When Rainbow Dash's stomach began growling, the mountain range had begun to slope into the brightest, greenest landscape she had seen for days. The air was wet here, filled with the most delicious scents of spring. She gazed down as she saw lush forests dotting the eastern edge of the mountains.
The afternoon sun warmed her flank as she touched down in an emerald glade. Several small woodland creatures bounded away immediately after her landing. Rainbow Dash glanced around, feeling as if she was the first pony in centuries to set hoof in this beautiful, alien landscape. Her insides gurgled once more as she desperately scanned the nearby trees. She thought of the moldy bread in her saddlebag, the same pathetic thing she had nibbled on ceaselessly for weeks, and she couldn't help but grimace.
Something sparkled in her goggled vision. Her heart jumped, and she found herself galloping towards a cluster of trees to the north. She skidded to a stop as soon as she was underneath the desired branches, and she actually drooled.
They were apple trees, and the fruit hanging off them were of a plump and ripe nature befitting a pegasus' dreams, her dreams. With a gentle flap of blue wings, Rainbow Dash hovered until she was nose-to-skin with the brightest apple in sight. She gave it a close sniff and could already sense the sweetness. With two hooves, she plucked the apple loose, raised her goggles, and turned the object over in her grasp.
The skin of the apple looked perfect, but she was hardly a qualified judge. There was no telling if there were parasites hidden inside the thing, or if the apple was rotten at the core, or if there was a bitter taste just waiting to poison her. So much as licking the strange fruit could very well have been an extremely dangerous prospect.
So Rainbow Dash took a huge bite.
Immediately, her mouth was filled with a flooding river of euphoria. Her ruby eyes flew back in her head, and she let herself fall like a feather to the downy grass below. She took another bite, reveled in the heavenly taste, and giggled like a foal, her voice echoing gaily across the emerald clearing. Less than two minutes later, the entire apple had been scarfed completely. No sooner was Rainbow Dash finished with this gluttonous feat, she was darting back up to the tree for a second fruit, then a third, then a fourth. She tucked these under her hooves, forelimbs, and even her wings. Stifling another evil laugh, she victoriously galloped over to a patch of shade and set her things down. Pulling her blanket loose from the saddlebag, she rolled it out along the soft blades of grass and laid herself down so that her forward half was in the shade and her rear half was warmed by toasty sunlight.
So luxuriously reclined, she took her time savoring the succulent fruit. Her eyes danced with the rays of sunlight glittering through the waving leaves above. Her mind toyed with errant thoughts, bursting through her head in cadence with the felicitous tastes bursting in her mouth. She let a giggle leave her lips, then another. Soon, the first three apples were consumed. Tossing the cores away, she polished the fourth and last apple against her chest and raised it to her lips.
But then she stopped.
Rainbow Dash blinked. Slowly, her jaw clamped shut. She gazed with a solemn expression at her face being reflected in the immaculate red skin of the apple. Her nostrils flared, and scents that didn't belong to the emerald glade were now assaulting her. The next breath from her mouth was painful, and soon her eyes fell to the reflection of the ruby lightning bolt hanging from her neck.
A sour lump formed in her throat. Rainbow Dash said nothing. She didn't eat the apple. Shadows began filling the glade as the Sun was setting beyond the mountains to the west. It was still early in the afternoon, but Rainbow Dash no longer felt like flying—not yet. The wind had been taken from her wings.
With a gentle yawn, she grasped the blanket in her mouth and dragged it to the base of a tree, where the shadows were thickest. Pulling a second blanket out of her saddlebag, she wrapped it around her blue body and settled down on folded legs. Rainbow Dash lingered before resting her head. Gnawing on her lip, she reached once more to the apple. Instead of nibbling on it, she merely cuddled it close to her—even nuzzling its soft skin with her cheek.
Exhaling, Rainbow shut her eyes. There was a touch of moisture to her lashes, but she paid it no heed as she happily embraced the lulling kiss of slumber.