Chapter 4: The Failed Trick
Inkblot heard the voice as a light shove was sent to his undersides. Despite the light push, Inkblot woke up as if someone had pricked him with a needle. His eyes went straight to the laptop, which was wide open for anyone to see. The colt followed his first instinct and jumped on the laptop like it was a gem that nopony else but he was allowed to see.
The awoken pony looked up to the unicorn who disturbed his slumber. He was a crimson stallion with a fine-groomed gold mane. On his back was a suit folded nicely strapped delicately to his back to indicate that he had just returned from a fancy ball of some sort. His cutie mark was a fireplace. This fancy unicorn was clearly taken aback by Inkblot's outburst, and Inkblot feared for the worst of questions. "
Anyway, would you mind telling me why the bridge is out?"
The pale unicorn felt his tension slowly ease away. He dodged the bullet. This new pony apparently found it to be rude to ask about personal problems of other ponies, much to Inkblot's advantage. But now, he had to come up with an alibi. "I was
hoping YOU could tell me."
The well-groomed unicorn took a step back. "What? What makes you think I would know anything about this bridge suddenly being gone?"
Okay, so it was a stupid alibi, but he bought it. Inkblot could still weasel out a story. "Oh! I'm very sorry! I thought you were the
you know, cuz I've been sitting next to this river expecting such an amazing city like Canterlot to know the problem as soon as possible and send somepony to fix it."
The crimson pony looked offended. "Young man, I am not some 'bridge repair pony.' I am Hearth! And yes, I mean THE Hearth, as in the owner of the famous Hearth Hotel in Canterlot!" He struck a dramatic pose to match his monologue. "I wouldn't DARE get my hooves entangled with simple repair work when I could be pursuing my special talent and providing an ever-so-comfy roof over the heads of ponies. Speaking of which, why were you sleeping on the ground anyway when you could have just stayed in Hearth Hotel?"
Hearth Hotel? Inkblot had never heard of it, but after hearing how much pride this pony had put into his speech, he didn't have the heart to tell him. Either way, he had another problem at hand. He couldn't say what had happened the night before! "Well, you see-"
"No! Don't say another word! It all adds up!" Hearth interrupted. "You had spent the night outside, getting your beautiful pale coat all dirty," he cooed as he pointed at Inkblot's dirty coat, "and I have my trip to Ponyville postponed by a missing bridge. Say no more, because it takes a foal to not realize that this is a sign! You were destined to stay at the Hearth Hotel!"
Inkblot rolled his eyes at the hotel owner's eccentric performance in an attempt to get another customer. "Look, I'm sure that destiny would be certainly glad to let me stay at your hotel, but I'm a little short on cash, so destiny will have to-"
"Oh, but that is why I'm going to give you a night at the hotel free of charge!" the unicorn interrupted gleefully. "I apologize if I seem pushy, but it's just that I can't STAND to see a pony without a roof over his head."
"Pushy? Are you kidding, I'll gladly take a free night!" Inkblot refuted as he stood up on all fours, being sure to move the laptop out of his acquaintance's view and into his saddlebags as quickly and subtly as possible. He decided to start moving and avoid any discussion about the laptop. "So, let's get going so you can move me to my room. How far are we from Canterlot?" he said quickly as he started to walk away. Suddenly, his stomach rumbled silently. It was early in the morning and he was hungry.
"Only about a half-mile. Honestly, I'm surprised nopony else noticed the bridge going out since we're so close to the city. In fact, it's right up the waterfall. I'm beginning to think that it's full of short-sighted fools. All caught up in their galas and personal lives when there's so much of the world out there to experience!"
Inkblot increased his pace, hoping to get to Canterlot before he had to answer any questions he preferred not to answer. "Yeah. I always thought sophistication was overrated. I mean, this city itself to me is just full of pretentious, snobby ponies who think that anypony who doesn't have a fancy tuxedo and a heaping sum of bits is some sort of inferior." He took a peek back at his new acquaintance, who was wearing a face of slight shock. "No offense." The ranting unicorn added.
"Oh! None taken! I understand what you're talking about. The only reason the hotel is in Canterlot is because of opportunity. As much as I may have a
disliking toward them, you'll learn one day, that you need bits to be successful, my good lad," said the successful businesspony.
Inkblot gave a disgusted groan. "That's not fair!"
"Life isn't fair. I'm sure you've heard that a couple hundred times already, but it's true. And you can't change it. So, I say that if I can't change it, then I should just take advantage of it." The other pony sighed. He couldn't argue with Hearth. It made sense. "By the way, what WERE you doing sleeping outside?"
Inkblot panicked. If Hearth was right about the whole destiny thing, then destiny was shooting him in the hoof. "Well, you see I
was really tired. You see, I was on my way home to Ponyville and I saw that the bridge was out. I couldn't move another step, so I sorta crashed. You know what I mean?"
Hearth looked at the younger pony understandingly, but skeptically. "Sometimes fatigue CAN get the best of us, yes. Also, what was that thing that you were-"
"Hey! Is that Canterlot?" Inkblot interrupted intentionally. He had to hijack the conversation and send it somewhere else completely.
"Why yes. Beautiful, isn't it?" the elder unicorn said pretending he had never asked the previous question. Fortunately, the city gave the two a lot to talk about. They were a good distance away, but the two could still see its beauty. Inkblot had never seen Canterlot up close before, and this was surely a sight for him to see. The castle seemed to completely envelop the whole city, its odd shapes being a goliath standing out among the other buildings, and being downhill from the city made it look even bigger.
"Beautiful? That doesn't even begin to describe it. This place is enormous compared to Ponyville."
"Ponyville?" Hearth suddenly said with a sense of surprise. "You're from Ponyville?"
Inkblot didn't look away from the city to answer the other pony's question as he started to walk through the gates and into the city. "Yeah. I'm from Ponyville. Why, have you ever been?"
"Why yes, as a matter of fact, I have family there. It's a quaint little town with very nice features. In fact, this suit was made at the Boutique there." he arched his back to lift the suit on his back, but was ignored by the starstruck colt.
Who could blame the smalltown pony for gazing at the city? Even early in the morning, it was bustling streets were nothing like the calm roads of Ponyville. And while the nice little Ponyville had a nice library, bakery, and boutique spread across the town, there seemed to be something everywhere you looked in Canterlot. After a single glance, he could already see at least four restaurants and three boutiques along with a library seemingly towering over the rest.
"Tell you what." Inkblot nearly jumped when he was patted on the back by the hotel owner. "You look distracted, so I'll leave you be until tonight. Just drop by and say that you're...erm... I don't believe I ever got your name."
"Inkblot. My name's Inkblot," the pale pony said with his eyes still wide as plates staring at the city.
"Yes. Say your name's Inkblot and I'll let the deskpony know to give you your key. In the meantime, enjoy the city of Canterlot! For breakfast, I'd recommend the Comfy Stable Hotel's complimentary breakfast bar for anypony with this card." He slipped a white card into his saddlebag. Inkblot nearly flinched, hoping he wouldn't see the laptop. "I'd invite you to the Hearth Hotel, but after a little accident in the garden a few days ago, we can't serve any food. See you later," and with that, Hearth walked away into the crowd.
As if on cue, the unicorn's stomach rumbled. In his panic to keep Hearth from asking about the laptop, he forgot about how hungry he was. His stomach led his brain to find the Comfy Stable almost instantly, despite it being farther down the road. He made a beeline to the hotel, passing through enormous crowds and tons of other buildings, such as "Joe's Donut Shop" (which he kept a mental note to visit some time later), the Royal Theatre, some boutique, and a huge fountain with dancing ponies. All of which were bypassed by order of his growling stomach.
There he was at the revolving doors leading into the red brick tower that was the Comfy Stable Hotel. As he walked through, he was immediately met by an elegant lobby. The Front Desk was labeled with gold letters and held a well-groomed red mare with a white uniform and a matching white mane. The white tile floor had a gold painted "CS" written in cursive on the center. From the inside, Inkblot could see balconies piled on top of each other, stacking up at least twenty floors. Needless to say, this was one fancy hotel.
But his mind wasn't set on seeing the beauty of the hotel. The hungry unicorn followed his nose to the breakfast bar, which was nearby. His stomach was even more ravenous than it usually was in the morning because he never ate dinner the night before.
The counter was fully stocked with grasses, flowers, sandwiches, fruits, and some sweets. Inkblot could feel his mouth watering up, trying to decide what to eat first. Maybe the bermuda grass sandwiches like his dad made. Perhaps some sweet honey-glazed daffodils. Or maybe even some pears. He couldn't wait to get started, so he didn't hesitate.
A plate was quickly pulled up in front of the unicorn and all at once at least one of each food was piled onto the plate. No more than a few seconds passed before a hastily thrown together pile of apples, bananas, daffodils, grasses, and at least twelve other foods stacked about a half-foot high was being carried away to one of the tables.
Inkblot stared at his creation with more awestruck wonder than the inside of the elegant hotel. In fact, he took a moment just to let the gorgeous sight linger in his eyes. It was beautiful in the eyes of a hungry colt. He was sure that it would taste even better.
Right as he opened his mouth to dig in, he felt a tap on his shoulder, which made him jump. He snapped his head toward the tap to see the pony who was at the front desk earlier.
"Excuse me. Would you like to leave some food for the rest of our guests? As in, the ones who are allowed at the breakfast bar."
Inkblot blushed and gave an embarassed laugh. Apparently his food rush had caughther attention. After surveying the rest of the room, he could tell that it caught everypony else's attention. "Sorry. I guess my belly got the best of me. Here, I'll get the card out of my bag," he said weakly as he took off his saddlebags. He horn glowed as the ticket floated out of the pocket and into the receptionists field of view.
After quickly inspecting the card, the mare looked up from it and skeptically lifted an eyebrow. "You're Hearth? The owner of that other hotel down the street."
Inkblot, already half-submerged in his creation, responded with a generic "Oh, yeah," without even listening to the mare's question.
Even though the response was hardly audible and nearly incomprehensible, the attendant's eyes went from the colt chowing down on breakfast and the card in front of her. Apparently, she bought it. Inkblot had accidentally, but successfully stolen Hearth's identity.
"Well Hearth, it says on this card that your membership happened to expire about a week ago."
The unicorn's muzzle kept on relentlessly ravaging its way through the pile of food. He cared about breakfast too much to even stop to listen to the pony talking to him. However, a sound rose over the sound of his chewing, and it was more effective than anything the uniformed mare could've said.
"Why is there no alfalfa here? I can't stand to eat breakfast where my favorite grass isn't even served!"
Inkblot's head popped out of the homemade concoction as the employee responded to the blue showpony. "I'm sorry ma'am, but-"
"Sorry?! I'm sorry?!" the Great and Powerful Trixie interrupted. "Not even my level of magic can produce alfalfa out of the words 'I'm sorry'. I'm sorry but I simply can not eat here."
"Hmph drph oof!" Inkblot yelled with a mouthful of various foods.
The red mare managed to ignore both unicorns' outbursts. "Now that I have your attention, Hearth, your membership expired last week, which means that you are not elgible to eat anything at the breakfast bar. Including what is currently in your mouth."
Inkblot paused for a number of reasons. One reason was fear. This was going to cost a lot of bits, and he didn't have a lot of bits. Another reason was confusion. Why was she calling him Hearth? It must've been the name on his membership card. He could have fun being Hearth for a while. The third reason he paused was because he was trying to swallow.
After successfully swallowing the heaping mass, he responded to the attendant with incredulity. "Are you serious?"
The attendant looked at the card, but before she could verify the expiration date on the card, she got a scream to the ears.
"Hey! How dare you have the NERVE to ignore the Great and Powerful Trixie? Well, counting the lack of alfalfa at your breakfast and the hard pillows, that is three strikes. I am leaving."
Inkblot got out of his seat to follow Trixie out the door of the Comfy Stable Hotel, but was pinned to the ground before he even knew what hit him. He looked up to see the white-maned mare on top of him, simply saying, "Pay up."
The colt, still pinned, responded with a quiver in his voice and a blush on his face, secretly wishing the other mare could take this one's place. "How much?"
"Fifteen bits?! A little pricy, don't you think?"
"Or I could report you for stealing food from the Comfy Stable breakfast bar.
He groaned as he took fifteen bits out of his saddlebag with magic and gave them to the red pony in front of him as she unpinned him. This wasn't good news. He needed money to go to Trixie's show and to feed himself. Granted he still had snacks, but he couldn't live off of the alfalfa sandwiches he brought. Alfalfa. Alfalfa! That's it!
"Trixie!" Inkblot called as he got up and ran toward his idol. Trixie noticed the call and turned around to meet the pony with a food-covered muzzle. As soon as she saw the grass ans flowers stuck to the honey around his mouth, she couldn't help but giggle to herself.
Inkblot ignored her giggling and cut to the chase. "I have some alfalfa sandwiches in my bag. Do you want one?"
Trixie smiled at what she heard. "Of course I want one. Only the best for the Great and Powerful Trixie! And it is quite obvious that alfalfa is the best species of grass available in Equestria. So let's go back to my room for our feast."
Inkbot hated alfalfa.
Trixie's hotel room was scattered, to say the least. There were two beds, one of which was unmade, with the sheets thrown almost completely on the ground. Inkblot could've sworn he even saw a pillow on the windowsill. The other bed was made and looked completely neat. There was upside-down blue suitcase featuring Trixie's signature cutie mark laying on the bed which is what marked its unitidiness. The suitcase's contents were spread out across the floor, which wasn't much since the only clothes she had to wear was her show uniform, but it was still a hassle to step over alarm clocks and makeup kits and autographed pictures of herself (Inkblot was unsure if they were for handing out to fans or for Trixie's pleasure. He assumed the former.). The only thing that was organized was her cape and hat, which was hung up unnaturally neatly almost as if it were to be worshipped.
The two ate the sandwiches (along with cola that Trixie had prepared, even though they weren't thirsty) on the more unkept bed facing the window, giving them a view out the ninth story of the hotel (after they removed the pillow, of course). Despite being fifty feet above the ground, the castle and a bunch of other buildings in Canterlot still towered over them. Then again, the two of them towered over the ponies in the streets.
Inkblot figured that it was time to catch up with Trixie. "So how's life been going?" he asked after swallowing a lump of healthy, but odd tasting, alfalfa.
"My life hasn't exactly changed over the last few days, Inkblot." Even during normal conversation, Trixie maintained her overdramatic, theatrical tone.
"Well, you're about to perform at the Royal Theatre tonight. I mean, it's THE Royal Theatre," Inkbot said before he took a sip of his drink. He wanted to bring out some emotion in her. As great as her inflated ego was, seeing more than that was always nice.
"Indeed I am. As I believe I told you a couple days ago, the people here deserve talent such as myself." The colt was hoping for a sign of nervousness in her voice, but her voice was just as strong as before. She took a bite of her sandwich.
"Well, aren't you nervous about that?"
There was a pause to let Trixie swallow. "Nervous? Ha! The Great and Powerful Trixie being nervous is simply an image that can not be imagined!" she exclaimed stoutly.
"But this is arguably-"
"Just another theater," Trixie cut in to avoid thinking about the crowd. Inkblot knew that somewhere under that towering ego was a little bit of stage fright. Her reassurance was proof.
"Just hope they don't know about the Ursa incident," he said, meaning to tease.
Trixie gave a heavy sigh. "Most of them do," breaking her theatrical tone. She had transitioned to a more solemn tone, full of regret. It was almost alien. Trixie was sad.
Surely enough, her mood whiplashed back to theatrics, once again veiling her vulnerability. "But that doesn't matter, because the Great and Powerful Trixie has a new trick that will blow everypony's mind!"
"That sounds amazing!" Inkblot nearly shouted, not even trying to contain his enthusiasm. "What is it?"
Trixie got up from the bed, took a couple sips of her cola, and cleared her throat. What followed was clearly one of her rehearsals for that night. She began by striking a dramatic pose. "Fillies and gentlecolts! What you are about to see has only been attempted by few unicorns, and some say that only the immortal can pull it off." Inkblot was already entranced by the show pony's performance, and the show hadn't even started yet. "I give you, the ability to play back memories in an amazingly realistic fashion, as if you could see through my eyes."
"So it's like a video camera!"
"Yes! Exactly like a video camera. Now stand back. Replaying something this realistically requires large amounts of magic. I will play..." Pause for both dramatic effect and to think of something. "...my wonderful experience yesterday!"
"Oo! This is gonna be good!" the pale pony said to nopony in particular.
Trixie closed her eyes as her horn glowed with the familiar blue aura. A plume of blue smoke came out of the unicorn's horn. Inkblot stared in wonder as the blue smoke formed into a cloud that seemed to have a faded picture in the center. Trixie closed her eyes tighter.
The picture faded in to show outside the hotel on the clear day. She was next to a nice stream that was set closer to the boundary of the city, where the inhabitants rarely visited. One thing was for certain, she was right when she said it was realistic. Inkblot thought that he could just hop into the cloud and be at the stream.
Inkblot gave a short applause as Trixie's eyes clenched shut, focusing as hard as she could to pull off the amazing trick. Suddenly, the picture was moving, and a voice, Trixie's voice, came from the cloud. "Hello to whoever will be watching this in the future. Most likely a wonderful crowd of fillies and gentlecolts. You can see the astounding beauty of that land that you know, conjured up by magic itself. But please, hold your ravenous applause. We have more to see." Trixie bared her teeth.
The image moved down the river until it met a small cliff. The point of view looked down the waterfall, creating a realistic and breathtaking view of the land. You could see the lit cities of Manehattan and Trottingham and the dark void of the Everfree Forest. You could even see the quiet little town of Ponyville. The point of view looked down to see the spectacular roaring waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall was another stream that flowed steadily down the mountain and a bridge. Inkblot's heart skipped a beat when he saw the bridge. That was the bridge that was destroyed the night before. This was recorded the night before. Inkblot suddenly felt uneasy.
Trixie started to sweat as she continued to play back her memory. The narration spoke on behalf of the strained mare. "Isn't this view simply beautiful? And realistic, too! Behold the grace delivered straight to you by the Great and Powerful Trixie!"
'Yes, that's wonderful now please move along before I show up,' Inkblot thought, sweating almost as much as Trixie.
"Huh, what's that?" The point of view looked down to the bridge, and surely enough, there he was, running across it from his pursuer. This meant she knew. It shook Inkblot's mind, and made him feel almost guilty for not telling her earlier.
Suddenly, the clouds all sunk to the ground. The picture of him running across the bridge was gone, and the room was covered in a ridiculously dense blue fog, which made the colt cough. After a couple coughing fits, the colt decided to try opening the windows. He used his magic to try to feel the window doors. After hearing a potted plant and a lamp fall to the ground, he finally felt himself open the window, letting the smoke billow out. After a while, the smoke subsided to reveal Trixie lying on the ground, unconscious.
"Trixie!" Inkblot called to the knocked out unicorn, but she didn't respond. He called again, expecting the same results, but hoping for different results.
Inkblot fumbled across the room to call the hospital, fearing the worst for his beloved Trixie.
Chapter 5 Preview
Inkblot looked down at the sleeping Trixie, who looked fine, but he knew that something had happened. "So is she alright?"
The nurse pony, who greatly resembled Nurse Redheart, responded kindly, "She'll be...fine."
The pause perturbed the blue eyed colt. "Why did you pause? Are you sure she's alright?"
"As far as health is, she's just fine. No major physical or mental damage except for one little thing."
"And that is..."
The nurse looked at the show pony, and then back to Inkblot. "A small amount of memory loss."