"You got everything set up?" Scootaloo asked Sweetie Belle. "Remember, we can't have this end up like last time. It took me three months to get all my gear back."
"Don't worry. I got all my spells on standby. Just don't forget to keep me safe this time."
"You're never going to let that go, are you?" Scootaloo whined.
"You got me decapitated!" Sweetie squealed.
"You should have dodged." The pegasus filly mumbled.
"Easy for you too say." Scootaloo equipped her helmet.
"Hey, umm. Do you girls mind if I go to the bathroom." Button asked. The three fillies looked up from their character sheets, their imaginary world melting away to reveal reality.
"Oh sure. Sorry, we got side-tracked." Apple bloom Said.
"Thanks." Button jumped off his chair and galloped away to the amenities.
The group of ponies where hanging out in their usual gaming spot, The Golden Oaks Library. For the past few months they had been playing a game Twilight had introduced to them. Dungeon Dwellers... or something like that. It sounded like some other game rip-off. Sometimes Twilight would play with them, but she was too over-powered for them. They could never enjoy the game when she played. Today the were playing with their gamer friend, button.
Scootaloo was the Arcane Warrior, in charge of obliterating the enemy. Apple Bloom was the Celestial Guard, responsible for enemy detection and scouting. She also had bonus attack abilities against undead and dark creature, making her a vital part of the team. Sweetie Belle was the Healer. Her job was to restore and revive her team-mates when they were in trouble. While her offensive abilities were basically non-existent, her defence was strong. The problem with the Healer, is that they have to drop their defence to heal their team. The last member of the group was button, who played the role of Realm Master. His job was to create the world their characters lived in and form the quests they ventured on. On occasion he would make an appearance in the game when things were getting boring. His character was a wise old stallion, who for some reason always wore a blue party hat. He usually gave them advise, but on one occasion he robbed a bank, which was a bit of fun.
Together they formed the Cutie-Mark Alliance. A band of adventurers dedicated to achieving dominance over the realm and gaining their cutie marks. So far they had failed epically.
The trio had recently left the town of Harbrieg and travelled west towards the Nadrial Plains. A wise old stallion with a blue party hat had told them of an ancient treasure hidden in an even more ancient ruins. They hadn't had any other quest to do at the time, so they decided to go. What was the worst that could happen? On the way to the ruins they had gathered, bought and swapped gear. This quest sounded dangerous and they didn't want to be under prepared. They didn't need a repeat of Grey Mare Gorge.
"Okay, I'm back." Button returned and jumped back into his seat. He had a myriad of dice in front of him, with multiple character sheets, statistics and other information marking his domain and a large barrier of cardboard reading extra information with background images of fantasy scenes with the title of the game printed onto it. "So you guys got everything set-up?"
"Almost. Me and Scootaloo are still discussing tactics."
"Well, you may want to hurry. You are almost at the ruins. Remember, even I don't know what's there until I roll the dice."
"Don't worry. We have more than enough gear to take out anything you throw at us." Apple Bloom said smugly.
"Yeah, that's what you said when he rolled us an Arcane Colossus. Look how that turned out." Scootaloo rolled he eyes.
Sweetie Belle had a sad look on her face. "That was my favourite staff." She starred off into the distance. "Over three hundred silver, down the drain."
"Yeah, that was a pretty embarrassing fight."
"Don't be like that. We didn't know what we were doing back then. This time, we have the power and the skill to take on anything. Am I right?!"
"Yeah!" Scootaloo Yelled.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders, Role Playing Gamers, yay!" The trio shout together. Button merely watched awkwardly, afraid to interrupt them during their chant.
"Does that mean you want to go the ruins?" Button asked, going through his papers.
"You betcha!" Scootaloo grinned.
"Okay. Your party travels the Nadrial Plains and discovers the ancient gateway ruins. Do you wish to enter?" The three fillies huddle together and whisper quietly. The party broke apart.
"The Cutie-mark alliance will enter the ruins." Scootaloo shot her hoof into the air.
Scootaloo entered the ruins, closely followed by her sisters-in-arms. Like all ruins, they were in... well ruins. Practically every wall and pillar was either toppled over or about to. Stereotypically, ruins also had at least one structure still standing, which is usually where the treasure was, and this one was no exception. Lo and behold, was an intact structure, in the dead centre of the apocalyptic scene. You would think that some uncreative colt had created this place. The trio scanned the area for activity and sure enough, amidst the rubble and debris could be seen a collection of feeble creatures and withered monstered. No match for the Cutie-Mark Alliance.
Not paying them any heed, they walked towards the structure, weapons in hand, except for Sweetie, who simply recited spells in her head. They already knew how this was going to go down. This part of the quest was always easy. Like all other adventures, they would walk in and everything would be relatively quiet. As they near the entrance to whatever thing they were heading to they would be ambushed.
On cue the beasts scrambled from their hiding places, charging directly at the group. They were sickly things. Tall, but thin creature, their colour matching the stones around them. They kind of reminded the group of the animals Ms' Cheerilee had taught them about in class. But they didn't have the brown fur covering them, instead they only had fur on their heads and were wearing rags that would make Rarity faint. Without even blinking Scootaloo swung her sword at the enemy, sending a wave of arcane energy at her foes, slicing all of those within it's range in half. That single attack killed at least twenty of the abominations. The other biped creatures paused their attack, considering if the fight was worth it, before deciding to flee back to where they had come from. Pitiful.
Seeing that there was nothing left to do, they continued their march to the structure, which looked more like a temple, or maybe a shrine. Sweetie made a mental note to asked the old man about it when they got back. They were now in front of the large stone doors to the temple/shrine. As a rule, the three checked their equipment one more time before entering. Scootaloo checked her sword, Legerdermain, for damage and upon seeing that it had none, sheathed it. Apple Bloom made sure Sky Pierce, bow of the gods, still worked properly before inspecting her arrows, which where all in perfect condition. Sweetie muttered a few small spells to increase their strength, mainly shields, wards and other sundry spells not worth mentioning, but worth casting.
After making sure everything was in order, Scootaloo pushed against the large door, which opened slowly with a rumble. The solid stone ground against the chiselled floor, making the ground shake as it opened. With a loud thud, or more appropriately, a thunderous boom, the doors finished their ark and came to a sudden stop.
Inside could be seen the insides of the derelict structured. Lining the walls were various statues of upright creatures, each one in a similar stance. It was starting to feel more like a tomb, than a temple. The shape of the building was also pretty odd. While on the outside the building appeared to be rectangular in shape, it was oval on the inside. All this together wasn't that creepy. But something about this place scared Apple Bloom.
"Are you guys sure we should do this? It's not like we don't have enough gold already." Apple Bloom checked behind her and saw that a few of the creatures were watching them expectantly. Something was off.
"If you want better gear, then we have to do this. Why, are you scared."
"N-No! Of course I'm not. It's just... what if something happens?" The lemon coated filly shivered slightly.
"Nothing will hap-" Scootaloo suddenly had four pair of hooves pressed against her mouth.
"Don't say it!" Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle said in unison.
Sweetie Belle was the one who spoke next. "Everytime somepony says that, something bad happens. Watch." She turned to face the ruins and spoke in an overly dramatic voice, akin to that of her sisters.. "Oh, how terrible it would be for that pillar to collapse. On cue, the pillar collapsed.
"Ok, point taken. Can we go in now?" Scootaloo asked, hoping to change the subject.
"I guess. So what do you think is waiting in there for us?" Sweetie asked, slightly scared.
"More of those weird things if we're lucky." Apple Bloom said
"My bet is we have to fight those statues." Scootaloo interjected. The three glanced at each other nervously before entering. The moment their hooves passed through the door, everything went quiet. Not the relaxing type of quiet. A foreboding quiet. All ambient noise was cut off. Not even a breeze of wind could be heard. The further they walked into the tomb, the darker it seemed to get. They were maybe thirty hoof steps in when the stone doors behind them slammed shut, leaving the hall in complete darkness. It was so dark that they could even see their own hooves. "I still think it's the statues."
"Close." They all stopped.
"You okay Apple Bloom? Your voice sounds a bit hoarse." The orange filly turned towards Bloom.
"Uh, that wasn't me." She replied.
"Nu-uh. Don't look at me." It was hard for them to determine where the voice had come from, but it was close.
"This might be a problem." Scootaloo mused. "Did we, by any chance, remember to bring a torch." Sweetie didn't answer, but brought out a torch from her saddle bad and ignited it with a Spark spell. The rag at the end of the stick caught fire quickly and soon illuminated the area around them. "I... immediately regret this decision." The pegasus whisper. Standing directly in front of the trio, only a few feet from them, was a large figure in yellow robes. Every part of his body was hidden, apart from his mouth and chin, which wore a solemn expression.
From what they could tell, this was a creature similar to that of the ones outside, but something was different about this one, aside from the apparel it wore. The robed figure spoke. "As a statue is placed as a guard, so are we, so in a sense you shall fight a statue. Before I slay you, may we know your names?"
The trio looked at their foe, bewildered, but answer nonetheless.
"I'm Sweetie Belle."
"Scootaloo, apprentice of Dash the Awesome." The other two rolled their eyes.
"Uh, I'm Apple Bloom."
The being looked at each one of them separately, as if sizing them up. "Very well. I am the Guardian of these ruins. Now that the we all know each others names, I shall have no qualms in killing you three." The Guardian didn't even give them time to contemplate this before lunging directly at Sweetie. The alabaster filly was barely able to scream before it punched her in the sternum, continuing through her chest and out through her spine. His hand burst through her and in it was the still beating heart of their unicorn friend. Without blinking, he withdrew his hand, letting the body slump to the ground.
"What the buck, Button!" Sweetie slammed her hooves on the tables, causing a few of the figures to topple. "What was that?!"
"Um, the boss..." Button shrunk behind his cardboard partition.
"Since when does the boss appear in the first chamber!?" She screamed at him. "This is total bullcr-"
"Easy does it, Sweetie Belle." Apple Bloom interrupted. "Just bad luck is all. Not like he meant for ya to die. Besides, it's just a game, not like ya actually got hurt or anything."
"But what about all my awesome stuff? That's all lost now." Sweetie Belle whined.
"We'll just empty your inventory into ours and flee. Don't worry. All you'll lose is three levels." Sweetie didn't answer, instead opting to cross her hooves grumpily, resigning herself to watching her friends play.
Bloom looked on in horror as her friends body fell to the ground, lifeless. Her heart still in the hand of her killer. Thinking on her hooves, she lunged for her friends corpse in hopes of retrieving some of the rare gear that they had amassed but it seemed that the guardian had a disagreement with her plan and slammed his fist into her jaw, which had the effect of crushing the heart still in his hand. Apple Bloom fell to the ground, her jaw aching and her face now covered in the blood from her friends heart. Bloom tried to get back on her hooves but found that she couldn't. Had her vision not been spinning, she would have noticed that the guardian was holding her down with his left heel.
The creature spoke in a taunting tone. "Any last words filly?" He added some pressure to her back.
"Yeah, bite me." Bloom chuckled. If she was going to die, at least she would die awesome.
The response the guardian gave was not what she was expecting. At all. With a sigh the monster responded. "I would but I'm on a diet. Got to watch my figure." Without another word it raised its foot and slammed back down onto her head, crushing her skull and killing her instantly.
Scootaloo stood up quickly and spoke through barred teeth. "You know what, I already know I'm going to get killed so I quit. Screw my gear I'm going home." The orange filly stormed out of the room while muttering under her breath.
Both Bloom and Sweetie looked at each other confused but it was Sweetie who eventually spoke. "What was that all about?"
Button laughed nervously. "Well you see, I kinda made a bet with her."
Bloom looked at the brown colt suspiciously. "What was the bet?"
"The bet was that she could beat any monster the game could throw at her."
"But she hasn't died yet, so the bet isn't over yet." Sweetie pointed out.
"She quit so it still counts." He shrugged. "Not my fault if she assumes she's gonna lose.
Sweetie put a hoof to her chin and thought about it for while before responding. "Yeah, I guess. So what would have happened if she won?"
"Three months worth of smoothies." He replied automatically.
"And if she lost?"
Rainbow Dash was sitting with Twilight in the throne room of the alicorns new castle, focusing intently on the latest Daring Do book. She was currently halfway through the book and had stopped occasionally to confirm ideas or theories about the book with Twilight. Rainbow paused when she read the part where Daring entered the dragons cave. "Hey Twi, do you think this could have been the cave near Ponyville or somewhere else?"
Twilight rolled her eyes for the fifth time that night. "Of course it isn't the cave near Ponyville. For starters, we would have heard the roar of the Timber Dragon. On top of that, the cave Daring described had multiple caves connected to it. The one we saw was just one big cave."
Rainbow huffed and blew her mane out of her face. "Oh yeah? Then what about-" Rainbow stopped talking when she saw Scoots enter the library. "Hold that thought." Rainbow said to the purple princess before turning towards her adoptive sister. "Hey squirt, what's up? Been keeping up with the exercise plan I gave you?" Rainbow smiled happily when the orange filly nodded. "Awesome. So you here to hang or talk?"
Scootaloo shifted nervously a few hooves away from Dash. "Umm actually, I kinda have a big question to ask you."
Rainbow was expecting the age old question of 'where do foals come from?' and was fully prepared to pass the question off to Twilight, but decided to wait in case that wasn't the question Scoots was asking. "Ask away, kid. I got some time to spare." Scootaloo was looking anywhere except Rainbow Dash, which was unusual. Why would anyone not want to look at her. She was awesome. "Hey, don't worry Scoots, whatever it is you have to ask I promise I won't laugh, judge, ignore or lie to you. I got your back. 'Kay?"
The timid pegasus nodded shyly and looked Rainbow in he eye. "It's just, you and Apple Jack do dares and make bets all the time, right?"
Rainbow didn't know where this was going but decided not to ask. "Yeah, sure. Probably one every few day." Rainbow didn't see it, but just off to the side, Twilight was taking notes on their conversation.
"So you and her always follow through on your bets right? You don't back down?"
"Never. A bet is a bet, no matter what." Dash replied matter of factly.
"So if you lose a bet you always take the punishment, even if you don't like it?" The orange filly shuddered a bit.
Rainbow eyed her suspiciously but answered none the less. "Always. It wouldn't be a real bet if you liked the idea of losing. You should always follow through with what you promise otherwise no pony would trust you again."
"Okay, in that case. I am so sorry about this." Scootaloo visibly tensed up.
Rainbow looked at the filly, confused about what she was saying. "What do you mean? Sorry about wha-" Rainbow's eyes shot open and her body froze. In the time it had taken Rainbow to blink, Scootaloo had shot forward and planted her mouth firmly against Rainbow's in what had been the most unexpected kiss Rainbow had ever received, not to mention the first. After a few deathly quiet seconds Scootaloo broke from the kiss and flew out of the nearest open window with the speed of a arrow, tears streaming down her eyes.
Rainbow didn't move for several minutes, her mind reeling from what had just happened. It wasn't until she heard a pencil hit the ground that she snapped out of it. She turned the location of the sound and saw that Twilight staring directly at her, obviously just as shocked as what happened.
"Ummm, Twi?" Rainbow said when she was finally able to think straight. She just had a sudden realization. Someone made Scoots kiss her and hurt her little sisters feelings. Someone was going to pay. But first, she had to find something out.
"Yes Rainbow." Twilight replied, not even blinking.
"I know that was for a bet or whatever, but just for clarification, that was legal right. I mean, I'm not going to get arrested for kissing a foal, right?"