Twilight Sparkle groaned as she was lead through the hospital. After having had a variety of heavy objects dropped on her, including an anvil, piano, and wagon, she wasn't feeling so good. She'd been arranged to have emergency care by the best doctor in the hospital.
"Now, Ms. Sparkle, please lie down on the bed while I fetch Doctor Pie," Nurse Redheart told her.
Twilight nodded, the name barely registering in her mind. There were lots of Pie families in Equestria, so it didn't even occur to her to think about her best friend. Imagine her surprise when the pink party pony bounced into the room in full doctor's garb.
"... Pinkie Pie? What are you doing-?" Twilight began.
"Sh! Be quiet, patient Sparkle! That's DOCTOR Pie!" Pinkie interrupted sternly. Her smile soon came back, though. "So, what do you think? Thought I was just a crazy party pony, didn't you?"
"H-huh? Don't tell me that you're going to be taking care of me..." Twilight groaned.
"Oh, don't worry! I've got LOTS of experience! I graduated from the University of Fillydelphia with 12 different doctorates!" Pinkie assured. Twilight was naturally a bit skeptical of the claim.
"Pinkie, if you're so educated, then-"
"Ok, enough talk! Let's see how bad you are! What are your symptoms?" Pinkie asked.
"... Pain. Throbbing, horrible pain," Twilight answered, resigning herself to her fate.
"Is that so? Have you experienced any other symptoms? Blood flow? Vomitting? Diarrhea?" Pinkie asked.
"What? Pinkie... an anvil fell on my head. Why would I-"
"Oh! Why didn't you just say so?" Pinkie asked.
Pinkie pulled a magnifying glass out of nowhere, and looked over Twilight's head (crawling on the poor purple mare in the process). She made several "ooh's" and "ah's" as she did so, while Twilight could do nothing but whimper.
"Yep. You've got a bump the size of a mountain on your head! I know just how to fix it, though!" Pinkie exclaimed, as she finally crawled off of Twilight.
"Get me to a better doctor?" Twilight suggested.
"Nope!" Pinkie dug around in a drawer, pulling out a hammer. Twilight stared at it fearfully.
"Pinkie... what are you going to do?" Twilight asked.
"We're going to hammer it back down!" Pinkie answered gleefully. "This is what you get for spying on me all day!"
Pinkie approached the terrified Twilight with a menacing gleam in her eyes. With one powerful, horrible hit, darkness overcame Twilight.
Twilight rubbed her head painfully as she woke up. She was in the hospital, still! Was she dead? Had Pinkie done her in? She then looked over her hooves, which were covered in bandages. She noticed Spike sitting in a chair beside her, who had a grin on his face.
"You're awake! You've been asleep for hours, Twilight!" he exclaimed. "Doctor Feelgood has you all patched up after that... um... incident with the dropped stuff. He said you'll be fine to go whenever you feel ready to head out."
"Huh? But... Doctor Pie... I mean, Pinkie..." Twilight stammered.
"Um, you've been watching Pinkie all day. She's not a doctor," Spike said, concern in his voice. "Maybe your injuries are worse than they thought..."
"There's no Pinkie around?" Twilight asked, relief evident on her face. "Good! Then we can still find her again! Come on, Spike! We've got to keep researching the Pinkie Sense!"
Spike's shoulder dropped a bit, but he sighed and nodded. He helped her climb into the wheelchair, and pushed her out the door.
Princess Luna, the Princess of the Night and sister to Celestia. She had been imprisoned for an entire millennia, something even her sister could barely comprehend. She did not doubt that she deserved the fate. She had, after all, nearly commited genocide, and back at the time the parasite had been too strongly bonded to separate from her.
However, she did wish their had been another way. She knew that Celestia did, as well. She had been thrust out of her own time, abandoning all knowledge of the time's language, customs, and many of her friends. Many, but not all. There were those who lived extraordinarily long lives, and Celestia had told her of one's location.
Luna was in a long-forgotten set of ruins, which from what she could remember once formed some sort of maze. It was no issue now, though, as the walls had crumbled and given her a clear route to the center of the maze even on the ground.
She smiled when she saw the creature she was looking for. it was a creature made entirely of light-hued stone. It had the body of a lion but the head of a shifty cat. It opened it's eyes as it sensed Luna's presence.
"Myst the sphinx. It has been long," Luna said, bowing her head politely. The sphinx stared at her in silence for several seconds, making Luna slightly uncomfortable with the lack of response.
"My name is Myst, this is true. But answer me this: who are you?" Myst finally responded.
Luna sighed. She had been prepared for this, but it still hurt to know that one of her old friends did not recognize her new adult form. She had also remember the sphinx's love of rhymes and riddles, so she responded with one she had prepared for the moment.
"We once ruled the night, but a terrible plight forced us to take flight,
To the domain that was ours, in an ancient time.
Our sister regretted, the ponies forgot; all while we formed a dastardly plot.
Our return was wrathful, and our sister imprisoned.
Nopony could fight it, not even the sun, and in vain we believed the battle was won.
But the power of harmony turned on us twice. Great magic freed us from our wicked vice."
There was silence for several long moments. Myst then rose to her stony feet, and walked over to within an inch of Luna's face. Luna's nervous smile was soon met with one of recognition and affection from Myst.
"Indeed, it was long since I heard you were gone. Nightmare Moon is defeated, and Luna returned," she said.
"May we speak not in rhyme? It shall save time," Luna said, a hint of impatience in her voice. Myst laughed softly, odd considering her appearance.
"But of course, old friend. I missed you greatly," Myst replied, backing up a bit.
"And you, as well. How have things fared for thou in the time that I was gone?" Luna asked.
"Things have proceeded nearly as always. Though the Sanctuary has crumbled around me, none can pass my riddle yet to access the treasure beyond," Myst answered. "Oh, what fun we had devising the riddle, so many years ago. Mere moments in our eyes though."
"Yes... moments we wish not to relive," Luna said with a shudder.
"Ah, yes, I apologize," Myst said, frowning. "Has your readjustment gone smoothly?"
"Less so that we would hope, but perhaps better than expected," Luna answered with a smile. "Why, let us tell you the story of Nightmare Night..."
The two friends talked together for hours, exchanging tales of what had transpired in their time apart. They avoided speaking about Nightmare Moon, as it was quite the painful subject for both of them. Finally, Luna saw the sun setting in the horizon, and stood up with her horn glowing brightly. On the other end of the sky, the moon began it's slow ascent.
"I must return to Canterlot, I fear," Luna said. "It has been good to speak with you again, Myst. May I... May I just hear our old riddle?" Myst smiled.
"What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night?" Myst asked.
Luna chuckled, and bowed her head before flying off. Nopony would ever discover the answer.
In a small house in Ponyville, Lyra's ears perked up.
Twilight Sparkle and her friends were gathered in Pinkie Pie's room above Sugarcube Corner, taking turns telling stories while they munched on some cake. Pinkie had spontaneously decided to throw a "story party", and none of them wanted to turn it down.
Rainbow Dash turned to Pinkie, and grinned.
"So, Pinkie, I bet you've got a great story to tell," Rainbow said.
"Oh, you bet I do," Pinkie answered, nodding. "But mine's not fake. Mine is real." Her friends exchanged skeptical glances. "I'm going to tell you about the real, super-secret life... of Agent G."
"Um, who's that?" Twilight asked.
"Oh, if I told you that, his cover would be blown!" Pinkie answered, grinning with her secret. "It all started many years ago, on the rock farm..."
A young Pinkamena Diane Pie leaped around the homestead of the Pie family. Ever since she'd thrown her first party, the entire rock farm had become a more joyful place, and it showed on the faces of both her and her family. Her younger sister, Blinkamena, ran up and started bouncing around the house alongside here.
"What's got you so excited, Pinkemena?" she asked.
"Oh, you know I like to be called Pinkie, now! Pinkie Pie! Doesn't it sound super?" Pinkie replied. "And you're Blinkie! And our sister is Inkie! We all match!" Blinkie tilted her head, bt smiled at the nickname.
"I like it!" she exclaimed. "So, have you got any parties planned today? Or is there some different reason you're excited?"
"I'm excited because Gummy's gone again! He must be off fighting some super-evil bad guy like always," Pinkie asked, stopping her bouncing at last.
"That's what he does when he goes missing? I thought he was just going to rest on the rocks. You know, alligator and all," Blinkie said.
"Oh, don't be silly. Have you ever seen him on the rocks?" Pinkie challenged.
"Well, yes," Blinkie answered.
"Does he move?"
"Don't be fooled! It's a fake Gummy, placed there by Agent G to make us think he's not really gone!" Pinkie said urgently.
"Oh... that makes sense," Blinkie decided. "Who do you think he's fighting?"
"He's fighting... Nightmare Moon!" Pinkie exclaimed, rearing up onto her hind legs and baring her teeth. Blinkie leaped back in fright, shaking a bit.
"Oh, no! Can he beat her?" Blinkie asked.
"Of course he can!" Pinkie answered, putting her front hooves back onto the floor. "He can use the Elements of-"
"Pinkie, this is ridiculous," Twilight interrupted flatly. Pinkie shook herself out of her reverie, and tilted her head.
"How is it ridiculous?" she asked.
"One, your pet alligator is not a secret agent or whatever. Second, alligators are cold-blooded reptiles, so they have to lie in the sun to keep warm - preferably on warm rocks. Second, though Nightmare Moon may have been immortalized in the holiday of Nightmare Night, you knew nothing about the Elements of Harmony until we used them. Fourth, Gummy never used the Elements of Harmony, even if he could somehow go to the moon and fight Nightmare Moon!" Twilight answered, irritated by the sheer number of falsehoods in the story.
"That's what we want you to think," Pinkie answered, grinning.
"I- I..." Twilight sighed, putting her face in her hooves. "Let's move on. Fluttershy, it's your turn."
Fluttershy looked up, and began her own story, the friends leaving behind Pinkie's absurd story. Meanwhile, a toothless green alligator slipped away from the party, and pressed a hidden button in the wall of the bedroom. He stepped into the lift that appeared, right after placing a decoy "sleeping Gummy" on the table and slipping on a set of sunglasses.
A mint green Earth-pony mare with a long, slightly scraggly mane stepped into Sugarcube Corner, having been attracted by a sign posted at the door. A much younger Mr. Cake and Mrs. Cake greeted her on the other side of the counter.
"Welcome to Sugarcube Corner! How may we help you?" Mrs. Cake asked.
"I was here to inquire about that 'Help Wanted' sign, " the mare replied, walking over. "My name is Onna. This is a bakery, right?"
"Well, yes. Sugarcube Corner," Mr. Cake answered. "Do you have a resume, by any chance?"
Onna pulled out a sheet of paper, and put it on the counter. The Cakes stared at it inquisitively.
"You've worked in bakeries before? Unpaid?" Mrs. Cake asked.
"Well, not quite. I ask to be paid in food, rather than money. I'm not looking for a life of luxury," Onna answered.
"Oh, I see. Well, if that's what you wish, we can do the same. We can put you on a trial period to see if you're suitable for the job," Mrs. Cake said, smiling. "Let's just show you around the bakery, and you'll be working in no time."
Two full weeks had passed without incident. Onna was a hard worker, and her payment was easy to provide. She even rejected the few bonuses they offered her. They would have hired her permanently by now, if it weren't for one small issue: she easily ate three times the normal amount of food for somepony her size, and she never ate with them. The Cakes had noticed this, but they were too polite to point it out. However, one day, just after she left with a large plate of food to eat in the upstairs bedroom, Mrs. Cake confronted Mr. Cake about it.
"She can't possibly be eating all of this food alone," Mrs. Cake declared. "She must have a pet or something that she's not telling us about.
"Well, why shouldn't she? We have nothing against pets here," Mr. Cake replied, confused.
"I don't know. I think I'm going to talk to her about it," Mrs. Cake said. "Be back in a few minutes, dear."
She marched off, walking up the stairs to the bedroom. She could hear Onna eating behind the door, which she apparently kept unlocked at all times. Mrs. Cake creaked open the door, and she gasped.
Onna was eating her food normally, except for the rather major aspect of her mane moving on it's own and feeding a second mouth that grew out the back of Onna's head. Onna looked up in alarm at having been discovered, and her mane settled down to normal reactively.
"I... I can... explain..." Onna stammered quietly.
"What... was that?" Mrs. Cake asked.
"My second mouth. I'm not a normal pony... though I suppose that is obvious," Onna said. She hung her head, and stood up. She walked though the doorway, and Mrs. Cake could only stare at the back of her head. "I suppose I must leave, now."
"... I honestly don't know what to say," Mrs. Cake answered. "We'll need to talk with Carrot about this."
"Of course. Then I shall depart," Onna said. "I do not wish to alarm you or your customers with my nature."
The two mares walked back downstairs, and sat at a table with Mr. Cake. Onna explained that her name was merely a shortened form of her species' name: futakuchi-onna, roughly translating to Equestrian as "two-mouthed mare". They agreed that for the sake of the customers, it may indeed be best that they didn't hire Onna, though they apologized profusely and tripped over their own words to explain that it was in not meant as a discrimination. Onna, for her part, took the whole thing quite well, saying that the last pony she's been hired by had all but tossed her out the building when she'd been discovered.
After Onna had left, it took only a few hours for another Helped Wanted sign to appear, requesting aid from a pony at least as hard-working as Onna had been. That very day, a pink mare had just arrived in Ponyville after moving away from her family's rock farm, and just happened to be looking for a job and home...
The Ponyville chapel was a quaint little building in the northwest part of town. It was dominated by the graveyard behind it, but if one went in, they could find an entirely different world than the outside would suggest. It was well-kept by the only priest there, a unicorn named Scripture. In front of 4 rows of pews was the altar, dedicated to Princess Celestia and, more recently, Luna as well. Behind the altar was a stained glass window, that depicted a rising sun. On either side of the altar were doors to smaller rooms. The one on the left was the location of the foals' equivalent to a Sunday School on Earth. On the right was Scripture's small bedroom.
Although open to the public at any time, Scripture only held services on weekend mornings. It was old tradition to hold them when the sun rose, but nopony ever really wanted to wake up at that time, so he instead held them in the mid-morning. Usually, he drew a crowd of only a half-dozen ponies, between both the general lack of piety in Ponyville, and some ponies who doubted the Princesses' divinity in the first place.
This particular Sunday, though, surprised him. While he set up for service, nearly 30 ponies walked into the chapel, neatly filling every single row. Even all six holders of the Elements of Harmony arrived, despite Twilight Sparkle herself being a doubter. It was a quite pleasant surprise to the priest. He stepped up to the altar, and began to speak.
"I can tell that there must be a special occasion. Don't tell me that I missed Princess Celestia's birthday," he joked.
"Not quite," spoke a purple pegasus in the second row. Scripture recognized her as Flitter, who generally turned up at least once a month. "It's the day of the Summer Sun Celebration."
"And a full 365 days since Luna was brought back," Twilight added. "I'm surprised you haven't added evening services yet."
"Oh, my. A whole year, already flown by," Scripture said. He was a bit disappointed with his own forgetfulness. "Well, I would love to add evening services, but with rare exceptions like today, I'm not entirely sure how many ponies would turn up. Apologies to you and Princess Luna."
"Look, can we just get on with the service? It's just an hour, right?" Rainbow Dash asked. Applejack punched her arm, which shut her up.
"Right, on with the service. I have nothing particularly special planned for today, so a good few of you may be disappointed," Scripture said. His horn glowed, and a scroll opened in front of him. "We shall talk today about prayer. It's considered a tricky subject in the church, as the Princesses won't say whether or not they can actually hear them..."
He spoke his sermon for another 40 minutes, and spent the rest of his time answering questions, which were something he wasn't used to getting many of. He didn't know if he managed to convince anypony about the legitimacy of prayer, but he had at least managed to keep them interested... except Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, who both seemed bored out of their minds by sitting still for so long.
Finally, the service ended, and anypony who did not stay around to attempt their own prayers left. Scripture cleaned the altar of his notes before walking around and joining them, until only one pony remained: Twilight Sparkle herself, who hadn't really seemed to have been praying as much as pondering.
"Miss Sparkle, I'm glad you attended the service. What do you think, as Princess Celestia's student?" Scripture asked.
"Honestly? I still don't think she's a goddess. Exceptionally powerful, sure, but I think a goddess would have better ways to spend her time than ruling a single country," Twilight answered.
"Well, perhaps I should prepare a sermon around that. I'll need to read up on a few sources first, but I can do it next Sunday, if you're willing to come hear me out," Scripture offered.
"Books against books, you say? I'll take that challenge," Twilight responded, grinning.
"That is often how these debates turn out. I shall see you next week, Miss Sparkle," Scripture said.
She stood up, and left the chapel. Scripture simply smiled. Perhaps someday, she'd have some faith in her own teacher. But, for now, he had some books to read, and a new sermon to prepare.
Another year, another Nightmare Night. The Cutie mark Crusaders were dressed up as a pirate crew: Scootaloo had the captain's hat, Sweetie Belle had the first mate's cap, and Sweetie Belle had a mop to show her status as "swabbie (she'd gotten the shortest straw in the drawing). They were following Zecora wihth the other foals to the statue of Nightmare Moon, when Scootaloo suddenly wedged between the other two.
"Hey, wanna explore after dumping off our cady? We've already been to every house. We can play the games when we get back," Scootaloo suggested.
"Sure, where are we going to explore?" Applebloom asked. Scootaloo simply pointed to the forest.
"The Everfree Forest? Scootaloo, are you crazy? Remember what happened last time we went in there?" Sweetie asked, shocked. "The cockatrice, remember?"
"Oh, please, Fluttershy scared that thing off good," Scootaloo said.
"I don't know, Scootaloo..." Applebloom said, frowning.
"And I heard there was a massive stash of candy that Pinkie Pie hid in there, for fillies brave enough to find it," Scootaloo lied.
"The Everfree Forest it is!" the other two declared unanimously. "Cutie Mark Crusaders Candy-finders, yay!"
In what was almost certainly a record, it took exactly 3 minutes for the fillies to find themselves lost in the dark forest. Applebloom was in the middle of berating Scootaloo, though, when Sweetie Belle found something. It was a message, scratched int the bark of a tree.
"Bun... avav?" Scootaloo read aloud. Her companions were as confused as she was.
"Oh! Oh! Maybe it's a really fancy language! You know, like Zecora's!" Sweetie guessed.
"Cool! Maybe she can translate it!" Scootaloo said, grinning.
"Except that we're lost, Scoot," Applebloom reminded.
"Oh, right," Scootaloo said, ears drooping. "Well, if we keep going forward, maybe we'll find a clue."
The others agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and the trio set off once more. They were careful not to deviate from the straight path, until they found a dozen scratched arrows all pointing to another message scratched into a tree.
"It... is... coming?" Scootaloo read.
"What is?" Sweetie asked, obviously unnerved. Such a foreboding message, in the Everfree of all places, did not do anything to ease her fears.
"How should I know?" Scootaloo asked. "Come on, let's just press forward. Obviously, somepony came this way before. We can't be too far from the edge of the forest."
With another reluctant agreement, the Crusaders delved deeper into the forest... or perhaps out of it? At this point, none of them knew. Finally, they reached a third message, this one scribbled into a rock with another, chalky stone beside it. This one was much more easily legible.
"Don't turn around," Applebloom read.
Six eyes went wide with fear at once. It was at this moment that they all heard a deep, throaty growl from behind them.
"Ok, girls... don't..." Applebloom gulped. "D-don't... turn around... just... walk... forward..."
"B-but... what is it? What's behind us, Applebloom?" Sweetie asked, as tears began to well up in her eyes.
"I don't know... but we're probably... better off... not finding out..." Applebloom said slowly. "Just take... a step... forward... no sudden moves..."
The Crusaders managed this tactic for less than ten seconds before Scootaloo freaked out and took off running. A green mist suddenly surrounded their area, and growls, cackles, and howls echoed from beyond it.
"Nightmare Night! What a fright! Here's some tasty fillies to bite!" came a loud, menacing voice.
A deep, large shadow appeared over them, cast by the moonlight from high above. It got closer, and closer, revealing it's horrible fangs as the group huddled together for safety from the creatures around them. Out of the shadows stepped... a zebra shaman, who laughed at them before dispelling her mist.
"Z-Zecora? Are you here to save us?" Applebloom stammered.
"From what threat? Right now, all the monsters are in bed," Zecora said. "Come, fillies, back to town. Your disappearance made the others frown."
The trio sighed with relief, and laughed with Zecora at her well-planned scheme. When they returned to town, they were, of course, grounded for three days for disappearing into the forest, but they didn't even care. They were just glad they were finally out of the frightful forest.
Pinkie Pie was getting old. She knew this. Every party became slightly less pronounced. Every dance step less exuberant. Every smile less cheerful. She, the Element of Laughter itself, found it harder to find the breath to laugh.
She sat in her bedroom, which Pound Cake, the current owner of Sugarcube Corner, had simply given to her after his parents retired. She didn't even work at the Corner anymore, but it was a place of joy to her... and a home. Her mane was less poofy than it used to be, but she barely minded. The room was dark and alone, after she had outlived even her pet alligator.
"Come on, Pinkie. You know you're dying. You still have time to throw one last party, though!" a voice in her mind told her. It was the voice of her old, hyperactive self.
"No... just let me die in peace..." another voice protested. It was sullen and downcast, the voice of her fillyhood. "I only have a week left, if that. I've spent my whole life partying. Shouldn't my last days be quiet?"
"Oh, who's a big ol' grumpypants?" the other voice asked. Pinkie saw in her mind a pouting version of herself. "Come on, that's exactly it! You've spent your whole life partying! So when it's time to die, make it a good one!"
"But... but why?" the second voice asked. "My friends are as old as I am. Those that aren't older, anyway. I can't throw parties like I used to. These bones are old and tired, and so are theirs. What, do you expect me to call Vinyl out of retirement?"
"Hey, why not? I'm sure she'd be thrilled to drop a bass again! Though come to think of it, I never actually saw her dropping anything..." the first voice replied excitedly. "Anyway, just act like it's a normal party! Dance the night away! If you're going to die-"
"Die with a smile on your face," the second voice ended.
Pinkie's ears perked up. Granny Pie told her that, just a month before her own passing. Granny Pie had fulfilled her own advice, and Pinkie decided that she would, too. She climbed to her hooves with a smile, and walked downstairs. Pound Cake was giving cupcakes to the former Cutie Mark Crusaders, still friends after all these years.
"Howdy, Pinkie!" Applebloom said. "How are you doing?"
"I'm doing fine. In fact, I like that you three are here. Could you deliver some invitations for me?" Pinkie asked, a twinkle in her eye.
Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake helped Pinkie to set up decorations all around Ponyville. Pinkie had decided that her own Deathday party would be one for the record books. Everypony in Equestria was invited to celebrate. Pound even worked overtime to help Pinkie prepare enough sweets for the inevitable deluge of party guests. He didn't know what had caused the sudden spark of life in the old mare, but he was happy to see her as he remembered her from so many years ago.
The turn-out did not disappoint. Besides everypony in Ponyville, there were famous guests like Vinyl Scratch (who was mostly there to advise the younger generation of DJ's), all 3 Princesses, the families of every holder of the Elements, and more. Even Pinkie didn't know half the guests.
Pinkie was congratulated multiple times throughout the day and late into the night on an excellent party, perhaps even her finest. Finally, at 1 in the morning, when her body could finally take no more party, she stepped onto a stage where bands and DJ's had been playing the whole time.
"Everypony, I would like to thank you for attending this party," she said into a microphone. "I can't tell you how much it means to me. I'm sure many of you are wondering why I threw such an extravaganza." She was met with silent nods. She swallowed the last remnants of her fear as she choked out her next sentence. "The reason is because... this is the night... that I'm going to die." A sharp gasp could be heard from the crowd, and her five oldest friends and two sister stepped closer to the stage. "I know this may come as a shock to all of you. I've been planning this party for a week, to make it the biggest, best party the world has ever known. I want to die like I lived: seeing everypony smiling and partying like the world doesn't matter. I don't ask for gifts, or sympathy. I lived well. All I ask for now is that you all remember me, and live the same way I did: happy, carefree, and friendly. I will retire from this party, now, to go to sleep forever. However, if I can have a few minutes with some of my closest friends, I would enjoy that."
She stepped off stage, and was immediately surrounded by her five friends and her sisters. She took them, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna with her to her bedroom, where they discussed her life for nearly an hour, and what may come afterwards. Finally, though, her eyelids fell shut, and she smiled.
"Good night, everypony," she said with a yawn. "I'll see you... in the morning..."
And those were her final words. She died with a smile on her face, just like she wanted.
Twilight Sparkle walked into the Canterlot Library, and was greeted by both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Two guards shut the door behind her, leaving them in an otherwise-empty library. It would have been creepy, if she hadn't been surrounded by hundreds of years of knowledge.
"Princess Celestia? Is something wrong?" she asked. "You don't usually call me to Canterlot."
"No, Twilight, nothing is wrong this time. Luna and I have been talking about giving you a gift," Celestia answered.
Luna's horn glowed, and a thick black tome appeared out of thin air. The cover was decorated with stars and squiggly lines. Twilight felt pulled to look into it, though she waited for an explanation.
"You recall when I gave you your part in the Hearth's Warming Eve play, of course," Celestia said.
"Clover the Clever, apprentice to Starswirl the Bearded and loyal follower of Princess Platinum," Twilight recited. "Also the inventor of many spells, including the creator of the modern teleport lock."
"Yes, that is correct. This is no quiz, though," Celestia said.
"This is Clover's personal spell book, which he created near the end of his life," Luna said. "It is filled with 338 spells, the sum knowledge of the unicorns of his day. You will recognize most of the spells, for certain."
"Wait, I thought Clover lived around 2,000 years ago. How is the book in such amazing condition?" Twilight asked.
"Come now, Twilight. It's just a simple spell to repel decay," Celestia said.
"The book is yours, for as long as you'll protect it, and any... undesirable spells within," Luna said.
"What do you mean, 'undesirable'?" Twilight asked.
"The days of Clover were troubled times. You know of the blizzard that they faced, and the feuding of nations. However, later on, there was the added issue of... Discord," Luna said, her voice turning bitter at the name.
"The unicorns developed spells for war, many of which caused unimaginable pain. Open the book, Twilight. Find page 164, and read the second spell on the page," Celestia said.
Twilight opened the book, and flipped through it slowly. She was amazed at some of the spells. They included the names of the spell's creators beside the effect and name of the spell. She eventually found page 164, and looked at the spell with wide eyes.
"'Boneshatter jinx, created by Quake. This curse causes every bone in the victim's body to shatter painfully, one at a time.' Oh, I think I'm going to be sick..." Twilight said, swallowing hard.
"As you can no doubt see, there are spells in this book that are better left unknown by the public, or even by the military. We hold ourselves to higher standards than the unicorns of the day did. Undue suffering is not the way to fight wars," Celestia said. "So long as you avoid giving the spells within this book to others, nor testing the violent ones, you may keep the spellbook for as long as you like."
Twilight's eyes lit up, and she suddenly leaped up to hug her mentor around the neck. She held on for just a moment before going to hug Luna, who kept a stoic expression on her face. Finally, Twilight let go, and picked up the book with her magic.
"Now go, Twilight. Learn the magic of the ancient unicorns. Every ounce of Clover's knowledge is at your disposal," Celestia said, smiling.
"Thank you, Princess Celestia! And you, too, Princess Luna! I can't wait to learn these spells at home!" Twilight exclaimed.
She galloped out the door with the book in tow, eager to return home and read through the book... twice. Celestia simply tilted her head for a moment, before flashing out of the library. Luna soon followed.
A young Rainbow Dash walked into a large house, and was greeted by two adults dressed up for some event or another. It didn't matter what they were doing to Rainbow, so long as she got paid for her job.
"Now, remember, Scootaloo can be a bit of a hooffull. If you need us, we'll just be at the pavilion three blocks from here," the older mare said.
"Yeah, I've got it. Trust me, I know all about fillies," Rainbow assured. "She'll be great when you come back."
"Well, alright. We'll see you at 11:00, Rainbow Dash. Remember to put her to bed at no later than 10:30," the stallion added. "Now, dear, let's head out."
Rainbow smiled as they walked past, closing the door behind them. She locked the door, before going out to find the orange filly she'd been hired to sit for. It didn't take long to find Scootaloo in her bedroom, idly pushing around multi-colored blocks on the floor.
"Hey there, kiddo," Rainbow greeted, stepping into the room. "I'm here to foalsit y-"
"Stop right there. I'm not a foal," Scootaloo interrupted. "I don't even need a sitter."
"Well, ok, then. I'm here to..." Rainbow struggled to find a cooler word for her job. "Protect you."
"Yeah, whatever," Scootaloo replied, rolling her eyes. She rolled over onto her back with a groan.
"Um, so... anything you want to do? Tag? Hide and seek? Racing?" Rainbow suggested.
"Ok. How about, um... building... with those blocks?" Rainbow wasn't actually interested by the prospect, but nonetheless wanted to do something to pass the time.
"If I wanted to do that, I'd be doing it now. They're boring," Scootaloo answered.
"Only have Monopoly, and that's a grown-up game."
Rainbow sighed. This was getting them nowhere. She looked at Scootaloo's wings, and noticed that they were much smaller than the average filly of her size. This gave her the next idea.
"How about flying?" Rainbow asked. Scootaloo's ears perked up, and she sat up to look Rainbow in the eyes.
"I can't fly," she answered.
"You're joking!" Rainbow said, acting surprised. She'd actually expected it, with Scootaloo's wingspan.
"No, I'm not. My parents say I have some sort of growth issue. Well, not to me, I mean, but I hear them talking about it," Scootaloo said. Her ears drooped as she talked, and Rainbow couldn't help feeling a little sorry about bringing it up. "I don't think I'm ever going to fly."
"Hey, kid, don't talk like that!" Rainbow said quickly. "I'm sure you'll be a great flyer when you grow up a bit!"
"Says the foalsitter..." Scootaloo grumbled.
"Hey, just because I took this job doesn't mean I'm some namby-pamby nanny," Rainbow said. "I can do a Sonic Rainboom, and if that doesn't say something, nothing will."
"You can do a Sonic Rainboom?" Scootaloo exclaimed. She bounced to her hooves and ran to Rainbow's side. Her eyes were suddenly filled with admiration. "Can you show me?"
"Ah... er..." Rainbow hadn't been able to perform a Rainboom since she earned her Cutie Mark. "No, I'm gonna save that for something super awesome. But tomorrow, I'll be happy to show you tons of awesome stunts. Tonight, though, how about I just tell you everything about flying? Do you like the Wonderbolts?"
"Do I!" Scootaloo answered, grinning from ear to ear.
The two spent the next several hours talking about the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash's experiences (though she decided to save the story of the Rainboom for another day), and more. By the time Scootaloo's parents returned, Scootaloo was in bed, and Rainbow had dozed off on the floor beside her. They decided to let her stay for the night, and tucked a bag of bits into her hooves.
This is my 10th 30 Minute Ponies prompt, and I would like to thank all who have been reading through them. This one will not be understood unless you have first read The Last Party.
Rainbow Dash. That name was legendary. Best Young Flier, former Captain of the Wonderbolts, Element of Loyalty... If only she was still young. She walked through the trophy room of her cloud house, gazing at over a hundred awards she'd acquired over her lifetime. A copy of her Element was even on display in it's own personal case. She walked up to it, pressing a hoof to the cold glass.
"Well played, Loyalty," she said quietly. "Pinkie Pie, then Scootaloo. You're making me age slower, aren't you? That's why I got to see them die. Well, I'll have the last laugh. I'll leave a legacy like nopony else. Sonic Rainboom? That's foal's play. I will..."
"You're going to do what?" Twilight exclaimed, though her shocked tone was cut off by a loud cough. A much older Spike (though still not nearly the size of a full-grown dragon) stood beside her, and offered her a cough drop.
"I'm going to show light that it can't beat me in a race," Rainbow replied confidently, puffing out her chest in pride.
"But... but... Rainbow, the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters a second," Twilight said. "You would be ripped apart, even if it was possible to achieve a speed like that. And, come on, you haven't even done a Rainboom in over two decades. You're not as fit as you once were."
"You have that spell you developed, don't you? You said it will give somepony a youthful vigor for about three minutes. That's all the time I need," Rainbow replied.
"Rainbow, you'll die!" Twilight protested, as tears began to stream down her face. "I won't cast that spell just to see you fly off and kill yourself! Pinkie's death was hard enough to deal with! I don't want to lose another friend!"
"Then I promise not to die. You can trust old Loyalty, can't you?" Rainbow asked, smiling and wiping Twilight's cheek.
"I-I- Fine. I'll... I'll cast the charm. Meet me tomorrow morning on the east bridge," Twilight said, as she struggled to calm her emotions.
"You're the best, Twi," Rainbow replied, smiling. She walked out the door to prepare herself for what would surely be her greatest feat yet.
Twilight cast a series of spells on Rainbow Dash, as their friends, her old Wonderbolts team, and several fans crowded around on the east bridge of Ponyville. All but Rainbow Dash herself bore worried expressions.
"Alright, I've cast a heat protection charm, a friction protection charm, a wind resistance charm, a keen senses charm, a youthful vigor charm, a-" Twilight said, as she stood up after finishing casting.
"Yeah, yeah. And how will I know when I've broken light speed?" Rainbow asked, as impatient as ever.
"Well, for one, you won't be able to see a thing. The world will go pitch black, but that's what the keen senses charm and the lightning reflexes charms are for. If it works, you shouldn't hit a thing, even if you can't see it with your own eyes," Twilight said. "Now, as for the rest of the world, you can tell them yourself if you- when you land. However, I've also extended a charm that will let loose a gleaming white trail through the sky when you pass the speed of light. That will be the first signal of your accomplishment to everypony.
"Great. Then I'm ready to go. I'll see you guys in a minute!" Rainbow declared.
Feeling new breath in her lungs and her heart pumping quickly, the rainbow-maned pegasus took to the sky and zoomed off. She realized very quickly how long it had been since she'd flown this fast. It felt good. She let out a joyous "whoop!" and raised her hoof in front of her. A cone of sound formed around her for but a second, before a loud boom was heard throughout Equestria, and a beautiful Rainboom graced the skies.
This was not enough for Rainbow Dash. She continued to push herself even after she broke the sound barrier. She had to squint her eyes against the wind, even through the tight goggles she wore and the wind resistance charm. She only had to go about twice as fast as she was now... or maybe three times? She didn't care.
Then, without warning, the world went dark. She was certain she'd been struck blind. She flew in complete darkness for about four seconds, before she felt a single sharp pain on her head, and nothing more.
The funeral drew thousands from all over Equestria. The four living Elements of Harmony stood with Spitfire by the closed casket, all barely holding back tears.
"I shouldn't have done it. I shouldn't have agreed," Twilight said, her voice barely a whisper.
"But it worked. It worked, sugarcube. She made a record nopony will beat, and ah'll bet she died grinning," Applejack said.
"Yes... yes, she did," Twilight agreed.
Yes another fanfic from the series. Read "The Last Party" and "The Speed of Light" first.
Fluttershy rarely came out of her house these days. She had been to the funerals of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, two of her closest friends. She had conducted a funeral for Angel Bunny, her most beloved animal friend. She had heard of the death Scootaloo, but she could not bear to attend the funeral. She often simply sat in her house and wept for hours in end.
Today was different, though. She walked outside of her tiny cottage, and looked over her small wildlife refuge. It was in disrepair after Rainbow Dash's death, a time that shocked her to her very core. She'd gone into her house and not left for a week, and she'd never quite recovered from it. She started to work.
Time had not been kind to her body. She was frailer than ever, and her pace was slow. She carefully hammered new nails into a rickety wooden fence. She refilled every feeding box and trough. Before long, the very fact that she was outside and working drew attention from critters and ponies alike. The birds began helping her to hang things high. A few fillies and colts began to assist her on the ground. Stallions and mares assisted her whenever she had trouble.
Within an hour, Twilight Sparkle arrived at the gottage with Applejack, Rarity, and Applebloom alongside her. They were surprised to find so many ponies already helping their old friend, who had still not said a word to anybody besides quiet pleas for help with more difficult tasks. The four found the old yellow pegasus, and gathered around the birdhouse she was cleaning.
"Fluttershy, we came as soon as we heard what you were up to," Twilight said. Her face was wrinkled a bit with age.
"Oh... oh, hello, Twilight. Oh, and Applejack and Rarity. I wasn't expecting you," Fluttershy said, as she pulled her head out to look at them. "What brings you here?"
"Concern," Rarity answered. "You shouldn't be working so hard. I don't mean to be rude, but you're too old to handle such labor."
"She's tellin' the truth, Fluttershy. I barely work the farm anymore. Applebloom here handles the day-to-day farmwork," Applejack added.
"Oh, but I can't just leave this place in such bad condition. I'd never be able to forgive myself," Fluttershy replied, a small smile creeping to her face. "The next animals who live in this place will surely have a good caretaker. I've already spoken to this year's animal crew at Winter Wrap-Up. One of the young mares volunteered to take over."
"No... no, I can't have been right," Twilight said, her breathing suddenly growing heavier. "Fluttershy, you can't be-"
"Dying. I know I don't have much time left. Kindness told me so two nights ago," Fluttershy said.
"Kindness?" Twilight asked.
"Yes. My Element. It spoke to me in a dream," Fluttershy said.
"... How long?" Twilight asked quietly, after several seconds of silence.
"I don't know. It could be a month. A week. Hours," Fluttershy said. "I was going to tell you after I was done working."
"Ya' have. You're done workin' right now," Applebloom said. "Let's get ya' inside to rest."
"Oh... but I wanted to see it when it's done..." Fluttershy said, frowning.
"And ya' will. Now let's go," Applebloom said, leading Fluttershy back into her house.
Two hours later, the five ponies walked outside again. Despite her rest, Fluttershy only looked more weary than before. She couldn't help but see what had been done, though.
She smiled as she looked over the refuge. The several ponies that had unexpectedly shown up were walking around the land, which looked to be in even more pristine condition than the day she had made it. The animals were bouncing, running, flying, and swimming. Angel Bunny's old personal home, with the gravestone beside it, had flowers all around it.
Tears began to flow from her eyes, and she leaned on Twilight's shoulder. Twilight let her stay like this for a minute, but then she noticed that the joyful tears had stopped, and the other three were staring at Fluttershy. She had stopped breathing.
And then there were three.
Daring Do strutted in front of two young, awed adventurers. One was Pipsqueak, a pinto-colored Earth-pony stallion with a compass and grappling hook for a Cutie Mark. The other was Pumpkin Cake, an orange unicorn filly, sporting a bushy mane and a glittering slice of orange custard cake on her flank.
In reality, the Daring Do in front of them was merely a fictional character. Twilight Sparkle had zapped them into the book by their request, as they'd hoped to improve their skills.
"So, you want to learn all about adventuring, do you?" Daring asked them.
"Yes, ma'am," Pipsqueak answered.
"Then let the training begin!"
The three ponies were in the large, dark hallway of a tomb. They could barely see a thing, but they heard stones running against each other at the other end of the hall.
"Ok, first thing's first, you've got to check for traps. Tombs always have them," Daring ordered.
The two trainees immediately set to work, searching the walls, the floor, and even the ceiling. They were guided by Pumpkin's horn, which let out a brilliant orange light. They were slow and methodical... so much so, that when they reached the end fo the hall, they found a sealed doorway blocking their path.
"Ok, check for traps, but be quick about it," Daring corrected.
The next lesson was at a large ravine. Pumpkin was hanging onto a vine over the raging river below, but a golden gobblet was also rolling slowly off a cliff.
"Lesson two, Pipsqueak! Always save the mare!" Daring yelled. "Exept when-"
Before Daring could complete her sentence, Pipssqueak had leaped off the edge of the ravine, swinging a grappling hook around an overhanging limb. The momentum from the jump carried him forward, but before he reached Pumpkin, she'd already teleported out of her perilous situation and grabbed the goblet with her magic grasp. Pipsqueak leaped onto the other side, frowning across at Pumpkin. Daring simply chuckled.
"Unless the mare can take care of herself!" Daring added.
The party was cornered against the edge of a cliff in the jungle, as several large cats advanced on them.
"Um... lesson three, watch out for cats. They always want to kill you, even fi they don't look like it," Daring whispered. She looked behind her, where several thick vines hung over the cliff. "And lesson four: vines are your friends!"
With that, the party leaped for the vines to escape the snapping jaws of the predatory felines.
Pumpkin Cake and Pipsqueak were pulled out of the book, and came face-to-face with Twilight Sparkle. She was obviously drained by the casting of such a powerful spell, but she looked on the two with relief.
"I'm glad you two are alright. You scared me with that cat bit," she said.
"So, how long were we in there?" Pipsqueak asked.
"Oh, about five minutes. Like I said before, though, it probably felt like much longer from your point of view. I was just following along by turning pages, but you were actually living it out," Twilight explained. "Exciting, wasn't it?"
"And awesome," Pumpkin agreed. "Thanks for the help, Twilight. We can probably use those lessons."
"You're welcome. Good luck on your adventures!" Twilight said.
With that, the two young "archeologists" ran out of the library, eager to put what they'd learned to the test.
Coreth was an archeologist, dedicated to finding lost treasures of the Old World. When mankind had vacated Earth in 2112 AD due to proof of very hostile aliens, they'd left much of their culture behind. Now that they had reclaimed the planet in 2215, they were left with a world that was almost 10% nuclear wasteland, with the oceans lowered and entire landscapes reshaped by the war.
Coreth wasdressed in a full excavation suit, complete with radiation-proof sealing and heat-proofed lining. He was digging through the ruins of an old city called "New York". Centuries ago, it had been a bustling metropolis; home to millions of humans. Now, you could barely make out where one crumbled building ended and another began. Steel and glass littered the broken streets.
Coreth's eyes were drawn to a small pink case. He walked over to it slowly, being careful to check for hazards as he stepped across jagged glass on the ground. He bent over and picked it up. It was a movie case, from back when DVD players were widely used - ancient history by that point. He could barely make out the scratched words and picture on the front: "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic".
He recognized at least the first three words. My Little Pony had been a common name for toys and a TV show series in the days of the Old World, and as an archeologist, he was good with history. What surprised him, though, was that when he opened the case, the DVD inside seemed to be completely unscathed by the carnage around it. He placed the case with the DVD inside it in a rucksack, and went back to searching.
He couldn't believe he was doing this. He was sitting in his spacious excavation vehicle 200 feet in the air, with an old DVD-playing television set in front of him. He slipped the DVD into the set, and leaned back.
"My Little Pony, My Little Pony, ah-ah-ah-aaahhh..." came the theme song. Coreth frowned, unimpressed as of yet. "I used to wonder what friendship could be..."
Coreth looked up from the television as his communicator buzzed beside him. He noticed that the call was from his boss Randol Lycerius, the head excavator of the region. The region was large, to say the least, which was why this call was coming from the city of Philadelphia. He pressed a button on the communicator lazily, letting Randol's voice carry into the vehicle.
"Coreth, you are two hours late to return to your vehicle," Randol said. "Are you trapped or injured?"
"Huh? No, sir, I'm in my vehicle now," Coreth answered. He facepalmed. "Oh, my, I forgot to report to you. I apologize, sir. I've been busy... going over... my findings..."
"A Sonic Rainboom!" came Pinkie's voice through the television set.
"Coreth, what is that infernal squeaking noise?" Randol asked.
"The best pony," Coreth answered, grinning even though Randol could not see it.
Six mares were seated around a table in Twilight Sparkle's library. They were, of course, the friends who represented the Elements of Harmony. Twilight was seated behind a cardboard screen. On the table were dozens of different dice, as well as a board with five pony-shaped figures on it, along with what appeared to be a giant green dragon.
"Alright, Rainbow Dash, it's your turn," Twilight said. She raised her eyes above the board cautiously, while Rainbow went over a sheet of paper in front of herself.
"I cast Lightning Bolt, followed by a Quickened Shield," Rainbow announced. Applejack stared at Rainbow as if she'd lost her mind.
"Since when did'ja decide to prepare good spells?" she asked.
"Since she got my help preparing her daily repertoire," Rarity answered. "Honestly, Rainbow hasn't the faintest idea of how to play a Wizard properly."
"Right... well, Rainbow, roll to pass spell resistance, then roll damage. You have a caster level of 12, so that will be 10d6 lightning damage if you succeed," Twilight said.
"Wait, wait, wait. This dragon has spell resistance?" Rainbow asked.
"Well, it is a full adult, so yes," Twilight said. Rainbow groaned, and rolled a die.
"16?" she said.
"Not high enough. You fail to harm the dragon. Pinkie, it's your turn," Twilight said.
"You said that the magic sword you gave me would allow me to dominate any monster for one day, right? No saving throw or spell resistance?" Pinkie asked.
"Well, yes, but the aftereffects of using the Dominion Sword will cause the dominated creature to hunt you tirelessly after that day is through, and it will be immune to it's effects for the rest of it's life," Twilight answered.
"Ah wouldn't do it, Pinkie. the last thing we need is a vengeful dragon," Applejack warned.
"I rolled a total of 33 to hit. No, wait, 34. Morale bonus," Pinkie announced. Twilight frowned.
"The dragon's eyes glaze over as it falls under the brave Lady Pidgeonwing's command," Twilight said. "What are your orders for it? Remember, it won't do anything out of it's nature without getting a free saving throw to end the domination."
"Hey, order it to come with us! We could use a dragon for an ally!" Rainbow said.
"And have it with us when the daye ends? Think this through, Rainbow. Order it to fly as far away from here as it can. It won't bother the farmers anymore, and we'll have time to prepare before it catches up to us once again," Rarity said.
"Maybe we could just hold it captive? Nopony will die that way," Fluttershy suggested quietly.
"Hey, Rarity?" Twilight said, glancing over a piece of paper passed to her by Pinkie.
"Yes?" Rarity asked.
"You and Fluttershy are in the line of fire for the dragon's acid breath. Make saving throws," Twilight ordered.
"Pinkie! How could you order such a thing?" Rarity asked, shocked.
"This is what you deserve! You left Lady Pidgeonwing to die with the bandits!" Pinkie exclaimed. "Only Awesome McCoolSword stood with her, and only she will survive!"
"Yes!" Rainbow exclaimed, pumping her hoof in the air. "Ten points for Loyalty!"
"Now... let the hunt begin," Pinkie said, grinning wickedly.
Part four of a series. Read "The Last Party", "The Speed of Light", and "Kindness Never Dies" first.
A mature Spike and Sweetie Belle stood together beside an ornate bed. On the other side of the bed were Apple Bloom and two elderly figures: Applejack and Twilight Sparkle. Lying on the bed between them was Rarity, fast asleep and her breathing shallow. The three holders of the Elements of Harmony all had their Elements on.
"Can you save her?" Sweetie Belle asked Twilight, her voice pleading. Her eyes held all the signs of recent tears.
"I'll do what I can, but she's very sick," Twilight answered. "Spike, help us. We'll need fresh blankets and pillows, and most importantly, medicine. We'll need it quickly."
"Right away!" Spike said dutifully.
"Wait, Spi-" Twilight was cut off by a coughing fit, and by the time she recovered, her dragon was gone.
Spike ran out of the Boutique as quickly as he could. His short wings were unsuited for flying, so he was stuck running to the marketplace. He took almost no time getting the pillows and blankets, but he froze when he realized he had no idea what medicine to buy.
He walked into the pharmacist's shop slowly, finding a large selection of remedies both mundane and magical lining the chelves. He pored over them, frowning. The zebra who ran the store (actually, half-zebra) watched him closely.
"May I help you?" she asked.
"Yes. I need a cure for Rarity. She's very sick. I need it to work, and it needs to work fast," Spike answered.
"The speed of the cures depends upon the affliction, I'm afraid. What is she ill with?" she asked, walking out from behind the counter.
"I don't know. She's weak, and she was coughing badly earlier today. Her breathing is slow and hard," Spike said.
"That sounds like a bad cold," she pointed out.
"It's not," came a voice at the door. Spike recognized it instantly as Sweetie Belle, even before he turned around. The singer walked up to the shelves, pointing to a deep blue potion. "We'll take that, please."
"Ah, I see... Yes, this should help her. It will work overnight, I promise you," the zebra said, pulling down the bottle.
Sweetie Belle gave her a few bits in exchange for the potion. She then ran out along with Spike, returning to the Boutique as quickly as they could. Sweetie Belle threw open the door to Rarity's bedroom, gasping for breath and setting the bottle down on the nightstand. She then looked up, losing her smile when she found Rarity's face covered by the blanket. Applejack had her hoof on Twilight's back. Twilight had tears running down her face, which were soon joined by Spike's. Applebloom was nowhere to be seen.
Sweetie Belle looked between the two, then slowly pulled the cover off of Rarity's face. She uncorked the potion, and with her magic levitated the bottle over to Rarity's open lips. the liquid trickled into her sister's mouth, and onto her lips, though she did not swallow it.
"Rarity... Rarity, come on, swallow it..." Sweetie Belle begged, as new tears began to stream down her face. "D-don't... don't die... please... y-you're my only family..."
She couldn't help it. She laid her head on the bed, and began to cry harder than anypony else in the room. She felt a light but strong hoof on her back. She didn't need to be told that Applebloom had returned, and was trying to be comforting.
"Sweetie... Please look at me," Applebloom said.
"F-first my parents... then Scootaloo... now m-my sister..." Sweetie said, her words divided by uncontrollable sobs. "When does it stop, Applebloom?"
"Ah don't know. But ya' have to look at me, please," Applebloom replied.
Sweetie Belle slowly picked her head up, and turned to look at her friend. Applebloom had a cloth in her hand, which she slowly touched to Sweetie Belle's face to wipe the tears that kept flowing. Applebloom then wrapped Sweetie Belle in a gentle hug, letting her cry into the bright red mane.
"It'll be ok, Sweetie. Ah promise," Applebloom said reassuringly. "Come on, let's cover her back up and get out of here. Spike, could you... well, you know."
Spike nodded, wiping his own tears away with his claws. He brought the sheets back over Rarity's face, then guided the mares out of the room. He closed the door behind them.
Twilight Sparkle was clothed in a gown as black as night, with her Element on top of her head. The purple crystal had turned a much darker shade, and a small crack had appeared on the edge. Her eyes were a bright green, and seemed to flare like the fires of Tartarus. All around her were almost equine shadows upon the ground, though nopony seemed to be casting them.
In front of her stood Ponyville, with only five mares standing between her and the town. Her friends - former friends - had taken defensive stances. They all had around their necks their respective Elements.
"Twilight, please, don't do this," Applejack said, taking a cautious step towards her foe. "Can't you see that this isn't you? It's that book you've been reading. We tried to tell you to leave it alone. It's corrupted you."
"We don't want to fight you," Fluttershy added.
"Well, well, well, look who's lying. Applejack? Honesty? Really?" Twilight said. Her voice seemed to echo, as if it was not just herself speaking. "Stand aside. Ponyville is mine. You can't destroy the Shades."
"Listen up, Twilight! You're fighting some of the most powerful mares in Equestria here! You can't really expect this attack to succeed!" Rainbow Dash shouted.
"Don't be foalish, Rainbow. You can't work the Elements without me. Alone, you're all useless. Shall I demonstrate?" Twilight said.
Suddenly, the Shades upon the ground surged forward. Rarity tried to set up a small barrier between the five friends and the shadows, but her magic proved far weaker than Twilight's. The Shades raced along the ground, completely enveloping a surprised Fluttershy in darkness. A solid, black cocoon formed around her. When Applejack attempted to kick the cocoon. She merely bounced off and stumbled a bit, only to be imprisoned herself in the same manner. Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash all stared at Twilight in disbelief.
"Twilight! This game is no fun!" Pinkie exclaimed. "Let them go!"
"Dear... please call this off. It's like Applejack said: this is not you. You should never have read King Sombra's spellbook. It's consumed you. Everything you're doing... it's powered by hatred, and vice," Rarity said, as she slowly backed away from a Shade creeping towards her.
"Both of you. Shut up. I earned this. I am the most powerful unicorn in Equestria. I am taking what is rightfully mine. I will forge an empire of my own. None of you will deny me my right," Twilight said, walking towards the town.
"Please, stop this. We're your friends. We're trying to help you," Rarity said.
"Funny how you choose to remember our friendship when you're so close to defeat," Twilight said. "As I remember it, rather recently you attempted to banish me into the Everfree Forest. What's more, you succeeded, up until this point."
"We did what we had to do to protect Ponyville," Rainbow said. "You've forced everypony into a state of terror! If you think taking this town by force is going to help you, you're wrong!"
Rainbow leaped into the air when a Shade lunged at her. Her eyes went wide when the Shade pulled itself up from the ground, wrapping in a cocoon around her and turning solid. Rarity quickly found herself in the same situation, as she was backed into another Shade's embrace. Only Pinkie now stood between Twilight and Ponyville. For once, she was struck speechless. The Shades circled her slowly, as Twilight stepped up to her face.
"What's wrong, Pinkie? Poison Joke got your tongue?" Twilight asked, with smug sympathy.
"But... but... Twilight, why?" Pinkie asked, her eyes showing welling tears.
"I told you why. Now, are you going to stop me? I don't want to imprison you. You would make a fine jester for your new Queen," Twilight said.
"I... I... surrender," Pinkie said, after several long seconds.
As soon as those words came out of Pinkie's mouth, her hair let out a long noise, as if a balloon was being deflated. It wasn't so different, as her hair turned flat. The Shades circlng the duo moved on to search the town for other resistance. Twilight smiled at her saddened jester, and walked into town behind her army, prepared to begin her new empire.
Pinkie bounced down the stairs of Sugarcube Corner, spotting Pound and Pumpkin on the floor. She slid a small cake between them with a smile. She had a party hat atop her head.
"Happy monthiversary," she told the foals.
Cup Cake looked up upon the introduction, and almost instinctively reached beneath the table for a triangle. Pinkie simply smiled and shook her head at the mare, though.
"No song?" Cup Cake asked, obviously a bit confused.
"Nope. I was busy. I couldn't find the time to write one up," Pinkie answered.
"You write them?" Cup Cake asked. "I thought they were made up on the spot."
"Nopey-dopey. Well, I guess I could sing something like 'It's your monthiversary, hippey-hip-hooray!'" Pinkie replied.
"I think we're good, Pinkie," Carrot Cake said, having walked into the room carrying a large cake. "Cup, could you feed the twins? We have got this huge order today."
"Of course, dear. Pinkie, watch the foals."
The Black Goat was one of the more popular taverns in Ponyville. It offered drinks, rooms, and more often than not, at least 5 drunk ponies. The bottom floor held the bar, which served some of the strongest drinks you could find in the area. The second floor held rooms for those who needed either a bed or privacy.
Berry Punch sat alone at the bar. Anypony looking at her could clearly see that she was deeply inebriated. Her head spun around a little as she observed the room over a mug of strong beer. Being well known as the town drunkard, though, none of this was any surprise to those who looked at her. Her saddlebags were beneath her seat.
As she took a sip of her beer, a handsome dark blue pegasus approached her. He didn't seem all that sober himself,and he flashed a leery smile at Berry. She simply smiled back, and beckoned him over beside her. He didn't take any convincing. He took a seat next to her, and ordered a glass of red wine.
"Hey there, handsome," Berry greeted, her tone laced with seduction. "What're you doing here?"
"Meeting a friend," the stallion replied. "Name's Blue Skies. Haven't seen an Earth-pony round here? Stallion."
"Well, lots of stallions come around here. Where better to pick up a pretty mare?" Berry said. She giggled lightly, and took another sip.
"Ah... well, if ya' see an Earth-pony teleporting in, let me know, heh," Blue Skies said, grinning.
"We don't use magic," Berry said. "Leave that to the fancy unicorns."
"Oh, maybe not you, but this guy's awesome!" Blue Skies exclaimed. "He's an Earth-pony that teleports and reads minds. He was gonna talk to me tonight about making a deal."
Berry simply laughed at the prospect. An Earth-pony, teleporting around? Reading ponies' minds? Ridiculous. She took a large swig of her drink, and slammed it on the bar for a refill.
"I'll let you know," she promised, still chuckling. "And if he doesn't come around, maybe I could provide some... company, instead?"
"Oh, absolutely. Or maybe we should pass the time," Blue Skies replied, grinning.
"Alright. You can order us a room. I'll get some drinks ready," Berry said. "Hop to it, fly-boy."
Blue Skies eagerly jumped off the seat after chugging down the last of his drink. He flew over to the bartender a short distance away. No sooner had he left than Berry jumped from her seat, taking her saddlebags with her to the restroom.
She pulled from her saddlebags what appeared to be a miniature flat-screen television, something that wasn't due in Equestria for a good 40 years. On the sides of the device were a few buttons. She pressed one to light up the screen. The face of a blue Earth-pony stallion showed on the screen.
"Captain Jack, I've got a lead on the alien. I'll be interrogating somepony, so let Colgate know I won't be home for about two hours," Berry reported.
"Good work, Berry. I trust the pills are working?" the stallion replied.
"I've downed four beers in the last hour and I don't even feel a buzz. Nice recipe, there," Berry answered. "See you in Cartiff tomorrow morning."
"Good luck. I'll make sure Colgate knows she needs to take care of Ruby. See you tomorrow," Jack said.
Berry shut off the device, placed it back into her saddlebags, and grinned. Time to go hunting.
Spike paced in front of Princess Celestia impatiently, gripping his head to think. The memories were fading so quickly... he couldn't forget her. Princess Celestia watched him, worry obvious on her face.
"I'm telling you, Princess, Twilight Sparkle was your student. Is your student, I mean," Spike said, finally looking up at the Princess. "Without her, I wouldn't be here. Princess Luna wouldn't be-"
"What did you say?" Celestia asked, her ears flying up attentively.
"I said, I wouldn't be here, and Princess Luna wouldn't be back on the throne." Spike repeated.
Celestia was silent at his words. Her head turned slowly to a stained glass window on the wall, depicting the time when Celestia had banished Nightmare Moon so long ago. There didn't seem to be any windows of the Elements' revival, though. No reforming of Nightmare Moon, no petrification of Discord, not even the wedding of Shining Armor and Princess Cadance.
"My sister has been trapped for one thousand years, Spike," Celestia said, sighing sadly. "I had hoped that the story would fade to myth."
"What? No, that's not right!" Spike exclaimed. "She came back as Nightmare Moon, and defeated you, and then Twilight and her friends reformed her with the Elements of Harmony! Princess, just look at me! Without her, I'd still be an egg!"
"Spike, I hatched you," Celestia said, hurt in her voice. "None of those events took place."
"Just ask Shining Armor," Spike challenged. "He's her brother. He'd know these things. Or... or her parents!"
"Captain Shining Armor is an only child," Celestia said, shaking her head.
"Celestia, with all respect, you're wrong," Spike said, as anger and frustration built in his voice. "Something happened, probably a spell gone wrong or something. Twilight Sparkle was a brilliant mare. She was my mother, and my best friend. Even if you don't remember her, somepony will. I'm going to find her, and then you'll have to believe me."
"Spike, nopony can cast a spell of such power as to affect the whole world. A memory spell would be particularly difficult," Celestia said. "It's impossible."
"Then you don't know Twilight. Good-bye, Princess."
With that, Spike turned and walked out of the throne room.