by Amazing Ups

Chapter 1: The Play


I ran to my father like I did every day after school. I galloped through the yard and jumped into his hooves, rubbing my cheek against his. He lifted me up and spun me through the air. It was such a relief to see his smiling face, his warm hugs, after an absolutely intolerable day at school. I wish I could I could go back to those days, when I was stupid, when I was innocent. When my mind was always occupied by some little trivial worry of my life, like a monster under the bed. And my father would coo me to sleep and say, "It'll all be okay." I loved him, I was his little silly filly, and I thought nothing could ever change that.

But I also once thought there were monsters under my bed. The unfortunate truth is, things change. They always do.

Several years later, it was another day just like that day. I was much older though, and much more mature, so the only thing that changed as I walked home from school was my exclamation of “Daddy!” And of course, I was much too heavy for Dad to pick up.

For the rest of the day I told him about school, did homework, and was a general nuisance around the house. My father worked from home, and I was his constant distraction. I complained about everything, from being hungry, to how difficult our homework was. He chuckled at my little discomforts in life, as he angrily paid the bills ("Weather bills. Hmph. They can shove it up their royal--" "DADDY!") and struggled to make a living.

Of all things though, I complained about the other ponies at school. They always teased me about how sidetracked I got in class. I could never keep my focus. I stared out the window, wishing I could jump right out it and go somewhere away from it all.

I usually imagined myself deep within the Everfree Forest. Dad always made it out to be this dark, evil place, but I when I asked him if he’d ever been in it, and seen what’s so bad about it himself, he would avert his eyes and say I wouldn’t understand. I thought that maybe if someone actually went inside it once in a while, they might find out it’s not so bad. I made this vocal to lots of ponies I met. But just like Dad, they shook their heads at my childishness.

So deep within a daydream, I found myself wandering the forest under a starry sky. I would travel aimlessly through the brush, and absorb in every ounce of my surroundings. Birds of all colors, plants of all shapes and sizes. My mind continued to expand the nonexistent terrain around me, stretching and allowing more room for me travel in. It was almost like I was really there, like I could feel the humid air around me, like I could actually touch the water that was reflecting my own face back up at me. I reached out to feel the cool surface of the creek, but felt something much different…


My mind raced back from that far away place, and I realized that my outstretched hoof was currently booping my teacher’s nose.

"You can stop that now Stella.” I let my arm go limp in embarrassment, and a few chuckles sounded off around the classroom. “What have I told you about not paying attention in class?"

I rolled my eyes, and quickly replied: "Uh, I don’t know, to not to?”

Another round of giggles. I smiled smugly at my witty redemption, but was subdued immediate by the teacher's threatening glare.

"I've had enough of your sass for one day, Ms. Stella, thank you very much. Now, as I was saying, the Hearth's Warming Eve's play is this afternoon..."

A loud groan resonated through the classroom. I for one, perked up. I was excited for the play. Dad said he was going to come and watch me perform, and I never passed up a chance to impress him.

The teacher ignored the groans of the rest of the class, and continued on as I listened eagerly. "We all need to be prepared, so we'll all be staying after school for a dress rehearsal. We'll be starting the play just before sundown in the outdoor amphitheater."

As she droned on and on, I feigned disinterest similar to that of my classmates. I didn’t want to seem to amped about it or they might make fun of me.

"…Oh, I almost forgot. I have a surprise for you all!" The bored demeanor of the class didn’t budge. "Now, you'll all be pleased to know, if not a little bit nervous, that Princess Celestia herself will be in attendance of the play!"

My jaw. It dropped. The rest of the class seemed unable to register what they had just heard.

A small hoof in front of me was raised quickly, as if to say, “I object!”

“Yes, what is your question?”

“Uh, WHY?”

The teacher answered him dismissively. “Well, it wouldn't be very Princess-like to go to the same Canterlot play every year. She obviously wants to support the arts in you little ponies! Who knows, maybe tonight one of you will get a Cutie Mark in acting!”

Wouldn’t that be something, I thought to myself. I laughed internally at how she tried over and over to arouse the class’s interest. Even after the mentioning of Celestia's attendance, a few students maintained their indifference.

"Otherwise, you should all be excited to finally have the opportunity to perform in such a prestigious event, and I wish you the best of luck! Now, recess time!"

We all sat stock still, when usually we would be headed lightning speed for the swing sets. Only one or two ponies trotted away outside.

The teacher seemed a little flustered. "Didn't you hear me? Recess time! Now! OUT!"

The scuffle of chairs made me snap back out of my awe-inspired trance. I realized just how far down my jaw had extended, and brought it back up before quickly scooting on out of the classroom to join the others outside.

As I walked past the line for the slide, I tuned into my own train of thought. Princess Celestia? At our performance? This would be the best day ever! Not only was I going to impress Dad, and all the other parents, but Princess Celestia too!

And if I knew one thing, it was that I could not let them down.


The time had come. It was opening night! I peeked from behind the curtains out into the audience. People were chatting with one another, parents readying their cameras. The kids who didn’t get parts in the play moved around and handed out programs. I giggled at the silly uniforms they had to wear. As my eyes continued to scour the crowd of people, flitting from pony pony. I gasped.

There she was! Princess Celestia!

She must have seen me staring, as she gave me a warm smile from her seat atop a cloud.

I quickly pulled back, easily flipping out. Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh the ruler of Equestria just acknowledged my existence, ohmygoshohmy-


Our teacher cleared her throat for the millionth time, apparently preparing a little pep talk for us. She inhaled deeply as if she was about to let flow with emotions, and tell us how wonderful she thought we were and how proud she was of us and that she’d be throwing a party in our honor-

“Break a hoof.” She trotted off and let the music teacher take over of the play.

I sighed. My expectations may have been a little bit too high.

“Places everypony, places! The sun goes down in five minutes, and that’s when we’re lifting the curtain!”

I was so nervous. What if I forgot my lines? What if I screwed up in front of everypony?

“3 minutes everypony!”

I checked to make sure I looked alright. What if I had forgotten, and was wearing the bow my dad had given me backwards? I didn’t want to embarrass him…

“1 minute!”

My brain went crazy. Oh, I don’t know if I can take it if I screw up in front of Everyone! Dad went out and bought that bow just for me and said it would give me good luck and everything… He even came backstage and gave me a hug and told me to think about him whenever I wore it, like the way he thought about me when he first saw it, and...


Oh no! I straightened up my mane and my costume, going over my lines in my head. Once upon a time, there lived three races of ponies, the pegasuses and the earthi ponies, and what are the ones with the pointy bits on their heads…umm…oh yes, unicorns! Oh my goodness, why can’t I get my thoughts together? After all, I just finished rehearsal perfectly, and-


I came out my little reverie, and gulped down the huge lump in my throat. I looked out at the audience with a sheepish grin, as I realized the curtain had long since been lifted. My teacher glared at me with a face that clearly said, “You better not screw this up kid.”

I swallowed down my nervousness. As the sun went down with a casual wave of the Princess’ horn, I noticed the largeness of the moon. Was the moon always that big? Or that bright? I shook my concentration off of it, and tried to focus on talking. I tried. But something kept me from speaking. It wasn’t stage fright. It couldn’t be. I forced yet another hard lump down my throat. Why couldn’t I get my words out? What was going on? Why did I feel so hot and itchy?

And then it came, without warning. Pain shot through my body. I fell down on the stage, writhing with frequent spasms. I keeled over as if about to vomit, but nothing came. Just more and more pain. I felt my whole body contorting, stretching...changing. The audience sat unmoving in their seats, horrified of the display before them.

They thought they had it bad. I felt like I was being torn apart, and then being carelessly put back together. Then I started to register what was happening.

My ears expanded to twice their usual size, and throbbed with the usually insignificant little sounds that filled them now. My hooves painfully rearranged themselves into paws, and sharp claws sprang out of the tips of my newfound digits. My muzzle extended, my hair grew into a furry mess, and the new bow father bought ripped in half from the strain.

I was…I was becoming a wolf.

Princess Celestia saw me, my grotesque, powerful shape.

She frowned, barked some commands at her guards. She took another look at me and vanished in a flash of magic.

As my transformation completed, I really started to tune into what was going on. I laid on the stage, panting madly. Ponies were fleeing, the Princess’s guards were advancing, young fillies were screaming at my hideousness…

I could smell their fear.

I could hear the beating of their puny, fragile hearts.

I could feel the rush of adrenaline, the excitement of the hunt. My newly honed instincts took hold of me. I had no control of myself. I wasn’t myself anymore; I wasn’t Stella.

I was hungry.

I licked my lips as I watched my former classmates, now my prey, running away backstage. I listened intently to the commands my instincts gave.


I lowered myself onto the ground, preparing to pounce, wanting more than anything to tear the jugular right out of one of those little necks…

But then another figure toppled me offstage into the bushes. My opponent had me pinned, and my struggling was in vain. I flailed my new appendages uselessly, bashing my paws and flashing my teeth at the fool who had attacked me. I eventually broke free of my pursuer’s grip. I snarled as I regained my balance, and saw opposite of me another wolf, colored a deep indigo to match my own lighter shades of blue and white fur. I growled with a feral passion. What was this intruder doing, on my just recently claimed hunting grounds? I was about to show this moron who they were dealing with. In my head my instincts planned it all out. Wait, sidestep, tackle, then go for the neck-


In a flash, my foe had come up on my left and knocked me unconscious with a single blow. I fell down on my side, panting heavily from the adrenaline of the fight. I flitted in and out of consciousness, vaguely realizing I was being dragged away somewhere. It went for maybe minutes, maybe hours, I couldn’t tell. My face in the dirt, I heard the screams and the chaos that I had caused as I listened to the remnants of the town’s panic. All I can actually remember from before completely blacking out was the shadow of my opponent, running off deep into the Everfree.

Deep into the dark.