This is an important scene from Dinky's life in which she actually, actively used magic for the first time ever--even if it was only for a moment, and even if she was terrified for her safety, not to mention what her mother would say.
Derpy's Hovel This hovel, like this temporary description, is an utter mess. Watch out for that--ooh. Yeah, I think that was a structural pile of muslin. u.n
<OOC> You say, "You get to be the very first person to roleplay in this brand new room. Congrats." <OOC> Luna shakes it like she just doesn't care to celebrate! <OOC> Luna says, "What's Derpy's home like, anyway? Besides run down." <OOC> Luna says, "I mean, are we talking just a shabby cottage, a tiny straw hut, what?" <OOC> You say, "It's a three-room house built into a crevice between two hills. Falling apart and cluttered."
Yeah, that sound is probably just the cuckoo clock malfunctioning again. It went off less than fifteen minutes ago, didn't it? Whatever. Dinky doesn't care about the passage of another quarter hour. It's just one minute after another after another in here. She's lying on a lopsided stuffed mattress in a place where the sun shines through a crack of roof. Her homework's sitting by the side of the room, long finished, so now she's reading. A big, thick, striking book--something about Zebricans.
The door slams open, except it's in bad enough shape that it actually tumbles across the room and hits the far wall. Blue light beams through the open door. It shines off of the Princess of the Night, and when she strides into the tiny house she lights the place up just by standing there. In her mouth is a classic wickerwork basket with a red and white checkered blanket hiding a pile of stuff. A pile of stuff that smells like pastry. Setting the basket on the floor, she announces gravely, "Dinky Doo! Come forth to the Princess of the Night. It is time she took a more personal role in thy studies."
There's a bump, a scuffle and what may be a curse from the other room. In about five seconds, Dinky Doo herself is at the room's edge, peering at what's come to get her in shock. A precarious rack of shelves teeters in a pile of papers and discarded stamp edging, one leg bent. It could be capsizing its contents at any time. "Oh, ^@#," swears Dinky modestly before managing a painful bow. "Princess. What are you doing here?" This does -not- feel like where Luna belongs.
Luna answers, "Teaching thee." The simple answer is accompanied by a serious, even grave expression, and a stiffly formal tone - even as her magic lifts the basket up off the floor and floats it over in front of you. "It is customary to bring gifts when visiting unexpectedly. We chose this food to thy needs. Cinnamon buns, a peculiar bread with many spices loved by the palace bakers, lemonade for thee and wine for thy mother. They are fresh from the oven and the cold cellar, respectively."
Red_Velvet braids little pink bows in Scope's mane and puts make-up on him, as well as fitting him for a pretty dress. (Public-pose) Scope self-destructs. (Public-pose)
Dinky glances at the dislodged and now partially shattered door, lying against the wall beside her. Her jaws open uselessly for a moment. The smell of cinnamon catches her nose, though, and she stumbles forward toward it. "Yeah. Yeah, this'll hit the spot. Do you know what my mom packed for me today? An empty melon rind stuffed with clover. And she sealed it with stamps. I mean, I actually thought I was getting melon--stupid me. I mean, the clover was okay, but still." The green rinds nearby suggest Dinky finished it long ago. "So, yeah. Thanks for the grub. You want to have some, or what?" She reaches for the picnic cloth and yanks it off.
Luna unfurls one of her wings, waving the tip dismissively. "Neigh. We have satiated our royal hunger." Head high, body almost as stiff as if she were at attention, she walks down to the basket - not exactly a long walk - and stands over you and it. "Do not restrain thy appetite. Thou may eat and answer us both. How have thy studies progressed? Be not affeared that thy progress seems small. We were not expecting great practical gains from the teachers we sent thee to first."
Dinky sighs sharply. She finds the carafe of lemonade and leans in to drink it, but pauses, unsure about the etiquette. She looks around for something resembling a glass or cup. "Uhh. Yeah. I think it's my own fault, honestly, 'cause Tejene and Dusk try their best, but you can't make, uh, giant beautiful statues with clay. Or I mean, actually yeah, you probably could do that, but..." She sighs again and extracts one of the cinnamon buns. "You can't make wagons with mud. And I'm the mud. Wait, you can dry mud, can't you?"
Luna smiles. It's not much of a smile, but on the other hoof it's clearly forcing its way through despite the standard Regal Stone Face. Her mouth pulls up a bit at the edges, and a bit of affectionate warmth creeps into her voice as well. "Neigh, thou had it straight the first time. We do indeed make giant beautiful statues out of gooey, filthy clay. We intended but one thing at first: That the Earth Pony Witch show thee so much of the magic of life that thou may attune thyself and feel it around thee when thou wish."
Dinky takes this in while chewing very slowly. She swallows a bit of her bun and tucks the rest into her cheek. "Oh. Well. That's great. I mean, you could've mentioned that before, if that was the curriculum, 'cause I don't think that's what he's been doing. He's been mainly training me to notice when he turns over cups when my eyes are closed and that sort of thing, when he's not conjuring up monsters from beyond the--wait. Wait, yeah, I guess that is kinda being attuned to life magic, isn't it? Right, right. Dumb. Okay, sure. So... what, you want me to close my eyes and sense you?"
Luna can't quite restrain her smile, which lurks around the edges of her face and in the amused cant of her heavily lashed eyelids. "That would be a start. We wish thee to do something much more dangerous, in fact - or rather, it would be dangerous if any pony other than a princess was here." Blue light shines around one of the bread loaves, floating it out of the basket and setting it out in the middle of the floor by itself. "We cannot train thee as a tutor should, but can set thee on the next path. Do feel the magic of life all around thee, Dinky Doo. It surrounds this house, in the grass and in the trees and in the insects. It grows in the walls and in the thatch. It burns inside our royal self. Take hold of it, wrap it around this piece of bread, and pull the bread by pulling that net of life."
Dinky stares at the bread and at the basket and at the princess. "Um," she says. She seems like to wants to say something else, but can't bring herself to. So she hesitates, sitting there. Her head turns slowly and her rump shifts the other way. "I... honestly, I'm not sure I even feel all that. That's kind of everywhere, isn't it? I mean, maybe if I went out in the badlands or the desert or something where there's not that much living stuff, I'd know it, but... really? The grass?" She shuts her eyes and... does something internal. But nothing happens except for something creaking in the wind, probably dislodged by Luna's entrance.
Luna nods solemnly, and offers, "Here. It will be hard at first, simply to learn to move this power. It is like a leg. The first step is to feel it there. Then thou must learn to twitch it. We shall make it easy to feel, by providing a safe source to draw on." She doesn't do anything visible either, but suddenly her body burns like zapapple season, so vital and strong that it shines life around the tiny cottage.
Dinky winces and falls back on her rump, dropping the rest of her bun. She stares. "Yeah. Yeah, I can feel that. So..." Pause. "So, power? I'm supposed to, like, reach in there... into you... and..." That's about as weird as Dinky can force her sentence to be. As if needing to cool down, she climbs forward and quenches herself with the lemonade, receptacle be shattered.
Luna gives another nod, this one quick and curt. "Yes. If we were not a princess or a particularly vital earth pony, thou would harm us by trying to use our life for mere magic. Thy practice will have to be conducted alone, among growing plants, until thou learn to touch life lightly and draw it in small amounts from everywhere. Try. Practice a bit, while our own life force is available. We have much to occupy our attention." 'Much' is presumably a reference to the muffled crunching and cracking noises outside, and the brief feeling of vertigo, as if gravity doubles in the house for a few seconds. Her eyes are definitely starting to glow.
Dinky glances abruptly out the window at the crunching sound. She wobbles and lowers herself to her belly. "Okay. Okay, hold on." Dinky closes her eyes, then opens them again. She lifts her head, and perforce her little horn. She winces again for no obvious reason. Then, for the first time, she seems to actually be -doing- something with her magic. Luna's roiling energies are stirred and disrupted a little by the young unicorn, like a teaspoon stirring a soup cauldron. She starts breathing hard, but none of that power seems to be leaving the pot.
The view outside is definitely not right, in that there is no view outside, just sky. Not that a foal as tiny as Dinky could have seen MUCH else without actually going over to the window. Luna's eyes glow brighter, and there are cracks and crunches much less muffled now, *below* the house. She seems to have a fair amount of attention free, and her tiny smile suddenly becomes warm and approving. "Excellent. As little as that may seem, thou have taken thy first step as a unicorn mage. Go as far as thou may while we are here, Dinky Doo."
Dinky is concentrating on this muffled soup before her, sitting up with her back tense and her magic as intensely active as it may ever have been, assuming you don't count donor magic from bizarre illusionists. But eventually a crackle under her butt prompts her to leap up in alarm. "What," she exhales. She takes a step back and looks uncomfortably around. "What's going on." A box of miscellaneous bills and receipts topples onto her head from the shelf above.
Luna now definitely does sound distracted. Amidst the repeated, rhythmic cracks she explains, "It is an abuse of our responsibilities to favor one pony over another as princess. We must cure the ills of all or none, treating thee impartially according to laws and policies. These lessons, for example, are our protecting the public by making certain a unicorn with a potentially dangerous gift is taught the path of Harmony instead. We are allowed to give gifts as a pony if we do so AS a pony and not as a princess. Our physical labor, of wing or horn or hoof, is our own." Four very loud bangs echo from under the house, and she suggests, "Please proceed. We cannot be here for thee long, and hope to have thee learned enough to practice on thy own after we leave."
Dinky is totally distracted now, herself. She scrabbles uselessly at the floor for a moment, and then rushes over to the window. "No. No, no, no. Luna, are you -floating- the -house?!-" she shouts, looking out.
Luna is floating the house. The house, the dirt underneath and around it (for about a foot), and a layer of stone under that. The house is floating above another house, or at least a house in construction. It's not, admittedly, MUCH of a house, but the smooth rectangles of bedrock being lifted out from under where the house used to sit look much more sturdy than the rotting wood of your current shack. As you watch, five windows cut their way out of the walls. Then leftover slabs of rock fit into grooves in the outer walls, forming four interior rooms - each with a window, although the biggest room has two. Luna's eyes are shining like spotlights now, and she looks like she's sweating, but her voice is calm and just a little scolding. "I broke your door. A bit of home repair is the correct way to show my personal fondness for your mother. Unfortunately, I am no mason or carpenter, but at least it will be larger, and stone holds heat better in the winter and cool better in the summer. Please practice, foal. There is one other spell I would like to set thee practicing ere I go, and thou shall need to gain as much as possible from this visit merely to understand it."
Dinky isn't able to practice under these conditions. She just stands at the window, gaping and watching. "Wha--I--" Eventually, as the structure below starts to take shape, the cuckoo clock on the wall cranks its gears and a few feeble chimes are accompanied by a little wooden door struggling repeatedly to open and eject the bird within. Dinky is distracted enough now that she's back to her original object of focus. "You're giving us a new house? But--wow. What about this house? It's gonna fall apart! What about all our stuff! I mean, I know it's not... it's not much compared to a palace but..." She skitters around, trying to keep her balance while balancing the window with the princess. "-This- is not the way to teach -harmony!=" she bursts out in frustration. "...Is it?"
Luna's answer comes with a faint touch of reproachful growl. "I am *building* thee a house by my power as a unicorn, as thou might bake a cake for a friend, in apology for an accident. It is an effort of crude strength, but fortunately crude strength is what I have in greatest abundance." The ground approaches as the house sinks, settling down onto the floor of the new living room, right next to the stairs down into the basement (well, she DID just carve a huge hole in the ground). When a gently lurching thump signals the old house is settled on the floor inside the new house, Luna takes a deep, slow breath, her head hanging a bit. Her eyes don't stop shining, but the incandescence lightens considerably. From outside, there are more crunches, and sizzling noises.
That's when the rack of shelves that's somehow managed to keep from buckling thus far finally gives way. It crashes, spilling knick-knacks, documents and what looks like barley flour all over the place, raising dust that sparkles in the air. A few shafts of sunlight are cutting through the room that weren't there before. Dinky finds herself hugging the floor as well as she can, hooves gripping a torn rug for friction, breathing loudly. Did she find the time to get a little more practice in stirring Luna's magical innards on the way down? No, she did not. Dinky was busy being terrified. She looks up in horror, throat working, and forgets to say thank you.
Luna has in fact been watching the shelves this whole time. When they break, the contents tumble to the floor... and are caught an inch from the surface. Instead they whisk out the broken front door into the new house, towards the banging that sounds like a set of stone shelves being driven into stone walls. Not much she can do about the barley flour, though. That floats all over the place. Luna stares over your head, definitely sounding distant as she instructs, "Please, foal, practice, and tell us what furniture shall be needed that can be made of stone. Cabinets and counters for the kitchen. A fireplace in the living room and a baker's oven in the kitchen. That... shall be crude. Thy mother may have to replace it. It will be the best I can do. A front door, of course."
Shivering, Dinky climbs to her feet. It feels stable now. The windows aren't lined up with the old windows, so she can't see where they are. "Are we... where did you take us? Is this underground?" She slowly works her way to the front door and finds herself watching another front door being formed. Frontdoorception. "I... I dunno." She barely remembers being asked a question. "You know, we could have made a new door. It wasn't a big deal. Now I don't even." And she doesn't even. Practice, that is.
A bit of amusement creeps back into Luna's voice, and she's certainly too distracted and tired to hide her wry grin. "I took thee nowhere, foal, save temporarily up in the air. This house sits where thy old one did, it is merely a bit larger. Thy awe is entirely undeserved. Yes, it took great strength to do this, but I fear thou shall not find what I have built a mansion, only an improvement over what was. Do please make it clear to my mother that this is not a gift from the Princess of the Night, this is a favor from Luna to her friend the Dreamy Eyed Mare. And if thou cannot be coaxed into practicing, at least fetch us a seed. A melon seed, perhaps. Thou mentioned liking melons? Some fruit thou enjoy."
Dinky doesn't respond for a few seconds. "From Luna? Dreamy Eyed? Sure. Sure." She hesitates and again fails to say what's on her mind. Dinky examines the empty rind she can find, which has rolled to a corner, but there are no seeds there. She takes a while before she can finally find a seed--or rather, a clump of dirt with what looks like enough richness to contain seeds. Which it does--a little tan sliver in between bits of soil. Dinky doesn't know it's a flower seed. "Here. Look, Pri--Your Highness, I'm sorry. I can't doubletask like you. I can't do homework while my home's being turned inside-out. So, sorry to disappoint. As for Luna... I don't even know if I have anything to say to her."
Luna takes a few heavy, slow, deliberate breaths, pacing herself. The light sudden gets dimmer as logs are stacked over the new house to make a triangular roof, and braced with stone. "Thou have nothing to say to her. This is a favor of friendship between myself and thy mother - and a small favor it shall turn out to be, though it seems impressive to watch. Our business with thee is as the Princess of the Night. The seed is for thy practice, and indeed thou may need more. It seems one of the simplest spells will be of greatest use to thee. Plant this seed amidst lush greenery, and funnel the life from those plants into this one. The waste will be terrible at first, but with enough life diverted, thou may grow thine own melons in a day. We hope we do not have to warn thee how cautious thou should be in casting such a spell."
Dinky listens to these instructions. She nods seriously. "Okay. I'll give it a try. Um... how can I be cautious? Like... do it only a little at a time? I don't know if I can funnel life at all, honestly." She gestures to herself for some reason, as if it's obvious. "But anyway... um. Thanks, I guess. Your Highness. Or, I guess it's not for me, it's for all ponydom, so... I don't know, thanks on their behalf or something." She lowers the clump of dirt and drops it at her own hooves.
Luna's eyes stop glowing. The banging, cracking, thumping, and clattering stops. A stone front door slides closed in the living room outside the original shack, fastened by a very crude bar. Giving her little head a shake, she explains, "Cast the spell correctly, dear foal, and thou shall find thyself and a vine of fat melons in the midst of a field of death, where every other thing has been reduced to dust. Become expert, and that field will be small, hardly larger than the plant. We believe thou would rather not have animals or ponies caught in that spell." Lifting her head high, she takes another very deep breath, blowing it out hard before finishing, "The spell of moving objects is like scratching letters in the earth with thy horn. The spell of sacrificing other plants to make one grow is like ramming thy horn into a wall. They are both very simple, very similar, but one is gentle and the other grabs all the power thou can hold - and for thee, Dinky Doo, 'power' is 'life'. THAT is why thou must be tutored by a princess."
<OOC> Dinky gonna become Ben Hawkins from Carnivale.
Dinky nods. "Power is life. Smashing my horn into a wall. Yeah. Um." She has about six questions circulating now, so she fastens on one more or less randomly. "I have to ask. What if I'd turned out... to react to the magic of life, but -not- the magic of death? What would that have meant? And... and the other way around? Just curious." Her hoof scuffs the flour-dusted floor.
Luna is getting her strength back, and her face softens as she leans forward and corrects gently, "Undeath. Death is but a lack of life. Undeath is... something else, a replacement, a false life. In practice it seems the same thing, because undeath and life burn each other up. Undeath is hard to find. Thou would have to find spirits to bind or draw it up out of thyself to practice with. Life is everywhere, and so we would rather thee use it to train, despite the danger." A little sigh, and she forces herself back to the topic. "But to answer thy question, necromancy has few tolerable uses, but they exist. Divination, laying spirits to rest. Our hope is that Nettleglum may show thee the way to turn that curse into a blessing for all. It would have been harder to teach thee because of such limited options. If thou knew only life... it is a rare talent, a potential killer, yet even Celestia and ourself cannot heal with the magic of our horn. Someday, for thee, that shall be possible."
Dinky listens to all this carefully, but she shows little sign of understanding. "Okay," she breathes. "Okay. I'm gonna write that down. Ask around, see if anyone's got ideas. I don't know. When I was trying to... tug at whatever you were doing, just then... it didn't feel like that was mine at all. Does that make any sense?" The foal heaves and takes a respectable step back. "But I'll try with the melon vines. I'll go out someplace where no one gives a hoot about the plants and I'll try. I just don't..." She shakes her head. "I don't know what it all adds up to."
Luna lifts a foreleg, and reaches out to place her hoof on top of your head lightly. Mildly, she tells you, "It adds up to a wing or a hoof or teeth to chew. It is an ability thou have. It does not define thee, although ponies who do not know what is happening are often driven mad as these powers emerge. It is good that thou feel the difference between manipulating the life of others and thy own. Someday, thou shall take power from any source other than inside thee only in the most extreme circumstances. We believe the first step towards that goal is taking it clumsily from plants, who shall not miss it. When that is easy, thou shall learn to take it equally from all around, to supplement whatever thou can easily give up thyself. And so on to mastery." A moment's pause, and she puts her hoof back on the floor, and frowns - not angry, but very serious. "If power wells up within thee, even though it never has before, assume it is undeath. Practice lifting objects that were never alive with it. That will be harmless and useful to thy studies. Pass word to us about it when convenient."
"Yeah," repeats Dinky. "First clumsy plants, then myself, then myself and everyone equally, then myself mostly and maybe a little bit everyone. And if there's a big surge, it's undeath. Replacement life. Lift things that aren't alive and tell you. Right." She recites what she recalls like she would a history lesson or a set of grammar rules... with the air of the pony who wants to be a good student but doesn't believe any of it will ever apply to real life. "Good. Are we done here?" A little flick of her tail's tip punctuates the question.
Luna nods solemnly. "For now. If thou find it too difficult to touch life still and need ourself as a source, or need personal instruction because the way is not clear, send us a message. We shall find time." She turns, and the bolt draws out of its slot in the new door. She walks out to the hillside, but pauses in the entranceway. Looking back with a suddenly sad stare, she apologizes, "We are sorry, Dinky Doo. Thou deserve a true teacher, who can guide thy growth every day. As a princess, we cannot give that to thee, and can but pray what we have is enough." Then she avoids any more awkward moments by leaping up into the sky and flying away.
There Dinky stands, not blinking but wanting to. The cuckoo clock starts strangling again, spurring her to step forward and bow a little. Just a perfunctory thing. She doesn't really seem overawed right now... just overwhelmed. And if it helps things not to be awkward, she doesn't say a thing.