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Inkscape planted her face into her desk. Light shined in through window before her. The angle of Celestia’s sun was only an insult. She had spent the early hours of the afternoon in her study, seated at her writing desk. It had to be at least four in the afternoon now. Nothing. No strike of inspiration came to her. Usually she could come up with something, anything. Even if it sounded stupid in her own mind, ponies liked what she wrote, nevertheless. She glanced at her pale yellow flank, adorned with a cutie mark depicting a pink quill dipped in a black inkpot. A black ink stroke flowed briefly beneath the pot. Today she felt unworthy of the mark.

“Celestia, why?!” The pale yellow unicorn sighed, exasperated. “My agent is going to kill me. The publishers want something, anything by next week. An idea, a plot, something, anything!” She groaned and face-planted on the desk again. She never had had writer’s block struck her this hard.

Inkscape made a living writing, novels mostly, but she would occasionally do some freelance work on the side, as well. Most of her novels were for school-aged fillies and colts. She had written a few small series. Sometimes she would write something that would gain popularity for awhile among the school ponies, but her agent, Critical Eye,  thought she could do something more. Her publishing company saw her potential, and they wanted her to focus on older audiences. Even writing, though an art, was a business, and businesses, especially those in Canterlot, wanted to expand their profit margins.

“The ponies want to read what the ponies want to read!” Inkscape repeated in her best, though goofy impersonation of her literary agent, making her voice go low in register. The ponies wanted excitement, originality, romance, etcetera. She could write a romance, an adventure, maybe even a comedy, though she hadn’t tried her hoof at that genre quite yet. Frankly, she was a little afraid to try. It was originality that had her stumped. In the history of the world, there were so many stories, fact and fiction. How could she possibly write something original, new, captivating? Every plot scenario that came into her head had to be dismissed, because she realized it sounded too close to a movie she had seen or a book she had read.

“Why can’t I write what I want to write about? Writing what I want to write is easy.” She twirled her quill in the air absentmindedly with the translucent pink magic emanating from her horn. “What I need is some inspiration, to get out of dodge. Something… different.”

There was a knock at the door.

“Oh, I wonder who that could be?” The yellow mare said aloud to herself. As if there was any question.

She walked over to the door and slammed it open it with her horn.

“A pleasure as always, Inkscape,” the brown Earth Pony noted with a skeptical look up and down at the bedraggled Inkscape. Her long, pale pink tail and mane, which were usually fashioned straight with product and a bit of her own unicorn magic, were in a mess of unruly waves, each strand making its own path. Hers was the type of hair that could not be left in a natural state, unless put up into a ponytail.

“Any luck on that new novel, Inkscape?” Critical Eye continued, brushing past her and inviting himself into the house. “I know you won’t disappoint me.”

Inkscape sighed, closing the door and pulling out a chair at her living room table, and using her magic to pour herself and her agent a cup of tea. She used her magic to pull out the seat adjacent to her and gestured for him to sit, which he did.

“Why thank you, lass. Now about that novel….”

“Critical Eye, I can’t come up with anything. Not a plot, not a character, nada. They can’t just expect me to drop what I’ve been doing for so long and start writing something different. The young ponies love my stories.”

“But older ponies read more and read bigger books, and bigger books means more money.” He paused, taking a sip of his tea. “You signed the contract.”

“I know, I know, I know, but I need more time!”

Critical Eye raised a brow, taking another sip. “How much time?”

“I don’t know, enough time to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I need to get out of dodge, get inspired. I just feel like all my originality is… well, gone. Critical, I need a vacation.”

Critical eye scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Well, you are between series right now. No pony is expecting anything immediate from you. I bet I can talk to the publishing company and tell them you need some time to get your great inspiration for their next novel.

She beamed. “You could do that for me? Critical Eye, you are a lifesaver!”

“I can’t afford my favorite client burning out on me, now can I?” He said with a wink. “I’ll talk to the publishers tomorrow, and I’ll tell you what I can get for you.”

“Thanks, Critical Eye, you’re the best!”

“No need telling me what I already know, Ink.” The brown pony joked with a wink.

 

The following day, Inkscape received a letter from her agent with the news that the publishing company would be willing to give her a few months off in order to find her inspiration again, a bit of a thank you for all of her hard work in the past. Inkscape squealed in excitement, clutching the letter to her and collapsing on the couch. “Vacatioooon!!” She sat up suddenly. “Oh, but where to go?” She trotted over to the window, the bustling city of Canterlot laid out before her, ponies pulling carriages, ponies with their mouths, hooves and horns full of shopping bags. Ponies usually came to Canterlot for vacation, but where did one go if they lived in the country’s premier vacation destination? Fillydelphia? Manehatten? No, no. No big cities.Canterlot was big enough for her taste, last thing she needed was to go to an even bigger city. There was no way she could relax in busy places like those.

“A map.” She decided, walking into her office and opening a drawer on her desk with her horn,  magically pulling out a map of Equestria and laying it flat on the desk. She seated herself and studied it. Somewhere not too terribly far. She wasn’t quite up for traveling clear across the country. The Crystal Empire was something she had always wanted to see, but there was that big city problem again. “Another time.” She assured herself, not looking up from the map.

“What’s this?” She put a pale yellow hoof on a dot on the map that read Ponyville. “Ponyville, huh? Well it seems like an empty place to me, oh! but look! It’s right by the Everfree Forest and the Palace of the Two Sisters! I’d love to see that!” She beamed. “Ponyville it is then!”

 

Later that afternoon, Inkscape trotted down to Hoofprint’s Travel Agency. She wasn’t about to trek to Ponyville without first knowing that there was a place for her to stay. She had a hunch that the small town might not have a hotel.

She pushed the door open with a hoof, a bell jingled overhead. A grey unicorn stallion, who was filing paperwork behind the front desk looked up. “Ah, so if it isn’t Inkscape! How’ve you been? I haven’t seen you around in awhile. Those publishers of yours finally giving you a break?”

Inkscape smiled and sighed with a brief chuckle, as she seated herself in front of the counter. “Hoofprint, you have no idea! They want me to start working on books for older ponies, and I have been doing the same thing for so long, I am just lacking any inspiration or fresh ideas.”

Hoofprint leaned forward, seemingly worried. “What? You’re not going to be writing the foal novels anymore? My daughter just loves your work.”

“Oh, no, no! Not forever, I wouldn’t let that happen. I could never let down my biggest, er, littlest fans!” She assured him with a good-natured laugh.

“Well, that’s good.” He leaned on his forehoof perched on the counter. “So, Miss Inkscape, where were you thinking about going for your vacation?”

“Ponyville.”

Ponyville?” He asked, incredulous. “Why in Celestia’s name would you want to go there for? There’s nothing there!”

“Exactly!”

He tilted his head. “You’re going to have to elaborate on that.”

“I just need a quiet place where I can relax and hopefully find my creative spark again.” Inkscape explained.

“Well, if quiet is what you’re going for, Ponyville is definitely the place for you. So what can I do for you? You need transportation? Lodging?”

“I need to know if there’s a place for me to stay in Ponyville. For some reason, I get the feeling that there aren’t many hotels there.”

Hoofprint smiled and nodded. “Your hunch is definitely right on that one, dear. Ponyville doesn’t have a single hotel, motel, or inn in the entire town! Luckily you have me to make some accommodations for you. I can send a message to the major and see if anything can be done for you. Come back tomorrow, and I’ll see what I have for you.”

Inkscape smiled and nodded. “Thank you, Hoofprint! Talk to you tomorrow!” She called, as she walked out.

The walk back home was warm, Inkscape thought. These last couple of weeks had been real scorchers, as far as summer days in Canterlot went. The pegasus ponies must not be doing a very good job at maintaining the weather. Not only was it getting sweltering hot outside, but there was a lack of rain as well. Ponies worked hard to keep their gardens watered and green. In canterlot, residents took great pride in their homes, so brown grass and wilting plants would never do. But despite their best efforts, it was easy to tell that the plants in the city were not as healthy as they should have been.

The young unicorn spent that night packing as much as she could. Hoofprint had a reputation for gaining fast results in his line of work, and she wouldn’t be surprised if he had found a spot ready for her tomorrow and a bed ready for her in Ponyville tomorrow evening.

When she had packing away most of her essentials, including her writing materials, she made herself a daffodile sandwich, which she ate outside on her patio in the shade of her umbrella table. She watched the sun slowly descend in the Equestrian sky. She took another bite of her sandwich and wished that Celestia would hurry up and set the sun, so that Luna could raise her moon and bring the refreshing coolness of night.

The ponies going up and down the road in front of her home visibly looked drained from the heat. Inkscape wished she knew a spell that could give everypony a glass of cold water, or even a mug of cider. Too bad it wasn’t cider season. She could go for a glass of Sweet Apple Acres’ Homemade Apple Cider. Wasn’t that orchard in Ponyville, too? “Maybe I could ask for a tour around the farm.” She wondered out loud to herself. She realised that maybe Ponyville wasn’t quite as boring as ponies around here had made it out to be. The most important thing was that it was a quiet town, a relaxing place, which was just what she needed to get her creative mind working again.  

 

Inkscape was up early the next morning. She used her magic to take her luggage down to the travel agency. She didn’t have a doubt that Hoofprint had found a place for her to stay. He had never failed to be prompt in all the times she had used his service. Even in the early morning sun, it was already starting to feel warm and sticky.

She dragged her luggage inside the travel agency as the bell overhead jingled upon her entry. Hoofprint grinned ear to ear from behind the counter.

“Smart move, because I found you a place to stay, and I also found you a ride there! I was going to have him pick you up at your house, but he’ll be dropping by here in few minutes for coffee and doughnuts. He’s an old friend of mine.

Just as he said it, a series of knocks came from the door.

The door opened, jingling the bell overhead. A large and sturdy grey pegasus stallion walked in, a paper bag clenched in his maw. He set the bad down on the counter. Hoofprint wasted no time in pouncing on the bag, pulling out a sprinkled doughnut and taking a large chomp out of it.

“Hey, Hoof, save some for me. I bought them!”

“Oh, shorry, Funder Shtep,” Hoofprint said around a mouthful of pastry. He used the back of his hoof to wipe the stray crumbs and sprinkles from his mouth. “I have the coffee. Let me grab it from the back.”He trotted through a door to the left of the counter. Inkscape could hear the sound of clinking dishes.

The grey stallion turned to Inkscape and smiled. “So you must be the mare I’m taking to Ponyville. I’m Thunder Step.” He offered his hoof, and Inkscape shook it gladly.

“Nice to meet you, Thunder Step. I’m Inkscape.”

He grinned. “Pleasure’s all mine, lass.”

Just then, Hoofprint re-entered with a platter of coffee cups, a small pitcher of cream and a bowl of sugar on it. It was easy to tell that he was focusing very hard not to spill. Inkscape took the platter with her magic, gently taking it from the stallion, who released his grasp on it gratefully.

Inkscape’s pink magic set the platter down on the counter beside the bag of doughnuts.

Hoofprint grinned sheepishly. “Thank you, Inkscape. That could have ended badly.”

She grinned. “Not a problem, but there’s no shame in taking two trips.”

Hoofprint took a seat behind the counter and helped himself to a cup of coffee. He took it black. “You know that’s not how I think, Ink.”

She smiled and sighed, taking a cup of coffee for herself, adding cream, two spoonfuls of sugar and stirring it in with her horn.

Without any surprise, Thunder Step took his coffee plain, too. She smiled to herself. Why was it that all the stallions she knew took their coffee black? Maybe it was some weird masculinity thing.

Thunder Step served himself and Inkscape a doughnut, leaving Hoofprint the one with the bite mark in it.

“So what makes you keen to visit Ponyville?” Thunder Step asked. He took another sip of his coffee. “Just need a bit of recuperation time, while I  try to get my creative spark back. I’ve just had the worst writer’s block as of late.”

Thunder Step raised a brow. “So you’re some kind of writer then?”

“Oh she’s not just some kind of writer,’ Inkscape is famous. My daughter just loves her books, especially her Neon Pegasi series.”

“Wait! You’re Summer Quill!” Thunder Step blurted at the top of his lungs, spewing coffee everywhere.

She narrowed her eyes and used her horn to pick up a napkin and dab the coffee from her features. “Yes, my pen name is Summer Quill. Ponies use pen names when they want to keep their real identities a secret, something mine will not be if you keep shouting it at the top of your lungs,” she said not meanly, but rather in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

The large pegasus suddenly looked very sheepish, as he glanced around nervously, as if looking to see anypony had heard him. “Sorry.”

Inkscape leaned forward and rested her head in her hooves. “What I want to know is why is my pen name so exciting to you?”

The grey pony shuffled in his seat. WELL, it’s just that I make a lot of trips from Canterlot to Ponyville, transporting all kinds of merchandise. I bring books sometimes, too. When I stop for a break, I’ll often times read a little…. I really like Summer Quill’s books. I don’t care if they’re for younger ponies.”

Both Inkscape and Hoofprint were silent for a moment, and Thunder Step’s unease seemed to multiply exponentially until Inkscape couldn’t hold it back any longer and started laughing. The two stallions looked at her. Thunder Step seemed hurt. She noticed and forced herself to take a breath to calm down.

“No, no,” she said, “I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at myself, or my publishers, or I don’t know.”

Thunder Step sighed, relieved, but raised a brow at her comment. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to elaborate.”

“My publishers have been on my case, because they want me to start focusing my writing on books for older ponies, but it seems older ponies like what I’m writing now.”

 

The three finished their breakfast in good company. Afterwards Inkscape paid Hoofprint for his services.

“I found you a place to stay at a library in Ponyville. The caretaker seemed delighted to have company, especially after I told her that you were an author,” Hoofprint told her.

She smiled and shook his hoof gratefully. “Thanks again, Hoofprint.”  

Thunder Step took Inkscape and her things to his wagon. Inkscape looked in wonder at all the treasures beneath the covered top. Books, some of hers, like he had mentioned, a variety of clothing, candies, tools, quills, scrolls, and countless other items made up the shipment. Everything seemed to be secured in place with deliberate precision. A seat at the front of wagon had been made ready for her.

Inkscape took her seat. Thunder Step set her luggage beside her. She thanked him, and he slipped into his yoke.

“You ready, Summer Quill?” He called over his shoulder.

She giggled. “Please, call me Inkscape.”

He blushed. “Are you ready to go then, Inkscape?”

“Ready, Thunderstep!”

“Okay, well hold on tight. I have to get there and back by the time Celestia lowers the sun.” He reared up on his hind legs and suddenly lurched into a full sprint, much to the dismay of the carriage drivers and pedestrians on the Canterlot roads.

“Sorry!’ She called to a pegasus pony, who was unfortunate enough to be walking around a puddle, when they came barreling down the road and thoroughly drenching the pony and her bag of purchases.  

The speed was exhilarating. Once they got out of the city and out onto the open road, Thunder Step really kicked it into high gear. The sound of the large stallion galloping really did sound like thunder. His name suited him well, Inkscape thought. She closed her eyes, felt the wind blowing through her mane, and wondered if this was how it felt to fly.

A sudden bump in the road nearly sent her flying out of her seat. She yelped in surprise, catching herself before she flew out of the wagon with a spell, that secured her to the set. She thought she’d keep up the spell, just in case the road got bumpy again.

“You okay back there? You’re not going to wimp out on me, are ya?” Thunder Step called back, not breaking stride in the slight.

“No, I’m fine. Keep it up!” She yelled above the wind.

“What? Speed it up?” He gave a mischievous smile over his shoulder. I was hoping you would say that!”

“Wait no! I didn’t say-”

But it was too late. The pegasus unfurled his large wings, and beat them, accelerating their speed by double, no triple. Inkscape bit her lip, her eyes wide, streaming with tears from the harsh wind. She doubled her spell that she had placed to keep her flying out of the wagon.

Even with her eyes open, Inkscape could hardly see with her eyes watering profusely, so she closed them, trying to imagine that she was flying, which wasn’t hard. Other than the sound of the wind gushing in her ears, Inkscape didn’t hear anything. The sound of Thunder Step’s hooves hitting the path was gone. She forced open one eye and noticed that his hooves were hardly touching the ground at all anymore, though his legs still worked in a running motion.

Inkscape looked ahead and saw what appeared to be buildings and houses in the distance quickly drawing nearer. They weren’t there yet where they? She struggled to look at the sun. It couldn’t even be noon yet. How fast were they GOING?! The structures became clearer, and there was no doubt that it was Ponyville.

Thunder Step glided with his wings, slowing their speed. She felt a small jolt go through the wagon when his hooves hit the ground. By the time they reached the town’s entrance, Thunder Step had slowed to a trot. Inkscape watched the resident ponies trot about the town’s streets, doing their day’s work. Some pulled carts, others stood behind booths in the market, calling out to the ponies passing by.  

Thunder Step stopped in front of a structure that appeared to be built into a living tree. A balcony was visible in the high branches. A door was at its base. “Here we are.”

Inkscape scrutinized the library, not sure if she should be incredulous or impressed. “The library is in a tree? Seems like a bit unsafe, if we were to have a lightning storm.”

“Not if you have a magical lightning rod!” Came a new voice.

Inkscape looked to where the sound had come from and saw that a purple unicorn with a navy mane and tail, each adorned with a magenta highlight, had emerged from the door and was making her way over to greet her. Why did she get the feeling that she should know who this mare was?

“Hello, My name is Twilight Sparkle, and you must be my new houseguest.” The unicorn mare held out her hoof. Inkscape smiled and shook it. Her mind was racing. Twilight Sparkle. I’ve heard that name…. but where?

She was still shaking Twilight Sparkle’s hoof, when she realized that she hadn’t responded, and the situation was starting to turn a bit awkward. “Oh, I’m sorry. I was lost in thought. My name is Inkscape.” She quickly but subtly released the mare’s hoof and smiled sheepishly.

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, Inkscape.” She turned to Thunder Step. “Oh, are the new Neon Pegasi books here? I’ve been looking forward to reading them and adding them to the library’s collection.”

Again, Inkscape found herself surprised by the types of ponies who read her books. For a moment, she almost told her who she was, but thought that maybe that could wait until later.

“Yep! They’re in the back,” Thunderstep said. He unhitched himself from the wagon and headed to the back, where he began gingerly shifting through the merchandise until he found a small package wrapped in paper and tied with a simple string. He took took it in his mouth, and Twilight Sparkle took it with her magic. in return, she gave him a couple bits.

He gave her a nod and a smile. “Pleasure doing business with you, Princess.”

Inkscape tilted her head. Princess? But then the unicorn turned, and Inkscape saw the wings folded at her sides. Not a unicorn, and alicorn! That’s where she had heard her name. Inkscape had not been in town for the coronation ceremony, but ponies were raving about it for weeks afterwards in Canterlot.

Inkscape found herself suddenly kneeling and dipping her head before the princess. “My apologies, Princess Twilight Sparkle. I didn’t realize it was you. I wasn’t in Canterlot for the coronation. I didn’t even know what you looked like. I knew I heard your name somewhere, but I couldn’t remember exactly where until just now.” She found herself babbling like a fool.

“Please, now that’s enough of that. Please call me Twilight.”

Inkscape gave a nervous laugh. “Oh, haha. Sorry, um Twilight. I’ve never met royalty before.”

Twilight sighed. “I’m not royalty. Well, I guess I am, but don’t call me Princess. I only use that title for official business.”

Inkscape stared at her hoof, dragging it to and fro in the dirt. “Sorry.”

Twilight smiled. “No need to be sorry. Come on, let’s get you settled in.”

Inkscape felt oddly nervous as she waved Thunder Step farewell. She grabbed her bags with a levitation spell, enveloping them in a pale pink glow. Twilight lead her into the library, the first floor was packed with books on every shelf. Twilight noticed her distracted state.

“I know it’s not much. The library in Canterlot has a much more extensive collection, but I hope you can find everything you need here for any late night studying you wish to do. The library is always open for houseguests.”

“It is very charming,” Inkscape said in earnest.

This seemed to please Twilight very much. She beamed. “Thank you. I always try to keep it well-organized. Come on, I will show you to your room.”

Inkscape nodded and followed the alicorn up the stairs to a loft, where there was a bed with a dig basket on the floor beside it. Inkscape wondered if Twilight Sparkle had a pet. Twilight lead her through a door off to the side, where a small bedroom was set up. It had a window facing Ponyville’s clock tower and town square. A door lead out onto the balcony she had seen when she had first arrived. A writing desk was set up against a wall, stocked with parchment and quills. A bed was adjacent to it. next to the bed was a small dresser. A light pink area rug that almost matched the hue of her mane covered the center of the room.

Twilight seemed embarrassed. “It’s not very big-”

“It’s perfect!” Inkscape let out a squeal. She unceremoniously canceled the levitation spell, dropping her bags, which landed with muffled thuds on the wooden floor. She galloped over to the window. “Wow! What a view! There’s the Clocktower. Oh, and there’s the Everfree Forest! I can’t wait!”

Twilight walked up beside her. “Um, can’t wait for what? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the enthusiasm.” She grinned.

“The Palace of the Two Sisters! I’ve always wanted to see it!”

“Really? Well, I bet you’d love to know that there’s a library there….” Twilight said, as if trying to further convince her.

She raised a brow. “Really? What kind of books?”

“All kinds.”

Inkscape smirked. “All kinds?”

Twilight returned the smirk, a challenge in her eyes. “Try me.”

“History?”

“Yes.”

“Magic?”

“Of course.”

“Astronomy?”

“You’re not even trying.”

“Novels?”

“Don’t even doubt it.”

Inkscape paused a moment. “Genealogy of famous Equestrian wizards, including, but not limited to Starswirl the Bearded.”

They stared each other down for a long moment, before both simultaneously bursting into laughter. Inkscape laughed until she was in stitches. She couldn’t remember the last time she laughed so hard. Soon they were both gasping for breath. Inkscape had to wrestle with herself to keep from erupting into another bout of laughter.

“Spike and I make trips quite frequently to the Palace of the Two Sisters. You’re welcome to come along with us on our next trip.”

“Really? Oh thank you!” She caught herself, but until after she had wrapped Twilight into a tight hug. She dropped her arms, embarrassed. “Sorry. I get a little carried away sometimes.”

Twilight just laughed. “Stop apologizing all the time. What’s a hug among friends?”

“Friends? But I-”

“I mean, I know we just met and all, but I get the feeling that we’re going to be great friends!”

Inkscape beamed back at her. “That I have no objection to.”

“Um, Twilight, if you’re done laughing like a maniac in here with the house guest, Pinkie Pie is at the door.” A young voice came from the doorway.

“Spike,” Twilight chided, “don’t be rude. This is Inkscape. She’s a writer.”

Inkscape looked to see who had spoken and was beyond surprised when she saw that it was a small purple dragon with round green spines down his back and tail. “This is Spike?!” She exclaimed. “He’s adorable! And he talks!” She rushed over to the small dragon and loowered herself to his level. “I’ve never met a dragon before. I never knew they could be so civil.” She held out a hoof. “Hi Spike, I’m Inkscape.”

“I better go see what Pinkie wants,” Twilight said, “You two get acquainted. I’ll be back in a moment.” She dismissed herself. Inkscape Didn’t hear her go down the stairs and assumed she must have flown down.                 

Spike took Inkscape’s hoof in one of his claws. “Nice to meet you, Inkscape. I’m Spike, and for the record, I’m not adorable. Only Rarity can call me that.”

“Who?”

“Rarity, the most beautiful unicorn in all of Equestria. She runs the Carousel Boutique. She’s a fashion genius! I’m sure you’ll meet her and the others, if you stick around awhile.”

“Others?” She asked.

“Twilight’s friends.”

A sudden and rather dramatic gasp from downstairs interrupted them. “What?! She’s here now? Why didn’t you tell me? Now we’re running out of time!” Inkscape heard the door slam suddenly.

She turned to Spike. “Is everything okay?”

He shrugged. “She’s just being Pinkie Pie. I’m sure it’s nothing to get too worried about.”

Inkscape nodded, but trotted downstairs to ask Twilight what had happened.

“She’s just being Pinkie Pie.” Twilight explained, mimicking Spike’s words.

“But what does that mean?”

Twilight and Spike exchanged a look. “Oh, you’ll find out soon enough,” She said with a grin.

Inkscape wasn’t sure how that answer made her feel, but she decided that it couldn’t be anything that bad.

 

Twilight and Spike let Inkscape relax for the rest of the afternoon, so that she could get unpacked and settled in. Later that evening, Twilight and Spike treated her to dinner at a local restaurant. They chose to be seated outside. It was still almost uncomfortably warm, despite the setting sun.

“This is some summer we’ve been having, isn’t it?” Inkscape commented.

Twilight nodded. “It has been really warm. I’ve had to put a cooling spell on the library.”

“I thought it seemed pretty cool in the library, but I just accredited it to it being inside of a living tree.

Twilight nodded. “That’s a good theory, but it’s just a spell.”

“Could you maybe show me that sometime? It would make so my home in Canterlot much more comfortable in this heat.”

For some reason, this made Twilight very happy, and she clapped her hooves together excitedly. “Oh, I have lots of helpful spells I could teach you: smudge resistant windows, how to heat water to a boil instantly, oh and a spell for melting ice on sidewalks in the winter. Oh, and I can’t forget the -”

“Okay, Twilight. I think she gets it.” Spike butted in.

She blushed. “Oh, right. I was just getting a little carried away.”  

The waiter came out with their orders then. Spike had a huge plate of hayfries. Inkscape ordered the same thing as Twilight, as she really didn’t know what to get, and Twilight told her that the daffodil and daisy sandwich was very good, especially with a side salad topped with raspberry vinaigrette.

The two mares got talking about life in Canterlot. Having both been raised in the capital city, they had a lot of common experiences. Twilight told Inkscape the story of how she acquired Spike, when she took the entry exam for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, only to cause a massive magical explosion that not only earned her her cutie mark, but gained the attention of Celestia herself, who then made Twilight her own personal pupil.

“So you never got into the school after all?” Inkscape asked.

“No,” she said, “but I got something much better.”

Inkscape grinned. “Well, that’s too bad, I took the entrance exam for the same school term. We could have been classmates.”    

“You went to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns?!” She asked incredulously.

Inkscape smiled, feeling pride surging through her. “Yep! Well, most of my family has. Magic has always run strong in my family.”

“I always wondered if special magical ability is a recessive or dominant gene.” Twilight speculated. She then went into a detailed rant on her personal theories regarding this. She started using scientific terms that Inscape hadn’t heard or used since science class back during her school days. She soon found herself lost. She exchanged a look with Spike who returned a small smile and a nod. Inkscape supposed this was just a normal Twilight thing.

They spoke for so long that by the time they had left the restaurant, Luna was  beginning to raise the moon.

Twilight looked at the sky. “Wow! We’ve been here for quite some time now. We should probably head back to the library before it gets too dark to see.”

They headed back to the library, just as the rest of the day’s light had faded below the horizon. Inkscape followed Twilight inside the darkened library. Then suddenly a loud squeal, and the room was suddenly filled with light. It blinded Inkscape for a moment, while her eyes adjusted. A loud bang sounded and streamers and glitter went everywhere.

“Welcome to Ponyville, Inkscape!” Screamed a pink Earth Pony excitedly. She hopped around the room, until she was right in her face. “Did you like my party cannon? Be you weren’t expecting a party! Were you surprised? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

Inkscape was gasping for air. She didn’t take to being startled well. “Yes.. I.. was…” She choked out between breaths.

“Hey everyone! We surprised her!” The pink pony screamed over her shoulder to 4 other ponies. There was a blue pegasus with a rainbow mane and tail, an orange earth pony with a blond mane, who wore a cowpony hat, a white unicorn with a well-styled purple mane and tail, and in the far corner, a yellow pegasus with a long pink mane and tail.

When she could breath again, Inkscape asked. “What’s going on?”

“It’s you’re Welcome to Ponyville Party!” The pink pony was hopping in circles around the library excitedly.

“Pinkie, calm down!” Twilight cast a spell that levitated the hyper pink earth pony. She floated in mid air in a magenta bubble of magic, seemingly unphased, but rather swam gleefully in the zero gravity.

“Sorry about that,” Twilight said. “Pinkie Pie means well. Now let me introduce you to everypony. “This is Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy, and of course, you’ve met Pinkie Pie here.”

“Hi Inkscaaaape!” Pinkie Pie called in an echoing voice from inside her bubble.

Twilight rolled her eyes and smiled, canceling the spell. Pinkie Pie hopped over to the table in the center of the library, where a large pink cake was set. It was covered in at least a dozen candles and read ‘Welcome Inkscape!’ “What are you waiting for, silly. Blow out your candles!”

Inkscape looked around nervously at all the smiling and encouraging faces. She took a deep breath and blew them them out. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to make a wish or not. It wasn’t like it was her birthday or anything, but she thought there was no harm in it. She wished this vacation would be something worth remembering.

Pinkie Pie took it upon herself to divide the cake into eight pieces. Spike ate his in one bite, as did the pink earth pony herself.

“Aww, I thought you were a pegasus,” Rainbow Dash  commented. “I was hoping for a flying buddy.”

“Rainbow Dash,” Rarity chastised. “Now there is no need to be rude to our new friend.” She turned to Inkscape. “Please do forgive Rainbow here. She can be a bit rash at times.”

Rainbowdash gave her a sour look. “Hey!”

Inkscape giggled. “No offense taken. I would make for a poor pegasus anyway. I’m terrified of heights.”

“Oh, I don’t like heights either,” said a quiet Fluttershy. “I prefer to stay near the ground with my animal friends.”

“I miss having a pet,” Inkscape commented, “it was always nice having company while I worked.”

This peaked Fluttershy’s interest, and she suddenly became very talkative. “Oh, I have lots of cute little critters at my cottage. If you want to adopt a pet, I could find you the perfect one. I have all kinds of song birds, cardinals, finches, oh, and even flamingos. Well, flamingos aren’t a song bird, but they are very friendly. I also have bunnies, squirrels, kitties and puppies -”

“Hold on there there, Sugarcube.” Applejack intervened. “No need to overwhelm the poor thing. I bet she’s feeling a might overwhelmed by it all, without anypony pressuring her.”

Fluttershy looked down and away, suddenly very sullen. “Oh, sorry. I’ll stop.”

“I would love to drop by your cottage and see the animals, Fluttershy.”

A smile spread across the yellow pegasus’ features.

 

Pinkie Pie dictated the remainder of the evening, and Inkscape didn’t doubt that the joyful mare’s special talent was throwing parties. She could hardly remember the last time she had had so much fun! Pinkie Pie had brought a big Pinata filled with rock candy of all things. They danced to songs by Sapphire Shores. Inkscape hadn’t danced in a very long time. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had done so. She was surprised she still has some sense of rhythm. She guessed that maybe that was something one was born with, and it couldn’t be forgotten.

By the end of the night, Inkscape was feeling ill from eating too much candy, and her hooves ached from dancing through Sapphire Shore’s latest album three times in a row, and as much fun as she and Twilight echoed her sense of relief, once everypony had left. They were both exhausted.

They both headed to bed. Inkscape fell asleep almost instantly, despite being in a new place. However, as soon as she began to slumber, she began to dream. She dreamed she was walking through the forest. For some reason, she got the feeling she was in the Everfree Forest. It was night, and she could hear Timberwolves howling on the wind, but she wasn’t afraid. Everything went silent, and all she could hear was the sound of her hoofsteps.  Suddenly, her steps grew louder, as the surface beneath her changed from soft earth to solid stone, then there were more hoofsteps, coming from ahead! Inkscape tried to see what it was, but she was surrounded by thick fog. She could not see anything. Then, through the mist, she saw a figure. It came forward and stood before her. The pony was blessed with both horn and wing. Her mane was dazzled with the light of stars.

She dropped to one knee so quickly, Inkscape almost hit her face on the ground.

“Rise, my little pony,” The Alicorn said in a gentle voice.

Inkscape rose shakily to her hooves. “P-Princess Luna! What are you doing here. Is- is this a dream? Or is it real?”

“This is indeed a dream, Inkscape, but who is to say that it is not also reality.”

“I-I don’t understand.”

“My time here is short, but you must remain in Ponyville, Inkscape. It is imperative. Do not go home, not until your task is complete.”

“Wait, but how do I know-” But it was too late, and Inkscape found herself talking to empty space.

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