by Isseus

The Lurking Fear

"So where should we put the fire? We have lots of good flammable wood here so just pick a spot."

I´m so happy I can help the girls out. I´m sure they´re still a bit anxious after I used that Want-It-Need-It spell on them. Maybe I can prove to them that I´m really a NICE pony. And I´ve always been good with kids. I know that for a fact.

The assembled Cutie Mark Crusaders were gawking at Twilight. Sweetie Belle was the first to notice that she was still capable of speech.

"Unh Miss Sparkle, it´s getting really late, and I´m staying over at my sister´s, so maybe we should just go—"

"TWILIGHT!" the purple mare bellowed, making the young unicorn fall down on her haunches with a loud squeak.

"Just. Please girls. Call me Twilight, Okay?"

"Yes, Twilight!" The three girls shouted in unison. Something was very wrong here, so it was best to go along. It was like the time when Miss Cheerilee had been really upset with the class about that whole ´class pet` thing.

"And don´t worry about your sisters. Or families. I´ll take care of them. All of them."

At that, the fillies exchanged quick, worried looks.

"You´re with a responsible adult here to supervise. Just tell them you were with me and that I promised that everything is all right."

"Well we don´t really have matches or anything, and it´s pretty dark so maybe we should try tomorrow, Twilight?" Intoned Scootaloo, trying bravely to stand between her friends and the adult unicorn.

"Aaall right. It´s gonna be aaall riiight ..."

"Umm, Twilight?"

"YES! What. Is it. Scootaloo?"

"We can´t make a fire cos we don´t have matches, so why don´t we come here tomorrow. Maybe with some ... other adults too?"

The two other fillies were nodding behind their friend in agreement.

"Nonsense! No day like today! Carpe Diem! And don´t worry about matches. We have Sweetie Belle!"

"What?" The filly in question squeaked, her voice going up a terse. Or maybe even a quint.

"Yes. Sweetie Belle! You´re just the unicorn for the job! I´m sure you can light a small fire with your horn, can´t you?"

"Umm ... actually ... I can´t really even use my horn to move stuff yet." The two fillies at Sweetie´s side looked at her in concern. This was thin ice territory.

"Really? I could do several spells at your age."

"But ... but my mom and pop say that it´ll come to me sooner or later! And Rarity said I´m a late bloomer, whatever that means. And I´ve been practicing real hard! It just doesn´t work! Maybe my horn´s busted or sumthing."

All during her rapid fire response she´d been growing quieter and quieter. When she got to the end she was practically whispering and looking down to the ground in shame.

"Is that so? Well seems I´ll have to teach you then! Come over here and I´ll show you how it´s done! Won´t it be nice to have your first time with Auntie Twilight?"

"Do I have to explain it again Sweetie? You just have to find a SPARK inside you. Something that makes you wanna BURST in flame. Like something that makes your really REALLY ANGRY! And poof!" As Twilight said the word, a small ember of fire lept from her horn. It floated gently in the air for a while, and then landed at the small pile of dry twigs she´d collected. As it touched down, the leaves started smoldering.

"And THAT!" She stomped the small ember out. "Is how you make a fire. It´s called pyrogenesis, the first step of pyrokinesis. Now GET ANGRY!"

Sweetie Belle was clearly not feeling very angry. She´d already given it all she had, but she couldn´t make even the lightest glimmer to appear on her horn.

"I´m sorry, Twilight! I just CAN´T!"

Her voice cracked yet again as she collapsed to the ground and tried hiding her face with her hooves.

"I´m no good at magic and I never will be!"

Her eyes were filling with the burning tears of shame.


This time it was the yellow farm-pony that spoke up. She´d been uncharacteristically quiet all this time.

"Ah know y´all are still mad at me, an ah dunno how ah can tell ya how sorry ah am! Jus ... jus please don take it out on mah friends! Ah thought y´alld forgive me after ah was grounded for like ... forever! Ah didn´t know y´all was still so angry!"

"Applebloom what are you talking about?" asked the puzzled mare.

"Ain´t this about me tryin´ ta burn down your library? Ahn´t you still mad at me an tryinna teach us how dangerous fire is? I got it already. WE got it! We wasn´t even gonna make a fire. That was just Scoots bein´silly. And ah´m real sorry ´bout ta library an all but please stop pickin´ on Sweetie! She wasn´t even thar!"

She was now standing almost nose to nose with Twilight, having made the adult pony back several steps during her tirade. Applebloom felt her hooves clearly shake and her cheeks were burning. Still she wouldn´t back down.

"What ... but I ... just ... wanted to help ..."


"I thought you wanted to be the volunteer fire department. I thought it would be a nice game to play with you. We´d set up a small controlled fire and then dump some water on it and have a nice laugh..."

I can´t believe this. I just wanted to help them. I´m good with children. That´s why Cheerilee asks me to the school to lecture so often! How did it end up like this? I didn´t want to make Sweetie Belle cry! Oh nonononononono this isn´t happening. I just wanted to be their friend and now she´s crying and—

"Sweetie Belle I´m so sorry. I didn´t mean to scare you."

She tried to walk to the crying filly. Her way was blocked by the rest of the CMC, standing shoulder to shoulder.

"Please just let her be, okay?" quipped the orange pegasus.

"Just ... please stop crying Sweetie. It´s allright. Auntie Twilight is sorry. I didn´t—"

"Twalaight ... mebbe y´alld just better go an let me an Scootaloo here talk er outa it? She´s real tender when it comes to magic an stuff."

"Sweetie. I´m sorry. Just please stop crying ..."

Why is she still crying? I already told them It´s just a misunderstanding. How could I make her cry? I´m the worst pony in Ponyville. How can I even look Rarity in the eyes after this? I scared her sister out of her wits. I wish she´d just stop crying and we could just hug and it´d all be okay. I feel so awful about it. I said I´m sorry and she´s still crying. How can I stop her crying? I mean I just wanted to help and have fun with them and she keeps on crying and I don´t know what to do. Oh Princess what am I going to do? THE PRINCESS! If she hears I made a filly cry she´s bound to punish me. She´ll take me away from my friends and I´ll never see any of them again and It´s all because I made her cry and I want her to stop crying and she´s still crying and I just wanted to be nice and this is how she repays me? That filly is so ungrateful! I´m here after a long day, trying to teach them something valuable, and she just starts crying and goes on and on and on, and the whining sound is making me NUTS and didn´t I already tell her how sorry I am and she´s just blocking me away and I´ve been studying friendship so much that I know you should forgive people and her crying is just getting worse and her friends look at me like I´m some sort of a monster and I just wanted to help and—

"WHY CAN`T YOU JUST STOP CRYING!" she shouted at the three fillies.


As she was shouting she felt the familiar warmth of anger and fear creeping up her spine. She´d only experienced it a few times before, and only in the worst of moods.

Not now! Oh horseap—

"What´s wrong with her mane? I don´t like it!"

It was all the orange pegasus filly could say before the air around the four of them exploded in fire. When they could see again, the three wide-eyed fillies were faced with the scariest thing they´d ever seen.

Where Twilight had been standing moments ago was now a pure-white unicorn, with flames dancing as her mane and tail. The flames spat out embers and tongues of fire that landed around her, making the dry forest floor blaze. The leaves under her hooves turned into smoke almost instantly, leaving nothing but ash behind.

The white unicorn stared at the fillies, and when it spoke, the voice seemed to come from all around them. It was a whisper from the forest, carried by the wind.

"If I do something bad, will you still love me?"

In just a few seconds the unicorn turned back to her more familiar purple coat and dark mane, only to collapse in the middle of the arboreal inferno.

What happened? Where am I? Is this smoke? FIRE! Everything´s on fire!

Twilight desperately tried to get up, with all her limbs shaking and her head hurting like a tree had fallen on it. All she saw was the thick smoke surroungind her and the few blazes of fire glowing through it.

" *cough* Girls! Where are you!? *cough* are you okay?"

"HALP!" came a cry from nearby, mixed with worried whinnies and coughing.

Without thinking,Twilight dashed towards the sound and found the three Crusaders lying on the ground with their eyes wide.

"Where´s the water!"

"We don´t have any! We tried to tell you!" Said Scootaloo, not even daring to get up.

"Well go get a bucket and run to the stream! It´s only—"

"We don´t have buckets EITHER!"

"What! What kind of fireponies are you?"

"Sorry, Twalaight, but all we´ve got is ah siren an this here hatchet!"

"It´ll have to do!"

Without explanations, she grabbed the hatchet in her purple glow and looked around.

I can´t even see anything in this smoke! What am I going to do!? How am I going to stop a forest fire?

Maybe if I can just first stop the fire from spreading, I can maybe stop it.

She looked at her hatchet and made it spin wildly, turning it into a glimmerin circle of metal. Through the smoke, Twilight spied a small tree that had caught fire. She flung the hatchet towards the sapling, missing it by several feet. The furiously spinning blade vanished into the smoke.

Okay! Bad idea! Bad idea! How am I going to fix this!

SCIENCE! I´ll use Science!

Fire is the rapid oxidation of matter that can generate enough energy to sustain the reaction. In this situation the matter is carbon-based, so if I introduce a non-flammable gaseous substance into the air, I can use it to stop the reaction.

Which gases were non-flammable again?

Carbondioxide? Just blowing on this fire isn´t enough.

Oxygen? No that´s what causing the whole problem. THINK!

Hydrogen? Isn´t that what water is made out of? No, won´t work, it´ll just blow up.

Chlorine? Could be dangerous. And where am I going to get any?

She´d walked back over to the Cutie Mark Crusaders and sat down to think

"Ahn´t ya go—*cough*—nna do something, Twalaight?"

A bit annoyed that the filly had interrupted her thoughts, she noticed that they were desperately trying to stamp out some burning leaves.

Well there is always that ...

"Stand back girls! I´m—*cough*—going to FIX EVERYTHING!"

Concentrating through her hammering headache and the burning of the smoke in her eyes and her lungs, she formed an image in her mind, and began turning it into reality.

"Whoah Nellie!" "What´s going on?" "EEEK!" "Bu-Cawk!" "NO WAY!"

The three fillies tumbled backwards as the ground suddenly jumped upwards and tilted. Soon they were covered in debris and smoking leaves. They could only watch in horror as a large piece of the forest floor tore itself free. It rotated gently up in the air and fell down, trees first.

The movement didn´t stop there. The trees started snapping and cracking as if some immense weight had been piled on them, making the full grown trees snap and tumble like toothpicks.

When it was all over, there was a low mound surrounded by a clearing in the woods. It was around thirty yards across, with fresh dirt and a few tree roots sticking upwards. At its side were three fillies, all covered in soot and mud. All they could do was stand huddled against a tree, clutching eachother.

"See? Told you there was nothing to worry about! A little bit of magic fixes everything! So girls what did we learn today?

She turned around, just to see the last flash of a red tail disappearing into the foliage.


"Twilight! Are ... are you allright?"

"Yes, Spike. Fantastic. Could you draw me a bath?"




Twilight collapsed on a chair in her private rooms at the library. With drowsy eyes she managed to focus her vision on the clock.

Almost MIDNIGHT? Where did the time go again? I didn´t even get any reading done, and the library´s a mess. I never should have left Spike in charge. There were books all over when I came back. Maybe it was because of those pipes? I hope the plumber fixed everything. Good thing I thought of asking him over. Seems I missed him though. And I read somewhere that all Germanean plumbers are handsome stallions. Would have been nice to see for myself but NOOO. Twilight isn´t supposed to have any fun.

What an infuriating day! I do my best to help EVERYPONY and all I get is some lukewarm thanks and crying fillies. Why do I have to be the one to fix everything? Does everyone take me for granted? Sometimes I think I shouldn´t even BE here in Ponyville. See how they´d manage their monster attacks and forest fires and miscast enchantmets then. HAH! That´d show them.

I mean, Is it really too much to ask for someone to actually respect me enough to even let me finish a sentence? I´m not asking the key to the Town or anything. And what´s up with those kids? No respect for their elders. One´d think they were raised in a barn. Well Applebloom probably was but that´s still no excuse—

"The bath is ready, Your Highness."

"Spike! Not in the mood."

"Oh-kay grumpy. Should I fetch you the first aid box?"

"Why? I´m feeling fine. Well except you could get me some painkillers. I have a nasty headache."

"You sure about that? I mean it´d be no trouble—"

Without turning back she slammed her bathroom door shut behind her. Turning to look into her mirror she was suddenly stopped cold.

Her image in the reflection was not of her. Or if it was, she´d aged fifty years today. Beady red blood-shot eyes each a different size, underlined with deep dark pockets, a ruffled and singed mane, soot, running make-up and cuts all over her face, and the most tired expression she had ever seen. To top it all off, her horn was black at the tip and still smoking lightly.

She tried to lift up her brush to try and get the burned hairs out. The moment she started concentrating on the object, a slashing pain went through her horn. In the reflection she saw how some small fractures appeared along its length.


She started, but couldn´t get anything else out. The world took on a deep red colour and turned ninety degrees right. She could only slowly fall down to the floor.

A few moments later the door was opened by her worried assistant.

"Hey Twi! You ... Twilight! What´s wrong!?"

"It´s allright Spike. I just used a bit too much magic today. All I need is a quick bath and a good night´s sleep."

"No way. I´m calling the nurse over. You´re in a really bad shape."

"Be quiet, Spike, and help me get into the tub. Tomorrow´s an important day, and I´m NOT going to let everyone down."

"If you say so, but still—"

"I DO say so!"

Spike was left starting at Twilight. She could be demanding and often excessive in her demands and cared little about how she treated him when she was in ´The Zone`. But this was different. It wasn´t usually mean spirited or anything. Usually she was just so concentrated on something that she forgot everything else entirely, even how to treat her closest friends. But this was not like her. This was mean.

But she was plainly hurting and desperate. The only thing that mattered for the small dragon was that his friend was really tired and needed his help.

"Here we go, Twi."

After the bath she could hardly walk to her bed.

Spike´d had to help her wash up, which was really humiliating. She couldn´t use her magic, even the thought causing her to wince in pain.

Spike had to push her up the last few stairs to her bed. Without a word, she fell face first on her pillow and closed her eyes. Her assistant could only let out a small sigh and put out the lights.

"Good night, Twilight." He whispered, curling up in his basket at the foot of the mare´s bed.

"Nmmft Spffmk."

Finally in bed, Twilight felt her neck and head hurting, and tried to turn to the side to make it feel better.

And turned the other way when the pain wouldn´t let up.

After a while she got up a bit to ruffle her pillow.

And turned on the other side. And the other.

She tried pulling her blanket up and curling around in it, but was soon feeling too hot.

Tossing the blanket off, she soon started shivering, all covered in cold sweat.

The events of the day were all a jumble in her head. She felt really confused, and the headache was only getting worse when horizontal. She tried to pile her pillows and blanket up and rest while in a half-sitting pose. It didn´t help either.

Am I really so tired I can´t even get to sleep? I have about five hours before I need to be heading for the Dam site. UUURGH!

Tossing and turning futilely around in her bed, she finally surrendered and got up. Thinking of grabbing something small to eat, she headed for the kitchen.

Her brain kept going over the day again and again, trying to piece together a puzzle that was missing all of its pieces. She also felt that the quiet library was gently swaying from side to side, especially if she made any sudden moves. Miraculously, she got to the kitchen without falling down in the stairs.

After a while she´d chowed down on some leftover chocolate cookies and drunk a big glass of warm milk. The clock in the kitchen showed the time was half past one. She leaned on her forehoof and tried to massage her temples. If only she´d get to sleep even a few hours! Her mind was full of frustration and confusion. She got up, and angrily kicked the wall to clear her head, making the cups and glasses in the cupboard next to her rattle.

After the nausea had passed she managed to stagger back to the kitchen table. Sitting down heavily in one of the chairs, she collapsed on the tabletop, slamming her chin on her forehoof. In the window she saw the stars twinkling quietly in the night sky and felt her eyelids droop down.

She was pulling a big wagon behind her. Who´d have thought that she´d find the secret library of Gilgamanesh.

Her trusty companions on her adventures, her five closest friends, were celebrating the discovery with her.

"Nice job Twi"

"Good one there, Sugarcube"

"Such fabulous work, darling"

"Umm ... yay?"

The books in the library were priceless. They contained all the knowledge in the world and she´d get to read all of them. Her friends were also happy.

"OOOO! Look at what I found! It´s an ancient cookbook that tells me how to bake Chocolate-Cinnamon-Caramel Pastries! I´ll call them the CCCP!"

"OMIGOSH! This book tells me how I can fly at the speed of THOUGHT! Can you believe it! Now I can get into the Wonderbolts for SURE and it´s all thanks to you Twi!"

The praise of her friends was overwhelming. They kept piling the greatest books in existence on her cart, which was getting heavier by the second.

"Uhh, girls? I don´t think I can drag all this outside."

"Nonsense, Sugarcube! You´re our friend! Sure you can manage a little bit of manual labour. And while you´re at it, you´re going to help us with our little problems and do all our chores for us"

"Which reminds me ... umm ... if it´s not too much to ask ... I mean ... You´re kinda the only one I can ask and ... i wouldn´t want to put pressure on you but ... I´m about to drown in quicksand and you´re the only one who can help me."

"Oh No! Fluttershy! I´m coming!"

Twilight reached for her friend, but couldn´t move with all the books she was pulling.

"Can´t you take the books off me for a moment girls? I gotta save Fluttershy!"

"No can do, Muffin. Tha´s yer pers´nal burden o´ knowledge, an y´all jus hafta carry it."

"But Fluttershy! I need to help her!"

"But DARLING! If you help HER out, then what about me and my order for ONE MILLION DRESSES for tonight? You can´t just help ONE of us! That wouldn´t be very friendly of you!"

"And you´ve gotta teach me how to fly! You´re the only one who can fly, Twi!"

"Dem trees ain´t buckin´ themselves, so get crackin, Twaiaight"

"Twilight!" "Twilight help me!" "Please!"


"Mhm ... huh?"

"Did you sleep well?"

"Spike? But ... what? No no no I´m going back to bed. Put the lights out will you?"

"Umm ... That´s the sun. It´s morning."

"You can´t seriously be telling me that I slept here? The whole night?"

"Well don´t you do it all the time with your books? I mean the amount of slobber stains on our books alone—"

"SPIKE!" She immediately regretted having raised her voice.

Spike tried to smile, but started convulsing instead. With a loud burp he delivered the morning mail.

"Is that from the Princess? At this hour? What could she possibly need?"

"I´m ... sure it´s nothing. Don´t worry about it. Coffee?"

The dragon couldn´t have looked more guilty, even if he´d´tried.

"Spiiike? Give me that letter RIGHT! NOW!"

"You really shouldn´t be worrying about it"

Twilight was already concentrating on her magic to pull the letter from Spike.

"Owwwwwwwh!" There was a tiny splitting sound, as even more cracks appeared along her horn.

"You ... okay there, Twilight?"

"Yes of course, Spike," she said through gritted teeth. "Now give it here. Please."

"I´m ... sorry. I really can´t. It´s for me."

"What? Why´d the Princess be sending mail to you?"

"Well ... see ... umm ... sorry!"

With that, he bolted out the door, leaving Twilight behind.


She got halfway up from her chair when the waves of illness struck her in full force. Her hooves felt like they were burning again, as if treading on hot coals, and she felt like throwing up. The constant hammering in her horn was almost enough to make her pass out. She barely managed to get to her front door, which she was seeing as double.

This is not going to work. It´s almost time for the Dam project to start. There´s only one mare that I can depend on right now, and if I´m quick I´ll make it just in time. I just hope she doesn´t ask too many questions, because I´m not sure I can answer them right now.

With her new resolution she headed for the Everfree Forest and Zecora´s hut.