"It ain't over 'till the fat mare sings."
Ditzy Doo yawned widely as she woke up, shaking out her mane as she stumbled out of bed. Soon enough she was humming to herself as she washed up and all but danced her way down the stairs of her home to the kitchen. The celebration last night seemed to last forever, so much so that Ditzy lost all track of time and had no real recollection of when she finally managed to stumble to bed.
"Surprised they didn't find me passed out under a table somewhere." She joked softly to the air around her, and made herself some food for her grumbling belly as well as a pot of some strong coffee. She never met the mules in the far south who made the stuff, but somepony should give them a medal. She took her time, eating a full breakfast and finishing the strong drink before she took a moment to stretch.
"Okay Ditzy, stop putting it off." She told herself, "Element or not, you're still the mail pony." The grey mare trotted lightly into her "office" and collection room, expecting it to be rather full. After all, a crisis usually spikes the amount of mail, as ponies wrote to check on or assure family were alright and safe. But she didn't mind, after what she just endured, she felt like she could take on the world!
She started pulling letters down, placing them on the table to be sorted. She was pleasantly surprised, a light load today, not at all what she expected after what happened with Nightmare Moon. She chuckled a little, still giddy over the idea of herself as a hero. She gingerly took the first letter and set it to one side, then the next, and another then stopped dead, her eyes wide.
"No " she whispered in a soft, horrified voice. She dashed to the piles of letters, digging hap-hazardly at them, pulling out the letters with her teeth and showering them everywhere with growing panic. But the answer she got from them was the same no matter where she looked. The euphoria that had been buoying the pegasus crashed to the ground, dragging her down with such a weight she collapsed on the floor.
This was all the same mail she'd delivered the day of the Summer Sun Celebration.
Ditzy laid there, despondent. The return of Nightmare Moon was happening over again! AGAIN! How? Why?!? Despair threatened to weigh her down, keeping her firmly planted to the spot. All the friends she made, gone. The heroic acts she participated in, wiped clean. She wanted to wail in anguish, but could only find enough energy to whimper.
She genuinely didn't notice the pulsing deep within her. She was too focused on everything she'd just lost. She finally did something worthwhile, only to have it erased with some casual sweep of the hoof. The depression she'd fended off years ago threatened to find a seat in her soul once more.
The pulsing grew stronger, finally getting the mare's attention. She lifted her head slightly, "W-what?" she managed. Another pulse and Ditzy could see a faint glow of magic encompassing her entire body. Ditzy squirmed uncomfortably, unsure what to make of it, torn between fascination and panic. Then she started to shiver, biting down as she struggled with herself, until finally letting out a braying laugh. The glow intensified, and Ditzy found herself helplessly assaulted by what she could only describe as a sense of being tickled all over!
When the sensation finally stopped some minutes later, Ditzy was a panting heap on the floor, a few giggles still on her lips as she lifted her head. She realized in that moment not everything had been erased; she still held the Element of Laughter. In an odd way, she wondered if that was intentional, to keep depression from devouring her while she dealt with whatever this was.
"I'm scared." She told the element within her, trembling. She felt it pulse in response, a warm comfort somewhere deep within her. She looked out the window of her home, and watched three Pinkie Pies bounce past in different directions, "Celestia help me."
I know I won't have the physical record of this journal the next time this happens, if it happens, but I will have the memory of writing this. I hope it'll help me keep events sorted. Writing it down seems easier to do then saying it, as I'm starting to find some confusion in keeping the different versions of the day separate. Writing takes more of my focus, thus it's easier to keep my thoughts straight. I made an effort to talk to Twilight Sparkle at roughly the same time of night to minimize my own confusion as well. While I may not be going with her this time, I need to keep reminding her that her dream wasn't a dream. That SHE has to defeat Nightmare Moon! Still, it hurt that the only version she dreams is the original (Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy), and not the one I participated in. She does not remember ever befriending me. I barely managed to hold back my tears until I got home, and didn't bother going to the Summer Sun Celebration. I've already seen what happens, twice. I didn't want to see it again.
I hope this doesn't happen too many times, as I worry what having to deal with all these possibilities long term might do to me. Three is already confusing me, can you imagine what would happen at 10? 20? Celestia help me if it ever reaches 100.
Twilight won again, a group of stallions from town helped her. Big Macintosh couldn't have looked prouder as the Spirit of Honesty. I guess it runs in the family.
When will this END?!? There has to be a reason for all this, but I don't understand!! Is some force greater then Celestia trying to ensure Nightmare Moon wins? If so, why ME?!? I'm just a simple mare no. It's never that easy. I'm not "just" a mare, I have this thing with my eyes. Maybe that's why I can see all these attempts. Nopony else can, just me. Even Twilight only has vague dreams about her first time through. I bet when it finally ends, that'll be the reality again, whatever that means anymore. Where does that leave me? What happens to Ditzy? Probably go into a sanitarium assuming I'm not there already and don't know it.
I'm just so so frustrated. Focus is becoming a serious issue as well. With 12 different versions of the day happening at once, I'm trying to limit my exposure and stay home alone as much as possible, but something always seems to happen that requires my attention. I made an attempt to interact with Twilight, intentionally trying to ram her, but a freak crosswind pushed me aside and into a nearby building. Hurt like the muffins too, and I almost broke a wing. I have this weird feeling it was a warning. I don't think I'll try that again.
Nightmare Moon went down again, but Celestia only knows how that odd Zecora managed to earn an Element.
My speech has almost completely broken down. I find myself giving semi-random responses at odd times. Mostly it comes from responding to others I'm seeing, but with 30-some versions of the same ponies moving back and forth before my eyes, I'm finding myself almost completely unable to sprinkle outside of short bursts. Interestingly my name this time was Derpy Hooves instead of Ditzy Doo. I barely got through the day without giggling, which at least made it tolerable.
I'm not sure who Gilda the Gryphon is, but she frosted the Element of Loyalty. I think she's a friend of Rainbow Dash's.
I've lost count somewhere. I don't lobster what happened, but I'll just have to tickle on through. My speech is completely muffin now. Barely anyone can diaper my words. Oddly Pinkie Pie can formica me perfectly, maybe the fact we both gargled the Element of Laughter?
Some pony named Trixie came down from Canterlot this stopwatch. I got worried until Twilight jackaloped later that evening in some sort of travelling magic show. Nightmare Moon was still goggled, but Twilight only got the jersey of Honesty, not Magic.
I've officially kumquat. Just doing my haberdashery now. I was out of the pickle last round. I have to start with Twilight anew fiddle. Thankfully she is still silverfishing the dreams, and my wisp is quotable still.
How in the pancakes did the Sea Serpent get a waffle?
I just ------- paid close attention ------------------ to the ------- previous attempts to ----- write. My ------------ writing is ------ suffering too. My speech is ---------- gone. I don't even ----------- ----- ----------- understand what I'm saying now. If not ---------- for the ---------- element I think I would have -------------.
Scootaloo got one ----------- this time. More interesting ----------- Rainbow Dash was my ---------- sister. It felt -------- nice to have --- ------------ family again.
Applesauce the journal. The orchid is getting harder and cactus. It HURTS to goggle! With hundreds of speckles before my eyes, I'm elementary.
Twilight apple the squat tickle. Lobster bisque with the parsley sage rosemary and thyme. I never bobsledded the pineapple this time, but asparagus the fraction is Photo Finish?
Fairy lobster muffin. Applesauce thermos pamphlet . ---------
Ditzy looked dejectedly at the sheet of paper, tears ran down her cheeks to splatter her attempt at writing, but it was no use. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't force the words make sense, they just came out as a random jumble. Silently she put the quill down, picked the sheet of paper up and dropped it in the trash. It didn't matter now. It was time to go to sleep time to endure yet another revision.
She was completely exhausted and as she fell into her bed. She'd relived the same events more times they she could count, constantly looping back like someone was toying with an eternal reset button. Yet no one else was suffering just her. Were it not for the warmth of the element still deep in her soul, she would have given up so long ago and just lost herself to depression or insanity, whichever came first. Sometimes she wondered why she kept trying, but it felt important. Nightmare Moon had to loose EVERY time, and she had so far .
Dawn was an unwelcome, bleary light that stirred her from a wholly un-restful and dreamless sleep. The despondent mare slowly worked her way through her morning routine. She washed up, then down the stairs to the kitchen to make a small breakfast and something strong to drink. She cared little how about how well groomed she might look, her outward appearance looking every bit as miserable as she felt inside. She didn't bother with her "office", she already knew the events of the day and long since memorized the fastest way to finish her mail routine. She just needed one thing first.
The mare closed her eyes, gently reaching inwards with her mind. She didn't remember when she figured this out, but it was the only thing that kept her sane. Her inability to communicate with anyone, save for a brief lucid moments with Twilight, made things steadily more frustrating. It was like being buried in her own mind, suffocating and terrifying and frustrating. But there was one small warmth within her that had managed to help her, a pulsing gem of mystic energy. The Element of Laughter, which somehow had made this trip with her every time. Her mind reached for it, desperate for it's help once again.
Ditzy's eyes remained closed for several moments, initially looking placid and at peace. But as minutes slowly passed her brow furrowed deeper and deeper, at first as if trying to concentrate, then with a sense of panic. Desperation shortly grabbed the mare, her body trembling as her eyes popped open. "Applesauce." She whispered in horror. She then proceeded to do the only thing she could think of she collapsed into a heap on the floor.
Her form was wracked with sobs, her hooves crossed over her head as though she could somehow shut out the world. Even if the day finally stopped repeating, how would she move forward?!? The element, the only thing keeping her spirits buoyed, was gone. GONE!! She couldn't have made it without it's warmth, and now it had abandoned her! A singular, horrifying, thought of suicide flitted through her mind. Ditzy knew depression was going to drag her under like quicksand, and quickly, unless a miracle occurred.
The world seemed to freeze for the soft grey mare. One hoof slowly lifted, trembling. Was this a cruel joke? With a fearful heart, she pried her eye open.
"Momma? Are you okay?" the tiny unicorn asked her, eyes wide with concern.
The pegasus was a blur of motion, fore-legs scooping up the foal and clutching her tightly to her chest, planting kiss after kiss on the small filly, who was overcome by giggles from the attention. Somewhere deep inside her, Ditzy knew that the nightmare was finally over. Somehow she'd been rewarded. She didn't understand, but it didn't matter. Nothing else mattered; not Twilight Sparkle, not the Elements of Harmony, not Nightmare Moon, not the accursed repeating day, or even her own inability to communicate. Twilight Sparkle could have her friends, the only thing that mattered to her now was the Element she held.
The Element of Dinky.
First and foremost, a thanks to all of those who managed to endure all 10+ chapters of this story. This is one of my early attempts at a fan-fic, and the first time I have ever done a multi-chapter story of this magnitude. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.
I felt it might be interesting to throw a few notes about how this story progressed here before I close the doors and turned out the lights. My initial inspiration came, of course, from the television show this is based off of; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Lauren Faust and her crew really knocked this one out of the park, turning what was likely conceived as a cash-in done on the cheap, and turned it into one of the best cartoons I've seen in a very long time. Sure, Hasbro owns "My Little Pony", but Ms. Faust turned it into something far greater then what she was handed. Seriously, if Ms. Faust is reading this (fat chance, ne?) thank you for reminding us how FUN cartoons can be again. At 37 years old, a group of colorful ponies managed to capture my heart, and I have you to "blame". Thank you.
As for this story, it's original inspiration was from a perceived weak spot in the second episode of the show. I felt that how Applejack earned the element of Honesty was a little contrived, especially when compared to the rest. As such, my mind started working over alternate solutions for AJ. In short order I started scrambling who conquered what challenge and how in an effort to sort it all out. Eventually I realized that wouldn't work, and that the elements were a lot more difficult to "assign" then one would think at first glace. Instead of attempting to re-write the episode, I looked to the various background/fanon characters to try and come up with an alternate solution.
So I went to work at the idea of different ponies going with Twilight into the Everfree Forest. Initially it was going to have an epilogue that showed the representations of Chaos, Order, and Fate rolling dice and playing games against each other, with Chaos trying desperately to "win" against Order. Each had their chosen "champion" to represent them in the events: Chaos having Nightmare Moon, Order having Twilight Sparkle. Fate had no champion initially, then later (after I'd chosen the ponies of my alternate group) Ditzy was his representative. In the end I felt that was unneeded for the story, but it may answer a few remaining questions about the way the story worked, and why only Nightmare Moon, Twilight Sparkle, and Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves remained constant.
Of the ponies themselves, choosing them took some work. I wanted to keep the same mix as the show with 2 of each "type" of pony. Since Twilight was a unicorn, that meant I needed 1 unicorn, and 2 pegasai and earth ponies. Carrot Top was my first choice, as I'd used her in my "The Puzzle of Puzzle" story and felt comfortable writing her (tho personally I think her characterization here was much stronger). Ditzy, Lyra, and Bon-Bon were the next chosen. That left me hunting for a second pegasus, which after multiple false starts (I almost used Cloud Kicker) I chose Raindrops, since she had brief a scene with Ditzy in "Feeling Pinkie Keen".
I wanted to keep the same "challenges" from the original cartoon, but how to work them out? They were scrambled around time and time again, with the only constant being the final challenge, which I envisioned as an illusion customized to try and "defeat" the pegasus who went to connect the bridge, which I gave to Ditzy. The FIRST challenge however, the landslide, saw over 6 revisions as I worked out exactly who overcame it. For a long time it was going to Carrot Top before I finally settled on Raindrops.
As for personalities, I know some of them are possibly different then the fanon, but they wrote themselves in a way. Carrot Top was originally going to be the reliable and soft spoken type (almost a female Big Macintosh), but ended up the impulsive sort the more I wrote her. Raindrops being the laconic type who kept falling asleep I struggled with, as I didn't want her to become a one-note joke. Bon-Bon was the only one that stayed true to my original notes, being the motherly type who loved to cook. The biggest surprise for me was how scared Ditzy kept getting as I wrote, which somehow made her seem more relatable.
Finally, a word on Dinky. I knew my intro would piss-off a LOT of people. Killing off Dinky like that was not something I did lightly. I envisioned Ditzy as the sort who had a tragic past, and it became part of who she was as I went. The more I worked with it in this story, the more "right" it felt. But the ending of this Epilogue was planned right from the beginning. I had it in mind that what fate took away, Fate could return. Thus I envisioned, from my original version, Dinky's return was fate's reward for Ditzy's service. The return of Dinky to Ditzy, which I wanted to be a powerful moment, is the true finale to this tale. I hope it worked. Hopefully it will get those who wanted to "Kick me in the head with a steel toed boot" to back off and at least understand my intention (Yes that was one of the first reviews my story got on "Equestria Daily" in response to what I had done to Dinky in the Prologue).
Anyway, I think I've rambled enough. Thank you all for coming along on this little journey. Godspeed.