A Pony POV Series-Inspired Tale
Written by OracleMask
Today was one of Tome Heart's favorite days. It was New Book Sorting Day! A whole lot of books had just been delivered to the library, and as Ponyville's one and only librarian it was up to Tome Heart to go through each new book as thoroughly and carefully as possible. That was the only way to ensure that each book ended up shelved correctly, so that the ponies who'd want to read it the most would be able to find it.
...Okay, so it was also an excuse to read through each book before anypony else. Tome Heart didn't mind admitting the truth: everypony had their own very special favorite things, including him! And it wasn't like books weren't the worst thing to indulge in...what would've been really sad would be if Tome Heart didn't like reading, right? Surrounded by books when he didn't like books...that would've been awful.
The very first book he picked up was an old, worn book about prisms. It looked like it had been kept in somepony's personal collection for a long time. And it was about prisms that were used to make rainbows, so Tome Heart already had an idea of somepony who'd like it. Still, it was important to be thorough, so Tome Heart opened the book up to start reading.
That was when an envelope tucked under the cover fell out.
“Huh? What's this?”
What a strange find! None of the other books ever had things like this tucked inside. In fact, every book remained in the same condition no matter how old they got – barring any accidents or spills – but things this this weren't ever included in that preservation! Somepony...must have really wanted this envelope to be saved. And envelopes contained letters, which meant that this mysterious somepony really wanted their letter to be read.
“Okay! Let's see,” Tome Heart said, carefully removing the letter from the envelope and unfolding it, “Wow, this paper is all kinds of yellowy. And the pony who wrote this had really fancy handwriting! It's still preserved, though...so it must have been important.”
Eagerly, Tome Heart began to read.
To whoever comes across these words: greetings from the past.
My name is Borealis. I hold the title of Professor of Electromagnetic Phenomena at Cartbridge University. And this letter, which you are now reading, is my way of ensuring that a record will exist of a strange event that happened to me while working on the team responsible for Project Wish. Although I cannot be certain this letter will survive the project's activation, successful or otherwise...still, I must write.
I should first provide background. The genesis of Project Wish...it began when one of my colleagues, an up-and-comer named Starlight, and her associates discovered (though I should say rediscovered) the existence of winged and horned ponies. Colloquially referred to as the 'pegasi' and the 'unicorns'. My own initial reaction to their existence was unkind, I must admit. My life, from my field of study to the cutie mark on my flank, has been based solely on facts, data, and rigorously tested science. To be informed that 'magic' you read about in fairy tales was not only real, but the 'original' field of study for ponies? It was as if my entire life had been based on false pretenses – or maybe even a lie. Nor was I much comforted by the reveal of aquatic and insect-like ponies (the 'seaponies' and 'flutterponies') that followed.
My resistance to an invitation to join Project Wish's research team was considerable, as you may very well have guessed. Project Wish's goal was to utilize a powerful magical artifact known as the Rainbow of Light to generate a vast 'all wishes come true' mega-spell. I was being recruited due to my electromagnetic expertise...in essence, because of my knowledge of light. I decided to take the opportunity as a challenge and while the Rainbow has severely tested my understanding of what light IS, I would have to say that on the whole the experience was invigorating.
And by interacting daily with the unicorns on staff, including Shiny Spark (see dear, I've mentioned you, now please stop reading over my shoulder as I write this), I was able to get past my initial dislike of magic. There are many differences between magic and my beloved science, but it is just as valid a field of study and I do not begrudge it.
Despite the many obstacles to our success, somehow our research on the mega-spell moved ahead on schedule. We were within a month of our target date for initial completion when a most peculiar event took place. It is the story of this strange event that I feel must be told.
In the course of a single night, the entire team assigned to Project Wish had a most unusual dream...though perhaps nightmare is the better term. Compared notes revealed that each dream down to the smallest details was identical. It began fancifully enough...each pony who experienced the dream found themselves standing on a stage, facing a very large crowd of ponies. Aside the dreamer, a conversion device designed to harness one piece of the Rainbow was also on the stage. The device was active, and despite the missing building-sized supports and focusing apparatus, seemed to be functioning perfectly.
And then the crowd of ponies began making their wishes. They started off with small wishes, very petty ones really. One pony wished to be plaid in color. Another wished his pet goldfish was alive and healthy again. A very depressed-looking mare wished she and everypony else was dead, and another colt wished to pay back everypony that had ever denied him anything.
I could see the glow of the spell taking effect. The first pony turned plaid. The second pony suddenly held a fishbowl containing a very energetic goldfish. The depressed mare...had nothing whatsoever happen. The colt's wish for revenge was also ignored by the spell. I saw this as a good sign: it meant that the coding to ignore malicious wishes was working seamlessly. And then it got...rather strange.
A mare wished her artwork was as beloved as Leonardo de Poni's. I could see her draw a scribble, a childish scrawl of nonsense. And then the spell took effect and everypony around her stared helplessly at her work, transfixed by it...unable to keep from commenting on how wonderful it was. It was nothing but mindless praise.
Then three more mares, standing in various places in the crowd, wished that they were the most beautiful mare in the world. At first, all the mares simply seemed to change shape, becoming more and more lovely with every passing second. But then, alarmingly, all the mares who'd made the wish suddenly melded into one another! They became a single, jaw-droppingly beautiful mare...but only ONE mare instead of THREE! It wasn't that two ponies were erased in favor of one, either, because the resulting mare had traits of all three ponies mixed together evenly. When another mare in the crowd suddenly wished the same wish, SHE disappeared and the 'most beautiful mare' changed to include some of the new mare's traits! It happened a few more times...most alarming of all, nopony seemed to noticed that ponies were disappearing in front of their eyes.
Then a small group of friends wished for a bottomless carton of ice cream, to share. It seemed like just another petty wish until the ponies all wished that the ice cream was their favorite flavor...which would have worked out fine, if they didn't each have a different flavor in mind. The ice cream didn't cycle through each flavor in turn, nor did it change so that the ponies would BELIEVE that it tasted like their favorite when it was really a bland medium. No, it WAS all their favorite flavors at the same time – not mixed together either, it had ALWAYS BEEN ONLY chocolate, no, strawberry, no, mint, no, peach, no, butterscotch, no, vanilla, no, now something else! I couldn't keep looking at it, my mind couldn't handle the concept of something so...bizarre.
And then...a replica of Professor Starlight stepped up to the conversion device, standing close enough that the machine's light bathed her heavily with its glow. (I call it a replica, because in her own dream Professor Starlight remained on the same spot on the stage as I and everypony else did, yet the replica of her still stepped forward.) The replica...made a rather disturbing announcement regarding her opinion on stallions, then wished there were none. Almost instantly every stallion and colt in the crowd began changing shape. One stallion wished to be the most manly stallion in the world just before the replica's spell changed him to a mare: the new mare seemed to do a double-take, then wished she was the most beautiful mare in the world...apparently not remembering being a stallion, yet wishing for a similar ideal. Of course, she was instantly absorbed into the 'most beautiful mare' like anypony else that made that wish.
Some of the original mares in the crowd wished for more stallions. One mare even wished to BECOME a stallion. None of these ponies had their wishes granted. It was perplexing, but our eventual hypothesis was that the replica's wish overruled the contradicting wishes due to proximity to the active center of the mega-spell. Just as well: what in the world would have happened if the spell tried to grant 'no more stallions' and 'more stallions' at the same time...?
Lastly, members of the crowd of now-entirely female ponies began wishing that ponies were more alike and would get along better. And every time somepony made this wish, the entire crowd became slightly more physically uniform. More ponies wished this, and the changes compounded...the ponies were beginning to move and react to others around them with the same little motions and mannerisms. By the end, the entire crowd was making this same wish, and apart from color and size the ponies were so identical that they might as well have been the same pony copied a hundred times over. Even the 'most beautiful mare' was as identical as the rest of them, except for a bit of extra sparkle in her coat. This was the sight burned into each of our minds as we finally awoke from this bizarre nightmare.
The research team discussed what happened, of course. Professor Starlight was especially disturbed, unsurprising since she was depicted erasing an entire gender. And upon reviewing the technical specifications for Project Wish, a terrifying truth was revealed. The ruling spell matrix was encoded just as we had wanted...to make ALL wishes come true, including mutually contradicting ones. The code to ignore so-called 'mean' wishes wouldn't prevent anypony from making the wishes we saw come true in the dream, because none of those had been malicious or technically harmful. Yet ponies had been changed beyond recognition, physically and mentally! What a horrifying disaster we were about to unleash.
Our various financial backers were most displeased that we refused to activate the mega-spell on the date promised, but informing them of the consequences if we did not correct the problem terrified them into giving us all the extra time we needed. We finally finished the revisions seven months after the original spell-casting date. Now the 'All Wishes Come True' mega-spell will refuse to grant wishes that are malicious, harmful, or which alter other ponies without the consent of the targeted pony. Mutually-contradicting wishes will now simply cancel each other out. The theory is that if ponies honestly wish to change their gender or personality, it would be wrong to deny it to them. It will likely mean that ponies will not get all of their wishes. But as long as the nightmare never comes to pass, I know I will rest content.
I wonder sometimes if it was some facet of magic from the Rainbow of Light that gave our team that shared nightmare. The timing was impeccable, in hindsight. But in any case...I leave you, unknown reader, to ponder over what might have been. I must end this letter here so I can help finish with the packing: Shiny Spark and I are going to stay with her family for the spell-casting.
Yours Most Sincerely,
Professor Stellar Borealis
...It was very, very quiet in the Ponyville library.
Slowly, Tome Heart put the letter down. And then the colt librarian remained standing in place, brow furrowed as he thought. The story in this letter...how horrifying to know that might have happened...
Most ponies didn't remember much of the Time Before Wishes. Many simply no longer cared about their old lives, never thinking about them and just enjoying life while letting the details grow fuzzy...others had actually wished to forget, for one reason or another. Tome Heart himself was in the former category, but he still remembered some important details about his old self. He remembered that version of him living unhappily with other ponies, ponies who didn't like books as much as he did. And that it wasn't long before that self was left with only his books to keep him company. He'd even been named 'Bookworm'...his special talents all directed towards books and insects. Bookworm was on the fast-track to becoming an entomologist before the world changed.
And Tome Heart remembered Bookworm's wish: to indulge his love of books to the fullest, and finally get to share it with others. Bookworm had been reborn as Tome Heart, librarian of Ponyville, and a well-known keeper of books. Ponies who'd wished to be simpler wanted to get rid of their books: Tome Heart took the abandoned books in. And there were ponies who'd wished to be smarter, and now wanted to read anything they could get their hooves on...Tome Heart gave his books away freely to those ponies. It made him feel warm inside to suggest a book to somepony, to see their faces brighten as they discovered stories they hadn't known existed before.
And of course, Tome Heart was still fond of bugs: his main assistant in the library was a dragonfly he called Glossary. There were also several spiders and fireflies that liked to help out if needed...the fireflies usually only worked at night. All the bugs were polite and kept out of the way of ponies who weren't as fond of crawly little creatures as Tome Heart. And they were all very clever at helping Tome Heart with the little chores that maintaining a library required.
But never before had any of the books contained a secret like this. If the story in the letter was true, then...Tome Heart might never have been Tome Heart. He would have been a mare...he would have been one of those bizarre lookalike pony...he might have even forgotten all about the books he loved! It was scary, thinking that one little dream stood between his happy life and one where he was completely unrecognizable.
Now that Tome Heart knew the truth...what should he do with it? Should he tell other ponies the story? While he liked to share the tales found in his collection, somehow Tome Heart doubted that Ponyville's residents would enjoy something as scary as this story. Well...maybe there was one pony he could tell. There was always Kimono.
The more he thought about it, the more Tome Heart liked the idea. Of course! Kimono, the cleverest pony anypony could know, was just the pony to hear this. She lived outside of Ponyville, but she came to the library regularly to borrow books. Tome Heart had been to her home a few times as well...Kimono had a collection of really rare books and poems that he couldn't read anywhere else.
Yes, Tome Heart decided as he carefully packed the letter and its envelope up, Kimono would know what to do.