• Published 19th Aug 2015
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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.

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Chapter 7: Dark Was the Night

Chapter 7

Dark Was the Night

After the adventure of the night, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were almost relieved to be going home, even if it meant they were going to be in very big trouble with their families.

The whole time, Rainbow Dash was discussing Scootaloo's punishment, and Rarity was was chiding Sweetie Belle about the repercussions of her actions and what their parents would say if anything happened to her. The Apple siblings, however, remained completely silent.

There was nothing that Apple Bloom could say to soften whatever punishment she was in for. Whenever she tried to say anything at all, Applejack cut her off with a curt, "No."

Big Macintosh simply didn't see fit to say anything at all for the time being. Whatever could be said could wait until they got home.

Unknown to them, they were not alone in the woods. Neither Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo saw anything, since they were busy being scolded. But all around, Apple Bloom could see dark creatures beyond the glow of her sister's lantern. Perhaps they were simply animals she knew, and were distorted by the darkness. But, seeing them was wondrous to her.

Next to her, Winona was looking in all directions, keeping sure that there was nothing that could hurt her ponies.

"Ya see 'em too, don't ya, girl?" Apple Bloom whispered to her dog.

Being a dog, Winona had no way of answering. If she could, she would have asked how Apple Bloom knew about the things like that. But, having known one another since they were young, they had other ways of communication.

"I'll tell ya when we get home," Apple Bloom said.

Winona wagged her tail. Whatever Apple Bloom could tell her, it may help her to protect her family from the strange creatures.

Looking up, Apple Bloom could see Applejack's eyes glancing in all the directions she saw the shadows. It made the filly wonder if her sister could see the creatures as well. But, she didn't bother asking. She knew that she would be cut off by another 'no,' and be forced to walk in silence.

Finally, they reached the edge of the forest, and arrived at the apple orchard. The others all went their separate ways home, while the Apples all walked through the trees to their front porch.

As they got closer, they passed through the dead trees nearest to the house. In the dark of the night, the lantern cast harsh shadows on the trees, turning their leafless branches into twisted arms that threatened to grab at the passing ponies.

Apple Bloom stared warily at the trees, hoping the dark magic of the other world hadn't somehow affected them. She didn't know if that was possible, but after what she had seen she didn't know what to think anymore.

Far in the distance, she thought she could once again hear the phantom music playing. Somewhere far away, somepony was playing an eerie tune, inviting others to follow and join the ranks of their dark band. Her sister was mad enough at her, so Apple Bloom huddled closer to Winona for safety.

As soon as the filly set hoof on her porch, she felt a gust of wind blow behind her. As it was before, the wind carried a message on it. This time it was different. It was telling her not to be afraid, and that she could sleep peacefully that night. And she knew exactly who was telling her.

Looking back, Apple Bloom saw a ghostly glimmer of blue deep in the shadows of the orchard. And that was all she had time to see, before she was hurried into the house by her sister.

Without another word, she, Winona, Applejack, and finally Big Macintosh walked inside their home. The door creaked shut, and the light in the window was turned off.

Deeper in the orchard, two visitors were observing the scene.

"Do you think they'll be too hard on her?" Molly asked from their shadowy hiding place.

"She'll be fine, Molly. With loving siblings like them, she's in good hands," Courtney answered.

Bruce groaned, correcting Courtney.

"As you like. She's in good hooves."

"And what about the others? That snobby one looked too dainty to dole out serious punishment. But, that one with a man's voice sounded a little unhinged," Molly said.

Courtney chuckled lightly at her friend's observation before she answered.

"I'm sure she'll be reasonable with her filly. I remember your mother yelling at you like that when we were children."

"And if you remember, she was a royal bitch," Molly said.

"Undoubtedly," the witch agreed.

Before either mare could say anything more, a shadow flew over them all, prompting them to look up and see a familiar sight. It seemed that another creature from their world had flown through a portal, and was now flying the skies of Equestria.

"A mawnan. Fantastic," Courtney said.

Though mawnans weren't known for being hostile, one that was cornered could easily kill a pony if it was threatened. In order to keep the body count as low as possible, something had to be done about it. But, Courntey was busy with the orchard, and animals weren't necessarily her specialty. Fortunately, she knew someone who was in tune with the animal language.

"Bruce. Can you handle that bird for me?" the witch asked.

On command, Bruce rushed into town after the avian creature to keep it from doing any potential harm.

"Alright. What do we do now?" Molly asked.

"As it is in any good suspense novel: we wait," Courtney said as she drew two pouches from her pocket of shadows.

Through a small opening in the clouds, the moon cast a watchful gaze on Sweet Apple Acres. Instead of its usual, gentle, motherly glow, it seemed somehow harsh and admonishing. It was as if the moon was warning ponies to stay indoors that night, for fear of the dangers that lurked in the dark.

Through the trees, the shadows continued to scuttle, scurry, and devour one another. In the branches, apples were eaten by the hungry creatures, making a quiet din with their scurrying and munching. The winds through the trees, and the creatures of the night created a silent symphony of noises that mingled together, drawing more of their kind from the darkness to join them.

A new noise was heard in the orchard. Shuffling steps with a clinking noise, along with something heavy being dragged through the soil. Sweet Apple Acres was no stranger to night visitors. Timber wolves and vampire fruit bats would often drop by the orchard to eat the apples that grew there. Now, there was a new creature.

From the shadows, a zebra, clad in heavy shackles emerged. Hungrily, he stared at the barn-shaped house, desiring nothing more than to go inside and slaughter the inhabitants within. To him, they were only faces. Faces that stared unblinking at him. Wanting him. Judging him.

He nearly burst from the idea of what they would do to him, unless he got them first. He clutched his chain, ready to swing it at anything that was nearby if only for the hope of getting rid of one of those faces!

"Zachary," a voice called.

It was a name that he hadn't been called in years by anyone but his family. And the voice that spoke did not belong to his beloved sister. Turning, the zebra saw two mares. One, green with leaves grown where her mane should have been. And the other, pitch black with glowing blue eyes, who was wearing a white pouch around her neck.

"It's time for you to come home," Courtney said.

"Home? There is no place for one like I to call home. The faces call, threatening to claim me for their own," the zebra responded slowly and steadily, no emotion to be heard in his chill voice.

"You've nothing to worry about. I know a place where the faces won't be able to get you," Courtney said, trying to reason with the madman. Despite her calm tone, her heart was pounding faster with every word she spoke.

"The faces are everywhere! No comfort can be found in prison or palace! And you standing there! You too bear a face of evil, dread and malice!" Zachary answered.

So far, there was no reaching him.

Courtney had no desire to face a raging lunatic. She was only a performer, not a magistrate. But if the novels she read were anything to go off of, she could get through to him with something dear to him.

"Your sister misses you, Zachary. Zecora loves you, and wants you to return home with her," the witch said.

The madman's face softened ever so slightly at the mention of his sister. In all the time he had been locked away, she was the only visitor he ever had. Her face was the only one that ever looked on him as though he were not some horrible creature spat from the mouth of evil.

"Such time had passed since I'd seen her last. It's only memory that keeps her," he said slowly as mares warily watched the chains that shook in his hooves. "Hundreds of days since I'd seen her gaze. How long until the seasons reap her?"

In a frightening way, it was touching to hear how much he cared for his sister. But, the way he held his chain made both mares take a small step backwards.

"For my sister, I would scale the moon. And drain my blood from night 'til noon. My very essence I would share, if not to show her that I care. But, the world is not kind. It brims with reproach. It will leave her behind, while the faces approach. I cannot leave her to that fate! I must find her now before it's too late!"

With a lunge, he swung his chain at the mares, who both dove away just as it impacted the ground.

The worst had happened. The madman snapped and was now on the rampage, swinging his chain wildly through the trees.

With the noise the breaking trees were making, lights began turning on in the house. The ponies inside had awoken. It would only be a matter of time until they were seen, and panic arose.

Courtney weaved through the trees, trying to conjure her magic. But, the chance never came. Every time that she tried to create a doorway, her concentration was broken by the flying weapon. The protective poultice she had made was enough to keep her safe from the zebra's wild swings, but it wasn't enough to allow her to use a spell.

The light came on in the bottom most room of the house.

Now there was no time for the witch. The light-dwellers would come, and they would be seen for a brief second, only before the investigating pony would be killed by the hooves of a madstallion.

All they could do now was escape and leave the unsuspecting pony to their fate. But, the witch would never forgive herself for allowing harm to come to Apple Bloom's family.

Just as Zachary was about to bring his chain down on Courtney, he lurched and fell into the dirt.

"Now, Courtney!" Molly yelled as she wrapped her hooves more tightly around his legs.

It was just what Courtney needed.

The front door of the house opened, just as the witch cast her spell. She had already set it up so that he would reappear in his cell at the asylum. All that was needed now was to restrain him as the magic was conjured.

Shadows crept toward the zebra as he slowly wriggled out of Molly's grasp.

Finally, they formed a gaping, beastly maw that swallowed him whole, just as they were bathed in a sudden light.

Applejack stood in the orchard, armed with a lantern on her belt and a hatchet in her teeth. She heard the noise coming from there, she knew. It was where those things were. But now, all that there was left was a swirling patch of shadows.

Applejack dared not go closer, for fear of what it may do to her. In a second it was gone, and she was left staring at the ground where it was.

She cautiously looked around herself, knowing that something was out there. But for the time being, it was gone. Always with an eye to the shadows, Applejack slowly retreated back to her house, where her brother was guarding the front door.

"That was way too close!" Courtney said as she and Molly escaped to the edge of the orchard. They stopped briefly at the treeline nearest to the gate to collect themselves, until Courtney remembered their objective. "Damn it all! We still need to plant those essen seeds!"

"Already taken care of. I planted them while you were busy with the chain clad nutter. Sorry, but I'm not much of a fighter," Molly said as she showed Courtney the bag of seeds she was given.

"And I am!? I'm an artist, not a pugilist!" Courtney rebutted.

"I really am sorry, Courtney. But, I only did what I could to help. Besides, you know I'd never allow anything to happen to you," Molly said as she grabbed another seed and plunged her hoof into the soil, just the right depth, and perfectly spaced from the other trees. She then knelt down near the hole, and blew a puff of pollen from one of her blossoms into it, as well as a drop of dew from her hoof.

"I know what will make you feel better. Why don't we go into town and see the ponies?" Molly suggested after she buried the hole.

"Sure. Why not?" Courtney said, knowing her friend was eager to see more of the world's equine inhabitants.

And the two left Sweet Apple Acres to set out for the long night of work they had ahead. But, Courtney still had something to do.

She already had enough knowledge of the creatures of her own world, but the people here were frighteningly ignorant of them. To her, it all sounded like a bunch of superstitious nonsense. That would have to change.

With a glance to the window of the upstairs bedroom, a shadow drifted through the air, seeped through the cracks on the sill and left a gift for Apple Bloom next to her bed.

Winona was awake to see it, but the filly was fast asleep.


In the branches of the Golden Oaks Library, a shadow landed nearest to the window, searching for a way in. It shuffled across the branch towards the window, only to see it shut tight and covered by a blind.

It scratched a the window, hoping to find a way to open it. But, it was no good.

It flew to the next window, only to find that one wouldn't open no matter how much it scratched and pecked at it. But, that wouldn't deter it. It would just try another window.

Inside, Twilight and Spike sat huddled in the middle of the floor, shivering with fear.

Every time they heard the scratching, Twilight's horn would light up with magic, only for it to dim when it stopped. Until they heard it coming from a new direction.

"Come on, Twilight! Teleport it already!" Spike muttered as they heard the noise from a different direction once again.

"I'm trying! But it keeps moving!" Twilight said. As powerful as her magic was, she couldn't cast it on what she couldn't see, and this monster outside was as mobile and wily as any bird she'd seen.

"Twilight. I just thought of something: what if we can hear them in all these different places because there's more than one?" Spike suggested.

The idea that they were beset on all sides by a group of unknown monsters made Twilight shudder.

A sudden noise from outside caused her to grab hold of Spike. Partly out of her protective, sisterly nature, but mostly for the sake of having somepony to hold when she was gripped by fear.

All the while, Owloysius sat contently on his perch, eyes half open. He sat, waiting for the creature outside to find a way in. It was only a matter of time.

Both Twilight and Spike gasped when they heard another noise behind them at the same time as the other one. Though they couldn't see, they knew that they were in fact under attack by more than one monster.

In truth, the noise behind them was only an untrimmed branch scratching the window, while the other was actually the mawnan scratching at the window.

"Oi! Queen's Park!" a voice called.

From its perch, the mawnan looked down to the ground, and saw the familiar form of a werewolf looking back up at him.

"Down 'ere," the gigantic canine said.

It was nice to see a fellow dark creature. The mawnan obliged, and fluttered down to lower branches of the tree.

"Chucker ya somethin' ta blather?" the mawnan asked.

"Yeh. I wanna know wot yer doin' 'ere. Don' ya know it's dangerous for folks loik us to be 'round these loit-dwellers?" Bruce replied

"Oi know damn well 'tis fierce. But Oi've a lad here Oi don't clap pure of'en," the mawnan answered.

"Droppin' by for some late night mischief, are we?" Bruce asked.

"Aye, that Oi be. Oi only get ta drop by t'is toim o' year. An' it's toim when me an' Owloysius pap on ta Fiddler's Green for drinks for the best, feckin' whiskey there be. The only problem is that this noight mare wit' a horn be keepin' himself locked insoide," the mawnan explained.

Bruce could relate to the other creature, as he had run into a similar problem last night.

"That's a problem, innit?" the werewolf said.

"A real bugger, an' a half," the mawnan replied.

"I know 'a that feels. Last noight, I tried playin' wif a buncha funny-lookin' birds wot were locked up in a cage. Then some bird-horse fing tells me to stop. And when I try playin' wif 'er, she runs 'ammer and tack inta 'er gaff, an' locks the bloomin' door!" Bruce said.

"Well, so much fer Owloysius headin' on about his pony learnin' friendship! What good is it when all ya do is send off folks ya don' know!?"

"Some of 'em are right sugar an' spice," Bruce answered. After meeting those nice fillies, there surely had to be more ponies who would be delighted to meet him. "Anyway, I fink I can 'elp ya. Windows loik that usually got a latch on the bottom where it touches the sill. Run a fin branch under there, an' ya can jimmy it open."

"T'anks fer the help, boyo. And if ya ever wanna join us fer a drink, ya know the way ta the local," the bird thanked the werewolf

"Roit. Stay out ah trubble, mate," was all Bruce said, before running off.

All had been quiet in the library for a time. Too quiet for comfort. Perhaps the creature had gone away. Or maybe it was waiting for Twilight and Spike to assume so.

"Spike. Stay right here," Twilight whispered, before she stood up and cautiously walked to the nearest window.

Carefully, she pulled the blind open just a crack to peer out into the darkness. She saw no creature, but somehow that only worried her more.

As Twilight searched, Spike became aware of a faint noise. A tiny scraping, or clicking from somewhere nearby drew his attention, and prompted him to search for its source.

It was coming from a window, but it didn't sound anything like the creature trying to get in. What could it have been?

Slowly, Spike went to investigate. When he reached the window the noise had stopped.

Unlike Twilight, the absence of what may have been the creature eased his fear and made him feel bold enough to open the shades altogether to investigate.

Big mistake.

As soon as he had, the window was opened from the outside, and the creature that tormented them appeared in its frame.

"TWILIGHT!!!" Spike shouted, as he scrambled away from the thing in the window.

Twilight snapped to face the thing, and reflexively lit up her horn.

Owloysius, who had previously sat quietly, flew circles around Twilight's head, causing her to lose sight of the monster. After, he flew out the open window.

Once again, he and the creature flew out into the night, not to return until morning.

Twilight tried to use her magic to bring her pet back, only to quickly lose sight of him again.


In the streets of Ponyville, Courtney and Molly both went about their business. The night before, Bruce had scouted the town, seeking out ponies who were tormented by the dark creatures. If he was doing his job, he would be doing the same tonight.

At the moment, Molly was looking around, hoping to find any sign of life. She was disappointed to learn that the ponies slept at that hour, and only came out during the day (whatever that was). Still, that didn't stop her from looking into the windows of ponies' houses.

While Courtney walked straight to their next destination, Molly ran from building to building, peeking in and hoping to get a look at the adorable equines. Some windows yielded no ponies, but still delighted Molly with the design of the rooms inside. Whoever designed those rooms had the cutest sense of style.

At one window, which had small trees on either side of it, Molly could see a young colt sleeping peacefully in his bed.

"Oh, Courtney, look. They sleep in little beds. Just like people," Molly whispered.

She watched the foal sleep, wishing she could go in and feed him sugar lumps and scratch his ears. Of course, what was considered bonding with an animal in her world would be considered socially unacceptable in this one. But, she didn't care. They looked so cute the way they curled up under their blankets.

"Remember, we have work to do," Courtney reminded her friend.

"Can't I look just a little longer?" Molly begged. To her, it was like watching a puppy after it was tuckered out from playing all day.

"Let's go, horse whisperer," Courtney said as she pulled on her friend's tail.

The rustling noise the two mares made outside awoke the colt in his bed. Through sleep fogged eyes, he looked out his window, and realized that it somehow didn't look right. The trees outside only bordered the edges of his window usually. But tonight, leaves filled the whole view. Stranger still, in the middle of it all was a darker shape. As if there was something within the foliage.

He rubbed his eyes with his hoof, clearing his vision, and saw his window more clearly. Now he was certain there was something out there. He was able to make out a face in the shadows among the leaves. Something that looked like a pony, but wasn't a pony. Something that was trying to enter his room and get him, just like his parents told him when he misbehaved.

The creature moved away from the window, but the colt didn't notice. He had hidden under his sheets, and didn't come out until sunrise.

"You spoil everything fun, you know?" Molly said to her friend.

"Only because you may end up having too much fun, and get us into trouble," Courtney answered.

"All I want is to see some ponies. I don't know anyone who got into trouble for that."

"I'll make it up to you. We're going to a bakery next, so I'll grab us a plate of brownies, or some such."

"Ooh, brownies. That more than makes up for being no fun," Molly said.


Inside Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie had laid out several baked goods as bait for the ghostly prankster. She waiting in the darkness, armed with a wooden spoon and a mixing bowl protecting her head.

At every perceived movement, she snapped her head in its direction. At every noise, she readied to attack. Nothing was going to stop her from protecting the bakery she loved so. Not even a cackling specter with a twisted sense of humor.

Pinkie gasped when she thought that a plate with a slice of cake shifted on the table next to her, only to see that it was a simple trick of the shadows. But, what happened last night had made her wary. Before she could become contented, she scanned the room, searching for what may be out of place.

After the first sweep from one side to the other, everything was as it should have been. But then, she heard a crack.

Looking to the source of the noise, a plate of donuts had been smashed, and the plate itself had shattered.

The pink mare continued to look for the prankster, only to find nopony in the shadows.

"Just remember what Granny Pie said. Face your fears. Giggle at the ghostly," Pinkie reminded herself.

"But what will you do when the ghosts giggle at you?" Courtney asked as she listened at the window.

"Didn't you say that Bruce found a poltergeist here?" Molly asked.

"Yes. And a dangerous one, at that. The good news, however, is that poltergeists are easy to deal with. We just need to wait for this cackling hack to show itself."

Next to where Pinkie sat, a spoon gently swung on its hook. It swung so softly, that Pinkie scarcely thought it moved at all.

Then it began swinging wildly back and forth, along with all the other utensils that were hanging in the kitchen, creating a loud band of clattering pots and pans that would deafen most ponies. And among the clattering, the phantom laughter once again sounded, piercing into Pinkie's mind and making her shrink to the floor. And it only became worse when the utensils started floating in the air, banging against everything else in the kitchen.

Now was her chance. Courtney cast her magic, and did just as her mother taught her when dealing with trickster ghosts.

Pinkie watched as the furniture in the kitchen became shrouded with shadows, and started moving on its own accord.

She had to dodge some of them when they arranged themselves into the corner she was hiding in, and then had to dodge the utensils as they dropped out of the air. She twisted her body side to side, as she once again had to dodge flying knives.

Pinkie found a new spot, and watched the dropped kitchen tools all become shrouded with shadows, and fly into a new spot in the kitchen where they were neatly arranged. Not in the spots where they were before, but someplace completely new.

Out of the darkness, there came a voice. One that Pinkie didn't at all recognize.

"Who!? What!? But, that was here! And now it's there! And everything's all moved-ed, and switched-ed, and rummagin' around, and-- Aw, jeez! This is confusin-atin'!"

The ghost's inane babble was bizarre enough, but then Pinkie heard the room fill with its mad cackling once more. Its volume grew and grew, until it was so loud it became a cacophony that rattled the walls and shook Pinkie from behind her hiding place. With no warning, a blindingly bright light appeared in the kitchen that stung Pinkie's eyes.

Pinkie closed her eyes, and covered her ears, hoping the nightmare would end.

Soon, the light began to shrink. And with it the ghostly laughter faded, but never stopped.

Pinkie cracked an eye open, and watched as the light shrunk. It was no less brighter than it was before, but now that it was smaller it was almost bearable to look at. To her relief, she didn't have to cover her ears anymore. She watched as the light gradually shrank, until it completely disappeared from existence, along with the phantom laughter.

Everything was silent, and every item in the kitchen had arranged itself in a way that left no mess to clean up. Not even the pastries were harmed in the chaos.

After what had been happening to her, Pinkie wasn't about to get her hopes up so easily. Was Sugarcube Corner now safe from its cackling prankster? She listened quietly, waiting to once more hear the spook's manic laughter.

"This house is clean," Courtney and Molly said together as they munched on some brownies from a platter Courtney pilfered during the din.

Pinkie wasn't too sure what she heard, but it definitely came from outside. If it was that giggling ghost again, she'd be ready for it.

Summoning all of her courage, she rushed to the window to give it what-for, but there was nothing there. Nothing but the normal view outside of the streets and the surrounding buildings.

For Pinkie, the silence was comforting. She nearly giggled herself, but stopped for fear that her laughter may summon the ghost again.

Nothing more happened, but Pinkie didn't sleep for the rest of the night.


The doors of Carousel Boutique rattled that night, having been locked tight by Rarity to keep out her night visitor. But, it would not deter any intruders.

From the cracks at the bottom of the door, shadowy vines grew. As they rose, they sprouted leaves and flower buds, decorating the door with their ominous beauty. Once they reached the latch, a vine hitched onto it, and pulled it open.

Before they evaporated into shadow, they opened the door, revealing two dark mares awaiting entry.

"The flowers were a nice touch," Molly said, recognizing them as her own.

"I work with what I'm given," Courtney answered.

"One might even call me your muse."

"One might. Not me."

The two shared a chuckle as they entered the building to continue their work. From what Bruce had told her, the mare who lived here was troubled by something in her dreams. Such a thing could not be handled remotely, and had to be dealt with up close.

The other places were so cute, but Molly was blown away by how grandiose in scale the adorableness was there in the boutique.

"We should design our homes like this," Molly said.

"I don't think so. I've always preferred a minimalist look," Courtney said, not wanting to pursue the topic further, knowing that if she did, her friend would eventually talk her into getting pink wallpaper and a vanity mirror.

They walked down the halls, peeking into each room to see which one belonged to the mare in need of their services. One door opened by Courtney revealed Sweetie Belle in her bed, fast asleep.

"Molly, look," she called to her friend, and the two walked into the room to observe the sleeping filly.

"Oh my goodness. This is her home," Molly gasped with a smile. Her smile quickly turned to a worried frown when their objective occurred to her, "You don't suppose it's her who's being troubled, do you?"

"No. I've seen mother take care of troubled sleepers, and they look nothing like this. She'll be fine for the night. In the meantime, we should check on her sister," the witch said.

Courtney left to find Rarity, but Molly lingered briefly by Sweetie Belle's side. She wanted only good things for the filly who was so determined to find her true calling, and wasn't about to let even a bad dream get to her.

With a slight shake of her head, Molly's leaves rustled and two drifted onto Sweetie's pillow. Then she plucked a blossom from her fronds and placed it on the filly's nightstand.

From what little she knew of magic, she knew that her own leaves and the fragrance of her flowers had the innate power to protect sleepers from nightmares and evil spirits. Now that Sweetie Belle was safe, she could join Courtney again.

Molly saw her friend walk into another nearby room, and joined her inside to find a grandly decorated bedroom, complete with a four-post bed and a makeup station. In the bed was the mare of their objective.

This was what Courtney was talking about. While Sweetie Belle slept peacefully and contently, her sister was sweating profusely and taking uneven breaths. And even though she wore a black sleeping mask, they knew her eyelids were clenched shut.

"Alright. Let's see what's got your goat," Courtney said as she began to work her magic. She had nothing to draw with on hand, or in her pocket of shadows. Luckily, Rarity's makeup kit was equipped with eyeliner.

Using her magic, the witch retrieved the object and drew a small symbol on Rarity's forehead. One that would allow her see into the fashionista's dreams more easily.

Now, she needed a reflective surface, which was fortunately plentiful. And all in the same room no less. Courtney retrieved them all with her shadowy magic, as did Molly with her elastic arms, until the bed was surrounded by the mirrors.

"A little pollen, Madame of the Green?" Courtney requested.

"Love to, my Lady Arcane," Molly responded as she puffed some pollen from her blossoms onto Rarity's face with a grin.

When the two were young, and first started performing together, they created stage names for themselves. Now, even as adults, they still smiled when they remembered those days.

The pollen settled on Rarity, making her nose twitch.

The wakeful mares looked at the mirrors to see an image of Rarity in her dressing room, tormented by an invisible oppressor.

"Why do you hide from me, dear lady?" a disembodied voice asked.

As the voice spoke, Rarity watched her beauty fade once more as her hooves wrinkled and withered as they had done before. She was too horrified to scream when she found herself facing the demonic stallion again.

"So long as we are together, you've nothing to fear," he assured her as he reached to touch her again.

"A real charmer, that incubus," Courtney said as she prepared to get rid of the unwanted admirer. Personally, she always had a thing for intellectuals. This 'suave,' 'smooth-talking,' pseudo-casanova seemed more in line with what Molly went for. But, she was about to do women worldwide a favor and get rid of the demon.

The witch started by creating a screen of black shadows by Rarity's head. That was the easy part. Then came the hard part.

Reading someone's aura was exceptionally difficult to do, as was any kind of divination or clairvoyance. Courtney was only an amateur at best. Still, she had to try.

Courtney allowed her vision to unfocus, looking past the shadows to find the color of the Rarity's aura.

The seconds passed, and Molly could see a vein throbbing on her friend's forehead. She didn't know if she could help, but she would do what she could. She released another puff of pollen onto Rarity's face, making her start to sniffle quietly.

It had worked. Even though it was still very, very faint, Courtney could now see what she recognized as an aura against the black screen, along with something else that shouldn't be there. Another aura that wasn't Rarity's was seen in the shadow just as the sleeping mare started sneezing.

The witch had to work faster.

The black screen changed to light, just as Rarity awoke, and swallowed up the aura that wasn't her's.

The image of the incubus disappeared from the mirror the very second that Rarity pulled off her blindfold. She sat up in her bed and sneezed excessively.

Rarity turned on the light in her room, crawled out of bed, and immediately bumped into one of the mirrors. She looked at herself in horror. Her night was bad enough after staying up well past her bedtime, and from the nightmare she just had. And now she looked like some kind of street mime!

There were several things that could have happened, but due to her previously built irritation, she decided it had to be just one.

"Sweetie Belle!" Rarity grumbled as she stormed out of the room.

"Oh, that's nice! She can't figure out what happened, so it must have been her sister!? How irrational can someone get?" Molly asked as she and Courtney came out of hiding.

"I'm sure you've done the same to your brothers and sisters growing up. In fact, I seem to recall you fuming at one of your brothers once, because you thought he shredded your song notes. Didn't it turn out to be your family's werecat?" Courtney said.

"...I guess it's just a thing when you grow up with siblings. Not that you'd know anything about that," Molly said.

"Happily so," the witch answered.

And the two mares left quietly.

As she was being chewed out by her sister for some imagined offense, Sweetie Belle swore she saw two shadows in the hallway. Though she couldn't tell what they belonged to, it was strangely comforting to know that the dark creatures still prowled even then.

"So, what do we do now?" Molly asked once they were back out on the street.

Courtney looked out into the night. Hidden in the darkness were the creatures of her world, threatening this one. But it would be dawn soon. And with the presence of light, the dark creatures would seek the solace of cave and holes and the other places light-dwellers feared to tread.

"For now, I think we're through. But we cannot forget what truly threatens this world," she answered.

Though they didn't show it, both mares were terrified of what had found its way into their lives. Fate had delivered something from the darkest part of their history to the world of light, and now it was up to them to stop it. It would be only a short reprieve when the light came, for tomorrow night, they would have to find it.

"Another brownie?" Courtney offered, as she took the plate from her pocket of shadows.

"As if I'd say 'no,'" Molly said, taking a brownie off the plate.


Deep in the woods that night, a unicorn stallion merrily trotted on his way as he went to visit his parents in Ponyville.

It was a long walk from his home, one that would take all night, in fact. But, it was no problem for him. As he walked, he whistled a little tune to himself. A simple tune that he wrote when he was a foal.

Off the side of the road, he heard things rustling in the bushes, or on the path ahead of him. On occasion, he could see something unnatural from the stories of his foalhood creeping toward him, or watching him the trees.

Just to the side, he saw a small, leafy plant with white flower buds that shifted about, even though there was no wind. A rat ventured too close to the plant, and suddenly fern-like tendrils lashed out and ensnared the hapless rodent.

As horrifying as it was, he was not worried about the plant, or any of the other dark creatures. He knew the secret to pass them unharmed.

As a colt, his dad told him the stories about the dark creatures from the other world, and the ways that the mares and stallions in the stories would defeat or escape them. And the easiest, simplest way to do it was to whistle a song that you made up yourself. As long as he whistled his song, he was safe. This, and the fact that he kept his lucky coin in the breast pocket of his jacket was more than enough protection from anything that could get him in the dark.

Up ahead, he heard a howl. One that stopped him in his tracks. It wasn't like from a timber wolf, which if it was, no amount of whistling would stop it. Whatever he heard, it was low, eerie and dangerously close by.

Still, he couldn't be stopped by anything. His parents were waiting for him, and the trains in his town were out of commission. He had to go to Ponyville, evil creatures or no.

It was only a few steps when something new appeared before him. No more than five hundred hooves ahead of him, a large, dark shape stepped onto the road.

The stallion couldn't make out what it was. Only that it was much, much larger than him, and dotted with tiny red lights, like a hooffull of embers taken from Tartarus.

The creature ahead of him did nothing. It only stared at him. That was assuming that it had eyes. It then let out another howl, much quieter than the first, but no less chilling.

There would be no stopping the unicorn. Not when he was so close to his destination. He magically took his lucky coin out of his pocket, silently prayed to Princess Luna on it, and charged forward without a second thought.

The creature ahead made no movements, as if it was waiting for him to come. In only a few seconds, the unicorn would be within its reach, and then who knew what would happen.

The unicorn saw a great mass of darkness dotted with red coming toward him, like a horrible appendage from the monster. He held his lucky coin close, and awaited the worst that was to come.

Author's Note:

The ghosts have been exorcised, and the world is as it should be. For the most part at least. Zecora's brother will no longer terrorize Sweet Apple Acres, Rarity's incubus' pining days are over, and Sugarcube Corner's Jerry Lewis-inspired poltergeist is sent packing. Unfortunately, thanks to Bruce, Twilight will continually be haunted by the mawnan. Not that he means any harm, since he's only connecting with a friend who he only gets to see during a certain time of the year.
For anyone who is curious, Zachary was based on a monster from Irish folklore called the fachen (also called Peg-Leg Jack (there are a lot of Jacks in Irish folklore)). The stories say that it hated humans, and made life difficult for them by destroying their orchards with a long chain that it wielded in its single arm. Its other arm was made of wood, as was one of its legs, hence the Peg-Leg moniker.
As for Bruce, he talks like a Cock, but he uses little of the rhyming slang that they're known for. This is because that most of the rhymes come from the names of actual people. People who don't exist in this world. The only reason that Queen's Park Ranger was used is because it sounds funny. And the mawnan's Irish accent was taken from my own dad, who also describes annoying problems as 'a real bugger and a half.'
The way that the poltergeist is gotten rid of is the way that I learned to get rid of them. According to my aunt, poltergeists are easily confused when furniture is rearranged, and they will soon leave.
Finding a way to get rid of an incubus was kind of a pain, as not even my aunt knew, so she and I just put together a bunch of different things from what she did know and played it by ear.
Finally, that whole bit about protecting yourself by whistling a song that only you know is completely made up. I would not advise anyone to try this to protect themselves from ghosts, but I wouldn't be too upset if you did, since I don't believe in ghosts in the first place.
That will be all for now. Don't worry, we will see how Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash fare next chapter. Rock on \m/

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