Unicorns Are Magical

by wille179

A Little Bit of Wordplay

The dull, evening sun sank lower and lower in the gray-blue sky. A stale breeze lazily drifted by, as if the world was sighing sadly. Bells clanged cacophonously in the distance, calling the mindless worshippers of the moon goddess to prayer, while sending the sun worshippers home for the evening.

Rainbow Dash didn’t bother getting out of her rather uncomfortable chair. She didn’t believe in that sort of thing any more. She didn’t believe in a lot of things any more.

And so she sat. Every ache and pain in her body voiced its complaints, bringing her already low spirits even lower. She really should have exercised at least once that week, maybe gone out for a short run. But since the others had gone, Rainbow Dash hadn’t really put forth any sort of effort.

She hadn’t put forth the effort for much of anything lately. Sure, she ate and kept herself clean, but that was about it. Her life had simply fallen apart, and her basic needs were all she had left.

Heavy bags adorned the under side of her eyes, the spiteful gift of insomnia. Rainbow Dash, despite her fatigue, didn’t feel like sleeping anyway. Her dreams would be just as disappointing as they had ever been these past few months.

Once upon a time, she dreamed of flying. Wings, powerful and swift, adorned with feathers as blue as the rest of her coat, graced her sides. With a mighty flap, she could have soared across the dream sky. A rainbow, befitting her name, would have trailed behind her.

The earth pony sighed, pushing such fantasies away. They would never come true.

“Don’t be so sure.”

Rainbow Dash’s head jerked up in surprise. It was the swiftest movement she’d made in months.

“Did I say that aloud?” Rainbow Dash asked the strange mare, whose eerily beautiful eyes were peering back at her own magenta ones.

“No, no,” the mare replied, her voice melodious and bright. “It was just a thought.”

“Wait, were you reading my mind?” Rainbow asked. By contrast, her voice sounded rough and dry. Her jaw tightened as an unusual wave of inadequacy flooded her being.

“If only thoughts could be read like books...” The mare sighed. Rainbow Dash wanted to speak up, to beg for her to keep talking with that melodious, enchanting voice, but she was too ashamed of her own voice to do so.

The strange mare turned towards the sunset and sat down on the path that went in front of Rainbow Dash’s lawn. It was a strange place to sit, the ex-runner noted. Dash wasn’t about to complain, though. That would take too much effort on her part, and she really didn’t have the energy for that sort of thing these days.

A soothing, musical hum filled the air. In an instant, the colors of the surroundings seemed to surge forth, bringing a vibrancy to Rainbow’s world that she had forgotten even existed. With it, energy returned to her limbs.

The humming turned into true music at about the same time as Dash realized that it was coming from the lips of the other mare. The light surged again; had it not been so beautiful, Rainbow Dash would have shielded her eyes from the intensity of all the colors.

Again, the music and color surged, now a symphony sailing on a sea of glorious color, all coming from the strange mare with the strange horn. Dash couldn’t help it; she leaped up to her hooves and began to dance.

There was an orchestra now. Cymbals crashed and woodwinds soared. Strings sang and drums pounded her to her core. All around her, the colors swirled around her faster and fast. There were impossible colors and unthinkable melodies, all so profound. They filled the aching, throbbing void in her heart, and she could never get enough.

Rainbow Dash danced and she danced and she danced and she danced and she danced and she danced...

And the strange, beautiful mare smiled a strange, beautiful smile, and disappeared.

Rarity poured herself into her work. It was, to be completely honest, the only thing keeping her from spiralling into the same depression her last remaining friend had fallen into. Dark thoughts swirled relentlessly in her head, and she had to try her hardest to not let them affect her passion.

The needle fell out of her hooves again. She’d been shaking so badly that it was hard to keep a grip on the small piece of metal. Sighing and pushing her negative thoughts away, she bent down and swept her custom, magnetic shoe over the tile floor. The tiny little tap signaled that the needle was once again in her grip.

“This would be so much easier if I were a griffin or a minotaur,” Rarity complained to nopony in particular. She did that a lot when nopony was there. Her parents had been worried when she had decided to enter a career so heavily dominated by those with fine motor skills and limbs capable of manipulating small objects. And yet, despite being an earth pony, Rarity had made it work.

She still liked to complain, though.

The exterior door opened, filling the air with the soft jingle of the bell. Then the door slammed shut with a loud *BANG!*

A very un-ladylike word escaped Rarity’s lips as the needle fell to the floor again.

“Rarity, I’m home from school!”

The elder sister smiled, yet again forcing away the dark thoughts. She set her needle in the pincushion on her workbench and stood to greet her younger sibling. “Sweetie Belle, how was-”

She choked. Upon seeing Sweetie Belle, the rest of her sentence just would not come out. Rarity couldn’t explain it. As far as she could tell, everything about her sister was completely correct, and yet every fiber of her being was screaming at her that something was dreadfully wrong. “-school,” she finished lamely.

“It was fun! Scootaloo, Applebloom, and I had a great time.”

Rarity stared intently at her sister. Nothing, nothing, nothing - there was absolutely nothing that she could see wrong with the situation, and yet Rarity’s fear did not fade. Choking down her anxiety, Rarity said, “Why don’t you go drop your saddlebags in your room? Then you can go out and play.”

“Ok!” Sweetie replied before trotting off.

Rarity didn’t move, but she did listen intently. The moment she heard her sister reach the squeaky second-to-last step at the top of the stairs, the elder sibling followed Sweetie’s path to her room, careful to not squeak the step.

Silently, Rarity snuck up to her sister’s room. Reaching for the door’s handle, she noticed a small, six-pointed star carved into the wood. That mark definitely wasn’t there before. Putting that aside, she reached out and cracked the door open, and then peered in.

Sweetie Belle unceremoniously dropped her saddle bags to the floor, hopped up on her bed, faced the far wall, and then sat completely still.

And sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Rarity couldn’t remember the last time Sweetie had sat still for anything, let alone keep as still as a statue for minutes on end with no rhyme or reason. It was unnerving, to say the least.

Rarity pushed the door open, but Sweetie did not react. It wasn’t until the exact moment her hoof touched the floor on the other side of the threshold did Sweetie’s head snap around to stare at her. For the briefest of instants, Rarity could have sworn the filly’s eyes were filled with pure rage.

That was, of course, nonsense.

“Sweetie, are you alright?”

A buzzing noise filled Rarity’s ears, faint, and just on the edge of audible.

“Everything is fine,” Sweetie Belle assured the mare.

It was like a fog - thick and suffocating.

“Everything is fine,” Sweetie Belle assured the mare.

It was like a fog - one that filled her mind.

“Everything is fine,” Sweetie Belle assured the mare once more.

It was like a fog - one that clouded all rhyme and reason.

But, just before the fog completely enclosed her mind, Rarity wondered who the other mare in the room was, and why Sweetie’s eyes were a solid, uniform blue.

It clung to the town like skunk spray, a flat-maned Pinkie Pie observed. In this particular instance, “it” referred to a feeling of general misery that permeated the very air around them, and that no amount of cheering on her part seemed to dispel. Oh, she had tried and tried and tried again, but nothing had worked.

Maybe it was her, Pinkie postulated. Maybe she couldn't spread cheer because she herself couldn't find any of the happiness she had once had. It was hard to be cheerful when you were the one to discover one of your best friend’s remains, half eaten by her own starving animals.

And then there were the questions. Could she have saved her? If Applejack hadn't vanished that night, would both of then still be here? Why was Fluttershy even trapped in her cottage in the first place. The snow last winter wasn't even that bad.

Questions were the order of the day, it seemed to Pinkie. It would have been better if cupcakes were the order of the day, but sadly, it was closing time at the bakery and over half the stock still remained.

“I hope I’m not too late,” a melodious mare's voice said, drifting over from the open doorway. “Might I come in?”

Pinkie gazed upon the newcomer, and saw a face that she thought she recognized, but knew deep down in her heart was utterly alien. A spiral horn, like that of a narwhal, jutted from her head. A few curls bounced in her otherwise straight hair, never seeming to stay in one place. And her eyes...

They were mesmerizing.

“Sure, come in,” Pinkie allowed.

Smiling, the mare crossed the threshold of Sugarcube Corner with an ethereal grace. Her eyes took in the scenery of the pastry shop, seemingly bored with what they saw. Finally, they settled on the counter, and the delectable treats within. “I’ll have one of those,” she said, pointing to the first cupcake that caught her eye.

Pinkie quickly boxed it up and passed it to the mare. She took it and set the boxed pastry aside, now completely uninterested in it. Instead, the strange mare’s gaze was fixed on Pinkie Pie. “I can’t help but notice,” the melodious voice commented, “that you look rather... distant. What troubles you, little pony?”

“I can’t make anypony smile anymore. I think I lost my own smile,” Pinkie said morosely. Her ears splayed back, visibly distraught. “The whole town seems so dull and lifeless now. There’s no joy here.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry too terribly much,” the strange mare sang. “Smiles can be found in the most interesting of places, on the most interesting of faces. In fact, I myself do enjoy spreading marvels and wonderment wherever I go. If you think you need a little more of the marvelous things in life, don’t be afraid to ask.”

The corners of Pinkie Pie’s mouth twitched. It wasn’t a smile, not even close, but it was the seeds of one. “Sure. I think I’d like that.”

“Like what, exactly?” the mare mischievously asked.

“I’d like to see your marvelous things,” Pinkie Pie elaborated.

Smiling widely, the mare asked in return, “You’d do anything for a smile, right? A smile I can give?”

“Mmm hmm,” Pinkie agreed.

The mare leaned in close, and whispered into the baker’s ear, “Say it~”

“I’d do anything for a smile,” Pinkie Replied.

The strange mare’s grin was now nothing short of predatory. She whispered more into the pink pony’s ear, her voice as sweet as poisoned honey.

When she leaned back, the strange mare could see that Pinkie was smiling too, with that same predatory grin. “Go on,” the strange mare said, “Spread the wonderment.”

Nodding, Pinkie turned her glassy, grey eyes towards the store’s exit. If one were to describe the expression on her face, they might have been tempted to call it a grin, but that would be incorrect. It was an expression that suggested joy, when in truth, there was none.

 There was a great, big world out there, Pinkie realized, and so many ponies that just needed a smile.

The snow swirled around Applejack frigged frame. The cold bit into her like nothing else before. Rainbow Dash was rarely wrong when it came to predicting the weather, but that night, she had been wrong in the worst possible way.

On her back and in a sled behind her, the farm mare hauled several large packs of food - enough for a single pony to sparingly last two or three weeks. It was for Fluttershy. On the edge of town, and in this kind of snow, the shy mare couldn’t go out very often to restock for food. This delivery was just Applejack’s way of looking out for her friends.

The wind and the ice, however, conspired to fight against Applejack every step of the way. Her hat had long since been lost to the wind, while ice had staked its claim in her mane in the hat’s stead.

The snow was so dense, and the wind so strong, that the blizzard conditions obscured most of the light of the sun. What little remained was fading fast, and with a start, Applejack realized that she might not make it to Fluttershy’s house before dark.

But lo and behold, as she trudged on, a soft, flickering light came into view. Applejack knew that it had to be her friend’s cottage. With renewed vigor, the apple farmer plowed forwards and aimed for the light.

And yet, with the light no closer than it had been before, Applejack found her strength spent and the light of day completely gone. Only that singular light in the distance remai-

That too snuffed out, completely without warning. Only the faintest hint of moonlight let her know that she was stranded in the middle of the forest, a forest that shouldn’t have existed in any direction between her farm and Fluttershy’s house.

With growing dread, Applejack realized that she was good and truly lost. Looking back, she couldn’t even see her own trail through the snow and ice. If she took even a step in the wrong direction, she would likely die before sunrise. And yet staying still wasn’t an option; it was either probable death or certain death, and Applejack liked those odds, no matter how slim they might have been.

Having caught a second wind, Applejack trudged back the way she thought she came. And again, her spirits and strength faded fast until finally she realized that she was hopelessly lost, deep within the forest, and where nopony would know she was.

A light appeared again, this time very close by. It moved and flickered, as a campfire would, and promised some warmth and safety. Indeed, as the orange mare stepped out into a little clearing, she spotted a small fire burning merrily, despite the frigid winds and apparent lack of a pony to start it.

With enthusiasm, Applejack bounded towards the fire and sighed in relief as the warmth crashed over her. She sat down by the flame and huddled as close as she could get without burning herself.

But the chill didn’t go away. If anything, it only grew worse in spite of the flame. Blackness spread across the edges of her vision, and Applejack felt so sleepy. She couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t keep her head up. She couldn’t...

As the snow and ice subsumed her, and as the illusionary fire winked out of existence, a pair of strange eyes looked on merrily. Melodious laughter filled the dark woods.

The snow fell in beautiful little swirls. She had enjoyed it at first, but now, with the road blocked, each little flake was just another insult to her. Fluttershy lamented that she was snowbound in her cottage, that the only source of warmth within walking distance was her own home.

Her hooves still ached from the last time she’d tried to go outside, but now, her belly ached as well. The snow hadn't stopped for almost two weeks, and her food was running dangerously low. She’d started rationing, substituting extra calories by eating from the bags of pet food when she could, but even those wouldn't last forever. Some of her animal friends needed the food, too.

The warmth of her home was a double edged sword; it may have protected her, but it kept the animals inside far more awake than they would have been at this time of the year. And the more active they were, the more food they needed.

Fluttershy took stock of her supplies again and, with a heavy heart, realized that she’d need to cut back even more if this snow wasn't going to let up any time soon.

Then, just as she was returning to her den, there was a pleading knock on the front door. Fluttershy jumped, not because the knock itself scared her, but because that meant that there was somepony who could make the seemingly impossible trek through the snow.

The yellow earth pony pried open the door, ignoring the sound of ice cracking that the action caused. There, just outside, was a strange, lavender mare, dressed in far too few clothes given the current temperature. “Please, may I come in?” Despite her teeth chattering, her voice was still strangely smooth.

“Yes, please come in,” Fluttershy replied. “Whatever are you doing in this cold?”

The mare snorted mirthfully and grinned, but didn't otherwise respond to the question. Instead, she asked a question of her own. “Do you have any tea?”

Fluttershy, who was now tending to the fire in it the hearth for her sudden guest, replied, “No. I ran out a few days ago.”

The other mare snorted, this time in annoyance. “You should always keep tea on hoof. You never know who will be dropping in.”

“I’m sorry!” Fluttershy squeaked. “I’m running out of almost everything right now. I haven't been able to make it to town; the snow is too hard for me to traverse through.”

The strange mare shrugged. “Whatever. I'm curious about your name.” It was spoken as a statement, not a question.

“I’m Fluttershy,” she responded anyway. For the briefest of instants, Fluttershy felt her heart seize, as if something had reached into her chest and given it a threatening squeeze. But then the feeling was gone, and she wasn't sure if it was anything but her imagination. “What’s your name?”

“I suppose it's only fair,” muttered the other mare. “You can call me Twi.” For reasons Fluttershy couldn't explain, Twi’s voice seemed far more powerful now, as if it absolutely demanded attention despite not changing in tone or inflection at all.

Fluttershy was perplexed.

Twi took a sip of her tea.

Fluttershy was even more perplexed. She hadn't seen where the tea came from, nor did she own a teacup like that. The sudden appearance of inexplicable tea was quite jarring.

“Aren't you going to drink any of your tea?” Twi asked Fluttershy. Sure enough, the yellow earth pony had an ornate teacup in her hooves, filled to the brim with a delicious smelling, if unfamiliar, blend of tea. She didn't remember even picking the cup up.

Discord, her coltfriend, might have been able to do something like that. A stage magician by trade, the older stallion was a master at sleight of hoof, Fluttershy was sure he could slip a teacup into her hooves without her noticing. But as for making tea that didn't exist and serving it in teacups that couldn't be there, that was beyond the stallion’s abilities.


“You made us tea, remember? Twi replied.

She shook her head. Fluttershy could distinctly recall making the tea. She had no idea why she would have forgotten that. “Oh, silly me.”

“Yes, silly you,” Twi replied. “What did you mean when you said that you were ‘running out of almost everything right now’?”

“It's just, I’ve been stuck here so long that I’m running out of food, both for me and for my animal friends,” Fluttershy explained. “I can ration what I have left, but the poor dears are so hungry.”

“I could probably help,” Twi replied after taking a long sip from her teacup. Strangely, the cup seemed just as full as before, and Fluttershy hadn't seen Twi refill it at all.

“Really? Oh, I’d do anything for my little friends!” Fluttershy exclaimed.

A predatory grin spread across her visitor’s face. “Anything?”

“Yes.” The squeezing sensation on her heart returned, and this time, Fluttershy knew that it wasn't just her imagination.

“Very well. I’ll help you feed your animal friends for the price of anything.” Fluttershy couldn't help but shudder at Twi’s words. They suddenly sounded so sinister. The melody was completely gone from the strange mare's voice. “Now, drink the tea, Fluttershy.

As if controlled by somepony else, her hooves lifted the cup to her mouth and her lips parted to let the tea in. What actually entered her mouth was absolutely not tea. In fact, it could not be considered any sort of drink at all.

It was thick and chunky, and stuck to the mouth. It tasted like a foul mixture of skunk spray, feces, rot, bitter almonds, and liquid misery. It stung on the way down, and landed in her stomach like a pile of bricks.

She couldn’t spit it out.

She couldn’t stop drinking.

Even when she’d consumed more sludge than could possibly fit in the cup, she still found another gulp forced down her throat.

“You said you’d do anything to feed your animals,” Twi said. Her voice no longer sounded anything like a pony’s. “You’d pay any price.”

The color started fading from the edge of Fluttershy’s vision as she was forced to choked down the vile concoction.

“All I want is the happiness of your friends,” Twi said.

Fluttershy realized that there was more than one way to interpret that sentence, and she knew that Twi had anything but good intentions in her heart.

The color was almost gone from her vision, and black was spreading in as well. Strangely, the mare’s lavender coat was as vibrant as ever, and her horn was glowing with magenta light.

“Sleep well, Fluttershy. I said that I’d help you feed your animals. I will deliver.” She laughed. It was a horrible, grating sound that quite literally made Fluttershy’s ears bleed. “I’m sure that they’ll find you delicious.”

And then, Fluttershy knew no more.