Forest – Fluttershy's Sacrifice
Pinkamena stood in front of the Wolf Tribe leader, Greymane. He was a large anthropomorphic wolf wearing a red shirt and golden pants, both made of animal skin. He had a black eye-patch on his left eye, which had a large visible scar. While he was intimidating to most, Pinkamena was afraid in the slightest.
“Ritual is important to us,” Greymane said, his voice low like a growl, “Women of Canterlot Tribe used to appease rage of Lavos.”
Pinkamena laughed to herself, “You don't have to lie to me. We both know what you're really using the women here for.”
Greymane laughed, “You not understand. We use women to appease rage of Lavos within us.”
“Ahh, I see,” Pinkamena said laughing, “You know what? That's actually pretty funny. I like anyone who can tell a good joke. So, want my help with the punchline?”
“You help us? Why?” Greymane asked.
“You see, the one who interrupted the ritual was actually an outsider like me,” Pinkamena said, “I think she needs to be taught a lesson in getting involved in things that aren't her business, don't you?”
Greymane barred his teeth angrily, “Yes, outsider pay for ruining ritual.”
“So I'm gonna give you a present,” Pinkamena said sauntering over to Greymane, a black orb forming in her hand, “Something that I know you'll think is fun.”
Rarity stood in front of this world's Celestia, eyes wide in shock. How had she known her name? Did she recognize her as the Rarity of this dimension? No, that couldn't be it. No one else knew who she was, and she didn't see herself anywhere in this village, meaning she probably lived in another village.
So, how did Celestia…?
“Don't be alarmed,” Celestia said, “I am Village Seer. I see all, within forest and without.”
“I see,” Rarity said, “So… you also know the truth about me?”
“That you are traveler from another time? Yes,” Celestia said turning her attention to the moon again, “You lose something, something of import.”
“Y-yes,” Rarity said looking away pained, “A friend of mine is in danger, and the fate of my own world is up in the air at the moment.”
Celestia nodded, “Come with me. We continue conversation inside.”
Celestia wordlessly stood up and walked off. Rarity thought that was odd, but she shrugged and followed after Celestia. She thought she was taking her to the Chief's hut, but instead she took her to a hut with a butterfly sown above the entrance. When they went inside, Rarity saw Twilight already sitting there.
“Rarity?” Twilight asked, her eyes suddenly going wide, “C-Celestia?! What are-” she stopped when she realized what was going on, “Wait, you're… shoot, um…”
Celestia giggled, “You are fine, Twilight. I know where you and Rarity come from.”
“You do?” Twilight asked, “Rarity, did you tell her about the other worlds?”
“I didn't have to,” Rarity said, “She knew about that already. At least, I think she does.”
Celestia sat down in the middle of the room, and Rarity sat next to Twilight.
“You two come from different places,” Celestia said, “Same at core, but different, like apple of different skins.”
“An apple?” Rarity asked. Celestia reached for a basket nearby, and pulled out two apples: one red and one yellow, and threw one to each girl. Rarity getting the yellow apple, and Twilight getting the red one.
“Outside, apples look different. One color of blood, while other is closer to color of earth. Yet, does either one stop being apple?” Celestia asked.
“No,” Twilight said, “Both are still apples. It's just one was picked earlier than the other one.”
Celestia nodded, “Very good Twilight. Now, bite into apples, and tell me what you see.”
Both girls bit into their respective apples, and then looked at them. There really wasn't anything special about the two apples, at least nothing that Rarity saw.
“They're just apples,” Rarity said, “I don't see what-”
“No wait, I think I get it,” Twilight said, “Both of them look the same inside, right?”
Celestia nodded smiling, “Yes. At their centers, both apples are same. Maybe they taste different, but they look same. That is where you come from. Same place, but different.
“In case of where you are now,” Celestia reached for another basket, this time pulling out a pear, “Represented by different fruit all together. Pear looks similar to apple, inside and out, yet texture, taste, all is different,” she bit into her pear, and then showed them the inside, “From here, can't see difference. Only through experiencing pear can you tell how different it is from apple.”
“So we are in another dimension,” Rarity said somberly, “One that isn't anywhere near my own…”
“Rarity…” Twilight said rubbing Rarity's back comfortingly.
“Answers lie with Lavos,” Celestia said, “Must seek Lavos to learn truth.”
“Lavos?” Rarity asked, “How would your god be able to help me?”
“Mmm, not everything is as it appears,” Celestia said, “You not find answers here. Answers lie in another place,” she closed her eyes, “There you meet someone. Friend who is not human, or even alive in sense of us. Yet, they are alive, and wish to help you. This friend is one you will both recognize,” she then pointed to Twilight, “But only you can awaken friend from slumber.”
“Um… when you say “awaken”, that doesn't mean I'll have to… um…” Twilight asked, her face turning red. It didn't look like Celestia understood, but Rarity couldn't help but laugh a bit.
“Don't mind her,” Rarity said, “I'm sure it'll make sense when we get there. Um, how do you know all of this?”
“I know because I see,” Celestia closed her eyes and smiled peacefully, “Time, space, not separate like people think. See everything as clearly as I see this moment,” she stood up and walked to the entrance, “Tonight, you will face challenge. Fail, and lose more. Succeed, and you will move to next place. I see you there.”
Celestia winked to Rarity and then walked out. Rarity frowned a bit as she left, thinking about the odd thing she said.
“See you there?” Twilight asked, “What does she mean by that?”
“I don't know,” Rarity said, “Nor do I know what she means about Lavos being the answer, or us not finding the answers here.”
“Maybe she means we'll find them in another world,” Twilight said lying down, “I was thinking, their God is called Lavos, right?”
“Yes, which if I recall you mentioned is an urban legend in your world, right?” Rarity asked lying down next to Twilight.
“In my world, there's a legend of a monster called the Lavos, Time Devourer,” Twilight explained, “It's said to be a monster able to consume whole dimensions. I thought it was interesting, because your situation matched a part of the legend.”
“If I may ask, what part?” Rarity asked.
“I don't exactly remember the whole story, but I'll paraphrase to the best of my ability. A long time ago, there was a boy who was on a beach. As he looked out on the water, Lavos pulled him away from his beach to another world. It looked like his world, but so much had changed. What was terrifying was that this was a world where he himself no longer existed.”
“Just like… me...” Rarity said, “What happened to this boy? Do you know?”
“I think he ultimately found and fought Lavos himself, but no one knows the outcome of the fight. It's said however that the boy was able to eventually return to his plane of existence, so that's good,” Twilight said.
“Yes it is,” Rarity said, “If my situation is the same as his, then that bodes well for me and mine. Still, it's interesting how both your world and this one know the name Lavos.”
“So you think we'll learn more about Lavos in another world?” Twilight asked.
“It's the best bet I can think of,” Rarity said with a yawn, “This could get dangerous. I wish you weren't involved, Twilight.”
Twilight shook her head, “I had to come, Rarity. If it's dangerous for me, then it's also dangerous for you as well. I don't have powers like you do, but that doesn't mean I can't protect you. We're friends, Rarity, and I'm never leaving your side.”
“Twilight… thank you,” Rarity said, tearing up a bit and holding out her pinkie.
“You're welcome, Rarity,” Twilight said, smiling warmly and locking pinkies with Rarity.
Fluttershy walked around the village searching for her friends. Maybe she should have gone with Rarity at least back to the hut so she'd know where-
“Fluttershy,” Celestia said behind Fluttershy. She turned to Celestia and bowed.
“Friends safe,” Celestia said, “I take them to hut. Probably asleep now.”
“Good,” Fluttershy said, “Seer, did I do bad thing?”
“Bad thing?” Celestia asked.
“Bringing friends to village, and interrupting ritual. I not believe in ritual, and hate sacrificing women, but Chief say I put village in danger,” Fluttershy looked away somberly and teared up, “I always screw up. This why I not have friends in village.”
“Child, you are pure of heart,” Celestia said placing her hands on Fluttershy's shoulder, “You follow heart. That's why you save Apple Bloom and bring outsiders to village. There will be consequences for actions, but everything that happens is supposed to happen. Also, you wrong. You do have friends. Always have friends, just didn't meet them until today.”
“Rarity and Twilight friends, but friends leave soon. When friends leave, I alone again,” Fluttershy started crying, “Not want friends to leave. Not want to be alone.”
Celestia embraced Fluttershy tightly, “You love them, don't you?”
“Can't explain it, but I do,” Fluttershy said, “When I see Rarity, felt happiness like never before. Like seeing old friend. Friend that disappear, that I miss. I not want to lose friend again.”
“When time comes, friends will leave forest,” Celestia said, “Can't change that, can't force to stay. Friends have important journey.”
“I know…” Fluttershy said somberly.
“But, that not mean friends go alone,” Celestia said. Fluttershy looked at the seer wide eyed.
“You mean, friends leave forest, I leave forest?” Fluttershy asked.
“Up to you,” Celestia said, “You face tough journey, see things that will scare you, but will be close to friends, and even meet other friends.”
“But… I never leave forest…” Fluttershy looked down, “Forest all I know.”
“You stronger than you know,” Celestia caressed Fluttershy's cheek, “Grace of butterfly, but heart of lion. Need courage, either to say goodbye to friends, or go with friends. Choice is yours.”
With that, Celestia walked off back to her and Chief Luna's hut. Fluttershy walked to her own hut, which being the High Priestess was one of the bigger and nicer ones. Inside, she saw her two friends lying together, fingers locked as they slept peacefully.
Fluttershy sat down next to Rarity and started caressing her face lovingly.
“Rarity… friend…” Fluttershy said to herself, “Best… friend…” she lied down behind Rarity, spooning her and embracing her from behind, “Protect friend… no matter what.”
Soon, she fell asleep, a familiar feeling coming over her. A feeling of comfort, and familiarity. It was almost like she had done this with someone once before, only somehow different.
Like… maybe in another time, Rarity was the one embracing her.
Greymane and his men approached the village late at night. There wasn't a large army, just him and a few of his best warriors. Since the people of Canterlot village weren't naturally strong fighters, they wouldn't be able to defend themselves.
Which was good. He wanted to make sure they paid for going against their word, especially the High Priestess.
Greymane pulled out his ax and pointed it forward, “Attack!” he commanded. As he and his warriors charged into the village, Pinkamena stood on a tree branch watching things transpire.
“Would you look at this?” Pinkamena asked, “I think the Wolf Tribe is upset Rarity. Maybe you should have just minded your own business,” she smiled evilly, “This is going to be so much fun!”
Fluttershy awoke to the smell of smoke. She sat up, accidentally waking up Rarity.
“Mmm, what's going on?” Rarity asked.
“Smoke,” Fluttershy said, “Fire outside of-” she was cut off by someone screaming, “Wolves!”
Fluttershy immediately grabbed her daggers and ran out of the hut. Rarity looked in shock and then shook Twilight awake.
“Twilight! Twilight, get up!” Rarity urged. Twilight slowly awoke rubbing her eyes.
“R-Rarity? What's wrong?” Twilight asked.
“I'm not sure, but I think the village is in trouble!” Rarity said, “I'm heading out to help Fluttershy!”
“Not without me,” Twilight said grabbing her bow and quiver of arrows, “Like I said, I don't have powers like you and Fluttershy, but I can help at least a little.”
Rarity nodded smiling, grabbed her spear, and ran out of the hut with Twilight next to her. They saw Fluttershy struggling with three spear wielding wolf men. One jumped into the air to attack Fluttershy, but Twilight fired an arrow at him making him fall back. Fluttershy looked in shock as Twilight and Rarity ran to her side.
“Friends?” Fluttershy asked.
“We'll help you!” Rarity said, “Twilight, get ready!”
“Right! I'll follow your lead Rarity!” Twilight said readying her bow. Fluttershy nodded to Rarity, and held her daggers ready as the wolf stood up.
Rarity wasted no time rushing in with her spear clashing weapons with him. While they fought, Fluttershy stood in front of Twilight defending her from two wolves as Twilight jumped back.
Getting on one knee, Twilight fired an arrow at the wolf she hit previously, hitting him in the head this time killing him. Fluttershy jumped back and charged up her green element, and launched her sharp wind attack at the second wolf.
Rarity felt the attack was called “Wind Blade”.
Speaking of Rarity, the wolf she was fighting managed to push her back, and then charged up what looked like a red element. He then shot fireballs out of his spear at Rarity. She rolled out of the way of one, but actually took the remaining two in the chest and fell back.
“Rarity!” Fluttershy cried out.
“No…!” Twilight cried, unaware of the white glow surrounding her, “I have to help her…! I HAVE TO PROTECT MY FRIEND!” Twilight did what came naturally, actually charging up what appeared to be white energy. She then focused on Rarity, who was suddenly hit with a white light. A second later, Rarity felt rejuvenated and rose to her feet.
“I have no idea how you did that, but thanks!” Rarity said before charging up her black element. She held out her hand, and shot her Shadow Ball at the wolf who knocked her down, killing him.
Fluttershy charged up her green element, and then launched her Wind Blade at the remaining wolf present, and both she and Rarity ran to Twilight.
“You have white element?” Fluttershy asked.
“White…?” Twilight asked in confusion.
“Both have rare elements,” Fluttershy explained, “Twilight have white element of light, and Rarity have black element of darkness. Powerful, but difficult to use.”
“We'll get an explanation on them later,” Rarity said, “We need to clear these wolves out of here.”
“Right,” Twilight said, “I think I can use that white element again if I need to.”
“Then you're our healer,” Rarity stated, “Come on!”
As Rarity and Fluttershy ran off, Twilight pouted.
“Why am I the white mage…?” she groaned to herself before running after her friends.
Between the three of them, they managed to take out any wolves that got in their way as they ran to the center of the village, where they saw a much larger wolf standing there waiting for them. He wore red and gold, and had an eye patch on his left eye.
Standing before him injured was both the Chief and Seer of the village.
“Greymane!” Fluttershy shouted running to the scene with Rarity and Twilight beside her. Greymane looked at Fluttershy and laughed.
“Good to see you, High Priestess. And those must be outsiders that ruin ritual,” Greymane said, looking at Rarity and Twilight, “They look good. Perfect for future tributes.”
Fluttershy growled, “Stay away from friends!”
“Why are you attacking?!” Rarity asked, “These people did nothing to you!”
“These people took back sacrifice,” Greymane explained, “We need sacrifice in order to appease Lavos. Attack simply us following Lavos' will.”
“Liar!” Fluttershy shouted, “Lavos not God! You just use Lavos to control village and take women!”
“If that's true, then you're the worst of the worst!” Twilight said.
“See Chief? High Priestess still deny God's will, and now has outsiders agreeing with her. She bring you nothing but ruin,” Greymane said. The Chief actually looked at Fluttershy with slightly narrowed eyes.
“You remind me of someone from back home,” Rarity said darkly, “Someone I can't stand. He's always taking advantage of those weaker than him, and just wants to get his way,” images of Rover flashed in her mind, “I think I'm going to enjoy mopping the floor with your face!”
“Ooh! Pretty girl have spirit!” Greymane said pulling out his ax, “I enjoy breaking you.”
Rarity charged at Greymane and slashed with her spear, but Greymane blocked with his ax and pushed her back. Rarity charged up and fired her Shadow Ball, but Greymane used his ax to easily knock her attack away.
“You have powerful magic,” Greymane said, “But not enough to stop me.”
He charged up red element, and then raised his hands. From underneath Rarity, energy gathered, and exploded in an orb of fire, knocking her far back toward Twilight and Fluttershy.
“RARITY!!!” Twilight and Fluttershy cried at the same time. As Twilight got to work healing Rarity, Fluttershy charged at Greymane and slashed at him wildly with her daggers, actually clashing weapons with the large wolf man.
“You hurt friend! You destroy village! You leave now!” Fluttershy demanded.
“You and your people brought this on yourselves,” they heard Pinkamena say. Everyone turned to see her sauntering toward them, her large bladed ring behind her back, “Had you not let those outsiders take the sacrifice and then bring them here, none of this would have happened. So you see, all of this, is your fault, Fluttershy,” she laughed, “Isn't that hilarious?!”
“My… fault…?” Fluttershy said, taking in Pinkamena's words.
“Oh my God! Look at that face! See that? That's the one right there!” Pinkamena cheered, “That's the punchline! Oh, this is absolutely priceless!”
“You…!” Rarity seethed rising to her feet and charging at Pinkamena, who effortlessly blocked her attack, “This is all your doing, isn't it?!”
“Well, I might have had something to do with it,” Pinkamena said, “Like… giving Greymane a boost in power so he could actually take you on.”
“This is all just a game to you, isn't it?!” Rarity asked, “These are innocent lives, and you're just toying with them!”
“Uh, duh! Of course I'm treating it like a game! This is fun for me,” Pinkamena said smiling, “Besides, you really need to learn to mind your own business Rarity. You had no reason to get involved, and yet here you are.
It was odd, seeing Pinkie Pie like this. Seeing Fluttershy as a bully was one thing, but at least she had a semblance of humanity. This version of Pinkie Pie was almost inhuman. It was like she actually enjoyed hurting people.
As for Fluttershy, she slowly stepped away from Greymane, looking around at the destruction around her. Her breathing picked up, and tears built up in her eyes as the reality hit her. All of this was her fault.
“Stop it…” Fluttershy cried, “STOP IT!!!!!”
All the fights around her stopped, and all eyes turned to Fluttershy as she fell to her knees and cried in devastation.
“F-Fluttershy…?” Twilight asked, slowly lowering her bow.
“Not right…” Fluttershy sobbed, “Friends not interrupt ritual… Friends only help me… I was one... who ruined ritual…”
“What are you doing…?” Rarity asked, her spear still pushing against Pinkamena's weapon.
“Special sacrifice needed now to appease Lavos,” Greymane said, “It is only way to end this.”
Even in her tears, Fluttershy somehow still managed a glare shot right at Greymane before she faltered, “Then take… me.”
“W-what?!” Twilight exclaimed.
“Fluttershy, no!” Rarity cried. She was about to run toward her, but Pinkamena hit her in the back knocking her to the ground, and then held her down with her foot.
“What did I say about minding your own business?” Pinkamena asked.
“Fluttershy… please don't do this…!” Rarity begged, thinking about her own Fluttershy, “Let me protect you…!”
“Rarity… you and Twilight friends,” Fluttershy said, “Glad I finally met you,” she looked at Rarity with a truly sad, yet forced smile, “This time, I protect you.”
Twilight shook her head and got an arrow ready. She was about to launch it at Greymane, but an icicle hit her, knocking her to one knee.
“You too,” Pinkamena said to Twilight, “This doesn't affect you either, so butt out, kay?” she had the audacity to smile sweetly, which just made Rarity's blood boil even more.
“You worthy sacrifice,” Greymane said looking Fluttershy over, “Tie her up! We leave village with High Priestess!”
One of his wolves walked over to Fluttershy and bound her wrists. Pinkamena released Rarity and vanished. Rarity immediately rose to her feet and charged at Greymane, only to be stopped by two of the villagers.
“Let me go!” Rarity ordered, “I have to rescue her!”
“This is truly for best,” Chief Luna said somberly, “Fluttershy offer herself, and village spared.”
Rarity was horrified to hear that. The Chief was just going to let Fluttershy leave?! Rarity became frantic and tried to push past the villagers holding her back, forcing them to grab her arms.
“No! NO!!! I HAVE TO PROTECT HER!!! SHE'S MY BEST FRIEND!!! I CAN'T LEAVE HER!!! I PROMISED!!!!” images of her Fluttershy flashed in her mind, “I promised to protect her no matter what! I can't break that promise! She's too important to me! Fluttershy! FLUTTERSHY!!!”
As they left the village, Fluttershy looked back at Rarity one last time before closing her eyes and turning away, shedding tears of both sadness and fear.
When they were long gone, the villagers released Rarity, who fell to her knees crying harder than she even cried upon realizing her predicament. Twilight immediately ran to her side and embraced her tightly.
“Oh Rarity…” Twilight said somberly.
“It's happening again!” Rarity sobbed, “I'm losing my best friend all over again!” she held her head and screamed loudly, in frustration, anger, sadness, and above all grief. Grief at watching her best friend be taken away from her, and for the first time being powerless to save her.
She didn't notice, but Seer Celestia looked at her somberly yet intently as she cried. Her next move would be the most important.