Still kinda wishes he could hang out with Twilight Sparkle.
44w, 22hThe Writer's Group
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79w, 6dTwilight Sparkle
44w, 22hPinkie Pie: Pinkamena Diane Pie
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73w, 4dAdventure Fics of ALL Types
35w, 5d502 Fiction
22w, 6dCompleted Story Compendium
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40w, 3dCanterlot's Finest
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MondayCover Art 1 comments · 44 views
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ThursdayPonies May Be Leaving The Hub 13 comments · 116 views
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Twilight Sparkle nodded, admiring the precise parabolic arc the horseshoe made as it traveled through the air toward the metal stake at the other end of the pit. The shoe found its mark with eerie precision. Catching the pole, the shoe spun around it several times, then landed in the sand with a thud.
While Twilight applauded, Applejack polished a hoof against her chest. “Heh-heh! That’s how it’s done, sugarcube.” She scooped up another shoe and held it out for Twilight. “Your turn.”
Twilight tossed a shoe from hoof to hoof. “Hmmm, this is a little over a pound, I believe. Applejack, how much force would you say you threw your's with?”
Applejack scratched behind her ear. “Uh…”
“We can figure this out mathematically!” Twilight sat and frantically scratched equations into the dirt. Eyes alight, she stopped writing just long enough to beam at Applejack. “Oh, this is going to be so much fun!”
Rolling her eyes, Applejack put a hoof over the rapidly lengthening formula. “Twilight, don’t get yourself all worked up. Just pitch it.”
Twilight bit her lip, then tentatively picked up the shoe again. “Well, okay. Here goes.” She focused on the metal stake some thirty feet away. Swallowing hard, Twilight hurled the shoe into the air, trying her best to replicate Applejack's trajectory.
“Well, uh… that was a... a mighty fine try.” Applejack said in a strained voice which, to Twilight, sounded suspiciously like a mare who was trying not to laugh. The shoe had landed roughly four feet in front of the furiously blushing Twilight, who kicked a pile of loose sand at it.
“It’s your ‘no magic’ rule!” Twilight said with a hoofstomp. “It would be like you trying to throw these horseshoes with your back legs instead of your front! It just feels all wrong!”
Applejack slammed her back hoof down on a nearby horseshoe and sent it spinning into the air. With a fluid grace that Twilight had so often envied, Applejack kicked out with her other leg, hitting the spinning shoe. Sailing over the pit, the shoe landed on top of her first throw. While the metal pole chimed softly, Applejack grinned and cocked her eyebrow. “Like that?”
Twilight glared at the quivering pole. “Okay, maybe that was a bad example, but what I’m trying to say is that I use magic for most things. I’m at a severe disadvantage!” Looking away, Twilight rubbed a hoof against her foreleg.
Applejack studied her friend for a moment before her expression softened, then she threw a leg around Twilight’s shoulders. “Okay, I get it. It’s a big piece of who you are,” she said, drawing Twilight close with a little squeeze, “but you can’t rely on magic for everythin’. Some things just gotta be done the ol’ fashioned way.” Applejack thrust Twilight’s second shoe into her hooves and pointed at the far pit. “So here’s the new rule: you can use your magic to pitch the shoe, but you can’t just, you know, float it over there and whatnot.”
Twilight grinned at her friend, her magic aura shimmering around the shoe as she lifted it into the air. “That’s very fair of you, Applejack.” With a rare display of competitiveness, Twilight quickly trotted to the line. “Now we’ll see who throws the best horseshoes in Equestria!”
“Pitches,” Applejack said.
Twilight hesitated for a moment, her brow furrowing. "Huh?"
“You don't throw horseshoes. You pitch ’em.”
Twilight gave Applejack a wink, then sighted the distant stake through the hovering tines of the horseshoe. “Pitches, then.” With a small grunt, Twilight gathered her will and hurled the shoe.
Both ponies gasped when the horseshoe cleared the pit and disappeared off into the sky. Twilight’s rear legs gave way, and she sat down hard in the soft sand. Shocked, her mouth worked wordlessly as she glanced back and forth between Applejack and the spot on the horizon that had last held the shoe.
Applejack pulled her hat down low, hiding her eyes, then collapsed into a fit of laughter. “Well—hah, hah! I reckon—hah—you sure did show us all—hee-hee—who pitches ’em best ’round these parts!” she said, rolling in the lush grass.
“Applejack! Hey, Applejack!” Apple Bloom’s sweet voice echoed down at them as she burst out of a nearby barn. “Big Mac says to remind you that Mrs. Cake’s comin’ to pick them apples up today!” The two friends could hear Apple Bloom's large bow flapping back and forth while she ran to meet them, but the little filly pulled up short when she saw Twilight’s frown.
“Uh, what’s goin’ on, Sis?” Apple Bloom asked, watching Applejack struggle back to her hooves.
“Oh, I’m just teachin’ Twilight here the ins 'n' outs of horseshoes. She’s, uh… She’s got quite a pitch.” Applejack covered her mouth with a hoof but couldn’t quite contain some of the residual sniggers.
Twilight sighed and hung her head.
“Never you mind, Twilight.” Applejack patted friend’s back. “All you need is some practice. It ain’t like I was born that good at horseshoes. Why, when I was a filly, Big Mac used to win every game we played!”
Apple Bloom cocked her head to the side, squinting up at her sister. “Applejack, Big Mac still wins every game you play!”
“Hey! Who asked you?” Applejack scooped up Apple Bloom and rubbed her hoof playfully into her little sister’s head.
“No! Argh! Lemme go!” Apple Bloom shrieked, laughing and struggling to escape. After a few more rubs, Applejack finally allowed Apple Bloom to wiggle free.
“Thanks for remindin’ me, Sis. Oh, look at you.” Quick as lightning, Applejack nabbed her wiggling sister again and straightened her battered bow. “I plumb forgot about Mrs. Cake.” Twilight and Apple Bloom turned toward the barn, but Applejack jumped in front of them and towered menacingly before her sister. “But first, do you think you can escape the dragon’s tail?”
Apple Bloom’s eyes gleamed. “Can I? That ol’ dragon ain’t caught me once!” Twilight couldn’t suppress a grin as Applejack spun this way and that, whipping her tail around and around. Apple Bloom deftly jumped over each swipe, laughing hysterically. Soon, both were taking turns giggling and panting.
“Come on, y’all,” Applejack said, still sucking in huge breaths. “Let’s get over to the storehouse and meet Mrs. Cake.”
“That’ll be forty bits, ma'am,” Applejack said, counting out the succulent fruit that Mrs. Cake had chosen, “and I’ll throw in this basket of apples, too. They’re a little on the ripe side, so if they don’t get used soon, they’re just gonna go to waste.”
“Oh, thank you so much, Applejam,” Mrs. Cake replied, gazing out the window toward town. Without pulling her eyes from the distant Ponyville skyline, she pulled a small bag from her pack. Applejack’s left eyebrow inched its way up her forehead as Mrs. Cake missed the counter several times before finally managing to drop the bag in front of her. Landing awkwardly, the bag fell over, and the contents spilled across the counter with a soft hiss.
Applejack frowned at the counter, then cleared her throat. “Uh, Mrs. Cake, I’m afraid I can’t take this as payment.”
Mrs. Cake shook her head briskly and stared down at the small pile of festive, multi-colored sprinkles that was slowly spreading from her bag. “Oh, Applejack, I’m so sorry.” Mrs. Cake, tapped herself on the forehead with a hoof. “It’s just that my mind is on the Summer’s End Festival. Carrot and I have still have so much to do." Mrs. Cake bit her lower lip and trembled. "So very much... ”
In a burst of startling speed, Mrs. Cake lunged forward and leaned over the counter, pulling at her mane with both front hooves. “You have to help me! I’m at my wit’s end!”
“Whoa, there. Of course we’ll help you out!” Applejack threw out a restraining hoof in an attempt to keep Mrs. Cake from ripping any more of her mane out.
Twilight magically scooped the sprinkles back into the bag and placed it into Mrs. Cake’s pack. “What’s happened, Mrs. Cake?” Twilight gently rubbed the baker's back in what she hoped was a soothing manner.
Mrs. Cake closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths before continuing. “As you know, Princess Celestia has chosen Ponyville to host the Summer’s End Festival this year. The princess herself asked if Sugarcube Corner could provide the desserts. Carrot and I have put off the preparations for as long as we can.”
Lowered her ears, Mrs. Cake poked at the hard-packed dirt floor of the storehouse with a hoof. “You girls have a lot of adventures, and… well, that gets Pinkie out of the shop for a while.” Mrs. Cake snapped her head back up so suddenly that both Applejack and Twilight jumped. The baker’s eyes filled with tears. “But I guess you’ve had a quiet week!”
Twilight shot Applejack a mystified glance and received a shrug in return. “I-I don’t get it.” She dipped her head down to look into Mrs. Cake’s downcast eyes. “You can’t bake because we aren’t off fighting dragons or parasprites or something?”
Mrs. Cake blinked back the tears and blushed while trying to avoid Twilight's probing gaze. “No. I can’t bake because Pinkie will eat it all!” Still rubbing the baker's back, Twilight stumbled when Mrs. Cake suddenly broke into a trot, pacing back and forth in front of the storehouse counter. “On a normal day, I could make some extras. They’d hold Pinkie over, but I don’t have any additional time with an order this large!” Mrs. Cake’s eyes began to fill again, and her voice caught in her throat. “Every cupcake is important! I can’t even lose one!”
While Mrs. Cake fetched a lace handkerchief from her pack, Applejack cocked an eyebrow and shrugged at Twilight again. Taking the handkerchief from Mrs. Cake’s shaking hoof, Applejack dabbed at the mare’s eyes. "Aw, shucks, Mrs. Cake. Everythin’s gonna be alright. Just tell Pinkie to cool it for a while. It ain’t gonna do her no harm to hold off on stuffin’ her face for today.”
Mrs. Cake hooked Twilight and Applejack around their necks and dragged them in close. “You have no idea what goes on at Sugarcube Corner.” As they darted back and forth between the two friends, Mrs. Cake's eyes were so wide that Twilight could count out the capillaries. “No idea! Pinkie means well, but she doesn’t have any control. I don’t even know if she realizes that she’s eating the food we bake. I’ve had her solemnly swear to me that she won’t touch anything while eating the biggest, most important cake on the table. It’s a battlefield!”
Mrs. Cake released the two ponies and ran to the large double door to stare out toward Ponyville once more. “She’s probably eating right now! Right now, she has her head in the sugar!” Mrs. Cake rounded suddenly on Applejack and Twilight, who were still rubbing their somewhat sore necks. “Do you hear me?! She’s eating all the sugar!” Twilight and Applejack both moved to comfort the baker as she collapsed into sobs.
Twilight leaned in and cupped her hoof around Applejack’s ear. “We have to do something! The festival’s tonight!”
Applejack wrapped her strong legs around Mrs. Cake and hauled her back to her hooves. “Aw, don’t cry. I reckon we can help you out, Mrs. Cake. Gettin’ Pinkie outta your mane for a few hours shouldn’t be too hard,” Applejack loaded one of Mrs. Cake’s boxes of supplies into her nearby wagon. “We’ll get her outta the shop, and y’all can have some peace while you whip up all them yummy treats.”
Mrs. Cake wiped her streaming eyes and attempted to mold her hair back into place. “Oh, I’m so sorry, girls. What you must think of me,” she said, sniffling out the last few tears. “Anyway, I can’t thank you enough. You have no idea how much this means to us!”
The bell over the door in Sugarcube Corner tinkled merrily when the three ponies entered. All around them, succulent pies and delicious cakes beckoned from the neat display cases. Twilight and Applejack stopped to take it all in, just as they had done countless times in the past. They grinned at each other when both of their stomachs growled.
Mr. Cake stood, fidgeting, beside the batwing doors that led into the meticulously maintained kitchen. “It’s awfully quiet in there,” he said while gnawing at his hoof, “and with Pinkie, well, that’s usually a bad sign.”
Trotting up, Mrs. Cake up to give him a quick peck. “What’s she doing, sugar-bun?”
Mr. Cake sighed and stared down at the floor. “I’m afraid to even look.”
Applejack bumped Twilight with her hip, then nodded toward the kitchen. “We better get a move on. No sense drawin’ it out when these two got so much work to do. The sooner we get Pinkie outta here, the sooner Ponyville can eat!”
The Cakes looked up in unison when Twilight cleared her throat. “Don’t worry about a thing. We’re on the case!” Motioning for Applejack to follow, Twilight made her way through the doors into the spotless kitchen. She’d always admired this room. It appealed to her sense of organization. Everything here was in its proper place.
Everything except for Pinkie Pie, who sat, still as a statue, with her eyes locked on the bakery’s back door. Applejack waved her hoof in front of Pinkie’s eyes while Twilight examined the door, trying to puzzle out what had her friend so captivated. After several minutes of pointed throat-clearing, Twilight finally threw her hooves into the air. “Pinkie, what in the wide, wide world of Equestria are you doing?”
Pinkie blinked several times before finally focusing in on her friends. “Oh, hey guys! When did you get here?” Pinkie beamed at them before turning back to the door. Leaning into the task, she locked her eyes onto the door again. “Wanna help me keep watch?”
Applejack plopped down next to Pinkie. Scratching her head, she alternated between staring at her friend and scrutinizing the door, convinced that there was something she was missing. “Okay, I give up. Why are you starin’ at this here door, exactly?”
A slow grin stretched across Pinkie’s face. “When I woke up this morning, I had a thought! Well, it was more of a dream! So I—”
“Wait a minute.” Twilight’s forehead wrinkled as she tried to follow Pinkie’s twisting logic. “You had a dream after you woke up?”
Pinkie’s grin somehow expanded, and she gave the door an extra-hard stare. “Well, yeah! I was so excited to be awake for another new day that I bounded out of bed, and when I bounded, I hit my head on the ceiling. Then I took another quick nap. That’s when I had my thought, or dream, or thream!” Pinkie rapidly bounced in place without taking her eyes from the door. “It happens most mornings!”
Twilight blinked a few times, working it out in her head. “So you usually hit your head first thing getting out of bed?” She craned her neck, trying to nonchalantly scan Pinkie’s scalp for visible bruises or abrasions.
“Yup!” Pinkie replied merrily. “My ceiling’s full of holes.”
Applejack cupped Twilight’s ear with her hoof. “Actually, that explains a lot.”
Twilight nodded slowly.
“So, anyway, I thought to myself, ‘Pinkie, why don’t birds ever fly east for the winter?’ and I decided to come ask Mrs. Cake if she knew, but she'd left already. Mr. Cake said he didn’t know either, and plus he was busy playing that game where he barricades the kitchen and I gotta get through all his obstacles. I love that one! But when I did, something about this door caught my eye, or... or my teeth, I guess, ’cause they're all itchy, and you know what that means!”
Applejack scratched behind her ear. “Uh... maybe you could remind me?”
Pinkie shot to her hooves, and her tail straightened into a quivering line as she forcefully pointed toward the door with her nose. “It means something big is gonna happen with that door today. I just know it! In fact, I can almost taste it!”
Applejack tapped the door with the back of a hoof and glanced over her shoulder at Pinkie. “It’s just a door,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Come on. Twilight and I are, uh, goin’ to see Fluttershy.” Pinkie’s concentration didn’t seem to waver, but she did rotate her ears toward Applejack, who broke into a wide smile. “Yup, off to see Fluttershy and we want you to come with us. Then you can ask her about the birds! Ain't nopony better at knowin’ animals than Fluttershy.”
Twilight clapped her hooves. “That’s a great idea! It’ll be so educational!”
Pinkie frowned and waved them off with a hoof. “Nah, you girls go ahead. I want to see how things pan out with this door.”
Applejack’s smile faltered. “Now see here, Pinkie. We ain’t gonna let you spend a beautiful summer day inside starin’ at doors. Come on now.” Applejack stepped in front of Pinkie, obstructing her view.
Twilight’s mouth fell open. Pinkie’s neck seemed to stretch impossibly, maneuvering her head this way and that to see the door. Twilight wondered for the hundredth time if Pinkie didn’t have some unicorn blood in her family tree while Applejack attempted use her hat on Pinkie as a blinder. After Pinkie pushed the hat away, Applejack gave Twilight a helpless shrug.
“There is no way I’m taking my eyes off this door!” Pinkie’s whole body quivered with enthusiasm. “Something exciting’s coming out of it, and I’m gonna be here to see it!”
Twilight and Applejack shared a glance and nodded to each other. “Pinkie Pie, this is for your own good,” Twilight said, motioning for Applejack to join her. Together, they put their heads against Pinkie’s barrel and pushed her out of the kitchen.
Or they tried to, at least.
Twilight gasped at the sound of their hooves scraping across the wooden floor. They were walking in place and hadn’t budged Pinkie an inch.
Applejack leaned in close to Twilight. “Alright, we’re gonna have to do this the hard way. When I count to three, we tackle her and get her on outta here.”
Twilight nodded, rubbing a hoof inside her ear where Applejack’s breath had tickled her. “Got it.”
Applejack retreated a few steps, and Twilight followed just behind. Tackling ponies wasn’t exactly her specialty, and she did her best to copy Applejack’s form.
“One... Two… Three!”
The pair leapt, but at the last moment, Pinkie rotated the back half of her body toward them. With a surprised cry, they rebounded off of her springy, curly tail and landed in a heap in the corner. Untangling themselves, Twilight and Applejack stared at each other and sighed.
“Well, that went well,” Applejack said while helping Twilight back to her hooves. “What do we do now? We gotta get Pinkie to forget about that door!”
Twilight’s frowned and tapped her hoof on the kitchen’s well-worn floor for a few moments. Applejack was just opening her mouth when a slow smile stretched across the unicorn’s face. “Maybe not! I mean, she isn’t destroying the kitchen in a desperate cupcake hunt, is she?” Twilight paced back and forth rapidly as her idea took shape. “If we leave her in this… what is this, exactly? A trance?”
“Well, whatever it is, it seems the pies and pastries here are safe as long as Pinkie is occupied with that door.” Twilight pulled Applejack in close, whispering, “I have a plan. Just go with it.”
Twilight trotted over to Pinkie and sat down, making a show of examining her own hooves for dirt or rocks. “So that’s the plan then, Pinkie?” she said in a light, conversational tone. “You’re just going to watch the door no matter what?”
“Yup, though it’s really more of an obsession at this point,” Pinkie replied. It had been so long since Pinkie had blinked that Twilight could feel her own eyes drying out in sympathy.
“Well, I guess Applejack and I will just have to keep you company.” Twilight concentrated for a moment. Shimmering, purple energy erupted from her horn and enveloped baker’s rear door. “We’ll go—”
With a loud crack, the door pulled free from the wall, jamb and all.
Twilight blanched and bit her lip, her eyes darting between the swinging doors that led into Sugarcube Corner’s customer counter and Pinkie. Did the Cakes hear that? Oh, why do I always use too much force?
Applejack removed her hat, twisting it in her hooves repeatedly while she surveyed the ragged hole. “Twilight, you busted up their wall!”
“I know, I know!” Twilight hissed back. “I was rushing! But we can fix this later!” Twilight and Applejack trotted to the hole and peeked outside where a few ponies had stopped to find out what was going on. “It’ll make the kitchen a bit draftier, but at least the Cakes can get started when we get Pinkie out of here.” Twilight nodded her head repeatedly toward the hole while she spoke.
Applejack tore her eyes from the gaping hole and cleared her throat. “Pinkie, if you reckon this door is important, then, uh, your obsession is our obsession. We can’t let you face this one alone” She jammed her hat back on the wrong way around before quickly correcting it. Her hooves were still shaking, but she motioned for Twilight to get going.
Twilight backed out onto the street, carefully threading the door through the hole and trying not to meet anypony’s gaze. Pinkie trotted after the floating door, keeping it front and center in her field of vision.
“Wait, where are you going with that?” Mr. Cake, who had just poked his head into the kitchen, reached out after them with a trembling hoof.
“No time to explain!” Applejack shouted back over her shoulder as she galloped after Twilight. “Don’t worry! We’ll fix this right up when we get back!”
Twilight walked beside Pinkie and steered the door along the street while Applejack trotted a few lengths ahead to clear the way. The unicorn found herself shaking her head at Pinkie, who had her eyes stubbornly locked on the door, muttering, “Anytime now. Aaaaaaaany time.”
Twilight winced. Even glancing at Pinkie’s red, swollen eyes made Twilight’s itch terribly. She's going to hurt herself! Using her magic as a ladle, she scooped a few drops of water from Ponyville’s creek and slowly dripped them into Pinkie’s irritated eyes.
Ahead, Applejack tried to add a casual spring into her step when nearby ponies stopped their errands to stare at the strange trio marching by. She tipped her hat to the nearest gawker. “Howdy, Daisy. Nice day, ain’t it?”
Daisy’s eyebrows knitted together, and she glanced from the door to Applejack and back again. “So nice that you decided to take your door for a walk?”
Nearby, Lily shifted her groceries into her saddlebags and pointed at the door. “Yeah. What are you doing?”
Applejack's eyes darted back and forth, and bead of sweat slid down her brow. “Um...”
Twilight’s smile was a little too wide when she caught up to Applejack. “We’re, uh, in a … parade! Yup, a parade for Summer’s End—” She put a hoof on Applejack’s rump and gently prodded her into motion again “—and we have to keep moving!” Applejack and Twilight quickened their pace while Lily and Daisy traded bewildered glances.
“Thanks for stopping by!” Pinkie called back just before the trio turned a corner. “I’ll tell Mr. and Mrs. Cake that you two were in!”
Twilight crested the hill outside the town’s limits and breathed a sigh of relief. From here, she could see Fluttershy’s cottage, and the road seemed mercifully free of curious ponies. They’d somehow managed to run into Time Turner, Mayor Mare, and Sassaflash on their way here, and she was running out of excuses.
“Did you hear them ponies?” Applejack threw a frown back toward Ponyville. “Land sake, you’d think they’d never seen a door before.”
Twilight fell back onto her haunches and wiped away the light layer of sweat that had beaded on her brow. “I know, but at least they didn’t snap Pinkie out of… well, whatever you’d call this,” she said, pointing offhoofedly at their friend.
Applejack rolled her eyes. “I’d call it about the most ridiculous thing I’ve been involved in for a mighty long time.”
Twilight nodded and climbed back to her hooves, and then paused. "What was that?" she asked, searching the sky above the nearby forest.
"What was what, Twi?" Applejack tilted her head back and squinted at the sky “I don’t see nothin’.”
"I... just thought I heard something. Like... like wings flapping." Concentrating, Twilight hefted the door into the air again and checked the road one more time. "It was probably just geese. Looks like it's all clear from here! Let’s get to Fluttershy’s while nopony’s around.”
Fluttershy was sitting on her stoop, eyes locked on her front door, and picking absently at a few blades of grass when her friends trotted up. “Hi,” she sighed in a melancholy voice.
Twilight shot a questioning look to Applejack, who shrugged one shoulder. Fluttershy was usually so happy to see them. “Fluttershy, please don’t tell me that you’re staring at your door,” Twilight said.
Fluttershy hung her head. “Yes. I’ve been staring at it for most of the morning.”
Twilight threw her hooves up over her head. “What is going on today? Why is everypony staring at doors?”
Fluttershy finally turned, and Twilight could see the tracks of dried tears matting the fur under her eyes. “Well, you see, I want to go in this door, but I can’t.” Fluttershy picked off the last blade of grass and twisted it absently between her hooves. “I’ve been at the river this morning leading the ducks through guided meditation.” Fluttershy threw the grass away and pointed to the door. “When I got back, this was here.”
Twilight’s face flushed a deep purple as she recognized the horseshoe embedded deeply in Fluttershy's doorframe. Beside her, Applejack put a hoof over her mouth to stifle her welling laughter.
Fluttershy rose up onto her hind legs and yanked at the shoe. “I’ve tried tugging and crying, pulling and crying, prying and crying, and just plain crying, but nothing has worked.” She released the show and slowly walked off into her yard. “Maybe I’ll just move in with the chickens.”
Applejack rolled her eyes and trotted after Fluttershy, then steered her back toward the house. “For pony’s sake, if you needed help, why didn’t you just ask somepony?” She offered Fluttershy a wink. “We’ll get that door open in a jiffy!”
Fluttershy’s ears perked up, and she spread her wings wide. “Oh, could you? That would be wonderful!” she said, lightly placing a hoof on Applejack’s chest before snatching it away and taking a small step back. Retreating behind her silky curtain of hair, Fluttershy’s eye darted between Twilight and Applejack before finally resting on the ground. “If that’s not too much trouble, that is. I can see that you're walking your door. I don’t want to be a bother.”
“You're no bother at all!” Pinkie said. “We love all of our customers here at Sugarcube Corner!”
Fluttershy leapt into the air and hovered a few inches above ground. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, Pinkie! I didn’t even notice you there.” She dropped down to embrace her friend before pulling up short. “Wait, did you say—?”
Twilight frantically waved at her to quit talking while Applejack slapped a hoof over Fluttershy’s mouth. Applejack whispered a brief explanation of their bizarre situation into Fluttershy's ear.
“Oh, I see.” Fluttershy studied the floating door before turning to smile warmly at Twilight. “That was very clever.”
Applejack rolled her eyes. “Oh, it was somethin’ all right. Now let’s get this darn horseshoe outta the way.” Frowning, she adjusted her hat to sit more squarely on her head before squinting at the shoe. “All right, here goes.”
Clamping down on the horseshoe with her teeth, Applejack used all four of her strong legs to push against the house. As she strained, the earthy tastes of iron and dirt filled her mouth. She grimaced and did her best to keep her tongue away from the metal. With a muffled growl, Applejack yanked again, and her muscles bunched visibly. Twilight couldn’t help sharing a wistful glance with Fluttershy. What would it be like to have such strength?
Finally, Applejack collapsed back onto her haunches, sucking in huge lungfuls of air and shooting dirty looks at the horseshoe. It hadn’t budged at all. Fanning her herself with her hat, she turned to Twilight, motioning with her head back at the horseshoe. “Hey there, Equestria’s Best Pitcher. Think you can unpitch this shoe outta the door?”
Her face burning, Twilight leaned Sugarcube Corner’s door against a tree and concentrated on the horseshoe. Settled into a wide-legged stance, she magically pulled at the horseshoe for several seconds. Fluttershy gasped, nudging Applejack and pointing towards Twilight’s hooves. They were leaving furrows in the ground as Twilight dragged herself forward against the unyielding shoe. After several long moments, Twilight broke the spell and wiped the streaming sweat from her face with one muddy hoof. “I think… we’re going to have… to do it together.”
“Alright, together then,” Applejack replied, rolling her shoulders. Fluttershy winced as each of the joints gave a loud pop. “Fluttershy, can you get a good hold on my tail? Twilight, when we get tuggin’ on it nice and hard, see if your magic can pop it out.”
“Absolutely!” Twilight replied. It was her mistake in the first place that had locked Fluttershy out of her own house. She was determined to do whatever it took to fix the situation.
Once again, Applejack locked her teeth onto the iron horseshoe and glanced at Fluttershy, who carefully twined her hooves into her friend’s strong tail. Flapping for extra power, she swallowed hard and pulled. “T-tell me if I'm hurting you, Applejack,” she said as her friend strained against the horseshoe again.
“I ’an ’eel it ’iggle,” Applejack grunted from around the iron. “ ’Ull!”
Twilight’s magic aura surrounded the shoe, and she focused as clearly as she could on the mental image of the horseshoe pulling free from the door. Okay, just enough force to—aah!
Twilight gasped when the horseshoe rocketed away from Fluttershy’s cottage, dragging her friends with it. She hadn’t considered how much the shoe might have loosened in the prior attempts, and it had pulled free so quickly that Twilight hadn’t had time to slow the shoe’s momentum. Her teeth rattled as Applejack and Fluttershy slammed into her. Crying out, they all tumbled into the nearby bushes. Twilight was still trying to shake off the effect of the impact when she noticed muffled mumbles coming from beneath her.
“I’m so sorry, Applejack!” she said, lending a hoof to pull her friend to her feet again. “What did you say?”
Applejack scooped up her hat and worked to correct its crumpled form. “I said I’m a mite tired of endin’ up in a heap today.”
“Sorry!” Twilight said again, helping up a woozy Fluttershy. For a moment, she marveled at how light the pegasus was and wondered what it would feel like to have hollow bones.
“Oh, thank you so much!” Fluttershy blew her mane out of her eyes and smiled. “Now I can finally go inside and tell Angel about the nice bush that I visited today.”
“Let me get the door for you, Fluttershy,” Twilight said, trotting ahead while trying to pull a few stubborn twigs free from her tangled mane. “To tell you the truth, it’s really my fault that you couldn’t get in your house in the first place. You see, Applejack and I were throwing horseshoes—”
“Pitchin’,” Applejack said with a frown.
“Pitching horseshoes,” Twilight said, rolling her eyes, “and I—oof!” Twilight opened the door and started inside, only to run directly into a stone wall. Eyes spinning from the sudden impact, Twilight ricocheted off and wobbled uncertainly.
Pinkie stomped a hoof. “Twilight! Nopony’s going through the door! Something special’s going to come out of it, and it can’t do it with you in the way making funny faces!”
“Oh, let me help you.” Fluttershy put a leg around her friend and guided her toward the house. “It will probably be better if we go through my door. Not that yours isn’t lovely, but mine goes inside.”
Tilting her head to one side, Applejack threw up a silencing hoof. “Hey, does anypony else hear a ruckus?” Falling silent, they all swiveled their ears to follow Applejack. Twilight was trying to decide if it sounded like quacking when a powerful roar caused them all to jump.
Fluttershy's hooves flew to her mouth. “Oh my goodness! The ducks! Something is after the ducks!” Launching herself into the air, the pegasus ignored the protests of her straining wings as she rushed to the riverbank.
“Fluttershy! Wait for us!” cried Applejack, charging after her. Grabbing the door, Twilight ran after them, with Pinkie bouncing alongside.
“You know, I’ve never really taken the time to fully appreciate how big Sugarcube Corner really is,” Pinkie said, grinning broadly while she bounced along. “This place feels humongous!” She laughed and kicked her hooves a little at the apex of each leap. “Hee-hee! Humongous! That word is funnerific!”
Twilight shook her head and wondered exactly what it would be like to operate on Pinkie’s level. We really should spend more time with her. If Discord ever manages to free himself from that statue again, his chaos won’t even faze us.
After rounding the last turn on the path toward the river, Twilight gasped and skidded to a stop. Fluttershy was circling what appeared to be a small dragon while Applejack ran back and forth along the shore, kicking whatever rocks she could find at the creature. Nearby, several ducks flew a distressed patrol, quacking non-stop. Twilight winced at the sunlight glinting off of the beast’s talons. They looked strong and sharp, and at the moment they were tightly closed over several eggs. The creature tracked Fluttershy on her next pass, and Twilight screamed when her friend narrowly dodged its scorpion-like tail.
“You brute!” Fluttershy yelled, searching for an opening. “You are not taking those eggs!” With a large gulp, she accelerated rapidly toward the razor-sharp talons. Twilight covered her mouth with her hooves to stifle another scream. She could see tears of fright streaming behind Fluttershy while she looked for an opening, but her face was resolute. Twilight knew her friend would protect the woodland creatures with her life, if necessary.
Applejack tore across the sandy riverbank, keeping one eye squarely focused on her imperiled friend and searching for ammunition with the other. “Fluttershy, look out!”
Fluttershy just managed to dip under the stinging tail, yelping as several strands of her mane were ripped out by the tail's jagged barbs. She quailed when the beast’s snarl revealed several rows of jagged fangs. Wheeling, Fluttershy pumped her wings, but the creature lunged far too quickly.
Twilight felt her heart drop. Even at this distance, she could clearly see Fluttershy’s terrified expression reflected in the beast’s furious eyes. Gasping, she pointed to the monster’s face. “Applejack! The eyes! Go for the eyes!”
“You got it, Twi!” With the same uncanny accuracy she'd shown on the farm, Applejack launched one blinding rock, and then another. The dragon roared in pain and arched its sinuous neck away from the rapid-fire barrage Applejack was sending its way. Taking advantage of the opening, Fluttershy dove in and snatched the eggs as carefully as she could from the loosening talons.
Applejack desperately scanned the shore for more rocks. “What in tarnation is that thing?”
“It’s a wyvern, and that tail is full of poison!” Twilight cried back. She gasped as the beast blinked away the pain and reoriented on the nearest target. “Fluttershy, look out!”
The wyvern snarled and launched itself after Fluttershy, who was doing her best to get back to the marshy reeds that the ducks made their homes in. Glancing over her shoulder, Fluttershy let out a terrified squeak and flapped harder, but the wyvern was quickly closing the distance. It arched its tail over its back for a lethal strike.
“Fluttershy!” Twilight instinctively fired the door into the space in between the two and gritted her teeth when the beast slammed into it. While the wyvern shook its head vigorously, Twilight wiped her brow and sighed. “Thank Celest—No!”
Humming, Pinkie Pie bounded over Twilight’s head and straight toward the wyvern.
The monster shook itself, and then roared. Even several yards away, Twilight could feel her mane ripple. Flying straight at the door, the wyvern sank its claws deeply into the wood and banked away.
“Pink—Aaah!” Twilight was caught so off guard that the wyvern ripped the door from her control. She cried out helplessly as the wyvern flapped off toward the Everfree Forest, wavering uncertainly in the air from the additional weight. Pinkie Pie bounced along behind it, keeping as close to the door as she could manage.
Applejack pulled up alongside Twilight. “What the hay?” Quickly removing her hat, she used it to mop the sweat streaming down her face while she cocked an eyebrow at the unicorn. “Why’d it take the door?”
Twilight charged after the beast. “I don’t know, but we have to get it back! That thing could take Pinkie anywhere!” The pair pounded after the wyvern, and Twilight called back over her shoulder, “Fluttershy, come on! We have to save Pinkie Pie!”
The pegasus flew out of the tall reeds, eyes wide and covering her mouth with her hooves. Her fear-filled eyes darted rapidly between her friends. “Oh no! The wyvern got her?”
“Well, sort of.” Twilight was already failing to match Applejack’s powerful strides. “It took the door, and Pinkie went with it. Why would a wyvern do that?”
Fluttershy considered for a moment. “Wyverns aren’t very bright, but they are greedy. They're a type of dragon, you know.” Catching up, she angled her wings to swoop in alongside the laboring unicorn. “It probably just saw that you had something and wanted it for itself.”
“Well, we’ve gotta get it back,” Applejack said, quickly looking back at them over her shoulder, “or Pinkie may get more than she bargained for comin’ outta that door!”
The ponies raced after the wyvern, praying all the while that it wouldn’t take an interest in Pinkie Pie bouncing joyfully behind it. Twilight’s mind whirled as she struggled to remember everything she could about the reptilian monster. She was missing something vital, but the memory seemed to flit just out of reach.
“Come on, y’all! We can’t let it get away!” Applejack called from a few lengths ahead. Lathered sweat dripped from her barrel. “Y’all gotta give it all you got!” Panting, Fluttershy flapped her trembling wings harder. Twilight could sympathize. Neither of them were tremendous athletes, and Applejack and the wyvern were pulling away from them.
“We’re lucky,” Fluttershy said, pausing between words to try and catch her breath. “That door is keeping the wyvern from flying too fast.”
Twilight shook her head, trying to keep the sweat that was running down her face from getting in her eyes. She couldn’t afford to be hindered. “If we were lucky,” Twilight said between huge gulps of air, “it wouldn’t have taken the door in the first place!”
The forest opened, and the path ascended a rocky hill. The wyvern pumped its leathery wings above them, shaving splinters from the door as it clutched its prize tightly. Close behind, Pinkie was already most of the way up the path. Twilight and Fluttershy exchanged a bewildered glance when Pinkie’s voice floated merrily down to them.
Oh, the candy and cakes,
And the pies that I bake,
I think they are all delish!
But I mostly depend,
On time with my friends,
To experience my bliss!
The songs that they sing me,
The joy that they bring me,
When we are all together!
Are worth more than the eats,
The yummy, sweet treats,
I hope they stay forever!
Rolling her eyes, Twilight didn’t know whether to be touched or exasperated. What she did know was that she was tiring badly. The wyvern was almost out of sight, and it would be a few minutes before they could possibly get all the way up the hill. A few minutes Pinkie couldn’t afford.
“Fluttershy!” Twilight said through ragged gasps of air. “See if you can keep them in sight! Try to distract the wyvern!”
Fluttershy’s wings skipped a beat and she nearly hit the ground before recovering. Straining to gain altitude, she regarded Twilight with wide eyes. “M-m-me?” she said, trembling.
“Yes!” Twilight reply, stumbling slightly. Try as she might, her fatigue was slowing her pace. “Applejack and I won’t make it in time!”
Fluttershy began to hyperventilate, her chest rising and falling rapidly.
Twilight swallowed hard. Pinkie had just crested the hill ahead of them and disappeared from sight. “Please, Fluttershy! The wyvern might not be very smart, but if it notices Pinkie back there, it might attack her! Pinkie needs you!”
Fluttershy squeezed her eyes closed. Her face was rigid with fear, but she nodded to Twilight. “I-I’ll do what I can.” Pumping her tired wings with renewed vigor, Fluttershy rocketed up the path.
Breathing heavily, Applejack and Twilight finally made their way up the hill. Pulling up short, their eyes widened when they both nearly ran headfirst into a tower of detritus. Everywhere Twilight looked, she could see junk piled into small hills on the rocky plateau, interrupted only to allow access into a small cave opposite her in the cliff face. In the middle of it all, Fluttershy flew just out of reach, trying to keep the wyvern’s focus away from the stationary Pinkie Pie. Twilight groaned, but she took off as quickly as she could manage toward the monster. She wasn't used to long-distance galloping, and her endurance was nearly spent.
“Golly,” Applejack said, panting while surveying the passing garbage. “Looks like that wyvern’s been takin’ things for a mighty long time. I bet—hey!” Applejack did a double take, then skidded to a stop and pointed at a heap of cloth and twigs sticking out of a nearby trash pile. “Those are our old scarecrows!” Her lips curling into a snarl, Applejack raced toward the wyvern. “You thievin’ varmint! It took me weeks to make new ones!” Applejack leapt into the air and kicked at the hovering beast, who was attempting to snap its teeth into the flagging Fluttershy. Enraged, the wyvern arched its deadly tail over its back and shot it out with lightning speed.
Only Fluttershy’s terror saved her. When she saw the deadly stinger rapidly approaching, her wings snapped shut and glued themselves to her sides. She plummeted into the trash, screaming when the poison barb stabbed into the space just above her head. Not to be robbed of its meal, the wyvern pivoted and followed.
Applejack leapt to where Fluttershy had fallen, then took careful aim. “You like to take my stuff, huh? Well, take this!” With her best apple-bucking kick, Applejack slammed her hooves directly into the descending wyvern’s snout. Nearly falling from the impact, Applejack grinned. The monster’s snout had two hoofprints deeply embedded into it. Roaring, the creature landed in a garbage pile, still firmly clutching the door in its claws.
Twilight punched her hoof into the air. “Applejack, you did it!”
A moment later, her enthusiasm melted away. The wyvern raised its head and stared at Applejack as though seeing her for the first time. Its scaly eyebrows met between its eyes for a moment before it roared. Applejack swallowed hard and took a few cautious steps away. She knew the beast was coming for her.
Recalling a book that she had been reading to Spike about dragon-kind, something finally clicked into place in Twilight’s mind. Gasping, Twilight turned to Applejack and pointed at the monster. “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been trying to remember! A wyvern becomes fixated. It only has enough room in its head for one thing at a time. It probably doesn’t even remember that it’s holding onto the door!” Twilight turned to Applejack, who was nervously weighing the options between running and trying to kick the wyvern again. “Keep it distracted and I’ll try to pull the door away!”
With a snarl, the wyvern heaved itself back into the air and made its way toward Applejack, rapidly picking up speed. Applejack gulped and ran in the opposite direction.
“What do I do?! What do I do?!” Applejack called out to Twilight, her eyes darting between her friend and the glistening tip of the wyvern’s stinger. The poison was dripping so close to her back hooves that she could see the ground smoking from the potent chemicals.
Twilight pointed to the fissure. “Run for the cave! I’ll try to grab the door away while it’s chasing you!”
“All right, but I sure hope you know what you’re doin’, sugarcube!” Gritting her teeth, Applejack looked over her shoulder and stuck her tongue out at the beast. “Come on, you big, ugly lizard! Can’t you even catch one little pony?” Jeering, she cut around a tight corner and angled for the narrow cave opening.
Twilight’s magic enveloped the door, and she gripped it as firmly as she could. However, rather than snatching the door from the wyvern, she let out a surprised cry. She'd been wrenched off of her hooves, and now she was being dragged roughly along behind it. “Fluttershy, help me!” she croaked after coughing out a mouthful of dirt.
Keeping one fearful eye on the wyvern, Fluttershy flew in and scooped up Twilight’s tail, then reversed direction, straining to halt Twilight’s momentum.
Beads of sweat poured down Twilight’s face, but the monster’s grip was iron. “I-I can’t do it! I’m losing my grip! NO!”
Twilight’s magical tether on the door snapped. Suddenly free from the wyvern’s incessant pull, Fluttershy and Twilight flew backward, tumbling into a pile of debris. Now free itself, the wyvern barreled past Applejack and into the cave. The door hit the fissure at an odd angle and wedged itself into the cave opening, where Applejack slammed into it at full speed. Bouncing off, she sat down and stared off into the distance with a shocked, vacant expression.
“Granny Smith, I think that apple cider is a mite strong,” she said in a faint, faraway voice.
“Oh, Applejack! Are you alright?” Fluttershy flew over, shaking bits of detritus out of her mane. She ran her hooves gently over Applejack’s forehead, checking for bruises. “You hit that door awfully hard!”
Applejack shook her head briskly, trying to clear away the spots that were still swimming in front of her eyes. “Huh?” Applejack blinked several times and finally focused on Twilight. “D-did we do it?”
“Did we do what? I thought you guys were helping me watch this door!” Pinkie said, bouncing up and giving the door an extra hard stare. “I mean, I’m ready for anything, but what if I had looked away for even a second? I might have missed something!” Pinkie sat down beside Applejack and set her jaw, gazing unwaveringly at the door.
Fanning herself with her hat, Applejack arched an eyebrow and rolled her eyes slowly toward Twilight. “Please remind me to send Mrs. Cake to Rarity next time she needs help.”
Twilight sniggered and tested the door with her hooves. It was wedged tightly into the rock opening. “What are we going to do now?” she said, continuing to pry at the jamb. “How will we get this out of here without alerting the wyvern?”
The earth beneath their hooves trembled when the wyvern roared somewhere deep inside the fissure. Fluttershy hit the ground and covered her eyes with her hooves. “I d-don’t think that’s going to be our problem, Twilight,” she said, her voice quavering. Trembling, she inched backwards from the cave.
Applejack snatched Pinkie’s tail in her mouth and willed speed into her aching legs. Twilight followed a step behind. Seconds later, the door flew open, slamming loudly into the cliff, and the wyvern erupted from the fissure. Blinking in the bright light, it spied the fleeing ponies and let out another deafening scream. With a snarl, it arched its tail over its back and tucked into a dive.
“See? See?” Pinkie clapping her hooves. “I told you that something amazing was going to come out of that door and it’s a big, scary monster!” Her eyes widened as she bumped along behind Applejack. “There’s a big, scary monster in Sugarcube Corner! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!” Pinkie scanned the scenery whizzing by, then put her hooves on her hips. “Hey, what happened to Sugarcube Corner? Also, RUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!”
Pouring on as much speed as they could muster, the ponies raced back toward the Everfree Forest, but the enraged wyvern slammed down in front of them, blocking the only exit. The ponies backpedaled furiously as the wyvern hypnotically swayed its lethal tail slowly from side to side above its head.
“The tail!” Twilight said, an idea forming. “Applejack! Dragon’s tail!”
Applejack nodded and surged forward, leaping away just before the wyvern’s deadly stinger buried itself in the ground at her hooves. Overhead, Fluttershy screamed.
“Keep it up, Applejack!” Twilight tried to block out all the images of dire consequences from her mind. “I just need a little bit of time! Pinkie! Fluttershy! Help me find something to catch the wyvern’s attention!” Pinkie and Fluttershy followed closely behind her, bewildered. “Something small and shiny! Something like a horseshoe!”
The ponies fanned out to search, occasionally sparing glances in Applejack’s direction. Using all of her rodeo skills, she bobbed and weaved with uncanny dexterity to avoid the monster’s stinging tail.
“I’d be mighty grateful if y’all could get a move on!” she said between ragged gasps. “I’m about spent!”
Pinkie’s head poked up over a teetering pile of garbage.“We’re trying, but everything over here seems to be dolls and socks!” Pinkie suddenly put a hoof to her chin, cocking her head to the side to look at Twilight. “Do you think this is where all the missing socks go? Why do we even have socks? We’re ponies!”
Fluttershy flew above them, taking in as much of the junk pile as she could. “I think it’s building a nest over here. It’s all tree branches and bits of rope. Maybe it’s just lonely and looking for a mate.”
Twilight galloped by the pile of garbage near the pegasus. “Fluttershy, concentrate!”
Fluttershy banked away, laboring to gain speed again. “Right. Sorry!”
“Applejack!” cried the three ponies in unison. Their friend had finally slipped after a difficult series of jumps and was now lying on the ground, helpless. The monster stood on her tail, effectively pinning her in place. Drooling, the wyvern towered above her and curled its tail to strike.
Twilight gasped and pointed. “There!” Behind the wyvern, she’d spied a crystalline statue of a pony glinting in the sunlight. Seizing it with her magic, Twilight maneuvered the statue directly into the wyvern’s field of vision. “We finally found it, girls! We’ll be taking this valuable treasure from this nasty, old wyvern!”
The wyvern paused and tracked the statue with its narrowed eyes. Catching a sunbeam, the statue glowed, bathing Twilight in a shimmering, rainbow pool. The wyvern’s claws unconsciously opened and closed, digging deep furrows in the ground only inches away from Applejack, who was desperately trying to free herself. As the claws scraped into the ground, they sheared off the end of Applejack’s tail, and she rolled away. “Well, I reckon I needed a trim anyway,” she said, trying to put some distance between herself and the beast.
Several yards away, Twilight teased the wyvern with the statue, swaying it to and fro over her head and smirking at the furious beast. “We wanted this statue more than anything, and now we finally have it! Girls, I don’t think that this wyvern is smart enough to get it back!” Twilight barely had time to yank the statue away when the wyvern launched itself at her and greedily snatched at its treasure. “No, no, no! This is our statue now, and we won’t let you have it, will we? Fluttershy, heads up!” Twilight hurled the statue over the wyvern.
Caught off guard, Fluttershy dove for the statue, barely catching it before it hit the ground. She clutched the statue tightly to her chest and banked around a large pile of debris. Sparing a glance over her shoulder, she let out a frightened squeak. The wyvern was suddenly very close.
Pinkie’s hooves were a blur as she ran in place and grinned from ear to ear. “Ooh, Keep-Away! Me! Me! Throw it to me!” With the wyvern closing on her, Fluttershy dropped the statue to the Pinkie.
“Wheeee!” Pinkie leapt high into the air and caught the statue, balancing it on top of her head. Laughing, she changed direction in mid-leap and giggled behind her hoof at the wyvern’s shocked expression. Struggling to follow, the wyvern flipped end over end, then smacked into the cliff face before pushing off toward the fleeing pony.
Bouncing along the path, Pinkie flipped the statue off of her head with a nod, then caught again and again. “Twilight, this is a blast!” she said, her nose crinkling in delight. “Maybe we should invite this wyvern to our next party!” Eyeing the fast-approaching monster, Pinkie flipped the statue off of her head a final time. “You’re up, Applejack!”
The wyvern rocketed forward, but Applejack was too quick. Having regained her breath, she leapt into the air and snatched the statue just before the desperate creature's claws snapped closed in front of her. Applejack grimaced and mumbled a quick prayer as she briefly caught her wide-eyed reflection in the claw’s razor edge. Landing with a grunt, she galloped around the perimeter of the junkyard, taking any course that might cause the wyvern to turn awkwardly in the air. Boiling over with rage, the wyvern lashed out with its tail again and again, stinging anything within reach while it struggled to catch the more agile pony. Applejack swallowed hard. The wyvern’s lethal poison had just dissolved a nearby pail into nothingness on a near miss.
Twilight jumped and waved her hooves over her head to get Applejack’s attention. “It's got to be fully fixated by now! Throw it back to me!”
Applejack squinted, calculating the distance between them carefully, and then flipped the statue in Twilight’s direction. “Incoming, Twilight! Show this second rate dragon why you don’t mess with ponies!”
Already on the run, Twilight snared the statue with her magic, quickly drawing it near. She could hear the tendons creak in the wyvern’s wings when it wheeled sharply in midair, its eyes still locked onto the prize. With the beast descending on her, Twilight stood her ground and tried to still her quivering knees. She gave the statue one last taunting shake, and then turned away from the wyvern’s nest. “Hey, Wyvern! Let me show you why I throw the best horseshoes in all of Equestria!” Twilight bellowed, then launched the statue with every ounce of magical strength she could muster. Glinting, it disappeared into the horizon. Twilight ducked and threw her hooves over her head as the wyvern rocketed past her, flying after its treasure and screaming with rage. Wiping her brow, Twilight let out an explosive sigh. “Well, girls, we—oof!”
Twilight fell beneath the weight of her friends’ collective and crushing embrace.
“Oh, Twilight! You were so brave!”
“You did it! I just knew you could! It’s pitches, though. You pitch ’em.”
“I still want to know why you girls invited a wyvern over!”
Twilight returned the hug, relieved that the danger was finally past. With a sigh, she extricated herself and picked up the battered door. “Come on, girls. Let’s go home.”
“Whew! This sure is some heat!” Applejack wiped her streaming brow, then set her hammer down. Too hot, probably. She removed her hat and fanned herself with it. Nearby, her friends were busy repairing the hole that they’d created in Sugarcube Corner’s kitchen. Applejack tucked her bangs up under her hat and stepped back to check the quality of their work.
“You know, I could just save us all some time and repair this with magic,” Twilight mumbled from around a mouthful of nails.
“Maybe you’re forgettin’ how the hole got there in the first place?” Applejack’s tone was serious, but her eyes twinkled merrily.
“But that was different!” Twilight replied, accidentally spitting the nails out. Fluttershy skipped back as they embedded themselves in the soft dirt near her hooves. “I was in a hurry then! I wasn’t concentrating properly!”
Applejack put a leg around Twilight’s shoulders and gave her a little squeeze. “I’m just joshin’ with you, sugarcube, but sometimes the old fashioned way is the best one, even if it takes a little bit of time and effort.”
With a sigh, Twilight gathered up her nails again and wearily lifted her hammer. They were all still exhausted from the day’s adventure. Well, all of them but Pinkie Pie.
Applejack fought back a laugh as Pinkie descended on Fluttershy with a measuring tape, checking the pegasus’s every dimension. That pony just never gets tuckered. The rest of us sure do, though. She trotted to the center of the group and cleared her throat. “Y’know, I reckon this door’s comin’ right along. Why don’t we go get some of them treats from the festival before they’re all gone?” While Applejack collected the tools from her friends, Fluttershy breathed a sigh of relief. Pinkie had cornered her and had been trying to get an exact measurement of the space between her eyes.
“Aww, but it’s for science!” Pinkie said through snorted giggles when Applejack pried the tape measure away from her. Fluttershy rubbed the area between her eyes while Twilight grinned and shook her head.
Applejack rolled her eyes. “The science of what, exactly?” She held up her hoof when Pinkie opened her mouth. “Y’know what? Never mind. You can research it later. Right now, we’re gonna take a break and get some food before everypony eats it all! We can come back and finish this here door when it’s a little cooler.”
“Oh, yeah! A break!” Pinkie hopped from hoof to hoof rapidly for a moment before stopping to smirk at Applejack. “I’d say wyvern’d it!”