The three days that had passed since the night at Sweet Apple Acres had been the longest of Twilight’s life. She had decided to follow Pinkie’s lead and pretend like everything was completely normal, but it turned out to be a lot more difficult than she had anticipated. Even after what she had seen, she still wasn’t completely convinced – or at least, she wasn’t ready to be. There just had to be an explanation for it, and she thought she knew where to find it.
At the sound of his name, Spike came running. “What is it, Twilight?”
Twilight hesitated. “I’m leaving in the morning… for Canterlot. I’ll be gone for a few days.”
“What about?” Spike asked innocently.
A baby dragon doesn’t need this burden, especially when I don’t have any answers to give.
“I… want to do some research on strengthening telekinetic magic. The books here don’t really cover it as completely as I’d hoped, sooo... I’m off to the Canterlot Archives.” Twilight smiled wearily, in what she dearly hoped was a sincere manner.
Spike appeared to buy it. “That’s fine. I’ve been meaning to catch up with Rarity, anyway.” He looked up at the skylight, a dreamy look in his eyes.
This time she didn’t have to force a genuine smile. She laughed and scratched his head with her hoof. “I think it’s time for bed, my little Casanova.”
Spike yawned in agreement, as if on cue. “Good call. G’night, Twilight.”
“Good night, Spike.” As she watched him climb the stairs to the library’s loft, her face fell. Going into the Everfree Forest alone was definitely not the smartest decision – she’d barely made it back last time – but there’s no way she could ask anypony to come with her. Not even Pinkie Pie. Twilight could never forgive herself if she was responsible for one of her friends being hurt, or worse. If she was very careful, though, she doubted there would be any obstacles she couldn’t overcome with a little brainpower and a little magic.
Twilight’s thoughts buzzed in her head like a hive, and it took some time to calm them and earnestly try to fall asleep. Eventually the tempestuous seas of her mind calmed. For the last time, Twilight fell into a deep sleep in her bed at the Ponyville library.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Applejack was meandering through the orchard as the sun went down. Applebloom was off playing with her friends somewhere, and the day’s work was done. AJ had been working all week and had earned a day off to relax, and it started only minutes ago when she shut the barn door.
Time to relax,AJ… She grinned and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath of fresh air. But all she could see in her mind’s eye was Pinkie’s hoof going right through that tree. She got the sudden feeling she was being watched and flung her eyes open. All alone, of course.
Applejack found herself moving toward the spot where she had seen… thought she had seen that strange incident. Outwardly she laughed at herself for even bothering, but she had to know. She swallowed hard as the tree came into view, no different from the rest save for that one thing.
“I ain’t afraid!” She yelled to no one in particular before charging the tree like Twilight had. She flung her strong back hooves out in front of her, and… THNK! Her hooves connected solidly with the tree bark, chipping a bit off and knocking half a dozen apples to the ground.
Applejack smiled knowingly, finally shaking off the nervous feeling that had plagued her since she started her walk. She picked up an apple with her teeth and munched it.
“Just as I thought, ‘tweren’t nothin’ but a trick o’ the light.” Applejack strolled back to the house, confident and beaming. As she turned her back, she never noticed one of the apples had rolled against the tree and disappeared soundlessly into it.
“Yep. Just a trick.”