Me a wolf. I eat stuff that doesn't belong. Not sure where I came from. I meet Mistress Sweetie Belle. She name me Blanky. I no like Blanky. At all. But Mistress name me Blanky so Blanky I am. It me duty to protect her. Duty to eat what don't belong. .thE wolF devourS alL thaT violatS realitY
So why do stupid brown colt with wrong-feeling sword declare he be her protector?!
Orange Filly has Mistress Sweetie Belle explain to stupid brown colt that if monsters come, NOT to attack them with wrong-feeling sword until Truth Filly says they are JUST wrongness. Not ponies infested by wrongness. That should be my job! Stupid brown colt think he be me? Brown colt say something about game I no know.
Stupid brown colt wonders why he no get 'random encounters.' Idiot. No encounter is random. Truth Filly says Truth give path without infections. Stupid brown colt says you still need 'experience points.' Orange Filly says all bosses are "dialogue choices" so "XP" levels don't matter.
Why couldn't the infections have made Orange Filly the life-mate for stupid brown colt instead of Mistress Sweetie Belle? Both like video games. Both live in fantasy world. Both stupid.
This 'fog.' It like the nowhere between somewheres, but not like it. If nowhere, where ground, gravity, heat, and air come from? But fog MAKE IT nowhere. Between areas of infection. Much irony. Keeps contradictions from hurting world maybe? Don't know. Don't know how don't know. Don't know how know don't know. Head hurt.
Orange Filly disinfected never-was-sister. That's supposed to be my job too! 'Never remove infection by harming what is.' Known that always. Orange filly do it when me couldn't. Me am not happy about that. What good is white blood cell when me can't fight disease?
Me delete part of infection as Mistress Sweetie Belle commands. But it damages never-was-sister. All me do is eat infections before they infest stuff, but me no able to do much more.
Truth leads pack to membrane of another boil of infection. But...something feel different...like two bubbles stuck together. Pack push through wall of fog into the infection.
My breath was caught in my throat. Why, why did my Truth lead us here? Show me a monster or somethin', not this!
It was just how Ah remember it, before it showed its true colors. Not dirty pink sketches, but bright, and colorful like us.
The ponies: Grayhoof, Gladstone, Threeleaf, Roneo, Starlet, and Mitta, all goin' about smilin'.
How many times did Ah have the nightmares? How many times did Ah ask Applejack to visit here with Fluttershy anyway so Ah could see Ruby and Mitta again anyway?
My heart was hammerin' my chest, Ah clenched my teeth.
My friends looked at me, Ah must'a looked as bad as Ah felt. Button Mash looked around like he expected to see a road sign to give'em answers. "What's this place?"
My friends were all startled.
"This isn't like that creepy story mom told you never to tell again, Apple Bloom."
If the rumors changed Sunny Town, wouldn't Button Mash remember it that way?
Maybe Button Mash got zapped by rumors that'd came true before the world got turned inside out? He hadn't known about the tower or the new Princesses.
"This is Sunny Town?" Sweetie asked. "But it looks so normal."
"Except there aren't any pegasi or unicorns," Scootaloo said, officially a Ponyville pony.
Sweetie said, "I meant everypony has their cutie mark."
Ah couldn't speak. An'd didn't notice before. They did. Grayhoof had a birthday cake. Mitta has a shield, Three Leaf had a hoof cultivator, it was...they...Ah felt faint.
"Apple Bloom! Welcome back!" Mitta, she smiled at me, trotting over and gave me a hug. "Are these your friends? It's wonderful to finally meet all of you."
Mitta's hug...was as warm as anypony's.
"Mitta," Ah whispered. "Yer alive?"
She blinked at me. "What else would I be? Are you okay? You look pale."
"Ya...ya ain't a zombie?"
Mitta laughed. "Don't be silly! Zombie don't exist! Everypony knows that! Therefore how could I be a zombie? They're like ghosts or the Tooth Flutterpony."
"There's no Tooth Flutterpony?!" Button Mash exclaimed.
"At least some things stayed the same," Scootaloo sighed.
Sweetie exclaimed, "What do you mean 'stayed the same'?! The Tooth Flutterpony got erased!"
"There is no Tooth Flutterpony!"
"Yes, there is! She looks just like my sister in a flutterpony costume...wait a minute."
"Mom says she only comes when you're asleep, so you couldn't have seen her," Button Mash said.
"Wait, if you both believe the Tooth Flutterpony exists, shouldn't she anyway?" Ah asked, blinking. Mitta looked at us weird.
"Apple Bloom! It's wonderful to see you again!" Grayhoof trotted closer next. Then Gladstone, Starlet and Roneo, Threeleaf: smiling, closing in closer, and closer, like a noose, no way past 'em!
Ah didn't think it was all a dream when Ah woke up, not for lack of tryin'.
My head was spinnin' for a while. Nice faces that turned mean and tried to make me a zombie, bein' nice again; my head swam almost more than everythin' else Ah'd seen in the fog.
Ah was on a bed, surrounded by my friends. This...this room with a fire place...it...it looked familiar...
"Apple Bloom!" Now Ruby hugged me. "Dad and the others didn't mean to overwhelm you like that! Sorry! But it's nice to see you again!"
Ah somehow didn't faint twice. Ah felt like Ah was in a dream. Ruby alive. Everypony in Sunny Town had cutie marks. Nopony trin' to make me a zombie. Ah could feel Ruby. Sunny Town...actin' like it was Ponyville.
Ruby said good things to me, and Ah said good things back.
It was like Princess Gaia's fog, but Ah was wide awake. Ruby showed us all the little treasures she'd collected. Buttons, string, flowers, leafs, a toy cart's wheel, a spider web, an empty cocoon, pieces of quartz, a centuries-old bit, tooth of a manticore, a thousand-year-old strand of Princess Luna's mane. It was a lot more impressive than the Cutie Mark Crusaders' Treasure Trove even with Minty's sock.
"There's nothing I can't find." Ruby smiled.
"They're beautiful, Ruby," Ah said and meant it. I put a hoof on her shoulder, just feeling her alive. It...it felt good...
"Anything you like? A treasure shared is a treasure doubled."
"Hey, girls! I knew Apple Bloom would wake up if I talked to everypony." Button Mash came in eating cake, drinking punch and wearing party glasses. "Mr. Grayhoof sure knows how to throw a party. Did you know he's part of the Party Pony Population Protectorate?"
Button Mash, Ah didn't even think about how he'd gone off. This was all just, too much at once.
"What kept you?" Scootaloo asked.
"I was tripping flags for our next quest goal."
"He was figuring out what we're supposed to do here," Scootaloo translated.
"Ya let 'em wander around Sunny Town by himself?!" Ah glared at my friends. Changed or not, Ah'm not taking chances!
"I had Blanky go with him," Sweetie said in a small voice. Blanky yipped at the door where he was standin' guard.
"Blanky? You mean your invisible dog?" Ruby asked.
"Uh, yeah," Sweetie fidgeted.
"Ruby..." Ah began to ask. Piecin' together from how everypony acted when they saw me. "Why didn't ya ever come to visit me?"
Ruby's ears folded sadly, looking at me with normal eyes instead of big glowing ones. It was weird for me. "I'm really sorry, Apple Bloom. Please don't hate me."
"Ah'm not upset. Ah promise. Ah just wanna know." Ah knew the real reason Mitta and the others hadn't visited was cause of the curse, and Ruby not wantin' to leave'em. Still...Ah still had to ask. Had ta see how she explained it ta herself.
And there was one thing Ah didn't get: Phobia kept arguing that if anypony died, they'd stay dead, because the here-after is a separate place. So how the heck was Ruby or any of Sunnytown even alive? If we changed things back would they be alive again? Ah closed one eye, and looked at Ruby.
What Ah saw...it was Ruby. But there weren't those rotten slug things inside her. And it wasn't like Red Heart where there was a big light inside her shining onto everything, it was like...it was like she was full of fireflies...The same was true of all of 'em in town.
Ah repeated. "Ruby, why don't ya, or anypony in Sunny Town, visit Ponyville?"
Ruby looked down. "Well, dad says that Everfree is really dangerous. There's supposed to be a nasty foal-eating witch and monsters living out there."
"But...Fluttershy, she visits you, right? With Applejack? And Miss Twilight?"
"Oh...Uh...Miss Fluttershy sometimes," said Ruby, looking like she had a bit of a headache. Fluttershy's been here a lot.
"Ruby, we met because you were curious, remember? You led me back to Sunny Town! While Twilight was moving tree trunks out of the way!"
"Oh! Yeah, I remember. You got lost in the forest and I saw you, so I lead you back here where it was safe!...And I was curious, I'd been here for a long time alone."
That wasn't exactly right, Ah think she'd just wanted some company before...but...
Ugh! Thinkin' about this makes my weird truth eye hurt.
"Alone?" Sweetie asked. "But don't you have Mitta, your dad, and everypony?"
Ruby rubbed her head. "Well...they're all a lot older than me. I'm the only foal in town right now."
"Mitta doesn't look THAT much older than you," Ah said though Ah figured at this point it was kinda pointless.
"Still, it's enough," Ruby said.
"You should spend time when Ah visit Zecora. She and Miss Twilight teach me lots of stuff."
"Apple Bloom, that's not funny!" Ruby said.
I was gonna ask what she meant when-
"Uh, girls?" Button Mash said raising a hoof, not his normal excited self. "The townsfolk told me stuff I think ya wanna hear." He motioned for us to huddle.
Button Mash looked the opposite of happy as he whispered to us. "Girls? Zecora's the boss, I mean the bad guy for this level."
Ah...between everything that's happened, me, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, everythin' Nightmare Applejack showed me, Zecora, did she show me Zecora? Ah can't remember.
"The town ponies say she's a witch with mind control eyes and magic dances and evil potions and...she eats foals...they showed me the road that leads right to her house...they said mobs called 'bloody hooves' spawn on the path...Apple Bloom I'm sorry." Button Mash was ready to cry.
Ah shouldda known, everything...everything ponies said bad about her...
"We'll save'er, Apple Bloom, just like we did Cheerilee," Scootaloo said.
Ah gave her a hug as Ah shuddered. Sweetie gave Button a hug. A 'you're my friend' type hug at least. Was this gonna get easier every time Ah heard it? Ah wonder if Nightmare Applejack had the right idea.
Sweetie looked over to Ruby. "...Hey, if what everypony believes is true is true, think there's someway we could get Ruby and Sunny Town to think something to help us with saving Zecora? Like maybe she's like Nightmare Moon and Luna?"
"But wouldn't it just possess somepony else then in a never-ending cycle?" Button Mash asked and Scootaloo whacked him.
"You're the gamer, what's your solution?" Scootaloo asked.
"Uh...well, when 'beat the curse out of them' doesn't work, but I know some games were the monster becomes vulnerable when it's driven out of its host."
"Maybe all Zecora needs is the honest truth," Ah said.
"What are you talking about? I wanna hear," Ruby asked.
We broke our huddle.
Sweetie Belle said. "Ruby, how do you know Zecora is a mean old witch?"
I was relieved when Sweetie Belle didn't use mind magic to MAKE Ruby think Zecora was nice. It...Ah couldn't let her do that...Ah...Ah know it would be easier but...after what Chrysalis did to Applejack and everypony...Ah don't think Ah could do that.
"She's a mean old witch like the Bug Queen was a mean old witch. She's the witch who ate Jade, or the Bloody Hooves, but they're friends with her, so I think it's safe to say she's bad."
"Jade?" I felt sick to my stomach. Somepony died because we weren't fast enough? Was she so unnoticed that she popped out of existence? We looked at each other, nopony knew a filly by that name. Blanky shook his head and shrugged.
"The blank flank filly the bloody hooves got. It was horrible."
Scootaloo asked, not looking that scared. "Where was she from? Who were her parents? How did you know her?"
"I...I don't know."
"How do you know they got her?"
"They, they just got her! And that witch Zecora had something to with it! She's an evil enchantress who does evil dances! And if you look in her eyes she'll put you in trances, and then she's cook up an evil brew and gobble you up in a stew! So watch out!"
Ah took a trot back, Ah'd never seen Ruby like this.
We looked to one another. Button looked like he thought of something. "Hey, uh Ruby. What's supposed to happen if the Bloody Hooves get some pony?"
"Then you become one of them!"
"Uh...so kinda like a zombie?"
"Uh...I. Zombies aren't real, more like...vampires or something..."
Ruby looked like her head hurt when she said that.
"Huh..." Button said. "You know, I hear that there's one way quick way to restore a victim of an undead thingie. Beat the monster that turned 'em, then all their victims just go right back to normal."
"Huh, I never heard that before...Is it true?"
"Yeah, totally. Mom told me it was...That and hitting them with a weakness potion then giving them a golden apple. Or is that just zombies?"
Ah blinked. "Button, what are you doing?" Ah whispered to him.
"What Phobia told me to do," he whispered back. "Spread how video games work to ponies. It's worked so far, hasn't it?"
Ah couldn't argue with that. But Ah had this odd feelings of urgency. It was stupid after all the time we spent with Button Mash and Miss Cheerilee. But a dread in me said we couldn't stay Sunnytown forever.
Button Mash began telling ponies about his 'zombie cure,' which confused, but really got the curiosity of everypony. Ah was tryin' to tell them about the REAL Zecora.
But every time,
"She's an evil enchantress who does evil dances!"
"If you look in her eyes she'll put you in trances!"
"She'll mix up an evil brew!"
"And gobble you up in a big evil stew!"
"Soooo...Watch out!" Three Leaf finished the song for the sixth time we heard it.
"Ah curse Pinkie Pie for ever writin' that song," Ah said under my breath. Looks like unlike Applejack, Ah couldn't make ponies SEE the truth.
Sweetie Belle got a better idea and instead started spreading the idea of an evil witch whose heart could still be touched.
"Where'd you get that idea?" Scootaloo asked.
"...Isn't it obvious?"
"Oh, right, Chrysalis."
"And one of those Hearth's Warming specials plays were Santa Hooves thaws out the mean ice wizard's heart by being nice."
Me and Sweetie Belle's pet ghost dog stuck with Button Mash while Sweetie and Apple Bloom spread their ideas to seven ponies thinking it'll be enough to improve our chances of saving Zecora (like we WEREN'T going to save her, if the rules of Button Mash's games gave us a chance, that's all the chance we needed).
Apple Bloom, I seriously don't think two ponies thinking the Tooth Flutterpony is real is gonna make her real...But if we run into the Tooth Flutterpony, I'm asking where all the money she owes me is from the teeth I've lost over the years.
"I've gotta ask, Button Mash, what's with you and video games? I like them too, they're great competition, but they don't compare to REAL excitement outside."
"You don't remember? Because video games let you do the impossible. And there at least, you always know the rules."
"This must be heaven for you, then." I said rolling my eyes.
Button Mash's beanie actually stopped spinning for a few seconds. "No...no it isn't. In a video game you can always pause and take a break...there's no pause button here. Though I do really like getting to be with Sweetie and you girls."
"...Thanks. And, thanks for helping Sweetie Belle beat that monster before. She's the first friend I had in Ponyville too."
"Yeah, you told me." Button Mash smiled. Then grinned. "You were so jealous!"
"I wouldn't be!"
"You were! You were!"
"Now you're just making stuff up! And I'm not gonna make it true by believing it!"
I looked around trying to get my mind off it. These ponies, I couldn't see them as foal murdering zombies. My old friends got a second chance cause of this horror show, so did Sunnytown. Was it right to make them bad again? But was letting them stay brainwashed any better than what the bug ponies did to Sweetie?
Geeze. Just being here makes my wings itchy. Everypony here is nice and everything. But this thing with Zecora… I mean, she's just sitting there in her hut being 'evil', and I don't think anypony here is gonna go anywhere near her. But Apple Bloom wants to save her NOW, like I did with Cheerilee and our classmates (even if she's not gonna cook somepony in five minutes), and she wants to think her magic eye brought us here because we needed to be here.
"So how much?" Button Mash asked Gladstone in front of a table of snacks and other things that didn't make much sense to be next to each other like pebbles for a sling shot.
"Oh please, take as many as you need. Honor system."
"What are ya celebrating?"
"I'm...not sure. Maybe Starlet and Roneo's engagement? Did you hear? Ruby was so nice and found them their ring. Wasn't that sweet of her?"
A few minutes later we were back on the path between Ruby's house and the rest of town.
"This path wasn't here when Ah first visited," Apple Bloom said, pointing at a second path leading straight to the fog wall.
"Maybe that's why the monsters don't bother the town." Button Mash suggested. "The monsters don't wander into town because the Everfree and the town are actually separate worlds."
"Shouldn't Ruby and the others be trying to stop us from going to see Zecora if she's a wicked witch?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Townsfolk never stop foal heroes from adventuring," Button Mash said, knowledgeably. "I...never thought how it felt-"
"Stupid?" I asked.
"...Heartless," Button Mash sighed.
"You're going to Zecora?! Why? Please, Apple Bloom don't go! I'm too scared! I can't go with you!" WHAT?! Geeze! Where'd Ruby come from!?
"Ah...Ah'm sorry Ruby, but Zecora's not evil, she's just sick. We're gonna make her well again."
"Some ponies can't be cured."
'Bloom looked at Ruby in shock. Then hugged her. "Ah know ya don't get it, but there's a Ruby in ya that ain't scared, and never EVER gives up on even the worst ponies! Just ya wait Ruby, Ah'm gonna save her. Girls, boys? Ready?"
"Ready!" We all said together.
Through the fog we went, but it wasn't into the sea of fog I'd had to swim through again, instead, we set hoof in the Everfree.
The first thing we noticed was that there was literally no way back. The trees had squeezed in behind us, blocking the path. Well we were gonna go forward anyway! We held together like conjoined foals.
Everfree? Everything had real colors, things weren't sketchy, things were outlined in colors, like it was supposed to be. And that made it only MORE WRONG! If you thought Everfree couldn't get any creepier, you'd be wrong! Everfree was never friendly. But every rock, tree and blade of grass seemed to scream that something terrible was about to happen! But the scarier part was there weren't monsters jumping out of it every second! It got to the point I was kind of hoping they'd ambush us and get it over with!
And it was so hard to see! We wondered if it was night time, except we couldn't even see the sky. Then Sweetie remember her magic and everything got this sickly green glow from her horn. I wish she'd left it off. Button pulled a lantern out of that weird video game inventory he had, but that was just as bad only more orange than green.
It was like everything was waiting for us not to be looking to make us never-be-heard-from-again. But our capes never once caught on anything.
And the path kept closing behind us. I felt like we were being herded...like cattle.
But Apple Bloom kept moving forward, Zecora was her friend after all.
Come on you dumb forest! You never held any punches before!
We were ready for a cockatrice, instead we saw,
"Princess Luna?" Button Mash asked, us all staring at her in blind shock.
It was her but, it looked like her when she first came to Ponyville, small, not a star in her mane, her mane and coat all pale blues. She was huddled on the ground with her tail wrapped around Herself.
Her eyes shot open and she shouted. "No! Stop...Don't eat me..." She sounded so scared.
"Princess Luna, we're not going to hurt you, I promise," Sweetie said.
Princess Luna stood up. "Oh good...you're not one of them."
Sweetie shook her head. "No, we're not monsters, we're still us. The bad magic didn't change us."
"The Bloody Hooves. I didn't want to be here either, but my sister...she banished me here."
Bloody Hooves? Right. The monsters we were told about before.
"No she didn't!" Sweetie said. "You just think she did! The curse is making bad stuff real! Princess Celestia would never do that!"
"I managed to escape them for now...but...they'll be back..."
"Come on, Princess! Join us as our guest party member! Or maybe a full-time permanent member! We can zap those monsters!" Button Mash said.
"Once the forest has you, you're trapped here forever."
I was getting a whole new level of creeped out, (just when I think we've hit the ceiling).
"Luna, listen! We've been in Everfree before! We always got out! You have to fight the curse!" Sweetie Belle pleaded.
"There is something strange about her...It's as if she were a creature of this forest as well."
"Huh? Are you talking about Zecora?" I asked.
"I don't know how I can help you. I'm sorry."
"But we're gonna help you!" I said stomping a hoof, doing my best to sound more brave than I felt. Seeing one of the Princesses like this was worse than when the bug queen zapped Princess Celestia.
"Ummm...will you stay with me? I don't want to die here alone..."
"You won't die here! None of us are!" I said. It sent a chill down my spine thinking that Luna was scared of dying.
"No...There is no way out..."
"Girls," Apple Bloom sighed, I noticed she'd been looking with that magic eye of hers. "That's enough. She isn't Princess Luna."
Luna didn't react to what Apple Bloom said at all. I braced myself for 'Luna' to turn into a monster but nothing.
"She's just an outline. There's nothin' inside her. Like a piece of cardboard."
"She's an NPC," Button Mash said waving a hoof in front of 'Luna'. "She just says a few lines, and that's it."
Sweetie Belle gingerly pushed 'Luna' who didn't react at all.
"She's just here to 'set the mood'," Button Mash said.
Sweetie Belle's ghost dog sniffed 'Luna', snorted, and turned his nose up at 'her.'
"Can't we take her with us? It, doesn't feel right to just leave her."
"There's no her to take Ah think," Apple Bloom said. "She's like a chalk drawing of a shadow."
"She looks like the kind of NPC who's glued to the ground, as opposed to the aimless wanderers." Button Mash said. "She won't go anywhere."
To show his point, he did a running jump into her and slid down her like she was made of rock. "Ow...see?"
"Maybe she's here to make sure we DON'T go any further," I said as Sweetie Belle helped him up.
Button Mash looked behind her and walked an inch past her. "Nope, no invisible wall or trees. We can move on."
"I MEANT she was put here to scare us away."
Button Mash shook his head. "…That's not how it WORKS in video games. You head TOWARDS danger. Towards the challenge!"
Sweetie and I tried to move Luna, but she wouldn't budge, like she really was glued to the ground.
"Blanky!" Sweetie said.
Blanky bit and clawed at the ground under Luna, and she fell over. Sweetie grunted as she picked up Luna with her muscles and magic. Sweetie looked at me. "We'll help." Of course. Luna couldn't have been less responsive. None of us tried to stop Sweetie. Without a word we kept marching: Bloom in front, Button Mash behind her, us carrying Luna, and Blanky bringing up the rear.
Literally out of nowhere, we had a pony in front of us who was pitch black with a red outline and glowing red eyes.
"One of us," The nasty thing said in a voice that reminded me of a graveyard.
"Never," 'Bloom defied.
"I think we just met the Bloody Hooves," Sweetie said the obvious.
It didn't move or react at all.
"More chalk outlines?" I asked.
We did the smart thing and just went around it. When we looked back it was gone and the trees still closing behind us for every step we took. Like the forest was one big snake wrapping around us.
Then another Blood Hoof was trotting towards us in front of us that wasn't there before.
"You cannot escape your fate."
"I already did!" I hissed at it.
Apple Bloom covered her normal eye. "It ain't a pony neither."
Button Mash said. "Can kinda see that."
"No, Ah mean it wasn't ever a pony!"
Button grinned. "Cool!" He mimed drawing a sword, and poof, there's that blocky sword of his. Without missing a beat, Button Mash swung his sword through the Blood Hoof who blinked out of existence. There was this floating red outline square with a red 'x' through it for a sec' where the monster'd been before it just blinked away too.
"No XP? No gold? No items?" Button Mash pouted. "Girls, I don't think we were supposed to fight back. Ow! I mean the idea was for us to just run away scared. It didn't know what to do when I actually used my sword."
"Good for us!" I said. "Forward troops!" Then came another curve ball.
"PRINCESS LUNA?" Button Mash nearly dropped his sword. I honestly felt my heart stop. D-do I need to say the next part?
Luna was still on our backs, but in front of us was another Luna...only...this Luna...wasn't...wasn't all there...she...I think I threw-up.
Sweetie Belle was crying. Apple Bloom kept it together better than the rest of us.
Apple Bloom looked between Luna and...Luna. "It ain't real. Just a chalk outline. It was never Luna, it was never alive."
Sweetie Belle said it. "We...we were supposed to leave Luna, then find her here." Sweetie finally dropped the Luna we were carrying.
"Blanky...make them go away..." She, not really ordered, pleaded.
I was happy when Blanky honored her request.
"Is Zecora really at the end here?"
"She BETTER BE!" I snorted.
"Can we even see Zecora's house?" Sweetie asked.
"Ah think we'll see it when we get there," Apple Bloom said, and forward we marched.
Then the forest got so dark that the light was from Sweetie's horn and Button Mash's lantern around his neck.
"DiD YoU rEalLY thinK YoU coulD ESCApE?"
And they had us surrounded except our backs to the trees. Like timber wolves. Just poof, they were all there.
"Oh come on, there's more than one?!" Sweetie Belle asked.
Apple Bloom checked her truth eye. "They're still not ponies!"
Button slashed through one that came too close, causing that weird x thing to show up. "If they're not programmed for us to kill them, then they're not programmed to respawn...probably..." he said. The one he took out didn't come back. "But that Jade girl Ruby mentioned might turn out to be a mini-boss."
"If she even exists," Apple Bloom said.
"She'll exist as a mini-boss!" Button replied.
"Less Geek-speak!" I called.
Enemies came at us like wound-up toy soldiers.
I checked my wings; that wing blade spell I used to hurt that Changeling still worked. Just to be sure, I tested it on a Bloody Hoof who poofed away when I cut it in just the right spot.
Heh… there was no school rule saying I was gonna die in a death trap here by not-actually-alive things!
A slash of black magic made another go poof in front of Sweetie Belle. Another Bloody Hoof tried to grab Sweetie...Button stabbed it; Blanky bit at the same time, it vanished.
Apple Bloom took a step back as the rest of us fought, the monsters going down in one good hit. Bloom's no coward, but these things were too close to her nightmares, and she was better as our spotter.
Then a weird green triangle flashed above Button's head before he did a fancy summersault out of nowhere and stuck one of the monsters with his sword and instead of it vanishing right away like it was supposed it he spun it around making a lot of them go poof at once.
…Gotta admit at this point, Button's not an uncool little colt.
I took to the air, these things couldn't follow. I couldn't get through the canopy, but there was still enough room for me to fly! I dive-bombed several. Blanky… it was FREAKY. I could barely see the freaky ghost dog see zipping about like some furry bolt of lightning. He was that fast.
Sweetie Belle's magic zapped any baddie that got close to Apple Bloom.
"You've met a terrible fate, haven't you?" Said a voice from nowhere and everywhere.
"No, we haven't!" I snarled flaring my wings, the air twisting around my flight field, taking down the last two at once as I landed. The fight had barely lasted a minute.
"It didn't have to end this way."
"And it hasn't!" I shouted. "Stupid Everfree!"
We all tensed up. Waiting for something, anything nasty to happen. Sweetie's horn still glowing waiting for 'Jade' to show up. Nothing.
"Hey, the path? It just, ends here." Sweetie was right; the spot where the monsters ambushed us, it was a dead end.
"Was there another road?" I asked. Everypony shook their heads.
Apple Bloom whispered. "If we were meant to get eaten here...then...then Umbra Breeze wouldn't have bothered putting a real way to Zecora's house."
No thank you. "Then we'll just MAKE our own way! Sweetie! Have Blanky start eating trees!"
"But remember what happened to Cheerilee!? What if that hurts her?!" Apple Bloom reminded me.
I stomped a hoof. "Dang it!"
Button rubbed his chin. "Well, the thing is, when you glitch out a game, if your character isn't frozen with it, some other parts of the game glitch too. Or at least there might be other glitches."
I blinked, thinking. "...Wait! Cheerilee's death trap wasn't unbreakable ...because I was supposed to be terrified and die in it, not TRY to break it...Button, do you think you can just cut the trees with that sword of yours?"
Apple Bloom protested, "Didn't ya break out because ya used its own cheatin' against it?"
"Not now, Apple Bloom!"
Sweetie smirked. "Don't worry Button Mash, I've got this covered." Her horn glowed 'darker', and that creepy feeling of black magic began to get worse. I know Sweetie's not bad, and she was brainwashed, but she learned that magic from the bug queen and was gonna use it brainwash me! Ugh!
And WHY did she need to add in that creepy chanting that regular unicorns never do?
"Shadows sharpening as my blade, hate, anger, fear, bend onto my will, let loose your hunger for destruction as I command you, and sever those which stands in my way! Uh! Better stand behind me!"
Thanks for the warning!
A horizon bolt of dark magic shot from Sweetie's horn, knocking her off her hooves and slicing the trees in front of us in half. Thankfully they all fell over BACKWARDS instead of TOWARDS us.
Sweetie Belle lay on the ground twitching, her tongue hanging out and her eyes doing a Derpy. And her horn was smoking. Never a good sign.
"SWEETIE BELLE! You okay?" Button Mash asked. Blanky whimpered and nuzzled her.
"Just fine, Rarity, no really, I didn't take your imported silk for my art project!"
"Sweetie, did anypony tell you how attack spells aren't a toy?!" Dash has told me enough times about my wing blade magic.
Apple Bloom peeked through the hole in the trees Sweetie had cut. On the other side was...a clearing. A big clearing, almost like somepony had forgotten something needed to be there.
"...Alright, Zecora, we're comin'."
We all climbed on through, (well, I flew.) The moment we did...we were at Zecora's hut. Her clearing, her plants and masks everywhere, her potions hanging from the trees. Button had to help Sweetie Belle through, because she was still woozy from her spell.
And it was all that sickeningly dusty pink, with everything TOO detailed where it shouldn't be and not enough where it should be. Like art made from black pencils and charcoal.
"Almost forgot about this," Sweetie sighed.
"Still ugly," Button Mash said.
"We'll never have to get used to it!" I said. Where was Phobia to give pointers when we need 'em?!
Apple Bloom swallowed. "Be careful everypony... Ah remember, Zecora, isn't Zecora right now." Apple Bloom did not look happy.
Ah remember what Miss Cheerilee looked like, and what she REALLY looked like with those things inside her. And what Miss Void said; that my sister, my family, everypony was the same way. And Ah was gonna have ta see it until we fixed everything.
Just thinkin' 'bout it, imaginin' it...Ah don't wanna see Zecora like that!
"I don't care if Button Mash's game rules are controlling things or not," Scootaloo said. "I can't believe Zecora is just sitting on her flank doing nothing waiting for somepony to show up."
"Maybe she's out getting ingredients, I mean like herbs and stuff?" Sweetie said.
"It'd almost be worse for us if we don't find her right inside," Button warned darkly. "Go into the boss' lair, seems to be empty, turn to around to leave… JUMP SCARE! Then boss fight; she's three times the size she should be, and mutated! Or she flips a lever or something from behind shatterproof glass after taunting you… you fall through, and then have to hack ‘n' slash it through a whole ‘nother dungeon."
Mah hooves were shakin'. "Ah...Ah know 'er best, the rest of ya don't need ta go in."
"You've still gotta stay alive long enough to save her," Scootaloo reminded me.
Ah wanted ta say there was no way Zecora would do that. But what these things did to Miss Cheerilee... Ya've done so much for me Zecora...Ah can't let bein' scared stop me.
"W-watch yer step. And...don't look in her eyes, and, watch out if she dances, and...don't touch any of her potions. And...watch out for booby traps."
"Ta-da!" Button Mash took out some of those weird glasses he got in town. "I bet these will help!"
Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Button Mash, this isn't time for games."
"No!" Sweetie said, perking up. "Enemies with hypno-eyes need you to look RIGHT at them. Sunglasses and stuff can help block it."
Button beamed with delight at how impressed his ‘fillyfriend' was with his thinking-ahead smarts. "Plus, they add twenty coolness to my stats," he let us all know, showing a stats list.
We inched towards Zecora's tree-hut, as silent as we could be, and after two years of sneaking out on Crusaders business, that's a lot.
It wasn't my truth eye that spotted the bear traps and tripwires, that was from the time we spent at Miss Fluttershy, when Angel recruited us as 'Cutie Mark Crusaders Animal Trappers' for timber wolves, we stopped after we noticed the matches and little axe Angel was always carrying with him.
Ah had to stop my friends from touching a bunch of purple flowers. "Poison joke. Watered with red dye," Ah told ‘em. Zecora, herself, had shown me that trick for making plants interesting colors. But she never used it like that.
Every hoof step we took, Ah braced myself for a monster wearing Zecora's face to storm out. My throat got tighter the closer we got. A hundred horrible things went through my head and the worst part was knowing some of them were gonna come true before we freed Zecora.
Closer. And closer. And CLOSER. We were close enough now, Ah could hear the familiar brewing of Zecora's cauldron, the smell, it reminded me of the soup that griffin sold, turned my stomach.
I crawled up to the door, and moved an ear against it.
"Did you think the mud, would hide the scent of your blood?" My heart skipped a beat. Behind me! But she hadn't been-how! The door swung open on its own and Ah fell inside.
Ah was afraid to look at the place, especially...especially the cauldron. But Ah had to, Ah had tah be brave.
It was Zecora's hut, looking like black chalk on pink paper. Masks, her bed, her ingredients and potions, candles. But... the masks weren't the same, now with round yellow eyes. And... skulls and bones were everywhere, arranged like for a witch's ritual. The smell from her pot was worse than ever.
Ah felt hot breath on my neck and spun around...Zecora, but not Zecora. She wasn't dressed up like a Nightmare Night witch. Ah'd seen Zecora's eyes glow yellow in the dark, this wasn't it. Even without truth, Ah saw her eyes, black like pitch, black goo leaping from them like tears, her centers like tiny red embers.
"You are right to feel dismay, you were foolish to come this way." She spoke like Zecora, but it was a stranger talking. The real details I could see, and I REALLY didn't want to!
"Your fate I offer up on Upepo Shetani's shrine. You are mine."
Looking into those eyes, Ah wondered why Ah was even fightin', then like a buck to a tree Ah knew the truth that AH was doin' this for her! She took a step back.
"SURPRISE ATTACK!" My friends said as they tackled her all at once.
"Agh! You think to hold like a thief, this only adds to your grief!"
Ah watched her twist off them, as lithe as she's always been.
"Look into my eyes if you dare!" Then she saw the glasses. "You think this cheapness gives you a prayer?"
"With twenty coolness to my stats, I'm just gonna look THAT much better kicking your hindquarters!" Button Mash retorted.
"You are still crass, Button Mash. You will be made as Upepo Shetani's brood, or be my food!"
She took out some of her green powder and blew it at us; Scootaloo created a wind blowing it back at her. "Not happening!"
"Charge!" Button Mash said before vines grabbed his ankles that threw him outside and the vines shut the door behind him.
"You want to be important? May the Bloody Hooves give you all you warrant!"
"I'm okay!" cried Button from outside, drawing his sword, "Protect Sweetie!"
…What a trooper… I was almost feeling jealous of my unicorn friend.
"Fond I have been of all you three." The masks' eyes began glowing as they floated off the walls. "So be part of my tribe's tree. And once we've meshed, feast we shall on pony flesh."
The masks snapped around, all Ah saw blackness in there. They struck at us like cobras. Ah ducked, Scootaloo dodged.
Sweetie managed to get away but still tripped, still drained from her spell. At least she had Blanky, but he couldn't gobble them up without hurtin' Zecora.
Ah heard Button fightin' more Bloody Hooves outside. Ah knew he could handle himself, but if that dragged on he couldn't last forever.
Scootaloo slashed into one of the masks with that wing blade of hers, leaving a big cut, but it seemed magic wood is stronger than changelings. "Apple Bloom, stop wasting time! These things are just a distraction!"
"Button Mash! We'll…!" Sweetie called, turning towards the door. But away from Blanky.
Sweetie Belle, oh no. The wood mask stuck to her face like a suction cup. She shuddered. Ah heard her muffled voice. "Oof! Scootaloo! Get it off!" Ah swear Ah heard her used up magic sparking. "It's so dark!" The mask glowed a bit brighter. "-but now I can see through the bark?"
Sweetie Belle turned her head this way and that, trying to shake off the mask. "It won't come off my face. Maybe I should accept it with grace." Sweetie's motions became more fluid. Her head perked up. "They come, can you hear the drums?" She looked right at me with that masked face. A Zebrafrican accent coming through.
"Girls, I can feel my mind reach a new expanse, I hear it, join me in the dance." Zebra strips appear on her body like a cutie mark, her cutie mark...it became like a zebra's, an ink drawing.
My truth eye, Ah saw somethin' UGLY wrapping around her, but her colors didn't dim.
"Sweetie!" Scootaloo said as the other mask latched onto her face. She fell backwards onto the ground.
"Two down, one to crown," Zecora said. "Once you are defiled, you'll love being my child."
"Apple Bloom, join the flow." Sweetie Belle said, she began to do a dance like ones I'd seen Zecora do. "Kuja dhoruba nyeusi." She began to sing.
The black vines trapped around my legs like a spring trap right out of the floor.
"Don't worry Scootaloo, it's not like a blister, soon we'll be sisters," said Sweetie, who didn't stop dancing.
The last mask turned around for another go at my face.
Then Button Mash's sword cut through the door and the vines holding it. "Limit break!" He slammed the door down with Earth Pony strength Ah didn't know he knew had. Behind him on the ground was a whole bunch of little gems.
Zecora's eyes bulged and even the mask paused. "Do not come near! You were not supposed to be here!"
"I wasn't?" Button Mash grinned as if he'd cracked some kinda never-before-cracked code. Then he dove to save at me just as the mask flew at me again, and it latched to his face instead!
He tumbled and fell. "OW! That hurt! But that was quite the heroic spurt! I feel no shame, I know this is an escort game."
Sweetie Belle helped him up. "You love to be my knight, will you dance with me in black and white?"
Button Mash was gaining Zebra accent, and his coat became striped. "Do you even need to ask? As long as, with you, I can bask." They began to dance.
All three of my friends, now wearing those masks. All of them looking at me.
Zecora sighed. "Making each mask, is a great task! I'm sorry Little Bloom, my belly will be your tomb." Ah felt a slight despair.
Blanky leapt at me and growled at Zecora. He was bluffing, if he could hurt her he'd have done it by now. He'd honor Sweetie Belle's orders to the end.
"Blanky do as I say, get out of the way," Sweetie said.
Blanky shook his head with a snarl that said: No.
Even if that mask came on me, the truth wouldn't let me down would it? Ah could fight this monster from the inside. Couldn't I? I had to believe. I wouldn't give up! I wouldn't accept this as the end! Button's rules! They say there has to be a way to win! Right Scootaloo?!
"Foolish spirits, you won't protect this flower," Zecora took out a wooden wolf statuette from nowhere. "With this you'll be in my power."
Scootaloo flew next to Zecora. "You'll do evil dances, in er, evil dressiness? Ugh! I still suck at lyrics!" She said in a Cloudsdale accent.
Zecora turned her head confused. Scootaloo slammed the mask away from her face, breaking it and the wooden wolf statuette in two.
"This can't be done! None can remove the mask once it's begun!" Zecora gasped.
My heart leapt. Ah'd been so messed up, Ah hadn't noticed Scootaloo hadn't gotten stripes, and she'd been so focused on me, Ah bet Zeocora hadn't either!
"Thank you, Rainbow Dash!"
Had she meet with Nightmare Rainbow in the dark? Same as I met with Nightmare Applejack?
After the wedding, Dash got to learn (I think she invented it!) a pegasi technique with our flight field for dealing unicorn telekenesis trying to grab us, then she taught it to me! My tactile-kinesis was like a reversed magnet! Stupid thing never touched me! But I didn't have time to brag all that!
Sorry, Zecora! "Hi-ya!" I kicked her in the head. Knocked over her huge cauldron pot with four legs combined with my flight and a wing blade to cut through her bags of tricks. "All yours, Apple Bloom."
With the same speed and reaction I used to save Sweetie from the changelings, I flew at the pair as they leapt at Apple Bloom, and reluctantly slammed their heads together!
The masks didn't break, but it sure gave them both some nasty headaches! "OW!" "POW!"
Button, you better've been scared of hurting 'Bloom when you blocked the mask instead of it! And NOT to dance with Sweetie!
"Stop it Zecora, this ain't the real yew."
Zecora pushed herself up against her cauldron. I was still wrapped up by the vines. "You spin wheels, what is, is what is real."
"Ah KNOW ya, Zecora! Ya'd never hurt me!"
"Let me ask, what have I ever told you of my past?"
Ah, Ah couldn't answer.
"Another question for you to heft, my homeland, ever did I tell you why I left?"
My head went blank.
"A wanted spy, a murderer, a lich, a thief on the run, any of these I could have been, sorry to kick you in the shin. Try that knot, when did I ever say I was not?"
Ah...Ah didn't think about that...ah didn't know why...but...but she's Zecora...she's my friend...if...How could Ah...
Ah looked at mah friends, they were countin' on meh but...how can Ah...Button, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, Silver Spoon, Ah can't...wait, Sweetie Belle...Silver Spoon...that's it!
"...And why does that matter?"
Zecora looked like Ah'd just said the one answer she didn't think was possible.
"Sweetie gave Chrysalis a fresh start, why can't Ah give you one?" Her hypnosis eyes ain't scarin' me, I've got the Truth. "Luna was Nightmare Moon! Silver Spoon was a bully! We're ponies! The past ain't today! Only the Zecora Ah know matters! And she's my friend! Yer NOT so heartless ya'd throw that away! Ya saved me from the cutie pox AFTER Ah stole from you!"
"How do you know I am not cruel? Not our treasured friendship was not an imitation jewel? Just because a heart is black as a bog, does not mean I cannot pet a dog."
Truth guide me. "Ya had plenty of chances to do bad things and get away with it! And ya never did!"
"Mental midget, if I got away with it, how'd you even know it?"
"If you were REALLY awful, why didn't you just kill meh when we first met and blame it on Everfree?"
"Such pathetic hope. I was being cautious you dope."
"Oh really? We've met ALONE in Everfree lots of times. Yah know, the deadly place where dozens of things coulda killed meh on mah way here or back and no pony woulda ever known. So has Twilight. And both of us trusted yah. So why?"
"Your friends were looking for you! To eat you would make me a fool!"
"Ah meant all the times AFTER that. Yah know? When Ah had that chipped tooth? Or the dozens of other times we've met?"
"What a blind opinion!! I was going to make you my minion! As Sweetie and the Queen, pretended not to be mean!"
"Then name one bad thing yah actually taught meh."
"The brew you used to make Cutie Pox-"
"Ah got the ingredients here, but that was all mah idea. Yah weren't even in the room. If yah were tryin' tah make meh a minion, yah'd have taught meh bad stuff, just like Chrysalis taught Sweetie. But yah never even tried."
"I was making you trust me first! Then your darkness I would nurse!" Zecora yelled as Scootaloo wrestled with our friends.
"Yah sure were takin' yer sweet old time about it. Ah've known yah for how long? A couple years? Why yah draggin' yer hooves? More importantly, why didn't yah just brainwash meh? Yah clearly could do that."
Zecora's eyes were like red stars, so roared, shadows spread from her twisting into angry faces. "Silly filly! I wanted you willingly!"
"Ya call them masks 'willing'?"
"You forced my hoof you goof!"
"HOW!? How is us visitin' this time any different from before?! And don't ya say Blanky 'cause if that evil stuff is what ya've served all yer life, then it's a part of things and Blanky wouldn't do a thing, and ya'd know'em well enough to know he wouldn't!" Ah didn't think about how Blanky was rubbin' against me when I said that last part.
"WHAT IF IT IS? What if you are right with this quiz?! You little weevil! What if I LIKE now being evil?!" I felt the vines twist tighter on me.
"...Yah know what Ah think? Ah think even if yah had been a bad pony, yah know one thing as well as Ah do."
These vines. Vines are life. Earth Ponies are strength. Ah've been raised tah buck the apples outta trees while talkin' to 'em! So vines leave meh be!
Zecora took a step back as Ah snapped those vines like twigs and did that Ah knew this rotten to the core story didn't see comin'. Trottin' up tah her and lookin' her in the eye. Ah grabbed some string from mah saddle bags and some sticks that'd gotten jammed in it (or mah mane, don't know which) on the way. Ah started workin' on somethin' as Ah spoke. Wood workin' was a family hobby. And Ah put Big Mac and Applejack to shame.
"Ah was the first pony in Ponyville that saw ya as a zebra, not a witch...And Ah STILL do. All this? It's a spell ON yah, not YOU."
Ah noticed the slug-snakes squirmin' inside her recoil back from meh like Ah was made of salt. "Remember? My sister and her friends kept thinkin' ya were a monster, but not meh. Ah came and talked with ya. Ah came here, alone and actually thought to get to know ya...Ah was the first pony in town ever to. And Ah ain't ever stopped. Ah ain't stopped treatin' Silver like a pony since Ah met her, and Ah know for a FACT she's a lot happier that way! Ain't know way that meant nothin' tah ya. Ya ain't a witch, yer a zebra and you're my friend! And it's time that Ah reminded ya of that."
Ah held up what Ah'd made while Ah'd been talkin'.
Ah remembered what one of the things Sweetie had gotten from Zecora meant. Why she'd given it ta her...why she'd had Sweetie wear it.
In my hooves was a mini dream catcher. Ah know it wasn't the best, but ya could tell what it was.
The sickness seemed to be tryin' to run away from it and Zecora took a few hoof steps back. Ah didn't let her get any further.
"Take it...it's a present. These things are supposed to keep ponies safe from nightmares and monsters, right?. Ah want ya to be safe...Ah want yah to wake up from this nightmare and be ya again! Ah want my friend to wake up so take it!"
Zecora, those black red eyes lookin' at me like Ah was gonna make her burst into flames, her entire body was shakin', no, the entire hut was shakin'. One hoof reached out, another clawed it back. Zecora grunted in pain. She lowered her head, closing those dark eyes tight. "Am I truly happier in the light? It sounds like an impossible sight," Zecora, she sounded scared.
"Ah promise, and I'll make ya free of this blight, and all yer day be bright." I put the dream catcher around her neck, and gave her hug. And our hug made the world explode. A huge white blast hit everything, coming from the dream catcher in a giant sunny spider web. Only none of us were hurt, but the black things, were blown to nothin'. It was like the whole world was hit at once.
And just like that...it was over...The ordinary masks on Button Mash and Sweetie Belle fell off, and they were ponies again. The creepy wolf statue was gone, and Scoots' mask was back in one piece (and Zecora's door).
"Orange! Silver! Wolf! Sixth!" Sweetie laughed, hugging Button Mash.
"Uh, guys, you can stop dancing," Scootaloo said.
Button Mash blushed and pulled away. "OH RIGHT!" Then Scootaloo hugged Sweetie Belle, then Button Mash hugged them both. Wolfie nuzzled them both.
Outside...well, there were still the rupees Button had left, and Ever Free Forest was still...Everfree Forest, but it was the right color.
"Zecora?" I asked, seeing my friend laying on the ground, her cauldron empty and upright. Her house, Zecora, she wasn't quite how she was supposed to be, but, she wasn't that ugly pick and black anymore.
Zecora opened her beautiful blue eyes. She smiled a real smile instead of a creepy witch one. Ah'd never seen such happy tears. "Little Bloom you have saved my soul, to repay this debt is an unreachable goal. With glee, I am free."
"Zecora!" Ah hugged her, oh right, Ah was already hugging her! Ah hugged tighter! Ah cried a little. Ah saw Scootaloo save the day, but Ah knew for sure now, we didn't need some past life stuff to save our friends, our family. We could do it! We would do it!
Scootaloo gave me a smirk and nodded. "Two down, a lot to go. But that's two more than this grim dark crud thought we'd get."
Sweetie looked to Button. "...Sorry you got caught, Button..."
Button shrugged. "It's okay, I knew I was on an escort mission. I'm just glad you're okay Sweetie Belle."
Ah didn't care he was speakin' in video game. Ah was too busy huggin' mah friend!
Zecora looked down at the dreamcatcher. "Apple Bloom, your gift to me dear, I will treasure it always, do not fear. Even if my soul it did not liberate, being from a friend makes it great."
A while later, we were sharing tea. Button Mash and Scootaloo hated it and had the cookies.
"Rainbow Dash? So even Celestia 'secret' daughter's heart is now ash?"
Scootaloo fidgeted. Blanky gave a whimper. "Uh, that's what Miss Void said."
"Thank you, over and over, my four leaf clovers. Your courage is regal, you saved me from Upepo Shetani's evil."
"It has many names, all of them bad: all but a fad. The spirit of corruption, making dark spring from light like an eruption. The more pure, the more joy in making it less than manure. Kinder is death, in a world marked by its breath. But on the edge of the knife, you gave back life."
"That sounds like what's happenin' alright."
"Do you know Blanky? You can really see him?" Sweetie asked.
"On him my eyes can lay, but better if I not say. He is a guardian spirit, meant to protect all from the incoherent. Many names in many places his image appears, and all who he hunts had better fear. But in what I know all, never is he this small."
"YOU'RE SUPER SPECIAL BLANKY! I JUST KNEW YOU WERE! You're not just ANY magic dog!"
"Wolf he is, little bell, wrongness I was taught he can smell."
Scootaloo asked. "Uh, one of those names for the bad guy wouldn't happen to be a Mr. Umbra Breeze would it?"
"Stallion, mare, it not care. Its form, has no norm. Its form doesn't matter, only that dreams and redemption are shattered."
"So we're up against another super evil spirit?" Ah asked.
Zecora nodded. "And a sad fate awaits all under its sway, but saving me proves we may yet win the day. For darkness may have power great, but against light you've shown it holds little weight. While an unspeakable evil we see, the things we hold dear in our hearts its weakness you have shown to be."
"Zecora," Ah said, remember why Ah wanted so badly to see the REAL her. "Do you have ANY idea where the World Tower is?"
"The Princess' castle is no mere jaunt, it only appears when they want. And the six fold barrier spell in place, none can enter even if you find a trace. Tragic, it is empowered by the six guardians' magic. Only with all their blessing, will you be progressing. The hearts you must cleanse, are Twilight Sparkle and her friends."
"So...to save every pony, we need to see Rarity, all of them, like, like THAT," Sweetie said shivering. Ah did too. Scootaloo did on the inside.
"But why have it set up like that at all?" Scootaloo asked. "Why not keep them inside the tower with them? And just have Spike give messages back and forth?" Now Ah whacked her for giving the baddies advice.
"'Purifying the chosen sages to undo the barrier around my tower', remember what Gorgar said? It's the rules of the 'game.' Otherwise we couldn't reach the 'end' game.'" Sweetie said. "Which means Umbra Breeze CAN'T chose which tall tales come true or not."
"Good for us," Scootaloo said.
"Maybe Dash and her friends can save the world with us?"
"Remember what Miss Void said? It has to be us," Ah said, and no, Ah didn't like it one bit. We were the most important fillies in the universe, and Ah didn't like it at all.
"My friends before you go, I have many useful things I wish to show. But though you I trust, for any an equal trade is a must. Zebra are not fools, but that too is the world's rules. But first a slight lift, a gift for a gift." Zecora took out one of her earrings, before Ah could say anything, she put it on my ear. "When the world gives you a shove, remember our friendship's love." Ah looked in a mirror, Ah gotta admit, it looked, right on me.
With Button Mash's rupees, we got some stuff from Zecora. Ah...think it's better if Ah don't tell ya everythin' we got from her in we have in our bags. Button kept the rest of 'em in that inventory of his for now. I kept a little something with me in case of an emergency.
"Button Mash, Sweetie, while slave I was to evil I cannot describe,
Happy I was to be near my tribe.
but honor bound, welcome as part of my herd as yourselves I do not embellish.
I accept you, Applebloom, and Scootaloo as honorary Zebra,
Please don't be angered by the idea."
"Cool!" Button Mash smiled.
Sweetie hugged her, we all followed.
"I...don't mind," Scootaloo whispered.
"Apples always welcomes new family," Ah said, just happy to have 'er back.
Sweetie nuzzled her. Zecora gave her a potion to help recharge her magic without bein' asked.
Ah lost count of how many hugs we exchanged. Ah didn't wanna leave, but we had too. We still had the world to save...but at least we'd figured out how to do it.
None of us were that surprised when Razzaroo was waiting for us at the clearing's edge. "Hi girls, and nice to meet you little Button, I'm Razzaroo. Want me to write down your progress?" We all gave her a hug too and agreed.
Ah never thought we'd be happy to see creepy old Everfree be back tah bein' Everfree! Sure, it was still Everfree, but at least these monsters were just animals!
As we walked back, we went through Sunny Town again. And this time everypony somehow knew Zecora had just been possessed, like that's how it'd always been. Which it was, but now they knew it.
And Ruby and Mitta, Ah don't know how else to say it but, they acted more like themselves.
We also saw this yellow filly with a green mane that we'd never saw before. She weren't here last time. Except, everypony in Sunny Town did know her. Even mentioning Button Mash getting a golden apple from Princess Celestia's orchard to help her with... something.
"My name's Jade, now,...thank you for saving me. You're why Princess Luna saved me from the Everfree Forest. I, like being a filly with a future instead of just a victim." Ah only understood maybe about half of that. But Ah saw how happy she was, in a GOOD way.
Ah looked at her, she was like Glitter Glide. Ah didn't mention it...Blanky seemed tah not like it when Ah did. Scootaloo, Ah think she knew already from how she looked at her. Why were so many ponies of Scootaloo's home town used this way? She didn't say anything either. But Jade was happy now, and Ah saw her talking with the townsfolk like she was family, she had friends. And Ah think that made Scootaloo happy too. Whatever the case, she was free. Zecora was free...and without the Bloody Hooves tah scare 'em or Zecora bein' a witch, Sunny Town was just a little more free.
And we were gonna make everypony else free whether upepo-whatever liked it or not! Heh, Scootaloo's rubbing off me, like Ah rub off on her and Sweetie Belle, and she on us. And we all kinda retroactively rubbed off on Button! Cause that's what friends do!