• Published 20th Aug 2013
  • 5,828 Views, 581 Comments

A Hairier Problem: Rise of the Furball - BlueBastard

Applejack is back to normal and one of the greatest threats in Equestria's history has finally been laid to rest. But if that's the case, then what's going on with Apple Bloom?

  • ...

Ch.12: Beyond Monday

Rise of the Furball Chapter 12: “Beyond Monday”

Cheerilee was happily trotting from her little house on the east side of town to the little red schoolhouse. Usually her happiness was just out of her normal, cheerful nature and going back to partake in her life’s calling that was teaching the young fillies and colts of Ponyville the foundation of their life’s education. Today, however, was different, as evidenced by her fortunate overtaking of the Crusaders Trio plus one.

“Good morning, girls!” greeted the teacher.

“Morning, Miss Cheerilee!” they all replied back, except the odd one out of their number, who seemed a bit shy.

“And you must be Babs, correct?”

“Yes m’am,” answered Babs. “I take it you’re my new teach?”

Cheerilee raised an eyebrow at the way Babs had addressed her. It sounded suspicious, especially considering how Babs’ name now brought back vague memories of observed behavior from last year’s summer during the harvest festival. “Uh, ‘teach’?”

“It’s slang, Miss Cheerilee. Babs is from Manehatten.” Interjected Apple Bloom.

“Yeah, it’s what everypony calls the instructors back home. I didn’t mean to insult you, Miss. Cheerilee,” apologized Babs.

The educator was placated by the brown filly’s apology. “It’s alright, Babs, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine. Now, I believe you’re supposed to give me some papers about where you left off on your studies at your previous school so I can set you up to be on track with the rest of your new classmates?”

“Uh-huh!” the filly answered, reaching over to take out some various official looking documents from her saddlebag and handed them over to Cheerilee. The teacher quickly skimmed them, noting that Bab’s previous teacher, a Mr. Chalk Stick, had written comments about how she was somewhat of a poor performer in academics and had trouble socially with others prior to an extended summer stay with a relative, after which she had become a much better student. Going off of the grade markings, it was no surprise she fell right within the average that was held by the other three fillies in front of her.

“Alright, everything seems to be in order,” said Cheerilee, putting the papers in her own saddlebag to review in-depth later, “right now I think we all should be on our way to the schoolhouse so you can meet the rest of your new class, Babs!”The addressed filly eagerly nodded, and together the five ponies headed towards the local institution of learning.

It was already ten in the morning when Raspberry Beryl woke to the sound of a happily tweeting phoenix.

“Well, good *yawn* morning Hellee!” said the unicorn, stretching and rolling herself out of the bed to begin her daily regimen. Ever since moving into the Traveler’s Retreat she had come to appreciate being able to go out to interact with other ponies without a musky odor reeking from her coat. Most ponies were skeptical of her in general, since she couldn’t say her gem business was stable enough to provide a more permanent housing like most ponies. Smelling like a homeless vagrant was not a way to make herself more appealing as somepony to talk too.

“CAW!” replied a perky Heliodor, whose morning wash routine was limited to just incidental preening. He usually preferred to wash himself more fully in the evening before sleep, especially when Raspberry helped him get the spots on his back he couldn’t reach.

“Do we have any more deliveries of gems to make today?”

Heliodor flapped over to where the saddlebag had been laid the previous night. Prior to waiting for the princess at Golden Oaks, they had made some deliveries around down and picked up new ones. As Razz sang a slightly off-tune melody, Heliodor opened up a larger bag that stayed in the room at all times and pulled out various pouches full of gems. He would even have gone so far as to open the bags and sort out the orders himself, but he couldn’t read the various notes given from clients so he left that to Raspberry. In truth, she was perfectly literate herself and could manipulate a pen telekinetically to write notes, but due to her magic aura’s appearance she simply used the excuse that having separate notes from her clients helped he keep the deliveries organized.

A few minutes later the refreshed unicorn emerged from the bathroom and after a quick nuzzle of thank you to her bird, she set to work in dividing up her materials. She had enough, but only barely, so she’d need to go get some more soon to refill her stock. Of course, her method of finding gems relied on her leaving Ponyville for a time to be closer to her source, so she’d need to pick up some more supplies. She didn’t like it, but because of her magic’s limitations it was the only way to stockpile enough gems of all kinds without having to make even more trips back and forth.

The rumbling in her stomach told her there was something even more pressing, to which Heliodor’s tweets agreed.

“Breakfast time it is, then,” laughed Raspberry.

The sudden increase in volume of the phoenix signaled to Cashmere and Ascot that their longest staying resident was finally coming down for breakfast.

“I’ll get the roasted almonds.” Said Ascot, opening his wings and gliding over to the kitchen to fetch the favored meal of the phoenix. Cashmere, meanwhile, merely picked up a plate and began to fill it with a large portion of food from the food bar.

“Morning, Cashmere and Ascot!” greeted the cheerful Beryl as she descended down the stairs and over to the dining area. Sitting down, the earth pony mare quickly put down the overloaded food plate in front of her. “Oh, wow, this is a lot, I really don’t think-“

“Eat as much as you want, dear,“ Cashmere said, cutting off Razz’ statement with a smile. “You always try to eat as little as you can, but I know you have a big appetite and you’ve always insisted on eating as little as you can to try and not be a burden to us, so all you’re doing is cheating yourself out of a decent meal. So, please, eat all you want, even if it’s just to humor an old mare like me.”

Mornings at the Traveler’s Retreat were very much like a small restaurant. The building was originally a large private house but after some years of remodeling it was capable of serving about fifty guests at once for breakfast. However, rarely was it ever at even half capacity, which the proprietors Cashmere and Ascot, a slightly elderly mixed pony couple, didn’t mind too much as their operating costs were low as a result. They didn’t mind the revenue being also relatively minimal, as they could have retired years ago from the profits they’d made back during the Retreat’s heyday. Really, the only reason they kept the old bed and breakfast running was merely to provide a low-cost alternative for ponies and non-ponies alike. The Retreat was as simple as a rest stop could get; for a flat fee per night for a double bedroom, guests got a lightly furnished yet comfortable and clean place to stay the night, complete with an equally furnished working bathroom, then in the morning a complimentary continental breakfast was provided in the dining area for guests before they checked out and were on their way. It wasn’t like more modern hotels which had pools, full room service, and special higher rate rooms like penthouses or ones with guest capacity beyond two, but for most ponies who even in the present were traveling from town to town with a limited, non-solid income source, the Retreat was everything they could possibly want at the end of a long day.

Of course, the majorities of those customers only were just passing through or had short-term business in Ponyville, on average most guests rarely stayed more than a week at most. The one exception in all the years the Retreat had been running was, of course, Raspberry Beryl and her very unique pet, the latter of whom chirped happily when Ascot brought his favorite food in from the kitchen. Normally, the couple wouldn’t let guests bring highly magical pets in as the potential damage they could do would rack up massive damage bills which the insurance would need to pay for, but after a few select incidents the insurance premium had gotten so high that they just couldn’t risk it. But as the still-hovering Ascot suddenly had to land when his right wing cramped up, both he and his beloved Cashmere were reminded of the reason why Heliodor was the exception.

A few minutes later, Raspberry took her now empty plate and put it on the soiled plateware tray to be washed up for tomorrow, Heliodor doing the same with his empty bowl. Then after he landed on her horn, the duo walked over to the main reception desk where Ascot currently was on duty to receive any newcomers.

“Did you enjoy breakfast?” the pegasus asked.

“Oh, yes! It was delicious, as always Mr. Ascot!” confirmed Raspberry, Heliodor doing the same by simply nodding vigorously.

“That’s good to hear. Anyway, I guess it’s about that time again when you need to go on leave?”

“Yeah, if it’s not too much trouble I’ll just check out again. I don’t know when I’ll be back, though, so feel free to let out the room I’ve been using.”

“Actually, about that…”said Cashmere, walking up behind her husband to join him at the desk, “Raspberry, Scotty and I have been discussing it, but we are just curious; how long do you plan to keep on doing this, paying the nightly rate for a mere hotel room with an included breakfast, then simply checking out for a brief period of time, before coming back to rent out one of our rooms for a few weeks all over again?”

“Well, I, um…” Raspberry muttered as she blushed, “...to be honest I don’t think I’ll be able to look into a more stable residential option for a long time, but if it’s a problem for you then I can-“

She didn’t get the chance to finish before Ascot burst out laughing. “Razz, my dear! You really need to stop acting like you’re such a burden, if anything you’ve been our best resident of all time. But this constant checking in-and-out and the fact you refuse to pay anything less than the per-night fee seems highly inefficient for your financial situation.”

Cashmere took over for her husband, “That’s why we’ve decided to offer you something…a little different. While Scotty and I do pride ourselves in keeping this old joint afloat with clean rooms, they’re far from being as cozy as an apartment and since you like staying here so much, we think you do deserve better.”

Raspberry was confused. “But all you have are regular double rooms, right?”

The elderly earth pony mare chuckled. “For guests who don’t plan on staying nearly as long as you have, honey. However, we do have a private guest room back in the main part of the living quarters that we never use, so if you’re willing we can simply rent that out to you for a longer period of time so you can reside here in a fair bit higher degree of comfort and not have to constantly check in and out when you need to go replenish your gem stocks.”

The unicorn was taken aback. “R-really? I appreciate it, really, I do! Except… that would just make other ponies think I’ve got better standing than them, which in turn wouldn’t be good for your business.”

Unexpectedly, the warm smile Cashmere wore didn’t falter. “Then what if we just hired you on as a helper?”

“You…you want to hire me?

“Why not? Every time you ‘check out’ of a room, it’s almost always cleaner than it was when we gave it to you, both Scotty and I think you’re an absolute joy to have around, and you can keep doing your business of selling gems in town so having a side job here at the place you live means you’ll earn your keep and get a little extra boost in your average income. And don’t worry about our finances, dear, we’ve still got enough of an income going into our accounts from the usual crowd, but you’ve helped us in so many ways that we’ve decided it’s time we helped you out a little.

“That…that’s so kind of you…” Raspberry was truly at a loss for words. A better living situation and an additional source of income simply by doing things she was only too happy to do for two ponies who had opened their home to her? Fortune truly seemed to be looking up for her now, the tears welling up in her eyes only stopped when a small brown pegasus filly tapped at her leg.

“Excuse me, miss, but is that a real phoenix?” the blonde filly asked, her green eyes wide with wonder.

“Cinnamon Star!” boomed a much older mare’s voice, who quickly came up to the growing assembly of ponies before Razz could even get a word out. “I’m sorry if my daughter is bothering you, ma’am, she hasn’t taken her eyes off your pet ever since you brought him into the dining area.”

“Oh, it’s quite alright!” the unicorn answered back with a smile, “I just hope Heliodor here hasn’t been too much of a distraction, since it looks like you’re checking out.” Indeed, a large pegasus stallion was approaching while hauling some large luggage with him.

“Oh, it’s not your fault, Cinnamon is just as curious as fillies her age all are, and after all we were her age too, once, right?” The mare failed to catch the slight wince made by the unicorn at the implication her years as a filly ever had that kind of luxury as she turned to address her offspring. “Come along, now, Cinnamon, just be patient for a little while as daddy and I check us out, then we’ll be on our way to Cloudsdale to visit grandma.”

“But…but I wanna play with the phoenix!” Cinnamon whined.

“Actually, if it would help…” began Raspberry, “I can take your daughter outside so she can play with my pet while you and your husband finish checking out. Would that work?” The approving nods from Cashmere and Ascot boosted Razz’s confidence.

“Why, yes, if you could that would be very sweet of you,” replied the mother, while Cinnamon merely needed a nod before racing out the front door and past her father. Heliodor followed suit, eager to have a new playmate, and Raspberry soon behind.

“Does she work here?” the father asked as he finally approached the reception desk, evidently worried about his daughter playing with a potentially dangerous magical bird and its handler.

A knowing glance between Ascot and Cashmere was exchanged before Ascot said with a grin; “Today is her first day, as a matter of fact.”

Recess at Ponyville Elementary saw battle lines being drawn as Diamond Tiara moved to confront her former ally.

“Gee, I guess if you’re here at school, then maybe hanging around the Cutie Mark Crybabies has softened you up!” taunted Tiara.

“Aren’t you highly original, considerin’ I’m the one who called the Crusaders ‘crybabies’ in the first place, and frankly I don’t see any cryin’ goin’ on anyway so if that was supposed to be an insult then you suck at them, clearly.” Retorted Babs.

“You were on my side, the right side, once Babs, I don’t know why you decided to double-cross and go over to loserville but don’t think you can move onto my turf and expect me to be all nice.”

“Oh, please, you think you’re hot just 'cause your parents have a lot of money, but you’re not. I’m somepony who comes from a high society family, I’ve seen mean ponies, both in school and out, back home in Manehatten, and you don’t even begin to qualify as rankin’ among them!”

Diamond gritted her teeth, for once again she was being bested by a member of that damnable Apple Family. At least this time it was by somepony who actually had wealth and social standing, things the pink pony respected, but that didn’t really make it any less humiliating. Although once again Tiara did have a trick up her metaphorical sleeve, one that wouldn’t be as much of a double-edged sword as insulting Apple Bloom’s lack of parents.

Keeping her angry face, she walked over to Babs. “Oh yeah? Well then, let me tell you something.” Babs held her ground, which was what Tiara wanted as she but her muzzle next to the brown filly’s ear and whispered; “Not everything is as you think it is, Babs. I may be unable to pose much of a threat to you, but at least I’m not the one living in the same house as a monster or two.”

Babs’s narrowed eyes went wide, pupils shrinking, as the words registered in her brain. Quickly regaining composure, she turned to look her once-friend in the eyes and whispered back “What do you mean by that exactly?”

Tiara smiled at how her words had found their mark, the change in eye state had been only for a moment but she’d seen it. “I’m sure you heard how your older cousin Applejack and her friends helped that Iron Will guy defeat the ‘last known werewolf’ or whatever, right?”


Diamond leaned in so that the tip of her muzzle almost touched Babs’, grinning evilly. “Let’s just say Apple Bloom is the current holder of that title.” Without further argument, the spoiled filly then turned and trotted away to rendezvous with Silver Spoon, the exchange of hostilities over and the schoolyard returning to a less tense state.

“What was that all about?” asked Scootaloo, who along with Sweetie and Apple Bloom now moved to Babs’s side.

Babs just shrugged. “I dunno, maybe it was just some sort of intimidation kind of thing?”

Suddenly, Apple Bloom stiffened. “Hold that thought, Ah gotta go use the little filly’s room!” The bow-wearing pony then took off at a sprint back to the schoolhouse to do her business.

The second Apple Bloom was out of view, Sweetie and Scoot suddenly found themselves drawn into a huddle by Babs. “Girls, I know it sounds crazy, but Tiara might have just tried givin’ us a warnin’ about Apple Bloom.”

“Say what now?” asked Scoot, incredulously.

“The stuff she was whisperin’ to me, it was about that werewolf business Applejack was involved with. Tiara was implyin’ that somehow Apple Bloom is a werewolf, too, because she’s ‘the last’ of them or somethin’.”

“That’s silly!” laughed Sweetie, although Babs thought there was a slight hesitation in the unicorn’s reaction.

“I actually think she might be on to somethin’.”

Scootaloo gave Babs her best ‘you can’t be serious’ look. “Really? You’re going to believe something Diamond Tiara said that was meant to scare us? How would she even know Apple Bloom is a werewolf? I don’t know if she told you after last weekend’s sleep over in the treehouse, but she really kicked Diamond Tiara’s flank in an argument a while ago, and tensions between those two have been higher than ever.”

“I don’t know, Scootaloo, but I honestly would not believe her if it wasn’t the fact I already suspected my cousin of bein’ a werewolf already.”

“Why? You’ve only been in Ponyville for two days!” pointed out Sweetie.

“Two-and-a-half, technically, includin’ nights, and it was the night of our sleepover that I started wonderin’ about Apple Bloom. She woke me up in the middle of the night by accident while goin’ through that snack drawer, sayin’ to me that it was a bad nightmare that had woken her up earlier and why she looked so exhausted and not because she had gone for a midnight run. But then she started slurrin’ her R’s after a big yawn, she had leaves stuck in her tail which would be impossible for somepony to have if they hadn’t left the treehouse, and there was a half-open bag of bacon flavor dog treats in the back of the snack drawer!”

“Uh, the dog biscuits are for Winona.” Said Sweetie.

“Then why were they hidden in the back of the snack drawer, where I found the bag half-open, and there were long strands of fur of the same color as Apple Bloom’s coat?”

“Watcha talkin’ about?” said Apple Bloom, having returned from the restroom.

“Babs thinks you’re a werewolf because of something you did the night of the sleepover and Diamond Tiara’s scare tactics.” Said Sweetie.

“W-what?” exclaimed Apple Bloom, taking a step back, then faced Babs. “What in Equestria makes you think Ah’m a werewolf?” Babs went over a quick summary of the ‘evidence’, but Apple Bloom just laughed. “Jeez, Babs, you just had to ask about all that yesterday. It was the middle of the night and we were both tired, the ‘leaves’ you saw in mah tail were just hair clips Ah use to keep its shape at night, mah speech was gettin’ slurred because Ah was tired, and mah fur in the dog biscuits bag probably was left over from the last time Ah opened it to give some treats to Winona. It bein’ half-open just means Ah didn’t check if Ah closed it fully.”

“Yeah, plus if Apple Bloom was a lycan...er...lycanthreeope, don’t you think we’d know about it?” said Scootaloo, “after all it would be kind of hard to hide something as big as that from the rest of us Crusaders!” The foursome shared a laugh with Babs apologizing for the misconception, but deep down Babs wasn’t truly convinced. She’d need to observe Apple Bloom a bit more just to be sure.

“Raspberry, darling! I’m so glad you could join me for lunch!” happily greeted Rarity as Raspberry appeared in the doorway of The Bannered Mare.

“Oh, it’s no trouble. I’m going to have to leave town for a few days anyway as my gem inventory is almost completely dried up after all of today’s deliveries, so I might as well live a bit more luxuriously before going back into the wilds,” replied the dark red unicorn, her phoenix nestled comfortably in an empty saddlebag pocket instead of his usual horn perch.

“But Raspberry, if you want to live in the lap of luxury, my guest room at the Boutique is still available!” the alabaster fashionista reminded her gem distributor, while the waiter led the pair of unicorns to a table.

“Actually, Cashmere and Ascot offered me their guest room for rent and a part time job in helping run the Retreat so I can have a little extra income,” Razz sheepishly replied, afraid of offending her best customer.

Rarity, however, was anything but offended. “Why, that’s fantastic! I’ll be honest in that I’ve always worried about your financial situation, how you can sell so many precious stones for your prices has always been…suspect. I feel dreadful for even thinking you would be so underhoofed as to sell forgeries, since you are by far one of the nicest ponies in the kingdom as far as I’m concerned, much less the fact I don’t even know how you could make fake gems in the first place, so while it is very selfish of me to say so I am glad for my sake you are finally in more stable living conditions.”

The two unicorns spent the next half hour or so idly chatting about all kinds of things, Raspberry in particular being the most open she’d ever been with Rarity as her self-confidence had never been higher. Everything had been going Raspberry’s way today, to the point it was the best day of her life. At least right up until Rarity mentioned she needed to place a special gem order.

“I know you usually specialize in the smaller sizes of gemstones, but if there is any way you can find a large diamond for me I’d be ever so grateful.”

Raspberry had been taking a bite out of her Hayball Sandwich when Rarity had dropped the bomb. “Wh-cough-what?” gagged the unicorn as the bite she’d taken went down the wrong way, finally going down after a hasty swig of water. “Sorry, you kind of took me by surprise there! But, er, how big are we talking?” Heliodor, who had largely ignored the small talk going on in favor of devouring the plate of French fries served to him, suddenly seemed to take interest as well.

“Well, it needs to be about…” started Rarity, the fork in her hoof idly spinning the eggplant Parmesan in front of her into a spiraled mess. “Actually, let me show you.” The diamond shaped clasp on her saddlebags opened up as a blue aura encased crown floated out of it and landed in front of Raspberry. “I’ve been working on Sweetie Belle’s Princess Platinum costume for the Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant the school is putting on. It’s all but outright guaranteed Sweetie will get the part, since she’s the only female unicorn in her class and since I once performed the role in Canterlot two years ago it’s a given she’ll whine and cry until Cheerilee gives her the part anyway. But she also wanted the costume to be ready for Nightmare Night, with me wearing my own costume for the same role so we can be a pair of pretty princesses.” The artificially accented unicorn couldn’t help but giggle at how cute they would look before continuing. “However, I wanted to try a different design for Sweetie’s costume, and the major stumbling block has been trying to find a centerpiece for her crown. I was going to go find a suitable diamond myself and not trouble you with this, but this past weekend I had half the town ask for me to repair or fabricate Nightmare Night costumes and I simply cannot make time to find the gem I need to finish that tiara.”

Raspberry took the tiara in her hoof and looked it over. The ‘crown’ wasn’t so much an actual headpiece as it was just a piece of metal framework, but due to its construction the gem inset placement at the center of the crown had to be finished before any fabric would be able to get added. As for the diamond, it wouldn’t need to be giant but the size Rarity seemed to be implying was the desired property of what she needed was still well beyond what Raspberry normally sold. It would be difficult and potentially risky to acquire such a gem for Rarity.

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” Answered Raspberry, storing the crown in her saddlebag, “I’ll maybe need a few days to find it, but since you’re my best customer I think I can fill this ‘special order’ as it were.”

“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” thanked Rarity, before regaining her composure, “Um, so yes, if you could fill that order that would be fantastic. Of course, I’ve got some ‘regular order’ requests for you, too, if you don’t mind.”

Raspberry just shook her head before turning to look at Heelee. “Guess we’ll be camping out for gems a bit longer than we thought, eh?” In turn, the bird merely smiled and raised an eyebrow, a look Razz knew to mean something along the lines of ‘bring it on’.

Author's Note:

I wanted to put this up Monday, but then you dear readers would have to have waited an extra two days for the next chapter.

Also, please check out my latest story idea;
and let me know what you think.