It didn't take nearly as long to get to the school from the hospital as vice versa. We stepped out of the fog like it was a straight up wall in a pegasus house. And there was that ugly faded that sky you couldn't tell day from night from. So this was it. We go into the school basement. Write a retract on the newspapers. And the world goes back to normal.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders all slowed as their approached the school house. A shiver went down their spines. They had to summoned up their courage to keep moving forward.
Scootaloo remembered the voice that had screamed at her to run, but she hadn't been able to tell who it was when scared out of her mind. Apple Bloom remembered that, that thing her truth had seen in place of Cheerilee. And Sweetie Belle remembered, the headline about foals dying in a theater fire, a vision of Cheerilee throwing familiarly colored flowered into a bonfire, and that horrid perfectly natural feeling that the play was where she belonged. They forced themselves to keep moving forward as they made it right next to the school house. None of them making a peep.
Apple Bloom kept scanning around them with her truth-infected eye for any nasty surprises. They inched along with their backs against the wall like thieves. Moving closer and closer to the basement and the magic printing press that would fix everything. But though the fillies strained their ears, but there wasn't a sound. Not even the faint scratching of pencils. The inside of the classroom was completely quiet.
Before anypony could stop her, the foal who knew the best about making noise stuck her head up looking through a window and gasped. Apple Bloom and Sweetie pulled her down.
"What?" Her friends gasped and looked up as well. Indeed, the classroom was empty.
"Maybe school's out?" Sweetie Belle asked.
Apple Bloom looked in again, that not ticking clock mentioned in their meeting. "There's no way. Miss Cheerilee should still be here."
"We better check the basement's windows," Scootaloo said, "I-in case somepony had dreamed up a monster in the basement."
"Girls? Don't you remember the school schedule? Today is the day of the school play, remember?"
The fillies turned to see Phobia, the little colt standing on the pink dead grass next to them.
"Phobia? Did you find Void?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Naw. I'm just excited that Miss Cheerilee didn't assign any homework for after the play. Isn't that cool?"
Sweetie and Scoots looked at each other. Their strict but loving teacher not give out homework?
"So, shouldn't you girls hurry along to the play? The grown-ups are saying how the play's gonna be a killer."
Sweetie Belle's eyes widened. "I saw it! Theater burning down! Remember? Cheerilee, her, throwing, flowers into a fire! It's not just us! It's the whole class!"
"She's gonna burn down the theater with everypony inside!" Apple Bloom cried, not believing what she was saying.
"Apple Bloom," Phobia said coldly, "Does your family just burn weeds while they're still in the ground?"
"No we...we pull'em out by the roots first."
"So why would you set fire to something, that can still break free? Still escape? That was still alive?"
Apple Bloom turned pale, fighting the urge to vomit.
"WE GOTTA GET TO THE PRINTIN' PRESS NOW!"
Scootaloo ran to a small window and looked inside. Horror, rage, indignation, dismay, with a light sprinkling of despair rushed through her. "They're! It's! Gone! Not here! Empty! The basement's completely empty!"
"WHAT?!" Her friends echoed for the second time in so many minutes. They knocked her aside and looked. Just dust and foundation, not even records, like it hadn't been used in years.
"IT CAN'T BE!" Apple Bloom screamed, closing one eye and then the other repeatedly. "It's gotta be a trick! It's gotta! A secret compartment! It's just outta view of the window! It's now on the ceiling! Something! Come on! We gotta search every nook and cranny!"
"We don't have time!" Scootaloo shouted. "We gotta get to the play before somepony gets killed!"
"Like us?" Apple Bloom asked hotly.
"NOT IF WE CAN HELP IT!"
"That's why we gotta find the printin' press now! It's gotta be here! It couldn't've just moved!”
"What if...what if it's just gone?" Sweetie Belle asked quietly.
"NO WAY!" This time Apple Bloom and Scootaloo echoed.
None of them noticed when Phobia had taken his leave.
Apple Bloom looked around at discarded issues of the Foal Free Press around the playground. "The paper still exists, so the printin' press still exists! That's just simple logic!"
"But we don't know where it is! The new 'Gabby Gums' must've moved it! But we know where the play is happening! And we know what's GOING to happen if we don't do something!"
"But the clocks in the school aren't moving, that meant we had all the time in the world right?" Sweetie asked.
"That's if this place was playing fair!" Scootaloo said, "In creepy stories, five minutes can last forever, or three years can be like half an hour!"
"Ah'm bettin' nothin' is gonna happen as long as we don't go there! Phobia said we were 'supposed' to be there! That means if we aren't there, this creepy place has to MOVE US there or it can't do a thing!"
"We don't know that's how it works!" Scootaloo snapped.
"We don't know it ain't!"
"You wanna risk our friends over that?!"
"Ya wanna risk everypony?!" Apple Bloom threw up her forelegs.
"You mean like Sunnytown didn't want to risk everypony?" Scootaloo asked, she then gasped and covered her mouth, trying to shove the words back in. Too late.
"Scootaloo," Apple Bloom took a trot back from her, ears pinned back. "How-- how could-- you-- How can you say that?"
In that moment, Scootaloo couldn't remember feeling so horrible.
"A-Apple Bloom, I...I didn't mean-"
"Yes, you did!" Apple Bloom hissed, that terrible, terrible eye of truth began to bore into Scootaloo like a knife in the gut.
"...Okay, so maybe I did!" Scootaloo snapped. "It's a painful memory to you for a reason, Bloom. Don't be like those horrible ponies, or you'll turn out just like them!"
Sweetie Belle held her head and screamed. "I just wanna go back to being a filly! Rarity! Chrssy! Mom! Dad! Spoony! I don't wanna play this game anymore! I hate creepy stories! I don't wanna argue over us dying or our friends dying instead... So STOP IT PLEASE!"
Apple Bloom and Scootaloo stopped and looked at their friend, blinked and looked at each other. It was like coming out of a dream, but there was no mind control here. "Sorry, Sweetie Belle."
"...Ah guess we're wastin' time and not doin' either of our points any good, are we?" Apple Bloom asked, looking down.
"Apple Bloom I'm sorry," Scootaloo said. "I'm sorry I said that. I really am! I DON'T think you're like them! At all! But-but-but PLEASE! I don't want Cheerilee to be made to do that to our friends. You can search here if you want! But I have to save them, and her!"
"Didn't you say splitting up is a bad idea?"
"The WORST idea in scary stories is splitting up. But you said it yourself, if we're all 'supposed' to be there but only one of us is, it can't start. If I'm right then I can save Cheerilee...And if your theory is wrong, then I have to save her."
"And what makes ya think ya can?"
"...Because why would we be trusted to save the world if we couldn't?"
"Doesn't mean one of us!"
Scootaloo flew off towards the school theater. 'Rainbow Dash, Miss Twilight, I'm sorry, I don't wanna leave my friends and do this all on my own, I promise. But, but she's my sister!'
'Mom. Dad. I'm not losing anypony else! Not when I can do something!'
I hadn't flown this fast when I'd been carrying Sweetie Belle on my first flight being chased by changelings. Thanks for the lessons Dash. Flying high in the air, I could see where the fog became super thick all of a sudden around the school and places, like there was nothing beyond it. Focus, Scootaloo!
I zoomed in towards the stage theater, it was bigger than it was supposed to be, maybe, my head felt funny just looking at it! There wasn't anypony in any of the seats. The theater wasn't on fire, so that meant the play hadn't started yet!
I skidded to a stop right outside he theater. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
How was I supposed to save Cheerilee?
Maybe I could lock her in a closet until we save the world? That works...exactly never in horror stories. Maybe if I punched her a lot it would make the monster inside her go away? That's how it worked in movies right? It would be for... her own good right?
But in horror stories...there never was a way to save somepony taken over, the pony was infected and that was it, the hero had to take them down with the rest of the monsters.
I shook my head! No way! If there wasn't a way I was gonna make one. I'm gonna be a vision! Just go with gut instinct, like saving Sweetie from the Bug Queen!
I didn't really think this through did I?
No plan to save my sister? My friends were going to be so angry when they show up as zombies in the next scene.
No they wouldn't!
But if they did?
"AGH!" I held my head.
Maybe if I messed things up enough the play would be canceled before Cheerilee can...be made to do bad things!
After all the hard work the class put into it? Cheerilee would be so upset!
"Stop it!" I ground teeth closing my eyes for a second. I opened them again, I looked at the braid I'd made my mane into.
It was so much more cool than those silly pigtails she wore.
Heh. Right it was. I held my pinecone pendant with one hoof.
But even if she gets on our nerves sometimes-
-Heh, more like I always got on her nerves.
I love her all the same.
I keep holding the pinecone pendant for a sec'. Alright. Let's do this.
I go to the back door, I hear foals' voices inside, and Cheerilee's!
I barge in without even thinking, stopping dead in my tracks, so does my heart for a second.
Out of all the horrible things I've seen so far. This capped them all. Friends, classmates, and foals I barely knew alike, wrapped up in contraptions, that calling torture devices would be too nice.
Oh Celestia, do I have to describe them? I don't wanna.
T-there...there was three muscle charged fillies, Checkered Flag, Grace Lightning, Hot Wheels, I didn't know'em well. I knew they teased Dinky once and are big roller derby fans. They were running for their lives on a tread mill. They were wearing dog collars strapped to the back of the tread mill that had...what I think was a wall of spiked wheels like a meat grinder...
There was no sign of Dinky, she'd been late for school, yeah, that had to be it.
A big weight was floating above Snails' little head, the rest of him strapped down. The metal block had the glow of Snails' magic around it. I noticed the weight wasn't supported by anything else.
Snips was in a big transparent box with air holes, big enough for him to run around in a little. It also had these flaming snails slowly moving towards him. I knew these things.
Spike and Silver Spoon once had a contest for The Bigger Egghead at the library (ugh), Spike won: and one of the random bits of useless stuff he recited was Fire Snails. They were cuddle happy with almost anything, but most other living things weren't fire proof. Snips looked tired, the fire snails kept smiling and wanting to snuggle, even if it set Snips on fire. Snip kept moving in the tiny hot box, but he didn't have far to run.
Ruby Pinch, she was strapped down to a table with little clear tubs stuck in her mouth connected to a barrel of cider and another that smelled like old grape juice. She looked sick.
Peachy Pie and Sunny Daze, those two were like peas in a pod. They were strapped into two chair facing each other. It was...ick...A contraption began try to force feed Peachy Pie peach pits. It stopped when Sunny Daze hit a button on her chair, and it opened a skylight with a big magnifying glass above her.
This was bonkers. Where did all this stuff come from? Cheerilee wasn't a carpenter! How could she have put this all together?!
I didn't see Sunny Daze's brother, Shady Daze, anywhere, please be okay.
Where was Button Mash? Had he been in the class after the world got messed up? Please be at home you loser and be playing video games!
Rumble...He'd gush about his brother all day. And practice flying non-stop at night. The only time I'd ever seen him inside was the time his brother was sick. Some fillies joked he was a vampony...looks like that story didn't come true. He was a contraption like the roller bladers, except he couldn't stop flying or he'd fall into a grinder like they would...and there was a splice together recording of his brother playing non-stop.
"Rumble! You are! -totally -a- lose-r."
PLEASE! DON'T MAKE ME DESCRIBE MORE!
...Just...just tell you who was there and ow I know them? Oh...okay. Okay, so, you want a roll call? Guess that makes sense.
Archer, she has the same mane style as me, but didn't like it when others called her 'Blue Scootaloo.' She was also the unofficial 'fetcher' girl when balls went out of bounds at recess.
Orange Top, but she says her name is Noi. She's Carrot Top's little sister. She...she went to Nightmare Night as a pink princess with one of those pointy hats. She's friends with Ruby Pinch and Pipsqueak.
Huh? I'd never seen her before. She super dark purple and had a scruffy dark blue mane. She had an apple core for a cutie mark, was she part of Apple Bloom's family? Wait, hadn't I seen her playing video games at the outdoor arcade on Hearts and Hooves Day? 'Apple Bytes?' Where'd that name come from? It's almost surreal the way I always know every single pony's name, these days... is Pinkie Pie rubbing off on me or something?
Aura, the girl with the teal mane, she was jumpy around carrots after the day the world went crazy. It was hard to forget her, she fell into Ponyville well once and got rescued by Rainbow Dash! Was it any wonder she was part of Dash's fan club? Uh, that's it.
Piña Colada. She...she was a member of the Rainbow Dash fanclub too. She has a palm tree cutie mark, don't ask me what it means, I never asked her. She went Nightmare Nighting with us, she dressed up like a lady bug (she was something familiar about that costume). I think she's related to Berry Punch, maybe. And, that was it, that's all I knew about her.
That...that girl is Firelock. I… she's a red and orange unicorn, I don't actually know anything about her except that she was a big fan of Gabby Gums.
So many classmates...so many I barely knew. I'd locked myself up so much when I'd been making ends meet. besides Sweetie Belle I didn't have any real friends.
And they were all going to die unless I did something!
Wait...I knew those two! The colt and filly Pipsqueak's age that had messed around in my backpack and gotten me to put on my pendant!
They had dunce caps on, they were gagged, and their eyes were tapped open. They were hogged tied and hooked to the ceiling. Their manes were shaved. On their flanks were written in red 'Whiner' and 'Loser'. They had bruises all over them. They were set up so they could see the whole room.
And...she was in the center of all of it, like some creepy ring master.
She looked like Cheerilee, she sounded like Cheerilee, she moved like Cheerilee, she spoke like Cheerilee, she smiled like Cheerilee. She looked at everything like she was just gardening.
A blue lily was tucked in her mane. I felt my hoof stroked my braid.
"Scootaloo, you're right on time."
My brain was crashing. "But Apple Bloom and Sweetie aren't here…"
"I know they're tardy, I'll have to punish them harshly when they DO get here."
This didn't make sense! The audience wasn't here! When we compared notes, Sweetie said the headline said 'AFTER' the play! Did I miss it?! No! That made no sense! None of this made sense! This was going completely off-script!
"W-What are you doing?!"
"Weeding. I help make flower bloom. All I've had in my garden for too long is just weeds. Wastes of space with no futures who refuse to learn a thing, crowding out the real flowers. You're not foals, you're not ponies, and only alive as witch weed, you need to be taken out by the roots."
That was when she flipped a switch that hadn't been there before, and the sides of a cage swung up around me and the door slammed and locked behind me.
What the hay...that hadn't been underneath me before!
Yeow! The bottom bars are as sharp as knives!
"B-but the play hasn't started yet!"
"…You have even more wasted potential than I thought if you figured that out. I don't expect you to understand, but a teacher has to change and adapt her plans sometimes. Especially when students suddenly run away from their teachers screaming bloody murder."
I slid to the bottom of the cage. I was so wrapped up trying to save everypony, save her, I'd forgotten. The world was cheating. In my head I saw us all as figures in that Ogres and 'Orb-Blue-Lets' game Spike talked about. If that headline had come true, then it was gonna happen no matter what. The headline's writer has already decided what was gonna happen. All I could change was how it was gonna happen.
"Goodbye, Scootaloo, I'm going to feed Apple Bloom your remains and tell her it's just tomato soup, until after she's done, heh." She waved at me like class was out.
A metal plate began to descend from the cage's ceiling, a hole opened up underneath my cage.
Maybe... maybe I was dumb. What was I expecting? Coming alone against a big mare like Cheerilee, no weapons, no sidekicks, no police, no real plan... what was I expecting?
Maybe...maybe this more realistic after all...what kind of teacher wouldn't go insane with weeds like us?
Before the world used to be brighter, happier, nicer, kinder. But perhaps I was finally getting to see the way the world really worked? This world had been remade so many times... maybe each time the world changed it became just a little bit darker, a bit more dirty. And Miss Void and the rest were just trying to cheat nature.
I look up at the metal plate. It'll all be over in a minute. I was strung along from the start. I can't do anything...
"Except... you've already done a lot, haven't you? You've learned a lot, haven't you?"
I look up to those two foals, somehow the filly managed to get the gag off her mouth.
"Yes, you have! This is your life! Not some by-the-book, paint-by-numbers movie! Don't play by a bully's rules!" Said the colt, now out of his gag too.
Miss Cheerilee growled. "I thought I told you two to stay quiet, naughty naughty."
..."But I, I can't change anything."
"YES YOU CAN! Think about everything you've done! Everything you've learned! Isn't it kinda a STUPID STORY for your role just to be here to die?!" the filly asked. The look on her face reminded me of me when I was really determined.
Cheerilee slapped her. "Be quiet!"
They were right. I was in charge of my own story! And I'm not going to have such a STUPID ending as to die like this!
Grim world or bright world, I've still got SO MUCH to live for! My life is my own! My decisions are my own! I'm not some walking, talking plot device to be railroaded! Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, Dash, I haven't even found out where my parents are! I want to yell at them and scream at them and shout and them and sob at them and hug and let them know I still love them! Yeah. My story won't end here!
"BUCK ALL OF THIS GRIM DARK HORSEAPPLES! I'VE HAD MORE THAN MY FILL! GIVE ME MY BUCKING SPARKLES AND RAINBOWS BACK!"
I pushed up against the metal plate, and spread my wings inside the cage, and flew, pushing back on it.
Love and gumdrops, it still realistic to me! Dash is rad with being loving and kind too! It's the gritty horror stuff that's garbage!
"Enough! This is retarded! You don't have a leg to stand on!"
I felt the metal plate get heavier, except it was now a big square weight. The more I pushed on it, the bigger and heavily it got, growing before my eyes.
"There's nothing you can do you're going to die!"
"I'll be the judge of that!"
Happy endings. Friends having fun. Ponies not getting hurt and coming out okay. A bright blue sky. Bad guys becoming good guys. Friendship being stronger than anything else! It's all still real to me! And I'll show it's still real!
That world I remember now? I was fighting for it too I think. Even if I was an Earth Pony in that world, I could still fly on my scooter.
Earth Pony. Pegasus.
The weight kept getting heavier and pushing down to the sharp bars below.
- Naruto Theme - The Raising Fighting Spirit -
I bucked with my rear back legs. Pegasus flight fields? That let us fly even if we didn't have wings that were too big to fit in doors? It also let us fly with other things we were holding or pulling, making them lighter too. Thanks for those lessons Dash! I buzzed my wings like mad. And I felt the weight for a bit become lighter. As it became ultra-super-heavily as I knew it was gonna, I shifted its weight so for a bit it was a lot heavier on one side, and I pushed up, the entire cage groaned.
And then the cage broke apart.
"Go ahead! You're going to be ripped to shreds anyway!"
the sides of the cage whirled at me, as sharp as the bottom one.
And I remembered a pegasus who loved to sing, and her signature twirl.
Like a leaf through the wind, like the blue butterfly on my rump, I slipped around the sides of the cage.
"BUT THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!"
Starsong, thanks. Cheerilee looked too befuddled to move.
Cheerilee. Sis'. She tried to kill me. She was trying to torture us to death. All for a bogus reason that wasn't even hers!
"Good job Scootaloo! I knew you could do it!" cheered the little colt.
"How do I know you?" I heard myself ask. I hadn't seen this colt in my old memories.
"We haven't met before in this life, but souls exist in another world altogether, maybe we'd remember each other even if we met in another life?"
Since the kids were hanging from the ceiling and behind Cheerilee, I saw motion in a skylight I'll admit I'm not sure was there a minute ago or not.
It was Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom! Good, they didn't get turned into zombies!
I saw their eyes widen at the horror show. They tried to jiggle the the skylight open but no dice. Apple Bloom turned around and gave the skylight a hard buck, the skylight didn't budge but I saw Apple Bloom cry out as he entire body shook. They then took a trot back, and Sweetie fired a green bolt of magic, it bounced off and ricocheted all over the place making them duck. Of course, since when can it ever be that easy in a horror movie?!
Sweetie Belle got an angry look on her face and opened her saddle back and Blanky poked his head out. Sweetie Belle pointed at the skylight.
That's when I heard heavy breathing that was more an angry growl of a feral animal. Cheerilee. Her eyes focused on me. The look in her eyes. It was like looking at that cockatrice.
Then she whinnied in pain, throwing her head back. I saw claw and bite marks on her. In fact, I was having a real hard time remembering her ever NOT having those bleeding bite marks, like she'd always had them!
I looked back at the...
skylight right, there'd been a skylight there...but...I couldn't remember quite what it looked like. Sweetie Belle's pet.
Sweetie Belle with Blanky began to leap down, maybe wanting to break her fall with her telekinesis but Apple Bloom grabbed her by the tail and pulled them back.
Sweetie cried out, hard to hear over my crying and whimpering classmates.
Then Apple Bloom pointed at something. Those hadn't been there before, I know they hadn't.
A crisscross of thin, razor-sharp wires, covered the space below the skylight like a shredder.
I felt a bit faint. Sweetie Belle looked at Blanky and pointed again.
I shouted. "NO! STOP!!! You're hurting Cheerilee!"
My friends did stop, Blanky Whimpered. And Cheerilee, looked up at them too.
"Finally, the rest of the weeds. Please try to run. You won't get far. You're now just flies in a web," Cheerilee said happily like she was giving today's lesson.
This was so wrong.
I looked at the blue flower in her mane, and stroked my braid. I know knew that smile through two memories. It might have looked the same, but everything that made it Cheerilee was missing. I hugged my pine cone pendant with one hoof.
"If it's really there for somepony you care about, then you shouldn't take it off except for them," said the colt said.
"If you think you've earned yourself a quick end then you're sadly mistaken."
"Then you oughta remember those feelings," the colt said, "Real feelings can't be faked, real feelings don't just go away. On the other hoof, feelings don't care how they got made, it's your choices that make those feelings real."
I'm keeping Cheerilee's attention off of everypony else...they, they'll be okay as long as she's not focused on them. The victim never dies unless the... the bad guy is watching them get hurt.
"Even if the world is remade, what's inside hearts don't just go poof!" The filly said. "True feelings can pierce anything!"
"Cheerilee, I have something important of yours to give you."
"It's Miss Cheerilee weed, and what could a weed have that's important to me?"
"It's important to both of us...big sister."
I hear my friends gasp in confusion. Maybe they think the news paper curse has gotten to me too. The two foals both smiled from ear to ear.
She blanches at me, then snorts. "Faking insanity isn't going to save your worthless non-life."
"I can't forgive you, Cheerilee-"
"As if I care-"
"Because there's nothing to forgive This isn't your fault. You're not really a monster. And I'm going to help you get better." I was scared out of my mind. But I kept my voice even, and I focused on the memories of a sister of another world right in front of me.
I held up the pendant to her. "Us and our friends together made an ornament just like this. Remember Cheerilee? Your heart does. I know it."
She blinked. "When did you-but when did, that wasn't-"
Huh? Had she really not been able to see it this whole time?
"Look at it Cheerilee. Remember. We forgot about you when we decided to make decorations together even though it was your idea. We all gave something to make it up to you."
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked like they had headaches, but I focused on my confused sister.
The fog overhead looked like it was being blown outwards by a wind right above me and Cheerilee.
-Song "Each And All" from Devil Survivor The Animation 2-
Cheerilee's eyes widened then she shook her head like she was trying to throw something out. She looked almost like a scared animal trying to avoid a bear trap. I'm gonna get Cheerilee back! "You can't just make up stories and-"
"I'm not making up anything. Look. I bet the real you remembers."
"If I had a little sister I'd have done the same," I half lied. I'm sorry Berry.
"A pity Scootaloo doesn't seem to be your sister in this iteration of the universe." Pinkie Pie said. "Personally I think that was cruel on Hasbro's part. But at least you have her in your class now."
I stared at her, I felt something in me react, like a blow, keys sticking into locks that no longer fit. I looked for something to distract from the unreal feeling.
I took off the pendant.
"W-what do you mean 'real me?!'"
"This ISN'T YOU! The real Cheerilee is sweet and kind, the best teacher somepony could hope for and the best big sister somepony could ever ask for! REMEMBER CHEERILEE!"
I shoved it into her hooves and we looked each in the eyes. We both froze.
"Hey big sister I think...I don't think this ghost story is any good, I mean, if you were a teacher, you'd never do mean things like that. That isn't who you are," Scootaloo said, sitting next to the older earth pony around the camp fire.
"I was only teasing Scootaloo."
"Well it wasn't very funny," Scootaloo pouted. "It's hard to imagine you being scary."
"Sorry. Next time I'll ask Storybelle for advice. She has some great ghost stories I bet."
"Remember teaching me to ride my skateboard?"
"I never expected you to get better than me."
"Scootaloo, don't ride without your knee pads and helmet, it isn't safe."
"Yes Cheerilee," Scootaloo rolled her eyes at the bigger pony. "Why're we doing this indoors?"
"This is just so you can learn balance Scootaloo, this way they'll be something soft waiting if you fall over-" "Yeah-yeah I-whao!" "-like that."
"Remember your flower garden?"
Cheerilee's garden was filled with so many beautiful flowers. Some were green, a few were yellow (one of which had a cute little smiling snail on it). One of them was a grayish purple flower, a little purple butterfly perched on it like it was protecting it.
The flowers didn't seem to have a specific order to them, but remained beautiful all the same.
"Your garden looks great, Cheerilee."
"Thank you, Scootaloo."
"But I bet it's gonna drive drives Minty a little crazy. The green isn't altogether like she likes."
Cheerilee chuckled, shaking her pig tails. "I know, but they couldn't grow their best if I sorted them just how I'd like them."
Her big sister trotted over to the little grey flower and pointed to its base. "This one had to be taken to somepony else's garden for awhile before it could grow here. I had to make sure everything was ready when it came back."
Scootaloo nodded. "Were there weeds?"
"No, dear. There were some flowers that didn't get along with it, but they just needed some special care too."
Scootaloo nodded, looking at various flowers. One group of them was a red flower with a yellow one with a red center, a white one with a purple center, and an orange one with a purple center. None of them taller or shorter than the others. Cheerilee grabbed a watering can and began to water those three.
"Do you ever have trouble remembering what each flower needs, sis?"
"No, but sometimes it takes patience to figure out which flower needs what," Cheerilee stated, giving an odd flower with alternating black and white petals a little attention. "But that's part of what makes it so much fun, no two flowers are exactly alike."
"A lot of them look alike to me," The little sister said, looking at some of them.
"That is true, but pretending they're all the same wouldn't be fair or nice, would it?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right..." Scootaloo replied, giving a smile. "You're so smart, Cheerilee."
Her big sister chuckled. "Thank you, but everypony can get smart, especially if somepony chooses to teach them."
"You mean like you? You teach me all sorts of stuff."
"I wouldn't be a good big sister if I didn't, would I?"
Scootaloo hugged her big sister. She then turned back to the flowers. Her eyes fell on two in particular. One was silver or grey and the other was pink with white stripes down the petals. They didn't look quite right to her. "Are those weeds, sis? Something looks a little off about them."
"Oh these aren't weeds, they're just flowers in some bad soil Scootaloo," Cheerilee said.
Cheerilee trotted over and took a spade. She carefully, gently picked up the silver flower and replanted it next to the red, orange, and white flower Scootaloo had seen before. It seemed to instantly brighten up.
"A weed is only a flower out of place, a good teacher helps them find where they can grow," she explains.
Scootaloo nodded. "It looks happier there...but is it just me or does the pink flower look lonely know?"
Cheerilee put a hoof to her chin. "Hmm...Yes, you're right. Let's fix that, shall we?"
Cheerilee moved the pink flower next to the silver one, both looking that much brighter. "How's that look to you?"
Scootaloo put a hoof to her chin. "Hmm...good, but you're the one who knows flowers."
"That's because Wysteria taught me. I think those five flowers will be good for each other, especially if they get to know each other."
The two chuckled. "...Have you ever had to give up on a flower, sis?"
"No, Scootaloo. Sometimes I need to get some help, sometimes I need to move them somewhere else. But if I gave up on one, it'd be...oh, what's the word? Mean?"
Scootaloo felt like that word didn't really belong for some reason. "Yeah it would...so you really like helping them grow?"
Cheerilee nodded, watering the two flowers she'd just moved, lightly to make sure not to wash away the freshly moved soil. "Yes. I love it. Nothing feels better than helping a flower bloom, no matter how hard that might be."
"...Even playing with me?"
Cheerilee chuckled and kissed Scootaloo on the forehead. "You're my little flower, and by being a good big sister I'm helping you bloom."
We felt a rainbow shine from us.
We felt the world shake. We kept hugging. This was our power, our force.
Glowing white cracks popped over all the nasty gizmos.
We realized the rainbow light was coming from the pinecone pendant.
We felt happy. We felt warm. We felt...bright.
That creepy blue flower burst into flames faster than tissue paper! We weren't even singed.
"Scootaloo, little sister, I was...I'm...there aren't words enough for-"
"You...some poison joke got in your garden sis', you put in your mane and it was making you act all wrong. Don't worry, it's all gone now and you're better now. You don't need to be afraid."
To anypony watching in that moment, we know they weren't seeing a mare and a foal, they saw a pigtailed big sister and hugging her braided little sister.
The light exploded liked a big white expanding ball, shattering everything as it went.
Just as quickly as it started it was over.
We were still hugging.
Little sparkles floated down around us.
We heard cheering all around us.
- 'Reincarnation' Ghost Trick -
I looked around, seeing all my classmate laughing and clapping their hooves. They were alright. They were alright! There wasn't a scar or mark on them! There wasn't a scared or haunted face in the club!
"WHOA!" Apple Bloom shouted as she and Sweetie fell from the ceiling, Sweetie Belle's magic broke their fall.
I finally broke my hug with Cheerilee as my best friends hugged me and I hugged back.
My classmates made sure they were okay, like how Princess Celestia's taught us, like how we're supposed to be!
I fluttered my wings, making my crusader cape billow. I really looked the part of a hero.
Snips and Snails hugged each other hopping up and down.
Checkered Flag, Grace Lightning, and Hot Wheels? For the first time I've ever seen them, they were in separate corners of the room, not wearing their skating gear. To me they always looked like they were looking for a fight, but they looked like they just wanted to snuggle and take a nap.
Firelock created a few pretty sparks indoors, and nopony told her not to.
That filly, Apple Byte, she didn't draw attention to herself, she didn't instantly try to make friends with us. She smiled at Apple Bloom, but that was it.
Rumble lay on the floor smiling. Archer looked happy just to be able to lay still too.
Alula and Piña Colada lay next to each other back to back. A lady bug landed on Piña's hoof, she gently nuzzled it.
"You saved the day!" Ruby praised. "No wonder your mentor is Princess Celestia's secret daughter!"
Oh yeah, that rumor.
"Would you like to go on an adventure with us on our magical ship the Moon Pearl sometime?" Noi asked.
"Uh." I didn't know how to answer that one. "Maybe sometime."
She politely nodded.
Those two little foals from before? I didn't see them anywhere. And nopony but me seemed to notice they were gone. Too bad, I...I wanted to thank them.
You know their names? Creative Spirit and Pearly Gates? Thanks.
Sunny Daze and Peachy Pie were hugging each other fiercely, nuzzling each other. Sunny asked where her brother was, but Peachy was sure he was safe at home.
"Blackest nightmare made real.
The light in our hearts did shatter the darkness.
Today, Miss Cheerilee bloomed," Sunny Daze said.
My sister blushed.
Oh right, my big sister.
I'll call her that whether you like it or not, so shut up. Heh. Yes I'm grinning.
Her mane was in a pair of ponytails, and now she had our pendant around her neck instead.
And her colors.
They were back. Not that nasty stupid shade of pink. She didn't have that black sketchy shape. If anything, the way the light shined on her, it was like she had more depth than before. Like she was more Cheerilee than she'd been before!
And it was like the colors were shinning from her. The room, our class mates, they didn't look like 'more of themselves' like my sister did, but at least they had their real colors back.
This world looked so much better than in just one easy ugly shade.
Ya know. If good things were easy, they wouldn't be something to look up to. UGH! Please forget I just said that!
"Everypony," Cheerilee said, "The play is canceled. It's going to have a complete rewrite. I think the themes in particular need a major revision. I'll be sure to apologize to your parents." She never stopped smiling. "Your assign for the rest of the day is be with your friends and family."
"And your homework tonight-" You have no idea how happy I was to hear Cheerilee say those words. Even as the rest of the class lightly groaned. "- write down the reasons you love your family. And please, ask them how they love you."
Cheerilee had punch and cookies for everypony. They weren't magic, they weren't a old family recipe, it was just cookies and punch. We all ate up.
"We must be off!" Ruby declared wiping her face. "Adventure awaits us beyond the horizon!"
"Until we unite at school once more!" Noi added. "We shall give our best to captain Pipsqueak."
They hugged their friends, and off they went, as they galloped through the door, I saw play time pirate costumes appear on them, and the sound of waves splashing, and they vanished into the fog.
I knew saving Cheerilee wouldn't clean up every one of these magic rumors, but...all in all...being after-school pirates according to the rules of a game of pretend wasn't that bad.
With all this fun going on, it was easy to forget there were still monsters out there, that used to be our friends and family, that it was our job to save.
"So..." I asked. "Did you girls find any sign of the printing press?"
They shook their heads.
"It's gone, like it was never even there," Apple Bloom said sadly. "No secret doors, no hidden message, nothing."
"What I find weird is that there WASN'T a booby trap," Sweetie Belle said. "I mean, if they did all this awful stuff, and somepony come looking for the presses, why not leave a booby trap?"
"Which means the story didn't expect us to even go there," I said.
"Ya mean Gabby Gums didn't," Apple Bloom said.
"Whoever wrote all them stories? Whoever placed the curse. They didn't count on anypony even come looking for a way to fix it."
"...You only set a booby trap if there's something to protect, and/or if you're counting on somepony looking for it," Sweetie Belle said.
"Then why move the printing presses at all?" I asked.
"Ah guess Gabby Gums wanted it someplace safer."
"So..." I said. "Gabby Gums moved the printing press to somewhere else. But didn't think anypony would even remember to even look for it in the basement. Which means Gabby Gums doesn't know about us right?"
Sweetie Belle said, "We can pray."
Apple Bloom trotted right up to Cheerilee asked politely. "Miss Cheerilee, do ya know where the printin' press for the Foal Free Press is?"
Cheerilee nodded. "The Tower of course."
"The Tower, the Worlds Tower, the Spire at the Center of the Worlds dears. Is your hearing okay?" She asked genuinely concerned.
"Uh, no, it's okay. So do ya know how ta get there?"
"I've...never had to go there myself, but...how does that make sense...I know the paper used to be here but... I'm sorry dear, I can't seem to remember when the presses were moved. I think after what happened, I'll feel a bit confused."
"Who owns the tower?"
"Princesses Princess Erroria, and Princess Liza Doolots. Dear maybe you should rest after what we just went through."
I feel proud of myself for now yelling out loud. All of us had out mouths open like we were trying to catch flies.
"We've been real busy lately, doin' Crusader stuff," Apple Bloom said, "Can you tell us what's been going with 'em?"
"Oh they've just been keeping Equestria safe from monsters like they always do."
"Do ya know how ta get to the tower? me and my friends would like to tell'em what a great job they're doin'," Apple Bloom asked.
"I...I'm sorry dear I can't remember right now, I"m sorry."
Apple Bloom hugged Cheerilee and thanked her for her help before she took both of us by the shoulders and took us to one little corner of the room.
Then Apple Bloom gave me that look. "Scootaloo, what did ya mean by callin' Miss Cheerilee yer sister?"
"Uh...I was making up my own rumor to free her?" I asked, giving one of those weird smiles that everypony could know was hiding something.
Sweetie Belle said, "Scootaloo, how could you? Isn't that mean to Cheerilee to make her think you're her sister? Even if it's to break the spell she was under?"
"Spell nothin', Scootaloo, Ah... Ah told ya what Ah saw before, but now when Ah look at 'er, she's like Redheart! Those others things in her went bye-bye! Ya did more than just add another to the mix!"
"So... can you explain to her you're not her sister now?" Sweetie asked.
"Well, if she was never my sister, then I couldn't've freed her, right?" I asked keeping my cool. If I could lie about my parents I could lie about my sister.
"BUT!" Sweetie Belle said, "What if we need to help MORE ponies before we find the printing press? Are you going to say you're little sisters to them, too? You can't be EVERYPONY'S little sister! You'd hafta come from a whole lotta parents all at once!"
"Yeah! Besides, Ah thought it was Rainbow Dash ya always saw as yer big sister."
"But we! We can't just leave Cheerilee thinking you're her little sister, it's... it's like we used love poison on her again!" Sweetie Belle said.
Ugh...why couldn't that lie have just worked all nice and clean like in the plays? If we go on believing what I just said instead of what I actually did...
Sweetie Belle said, "You and I both know that 'complicated' is a word grownups use whenever they..."
"Look, I don't think you'd believe the truth okay? But..." I looked down. "Apple Bloom, can you do your...you know? Just this once."
Ugh...I hate getting the truth eye thingie...Okay...
"...Cheerilee and I...remember being sisters. Our souls do. It's a weird cosmic thing. Okay?"
And there are those crazy looks.
"Was that a lie?"
Apple Bloom blinked. "...No..."
"Well there you go. I just...reminded her soul of that."
"Scootaloo, that could be just another rumors that got in yer head," Apple Bloom said. "Ya did change yer hair and make that pendant last night, when all of this started."
"Do you see any of those...things that you saw in Cheerilee before in me?"
"... No Ah didn't... But Ah didn't see any of 'em in Tenderheart and she didn't have them magic healin' hooves before."
Sweetie Belle got a bright look in her eyes. "Oh! Oh! This is like that gypsy mom told me she visited right after she first met dad! Old Madam Lulamoon! She told mom how in a past life mom was a queen and had lots of foals and lived in a pretty castle. Reading her past life was hard though and Mom had to keep paying her for extra details. But she strangely left town the right before some nice royal guards visited."
"That's...actually a lot like it but...okay, do you remember back in Canterlot when Twilight was talking privately with me? THAT'S when she told me. And if Twilight got twisted like Miss Cheerilee, why would I remember her telling me that?"
"I didn't know Miss Twilight read fortunes!" Sweetie Belle said excited.
"Big sister and Miss Twilight and... pretty much every adult Ah've ever talked to say that fortune readin' stuff is hogwash."
"Stop talkin' about that."
"An' Miss Twilight and big sister both say just cause somethin' ya didn't think was true turns out to be true, doesn't mean all untrue things are true."
Even my head's spinning at hearing that. "It wasn't so much fortunes as...something she's learned. She said it was a very big secret that she was showing me to re-earn my trust after she...well...locked me in that chest..."
"...Is this like how Chryssy said she, Princess Cadence, and me had a link to each other?" Sweetie asked.
"She what now?" I asked.
"Oh yeah! Chrissy said that Princess Cadence, me, and her all share a special connection," Sweetie smiled and nodded.
"One of 'er lies?" Apple Bloom asked.
"No. Chryssy said, it's part of why... why she wanted me to be friends with her."
"Normally I'd say that I wouldn't believe that, but then again, apparently Cadence was enough of her sister to take over the Changelings," I admitted. "The point is girls... my soul remembers being Cheerilee's sister, and I got hers to remember... And it beat whatever did that to her. Maybe what we need if gotta help others to find the printing press is remind their hearts of the themselves that we know?"
"Ya said it's a secret?" Apple Bloom asked.
"Uh, yeah it is. It's... " I blushed. "Kinda personal. I promise I'm NOT holding out on you girls! I swear! It's just... not something I'm really supposed to share. I'm not part of any secret society and I'm not a secret agent or something! ... But that would be cool!"
"You know you're just making it more enticing," Sweetie Belle said with a gleam in her eyes.
"Scootaloo, promises are important but... if it can help us save everypony...."
"I don't think it would help." I insist.
"It helped ya save Cheerilee."
"Yeah but...in that life my soul remembered, I don't know who anypony is now other than Cheerilee...well, I know Rainbow Dash, but I don't think that's going to be helpful."
"Nopony else?" Apple Bloom asked.
Dang it... Since when am I so bad at keeping secrets? Must have been Apple Bloom's super-vision.
"Sweetie Belle. I saw you in what Twilight showed me too."
"Really? That means our friendship really is destiny! Cool!" Sweetie Belle hugged me.
She sure took that a lot better than I thought. Maybe we've gotten used to this.
"Not me?" Apple Bloom asked.
I shook my head. "I'm sorry."
Apple Bloom looked at her blank flank for a moment. "All right."
"But that doesn't mean you weren't there!" I said. "Just that I didn't SEE you. And, long story short, you might not have been named Apple Bloom. Twilight wasn't named Twilight...again, not sure that'd be helpful unless I remind her that she trusted me."
Apple Bloom was silent for a bit, then nodded and gave me a slight nuzzle. "I gotcha Scootaloo."
I nodded. "Point is...reminding her of that cured her...so maybe we just need to remind the others of themselves to cure them?"
"You think it's that easy?"
"Well, I wouldn't say easy considering I still had to escape a nasty death trap and all, but...doesn't it sound like the way the world should work instead of all this grimdark horseapples?"
"Scootaloo! That's a dirty word!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed, magically zipping my mouth shut, I enforced my flight field and negated her magic grip (a little trick Dash showed me after the wedding).
"Hmmm, did I hear one of my foals say something she shouldn't?" Cheerilee's ears perked.
"It's nothing Cheerilee!" I grinned.
"Hmmm, if you say so."
I let a sigh of relief. Even if seeing her in teacher mode was wonderful after what I just saved her from, I didn't feel like tasting soap... again.
"...Point is, isn't how I saved Cheerilee how our world is SUPPOSED to work? The power of love and friendship beating back the big bad nasty's spell?"
"Wow! I never thought I'd hear YOU say that Scootaloo," Sweetie said smiling.
I blushed a little bit. "I'd just rather save the day with sunshine and rainbows than be stuck with grimdark crud. And my friendship broke the Queen's spell over you, and Rarity's love broke her lies over you, if that doesn't prove there's something to it, I don't know what does."
"I agree!" said Razzaroo, opening her book. "Hey girls, nice job, want me to record your adventure?"
"Hey! Razzaroo! Where did you come from?" To be honest, I was as happy as I was surprised.
My old friend laughed a sweet-sounding laugh. "Well, actually, a little colt and filly might have told me how you saved the day for everypony here. Something like that deserves recording don't you think?" She brought out a book and a pen, holding them with her hooves.
"She came straight from love and friendship!" Sweetie Belle said, jumping in place with a big smile. "Where else?"
"Well, it's nice to see you here, punch?" Sweetie Belle offered politely.
"You too Sweetie Belle." Razzaroo smiled taking the punch. "Hmm...tastes familiar."
Let's just say Cheerilee remembering our old world had influenced this...story? Bubble? Thing? The punch seemed more like something from that old world than ours. Not that I was complaining, I needed something to get my energy back up after that mess.
"How'd ya get here through the fog?"
"Some cute little guides showed me the way," said Razzaroo.
"Were they named Love and Friendship?" asked Sweetie Belle.
I looked around, nopony but us seemed to notice she was even here. Apple Bloom did the thing with her eye again. Sheesh. I hope she doesn't start using that as a crutch.
"So, would you like me to record your adventure before you move on?"
We looked at each other and nodded.
For a heartbeat, it was like everything just waited. Then Razzaroo said, "Your story is saved."
We blinked and looked over what she wrote down.
"I... I'm free."
We looked at each other and nodded.
"But, how did you write that all down so fast?" Apple Bloom asked.
"Friendship and love gave her speed-writing powers!"
"Okay, Sweetie, that's starting to get very old, very fast." I tell her with a little frown, and she gives an apologetic grin that promises she'll stop. I smile too give her mane a gentle mess up.
"That's my little secret," Razzaroo said. "And it would be boring for us to stay around here as I wrote everything down. Everypony has a job to do and this is mine. I'll stay here and help clean up. Good luck girls. I'll be rooting for you."
"But-but where are we even supposed to start looking?" Sweetie asked.
"'ome 'ime', a dire' rou' i'n' 'he fa''e''."
We all turned to see Phobia... and his mouth chock full of cookies.
"Didn't your mommy teach you not to speak with your mouth full?" Sweetie Belle asked. None of even thought to ask Mr. 'I'm VERY good at hiding' where he came from.
Phobia swallowed the cookies in his mouth at once. They made a huge bulge in his throat on their way down into his belly. "Sorry, these are great, almost as good as my nephew's.'
I blinked. "Aren't ya a little small to have a nephew?"
Phobia shrugged. "Some ponies are born with nephews."
"I'll leave you alone," Razzaroo took several trots back. No point even looking at her right now.
"What were ya sayin'?" Apple Bloom asked Phobia.
"Oh nothing. Happy to see you pulled through. Who says scary stories can only have sad endings?" he said way too causally. "Oh, Sweetie Belle... Button Mash is worried sick about you."
"Oh," was all Sweetie Belle said. I almost thought she was being too hard on him.
"So where ya girls headed next?"
Apple Bloom said, "... We don't know yet. We think the Foal Free Press is cursed and that's why everythin' changed. We're hoping if we write a recant it can fix all this. But Cheerilee said the presses are in this tower we've never heard of so we don't know how to get to it."
Phobia stretched his broken wings, making me cringe. "Well, you know what they say, 'the truth will lead you where you need to go... MOST of the time. But there might be surprise detours.'"
"Who says that?" I asked.
"Wait. You said Button Mash was worried sick about me, does that mean he's still... normal?" Sweetie Belle then realized what she just said. "I mean, no less normal than he was before."
"Worried about your special-somepony?"
"He is not my special somepony! I barely know him!"
"Well, he knows you fairly well."
"You're a friend of his?"
"Only a little. Okay, 'only a little a friend' is too strong. He barely knows he knows me."
"But is he still a nice pony and not a monster or about to be sliced up by a monster?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"So you ARE scared for him?"
"He's a PONY of course I'm scared for him!...I'm just not his special-somepony!"
Phobia gave a smile that oddly reminded me of Cheerilee when somepony got a hard question right. "In your situation some ponies are too busy being scared for themselves to be scared for others."
"It's what Rarity's taught me," Sweetie said.
"She taught you right!" Phobia said, before gobbling down a few more cookies from somewhere. "Last time I saw him, Button was at his home. His house seems more like nice Miss Redheart's place than this place was. Though, not exactly the same, maybe you should just see for yourselves."
"If he's okay then we don't have anything to worry about," I said, doing my best to rescue Sweetie.
"True, but," said Phobia, tapping his chin. "His place is closer to here than the Hospital, and his mother has a reputation for caring about children so strongly she went to Celestia herself for her son."
Apple Bloom looked at him, but just looked MORE confused. "Ah'm not really sure 'closer' or 'further' even EXIST anymore!"
"Well it was closer to the school before this nonsense."
"And ya said ya didn't know 'em that well."
"I said he didn't know me that well. But I know things."
"Maybe. Maybe not." While Phobia had been helpful, it was pretty confusing. "Just saying that if your path leads you there, it's for a reason. And Button Mash is still how he was before. He just thinks he's friends with Sweetie Belle, and would be willing to help you with anything. And there aren't many ponies who haven't been turned into something awful. So you shouldn't assume he can't help you."
"I can't pretend to be his special-somepony. It wouldn't be right."
"Just be nice. He's still a colt with his own feelings."
Sweetie Belle whimpered. "But I have feelings too..."
"I wonder, if the way things changed ponies think it's ALWAYS been this way, I wonder how he thinks that happened...perhaps you should at least ask him."
Apple Bloom cleared her throat. "Look...what Phobia's sayin'...it does kinda make sense. Ah mean the other ponies that ain't changed fer the worse have healin' powers now... But We CAN'T drag another foal into this!"
Phobia said emotionlessly. "Take a look around you. Every pony everywhere is already 'in this.' "
"This is stupid. Apple Bloom's magic path can lead us to a million other places," I said.
"Then why not go let it?" asked Phobia. "If it leads you to Button Mash, then well now you know you can walk inside without running into a bad pony with ax. I'm just saying it's worth a look. How many other 'safe places' are you likely to find?"
None of us could argue that.
"Right." Apple Bloom downed another cup of punch. "Let's go."
"Good luck, and good job hammering out yourselves a happy ending for here," Phobia said. "I'll see you soon."
He then slid under the table and when we looked he was gone.
"One sec'." I gave my big sister and Razzaroo another hug, but I had a feeling I'd be seeing her again soon.
As Scootaloo hugged Miss Cheerilee and Razzaroo (I wonder how she made a grown up friend like her), Ah spotted that purple filly with the curly mane, she had an apple core for a cutie mark. She, was like Glitter Glide, an outline that was filled up now. She didn't say anything, she just smiled at me, and Ah mean smiled smile, not 'gonna eat ya now Mr. Mouse' like a snake does smile. Ah wanted ta say somethin' after everything Scootaloo had told me, Ah really just wanted ta get a move on. The world had turned crazy enough as it had.
It was her who'd spoke. "Yeah?"
She surprised me with a hug. "Thank you for saving us. It's good to be part of a story with a happy ending. Good luck."
"Uh... thank ya."
"Apple Byte." Ah nodded. If she was like Glitter Glide, then Ah'd seen 'em not do anythin' bad. Maybe she was from Scootaloo's town too. We parted way smiling.
And I noticed the three roller filles . . . just talking with Rumble, like friends.
I checked on Blanky. When that purple filly hugged Apple Bloom, he began growling again, until Apple Bloom said her name. Then he gave an annoyed snort. I gave him a petting. I think we let things drag out so much because we were all scared of leaving the school after winning it back from all the gritty bad stuff and going back out into that awful place beyond. It was just so nice being somewhere that was like it was supposed to be, with Cheerilee in her right frame of mind.
And... I did feel uncomfortable seeing Button Mash again if that's where Apple Bloom's magic led us. But I remembered all the lessons Rarity had given me, and I reminded myself that it wasn't Button Mash's fault, and I should at least treat him like a pony. And I HAD upset him last time I saw him, it wasn't exactly my fault, but I still felt bad for him...I was just scared I was gonna somehow be 'brainwashed' by this bad magic somehow... in other words, what we did to Miss Cheerilee and Mr. Big Mac.
I felt extra sorry for what we did to them now, even if we'd been meaning to help, we didn't have a right to FORCE THEM to be together, that was like Rarity's novels were a mare got 'bee-thrown-ed' to a stallion she didn't like...That's normally about the point Rarity stops reading them out loud. For some reason she never touches on the night after the wedding.
I made sure Blanky was secure in my saddle bag, and pulled my crusader cape closer around me.
"Alright girls," Apple Bloom said, "Let go."
The party just seemed to just continue, with or without us, for now. I wonder if the party was stuck too. But at least everypony was safe here. There wasn't a monster to be seen here. Like with the sun shining they'd all burned up like vampires in...all the things I've seen about Vampires...except the one where they sparkle.
At least we weren't stuck. And we were the ones who had to help. I did my best not to cry as I thought of going back into that scary awful place our home had been turned into. But... it was for Rarity, Spike, Silver Spoon, mom, dad, and everypony. We held onto each other's tails as Apple Bloom lead us into the wall of fog. Leaving the bright blue sky and warm sun behind.
"...Well...one down," said Scootaloo, smiling. "That's a start, right?"'
I nodded. "Yeah...a start..."
"...At least now we know we can save 'em, that's a good thing," said Apple Bloom, nodding. "...This ain't hopeless."
It isn't hopeless...It feels so good to think that.