• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 11,943 Views, 243 Comments

An Apple A Day - Esle Ynopemos

A collection of thirthy-minute short stories about the rootinest, tootinest farm-filly this side of the Everfree. There'll be a chapter a day for thirty days. I ain't no fancy arithmeticker, but that adds up to a whole month of good, health

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17: Lair [Adventure] [Sad]

((Prompt: Spike in Rarity's boudoir. Special rule: it can't be directly related to his crush on her.))

It wasn't properly Ponyville anymore. Not really. You needed ponies to have a Ponyville, and there hadn't been ponies through these old ruins for a while.

All of this land had belonged to the Everfree back before the ponies had moved in and tamed the brush. Now that they were gone, the forest set its mind on taking back what belonged to it. Town hall was half crumbled, its circular roof choked with vines. Trees grew right in the middle of roads, and wild animals skittered among the toppled rubble of what had once been rows of homes.

Applejack had already visited what was left of the Acres. Every time she came through here she swore not to again; it just left a melancholy pit in her stomach to see the twisted brambles chewing on the bones of her old home. But every time she came through, she couldn't help herself.

She didn't come to the abandoned town to stare at piles of rotten wood where a barn had once stood, though. She was here to visit a friend.

Rarity's boutique was much like the rest of Ponyville, covered in vines. The spidery network of green stalks really seemed to like the way rainwater pooled around the structure, spilling over the roof like a cauldron boiling over. Seemingly spurred on by the Everfree's nature, the tree in Rarity's backyard had tripled in size, lifting part of Carousel Boutique's foundation out of the earth and tipping the whole building outward.

Applejack pushed past the vines through where there once had been a door. The interior had been remarkably well-preserved, the vines outside shielding the Boutique's contents from the elements. The dresses on display were tattered and moth-eaten, but the ponyquins themselves were largely intact, and a faint impression of the Boutique's original wallpaper remained visible by the light of Applejack's lantern.

She frowned at the way the stairs creaked beneath her hooves. She resolved to find a bit of lumber and shore them up before she left. She wouldn't want any of the others to fall through and hurt themselves when they came to visit. Still, the stairs held together as she made her way up to the second floor. Rarity's old bedroom still had a door on it, though the rusty hinges groaned and threatened to break when she nudged it open.

The bedroom was very different from the rest of the place. A wave of hot, dry air met Applejack's face as she crept inside. Her lantern reflected off of a heap of gems in the center of the room, sending sparkling reflections splaying out across the walls. Pictures still hung on the walls here, though the highest-hung ones were stained with soot. Curled around the pile of gems, amethyst scales glinting in the lantern light, was Spike.

“Hey there, sleepy-bones,” Applejack said, tipping her hat.

Spike, as he always had for the last two decades, snored in response.

Applejack chuckled and found herself a place to sit on the old frame of a bed. She opened up her saddlebag and flicked a gem onto the pile. “Y'know, on the farm, we gotta be up with the sun. I reckon you're about...” She stared at the smoke-shrouded ceiling. “...twenty two years too late for breakfast by now.”

Spike's claw idly scratched his side. Heat radiated off of him like a campfire, and Applejack had to move back a little.

She smiled. “I guess you can have your beauty rest, though.” Applejack pulled her canteen out of her saddlebag and took a swallow of water.

“Could've picked a better place for it, mind you,” she said. “After the town went under, this place's been awful far out of the way. Poor Pinkie can't make it no more, on account of her darned hip. She said to send you her regards, though.”

Spike snored. A plume of smoke rose to the ceiling.

“I know, I know,” Applejack said, shaking her head. “Weren't your fault at all. None of us knew much 'bout dragons then. We knew you were due for a big sleep sometime or another, but we didn't know that it would hit so fast or so hard with a little dragon like you.” She snorted. “Hay, you were in the middle of fetchin' a needle for Rarity when ya conked out. Just right there on the floor.”

Spike still held the needle clutched in his claw. The tip of it was blackened and warped from the constant exposure to his breath.

“We wanted to move ya with us to Canterlot, hon. I had a welder's mask an' a fireproof saddle all fixed up to get you out of here. But we couldn't. Now without wakin' ya, an' Twi said that's real bad for a little dragon. Permanent deformity, or somesuch.”

Spike snored.

Applejack rolled her neck, taking one more thing out of her pack. A pen and a vial of ink. She moved over to the desk, the best-preserved piece of furniture in the place, and carefully removed a yellowed journal from one of the drawers. “It might be I won't be around when you wake up, Spike. Maybe none of us will be; Twi ain't real sure on how long you'll be out.” Applejack wrote a new entry in the journal. “But that's why we're leavin' this here for ya. Catch you up on what you missed.”

She took a few minutes writing down all that had happened in Canterlot since her last visit. When she was finished, she returned the journal to its drawer. She stood up, stretching her legs. As she opened the door to leave, she paused, casting one last glance at the slumbering dragon. “Spike? You are a noble dragon. Don't you let no one tell you otherwise.”