Through the Looking-glass and What Pinkie Found There (2024)

by Ponky

Chapter 3: Fit the Third

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||Fit the Third||

The darkness, by far, was the most upsetting feature of the Wabe. It didn’t make any sense: the Sun was shining on the sea, shining with all its might, but in the tulgey wood it seemed that nighttime reigned supreme. There were surprising pockets among the trees where Sunlight exploded from above, but generally it seemed that the island’s bizarre jungle rejected the concept of daytime.

This perpetual dimness was especially unnerving for the poor, quivering baker. He could barely remember how long it had been since they left the Lutwidge, and every time he saw Feather out of the corner of his eye he jumped in fright.

“Goodness, Candle Ends!” she said. “Why so jumpy?”

He groaned and dragged a hoof across his face. “It’s my blasted memory. I keep forgetting you’re here, and I can’t even keep track of time!”

She patted his shoulder sympathetically. “I’m sorry, friend. That must be very frustrating. You can ask me if you have any questions, you know. I promise I won’t get upset with you.”

He glanced at her sincere expression and relaxed the tautness of his neck. “Thank you, Feather.”

She smiled sweetly. “Absolutely. I’m keen to help.”

His eyes turned to the looming branches of impossible colors and angles. “How long have we been out here?”

“Just over an hour,” Feather said. “The Bellsteed wants us to stay in pairs and hunt for the Snark, remember?”

“Yes,” the baker answered with a nod. “Yes, I do remember. Do we have everything we’ll need?”

The cream-coated pegasus flipped back a lock of her wavy, bright orange mane and stuck her snout into her saddlebags. One by one she removed the tools of the hunt, setting them on top a thick, protruding root. “I’ve got the forks, thimbles, and soap right here.” She frowned at the small pile. “I can’t imagine how they’ll possibly be of any use, but the Bellsteed was pretty specific.”

“My uncle used the same things to catch Snarks,” the baker said. “He told me about it when he saw me off in Van Hoover.”

“It’s more than this, though, isn’t it?” Feather asked.

The baker shrugged. “Well, the old legends call for things like care, hope, and charm, but I have a hard time believing those would really make any difference.”

Feather gave him a questioning look and tapped the thimbles on the root. “And these will?” she asked teasingly.

He cracked a smile. “I guess we’ll see.”

They divvied up the unusual items and continued on their march, peering past the twisting trees in search of a creature of unknown appearance. It all seemed rather aimless to the baker, but the Bellsteed had assured his crew that this was the proper method for hunting a Snark. Self-conscious enough as it was, the baker did not argue.

A rustling came from the ponies’ right. They swiveled toward the noise, holding up their tiny forks in helpless apprehension. Two familiar figures emerged from striped bushes, relieving the baker and his companion as much as it confused them.

“Caster!” Feather sighed, her wings folding back at her sides. “It’s good to see you. Oh, and… hello, Mr. Butch.”

Caster Fiber, the youngest of the crew, stood several yards from his bulky, stone-faced companion. “Hello, Feather,” the copper pony said, shuffling from hoof to hoof and frowning at the ground. His short-cropped, chocolate brown mane glistened with nervous sweat. “Any luck yet?”

Feather smiled and shook her head, her twisting locks of golden-orange hair swaying beneath her freckled face. “And you?”

“Haven’t seen a dang thing,” Butch replied, repositioning his muscular, blood red forelegs. A greasy, midnight blue mane hung around his chiseled jaw, complimenting his silvery eyes that stared unemotionally into the distance. “This two-by-two business is a waste of time, if you ask me.”

“It does seem rather impractical,” Feather admitted softly, “but I think we ought to give it our best try. The Bellsteed seems to know what he’s doing.”

“Clover the Clever trusts him enough,” Caster defended. “Why can’t you?”

“He’s too eccentric for my taste,” the rippling stallion muttered.

“What taste?” tiny Caster snapped.

“If you’d like,” Feather called out, flapping to the space in between the stallions, “we four can search for the Snark all together. I think that would increase our chances of finding one safely, don’t you? Eight eyes are better than four!” She giggled at herself, a bubbly sound that cooled Caster’s jets.

“All right, Feather,” he submitted.

“Good idea,” Butch grunted.

Feather smiled and trotted back to the nameless baker’s side. “Now, Caster, I know you’ve already met him, but I’d like to introduce my partner, Candle Ends.” She tapped him with a wing, encouraged him to lift his head just long enough to nod a greeting. “He’s the baker on our little voyage.”

“Great muffins this morning, Candle,” Caster said, walking closer.

Butch raised an eyebrow. “Candle Ends? I thought you was the wanker who couldn’t remember his name.”

The baker winced as Feather stomped a hoof. “He has a… rare condition,” she said with force. “I call him Candle Ends, and… well, it’s better than ‘Fritter my wig,’ at any rate.”

A smirk pulled at the corner of Butch’s thin lips. “All righty.”

Blinking away her outburst, Feather cleared her throat and added, “What I mean is… I would appreciate if you called him by a name, rather than shouting silly words at him like the rest of the crew.”

“Candle Ends it is,” Butch said, bowing a little. “S’a pleasure to meet you.”

The baker whimpered.

“Well, we best be off,” Feather said, sweeping her emerald eyes over their surroundings. “Which way do you suppose we ought to go?”

“I vote we don’t backtrack,” Butch said snidely.

“That way looks good,” Caster suggested, waving his hoof toward a brighter line of trees between a pair of polka-dot conifers.

“Right! Here we go,” Feather announced, pressing forward with her wing behind the baker’s head. The four of them continued their directionless trek, thimbles, forks, and soap in their hooves, smidgeons of hope in their hearts.


“Who are they?” Twilight whispered.

“More of the crew!” Pinkie replied, pointing at each pony in turn. “The big one is a farmer who raises pigs back in Equestria, and the little guy is the Bellsteed’s apprentice.”

Twilight’s face scrunched up. “Apprentice for what?”

“Sailing!” Pinkie explained. “Apparently Caster is pretty talented, too! The Bellsteed said he saved the ship from wrecking several times, though nopony really knows how.” She shrugged.

“They don’t seem to like each other. Why are they together?”

“The Bellsteed paired up his whole crew so nopony’d get lost in the Wabe,” Pinkie explained. “They happened to be the last ones.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “I think they’re moving again…”

Pinkie gasped. “Then come on, we gotta keep up!” she said, wrapping her hoof around Twilight’s. Bravely, she leapt from the top of the palm tree in which they had been hiding. Twilight refrained from shrieking as they galloped from treetop to flimsy treetop, somehow staying perfectly aloof. Pinkie seemed to know the tricks of the Wabe and, when in contact with Twilight, ensured that both of them were practically weightless. Twilight tried not to focus on the scientific aspects of their stalk, training her ears on the grounded group of four as they made idle chitchat among the alien plants.

“So… this is where they came from, huh?” the young stallion, Caster Fiber, asked.

“They who?” grunted the large, maroon stallion.

Caster gulped. “You know… the monsters…”

A shudder accompanied the band’s sudden silence.

“I think that’s right,” the pegasus mare offered after a long moment. Her tone was kind, but seemed to condemn the topic.

Caster must not have noticed. “Does that mean this is where the Alicorns—”

“I really don’t think that’s an appropriate question right now, Caster,” the mare said firmly, comforting the baker twitching at her left.

“Oh, come on! Aren’t you thinking the same thing?” Caster glanced at everyone but the large steed. Twilight noticed with a grimace he had a knife for a Cutie Mark. Caster continued, “If this is where the creatures came from, it must be where they were banished. All of those horrible things are somewhere on this island, right here in these trees!”

“That’s enough!” the pegasus warned, flashing Caster a meaningful glare. Her Cutie Mark was a single green feather, angled like a quill. “The Bellsteed made it very clear that we would not be bothered if we stick together. Now let’s just… focus on that Snark.” She breathed through her nose and forced an encouraging smile. “We have to have hope, remember? Come on, let’s say the Bellsteed’s chant.”

The other ponies groaned or slumped further toward the patterned ground.

‘We seek it with thimbles, we seek it with care,

We pursue it with forks and hope…’

Say it with me, now!”

The stallions mumbled the rest along with her.

‘We threaten its life with a stable share,

We charm it with smiles and soap.’

“So come on, boys! It says we have to smile!” She showed her healthy teeth, gleaming even in the perpetual dimness of the Wabe. “This Snark’s not gonna find itself!”

While she courageously grinned and urged the group on, Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle stayed in the branches of a thick pine tree, albeit against Pinkie’s will.

“Twiliiiight!” she breathed, tugging at her friend. “They’re getting away!”

“The princesses banished creatures here…” Twilight said, wide-eyed. “Creatures escaped from this place into Equestria, and the princesses banished them back…”

“Yeah, duh!” Pinkie said, pulling harder at Twilight’s hoof.

The unicorn yanked it from her friend’s grasp. “Pinkie!” she seethed in a harsh whisper. “You knew about this?”

“Of course!” said the earth pony, tossing her hooves above her head. “I thought it was obvious!”

“Obvious? Obvious?” Twilight’s eyes started twitching again. “Pinkie, none of this has made any sense at all, let alone been obvious! Are you trying to tell me that this place we’re in—this island accessible by… by mirrors and curiosity—is actually Tartarus!?”

Pinkie beamed and nodded, getting her mane tangled in a bristly branch above her.

The tendons in Twilight’s neck protruded. “But… but I’ve been the entrance of Tartarus! It’s at the base of Canterlot Mountain! It’s sealed off by an enormous, enchanted crystal and guarded by Cerberus!”

Pinkie kept nodding as if urging Twilight to go on. “What color is the crystal, Twi?”

“What?” Twilight head jerked in its socket. “It’s… it’s blue! Light blue!”

“And where have you seen a light blue crystal around here?” Pinkie asked, lowering her eyelids halfway and waggling her eyebrows.

“I don’t know!” Twilight yelped. “I haven’t seen any—”

She thought back to the ship. She remembered the Bellsteed standing in the rain, lifting a slab of murky gemstone and reading it like a map. He called it “the Perfect and Absolute Blank!”

She gasped, nearly falling from her perch on a thick, yellow branch. “The map! The Bellsteed’s map! It’s cut from the entrance of Tartarus!”

“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” Pinkie squealed, spinning around and somehow untangling her mane. “Oh, I knew you’d figure it out, you big smarty! See? I just have to show you!”

“But, Pinkie, that doesn’t help me at all!” Twilight moaned. “How could a slab of the crystal keeping the creatures of Tartarus at bay lead them across the ocean to the Wabe?”

“Oh, no no no no!” Pinkie said, pulling back the corners of her mouth. “You were so close! You already answered this part!” She animated her words using her hooves while Twilight watched with tiny pupils. “Star Swirl went the Wabe… then he came back from the Wabe with all its creepy creatures… then he went back to the Wabe to try and fix everything… then the princesses banished the creatures back to the Wabe—”

“But they called it Tartarus,” Twilight realized, “after the pit in the underworld of pre-Equestrian mythology.”


“Pinkie…” Twilight asked, leaning forward on her branch, “did you say that Star Swirl brought the creatures back with him?”

“Not on purpose,” Pinkie said, waving her hooves. “When he ripped a big space-hole back to Equestria, all of the Wabe’s nasty wasty creatures came with!”

“You mean to say that Star Swirl the Bearded initiated the Chaotic Era?”

“On ac-ci-dent!” Pinkie said, tapping her hind hoof with every syllable. “He did everything he could think of to fix his mistake. He even returned to the Wabe!”

“But he never came back…” Twilight peeked through the branches at the wild island around them. “So his faithful student, Clover the Clever, commissioned a search party to find him.”

Pinkie’s giant smile shone like a lantern in the shadows. “Exactomundo!”

“Okay…” Twilight nodded, breathing deeply. “Okay, I think I’m starting to understand. So… Bluish Carol is going to sail back to Equestria and write about his experiences… in the form of… nonsense poetry?”

Pinkie giggled. “Not quite. First he has to travel through time.” She smacked her hooves over her mouth. “Oops! Spoiler alert. Hee hee! Sorry, Twilight.”

The violet mare’s eye went right back to twitching. “Time… travel?” she stuttered.

“It’s not that weird,” Pinkie said, rolling her eyes. “You’ve done it before! And look, we’re doing it right now!”

“But… b-but…” Twilight’s shoulders tensed and drew together. Her ears flattened tightly over her skull and her back teeth ground together noisily. After glancing around frantically, she grabbed the back of her mane and held it over her mouth with her hooves, screaming out some of the stress. Pinkie helped, pushing a large amount of her own cottony mane over Twilight’s hooves and face.

“Shh, shhh… it’s okay,” she said with a kind smile, reaching forward with her other hoof to pat Twilight’s back. “Not everypony’s as curious as Pinkie Pie.” She suddenly lost her balance—“Wuuuoah!”—and tumbled from her perch, pulling Twilight with her as they crashed through levels of evergreen branches and landed hard on the brown, furry ground.

“Aww! This section of the Wabe is cute!” Pinkie said, rubbing her face against the mahogany tufts growing from the ground. Twilight winced and leapt to her hooves, making Pinkie gasp. “Good thinking, Twilight! We’ve gotta catch up to them! It’s gonna happen any minute!”

“What’s gonna happen?” Twilight squeaked, but Pinkie was already bouncing in Bluish Carol’s direction.

Next Chapter: Fit the FourthEstimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Through the Looking-glass and What Pinkie Found There (2024)
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