Rainbow desperately waved her hoof, but no matter what she did she couldn’t seem to grab hold of the fog. She reared up her hind legs and kicked as hard as she could, but her legs only hit air.
“Ugh! What is wrong with this fog!? I can’t touch it!” Rainbow huffed, stomping a hoof on the ground.
“I’m not sure; it was like this for me too.” Pinkie said looking up at the sky, “I originally tried to escape from here by using my balloon fly out, but it had too many holes in it. I don’t know what’s beyond the fog bank.”
“Well I’m about to find out! If nothing else I should be able to be rid of this fog!” Rainbow said spreading her wings before racing up into the sky, disappearing from sight quickly.
“…Do you think it’s safe?” Fluttershy asked looking at Pinkie curiously.
“Well, if anyone can handle herself its Rainbow Dash. I’m sure she’ll manage to have this place cleared up in ten seconds fla-”
Pinkie’s words were interrupted by a ear shattering roar that bounced and echoed through the town. It felt like the very earth itself was shaking at the roar. Fluttershy and Pinkie instantly looked up into the sky at the direction of the roar, as Rainbow came barreling through the fog at them. The music box in Fluttershy’s bag began to hiss with a sound similar to bees being stuck in the box.
“HIDE NOW!” She yelled loudly before swooping down to grab the hooves of her friends before giving them a chance to register her words. She half-dragged them behind the library when they all heard a tremendous thud shake the ground, as if something gigantic had just landed quickly.
“What’s goi-” Pinkie tried to ask only to have Rainbow quickly shove her hooves into her mouth, giving a loud ‘SHHHH’.
“Look around the corner, carefully.” Rainbow whispered harshly before looking around the tree herself. Pinkie and Fluttershy carefully looked around the corner themselves. Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she felt as if her heart could stop at the sight before them.
A gigantic black dragon had landed in front of Twilight’s house. It growled softly as black smoke billowed from its nose. It gave a snort, shooting out a large part of the smoke into the air, as it swiveled its head around, looking for the pony that had just escaped from its sight. It stepped forward carefully examined the building and areas on the street.
It gave another snort of frustration, as its wings opened up, giving them a good flap lifting its body into the sky and causing everything to rattle and shake with the force of the wind. With a few more quick flaps it flew up into the fog filled sky, disappearing from sight. The buzzing of the music box faded away with the dragon.
The three mares stood frozen, waiting until they could no longer hear the beating of its wings, before letting out a long collective sigh.
“What’s a dragon doing here?” Pinkie asked, stepping out from behind the tree, looking up at where it had flown off.
“I don’t know, but it seemed to know exactly where I was the moment I started flying.” Rainbow said looking at her wings, “I can’t go up into the sky and clear this weather away if it knows where we are when I fly…” Rainbow groaned, “Meaning I can’t fly AT ALL and that we’re going to have to deal with this fog.”
“It’s alright,” Pinkie smiled reassuringly, “the fog’s not so bad, once we get inside we’ll be able to see just fine.”
“If you say so. Alright, let’s go Flutters-” Rainbow said turning to look at the ball of pink that was curled up, shivering on the floor. “Fluttershy?” She asked worriedly, quickly running over to her marefriend.
“A-a-a-a….d-dragon t-that…c-chases you…w-when you fly…” Fluttershy stuttered in fear, whimpering and shivering curled up in a ball behind the tree. She was scared out of her wits.
“Hey, hey, come on, it’s alright, he’s gone now.” Rainbow said leaning down nuzzling Fluttershy gently, “He’s gone and he won’t hurt you, I promise.”
Fluttershy began to calm down, feeling the comfort of Rainbow Dash. She stopped shivering, leaning up and nuzzling Rainbow Dash back.
“It’s just one dragon, we’ll get to your house, find out what’s causing these nightmares and we’ll be out of here in no time, okay?” Rainbow said reassuringly to her marefriend.
“Well…” Pinkie said, looking conflicted, “I…don’t want to lie to you two…but…that might not be all we face.”
“What? You mean there’s more?” Rainbow said looking up surprised at Pinkie.
“Well…when this happened to me before…I…I encountered…many monsters.” Pinkie hung her head solemnly, not wanting to have to say this, “It’s…why I didn’t want Fluttershy coming in here alone. I was afraid she’d have to face monsters like I did…and I couldn’t stand the idea of her having to face them alone.”
Fluttershy shrunk back into her ball at Pinkie’s words.
“And you didn’t think to TELL us this when we were discussing the spells!?” Rainbow almost yelled, but holding herself back.
“Hey! I TRIED to get a different spell to be used! I did everything I could to make sure we didn’t have to resort to this! And when we did I refused to let her do this alone!” Pinkie protested to Dash’s accusations.
“You STILL could have told us there’d be monsters!” Rainbow felt her hair standing on end, “We COULD have been more prepared! We could have prepared for facing them or running away! We could’ve brought our elements!” Rainbow growled in frustration, closing her eyes, “We could have done SOMETHING so as to not put our LIVES in danger!”
Rainbow panted heavily. She was angry, she couldn’t remember being so angry before.
“…I’m…I’m sorry…” Pinkie lowered her head, her ears folding back. Rainbow opened her eyes and looked at Pinkie. Pinkie looked like she was on the verge of tears. Rainbow opened her mouth to say something, but closed it again. She was still mad, but she couldn’t stay mad at her friend this way. Rainbow turned her head to look at Fluttershy who had covered her head with her hooves, shaking.
Rainbow was sure she could hear Fluttershy’s soft sobs.
Rainbow sighed softly, walking up to Fluttershy, lying down on the ground before her, lowering her head and nuzzling her marefriend gently. Fluttershy hiccupped softly, trying to breath, her mind still reeling from everything.
“Fluttershy…listen to me please.” Rainbow said closing her eyes, speaking to her from her heart, “This isn’t the best situation we could find ourselves in. But I need you to know, that no matter what happens or what we face, you’re going to be okay.”
Fluttershy began to calm down again, sniffing as she took a deep breath, feeling the comfort of her marefriend. She slowly uncurled from her ball, moving closer to Rainbow, wrapping her head around Rainbow’s neck, as Rainbow nuzzled against Fluttershy’s neck.
“I need you to be strong right now, alright?”
Fluttershy looked up into Rainbow’s eyes, seeing the comfort and warmth they offered. She heard her words as they echoed in her mind. She gulped down the nervous tensions that had built in her throat, before nodding slowly.
“That’s my girl.” Rainbow kissed her forehead. She helped Fluttershy on to her hooves, “Now give me a smile alright?”
It took a moment, but Fluttershy managed to bring her courage forward and put a smile on her face. Rainbow smiled back, before turning to face Pinkie Pie, who was still had the apologetic look on her face.
“Uh…hey, look, it’s alright Pinkie Pie.” Rainbow put a smile on her face for her friend, “I know you meant well…you wouldn’t put us in danger on purpose. But since we’re already here, we might as well just deal with it.”
“…You’re still right Dash…” Pinkie turned her head away from Dash, still with the look of hurt on her face, “I really was a stupid mcstupid pants…” Pinkie let out a soft sigh, before putting a smile on her face, “But I’ll do my best to make up for this and get us out of here as quickly as possible. So let’s head for Fluttershy’s house.”
“Right.” Rainbow nodded smiling, the three mares walking off into the fog.
It seemed like a long walk to reach the outskirts of Fluttershy’s cottage. The town had been deathly quiet. There was a moment or two where they had frozen, thinking they had heard the wing beats of the dragon, but it faded as quickly as it came.
Ponyville had become a ghost town. The only three inhabitants seemed to be the three of them as they made their way out of town, following the path along the park, past the trees, quickly approaching the house where Fluttershy lived.
The air had felt thick between them. None of them had spoken since they had started walking. The only sounds they heard were their hoofsteps and the occasional breeze that seemed to blow through the town.
“Here we are.” Pinkie said as they approached the bridge before Fluttershy’s house, the three of them just barely managing to make out the shape of her house in the fog.
“Do…Do you think my animals are okay?” Fluttershy asked as she looked around, trying to spot any critters.
“I don’t think there’s any around.” Rainbow said looking around herself before crossing the bridge.
“I’m not really sure what determines what you do and don’t find in this world. Honestly I figured we should come to Fluttershy’s house first because ‘home’ was the first place I went. So since this is Fluttershy’s mind it made sense to me. When I was in my mind the path to Fluttershy’s house was blocked off.” Pinkie explained as she walked up to the front door of the cottage, checking for any locks that might be on the door.
“I see…well, I’m actually glad my animals aren’t here then.” Fluttershy smiled walking up to Pinkie, “I’d hate for them to be put in danger.”
Pinkie opened the front door and the three of them entered Fluttershy’s house. To Pinkie’s surprise, the house was intact. Everything that should be there was, nothing was run down or broken, there wasn’t even any dust as if the house had been sitting in time.
“What’s the matter Pinkie? You look surprised.” Rainbow chuckled as she walked further into the house.
“I…guess I am a little.” Pinkie chuckled a little awkwardly as she closed the door behind them.
“So, what exactly are we looking for?” Rainbow asked looking around at the house.
“I’m not sure…I guess anything that seems odd or out of place, something you wouldn’t expect or just a clue as to what exactly is going on.” Pinkie explained as she began to look around at various shelves in Fluttershy’s home.
“Oh…well, I guess I would know best then…” Fluttershy said tapping a hoof to her chin as she carefully glanced around the room.
As Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash carefully looked around the living room, Fluttershy couldn’t help but feel a connection to the kitchen. She stepped out of the living room, soon entering the familiar space of her kitchen. She looked around carefully, trying to spot what was giving her the feeling something was in there.
It was then that her eyes fell on the fridge. Attached by a small butterfly magnet was a piece of paper, marked with what looked like a crayon. Fluttershy blinked, not having seen the paper before. She slowly walked up to it, getting a better look at it. It looked like a child’s drawing, drawn with several colors of crayon; it was of a simple house with a sun, outside the house was a happy pony attending to a garden. Bellow the picture there were words written in a red crayon:
When I grow up I will hav a house and lots of pets. I luv love helpin aminals.
I keep a kay key to let me know I will have a house.
There was a small bulge under the paper, as if the paper was hiding something. Fluttershy carefully lifted the paper and looked at the back of it, seeing a key taped to the back of it. She carefully peeled the key away looking at it; the key was also in the shape of a butterfly.
“Hey, how come this door is locked?” Fluttershy’s ear perked up as she quickly walked back into the living room. She saw Rainbow Dash struggling to try and open the door to her closet, which was locked tight.
“Does it have a lock on it?” Pinkie Pie asked turning from her side of the room to look at the door.
“Yea it does.” Rainbow said looking at the door, “It’s got the shape of a butterfly over a keyhole.”
“Oh, well, I just found a key with a butterfly on it.” Fluttershy said holding up the key.
“Then it probably opens that door.” Pinkie said thinking about it, “Though…maybe I should open the door.”
“Why’s that?” Fluttershy asked a little confused.
“Well…I just don’t want anything popping out and hurting you.” Pinkie thought, before looking at Fluttershy’s saddle bag, “But…I guess you’re music box isn’t letting out any noise…so I think it should be safe.”
“My music box?” Fluttershy blinked, turning her head to look at the saddlebag.
“Yea, do you remember when the music box started making noise when the dragon attacked? The music box will let you know when something that is trying to hurt you gets close. So just be careful alright?” Pinkie explained, choosing her words carefully.
“I see…alright, I’ll be careful.” Fluttershy nodded walking up to the door. Rainbow backed up a little from the door, watching as Fluttershy unlocked the door. She slowly opened the door to her closet, looking inside the lightly lit room. She stepped inside slowly, noticing that the things she would normally have placed inside were missing, and in their place was a grandfather clock, with words written on the side of the wall.
My hands are frozen, but they weren’t always this way.
I used to reach for the sky and wave over the crowd,
While my friend to my right offered me his snack.
“What’s in there?” Fluttershy heard Rainbow ask from behind her.
“I think it’s a puzzle.” Fluttershy said thinking about the words and looking at the clock. “I think I know the answer though…” She said carefully lifting up her hoof to the face of the clock. She turned the long hand up to face midnight, while moving the small hand to face three.
Fluttershy heard a loud click, as if something was unlatched by her actions. She looked at the clock, waiting to see what it would do, when it suddenly began to rush up and out of her vision.
Fluttershy let out a cry as she lost her bearings, falling into the giant hole that opened up beneath her
“FLUTTERSHY!” Rainbow Dash yelled, before the hatch that had opened closed.
Wind rushed past her ears, falling in the darkness. She screamed and cried, she had to open her wings and stop her fall, but they were stuck, glued to her sides. Her hooves flailed as she tried to grab something, anything. She descended into the bottomless darkness.
Fluttershy let out a groan as she slowly lifted herself up off the ground. She rubbed her head as her eyes opened. It was too dark, she couldn’t see a thing.
“Rainbow Dash? Pinkie Pie?” Fluttershy called out, trying to reach around for something. Only silence returned her call. She felt her saddle bag in her hoof and remembered something she’d seen inside of it. She carefully opened it up before reaching in. She moved the music box slightly to the side before grabbing hold of a lantern in her teeth, pulling it out and turning on the light.
She was in a blank room, the walls seemed to be made of cement worn away by age, the sound of water dripping echoed off of the walls. She looked up at the ceiling; a metal grate was sitting in the way of her trying to fly back up the long shaft she had fallen through.
‘How…did I get through the grate?’ She asked herself, not sure exactly what just happened, ‘And…why am I not hurt if I fell from such a great distance?’ she looked at her body, not seeing any damage or feeling any pain. It was as if landing on the hard cement after falling a great height hadn’t hurt her.
‘I…I need to get out of here. I need to meet back up with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie!’ Fluttershy thought to herself, quickly looking around for an exit. She saw a metal door along the wall behind her.
‘Okay, I just need to get my bearings, find where I am and…’ Fluttershy opened the metal door, revealing to a long hallway, water covering the floor after a small dip in the ground. The walls looks like they were molding over, the channel seemed to stretch and turn.
‘…I have no idea where I am.’ She had never seen this place before. ‘Why is it flooded with water?’ she asked as she slowly began to step into it. It wasn’t very deep, it only came up to about her ankles, but it was enough that the tips of her hair would drag in it. The cool water sent a few shivers up her spine, but she headed forward.
The only sound she could hear was the splashing of her steps as she went down the long hall. The quiet hallways seemed to echo her splashing loudly. The darkness of the hallways being lit only by the light of her lantern sent a chill up her spine. She really hoped she could get out of this hallway soon.
She rounded a corner along the hallway and found herself facing an intersection. The paths branched out to her left and right.
‘…NOW which way am I supposed to go?’ Fluttershy furrowed her brow in frustration and fear. She didn’t want to get lost, not here, not with the idea that monsters could be anywhere.
Her music box began to hiss, letting out the sound of bees buzzing. She grimaced at herself for having jinxed it. The next sound she heard was the slow splashing of steps being taken in the water, each step seemed to slosh around as it go closer. She looked down both paths, she couldn’t tell which way the sound was coming from, and running back would only lead back to the dead end.
Her attention snapped to the left route, when her eyes caught the creature emerging in the light. Her eyes widened as she stared at what was treading through the water.
It was a mannequin, a moving mannequin with no head. Its body looked like it was made of cloth, rotted with age and wear, it had several large seams sewn along it as if it had been put together and torn apart many times, it had several pale, sickly colors and looked like it had trouble walking.
Fluttershy took a step back from the creature; the buzzing of the music box grew louder as it came closer. It reared its front legs up and smashed them down into the water, growing closer to Fluttershy.
Her legs acted on their own, her galloping fast down the right path, getting as far away from the monster as she could. The water kicked up and sprayed across her body as she ran as fast as she could through the hallway. The water was slowing her down, but she could outrun that creature.
She looked behind her as the buzzing of her box grew to a quiet stop. The mannequin couldn’t keep up with her, she was in the clear. She slowed down a little, breathing softly as she turned to look in front of her, stopping just short of running into a wall. She had come to another split in the road. She looked down the right path, not seeing anything unusual.
Suddenly her music roared with its buzzing, as her head snapped to the left, right before her body was hit by two hind legs, sending her flying down the right path. She hit the water with a huge splash as she skidded along the ground. She winced in pain as her skin burned and her chest ached. The lantern had landed just next to her head with a splash in the water, cutting the light from the area.
She groaned in pain, feeling a welt beginning to form on her chest, as she groggily reached out for her light. She managed to grab the handle, lifting the lantern from the water. She could hear the steps of what had attacked her shifting through the water, getting closer slowly. She frantically moved to turn the lantern back on. It gave a few clicks without turning on, making Fluttershy grimace to each click. She desperately turned the knob again and again, praying for it to light up.
The flame came to life illuminating the mannequin whose front hooves now stood raised over her. The legs came down, striking her body.
Fluttershy wanted to let out a scream, but the handle of the lantern in her mouth just caused her to bite down. The hooves of the mannequin scratched against her skin as it dragged its hooves. Pain soared through Fluttershy’s mind as she winced her eyes shut, biting down onto the lantern so hard she began to bleed a little, tears rolling down her eyes as she couldn’t stop her attacker.
“I need you to be strong right now, alright?”
Her eyes shot open as she whipped her head around to look back at the mannequin, it raising its hooves once more to come down hard on her. Forcing every ounce of strength into her hooves Fluttershy swirled her body around before kicking the mannequin with her hind legs.
The mannequin stumbled a tiny bit, forcing itself to put its hooves back on the ground.
Fluttershy internally cursed herself for being so weak, but was able to get back to her hooves. She turned and began to run again, escaping from the tormenting creature. She felt like her lungs were burning, each hoofstep seemed to only intensify the pain in her chest, but she had to keep going.
She rounded another corner, seeing another split before her. The buzz of the music box returning. She swiftly moved her head back and forth, seeing the mannequin trying to head for her, trying to attack her. She wouldn’t let it this time. She turned down the left path and ran away from it.
She looked up ahead of her and saw an opening. She rushed forward, putting all of her might for this one point of escape. She jumped out of the water, landing on dry land as she reached out for the door and opened it, escaping behind it before shutting it.
Fluttershy panted heavily, leaning against the cool steel door. She felt like her chest was on fire, burning from behind tossed around and slammed. She could feel blood trickling down the side of her from where the creature had cut into her, as she felt where she had been hit slowly starting to swell.
She could only let out gasping groans and pants of pain as she tried to breath, her lungs feeling like they might burst with each breathe of air.
There were monsters, just as Pinkie Pie had said there were. Her music box had warned her of the danger of the creatures too. But when she had been struck, she couldn’t find the strength to stand up, she had been willing to lay there and take it. She would’ve let that mannequin do whatever it had intended to do to her…
But a voice struck out in her mind. It was Rainbow’s voice.
She had told her to be strong.
Fluttershy put the lantern down for a moment, wiping the blood from her mouth with her wet hoof. She was soaked; the water had drenched her completely. She needed to dry off and she needed to put something on her wounds. She looked at the room she had just entered.
It was a room similar to one she had fallen into, only this time there was a ladder in the middle of it, leading up into a hole above with a faint light shining down from it.
Fluttershy adjusted her aching jaw, gently spitting out some blood that had been pooling in it. She then gingerly picked up the lantern and turned it off, placing it back in the bag. She rubbed her jaw gently.
‘I…need a better way to get light…’ She thought to herself for a moment, she couldn’t keep holding the lantern with her mouth if she was going to keep biting down on it.
Fluttershy slowly walked over to the ladder, beginning to climb up it one hoof at a time.
The ladder seemed to stretch far into the hole. Fluttershy could barely see the top of the ladder, though she could still see it. A faint light was shining down the hole illuminating her path. The water in her mane and coat felt like it was holding her down, but it was slowly dripping off of her body.
With a few final grunts she managed to pull herself to the top of the ladder, pulling herself to the wooden floor and let herself lay on it, panting as she breathed. Her eyes felt a little heavy, but she couldn’t let herself lose consciousness yet, not till she at least tended to her wounds.
She was in a house, she couldn’t tell whose house it was, but it must’ve been a house in Ponyville. It was small but it was cozy. She grunted as she slowly got to her feet, moving to where she could see a bathroom in the house.
She pulled two towels that were hanging on the wall and placed them against her body. She winced as the cotton landed on the scratches on her back, but bore the pain for the moment. She rubbed the towels against her hair and coat, getting as much water as she could off of her.
Once she felt she was dry enough she looked at her wounds in the mirror. The scratches on her back were deeper than she had thought, but weren’t too serious. What worried her more was the deep blue marks that had appeared on the side of her chest from where she had been kicked. Her teeth were a little red as well, but it only seemed to be minor bleeding, it’d stop on its own.
She looked through the bathroom drawers and found a bottle of antiseptic and a few bandages. With very careful hooves she cleaned her wounds, grimacing and gritting her teeth as the alcohol burned. Once it was cleaned she carefully placed the bandages against the wounds, and wrapped it a few times around her body. A few tears escaped her eyes as she grimaced in pain, but she had to make sure the bandages were on securely.
She panted once the whole procedure was over. She wobbly stood on her hooves and inspected the bandages. They’d do for now, but she needed a serious medical evaluation once she could find a doctor.
Her eyes grew heavy as she slowly wandered out of the bathroom. She couldn’t go outside like this. If she was attacked she wouldn’t have the strength to run away.
Fluttershy wandered to the nearby couch and gently slid her bag off, placing it next to the couch, before getting on top of it and curling up.
‘Rainbow Dash…Pinkie Pie…where are you two…’ Fluttershy thought as she began to close her eyes, a few more tears escaping, ‘Please…I need you two with me…’
“I need you to be strong right now, alright?”
“…A-Alright…I…I promise I will be…” Fluttershy said, holding back her lonely sobs. She had to be strong, she told Dash that she would be.
Fluttershy slowly, but surely, fell asleep.