Pinkie Pie sat straight up in bed. She looked around her dark room, looking and listening for the cause of her sudden departure from sleep. The reason came to her in the sensation of something wet on her face: tears. She was crying, and there was only one Pinkie Pie explanation for being woken up by her own tears: Somepony's heart had just been broken, and it was somepony close to her. Pinkie Pie looked at her clock, which read 2am. It was possible that whatever happened had occurred some time ago, so Pinkie rushed out of bed and very quietly slipped downstairs and out of the bakery.
Pinkie ran full speed towards the Everfree Forest. It didn't take her long until she came to the edge. Nearby was the road leading to Canterlot, but Pinkie felt that whatever was heading her way wouldn't be taking the road. Soon enough, she saw them: in the dead of night, under the moon, emerged Spark Storm, the harpy creature she'd seen but once, and a new, smaller creature that somewhat resembled a pegasus, partially made of grass and moss. Spark stared at Pinkie for a moment, having not expected her first thing in the morning.
The earth pony moved closer, her big eyes curiously wandering over Spark's face and into his eyes. The two other figures were silent, and even backed away to give the two some room. As Pinkie Pie got closer to Spark, she could make out an angry look on his face. It didn't deter her from reaching up and brushing away a stray tear born from anger. Spark lowered his head, and made no move to stop Pinkie from wrapping her hooves around her friend, his face buried in her shoulder.
Pinkie Pie frowned as she stroked Spark's mane. His body was tense, as if he'd been carrying horrible tension for hours now, his muscles on the brink of lashing out at something. After a moment, the little grassy pegasus stepped closer to Pinkie, moving cautiously. Pinkie watched it from the corner of her eyes. Upon closer inspection, the little thing was definitely female. Pinkie reached down and touched the little one's head, who reacted by pressing into Pinkie's hoof, then moving closer and settling upon Pinkie's lap without so much as an invitation.
The blatant show of trust made Pinkie smile. She was about to ask Spark what she was, but he had fallen asleep sitting up, propped against her shoulder. "Ugh...finally," sighed the harpy as she leaned against a nearby tree. She slid down into a sitting position, her deceptively long legs folding under herself. "It's been a long night, 'pinky', and those two have been upset all night. You have no idea what it's like to have others' emotions pressed on you like they have."
"...Actually, I do."
Sohl peered at Pinkie, who merely grinned sheepishly at her, though she had to peer around Spark's bulky form to be seen. Soon, Pinkie's legs began to give out. She grunted with effort as she leaned back, trying to get Spark to lie down. He was completely prone; out like a light. He was too heavy, and he fell forward on to Pinkie, pushing her on her back. She let out a giggle as the small pegasus wriggled out from between them, then pushed on Spark's side until he was lying on his side, giving Pinkie an opportunity to crawl out from under her heavy friend.
Pinkie and the little grassy pegasus sat next to each other, both standing watch over Spark as he slept. Suddenly remembering the harpy, Pinkie turned to see that she, too, had fallen asleep, in a sitting position and propped up against her tree. "Looks like it's just you and me now, "Leafy"," Pinkie whispered, and reached down to take the little one into her arms as she laid down beside Spark. 'Leafy' made a face as she snuggled deeply into Pinkie's fur, making the pink pony squeak, a sound of happiness.
"Call me Orea. My daddy does." Pinkie blinked, slightly shocked that the little one could talk.
"Oh! Um, ok, Orea. So...who's your daddy?" Orea yawned as she settled in for sleep as Pinkie pressed her back against Spark's, keeping the three of them warm in the chill night.
"He is," Orea whispered as she fell into the first stages of sleep, her body kept warm in Pinkie's arms. The earth mare's eyes shot open in shock. And just how did...you know what? It doesn't matter. Sleepy time, Pinkie thought as she closed her eyes and fell asleep in the grass.
When Pinkie awoke next, Celestia's sun had just started to rise over the tops of the trees. She smiled and let out a yawn, then sputtered as she nearly inhaled a feather. She spat it out and sat up, brushing a large, heavy wing off of her. She looked to her side to see Spark still sleeping, though he stirred from all the noise. After a moment of watching Spark and recalling the events of just a few hours prior, Pinkie got to her hooves and looked around the area for the little creature that called herself Orea.
Pinkie Pie let out an adoring coo as she saw the little nymph nestled in the arms of the harpy, those massive wings wrapped around herself and Orea. This last sound was enough to get Spark to open his eyes. His gaze was on the grass around where Pinkie sat, and as he woke and focused his vision, he realized he was staring at Pinkie's rump. He shot up, blurry eyed as he rubbed a hoof over his eyes. Whether Pinkie had noticed this or not, she was silent about it. Instead he was greeted by a grin that started to grate on his nerves. "Ugh, Pinkie...so I wasn't dreaming last night." He let out a sigh and nearly fell over until Pinkie lent him her shoulder.
"Sparky, what were doing walking around this tired? Why didn't you make camp instead of...where are you coming from, anyway?" Pinkie asked, her tone and eyes full of concern. The pegasus turned his gaze on Pinkie. He really didn't want to have to talk about it, but she deserved to know. They all did, actually. He closed his eyes and touched his forehead to hers affectionately before pulling away from her to stand on his own.
"I'll tell you, Pinkie. But I really don't want to have to repeat myself...it's not a pleasant thing for me to think about or talk about. Can you go grab the others?" Pinkie Pie smiled and saluted. Before she turned to go, though, he stopped her. "Pinkie, wait...let me find Fluttershy. There's something I need to ask her. Go find the others, tell them to meet me at the library in a couple hours."
After Pinkie left, Spark wandered over to the sleeping Sohl and Orea. Sohl was roused with a cautious poke to her nose. Her eyes opened and stared at Spark. He quickly retracted his hoof, then sat down in front of the harpy. "Sohl, I need a safe place to keep Orea, and there might be a place to keep her-"
"So keep her with me," she interupted, cradling the nymph a little tighter in her arms. The two had grown very close over the last few weeks, and even though Sohl had initially disliked having the nymph inside her head at all times, it had become comforting. Apparently the thought of being away from Spark's 'offspring' was an unpleasant notion.
"I don't want to keep the two of you hidden out here for who knows how long, and I don't want to hide you two like you're a couple of monsters. It's bad enough that I have to." Sohl narrowed her magnolia-colored eyes at him. He wasn't starting on that whole pity trip again, was he? She suddenly lashed out with a talon, intent on grabbing him and knocking some sense into him. His left wing shot up and pushed her foot over his head. The swift reflex brought a grin to her face; he was getting really good at predicting her movements. She let her leg down slowly, the long talons curling back into resting position.
"You're getting better, and here I thought you might be tired." The tone in Sohl's voice told Spark that she was getting restless and wanted to fight. He quickly reminded her that she was holding Orea in her arms with a hoof. After making sure that she was indeed holding the nymph, Sohl sighed, collapsing in on herself a little. "...All right. Fine...Let's go do the things that you wanna do." Sohl got to her feet slowly, still clutching the child carefully. She stepped up onto Spark's back, then stood straight.
As she had in White Tail Woods where they first met, she quickly shrank down into eagle form, now about as large as the average eight year old filly. She made sure that Orea, still miraculously sleeping, was tucked between Spark's wings. She then perched atop the nymph and covered her with her expansive pink and yellow plumage. Stuck to body language in this form, Sohl slapped the back of Spark's head with a wing and pointed towards Ponyville. Glaring back at the harpy eagle, Spark turned northwest of the village and took off in that direction for Fluttershy's cottage.
Fluttershy stepped through her front door, wings raised to the sky. It was such a glorious morning! The bees were buzzing, collecting honey and making flowers bloom, the hummingbirds were chirping as they flew by, and the wind had such a wonderful smell to it. Today, Fluttershy was going to start work on an area for a chicken coup. Over the last week, she had been gathering supplies; chicken wire, plywood, nails, and straw for the little chickens to make their nests.
It was going to be a busy several days for her to be working alone, but really that's how she liked it. She hated asking others for help, if only for the fact that her troubles were just too insignificant to bother others with. She had just gotten all the materials out to start work when she happened to glance down the road and spotted a dark form approaching. She gasped and dove behind her materials, then very slowly popped her head over the stack of plywood. She watched the figure approaching, then let out a squeal of delight: Spark Storm!
Fluttershy hopped into the air and in a single bound covered the distance from her home to Spark Storm, landing nearly at his hooves. He took a step back, but not before he found himself in a big, feathery hug. "Spark Storm, you're home!" she called, nuzzling him affectionately before taking a step back. She let out a gasp as a pair of big, yellow and pink wings spread wide. From Fluttershy's perspective, being as short as she was, it seemed the pretty feathers were protruding from his head. It would've made for an amusing sight if the wings didn't look so dangerous.
Spark Storm gave Fluttershy a sheepish grin as an annoyed harpy eagle stepped up Spark's back and gripped his head in a set of talons as she peered down her beak at the pony that had disrupted her rest. "Oh...oh my..." Fluttershy said breathlessly. "What...a magnificent bird!" she proclaimed, lifting herself into the air to better examine Sohl. Finding this to be a terrible idea, he took a step back before the irritable harpy could react.
"Ah, that's not a good idea, Flutters. Sohl here isn't the type of 'bird' that likes to be touched. I was actually wondering if you could find a place for her for a couple days..." Fluttershy's eyes got bigger and bigger as he talked. The 'couple days' did it.
"Oh, Spark, you're going to be staying here for a while?" she said, her voice rising with excitement. "Woo hoo!" she crooned, her voice barely above a whisper, but her body language was that of an excited filly. "Oh, that's such exciting news! And your bird is so pretty! I just know we're going to get along so well, you and I! And..." she trailed off as another curious face popped up over Spark's shoulder.
Fluttershy and Orea stared at each other in wonder. Slowly, a look of realization came over the yellow pegasi's face. "Spark...this is..." she said, her voice full of awe and respect. "Th-this is a tree spirit..."
Spark looked down at Fluttershy with surprise. "You know them, Fluttershy? I didn't think anypony in this day and age would know of them without actually meeting them."
She shook her head, her eyes still full of wonder. She gasped as Orea climbed down from Spark's back and approached Fluttershy slowly. "Oh, I...no, I've never seen them, or read about them, really. But seeing her...I just know." Fluttershy let out a soft gasp as the little nymph suddenly attached herself to Fluttershy's legs.
"Heh. Don't worry, Fluttershy. She only does that to ponies - argh!" he groaned as Sohl scratched his head with a talon. "...and harpies...that she likes." Spark's grunt of pain and his mention of harpies went completely unnoticed by Fluttershy. She was too busy fawning over Orea.
Suddenly the nymph turned to Spark and said, "Daddy, I like this one. Let's keep her!" She turned back to Fluttershy and jumped into her arms, nuzzling under the pegasi's chin.
"Oh Spark, she talks! She's just so cute and cuddly, and she sh-she called you...'daddy'."
"Mhm," Spark said in a noncommital sort of way. There was going to be a lot of explaining to do before the day was up.
Ditzy hummed happily to herself as she gave little Dinky a bath. She was just over two months now, and things had finally gotten easier, especially with everypony's help. Ever since Spark Storm's intervention a little over a month ago, Ditzy didn't feel like she was alone and drowning anymore. Many ponies stopped by now and then and asked her what she needed.
Many times she said she wasn't in need, but like clockwork, an hour later she would find extra baby supplies on her doorstep, donated anonymously. Today had been such a day: Pinkie Pie had come by earlier, asking what she could get for her. When Ditzy told her that she didn't need anything today, a basket that had most definitely been from Pinkie appeared at Ditzy's front door, bearing more diapers, more bath supplies, and a plate of blueberry muffins.
Having gotten Dinky cleaned and wrapped up in a diaper and a nice warm towl, Ditzy was feeling a bit peckish. She pulled the plate of muffins closer and tore away the cling wrap. The smell of breakfast made her mouth water a bit, which Dinky was kind enough to point at and laugh as Ditzy's open mouth smile made her dribble just a bit.
"Oh!" Ditzy laughed and wiped at her mouth. "Dinky, that's an embarrassing thing to point out!" She said accusingly, getting a happy giggle from her little girl. Ditzy smiled and looked down at something that seemed to be poking out of the bottom of her plate. Curious, she pulled it out slowly to reveal a small letter that seemed to be made out of construction paper. Attached to it was a single, familiar blue feather. Ditzy's heart jumped for joy as she read the card, which had been scribbled in blue crayon against the bright pink card: "Special guest today at the library this morning, don't be late!"
Ditzy didn't want to think about how Pinkie got this feather. She was an odd mare, but her heart was usually in the right place. She reached down and carefully picked up the feather in her mouth, then tucked it neatly into her mane with help from a wing. She let out a sigh of happiness as she cantered back to Dinky and nudged her over onto her back and, much to Dinky's delight, began to blow raspberries on the infant's tummy. After successfully making the little foal happy, she sighed dreamily.
"Good thing we just got you washed, muffin, 'cause we're gonna go see an old friend today. Maybe we'll bring him home tonight, wouldn't that be fun?" Dinky nodded, just for the sake of moving her body a little, but Ditzy took that as a sign of affirmation. She laughed happily, and took Dinky with her as she slipped into her closet to find something nice to wear for the occasion.
And so begins the third arc of Spark Storm's story! A new story, a new direction for our hero. Stay tuned for more!