• Published 24th May 2015
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My Little Pony Bizarre Adventures - Part 1: Ponyville Central - LateBronyWriter



One Thousand years ago, the saints Celestia and Luna drew upon the power of the Red Stone of Aja to defeat the demon Discord. Now one thousand years later the Stone is destroyed, beginning the tale of six ponies and their quest to redeem the world.

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Chapter 23-Dreamweaver-Take 1

Dreamweaver- Take 1:


The sun rises on a cold morning in Ponyville; summer has come and past, autumn has just arrived, and the cold nip of the morning mist gives sign that the winter months are fast approaching. Two-and-a-half months from now the ground will be completely encased in a deep snow, and two months after that it will be time for Winter Wrap Up. However, these thoughts are the furthest things from the minds of the ponies who have gathered this morning in the open space of the park, each one carrying a heavy load on their backs.

The six mares, each of them friends in every sense of the word, make their own last-minute preparations for the journey ahead of them. Though they are surrounded by a small crowd of their families and well-wishers, none talk, causing a deep and pervasive silence to fall over the group as they secure saddlebags and packs in the wide open grassy field. Their silence is not borne from resentment of each other or personal grievances, but from awareness of the seriousness of the situation and the importance of the task at hoof.

Pinkie stands as silently as the her nature would allow, humming a quaint tune as she fastens pots, lanterns, and miscellaneous supplies onto her Stand, Surprise, bouncing silently around the manifested construct.

Rarity pats her little sister Sweetie Belle on the head, giving her some last minute instructions for her to behave herself at their parents’ house. The little filly nods and walks back to her family, a look of concern on her face as the ivory mare secures the first-aid packages and water purifying equipment in her hoof-stitched sewing bags.

The orange filly Scootaloo was not used to waking up this early on a Saturday; however, to see her hero Rainbow Dash off, no time was too early. She and her two loving parents watch as the lightly-packed pegasus warms up with her signature wing drills and stretches, preparing for the march ahead.

Fluttershy, having finished her preparations long ago, flinches from the sound of her stepping on a twig before calming herself with deep long breaths, reassuring herself that everything will be fine as long as she stays with her friends.

Twilight Sparkle, appearing perhaps the most prepared and focused, looks over her list, triple checking every magical instrument in her repertoire. The lavender mare knows that her task is the most important in the mission, and without her their entire operation is doomed to failure. So she pours herself into her preparations with manic pace, making sure they all have the supplies that they need for the journey ahead.

Then, there stands the Quartermaster, Applejack, fifty percent of the entire group’s water and rations placed firmly on her back, yet she seems undaunted in the slightest by the weight. However, the look of worry in her eyes does not go unnoticed by the group leader, Twilight, who turns from her busy task to trot quietly up to the orange farm mare.

“Something on your mind?” Applejack turns around to see the smiling face of her friend, her mood suddenly stabilizing itself. Twilight places her hoof on the orange mare’s shoulders “Are you okay there, Applejack? You look worried; is it about Applebloom again?”

Applejack regains her composure as she chuckles at Twilight’s inquiry, removing the lavender Mare’s hoof from her shoulder. “Don’t ya worry none, Twi, Ah went through great lengths ta make sure that Applebloom’s not gonna follow us this time.”

Applejack smiles fondly as she turns to face her family: her elder brother Big Macintosh, her grandmother Granny Smith, and…… Applebloom. All three of the elder Apples can’t help giggling at Applebloom’s new appearance. The yellow filly blushes furiously in embarrassment as she lies on the ground, tied up like a thanksgiving turkey, bound head to hoof in the tightest knots the apple farmer knows.

“Oh come on, Sis!” She futilely struggles against her bonds. “I was only kiddin’ when I said I was following ya no matter what! Can ya at least slacken these here ropes?”

“Not a chance, sis!” Applejack replies. “Now, Big Mac will untie ya when we are gone, and if’n ya behave yerselves ya can have that sleepover with yer friends like I told ya.”

Applebloom pouts cutely as she silences herself; she had been waiting weeks for the go-ahead for their sleepover, however she never wanted to earn it like this. Applejack chuckles at Applebloom’s childlike innocence as she turns back to the focus of her worries, the Everfree Forest. “I just never thought I’d be back here again……”

Twilight nods understandingly as Applejack perks up her head to look at the entrance to the haunted woods. Applejack’s first experience in the dreaded forest seems to have been so long ago now; it was the first time she had ventured into the dreaded woods and it had nearly killed her. Now, a few months later, she was headed back in there again. And this time, Applejack was relieved that she was not going in alone. But even so, this was the Everfree, and predictable and safe two things it is not.

Twilight looks at Applejack. “I understand, Applejack; the last time you were here…….”

“Ah ain’t that worried bout goin in this time,” Applejack interrupts her. “We’ve got some real friends goin in with us this time.” Applejack looks at their makeshift group as Rarity meets the farmer’s gaze, waving back warmly.

Twilight smiles at this compliment knowing that Applejack is telling the truth; there isn’t a single pony in their group that wouldn’t be willing to jump headlong into danger at the slightest sign of trouble. “Ah ain’t worried none, Twi!” Applejack confirms. “An I mean, you yerself have been planin fer this ever since ya told us that…….”

……………………….

“………The Strange Stones are alive,” Twilight finishes her line. The rest of the group gathered at the table can only gape at Twilight, her conclusion cutting through the tension in the room and leaving them all completely speechless.

Everypony sits at the table in the middle of Golden Oaks Library, their mouths hanging agape as they listen to the main point of Twilight’s surprise meeting. “And before any of you ask, yes I am sure it’s alive: despite its cells being in a form of stasis, it produces its own magic and reacts to stimulus in a way that an inorganic object can’t mimic. It also doesn't seem to be overtly hazardous as far as I can tell, and no it’s not growing so none of you have to worry about it eating you or something.”

Rainbow Dash is the first to pull her jaw off the floor, and with the eloquence and diction that a twenty-something mare is capable of she summarizes the entire group’s feelings in a single sentence: “…… What….. the Buck.”

Rarity, ever the pony for drama, is the next to freak out “T-They’re alive!? In case you’ve forgotten Twilight Darling, we’ve all been touching these….. things! What if it carries hazardous germs?! Or what if it causes oru manes to fall out!?! or makes us terribly hideous!?! How could you not know something so important!? I swear if my mane falls out you’ll be hearing from my lawyer!”

“Well, Rarity….” Twilight rolls her eyes sarcastically. “That’s probably why I started off this meeting with the whole ‘don’t worry they're not dangerous’ thing. If you were listening for once, you might have heard it.”

“So…….” Pinkie cocks her head in confusion. “It’s alive?”

“Yes, Pinkie.”

“Oh Oh! Did you name it?”

“What?” Twilight asks.

“You know, did you give it a cool name, every pet needs a name, what about Black Snooty?”

“URGH! No, Pinkie, I’m not going to name it! It’s not a pet. It’s a rare magical artifact, not a toy.”

“Oh………” Pinkie looks crestfallen, but only for half a second. “Are you really sure? Cause I have a ton of ideas about…….”

“I’m not having this discussion!”

“Well, um… why not?” Fluttershy raises her hoof.

“What?” Twilight throws her hooves in the air. “Fluttershy, not you too!”

“Well I just think that living things should have a name.” The yellow pegasus says as-a-matter-of-factly “Puppies and goldfish have names so if it’s alive it should have a name too.”

Twilight massages her horn, trying to avoid a migraine headache. “I can’t believe we’re having this discussion.”

A familiar ivory hoof slams her hoof into the table with a loud thump. “Twilight is right!”

Twilight immediately perks up. “Thank you, Rarity! At least somepony has some common sense here.”

“Twilight, how could you have not named it already? You should have named it the moment that you found out it’s alive!” Rarity pouts. “Now we have to waste our time discussing it.”

WHAM!

Twilight’s head hits the table at Mach one, creating a deep dent in the wood where her horn is.

“Um, Twilight darling, are you okay?”

“Twi’s fine.” Applejack waved her hoof dismissively. “More important, Rarity, why did ya think that it was a good idea fer her ta name it? Yawl remember ‘Stardust Crusaders’?”

Rarity taps her chin. “Good point, let’s put it to a vote: all in favor of barring Twilight from the naming process raise your……”

“ENOUGH!” a bossy voice erupts over the others as a light purple magical aura fills the air. The din of the group is quickly cut off by a loud explosion of fireworks, the amazing display of lights and color causing all the ponies at the table to stop their prattling. The magic from Trixie’s spell dies down as she looks over the group with a frustrated expression. “Trixie has had enough of you and your incessant babbling, so all of you quiet down and listen to what Trixie has to say. Now we all know that Twilight may be crazy one day out of the week…..”

Twilight lifts her head from the table. “I am not crazy!”

“…..But Trixie trusts Twilight’s scientific insights, especially when it regards magical forces. Trixie knows that you won’t find a better researcher outside the RSD than Twilight Sparkle.” Trixie regards Twilight with a look of conviction on her face. “Trixie herself went over Twilight’s findings so you can be sure that she is indeed correct. The Stone’s magical natures and sentient responses allude to the fact that they are indeed a living organism of some kind.”

Trixie turns to Twilight. “Now continue on with your presentation, Sparkle; Trixie had grown bored of all these silly questions ages ago.”

“………Thank you, Trixie…… just, thank you……” Twilight quickly reaches into her saddlebags, placing a large map on the surface of the table. “Alright, telling you that the Stones were alive in the magical sense of the word is one major reason that I brought you here. However, there is a more pressing matter that I have discovered in my research that requires our immediate attention.”

Twilight points to the map as everypony leans in. “For the past few months I have thought it strange that so many of the Red Stones and Strange Stones seemed to congregate in the area of Ponyville.”

Twilight reaches beneath the desk, pulling out a large pie graph and suspending it in the air with her magic. “According to Canterlot reports, we’re bringing in five times the number of Red Stones alone, and we’re the most understaffed of all the volunteer guard units in a town barely considered a worthwhile stop on the way to Canterlot by most Government Cartographers.”

Throwing away the flimsy pie graph Twilight picks up a pointer from the top of the desk, pointing it to several locations on the map. “I thought that this abnormal surge was a phenomenon worth investigating. Then I started tracking the patterns and locations where we have discovered the Red Stones, as well as how many were discovered at each location.” Twilight puts down the pointer as she looks at the group with a serious expression. “ After I got back the results from our own reports and the interviews of those we have gotten Stones from - Cheerilee, Derpy, and Lyra, to name a few - I came to a shocking conclusion.”

Twilight taps her hooves on the table as she looks at the marked points on the map. “We have found more and more Stones in centers of urban activity, and in large caches with groups of Red Stones being found closer together, in places like in homes or under patios. And that might be normal if they were coming out of the ground, but the Stones fell from the sky; finding them in such places is unlikely to say the least. And, strangely enough, we have discovered Red Stones in areas that were once thought clean, or in places we have already looked.” Twilight looks at her friends around her. “As if the Stones were moving on their own.”

Rarity raises her hoof. “Well that is a nice party trick Darling; but what does this have to do with us?”

Twilight groans as she turns to the fashionista. “That’s because the Stones aren’t growing legs and walking around, Rarity. The Stones are moving, but it’s not due to ponies moving them or the Stone’s being alive, it’s due to something else.”

Twilight reaches under the table, pulling out a single Strange Stone fragment. “When I discovered this pattern I started experimenting more, by flowing more magic into the Strange Stones and testing their reactions on each other.” Twilight then reaches out with her magic and in a flash an entire safe appears, landing gracefully on the table. “This safe is filled with fragments of the Strange Stones and a large supply of the Strange Stones that have yet to be sent to Canterlot.”

With surgical precision Twilight places the single shard of the Strange Stone on the table, drawing a starting line between the Stone and the safe. “Now watch and see what happens.”

Every eye is glued to the table as they begin the exciting prospect of watching a rock. All eyes look on at the black stone, each pony wondering what could possibly happen; and for minutes they watch in silence, in awe of such an exciting display of science. Suddenly, the group’s staring becomes nervous agitation as the Stone moves a slight distance forward, the tiny movements of the Stone carrying it across the line Twilight drew previously. Everypony gasps as they see the rock move of its own accord, sliding slowly across the table and coming to a rest against the thick walls of the safe.

Applejack reaches over to the table, tensely touching the Stone. “It-it moved!” she exclaims.

“Yes, that’s why there are so many Stones gathering together,they’re being attracted to each other by an invisible force.” Twilight scratches her head as she look at the stone. “As far as I can tell it’s some form of magnetism, but it works more like gravity, drawing the Red Stones and Strange Stones into caches and individual places.”

“This mysterious force could also be why Stand user keep gathering together.” Trixie says with crossed hooves, causing everypony in the room to look inquisitively at her. “This may just be Trixie acting superstitious, but Stand users, for one reason or another, are drawn to each other. As soulmates are ‘bound by fate’, Stand users are bound to meet whether as enemies or allies. Perhaps this effect of the Strange stones somehow causes stand users to be drawn to each other as well.

Twilight takes in a deep breath to calm her nerves. “That is something i’d love to do a bit more research into. However, from what I can tell the force between the Strange Stones in exponentially stronger than even the force of the largest Red Stones. But regardless of it’s origins It’s a force that is steadily pulling the Stones towards each other and towards a single point in space.” Twilight muses with her hoof on her chin. “Perhaps a bend in space time?”

Placing her musing in the ‘later’ file in her mind, Twilight takes up her pointer. “Anyway, to the bad news……”

“That wasn’t the bad news?!” Fluttershy asks fearfully.

“No, Fluttershy, it isn’t. Though I wish it were.” Twilight takes the pointer, drawing strong arrows on the map pointing in a certain direction. “After I discovered this attraction I quickly set about trying to study it, and that’s when I discovered something big. There’s already a powerful force in play that is pulling all the Stones away from Ponyville. From what I can tell, all the Stones in a yet-unknown radius are all being drawn towards a certain area.”

Twilight smacks her pointer on the table, the point landing on a large dark blotch on the map. “And that location is the Everfree Forest.”

Every pony grows silent at the mention of the dreaded woods, everypony knowing that the Everfree is no laughing matter. “And from the readings I’m getting…..” Twilight pulls out a large stack of scientific papers. “….I hypothesize it might be an attempt by a third party to gather more of the Stones together for their own benefit. However, it could also be an insanely-large collection of these Red Stones or a magical effect of the Everfree that’s drawing these Strange Stones together.”

Twilight slams her hoof on the table. “But whatever it is, it’s drawing every Stone that we haven’t found into the Everfree, at a larger and larger rate. That means the force that’s drawing all the Stones together is getting stronger. And that means in a few weeks’ time there won’t be a Strange Stone or Red Stone left in all of Ponyville, and a few months after that, all of Equestria.”

Twilight takes a deep breath, her tension returning as she prepares to deliver the point that she has been building up to all night. “And that’s why I’m leaving tomorrow morning to investigate this phenomenon, ALONE.”

Every pony in the group practically explodes, each one raising their voice at the same time, and Twilight is forced to use her magic to silence their protests. With a dome of silence descending around everypony save her, the lavender mare continues. “Now I know that you all want to come with me, but you all have families and your own lives to handle, so as the Princess Representative the task to investigate falls to me alone.”

Dispelling her barrier with a thought Twilight raises her hoof, cutting off everypony else’s arguments as she continues her well-thought-out point. “Now I know what you are going to say, but my mind is made up; I’m leaving tomorrow morning and I’m leaving alone and there’s not a thing you can do to change my mind.”

………………..

A cold shiver passes through Twilights’ body, and it’s not from the cold morning air. “I still can’t believe that you all threatened to read every book in the library that I haven’t read already and spoil every ending if I went into the Everfree alone….”

Rainbow Dash takes a break from her routine, slugging the librarian in the shoulder. “That’s just how much we care about you, egghead!”

Twilight groans heavily from Dash’s antics as she pulls a fragment of the Strange Stone that she is carrying out of her bag, watching as it spins on her hoof like a needle on a compass. As the Stone comes to a rest, pointing in the direction of the dark and dangerous Everfree, the weight and danger of this task suddenly falls on her. “I just wish that I didn’t have to drag you all into the Everfree like this. You know none of you have to come with me if you don’t want to.”

Applejack cuts off the lavender mare with a powerful arm on her shoulder. “Stow that sinkin thinking, Twi. We’re yer friends, come Tartarus er high water.”

“Applejack is right, Darling.” Rarity wraps her hoof around Twilight. “If you feel that you have to go into that dark, muddy forest then by goodness we’re with you!”

“Ditto here!” Dash lands by Twilight, placing her hoof on her shoulder. “I wouldn’t be a very loyal friend if I just backed out and let somepony else have all the action.”

Pinkie leaps into the dogpile. “Uh-Huh! It’ll be like one big super adventure with all our friends together! It’s like a big party!”

“Oh, I’m fine too.” Fluttershy nods as she wraps her hoof around the lavender mare. “I live near the Everfree so as long as we don’t run into anything too dangerous like a d-d-dragon….” The yellow mare gulps. “…then I’ll be fine too.”

Twilight looks at the friends around her, their faces brimming with hope and optimism, so genuine that there is no way that such a promise could be insincere. A naysayer might look at their ramshackle group of a farmer, a stunt mare, a Fashionista, a veterinarian and…. Pinkie, and say that one couldn’t possibly pick a more contradictory team. However, weeks of time spent with these very ponies has taught her that they could be counted on, that they were - as crazy as it sounded - her friends. “Thanks you, guys! I wouldn’t choose anypony else to go into a life-threatening situation with, even if you are all pretty weird…….”

All five of the mares go silent, looking at Twilight with wide eyes, their faces completely unreadable. Twilight gulps heavily, hoping that she didn’t go too far with that ‘weird’ joke as she begins to sweat nervously. All of a sudden the entire group breaks out into good-natured laughter, each one of them chuckling at the humor of their situation. All six mares join in, and as their laughter begins to die down each one of them is filled with the faintly burning embers of merriment.

Fluttershy sags a bit after the laughter, her face containing a note of disappointment. “I just wish that Trixie was coming with us, then we’d be all together. It seemed like she was getting along so well with us, and we had so much fun at our tea party…..”

The most of group shies slightly away from the yellow mare in surprise, Dash’s eyes widening. “You had tea with that loudmouth?” The speedster shouts at the top of her lungs. “You! had TEA? With Trixie!?”

“Trixie heard that insult clouds for brains!” Trixie walks out from behind the crowd, her face glowering. “For your information, Fluttershy and the purple mare are perhaps the only two civil ponies in your entire group, that and the yellow one makes a mean crumpet. And, as Trixie told you all yesterday...”

Trixie straightens her hat as she recites government protocol, “One government official must be in town at all times in case of an emergency. So since Twilight is so insistent on leaving, Trixie must stay and keep the peace in the town while all of you are off on your little vacation.”

“But Trixie,” Twilight points out, citing more official government protocol, “technically, nopony else knows about this mission, so, technically, it’s not a government operation and thus is not subject to its rules. Are you sure that you don’t want to come with us?”

Twilight trots up to the blue mare in one last attempt to convince Trixie to tag along. “it’s a short trip since we plan to be back by the day after tomorrow, and we could really use the help of somepony used to survival situations.”

Trixie looks out from the crowd; ignored up till this point, as the showmare begins to once again bask in the limelight. “So you’ve realized that you suddenly need the Great and Powerful Trixie’s skills now, do you? Well as tempting as a camping trip in the deep dark Everfree is, Trixie must decline.”

With no small amount of hamming it up the blue mare looks sorrowfully upon the group. “Despite the fact that Trixie was sent to keep an eye on you and your sad little friends, somepony must keep watch over the town. And Trixie feels that no single one of you hayseeds are responsible enough to watch the entire town, so the duty of protecting this burg falls to Trixie herself.”

Muttering under her breath, Trixie continues, “Goddess knows that this town would have been destroyed long ago without somepony to keep it from burning to cinders……..”

Twilight ears perk up. “I’m sorry, what was that, Trixie?”

“Nothing!” The blue mare rises to her back hooves in a dramatic gesture. “Now be on your way! Trixie will be fine here! Just make sure to come back safe and not die. It’s not because Trixie cares about any of you (except Fluttershy and perhaps Twilight) but because it would be a ton of paperwork if you just up and died!” The showmare professes with embarrassment. Not willing to let anypony see her slight blush and her concern for her friends, the blue mare turns tail and walks away from the group with a burdened heart.

“You know, Trixie may still be a jerk……” Rainbow Dash says as the group watches the show mare trot off, “…..But she’s gotten less jerky about being a jerk. You know what I’m saying?”

“I just hope that the darling can handle the entire town while we’re gone.” Rarity looks off at the rapidly fading blue mare “It took all of us together to keep Ponyville from falling apart; it seems that some kind of disaster happens every other week. Celestia only knows how it’s still standing.”

“We get it Rares!” Applejack sigh “Ponyville's crazy like that, can we please git a move on?”

“Applejack’s right, Trixie can handle the town.” Twilight slings her pack of magical tools on her back. “What’s important is that we get to the source of this anomaly as soon as possible. And that means setting out now.”

Reaching to her flank Twilight pulls out a thermos and opens it, promptly pouring herself a large cup of coffee. Downing it with a single shot the mare wipes her lips with her arm and strikes a confident pose. “So let’s get to it, Stardust Crusaders!”

The entire group is silent, each one watching the lavender mare. Rainbow Dash sighs, “Twilight, no matter how many times you’re going to say it, it won’t make the title sound cooler.”

“Whatever!” Twilight yells as she starts down the path for the Everfree. “Let’s just get going!”

The rest of the group looks at each other, measuring the others reactions as they begin to trot down the path ahead of them, following after Twilight Sparkle. Each one of the group waves hardily to the ponies behind them as one after the other they disappear into the darkness of the Everfree Forest.

……………………

The first part of the epic journey of the mares, though slow and tiresome, was undoubtedly dangerous. The path through the Everfree, not used in an age, was winding and twisted, the magic that was holding the dirt roads together having degraded long before any of the mares were born. For the most part, the Stardust Crusaders tried as much as possible to stay on the paths; however, following the whims of a magic stone, their paths often lead through Cragadiles, quicksand, nests of angry creatures, and the Everfree’s most numerous inhabitants, Timberwolves. However, these were no normal mares, their resourcefulness, their power and their resolve more than a match for the traps and dangers the forest threw at them. Yet as the day passed hour by hour the mares became more and more ragged, worn down by the insects, the shifting temperatures, and most of all the long burdensome road ahead of them. And most infuriating of all was probably the fact that though the direction the Stone lead them in was constant, the winding nature of the Everfree and the multitude of obstacles often forced them to redirect their course, more than once forcing them to travel three times the distance to their destination.

Morning passed into late day, with the mares growing more exhausted as the hours ticked by. Their journey shifted from moments of eerie silence to traps and creatures fraught with danger; their adrenaline coursing through their veins at intervals as they fought every inch of the way to make progress in their quest. Still, they tried to keep the mood up: Pinkie breaking into full fledged song at least three times; Rarity and Applejack talking about the finer points of their business; and Twilight trying to explain to Dash how you couldn’t just use magic to make yourself the fastest pony in Equestria. Even so, by the time the sun was coming just about to rest on the horizon, the mares began to despair at even reaching their destination……..

“UGH!” Rarity groans, “Another hill! Twilight, please, are you TRYING to kill us?”

Twilight grunts as her hooves lose traction and she slides a small distance back down the hill, her forehoof still clutching a fragment of the Strange Stone. “I’m walking the same path as you, Rarity! If you want to blame something, blame the dumb rock that lead us here!”

Twilight extends her hoof to Rarity showing her the rock, Pinkie joining to look inquisitively at the Strange Stone. “Um? OKAY!” Pinkie slaps the Stone with her hoof. “Bad Rock! Now take us on an easier path without any hills!”

The other ponies in the group groan at Pinkie's antics, far too tired to tell her to shut up already. “Um…. Pinkie….” Well, except for one yellow mare. “I think that Twilight was joking….”

“Well I knew that, Fluttershy! I was just curious if she could tell that she was joking, too!”

“Great, now not even Pinkie’s jokes make sense anymore.” Rainbow Dash, her wings tired from constant flying, decided to give them a rest only to deeply regret not trying to fly up the hill they were on. “Hills…… why’d it have to be hills……”

Applejack grunts in heavy labor as she nears the very crest of the hill. “Ugh! Don’t yawl go quittin’ on me now!” The farm pony adjusts her hat. “We’re almost to the top! Ya can’t stop now!”

Applejack reaches her hoof up to the very ridge of the hill, pulling herself up. “See? Not so hard! An look, Ah can see fer miles and mil……… wooooow……..”

The entire party is left staring at Applejack’s plot as she looks away from them, completely stunned at something that only she can see. Twilight looks at the farm mare and calls out, “Applejack! What are you standing around like that for? Give us a hoof here!”

Applejack appears to be moving her mouth as if saying something to herself. Doubtless if the others could see her face her expression might be called one of dumbfounded shock. Twilight facehooves. “Great. Applejack’s finally lost it!” The purple mare turns to face Rainbow Dash behind her. “Rainbow! Fly up and tell Applejack to throw down the rope so we can all climb up.”

“Aw! Do I have too?”

“………….”

“Gurah! Alright. I’ll go!” Dash grudgingly flies to the top of the hill, her shoulders slouched from the exertion. “Hey, Applejack! Quit slacking and…… Whoa……..” Rainbow Dash takes a look over the crest of the hill and is stunned by the sight before her.

“Great, now Dash’s loopy too!” Twilight throws up her hooves in exasperation. “Rainbow Dash! Applejack! Snap out of it! We could really use some help here.”

Twilight’s words finally seem to reach the orange farmer, snapping her out of her daydream. “Oh, Twi. Were you sayin somthin?”

“Throw down the rope! We need to climb up there!”

Applejack looks to her pack sheepishly, seeing a long coil of rope. “Oh. mah mistake. Twi.” The orange farmer throws the rope down the steep hill. “Ah was just a bit distracted; yawl really need ta see this.”

All the mares look at each other in confusion at Applejack’s comment, wondering what could captivate the farm mare so much that she would momentarily forget her friends. Reaching for the rope, they pull themselves up the slope by their teeth, climbing up the hill with newfound energy, each one wondering what could be beyond the horizon. Twilight arrives first at the top of the hill, spiting the dirt from the rope off of her tongue. “Petw! Bleh! Last time I grab a rope covered in quicksand with my mouth.” The lavender mare freezes at the view before her “…..Wow……”

Rainbow Dash nods at the sight before them as the rest of the Mane Six come over the crest of the hill. “Yeah, I know…… pretty awesome. hunh?”

The sight greeting the mares can only be described as majestic. The hill’s perspective giving them all a view that stretches for miles, the deep greens of the Everfree meshing together like a dark carpet. From their vantage, the town of Ponyville can just be seen on the horizon, and if one were to squint they might be able to make out the vague shadow of the great City of Canterlot.

However, the sight that dominates the view before them and enraptured their senses is something far older and more ancient than a simple city. Crouching on the edge of a large gorge, as if standing in defiance of the crevasse's attempts to swallow it, sits a large majestic castle of dark grey stone. The castle stands as if beyond time; lost to the ages yet undaunted by time and weathering, it remains in pristine condition despite a few shattered windows and broken stones. And considering the force of the Everfree, the fact that a single structure could survive such a ravaging makes it seem even more mythical. Between the mares and the castle stands a wide open plain, the empty, grassy expanse between them and the gorge only serving to accentuate the size and detail of the structure before them. Smaller ruins of civilization dot the landscape around the mares, the stones and rubble the only testament to the fact that a civilization even existed here.

“It’s…… it’s amazing……” Fluttershy gasps.

“Indeed,” Rarity nods, “I do believe that this is a sight we shall not soon forget.”

“What did I tell you guys!” Pinkie pulls all of the mares all into a group hug. “Best Camping Trip Ever! Oh wait a second, great idea!” Manifesting her Stand, Suprise, Pinkie pulls a large camera off of its skin, placing it gently on the ground. The group looks at each other as they realized that they have once again been dragged into a Pinkie Pie antic.

“Now, everypony smile!” Pinkie shouts. “Three, Two, One, Ham and cheese!”

The camera goes off in a blinding flash, causing the large majority of the party to begin writhing on the ground in agony, blind as bats. All save the pink party mare herself who quickly inspects the group photo. “Oh this is a good one! Definitely one for the scrapbook.” Pinkie stuffs the picture in her mane as she turns back to the rest of the group. “Hey? Are you guys okay? That wasn’t too sudden, was it?”

“Pinkie,” Twilight pulls herself off the ground as the rest of the group steadily recovers. “Please don’t do that again.”

Pinkie lowers her head. “Sorry, Twilight, it was just such a good picture, look!” Pinkie presents the photo to the group, and they all take in not only the majestic background but the fact that Pinkie managed to catch them just as they were all smiling for the picture.

“Pinkie, that’s some good photography.”

“Thanks, Twilight, I have a lot of practice! I take pictures of almost everything in Ponyville: birds, brides, rocks, rolls, peanut butter, jelly, pygmys, budgies, Kuala Lumpur, you know, everything! That’s why I’m so good; why just the other day I was taking a picture for one of my parties because I love my parties and I want to remember that ponies should remember them so……”

“Yeah that’s great, Pinkie,” Twilight blows the pink mare off, turning to address her friends. “But what’s really surprising are these ruins.”

Twilight looks out at the view as she reaches into her saddle bag with her magic, pulling out their map. “This palace looks ancient, but it doesn’t appear on any map of the Everfree, and castles don’t just appear in the middle of a forest. Even though the Everfree is not widely explored, something like this couldn’t possibly be missed, especially since it seems to have had some kind of history.”

“Well, where is the Strange Stone pointing?” Fluttershy asks.

Twilight pulls out the Strange Stone, watching as its needle spins on her hoof, coming to a stop so that its tip is pointing in the direction of the palace. “It’s pointing right at it, and the abnormality is much stronger this time. We must be close to it. Perhaps it’s near the ruins somewhere?”

“Well what are we waiting around here for?” Rainbow Dash leaps into the air, her spirit and wings revitalized by the sight before them. “Come on, let’s check it out!”

Rainbow Dash is fully prepared to soar straight to the ruins only for her momentum to be stopped by the strong yank of a certain orange pony’s jaws. Rainbow turns around just in time to be pulled back to earth by Applejack. “Now just hold on a second, yawl.” Applejack adjusts her hat, giving the castle a wary look. “Ah may be a stick in the mud fer sayin this, but is exploring a decrepit castle in the middle of a haunted woods such a good….”

KA-KROOM!

Everypony in the group flinches at the deafening explosion, the hair on their flanks standing on end from both surprise and the powerful current of magical energy coursing through the air. Thunder cracks off in the distance as the mares turn their heads to the sound behind them. All gasp as they see the large, dark cloud contrasting against the sunset sky, its obsidian bowels crackling with wild lightning and thunder. The mares watch for the space of several seconds, awed by the power of wild nature, as the cloud begins to clear the horizon as if it was rushing towards them in search of prey.

“Wild Storm!” Dash yells. Dash, being a senior leader of the Weather patrol, realizes the danger they are now in as she raises her hoof to the broken keep in the distance. “Alright, everypony! Let’s double-time it to the castle! We definitely don’t want to be caught in that storm! Let’s move move!”

Everypony in the group looks up at the abandoned castle off in the distance with it’s dark stone and gothic architecture and one look at the storm closing in behind them, the rolling winds and pulsing lightning arcing through the black as night clouds before unanimously deciding to take their chances with the dark and foreboding castle in front of them over the mysterious weather at their backs. And with all the strength left in their bodies from a full day of marching through the most hostile terrain in Equestria, the six mares bolt towards the castle in the distance knowing full well that the storm at their backs is closing in even as they run with all their strength to escape it.

Author's Note:

To Be Continued →

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