• Published 24th Jan 2016
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If You Weren't Afraid - MyHobby



Discord's illness is tearing him apart. He must join Fluttershy and two young stowaways on a journey to his birthplace in order to find the cure.

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The Most Noble Sacrifice

Fluttershy stood dumbfounded as the taste of green music slithered across her hoof. Trees screamed in pain as squirrels sprouted from their buds. Clouds congealed from iron shavings spiraled around gelatinous rock formations. Flocks of pidgeons danced with a hungry honey-combed lion. A parade of childlike oysters followed a posh walrus to their doom.

She had long since stopped trying to make sense of it.

She tried to fly and met a windfall of razor-sharp feathers. She attempted to climb out of the pit she’d made for herself, but the top kept rising higher, and she continued to sink. She took a breath of red-hot cinnamon and hacked it up. The water swallowed her, froze around her, turned to steam at her touch.

The mountain swallowed her up, surrounded her with its crumbling caverns and drizzling stalactites. She tried to scream, to so much as hear her own voice, but all that issued forth was the cacophony of a thousand animal calls.

She entered inky blackness and silence.

She swallowed hard and breathed out. The hiss of her breath was loud and clear in her ears. Her skin felt warm, like a comforting blanket had been spread over her. She blinked into the darkness. The air was refreshing, clean, unmarred. The ache from chaos violently seeping through her limbs faded. Her ears perked at a faint sound: A small voice, singing. Several voices, now that she focused. Too faint to be understood, but beautiful all the same.

“It’s starsong,” a distantly familiar voice said.

Tiny pinpricks of light appeared at random intervals. One hovered in front of her face, and the song became clearer for a note or two. It zipped off at lightspeed, joining a cluster an uncertain distance away. Fluttershy smiled. She wanted to join in the chase, to prance and sing with the friendly little lights. But something kept her back.

She turned to where she’d heard the voice. Nopony was apparent, but she did notice a glimmering outline of a six-winged creature. “Who are you? A-and where am I?”

“I am a Fae Creature. One of the Fair Folk. A messenger of the Seelie Court.”

“O-oh.” Fluttershy frowned and tilted her head. “I’m… I haven’t had many good experiences with fairies.”

“We get that a lot, recently.” The creature’s voice rolled with resigned frustration.

With a strength-gathering breath, the fairy continued. “You are in the realm of the stars, Fluttershy. The place where dreams never die. I have brought you to the open heavens, to Dreamland itself.”

Fluttershy walked towards a cluster of lights. They danced around her, flying beneath her wings, spiraling around her legs, tugging gently at her mane and tail.

“Though a pony’s body may fail, and its mind fade, its spirit lives on.” The fairy held out a vague hoof and allowed a light to rest on it. “I guide them here for safekeeping, and fill your night sky with hopeful dreams.”

“These… are really stars?” Fluttershy gazed around with wide eyes. Constellations loomed into view. Clusters and nebulas radiated rainbows of living color. A meteorite grazed her flank, tickling her. “They’re… they’re ponies who’ve passed away.”

“Nothing passes away,” the fairy said. “They only pass on.”

Fluttershy’s heart sank as a dizzying feeling floated through her stomach. “Am I dead?”

“No, Fluttershy, you are very much alive.” The fairy’s voice became soft, careful, with a tremor running just beneath the surface. “I brought you here so that your mind and spirit would gain respite from the chaos tearing your body apart.”

“That’s… kind of you.” Fluttershy spread her wing and allowed several stars to rest along its length. “I suppose it saves me the trip, doesn’t it?”

The fairy paused for a long moment. “Already given up, have you?”

Fluttershy bit her lip. She looked away from the lights gathering around; an assembly of pinpricks of joy that seemed so foreign to her. “I’m not giving up. I’m seeing this through. Discord can’t handle this burden by himself.”

“Then what makes you think you can handle it by yourself?”

Fluttershy almost spoke, but cut herself short. She brushed her flowing mane from her face. “Did you just bring me here to point out my mistakes? Or to tell me what’s wrong?”

“No.” The fairy flickered in the starlight as it shook its head. “I brought you here to give you a gift, that it may be your salvation.”

Fluttershy’s ears drooped. “Unless it’s a golden apple, I don’t know that it’ll do much good.”

“I am not allowed access to golden apples.” The fairy’s six wings spread to their full length, completely translucent, allowing the starlight to pass through. “But I have something far more precious.”

One star in particular halted in its movement. It separated from the flock it’d been following and zig-zagged its way towards Fluttershy. It twinkled joyously down its meandering path, careless and flighty. Stardust trailed in its wake, sprinkling the cosmos with a pathway of gossamer and gold. It hovered before Fluttershy’s face, bobbing to and fro.

It leaped up, like a foal hopping with excitement. It moved at lightning speed around Fluttershy’s body, covering her with sparkling dust. It returned to its place before her and touched itself to her nose.

It was then that she saw the star, the dream, the tiny spirit, for what it truly was. Two green eyes stared at her over a handsome muzzle. A charcoal mane hung from the top of the head, with one stripe of light gray trailing through the forelock. The tan coat was simple, but far from ugly. It lent focus to the brilliant eyes, bright as the star he now was, staring at her with the same familiar smile he had so many years ago.

“Fluttershy,” he said, “it’s really you?”

Her breath caught as she looked away. She collapsed at the knee, falling down with tears in her eyes. He caught her with a strong foreleg and brought her into a tight hug.

“Happy?” She sobbed. “I don’t… I don’t understand!”

“It’s okay,” he whispered. He leaned back to look her in the eyes again, bringing warmth to her heart. “I’m here. I’m safe.”

He was real, no doubt in her mind. The same gentle face, the same strong limbs, the same boundless energy. His voice was deeper, and his face was more mature, just how he would have been had he lived. He was a grown stallion here among the stars. Unbelievably, downright impossibly handsome. But still so intrinsically real, and present, and true.

‘Realer than real,’ thought Fluttershy. She couldn’t speak, and she felt as though she didn’t even want to. Instead, she leaned against her childhood friend, letting her tears spill down her cheeks.

“Don’t cry, Fluttershy—” His laugh was a rolling chuckle as he raised her chin with the edge of his hoof. “—hold your head up high, and you can reach the sky.”

She hadn’t thought it possible for her heart to break further, but his words shattered her to the core. She blubbered, fighting to speak through aching pain, bewildering disbelief, and head-spinning joy. “H-how is this possible?

“Dreams never die,” he said with a grin. “Our stars never burn out. Inside each one of us is a light so bright, no darkness could hope to hide it. It’s inside you, it was inside me…”

He blinked, his smile weakening at the edges. He took on a far-off expression as his ears drooped. “It’s inside my mom, too. But I think she’s forgotten that.”

Fluttershy pressed her lips together and bobbed her head.

“Will you…” He swallowed, and his voice grew faint. “Will you remind her, when you get back?”

Fluttershy hiccupped. She nuzzled her cheek against his chest. “You should tell her yourself.”

Happy held her at foreleg’s length. He looked her up and down, his smile transforming into a deep, serious frown. “Fluttershy, she wouldn’t be receptive to it right now. There’s something… very broken inside her that needs healing before she can see me again.”

“But—but if you come back to Ponyville—” Fluttershy reached for him, to hold him close and never let go. He accepted the hug, though his eyes tightened. “—if you come back to live with us, then everything wrong will be fix… fixed…”

She shuddered as reality came crashing back to her. “Except that to save Discord, I’ve sacrificed my own life. And… and there’s no going back, is there?”

“Not now.” He shook his head slowly, easing her away from himself. Not far enough to alienate, but enough to have a touch of breathing room. “Not yet.”

He took her hoof and gazed at it, speaking in a soft, deep voice. “When a child is conceived in the womb, it is surrounded by a protective body, and grows a guiding mind. When the baby is born, it passes to a new stage of life. It cannot return to the womb. It can no longer live in the womb.”

His lip trembled. “The same thing happens when a star is born.”

Fluttershy wiped her eyes with the edge of her downy feathers. She caught his brilliant, beautiful green eyes and smiled. “But at least that means we’ll be together.”

“Together?” His cheeks went red. “Well, not together-together. I mean, stars don’t—they can’t—there’s no—um—”

Fluttershy closed the gap between them and pressed her lips against his. She brought her hoof to his cheek and sighed, wrapping her wings around his shoulders. Nearly two decades of pent up sorrow and should-have-beens ignited at once, tugging at her heart and pounding through her head.

The kiss ended too soon. She wanted to come back for another, until she felt dampness in her hooves. She saw tears streaming down Happy’s face, his shoulders hunching and his tail swishing limply.

“I’m sorry…” Fluttershy ducked her head, her face burning bright enough to light up a room. “I, um, maybe that was presumptuous, and uncalled for, and a little too forward, but, um, I really, really needed to—”

“Fluttershy.” Happy sucked in a deep breath. His chest shook as he let it out bit by bit. “I need to tell you something right now.”

She faced her ears forward, turned her eyes intently to his face, and folded her wings across her back.

“I need to tell you,” he said, “we brought you here so… so I could tell you… you can’t come to me yet. You can’t.

***

The clouds shook beneath Pinkie Pie’s hooves. One minute she was atop a towering hill. The next minute saw the same patch of cloud become a rapidly-descending valley. “Of all the days to not have wings.”

A lesser mare would have barfed immediately. Pinkie Pie, though, had a stomach of steel. Steel surrounded by a tiiiny layer of fat to keep her body nice and cozy, true, but steel nonetheless.

Ground-bound guardsponies surrounded her on every side. They shouted to civilians, herding them towards the safer middle portion of the city. The place least likely to pitch an unsuspecting bystander into the drink. Luckily, nopony had fallen off Las Pegasus yet, but it was only a matter of time.

A four-story building pitched and yawed. It careened closer and closer, ready to crush both the ponies racing through the road and the hapless tourists clutching slot machines inside. Pinkie’s eyes widened as she headed for the oncoming accident. “Twoflower’s Luggage on my mark! Now!”

The dozen-odd earth ponies, herself included, pressed their mighty shoulders against the nearest side of the building. They stepped in time, their muscles bulging, their hearts straining with magic. Nothing could stop the combined might of their power, and the building was no exception. It righted itself with a bewildered groan.

Pinkie Pie punched a hole in the cloudcrete and shouted through the new opening. “Get your booties out of here and to the middle of town, pronto!”

The sight of several ponies lifting a building shocked the tourists out of their panic and into a different sort of panic. At least the new stampede was headed in the proper direction.

“Oh good,” Coldstone said, wiping his crystalline brow. “Just a hundred more buildings to move. No biggie. No problem.”

Pinkie Pie giggled despite herself. “I hope you ate your wheat this morning, people. We got our work cut out for us.”

***

Lacer the Displacer balanced precariously on his six legs as the world rearranged itself around him. The mountain was a gelatinous mess, the trees chocolate and licorice, the clouds a rapidly-disintegrating sugar clump. The displacer beasts, his kinfolk, all shared the same expression: Barely-repressed horror.

He lifted a paw and watched the sticky gelatin peel away. He looked over his shoulder, past his shivering shoulder-tentacles, to see a dark hole in the mountain where Fluttershy once was. She had sunk into the goop, and the air had chilled around her as she descended. Where once was dessert was now a cold collection of ice shards, arrayed like teeth rising from a gaping, cylindrical mouth.

He'd seen that movie, and it had given him nightmares. The same was likely to happen again. Katrina couldn’t afford the therapy.

“So—so what now, Bossman?” He turned to Jeuk, and immediately turned away. The little pony’s—no, Fae—the little Fae’s mouth was a jagged little rip across his face from where Pound had punched him. His eyes were little dark pits hiding embers. His skin crawled with burning little ants. Lacer began to seriously regret his choice of employer. “We gotta skedaddle before the whole thing goes kerflooey, right?”

Jeuk heaved a grunt from the bottom of his chest. “Lacer. Lacer, Lacer, Lacer. We have to protect Fluttershy from interference. She can’t complete her good work if her friends come along to talk sense into her.”

Lacer looked at the city, where hundreds of thousands of ponies had their life on the line. The itch between his shoulder blades intensified to a frenzied burn. “Dang, man. This ain’t right.”

“I’m following Fluttershy into the mountain.” Jeuk patted Lacer’s tentacle, allowing a fire ant to climb aboard. “You’re staying here and preventing them from following.”

Lacer followed Jeuk’s hoof into the sky. He could see them, rising above the clouds: A phalanx of Equestrian Royal Guards, led by an alicorn princess. “Wha—? We can’t fight a princess!”

“You can, and you will.” Jeuk smiled. It was like a corpse’s death grimace. “Quite frankly.”

Lacer growled and turned on the fairy. “I’m taking my kin and—”

“You are going to fend off Twilight Sparkle.” Jeuk gripped Lacer’s neck, lifting him into the air. The Fae Creature stood on his hind legs, backed by shadows, while Lacer’s paws dangled. “You will do as I say, or I will eat your soul!

“O-okay!” Lacer shut his eyes, kicking with all eight limbs. “Okay, man, you win. Just put me down. Nobody has to go eating no souls.”

“Excellent.” Jeuk dropped him, becoming the image of a twisted, tiny little pony once more. “Now if you will excuse me, I have a power to unleash, a city to destroy, a pony to murder, and Fluttershy to blame for it.”

He tipped his hat and fell backwards into the open maw of the mountain.

One of the displacer beasts blinked at Lacer. “You put that down payment into untraceable credits, right?”

Lacer whimpered. He stared at the approaching princess and her cadre of guardsponies, awaiting the assured beat-down.

***

“Princess Twilight,” Windblown shouted, clutching his helmet by his ear. “I just got word from Lady Pinkie Pie! They’re asking for reinforcements in the city. It’s all coming down!”

Twilight Sparkle shook her head. “We’ve got to stop this at its source! Fluttershy needs to be rescued and shut down!”

Skyhook glanced back at the crumbling, deformed city. He muffled a curse. “We could split up. Have our best weather-manipulators tend to the cloudstuff while the remainder accompany you.”

Twilight chewed the edge of her mane. She glanced between the city and the mountain, her brow furrowing. “No. It needs as many hooves as we can manage. All of you, go and reinforce the city. I’ll save Fluttershy.”

“Alone?” Skyhook drew up beside her, his leathery wings silent even at the speed he was travelling. “Princess Twilight, with all due respect, I cannot allow you to go alone. If the Cloudsdale Incident taught us anything—”

“The Cloudsdale Incident taught me two things.” Twilight looked him straight in the eye, her face set like flint. “One; that it is never, ever going to happen again.”

Skyhook’s neck muscles tightened. “And the second?”

Twilight nodded at the dozen-odd displacer beasts awaiting her. “When it’s life-and-death, hit as hard as you can.

Skyhook hissed through his teeth. “Keep the channel to Windblown open. Call us if you need us.” He blinked, and his slit pupils widened in the growing overcast. “Stay safe, Princess Twilight.”

“You, too.” Twilight narrowed her eyes and closed her wings against her body. She shot like an arrow towards the mountain, her horn glowing pure white.

He muffled another curse. He turned to the soldiers under his command and spread his wings wide. “You heard her, people! Las Pegasus needs reinforcements on the double! Move, move, move, move!

***

Lacer watched the guards approach. He watched them break off and head back to the city. He heaved a sigh of relief.

The princess yet approached. Faster than ever.

He gazed around at his fellow displacer beasts. Each face mirrored his own for stark, abject terror. One beast in particular said what they were all thinking: “Aw, horseapples, here she comes!”

She hit with a flash of blinding light. The shockwave rolled through the pliant ground and set several beasts flying. Several more fell to kinetic blasts to the chest. A few brave souls leaped to assail her physically, but were stuck down by precisely-aimed bucks.

She caught two beasts in her telekinetic grip and tossed them bodily into those recovering from the initial shockwave. A lucky idiot snagged her hind leg with a tentacle, which only served to direct her next kick at his face. A beast was swatted away with a powerful flap of her wings, while another was frozen from the knees down by a quick spell.

Three attempted to tackle her at once, but met with a face-full of magical shield.

The surface of the mountain gave way. The lot of them tumbled into the green-colored mire, sliding through the half-solid/half-liquid mass. Twilight’s blasts sliced through the gelatin, but the mixture sealed itself an instant later. They swam as best they could through the morass, Twilight for escape, and the displacer beasts for a slight chance to actually defeat her.

Lacer poked his head around a rock, having sat out the entire fight. He wiped his forehead and skittered off, his six legs moving at a frenzy. She hadn’t killed anybody, even if it was obvious she could have. Easily. She would lock his kin up for assault. Maybe they’d even make bail in a couple thousand years. They were fine. No harm, no foul.

Of course, he would have full access to Jeuk’s payment. Once he paid for renovations to Katrina’s tavern, they’d be livin’ on easy street. Everything was looking up.

Until he heard the song.

“Ah, ah-ah. Ahh-ah. Ah, ah-ah. Ahh-ah.”

His spine tingled. His pupils dilated. His stomach sank. It was a song he hadn’t heard since he was a little cub. The song came with a warning: Stay away from anybody who sang it. They were certified Bad News.

He blinked and rubbed his forehead. The song grew louder, deeper, more enticing. His mind clouded. He felt like he was in a fog. Lost. Confused. Alone.

“We see you running like a coward
We see you fleeing from the fight”

Lacer the Displacer drooled as the songstress came into view. She was an old mare, with a billowing orange mane. She had a red gemstone necklace, which pulsated with every note.

“We understand you’re underpowered
But we can use your meager might”

Adago Dazzle touched the displacer beast’s chin, shutting his gaping mouth. She gazed into blank eyes and smirked an almighty smirk. “Come on, big boy. You’re not getting out of this that easily.”

***

Pumpkin’s legs pounded. Pound’s wings pumped.

Tirek’s hate-laser burned holes in the gelatin one step behind them. Always one step behind them. He couldn’t lead a shot worth beans.

‘Small miracles,’ thought Pumpkin. ‘We sure could use another miracle right about… now!’

No miracles were forthcoming. She settled for ducking around a boulder made of cheddar cheese and pickles. “What is it with all this food?”

Pound shrugged. “It’s been a while since Fluttershy ate. Maybe she’s got grub on the mind.”

“Makes as much sense as anything. Which is nonsense. Or chaos or whatever.” Pumpkin brushed an unruly curl behind her ear. “I don’t think we can outrun him.”

“And his creepy little minion could pop out at any second.” Pound bumped his hooves together. “We gotta stop them somehow. Like, before he actually catches up with Discord or Fluttershy.”

“What are we gonna do?” Pumpkin peeked around their hiding spot. Tirek seemed to have lost them completely, firing at random into the mutated foliage. “He’s got firepower times a million.”

“Tell me where to find Discord!” Tirek screamed into the blaze. “Or I shall blast you to atoms!

“But he’s kinda out of it,” Pound said. “His voice is getting kinda squeaky, like Dad’s gets on deadline day.”

“So if he’s stressed, he won’t be thinking too hard, but if we run out there—” Pumpkin held her head in her hooves, hissing out a whispered shout. “Ugh! Every time I try to slow down and think things through, things go screwy!”

Pound skewed his mouth to the side. “Funny. Every time I try to jump in and get things done, everything goes kerflooey.”

Pumpkin gave him a double-take. She squinted her eyes. “It’s ‘cause that’s not you. You’re a thinker. You plan things out. You’re always worried about, you know, consequences and junk.”

“Unlike you.” Pound peered over the top of the former rock. Tirek was off screaming at a divot in the gelatin. “You just rush right in and get things done. You’re good at it. Way better than me.”

Pumpkin hugged herself. She looked up to see Las Pegasus twisting and turning on its axis, barely holding on to its two tenuous holds on the twin mountains. She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Thinking and worrying about consequences… without doing anything… that’s what got Discord where he is right now.”

Pound glanced at her and chewed his lip. Tirek’s ears swiveled as he searched for them over the roar of flames and the stench of burnt food. “But rushing in without thinking… that’s what got us into this mess. It’s what got Fluttershy where she is right now.”

Pumpkin shuffled to the side as the ground melted into a puddle of chocolate syrup. “So if we can’t rush in, and we can’t sit and think… what are we supposed to do?”

“Neither?” Pound said. “I dunno, Pumpkin. I wish we could steal his magic.”

Pumpkin Cake stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth. She gave Pound a tiny, daring grin. “Maybe we can.”

Pound’s head snapped around, one eyebrow skyrocketing. “Huh? How?”

“All the soldiers are wearing specially-enchanted necklaces, built to store magic.” Pumpkin poked her head through the cheeserock to see Tirek edging too close for comfort. “If we can get our hooves on one of those, pow!”

“But they’re all in the city.” Pound waved a wing at the undulating cloudstuff. “I can’t fly all the way there, and none of them would listen to me. They’re too busy.”

“But Discord also has one.” Pumpkin grabbed his shoulder. “You can catch up to him and get him to come back. We can take down Tirek and then…”

She smacked her forehead. “And then watch Fluttershy tear the mountain apart. No, we gotta give Discord space to work. Maybe you could get a necklace from Princess Twilight.”

“You can see her from here; she’s stuck!” Pound’s ears swiveled at a loud snap. Munchy’s oval-shaped head popped over the rock, his teeth glinting in the firelight.

“Over here, Tirek!” The morlock rubbed his hands together. “Munchy win at hide and seek forever!”

Pound’s hoof shot out and slapped the morlock in the schnozzle. Munchy tumbled away, but Tirek was already galloping at them. Pound grabbed Pumpkin’s hoof; his wings lent him an extra burst of speed, but she was still dragging him back.

“You have to go, Pound!” Pumpkin chanced a glance back and regretted it, seeing nothing but flames and a ticked-off centaur. “Find one of those necklaces and bring it back!”

“But you—”

“They literally can’t touch me!” She yanked away and ran right. “I’ll distract them! Go!”

“Pumpkin!” Pound shot straight up. A hatewave followed in his wake for a few seconds, before it diverted towards his sister. “No! No, no, no, no!”

Pumpkin rolled underneath a fallen trunk. It melted to goo the instant she left its cover. Tirek was getting closer. Munchy seemed to duck in and out of sight at will. She had no awesome combat spells, no projectiles, no real way to defend herself aside from phasing and staying away from fire. She sighed to herself; nearly the entire mountainside was boiling with flames.

She tripped. Fire singed her hoof as she barreled into a fallen branch. She chanced a peek upwards.

There. Right in the middle of her path. A boulder made from crusty bread sat precariously over an outcropping. With the right stuff, she could knock Tirek down and buy herself and Pound a few seconds.

A burning branch smashed down in her path, its leaves sending sparks flying into her mane. Munchy leaned over the side, his weight keeping it steady. “Little pony not like fire? That’s okay. Munchy likes meat rare!

Tirek’s hoof came down beside her tail. “You will lead me to Discord, or I shall turn your blood to steam in an instant!”

Pound struck from the rear. He collided with the back of Tirek’s head and diffused the hateray spell between the centaur’s horns. A vicious bite to the ear yanked Tirek’s head to the side, throwing his aim for a loop.

Pumpkin rammed shoulder-first into Munchy, tossing him from the branch. It leapt up to smack Tirek across the face. Pound flew off as the centaur’s hooves tangled up beneath him.

Pumpkin ran as fast as she could, her brother keeping pace. “I told you to go!”

“I’m not going without you!” Pound sent a snarl back at the monsters. “Don’t you get it? We keep messing up on our own, but that’s because we need to work together!”

“Fine!” She pointed briefly, running on three legs. “That boulder’s big enough to knock him over! Let’s push it!”

“Better idea!” They rounded the boulder, but he stopped her from pushing it. “That way, where the mountain’s the steepest.”

She looked over his shoulder. The mountain’s natural steep slope became even more precarious when made of bouncy dessert. She followed his wing to a place where the mountain parted. Where once was a massive crevasse in the side, there was a neat slice in the gelatin’s surface.

“Aim him towards that.” Pound fought to catch his breath. “When he comes charging, we nail him with the boulder and send him tumbling. No more Tirek.”

Pumpkin spun around. Tirek argued with Munchy, brushing cinders from his face. “He’s coming from the wrong direction. We need to lead him on.”

Pound nodded. “I’ll fly up and—”

“I can phase right through the boulder when it hits.” Pumpkin pushed him back against the hard crust. “You’re stronger than me. I don’t know if I can move it by myself.”

Pound looked between her and the centaur, his muzzle scrunching more with each glance. “I don’t like it.”

Pumpkin smiled. “No time to think.”

She charged towards Tirek, but halted several meters away. “Hay, buttface! Can’t catch me ’cause you’re old!”

“Insolent brat!” Tirek waved a fist, charging up his most vile spell. “I shall have your guts for a belt!”

“Gross.” Pumpkin moved quickly but carefully over the slippery terrain. Her hoof sank into the goop for a brief, horrifying second, but a yank set her free. Close examination of the greenish surface saw that the more solid portions were of a lighter color. She moved quicker with her pace assured, but the centaur and his cruel minion were hot on her heels.

Tirek hoof stuck. He sank to his knees with a shout. He pressed his palms to raise his heft and let a sudden burst of heat shoot from between his horns. The goo in front of Pumpkin erupted, showering her with food coloring and gunk.

Pumpkin’s heart sank. She was too far from the gap. Pound would have to roll the boulder before Tirek was in place. There just wasn’t enough time!

Munchy gripped her tail between his teeth and gave a shake. She slid onto her stomach before she had the presence of mind to phase free. The morlock bounced against the mountain, cackling with all his might.

Tirek was above her, fire in his eyes and hatred in his magic. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no more plans to make—

“Pumpkin!” An older voice shouted at her from behind Pound. “Pumpkin! Run towards us!”

With nothing else for it, she obeyed. She caught sight of her brother with his hooves pressed firm against the crust, with a familiar older mare behind her. Adagio Dazzle prepared to lend him her strength, a cruel smirk tracing across her mouth. “When you see a beast, duck!”

“When I see a—?” No time to ask the question before it was answered. A displacer beast right out of her nightmares bared down, its toothy tentacles waving in its wake. She dropped to her knees and screamed just before reaching it.

Lacer the Displacer leaped over her head and pounced on Tirek. Six sets of claws and two grasping tentacles struck at once, and the centaur had no defense. The centaur grappled and tripped, howling in pain and outrage. “Traitor!”

Munchy grasped Lacer’s tail and bit down hard. The displacer beast yelped, slacking its grip for a critical moment. Tirek flung him across the mountainside. He stalked close to the fallen beast, his horns smoldering with power. “I’ll add your corpse to the pile, you misbegotten flea!”

Lacer steadied himself on the edge of a long plummet, his forepaws swiping at the centaur and the morlock. He leaped for another assault, but was batted aside by Tirek’s fist. Tirek steadied himself to throw Lacer from the cliffside, grinning with yellowed, chipped teeth. “So fall all of Tirek’s foes!”

Pumpkin ran through the crusty boulder and pressed her back against it. “We’re not gonna get a better chance!”

“Got that right!” Pound hefted with all his weight. “Push!”

“I am Tirek the Demon King!” Tirek howled, strangling Lacer with both hands. “Devourer of Magic! Conqueror of Equestria!”

“Um.” Munchy tapped Tirek’s flank. “Um, boss?”

“Exile from the Far Side of the World!” Tirek laughed, summoning his magic reserves in preparation to melt Lacer’s face right from his head. “Keeper of the Rainbow of Darkness!”

Munchy leaped onto his back and pulled at his mane. “Look out!”

Tirek looked up, but it was far too late. The boulder shot forward, building momentum, unstoppable in its movement. Tirek was able to let out a single “Meep.”

The boulder collided with the force of a runaway carriage, taking the three monsters with it on its one-way trip off the cliffside. They screeched as they tumbled head-over-tail, grasping at the mountain, the cloudstuff, anything that came within reach.

They soon vanished into the fog, and their voices faded a moment later.

Pumpkin gripped Pound in an embrace. “We did it! We’re alive!”

Pound rubbed his sore neck, but returned the hug as quickly as he could. “We… we actually did it! Yeah! Whoo!”

Adagio bopped Pumpkin on the head. “Not bad, kids. You might’ve even done it without me if I’d let you stumble around a little more.”

“Hay, yeah.” Pumpkin gave her the stick-eye. One of her special-brewed-for-adults variety. “I saw you run off in a panic. Where’d you get to?”

“I had a stop to make.” Adagio narrowed her eyes at the both of them. “Now are you coming with me back to the train depot, or do I have to drag you down?”

“We can’t.” Pound stood tall, nearly coming up to Adagio’s shoulder. “Fluttershy and Discord are still in danger.”

“We can’t leave without them,” Pumpkin said. “We won’t.

Adagio growled in the back of her throat. “This isn’t your fight! You’re gonna get yourselves killed just on account of working above your paygrade. Fighting above your weight. Steamrolled by a freaking psychofairy!”

“Because they’re our friends,” Pound said. “They need us, and we need them.”

Adagio shook her head. “And if I say no?”

Pumpkin gripped Pound’s hoof, lit her horn, and phased the both of them through Adagio’s body.

“Whaaaa—!” Adagio spun, shaking her hooves. “Shows me for sticking my neck out for you! You two wanna get yourselves killed, do it on your own time! Jerks! Featherbrains!”

Pumpkin watched Adagio pace back and forth, looking between the pathway down, and the road upward. Once they’d gotten a good distance ahead, the older pony threw her head back and followed, always keeping them in sight.

“So what’s her story?” Pound said.

“A long one.” Pumpkin sucked on the inside of her cheek. She looked to the top of the mountain, where static filled the air and clouds consumed the peak. “She’s an old friend of Discord’s.”

Pound shrugged. “It’s nice to have one of those on our side.”

Pumpkin shivered as the air around her chilled. “I don’t think she agrees.”

***

Tirek’s arm ached. His hooves dangled over nothingness. He opened his eyes and was greeted with Munchy’s annoying face. “What happened?”

Munchy strained, and the ache in Tirek’s arm intensified. “Any help would be nice.”

Tirek looked down. Nothing much was beneath him. Not for several thousand more meters. Above him was a thin ledge, on which Munchy was braced. The little morlock’s entire meager strength went towards keeping Tirek from plummeting to certain doom.

Tirek reached out and gripped the ledge. Between himself and the morlock, they were able to haul him to relative safety. A glance to the side saw Lacer the Displacer’s six legs wriggling around. His front half was stuck deep into the strange gelatin-like substance that made up the mountain. Tirek decided not to free him just yet.

“You saved me…” He glared at Munchy, his teeth bared. He didn’t have the strength to light a spell, so intimidation tactics were limited. “Why?”

Munchy gripped the mountainside, testing a foothold. It gave way, leaving the three of them completely stranded and immobile. “Because Tirek is Munchy’s friend. Munchy give life for Tirek.”

“A friend, huh?” Tirek’s brow furrowed. He pressed against the mountain and did his best not to look down. “How utterly revolting.”

***

Discord tiptoed over the craggy ground of crystalized sugar. His breath came in clouds of fog. A gaping cave appeared out of the mist, brimming with magic oh-so-familiar to him. His destination, Fluttershy’s soon-to-be grave.

Not on his watch.

It was quiet as he descended into the darkness. Nothing but the dull thrum of chaos to keep him company. His footsteps echoed as he accidently kicked a razor-sharp crystal down into the depths. He held his breath, waited for the moment to pass, then carried on.

An itch ran across his talon. He swatted it, causing a sudden spark to erupt. He patted the fire out before it could burn too badly.

He swallowed. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all crawling with ants. Fire ants, of course. Specifically, fire ants directed by a certain wicked Fae Creature. He stepped more carefully, clutching his hands tight together.

He stopped up short. There, not three meters in front of him, was Jeuk. The fairy stood still, his back to Discord, still in his diminutive pony form. With nothing for it, Discord marched forward and hoped bluster would be out the odds. “Well, well, well. Fancy meeting you at a swanky joint like this, Itchy. I really don’t remember you, but I do know you’re a complete twit.”

He grasped Jeuk’s shoulder and spun him around. The brim of the fairy’s boater hat fell over the creature’s face. Discord knocked it aside with a flick of his wrist. “Now be a good little fairy and give me Flutter—urk!

Jeuk was empty, for lack of a better word. His body flopped like limp fabric and sagged to the floor. Fire ants crawled from among the folds, disappearing into the darkness.

A wavering chuckle came from everywhere and nowhere at once. “Amusing. Most very amusing.”

Discord put up his dukes. “Come out and fight like a mare! I’m here to kick butt and save Fluttershy, and I’m all out of butts!”

“You faltered, Discord.” The faint voice shifted to the front, then behind, then overhead. “You waited too long. You failed to act.”

“I’m not done fighting yet!” Discord pointed at the darkness, narrowing his eyes and wishing fervently for a flashlight. “Not so long as Fluttershy’s still alive! And you can’t afford to kill her, or else who’s going to be your precious time-bomb?”

“Discord, you old fool!” Two red eyes shined from where the shadows were deepest. “This battle was won years ago! When the other Draconequi fell. When Fluttershy’s little soul was crushed. When you decided friends were worth the heartache.”

Discord’s paw found the enchanted necklace hanging from its chain. “I have an ace up my sleeve.”

“You’re going to be playing fifty-two pickup.” Jeuk’s body formed from darkness. Thin, spindly legs carried a gaunt torso. Vast wings filled the cavern, dripping black feathers. A flare sparked from the Fae’s long, snaking tail. “You can’t take chaos with that spindly little trinket. The Rainbow of Darkness was forged by the Unseelie Court for the explicit purpose of eating chaos.”

He clicked his tongue. “How did you think we were able to destroy Elysium’s inhabitants so utterly? A few dissatisfied mortals is all it takes. And, of course, of course, if a plan worked so well once…

He moved a wing aside; Fluttershy came into view. Her glowing eyes stared at nothing as lightning sparked from her wings. The mountain shook with each breath that wheezed from her chest.

“You won’t get the chance to reason with her, of course,” Jeuk said. “Because I’m about to kill you.”

The ground fell from beneath Discord. He reached out and snagged a ledge just before the ether swallowed him whole. He flapped his now-vestigial wings fruitlessly. It took some doing, but he was able to scramble aboard the ledge.

The air was filled with floating boulders and pebbles, carried aloft on currents of magic. Jeuk perched on a stone overhead, looking for all the world like a vulture examining a carcass. “Watch your step.”

Discord braced himself and took a flying leap. He landed haphazardly on a platform closer to Fluttershy, his nails scraping the loamy stone.

“You were always a black mark on my record, so to speak.” Jeuk chuckled, swatting the walls to send a shower of fire ants down on Discord’s head. “The one that got away. Oh, you have no idea how most very amusing this is!”

“So this is your big plan?” Discord steadied himself on a rotating rock, readying another leap of faith. “A little obstacle course? You certainly have it out for gymnasts, don’t you?”

“Hmm…” Jeuk rubbed his chin with a cloven hoof. “Good point.”

Several million fire ants combusted simultaneously. Discord shielded his eyes from the sudden light, and just as quickly shielded his body from the flames cascading towards him. He jumped out of the way of a plummeting fireball and yanked his tail-tip clear.

A flap of Jeuk’s wing flattened Discord against the boulder. The fairy laughed as he held Discord down, squeezing him bit-by-bit. Discord’s cheeks bulged. He squirmed free, but only when Jeuk allowed it.

“You know the truth, Discord.” Jeuk batted him around like a cat’s yarn ball. “You’re unloved, underappreciated, despised by the populace. They regret making you a citizen. They refuse to acknowledge your history. You’re the last of your kind, holding on to a reality that no longer applies.”

Jeuk’s breath caused a burning itch to trace its way down Discord’s spine. “Just close your eyes and accept the sweet embrace of nothingness.”

“Discord!”

Discord and Jeuk looked back, towards the entrance to the dark cave. Pumpkin Cake stood tall, calling into the darkness, her horn shining a bright blue. “Discord! Get up! You’re not done yet! We need you, Discord! We need our friend!”

Pound landed beside her, his eyes widening at the sight of Jeuk’s true self. “You can do it, Discord! We believe in you! Pumpkin trusts you to do the right thing, so I do, too!”

“You don’t have to do it alone!” Pumpkin grinned, staring Jeuk right in his stupid face. “Your friends are right here with you!”

Jeuk hissed. “Rodents.”

He spread his wings and flew towards the children. Discord stood up to pat himself free of crackling fire ants. “Look out!” Discord said. “Get away from him!”

“Yes, run little children!” Jeuk’s horrible tongue trailed out of his jagged maw. “Run from your nightmares!”

Pound took to the air and flew into the cave. “Run!”

“Run, little ponies!” Jeuk’s hoof impacted where Pumpkin’s body was a moment before. She leaped from stone to stone, picking a zigzagging path towards Fluttershy. “Run until your spirits are crushed!”

“Spirits?” Pound halted in midair. His eyes crossed as the gears turned in his head. “Spirit. I have a strong spirit…”

Jeuk’s smile curled down at the edges. “I beg your pardon?”

“You said it before…” Pound puffed his chest out. His wings flapped up a frenzy. “I have a strong spirit.”

“Poorly-chosen words, I agree.”

“And you…” Pound gritted his teeth. “You’re just a spirit.”

Jeuk rolled his burning-ember eyes. “And your point is—?”

Pound barreled hooves-first into Jeuk’s stomach. He flew up at a sharp angle to clock the fairy across the jaw. He rammed his hooves into Jeuk’s face, punctuating each blow with an adrenaline-infused scream.

Jeuk crashed against the wall, his legs curled up to his chest, his wings shedding feathers like snow.

“The point is I just punched out a fairy!” Pound shouted, his heart beating fervently. “You—um—jerk!”

Jeuk’s wings swept aside. He glowered at the colt as he rose into the air. “Strong of spirit, indeed. But weak of mind.

He batted Pound aside, and the colt crashed back-first into the wall. Pound groaned, brushed himself off, and flapped back into the darkness. “Gonna take more than that, you… you… creep!”

With one final leap, Pumpkin reached Discord’s side. She looked up at her brother trading blows with the fairy. Her heart sank. “He’s not gonna last long without help!”

Her eyes fell on Discord’s gemstone necklace. A terrible, hopeful thought struck her. “I—I know that thing won’t hold Jeuk… but maybe it can distract him? Long enough for you to save Fluttershy?”

Discord held the gem tight. “I can’t ask you to—”

“Don’t.” She lit her horn and slid the chain right through his neck. “We can do this together.”

She hopped towards the clash between Pound and Jeuk, each jump carefully placed. “We’re counting on you!”

Discord found himself standing on a straight shot to Fluttershy, unfettered by fairy or pit. He eased himself towards her, reaching out with his hands. “Fluttershy? Can you hear me? It’s Discord.”

He touched the side of her face with a tender talon, hoping against hope that she would respond. “Fluttershy, please. I need my magic back. It’s the only way.”

He shook his head and looked down at his feet. “It’s the only way to save you.”

***

Fluttershy opened her mouth, but held her breath. She refused to speak her gut reaction, which would have been to deny Happy’s words both loudly and angrily. She also refused to simply fall blubbering to his hooves to beg him to reconsider. When all else failed, she spoke the truth. “I don’t understand.”

“Fluttershy, do you understand what’s going on?” Happy put a comforting hoof to her chest, his eyes still watery. “Your body is being torn to pieces by the chaos. You won’t be able to contain it anymore. It’ll be unleashed upon the world with no intelligence to control it. You’ll hurt everyone around you. Everyone you care about.”

Fluttershy shook her head slowly, side to side. She tore her eyes away from her childhood friend, walking away in the open space. “I just… I wanted to honor you, Happy. All my life, I’ve been trying to live up to your example. You were… you were the most selfless, loving, strong…”

She looked over her shoulder, her heart breaking. “I couldn’t do less. I have to sacrifice myself for Discord, because he’s my friend.”

Happy came alongside her. They looked out over the infinite expanse of eternity, filled with blazing splendor and ever-changing color. Stars—no—dreams spun webs of light as they danced and sang. Dreams of ponies both living and passed, united in those few precious hours of sleep.

“The moment when I jumped in,” he said, “when I saved you… I would never, ever take that moment back. Not for the world. I know it was the right thing to do. I know it every time I see the mare you’ve become. The lives you’ve changed. The wrongs you’ve righted. The mercy you’re willing to show even the most vile of creatures. Mercy has always been your greatest strength.”

He touched her chin and drew her eyes to his. “But this sacrifice you wish to make… It’s one that you cannot shoulder. You were not designed to carry this weight. You are simply not able to bear the brunt of chaos. That is Discord’s duty, and his alone.”

Fluttershy wiped her nose to disguise a sniffle. “But he can’t hold it either.”

“Not alone.” Happy smiled. “You can’t carry his burden, but maybe you can carry him.”

He nuzzled her in the neck, and she returned the gesture. “Pumpkin Cake has the spark of light in her saddlebags. Where there’s light, there’s life. Find that light. Nurture it. Bring Discord back to health.”

He stepped back, his smile smaller. “And I’ll be here, waiting for you. But not until after you’ve lived a good, long, full life.”

Fluttershy choked. She rested her hind legs and sat, wrapping her wings around her body. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“I miss you, too.” Happy raised a hoof. Fluttershy nearly cried out when she saw right through it. “But I’m safe. I’m alive. Heck, I’m thriving.”

His eyes were the last thing to fade into the star-sparkled night. “Tell my mother I love her. And I love you, too.”

“I will,” Fluttershy said to an empty sky. “I love you, Happy.”

She opened her eyes. Pain coursed through every limb. Her stomach churned with energy unknown. Focus was hard to come by, so she latched onto the only real thing in sight: Discord, making his way towards her, calling out to her.

“Fluttershy, please,” Discord said, holding her hoof, his face more frightened than she’d ever seen him. “Please give me back my magic. I need to fix this. For once in my life, let me fix things! You can’t handle this on your own!”

Fluttershy blinked away tears. “I know.”

Discord jolted. His mouth quirked at the corner as his wings spread. “Y-you do? You’ll give me back my magic?”

“Yes.” Fluttershy nodded as hard as she could, through the pain in her neck muscles. “I’m sorry, Discord. I didn’t want to hurt—”

Discord placed a talon across her lips. He grinned at her, his maddened yellow eyes glinting. “Say no more, Fluttershy. Let bygones be bygones and let’s be done with this mess. If you’ll do the honors?”

Fluttershy opened her mouth, took a deep breath in, and let the magic pour out in waves.

***

Pumpkin sang the five notes in quick succession, and felt the gem latch a successful hold on Jeuk. The fairy slipped towards her, his incorporeal body drawn to her like a magnet to iron. His burning eyes glared holes in her head.

“I’ll break you! You refuse’s refuse!

Before he could contact the gem, before he could shatter it and cut her to ribbons, Pound dove in and clobbered him with a staggering blow. Pumpkin took off, hopping from platform to platform, while Pound kept the fairy from coming too close. It was a game of keep-away, a tetherball of terror.

“You dare strike,” Jeuk said between beatings, “a Princeling of the Unseelie Court?

Pound flexed his sore foreleg muscles. “I’ve got some stress to work out, so yeah.”

Jeuk flapped his wings with the force of a hurricane. Pumpkin felt her hooves being dragged across her fragile foothold as he fought the effects of her gemstone. “Aw, crudbuckets! Whoa!”

Jeuk’s tail whipped Pound across the face, sending the colt sprawling for the umpteenth time that hour. He pressed against the ground in a vain attempt to lift his own weight. “Pumpkin!”

Pumpkin’s luck ran out. She rose into the air, dragged towards Jeuk by the force of her necklace’s spell. The wicked fairy hovered above her, his jagged smile leering at her. He swiveled his long, crooked neck. “It seems I have a choice to make, Little Miss Cake. Shall I enter the necklace only to shatter it with my sheer might? Or shall I simply—” He gestured to the black emptiness beneath them. “—cut my losses?”

He let loose with a mad little giggle as Pumpkin struggled to remove the gem. “Oh,” he said, “both choices would be so very, very amusing.”

“Hay, Chucklehead.”

Jeuk raised an eyebrow. The other trailed a millisecond behind.

Discord hovered in midair with shimmering fists held akimbo. His eyes lit up with mirth, and his smirk was absolutely glorious. “You said something about accepting the cold, sweet embrace of nothingness? Cute line.”

Jeuk probably choked on his own profanities, if his oddly gurgled answer was any indication.

He fled with all the speed of a lightning strike, but was halted short when Discord’s magic, at its full output, tore a hole in the very fabric of time and space.

“Isn’t that where your fairy friends are imprisoned, Jeuk?” Discord held out his talon, which crackled with blinding purples and whites. He widened the gap in reality, warping the very mountain with his power. “The unfathomable Abyss? The empty dimension? The matterless, lifeless, unfeeling prison designed for you and yours?”

“Curse you, Discord!” Jeuk screamed. He tried to flee the staggering tear, but it pulled him in as assuredly as a snake devouring its prey whole. Air flew into the vacuum, decompressing the room with a thunderous roar. “Curse your entire race to the deepest pit of Gehenna!”

Discord scratched his goatee. “Mm. No. No, I think you’ve got that backwards.”

Jeuk grasped for a foothold, but found nothing. A fleeting, murderous grin trailed across his face. He looked down at Pumpkin Cake, to the gemstone lashed to her neck. It lifted towards him, dragging her bodily through the air. “Then I’ll not go alone!

Pumpkin gasped for breath, unable to so much as shout. She clawed at the necklace, trying to find the latch, her mind scrambling for some way out. Some way that didn’t involve closing the portal and setting Jeuk free.

Jeuk spread his wings and crowed with laughter, allowing himself to be dragged into the Abyss. Discord froze for a vital second, his mind torn between Pumpkin’s life and that of his mortal foe. “Pumpkin! Let go!”

Pumpkin’s eyes locked with Jeuk’s, a deadlock as sure as her gemstone’s grip on her neck.

“Pumpkin!” Pound screamed at the top of his lungs. “Phase! Now!”

The triumph left Jeuk’s expression, transferred firmly to Pumpkin’s. She lit her horn and plummeted down, down, down to the darkness below.

The gemstone leaped to Jeuk and pulled him tight. He struggled against its grip, cracking the fractal-covered surface of the enchanted siphon. One leg got free, then a wing, then his tail.

Pound swept in on a gust of wind, swung on his wingtips, and bucked the necklace through the portal.

The princeling’s panicked whinnies followed him into oblivion, and his final imprisonment was heralded by the gemstone shattering in the void.

Discord closed the portal with a snap of his fingers.

Pound and Discord held their breath, staring into the emptiness below. Before long, a sound came forth; that of flapping wings. A glimpse of butter-yellow feathers appeared, followed closely by a raggedy orange mane. Pumpkin held tight to Fluttershy, the both of them smiling up at their friends and family. The four of them met at the cave entrance to look over the tumbling, tumultuous city.

Discord laughed. He cracked his knuckles and stretched his arms. “Boy, have we got some work to do. I think first thing’s first… Voila!”

The mountain parted, allowing Twilight Sparkle and the displacer beasts to climb free. A rope crafted from black licorice swirled around the beasts, restraining them in a handy bundle. Twilight turned wide eyes to Discord, but followed it up with a joyous whoop.

“Now then,” Discord said, whipping up a storm of chaos magic. “Reverto alakazoot!”

At a snap of his fingers, the mountain became stone underhoof. Foodstuff once again sat firm and strong as bedrock and bramble. Jiggling gelatin became sedimentary and igneous. Chocolate grew to mighty trees, and breadcrumbs became pebbles.

“And for my grand finale!” Discord flew into the sky, in plain view for all to see. City-goers and soliders alike beheld the mad chaos spirit hovering overhead, working his magic in his own special way. Wind whipped his mane as magic tickled his ears. Clouds parted, heating the valley with the light of the sun. “This game of Unseelie Roulette is over!

Buildings stood upright. Loose change jumped back into slot machines. Neon signs flared with advertisements and third-rate celebrities. The cloudcrete stood unmoving at last, holding the Pegasus city aloft.

Discord sank to the mountainside and curled up at Fluttershy’s feet. “Okay… maybe I should have stretched first.”

Fluttershy smiled and hugged him tighter than was comfortable. “You did fine! Thank you so much!”

She looked from Discord, to Pound, to Pumpkin, her eyes lighting up at the sight of them. “Thank you all so much. Thank you so much for helping Discord. And…” She turned her eyes down, a little life leaving her smile. “Thank you for helping me.”

“We’ll always be there when you need us,” Pound said, puffing his chest out and lifting his head high. He almost reached her shoulder, but not quite. “’Cuz we’re awesome.”

Pumpkin Cake took a tiny step forward. She looked from Discord, to Pound, to Fluttershy. She reached into her ever-present saddlebags and pulled out a tiny, sparkling piece of hope. “This… this is a seed for a golden apple tree. It’ll take a long time to grow it, but I’m willing to start.”

“And I’ll help,” Pound said with a wink. “You need somebody to water it. Might as well be a pegasus.”

“We—” Fluttershy coughed, wiping her eyes relatively dry. “We’ll plant it in my garden. It’ll be safe there, protected by my critter friends.”

“And I won’t give up hope.” Discord drew them together in a group hug. “Not so long as I have friends.”

He gave them a half-grin, his eyebrows turning upward. “But you’ve just gotta remind me now and again.”

“We will,” Fluttershy said. “Just as long as you remind us, too.”

Pumpkin nestled back. Soldiers crested the cliffside, converging on Twilight Sparkle’s flaring horn. “You know, I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.”

“Oh yeah?” Pound nudged her with his wing. “What’s that, sis?”

Pumpkin Cake brought her hooves behind her head and lay in the moss. She stared up at a clear blue sky and took in a deep breath.

“Fairies suck.”

Author's Note:

Two more chapters remain, so don't go too far!

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