A Fishy Story
So, y'all want to hear a story, do ya? Well, I think ya've heard all mine by now.
Okay, okay! Calm down and let me think fer a minute…!
Ah, okay, here's one y'all haven't heard yet. Not many ponies have, to be honest, so don't go spreadin' it around!
Now, this story starts with a story: I was havin' lunch with Fluttershy one day, forget the exact date. Was summer, hot 'n' sunny out. We were havin' a picnic over at Lake Leery. Well, of course you haven't heard of it, it's on the other side of Everfree Forest. Can I finish?
Anyway, we had just finished eatin' and we were jawin' about this and that. I suppose something about the lake jogged Fluttershy's memory, or maybe the heat loosened her up a bit. Somethin' happened, cuz she started telling me the about her Granny.
See, Fluttershy's Granny was a famous jeweler. That's somepony who makes jewelry. How famous? I dunno, like, popular-in-Canterlot famous. She was well-known, don't worry about it. Anyway, back when Fluttershy was a filly she would hand her Granny tools while she worked, and her Granny was the one who paid for Fluttershy ta go to flight school. They were close, is what I'm gettin' at, basically.
Now, this is where the story starts. One day her Granny was coming back home from her workshop. She had just finished her latest piece, one that she'd been workin' on fer a while. A real fancy brooch for a real important client in Canterlot. Lotta late nights and rare gems went into this one.
So, she was walking back from her workshop, and her path home went right past Lake Leery. Now, somebody musta done their homework on her, cuz as she was walking past the lake, a bandit popped outta the shadows and snatched the bag she was carryin'.
Now don't get me wrong, she was a tough old bird—no I don't mean she was a pegasus, it's just an expression. Stop interruptin'. As I was sayin', she was tough, but she was gettin' on in years and she couldn't catch up to the burglar. And like I said, they musta done their homework because they had a boat waiting to make their escape across the lake with.
It looked like a clean getaway, cuz Fluttershy's Granny couldn't do much from the shore. The bandit forgot one thing though; Leery Larry.
Yep, Leery Larry. He's the reason nopony swims or fishes in Lake Leery. He's the biggest, meanest, orneriest fish in all of Equestria. I had never seen him myself, but I had heard plenty a stories. And he musta been hungry that night, cuz halfway across the lake he ate the bandit, boat 'n' all.
Now, when Fluttershy told me this, I was pretty surprised. She don't open up too often, after all. And she started starin' at the lake and just reminiscin' about her grandma, and that's when I knew what I had to do.
I had to get that brooch for her. I had to catch that fish.
Whaddya mean "why!?" 'Cause she was my friend, that's why! Because she deserved to have somethin' that her Granny made! Because you don't leave a memory like that sittin' in some critter's belly! That's why! You don't ask "why" after your friend opens up to you like that. You just find some way ta help them. You three should know that better than anypony.
Anyway, where was I…? Oh, right. So I knew I had to get that brooch back for Fluttershy: she would never have asked me to, but I had to do it. No one had ever caught Leery Larry, though. Nopony had ever even come close. So I knew I'd need some help, and who did I know that could detect valuable gems?
Rarity was skeptical, natchurally. I still remember the look on her face when I asked her. Shock with just a dash a disgust. Mighta been some panic in there too.
"You want to what?" She finally said.
"Catch Leery Larry," I repeated.
Now I know I can't do Rarity's acksent too well, so just bear with me here.
"Applejack, why on Earth would you want to attempt such a thing?" She asked me. "That monster has been in that lake for who knows how long, and plenty of ponies have tried to catch him before. Do you even know how to fish?"
"Well, not strictly speakin', no." She had me there.
Rarity snorted in the most condescendin' way possible, which for Rarity is pretty danged condescending.
"Honestly Applejack, this is absurd. I hate being on or in or near the water, and you want me to help you catch that brute even though neither of us know how to fish? Give me one good reason why!"
"Fluttershy," I said simply. That got her attention. I told her what Fluttershy had said, and natchurally she changed her tune after that. She may be a bit stuck-up sometimes, but Rarity is a good friend.
She called in a few favors and two days later we were on the lake. We had a dinghy: it was big but it was still a dinghy. We also had some fishing poles, and I honestly had no idea if they were any good. We also had life vests and a cooler fulla food, both of which Rarity had insisted on. She had also insisted on a lot of sunscreen and a massive hat. And for whatever reason, she had worn her usual batch of makeup and perfume to a fishing trip. Sigh… Sometimes I really don't understand her…
All in all I didn't feel too prepared, but I suppose that was inevitable. The same pony who had lent us the boat had shown us the basics of anglin', but he didn't seem too confident in our chances. Guess I wasn't neither once we were on the water.
"Something wrong, dear?" Rarity asked me.
"I dunno, I guess I'm startin' to realize I didn't think this through," I admitted.
Rarity took a sip of her tea. "Honestly, I don't think that preparation would have improved our chances by too much." She glanced over the side of the boat. "Doesn't this fish eat ships?"
"I was just thinkin' the same thing, to be honest. Bigger boat couldn'ta hurt…"
"I don't sense any jewels nearby, I'm certain that dreadful creature will ignore us all day, then we can go home."
"How optimistic," I muttered.
"I am merely a realist, Applejack. It is bad enough I have to be out here at all. It is a good deal worse that neither of us has any idea what we are doing."
"Well, it's like my granpappy always said; you shouldn't let ignorance get in the way of helping your friends."
"Rustic wisdom at its finest."
"What was that?"
"I mean, just a little broad, isn't it? Ignorance is a rather substantial impediment, after all."
"Yeah, I get it."
Rarity took another sip of tea. Her cup clacked loudly as she put it back on the saucer. "I mean, I wouldn't try and perform open-heart surgery on my friend just because I could, I'm not a doctor—"
"Yeah, okay, I got it. Granpappy wasn't a poet. Just tell me if you sense anythin'."
Rarity shrugged and went right back to her tea.
We sat out there for hours. My hooves started to get numb after a while. The poles were attached to the boat, so I guess technic'ly we didn't need to hold onto 'em, but I knew if I wasn't grabbin' mine I'd be fidgeting up a storm. Rarity didn't touch hers at all, I think. Just pulled out a magazine and snacked the whole time. Guess I couldn't blame her, I wasn't much conversation. The hours just kept on tickin' by, and I just kept stewin' on what a bad idea this had all been.
Then it happened.
Rarity sat bolt upright, her horn glowin' somethin' fierce. I didn't need ta ask why.
I forget what we were using as bait. I think I just wadded together all the gooey stuff Rarity's friend had given us and poked it onto the hook. Whatever it was, it musta worked, because Rarity's line started flying off her pole. It unspooled so fast that I thought the reel might catch fire from the friction. The rod started to bend too, and for a moment there I was certain it was touchin' the water.
"What do I do, what do I do!?" Rarity shouted.
"I…I dunno! Grab it or somethin'!" I didn't have any real ideas either, but we were both panickin' at that point.
Rarity grabbed her pole with her teeth, and started trying to spin the thing with her magic. I guess it musta worked, because the line started to slow down a bit.
I rushed over ta help her, but before I had even crossed the boat the line ran out. There was the loudest "snap" I ever heard, and the fishin' pole sprung forward and back again. The boat teetered quite a bit, and me and Rarity both landed right on our haunches.
"Well, that was anticlimactic," Rarity said dryly. She didn't come off as non-chalant as she hoped though, since she was still breathin' heavy.
Her horn was still glowing, so I wasn't about to give up just yet. "He's still nearby, and we still got another pole," I said. "Just gotta be a little quicker on the draw next time is a—"
Right as I was finishing my sentence something rammed into the boat. And I mean really rammed into it; the whole thing nearly stuck straight up. Now, Rarity was still at the edge near her pole, and I was in the center. Leery Larry musta known that, cuz the side with Rarity was the one that he rammed, and she got launched out of the boat. Yes, launched. Flung, thrown, whatever you wanna call it, and she landed in the water a good ways away.
"The hay was that?" I shouted.
"What do you think!? Hurry up and get me!" Rarity started thrashin' and splashin' around, but the life vest did its job.
"Hold on I'll be right there!" I started looking for the oars or motor or whatever it was that moved the boat, but before I could get a hoof on it, I saw a huge shadow under the water right near her.
Well, I suppose you might guess what happened next: Leery Larry ate Rarity. The shadow grew bigger and bigger, and then suddenly a huge, fat fish leapt out of the water and swallowed Rarity in a single bite.
I didn't get a great look at 'im, but he was big, and grey, and ugly. Lotsa mouth and pointy fins. I described what I could to Twilight afterward, and she said it sounded like a lungfish crossed with a "seelo-canth," whatever those are. I'm guessin' most of 'em aren't the size of a barn.
Obviously, I wasn't too fussed about all this at the time: I was more worried about my friend bein' eaten. I couldn't swim, so I didn't have too many options. When no ideas showed up, I settled for waiting. Couldn't go back to shore and leave her there, couldn't jump in after her, much as I wanted to.
The wait was agonizing. Just sittin' there hoping somethin' would happen. I have no idea how long it was, but it felt like forever.
After just sittin' in the boat with my pole for who knows how long, something under the water rumbled. I rushed to the side a the boat, trying to get a look at what was going on, but I didn't see nothin'.
There was another loud rumble, and it actually shook the boat. I wasn't sure what to expect, but then I heard something unmistakable.
It was the loudest, longest, deepest sneeze ah ever heard. I don't know if fish can sneeze, but Leery Larry clearly ain't a normal fish. It was deafening.
I wasn't sure what it meant, but a few seconds later a big white blur shot out of the water and landed in the boat. Rarity's fur was drenched, her life vest was torn, her mane was a mess, and she was covered in some kinda gummy mucous, but she was alive. And she was holding one of the most gorgeous pieces a jewelry I ever seen. I knew that was what we had come for even before I had gotten a good look at it. And once I did get a good look at it, it was hard to believe it had spent decades in a fish's belly.
Rarity never told me what happened to her after she got eaten. Guess I don't blame her for that! But I was tellin' the story to Twilight, and she said that many species of lungfish react strongly to artee-ficial odors. So put two and two together, and it ain't hard ta see that Leery Larry was allergic to Rarity! Guess all that perfume and makeup and whatnot served a purpose after all!
So, how was that for a story? Whaddya mean "it was a mite far-fetched?" That's what makes it interestin'! Don't y'all ever read? You can't make a good story about ponies sittin' around talkin' 'bout their feelings, or goin' shoppin', or any of that borin' everyday stuff!
…Besides, would I lie ta you?