quite amusing, she didn't want the Orange unicorn to get the wrong idea.

 

"It'll just be this one time for now. I just thought it would be fun to do, no Noble is going to live out here in the forest," Placidity replied. It was quite clear that they did not have to conform to any noble social standards, though their normal type of external speech could be considered noble enough. "We shall make ourselves comfortable enough, we do not wish to intrude too much."

 

"You're still kind of doing it, but not quite so much," Tranquility informed her sister as she formed herself into a comfortable position. She looked towards the drinks. Standard for this time of day, no alcohol that might jeopardize the purpose of all this. "I'm Tranquility, and this is my sister Placidity. We are here to help you in whatever endeavor it would appear you have."

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Carrot Curls closed the door behind them and sat herself down across from them. She floated a cup she had already poured for herself to her mouth to sip, and then put it back down - hopefully as a gesture that she didn't poison it or anything. She looked at the two, and could only just barely make out the faint magical aura. What were they doing so subtly in front of her that she couldn't even notice? From experience, her guesses were either telepathy or sensory magic... either way, it seemed like these two weren't exactly strangers to magic. That should be good.

 

Carrot Curls had almost zoned out while thinking to herself, and only snapped back to the conversation when she heard the "noble" voice again. Something about it was odd, but she couldn't quite put her hoof on it. Oh well, anyways. She nods at their introductions, and gestures to herself after.

 

"I'm Carrot Curls. Author, co-author, and ghostwriter of dozens of books on magic." She wondered to herself whether her name would tip the two off or not - but gloating her modest fame wasn't the point of the interview. "My next book is going to be about the importance and effects of magic in the lives of everyday ponies - that includes earth ponies, pegasi, and of course, unicorns. So I'm looking for data, and I'm willing to pay. I suppose my first questions, if you're still willing, would be what are your jobs, and what magic do you find yourselves using most commonly?"

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Tranquility felt like she might have heard of Carrot Curls before, but she wasn't quite sure. The mention of ghostwriting might be the explanation for that. In the event that she had heard of such name before, she felt sorry that she forgot, but she didn't want to bring that up now, she would make note to look out for certain books if she had the time. 

 

"Pleasure to meet you Carrot Curls," Placidity would greet. "We are foremost, Psychologists, operating mainly out of Ponyville, with clients in Canterlot. It plays into our natural talents, of Psionics. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but we've never been able to speak physically at all since birth, so all our speech is magical in nature, it's why it sounds the way it does."

 

"What you're hearing right now, is our projected voices. It is the main method we use for converse with others, generally most don't like the thought of their mind being invaded, something we learned fast in elementary," Tranquility added on. "We are capable of probing into ones mind if it is required, though we will not do so of our own volition. You do not have to worry about your secrets, the effects is quite noticeable if one is cognitive enough."

 

Placidity nodded in agreement with our sister. "So, basically, we use our psionic magic all the time, it's basically become our life now. In fact, with your mental resonance, we wouldn't even need to be in this building to communicate, but it just makes things more normal and easier. But of course, we use other magic too."

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Carrot Curls stared with what looked like a vacant expression as they explained themselves, but the floating pen vigorously transcribing their dialogue while also making notes in the margins of her parchment said otherwise. She nodded occasionally, simultaneously floating the cup to her lips again before setting it down. Psionics. That would explain a lot. It had been quite some time since Carrot Curls had encountered a psionic pony, and even then, she only talked briefly. Besides that and a chapter or three in some general magic books, Carrot Curls only had a passing knowledge. Now was her chance to gather more info. She looked at Tranquility first.

 

"Right. Well, thankfully, you needn't worry about me keeping secrets - I publish just about everything I think. That said, I am curious - do you use your psionics for anything else? If you can reach into the minds of others, project your thoughts, and read theirs, I imagine you could do other things that might be useful to psychologists." Carrot Curls continued talking out loud, since psionic magic wasn't in her ballpark - or at least, nowhere near a level of proficiency with these two.

 

Carrot Curls then turned to address Placidity. "And I'm curious - what exactly do you mean by other magic? I assume things besides simple telekinesis."

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Tranquility would float her own drink up. Standard it would seem, no reason why it should feel special, considering there was no mention of such from the unicorn. Looking over to the parchment, she questioned whether or not the unicorn would be able to capture all of the information that they were willing to give to them. "If you mean can we alter others minds directly, than yes, we kind of can. It's a sensitive process though and we try to focus on the classic methods of fixing ones issues. We generally do not want to perform the task without medical approval from a proper psychiatrist, as we are not medical doctors, most ponies get the two mixed up when they're not quite the same, though, I have considered using the free time we have recently to rectify that." She would drink during the explanation, not intended to show off or anything.

 

"Truth be told, Ponyville isn't entirely in need of two psychologists, the balance is somewhere between, kind of like, 1.5 if such was possible," Placidity added on, assuming Carrot Curls knowledge of Ponyville. "Of course, I would go on more, but you seem to be focused quite heavily on magic. While our skills are mostly psionic based, we still can do other types of magic. Light magic, levitation, all basic stuff, but something that we have been trying to do, is teleportation, maybe with more dedication we could do it. Of course, quite similar to psionics is illusion. If we can project a voice, than we can project an image as well. Nothing physical to conjure though, yet." Her horn would light up and she would cast a spell, turning her appearance similar to her sisters, though there were differences, noticeably her cutie mark had not changed. "More practice is required it would seem, but it is not like we need to use this everyday."

 

Following Placidity's direction, Tranquility would cast the spell herself in basically the reverse function, with the same outliers. "Not sure if this would be quite useful considering we are quite paired." The two of them would drop the magic returning back to normal. 

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Carrot Curls nodded, listening intently and taking notes with her as-always vacant stare. The idea of ponies directly changing other ponies' thoughts and minds was a powerful and dangerous magic, and if these two really were that good at it - which, she had no reason to doubt they were - they could be truly terrifying if they put their minds to it. Carrot Curls wasn't terribly worried, though - they seemed nice. Nonetheless, the thought was interesting.

 

"Well, as I said, my next book is going to be about magic in the lives of everyday ponies. It seems to me, though, that you're a little more involved with magic than your average pony, given your affinity for the psionic, but this is all still useful." She noted the magical disguise - Carrot Curls was familiar with changeling magic, but had also met and read about a number of ponies capable of similar illusions. Even Carrot Curls herself was confident she could create a more convincing disguise - or at least, a more complete one that'd cover her cutie mark. So it seemed these two hadn't mastered as much as she'd thought. But still, she pressed on.

 

"You say you want to learn teleportation. It's not an easy magic to get a hang on. How exactly do you plan to teach yourselves? Trial and error? Textbooks? Hiring a mentor?" Carrot Curls was thankfully blessed with the opportunity to study at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns when she was young, but she'd never heard of any adults attending as students. It'd be interesting to see how ponies who hadn't been studying magic their entire lives would go about learning new tricks.

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"If we had the extra time to dedicate to learning magic, than I believe we could better ourselves in such illusion magic. Really, it's more that we don't really need to do it a lot, so there's quite a bit of skill decay," Tranquility explained. She would cast the spell again. This time, it working perfectly in appearance. "Yeah, skill decay, definitely. We've done this before. As amusing as it is, it's not very practical right now." She would quickly drop it.

 

"As for teleportation, well, I'm not sure how long that's going to take us. Even if we do learn it to a degree, at what point will the distance become actually useful? It's more of a side agenda really," Placidity added on. "I'm not sure whether we would learn it on our own, or from someone else. The majority of our magic skill comes from ourselves, natural talent, trial and error."

 

"Though, teleporting ourselves vs teleporting other things, there are many variables, I'm not quite sure to say what's easier. When you're teleporting something else, your perception stays the same, but when you're teleporting yourself, you've got your own calibrations," Tranquility rambled. If somepony wasn't quite paying attention, it would kind of seem as if it was just one pony saying everything. "Actually, in that case we could try teleporting each other and work towards teleporting ourselves, because we're so familiar. I feel so intuitive right now." Though the voice expressed joy, her physical emotions were as stable as they were before.

 

Placidity smiled towards her sister. "Yes, we will have to try that one day, if we get around to it. I wonder what the longest of our range would be. It won't be quite as long as our psionic range of course, but if we can make it to Canterlot easily, than I'd say that's fantastic enough."

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Oh, right, other ponies have jobs and lives that tie them down. Carrot Curls occasionally forgot that "wandering author/mage" is not a common profession. She flipped to a different sheet of parchment whilst considering how freeing her job is. Carrot Curls looked back up at the pair. She could say something about how "it's the journey, not the destination," and how travelling by hoof rather than teleportation has taught her a lot, but she imagined that their professions and lifestyles meant it would just be a convenience. She also briefly considered plugging her own books, Teleportation: Where and How and From Cosplay to Nightmare Night - Illusory Magic and Disguises, but decided against it. For now. Unless they asked.

 

"Mhmm. Noted, noted. There are plenty of affordable resources that might help you learn faster, but if you're committed to being self taught, then I won't stop you. In any case. I'd like to ask if the magic of other ponies regularly plays into your life. Do your patients' magic ever play a part in any of it? Or is there anything else you'd like to make note of?"

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"Patient's magic doesn't matter that much normally, but one thing that it does affect is psionic resistance," Tranquility expressed. "Sometimes patients prefer it when we develop a telepathic link to communicate rather than audible, makes it easier for them to express themselves. But of course, they are unaware of their own resistance. In most cases it doesn't matter at all, but I fear the case that a super magical pony comes to us for help and wants that, adds a bit of extra complication. Luckily I don't expect Starlight Glimmer around here anytime soon." Starlight was basically the strongest magic user in Ponyville, why they didn't want to discriminate against an appointment with her, they'd be better off not knowing the consequences.

 

"We've yet to really meet anypony with some significant psionic power. Starlight Glimmer is the closest, but that seems to be offhoof random spells and such, I don't think she has much focus, maybe we should ask her?" Wow, there's a lot of talk about Starlight here, Placidity realised, but it makes sense because they're talking about magic. "Oh, of course, maybe we should drag her here sometime. If only she wasn't so seemingly busy. Maybe it would be faster for you to go to her."

 

"Indeed, after Her Majesty's ascension, that basically left her as the high mage here," Tranquility commented, before blinking as she realised. "It seems we've kind of run out of things to say here if we're talking about other sources. Not sure what else we can help you on, unless you want a full course on psionics?"

 

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Mm. Starlight Glimmer... Carrot Curls had only heard of her before, but she's heard a lot. She would have to meet up with her at some point - but that could wait, and Starlight hardly counted among the "everyday" pony in terms of magic. In any case.

 

"I'll see about meeting Starlight if I ever get the chance, and I appreciate the offer, but don't feel obligated to reach out to her on my behalf. For now, let's focus on you two. I have books on psionics, and I have a solid understanding on the theory, but I can look that up later. I'd like to ask just one more question." Carrot Curls levitated a notebook out of her bag as she asked the question, and flipped to a page with what looked like an empty chart. 

 

"Clearly, magic is important to your lives and professions, but on average, how important do you think magic is to the average pony? On a scale of 1 to 10, and why, if you could."

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"Nine or eight, can't decide exactly. At first glance, one might say it is lower. They say that ponies don't need to use their magic, and at first glance, that might be true, but passive magic has played a lot into how society is shaped," Tranquility answered. "From Earth ponies being able to farm better to Pegasi controlling the whether, and unicorns even with simple telekinetic accuracy. For some ponies it might not be as bad as others at first, but everyone is connected, and there will be collateral consequences if magic is removed."

 

"The two instances of magic withdrawal within recent history are key examples of this, even if one was more explicitly worse than the other. When Tirek came and took everypony's magic, well, I wasn't sure how we were going to survive for much longer. It may not have lasted long, but it felt so much longer to us, our communication was basically just extrapolation from each other with insight," Placidity added on. "And well, when you combine the lack of weather control with bad agricultural control, the environment is going to change, and it might change faster than some can adapt to it. We would be a part of that group, without our literal psionics, and dwindling resources." 

 

"So really, we're not sure if we're answering this entirely properly. If one average pony just stopped having magic all of a sudden, the chances of total devastation for their life would be low, more like a score of 4, but if everypony lost their magic, well, let's be glad we're not complete magical entities," Tranquility finished off. "That would be a ten on the scale right there if we were."

 

 

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