"Professor, you've got to see this! It looks like the apple trees go on forever!"
Professor Neighton glanced over to his apprentice with a small smile. Their journey had been a long one; they had to travel by carriage, boat, and even winged chariot to reach Equestria, let alone the rural town of Ponyville. While the constant moving may have tired some, Luke had relished every second of it. Even now, as the train sped towards its destination, the colt stood with his hooves pressed to the glass, drinking in the scenery as it rushed by.
"Indeed, Luke. That must be Sweet Apple Acres." The professor replied, scanning a map laid out in front of him. "This town hosts one of the largest orchards in Equestria, supplying apples to towns all over the country. We must be close to our destination." He folded the map and began to gather his things. His eyes wandered to the rolled parchment lying on the seat next to his apprentice. "Luke, have you taken another look at the letter that was sent to us?"
Luke hopped down from his perch at the window and unraveled the parchment. The professor had mentioned upon receiving the letter that something about it was peculiar. Luke didn't doubt it – the professor's intuition was usually spot-on. But the young colt had read the letter several times, and whatever had captured the professor's interest had so far escaped his detection. He studied it once more.
Dear Professor Neighton,
My name is Twilight Sparkle; I live in a small town called Ponyville. While not without our struggles, we've been able to face and overcome every adversity. However, the past several nights have been perplexing to say the least. The sky spontaneously changes into a whirlwind of clouds and lightning; ponies have disappeared and resurfaced in random locations, with no recollection of what happened; chaos and images of the impossible fill the street. Everyday these bizarre events have become more frequent, and I fear that if they remain unresolved the consequences could be dire. I humbly request your assistance in discovering what connects these events and how to put a stop to them. Your reputation and accomplishments speak for themselves; I am certain you would make short work of this mystery.
I've enclosed a map of Ponyville with this letter; please reply as soon as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.
What stood out to the professor? It was a strange mystery, to be certain, but no more unique than other requests Professor Neighton had accepted in the past. The name was somewhat familiar, but he had the feeling the professor wasn't trying to turn his attention to the sender. Luke scanned the contents once more, scribbling in his personal notebook to search for strange lettering or secret codes, but his search was fruitless.
He could feel the professor calmly watching him struggle. Luke looked up with a sheepish smile before returning to the letter with renewed efforts. Maybe the answer wasn't what was written? Luke turned back his ears in concentration, but there wasn't anything unusual outside of the content of the letter either. The ink used to write it was normal, as far as he could tell. The parchment was standard, and there weren't any blemishes or even creases on the paper. He finally sighed; he might need some help on this one. He reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a small yellow coin. He held it dejectedly towards his mentor, not meeting his eyes.
Professor Neighton chuckled. "There's no shame in accepting help, my boy. Even a gentlecolt sometimes requires the assistance of others." He closed his eyes in quiet concentration. "Now, let's see- I received this letter in my office after returning from a morning lecture, at 10:00 on the 29th."
Luke considered this information. The 29th was three days ago; Luke had come by that afternoon and Professor Neighton had explained the case to him. It wasn't unusual for the professor to receive mail in his office; sometimes Rose Patch will leave them on his desk while he's away, along with messages from his students and the occasional puzzle. Then again, he wasn't sure if the professor had gotten the letter through the post at all; what post office would send a letter as a scroll? It was probably brought there by some sort of carrier bird or personal mailmare. He scanned the paper for a postmark just in case, but instead what he saw was a small date penned neatly at the top of the page: April 29th. Suddenly it clicked.
"Professor, this letter was sent the same day you received it!" He said, jumping up. "And you found it in the morning; it took less than half a day to get to you from another country. That's impossible, unless it came by time-traveling mailmare or something."
"Indeed Luke, they would have to travel through time and space" Neighton agreed, smiling warmly at his apprentice. "Look at the condition of the letter- quite pristine. How would it not bear a single mark or fold during such a long journey?"
"So how did it get to you?"
"I have a few theories, though I believe the answer will reveal itself when we meet Miss Sparkle." A deep whistle seemed to punctuate his words as the train began to slow to a creep.
"It appears we have arrived." The professor said, adjusting his top hat and stepping towards the platform. "Gather your belongings, and be sure not to leave anything behind." Luke nodded, hastily shoving his notebook and quill into his saddlebag before bounding out the doorway after his mentor.
First chapter finished! Hope you enjoyed it! This is my first fanfiction, so I'd really appreciate any reviews or critiques!
So, what's this curious section? :
Well, inquiring reader, this is where I'll put any future puzzles or riddles as the story goes on. I'll try to have one per chapter, unless there's a in-story riddle like this one. I'll have the answers here as well. However, I'm no professor Layton, and since I'll be writing my own riddles it's possible the answer will have mistakes. If that's the case, just let me know via comments or something; you'll get twice as many picarats from it! :D