Dark. Wet. Shivering.
The small pony looked around at the ground where she lay, covered in dew and mud, exhausted and softly crying.
Only sounds of echoing bleakness returned her faint call.
The cold wind mocked her, shaking her tiny frame, pushing her closer to the sickeningly soft ground. She struggled to get up, falling on her knees before finally gaining her balance in the dark weather. The shapes in the trees seemed to grow, twisting into terrible faces, stretching the shadows from the moon all around. The small pony shivered and cowered away from their reaching limbs, and started to gallop as fast as she could, not knowing where she was going, and not caring, as long as it was away from there. She stumbled over a tree root and crashed into the ground, spraying the grass with the sticky dew that night brings on. Picking herself up, she threw her tiny frame headlong toward the way she thought was clear, only to be stopped by hanging vines which stretched down into the swamp from some unknown height. Tears were streaming down the small pony’s face, and after stumbling through the dark, wet forest for what seemed like hours, she saw a tiny pinprick of light through the trees.
She surged toward the light in a desperate hope to escape, and burst through the swinging vines, running away from the awful forest. Fear rushed through the little pony as she galloped from the strange swampy trees, when suddenly; a thought sprang into her mind. Her wings! She had forgotten all about them in her terror. Spreading her wings, she lifted up into the night air, feeling the cool, rushing wind against her mane. She glanced back at the swamp, which seemed to leer up at her through the dense fog. As she flew, her fear slowly faded, and was replaced by a soft lull, the feeling that flying brings young Pegasus ponies. Even as her fear drained away, it was replaced by an uneasiness she couldn’t explain. She flew farther and farther away from the swamp until she could no longer see it, yet it still remained in her vision.
Shaking her head, she saw a faint glow coming from off to her left, a glow that reached up from the horizon, and she felt that she might be safe there. Veering towards the glow, she strained her wings until they beat faster and faster. The wind violently tore at her mane, her eyes started to feel raw, but she did not slow her speed. Crossing a river, a forest grew underneath her until it swallowed the ground, rushing up to meet her so quickly she almost was consumed by its tickling branches. She swerved upward and shot towards the moon, the air thinning around her. She looked around for the glow, spied it, and angled towards the ground in its direction. Nothing else entered her head, ‘cept for the light on the horizon. As she tore through the sky, the air seemed to shimmer around her, cocooning her in small spider’s legs of moonlight. Just as she reached a river, almost crossing a hill to where the glow lay just beyond; the world stopped.
A shockwave flew from her body, tearing leaves from the trees and ripping dirt from the ground. The moon seemed to split in half, as rays of pure light burst and shattered from the young pony’s body. She flew unconscious towards the forest and the ground below, hurtling at insane speeds.
*WHUMP* *whump* *whump*
She hit a tree full force and bounced, several times, crashing through the boughs, and finally landing on the forest floor. As the night closed in, the small pony lay quietly, as if simply sleeping beside a fire at bedtime.
“IT’S A PINEAPPLE!!”
“Uh… sure, sugarcube, it’s uh…. a pineapple.”
“See?? I toldya!”
After a full night of Pinkie’s cooking, Applejack was getting very tired, VERY quickly. But, as always, the little pink pony never failed to turn an extraordinary night into something even more crazy and wild.
“Hurry up or we’ll be late to do everything on the Nightmare Night costume party plan I’ve drawn up!”
Twilight certainly had her way of showing her excitement, and hurried Pinkie Pie and Applejack into finished Pinkie’s new recipe.
“Behold! The Precariously Placed Prickly Pineapple Peach Pie!” Pinkie shouted to the room, nearly deafening everypony in earshot. Just then, Rarity burst in, trailing a long, flowy dress that seemed to be made of….
“…..leaves?? Rarity, what exactly is your costume supposed to be? That’s not even scary OR cool.” Rainbow Dash remarked slyly, as Rarity pranced inside, scattering leaves all over the floor.
Rarity shot back, “Well, I’m supposed to be ME, dear, can’t you tell? I just thought tonight would be a perfect time to wear my new design, and dare I say it looks just amazing!”
As always, Spike rushed to Rarity’s aid, his eyes sparkling as he looked at Rarity’s gorgeous dress.
“Well, I think Rarity’s dress is beautiful, it doesn’t have to be a costume anyway. Besides, what are you supposed to be, Rainbow?”
“I’m one of the Wonderbolts! Well, not just a Wonderbolt, but CAPTAIN of the Wonderbolts. I even came up with a new routine, and when they see me, they’ll be begging me to let me lead them.” As Rainbow Dash puffed out her chest and planted a firm stance on the counter, Twilight urged everyone out the door for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“Come on, we need to get to Fluttershy’s house, you know she won’t leave unless we all go get her. And we don’t want to be late to the party, I’m sure Big Macintosh and Granny Smith are waiting for us already.”
“YAAAAY!!” Pinkie screeched, and bounced out the door, leaving Applejack and Rainbow Dash to carry the strange looking confection out of the shop.
The group shambled across Ponyville over to Fluttershy’s house, to get her outside and into the festivities. Ponyville itself was lush with activity, as all the mares and colts and fillies scurried around, setting up decorations, making food, putting on costumes, and getting ready for the annual Nightmare Night Costume Festival. The moon was almost at its peak, leaving little time until the ceremony.
“Fluttershy?” *knock knock* Twilight gently called out past Fluttershy’s front door.
“………I’m not here.”
“Fluttershy, we can hear you, don’t wor-”
“We’re coming in, Fluttershy, you can’t hide forever!” Rainbow Dash interrupted Twilight and opened the front door, streaming inside. Fluttershy lay in a shivering heap on the floor by the fireplace. Rainbow Dash flew down and swept Fluttershy up in her arms, tossing her out the front door.
“Rainbow Dash, stop hurrying Fluttershy, you know she doesn’t like Nightmare Night.” Twilight softly scolded Rainbow as they all left Fluttershy’s house.
“Oh, it’s alright, Twilight. I’m not that scared...”
The six friends slowly made their way to Sweet Apple Acres, where a bustling crowd of ponies waited for Nightmare Moon, playing games and singing songs late into the night. Everypony in Ponyville was there, the party had turned out to be bigger than even Pinkie Pie had imagined, but then again, Nightmare Night didn’t come every night. Zecora was telling the story of Nightmare Night to a group of fillies, who were giggling and screaming every time Nightmare Moon was mentioned.
After some time, the sky grew darker and the crowd grew silent, and a shimmering wave of light flashed across the sky, as Nightmare Moon flew down on them! Cackling and shrieking with joy and terror, the foals and fillies ran from the noise and lightning as Princess Luna gleefully chased them around the farm. Everypony joined in the fun, and soon all of Ponyville was reduced to a laughing, galloping mass of ponies, all enjoying the night of Princess Luna’s return. The six friends happily watched on as the young ponies had their fun.
When the young ones started to get tired, Princess Luna flew down and landed near the farm and addressed Ponyville.
“Friends, thank you all for gathering tonight as I raise the moon towards the sky. Tonight is as beautiful as any other, and I am happy to have such wonderful ponies to enjoy it with.”
As she finished, all of Ponyville cheered, and Princess Luna leapt up into the sky and the ceremony began….
After the ceremony had ended, and Princess Luna returned to Canterlot, the ponies of Ponyville returned to their homes, ready to sleep, the day and night having been long and tiresome. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack all stayed at the farm to help clean up the remnants of the party. They worked for some time, and afterwards, started heading back to Ponyville.
“Thank you gals f’r bein’ my friends. Ev’ry Nightmare Night with y’all makes me a little not so scared, anymore.” Applejack proudly said to the little group.
“Aww, we’ll always be bestest best friends, right Applejack? Of course we will, because you guys are awesome!” Pinkie tackled Applejack and the pair rolled on the ground for a little while, tussling in the dirt.
“Girls, tonight has been th-”
The six ponies whipped their heads around at the sound, and to their amazement, saw a huge, spreading wave of crackling and spiraling moonlight emanating from somewhere above the Everfree Forest.
The diminutive blue pony awoke under a gleaming moon, and immediately noticed the throbbing in her body. She weakly tried standing, and fell to the floor, completely drained, pain washing over her. She lay in the dirt, desperately trying to figure out where she was. The moon was shining brightly as the little equine gazed at everything around her. The fear and pain slowly left her body as her eyes swept over the beautiful forest.
A small stream idled lazily near the trees, flicking around a large rock before dashing away into the night. The grass buzzed with the movement of insects, twirling their blades like dancers on a stage. The moon’s light reflected off of everything, refracting and twisting the shadows, casting a soft, blue light around the small clearing the pony lay in. Her eyes shone bright in the night, full of wonder and happiness. In the center of the clearing, there was a large rock, buried in the grass and tousled dirt, which seemed to glow and throw its light toward the sky as a gift to the moon. She thought that this must be that light on the horizon she had seen earlier. Before that….moment.
What happened to me? What did I do?
The little pony quivered, looking at her hooves. It was then that she noticed the treetops, shorn down almost to the trunks, branches hanging askew, the skin of the plants split wide in places. And every tree seemed to be leaning away from the clearing, as if they were trying to crawl away from the rock. She eyed the rock hesitantly, but her curiosity took control. She slowly got up and trotted toward the gleaming rock. She placed her hooves on it, and it seemed almost warm to the touch. It gave her a sense of stillness, of calm, of peace.
This forest, it made her feel comfortable, it made her feel as if she was welcome. Like she was...
The word echoed loudly in her mind, and she began to panic again, eyes fleeting about. She thought of her parents, the soft feeling of their manes. Images of her home flashed through her mind: The hearth, the fire, the snow. All of them gone in a single moment of desperation and cruelty. But…..as hard as she tried, she couldn’t remember her parents’ names! They eluded her, salmon in the river of her brain, whose claws were not swift enough.
Star Swift….Th-that’s my name….and…Mom……mom, why can’t I remember yours??
Hot tears dripped down the pony’s face, creating a small pool in the dimly lit grass. Her mother, her father, her sister, all gone. And she was alone, alone in a strange place. A strange place, but….beautiful, too. Despite her tears, she couldn’t help but feel somewhat safe, standing against the warm rock under the moonlight. The moon was the only thing about this place that reminded her of home. Looking back to where she had landed, she saw a large divot in the grass, dirt spilled everywhere, and noticed something quite peculiar.
The blades of grass around where she had lain were curled away, and some of them seemed to be stained a light blue. Attributing this to the nature of the peculiar forest, Star Swift quickly put it out of her mind.
She looked up at the moon, and a sudden surge of joy spread over her, and she launched into the air, flying close above the treetops. Marveling at the complexity of the forest, she dove down into the depths of the dark leaves, whizzing and whirling through the collection of tree trunks. She found the fleeing stream once more, and chased it all the way to the side of a mountain, where she turned and spun off once more into the fray of the forest.
After a few hours of exploring this new and wonderful place, Star Swift realized that she was very tired. The sky had begun to brighten, and tendrils of light crept down through the cracks in her green sky. She found a large, hollow tree that had fallen on its side, and crawled into the space, laying down and gazing at the blackness that was the roof of her new, albeit temporary, home. Thoughts of her home still continued to pester her, and she fell asleep tossing and turning in discomfort.
“Now, who can this little pony be? I have not seen her before I believe. She shivers and quivers and flies and soars, I should watch her closely if I wish to learn more.”
Hooves slowly walked away from the tree, as brass jingled mysteriously.
“What was that????” Rarity almost shrieked, her eyes wider than the moon.
“I don’t know, but it looks like some form of magic, but I’ve never seen it before.” Twilight immediately chimed in.
Rainbow Dash interrupted before anypony else could speak. “Well, I’m gonna go check it out. Anypony wanna come?”
“Uh…I don’t think that’s a good idea, Dash. It’s the Everfree Forest, who knows what it was, it could have been some strange magic, and so far, strange magic hasn’t turned out very good for us.” Twilight lightly grabbed ahold of Rainbow Dash’s wing before she could take off. “I think that we should investigate Everfree in the morning, and I’ll see if I can find any information about what we just saw.”
“I’m with ya, Twi.”
“Ooh, me too, and we could ask Zecora if she’s seen anything strange or creepy or weird or loud and blue!”
“Ugh, I hate going in there, I always get my mane frazzled.” Rarity seemed less than enthusiastic about cavorting about in the Everfree Forest.
“What about you, Fluttershy? ….Fluttershy…?”
The six ponies looked around to see Fluttershy cowering underneath the hay wagon, shivering and clutching Spike tightly. Pinkie Pie exploded into laughter and trotted over to them, releasing Spike from the vice grip of the terrified Fluttershy.
“Come on, Fluttershy, let’s go home, I can spend the night with you tonight!”
Pinkie grabbed Fluttershy’s hand before she could speak, and the two of them bounced off toward Ponyville, although it seemed Pinkie Pie was dragging Fluttershy, as Fluttershy had switched her grip to Pinkie’s hind leg, clutching it like a filly in a thunderstorm.
“Awh fine, we’ll go tomorrow, but I wanna get up early and find out what that was, so don’t dilly dally all day, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash zoomed off to her home, eager to explore the strange happenstance that still sparkled above the Everfree.
Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity made their way back toward Ponyville, excitedly discussing the events of Nightmare Night, and the peculiar shining light that had erupted over the forest.
“What d’ ya think it is, Twilight?” Applejack asked in puzzlement.
“Well, I don’t know. But it looked like a barrier spell failed. I haven’t really seen anything like it before, except when Rainbow Dash performs her Sonic Rainboom, but I don’t know of any magic similar to that.”
Twilight Sparkle seemed genuinely worried, as her knowledge of magic and spells had never come up short before. The three ponies walked in silence all the way back to Ponyville, their minds whirling as they tried to think of what could have cause the bizarre light. Every pony in Ponyville slept soundly that night, except for six.
“Sister! Your cutie mark!”
Luna looked down and saw her cutie mark glowing in the night, giving off an eerie light. Her mind was suddenly awash with memories she did not want to recall. She turned and stared out of her window, a small speck of light in the distance burning into her eyes.