Somewhere on the western edge of equestrian sits a little town, shadowed by the mountains the mark Equestra’s boarder, Bridedale. It was a sleepy little place with patches of farmland, a few homes, a school, a single store and a town hall. Just about everypony in town knew everypony and they were all in each other’s business. What kept the little town afloat in the hardest of times is they serve as a trading post for the mountain ponies.
Massive ponies covered in thick fur coats. Their massive hooves are rumored to be able to smash solid stone yet allow the ponies to easily travel over thin ice and thick snow. Their coats were always more muted than their smaller pony cousins, usually settling in greys and browns rather than pinks and greens. Every Mountain pony though had lighter colored hooves and some sort of lighter blaze across their face. Mountain ponies often trade with the ponies of Brideldale bringing them un melting ice from the mountain tops or lumber from the leatherbark trees that grow only in their lands for produce and other goods.
Among the denizens of Brideldale is a young filly, a full hoof taller than her classmates. She has her father’s brown coat and cream hooves, a cream slash of color over her muzzle and cheeks as well. A green streak trough her hair and a shorter fur coat is what she inherited from her mother, whom she was already almost as big as. She would never quite grow in to the giant that a full blooded mountain pony was but it was already obvious that she was going to have some trouble remembering to duck through regular sized Bridedale doorways when she reached an adult age.
“Isnt she a little old to be a blank flank?”
“No, she is just taller than the rest of her class. Her father was a mountain pony.”
“Seriously? Those guys are huge! Should she really be with the rest of the little ponies though?
Paperdust looked up as the two adult ponies wandered past the school playground. Just about everypony in town had stared at her once in her life. It was never easy being different than the rest of the ponies in Brideldale. Sure she was bullied, called a giant or sometimes a monster but Paperdust still managed to find her own friends in her class. One thing people never expected from a filly her size was simply how much she cared for just about anypony or anything. She even gingerly walked through grass so not to step on any bugs, though more often than not she was stumbling over her too-big hooves. Another thing that the other ponies never expected was she was smart, book smart at least. She was always reading and always helping her friends with their school work. It of course helped that her mother, Linebreak was the records keeper for Bridedale and ran a small library for the town out of their home.
Ever since she could remember the other ponies in Brideledale always seemed to fret over her, though Paperdust’s mother always tried to keep such things out of sight of the filly. See, Paperdust’s father was never around. He was off somewhere in the mountains living the mysterious life that the mountain ponies do and Paperdusts’s mother had to raise her on her own, which was never easy. In fact when Linebreak was pregnant with her daughter she became rather sick towards the end of term. Paperdust was much larger than a regular pony and was taking a lot of energy to create, but she managed through the hard times and was very proud of her little filly.
“Come in everypony! It looks like it is about to rain. You can wait for your parents to pick you up inside.” Mr.M-Dash called to the class.
Paperdust looked up her small glasses tilting askew, the sky was dark but it didn’t seem like it would be more than a sprinkle. She liked it outside the classroom, she had trouble fitting in the desks inside. She sighted turning her attention to her friends before trotting inside with them. It would be several more hours until her mother was finished with her job for the day.
One by one Paperdust said good bye to her friends for the day as each of their families came to pick them up from school. This happened more days than not lately since her mother had been having to stay so late. They were trying to clean up and organize the records room for the first time in way too long. It was ok though. Paperdust spent this time helping her favorite teacher, well only teacher Mr.M-Dash with cleaning the school house and getting things ready for class the next day. She was even allowed to go in to the class cupboard after school to get the broom or other supplies, and sometimes Mr-M-Dash would share his after school snacks with her when she did a good job helping.
“Thank you Paperdust, I am not quite sure what I would do without you. Do you need help putting the broom or anything else away?” Mr.M-Dash smiled at his pupil.
“No Sir, I’ve got it.” Paperdust picked up the broom in her mouth and hooked the bucket of the rest of the supplies on the handle.
Her teacher chuckled and nodded, returning to his desk to grade papers, picking up his pen with magic “Ok then, be careful in the cupboard its dark and dusty in there.”
The filly mumbled past the broom handle that she understood before trotting to the cupboard, hooking the edge of the door with her hoof and going inside. Sometimes it was nice being bigger than her classmates, she could carry all of this on her own and didn’t need the little stool in the corner to put things back on the shelves that they belonged. The broom, though, was sometimes a hassle since she had to stand on her back hooves to set it on it’s hook.
She reared up and after a little jostling managed it, the end of the broom settled on to it’s hook. As Paperdust set her front hooves back down a sound sent a chill down her spine. A solid crunch as her hoof hit the floor.
“Oh no no! poor little bug!” She stepped back quickly leaning down to get a better look. To her relief she did not find a mangled little bug but instead a crumpled piece of paper. No, not just paper it was a page from a picture book. Upon further investigation Paperdust found several more crumpled pages until finally she found the rest of the book covered in dust, wedged behind a shelf. With come careful tugging the managed to free it. In faded letters across the cover it said “Seashells Sees Seashells by The Sea Sore.” And the cover showed a little unicorn filly collecting seashells.
Paperdust leaned down blowing the dust from the pages, the binding of the poor book was broken and that’s why the pages were falling out and being torn. She felt sorry for the little books. All the books in her mother’s library were carefully tended and gently loved but it looked like this one had been forgotten and allowed to fall apart. Paperdust imagined how the little book must be hurting, being so lonely and falling to pieces.
Carefully she gathered the pieces and as gingerly as possible she carried the book out of the cupboard in her teeth. Mr.M-Dash sat at his desk buisilly grading papers. Paperdust gently set the book on her desk and trotted about the school room gathering supplies to help mend the little book. If she fixed it maybe Mr.M-Dash would put it back on the school bookshelf and it could be read again. So the little book would not be lonely anymore. With glue and tape in tender hoof Paperdust set to work keeping all of her work as hidden as possible. If she fixed it good enough maybe no one would know it was even an old book in the first place and all of her classmates will want to read it.
After what felt like hours to the little filly, which was actually several painstaking moments there was a hoof knock at the door. Paperdust jumped sticking the glue brush back in the bottle.
“Oh, Your Mother must be here… what do you have there?”
Mr.M-Dash’s eyes settled on the book. He His look turned from curiosity to surprise as he moved closer his eyes settling on the cover.
“It can’t be…” Carefully he lifted the book with his magic flipping through the pages. “I have not seen this book since I was a little colt here at this school myself.. but it was broken.. all torn up, pages missing even then.. How did you?”
Paperdust sheepishly looked at the floor her ears pulled back “I found it.. in the cupboard… it was alone in there with no other books.. no one had read it in a long, long time.. I thought if I fixed it ponies would read it again… Its dumb I know…”
Mr.M-Dash looked startled down at the filly before a warm smile spread across his face. “Paperdust you did amazing work. When I was a colt I went to school in this very building. This book was my favorite. I read it so many times that one day I accidentally broke he spine and the pages began to fall out. I didn’t want the teacher to know so I hid it in the cupboard. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that when I became the teacher here… I always meant to come back and fix it.. thank you Paperdust.. this means so much to me.” He leaned down hugging the little filly close.
At that moment Paperdust realized something. A single book had meant so much to her teacher such a long time ago and now he could have it again. The book would no longer be alone and could be loved and enjoyed for years to come. What other books were out there? Behind shelves and lost in cupboards? She could save them too. She could make ponies and the books happy and help stories bring joy to all ponies.
In that moment an orange book, pages open appeared on Paperdust’s flank. Three white dots above the pages symbolizing dust being blown away. Her Fate was decided and her cutiemark appeared.