Rarity could not believe her eyes.
"Rainbow Dash, darling! What a pleasure to see you here! I didn't expect to meet you here at the spa."
Rainbow put on a smug face.
"Ah, you know... after hours of hardcore exercise and a nice, steaming hot shower, once in a while I like to treat my athletic body to the deluxe care she so truly deserves..."
The young pegasus was flexing her perfumed, oily muscles to illustrate.
"My, you do look simply fabulous! Oh, but you're already leaving..."
"Yeah, I kinda spent my wellness budget for today. Seeya aroung, I guess..."
Rarity watched that stunning, muscular body walk past her, and she was sharply sucking in the air as if it was made of the sweetest nectar.
"Say... we spend so little time together, Rainbow Dash, my dear... Why don't you stay here with me? I want to invite you to a very special afternoon. So what do you say?"
"Well..." Rainbow wasn't really that much of a wellness-type. But if it was going to make Rarity happy... Besides, she had noticed the look on the older pony's face. Awe and utter admiration for the one and only Rainbow Dash. Now that was something she could relate to.
"Okay. Sure. What do you want to do first?"
"Uh. This is kinda awkward...
The unicorn had brought her to a very small room where the air was thick with steam and perfume.
"Relax, dear. As a regular customer, I enjoy certain... privileges. We'll have this part of the spa all to ourselves... I come here with Fluttershy sometimes."
She pointed to a mat on the floor.
"Please, lay down. When was the last time someone gave you a proper massage?"
Rainbow's thoughts drifted off for a moment. She remembered the day when she had last helped Applejack on the farm. After a day of hard work, the two ponies had started massaging each other's hooves...
"It has been way too long."
"Alright then. In that case you are going to love this part..."
As a matter of fact, the pegasus did. Rarity's hooves moved over her back and her limbs, targeting one key area after the other. The unicorn knew exactly when she had to be extra gentle and when she needed to apply more pressure.
"Uuuuh... That's the stuff... How do you even do that?"
"Years of practice, dear friend... And a wonderful mentor."
When Rarity stopped, the pegasus felt disoriented for a second. She had already gotten used to her touch.
"What's the matter?"
"Oh my. I hadn't noticed at first, but you seem to have quite a few bruises, dear... And... skin leisions! Oh my."
"Yeah, that's plausible. I still need to refine the awesomeness of my landings..."
Why do other ponies always think I'm boastful, Rainbow pondered, I do admit to my shortcomings, don't I?
"My, this won't do at all. Hold on, dear. I'd like to try out a new lotion I just discovered this week."
"Sounds fine to me! Aim for perfection, baby."
The words resonated within Rarity's head.
Perfection, she thought, perfection... Sweet Rainbow is right. Any imperfection on this splendid body of hers is a preposterous abomination.
She decided to clean the areas in question with a little wet cloth first.
The touch made her pegasus friend sleepy again. Rainbow couldn't help it: This was her usual nap time, and she had hardly ever felt so relaxed in her life.
Suddenly, she was woken by a little stinging sensation. She tried to turn her head.
Rarity was levitating a pair of tweezers with her magic.
"Oh, sorry about that, dear. You see, I think I just discovered a splinter. Here, let me spray the spot with this local anaesthetic."
Rainbow sighted in relief. Now the spot on her back was nice and numb. She was dozing off again.
Meanwhile, Rarity started to sweat.
She had not wanted to upset Rainbow, but the fact of the matter was, the bruises on the pegasus' back were all red and puffy now that she had used the cloth and the disinfectant on them. And they were FULL of little splinters. Sure, they were so small that maybe only Rarity could see them, but still.
How awful! Now some of the spots were even bleeding! She certainly had to use more of this disinfectant. And more anaesthetic. By now Rarity could already look into the first layers of flesh. That was good, of course: She had to dig deep to be sure to really get these horrible little splinters. And fibres. And dust corns.
Parasites! They were horrible little parasites!
But strange: The deeper she went, the more she seemed to find. Oh, this was simply dreadful. How could she not have noticed before? It was about time she intervened!
When Rainbow woke up again as the pain reached her after all, the unicorn lady didn't even bother with the spray anymore. She had prepared a cloth dripping with anaesthetic, which she now put on Rainbow's nose. It was best if the pegasus was perfectly still for this procedure. The unicorn lady needed perfect stillness and silence so she could concentrate on her work.
Rarity reached into one of the wounds with the tweezers, and then she pulled with all her might. Nothing. Again! Ah, now it started to come lose. What exactly?
Rarity looked at the tiny piece of flesh she was now holding in her hooves.
Well, that was worrisome. Flesh should not come off like this.
Rotten flesh, Rarity thought, this pony is suffering from a severe case of rotten flesh. Oh my.
Before her inner eye, a picture started to form, a picture so lifelike it almost made her jump:
Applejack standing in her apple orchard. The trees were full of zapapples. Rainbow-colored zapapples.
“Splendid, ain’t it? But one rotten apple can ruin the whole tree, sugar cube. The whole orchard. Better take care of that, don’t cha think?”
Rarity nodded. Finally, something she and the work horse could agree on!
All this blood! Blood was okay, though. Blood was clean. Or was it? Rarity would have to look into that later.
In any case, that’s what the shower heads on the walls were there for. She would just wash it off with cold water whenever it was accumulating to point that it was hindering her progress.
Rarity was getting dizzy. So much to do! It was unbelievable. The harder she worked, the more imperfections there seemed to be. Ah well. The struggle for releasing a pony’s real beauty was hard and full of sacrifices.
Like these feathers, for instance. Feathers on a pony! Preposterous. It was really time someone plucked them out. In fact, even these wings...
Many hours passed before a pony from the staff came to take a look into the intimate little niche. What she saw there would scar her for life, and made her scream until she lost conscience.
A formerly white unicorn, covered in blood.
With terrible, crazy eyes, the mare was busy pealing off the last fibres of flesh from a pegasus skeleton.