A Pony POV Series-inspired tale
Written by OracleMask
The ponies stared at the mirror-Kimono for a long moment. Even for a world like theirs, a talking mirror was a little bit on the weird side. And then –
“It's nice to meet you, Erised!” Tome Heart exclaimed, stepping forward, “I'm Tome Heart, and these are my friends!”
It seemed a little odd, because Erised was a mirror, but Tome Heart didn't think that was any reason not to be friendly. Neither did anypony else – Puzzlemint, Toola-Roola, and Fiesta Spice all chimed in with their own introductions almost before Tome Heart was done with his. Erised kept smiling brightly throughout.
“So, Kimono, you must have something serious on your mind if you're introducing me to other ponies like this,” Erised said next, “Did you want to use your question for this year?”
“Kimono's...question?” Fiesta Spice asked.
“Yep! Of course I love talking to Kimono whenever she likes, but there are magic rules that I have to follow since I'm a magical mirror,” Erised explained.
“That makes sense,” Toola-Roola said, nodding, “Or at least it sounds like something Cheerilee would say.”
Tome Heart nodded too – he'd known Scootaloo's big sister pretty well before she'd moved to Unicornia, and he remembered the lessons she'd cleverly woven into all her stories. His love was for books of all shapes and sizes and types, but Cheerilee was a storyteller. Not to mention it made explaining unicorn things to the mostly earth pony population of Ponyville easier that way. Sweetie Belle tried, but it wasn't the same.
“To make it a very simple explanation, there are some super-special confusing and complicated secret things that I can't tell anyone,” Erised continued, “But Kimono is my super-special friend and she gets a super-special birthday exception! Once a year, she gets to ask me one special question, and I have to tell her the answer even if it's something I normally have to keep secret! Isn't that neat? It's my very special birthday gift just for her!”
“I like to save it for when I actually think of something,” Kimono admitted.
“Wow! You're lucky, Kimono,” Puzzlemint said, “I'd jolly love a chance to find out things just by asking like that!”
“Me too!” Toola-Roola and Fiesta Spice agreed.
They giggled a bit about speaking up at the same time, Tome Heart joining in as well, but Kimono's expression was suddenly thoughtful.
“Puzzlemint, wouldn't that take the fun out of figuring things out for yourself?” Kimono pointed out.
Puzzlemint opened her mouth, hesitated, and then closed it without saying anything. There was a frown on her face as she puzzled over the question. It was a little strange that the frown didn't go away even after she came up with an answer.
“...I say...you're right,” Puzzlemint said, “Yes...I'd probably just ask for a bigger mystery, if it were me.”
In her mirror, Erised looked surprised and delighted by what Puzzlemint said, even if Puzzlemint herself looked distinctly confused about it. Tome Heart had to admit that he was a little confused by this himself: of course Puzzlemint would want to figure things out herself. So why did she say the opposite before? That wasn't like her.
“This is something I've seen before,” Kimono said, speaking to them all now, “Ponies suddenly changing their minds completely on something, only realizing afterward that they were doing something they should have had no interest in doing. I saw it before I left Ponyville, and I still see it today. Combined with what we've learned about a spell for granting wishes, and Toola-Roola's nightmare...”
“Kimono? Do you have a question for me?” Erised asked.
“Yes,” Kimono answered, “My question is 'what do all these things we've discovered mean for us?'”
Erised was frowning now.
“Ooh, that's a big one...and the answer's not really that nice. I was really hoping you'd never ever ask me this,” the mirror-spirit sighed, “But okay. The answer to your birthday question is...”
All five ponies found themselves leaning forward expectantly.
“...are you absolutely positively sure you don't want to ask me something else this year?” Erised offered.
There were five groans.
“Erised, please,” Kimono said.
“I know, I'm sorry. It's just...the answer to your question is The End.”
The ponies blinked. Even Puzzlemint just stood there, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When Erised only crossed her forelegs over her chest and looked pointedly back, the ponies began to realize that was the entire answer.
“What does that mean, the end?” Fiesta Spice asked, “What's ending?”
Toola-Roola's eyes were wild again, and she was shaking.
“It's...it's what happened in my dream. And it's going to really happen?! No, oh no please...”
Toola-Roola found herself in a pony-pile in seconds, everypony doing their best to comfort her with the biggest hugs of their lives. It still felt like a long, long time before Toola-Roola finally calmed down.
“Toola-Roola...I'm jolly sorry to ask you like this, but can you tell the rest of us what happened in your dream?” Puzzlemint asked carefully.
The artistic mare took a deep breath.
“Well...in my dream, I was going to the store for more paint...and when I got back my house was gone.”
“You got lost on the way back to your house?” Tome Heart couldn't help but ask.
“N-No! I was at the right spot, but there was a big empty space where my house was! All my paintbrushes, my favorite easel, the yummy carrot cupcakes I was saving for dinner, they were all just gone!”
Toola-Roola stomped her hooves, snorting hard. They waited for her as she took several more deep breaths and got herself back under control before she continued speaking.
“Of course I asked everypony what happened, because you don't just lose a house. Houses don't grow legs and trot off somewhere, at least I don't think they do. But nopony I asked about it recognized me! They didn't even see me! And – and then, suddenly, it was like I didn't recognize me either. I remember wondering what a Toola-Roola even was...that's when I woke up.”
The next pony-pile they made was as much for everypony else's comfort as it was for poor Toola-Roola. What a horrible thing to dream about! And...that was really what Erised meant by 'The End'? No, it couldn't be it. That story was better off in a book than in real life, Tome Heart decided.
“It was just a dream,” Tome Heart said out loud, “Dreams aren't the same as real life. That can't be what's going to happen, right?”
“Sorry, Tome Heart,” Erised piped up, “But dreams and reality don't work exactly like you think they do.”
The ponies looked up to see Erised looking right back at them.
“I can explain it better, but...it's really complicated,” Erised said, “Which of you is the best at stories?”
Toola-Roola, Fiesta Spice, Kimono, and Puzzlemint all turned their heads to look at Tome Heart. The colt needed a moment to realize he was on the spot, and even then he was confused.
“Um...I really really love books, and I'm in charge of the Ponyville Library, but...I'm not really a storyteller...” Tome Heart said, “I think the best pony for telling stories anywhere is Cheerilee.”
“Maybe she is,” Erised said, looking a little bit sad, “But I bet you know a lot more about stories than you think, Tome Heart. Could you please put your hoof on the glass?”
Unsure, Tome Heart stepped forward and pressed his hoof against the mirror. In an instant, Kimono's reflected image changed into somepony else. But...it wasn't Tome Heart. It couldn't be: Tome Heart wasn't a mare, he didn't have a pink coat or a blue tail, and his cutie mark wasn't a windmill! The other ponies gasped, even Kimono.
“That's not – that isn't me!” Tome Heart exclaimed.
The mare in the mirror smiled and shook her head.
“Actually...it is,” Erised replied, “This is the you that tells one of my favorite stories. It's a really good one too...but I think telling it will have to wait for another day.”
Erised cleared her throat.
“Now then...let's pretend that you have a storybook in front of you, Tome Heart. In the story, all the ponies lived a magical life where they were always happy and had lots of fun. But the story has a sad ending. It's so sad that someone decided to re-write the story to avoid it. A new version of the same story! What do you think of that?”
Tome Heart decided to focus on the question instead of on the strange face looking back at them from the mirror. Writing a whole new book because the original book had a sad ending? It sounded...kind of silly, actually. All that work to change the ending?
“It sounds kind of odd, but I don't think it's a bad thing,” Tome Heart finally said, “If somepony wants the characters to have a better ending, that can't be bad, right?”
“I agree!” Erised exclaimed, smiling brightly once more, “Now let's pretend you're the one writing it! And your characters are so happy that you don't want them to ever have an ending! They get to have adventures and fun forever! What a story it would be, don't you think?”
“...Yeah...a story that goes on that long would probably be amazing,” Tome Heart replied.
Everypony else nodded, agreeing. They liked the sound of it, even Kimono. Erised's smile remained the same, even as she took note of everyone's interest in the idea.
“Okay! So tell me Tome Heart, how are you going to write a story about the same ponies forever?”
Tome Heart blinked.
“Remember, they don't get an ending,” Erised added before Tome Heart could respond, “You have to write all of their days, everything they do. Don't forget to keep writing them properly! It would be bad if you wrote a character that liked strawberry ice cream to suddenly hate it, don't you agree? Every pony has to be written down exactly right, and their adventures all have to end happily, and it can never be boring or sad or anything at all negative like that. This is the story you have to write...FOREVER.”
Tome Heart's voice was a nervous squeak. Erised's smile never dimmed.
“Of course! Because there's no ending for these ponies, Tome Heart! You're writing a book that goes on forever!”
“But – but that book would be huge! It'd be bigger than everything! Bigger than...bigger than Ponyville!” Tome Heart gasped, “How would I fit it into the library?!”
“That book would be bigger than all of Ponyland,” Kimono added, frowning, “And it would never stop getting bigger.”
“Blimey...think about all the paper you'd need for that,” Puzzlemint exclaimed, whistling, “All the paper in the whole world, maybe...”
“Exactly!” Erised said, “And when that paper ran out, you'd have to use all paper that someone else already wrote on! Because those ponies don't get an ending, and if you run out of paper before the story ends, what happens to the story?”
“It...stops,” Tome Heart said slowly, “And the characters...they don't do anything anymore.”
There was a long moment of silence as every pony gained a look of alarm at the idea. It was broken when Fiesta Spice shook his head and stomped his hooves.
“Wait, wait, wait! We're talking about characters in a story, right? Not real ponies like us,” he protested.
Puzzlemint suddenly went stiff.
“...Puzzle?” Tome Heart asked.
“Ponies like us,” Puzzlemint was muttering, “Wishes come true, stories never end...THAT'S IT!”
Even Erised startled at Puzzlemint's sudden shout. The clever mare suddenly went from not moving a muscle to shaking with excitement.
“That's what going on! It's not a story about made-up ponies – it's our story! It's us! That's what's going on! Because we're not talking about a story in a book at all...we're talking about the story Tome found in that letter!”
Erised clapped her hooves together in delight.
“The story of ponies finding out about their own sad ending...and how they tried to rewrite their own story,” Puzzlemint continued, “It was all there – they thought that by fixing the wishing spell, this would be a never-ending world of happiness.”
“Which makes us the characters inside the story somepony has to write forever,” Kimono added, looking very serious now, “And if whatever paper we're being written on runs out...”
Fiesta Spice groaned, shaking his head.
“But the world isn't made of paper, is it? This is so confusing...but, uh, this maybe-paper-stuff, whatever it is, are we using it all up? Is that what's happening?”
“Not yet,” Erised answered.
“But whoever – or whatever – is writing our story can't write forever without getting tired or confused,” Tome Heart piped up, “They'd have to stop. And then we all stop too...it would be too hard to write a story for that long, and not just because it wouldn't fit in a book afterward. Either the story stops...or the pony writing has to pick an ending.”
“No! I don't want to end! Not again!” Toola-Roola shouted.
An emotion so rarely felt as to be alien swept across them. The ponies all shivered at the dread they were feeling, each one wondering how in the world they could go face anypony else knowing this was coming. All the ponies...except one.
“Hey...if one pony writes a story and can't keep it going ...why can't they ask another pony for help?”
Everypony turned and looked at Fiesta Spice, who ducked his head and blushed.
“Sorry,” Fiesta Spice said, “I just...I love to work on shows and plays and things, but I usually run out of ideas, you know? So I always ask somepony else if they have anything they want to add to the show. Their ideas change the whole performance sometimes, but I think it makes better in the end when everypony gets to add their own twist.”
“...Fiesta, you're a genius!”
Puzzlemint jumped into the air and clapped all four hooves together. While Tome Heart, Toola-Roola, and Kimono looked startled, Fiesta Spice was absolutely gobsmacked.
“Of course! Look, the letter shows that the ponies in our world already re-wrote their story once. Why can't we jolly well do it again?” Puzzlemint cried, still bouncing, “All we need to do...”
“...is re-cast the wishing spell!” the others exclaimed as it suddenly clicked.
“But...how do we do that?” Toola-Roola asked after a long minute of everypony grinning excitedly at each other, “I don't remember it being cast the first time. Do any of you?”
One by one, the others shook their heads.
“I'll look at my books here, and see if I have anything about the wishing spell,” Kimono said, “I think you four should go to Celebration Castle and ask Spike if he knows anything.”
“Spike does have a lot of antique books,” Tome Heart mused.
“He's also REALLY old...or at least that's what Pinky told me,” Toola-Roola added.
“That settles it!” Puzzlemint declared, “Let's go, everypony!”
“Good luck!” Erised called after the four ponies as they ran back to Ponyville.