• Published 4th Jun 2012
  • 28,471 Views, 2,512 Comments

Rainbooms and Royalty - Trinary



Alternate Universe: Filly Rainbow Dash has just performed her Sonic Rainboom when she gets a visitor

  • ...
61
 2,512
 28,471

The Swamp Peril

& & &

Six ponies and one zebra stood at the threshold of the Everfree Forest. Dinky Doo had been safely ensconced in the home of Carrot Top, a close friend of her mother. Secure in the knowledge that the filly was in safe hooves, there was nothing to hold them back from entering the forest in pursuit of the fabled Elements of Harmony.

Well, almost nothing.

“We have to go in there?” Rarity fidgeted squeamishly. “Ugh, it’s so dark and dank and…dirty!

Rainbow Dash groaned as Applejack shot Rarity an annoyed look. “Ah reckon it is…so? Don’t you think saving your kin and country is worth a little dirtying up?”

“I never said that!” Rarity defended herself indignantly. “For Sweetie Belle I would do anything—but if I could do it and not get dirty, I wouldn’t mind.”

“Well you cain’t so give it a rest. You can’t have yer cake and eat it too.”

Rarity hmphed at Applejack’s curtness.

“That’s true you can’t!” Pinkie Pie said, bouncing around the two. “No wait, you can have your cake and eat it but then you won’t have your cake anymore! What you really can’t do is eat your cake and have it—that’s really hard! Unless you can ‘have’ your cake in your belly, does that count? Ooh! What if you have TWO cakes? Then you can have one and eat the other!” She suggested. “Can one be chocolate and the other vanilla? But which one would you eat? Hmm, maybe if you made TWO chocolate and TWO vanilla—”

“PINKIE PIE!” Rainbow Dash raised her voice in annoyance. The sudden yell made Fluttershy twitch as she barely avoided throwing herself to the ground in fear. Dash’s eye twitched. They hadn’t even set hoof in the forest yet and already things were getting…complicated. “Let’s just go already!”

Twilight suddenly looked anxious. “Shouldn’t we make a plan first? I mean, there are a lot of things in the Everfree Forest to look for. Maybe if Zecora explained them I could make a checklist of them and—”

Rainbow felt her wings unconsciously flex in frustration when Zecora spoke up. “While your idea has merit, I’m afraid I must decline. There are too many dangers for me to list, and not enough time. I can show you how to sidestep the perils on the way—but be warned: follow my lead or the price you will pay.” She cast a severe warning look at Rainbow Dash at that last part before she started heading in.

By silent agreement, Applejack and Rainbow Dash decided that they’d keep an eye out for the less…hardy members of their group. Dash flew above the group, keeping watch from the air while Applejack headed up the rear with the same practiced ease that she’d use to herd a flock of sheep.

Rainbow craned her head back and forth. The trees in the forest had a more twisted, unpleasant look than those she’d seen elsewhere. Moss and vines grew everywhere, with no sense of pattern or purpose. It leant itself to a very wild, unkempt look which she supposed made sense, seeing as nopony controlled how the plants grew in the Everfree. She shuddered. Such an unnatural place.

In all of Equestria, everything was controlled by ponies or pony magic: the plants, the animals, the weather…coming to a place where nothing was controlled, nothing was planned was like stepping back into the distant past when ponykind was at the mercy of the tyranny of the old elements – earth, water, fire and air, before they had been subdued.

This whole forest reeked of anarchy, of chaos. Rainbow Dash shuddered. “So Zecora, what’s the deal with the Elements anyway?” She asked, trying to distract herself. “Where are they?”

“Our destination lies at the heart of the Everfree, the old Palace of the Royal Sisters pony.” Came the accented cadence she’d come to associated with Zecora.

“If you knew they were there, why haven’t you gotten them before now?” Twilight asked curiously.

Half-turning her head so she could answer, Zecora replied: “What need have I of those powerful gewgaws? Ancient magicks should not be disturbed without cause.” Turning her attention back to the forest ahead of her she added, “What’s more, our journey is perilous. Not one I would make if our situation was not precarious.”

“Perilous? Oh my, that sounds dangerous.” Fluttershy squeaked.

Rainbow Dash looked at her foalhood friend. “Fluttershy if you want to turn back, no pony will think any less of you.”

“N-no! Thank you but no. I said I was going and that’s that.” She scuffed her hoof on the ground. “If, um, that’s okay with you, that is.”

“Atta girl there Fluttershy!” Applejack patted her on the back, almost knocking her over. “All fer one and one for everypony!”

“And parties for all!” Pinkie added, wrapping up both ponies in a mammoth hug that had them both gasping for breath.

Zecora chuckled, prompting a frown from Rainbow Dash. “What’re you so happy about? We’re wasting time here! We’ve barely made any progress at all.”

“I would not be so sure.” Zecora said cryptically with a faint nod to the hugging ponies. “Progress is not always measured by just the destination, but by the journey’s tour.”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah…I’ll be sure to stop and smell the roses on the way to fight the unspeakable evil. It’ll be a real fun trip! I thought time was of the essence here?”

“It was and remains. What I said though, clearly has not sunken into your brain.” Zecora started walking again. “Also, do not sniff any rose. They are likely to make your head explode.”

That made Rainbow come to a screeching halt…which considering she was still flying in midair, was no small feat. “You’re kidding right? Right?”

Her only answer was a flick of the zebra’s tail, indicating that they should follow. Soon the group was back to walking.

The density of the trees and vines soon became so thick that Rainbow Dash was forced to land—grumbling as she did so—in order that she not lose sight of the rest of her party.

A soft mist coated the ground, growing thicker the further in they went. Soon it coated the entire area in front of them. “Stupid freak weather.” Rainbow Dash grumbled, her feathers practically wilting under the moisture, making her wings weigh much more than they should.

Rarity let out a low moan. “My hair!” She mourned as her precious curls fell straight, getting caught on branches or dragging on the ground. “So ghastly!”

“Ah quit yer belly-aching.” Applejack snorted, herself annoyed as she felt her hat start to wilt under all the moisture.

Fluttershy let out a low murmur that nopony heard, her mane had collapsed in on itself, all but blinding her. Strangely enough, Pinkie Pie’s trademark poofy mane was unaffected. Twilight, who was right behind Fluttershy, shook her mane out of her way so she could hear better.

“What did you say Fluttershy?”

“I—I thought I heard something.” The creamy pegasus tilted her head upwards. Twilight twitched her ears as she strained to listen. There was the hoofsteps of the walking ponies, the faint conversations, the—there!

H-heeeelp me…help mee… the weak voice seemed to waft on the air.

“Oh my goodness!” Fluttershy burst out of the line, running through the mist and into the forest.

“Fluttershy come back!” Twilight called as she ran after her.

“Wait, do not heed that call!” Zecora shouted. “There is danger for you all!”

“Fluttershy, Twilight—come back!” Rainbow Dash darted into the mist, soon followed by the rest of their company.

Rainbow Dash snorted as she raced ahead. This was exactly why she wanted to go alone! Too many ponies, too many things that could go wrong…

And speaking off…Rainbow caught sight of Fluttershy and Twilight up head as the mist started to thin out a bit. They had come to a stop looked like they were calling something out at their would-be rescuers.

Narrowing her eyes, Rainbow Dash took a giant leap augmented nicely by her wings and landed in front of her two friends…only to wince as the squelching sensation beneath her hooves. “Eww, what is this?” The smell was so overpowering she almost gagged. Looking down she saw that she had landed straight in the middle of a bog or a swamp. She could see the edge of the…not water, but sludge she guessed, about ten feet away.

“That’s what we were trying to tell you!” Twilight shouted in a panic. “We can’t move! We have to tell the others to--”

“Stop!” Fluttershy tried yelling but couldn’t make herself heard. Soon Applejack, Rarity and Pinkie Pie had run straight into the muck and marsh and soon found themselves ankle deep in the muck.

“What in tarnation is this?!” Applejack shouted as she struggled to lift her hooves out of the muck. She couldn’t so much as budge them. The others were having no better luck as they struggled. Rainbow Dash flapped her wings trying to get some air, but her hooves were anchored fast. Twilight’s horn glowed as she attempted to magically teleport herself out but nothing happened.

“STOP!” Zecora shouted from the edge of the marsh. “Do not move a muscle or so much as a hair! You have walked into the Swamp of Despair!”

“The what?” Rarity strained to pull her hooves out. “Ugh, this is so naaaasty!” She whined.

Zecora shook her head as she stomped up and down the edge of the swamp. “The swamp has led you astray! I warned that if you strode from the path that you would pay!”

“Less talking, more magic.” Rainbow barked. “This stuff is sticker than the royal taffy!”

“Oooh I love taffy! It’s so yummy and gooey and fun! Sometimes it’s sooo sticky that I can’t even open my mouth! Bon Bon loves making taffy because whenever I talk to her or Lyra she always has some and gives it to me! Isn’t she just a nice pony? Why--”

“PINKIE PIE!” Dash shouted. “We don’t have time for your…whatever it is! We need to get out of here! How about it Zecora?”

The zebra shook her head. “Were it so easy I would already have done so already. The swamp is deceptive and most deadly.”

“But…we’re not sinking.” Twilight looked down. “We can’t move but we aren’t sinking either.”

“Not yet.” Zecora said tersely, her voice ominous. “The swamp drags you down not through your weight, but through your mind. Memories, feelings, it will conjure up everything depressing and sad you’ve seen in your time. The heavier your heart grows, the deeper you sink. So if you want to live, happy thoughts you should think.”

Rainbow Dash looked incredulous. “That is the most—”

“—pathetic attempt at Immelmare Turn ever!” Hoops laughed as Rainbow Dash picked herself out of the crater in the cloud that she’d rather abruptly landed in. Well, crashed really, if you wanted to be picky. And Hoops and his friends definitely wanted to. “Maybe we should call you Rainbow CRASH!”

The confused mare shook her head. Why was she suddenly thinking of that? She looked around only to find that everypony else in the swamp was shaking their heads or crying out…or just plain crying.

Before she could say a word, Dash found a new image flashing in her mind.

She was nine--sneaking out of the palace to follow Shining Armor home. Her filly mind was all a giggle. This was gonna be great! She would follow him back and wait for him to go to bed…then the next morning he’d wake up to find himself pranked in his own bedroom! Classic!

Crouching in the shadows, she saw him stop in front of a house and knocked at the door. The front door opened up. Rainbow Dash saw the head and neck of a pink unicorn poke out of the door. They started talking…then she saw Shining Armor quickly glance this way and that before leaning in…and gave the unicorn a kiss.

Little Dash felt her stomach drop worse than it did after an inverted corkscrew. Shining Armor…had a girlfriend? Tears suddenly welled up in her eyes as the little filly ran before she started crying out loud. Her heart felt like it had been pierced by a lightning bolt.

She felt moisture on her cheek…and as she raised a hoof to brush away the tear Rainbow realized that the tear wasn’t just a memory. She flapped her wings, trying to extricate herself from the swamp. “I’ve gotta get out of here!” Rainbow Dash thought furiously, her cheeks wet.

She shivered as she felt a coldness in her belly. Looking down she saw that she was sinking! Her belly was now brushing the surface of the swamp. As hard as she tried to fight it, she couldn’t budge an inch.

Rainbow Dash scrunched her eyes shut and shook her head. “This isn’t real this is not happening…” as other memories floated to the top. Ditzy Doo as Nightmare Moon struck her with lightning. Shining Armor being transformed. Celestia breaking apart into a cloud of golden dust before Rainbow’s very eyes…

The swamp was now at chin-level. Rainbow Dash closed her eyes. It wouldn’t be long now…

“Pfff bwahahaha!” A happy peal of laughter suddenly disrupted the unhappy fog of memories she found herself lost in. Looking around (or as much as she could with herself neck deep in muck) Rainbow Dash saw Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity and Twilight were in the same boat as her.

Twilight’s hair had somehow become a frightful mess, hair’s randomly poking out ever which way, giving her an off-kilter look. She was sobbing, apologizing to her parents…for what Rainbow Dash could only guess was Twilight’s disastrous entrance exam. Rarity cries had reached a high pitch that made it almost impossible to understand her. And Applejack, who was right next to Rainbow Dash was sobbing quietly. The only thing she could hear the farmpony saying was “momma…daddy….” But out of all of them Fluttershy looked the worst, her face a mess as a stream of tears poured down her cheeks.

But when Rainbow Dash looked to Pinkie Pie, she saw the pink party pony prancing about on the swamp, not held down in the slightest. She was smiling and laughing. “Pinkie Pie? Wha….?” Rainbow croaked, her throat constricted with emotion.

Suddenly, Pinkie Pie was there, rubbing Dash’s mane. “Aww, it’s okay Dashie! Auntie Pinkie Pie will take care of everything, don’t you worry!”

Oddly enough, the feel of Pinkie stroking her mane made Rainbow feel…safe. It reminded her of when Princess Celestia would do the same for her when she was upset. “But why aren’t you stuck like the rest of us?” Dash protested. “Aren’t you ever sad?”

“Silly pony, of course I am! Everypony is sad sometimes. The trick is to remember that the sad don’t last forever and to always look on the bright side! In fact…” She cleared her throat. Rainbow Dash heard music coming from somewhere as Pinkie started to sing.

“Some things in life are bad

They can really make you mad

Other things just make you swear and curse.

When you're chewing on life's gristle

Don't grumble, give a whistle

And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...

Always look on the light side of life...”

Pinkie started whistling. The sight of her capering and dancing around, in spite of everything made Rainbow…smile. Just the act of grinning made her feel more free. The others had small, tiny smiles start to tug at their faces.

Thus buoyed, when Pinkie finished one song, she went into another.

“Come on everypony

Smile, smile, smile!

Fill my heart up with sunshine,

Sunshine!

All I really need's a smile, smile, smile!

From these happy friends of mine!”

By this point, everypony (and zebra) was smiling at Pinkie’s antics, hardly noticing that they had stopped sinking into the bog. And when Pinkie got to her grand finale…

“Everything is perfect, it’s falling into place.

I just can’t seem to wipe this smile from my face.

Life’s a happy song, when there’s somepony by my side to sing along.

I’ve got everything that I need, right in front of me!

Nothing’s stopping me

Nothing that I can’t be with you right here next to me!

You’ve got everything that you need, right in front of you!

Nothing’s stopping you,

Nothing that you can’t do

That the world can throw at you!

Life’s a happy song!”

Pinkie stopped and gestured to her friends to join in.

“When there’s somepony by your side to sing…” Applejack chimed in.

“Life’s a happy song!”

“When there’s somepony by your side to sing…” Twilight smiled. That made Rainbow Dash smile also. Soon everypony—and Zecora—was smiling and joined in on the final line.

“Life’s a happy song--when there’s somepony by your side to sing alooooooong!”

Rainbow Dash pumped her hoof in the air—only to realize that it was no longer stuck in the ooze. In fact, all the trapped ponies pulled their legs out of the swamp and laughed with relief—free from its grip. On the bank, Zecora reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a hoofull of powder. She gently tossed it into the swamp and chanted under her breath. “Azarath Metrion Zinthos. Azarath Metrion Zinthos!”

The swamp shimmered and the ooze seemed to dissolve into normal, if muddy, water. “What did you do?” Applejack asked.

“From the strength of your laughter and joy, the magic of the Swamp I was able to destroy. It is no longer a threat--but a normal swamp. Warm, muggy, and wet through which ponies can stomp.”

Rainbow flew over to hero of the hour. “Pinkie Pie that was amazing!”

Smiling, the pink pony merely hopped up and down. “Aw, silly! It was nothing really! Laughter makes everything better!”

Zecora, beaming widely, made her way back to the front of the group. “Come my friends, we have much further to go. The night will be long and the dangers many, before we can strike the final blow.”

“Then what’re we waiting for!” Applejack yipped. “Let’s get a move on!”

“Yeah!” The others shouted as they trotted off, their spirits rising.

“Watch out Nightmare Moon!” Rainbow Dash crowed. “Here we come!”

& & &