• Published 16th Nov 2011
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My(stara's) Little Ponies: Friendship is Adventuring - JohnBiles



The Mane Six. Typical D&D Adventurer Hijinx. As told by an adventurer rescued by them.

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Book 7: Epilogue

My(stara's) Little Ponies: Friendship is Adventuring
A D&D (Mystara) / My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic crossover

Epilogues: Say Goodnight, Sammy

By John Biles

***************

Rarity's Tale:

We brought the Radhirajah home and he cleared us before his council; he doesn't want war with Equestria any more than we do. That being said, I could tell some of them weren't very happy and I can't blame them for that either. I was able to help smooth things over, appearing before them in human form. You use the tools you have, though having to cater to their ludicrous beliefs annoyed me.

But as they say, 'sometimes you must stoop to conquer'. There will be no war and our nations will live in peace. But I am never going back if I can help it.

We returned to Canterlot and everyone stared at us when the ship landed and we all got down into the palace. I'd gone back to Pony form, so I didn't understand why at first.

Then all the guards and assembled courtiers bowed to us. I thought at first it was just Princess Luna (also back in Pony form) but soon it became apparent everyone was bowing.

That made me uncomfortable but it made Applejack even more so.

Scootaloo, on the other hand, began strutting around like she owned the place.

"Rise, my little ponies," Luna said. Then she gave a speech praising us all.

I studied the fillies; even they're a little bigger, it seems, though they didn't grow as much as us. Are we going to become like Luna and Celestia? I talked to Twilight about this some, but she didn't know everything.

There is a part of me which delights in the idea of Immortality. What could be more beautiful and special than that? To have forever to create beautiful things for others?

But I've also seen now how it sets you apart. It means leaving behind so many I know, living forever means losing people forever too. I will have my friends by my side, but...

I ought to enjoy the way they're all gazing at me but I'm nervous instead. Marcus... it can be hard to read him. He had his hand firmly on my back; it's his way of showing affection when I'm a pony. It's reassuring. Either he accepts this or maybe he doesn't realize it's unusual.

Can I be a Celestia? A Luna? In my vainer moments, I am sure, but the rest of the time, I am not so sure.

I suddenly realized nothing I have will fit any more. I have to redo all of my outfits. If I didn't have such a hideous backlog to catch up on, that would actually be quite fun but so many people are going to need me.

I like to be needed. But this may be a little too much need, though I will have Marcus and Sweetie to help me.

My shop... one day I will have to leave it behind. The thought bothers me. But then, if you cling to something too hard...

But I am not quite ready for that. I just want some normal life for a while with the man I love and the work I love. I get to have both. For a while, I thought maybe I would never know true love. That my dreams had been empty. Oh, I've been in love before and I'm not a child who thinks love is always forever, then is crushed when it is not. But being rejected like that, by what I thought was the man of my dreams... I had never had a man turn me down.

I really was vain.

But for a while, I get to be just Rarity Belle, the greatest fashion designer and seamstress in Equestria, rather than Rarity, the Element of Generosity. And I am ready for that.

I enjoy my adventures, but now I need some home time. No crises... okay, no body-endangering crises. The professional life never runs flawlessly smoothly.

But life needs a little spice to keep it interesting. And I love a good challenge.

Mother rushed up now to greet Father and Sweetie and I and we all nuzzled each other happily.

I am the luckiest Pony in the world. Whatever the future may bring, which I suspect will include the first fashion shop in Pandius (the city of the Immortals), I am ready for it.

SOMEONE has to get Ixion to finally wear something that doesn't look wretched and I am just the Pony to do it.

And Father Time... do not EVEN GET ME STARTED.

It's pretty clear that Immortal haute couture is... lacking.

I have to wonder if Scootaloo time travelled into the past and designed their traditional outfits.

And Ka... you can tell he preceded tool use, let alone clothing. And...

Well, I could rant about that all night, but there is far too much else to do.

And I am ready to do it. Ponyville needs me and I am ready to be needed.

************

Applejack's Story:

It took a great amount of effort to get Applebloom and her friends to leave the Moonraker in Canterlot for royal use as needed. But since it's actually too big and complicated for five fillies to operate by themselves, we eventually talked her into it. Luna gave them another liftwood tree and the materials to build a fancy flying clubhouse which won't possibly destroy Ponyville the next time there is a storm, which is one of my big concerns. The Moonraker is big enough to squish an entire neighborhood if it fell in a storm.

We anchored the tree on Sweet Apple Acres, so the kids can fly up on one of Dinky's bubbleclouds whenever they want to play.

I was so glad to be home. This trip has really broadened my horizons, but I needed a chance to... well, unbroaden for a while. I want to feel the dirt on my hooves and tend my garden before I start tending the world.

But I can't stay here forever, like I once thought I would. Much as I'd like to. Doing what I did with Fluttershy... it was incredible. And it felt right. I was meant for that, weird as it is to think about.

There are places where nothing lives and nothing grows. Places that need a green hoof. That need a farmer. Someone who brings life to the world. Who can shape the cold dead wilderness into a place that sustains life.

It's easier to stay home. Safer to tend your little garden and let the world turn into compost outside it. I always looked to my own and didn't worry about nothin' else. Sure, all of Ponyville was my own and I'd help everypony I could.

But the world's a lot bigger and there are other worlds as well.

And they need help too.

My roots will always be planted here, even if one day I walk among the Immortals. But a tree doesn't cling to the ground. It reaches to the sky, and the more it grows, the higher it reaches.

One day, my branches will reach the stars.

But for now, I'm going to take a while to tend my roots.

Starting with the weird smell coming from the house.

Apple Bloom made a face. "I think Granny fell asleep during cooking again."

"This isn't burning, it's... it's..." I don't know what it is but it cannot be good.

We got closer and now I heard Daisy say, "No, no, it's garlic! Not GARGOYLE."

"..." Apple Bloom and I stared at each other, and then we ran.

We found Vanilla Surprise, Daisy, Lily, and Roseluck all throwing things into a big pot of stew and arguing over what goes into it. Lily had a clear jar with rock chunks in it... which she was trying to grind and put into the stew while Daisy tried to stop her, Roseluck pretended they were both imaginary and Vanilla Surprise carefully measured some sort of white powder out of a jar.

Granny was asleep in her rocking chair, mumbling about snake-men being in the carrots again, and Big Macintosh was standing there, staring mindlessly. At times he would try to speak and they would just talk over him.

"What in tarnation is goin' on here?" I asked.

Everyone froze up except Vanilla Surprise. 'Cause Celestia is shameless when she's pretendin' she's Pinkie.

"Applejack... you're so... big...," Roseluck said, stunned.

"Bigger than me, by a touch," Big Macintosh said, staring.

"I'm bigger too! AND LOOK AT MY TAIL!" Apple Bloom said, grabbing a fork with it and waving it around.

"It's a long story," I said. "What the hay is goin' on here?"

"We're making a Boldavian stew because Big Mac was kind enough to help us out," Daisy said. "But Lily is trying to pretend she doesn't need glasses again." Lily's lying. I knew this in a moment. One of the changes.

"It says GARGOYLE," Lily insisted.

Roseluck rolled her eyes.

Apple Bloom leaped onto the counter and studied it, picking up a chunk with her tail; she brandished it and said, "This isn't gargoyle, it's GRANITE."

"I paid good money for this gargoyle!" Lily said. "It is GARGOYLE." She really thinks that. I could tell that too.

Where the hay did she try to buy chunks of gargoyle in Ponyville?

I sniffed what Vanilla Surprise was measuring. "What is this?" I asked.

"Parmesan cheese," Vanilla Surprise said, smiling cheerfully at me. I wondered again how Celestia had gotten here before us, as she'd seen us off at Canterlot. It wasn't quite powder, more like flakes I saw now.

I'm pretty sure this IS Celestia, but... can she be at two places at once?

I could use that so much.

"PARMESAN CHEESE!" Granny shouted in a panic and fled the room.

Slowly.

Big Macintosh ran over to her. "It's okay, Granny. It's just cheese."

"It is full of SCORPIONS," Granny insisted. "We only got stupid silver pieces too!"

Granny's had a few adventures but she imagines half of them these days and jumbles the rest.

"I am taking command of this cooking," Apple Bloom said, scooping up a spoon and stirring what was in the pot. "And the book says GARLIC."

Lily watched Apple Bloom's tail, hypnotised. Daisy said, "SEE?"

Roseluck said, "We need a substitute for sausage."

"Kufo," Granny said.

"What?" Roseluck said.

"Git yerself some kufo. You kin soak it in broth, and it tastes like sausage but it's good fer ponies. Least if you like beans," Granny said. "I ate a lot of it when we were dealing with them damn dragon-dogs in Oklaokra. Whatever they call that place these days, damn world changin'," she said, trailing off into grumbling.

"Ochelea?" Roseluck asked.

"Yeah, that place."

"I don't know if we can get that in Ponyville," Roseluck said.

"I can run down to the grocery and see," Big Mac said.

"Check with Twilight," I told him. "I think she got some and maybe has enough left." I paused. "Why are you all making something Boldavian, anyway?"

"Big Mac helped haul a lot of stuff for us, so we wanted to reward him," Daisy said. By reward she means, form the beast with two backs, I can tell. "Didn't I tell you that?"

"Why Boldavian?" I asked. I didn't think Big Mac had a hankerin' for foreign foods.

"I thought I should broaden my horizons and... uh, it was the first place I thought of."

"A lot of Boldavian dishes have blood, tee hee," Vanilla Surprise said, giggling. "But this one doesn't."

Ugh. Well, I hear they have a Vampire problem. But it's not mine. For now, anyway. "I'll unpack. Apple Bloom, you're in charge of herding the ladies. Big Mac, you make a run to the store. Then I'm going check on everything and say hello to my farm."

To my surprise, Big Mac took a moment to nuzzle me. "I've missed you, sister."

Granny headbutted me affectionately. "Stand still so I can nuzzle ya," she said.

I nuzzled her gently. "I love you too, Granny."

"I missed you," she said softly.

"Me too," I told her. "I'll be home a while."

"But not forever," she said softly. Then she whispered to me, "We gotta get Big Macintosh hitched before he gets too old and goes limp and can't make any foals to carry on."

Big Macintosh, who heard that, made gurgly noises, then said, "I'm off to the store!"

He ran before anyone could try to help him.

What's going to happen to Sweet Apple Acres? If Celestia's serious, he may not be able to stay and I have a feeling Apple Bloom will, at the least, roam around some before she settles down.

And I have to try and explain Apple Blossom to Granny.

What a mess.

But it's great to be home. It may be chaos incarnate some days, but I love it.

And I expect if I put the ladies to work for all the chaos they cause, we can get caught up in no time! Anyone who wants to marry Big Mac is gonna have to show they can work hard, anyway.

Unless he becomes Prince Big Mac, but I guess Princesses work hard in their own way, Immortals doubly so.

Prince Big Mac. Man, the world just keeps changing.

Well, time to get to work.

**************

Fluttershy's Viewpoint, If You Don't Mind:

I got home and hugged Angel tightly; this went well despite his efforts to escape until Slither tried to help and they began trying to beat each other up, with me in the middle. We rolled around until my new table fell on us.

"Boys, I love both of you," I said. "Can't we all get along?"

They both refused to look at each other, and I sighed, putting a leg around each of them until they relaxed.

I had to snuggle Angel for a long time until he relaxed, then we cleaned up together and they both got tired and went to bed. I need to get Slither his own bed, though.

Then I spent hours checking on my chickens (Snips had taken care of them for me and did a good job so I gave him some of my silver from the reward the Radhirajah gave us) and my other animal friends, until I'd checked in with everyone and gotten things settled. This took me until bedtime but that was okay. I got food and happily went to bed.

But then I got woken up by the sound of my chickens in terror.

There was a fox in the hen-house. He was leaping at the chickens as they ran around... umm... like chickens.

You know.

I leaped out the window. "Bad fox, bad!" I shouted at him, but he lunged at a chicken. He had her pinned when I took control of the grass and pulled him off her. He turned, studied me, then scooped up an egg with his mouth and ran off, egg in his mouth, shell unbroken.

I gave chase as he ran towards the Everfree, but he was very quick and nimble, despite being old with a silvery coat.

But I drew closer. He is nimble but I am a pony and properly motivated, I can run.

I was motivated.

He's not one of the local foxes, I knew that. He was not just poaching on my dear little chickens, he was infringing on THEIR territory. So I whistled for them and soon I had a half dozen foxes chasing him.

We surrounded him and I said, "Be a good boy and put down the egg."

Then he turned into a falcon and took off, egg still in mouth. I flew after him, turning into a hawk so I could fit through the branches of the forest as he did. Slowly, I closed on him; hunger nagged at me; I saw tasty prey but I ignored it, reminding myself that I was Fluttershy and I had to stop this poacher before he leads others to follow his example and soon everything would be chaos, like in the Malpheggi.

Not in my neighborhood.

I couldn't take care of my friends in that kind of chaos and it is so noisy.

The bird dove down to a hillside, then turned into a snake and slithered into a tunnel with the egg in his mouth.

This is a very... wait a second, how does this fox shapeshift?

I turned into a badger and began digging down after him, trying to fight the urge to go look for food. I can't be hungry now, I have to stop this poacher!

The ground crumbled and I fell into an underground stream; it was pitch black but a little prayer let me see in the darkness and I continued to give chase.

I couldn't even remember why it was so important at this point. Just that I HAD to catch him.

Before he did anything else bad to my animal friends! I had to protect them!

If he'd asked nicely, I would have let him have an egg. It's the thieving I can't tolerate.

BAD FOX.

Maybe he's one of those Ochelean foxes who I hear shapeshift. But I think they have multiple tails.

He was a crocodile now, following the current, so I became a constrictor and wrapped around his tail, letting my instincts guide me while I rode above, setting my body's goals. I would have lost myself but I was determined to teach this naughty boy a lesson in not stealing.

And not scaring my poor chickens.

I hope they're okay.

For a moment, he tried to twist around but then gave up and became a snake and we wrapped around each other, wrestling in the dark. I started to panic, he was crushing me and he was strong.

But then I thought about my poor chickens and I could not give up.

I squeezed back and then I realized... I was bigger than him. So I eased off, for fear I'd kill him.

That made him mad and he tried to bite me but then he had to drop the egg and I got it and ran.

Now he chased me but I was too fast for him, fleeing up through my badger hole and then tunneling, closing my tunnel behind me, forcing him to give chase.

I lost him for a while but when I was bunny-hopping my way home with my egg, he showed up as a wolf. I knew, instinctively, it was him.

So I tangled him with vines again but he snaked his way out of it. I became a bird and flew up, placing the egg in an impromptu nest. He turned into a bird, and I waited, crouching over the egg. He approached cautiously and...

I became a skunk and I sprayed him.

He fell, gagging, then turned into a cat, tumbled and landed on his feet.

I felt QUITE proud of myself for finding a way to stop him without hurting him. I carefully took the egg, turning into a bird again and flew down, then turned into a human. "Who are you?" I asked as he tried to rub his furry face in the grass.

He sighed and turned into a grey-furred pony wearing a platinum torc. Bitter Leaf!

"You have done very well. Mother Nature was right, you have grown." He said sternly, then tried hard to rub his face again. "No one has ever tried that before, I commend you."

"Why did you steal an egg?" What on earth is the head druid of my region doing stealing eggs in the middle of the night?

"As a test for you. If you would not challenge me, I would MAKE you," he said, then looked even more aggravated. "I can smell nothing but this stink," he said urgently.

"Turn human, they can't smell well," I recommended to him.

He changed and I changed and we walked back through the forest. Naked, but neither of us cared.

I don't know why humans care.

Eventually, I got him cleaned off with tomato juice. This woke up my pets and they helped.

"Did I pass?" I asked him once he no longer smelled bad.

"Yes," he said. "You have grown stronger." He sounded pleased. "Please tell me of your adventure."

And that's how I had a tea party at three in the morning while the house stank of tomato juice.

It was a good tea party too.

I think I'm going to face a lot more challenges in the future, but for now, I'm glad to have things settled down to normal.

Normal for me, anyway.

**************

Pinkie's Sugar Haze:

"You don't HAVE to sit on me," I said to Twilight.

"You said to make sure you write your parents every week," Twilight said. She AND Spike were sitting on me.

Sure, I'm an Earth pony, and if I had a basket I could probably carry all my friends, but it is uncomfortable; their weight is badly distributed.

"And to sit on you until you did it!" Spike said.

"It's hard to write with you sitting on me," I moaned.

"Don't be a baby," Spike said gleefully. "Get cracking."

I tried to think of what to write. It's just... Have you ever tried describing a party in detail? I could be here FOREVER trying to get it all in. And then it wouldn't be as cool as it was to live it. We had a huge party to celebrate our return and the Mayor got drunk and tried to get Blues Noteworthy to let her... Actually, I'm not sure what it was, but it involved...

Okay, my brain is melting just thinking about it.

I really can't tell Mother about that.

"Aaaargh, I am not good at writing. I fail at daughtering," I said, frustrated. "I need a letter-writing party."

"When the letter is done," Twilight said. "You could start with 'Dear Mother'."

Slowly, painfully, I began to grind out a letter, with Twilight correcting my spelling and grammar, while Spike grappled me.

Twist sauntered in. She had Snails following her for some reason. "Hi, Snails, Twist!" I said. I've always liked him, because like me, he likes SUGAR.

Which is probably why he's following Twist around.

He now tripped. "Hi, AAAHHH!!!" He's so awkward as he gets taller. "Hey, how did you get so big?" WHAM, he collided with us, Twist tried to come help, then she slid on something I forgot to sweep up and my letter flew into the air.

Spike got hit in the gut and set it on fire. "Ack!"

We all tumbled into the pantry and bags of everything fell on us.

"Did you just send Celestia the letter for my parents?" I asked him.

"Maybe," he said evasively.

I rose, wailing and gnashing my teeth. "All that for nothing!"

And there went the cinammon, just as everyone tried to get up.

"I hope you don't normally have your shop like this," Pinkamena said and I jumped. She'd come around the counter with our friends in tow. What is she doing here already? Isn't she coming next week?

The Cakes are gone until Thursday! I can't leave yet! We're going to go see the folks and visit the farm and reminisce about old times.

But I have to be responsible.

It IS NOT EASY.

But I am a BIG BIG Pony now and I have to do my best for my family here. The Cakes are trusting me and look at this mess.

I shook my head. We can turn this mess into food for everyone! I bet my friends are STARVING.

"It's all part of my secret plan to make the BIGGEST Cinnamon Swirl EVER," I said.

It is NOW.

"Ooooh," Spike, Twist, and Snails all said.

"Letter first, THEN baking," Twilight said.

"Letter?" Madame LeFlour asked. She gestured and the mess began cleaning itself up. Twist got a broom and helped while Snails followed her around.

"Get a broom, punk," Rocky said to Snails.

Snails frowned. "Punk? Punk? You want a piece of me?"

They began posturing at each other, trying to act tough.

"I could whip both your asses, you know," Spike said. "I'm a DRAGON."

"Bring it, you green chump," Rocky said dismissively.

"Rocky, they're just kids," Mr. Turnip said. He got a broom and helped to clean.

"Pinkie has to write a letter to her parents before she can play," Twilight said firmly. "She has to get in the habit."

Pinkamena waved a letter around. "I already wrote mine, so you had better get cracking, though since we're going tomorrow, we'll likely get there first."

"I can't go until Thursday! I thought we were going next week on the eighth," I told her.

"Today is the seventh," Pinkamena said, then facehoofed.

"Pinkie, I gave you a calendar!" Twilight said, frustrated.

I grabbed a broom. "Let's clean up, then I'll do the letter, THEN we can bake."

"Rocky, stop fronting at the kids," Pinkamena said to him, sounding aggravated. "They're just kids."

"I'm not a kid!" Spike said.

"Me neither!" Snails said. "I have the best cutie mark in Ponyville!"

Rocky began laughing and Snails suddenly began to concentrate and... nothing happened.

But he seemed to be still doing something.

Twilight sighed. "Pinkie, you have to break this up."

"ME?" I said. "I'm... better at causing riots."

"Yes, but this is your store," she said. "Your reponsibility to the Cakes."

Twitch. Responsibility, IT BURNS IT BURNS.

No, I am a new, bigger, better Pinkie who is responsible.

"We will settle this in an honorable way. Hurled Cupcakes at 20 paces."

"I will arm them and administer the duel while you clean up, Lady Pinkie," Sir Lintsalot said, ushering them outside with armnaments.

Soon, the rest of us got everything cleaned up. Then I started to plan the 'welcome to Ponyville' party for my friends and my sister, but Twilight grabbed me. "Letter, NOW."

"I will plan the party," Pinkamena said somberly.

How could I say no? She actually WANTS to throw a party?

"Spike can take you to set it up at my place," Twilight said. "I have to ensure this letter gets written."

By the time I closed up shop, I baked extra stuff for the party AND got the letter done. With Twilight's help. Everyone else had gone to...

You know, I never actually found out why Twist and Snails came to the store!

Oh man.

I hope they found what they needed, whatever it was.

We headed to Twilight's, with me pulling a cart of goods for the party; Twilight stopped at the liquor store and picked up some Darokinian whiskey and Heldaan vodka.

By the way, just because vodka is made with potatos does NOT mean you can freeze it and substitute it for potatos in a dish.

In case you were wondering.

That party did not go well.

Darkness was flowing out like a cloud from under the door when we reached Twilight's house and out the windows too. Twilight's eyes widened and she opened the door; slithering mist of darkness crept out and pulled us in.

Oh dear.

Everything was dimly lit by candles and tendrils of darkness drifted about. I felt black clothing suddenly appear on me, along with a silver ankh and now Twilight was wearing a black wizard hat, had fake fangs and a long black cloak. Also a black sweater vest with a tie. She stared at herself.

Everyone was totally spookied out, looking like ghosts or vampires or werewolves or... why was Ditzy inside a trash can with a plunger attached to it? She was scooting around on wheels making mechanical noises.

This would be a great Nightmare Night party... in about three months.

Dinky was now partly mechanical Dinky. But she liked it. She stomped over to me mechanically. "You will become one of us!" she said, intoning darkly. "We are the OARD."

"Pinkie's clean," Twist whispered to her.

Twilight made me take a bath, so yes, I am VERY clean.

Several people stared at us, then Twilight said, "Countess Vinicula wears an Ixion holy symbol painted blood red, and her hat has EARTH magic symbols, not ASTRAL magics." She sounded quite disappointed.

Bling, they changed and she blinked.

Pinkamena, dressed like a mummy, now came forward. "Oooh, I am so spooky," she said flatly.

"You have to be more emotional," I told her. "But this is a great idea!" In three months but baby steps, right? I have to encourage her.

"Vroom, vroom, fear my bumpers!" Dinky said, colliding playfully with me; I laughed and rolled around, while Pinkamena shook her head.

"Thank you," Pinkamena said. "It's all illusions," she said to Twilight.

Twilight nodded. "Darashed's Haunted Invocation, right?"

They started talking shop. I really need to study my bard magic more; I keep forgetting I have it unless I'm doing a party.

Studying, EEK.

But I have to learn more. Build my skills, get funnier. A lot funnier. I've seen a lot of people who need me. People who need some joy.

"Pinkamena, can you teach me some of your illusions? I need to improve my bard skills," I told her.

Her eyes widened, then she smiled, just for a moment, before returning to her usual look. "Of course, sister," she said.

Good. I'll need that for some really BIG pranks. If I'm going to be an Immortal, I am going to have to step up my game a LOT.

Those who don't know how to take a joke, will have to have one given to them.

And I'm just the pony for the job.

***************

Rainbow Dash's Reading Rainbow:

Twilight stared at me. "Are you reading a book?"

"I CAN READ," I shouted irritably. I wanted to double-check something before my date with Soarin', so Spike had been kind enough to help me out. "I did go to school, you know. Fluttershy can back me up on this."

Twilight waved her hooves apologetically. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't make fun of you for doing what I do all the time."

"Yeah," I said, settling down.

She came and looked. "Famous Battlefields of Equestria?" she said in surprise. "Oh, the Battle of the East River. From our adventure in White Plume Mountain."

"Soarin' and I have a picnic later today," I told her. "We're going there for it."

Twilight blinked. "Really?"

"I want to see the monument," I told her. "To remember those who fought and fell for Equestria. And even those who fought against us, even though it's hard for me to understand all this crazy shit."

Twilight looked very sad. "It was a darker time for everyone, human and pony alike."

It's weird, I can feel... Just reading this, I get a little feeling of the bonds between those who fought. Part of me is excited to see what the battlefield will be like.

And part is kind of scared.

"You're reading a book?" Scootaloo said in shock.

"I CAN READ!" I shouted.

Scootaloo fell over, legs in the air.

I'd laugh more if I hadn't seen her parents do it too. Man, I really got them last Nightmare Night. Yelled boo in the window and they all rolled over, legs in the air.

"I was thinking maybe you'd want to go flying," Scootaloo said hesitantly.

"I'm sorry, I have a date," I told her. "Another time, Scoots."

"Aww," she said.

"Anyway, I hear Golden Harvest keeps Oards in her storage shed, so you should check it out," I told her.

That should keep her busy today.

You can't change all the way at once.

Hehe.

She ran off excitedly and Twilight said, warningly, "You shouldn't lie to impressionable young fillies."

"Geez, it's just a joke, Twilight."

"Anyway, I have a date myself," she said.

"Oooh, who's the lucky pony?"

"West Wind. We're flying down to Hoofington and hitting a nice restaurant he likes."

"Oh hoh, once you go pegasus, you never go back, you know," I said, grinning.

She turned beet red. "We're not like serious or anything yet, just friends, I mean, I think about it sometimes but it's not like... I have to go find my bookmark!" She galloped off.

I wish them luck. Even if nothing comes of it, it means no more thinking about the fish that got away. Fall down seven times... something... Anyway, keep getting up.

I finished my reading, then flew over to Fluttershy's. She'd been kind enough to agree to pack a lunch for us. I'm not a great cook. Fortunately, I have simple tastes, but I wanted something fancier for this.

It smells spicy, whatever it is. I wanted a surprise, so she didn't tell me, just smiled so brightly.

I flew at high speed to Canterlot and found Soarin' on the roof of the palace. "Hey," I said softly.

We kissed and he said, "I missed you."

"I missed you too," I told him. We only get to meet when we're both free, which mostly means when he's free, which is not too often. But we have ALL DAY to spend together.

We caught up on gossip on the way to our picnic spot, which took some effort to spot. To my surprise, there was a fancy carriage there, with royal guards standing around looking bored. Not Celestia's carriage, didn't look Lunar... who could it be?

There is a simple monument here, put up by a historial society about a century ago. For a long time the battle was forgotten and now it's all farms and forest with the Everfree on the other side and the road from East Point to Eight Horse Hitch running along the river. The monument stands by the road, overlooking a carrot farm and a wheat farm.

We got closer; the monument shows a unicorn, an earth pony, and a pegasus facing off against a human knight, an archer, and a wizard. The unicorn is Duke Swift Hoof Blueblood II and the knight is King Corin II Anselwind. The others... I forgot already.

Dammit.

Duke Blueblood was here with an earth pony with an abacus attending him; they both quietly, somberly really, studied the monument.

I should beat the crap out of that bastard for what he did to Rarity.

But I think Marcus is first in that line.

"Duke Blueblood," Soarin' said, bowing.

I didn't bow. He and his title can bite me.

He turned, surprised, then nodded his head to us. "Rainbow Dash, Element of Loyalty. Soarin' of the Wonderbolts. Hail and well met." Then he turned back to the statues.

What, that's all? I reallllly should kick his ass.

Soarin' shook his head at me and led me forward. We all studied them quietly, then Soarin' asked, "I know the one in the middle is your ancestor, but what about the other two?"

He told us about them quietly, almost grimly; he knew a lot. I'd actually heard of the pegasus, Swift Rider, but not in this context. He could actually outrun air elementals, they say. And the earth Pony was actually Purposeful Ramblin', the Count of Hoofington. He killed Count Marsin of Akorros, causing one of the wings to break on the Darokin army.

Killed him.

I shivered at the thought. Equestria hasn't had a full scale war in a long time. I don't want to have to kill humans or elves or dwarves or halflings. Or other ponies.

For a moment, I could see the battle in progress, an ocean of death. Yet in that were moments of bravery and heroism and loyalty. The charge of the Whinneychester Heavies to save the Baron of Bitsmore... It was horrible and wonderful at once.

But we're past that, right?

"I wish," Duke Blueblood said, studying the field as I did. "Equestria is strong, but sooner or later, someone will try again. Maybe even soon."

"The dreams were just dreams," the abacus carrying earth Pony said. "There will not be a war." His loyalty to Blueblood was so intense as to stun me. WHY?

"Not any time soon but sooner or later, the humans will go crazy and try to conquer us again," Soarin' said. "When they get overcrowded, they conquer their neighbors." He shook his head. "Or sell them things." He sounded a little embarrassed.

"Did you get tourist trapped when you went to Minrothad?" I teased him.

"I still don't know why I bought that little set of swinging balls that hit each other," he confessed, then sighed.

"The war won't happen," I told him. "We prevented it." How did he know?

"I hope you are right," he said. "I once dreamed of glory but now I have seen glory." Blueblood made a face. "It is a terrible thing. War. Better I fade and be forgotten than that I achieve reknown that way."

"It certainly costs too much and is inefficient," the earth pony said.

"What's your name?" I asked him.

"Precise Sums," he told me. "I have served the Blueblood line for many years like my ancestors have for generations."

"He is invaluable to me," Blueblood said in his somber way. "Anyway, enjoy your picnic. This is the anniversary, so I came to see it."

"But no one is here," I said. And I somehow didn't even NOTICE.

Dammit.

"Most would rather forget this ever happened," he said. "But I have to remember."

I could sense his ties to his ancestors. The burden of it, weighing on him.

Dammit, I don't want sympathy, I want to hate him without remorse.

But now I can't.

We said goodbye and Soarin' and I ate our picnic and I tried to cheer up. It was spicy noodles in tomato sauce. Very good. Lots of little vegetable bits in it. Kind of messy but we enjoyed cleaning each other afterwards.

Hah!

Then we laid in the grass and watched the sky. Had to let our stomachs settle before some flying. "Sorry I took you somewhere depressing," I said apologetically.

"It's cool," he said. "Good meal, good company. Look, I know you want to go hit the north pole. If you wait a bit, I should be able to arrange time off to go with you."

"Thanks," I said. "This is important to me, but really I should plan."

Later. For now, I'm with the pony I love and everything is good. Let's hope it lasts.

He now reached in his saddlebags and pulled out his chess set. "Time for your lesson!"

Ack.

******************

Twilight's Tale:

I laid in the grassy field. "Okay, obviously this plan wasn't as well thought through as I thought."

I had used the wings spell so West Wind and I could fly together. This was really cool, except that one, everyone who saw us freaked out because I looked like an alicorn and two, I don't have a pegasi's endurance.

"I can carry you," he said.

I'm too big to... oh, MAGIC.

West Wind was blue with a white mane, wearing a nice suit. I shrank myself and got into his pocket, which really amused him.

Then I rested as we flew.

We chatted about things; it was nice to relax and just forget all my larger burdens with a friend. He's... if he lived in Ponyville, I'd get more serious but we both know that we can't see each other too often.

But that's fine. I'd rather practice just having some male friends before I get serious with someone again. Just take it light and easy.

I have bigger priorities, anyway. Those comets won't map themselves and I'm studying enchanting items and planning for the polar expedition. Which should be very cool.

Hehe.

But for now, I want a nice relaxing day off with a friend, away from all my problems and difficulties.

Hoofington came into sight. It's a good sized town, not a lot bigger than Ponyville, but much more trade oriented with lots of nice restaurants. We're going to hit a Boldavian one he says is excellent, A Thousand Nights of Potatos. I'm curious to try their vodka, as you get the best from Karameikos and Boldavia.

As we wheeled around, I heard a distant 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA' coming from the Northwest, up the Canterlot Road.

It was a screaming Big Macintosh in a suit, hang gliding with Vanilla Surprise, towards the city.

West Wind and I stared in unison, then he said, "Do they need help?"

"Let's keep an eye on them," I told him.

West Wind wheeled around precisely and tracked them from above. They were going to miss the landing area for hang gliders and other flying things and go crashing into the far wall of the city, so he dove down and I used my magic to help them land smoothly. Big Macintosh flopped over and I hopped out, returning to normal size and dismissing my flight spell. Best to look...

Everyone stared at me since I was about the size of Big Macintosh.

Ahaha.

I introduced them both to West Wind and him to them. "I remember, we met at the club," Vanilla Surprise said smoothly. "It's a pleasure to meet you; Twilight speaks well of you."

He smiled at her. "Thank you."

Why did they hang-glide here when they could have taken the train?

Well, it's their business.

"We're off to A Thousand Nights of Potatos," Vanilla Surprise said. "I understand there will be a performance by the famous Bard Vladmir Petrovich today there. And dancing."

Oooh, that will be fun, I thought. "That's where we're going too."

We ended up making a double date of it and had a good time. It's strange to socialize with Celestia like this, but fun too. We rarely get to just relax together. I guess she has more free time with Luna back.

It'll be back to work and a future... in the stars... soon, but for now, I can relax and be a normal pony and that's nice too. Destiny will come soon enough without rushing it.

I can look to the future without the past haunting me. And that's what I want. Because I've got a bright future ahead of me.

As the stars came out that night, I looked up at them and smiled. See you soon, my friends. See you soon, up close and personal.

But for now... dancing.

***************

Celestia's Epilogue:

I rule with a light hand; in domestic affairs, I largely leave matters to my ministers and rule very lightly. One day, I will have to leave. Much as I love this place, I cannot focus on Equestria forever. Further, it is the job of Immortals to deal with what mortals cannot, not to control them. My ponies must stand on their own four hooves.

I do not want to end up like Vanya, who leads mortals to die by the thousands in her hunger for glory, or uncaring Rathanos, who sits back and watches people die while he pursues his stupid obsession with turning mortals into fire beings. We already have fire elementals and other sentient fire beings. Or Rafiel and Rad, who prize knowledge above people. Or Sinbad, who wanders the planes and barely notices his worshippers.

Nothing is harder than finding that balance where you neither ignore the mortal realm nor trample it underfoot. I know I have not always found it. In the first years after I lost Luna, I despaired and wandered and lost my way. It felt like it had all been for nothing. My realm fell apart; it had depended far too much on Luna and I, and with her gone and myself lost in despair, it descended into a dark age.

It recovered and so did I, having learned a valuable lesson. Ironically, it was Mother mocking me for my failure that was the start of me pulling out of my crash dive. I was determined to prove her wrong, that my ponies could build a great kingdom.

And they have. I have nudged and guided but in the end, they rule Equestria. I reign but rule as little as I can. Much of my time is spent trying to figure out a better solution to my greatest problem.

"Moping does not become you, my princess," Moondancer said to me as I stood on the balcony, staring off towards the distant Sea of Dread. I know, it's hard to imagine the peaceful waters of Equestria as part of the Sea of Dread, but ultimately, all of this region touches its waters.

She glided over, moving gracefully as always, then nuzzled me gently. I smiled and folded a wing over her. "You are a great comfort to me," I told her.

"Thank you," she said, resting her head gently on my side. With Twilight moved onto her own road, Moondancer has been my personal student, and Luna's as well. She is essential to our work of ensuring the things sleeping under Equestria never, ever wake up. And it is good to have a friend. "I have good news and bad."

"The bad?" I said. Best to get it out of the way.

"I have investigated who sent the children to the mountain. It was your father," Moondancer said.

I heard a splashing noise in my bedroom. "Mother," Cunning Thought said. "I am Celestia's MOTHER. I was in labor for FOUR DAYS with her, then FIVE with Luna. It was worse than the time Thor broke all my bones."

Moondancer jumped and pressed against me. "You followed me?" she squeaked.

"Child, did you seriously think you could spy on the secrets of an Immortal without me noticing?" Cunning Thought said, coming out to join us. "Mind you, I respect you for trying. And with a few more years practice, you might get away with it. But if you try that with, say, Odin, you will find out why it was unwise to try."

"She is under my protection," I said firmly to Mother, just to be sure. "If you have to take it out on someone, take it out on me."

"Now, now, Celestia, is that any way to greet your mother?" She circled to the other side of me from Moondancer and nuzzled me.

I nuzzled back, sighing. "Hello, Mother. Should I get Luna?"

"Be a good girl, Moondancer and fetch my other darling daughter," Mother said. Her tone was light but I knew what she wanted.

Something not for mortal ears is going to come out.

Moondancer teleported in a spray of moonlight.

"Does she know you had your eye on her to replace your sister if need be? Does Luna know?" Mother asked cheerfully.

"Nothing could replace Luna, but someone had to take her place as one of the Guardians, you know," I told him.

"You forget, one of our Hierarchs put those little snoozing worms down there," Cunning Thought said cheerfully. "It's not my job to stop them. They're not Outer Beings or invaders from another Dimension."

"So if you had to decide between me or a talking skeleton, you'd go with the skeleton?" I said. "Whose undead laid waste to your country five hundred years ago?"

Mother made a face. "They were supposed to attack the city states of Borea."

"Yes, I'm sure it was merely an accident. No doubt Thanatos became the hierarch of Entropy by bumbling his way to the top," I said cooly.

Mother gave me the odd look. I wish I knew what it meant, as it could mean 'yes, I would choose Thanatos if I had to' or it could mean 'I don't know what I'd do' or it could mean 'I am in serious trouble if I admit that I would, in the end, put my children first'. Few Immortals have children. Even fewer have ones who actually achieved Immortality. And to my knowledge, no other Immortal has children on the other side of the Law/Chaos conflict.

A moonbeam now shone down from the moon and on it, Luna descended in glory. I could hear Ponies being awestruck across the palace.

"You are SUCH a ham," Mother said, then came over and nuzzled her. She returned it with a clear attitude of standing off. Luna has extremely conflicted feelings about Mother, even more so than myself, and since her return to normality, she generally acts as if Mother was beneath her.

It makes Mother laugh, which angers Luna.

"I am not a ham, I am an Immortal. I conduct myself with dignity and..." Luna began.

A shimmering image formed on the balcony, showing Lunette and Ivan throwing pies at each other and laughing.

"MOTHER!!!" Luna protested. Her aura of glory and power winked out.

I couldn't help but laugh, just like Mother. This, of course, made Luna EVEN ANGRIER. She drew herself up, spreading her wings and trying instinctively to look larger.

This caused Mother to fall down and roll around, laughing. Luna spluttered.

I nuzzled Luna gently. "It's okay, dear. Mother is just trying to rile you. It's her way of showing affection."

"Seeing Luna make faces always makes me happy. Being so easy to tease just makes me want to tease you more," Mother said, righting herself. "Not as fun as teasing Rathanos. Who actually tried to seduce me the other day."

Luna and I blinked audibly. "What?" Luna said. She sounded offended.

"Tell me... of course you slept with him," I said, burying my face in my wings.

"Of course I did, and I made off with the artifact he was stupidly carrying. However, he stole some of my eggs, and I am curious to see how badly whatever idea he has in mind goes, so I won't stop him. This should be HILARIOUS." Mother laughed loudly.

Luna hid her face as well; both of us doing this just made Mother laugh more. "What on Mystara was he thinking?" Luna said plaintively.

"I won't pretend I understand how Rathanos thinks. I think it's the first time he's had sex since he was a mortal, though. I was not impressed. Big Macintosh was much better," Mother said, shaking her head.

"You slept with Celestia's boyfriend?" Luna squeaked.

"She's lying," I said. "Big Macintosh would be buried under a trio of mares if he would sleep with any mare who raised her tail for him," I told Luna. "And we're not lovers yet."

"You're just trying," Mother said. "Like I had to try and see if you would fall for it. That being said, Big Macintosh could not actually be clumsier than Rathanos, though he might have done better if he hadn't been covertly stealing some of my eggs the whole time."

"How does that even WORK?" Luna squeaked, embarrassed.

"Did you forget about how reproduction works when you abandoned your mother's team?" Mother said mournfully. "You and Ivan may have problems in that case."

"We are not lovers, we're just friends!" Luna protested.

I'm not sure what is up with them, but it is Luna's business. She could certainly use a boyfriend. "Luna has, in fact, given birth, you know."

"That is what makes it even more confusing," Mother said, being deliberately obtuse.

"I meant that you normally can't steal someone's eggs while having sex with them!"

"It was rather ingenious," Mother said. "But I'm sure you can figure it out if you think about it."

I don't really want to.

Luna, on the other hand, took this as a challenge and soon was focused on the problem.

"So when are you and Marcus going to give me some grandchildren?" Mother asked me.

"I'll let you know," I told her. It's best never to waste time fighting Mother head-to-head. You always lose, even if you win.

"Mother, you need to stay away from Sweetie Belle," Luna said firmly.

"Too late," Mother said cheerfully. "Just because they live in your country doesn't mean you can keep out other Pony Immortals."

"You weren't born a pony," Luna muttered, irritated.

"And you aren't really a pony either, though it lingers," Mother said.

She's right. I've come to understand that; Luna lost a lot of time in her slumber, and before that, neither of us left Pony form very often.

"Sweetie is a dear little girl," Mother said. "So trusting, just like Twilight was when you stepped in to mold her to your will, daughter," she continued to me.

I twitched. "I had to help her, so she could handle her talent."

"Of course you did. And Sweetie needs my help. You both have too much on your plate, whereas I have honed Hule to where it runs itself. Leaving me lots of free time for other projects," Mother said. "Like helping out my daughters by reducing all their neighbors to impotent, shattered wreckage which can't threaten Equestria."

"Mother, we can handle it!" Luna said urgently.

"Further, the Oard menace is something which needs to be taken seriously before it affects EVERYONE," Mother continued, turning to face me.

"Before it hits Hule," I said flatly.

"And Darokin and Equestria and Minrothad... actually, Minrothad could do with some stirring up," Mother said. "Remember, if the Oards win, we all cease to exist."

"They cannot break through the vigilance of the Immortals of Time," Luna said urgently.

"If that was true, they'd have been eliminated long ago," Mother said. "I take them seriously."

"By sending children after them," Luna said, frowning.

"I seem to remember someone else doing that against an Immortal with remarkable success," Mother said, taking a moment to brush my side with her wings. "It's amazing how much fluff you build up in a day, Celestia."

I frowned. "Where?"

She began grooming me as we talked.

"They weren't children," I said firmly. Then I sighed. "It's too late for them to have a normal childhood now, I know."

"Children don't want a normal childhood, they want adventure, like you two did," Mother said, determinedly brushing my side. "Did you roll around in a pile of wool today?"

"No," I said. "But it is a cleaning day."

"I should have brought a brush," Mother grumbled and kept working.

"Yes, but we had no idea what it was going to actually be like," Luna said. She sighed and started grooming me as well. "Sometimes you must ride the tide, yes, as I did. But I made sure I was there to protect them."

"You used their creation gleefully and without hesitation and enjoyed it," Mother said and Luna winced. "It was just as I would hope my daughter would do." Luna winced more.

I tried to show no reaction. The more you let Mother get your goat, the more she goes for your goat, so to speak. "We can...," I began.

"You are too busy," Mother said. "Consider it a test. Have you produced a land which can handle me or not? Don't you say you put your trust in your mortals to act wisely without you mother henning them?" She worked on one of my legs. "I think we are going to have to give up and just bathe you. Are you deliberately making more fluff?"

"I could use a bath," I admitted. There is a part of me which very much wants to just bathe with my family like a normal person would. To have a mother I could trust. Father died long ago, though his soul dwells with Odin and I visit him sometimes. I am grateful to Odin for that.

"Then let us go," Luna said. "Mother is... right. You need a bath. It's like a pillow spilt and you wallowed in it."

The pillow fight was days ago and I have been groomed since then. This is probably one of Mother's pranks. The bath is probably rigged to dye us pink again.

I will take the chance.

But Mother goes through the door first.

"But why Sweetie?" Luna asked.

"That is for me to know and you to find out," Mother said with that annoying 'I have a secret, ha ha' tone she has. "Ivan, would you like to come out of the shadows where you've been spying on us with Whelm ready to smack me and join us?"

"..." I looked around; I had noticed nothing.

Ivan made a gurgling noise and stepped out of the shadows. "Dammit," he said, Whelm in hand.

"You would have died horribly if you had tried anything but it was sweet of you to try," Mother said, nuzzling him cheerfully. "Did Luna put you up to it, or did you get up on the suicidal side of the bed this morning? And if you say something like 'I won't let you hurt her', I will have to laugh, then ask you to kiss her so I can get a picture of it," she said.

Ivan made incoherent noises.

"Come, Ivan," I said. "Mother won't hurt you as long as you don't give her an excuse."

"Now, I noticed all your proteges are on growth hormones," Mother said as we teleported to the baths. "And you're dating a rather large pony. So what's your secret plan, hmm? Time to upgrade the size of your followers?"

"Oh yes," I said fatuously. "Big is better." Best to just tease back.

Some days I can herd Mother, some days she herds me. I'm not sure which category today falls in. We will see.

***************

Ivan's Epilogue:

I leaned on the railing with Lunette; we both were wearing very fancy clothing, looking like Specularum merchants who had enough money to spend their time watching the Karameikan Assembly of Warriors waste its time on blather. It's the house of the legislature for nobles.

Sir Emil von Hendricks, cousin and representative of Ludwig von Hendricks, the Black Eagle Baron, the worst of the nobles of Karameikos, was busy yammering on about how the halflings were raiding his cousin's lands and the Grand Duke needed to do something about it and the 'bandits' harbored by Luln were causing him trouble too.

As if he didn't deserve every bit of it.

But I am being patient. It isn't easy but bringing these bastards down is going to be a long term project. I can be patient.

As long as Lunette sometimes pins me down.

"Got it," Scootaloo said and I jumped.

She passed me the documents, grinning. "How did I do?"

"You're good," I told her. Lock-picking she's not so good at, but with those cloaks and her own grace as a pegasus? VERY sneaky.

She's going to be a good apprentice, I think.

She smiled brightly. "Now, do we make a dramatic getaway?"

"We walk out quietly, then slip into the shadows and return to Ponyville before you get in trouble for breaking curfew again," I told her.

Lunette nodded. "And I return to Canterlot." She ruffled Scootaloo's hair fondly. "Let's go, student."

"I wish I didn't have to go back to school soon," she mumbled.

The summer is slipping away but that's okay. I need to build up my skills and my knowledge.

I probably shouldn't let Scootaloo be involved in this but I need an apprentice and she would jump in anyway. You can't stop those kids, you just can point them at something productive instead of destructive.

"We'll just practice when you're out of school," I told her. "Come on. Let's go get some ice cream."

"ICE CREAM!"

"I know just the place in Baltimare," Lunette said, and off we went, following her.

Things are looking up, I think.

I'm sure Marcus will blow up the whole country before the Winter Solstice, though.

**************

Final Epilogue (Marcus-o-Vision):

"If I die, I'll miss school and flunk!" Sweetie wailed.

And I'll lose my job if I die; I'm going to be teaching some special courses at the Ponyville school, working with Cherilee, who Rarity assures me is a very easy-going, enthusiastic pony.

Right now, though, the two of us were clinging to a board as we slowly drift away from the wreckage of the yacht we stupidly rented for a triple cute-cenara for Apple Bloom, Sweetie, and Scootaloo.

In the future, all presents acquired by Snips and Snails will be searched THREE TIMES before they are brought into my presence, especially if they think it is 'cool'.

Damn you flail-snails of fear and flame!!!!!

Also, whoever spiked the punch, DIES.

"My poor dress!" Sweetie wailed. It was a water-logged mess.

"I'll make you a new one," Rarity said, surfacing.

I put a leg around her; I was in pony form for the party, since it was a particularly pony-esque thing.

We all clung together. "We have to stop meeting like this," Rarity said dryly and we both laughed.

We laughed less when the catoblepas lurched out of the forest and stared at us; I could feel the malice of his deadly gaze.

So I set him on fire.

Horns have their advantages.

He flung himself in the water and when he came up, an elf shot him in the ass and he fled. "Hello there," the elf said, looking at all the ponies strung out up and down the river, trying to fight the current before it swept us all the way to Hoofington. It was mainly unicorns, the least athletic, who were still stranded in the river.

Like us.

A human woman in green and black now came out, leaning on a staff. "Hail, Ponies, I am Tabitha Franich of Franich House and we are the Society of Seven Rings. Do you need help?"

"Yes," I told her. "Please."

"We're from Ponyville!" Sweetie said. "Are you adventurers?" she asked eagerly. "I'm an adventurer too!"

They soon pulled us out of the river and we guided them back to Ponyville, picking up stranded ponies as we went. We had quite the herd by the time we reached the bridge.

"What brings you to Ponyville?" Rarity asked them curiously.

"Hidden treasure?" Apple Bloom asked hopefully.

"A monster to root out? We're still looking for the time monster," Scootaloo said.

The time monster I suspect Loki made up.

They began telling their tale and I felt a little twinge.

But not yet. There will be adventures in the future, but I want some peace and quiet for a while.

Ahahaha.

I want to be near medical attention when the disasters inevitably strike, at least.

Here with friends and people who love me.

And kids I am going to have to kill for... "What happened to the flail snail?" I asked.

I heard the mayor scream distantly.

"To the rescue!" Sweetie shouted and we all took off to save her.

Together.

We come into this world alone, but I intend to leave it in a group.

That really didn't come out right.

I am worried that stupid snail will hurt someone but I am happy to be here with those I love. For them, I can face anything.

Or for financial gain, but you can't change all at once.

Love of treasure is a natural thing. And something I share with my lady love.

The worst part of this snail, after all, is that it's unlikely to have ANY TREASURE AT ALL.

"Don't remind me," Rarity said softly and we both laughed.

Apparently I can't stop narrarating my thoughts without realizing it either.

At least I am not on fire.

Lily ran by, shouting, "THE HORROR! THE HORROR!"

Her tail WAS on fire, so I put it out with the water spell I learned from Twilight.

"Thanks!" she said. "But now it's RUINED."

That was, of course, Rarity's cue. It was shorter when she finished but back to a nice clean shape.

This got her a hug while the adventurers rushed ahead of us to go after the snail. We then ran after them, realizing Sweetie had gone ahead with them.

The enthusiasm of youth.

We sped up just to be sure, in time to see the snail being flung towards the Everfree with Snails riding ON IT, shouting something about cowboys.

It is best I never, ever understand or ask.

Trust me.

I gave a happy little sigh. A good run feels invigorating. One that doesn't end with me on fire, even better.

It's good to be in love and good to be alive.

I hope every day isn't like this, though.

There had better be treasure some of the time.

I kissed Rarity and we began herding the kids and getting the mayor off the roof she'd somehow stranded herself on.

Just another typical day in Ponyville.

Which explains a lot.

Pinkie now popped up and waved at the air. "Goodbye, everyone! Hope you enjoyed the show! If we the characters have offended, once you eat some candy, it will be amended!" She paused. "No, wait, that's not right."

"Pinkie, even the Immortals don't actually know for sure that the Old Ones exist beyond the Sixth Dimension," I told her. "You can't just address them and expect them to hear you." There are rumors among the Immortals of a higher stage where you become one of the Old Ones, who watch over many universes, but whether they exist and how, if possible, you can join them, remains a mystery.

Pinkie waved to someone I couldn't see. "The Book of Kagyar says otherwise!"

"Pinkie, you annotated your copy with cookie recipes," I told her.

"Just wave to them, okay?" she said.

So I waved to anyone who might be watching us.

"Say goodnight, Sammy," she said.

"Goodnight, Sammy," I said, laughing.

She laughed loudly too. "We'll all return soon in... Goldeneye. No wait, that's someone else." She scratched her head.

Best to end this before she really does pierce the Sixth Dimension somehow.

Anyway, if any of the Old Ones are watching, hello there and please don't destroy us. In fact, please send us lots of treasure.

"And pastries," Pinkie said.

And pastries.

Rarity then dragged me off and this tale came to an end, but I'm sure we'll meet again.

And it had BETTER NOT INVOLVE ME NEARLY DROWNING.

The End (for now)

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