Of Night and Stone
A Change in Location
Pinkie Pie slumped behind the front counter of Sugarcube Corner, looking tired beyond belief. There were bags under her bloodshot eyes, which she struggled to keep open. Her head started slipping down from its place on her right hoof, but she propped it back up. She groaned, knowing she had a long night still ahead of her.
She barely even reacted when the telephone rang, just quietly reached over and picked it up. “Hello, Sugarcube Corner, how may I help you?” she asked, sounding deflated and exhausted.
“Pardon me, who are you looking for?” she asked after a few seconds. “A Mr. Rotch, first name Mike… okay.” She called out to the empty bakery. “Mike Rotch? Has anyone seen Mike Rotch?”
She heard a voice snickering on the other end before the phone clicked, then a dial tone. Pinkie sighed and put the phone down. “That was weird. I hope I can find Mr. Rotch and tell him somepony was looking for him.”
The door chime rang, and Pinkie looked up to see Elisa stepping inside, having to bend over to avoid hitting her head on the door.
“Oh, hi Elisa,” Pinkie said unenthusiastically.
“Hi Pinkie!” Elisa greeted, walking up to the counter. “Say, I know it’s the late afternoon and all, but may I have a blueberry muffin for breakfast?”
“One muffin coming up,” Pinkie sighed and looked around among the shelves to find a muffin.
“Pinkie, are you alright? You look really tired.”
“Sure, I’m fine.”
“You sure?” Elisa frowned. “You don’t look so good.”
“Well, it’s just…” Pinkie grabbed a muffin. “…I’ve been staying up at night to spend time with my sister and Brookie, but then I have to work during the day at Sugarcube Corner. Add in my party-planning time and…”
“And you don’t have much time to sleep,” Elisa finished Pinkie’s sentence. “I know how you feel, I was that way when I first became a detective. Have you asked the Cakes to switch you to a night shift?”
Pinkie sighed as she wrapped the muffin in wax paper and put it in a white paper bag. “Sugarcube Corner isn’t open at night, silly! Nopony would go to a bakery at night, and even if they did, I still have my party-planning during the daytime.”
“I see.” Elisa reached into her pocket for her bag of bits. “Well, you could always switch to planning raves.”
“No, we already have a pony for that.” Pinkie set the bag in front of Elisa. “Now I know how Princess Luna feels, torn between her nocturnal duties and daytime events.”
“Aw.” Elisa paid for the muffin and patted Pinkie on the head. “Well, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get used to it.”
Pinkie smiled slightly. “Thanks, Elisa.”
“No problem.” Elisa grabbed the muffin and headed to the door. “See you later!”
“You too.” Now that Elisa was gone, Pinkie sighed, head slumping in her hooves. “Alone again.”
It was then that the phone rang once more. Pinkie looked at it. “I wonder if that’s Mr. Rotch.” She picked it up. “Hello, Sugarcube Corner, how may I help you?”
Her ears perked up upon hearing who it was, and she grinned. “Marble!” Her tired mood was suddenly gone, as she sat up in her chair with the widest of smiles on her face. “It’s been so long! How have you been?”
She could hear the sound of hoofsteps clip-clopping across the floor above her. “Oh, I think she’s awake now! She’ll be down in a second. Anyway, what a surprise getting a phone call from you! I’ve been great! Gosh, how long has it been since we last talked?”
She turned her head to see Maud coming down the stairs, wearing her dress and with her mane still wet from having been showered earlier. She wasn’t wearing her lavender eyeshadow either.
Pinkie continued talking on the phone. “Uh-huh? Oh, Limestone’s so silly! Uh, here she comes!”
“What is it?” Maud asked.
“Maud, it’s Marble!”
Maud’s eyes lit up as she got to the bottom of the stairs. Pinkie enthusiastically handed Maud the phone.
“Hello? It’s nice to talk to you again, too. Calm down, I’ve only been gone for a week. How is Mother doing? Okay. Okay?”
Then she paused. Frowning, she sighed. “Right, I remember. Yes, I will. Okay. No, I’m fine. Yes. Love you too. Goodbye.”
Maud handed the phone back to Pinkie, then walked back upstairs, her hooves thumping and the floorboards creaking as she did so. Pinkie frowned and held the phone up to her head again.
“Hello? Hello? Aw, she hung up!” She put the phone down and headed after her sister. “Maud! Wait for me!”
Brooklyn stood on the Town Hall balcony and watched over Ponyville, lit by the moonlight, as he waited for a certain mare to arrive. The town was quiet save for the usual chirping of crickets.
“Hey,” a voice came behind him. Brooklyn turned around to see Maud approaching. He smiled.
“Maud! I was waiting for you.” He bent over, reaching down to pet Maud on the head. Her ear flopped down as he did so. “You ponies are so adorable, y’know?”
Though it was hard to tell from the lack of light, he could have sworn that Maud blushed. “Thank you.”
“Hey, it’s the truth!” He started scratching her behind the ears, and used his other claw to scratch her under her chin, to which Maud shut her eyes in delight. “Like this. You may deny that you like this petting, but you’re acting just like a little kitty cat.”
“Mmm…” Maud sighed. Brooklyn smiled.
“Well, I got patrol again tonight, so I can’t take you anywhere, but you can join me for patrol if you want.”
Oh, who am I kidding, of course she’ll say yes. I swear, she’ll go anywhere with me.
Maud opened her eyes. “That would be nice.”
“Great!” He placed one arm under her forelegs, and another under her rump, and lifted her up to his chest. “Grab on.”
Maud placed her forelegs on his shoulders, and wrapped her hind legs around him. Brooklyn took one final look over Ponyville before completely spreading his wings and taking off into the air.
“You know,” Brooklyn began, “I don’t know why we still have to do night patrol. This isn’t a crime-filled town like Manhattan. The only crimes I’ve seen here are crimes of fashion, like when Rarity had both of us dress up fancy to try to impress each other.”
Maud, who had been looking up at Brooklyn’s face, now looked away. “That was hardly funny.”
“I sure thought it was,” Brooklyn stated. “Though I admittedly found you strangely attractive when you showed up dressed like that.”
Maud blinked a few times. “You… you mean it?” She looked up at him for a few seconds… then looked away again. “Shut up.”
Brooklyn chuckled. “Anyway, I’m actually getting a little bored. Manhattan was filled with excitement, baddies to fight, whether they were simple street crooks or arch nemeses like Xanatos and Demona. And when there weren’t, we could sit back and watch TV or something. Here, you don’t get any of that. I mean, obviously Xanatos is in town, but Goliath tells me that the last time he and Xanatos talked, Xanatos said he’s trying to get on good terms with us.”
“There are occasionally monsters in Ponyville, or at least that’s what Pinkie has told me. The farm has also occasionally been attacked by timberwolves, and we’ve had to fight them off.”
“What are timberwolves?”
“Large wolves made of wood.”
“…don’t really know what I was expecting. But wait, how can there be living creatures made of wood?”
“How can there be living creatures that turn into rock during the daytime?”
The two were silent for a short time, before Maud spoke again. “Brooklyn?”
“I have to leave Ponyville.”
If Brooklyn had been driving a car, he would have slammed so hard on his brakes that the screech would have been heard for miles. “What?”
“My family,” Maud replied. “I left the farm for a week to spend time with Pinkie. So far, I’ve already been away longer than I said I would.”
“My sister Marble called today, she says they need me back on the farm to help in case of another timberwolf attack.”
“Maud, what about me?” Brooklyn asked. “Are you just forgetting about us? About all the fun we’ve had, all the things we did, about…”
“Brooklyn,” Maud interrupted. “Would you be willing to sacrifice your clan for me?”
He frowned. “I suppose not. But I don’t see why you can’t just go for a few days and then come back.”
Maud shook her head. “If your clan was in danger of being killed, would you let it happen to spend more time with me?”
“I’d look for a way for you to come with me! Come on, there’s gotta be…”
“Brooklyn. I will come back to visit.”
“If you say so.” Realizing that Maud had made up her mind, Brooklyn frowned. As he passed Sugarcube Corner, he changed his direction to move in closer to the house. He landed on top of the roof seconds later, setting Maud down.
“Brooklyn, what are you--”
“You’d better pack up,” he said. “Have fun at the farm.”
Climbing up the building’s cupcake-shaped tower, he took a jump and glided away. Maud tried to call to him, but he was already gone. She sighed and looked down.
“Hey, Maud!” Pinkie opened her third floor window and called out. “What are you doing on the roof?”
As the night passed, Brooklyn couldn’t stop thinking about what Maud had told him. As he patrolled Ponyville, flying over the same several places again and again, he couldn’t help but think of Maud, about how she was going and how he wouldn’t get to see her again for… he didn’t even know how long. He was so distracted by his thoughts that he didn’t even notice another gargoyle flying up next to him.
“Hello, Brookie!” Lexington mocked.
Surprised, Brooklyn looked over his shoulder, only to sigh in relief when he saw who it was. “Oh. Hi, Lex.”
“Aw, what?” Lex frowned. “You’re supposed to get all angry when I call you that! How do I know you’re the real Brooklyn?”
“Oh, shut up.”
“There we go.” Lex smirked but noticed Brooklyn’s frown. “Aw, what’s wrong, big guy?”
Brooklyn sighed. “It’s about Maud. She says she has to return to the farm.”
“Yeah, her sister called her today. Says she needs to return home, the farm is being attacked by wood-wolves or whatever and needs her help.”
“Geez, so you won’t be seeing her after this?”
“She says she will come back to visit, but as for anything long-term…”
“Damn. Well, that would explain her mood. Then again, she’s always like that.”
“You’re really annoying sometimes, you know that, Lex?” Suddenly, something hit him. “Wait, how would you know what her mood is?”
“Oh, she’s back at Town Hall with her sister. They say they want to talk to you. That’s why I’m out here right now, I’ve been sent to replace you on patrol duty.”
Brooklyn was confused as ever. “But why would they…?”
“Hey, don’t question it! You get a free break from patrol to spend time with your marefriend. Meanwhile, I’m stuck here on patrol, but I’ll gladly…”
Brooklyn veered to the right and flew towards the direction of the large Town Hall building. As he got closer, he could see that Pinkie and Maud were waiting for him on the balcony.
“What do you two want?” he asked as he finally landed.
“You’re sad that Maud has to leave, right?” Pinkie asked. “I might just have an idea.”
“Excuse me! Coming through! Make room!”
Pinkie and Maud carried a large, wooden crate through Ponyville the next morning. It appeared to be really heavy, as both ponies were straining to carry it on their backs. Pinkie in particular looked absolutely miserable; already quite tired from the lack of sleep, her face was also covered in sweat from having to carry the crate. Ponies all around them were swearing and frowning at them as the sisters continuously bumped into everypony.
Out of breath, Pinkie finally sighed when they arrived at the train station. “Here… here we are,” she panted. “You know… I… I think… we should’ve… put wheels… on… this.”
The unicorn conductor saw them straining to carry it, and ran over. “Here, Miss Pie, let me help you with that,” the conductor said with a smile. His horn lit up and surrounded the crate with a magical field, which he then proceeded to lift onto the train with ease.
“Oh… thank you.” Pinkie’s legs gave out underneath her and she collapsed to the ground. Maud leaned down to help her up.
“Pinkie, I have to go now.”
“I know.” Pinkie smiled weakly and gave her a hug goodbye. “Hope to see you soon!”
Maud nodded in agreement as she made her way onto the train. Pinkie gave her a wave goodbye… then collapsed onto the ground once more, falling asleep almost instantly.
The train finally stopped at its destination, its brakes screeching to a halt. Maud stepped onto the platform, the only passenger left on the train. She looked around at the landscape. A dusty, dirty, dry place, the skies were filled with gray clouds that blotted out the sun. The dry dirt that covered the hills was also filled with clumps of large rocks. There were a few trees here and there, but they were dying, their few leaves brown and barren. A farmhouse and silo could be seen off in the distance.
“So, you finally decided to come back.”
Maud turned her head to the right to see a light gray mare with a darker gray mane walking toward her. Her mane was long and straight, combed over her left eye, and draping over the back of her black hoodie. She wore a similar color of lavender eyeshadow to Maud’s, which complimented her own violet eyes.
“Hello, Marble,” Maud said, not changing her expression one bit.
“Maud,” the mare responded. “Did you pack any things?”
“I see.” Marble nodded, walking closer to Maud. Stopping right next to her, a noticeable smile grew on her face as she reached a foreleg around Maud, wrapping the other one around too to give her a big hug. “Oh, it’s great to have you back, sis.”
Maud returned the hug, letting Marble adorably nuzzle her on the neck, and even smiling herself. “Where is Limestone?” she asked.
Maud found herself abruptly pushed away from Marble and pinned to the ground by a blue-gray mare with a light gray mane. This mare was younger and smaller--possibly even a teenage filly--and had a manestyle similar to Maud’s, but shorter. The mare squeezed Maud into a tight hug, and Maud playfully gave her a noogie. “How have you been, sister?”
The younger mare stood up and helped Maud up. “We’ve missed you so much, Maudie! Why didn’t you show up sooner?”
“Personal affairs, Limestone.”
“Ahem!” the train conductor said to get Maud’s attention. “Not to interrupt your little reunion, but…” He levitated out the crate.
“Ooh, what’s that?” Limestone asked curiously.
“You will see,” Maud replied.
“We’ll take your word for it.” Marble smiled and pointed to a cart. “You know what to do, right, Limey?”
Limestone gave a salute. “Yes, ma’am!”
“I see nothing has changed since I was here last,” Maud said as she and her sisters walked to their farm. They passed by unkempt clusters of trees on the way, as the buildings ahead of them became clearer. A tall, brownish gray silo stood to the left of a wooden farmhouse with a stone chimney. A windmill slowly spun with the wind.
“Maud, silly, you were only gone for around two weeks,” Marble replied. “What would change during that time?”
“A lot, actually. I would know.”
“Ooh, so you have a lot to tell us! I look forward to hearing it.” Marble looked back at Limestone, who was struggling to carry the heavy crate on her cart that was latched onto her. “Everything alright back there, Limey?”
“Uurrgh… unhhhh…” Limestone grunted as she tugged the heavy crate with her. “Y-yeah, everything’s just… ugh… how long till I can unhook this cart?” she asked, her head down as she strained.
“We’re here!” Marble pointed ahead of them, and Maud and Limestone looked up. Indeed, they were standing right in front of their farmhouse.
Limestone grinned. “Finally! I can take this off! What’s in here, anyway, Maudie?”
Maud helped unbuckle Limestone from the cart. “A new rock specimen I found in Ponyville. I will show it to you later this evening. Be careful setting it down.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Once unbuckled, Limestone heaved a huge breath and nearly collapsed; Maud held the cart steady and Marble moved the crate onto the ground.
“So, I see you’re finally back,” a male voice called out. Maud turned around to see an old orange-brown earth pony stallion with a gray mane streaked with lighter gray standing just outside the farmhouse. He wore a large black hat with a matching black tie and white collar, as he held a piece of straw in his mouth and headed towards Maud.
“Yes, Father,” Maud said. “I had some business to take care of.”
“But you’re here now.” The stallion gave a smile and wrapped his forelegs around her. “Welcome back, Maud.”
Maud returned the hug. “Where is Mother?”
“Cloudy’s inside makin’ dinner,” Maud’s father said, breaking the hug. “Let’s go. I’m sure you have a lot to talk about.”
Maud followed her father inside the farmhouse with Marble and Limestone following behind. The inside walls were painted a similar color of gray to the outside with the only variation being a wooden table in the middle of the dining room. There was a doorless passage from there into the kitchen, another one heading down a hallway, and a third going up a set of stairs. “Marble said Mother misses me,” said Maud.
“Yes, we’ve all been worried.” Maud’s father took a seat at the table. “’Specially your mother.”
“I will have plenty to tell her,” Maud replied, taking her own seat.
“And I look forward to hearing it,” a voice chimed in. Maud turned to the kitchen doorway to see a light gray earth pony mare with a greenish gray mane and tail approaching the table. She was wearing an apron and a pair of glasses, and her mane was up in a bun. Her blue eyes started watering as she ran to Maud, instantly grabbing her in a tight hug. “Oh, Maud, I’ve missed you so!”
Maud returned the hug, it being the fourth one she had received since she arrived home. Then she sniffed the air. “Mother, the food.”
“Oh!” Maud’s mother pulled away and looked back at the kitchen. “I don’t want to burn it!” She trotted back inside as Maud turned back to the table.
“What happened while I was gone?”
“Well,” Limestone began, “on day one of your time in Ponyville, we woke up, ate breakfast, then we farmed for rocks. On the second day, we woke up, ate breakfast, then we farmed for rocks. On the third day, we woke up and ate breakfast, then we farmed for rocks. On the fourth day, we woke up, we ate breakfast, and--”
“I think she gets it,” Marble interrupted.
“Anything else?” Maud asked, already familiar with the schedule.
“Well, things’ve been lookin’ up for us,” Maud’s father said, trying to sound optimistic. “There’ve been no timberwolf attacks since you left. Oh, and Cloudy says we may be hirin’ some help on th’ farm soon!”
Maud’s ears perked up. “Help?”
“Yes!” answered Maud’s mother, Cloudy, while carrying several bowls of soup, which she placed by everypony’s seats on the table. The soup’s hot smells filled the air--tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic--an aroma to get the mouth watering. “She’s a unicorn, I’m forgetting her name, but she should be plenty of help at the farm. And she claims to have banished an Ursa Major before!”
“She’ll help us with our timberwolf problem for sure!” Maud’s father said happily.
“Don’t count on it,” muttered Maud.
“Nothing.” If this was the same pony she was thinking of, Maud had heard bad things about her from her sister Pinkie, like that the closest she had come to banishing an Ursa Major was when she humiliated herself in the middle of Ponyville by running away from an Ursa Minor, and that she caused part of the town to be destroyed, embarrassed Pinkie’s friends, and was all around a stuck up little bi--
“Maud, dear,” Cloudy interrupted Maud’s train of thought, sitting down as she had served everypony, “will you say grace?”
“Yes.” Maud had forgotten to do that before she ate during her stay in Ponyville. She put her front hooves together and lowered her head. The other ponies at the table did the same. “Dear Princess Celestia,” she began, still showing no emotion even as she spoke these words, “we thank you for bringing us this food, and delivering another day of prosperity to our humble rock farm.”
“Amen,” everypony at the table simultaneously said, then they started eating.
“Maud,” Cloudy spoke again, “your father Igneous and I have been wondering, could you tell us how you have fared back in Ponyville?”
“Find any nrew rocksh?” Marble asked through a mouthful of food.
“Yes,” Maud replied, picking up her fork. There was a pause before Igneous spoke.
“Uh, what type?”
“Varying,” Maud said. “But I have found a new one, a type that I do not recognize.”
“Wow, really?” Igneous was actually very interested in this. “You’ll have to describe this to us after dinner, Maud.”
“Mmm.” Maud began eating.
“Uh, what else?” Cloudy asked. “How is Pinkie doing? Is she alright?”
“Pinkie ish fine,” Maud answered, having already begun chewing her food. She swallowed her current mouthful and continued. “She’s having fun working her new job and throwing parties across Equestria.”
“I see. It has been too long since we saw her last.”
Maud continued eating in silence. Cloudy looked at Igneous with a confused look on her face, and he returned the glance.
Marble started getting an idea. “Maud,” Marble said as she leaned closer to her sister, “I know this silence. This is the silence that says you’re hiding something from us.”
Maud finished chewing. “Why do you think that?”
“The blank gaze, the unwillingness to talk about things, the prolonged, awkward silences.” Marble raised an eyebrow. “What is going on?”
“Nothing,” Maud simply answered.
A sly grin came to Marble’s face. “You’re in love, aren’t you?”
Maud didn’t answer this. She just stared blankly into space, not flinching or turning to look at Marble, who came to her own conclusion.
“Hah!” Marble smirked. “I knew it! Who is it?”
There was another pause before Maud answered. “Nopony you know. His name is Brooklyn.”
“Ooh! Just imagine, in a few months we’ll have a ton of baby Mauds trotting around!”
Limestone started giggling and chanting. “Maudie’s got a coltfriend! Maudie’s got a coltfriend!”
Igneous chuckled. “Now, now, girls, Maud has only known him for a few days. It’s not that important.”
Cloudy’s eyes started watering again. “Can you believe it, Igneous? Our eldest daughter is growing up!”
“Ha ha, well, I suppose it is a little important,” Igneous smiled. “Good for you, Maud!”
“Th-thanks,” Maud replied. Her only thought at that moment was that her father was not going to be happy finding out Brooklyn’s true nature.
“Say, Maudie?” Limestone began. “What exactly is in that crate you brought? I lugged it this whole way, I deserve a right to know.”
“Oh, you’ll see.”
After finishing dinner and cleaning off their dishes, Maud and her parents went outside to look at the big, wooden crate. Maud managed to pry it open, revealing Brooklyn, still in his stone form, and in a crouching position with his wings wrapped around him.
“Ooh!” all the other family members exclaimed.
“Pretty!” said Limestone in awe.
“So, what is this?” Igneous asked as he inspected the stone gargoyle closely. “A statue, of course, but did you make this?”
“You didn’t tell us you were an artist, Maud.” Marble smiled. “I think I’ve gained some new respect for you!”
Maud shook her head. “No, I did not sculpt this.” She looked at the horizon. With all the gray clouds, it was hard to see any of the sky, but the rest of it started getting darker, except for a bright spot near the horizon where a few rare red rays of the setting sun shone through.
“Then what is this?” Igneous asked. “The rock you couldn’t identify?”
Maud nodded. “But it’s more than that.”
“More?” Igneous asked. “Maud, I don’t follow.”
“Maud, dear, it’s a rock statue.” Cloudy was just as confused as Igneous. “What else could it be?”
At that moment the last remnants of light finally disappeared behind the horizon. Cracks began forming in the stone, spreading all along his body. The rock covering the eyes broke away, and they began glowing brightly. Scared, Maud’s family backed away, looking as though they had all seen a ghoul. With his usual growl, Brooklyn stood up, outstretching his arms and wings, as the rest of the stone broke away from him.
Limestone hugged Marble tightly.
“It’s my boyfriend.”