If you found a young colt lost, alone and scared on the edge of the Everfree Forest, what would you do?
If he was lost and confused, and looked to you for support and protection, what would you do?
If he carried a dangerous, frightening and forbidden secret, what would you do?
If his mere existence threatened your very life, what would you do?
If his being alive meant that others could die, what would you do?
If his life threatened your sanity, what would you do?
If you had to make a choice, to give up that which you prize, to gain knowledge that could save lives in the future at the cost of your own future, what would you do?
If you were forced to chose the life of one you just met, or the life of one that you could meet in the future, what would you do?
If he offered knowledge forbidden and horrific, yet beautiful and life-saving, what would you do?
If he was the future bringer of Calamity, what would you do?
What would you do, Twilight Sparkle?
What Would You Do?
"And that's the story of Slenderpony." Rainbow Dash finished with a grin, exchanging glances with a thoroughly spooked Scootaloo, the two fillies on either side of her shuddering in unison.
Sweetie Bell spoke first, looking around the dark clubhouse, her eyes lingering on each shadow slightly longer than usual. "But Slenderpony doesn't REALLY exist, right...?"
Rainbow smirked. "Let me tell you all a secret...gather around, guys...."
Scootaloo was the first to move in close, followed quickly by her two friends.
"What's the big secret?" Applebloom asked, her eyes darting to and fro as she waited for Rainbow to speak and half expecting to see Slenderpony watching from the shadows.
"I didn't make up the Slenderpony story. Twilight did at our last sleepover." Rainbow confided with a smirk. The Cutie Mark Crusaders blinked in unison.
"Twilight came up with that story?" Applebloom sounded doubtful as she looked at the older pegasus.
"What you don't believe me? Ask her yourself." Rainbow huffed in fake indignation. "The way she told it was almost enough to scare ME, the most awesome mare in Ponyville!"
"Really?" Scootaloo looked shocked. Twilight almost scared THE Rainbow Dash with a scary story? She almost couldn't wrap her head around it.
"Yep. She did this spell making her voice all hollow and echo-y. It was really creepy." Dash grinned. "If only I could get her to help Pinkie and I with our pranks..."
The four chatted for a few more minutes about the story before Dash decided it was time to sleep. The Cutie Mark Crusaders let out various sounds of disappointment, but obeyed her commands with few protests. They soon all lay around the treehouse, Rainbow opting to sleep in the clubhouse next to Scootaloo as she blew out the lantern they had been using as light while telling scary stories.
Well, as Rainbow told scary stories, that is.
Scootaloo, however, couldn't sleep. As the sounds of gentle breathing filled the treehouse, Scootaloo stayed wide awake, the sounds of the night echoing outside in the light of the full moon. She snuggled closer to Rainbow Dash, confident in the thought that as long as she was with her adopted older sister, no harm could come to her.
Just as she was beginning to drift off to sleep, a crash echoed just loud enough to bring her mind to alertness. A flash outside drew her attention to the window as she blinked. Shifting lightly, she strained her head for better angle without leaving Rainbow Dash's side.
The light grow brighter, then winked out. The darkness suddenly seemed more forboding and dangerous once th light faded, as if something horrific had been released upon the dark and sleepy world.
Then she heard it. The screams were soft, and quite a distance away. She nudged Rainbow Dash urgently. "Rainbow Dash! Rainbow, wake up!" Her voice was low, as she tried not to wake her friends. "Rainbow! Wake up, big sis!" She wasn't sure why she had referred to Rainbow as her sister aloud, but it seemed to do the trick as Rainbow stirred.
"Whazzup, Scoots..? Did the story scare you again..?" Her voice was slurred with sleep as she blinked blearily, her mind slowly waking and her senses sharpening.
"Rainbow, there' something going on! I saw a light outside and-" She was silenced as Rainbow stiffened, covering her mouth as Rainbow went from waking up to ready to fight.
"Scoots, do you hear that?" Rainbow whispered, straining to hear something.
The screams had gotten louder, and Scootaloo could almost make them out.
"Mom! Mother! Help me, he's after me! Help me, Mom! Don't let him get me!"
It was faint, but what she could hear sent shivers down her spine, as Rainbow opened the window silently, a deterimined look on her face as she climbed out. Scootaloo followed wordlessly.
Rainbow, however, was having none of it. "Scoots, get back inside; it may not be safe!" She hissed, her eyes flicking toward where the screams were coming from. Scootaloo gulped, her eyes widening in realization. The screams were coming from the Everfree Forest!
Her eyes darted over to the treeline and she let out a loud gasp, pointing with a shaking hoof.
Rainbow followed the shaking appendage, looking at the trees when she saw a figure stumble out of the forest. It was small, and clearly a pony that couldn't be much older that Scootaloo herself. The small pony was quick to get back up, looking around wildly before running in the direction of the town.
Something followed him. A timberwolf ran out of the trees after the young pony, and Rainbow Dash wasn't sure he would stay ahead of the wolf for too long as she took off.
Rainbow flapped her wings, willing herself to fly faster, her eyes glued to the running foal.
The Timberwolf was gaining on the figure as she got closer.
Another flap, her speed nearly doubling. She was going to make it; she refused to fail.
The Timberwolf was relentless, undaunted by the open landscape.
I need to go FASTER!
She could just make out the color of the pony, a black coat and red mane revealed in the moonlight.
I Am Rainbow-Bucking-Dash, and I WILL SAVE THIS PONY! Now go FASTER!
She was a blur as she slammed into the Timberwold, her front hooves impacting its sides with the force of a runaway train just moments before it had a chance to jump on the fleeing pony. There was a loud crunching sound as the wood gave way and the Timberwolf went flying to the side, impacting a tree and laying still, unlikely to move again for the immediate future.
Rainbow Dash slowed to a stop, turning to look at the pony who's life she may have just saved in the most awe-inspiring way possible, only to see it curled up in a shaking ball.
"Please don't hurt me! Please don't eat me! I don't want to diedon'twanttodiedon'twanttodie!" The voice was young and immature, and clearly that of a colt as he curled up tighter. Wings could be made out on his sides, still too immature for flight as he trembled in fear.
The sound of a scooter reached her ears as Scootaloo rode up to her. Rainbow looked at her with a gaze of chastisement. "I told you to stay at the clubhouse!"
"Don't worry Rainbow! I knew a lame old timberwolf was no match for you!" Scootaloo said with a excited and infectous grin. Rainbow fought her smile, but soon lost as she ruffled Scootaloo's mane with her hoof.
"So, who is he?" Scootaloo asked, looking at the still mumbling and shaking ball of pony.
"Beats me." Rainbow replied with a shrug. "Hey there...don't worry, you're safe now. What's your name? Where are your parents, and why were you in the Everfree Forest?"
The quivering ball, uncurled slightly, but the colt still hid his face. "N-Nightfire....I-I don't know how I got there...O-one minute I was...I-I was...." The colt began to shudder violently. "I don't know...I don't know what I was doing! I can't remember! Why can't I remember?! Mom, Mother, help me! I can't remember, he was in my head!"
Rainbow blinked as Scootaloo took a step back away from the strange colt-Nightfire, she corrected. "H-hey, it'll be alright, okay? My name is Rainbow Dash, and I'll help you find your mom in the morning. I'm sure she's worried sick about you..." Rainbow used the same reassuring voice she had used on Scootaloo when she had last been frightened. It worked then, so why not now.
She didn't expect the reaction she received, however.
The colt looked at her, his eyes wide in the moonlight, staring at Rainbow before in one fluid motion, he lunged at her, hugging her tightly.
"M-mom! He was in my head, Mom! I couldn't stop him, he was in my head and then the monster came and chased me and I ran and he was following me and I can'trememberwhycan'tIremeber!?" The colt began to sob into Rainbow's chest, his words blurring together until they could no longer be understood while Rainbow looked uncomfortable at Scootaloo.
Scootaloo, however, was looking at his flank, where a red and blue cutie mark could be seen in the bright full moon. Two feathered wings, one red and one blue in full extention, meeting at the bottom and curving up at the top until the tips met, leaving a circle in between, where a single sword lay, blade pointed up and split in half in terms of color by the wings. On the side of the blue with, the blade was red, and on the red wing, blue.
Scootaloo swallowed a small surge of jealousy that he already had his Cutie Mark, remembering that he had just been in a life or death situation.
"I've never seen that Cutie Mark before. You must not be from around here..." Scootaloo stated, causing the pegasus colt to look at her, tears still within his eyes.
Something else was in his eyes as well.
"Scootaloo...?" He half asked, half said.
The pony in question blinked. "Do I...know you?" She asked, puzzled.
Nightfire blinked, pulling away from Rainbow in confusion.
"What do you mean...? Of course you know....." He trailed off, his face switching from confusion to stark terror in an instant as he backed away, his eyes wide as he stared at something over Scootaloo's head. Rainbow and Scootaloo both turned to look as Nightfire feebly, and nearly paralysed with fear began to inch backwards. Seeing nothing, Scootaloo and Rainbow turn to look at the slowly retreating colt.
"What's wrong, Nightfire?" Rainbow asked, her head starting to hurt from confusion. He didn't answer, his eyes fixed on nothing.
Unseen to Rainbow and Scootaloo, a face started at Nightfire, it's eyes red as blood and teeth sharp as it licked it's lips. With a hollow echoing voice that sounded much like the Nightfire's own, the face smirked.
"DiD I ScARe YoU...?" the face laughed, it's body made of dark shadows as it rose to it's full height, almost as tall as some of the trees around it.
Then it all went black.