• Published 19th Aug 2015
  • 857 Views, 26 Comments

Witchcraft is Magic - wingdingaling

Nightmare Night draws near, and as it does, strange things begin to happen around Ponyville. Scary strangers threaten the town, and things will change for the Cutie Mark Crusaders forever.

  • ...

Chapter 2: What Happened Last Night

Chapter 2

What Happened Last Night

When morning came, the door to the Golden Oaks Library opened. In the doorway stood Twilight, weary, sad, and terribly let down. She searched all night for Owloysius, but only ever caught glances of what she thought might have been him or the thing he flew out to confront.

In the end, all she had was a night free of any sleep. She had to accept that Owloysius may have gone missing, and tried not to think what that monster may have done to him.

Looking up, she saw Spike going about his morning chores. The dragon didn't seem to notice Twilight when she walked in at first. But, when the door clicked shut behind Twilight, his attention was caught.

"Twilight! You're back," Spike greeted her.

Twilight was too tired to say anything. But, she had a duty to fulfill as Owloysius's caretaker. She began with her usual order of business when she was stumped about what to do next.

"Spike, send a letter to Princess Celestia about Owloysius disappearing," the librarian said.

"Uh, Twilight--" Spike began, before he was interrupted.

"I need you to give a detailed description of the entire incident, which I'll be ready to give after a cup of coffee or two."

"Twilight, you don't--" Spike tried to say.

"She'll need to know everything about the general direction I traced his flight, the time of the incident, and the details about the monster he was with when he disappeared."

"Twilight," Spike interjected. "Owloysius is right here."

Twilight looked over to where Spike was pointing, and sure enough, her beloved owl was sitting on his perch, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had happened at all.

Owloysius let out a little hooting snore while Twilight examined him for any injuries or abnormalities that may have occurred last night. To her relief, nothing was found.

"So, what was this about a monster with Owloysius?" Spike asked as he jumped on top of the desk the owl's perch was on.

If she had found her pet before the night was through, Twilight wasn't going to tell Spike about the monster she saw, so that she wouldn't worry him. Now that she had let it slip, she tried to squirm her way out of explaining.

"Uhhhhh...who said anything about a monster?" Twilight asked.

Spike crossed his arms, and raised an eyebrow.

With a sigh, Twilight decided that she had better explain the situation.

That day at the school, the lessons were going on as usual, with a math quiz here and a spelling test there. But since Nightmare Night was a few weeks away, Miss Cheerilee had prepared a new lesson to teach the foals about the origins of the holiday.

It was nothing that the Cutie Mark Crusaders didn't learn from Granny Smith last night. Even so, some of them had other things on their minds that kept them from paying attention.

Apple Bloom's thoughts kept going back to the incident last night, and what that strange mare could have been. Ever since it happened, all she could think about were those ghostly eyes from Granny's story, and the ones she saw in the orchard. She knew that something like that couldn't be coincidence. Further convincing her was the way Scootaloo looked deep in thought the same way she did.

"Scootaloo," she whispered to not alert her teacher, "Did anything weird happen last night?"

As far as Scootaloo knew, nothing weird happened last night, but what she found when she woke up that morning pointed to the contrary.

"No. But, something must have. I woke up this morning and found Rainbow Dash sleeping next to my bed," she answered to her friend.

Ever since she was adopted, she, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and all of Dash's friends knew Dash to be a doting parent. But, even that was strange for her.

"What the hay was she doing there?" Sweetie asked from her seat behind Scootaloo.

"I don't know, but she looked really scared," Scootaloo answered.

"Rainbow Dash? Scared?"

"That's what I thought. And after I woke her up, she started checking if I was hurt and asked if I saw anything last night."

"Maybe that's what happened with Rarity," Sweetie suggested.

"What do you mean?" Apple Bloom asked, intrigued to hear more.

"When I went to wake her up, she looked right at me and screamed. I didn't even make breakfast today, and she almost jumped out of her skin. Do you think she might've seen anything?" Sweetie Belle wondered.

"I saw somethin'," Apple Bloom said.

Her friends turned their undivided attention to her.

"Somethin' was in the orchard destroyin' the trees last night. I thought it was a pony at first, but then I saw its eyes glowin' in the dark."

"Did you have a box of matches?" Sweetie asked fearfully.

"No. It disappeared when my sister an' brother went outside."

Even though they didn't say it, they were all thinking the same thing: whatever happened last night was somehow connected to the stories Granny Smith told. How? They didn't know, but they couldn't keep thinking about it when Miss Cheerilee brought their attention to the front of the room.

"Now, can anypony tell me how trick or treating started?" their teacher asked

Apple Bloom had heard the answer to that last night, and almost raised her hoof to answer. But then, she noticed something else on the other side of her peripheral vision, and knew exactly what it was.

Oftentimes in class, one of the other students, a pegasus colt named Red Sky, would spend minutes at a time staring at her for no apparent reason. Even though he seemed like a nice enough colt, it still made Apple Bloom feel uncomfortable for looking at her so much.

But she knew how to make him stop. She glanced over in his direction, which made the colt snap his eyes back to the front of the class, much to the relief of the filly.

After school, the Cutie Mark Crusaders met up outside the building to make a plan.

They agreed that their best bet was to learn all they could about the stories of creatures from another world and apply it to the strange happenings.

There were two valuable sources of information: one of them was Granny Smith, but Sweet Apple Acres was a long way from the school. Instead, they went with the other, nearer option: the Golden Oaks Library. Twilight was sure to have a book on the subject.

Apple Bloom adjusted her saddlebags, which she had loaded with posters for the necklace she was wearing. She was about to walk away with her friends, until she bumped face to face with somepony else.

"Ow! Watch where yer--" She stopped when she saw the foal she bumped into was Red Sky, whose face was turning a deeper shade of red than the rest of him.

Apple Bloom wanted to tell him to move, but instead, she found herself at a loss for words and could only stare at him. In her mind, she hoped he'd move on his own.

"Uh...hi, Apple Bloom," Red Sky said nervously.

He paused while he scuffed his hoof on the ground. After he stayed silent for what felt like a long time to Apple Bloom and her friends, he started talking again.

"Me and Snips and Snails are going into the forest to find some of those ghosts ponies have been seeing. Do you want to come with us?"

It was too weird for Apple Bloom. He sounded so eager, like he was hoping she'd say yes to his offer, which made her feel anxious to leave. But at the same time, she wanted to know why he was acting this way, but was too nervous to accept.

"Isn't the Everfree kinda dangerous?" the filly asked, grasping for anything to say.

"Yeah... But if we stay together, I bet it'll be safe," Red Sky answered.

He continued to wait for an answer from Apple Bloom, but the two foals only kept staring at one another.

More than anything, Apple Bloom wanted to go away with her friends, but the idea of going into the woods to find the spooks that visited the orchard last night also sounded like a good idea to her. That, and now that she was talking to him, she began to learn that he may be as nice as she thought he was. Maybe she could make a new friend if she said 'yes.' She was still unsure of how to answer, but her mind was made up for her.

"We have to go to the library," Scootaloo said hastily as she led Apple Bloom away.

"What? But I didn't answer him," Apple Bloom protested. She felt that she would have likely said 'no,' but even then it would have been nice for him to have an answer.

"Didn't you hear what he said? He said that other ponies have been seeing ghosts," Scootaloo reasoned.

Of course Sweetie would have missed it, but Apple Bloom didn't she how she could have. This knowledge motivated her and her friends to go to the library with all haste.

Twilight was deep in thought as she read her book, when three fillies walked into her library.

"Hiya, Twilight!" Sweetie Belle greeted the librarian at her desk.

She did so a bit loudly, which made her friends put their hooves over her mouth and remind her to be quiet in the library.

Even then, she didn't get Twilight's attention. The purple unicorn eyes continued to dart across the pages of the book she magically held in front of her.

"Twilight?" Apple Bloom asked as she approached the desk.

Still no good.

Apple Bloom lowered the book from Twilight's gaze, so that they could see each other.

"Twilight? Ya got customers."

"Oh, I'm sorry! I was just, um..." Twilight apologized. She trailed off when she remembered what she was so engrossed with, and didn't want to worry the fillies, "What can I do for you?"

"We need a book about ghosts and monsters. We want some ideas for Nightmare Night costumes," Scootaloo told her.

"And it has to be about the monsters from the other side of the dark," Sweetie added.

"You must mean the ones that the ponies from ancient Chlaughplin believed in from the origins of the holiday," Twilight asked. She was always delighted to loan out books and impart knowledge, especially to foals who were motivated to learn. But, this time was an exception. "Sorry, but I only have one book on that subject in the whole library, and I'm reading it now."

"Great! Now we don't have to look for it," Apple Bloom declared as she, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle all crowded around Twilight and read the book over her shoulder. "Is there anything in there about glowin' eyes?"

"Actually, before you came, I was busy looking up monsters that look like owls," Twilight answered.

"Why were you doing that?" Scootaloo asked.

"I was uh...looking for a good costume for Owloysius," Twilight answered, shifty eyed.

Over on his perch, Owloysius woke up with a startled, "Hwut!?" He saw how much his friend Opal hated wearing the silly costumes Rarity made her wear, and wasn't about to join her misery.

Over on one of the ladders, as he was organizing the books on the shelves, Spike rolled his eyes at Twilight's threadbare lie. She really did need to learn how to lie better.

They all jumped as the window crashed open when Rainbow Dash flew in. Her shift at work had ended, and she had business to take care of at the library.

"I need a book! Fast!" Dash said as she came to a halt in front of the desk. She then noticed her filly was present as well, "Hey there, Scoots. What brings you here?"

"We're here to get costume ideas for Nightmare Night, mom," Scootaloo happily answered.

She always called Rainbow Dash 'mom' in public because she knew it made her uncomfortable.

It was a strange adjustment for Dash to be anypony's mother, no matter how much time had passed. Even so, to her it was better than joining the Wonderbolts.

"Hey, me too. I was thinking something like a ghost. Any books about ghosts here?" Dash answered.

"Twilight says this one's pretty good," Apple Bloom answered.

"Actually, I said I was reading it right now," Twilight corrected.

"What chapter talks about ghosts?" Dash asked as she rapidly flipped through the pages.

"We were just on it," Sweetie informed.

Dash flipped the pages back.

"Is there anything in there about floating knives? I was thinking about this year's Nightmare Night party, and I thought things like floating knives and lamps that shoot fire would be super scary," Pinkie asked as she appeared suddenly behind everypony else.

"Pinkie, the idea of Nightmare Night is to be fun. Not kill ponies," Twilight admonished, not quite believing what she heard.

"Come on, it's not like I'm going to throw them at anypony! That would be mean," Pinkie reasoned, thinking about the giggling prankster last night. "Ooh, I forgot: I want to have creepy, spooky 'vwee hee hee hee'-type laughter. For the party, of course."

"Hey, get a look at this," Apple Bloom indicated.

The page she stopped on showed a photograph of a temple, or a shrine of some sort. In front of the structure was what looked like an earth pony who was barely visible and dressed in centuries old robes.

Twilight took the liberty to read the page for everypony.

"What is a ghost? The answer can vary depending on who you ask, but the bare basics of it is a deceased pony's disembodied spirit. They are often said to be seen near places that held a strong emotional connection to them while they were living. Pictured to the right is the Morning Star Temple where can be seen what many believe to be a ghost of one of the priests who worshiped there hundreds of years ago. Many theories exist to why ghosts appear: to visit a loved one, to finish something they hadn't completed, to retrieve something, to take out their frustration on the living, or to take revenge on the living."

Dash tensed up when she heard that last part. The idea that Scootaloo may be in danger from something from beyond the grave chilled her to her soul. If something was trying to get Scootaloo, she had to find a way to protect her, but without her knowing, so that she wouldn't frighten her.

"Anything in there about how to get rid of them?" Dash asked.

"Do you think they take out their frustration by mercilessly slaughtering cupcakes and pies?" Pinkie asked.

She had earned a curious look from everypony else.

"It's for the party," Pinkie explained.

She had no intention of telling anypony about what happened last night. After all, who would believe her? They would think she was just 'acting like Pinkie,' and imagining things.

"But Pinkie, you love cupcakes," came Fluttershy's voice to the side. "I'm sorry, I knocked several times, but nopony answered. So I let myself in...Please don't be mad at me."

"What brings you here?" Twilight asked.

It was unusual to see Fluttershy at all as Nightmare Night came closer, since the scary merriment always frightened her.

"I came to find something that can help protect me from monsters this year. I don't think I'll be able to sleep if I do," Fluttershy answered.

After seeing that wolf-thing last night, she had to find a way to make sure it would never come back to hurt her or any of her animal friends.

"Come on, Flutters, everypony knows monsters don't exist," Dash said, keeping up her facade.

Something clicked to Twilight in that moment.

Fluttershy wanted to find protection from monsters, even though she usually protected herself by locking herself in her home.

Dash came in with an unusual interest in ghosts to get costume ideas, even though she said she was going as a Wonderbolt again.

Pinkie had dangerous pranks on the brain, claiming that she was doing it for the annual Nightmare Night party.

And Twilight herself saw some kind of monster last night.

Twilight decided to have a talk with her friends about it later. For the moment, she had to flip through the pages to find anything about protection against these beasts, deciding that Fluttershy made a good point about that.

She flipped through the pages until Fluttershy gasped when she saw something.

"What is it?" Apple Bloom asked

With a shaking hoof, Fluttershy turned the pages back to reveal a sight more monstrous than anything anypony had seen.

The page she stopped on showed what looked like a timber wolf, but it was standing on two legs, was covered in shaggy, black fur, and had glowing red eyes. It didn't look like the creature that Fluttershy saw, but was recognizable as the same species.

Fluttershy did her best to read the page, but her trembling kept her from seeing clearly. She hated to be a bother, but she needed to know what the page said.

"Twilight...?" the timid pegasus began.

She didn't have to finish. Twilight obliged her and read the page for her.

"Also known as a lycanthrope, the werewolf is a creature that is known throughout all of Trottingham as a shape shifting being of terror. Its belief is widely spread throughout the country, and many residents plant gardens of lupins and wolfsbane to deter the beasts."

Fluttershy felt relieved on this point. Now she knew how to keep the wolf-thing away.

"Depending on the part of the country, becoming a werewolf varies. It can be by wearing a necklace made of timber wolf fangs, or by drinking rainwater from a timber wolf's paw print, or--"

"Excuse me," Rarity interrupted, "I'm terribly sorry to interrupt, but a customer has ordered a costume, and has asked to be the ugliest, scariest, most unattractive being imaginable. Do you have any books to provide inspiration?"

"I have an old egg salad sandwich in the fridge you can look at," Sweetie helpfully suggested.

"Duly noted," Rarity said, remembering the horrible, festering thing she found behind the milk that morning at breakfast after she walked her sister to school. "But I was thinking something that was more along the lines of: horrible, withered face; bulging fish eyes and a disgustingly flared bull's nose?"

That description was very odd to everypony. If they knew Rarity, she would never have come up with that on her own, and that she would never so much as go near anything, read any book, or watch any play that would display something so horrible.

"Oh, and I forgot the absence of an upper lip," Rarity added.

That was really strange.

Through all their reading, the Cutie Mark Crusaders didn't find anything like what Apple Bloom had seen.

After Twilight had gone through the whole book, and everypony else had found at least a trace of what they were interested in, the fillies were left as uninformed as when they entered.

There was still Granny Smith, who was bound to know at least something. After the fillies set up the posters of Apple Bloom's necklace, they headed to Sweet Apple Acres to talk to Granny.

It was late afternoon when the Cutie Mark Crusaders finished putting up the posters around town. They made sure to put them in places that everypony would see them, even going so far as to have them baked into cakes, mailing them to ponies and weaving them into fabrics. Two ponies set up a banner that was announcing the annual festival, only to find that it was covered with 'missing' posters.

Since their work was done, the three fillies trotted to Apple Bloom's house to get some answers.

The sun was low in the sky by the time they arrived, and they found Granny in the living room, setting up the scary holiday decorations. Oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly), Granny was talking to them as well.

"Yer gonna go here, where anypony who comes in is gonna have a big jump when they see ya," the old mare said to a large, stuffed spider that she set up by the doorway.

"Hi, Granny," Apple Bloom greeted her grandmother, without any regard to her eccentricities. After living with her for seven or so years, she had simply come to accept that as who Granny was.

Instead of acknowledging the greeting, Granny Smith looked suspiciously at the decoration she had set up.

"What was that?" she inquired.

"I said, 'hi, Granny,'" Apple Bloom repeated.

Granny's eyes nearly popped out of her head when she heard that again.

"Now, wait just a darn minute here!" she said shakily as she reached a hoof out to examine the spider more closely.

"Down here."

Granny looked where she was instructed and saw her youngest granddaughter with her two friends.

"Well, hey there, younguns. Come by for some more o' Granny's stories, did ya? Come on in. An' watch out fer that spider. She might start doin' more than just talkin'," she cautioned the fillies as they all took their spots in the living room. "Alright: lemme think of a story I ain't told in a while..."

"We actually had something we wanted to ask about," Sweetie started before she asked her question, "Remember that story you told last night about the pony who was walking home, and he saw that monster with glowing eyes? Do you know what it might have been?"

Granny was silent for a long time after Sweetie Belle finished speaking.

"Why do ya ask? It's just a story," Granny answered finally.

"Yeah, but..." Sweetie trailed off as she thought up a reason why they were asking.

"It's for a costume we want to make," Scootaloo filled in for her friend, they needed a cover story for what they were doing, and she decided that she had better keep it straight with what they told Twilight.

"Well, glowin' eyes happen with a lot o' nighttime critters. Things like cats, raccoons, owls an' the like. They all have special eyes that make 'em look like they're lightin' up, but they're just reflectin' dim lights like stars and the moon. For all we know, the monster from the story could o' been somethin' natural that the pony who saw it didn't recognize," Granny said.

So far, the fillies hadn't learned anything about what may have visited the orchard last night. All Granny did so far was tell them how a story like that could get started.

"Course, in the stories I know, there's somethin' else that glowin' eyes are associated with," Granny said.

"What's that?" Apple Bloom asked.


"W-Witchcraft?" Sweetie repeated, wishing she had brought a box of matches to keep herself safe

"That's right," Granny affirmed, "See, back in the day, ponies didn't just believe that there were mindless monsters livin' in the other world, but creatures that were smart as anypony ya see walkin' 'round. Some of 'em practiced a kind o' magic different from what unicorns or alicorns use. Some folks thought that they used it to do terrible things to the ponies who lived in this world. But who can really say, since it's all superstition?"

"But what if it was real? If it weren't just make believe, how would ya stop a witch?" Apple Bloom blurted out.

Granny paused again at her granddaughter's question, but obliged with an answer.

"Nopony knows fer sure. Usually, the best thing to do about witches is avoid 'em altogether, I guess. There're some stories I know about ponies who wear charms 'round their necks to ward off the spells they cast. Then again, who knows? Maybe the witch was castin' a good luck spell, an' they missed out on gettin' a bigger house 'cause the fool wearin' it was so scared o' them?"

Granny chuckled at her notion.

Apple Bloom's mind immediately went to the necklace she was wearing. She remembered how she felt when she found it, and how it made her feel comforted like somepony she trusted was with her. Maybe it was because it was made to keep away bad magic and spirits, like what Granny said. If that was it, then it would be her best defense against the witch she saw visited the orchard again.

Her thoughts ended when they all heard the front door fly open. Quicker than they knew, Applejack bolted into the room.

"Oh, thank Celestia! Yer here!" she said with a relieved sigh as she hugged her sister.

"What's wrong, sis?" Apple Bloom wondered, knowing that Applejack would not act this way without good cause.

She saw her sister's face change to a small frown.

"Sugarcube... I don't know how to tell ya this, but--" Applejack sighed quietly as she recollected what happened earlier. "While I was in town, Snips an' Snails came runnin' down the street bawlin' like a pair o' hound dogs. Me, an' a bunch o' other ponies asked them what was wrong, an' they told us how them an' Red Sky found a ghost in the forest. They said that Red Sky ran after it, an'..."

She paused to prepare herself and her sister for what she was about to say. After a moment, she continued.

"He fell down a ravine, where a bunch o' rocks fell on top o' him."

Applejack's heart broke when she saw her sister's face. She had seen Apple Bloom sad before, but this was entirely different. It was a terrible kind of sadness that only came from profound tragedies. She collected herself to finish her story.

"I asked if anypony else was with 'em, an' they said they invited you along. That's when I came runnin' here. An' thank Celestia, ya ain't hurt." Her voice choked as she spoke the last words and tears leaked out of her eyes. She then held her sister tighter as if she meant to never let go of her.

Her sister's embrace did nothing to ease her sadness. It was the first time Apple Bloom experienced the feeling of losing somepony else, and she felt as if she would never be happy again.

Raging with her sadness were feelings of confusion. Why was she so sad that Red Sky died? Even though the only relationship she had with him was his classmate, she still felt like a part of her died along with him.

"I...want to go to bed now..." Apple Bloom said quietly as tears fell out her eyes.

Applejack knew what an emotional strain she was under. It was the same way that she felt when their parents died. Even though the sun hadn't completely set at that time, Applejack obliged and guided her sister upstairs to tuck her in.

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo stayed at the house to offer their support to Apple Bloom, but only after they had given her time to grieve. In the meantime, they ate the slices of pie that were offered to them, and listened to more of Granny's stories to gather what information they could.

After a half hour or so passed, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo went upstairs to check on their friend.

Apple Bloom was lying in her bed with her back to the door, hiding her face when her friends walked in.

The two fillies approached the bed, but both of them hesitated to address Apple Bloom. After a few moments of uncertainty, Sweetie Belle finally spoke up.

"How are you feeling, Apple Bloom?"

No answer.

Through her time alone, Apple Bloom had been thinking about everything that had happened since last night. It was a serious inconvenience for their orchard to be destroyed, but now foals were getting killed. So far, she and her friends were more knowledgeable than anypony else about what was happening, and something had to be done about it. Slowly, she got out of bed and faced her friends.

"We're goin' into the Everfree tonight," Apple Bloom announced.

"What? Why? You heard what happened to Red Sky!" Scootaloo tried to reason.

"I know. But somethin' has to be done before anypony else gets hurt," Apple Bloom said. She had made up her mind about what to do, and was going to follow through.

"But, what can we do?" Sweetie asked. She knew that Apple Bloom wasn't going to change her mind, and knew that she had no choice but to go along with it.

"Tonight, when everypony's asleep, we're gonna meet up at the edge of the forest past the orchard. Then we're gonna go in, an' send whatever's in there back to the dark," Apple Bloom resolved.

Her friends silently agreed with her, and made their plans to purge the forest of its evil.

Author's Note:

Isn't that cute how Apple Bloom has her first crush, until the colt dies in a horrible accident by actually getting crushed?
By the way, that thing about turning into a werewolf by drinking rainwater out of a wolf's footprint: totally not made up.
So, next chapter, the Cutie Mark Crusaders venture into the heart of darkness and confront the cause of their terrors. What will they find? Read the next chapter to find out. Until then, I advise you to rock on \m/

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!