• Published 24th Dec 2014
  • 892 Views, 40 Comments

Friendship Still is Magic - ultronquake

Twilight Sparkle and her new found allies, Cloudchaser, Berry Punch, Lyra Heartstrings, Lotus Blossom and Derpy hooves must confront an ancient threat in the Everfree Forest. And, you know also do that thing the princess said about making friends.

  • ...

Hands and Hotsprings

*Please read further than this chapter, i know it is off putting but trust me things do get better further along.*

The afternoon sun hung above the horizon, still beating it's warmth on the ground bellow. Basking all in a glow of orange, the only shadow cast belonged to the young willow, it's branches casting the illusion of arms grasping at the mares present. Alone in the clearing stood the slightly overweight Twilight Sparkle, across her was the pony known as Lyra Heartstrings.

Twilight was still processing what had just taken place, in a matter of minuets Fluttershy had gone from a whimpering little filly to a sociable socialite to an emotional wreck to a happy emotional wreck all because of Lyra's conversation. Either Fluttershy has some serious social disorders, or this Lyra is some kind of master manipulator.

Twilight decided that proceeding with caution would be advisable. "Um yes, i'm the supervisor for the preparations, if i may ask why did Fluttershy just quit? She was sounding fantastic."

"Oh indeed she did sound good, only thing is, she had forgotten her crippling stage fright, i simply reminded her of that." The smile left Lyra's face.

"You .. you did what?"

"I played to her inner fears of performing in front of crowds, making the idea of doing the music at the celebration an unbearable possibility."

Twilight could only blink, the starkness in her voice was a bit unsettling. "That's horrible! You're horrible!"

A bit taken back by what Twilight said Lyra responded. "Horrible am i? Everything i did i had her best interests at heart."

"What! How is making her run away in tears in her best interest?"

"I'll admit my methods were a bit extreme but her reaction now would be minuscule compared to what would have happened if something went wrong during the celebration. I'm not sure if she even realized it, but the music act at the celebration is much more than a five second fanfare introducing the princess. You should know being the princess' student after all."

Twilight had to admit that to herself, as much as she and the others had enjoyed listening to the birds orchestra, much of that enjoyment had arisen from the environment they heard it in. If said arrangement was at a crowded gathering full of loud exited ponies the addition of madly chirping birds would not be as appreciated.

'Wait how the hay did she know i'm Celestia's student, i never introduced myself to her.' Twilight's thoughts began to race in her head. "I've never met you before and i never said who i was, only that i was supervising the preparations. How do you know i'm the Princess' student?"

Lyra's smile returned, she even chuckled a bit. "You know Twilight Sparkle now that i think on this a bit you're just as much to blame for this situation as i am. I was in Canterlot yesterday trying to find my way to the castle entrance when you ignored me asking for help." The Pieces now connected in Twilight's mind the strange feeling of familiarity now explained, this unicorn was the same one she passed yesterday when she was running back home.

"Well then mind explaining why you were in Canterlot and how i could possibly be to blame for you upsetting Fluttershy."

"Certainly, i was there to plead my case with Princess Celestia herself, I only got so far as the entry hall when i was stopped by the guard. They said the princess was far too busy to interrupt and if changes needed to be made to handle it with her apprentice."

"And... how is any of this my fault?" The musical interloper was floored by this, as if Twilight's non comprehension was inconceivable.

"If you had only stopped and listened you would have seen i was right and let me in to see the princess and she wold have taken immediate action, thus saving Fluttershy from embarrassment and sparing her feelings." She said these things with an air of confidence her face showing her pride in her own cleverness.

Twilight was confused, Lyra seems to be genuine in her caring for Fluttershy but oblivious of the pain she's caused. "Miss Heartstrings i want you to know something about my teacher. The very first time we met i had just accidentally destroyed a good portion of the school for gifted unicorns. I felt so bad i was about to give up entirely on studying magic, then she came in and comforted me, she looked beyond my mistakes and saw the potential i held inside me."

She paused then continued. "I honestly believe with all my heart Princess Celestia would do the same for anypony even Fluttershy. If something went wrong. And she couldn't handle it, my mentor would be the first to comfort her and let her know everything is alright." Twilight wiped the tear from her eye that was trying to form. "Do you understand what i'm trying to say Lyra? We can't be afraid of failure, if we do we'll never be able to grow from them."

It appeared Twilight's words were having a profound effect on Lyra, the confident look gone, replaced by worry her eyebrows knitted together. "Sweet Celesta what have i done? I just wanted to protect her from herself, i didn't mean to hurt her!"

It was Twilight's turn to smile now that her goal was accomplished, Lyra now seemed to understand the gravity of what she's done. "You know Lyra were still going to need a musical act tonight, and i still need to hear your performance before i can move onto the next group."

"Oh right I've haven't even shown off what i play yet." Her mood lifting some with the prospect of showing off what she does best. Her horn glowed and there was a bright flash of light. The space where only air occupied was replaced by a small wooden harp, fashioned it seems to resemble the one on her cutie mark.

"Where did you get that?!" Asked Twilight.

"My lyre? Well this I've been working on myself since i discovered it was my special talent." said Lyra.

"No, i mean where did that come from?" asked Twilight, desperately searching for the point of origin.

"Oh, where it came from. Well my pocket of course," Lyra said with a smile.

She stood on her rear legs and was arching her spine backwards just so she could stand aright, the whole sight was something to behold.
"Does that hurt? Because it should, putting your whole body weight onto two hooves not to mention the Escher pose your putting your back into. By my estimate you should be doubled over in pain by now."

Lyra's face was turning red, she was trying to strain back the tears. "Look do you want to hear me play or not? Normally i'd be sitting for this but there aren't any benches here."

"Oops sorry, please start i'm ready," said Twilight. Lyra closed her eyes and began to concentrate, using her magic to hold the hold the lyre she began strumming the instrument with one hoof with the other she was moving it up and down the strings like the frets of a guitar. The sound echoed throughout the clearing, while not unpleasant it still was a bit messy.

She finished her sample and turned to Twilight and looked with sad eyes and a weak smile. "I wasn't lying to Fluttershy when i said i'd be nervous when playing." Twilight was quick to respond. "You sounded great Lyra! I'm sure with a bit of practice you'll be even better."

Lyra let out a weak sigh. "Twilight I've been practicing this since i was a filly, this is the best I've ever been. That's probably why they chose Fluttershy and her birds over me at the tryouts." her head hung low a frown crept across her muzzle. "It's not even my fault, i know how to play! In my mind i can picture my fingers and where there supposed to be but when i open my eyes all i have are these stupid clumsy hooves."

"Lyra what the hay are you even talking about?" Twilight was really getting confused by this mare.

"You don't know what fingers are? there multi-jointed structures composed of bones, muscles, ligaments and comes together as part of an appendage known as a haaaaaaannnnnn" she trailed off, her mouth was agape and eyes wide. "HANDS!" She screamed as she ran past Twilight, to a very confused Derpy Hooves, on her back was resting Spike, awake enough to realize that a crazy eyed mare was coming for him.

"Twilight i know you said you'd only be a few minuets, but Spike seems to be getting worse. Now when he sneezes he's breathing fire, I don't like fire near my mane Twilight! Oh who's this?" Lyra let another enthusiastic shout and bowled into Derpy sending her flying, Spike was a bid more lucky... or not. The excitable unicorn was holding him in the air with magic, and intently examining his hands.

"What kind of creature are you? You have hands, i need to know all about you!" Spike looked for a way out, Derpy was still out for the count, Lyra came on like a train. Twilight was running to both her friends aid but the unhealthy amount of baked goods she had consumed earlier in the morning really slowed her down. 'Dang it all, i wish this fat would have just gone away while i was walking to the next pony on the list.' She thought to herself.

"Well.. w-well I." Spike nervously stammered out. "Ooo you can talk! You have hands and you can talk, this will make the process easier. Please, tell me EVERYTHING." She said emphasizing each syllable.

"What do want from me my life story?" Spike sarcastically said, immediately regretting the words that left his mouth.

"Oh yes please!"

"TWILIGHT HELP!!!" By now Twilight had helped Derpy up and was ready to confront Lyra a second time today.

"Lyra put my baby down! You're scaring him." Twilight commanded.

"What? Baby yours? HUH? WHAT!?" Were the collective sounds coming from from Derpy and Lyra. Spike now on his own two feet again ran behind Twilight hiding from the scary Unicorn. Twilight was still not used to calling Spike that, much preferring to call him her friend or companion. But as much as it may seem awkward it was about as true as could be, she'd been raising the little dragon since the day she hatched him almost three years ago.

"Spike is my number one assistant, best friend and my adopted son. And i'd appreciate it if you would not manhandle him like that." Spike turned to face his caretaker, it had been a while since she'd called him her son, and never in public only around her parents or brother.

"*Sniff* Thanks Twily that means allot to me." he said through the sniffles.

It was Lyra to first break the silence, "Um Spike.. I'm sorry if i scared you. I'm just really interested in hands."

"Yeah i guessed. " Spike interjected with an annoyed tone. "

"Twilight has shown me i have allot of stuff to work on in how i interact with other ponies and... whatever you are," said Lyra.

"I'm a dragon!" His demeanor picking right back up, nothing is quite as good an ego boost like being able to tell ponies your a fire breathing dragon.

"Hey that's pretty awesome, but now that i think about it your not looking to hot." Lyra said looking concerned.

Spike let out a mighty sneeze shooting a trail of fire across the air in front of him. "It's this stinking cold i got, my sinuses are so swollen i can barely feel myself think."

Lyra put a hoof to her chin, "You know what helps me when i'm congested? A visit to the spa, they have a sauna that'll clear those sinuses up real fast."

Although they still had the decorations to check on in town hall Twilight was sure a quick steam bath wouldn't upset their schedule too much. After all, everypony else before hand had been doing their jobs with diligence i'm sure whomever they chose would be doing a fine job. "Thanks for the suggestion Lyra, let's get over there asap so Spike can get feeling better."

"I think i'll stay behind, i'd rather practice where there's no-ponies around. But i'll see you all at the celebration right, Feel better soon OK Mr. Hands." She waived the group off and then turned her attention back to her harp that she dropped when she started running for Spike.

Lotus Blossom

The sun was now down, all the shops in Ponyville that weren't already closed for the holiday were closing down now. The day spa was one of the few business in town that decided to stay open today. The reasoning behind the decision being that everypony likes to look there best and what day is more important to look fabulous than the day Princess Celestia comes to town.

This decision paid off in spades, more ponies came in today for hooficures, mane styling's, and preening than they would likely see in an entire month. They even had a visit from their best customer Rarity, she came in for her "usual". This package was arranged by herself it included a steam bath, cleansing mask, horn filing, massage, seaweed wrap, mud bath and foot soak. This whole treatment was not cheap, but Rarity has always payed in full and even tips generously.

"*Sigh* I wish i could be that loose with my money." A heavily accented voice said. That voice belonging to the small earth pony standing behind the counter. For the two friends running the spa money was always a concern, Lotus Blossom and Aloe were not native to Ponyville but came from a small village north of Equestria called Ilia. About the only thing of interest there is that it houses the northern end of the line for the equestrian railway system. The weather conditions there are so bad that the trains cannot be puled by a team of stallions but must rely on a coal engine.

Being that far from the rest of civilization and the frigged tundra they live in, almost all of their food has to be imported from elsewhere. This dependence on imported goods led to a shortage of money, the solution the village elders came up with was to send off the able bodied youth out into the world to earn money and send it home. The Ilia are famous now for their Pegasus mercenaries, who are often hired on by towns and smaller hamlets to dispatch violent monsters when the royal guard are too far off to help.

Others from the village take on jobs as manual labor, working sunup til sundown so they can bring home the bread as it were. Lotus Blossom and Aloe were very fortunate though. When they arrived in Ponyville the day spa was just a dilapidated old building, with it's only permanent residents being the star spiders and their webs. Mayor Mare was delighted to find anypony interested in doing something with the eyesore of a building she let the two have it for barely anything at all.

Nowadays you could hardly tell it was the same structure, they'd done so many renovations like new roofs that resemble the kind in Ilia, tiled mosaic floors, and all the furnishing for the spa treatments. They had a place they could be proud of, a business that they built from the ground up. They stood as one of the most successful business in Ponyville sitting below "Quills and Sofa's" at number one.

But with that success came it's own set of troubles, not having any days off for one. Lotus had been working nearly every day only taking a few off each year to return home to visit her elderly relatives. "Aloe? Do you think we can close up now? I don't think were going to get any more customers tonight." Lotus said looking at the barren streets in front of her.

"Hmm i suppose your right, i bet everypony is already lining up outside town hall waiting to get in huh." An equally Accented voice replied from inside the spa. Aloe was folding up the lavender scented towels they have for the guests.

"OK, i'm hanging up the closed sign up now ya." Taking one last look out onto the streets she spied a group of three excitedly running in the spa's direction. Lotus let out a exasperated sigh, no rest for the righteous her mother used to say. "Never mind Aloe it seems we have more guests." She opened the doors before the three arrived, the scented air in the spa escaping into the night atmosphere. "Welcome friends, you came at just the right time. I was just about to close down for the night."

The packs leader, a purple unicorn was quick to respond. "Oh sorry if you need to close we can comeback tomorrow morning."

"Perish the thought, we have a policy here if there's somepony needing our services we'll be here to supply them." She put on a smile to mask the disappointment that she would be working through the sunrise and not out there enjoying it with the other towns ponies.

"All we need is a quick steam bath for my dragon friend Spike, he has a nasty cold and it's becoming somewhat dangerous now." To illustrate her point she motioned to her tail now a bit short and it's tip singed black.

"Ah i understand, Aloe will take him to the sauna and hopefully we'll have what ails him cured in no time." Without a word the pink earthpony with hairband and necklace to match Lotus emerged from further inside, whisked Spike up and and returned from whence she came.

Aloe was the more skilled masseuse, but she lacked some of the social niceties ponies expect. That's why Lotus Blossom was often stuck behind the counter. "Well while their busy why don't we talk for a bit ya?"

"That sounds good, my name is Twilight Sparkle and my friend here is Derpy Hooves."

"I know I've seen Derpy out and about Ponyville but I've not seen you or your dragon before. Have you come here to see the princess raise the sun?" There were such ponies that travel to each location where the princess goes each year, regardless of how far they have to travel.

"You could say that, I'm here on her behalf to observe the progress of the preparations."

"Ah i think I've heard about you, one of my clients Rarity was looking forward to your visit. How did you hit things off?"

"I think we decided to check on the decor after our stop here, right Twilight?" Said Derpy looking up from the Highlights magazine she was reading. Twilight nodded a yes in reply.

"Oh dear Rarity was expecting you hours ago, i hope things are going alright in town hall."


"I'm not sure if i have enough ribbons yet, this place relay needs to make an impression." The white unicorn was levitating several pink ribbons thinking about where she could place them.

"I think there's already quite enough." Said the earth pony with the deceptive age. A quick scan of the inside of town hall would reveal that nearly every surface was covered in bedazzled ribbons of nearly every color.

"Do you think the inspector will be wowed by these, cause i still think there's more that can be done."

"No no, i'm very sure you've done enough." The room was all ready a hot mess the thought of more additions was sickening.

"Ooh IDEA! We need to wrap everything in Hearths Warming Eve lights it just screams festive! She then dove into a supply closet and emerged with a messy tangle of stringed lights.

"Miss Rarity I've never taken executive action as mayor before but you're forcing my hoof and making me take it now. I'm relieving you of your duties as chief decorator as of now." She said with all the authority a pony elected to local office could muster.



"Oh i'm sure everything is fine besides we wont be here too long," said Twilight.

"Hmm now that i'm thinking on it if she see's you with your tail like that she'd probably flip her lid and force you into a makeover or something like that."

"It's true Twilight, one time she saw me flying around with a long knit scarf i borrowed and she pulled me down to the ground just to call it a crime against fashion." Derpy said with a sad look resting on her face.

"Oh dear i don't want to get pulled into any more unnecessary activities today, the pies were quite enough." Said Twilight while looking down at her stomach.

"Tell you what, i'll work on your tail and you can tell me some about yourself, you must live a fascinating life." Lotus said while rummaging in a drawer looking for her hairdressers kit.

"That sounds fair." She lay down where she could look outside. "I've lived in the capitol my entire life but for the past three years I've been staying in the castle itself. I guess you could say i live out of the library there." Twilight blushed, "You know since i began my magic studies under Princess Celestia, I've barely made any time for interacting with other ponies. Today i think I've actually enjoyed so far and even met some nice new acquaintances."

"Am i one of those acquaintances Twilight?" Derpy said looking up again from her magazine.

Twilight thought about this for a bit and replied. "No Derpy your not." Derpy's mouth formed a frown fast. "No i'd say you're more of a friend than an acquaintance." The purple mare flashed a toothy smile.

"Really?!" She excitedly asked.

"Yes really, you've been with us the whole day and i know we'd be completely lost if we didn't have somepony to guide us along. Plus you've been funny and helpful and you even were willing to take care of Spike when i was busy."

"Aw go on, now i'm blushing."

Lotus blossom could only smile at this exchange, she like Aloe worked silently. Brushing the damaged tail and trimming the singed hairs off. "Well Twilight Sparkle i think that just about covers it, i do hope you don't find it too short." Her tail still retained the same stripes of dark purple, magenta and pink but was cut to a length no more than a foot.

"Hmm it's simple, it's length will mean less chance of getting caught in machinery. I love it Lotus! This is so me."

"*Giggle* That's just how he keeps his tail!" Derpy said giddily.

"How who keeps his tail Derpy?" Asked Twilight to her newly declared friend. She was about to answer when the double doors opened to a Healthy looking dragon and a smiling Aloe.

"I'm back, Twilight you gotta try that sauna thing they got back there, your pores will love you for it." He looked down at Twilight's flank and saw the new state of her tail. "*snicker* Nice new look, it really suits you."

"I know right, i was just saying the same thing." Not catching Spike's sarcasm.

"Miss Sparkle i don't mean to interrupt but could that be the princess' carriage landing over there?" said Lotus.

Coming in from the direction of Canterlot was a gilded chariot being pulled by four Pegasus royal guardsmen. Atop the chariot sat Princess Celestia, her mane of many colors billowing and moving on it's own as if it were fluid.

"Oh good my teacher is finally here, now i can report on the preparations and go into detail on my findings about Nightmare Moon."

"Um Twilight not to burst your bubble or anything but we haven't finished the list yet." Said Spike.

The realization set upon her like a brick, only one sound escaped her mouth. "Tardy."

Without a word she bolted from the spa leaving a trail of dust as she ran. Spike turned to Derpy, "You know how i said you should see her when she's actually late?"

"Uh-huh." She replied looking a bit worried.

"This is one of those times, we'd better hurry." Spike then left the spa, running as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.

Derpy was left behind with Lotus as Aloe, she reached into her satchel and pulled out a sum of bits, payed them, thanked them then ran after her friends. She had a feeling this night was only just beginning.

Author's Note:

My original idea would be they went from Lyra to Rarity but Spike would be delirious at that point and think Rarity was some kind of monster. But i scrapped the idea because if Twilight finished the list she would just want to go strait to the library instead of going to a spa.
The name of Lotus's village and them sending pegasi off to become mercenaries are both references to my favorite game of all time, Fire Emblem on gba. I just figured i should point these out cause even if you've played the game you might not have even known unless you got certain support conversations.
Edited 2/16/2015: fixed grammar and punctuation. also added in joke i forgot when first writing.