The plains stretched as far as Twilight could see. Semblances of small settlements were peppered in the distance, but nothing too remarkable in the barren openness. The three had traveled for hours in tall grass with the sun beating down on them, refusing to let up. A small breeze blew through the array of grasses, creating a calm whistling sound that put the ponies at ease, at least just a little.
Twilight took a swig of her water and placed it back in her bag as she licked her lips. The map they were given by the princess wasn’t as much help as they had hoped: some of the ink markings were smudged, and the path towards Ventia was nowhere to be seen. She only hoped they were headed in the right direction.
“How long have we been walking? There hasn’t been a sign or road at all; I’m wondering if we’re even headed the right way,” Rarity asked, slightly panting. She took one of the apples from her bag and bit into it.
“There has to be a path around here somewhere. Delivery ponies head to that there Ventia country, right?” Applejack asked, looking back at the two unicorns. “Luna must’ve put us in that forest if it was close to the path.”
“I’ve talked with some of the mail ponies before. Most of them just do local stops. I haven’t heard any talk about heading to another country before,” Twilight explained.
“They’re probably just being modest. As much as I would love for people to know about my boutique’s success, it’s impolite to boast in casual conversation.”
Twilight stopped, causing Rarity and Applejack to follow suit. “It’s just strange. I’ve never heard of this country, or any other ones on this map. I haven’t even read about them. It wasn’t until the princess explained it until I knew of what was outside of Equestria, if there was anything at all,” Twilight said. A bead of sweat passed between Twilight’s eyes. She let it run down, then plopped down in the grass. “I’m getting tired. If we can’t find anything soon, what should we do? We’ve been following the sun’s movement correctly... I don’t understand why we haven’t found the road yet.”
Without a second thought, the other two sat down and started to rummage through their provisions. Rarity set up a small cloth on the ground for a makeshift picnic, trying to lighten the mood. Twilight took out two pieces of flat bread and some red apples and promptly placed them on the mat. Before Twilight could even blink, Rarity cut up the food with several quick slashes of a knife and split it amongst the three. Applejack dug in as soon as she could while Twilight wiped the sweat off her brow. The heat from the sun was much more unbareable when she wasn’t moving. Except for short expeditions, Twilight never went on excursions, and it showed. She took a small bite of an apple slice and tried to savour it as much as she could. Without a proper destination, Twilight wanted to make sure they had enough rations to make an emergency trip back to Ponyville if need be.
Suddenly, the three ponies sprang to their feet as the aftershock of an explosion rushed past them. A cloud of smoke rose in the distance, towering above the plains. This was their chance to finally see another living creature from outside Equestria. Through an unspoken plan they quickly gathered their belongings and broke out into a full gallop towards the towering fume. The grass whipped at Twilight’s face, but she gritted her teeth and barreled through, still too tired to form a path with her magic.
“I think I can see somethin’!” Applejack yelled back.
The grass ahead of them thinned out enough that they could see patches of shorter grass ahead. Applejack quickened her pace, plowing her way through the last thicket and made her way to the other side. Twilight turned her head to the side to prevent long grass from whipping against her face as she ran. After losing sight of the earth pony ahead of her, she bowed her head to make the final push. Just as she got up to speed, she felt no tall grass in her way, leaving only shorter grass ahead. She opened her eyes and skidded to a stop, seeing Applejack waiting. The area was a lower prairie with cut down grass covering a large expanse, showcasing an array of small towns and mountains in the distance. The sound of debris crashing caught Twilight’s attention. There was a small wagon engulfed in flames as two ponies lay on the ground, covered in burns and bruises.
Twilight bolted ahead with Applejack as Rarity made her way out from the grass patch. Adrenaline flowed through Twilight like she had never felt before: the rush of fear and anticipation was exciting, though worrisome. One stallion lay trapped under a broken off piece of wood, while the other was thrown from the driver’s seat lying on his side. Twilight stood over the stallion in the grass, inspecting his wounds and trying to calculate the force of impact. How an explosion could occur in a wooden cart was beyond her, but her interest was piqued.
A few broken ribs, severe burns to the back and several scrapes... Twilight thought as she continued her inspection. She bent down to hear for breathing; luckily he was, but it was shallow and empty. Twilight breathed a short sigh of relief and resumed her investigation. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, until she reached the pony’s flank: he didn’t have a cutie mark.
“Twi’, over here! I found somethin’ interesting!” Applejack yelled, motioning Twilight to head over. Still confused by her patient’s lack of cutie mark, she trotted over, wary of the still smoldering flames. Rarity had reached Applejack before Twilight and peered inside, Twilight noticing a strange look on both of their faces. She was just hoping it wasn’t anything too tragic. “Take a look at this.” Applejack pointed her hoof to a small hole which lead to the inside of the wagon.
“Did you make sure that pony was alright?” Twilight asked in a worried tone.
“Yeah, I checked, and he’s still breathin’. I need your knowledge on what this thing is supposed to be,” Applejack responded.
Twilight took a look, making sure to not get too close to the flames. Inside was a pile of wood from the outside of the wagon, but there was something hidden underneath. A mass of twisted steel and cables lay with a black liquid burning on top of it. Twilight took a step back, trying to make sense of what she saw. Upon closer inspection, she saw remnants of pistons and gears with other varying scraps that must’ve made up the exterior.
“So, what do ya make of it, Twi’?” Applejack prodded.
“It looks like machinery of some sort. Maybe it powered the wagon?” Twilight speculated, looking in once more to make out any more details.
“Well alright then. What should we do? We can’t just leave ‘em here,” Applejack stated.
“We have to get them some help, but we don’t have enough medical supplies.” Twilight hung her head, looking back and the bare flanked pony.
“Agreed, but if they could tell us where we could find some more we could gladly spare some of our own,” Rarity suggested. “Now if we could just wake one of them up we could get on our way.”
Twilight made her way back to the injured pony as Rarity helped Applejack lift the plank from the other victim. As Twilight approached she noticed the pony moving around, at least squirming. She rushed over and sat down beside him, waiting for a response. He opened his eyes and looked at Twilight as he began wincing in pain. “What... What happened?” he asked weakly.
“You were caught in an explosion a few minutes ago. Could you tell me what happened?”
The stallion struggled to gain his footing, stumbling over himself on the way up. He clutched his chest as he stood. “Ugh, I remember drivin’ and hearin’ some clankin’ in the engine.” He labored as he set his hoof back down to stabilize himself. “Somethin’ must’ve got stuck there and caused the engine to blow.”
Twilight lent herself as a crutch and helped the pony towards the wreckage where the other pony was now out of the rubble and was being treated. “Do you know where a town with supplies to sell is? My friends and I are a little lost.”
The pony sighed in pain, “There’s one not too far down the road to the north. It’s small, but it might be what you’re looking for.”
“Thanks,” Twilight responded as she stared as his body. “Where’s your cutie mark? Did you not get one? I’m sorry for prying.”
“Cutie mark? Never heard of that before,” the pony said before taking his forehoof off of Twilight and hobbled his way to his friend. “Thanks for your help. We can handle it from here.” The stallion lifted his friend to get him up, talking to him in a low voice.
“Are you sure?” Twilight asked, trying her best to help.
“Yeah, we’ll be fine.” He sat down near his friend and began to console him. Applejack and Rarity stepped off and trotted over to Twilight, leaving the two battered ponies to their wreckage.
“I really don’t want to leave them here, but I’m sure they’ll be fine.” Applejack stated morosely.
“Did he tell you where we could find a place to stay?” Rarity interrupted.
“Yeah, he said there was a small town down the road,” Twilight said. Even with the wreckage she was happy to finally see a road that led somewhere. She thought maybe the old map that Luna gave them would finally become useful. As they left the burning wreckage behind, the whole world seemed to open up to them. There were more ponies with wagons with merchandise and supplies traveling along the main road, none of them giving the three Equestrians a nod or paid any attention to them. They simply went along quietly and Twilight didn’t mind. Just the view of the rolling plains and mountains in the distance was enough to make her satisfied, at least for a little while.
As they walked, Twilight couldn’t help but obsess over that one pony’s lack of cutie mark knowledge. Maybe he came from a town that never had them... but he traveled. He had to have seen them, Twilight thought. She had to let the others know. Twilight spoke up, “So, did you see something off to you about those ponies we helped?”
“Not exactly. They seemed perfectly normal to me,” Rarity said.
“Why? Did we miss somethin’?” Applejack asked, looking over to Twilight.
“When I inspected that stallion’s wounds, I noticed he didn’t have a cutie mark.” Twilight turned her head, watching her friends exchange sideways glances. “I brought this up to him and he said he had never heard of them. You would think if he travels he would’ve heard of them, right?”
“Come to think of it, I don’t think that other pony had a cutie mark either,” Applejack thought aloud. “Maybe we shouldn’t pry too much into this. It’s only two ponies.”
“You’re right.” Twilight turned her head and continued to watch for any signs that pointed them to a town. The sun began its descent towards the horizon allowing the air to cool off, alleviating the three from the heat. The view along the path was consistent throughout: rolling plains with short and long grasses, mountains in the distance, the faint silhouettes of what looked like settlements. Twilight opened the map and tried to chart out how far away they were. They had passed a sign maybe fifteen minutes before, and she wanted to see what was near them. She scanned it over, noticing a distinct lack of towns on the map. The one that they had been heading to, Wheatown, wasn’t listed. The town was either too small for the map to list, or the map was older than the town. Twilight sighed in exasperation as she put the map away.
After only an hour of trekking, a small town came into view with a wooden gate blocking the path in. It looked like it had a quaint feel to it, with straw thatched roofs and what looked like a small fountain in the center. Twilight hastened her steps, eager to find out what a town outside of Equestria would be like. She blazed past Applejack, who followed in tow with Rarity as they tried catch up to Twilight. After only a minute of running later, she banked left and slowed herself before stopping in front of the gate.
“Is this Wheatown?” Rarity asked as she trotted up to Twilight.
“I reckon it is. This is the first town we’ve seen.” Applejack stated.
“Well, here we go,” Twilight said as she opened the gate with her hoof. The town was very small, with only eight or so buildings lining the perimeter. Several earth ponies walked around with hoes and rakes, conversing about the days events. Two fillies ran around the stone fountain, chasing each other and rolling around in the grass. As they entered they noticed the lack of fanciful architecture like they saw back in Equestria; every one of the buildings had an old world charm to them. They looked simple and drab.
They approached a stallion who was carrying a hoe and rake on his back who was heading west into the field. Twilight assumed by the name of the town that he was off to harvest wheat, but she didn’t want to assume anything. “Excuse me,” Twilight said, catching the pony’s attention. “Do you know we could find a store here? We’ve never been in this part of the country before.” The stallion stopped and pointed his hoof towards a relatively larger building that had a wooden sign with the words ‘General Store’ written in red paint. Twilight looked over, then looked back, red with embarrassment. “Uh, thanks,” she responded as the pony turned back to the field and began to walk again.
“Well he ain’t much for talkin’,” Applejack said, peering over to the shop. “Let’s take a look at what they have then.” The three slowly trotted to the store and opened the wooden door.
The shop had a wooden design to everything, with thatched patches and designs on the walls and floor. There was a dark brown earth pony behind the counter, taking a look at some of its inventory. The store was packed with food like grains and produce, small steel weapons, canisters of oil, books on local events and history, rolled up scroll maps, small trinkets, and bedding just to name a few. Twilight forged ahead, looking up over the counter to get a better view of the storekeeper.
“Excuse me sir, my friends and I would like to buy something. Do you have a minute?” The mare tilted her head up, trotted to the counter and placed her hooves on top. She looked over the three ponies, causing Twilight to become a little uneasy.
“What can ah’ do ya for?” the mare asked, tapping her hooves on the counter.
Twilight’s face flushed red from the gender mix-up, but the mare didn’t seem to mind. “We’re just looking for some food and blankets to buy. We’re making our way to Ventia.”
“Ah’ see. Just enough fer the three a’ you?” she asked, bowing her head into the display case to retrieve a few folded blankets.
“Yes ma’am.” Twilight took a few gold bits from her bag and placed them on the counter. “I’m hoping this is enough to cover it. I don’t see any prices anywhere.”
The mare brought up a few blankets and placed them on the counter, then eyed the few bits Twilight had left. She squinted to get a better look, inspecting them carefully. After a few seconds, the mare finally spoke up, “What’s this?”
Twilight stood dumbfounded. “Uh, those are bits. You know, money.”
“Don’t patronize me, ah’ figured that much out,” the mare snapped. “So, where’d you say you were from again?”
“We’re from Equestria.” At that moment, Twilight saw the mare’s eyes widen as if she was about to be hit by an oncoming freight train. She stepped off the counter and walked to a small section of the counter that swung open upwards, allowing a pony to pass through.
“Over ‘ere. If it’s alright with ya’ ah’d like to talk to you a bit. Ah’ have some tea goin’ at the moment.” The mare made her way up a flight of stairs, leaving the shop completely empty except for Twilight, Rarity and Applejack. They each glanced at each other with contorted looks.
“What should we do? We need supplies, but I don’t know if I like this.” Twilight looked over to the opened pathway, rubbing her left foreleg with her right. The three sat in silence, neither of them wanting to make the decision. A high-pitched whistle of a teapot pierced Twilight’s ears now perked ears. At least it sounds like she’s boiling water, Twilight thought. The whistling died down as the mare walked down the stairs and motioned them over. Twilight grimaced as she looked at her friends and cautiously made her way past the open path and slowly ascended the stairs. She didn’t check back for Applejack and Rarity, trying to make sure that everything ahead of her was innocuous.
At the top of the stairs was a bedroom the size of the lower floor. A small, one-pony bed lay on the north end of the room with a window on all four walls. It was decorated with multi-colored banners hanging on each side of the walls with golden stitched insignias of various animals and weaponry. There was a wooden rack filled with steel swords and maces in the corner, putting Twilight on edge. Next to it was a small stove with a tea pot with rising steam coming from the spout. She finished her ascent and approached the mare who was sitting at a table with four chairs set up, each with a set of teacups and saucers in front of them. “Come, sit.”
Apprehensively, Twilight sat down as the mare poured some tea in their cups. Applejack and Rarity sat down and they all watched the mare closely, making sure she didn’t do anything suspicious. She set the teapot down in the middle of the table and took a small sip. “So, you’re from Equestria, huh? Ah’ve never met anypony from there before.”
“Your store is empty downstairs. Aren’t you afraid somepony’s goin’ to take somethin’?” Applejack asked, taking a look outside.
“No one’s stolen anythin’ in this town in years. We don’t lock doors at night like you city ponies do,” the mare explained, irking Applejack. “The name’s Zipporah. It’s nice to meet you folk.”
“Twilight Sparkle,” Twilight said, extending her hoof to shake.
“That’s an odd name fer a pony. Are all Equestrians named weirdly like that?” Twilight rolled her her eyes and sighed.
“Well, this is Rarity.” She pointed at Rarity who slightly bowed. “And this is Applejack.” Applejack graciously tipped her hat. “So, you’ve never seen an Equestrian before? It’s only a few hours walk away.”
“Not sure. No one I know’s ever gone neither. Ponyfolk just tend to avoid it.” Zipporah took another sip.
“Now why’s that do you suppose?” Applejack asked.
“Sorry for my interruption, but do you not have a cutie mark as well?” Rarity prodded. Twilight hadn’t noticed, but when she dipped her head to check Zipporah’s flank, it was indeed blank. Applejack took a quick sip of her tea, her face scrunched as she did it and set it down. She looked around trying to be nonchalant as she pushed the cup away and slumped in her chair
“Cutie mark? Is that some weird Equestrian thing?” The old mare crossed her forelegs and looked at them inquisitively. “Ah’ve never heard of them before.”
“You’re the second pony we’ve talked to that’s never heard of them,” Twilight said as she took a sip of tea. It had a strong earthy flavor, but it wasn’t overbearing. Slightly bitter, but she could handle it. “That’s so strange. Most ponies in Equestria have them by the time they’re little fillies. Basically they’re markings on your flank to signify your special talent. Mine is conjuring magic, so my mark is a six pointed star.” She leaped off the chair and pointed to her mark. “It’s always nice to have a reminder of what you live for.”
“So, you two have one as well?” Zipporah asked. “What about that necklace?” She pointed to Rarity who promptly looked down at her element charm.
“Oh this? It’s just decoration,” Rarity passed off. “It’s nothing, really. Though it does match my cutie mark which are three cyan diamonds.” She took a sip of her tea and patted her mouth with a nearby napkin. Applejack stayed quiet.
The room was quiet for a few minutes. A small rustling was heard outside as a group of stallions came out from the fields. The sun set lower in the sky, causing the sky to become a pale yellow and orange. Twilight tapped her hooves together nervously. The silence was overbearing, and she had to break the tension. “Is this where you live, Zipporah?”
“Yes,” she stated as she grabbed her teacup with both hooves. “Ah’ just tend to mah store every day.” After taking a larger gulp of her tea, she looked over to Twilight. “So, where are you three headed anyways? Ah’ know you din’t come all the way out here for our lil’ town.”
“Well one of our friends needs some help and the spell to we need isn’t anywhere in Equestria. We’re headed to Mistral City in Ventia.” Twilight said.
“Mistral City? You Equestrians never stop surprisin’ me,” Zipporah laughed. “Mistral City is a wretched place last ah’ heard. They don’t much care for Equestrians neither. Whenever one of them ponies is over in this town ah’ always hear ‘bout two unkillable demons that haunt Equestria. Everypony ah’ve met from there is quite obsessed.”
“Two... demons?” Twilight asked, bewildered. “I don’t know of any demons in Equestria. It sounds like made up rumors.” She dug into her pack and took out the map, unfurling it onto the table. “Could you take a look at this while we’re here? We don’t have any recent maps of areas outside Equestria and this is pretty old. Is this map still accurate?”
“Ah’ can look, sure.” Zipporah turned the map towards her and looked at it closely. She nodded her head a few times as her eyes scanned every inch. She placed her hooves on it several times, pointing out locations to herself. After a few minutes she turned the map around and looked up at Twilight. “Everythin’ looks fine. There’s a few more towns than before, but everything else looks alright.”
A muffled commotion was heard from outside. Twilight nodded to Zipporah, set the map back in her bag and took a look out the window. Two ponies passed by at a full gallop, one turned and headed towards the shop. She got up to look down at the pony. “What’s wrong, sugar cube?” Applejack asked. Before Twilight answered she saw a brown blur fly passed the window; she looked to see if she could see what it was, but it was gone.
There was a hurried knock at the door. “Griffons! We need help!” a stallion shouted and ran off. Zipporah quickly left her chair and galloped to the weapon rack, taking out three swords and a mace.
“Alright, ah’ve got weapons fer us. Take one and let’s go.”
The three looked at each other, neither of them wanting to move. “Uh, what are we doin’ again?” Applejack prodded.
Zipporah stared at them blankly. “Are ya’ joking? We don’t have time fer that, jus’ hurry an’ get over here!” Twilight took a deep breath a trotted over, taking a sword and held it in the air with her magic. “You two as well, meet me downstairs!” Zipporah grabbed a mace with her mouth and galloped down the stairs, leaving the three alone in the room.
“What should we do? We can’t go out and kill griffons our first day out, can we?” Twilight wondered, glancing at the sharp steel.
“We don’t really have a choice, do we?” Rarity said, “We’re on a mission to save Fluttershy, aren’t we? If she knew we were killing animals to save her she would never forgive us.”
Applejack took a sword and held it in her mouth, “Right. we have to be as non-lethal as possible.” With sword in mouth she trotted to the base of the stairs and looked over to Twilight and Rarity. “I’m ready when you two are.”
Rarity and Twilight looked at each other nervously. Rarity picked up the third sword, placed it on her back and held it there with magic. “Well let us go, shall we?”
“Alright.” Twilight caught up to Applejack who proceeded down the stairs. Zipporah was outside the open door, mace ready. She turned her head, and as she saw the girls she motioned them over. They followed her direction, seeing six griffons swooping and striking ponies with terrible force.
“Do ya know what to do?” Zipporah asked, surveying the town.
“Uh, no. We don’t really have this problem in Ponyville,” Twilight said as she began to sweat.
“Really? Ugh,” Zipporah groaned. “Alright, stay together. They hunt down the strays, now move!” She bolted out the door, bunching together with the other ponies. Twilight could see shutters on houses closing and doors slamming. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She looked back at her friends, then raced out into the fray.
A large dark brown griffon swooped down, clipping a white stallion in the back, causing him to topple over in the grass. A mare and stallion grouped together, grimacing and awaiting their chance to strike. Applejack burst through the door, easily vaulting over one of the low-flying griffons. As she was in the air, she kicked with her back legs, causing the griffon to slam into the earth. She landed and ran to join the ranks, creating a phalanx with the others. Rarity was the last to come out, holding the sword close to her face in a defense stance. She crept around, swinging her sword to ward off stray griffons.
“Why are they attacking!?” Twilight yelled over to Zipporah, who had just slammed her mace into a griffon’s skull. It liay there with small trickles of blood coming from the impact wound.
“They’re after us and our young, just attack!” Zipporah yelled, scrambling to make note of the griffons’ positions. Twilight wanted to argue, but a griffon with extended claws lunged at her, screeching at the top of its lungs. Twilight dodged, dropped her sword, and used her magic to create a large blinding light. She shot out a bright spark and it struck the griffon, and with the sound of thunder it crashed to the ground. It was alive, but unable to move. Rarity swung her sword wildly as she backed into the phalanx. She halted the sword and looked around, keeping her eyes peeled.
Twilight galloped to the fountain, checking to see if any griffon was hiding around it. Nothing. She looked to the sky trying to track their location, when she heard a sickening screech. She whipped her head around and saw two griffons break apart the group, one of them held a mare in its talons, trying to take off with it. Rarity was on the ground, struggling to get up. Her sword was far behind her. Twilight charged up another light spell and quickly fired it at the fleeing griffon, causing the mare to drop to the earth.
Rarity hobbled on to her hooves, her knees shaking from the impact. She was dizzy and couldn’t see straight, putting her in a panic. She hurried towards the sword, but fell over as a griffon landed right near her.
“RARITY!” Twilight called out as she went into a full gallop to her ailing friend. Before she could reach her the griffon swiped, but a blinding light came from Rarity, making Twilight stumble backwards. She saw the griffon topple back as well, Rarity still enveloped in light.
All the commotion seemed to be gone as the light stopped, revealing Rarity with glowing white eyes, her necklace and cutie mark where glowing in a bright purple light. She took a wide stance and her horn glowed, causing twenty needles to come out from her bag and form a shield around her. She lifted her head and reared back, sending the magically charged needles flying in precise paths across the town. Two griffons that were beating down on a few ponies where struck in the wings, forcing and pinning them down to the earth. They tried moving but yelped out in pain as the needles pierced muscle and bound them to the ground.
A white griffon timidly stepped back, then took off trying to flee the magically charged unicorn. Rarity snapped her head towards it and tossed the rest of the sewing needles out, catching it in its wings and legs, letting it tumble from the sky and crash into the earth. All that remained was the griffon that confidently stood on Rarity’s steel weapon. She slowly let her head down and stared at her oppressor, waiting for it to make a move. Just as the griffon jutted its claw out and began racing towards her, Rarity took a long piece of fabric out from her bag. With the thin edge, she slashed the griffon’s back, making it plant face first into the dirt right out of reach. With all the griffons down, the element stopped glowing as did her cutie mark. She fluttered her eyelids, bringing her eyes back to their azure color. She let out a long sigh, then toppled over herself into the dirt.
After the dust cleared, Twilight rushed over to Rarity, checking frantically for signs of life. She saw her chest rise and fall; she was breathing. Twilight sighed in relief. The air was cool but slightly charged as the battle came to a close, letting the ponies breathe easier. Twilight shook; the adrenaline was just starting to wear off as she grabbed Rarity, attempting to drag her into the shop. A brown stallion rushed over and easily hefted Rarity on to his back, catching Twilight off guard.
“Uh, thanks,” she said, trotting into the store. They went up the stairs and placed Rarity in Zipporah’s bed. Twilight sat down next to it. The stallion took his leave as Applejack came into view. Looking over Rarity, she was visibly shaking and her breathing was shallow. Magically, Twilight stripped Rarity of her necklace and looked over it, turning and inspecting every inch.
“Twi’, what happened? I couldn’t see anything over the pack of ponies near me,” Applejack asked as she plopped down next to Twilight. “Poor Rarity, it must’ve been too much for her.”
“It had to do with this.” Twilight floated the necklace in front of Applejack. “When she was in need this started to glow, enhancing her abilities I believe. I’ve never seen her do anything so quickly with that kind of accuracy and power.”
“Luna did say somethin’ about that before we left, didn’t she?”
“I think so. It must’ve taken out so much energy as a last resort that she just passed out. We won’t be able to move until tomorrow, if then.” Twilight let the necklace fall to the ground, its gold ornate plate slightly clanging on the wooden floor. “We should get our supplies while she’s asleep. I’ll stay here and tend to her.”
“Alright, I’m on it.” Applejack said. She got to her hooves and headed downstairs, leaving Twilight and Rarity alone in the room. Out from her bag she took a her element crown form her bag and looked at carefully.
Her curious eyes filled with trepidation as she stared at her reflection in the purple star. I’m the Element of Magic. If generosity gave Rarity the ability to single-hoofedly take out a whole pack of griffons, what would magic do? Twilight shuddered as she set the crown next to Rarity’s necklace, waiting anxiously until her friend awoke. Zipoorah came up the stairs, weapons covered in dirt and traces of blood. She put them away in the rack and looked over Rarity.
“How are her wounds?” she asked, inspecting Rarity’s body..
“Well, she’ll live,” Twilight said, choking up. “This is all my fault. If I hadnt’ messed up that spell, she’d still be making clothes in her boutique. Why did they attack us?” She put her face in her hooves, trying hard to keep her composure. “If I found an easier spell, none of this would have happened.”
“Why does that matter? She has t’ normally defend against creatures, doesn’t she?” Zipporah assumed as she placed the tea kettle back on the burner.
“No, nothing like this happens in Ponyville, we said that before. The only dangers lie in the Everfree Forest, and those creatures never come into town.” She paused, thinking of her next course of action. “What is the trail like to Mistral City?”
“It’s nothing too bad,” Zipporah answered.
“Tell me!” Twilight snapped. Her breathing became labored as her guilt finally caught up to her. “What am I putting my friends through? How many attacks will there be?”
Zipporah sighed as she checked on the tea. “If ya’ must know, the path goes through the Drakiris mountain range. That’s where the feral griffons lie. After the mountains is Ventia, whose winter is very long. It may snow for over half the year. Barely anyone makes the trip.”
Twilight stared in disbelief. “You weren’t going to tell me this!? Why?”
“Well, you hadn’t paid for my services yet.” After sighing, Twilight pointed down the stairs, hoping Zipporah would get the hint.
“Applejack is downstairs looking to buy things. Just... just take the bits; we need Rarity in bed more than the money.” Zipporah nodded her head and headed towards the stairs. She stopped, and turned to face Twilight.
“If you’re really going, I would wear some cloaks. You stick out too much.” She turned away and descended the stairs. Twilight looked down at the floor, trying to ease her guilt as Zipporah left. She glanced at the crown coldly, regretting opening the door for Fluttershy that day. The library in Ponyville felt so distant from her, and all she wanted to do was go back. She lay down on the hard wooden floor, still staring as she waited for Applejack to come up the stairs.