“Are ya sure this is a good idea Scootaloo?” Apple Bloom nervously asked her pegasus friend as she trotted alongside the other two Cutie Mark Crusaders.
“Who’s a chicken now?” Scootaloo lightly teased Apple Bloom. “Besides, this is where you said your sister went to defeat Nightmare Moon, right?”
“Ah...Ah guess,” Apple Bloom stuttered, “but ma sister’s a grown up.”
“I’m with Apple Bloom on this,” Sweetie Belle spoke up. “Rarity said to stay inside before she left. Plus,” Sweetie looked around the dark forest that surrounded the three, “this part of the forest seems even scarier than the rest of the Everfree.”
Scootaloo facehoofed. “Would you two listen to yourselves?!” She stomped the ground and pouted. “We’re the Cutie Mark Crusaders! We said we’d brave any challenge, face any danger, and overcome any obstacle until we have our cutie marks!”
“But...” Sweetie started to object.
‘No buts! Now come on!” Scootaloo quickly marched deeper into the forest, while her friends slowly followed her.
“Hey Apple Bloom?” Sweetie asked.
“Yeah?” Apple Bloom replied.
“Did your sister tell you what was going on before she left?”
“No, she just gave me a hug and said everything would be okay, and Applejack never lies.”
“Rarity did the same thing to me.” Sweetie had her eyes on the ground as she trotted.
“Ah hope everypony’s okay.”
“Me too.” Both fillies had deep frowns on their faces.
After a few more minutes of trotting, the trio came upon their destination. They entered into a clearing which contained an old rope bridge that connected to ancient castle-like ruins. “This must be it!” Scootaloo exclaimed.
“Ah don’t know,” Apple Bloom muttered as she timidly looked up at the looming structure. “Maybe it’ll be better if we come back when the sun’s up.”
“Ugh, this again?” Scootaloo fumed. “If we can find something that can help your big sisters and their friends with whatever they’re dealing with, then we’re sure to get our cutie marks. We might even become heroes!”
“Well...” Sweetie tried to hide her fear. “Let’s just do it quickly and get home before somepony starts to wo-” Sweetie was cut off by the sound of a large explosion.
“W-w-what was that?” Apple Bloom moved closer to her friends as they all saw the clearing above the ruins turn neon pink.
“What’s going on?” Sweetie said as all three fillies grouped together and scanned the forest for danger. Then they heard a sound, a rustling in the bushes. The Crusaders hugged each other.
“I-is it a monster?” Apple Bloom said as her eyes widened.
“W-we’re not afraid!” Scootaloo yelled at the rustling foliage as she tried, and failed, to put on a brave face. “S-show yourself!” The rustling got louder and louder as the Crusaders hugged each other tighter. They backed further and further away from the bushes and closer to the bridge. Then, just as the girls were about to run for it, out of the bush popped...
“A bunny?” Scootaloo said as she quizzically looked at the small rabbit. “We got spooked by a bunny?” The bunny stared at them for a second and then dashed off.
“Bunnies don’t usually make that much rustling th-” Apple Bloom stopped when she saw another bunny dash out of the bushes, followed by another one, and then a whole bunch more.
“What was that about?” As Sweetie pondered why the rabbits had performed a miniature stampede, a hawk whooshed past her.
“Whoa! Did you see that?” Scootaloo watched in amazement as the bird sped off into the pink sky. “It looked like it was doing a Rainbow Dash impression.”
“But Ah thought hawks only go that fast when they’re hunting prey,” Apple Bloom said as another hawk zoomed past her, followed by some eagles, a bunch of cardinals, and finally a writhing mass that was heading towards them. “Girls! Get down!”
“Why?” Before Scootaloo could ask any more questions, Apple Bloom grabbed her and slammed her to the ground. “What’s the big idea?!” Scootaloo stopped complaining when she saw what was happening above her. Hundreds, maybe thousands of crows, sparrows, pigeons, and other birds tore through of the forest and into the sky. Then, just as quickly as they had come, the birds stopped rushing out of the forest and and an eerie quiet descended upon the woods. The crusaders slowly got up and looked around.
“Is everypony ok?” Sweetie asked as her eyes darted around the forest.
“Yeah,” Scootaloo said as she dusted herself off and turned to Apple Bloom. “Thanks. Those birds probably would have carried me off with them if you hadn’t sent me to the ground.”
“It’s okay,” Apple Bloom replied. “But what was up with that? Ah’ve never seen birds fly like that before. It was as if they were running from something...” Apple Bloom’s last words trailed as her eyes, along with the other Crusaders’, went wide. A strange light was emanating from the forest now, and it was getting closer.
“W-what... what is that?” Sweetie was shaking as she spoke.
“I don’t know, and I don’t wanna find out!” Scootaloo turned around and started making a beeline for the bridge. “Come on! There’s probably something wrong with the Everfree! Maybe we’ll be safe in the ruins!”
“Ah... Ah think we should go home!” Apple Bloom said. She then watched the strange light burst into the clearing they were in and devour the forest, everything it touched disappeared into its glowing maw. All three girls screamed and darted for the bridge. “RUN!”
“Sweetie Belle!” Scootaloo turned her head as she crossed over the bridge. “Can you teleport us or something!?”
“I can’t!” Sweetie yelled. “Teleportation is really advanced! I-” Sweetie tripped on the first part of the bridge. The light consumed her instantly. She didn’t even have time to scream before she disappeared into the light.
“Sweetie Belle!” Apple Bloom screamed as she stopped running across the bridge.
“Keep running, Apple Bloom!” Scootaloo yelled as she ran further away from the light. “We can’t let it get us, too!”
“But Sweetie’s our friend!” Suddenly, the bridge was no longer under Apple Bloom’s hooves. The light had now devoured a part of the bridge and the ropes were no longer being supported by anything. “Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom screamed as she fell into the chasm.
“Apple Bloom!” Scootaloo yelled back to Apple Bloom as she tried to use her wings to maneuver herself closer to her falling friend. She didn’t even see the light racing towards her. It washed over her, and she disappeared as well.
“Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom screamed. Her eyes teared up as she fell further and further down the chasm. “No! Ma Friends! Ah... Applejack, help!” was the last thing Apple Bloom said before the light enveloped her as well and the world went dark on her.