It didn't take long for Zecora and Professor Neighton to reach their destination. The zebra moved expertly through the forest, navigating through the trees as easily as the Professor navigated through the buildings of Gressenhayler University. They soon stopped before a hut carved out of a large winding tree.
"Our wandering at last comes to an end." She announced, glancing back at the professor with a small smile. "Make yourself at home, my friend."
The professor nodded. Upon seeing Zecora's home, his thoughts immediately went to Twilight's Library. Both were homes carved from trees, yet were completely different. Zecora's house was smaller and, at least at first glance, less organized. Bottles hung from the tree's gnarled branches and masks adorned its bark. And while the large oak tree in Ponyville seemed pruned and structured to best serve the library, Zecora's home almost harmonized with its host tree, blending into its natural bends and twists.
Zecora motioned for the professor to follow her inside. He had to duck when he passed the threshold; even more bottles hung from the ceiling and cluttered countless shelves, filled with solutions of every hue and concentration. In the center of the room, a vat of deep red liquid simmered over a low fire, the pink sweet-smelling haze from it wafting through the room. Zecora glanced at the red liquid with a look of approval before turning to one of the shelves. She grabbed a small green bottle and dripped its contents onto a woven cloth.
"Use this to bandage the wounds on your chest." She said, handing it to the professor. "Now, as for your earlier request…"
The professor pressed the fabric against his chest; immediately the pain began to subside. Meanwhile the zebra made her way to another shelf filled with books and rolled bits of parchment. She pushed every one of them aside.
"My books contain creatures from all lands and ages." She muttered in explanation as she searched through her papers. "Yet this creature has eluded their pages." She moved a dark green volume back with her hoof, revealing a small leather journal. "As a result, all that is known, is information I've found on my own."
"That's fine; thank you very much." The professor replied as she handed the journal to him. He carefully opened the cover, leafing through the pages.
It wasn't hard to find the right entry; a detailed sketch, in many ways matching the photograph, covered the page. A hoof-written scrawl filled the area around it, framing the picture with information. Several words, both in English and another language, were written above the sketch as well. All of them had been crossed out, save the word jinamizi, which was noted with a question mark. Neighton looked over the writing with interest; the professor had heard that some the ideas were easier to express in different languages, and he wondered if that was the case here.
Luckily, despite the hybrid of languages that persisted throughout the writing, what the professor could understand was more than enough to work with. He began with the sketch itself. Some aspects of it were familiar, such as the large dark cloak and the taunt skin, but Zecora also noted several other details as well. Many of them were small, such as slightly pointed ears or eyes with dark red pupils instead of black. But it was the hooves that drew the professor's attention.
In the professor's photograph, all four of the creature's hooves were planted on the ground, and appeared fairly normal. In Zecora's sketch, the end of each hoof was tipped with four claws. They were each as long and thin as needles, curving inward in juts like a spider's leg. Some of the claws were tipped with a black liquid; the word poison was written next to one of them. The professor looked up at Zecora, who was currently gathering herbs from a bag across the room.
"If I may ask," He said, referring to the picture. "What sort of damage can this poison do?"
"A very small amount can cause great physical pain." Zecora explained, dropping her herbs into the vat of red liquid. She tapped on her temple with her free hoof. "Or nightmarish thoughts, if it enters the brain."
"I see." He replied. His mind immediately went to Applebloom; he thought of the way cloaked figure had grasped her forehead. It made sense, if the figure was trying to poison her mind directly. The claws would also explain the strong hold he had on the filly. But what did that mean for her?
The professor ushered back the thought for now, focusing his attention back on the journal. The discussion on poison had led him to a section on the creature's abilities. It was by far the most extensive section on the page; according to Zecora, not only could the monster poison its victims, but had excellent hearing, could change its appearance, could disappear and reappear at will, could not be physically harmed in any way, and had considerable strength and speed to boot. Beneath it was a section on likes, dislikes, food sources, and weaknesses. The words fear and screams were written next to the likes- the other three sections were left blank.
"Quite a powerful foe." The professor murmured before turning to Zecora. "And these abilities- these are all things you have witnessed?"
She nodded solemnly. "The monster you seek is not a joke." She insisted. "Fighting it is like fighting smoke."
"smoke that attacks back." The professor agreed. As he looked down once more he suddenly noticed a small picture in the corner of the page of a cylinder with several small holes. "Oh, I believe I seen one of these before." He remarked, indicating the picture to Zecora.
Zecora smiled. She walked across the room and reached on top of a high shelf. From it she returned with a device identical to the one Professor Neighton had seen. She blew lightly on one of the holes- the shrill, scream-like noise resonated throughout the room.
"These are whistles of my own invention," She explained. "created to hold the monster's attention."
"Do they work?" The professor asked, watching the whistle with interest. The zebra shrugged, her smile fading into a look of quiet dejection.
"On quiet nights this little stunt, may be enough to quell its hunt." She replied. "They amuse the monster- that keeps it at bay. But it's never fooled into thinking they're prey."
"I see…" The professor said. His eyes once more fell on the sketch. He placed the photograph beside it. So many of the details were the same; yet there was something else in the drawn picture, a breath of life that made it seem far menacing. "It's strange. Everypony I've talked to believed that this figure was a pony. Yet you seem convinced that's its some sort of monster." Snapshot believed this as well, the professor realized, but he remained quiet so as to let Zecora reply.
"It's not of ponykind; that much I can tell." Zecora replied, returning to her work. She paused. "though I wonder if 'mosnter' is too generous as well."
"What do you mean?" The professor asked.
Zecora was silent for a while. She looked towards the shelf of books and parchment, her expression distant. "There are things in this world, bred from much darker times." She finally said. "Monsters that commit the most heinous of crimes. But however cruel their actions, or twisted their laws… they don't act without a cause. Whether to feed, to gain power, or to just stay alive- It ultimately stems from a will to survive." She lowered her head. "That singular trait, that universal feature- It the first step to understanding any creature."
Her expression hardened. "But the same can't be said of the monster you seek. It doesn't benefit from the havoc it wreaks. It doesn't eat, or feel pain, or anything of the sort. It doesn't live to torture; it just does. For sport." She almost spat the last word, anger flaring in her eyes.
The professor set down the journal and the photograph. He pressed his hoof against his chin, eyes closed in thought. "Perhaps this 'creature,'" He finally confided, opening his eyes once more. "Truly isn't a creature at all."
The professor explained what his apprentice and he had found concerning the cloaked figure. He also mentioned each of the ponies he had talked to, including Telltale from the Dream Troupe. He specifically focused the illusions he had created. "Telltale explained some of the mechanics of illusions to me. It would certainly explain several aspects of our alleged monster, such as why it can't be harmed and why it doesn't need anything to stay alive."
"Your theory does seem to fit…" Zecora admitted. She seemed hesitant, though it was unclear if that feeling was directed towards the theory itself or the implications of it. "Though I don't think that's the end of it. For whatever evidence your findings reveal, the pain this thing causes is still very real."
"That's true; but pain is a mental process." The professor noted. He looked out towards the small window. "I understand that this monster is still dangerous, even if it is an illusion. And I need to see it firsthand to confirm anything." He turned back to Zecora. "I won't ask you to come for that. It'll be dangerous, and you've done more than enough already-"
Zecora shook her head "Professor, this forest is still strange to you." She replied. "If you must seek this thing out, then I'm coming too."
The professor opened his mouth to protest, but Zecora had a point; she knew the forest much better than he did. He finally lowered his head. "If you wish, then I would greatly appreciate your help."
She nodded, gathering a few small items before looking over to an old wooden clock. "In about an hour its hunt commences." She said. She looked the professor in the eye. "Follow me, but stay hidden, and keep up your defenses."
The professor nodded in response, and the two ducked out of the door into the Everfree forest.
Tucked within the bustle of Ponyville, the sound of laughter and conversation resonated throughout Sugar Cube Corner. Mrs. Cake, grasping a platter of slightly stale cupcakes with a steady jaw, pushed opened the door to the kitchen with her hoof. Sitting at the counter were Pinkie Pie and her new friend, a young colt named Luke. They had both agreed to help clean out some of the old pastries from the bakery.
Truthfully, as Ms. Cake set down the platter of cupcakes, she wondered how Pinkie Pie had managed to find a pony with an appetite that rivaled her own. The two had just finished a large apple and oats cake, adding one more plate to the plethora of dishware surrounding them. /* see below for cake puzzle */ Even still, they both looked up excitedly at the new treats.
"Here we are!" Mrs. Cake said with a smile. "'Ultimate chocolate supreme cupcakes with sprinkles.' I think this is last of it."
"Thank you Mrs. Cake!" The colt chirped. He picked up one of the cupcakes off the platter and took a bite, his eyes lighting up. "Pinkie Pie, you've got to try one! They're so good!"
Mrs. Cake smiled. Pinkie Pie had made those cupcakes. She really was a great baker, when she put her mind to it. It was a shame business has been slow the past couple of days. Now, like many of the other baked goods, they were a bit too old to keep up for sale. But at least Pinkie Pie and Luke were here to enjoy them; it would have been a shame to see them go to waste.
Pinkie Pie devoured her half of the cupcakes, leaning back with a happy sigh. "Thank you, Mrs. Cake." She said happily. "Those were de-licious!"
"I should be thanking you and Luke." Ms. Cake said. She looked down at the piles of plates with a chuckle. "Though I still don't know how you two managed to clear every single dish like that in just a couple hours."
Luke nearly choked on his cupcake. "A couple hours?" He gasped. "Has it really been that long?"
"Just about." Mrs. Cake replied. "Why, is something the matter?"
"The Library- the professor!" was his only response. He looked up at the clock and immediately hopped down from the counter. "Sorry guys. I'd love to stay longer, but I have to go." He said, turning to the mares. "Thank you both so much; I had a really great time."
"Alright- don't forget your saddle bag!" Mrs. Cake replied, picking the bag up from his seat at the counter.
Luke nodded, scooping up his saddle bag. "Bye Pinkie Pie!" He said, turning to the other mare. "See you later!"
"Bye Luke!" Pinkie Pie cheered. "See you tomorrow!"
"I…, ok, well, maybe." Luke said with a curious look. He glanced at the clock again and bounded out the door with renewed urgency towards the library.
"Professor?" He said, slowly pressing open the wooden door. The library was dead quiet; the long walls of books seemed to swallow his words. He tried again.
"Professor?" He said, his voice cutting through the silence. "Twilight? Anypony?" He walked up the curved wooden steps. He noticed a small form rising up and down from underneath a light blue blanket. At least there was someone.
"Spike?" He whispered, shaking the form slightly with his hoof. "Spike, wake up!"
"Hmm." Spike groaned, groggily sitting up in his basket. His eyes slowly focused on Luke. "What's going on?" He yawned. " 'sit sundown already?"
"Have you seen the professor?" Luke asked, cutting to the point.
Spike blinked "I Don't think so. Wait…" He stopped in drowsy concentration. "I saw him this morning. With Twilight. But you were there too, so…"
"No no, I mean recently." Luke said, an edge of impatience in his voice. "Did he stop by the library this afternoon?"
"He might have. I wouldn't know, since I was asleep. "Spike replied, with as pointed a look as a half-awake dragon could manage. Luke opened his mouth to reply, when he heard the sound of the door opening. He stopped and scrambled down the wooden staircase, to be greeted by a familiar violet unicorn.
"Oh, hello Luke." Twilight said with a warm smile. "Is the Professor here too?"
Luke tried to hide his disappointment as he shook his head. "So you haven't seen him either."
"Well, I've been out for a while. I went to talk to Rainbow Dash- make amends for this morning. We ended up talking for a bit." She looked at Luke, concerned. "What happened? Did you two get separated?"
Luke fidgeted a bit. "Well, not exactly…"
After a moment's hesitation Luke began to explain everything that had happened, from the Professor's message at Fluttershy's cottage to arriving at the library. A sickening feeling of shame coursed through him as he admitted to disobeying the professor and visiting Sugar Cube corner. Twilight listened patiently, smiling sympathetically as Luke finished his story.
"Well, it sounds like the professor knows where to find you. He'll probably check with Fluttershy and then come here." She said. Honestly she was more concerned about Professor being in the Everfree Forest, but she didn't want to worry the colt any further. "In the meantime, you really should get some rest. At least until the professor gets back."
Luke was quiet for a while; a dull flare of protest began to rise. But even Luke couldn't deny the truth anymore. He was exhausted. Whatever burst of energy he had achieved from the sweets at Sugar Cube Corner was gone, and now his legs were growing weak under him and he was fighting to keep his eyes open. And now a part of him just wanted to curl up on a bed and sleep until morning.
The colt looked away, biting back his disappointment. The professor was still out there right now. Images flashed through Luke's head of himself traveling with the professor in his current state, stumbling behind and trying to keep awake as they trekked through the Everfree Forest. He would have just been in the way.
Luke plopped down, glaring at the ground. "Why do I have to be so weak?"
"Hey now," Twilight said, placing a hoof on the colt's his shoulder. "You're not weak, Luke."
"Yes I am!" Luke retorted. "You know it, the professor knows it; that's why he didn't take me with him. Because he knew I couldn't handle it-"
"Now hold on." Twilight said, looking Luke in the eye. "Did the professor say that?"
"No." Luke admitted. "But why else-?"
Twilight shook her head. "Luke, I know what you're thinking. But that is not what the professor meant by all of this." She walked over to a small shelf adorned with picture frames. With a small smile she picked up a photo of a newborn dragon and very young filly, both beaming at the camera.
"See this?" She said, indicating towards the photo. "Spike…he's been with me for as long as I can remember. He's my assistant, my partner, one of my closest friends. I can't imagine my life without him." She carefully set down the photograph, turning to Luke. "But I can't expect him to be at my side all day every day. That's not fair to him; he needs to sleep in order to be at his best. That's why he's been napping in the afternoons- so that at night, when I need him the most, he's there and ready to help." She placed a hoof on Luke's shoulder. "The professor trusts you too, Luke; he just wants to see you at your full potential."
Luke looked up, considering this. Was that what the professor meant by all of this? It made sense. And it sounded like something the Professor would say: a gentlecolt always preforms at his best. Luke pulled his hat over his eyes- how could he have ever doubted the professor?
"But… he still isn't here yet." He said as he looked up, his eyes filled with concern. "What if he came to the library earlier and I wasn't here? What if he's out looking for me right now? What if he doesn't get back in time?"
"How about this," Twilight said. "If the professor's not back in the next hour, we'll go look for him. In the meantime, you should get a little bit of sleep." She smiled encouragingly. "Don't worry; by the time you wake up, he'll be right here beside you. You'll see."
Luke nodded and slowly made his way up the stairs, concern still etched over his face. Twilight held her smile until he was out of sight. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly before looking towards the door. The colt's fears weren't unfounded; she hoped the professor would be back soon. She summoned a red spell book from her shelves and began to leaf through its pages.
A familiar laugh came from behind her. Spike crawled up on the seat next to her. "Trying to go for days without any sleep." He said, grinning mischievously. "Now who would do a thing like that?"
Twilight blushed deeply. "That's different, Spike." She said. "Studying requires sacrifices. Sometimes that sacrifice is sleep. Speaking of which, weren't you napping too?"
"Well, I was." He said, pointing towards the upper floor with his thumb. He then shugged."But I would have been up in half an hour anyway. I'll stay here with you."
He situated himself on the chair, leaning over the spell book. He finally looked up at Twilight. "…did you really mean all that stuff you said about me?" he said, twisting his tail bashfully.
Twilight closed the book, nuzzling the dragon. "Of course I did, Spike." She said. "Every word."
Spike smiled. "Thanks Twilight." He said. There was a pause. "Sooo… can amazing potential-reaching assistants eat ice cream before bed now, or-"
"Don't push it."
Professor Neighton and Zecora crept forward through the Everfree Forest. Professor Neighton looked up; even through the shadows, he could tell that little daylight was left. As the sun set, the few rays that broke through the canopy darkened to a blood red. Zecora seemed to notice this as well. She slowly grew more and more tense, before finally signaling for the professor to stop.
"This is where it will appear tonight." She whispered, looking at the professor. "It's best if we stay out of sight."
The professor nodded, and the pair ducked beneath a thick patch of undergrowth. He struggled to see the clearing through the dense leaves, but for now he stayed motionless and waited for nightfall.
They didn't have to wait long.
The wind picked up first, the light breeze swirling into gusts. From all around him the Professor could hear the shrill cries of Zecora's whistles, like a chorus of screams. The flickering glow of lighting danced among the shadows, the low bellow of thunder joining in the cacophony. And then it appeared.
The professor couldn't really see the monster from his hiding space, and he could hardly hear it move. But he knew it was there. He could feel its presence. And he felt something else as well: fear.
The fear itself wasn't surprising for the professor; after all, he had been afraid to some degree when he first witnessed the events in Ponyville, even before he knew what to expect. But this was different; this was a consuming, almost childlike fear, stronger than it had ever been before. It was as though the emotion was being pulled out of him.
The professor soon realized he was not the only one who felt this way. He could hear the scuttles and screeches of animals almost racing to get away from the clearing. From his hiding place the professor could see a flock of birds frantically taking off from their perches, seeking refuge in the air. Yet one struggled to leave; it lashed back and forth as though it was fighting with itself.
"It's already begun to lead him astray." Zecora whispered grimly, nodding towards the bird. "You'll see soon how the monster deals with its prey."
A honey-sweet voice came from behind the underbrush. "There there. It's alright." It purred. "Don't you remember me?" The bird slowly stopped, looking back. The Professor turned in surprised; that was Fluttershy's voice!
The bird seemed to recognize the voice as well. It shuffled its wings nervously, inching closer on the branch.
"That's right. You do remember." The voice coaxed. "When you hurt your wing at the edge of the forest, and I found you. And first you didn't trust me- but I took you in and nursed you back to health." There was a soft laugh. "You can still trust me, you know."
"It draws them in with a familiar disguise," Zecora quietly explained. "And once they're hooked, it claims its prize."
"Would the bird be fooled by a trick like that?" Professor Neighton asked. "The rest of its flock could sense the danger, and it saw the monster beforehand. Wouldn't it know-?"
"Whether or not he knew before, it doesn't matter anymore." Zecora replied. "Once he's in monster's thrall, nothing on earth can stop his downfall."
The bird was now at the end of the branch. It hadn't reached the ground yet, but even the professor could tell that it was captivated; he could see it in the bird's dulled expression. It wasn't mind control, per se- it just seemed as though the monster knew exactly what buttons to push to attract this particular bird.
"What can you do to fight back, once it's targeted you?" The professor wondered aloud. Zecora shrugged.
"Hide your emotions, refuse the bait." She said. "And hope you don't meet a terrible fate."
The bird did neither; it hopped down from the branch onto the forest floor, out of sight. The professor narrowed his eyes in concentration. After looking back at Zecora for a tentative nod, he crept around to a thinner part of the underbrush. Without making a sound he peered through the holes in the leaves. He could see the monster clearly now. It did look strikingly like Fluttershy, in both build and demeanor. The only difference was her eyes; they gleamed with a hint of manipulation so foreign for the original.
"That's it; don't be afraid." She said softly as the bird hopped forward. "Closer… closer…" A cruel smile spread over her face. "Perfect."
The façade fell immediately; where the image of sweet Fluttershy once stood now was the form of a monster that the professor recognized so well. The bird began to fly away, but it was far too late. The monster snatched it easily from the air, holding it up with an almost bored look of satisfaction. It slowly closed its claws around the creature. The bird shrieked helplessly inside its new prison, struggling uselessly for freedom.
The professor watched frozen in horror. It wasn't just the bird, though the monster's cruel joy in tormenting the poor creature shocked and sickened him. It was the monster itself. The professor had seen an illusion before, at the theater with Luke. Telltale had striven to make it as realistic as possible, with impressive results. But, like many works of art, it was still very much distinguishable from the real thing. Despite Telltale's care, there were still tiny inaccuracies, missing details, or features that seemed just a bit too perfect. And even beyond these details, there was still an air of insincerity, of showmanship- perhaps an inevitable side effect of its creator knowing deep down that what he was creating was a falsehood. That's not to say that either of these aspects of the illusion were glaringly obvious, or even necessarily faults. But they did betray the illusion, if somepony were looking for them.
This monster had none of that. There was not a detail out of place. There was no air of falsehood. No matter how closely the professor looked, there was nothing that made the monster seem any less real than the forest around him. Doubt quickly festered in the professor's mind. The fear he had felt when the sun set only grew as he watched the monster. His heart pounded like the trapped bird, striking helplessly against its cage, its shrill cries cutting through his chest.
Suddenly there was a pause. The monster's eyes narrowed, its ears turning back and forth. The professor ducked deeper into his hiding place, holding his breath. The bird, sensing the distraction, renewed its struggle and broke away from the relaxed claw, darting to the safety of the canopy. The monster blinked, watching it go with faint annoyance. It finally stepped back, vanishing into the shadows.
The forest seemed almost quiet, with only the distant sound of the whistles and the low growl of thunder. The professor looked questioningly to Zecora. She motioned for him to stay put, her expression tense. She stepped slowly from her hiding spot, like a deer stepping into a hunter's clearing. She moved closer and closer to where the monster had disappeared. Her eyes suddenly widened with fear.
"It isn't done." She whirled to Neighton. "Professor, run!"
The warning didn't come soon enough; as he turned around, the last thing Neighton remembered seeing was a pair of blood red eyes.
A sickening feeling ran through Twilight. She looked up from her book. Nighttime had fallen; Spike was watching the window as lightning began to dance in the clouds. Luke was still asleep upstairs. There was still no sign of the professor, though. She closed her book, setting it down on the table.
"Okay," She said, turning to Spike. "We need to start looking for the professor."
"It hasn't been an hour yet." Her assistant noted, looking up at the clock.
"That doesn't matter. If he was coming, he would have been here by now." Twilight replied tersely. She lifted Spike up with her magic and placed him on her back. "Do you think we should-?"
Suddenly a thud came from the upper level. Twilight and Spiked exchanged confused glances.
"What was that?" Twilight asked.
"I dunno. Sounded like something fell." Spike replied. "Maybe Luke toppled out of bed?"
The pair made their way up the wooden staircase. "Luke?" Twilight said as they reached the top. "Are you okay?"
The colt was huddled in the corner of the room. Sweat gleamed against his coat. His eyes darted back and forth wildly, as though searching for some invisible foe. His pupils were dilated, his iris now only a faint ring of brown around black. His breath came forward in rapid gasps. He didn't even seem to realize Twilight and Spike were there.
Spike hopped down from Twilight, moving slowly across the room. "Luke?" He said, carefully placing a claw on colt. "You okay?"
The second Spike's claw touched Luke's coat, the young pony lurched back, screaming and flailing. A solid kick landed on Spike and sent him flying back, crashing into one of the bedposts.
"Spike!" Twilight shouted, running to the dragon's side. She slowly lifted him up. "Spike, are you alright?"
"I… think so." The dragon wheezed, clutching his stomach. "Don't know… what got… into him."
"That's two of us…" Twilight muttered. She looked around the room- Luke wasn't there. Suddenly the two heard the patter of rapid footsteps racing down the stairs. Twilight picked up Spike and rushed down to the lower level of the library. By the time she got there, Luke was already gone, the front door flung open in his wake.
"Luke!" Twilight cried out, running into the night. "Luke!" She looked around frantically, hoping to catch a glimpse of the small colt among the twisted form of Ponyville. But that glimpse never came. She finally paused, catching her breath as she looked around helplessly. "Luke!"
No response came from the shadows. Luke was gone.
I'm glad I was able to get this chapter in. My life's about to get pretty crazy pretty soon. I'm going to take a hiatus, and I could be gone anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. That being said, I do intend on finishing this story; I've gotten so far in it, it would be a shame to stop now. Plus I can't exactly leave it like this. ;)
Also, on a related note, I just realized that with this chapter I will have passed 25,000 on my story word count. That's right; I've written eleven chapters and 25,000+ words about Professor Layton being a pony. Woo Hoo! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go think about my life choices.
And finally, a special thank-you to my wonderful commenters! To Sweetly Delightful, I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter! I tried to keep as faithful to the characters as possible. And to The Mocking J, thank you as always; your comment, in addition to filling my head with wonderful imagery, actually inspired an entirely new headcanon about pony fencing. Basically it would be a traditionally unicorn sport, similarly to how jousting is sort of a pegasus sport, where horns substitute swords in combat. As it later became more of an everypony sport, in the case of non-unicorns like Neighton, special equipment was developed to basically act as a horn and enable them to joust as well (unicorns would have to wear equipment as well to protect their horns and prevent accidental magic use anyway, so besides experience they really wouldn't have too much of an advantage). That's how Neighton was able to fence in school. That being said, when Neighton fought Descole with the pipe, he was holding it in his mouth. Because he is just that awesome.
Aaanyway, that's all for now. To everyone reading, I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and feel free to leave a comment, critique, prediction, question, or anything else!
Luke and Pinkie Pie are eating cake. Pinkie Pie can eat three slices of cake in the time it takes for Luke to eat two. Together, they finished a 15-slice cake in 20 minutes. If they keep at this rate, how many slices could Luke eat in 30 minutes?
Answer: 9 slices. For the first cake, Pinkie pie ate 9 of the slices and Luke ate 6, which means Luke can eat 6 slices of cake in 20 minutes, or 3 slices in 10 minutes. Multiply that rate by 3, and you get 9 slices in 30 minutes.