Rarity's eyes snapped open.
Craning her head to the left, she glanced at the clock on the wall to see that she had actually slept through the night and that it was seven o' clock in the morning.
"Wait, seven in the morning?!"
She bolted out of bed and rushed down to the basement, hoping that the two hadn't decayed too much over the course of the night that the smell would waft up to the boutique itself. Sweetie Belle was here right now, and if she smelled dead things in Rarity's basement...
To her relief neither of them had decayed to that point, but she knew that they would very soon. She sighed and got to work cleaning up the remains.
* * * *
Rarity walked out of the Everfree forest with a spring in her step. She always felt wonderful after a kill and today was no exception. Plus, she had six more lined up soon. That is, she had six more beings to kill when she actually found them. She grimaced when she remembered just how long it had taken to track down Flim and Flam, but it was all worth it in the end to be sure.
"You could kill the two ponies who were rude to Fluttershy at the asparagus stand, Rarity." Rarity stopped and looked in the direction of the market. "They're local. It wouldn't take a moment to find out where they lived. I'd just ask Pinkie Pie."
Rarity clicked her tongue and shook her head. "As wonderful as that would be, if the two of them plus the vendors all disappeared in the course of a day or two, ponies would start getting suspicious." She shook her head and walked back to her house. "Wait a week or two. Iron Will and his goats are more important."
She walked back into her house a few minutes later to see Sweetie Belle up and getting ready for school. "Good morning, Sweetie Belle. How are you today?"
"Just fine, Rarity!" said Sweetie Belle with a smile. "Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and I are all gonna go crusading after school today."
Rarity chuckled and patted Sweetie Belle on the head. Of course they were going to go crusading today.
Rarity glanced at the kitchen table to see that the mail had arrived. Sweetie Belle was at the table eating her breakfast as Rarity walked over. "Did you get the mail today?"
Sweetie Belle nodded. "Yep! I also saw that you missed yesterday's mail too so I got that too."
"Well, that was very thoughtful of you Sweetie Belle. Thank you," said Rarity as she used her magic to leaf through the mail.
Bill, bill, bill, invite to one of Pinkie's parties, postcard from the parents, junk mail, junk mail, junk mail... hello, what is this?
Rarity placed the rest of her main on the table and examined what appeared to be a leaflet of some sort. In fact, it looked quite familiar to her. Shrugging, she used her magic to open up the leaflet.
"The incredible Iron Will turns doormats into dynamos?" she mumbled to herself as she read the text. Her eyes widened. This was an Iron Will pamphlet! Maybe it would tell her where that nasty minotaur was headed next. She eagerly read the leaflet and sure enough, it had a list of all of his events on the inside. She scanned the dates and saw the Ponyville event that had obviously just passed. She looked one down to see that his next workshop was in...
Could she go to Canterlot now? She had no orders to fill and it was a Friday meaning that her shop closed early anyway. If she took a personal day then she could be in Canterlot by one if she left as soon as possible. Sweetie Belle would be fine for the day if she was crusading with her friends. Doubtlessly Applejack could watch the three of them if things got out of hoof. She smiled to herself. This was going to be a good day, she could already tell.
Rarity turned to Sweetie Belle with a sweet smile. "Sweetie Belle, do you think that Applejack could watch you three today? I have an exceptionally urgent matter to attend to in Canterlot today."
Sweetie Belle looked up from her meal with interest. "You're going to Canterlot today?"
"I am. I should be back by tonight, so you needn't worry about sleeping accommodations. I know that you can handle yourself for the most part while I'm gone since you'll be at school for most of the day anyway."
"Uh, okay then," said Sweetie Belle. "What are you going to Canterlot for?"
"There is a new fabric that I simply must have for the shop! It is on display today in Canterlot." Gracious, I needed to think of better lies sometime.
Sweetie Belle frowned and looked down at her breakfast again. "Fine, don't tell me."
Rarity gave a nervous giggle. "Yes... however, I must begin collecting what I need for today. You can see yourself off to school, right?"
Sweetie Belle nodded and put her dishes in the sink. "I've walked to school by myself a million times. I can handle it. I'm almost a mare now, you know."
Rarity smirked at her sister and had to hold back a little chuckle. Fillies, they always try to grow up too fast.
With Sweetie Belle occupied for the moment, Rarity opened up her saddlebag and scanned the contents. Her hunting knife and a few syringes were still there from the time she kidnapped Krissy. She didn't know how much she would need to kill Iron Will, but with enough hacking, anypony would die. She didn't really have the means to draw it out as much as she would have liked anyway as she would likely confront him in a place slightly more public than her basement. Shrugging, she finished packing by placing a bag of three hundred bits into her saddlebag. With all of that finished, she was ready to go. "Sweetie Belle, I'm off. I'll be back later tonight."
"Okay sis, see you later then," said Sweetie Belle.
* * * *
The train pulled into Canterlot after a six hour ride. It had been mostly uneventful, but Rarity really did enjoy seeing the mountains as they passed some of the smaller Equestrian towns. During the ride she had eaten the most delightful daffodil and daisy sandwich on the train, something that she just knew that she would have to try again.
She stepped off the train and opened up the pamphlet that Iron Will had mailed to her. She scanned it, hoping that it would inform her of what time the event was and where it was being held.
"Let's see, ah here it is," she mumbled to herself as she sat down on a nearby bench. "One forty-five at the Canterlot Pavilion." Rarity glanced up at a nearby clock. It was a quarter past one now; there was just enough time to make it to the pavilion to see Iron Will. She placed the flier back in her bag and went towards the pavilion.
With a little speed Rarity reached the pavilion at exactly quarter . She actually managed to get a spot fairly close up, and as such she could see the stage perfectly well. Thankfully, Iron Will started his show right away. She rolled her eyes as Iron Will started doing silly little dance moves to a tacky song while the crowd cheered him on. "Seriously, what do they see in him?" she muttered under her breath.
"Hello there ponies of Canterlot! My name is Iron Will, and I am here to teach you about being assertive! Stomp if you are tired of being a doormat!" The ponies in the crowd, sans Rarity, all stomped wildly. "Stomp of you want to learn to stand up for yourself!" The crowd stomped once more. "Stomp if you want to pay nothing for this seminar!" The crowd stomped once more before what he said hit them and they gave each other confused looks before laughing. "That's no joke friends," said Iron Will confidently. "Iron Will is so confident that you will be one hundred percent satisfied, that if you are not one hundred percent satisfied, you pay nothing!"
Rarity rolled her eyes again as she contemplated just how silly of a business model that was. All a pony had to do was lie that they weren't satisfied and they wouldn't have to pay anything. He should have at least charged a small entry fee if he was going to do business like that.
"You!" said Iron Will, pointing to a pony in the crowd. "Why did you roll your eyes?" Rarity looked around to see to her horror that Iron Will was pointing at her. "Iron Will wants you on stage!"
Rarity sighed and slowly trotted up on stage. This could potentially complicate her goals, but it could also help her achieve them. It all depended on how he reacted.
The minotaur crossed his arms and glowered at her. "Iron Will feels that you... wait, you?"
Rarity inwardly smirked at Iron Will's confusion. "I see you recognize me."
"Well, yeah." Iron Will scratched the back of his head. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to Canterlot to try to order some fabrics for my shop." Rarity motioned out to the crowd. "I stopped by here to see what all the fuss was about."
Iron Will's confident grin returned and he puffed out his chest. "The fuss is that Iron Will is going to turn all of these ponies into lean, mean, assertive machines!"
Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes again. "Oh I'm sure you will, but let the buyer beware."
Iron Will snorted steam and stomped on the ground in front of Rarity. "Do you doubt Iron Will's methods?"
Rarity grinned inwardly. Sure a direct confrontation was not in her best interests with so many witnesses, but the mere fact that the crowd seemed to be losing their trust in this monster more than made up for that. "Well, after seeing what they did to my friend Fluttershy, I think that I have some definite reasons to." Oh yes, it was so nice to knock this bully down a peg.
Iron Will snorted angrily. "Get off the stage!" he said. "You clearly don't need Iron Will's help being assertive!"
"Clearly," said Rarity. "I don't think that most of them do either." Iron Will looked absolutely livid now but before he could say anything, Rarity hopped off of the stage with the intent of quietly slipping into the back of the crowd to continue the seminar.
"Stop right there!" said Iron Will. Rarity turned around and looked back at Iron Will. "Meet me by my trailer after the show at three o' clock. I pity the fool who doesn't go where Iron Will tells them to when he tells them to go there!"
Rarity held a hoof to her lips to stifle a laugh, but she nodded all the same. "I'll be there."
It seemed that she didn't need to stay after all! She could walk around Canterlot for an hour or so while Iron Will finished up his silly little seminar. Then he would be hers.
Rarity decided to kill the hour she had by walking around looking through the shops to see if she wanted to get anything while she was here. She stopped in at a fabric store that she was particularly fond of and browsed around. To her absolute delight, she found a new fabric that would be perfect for her shop. She went up to the front desk and ordered three rolls to be sent to her home in Ponyville.
As she walked out of the shop, she realized how amusing it was that she had actually just done what she had said that she would do when she left this morning. She chuckled at the irony of it all and glanced at the clock. Five minutes to three. It was time.
She walked back to the Canterlot Pavilion to see Iron Will and his goats cleaning up from the show. When Iron Will saw Rarity, he nodded and beckoned her over to a nearby trailer. She nodded back and followed.
Iron Will held the door open for Rarity as she walked up to the trailer and stepped inside. He followed and locked the door behind him. Rarity opened up her saddlebag in anticipation. She would kill Iron Will then lure his goats into the trailer one by one so she could kill them. Nopony had seen her go into the trailer as far as she knew.
"Now..." Iron Will narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. "Would you mind explaining just what you were doing today?"
Rarity sighed and readied her syringes. "Well, I think that what I was doing was protecting the ponies of Canterlot from your evil ways."
"Evil ways?" Iron Will raised an eyebrow. "I'm just trying to help them be less of a doormat!"
Rarity rolled her eyes. "Oh don't give me that. Your seminar turned my friend Fluttershy into a complete monster. She used your techniques to act absolutely dreadfully around everypony she saw! She even turned on us and acted unpleasant when we tried to help her out."
To Rarity's surprise, Iron Will's jaw dropped. "She... she did?"
"Yes she did," said Rarity with a nod.
Iron Will sighed and rubbed his temples. "I just want you to know something. I never want to have that effect on ponies. I am legitimately trying to help them become more assertive, but I don't want to turn them into ponies that treat others like doormats as well. It just goes against everything I believe in."
Rarity snorted. "Uh-huh. Suuuree."
"No I'm serious!" said Iron Will. "I've been on the receiving end of ponies that have been overly aggressive! I know how terrible it is for the victims, I don't—"
Iron Will didn't finish his sentence. Rarity took that as the opportunity to levitate three syringes towards Iron Will and fire them at him. To her complete surprise, Iron Will's reaction time was quicker than she expected, and he moved his head in time to dodge all three.
"What are you—?"
Rarity didn't give him a chance to recover. She improvised and pulled the knife of her bag and quickly plunged it into Iron Will's chest. To her surprise, his skin was so thick that it only went in a few centimeters before it stopped. Iron Will yelled in pain as he saw the knife protruding from his chest. Rarity took advantage of Iron Will's surprise and tackled him to the ground before she threw her entire body weight against the knife.
She stood up, covered in Iron Will's blood as she watched the dying minotaur try to pull the knife out. Rarity gigged and placed her hoof on the end of the handle and leaned in next to Iron Will's ear. "How's that for assertive?"
Iron Will looked up at her helplessly before a look of anger crossed his face. With a snarl he batted her hoof away, stood up and pulled the knife out of his chest. Rarity gasped as Iron Will swung the knife at her, barely missing her as she ducked. She tackled him once more and as he fell, he dropped the knife on the floor. Rarity took a second to pick it up but it was all the distraction that Iron Will needed. He picked her up and with a loud roar, he threw her out of the trailer. Rarity hit the ground with a loud thud and she slid for a few feet before coming to a stop.
She stood up and discovered that she wasn't injured. She picked up the knife, ready to go for round two with Iron Will when she heard a loud scream coming from her right. She turned and was surprised to see a pair of Canterlot mares looking straight at her. "A knife! She's got a knife and she's covered in blood!" screamed the first mare.
"Somepony call the royal guards!" cried the second. "She's trying to murder somepony!"
Rarity's eyes widened in fear and she did the only thing that she could think of: she ran.
She dropped the knife and ran as fast as she could, hoping that she wasn't being pursued but guessing that she was anyway. She grabbed her saddlebag in her magic and ran through the pavilion pool which effectively washed all of the blood off of her before she bolted towards the Canterlot train station. It wasn't the best idea, but she didn't know what else to do. She couldn't stay in Canterlot, that much was certain.
* * * *
Shining Armor was doing a routine drill with a dozen of his guards near the Canterlot Pavilion when he heard the screams. Immediately, his troops rushed forward to see a pair of screaming mares looking at a trailer and pointing at a spot just beyond it. "What's wrong?!" he asked as he reached the duo.
"Oh thank goodness you're here!" The first mare pointed towards the trailer. "We just saw a mare come out of that trailer there. she was covered in blood and holding a knife!"
Shining Armor's eyes widened and he quickly turned to his stallions. "You six, go to the trailer. Whoever is in there might still be alive!" The group hurried towards the trailer to check inside. "Did you see who did it?" he asked the two mares. "Did you get a good look at her?"
The second mare nodded. "She had a white coat and elegantly styled dark purple hair. She had three blue gems as a cutie mark," said the mare.
Shining Armor frowned. "That sounds like... no, it can't be."
The second mare cocked her head. "Huh?"
Shining Armor shook his head. "Wait right here." Instantly he teleported back to his quarters in the castle and picked up a picture his sister had sent him not long after she arrived in Ponyville. Shining Armor teleported back in front of the mares to show them the picture. "Is this her?" he asked, pointing to Rarity.
Both of their eyes widened. "Yes!" said the first mare. "That's her, that's definitely her!"
* * * *
Rarity looked back and she was relieved to see that she wasn't being followed as far as she knew. She breathed a sigh of relief and quickly boarded a train back to Ponyville. She spent the last of her money getting a private sleeper car. She couldn't be around other ponies right now.
She walked into her room on the train and placed her saddlebag down on the bed. She sat down on the floor and took a few deep breaths to calm down. "Well Rarity," she said, "that was a close one. I'm glad I got away." She smiled to herself and stood up. She was sure that Iron Will was dead. Nobody could survive something as damaging as that. She had definitely felt the knife go into his heart.
However, before she could completely relish the victory over the minotaur, her smile faded and a feeling of dread set in. Her eyes widened in fear as she remembered the rest of the events following the kill.
Two mares had seen her. They had seen her holding the knife and covered in his blood! They had been calling for the royal guards who would undoubtedly check the trailer to see Iron Will dead inside. She had been caught committing a murder.
"Oh no," she said quietly to herself. "Oh no oh no oh no." Her eyes began to fill with tears and a whimper of fear escaped her throat. Her eyes looked wildly around the car. "Maybe you can escape, Rarity." Her voice came out in a squeak. "M-maybe you can get off of the moving train and go on th-the run and... and..."
With a cry, Rarity got to her hooves and began running around the car, trying to find a way to jump off of the train without killing herself from the impact. The guards would surely be waiting for her at the station and if she was still on the train when it arrived...
"Come on, Rarity, think!" she said to herself as she looked out the window of the car to see the ground whizzing by at speeds that would kill her were she to jump. "You have to get off before you get to Ponyville!"
She whimpered again as she ran to the other window, hoping in vain that some escape route would present itself and she could get off of the train. "You'll find a way off, Rarity," she said, her voice tainted with fear. "Y-you've gotten out of worse situations before."
Rarity ran to the back wall of the car, and that's when she saw it: an emergency cord. One pull of that and the conductor would know something was wrong and stop the train. All she had to do was hop off and sneak into Ponyville, then get Sweetie Belle and go on the run.
"Yes," she whispered. "Yes. We'll just do that. We'll dye our manes, coats and tails, and I'll get a job as a tailor or something. I'll change my accent, cut down on my kills to one or two every now and again, and.. and we can be happy that way." Rarity walked closer to the emergency cord and reached a hoof up to it. "Sweetie Belle will miss her friends, I suppose, but she can always make new ones. I know I drifted away from Cheerilee. S-Sweetie Belle will just be happy to be around her big sister."
"It's better than death, Rarity." Rarity placed her hoof on the cord. "Sweetie Belle will understand, I'm sure."
Rarity's leg began shaking, and her bottom lip quivered. "I-it is better than death. Still, Rarity, is there another way out of this?"
"No, Rarity, there isn't. You were incredibly foolish and you attempted a daylight kill!"
Rarity retracted her hoof an inch. "How else was I supposed to do it?"
"ANY OTHER WAY! You got greedy Rarity and now..."
The events of the day washed over Rarity and with a whine she collapsed on the ground and began sobbing. Despite a million different solutions going through her mind of what to do, none were remotely feasible, and one prevailing truth was left. It was over.
Rarity's eyes snapped open as the thought forced itself to the forefront of her brain. "I'm going to die," she whispered. Rarity raised her head and looked back at the emergency cord. "Pull it, grab Sweetie Belle, and tear her life apart, or... accept it." Rarity flattened her ears against her head. "I... I'm going to die."
"You can run without her."
"I can't live like that." Rarity's gaze trailed to the ground. "If I brought Sweetie Belle, I'd have somepony I loved, but..." Rarity slowly shook her head. "No running."
A tight feeling welled up inside Rarity's chest, and she slammed her hoof on the floor. "N-no, Rarity, it can't end like this!"
"But it will anyway. You got greedy Rarity, you messed up and now you're going to pay the price for your greed. You didn't have to kill him right then and there."
"No. You could have waited, you could have waited."
"And now I'm going to die," she whispered. "Now I'm going to die."
Rarity collapsed on the ground and began softly weeping as the train pulled the murderous mare closer to Ponyville; closer to home for the last time.
* * * *
The train pulled into the station at half past nine. It was dark outside already, and Rarity knew that Sweetie Belle would be asleep already. She was surprised to see that royal guards were not swarming the station looking for her, but it seemed that life was going on as usual for these ponies.
She quietly walked home from the station, only vaguely aware that ponies were gossiping that a platoon of royal guards was headed towards Ponyville. If that was indeed true, then it really was the end for her.
She opened the door to her house for what she suspected was the last time. She sighed sadly and locked the door behind her. It wouldn't hold them for very long if they wanted to break the door down. She turned back around walking through her house and looking around at the dress forms. Each of them held a new design that she would have sold to customers... if any customers would come here anymore.
To her surprise, she saw Sweetie Belle asleep at the kitchen table. Her head was resting on her forelegs which were laid on the table. Rarity's eyes filled with tears as she looked at the sleeping filly. She walked over to her and shook her awake. "Sweetie Belle," she said softly. "Wake up, Sweetie Belle."
Sweetie Belle groggily opened her eyes and smiled when she saw that it was Rarity who had woken her up. "Hi, sis." She nuzzled Rarity's leg. "How was your day?"
"It was wonderful," said Rarity. "If you can believe it, I actually did find some new fabric for the shop. How was your day?"
"It was really fun!" she chirped. "We didn't get our Cutie Marks, but I had fun crusading around town with my friends anyway. We tried leaf collecting and cupcake making and we even tried kayaking! We didn't get out of the harbor for that last one before Applejack stopped us, though."
Rarity smiled and levitated her sister onto her back to began carrying her up to her room. "You didn't have to stay up for me, you know."
They were coming now. She heard a small commotion outside her door but she forced herself to enjoy this final happy moment with her little sister.
"But I wanted to." Sweetie Belle yawned and nuzzled the back of Rarity's neck. "I wanted to see my big sister when she got home."
A half laugh-half sob escaped Rarity's throat, and she had to put every ounce of energy into not breaking down in front of her sister entirely. Luckily Sweetie Belle was too tired to notice.
When they reached her room, Rarity opened the door with her magic. She carried the filly over to her bed and pulled the covers back before levitating her onto the bed. She gently pulled the covers over her and tucked her in. "I love you, Sweetie Belle," Rarity whispered. "I love you more than anything in the whole world. I want you to know that."
Sweetie Belle smiled at Rarity. "I love you too, big sis. I couldn't have asked for a better big sister than you."
Rarity smiled and kissed Sweetie Belle's forehead. She sat down, stroked her sister's mane and began singing.
"Once upon a time there was a pretty fly. He had a pretty wife, this pretty fly. But one day she flew away, flew away. She had two pretty children, but one night these two pretty children flew away, flew away, into the sky, into the moon."
Sweetie Belle's eyes closed and Rarity heard light snoring coming from her.
A large bang echoed from downstairs as the Royal Guards broke down the door but the filly's sleep went undisturbed. Rarity heard one of the guards ordering the others to search the house. "Don't wake up, Sweetie Belle," Rarity whispered as tears flowed freely from her eyes. "Please don't wake up. I don't want you to see this."
Rarity heard the door behind them open. "She's here!"
She kept her eyes on Sweetie Belle as she was pulled to the ground by four royal guards. The put hoofcuffs on her, but Rarity kept her eyes on Sweetie Belle as they dragged her away. "Don't wake up," she repeated. "Please don't wake up."
Sweetie Belle's eyes fluttered open.