Oh, ‘ello! We have heard about you from others in Ponyville. You are the, how they say, Interviewers, yes? Please, please, sit down! Will you have some tea and cakes? Yes, they are very fine, are they not? Only the best for our guests and customers, that is part of the reason why the Ponyville Spa has bcome famed even in Canterlot! Oh! Where are my manners! Welcome to the Ponyville Spa, and we are Lotus Blossom and Aloe, late of Stalliongrad –
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Oh, so you do come from there? Some of the ponies in town thought you were playing up your accent to try and sound ‘exotic’, no offense.)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Well, there is the fact that your sister doesn’t sound a bit like you. Neither does that other one, whatshername, Vera?)
Oh, no, madam, Vera is our cousin! She has lived in Ponyville for so many years, she barely even remembers anything of home. And my sister, I think she tries hard to sound like other Ponyvilliains. Maybe too hard.
Home! That frozen wasteland, you mean? And remember, sis, it’s Aloe and Lotus Blossom. That’s how I sign the bills we need to pay every month, remember? My name first! And do you have to be so spendthrift with the snacks? It’s not like business is doing well, right now!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Aww, I liked the tea and little cookies.)
Now, sister, just who did the three mares speak to first? And p-please, Aloe, don’t stand so close. Maybe a little further away?
AH! Yeah, right, s-sorry sis. Let's just give each other a little space, okay?
No, Aloe, you can stay in the room. Just not so close! Ah, that-that’s better… Oh, what is the problem? Why do my dear sister and I no longer stand beside one another as we once did? Well, ah, we are just trying to give each other a little room and respect each other’s privacy …
You mean like we wanted to when Discor –
DO NOT SAY THAT NAME! Please, little sister!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): No need to ask if he did anything to the two of you, is there?)
Ye-yes, he did. And as for you, Lotus, ‘little sister’? I’ll have you know I’m only five minutes younger than you, and – oh. Sorry about that. We didn’t used to fight, not really, but lately? Lotus, I’ll just go in the next room and go over the books again. Somepony has to, after all.
And what is that supposed to mean? Oh, my apologies, dear guests.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): No, it’s alright. Believe it or not but we… have some understanding of what it was like to deal with Discor – I mean, with him.)
Even so, my sister has become, er, difficult of late. She keeps trying to act like the ponies of this part of Equestria, not that I criticize mind you! Merely that we have some fine traditions in our part of the nation as well, and unlike her I see no reason to abandon them.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Ooh, like what?)
Oh, our dialect, little things like our matryoshka dolls that fit all inside each other, we celebrate Summer Sun and Winter Moon at different times of the year than others do, we share tea and small cakes with customers and guests such as yourselves, we…
Lotus, we sound like hayseeds and spend more money on that nonsense than we do on running the spa! At least you do, sis! And it sure doesn’t help that when you say ‘Stalliongrad’ to local ponies they either think of earth pony steel mills or some shaggy stallion who drinks hard cider all night and runs through the woods to wrestle wolves and bears all day!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Er, maybe we should come back at a later time?)
No, no, please, drink the tea. Hospitality is a gift, after all. Despite what certain ponies think! What can I help you with? Something simple, like having your manes done and a massage – oh. Y-you want to t-talk about what Disc -- the zmay did to us?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Yes, we’ve been talking to as many ponies as we can to learn what happened on the Day of Chaos. It's our job so to speak. And ‘zmay’?)
It is word from Stalliongrad, it means something like dragon, but with evil magic powers. In old stories told us by Baba, oh, I mean ‘our grandmother’, the zmay kidnapped the princesses long ago and held them in his magic castle until a brave bogatyr, a hero, saved them by trickery and courage. Then he becomes an alicorn prince and marries one of them. We told it to Miss Rarity once while working on her, she liked it very much.
Gramma told us a lot of crazy stories, Lotus; and you believed all of them!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): But some ponies can become alicor – hey!)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Oh, you and your stories! Heh, yes, ponies becoming alicorn princes. I just bet Rarity liked that story. So! You were saying about Discord?)
I’m sorry, but could you p-please not say that name again? I, we know he is locked away forever, but even so?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Sorry. We’ll be more careful.)
It seemed like any other day at first. We, my sister and I, opened the spa and were waiting for our first customers of the day.
Yeah, and I was running over the costs and figures in my head since somepony else never bothers with any of that!
Sister, please, I am telling story! Maybe Miss Fluttershy and Rarity would drop by; they are some of our most faithful customers, and it is such a joy to help them properly display their beauty before all the world. Really, that is the point of it all, you know. The money is very nice, but helping to make others their most magnificent is the true reward.
Money doesn’t hurt, Lotus! You can provide a service and still get paid for it without shame!
Aloe, what did Baba tell us? Ladies do NOT call out answers from the next room!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Wait, now I’m curious. Since you two run a spa, why here and not in someplace like Canterlot where you’d have a bigger clientele? Or even back in Stalliongrad? Aloe? Lotus?)
Well, for one thing the taxes are lower here, and now that they put that rail line in straight from here to Canterlot anypony who really wants to get treated by us can do it with a short trip, which also benefits Ponyville by bringing in tourists. And Stalliongradders aren’t exactly what you’d call fussy about their grooming. Usually. Just so long as everyone’s mane and tail is cropped short so nothing gets caught in gears at the factories, or makes it hard to put your helmet on…
Oh, and besides, we like small town like Ponyville! So nice, so quiet, so peaceful. Um, most of the time.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Uh, could we kinda get to the point when Discor --, sorry, I meant to say ‘the zmay’ showed up?)
(Inteviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Hey! Be nice!)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): What? Yeesh, Archer’s mom had an easier time talking about everything and she got shot in the flank!)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Ahem, if you would both please quiet down? And Lotus, please do go on if you can.)
Oh yes, That Day. As I said, my sister and I were preparing everything for the day ahead, I was preparing the tea and lemonade and setting out some small cakes.
While I was counting the costs and figuring out just when Vera and Quake would get back from that resupply run into Canterlot for shampoos and mane conditioners and all the rest. I think now I’m kinda glad we did, they were on the road between Ponyville and Canterlot. They missed everything that way.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Say, where are they right now, anyway? And how are they doing?)
Oh, they’re home. I guess. Neither my sis or I really feel like running the spa right now, so there’s nothing for them. Besides, nothing was done to them, so they must be okay, right? And to be honest, we really don’t like the pitying looks they’ve been giving us. Besides, nopony seems interested in coming in and getting their mane done right now. Even those stallions that follow after Lotus aren’t showing up. Well, Miss Rarity brought her little sister here a day or so ago, but them aside it's been dead.
Ahem! Well, there we were, standing right b-beside each other when suddenly we noticed the rain outside. Not water, but chocolate milk? I wondered if Baba’s stories about tricksy woods spirits were coming true.
Oh, Lotus, not granny’s fairy tales again!
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Technically speaking, Nightmare Moon and Discord were also fairy tales before they returned and Mother Deer was as well before the Hooviet Empire fell and she escaped her prison.)
Me, I was just hoping some ponies would want to come in and pay to get that gunk out of their hides. You should see how fussy Miss Rarity can get.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Heh, tell me about it.)
Sister! Anyway, we were both watching it when suddenly we saw something. It. Him. The zmay, the twisting one. He flew through the air above Ponyville, laughing as he – changed, the ponies we could see. He did horrible things to them! One poor little filly, the one with the candy cane cutie mark and that red mane – very nice, but you know, we’ve wondered if we should perhaps talk to her about her grooming… Oh, yes. He laughed down at her and said something like, “Oh, so you’re ‘Twist’, are you? Here, kiddo, let me help you live up to that name!” And s-she, she began to twist and turn around on herself like a bag full of snakes! It was horrible! I wanted to run inside, but my sister yelled at him.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Wait, you saw him do that and you just yelled at him rather than ran?)
Yeah, maybe it wasn’t all that smart, but that monster was hurting our neighbors!
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): For what it's worth, I respect your guts.)
I said, ‘What’s the matter with you? You change that filly back, right now!’ Lotus stood right beside me when he came down by us. I was scared but I couldn’t run, not and leave her there alone.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Could you stand beside her right now and show us what you looked like together?)
Huh? N-no, I’d rather not stand beside her right now and show you what I mean. Please.
It’s alright, Aloe. As my sister was saying, the zmay stood right in front of us and laughed. A mean laugh like from the sort of bully that pushes the smaller fillies and colts down into the mud at school. I wanted to gallop away, but I remembered Baba’s stories about our Kazzak ancestors who feared nothing, not even dragons; and how could I abandon Aloe, my sister? So I stood there and said to him, ‘Monster, you will regret what you are doing here! Two of our best customers are Miss Rarity and Miss Fluttershy! They are heroes of all Equestria, and they will NOT let you hurt innocent ponies!” And Aloe set her flank against mine, I felt her shiver, but she added, ‘What she said!’
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Hah! That took nerve to yell at Discord like that. I wish I’d been there to see it. Oh, sorry, I forgot how you feel about that name.)
That’s, that’s alright. And yes, I did yell at him. I just wish I hadn’t! Why? Well…
(Inteviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Please, if, if this hurts too much, then we can come back later.)
It is well, little filly. I will tell it, Aloe. The creature laughed and said, “So, you two like to stick together, huh?’ Then – I do not know how! – somehow he stood facing both me AND my sister! She was backed against me, I felt her tail swatting my rump, but somehow he was looking us BOTH in the face. He grinned with crooked fangs and said, “Tell you what, gals, I’ve already met your two ‘best customers’ and they gave me some of the best laughs I’ve had in a couple thousand years. That Fluttershy, heh, she almost makes me wish I still had a family myself. Well, a family that I could stand, anyway. So in the spirit of togetherness…” And he snapped his fingers and… F-forgive me, but I don’t think I c-can…
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Just, just go as slow as you have to. If there’s any part you don’t want to talk about, that’s okay.)
No. It’s okay, sis, I’ll take it from here. I think we better do this while we have the nerve. Anyway, that Discord thing, that monster, snapped his fingers and the next thing I knew I tried to gallop away, only for Lotus to yell behind me. And it felt like my hind legs were trying to gallop off on their own! I turned to look and I saw Lotus there and, and we were grown together at our barrels! My pink coat faded into her blue one! No hind legs, no tails, just our front halves stuck together! I yelled, sis screamed, and that thing laughed.
‘Hah!’ He said, ‘Now that’s what I call true sisterly bonding! Whoever said I never help anypony? Hey, when you see your two ‘best customers’ again, tell ‘em I’ll be around to collect them eventually, maybe. So better tidy them up nicely or else,’ and he grinned into our faces, ‘Next time, I’ll make you a mare with two tails rather than two heads!’
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Ugh, given how Rarity was acting, rolling in the dirt over her rock? Trying to clean her? And how the hay would a pony with a flank on each end even do, well, anything?)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): WE DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Now, Aloe, Lotus, if you can, please go on?)
He snapped his fingers one more time, Lotus tried to run one way and I tried to go another, and we fell down. When we got up he was gone but our scented baths! One was all strawberry jam and the other was chocolate milk! Arrgh, it cost us a fortune to have them installed! I almost died when I figured just what it could cost to have them repaired! I mean, if that would ever happen. Not to mention that when they went bad the whole place would stink to high moon.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Ugh, I forgot about that. Thank the Princesses the Elements got rid of that or all of Equestria would reek.)
But that was not the worst, Aloe. The worst part was when… when we began to feel each other’s thoughts. I saw how Aloe despised the stories Baba told us, how she thought she was a foolish old mare and how I was acting like some uncultured Stalliongrad hayseed because of my accent and how I decorated our home.
And, and, yeah, I thought all that, but not the way Lotus seemed to think I thought it. Does that make sense? Granny, I mean Baba drove me nuts sometimes, but she was the one who helped us learn how to groom other ponies and gave us the seed money for the spa when we left Stalliongrad. And I wish sis would drop some of the flirting. We don’t need stallions coming around here to hit on us when we’re working! But then I saw what she felt about me! That I was crude and disrespectful, obsessed with money, greedy and, and mean to Baba! I never meant for that, I only wanted us to stay in business! I love helping bring out the real beauty of ponies, but if we go out of business we’ll never be able to do that! And all I saw inside her was pity and scorn for me, her own twin sister!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Ya know, lots of families have their fights and quarrels and disagreements, that doesn’t mean they stop loving each other.)
Yes, b-but we have always stood alongside each other, always supported each other. Aloe and I were raised by our Baba, learned how to groom ponies from her. Everypony else either worked in the factories or they were soldiers in the guard, we rarely saw them. She showed us the beauty in nature when we went into the Stalliongrad woods together, and she was the pony whose mane we were combing and coat brushing when our cutie marks came in. Like she did with Vera before us, before she went to live with family off further south in Equestria.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): I must admit, I wondered about those. You don’t usually see different ponies have the same cutie mark except in families; and even then there’s usually some small difference.)
Heh, yeah, I guess whatever gave us these flowers on our flanks decided the same one would do for all three? But Vera does have a small difference with hers, her blossom is a pale pink and not white like ours. And sometimes Lotus says I should have ended up with a bank ledger instead.
I am sorry, Aloe! I thought those things, I did, but I never wanted to hurt you. I remember how you help keep us afloat! But we could only see, or hear, or know, the bad things. Whatever we did we couldn’t get them out of our heads!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): That, that wasn’t all you. Most of it was Disc --, I mean the monster’s magic.)
Maybe. And maybe we’re just not so close as we always thought? After a while Miss Fluttershy happened by. She looked so strange, her lovely butter-yellow coat was going gray and she had such a cruel look on her face. We begged her for help and she just jeered at us. ‘What,’ she said, ‘me help you, you two-headed freak? Want some free advice? Okay, your spa is overpriced and your service stinks!’ She took the tea we, I had brewed up and splashed it on both of us. We neighed when it burned us. She just laughed and flew off.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): I swear to you, she regrets it.)
If you say so, but then why has she not said anything to us? It was like that time she became a model. We thought it was so wonderful, that we had helped to display her true beauty to all Equestria. You should have seen her the first time Miss Rarity brought her here. So shy, so frightened, but after we were done we didn’t recognize her. I don’t think she recognized herself! But she never even came to visit us until weeks after it was all over!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Like Photo Finish would have let her go and be treated by anypony but her own staff! She missed you two and everypony else here in town, and she was relieved when it was all over. And don't forget Shy is a BIG wall flower. Anyway, what happened after that?)
We, Aloe and I, both cringed inside the spa then and watched everything outside. All we wanted was to get away from each other, and we couldn’t.
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Um...if you didn't have a rear...uh...how did you...you know...)
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Wow, you actually answered together there...You were saying? You wanted to get away but couldn't?)
Yeah, but then we saw the world’s biggest rainbow and boom! Everything was back to normal. And we could step away from each other. The first thing we did was to turn, laugh, and hug each other. And then I screamed and shoved Lotus away from me! I couldn’t stand to touch her, hear her voice, look at her, at my own sister! And nothing’s changed since then. We used to sleep under the same blanket, oh, it’s a Stalliongrad thing done by big families, you spend winter nights all together under the blankets atop a mattress on a warm iron stove, the whole herd stays warm that way. Anyway, we used to do that, but now if we’re in the same room I keep wanting to look around and make sure I haven’t grown fast to her!
I know! We used to be halves of one whole, but now I am ill when I think about it. Why did he do this to us? Sometimes I want to ask Aloe to just sell the spa, we can both go wherever we like separately. And, and really, what good have we done here with it? Is it wrong of us to not want to be reminded of, of what happened? Wait, why do you keep looking at our clock?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Just watching for Applejack to come by. Oh, when she does, don’t tell her we’re here.)
What do you mean, ‘Watch for Miss Applejack’? Yes, we know her, she has such a lovely mane and tail, I wish she would take Miss Rarity and Fluttershy’s offer and come here to let us work on her sometime.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Yeah, I doubt she’d be much interested.)
Speak of the Nightmare, sis, look who’s at the front door! Hello, Miss Applejack and – you want to say this to both of us?
T-together? Do, do you have to? O-okay… Come h-here, Lotus. Right next to me.
A-all right. I will. Just please, not too close. Now, what did you want to say, Miss Applejack?
"You two being together is STILL your strength. If you let yourselves be broken apart because of this, you're letting Discord have the last laugh."
Huh? That’s it? What brought this on – hey, where are you going? Yeesh, she’s fast.
Indeed! She acts like she must speak with all Ponyville today.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): She really does! Celestia showed her all of you in a magic pool and – ow!)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Heh! From the mouths of foals. But she did have a talk with the Princess and she is going to be helping as many ponies in town as she can. Er, or so I would imagine, given what she’s like.)
Oh? She will? Because of something she saw in Tsarina Celestia’s palace? It must be important then, but why did she come to Aloe and me?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Why, because you’re just that important, that’s why!)
Huh? What do you mean, ‘because we’re that important’? We’re nopony! Just a pair of glorified beauticians, gussied-up mane stylists! We don’t matter to anypony aside from, from each other?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Don’t ever say that! You, you matter to a LOT of ponies here in town! What about Rarity, and Fluttershy, and all the other mares who come here, some even from Canterlot? You mean a lot to them. And you matter to Celestia, all the ponies do.)
She speaks truly, Aloe, sister. What about Miss Rarity, and Fluttershy, and all the mares and those stallions in town who come here every week?
Sis, you KNOW why the stallions come here! If you’d just settle on one, we wouldn’t have that problem.
Not all of them chase me! And besides, what about Baba and our relations back home? We almost never write them, but they send us letters through Pegasus express every week. And some ponies travel out from Canterlot just to be treated by us here, and so many of them do so even when they don’t have to. We matter to them. I, you matter to me.
…And you to me, you silly sister. I think maybe Applejack is right. I’m not going to give that monster any kind of victory over us. I want us to still stay here, together. If that’s okay with you?
Aloe, please, that is what I want too. Dearest sister, we stuck together through everything else, why would we let that zmay break us apart? M-maybe we can just give each other a little h-hug for right now?
Okay, Lotus. Big sis... S-sorry! I just can’t, not yet! I touch you and I remember what that monster did!
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): That’s going to take time to heal from. But listen, the Princess did send some therapists to Ponyville to help anypony who needs it. You two, the sisterly love you share even now after everything Discord did to break it, that’s too precious to cast away because of his cruelty. And believe it or not, YOU both serve a similar function in Ponyville.)
Us? Aloe and I? How do you mean?
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Yeesh! Don’t you ever see how ponies act after they get massaged and bathed and groomed here? How relaxed they are afterwards? How many times have you seen customers walk in frowning and unhappy, but an hour or two later after they leave they’re smiling and happy to be alive again? Heck, I don’t like the frou-frou stuff that much and even I know that ponies need that sort of relaxation. They need a stress reliever! That's REALLY important! They need what you two do for them. Spike wishes he could get Twilight to stop by every once in a while.)
Yeah, well, maybe. I mean, Rarity and Fluttershy usually seem pretty happy after one of our sessions. Heck, even Silver Platter stops her worrying about her husband after we get done with her. The poor mare, I wish she’d stop worrying about her age –
Aloe! That comes under the heading of ‘client confidentiality’! We do NOT talk about what our customers say here to us! Oh, I am sorry, but some things should remain private.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): Yes, some things should. But what my friend said is true. You two really do help the ponies in this town.)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Yeah, so maybe you can accept some help from them, this time?)
I think perhaps you are right, little filly. Perhaps we should stop hiding here and go accept the help being offered. I, I want to be free of what was done to us. But, Aloe, I will only go if you do.
Okay, sis. Let’s go t-together. Uh, sorry, but we’re going we’ll have to lock up. But hey, if you ever want a spa treatment come back and we’ll give you one free. I think we owe you that much.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): No, it’s perfectly alright. We’ve got to be going ourselves, anyway.)
As you wish. Thank you for visiting our spa. We may be waxing poetic, but the sun does feel lovely today. Good day.
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Do you think they’ll get the help they need?)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): I’m pretty sure of it. There are plenty of therapists here, and more to the point, they really do love each other. And they have friends and family who care about them, and Aloe and Lotus can bring themselves to admit it, which isn’t always easy.)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): They can admit they’ve been hurt, too, which ain’t any easier. Still, odd to think of the good ponies like them do on a day to day level. Mostly cause we never even noticed. I wonder how many ponies like that there are here in Ponyville, or hay, in Equestria?)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Unicorn): That’s what we’re learning as we do this. Later we can come back for that offer they made and see how they’re doing.)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Pegasus): Groan! We don’t really have to come back for that, do we?)
(Interviewer’s Notes (Earth Pony): Yay! We’re going to get more cookies!)