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34w, 3dA breif appology for the lack of promised updates. 2 comments · 66 views
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Dreams of Loyalty Chapter 10
In which Pinkie gets lost, Twilight gets suspicious, Luna loses her cool, and Dash loses something else.
For a long time, Pinkie Pie just wandered. Every step forward took a tremendous effort, one which was rewarded only by the stabbing pain of the razor-edged grass as it curled around the cusp of her hoof to cut at her tender cuticles. Breathing wasn’t much easier. The warm, arid atmosphere seemed to be comprised mainly of coarse salt rather than air. It tore at her sinuses like a rasp and burned her eyes like a splash of vinegar. But for all of her efforts to continue despite the malicious air, hostile foliage, and the burning protest of her own muscles and punctured skin, there was no sign or even the slightest clue as to Dash’s whereabouts.
Perhaps it was the life sucking nature of the world, or maybe it was simply her own despair setting in, but as the steps grew harder and harder to make, her coat grew darker and her mane and tail began to lose their curl. When she finally reached the top of a low hill, the red and orange streaked sky cast her in a deep shade of magenta, while her maroon hair hung loose and flat about her face. She stood atop the mound of wretched earth, panting. She was exhausted, hot, uncomfortably dry, and her hooves were in terrible pain.
She was also royally pissed.
“Enough!” Pinkamina screamed suddenly, raising her forehooves to the sky in fury. “I have had it up to here with this stupidy meanie-mean-pants world! I mean, come on, the grass hates me? How the hay do you even piss off a lawn? Seriously, between that and the creepy stalker trees earlier, I’ve had my fill of angry plants! What next? A pack of rabid thistle bushes? Perhaps some rabid begonias? Or maybe an evil ficus, yeah that’d be really scary.” The magenta pony glared around at the distant tree line and the grass underhoof. There was no response from any of the surrounding vegetation. “Come on!” she yelled. “Epic salad time! Right here, let’s go!”
The foliage continued to remain indifferent, or at least inanimate. With one last bellow of rage Pinkamina fell back onto her flank with a soft 'plop.' Surprisingly, the grass was soft and unobtrusive beneath her rump, though she honestly could have cared less. Actually, she would have welcomed the prospect of sitting on what amounted to a bed of chlorophyll rich nails at this point. It might have given her enough of an excuse to defy physics and comically launch herself halfway across this hellish nightmare of Ponyville. Maybe she could even catch a glimpse of Dashie from the air.
The exhausted pony gave a deep sigh as she again cursed the unpredictable nature of her fantastic abilities. If only she had some control over them, but they seemed to have a mind of their own. It was like her Pinkie Sense, it just sort of happened when it happened. Now more than ever she wished she could do real magic, the reliable kind. What she wouldn’t give to be able to cast a homing spell like Twilight, or teleport around so she didn’t have to step on this ridiculous ‘evil grass.’ The sky grew darker as, for the second time that day, the defeated earth pony felt the powerful guilt and frustration over her remarkable, yet completely frivolous, powers weigh down on her heart.
She could feel tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes as one haunting question repeated over and over again in her head. How could she be so utterly useless when it really mattered? The moment it mattered, the moment she came close to losing what was most important to her, she became nothing but an average, completely powerless, rock farmer. If she was happy and carefree, however, then the world was her playground. She could do anything, be anywhere, as long as it was funny or made somepony smile.
Her eyes slowly opened as the realization dawned upon her. Then she closed them again and smiled bitterly through the fresh tears, her limp maroon hair covering her face like a curtain. It was so obvious. How could she not have seen it before? How had Twilight not figured it out when she had done those tests all those months ago? The source of all Pinkie’s sporadic and fantastic talents was her element, Laughter. Though it seemed to have just as big a flaw as Loyalty did, but for different reasons. Pinkie Pie could use the power of her element to perform feats that defied explanation; contort herself into impossible poses without the slightest pain, make a jump rope skip itself, do anything to make anypony happy. …anypony, except herself. Laughter was something that had to be shared. If you only laughed with yourself, well, then there was probably something a little loco in your coco. Like you talked to rocks or something.
Pinkamena looked around the bleak landscape. She had to admit, it was a pretty good trap. Nopony around to make smile, and an entire world tailor made to break her spirit. It had tried to scare her with the most basic of fears back at the forest's edge: the fear of the unknown, and of the inability to escape it. Unfortunately for the trap, Pinkie knew just how to deal with fear, and when she had turned to face it, (or blindly leapt at it as was the case,) she saw there was nothing to be afraid of because there had been never been anything there at all. Then the nightmare had changed tactics. It had made her work towards a seemingly unattainable goal, forced her to be creative and clever, and when she finally persevered and reached goal she was rewarded with… nothing. Of course it had taken the ‘nothing’ part pretty literally. Now it seemed to be resorting to raw punishment, making every step she took bear a painful consequence. It was changing the rules of the game every time she beat them.
Only now she was done playing.
The time had finally come to unleash her secret weapon. A never fail search and rescue tactic that had been passed down through her family for generations. Getting to her feet, Pinkamena looked out at the barren, inhospitable horizon before her, took in all the air she could pull into her earth pony lungs and screamed as loud as possible,
“DASHIE, WHERE ARE YOU?”
Twilight could not help but feel distinctly underwhelmed by the raising of the moon.
Even on uneventful mornings, Princess Celestia never failed to make the raising of her sun an impressive and reverent event to behold. Seeing her mentor welcome, and bid good bye, to each day was one of the many advantages that came with living at the royal palace. Each morning, the first Alicorn of Equestria welcomed the dawn with wings spread wide and head held high, practically bathing in the light of dawn as it broke over the mountain and rooftops below. When it came time for night to reign over the land, Celestia put her sun to rest with a solemn smile, as if parting ways with a treasured friend.
The raising of the moon, on the other hoof, was much less heartfelt, and much more systematic. Celestia always waited for her sun to completely disappear behind the horizon before she began dotting the darkened sky with the brightest stars. Once they were in place, she checked a small lunar calendar she kept with her, and brought forth her sister’s prison in its correct phase before adding the remaining pinpricks of light to the velvet sky. Celestia had always seemed so different when performing that particular duty. She seemed distant and focused, but at times she would look up at the moon with sad, almost tearful eyes.
Twilight had hoped the night’s true owner might have been more… happy about its creation, but Luna was, if anything, worse. She seemed almost annoyed by the entire process, and while she did not consult a lunar calendar before beginning, she was even more systematic than her sister in the order she prepared the evening sky. Every star was brought into being in a precise order, the angle of the moon’s orbit was checked repeatedly using notable landmarks before it was pulled over the horizon, and the exact amount of shadow across its surface was painstakingly measured twice before the luminous orb was allowed to fully ascend into the waiting sky. The Princess’s lack of tools, such as telescopes or reference charts, was a testament to the incredible physical and mental abilities she possessed as an Alicorn, but aside from that, watching the five minute process had been incredibly boring for the lavender unicorn, which was a feat in and of itself.
Usually, the young librarian appreciated such organization and meticulous care to detail, especially when they were so underappreciated amongst her other friends, but watching the Princess of the night mutter to herself as she made complex calculations and squint up at the violet sky was almost painful. Luna took absolutely no joy in her creation; no pleasure or pride out of bringing the entire cosmos into shimmering life. She seemed to treat it as an unfortunate duty of the crown, just a job that needed to be done, though done perfectly.
Twilight frowned as she wriggled out of the rigid, yet not entirely uncomfortable armor she had been wearing since they had left Canterlot. Nothing about the Princess’s behavior seemed right. Luna was the sovereign ruler of all things nocturnal; it was her domain and its beautiful sky’s creation was her special talent, or so her cutie mark would lead to believe.
“Um, Luna?” Twilight’s voice seemed to startle the starry-maned Princess, causing Luna to jump. The Princess looked back at the unicorn as if she had forgotten the other pony was there.
“Oh, I apologize Twilight. I am afraid I often become absorbed in my work. I did not mean to neglect you,” Luna said, seemingly almost glad for an excuse to stop.
“Oh no, that’s perfectly alright,” Twilight replied, waving her forehooves apologetically, “I know what it’s like when you get wrapped up in a project. Happens to me all the time actually.” The unicorn laughed nervously. “It’s just… um…” The Princess looked at her expectantly. “You just don’t seem very… happy, doing it. Your work I mean.”
The Alicorn’s expression fell somewhat at those words, and she seemed at a loss as to how to answer.
“It’s just… it’s your special talent isn’t it,” Twilight continued, gesturing at Luna’s cutie mark, “the night? You always seemed so happy to discuss it in our letters, but you don’t seem very happy actually… making it.”
“I have enjoyed talking of the stars with thee, Twilight Sparkle. Not the night.” Luna clarified, glancing down at her blue and silver flank before turning her head to stare up at the half finished sky. “The night has… The night is not what it was a thousand years ago…”
“Oh?” Twilight turned her gaze upwards as well. “Well I guess planetary drift would cause things to shift around a bit over a millennium.”
“Tis not the stars I speak of.” Luna insisted, her tone becoming agitated. “It is…”
“What?” Twilight asked gently.
The Princess seemed to ponder her answer for a moment before asking, “What color is the night’s sky, Twilight?” The unicorn blinked at her in confusion.
“Purple,” she answered. “Well, more of a deep violet really. I once read a book about modern art that said that most artist prefer to mix their own colors when doing a night scene because the widely distributed ‘midnight purple’ colored oil paints don’t-”
“Fascinating, Twilight,” Luna hastily interrupted, “Trivia I will gladly hear at another time, but for now, both you and the artists are wrong. The color of the night’s sky… is black.”
The unicorn looked at the Princess as if she had suddenly grown a second set of wings out of her ears. She then looked up at the distinctly purple sky and then back down at the mischievously smiling princess several time before wisely replying,
The Princess giggled before tapping a spot in front of her. “Take a seat, Twilight. It seems my sister neglected a lesson during thy education.”
Twilight frowned and hastily took the seat indicated for her as Luna began.
“What thou see’s above us now, is not the night. It is a pale imitation which my sister was forced to invent after my imprisonment. It is a perpetual dusk. An evening which flows directly into the beginning of dawn. The faint stars we can see above are less than half of my true creation. The remainder are lost to this accursed light pollution which fills the skies and drowns out the true beauty of my masterpiece. Each evening I must call forth my stars into this… atrocity, is akin to commissioning a brilliant artist to paint her Pona Lisa upon a sponge. No matter how great her talent, or beautiful the colors she uses, the piece will never truly capture the painter’s true abilities, for the canvas conspires against her and consumes her most detailed work before it can be seen. My once fondest duty as Princess, is now a Sisyphean torture.”
Luna sighed deeply and looked up sadly at the incomplete heavens above.
“I wish that I couldst show thee my true canvas, Twilight. The sky alone is breathtaking. When I describe it as ‘black,’ I do not refer to any color one might find in inks, or upon scorched earth and soot, but a true, pure black. It is a vast sea of perfect shadow, flawless in its expanse, and completely devoid of any marring light save for the stars and galaxies which shine and glimmer within. The only analogy thou might understand would be to compare its like to that of a slab of pure obsidian, bespeckled with countless shavings of diamond, sapphire, and ruby which shine and glimmer with a beautiful ethereal light. Yet even that simile does not do it justice, nor describe its astonishing depth. You see above you an almost flat, painted backdrop for the worlds cover, but to look up into the true night is to peer down into a bottomless ocean of stars. Nay, no ocean could be even comparably deep. If thou were to lay upon thy back on a cloudless night, and simply stare into the heavens above, thou might fear falling up into its beautiful and beckoning abyss.
“I may speak of my night as though it were something to fear, but such is the sheer feeling of awe it inspires. And there is so much yet I could not hope to put into words! Thy modern telescopes wouldst become capable of seeing wonders beyond all description. Galaxies, Twilight. Thou couldst see Galaxies! My Pinwheel, my Andromeda! All swallowed, up or else blurred beyond recognition, by in this purple swill! Even my constellations are eaten away by its corrosion. Hast thou ever seen the scales of Draco? The smiling face of Canis Major, or even the strings of Lyra? So much has been lost in these one thousand years! My sky was not meant to be only a means of navigation, but a source of wonder and inspiration for all who ask of it! Were I but able to reveille it I feel certain it would begin a renaissance of the arts such as Equestira has never seen before in all its days! Oh, but if I couldst only show thee…”
Luna finished her speech by taking deep breath and slowly exhaling. She seemed glad to have finally said what she did, and looked the better for it. Some of the tension in her shoulders and wings melted away, leaving the Princess looking a little smaller, but much more relaxed. Twilight, meanwhile, seemed almost bewitched by the Alicorn’s fluent descriptions of all the wonders she had been missing. Slowly her eyes rose up to the specks of blinking light above her. Could everything Luna had told her about really be up there?
“It sounds… amazing, Luna.” The unicorn said finally, still staring up at the violet sky.
“It is, Twilight,” Luna whispered in reply, also looking up at the heavens. A pained and cheerless smile rose on the Alicorn’s cobalt lips. “Thou may think that I exaggerate my work, as most artists do. But please believe me when I say that everything that I was, my joy, my pain, and every ounce of love I had for my people, I built into that sky. It was my gift to them, for every echo of laughter they gave me, and every tear we shared over the loss of a comrade. To see it diminished to this…”
“But why can’t you and your sister change it back to the way it was? And how did it get this way in the first place?” Twilight asked, tearing her eyes away from the incomplete cosmos to look at the forlorn Princess. Luna sighed and also forced herself to close her eyes and look away. After exhaling her painful memories, she smiled more sincerely and turned to the unicorn.
“My sister and I, while we possess power and magic beyond that of most unicorns, thyself notwithstanding, are not without our limitations. One such restriction is that one sister cannot truly control the domain of the other. Myself, whilst I could move and direct the sun through sheer force of magic and will, have no means of altering its intensity. If it had been my sister and not I who had been dubbed the bearer of Loyalty, Equestria wouldst have spent a millennium without change of seasons; a thousand years of unending summer. I cannot foresee how the land would have fared under such conditions. Fate, however, saw fit that I was the owner of that thrice cursed artifact, and our subjects lost their true night instead, for Celestia cannot manifest even the simplest shadow.”
Twilight gawked at the younger Princess. “It goes against the very nature of her abilities,” Luna continued smugly. “Of course, she has tried. Oh, for ten centuries she has tried, but it is as impossible a concept for her as would be for a bird to breath underwater. Though my sister has been known to inhale sugared confections from time to time,” she added with an impish smile. Twilight gave the Alicorn a disapproving look.
“But I digress,” Luna continued. “Though she can control my moon with raw force, and dot the sky with crude stars, she has no means of darkening the land beyond the weakest rays of twilight. In my absence, she was forced to perform to the best of her abilities, and over the course of so many generations, ponies have come to see her ‘mock-night’ as the norm.”
“But even so, why haven’t you taken back control?” the unicorn repeated. “I know you have enough power now, why don’t you bring back the true night?”
Luan’s frowned sadly. “I have regained control of my domain,” she replied. “My sister was all too happy to return it to me once I was strong enough. Thou should understand, the realms of dusk and dawn are one of the few points where the powers of my sister and my own overlap. I am the one who keeps this never ending dusk now, for two reasons. Firstly, because I have not yet found a suitable occasion to return the night to its true magnificence. My sister and I did speak briefly of doing so as a surprise upon the Nightmare Night festival last year, but we soon agreed that doing so may have brought about far more panic than was necessary.”
Twilight gulped and nodded. She could just imagine the chaos that could have ensued if the sky had suddenly gone pitch black on the eve celebrating Nightmare Moon’s original defeat. If Ponyville was any indication, there probably would have been mass panic and stampeding all across Equestria.
“And the second reason?” Twilight asked, saying a silent thank you for the Princesses’ good sense.
“The second reason,” Luna replied, her expression gravely serious, “was that for I to suddenly change the night’s sky on such a scale, at any time, would have caused even more unrest within the royal court than had already existed. The bureaucrats, whom my sister felt the unfortunate need to appoint during my absence, apparently became quite upset when the ‘Mare in the Moon’ disappeared. In truth, during the my first breakfast following my return to Canterlot, they approached my sister and I, and made a formal request to have the symbol of my imprisonment returned to the moon’s surface at once; calling its removal ‘the defacement of a national landmark.”
Twilight gawked at her in disbelief.
“You have got to be joking.”
“I do not jest with thee. Those were their exact words. Though, I cannot quote my dear sister’s response, for she did not make one verbally,” Luna laughed. “I can only tell thee that I have never in memory seen any mare consume a banana with such smoldering fury before. Needless to say, nopony, bureaucrat or otherwise, has approached me regarding the matter since.”
The unicorn groaned and buried her face in her hooves. “Not the best way to introduce you to modern politics I take it?” she said through her hooves.
“Quite the contrary,” Luna argued, smiling brightly. “If anything, I was assured that politicians are still as nonsensical and inefficient as they were a thousand years previous. In fact, I am almost certain one of the ponies present when they made their request was a descendant of Princess Platinum. A pity that none of Cookie’s common sense seemed to have been passed down to her as well…”
“Wait, what do you mean, Cookie’s…” Twilight began before realizing they were getting wildly off topic. “Never mind, but I still don’t fully understand why you won’t make the true night.”
“The ponies of this time do not wish for change, Twilight,” Luna explained, her words calm and accepting, if somewhat melancholy. “My return upset much of Canterlot’s hierarchy. Even the common ponies have found my sudden resumption of the throne strange and frightening. For generations upon generations, there has been only one Princess of Equestria. Now there are two, one of them the very demon they have feared in macabre celebration for nine decades. Their world is changing, and at a pace far faster than they are comfortable with. Things they have taken for granted all of their lives are being permanently altered in the single beat of a heart, even something so timeless as the face of the moon. They whisper and gossip among each other, wondering what may be the next pillar of stability to irrevocably change. There is unrest among them, and distrust of me in particular, both due to my place in their history, and because they see me as the herald of these new and frightening alterations to their world.”
“Well I think it’s horrible,” Twilight replied angrily. “You shouldn’t have to suffer like this because a bunch of stuck up fancy-pants ponies are afraid of a little change, especially over something like your night.”
“Actually, Mr. Fancy Pants has spoken out several times for the return of my night.” Luna corrected. “Quite a delightful stallion, though his influence over the bureaucrats does not hold nearly the sway he seems to over the Aristocrats… Never the less, I pray thee not to worry over the matter, Twilight. Governmental stubbornness and refusal to see reason is nothing new to a monarch; even one from several centuries past,” the Alicorn said with a wink. “Also, since the return of Discord, much of the hostile attention posed at me has been directed towards other, more pressing, threats. I am now only waiting for the proper time to bring back my night. Tis only a matter of time, and I must be patient, just as my sister has been.”
Luna smiled at the unicorn. It was a reluctant smile. The sort that Princess Celestia would often give Twilight before leaving her to attend another meeting with the Bluebloods or perform some unfortunate duty of the crown. But before Twilight could say anything, the smile began to change. It became more sincere, yet at the same time almost sad. When she spoke again, her words came a bit slower, her voice low and honest.
“In truth, the most painful remnant of my insanity, even more so than the state of my night, was the fear and mistrust I instilled from my beloved subjects… But that cantankerous wound is finally mending, thanks to thee, my dear Twilight.”
The lavender pony felt herself blushing at the praise and looked away from the now genuinely grateful smile the Alicorn was giving her. The expression became mischievous when Luna added, “In fact, thou almost seems to make a habit of saving me from own folly. Perhaps I should take thee on as my personal assistant, if thou shouldst ever find work as a librarian too exciting.”
“It’s quite exciting just living in Ponyville.” Twilight corrected the Alicorn, her cheeks almost glowing pink. “And I’ve only ‘saved you from your own folly’ once, and I didn’t really do anything. All I did was show you how to fit in around modern ponies.”
“Thou didst far more than that,” the Princess argued, then quietly added, “Far, far more.”
It was only thanks to the complete stillness of the night air that Twilight was able to make out those last words. The suspicion that had been nagging the unicorn since the incident in Luna’s bed began to resurface again, causing the librarian to frown unconsciously. She hated to feel mistrusting towards her friends, especially one as special to her as Luna. The Alicorn had been the first friend Twilight had made all on her own, and on top of that, the lavender unicorn felt a peculiar kinship with the Princess of the night. Apart from their obvious shared interest with the stars and constellations, they had also discovered a mutual love of learning and magic during their time as pen-pals, yet another first for both of them. The very notion of accusing such a treasured friend of being…
Twilight gave a sidelong glance at the Alicorn. Luna had taken notice of several excessively shimmering stars during the unicorn’s ponderings, and seemed to be trying to make her insubordinate creations behave. It was amazing how she could manipulate the heavens as nonchalantly as the librarian rearranged her books for shelving. Luna truly was an extraordinarily talented magician, and not simply due to her natural abilities as Alicorn either. There was a certain amount of grace and skill that accompanied each flick of the horn as the Princess fought with the improperly lit sky. The royal had clearly put many hours into the study and practice of her craft, probably far more even than Twilight had. Luna’s repertoire of spells most likely far surpassed the unicorn’s as well. At the festival alone, she had demonstrated levitation, transfiguration, voice amplification, control over the elements, even the ability to completely change her size and appearance at will, all performed flawlessly and without even the slightest hint of effort. Actually, Twilight had seen many of those same abilities put on display for Ponyville not long after she and Spike had taken up residence. In fact, it was possible she had unknowingly seen all of them…
Twilight scowled again. This just wouldn’t do. She had followed Luna here alone in hopes of getting answers, and while she had learned an incredible amount about the Alicorn’s past, she now found herself with even more questions than she had started with, which was doing very little to ease her growing suspicions. It was like reading a chapter of that silly J.J. Neighbrams series “Misplaced” that had been so popular a few years ago. At least Luna hadn’t inexplicably brought a polar bear into the conversation, though another type of bear was currently haunting Twilight’s thoughts. If only there was some gentle way of asking the Princess if she... she… Oh for hoof’s sake, there wasn’t even a gentle way of thinking it!
“Is thou… vexed, Twilight?” Luna asked, looking warily at her now grimacing friend with concern. “Thy seems… agitated.”
“Huh? Oh, I’m fine,” Twilight replied quickly, standing up and walking towards the edge of the roof. She didn’t feel like facing the starry-maned Alicorn at the moment, not while she was harboring such guilty thoughts about her.
“Thou dost not seem… fine,” Luna replied uncertainly, “but rather quite the contrary.”
The Alicorn stepped closer to the now barebacked unicorn. The princess awkwardly opened one of her wings as if to as if about to take the smaller pony under it, but hesitated and brought it back to her side nervously before adding, “Thou… You are still worried about your friends, aren’t you?”
“What, no! …Well, yes, but that’s not what I…” Twilight stammered, struggling to find a way to describe her predicament without offending the Princess. “…Actually, I was thinking about something else. You see, when you came to Ponyville for the festival, you… reminded me of somepony I had seen before.”
“Hmm, given the response I elicited that evening it must not be a fond comparison,” Luna deadpanned.
Twilight adjusted herself a little in her seat to face the Alicorn. “That would depend on who you asked,” she replied. “Someponies loved her, while other’s couldn’t stand her, especially Spike and my friends. You see she… she was a traveling showmare, and also quite the… um… braggart.”
Luna became visibly uncomfortable and shifted nervously in her seat. “Yes well, I was attempting to adhere to the traditional Canterlot royal mannerisms. It is tradition to be proud and boisterous of thyself when addressing thy subjects. There is… was a certain image to be maintained.” Luna explained, beginning to slip back into a traditional Canterlot posture and tone as well.
“Oh no, I didn’t mean that you were… well, no I guess you did actually come off as pretty egotistical when you first arrived. All that ‘grace you with our presence,’ stuff. But it wasn’t your fault! I mean you were just… I mean…” The flustered librarian buried her face in her hooves and groaned. ‘Good move, Twilight,’ the librarian thought. ‘Let’s just go and repeatedly offend the Princess of the Night just as she finally starts to open up to you.’
When Twilight finally surfaced again, she kept her eyes off the Alicorn and chose her next words very carefully. “I didn’t too compare her to you that way. What I was meant to say was that her show was very… splendiferous? She may not have been quite as, ‘Great and Powerful’ as she claimed to be, but she was an extraordinarily talented pony.”
“Unsurprising,” Luna replied suddenly. Twilight jumped slightly and turned to look at the Alicorn. The Princess was sitting straight as a rod with her eyes closed and her nose high in the air. It seemed that the Traditional Canterlot Luna had made a return, fortunately without the deafening volume. “Unicorns are often a tad overzealous when it comes to their magic. Yet another trait which has not changed since the pre-harmony age.”
“True,” Twilight agreed. She felt her stomach knot guiltily realizing she had made Luna raise her defenses again, just as she had on the chariot ride over the forest, and just when they had been starting to relax around each other too. Despite her growing feelings of shame, something about the Alicorn’s words had stood out to her enough to want press the matter. “… but I don’t think I said she was a unicorn.”
There was only a heartbeat before Luna hastily replied, “My sister sometimes shares with me the reports which thou sends to her. I recall reading one such letter, wherein, thou described a unicorn using the title ‘Great and Powerful,’ who had arrived in Ponyville and inadvertently caused an Ursa Minor to attack the town. Twas a most obvious connection,” she added, waving a hoof as nonchalantly as possible.
“I suppose it was…” the librarian replied distractedly. Was it just the Princess’s mane, or was Luna’s neck and face beginning to glisten a little with sweat? “But you know, she wasn’t all bad,” Twilight continued, looking away before the Alicorn caught her staring. “True, she was pretty mean to my friends when they tried to show her up, but when the Ursa came she did at least try to fight it. Her magic wasn’t nearly enough to slow it down, but I was surprised she didn’t just run as soon as she saw what she was up against.”
“Then I hardly see the connection,” Luna snapped. “I was nothing but cordial with thy friends, even when they refused me the same courtesy. And besides, my power is far beyond that of any common stage magician. Why, were a Dragon or Ursa Major to attack the town at this moment I wouldst fell the monster with but a single blow. Nay, a single look wouldst be enough to send it fleeing in terror!”
The silence that followed was one of the more awkward in Twilight’s memory. Luna had ended her inexplicable tirade by standing on her back legs and striking an impressive pose with one hoof in the air, her wings outstretched, and her eyes closed in disregard to anything but herself. It was not unlike the stance she had taken several months previous when declaring that Nightmare Night was now a 'glorious feast.' She held her tableau of magnificence for several seconds before opening an eye and noticing the lost expression that adorned her companion’s face. The Princess self-consciously sat back down and began uncomfortably looking about the roof. Twilight, meanwhile, was trying to both shake, and place, the multiple feelings of déjà-vu she was experiencing.
“I should complete my work,” Luna said finally, gesturing at the sky above with her hoof, though her eyes stayed fixed on the rooftop at her feet. “It would not do to have the night be anymore incomplete then it needs be.”
“Oh, um, go right ahead,” Twilight nervously replied.
Uncomfortably, the two ponies drifted apart; Luna, focusing as best she could on the uncooperative sky, and Twilight, attempting to fend off the overwhelming feelings of guilt and regret over so horribly insulting and angering her friend. Worst of all, the unicorn couldn’t deny that the Alicorn’s inexplicable behavior had only added fuel to her own burning suspicions.
The librarian closed her eyes and silently cursed her unquenchable curiosity. Why couldn’t she have just left well enough alone? There had been no pressing reason to spoil her first special moment with the Princess? No, not with “the Princess,” her first special moment with Luna. This was the first time she had seen the pony she somehow knew had been hiding behind all that traditional rubbish. Luna had seemed so alive when describing her night. Her words had a flow and rhythm that carried like poetry when she had described her beauty that was had, and still was lost during her banishment. It was the Luna Twilight had somehow always known was there. The mare who had once borne the elements of Magic and Generosity, as well as Loyalty. She wanted to know that mare better. She wanted to understand the real Luna and all the unusual things that she did. Why had the Alicorn briefly dropped her traditional accent and used “you” instead of “thee” or “thou” when she had asked Twilight if she was alright? Why did she use that ridiculous accent in the first place when Nightmare Moon had spoken normally as soon as she had returned? Were those really stars in her mane, or were they just sparkles of magic? There was so much she still wanted to know about the cobalt Alicorn, and she wanted to learn it all first hoof.
But now she’d be lucky if the younger Princess ever wanted to speak to her again, and all because she couldn’t keep her stupid curiosity in check.
The magenta earth mare collapsed onto her side. She had been screaming Dash’s name in every way she could think of for the last five minutes. Everything from Dashie to R.D. and all as loudly as possible, but the only thing she had accomplished was to make herself go hoarse, though there did seem to be something ironic about that. Unfortunately, however, her family's patented tactic of screaming the name of the pony you were looking for did not pan out.
Curses, how could this dream know her every trick?
The flat maned mare glared at the stiff, uncomfortable grass beneath her. Out of pure spite, she suddenly reached out and tore off a section of it with her teeth and began to chew. It had the same taste and consistency of cardboard. Not even the fancy cardboard that the sprinkles from Canterlot came in. It was the cheap yucky cardboard that they used to mail boxes of fillyscout cookies in. She probably should have just spat it out, but she continued to chew angrily on the nightmare grass as she rolled over onto her back and stared at the crimson and orange sky above. Eventually, she swallowed the disgusting stuff and stuck out her tongue making a 'bleck' noise.
Well that had been productive.
She sighed. There just seemed to be no winning here. She was powerless, she was lost, the pony she loved was still at the complete mercy of an unfeeling magical doohickey, and now she was going to have the taste of that grass in her mouth for at least an hour. It was like some two-bit adventure story where the author had written himself into a corner and couldn’t figure a way out of it. If only she had her powers… if only there was somepony around to make happy…
Pinkamena closed her eyes in defeat. If only she had some kind of miracle…
Luna groaned to herself as she cursed the prevailing light for swallowing her stars yet again. Before her banishment, the creation of the night had taken little more than a matter of seconds. Summoning forth the stars had been an almost instantaneous and gratifying process. Now, her night took close to a quarter of an hour to finish, what with all the tedious adjusting it took to ensure every crucial navigational star was visible and distinct. It did not help that she still yet to shake off her unease from her conversation with Twilight earlier.
The Princess glanced nervously at the smaller mare. The unicorn was standing near her discarded armor near the edge of the roof. Her expression was again troubled, as if she were fighting with herself over something. The same expression she had been wearing before when Luna had again spoiled her attempt at comforting her friend, and this time she had no one to blame but herself. Twilight probably hadn’t meant anything by bringing up that… that incident. She couldn’t have, and she certainly hadn’t done anything to warrant Luna snapping at her like that.
She should apologize. In fact, that was exactly what she was going to do right now. She would look Twilight right in the eye, speak from the heart, and tell her she was sorry for… for being a, uptight royal pain! Yes, that was exactly what she had been. Okay, now to get Twilight’s attention and,
The Princess jumped yet again before looking around and noticing the unicorn was now looking directly at her with tentative, honest eyes. “Y-yes?”
“I wanted to say… I’m sorry I made you angry by comparing you to that stuck up showmare like that. It was an unforgivably rude thing to do. I just… sometimes I get carried away when I’m working on some new discovery or investigating a new theory and I forget how it may hurt my friends feelings until it’s too late.” Twilight looked away then, biting her lip as if she had more she wanted to say or apologize for, but couldn’t. Instead, she suddenly bowed deeply to the shocked Alicorn. “I hope you can accept my apology for... for everything.”
Celestia must have had a hoof in this. Fate alone could not be so sadistically cruel as to force Luna to not only miss her chance to mend ways with her friend, but have Twilight beg her forgiveness, on bended knee, for transgressions that belonged solely to Luna! Guilt and shame were not strong enough of words for the feelings that were causing her insides to writhe about like angry snakes. The Alicorn tore her eyes away from her from the unicorn and sputtered, “S-stand up, Twilight Sparkle, for the star’s sake, stand up!”
The unicorn did so immediately, owing no doubt to her surprise at the Princess’s urgent command. The Alicorn attempted, and failed, to look at her before saying, “Do not bow to me… You, of all of the ponies, should never bow to me! There is no circumstance in, or beyond, comprehension that could possibly warrant you do such a thing.”
Twilight stared at the almost frantic Alicorn. The Princess was beginning to slip out of her traditional accent, and almost seemed close to tears as she continued to look at anything but the unicorn. Cautiously, Twilight reached out towards the quaking monarch.
“And do not apologize!” Luna interrupted, unexpectedly locking eyes with the librarian. “You have nothing to apologize for! I am the one at fault, I should not have taken such an atrocious attitude with you, or… or…”
The Alicorn’s frantic energy faded along with her voice as she found herself unable to complete her sentence. The Princess broke eye contact and stared at the floor at her hooves. Tears began to fall from her shimmering teal eyes, and Twilight found herself too stunned to move or speak.
“I am a terrible Princess,” Luna whispered. “I said below that I still feel the ghosts of guilt and paranoia since I was returned to my senses, but I feel more than just that. At the deepest throngs of my dementia, I believed myself a hero, and the sole savior of Equestria. When I fought with my sister, my subjects did not recognize my shadowy form, and cheered for Celestia to defeat me and save them from the 'salvation' I sought to deliver onto the world. My memories of that time are faint at best, but I do remember an incredible longing to hear crowd beneath cheer for my victory. I was their hero, yet they plead for my sister, the enemy, to defeat me. My craving for their praise twisted into resentful hatred during my imprisonment, yet it did not diminish for that same longing for my people’s praise and support still holds sway over me. If given even a taste, I become in danger of losing myself to the euphoria of my swollen hubris. Once under its spell, I become desperate to maintain the elation, and spiteful towards all who seek to break me from its rapture."
The Princess paused for a moment to wipe her eyes and take a shaky breath.
“Thou hast seen me in such an episode before,” Luna continued, having regained some of her composure, as well as her accent. “When I declared the cancellation of my own holiday, after foalishly using transfigured arachnids to calm thy townsfolk. Whilst under the sway of this mania I become selfish and tyrannical, uncaring for the well-being of others, and often putting all around me at risk…”
Her confession finished, the Princess fell silent, still facing the now moistened roof at her feet. Her starry mane seemed dull and lifeless as it fell down around her shoulders and back. Her wings also hung heavily at her sides, as if covered in lead rather than feathers. Twilight had never seen the phrase, 'weighed down with guilt,' so apt before. The unicorn had watched the Princess silently throughout the entire heart wrenching scene. The last few pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place, and while she now felt certain in her theory, the librarian no longer felt any need to pursue it. Instead, she wordlessly walked up to the despondent Alicorn, and hugged her.
The Princess gasped at first when she felt the unicorn’s forelegs encircle her neck and pull her close, but she soon began to relax and slowly sink into the other mare’s warmth. She was careful not to lean on the smaller pony, but she did eventually lift her own forelegs off the ground and carefully wrapped them around the other pony’s waist. They stayed like that for some time, neither pony speaking or moving, both mare’s completely still in silent embrace. Eventually, Luna began to pull away. Twilight released her without protest and sat back on her haunches to face the taller mare.
“Thank you… Twilight,” Luna said, wiping her eyes of any remaining tears.
“You’re welcome,” Twilight replied softly. She smiled reassuringly at the sniffling Princess, a gesture Luna returned in kind. The Alicorn’s star spotted mane began to lift and shimmer again as she finished wiping her face and folded her wings back at her sides. "Feel better?”
“Verily,” the Princess chuckled. The monarch closed her eyes and took in a deep lungful of the night air. She exhaled slowly, as if savoring the aroma, and opened her eyes to stare once again at the heavens above. “Let us retire inside,” she proposed, still smiling gently. “We have been away from thy friends’ company for far to long, and I am not of the disposition to fight with this mess of lights any further.”
Twilight followed the Princess’s gaze. The sky looked complete to her. All the proper constellations and navigational stars were visible. A few stars twinkled a tad too over zealously perhaps, but overall, the ‘mock-night’ seemed as beautiful as ever. She turned back to the Alicorn and nodded approval. Luna’s smile grew a little in response, and together they stood and walked towards the door that would lead them back inside, and too some unexpected news.
It wasn’t right.
How could they have done that to her?
After she had sacrificed everything,
Everything to just keep them safe?
How could they just betray her like that?
It just wasn’t right…
Rainbow Dash opened her eyes weakly as the smell of moist dirt and… something else filled her nose. Lifting her head up and groaning, the cerulean blue pony tried to get to her feet and heard a sickening crunch. A sharp, searing pain shot through her right forehoof and up her leg, causing her to cry out and collapse back onto her bruised stomach as her head began to swim from incredible pain. Squeezing her jaw shut as tight as she could to keep from screaming again, Dash opened her eyes to look down at the throbbing limb. A small stream of crimson liquid was drizzling out from several splits in her jagged hoof. It must have broken when she had made that spectacular crash landing back to Equestria a few minutes ago. She always hated crash landings; it was like adding insult to injury. Not only had she failed at landing, but she had hurt herself in the process too, though that probably made it more like adding injury to insult…
Another wave of pain engulfed her as she tried to move again, this time from her right shoulder. Stupid thing probably got itself dislocated when her hoof had shattered. Taking a deep slow breath in an attempt to vent out the agony wracking her right side, the athlete eventually began to wonder where she was. Opening her eyes again and looking around, Dash saw that she was in what seemed to be some rocky gully, much like the one where Rarity did her gem hunting. There wasn’t a single sign of anypony else to be seen. But then, that was sort of the idea of being banished wasn’t it?
Dash laid her head back down on the hard, stony earth, trying to block out the memory of everything that had just happened. She had to. She had to force herself to believe that her entire world hadn’t just shattered worse than her hoof had. Like she hadn’t just lost everything that meant anything to her in a matter of minutes; her dream, her home, her friends, even her…
The broken pony felt her eyes begin drifting to her back of their own accord. She began to plead with herself, not to look behind her, not to verify what she knew was there, but her body just wouldn’t listen. Turning her head, the former fastest flier in Equestria looked and saw a splash of crimson trailing down her cerulean coat to her rainbow patterned tail. The trail ended at two ragged, glistening holes positioned just behind her shoulder blades, right where a pegasus’s wings should have been. Where her wings should have been.
She felt her head spin again, and this time, she let it fall limply onto the ground. Gone. Everything was gone. Her dream, her friends, even her wings; all torn from her in a matter of minutes after what was supposed to be the crowning achievement of her lifelong goal. Her brain felt numb and foggy as it was taken over by shock. Somewhere, in her clouded mind, she felt a fleeting feeling of déjà vu, but it was swallowed as her mind caved in to the enormous sense of despair that took hold of her.
She was alone. Thrown away, and completely betrayed by everypony and everything she had ever believed in. The former pegasus felt the tears welling up in her eyes and did her best to pull her torn and broken body into as tight a ball as she could manage. She could feel the warmth pouring out through the tears and cracks in what remained of her body. She was going to die here. Die in some Celestia forsaken patch of dirt and rocks, completely alone.
“Daaaashiiiieee,” an empty, sickeningly sweet voice called in the distance.
Dash’s eyes popped open in terror as the sound echoed through her ears. Sweet Celestia, no. No, please, please let her die soon. Die before that voice found her.
“Daaaaaaashiiiiieee,” the haunting voice called again, sounding considerably closer than it had before.
The trembling pony clenched her eyes shut and began willing herself to let go, to die. She prayed for death to take her before-
“There you are, Dashie…”
Dash’s heart had already been slowing, but it still skipped a beat when she heard those words come from only a few feet above her head. She opened her eyes unwillingly, and found herself staring at a set of pink hooves directly in front of her. Not bubblegum pink, but a bright, fluorescent pink, so vibrant that looking at it made her eyes sting. Her gaze traveled up the hooves and toned legs to a perfectly proportioned body, then up a voluptuous neck… to a smile. A horrible, sparkling white Cheshire grin that bore down at her from a doll like pink face with polished blue eyes. A mane of fluffy, cotton candy colored hair draped down across its features in an alluring manner. The figure was beautiful, yet terrifying and unnatural. It was as if a sculpture had tried to create the image of the perfect mare, but had made the smile hideously too large for the rest of it.
“I was looking for you, Dashie…” the pony thing said slowly. Its mouth didn’t move when it spoke, as if it was wearing some grossly disproportionate mask. Its words were coated with a sadistic sweetness, sounding almost euphoric over seeing the wretched state of the mare at its perfect and shining feet. “We’re going to throw a party, Dashie… A farewell party… just for you…”
“Please,” the broken mare pleaded in a terrified whisper, tears of pain and fear beginning to flow down her face, “please, go away…”
“I came to tell you that you aren’t invited…” the creature said, leaning closer to the crying mare. “I wouldn’t want you getting the wrong idea… It’s a party about you… but we don’t want you there… Do you know why?”
“Please…” Dash sobbed, trying to hide her face behind her injured hooves.
The pink thing only leaned closer, its doll like blue eyes sparkling in mirthfully cruelty. “Because we hate you,” it said, almost drinking in the words. “We all hate you… We’ve always hated you… Always boasting about how great you were… Always talking about how amazing a flier you were… And now look at you… Not a pegasus, not even a proper earth pony… You’re a nothing.”
“I especially hated you, you know…” the pony thing continued, its glistening smile now less than a foot from Dash’s head. “I know how you let me stare at you when I thought nopony was looking… The way you let me hug you... touch you all I wanted, just so you could brush me off and put me in my place… Did you like seeing me pine after you? Did it make you feel like a celebrity? You knew how I felt, but you never did anything about it…”
“I didn’t… I never meant… I’m sorry, Pinkie… I’m so… so sorry…”
Dash whimpered as the smile on the monster above her grew wider; perhaps wide enough to swallow her whole.
"But now, it's my turn to say..."
The pony thing drew back quickly as a third voice suddenly coughed off to its right. Dash heard the sound too, and opened her eyes to look around for its source. What she saw stunned her right out of her tears. Less than ten feet away sat a very familiar magenta earth pony. The mare’s pin-straight mane was maroon in color, and she was seated in just such a way that Dash could see three balloons adorning the side of her flank. She also had a hoof politely covering her mouth and her eyes closed, as if to leave no doubt that it had been she who had coughed. As both Dash and the creature watched, the earth pony put her hoof down and opened her eyes. Twin sapphires flashed dangerously back at them from underneath a scowling brow.
“Sorry to interrupt your audition for ‘most psychopathic creep on the planet,” the pony said, her icy tone cutting through the stale air like a knife. “But that is my mare, and I would very much like to have her back. Now.”
Rainbow Dash stared at the magenta earth pony. A sudden rush of emotions ran through her; confusion, concern, guilt, but most of all, hope. The creature also stared at the new arrival, though its mask like face gave no indication of how it felt about her sudden appearance. After a few seconds regarding the flat maned mare, the creature silently tilted its grinning head to the side, as if confused.
“What’s the matter? You look surprised to see me,” the mare said, getting to her feet and walking towards them. “You must have known I was coming, I mean you tried so hard to stop me. Or maybe you just didn’t think I’d escape all the traps you set for me back there. Oh don’t feel bad, they were very good traps, you just made one teeny tiny little mistake.” The pony came to a stop in front of them, standing less than a foot away from the still smiling monster. The creature stared back with its cold, unblinking, soulless eyes.
“You made them to stop a scatterbrained party pony with the element of laughter,” the mare said, one fiery blue eye partially obscured by her pin-straight mane, “but what you got… was me.”
The creature remained completely frozen as the mare’s gaze seemed ready to burn holes in its disfigured head. Dash watched the two with baited breath, the pain and fear that had wracked her body and mind just minutes ago completely forgotten. The scene was so intense it just didn’t seem real. Actually, none of it seemed real. The rocks, the dirt, even the alluring and terrifying pink monster all had a strange ambiguity about them. Nothing seemed entirely stable, like the world kept changing and readjusting itself slightly. The only thing that didn’t seem ethereal was the magenta earth pony who was still staring down the less than identical doppelganger in front of her.
For almost a minute, nopony spoke or moved. Even the wind seemed to be holding its breath as the tension between the pink and magenta equines continued to build. It was the magenta mare that broke the silence, squinting and bringing herself almost nose to nose with the grinning creature.
“…Hold on, I think you got a little dirt on you face there,” the pony said, lifting a foreleg to point at the creature’s smile. “Here, let me just…” The mare licked the side of her hoof and began rubbing on the creatures face with it, making a small squeaking sound. Dash blinked open mouthed up at them. Any doubt she had had concerning this mare’s identity had gone completely out the window. Along with the tension.
“Pink…” Dash quickly looked from the mare to the creature. There was no doubt who the real one was now. “…Pinkie, what are you doing?” she asked, her face and tone filled with disbelief.
“I’m saving you, duh,” Pinkamena replied distractedly. Putting her tongue between her teeth, the magenta earth pony got up onto her back legs to grab the creature by the head and began grinding her hoof against its face even harder muttering, “It’s not… coming… out…”
The creature gave absolutely no sign of protest as it allowed its head to be grappled with and furiously spit shined. Maybe it was just as stunned and confused Dash as was.
“Ugh, it’s no use,” Pinkamena groaned, letting go of the creature and putting her forehooves on her hips with a dramatic sigh. “I think it must be a natural blemish or something. There’s nothing I can do, we’re just gonna have to send it all back and have it replaced.”
Dash’s eyebrows skyrocketed as Pinkamena went back on all fours, reached under a small, nearby rock, and pulled out an impossibly large wooden crate from beneath the less than six inch wide stone. The crate was almost as big as a pony and had the words, 'in case of shipping crate emergencies,' stamped across the front in large, cautionary red letters. The antics didn’t stop there however, as the earth pony then grabbed the creature’s face again, and gave it a sharp twist like she was trying to break the thing’s neck. Instead of making a stomach turning crack, the whole head turned completely around to face front again. The earth pony began batting at it across the muzzle until the head began to spin like a top, whirling round and round until it unscrewed from the neck and fell off, still smiling, into Pinkamena’s waiting hooves. She nonchalantly tossed her catch over her shoulder and into the crate, kicking up a small jumble of packing peanuts as it landed within.
She then began to dismantle the rest of the creature, popping off limbs and segments as if it were nothing more than a giant snap together model, and tossing each piece into the crate. When she finished, the earth pony reached back under the rock and pulled out the lid which she put on top of the crate. Reaching behind her back, the maroon haired enigma pulled out a hammer and nails and used them to quickly fix the lid in place. Once she had finished, the earth pony reached behind her back again and produced a stamp and return address which she promptly slapped across the side of the box. Then she leaned casually against the crate and began to impatiently whistle, politely ignoring the look of complete befuddlement Dash was giving her.
Just when the rose eyed mare had collected herself enough to speak, the sound of flapping wings from above drew her attention.
A grey and blonde pegasus was flying towards them. As she approached, Dash realized that the pony wasn’t a pony at all, but another of the strange frozen faced creatures like the one Pinkamena had just packed away, but this one was… different. As it landed next to the crate, Dash saw that while it had the same distorted grin as the pink creature it appeared less threatening and more... goofy. The creature was almost cartoonish in the way it stumbled and skidded to a halt in front of the flat-maned earth pony and her package. Its eyes were looking in different directions as well, and its head tilted from side to side loosely as it steadied itself, almost if it really were just an overly elaborate mask. The winged creature reached into its saddlebags and pulled out a clipboard and pen, which it handed to Pinkamena. The earth pony took the clipboard, signed, and returned it along with what looked like a freshly baked banana nut muffin. Where she had gotten the muffin Dash hadn't seen, but the mail-creature seemed satisfied with the payment and put the pen and clipboard back in its saddle bag. The creature then gave both of them a walleyed salute and put the muffin on top of its wobbly head so it could grab hold of the crate with both forehooves. Then, with a slight grunt of effort, the creature hoisted it up by the crate by its side and flew off with it, somehow keeping the muffin perfectly balanced atop its head as it left.
“They just don’t make nightmares like they used to,” Pinkamena said, waving good bye to the walleyed creature as it flew away in a zigzagging trail. Then the earth pony turned back to smile back at Dash. Not a wide, toothy grin, but a small, reassuring smile. The kind of smile that said everything was going to be okay.
Dash continued to gape at her, unable to believe, or even process what had just happened. Then she began to chuckle. It started out nervously but soon became a fully-fledged laugh. Her laughter slowly dissolved into tears, and when it did she felt two hooves snake around the tops of her shoulders and pull her into a tight hug. The crying mare reached up and tried to pull her friend closer as well. After a minute of confused and frantic struggling, both ponies laid on their sides, wrapped in each other’s hooves as Dash laughed, sobbed, and hiccupped into Pinkamena’s shoulder. All the while, the earth pony gently stroked the trembling mare’s multicolored mane and fought back tears of her own.
“You are so… random,” Dash choked out, gripping the magenta pony with all her strength.
“I know,” Pinkamena answered in a whisper, still smiling, her eyes closed as she cradled the wingless speedster.
Dash’s tears eventually stopped and she simply clung to her maroon haired savior. For what felt like a long time, the two simply held each other, breathing in each other’s scent, as all the stress and pain of that horrible day began to ebb away. The sense of relief both ponies felt was immeasurable. They were together, and for the moment, safe. Under normal circumstances, they probably would have fallen asleep in each other’s hooves right then and there. When Dash's tears had finally stopped she gently pulled away.
“What’s going on?” Dash asked, rubbing her eyes and nose with the back of her foreleg. “Where are we? What was that thing? How did you find me?”
Pinkamena put a hoof over the speedster’s mouth and shushed her. “Dash, it's okay. You’ve been trapped in a nightmare by your element of harmony because of a 'pair of ducks' or something that caused it go a little haywire,” she explained calmly. "But, as to that last question..."
The flat-maned pony reached behind her back and pulled out a small book. On the cover was a colored drawing of a pink and puffy-maned Pinkie Pie plummeting upside down through the air, while a fully healthy and winged Rainbow Dash sped towards her from above. The Dash on the cover looked to be speeding down at near sonic rainboom speeds, wearing a determined expression, as the Pinkie Pie reached up towards her with a tearful smile. Both ponies were shown from the side and set against a swirling pink and blue background. At the top of the book were the words, “Sraemd fo Yolaytl!”
“It's a long story.”