• Published 25th Jun 2012
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The Sisters Doo - Ponky



Daring pays a visit to her sister in Ponyville. Due to buried grudges, things get out of hoof.

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9 - Anything But Normal

Chapter Nine
Anything But Normal

Only a hooffull of ponies were waiting for the 1:05 train to Manehattan as the light of the afternoon Sun poked around a layer of stormy clouds being gathered above Ponyville’s modest train depot. As the locomotive rounded the outermost grove of the Everfree Forest, a few ponies casually checked the watches strapped above their hooves.

Two of the soon-to-be passengers, clad in identical olive green outfits, were particularly antsy. Wings twitched and swiveled in their sockets, hooves tapped and bounced impatiently against the platform, and eyes darted about in all directions. The pair of pegasi looked rather similar in almost all respects save two: their color schemes were nearly opposite, and while one’s anticipation was fueled by overwhelming excitement, the other looked fretful and nervous.

The yellow one, who appeared to be the least comfortable, kept throwing her gaze over her shoulder as if she expected somepony to tackle her from behind.

“Where is she?” Daring muttered under her breath.

Her companion didn’t hear it. “Look!” she called out, pointing down the tracks. “The train’s almost here! We’re almost on our adventure!”

“Life’s an adventure, kid,” Daring said, tease-punching the other’s shoulder. “You ever ridden the train before?”

Rainbow Dash scoffed. “Yeah, tons of times! Me and my friends rode it to Appleoosa once, and we’ve gone up to Canterlot, like, fifty times.”

Daring raised an eyebrow. “Is that the furthest you’ve been from here?”

“Uh… well, I went to school in Cloudsdale… and I’ve visited my parents in Los Pegasus a few times…”

“Ever been out of the country?”

Rainbow shook her head. Her multi-colored bangs swished under the lip of her helmet.

“Well, if we catch the ‘nappers in Manehattan like I plan to, that’s not gonna change,” Daring said, glancing back toward the village again.

“What makes you think they’re still there?” Rainbow asked. “It’s been more than twelve hours since they took the foals. Wouldn’t they be halfway back to Haissan by now?”

“Lucky for us, ships only embark every couple of days. Your purple friend was right about the lack of interaction between ol’ Equestria and Haissan. There aren’t enough ponies going back and forth on a regular basis for passenger ships to make the transoceanic voyage and still make a profit. We’ll probably get there before the next ship takes off.”

Rainbow’s brow tilted. “Probably?”

Daring laughed. “Yeah, probably. It means ‘more likely than not’.” She patted Rainbow sharply between the shoulder blades. “Don’t worry, kid. We’ll ride over there, find the ‘nappers, chase ‘em through the streets of Manehattan for a while, beat ‘em up, and get the twins back to their parents. This’ll be over in a dash.”

Rainbow beamed. That was the best plan she’d ever heard. Way easier to follow than some of Twilight’s crazy strategies.

For what must have been the twentieth time, Daring’s eyes scanned the scene behind her. She must not have noticed anything, Rainbow decided, because she soon faced forward again to wait for the train.

“Are you looking for something back there?” Rainbow asked, giving Ponyville a wary glance of her own.

“What?” Daring cleared her throat. “No, no, it’s just… it’s just a nice view from here, that’s all.” They both took a long look at the thriving village; Daring nodded thoughtfully while Rainbow Dash just pursed her lips.

“Looks boring to me,” she admitted.

“Not boring, really,” Daring said truthfully. “Quaint, maybe, but… not boring.”

Rainbow complied with a diagonal nod.

Daring’s searching eyes tilted up to the darkening skies. Pegasi had been flitting about above them for almost an hour, organizing a ceiling of dark clouds. Apparently Ponyville had a rainstorm scheduled that afternoon. The grey sky made it that much harder for Daring to pick out any grey pegasi who might be approaching.

Her tension didn’t go unnoticed by Rainbow. The younger mare narrowed her eyes.

“What are you looking for, Daring?” she asked more directly.

The seasoned adventuress gulped. “Uh… I’m just wondering if you got your weather responsibilities all squared away this morning.”

As weak as Daring’s smile was, Rainbow didn’t question the honesty behind her words.

“Yeah, the boys say they have it covered,” she replied. “I hope they don’t mess everything up while I’m gone. When I first moved to Ponyville and applied to be a weathermare, the department was a disaster. It took a lot of work to make it as easy as it is today.”

Daring snickered. “I know exactly what you mean,” she agreed. “Half of treasure hunting is no fun. It’s all about research and excavation and cartography… ugh, all sorts of junk like that. Stuff doesn’t get exciting until all that’s out of the way.”

“Are we gonna have to do all that?”

“Heck no! Lucky for us, the ‘treasure’ we’re hunting is known, new, and relatively unguarded. Like I say, kid, this is gonna be a cinch.”

The train’s steady clicks and clacks crescendoed into a blast of screeching brakes and roaring wind as it pulled into the station. Daring habitually pressed her hat tightly against her head against the rush of air while Rainbow just grit her teeth and squeezed her wings tight against her ribs.

When the train came to a complete stop, a dozen or so smiling ponies hopped out onto the platform from the passenger cars and, some with baggage in tow, cantered toward Ponyville proper. Daring briefly recalled her recent arrival. She had expected to find her sister, reminisce on old times, and recruit her into one last crusade. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head at how differently things had unfurled.

“All aboard!” bellowed a mustachioed conductor. “All aboard for Manehattan!”

Just before boarding, Daring checked the depot’s large clock near the schedule board. Sure enough, it read 1:05 exactly.

“Wow,” she said. “That’s a surprise.”

“Huh?” Rainbow asked, following her hero’s gaze. “Oh. It’s always on time here,” she announced, holding her snout a little higher.

Daring snorted. “Why so proud? I thought this place was boring.”

“So? That doesn’t make it any less awesome.”

Daring was about to point out how contradictory that sounded, but Rainbow had already moved closer to the one of the passenger cars. Biting her lip, Daring took one last, careful look around the station. Ditzy was nowhere to be seen.

“Huh… I thought she would be here,” she breathed. A couple of raindrops pattered against her helmet. After a stern look at the offending clouds overhead, Daring followed Rainbow Dash into the last passenger car.

By the time everypony with a ticket had boarded and the station was clear, the rain was coming down in a gentle drizzle. One blonde pegasus leaned against the far side of the depot and allowed the rain flatten her mane as she stared at the cream-colored helmet in her hooves. After leaving Twilight at the library, Ditzy Doo had returned to her empty house and rummaged through the old storage boxes in her attic. At the very bottom of a tightly strung tote, she found her old safari clothes.

Guiltily, she tried them on and used the small mirror in her bedroom. Despite not wearing the outfit for nearly a decade, it fit rather well. She really had stayed in decent shape. Her eyes prevented her from seeing her reflection very well, but one thing was for certain: she sure looked silly.

The green-and-tan color scheme had been Daring’s decision: partly for camouflage in the jungles, where most of the items of their father’s list were hidden, and partly because it complimented Daring’s coat. Ditzy hadn’t complained—the Sisters Doo had been such good friends back then, after all—although she’d always hated the way her mane clashed with the helmet.

Heaving a nostalgic sigh in the rain, Ditzy raised the headgear over her ears and pulled it down firmly in place. She closed her eyes, allowing as many memories to fall from the hat into her mind as there were raindrops spattering the dirt.

Her eyelids snapped open. Her golden irises, though skewed, were alight with determination. No matter what stunts Daring tried to pull, or how naïve Rainbow Dash chose to be, the Cakes’ innocent twins would not suffer for their rashness under Ditzy’s watch. She had to find out what was really going on and forever ensure the safety of Ponyville’s foals, and she would not allow Daring’s audacious antics to spoil her chances.

Cutting through the thickening rain with her wings, Ditzy took to the air when she heard the train start to move. She didn’t have the extra bits for a ticket to ride, but that had never stopped her before.

Ditzy flew over the depot and glided to the roof the train. As it picked up speed, she galloped to the first car behind the engine. It was designed quite differently than all the rest, intended specifically for elderly ponies who had difficulty boarding the primary passenger cars. Long ago, Ditzy had noticed that it was also significantly taller than the other cars. Upon investigation, she discovered a hidden compartment inside the bright pink roof of the car that could comfortably carry a single pony.

Into this cavity she climbed, escaping the rain and beginning her journey to preserve the safety of her sister, her friend, and the foals.

{-DD-}

“The gall of these weatherponies!” Cheerilee glared at the thickening layer of rainclouds over the schoolhouse, as if the heat of her frustration could bore a hole through the dome. “I’ve had this concert scheduled for months. How dare they arrange a city-wide downpour? I had a hard enough time convincing any ponies to attend as it was!”

“It’s all right, Cheerilee,” Fluttershy tried to console her. The kindest of ponies patted the schoolteacher’s shoulder with an encouraging smile. “The children have worked very hard, and they’ll enjoy the concert no matter how many ponies come to watch.”

“Yes, I know, the children have worked hard, and that’s exactly what’s upsetting me!” The teacher slumped and stuck out her bottom lip. “They’ve spent so much of their time and energy on this, and hardly anypony will fully appreciate what they’ve done.”

Fluttershy frowned sympathetically. “You’re right, Cheerilee, it doesn’t seem very fair. But even if the children don’t receive the attention they might deserve, we need to remember all the wonderful things that have already come from this project.”

Cheerilee’s brow tilted. “Like what?”

“Well, for one thing, I’ve gotten to spend more time at the school,” Fluttershy started. “I never went to school in Ponyville and always wondered how it worked. You do a lovely job teaching the children.”

The teacher blushed modestly. “Well, I do my best.”

“You certainly do.” Fluttershy closed her eyes in a meaningful smile before continuing. “I’ve become a better chorister working with ponies instead of birds. And I like to think that you and I have grown closer in our friendship.”

Cheerilee’s soft green eyes brightened at that. “I agree completely with you there, Fluttershy. I can’t thank you enough for helping me assemble the school’s first band. The children love working with you as much as I do, and we would have gotten nowhere without your musical expertise.”

“Oh, it was nothing, really,” Fluttershy said, hiding a smile behind a thick lock of pink mane. “I’m happy to help however I can.”

The rain began to fall. With a defeated sigh, Cheerilee marched away from the schoolhouse to the nearby stage where the children were making their final preparations for the show. A few faithful parents made up the audience, chatting politely with one another as they waited for the concert to begin.

“I guess this is our turnout,” Cheerilee conceded under her breath.

“And they’ll love every minute of it,” Fluttershy sweetly assured.

Cheerilee offered a thankful nod that sent Fluttershy to her place on the stage. The sound shell they set up that morning protected the performers’ instruments and sheet music from the rain, but the audience had no covering at all. Cheerilee stayed at the back of the small crowd and eyed their uncomfortable expressions with great disappointment. If only she had planned better from the start…

Her pout was distracted by a bustle of panic onstage. Fluttershy had gathered all nine performers at the center, but now she was flitting about above the group, peeking backstage with frantic eyes.

Cheerilee frowned and counted the foals again. To her further dismay, there were only eight.

“Who’s missing, Fluttershy?” she called out, trotting briskly to the edge of the raised platform.

“Dinky!” she answered shrilly, biting her lip and continuing to search behind the same small curtains. “We can’t do the show without her—she’s our only pony on the flute!”

Cheerilee grimaced with her back to the audience and forced a wide smile before she turned around.

“Welcome to the show, everypony!” she said to them. As there were only half a dozen, she didn’t have to shout. “Thank you so much for attending despite the… unflattering weather.” Somepony chuckled, and that made her feel better. “I’m afraid we’ll have to delay the show for a few minutes while I check on a member of the band, but rest assured that we will begin as soon as possible.”

She watched her listeners nod for just long enough to make sure they understood before spinning around and galloping toward the main village.

“Dinky Doo… of all the days to start being tardy…” she grumbled as she ran.

The rain was falling ever faster. She looked at her knees for a moment to blink stinging water from her eyes, but that blind moment was a moment too long.

“Watch out!” shrieked a scratchy voice accompanied by the constant hum of tiny wings.

Cheerilee had no chance of watching out. Before she had even cleared thirty pony-lengths from the stage, a barreling scooter collided head-on with the sprinting teacher. A few seconds later, five startled ponies lay scattered and scraped within a ten foot radius of the crash.

“Scootaloo!” Cheerilee thundered, scrambling to her hooves and shaking out her muddied mane. “What in Ponyville has gotten into you?”

“We’re sorry, Miss Cheerilee,” Apple Bloom announced as she hopped back up, “but we gotta get Dinky to the concert!”

Cheerilee gasped and glanced around the wreckage. She beamed upon spotting a blonde, pale-violet filly with her face stuck in a patch of mud. Hanging from her horn was a familiar flute case.

“Get up, Dinky, we’re waiting on you!” Cheerilee chirped with happy harshness. She grabbed the filly below her ears and yanked her head out of the mud with a comical slurping noise. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo couldn’t help but giggle.

“Sorry, Miss Cheerilee!” Dinky echoed, shooting the Crusaders a knowing look. “We got… distracted.”

“Well, you can get back to whatever you were doing after the concert,” Cheerilee said, brushing chunks of mud from Dinky’s cheeks and brow. “Are you ready to do your best today?”

“I’m always ready!”

She hurried alongside her teacher and climbed a wooden staircase leading backstage. The Crusaders stayed put, eyeing the meager crowd in distastefully.

“That’s it?” Scootaloo asked. “That’s all the ponies who came?”

“It’s prob’ly ‘cause o’ the rain,” Apple Bloom realized, holding out a hoof to watch the raindrops pelt her pelt.

“That’s a stupid excuse!” Scootaloo blurted. “They should just ask Rainbow Dash to clear a hole above the stage!”

Sweetie gave an unsure glance at her friend. “Uh… Rainbow’s gone, remember? She left with Daring Do.”

Scootaloo’s wings sagged. “Oh, yeah.” Her eyes narrowed and she stood up straight. “Well, just because Rainbow’s not here to help doesn’t mean I can’t do something.”

Apple Bloom joined in Sweetie Belle’s confusion. “What? How?”

“If we can’t clear away the clouds,” she said, revving up her wings and lifting her scooter from the grass, “then we’ll just dance in the rain.”

“Huh?”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “It’s part of some old saying my mom has painted on the wall. Doesn’t matter. The point is, Dinky’s practiced a lot to make this a good concert, and since her mom can’t be here to cheer her on, the least we can do is get her a proper audience.”

“How d’ya reckon we do that?”

The orange filly’s crafty eyes locked onto the distant Sugarcube Corner.

“Isn’t Pinkie Pie throwing a party right now?”

{-DD-}

Two pegasi sat side by side in a train headed for Manehattan.

“How much farther?”

“I don’t know.”

The first pony groaned and dragged a hoof over her face. “I can’t stand all this sitting around. I’m so bored.”

“So look out the window.”

“I am looking out the window. It’s just hills and trees and mountains.”

“I think it’s pretty.”

Pfft! Pretty schmitty. I wanna do something!”

Rainbow Dash sighed. She hadn’t expected Daring to be so whiny.

“I thought you’d be used to traveling huge distances,” she noted.

Daring blew a stray piece of her mane back and forth in front of her eyes. “Yeah, well, usually I have somepony to talk to.”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Uh… you can talk to me.”

“All right, kid,” Daring said, smirking at her new partner. “Tell me something exciting enough to hold my attention.”

The challenge caught Rainbow Dash off guard. She blinked. “Uh….”

“That’s what I thought,” Daring muttered with a crack of her neck, turning back to the window and making weird shapes with her mouth.

“I helped save Equestria. Twice,” Rainbow finally answered.

Daring shrugged. “Yeah, I’ll admit that’s awesome, but I’ve already heard those stories. Everypony has.”

Rainbow donned a determined squint. “Have you ever heard a first-hoof account? Has anypony ever told you about the chills that run down your spine when Discord looks you in the eye and tells you that Cloudsdale is crumbling without you?”

The yellow mare’s attention was snatched up like a fly on a frog’s tongue. “Discord… talked to you?” she asked, wide-eyed.

It was Rainbow’s turn to smirk.

“He did more than just talk to me,” she continued in a tone that sounded very close to bragging. “He taunted me and threatened me and lured me through a maze. But worst of all—he took away my wings.”

Daring gasped. “Your wings? That’s horrible!”

“I know, right?” Rainbow squealed, hardly believing her situation. “I mean, I’ve broken my wing before, and that was torture enough. Heck, I’ve ever had my wings flipped upside down! But to have them vanish completely from my back? That was torture.”

“I broke a wing once,” Daring remembered. “I was grounded for a few days.”

“Might as well have been a few months, or a few years,” Rainbow quoted.

Daring chuckled. “Oh, yeah. You’re a fan of the books.”

“The biggest!” Rainbow blurted, glad that the topic was finally coming up. “I’ve read all of them more than once. Well, except the newest one. I’m about halfway through it.”

“And?” Daring encouraged.

“And they’re amazing, of course!” Rainbow’s giant smile was making it hard to talk, but she pushed through it. “And they’re all true, right? You really found the Sapphire Stone, and the Griffon’s Goblet, and the—”

“Yes, yes, it’s all true.” Daring closed her eyes proudly and adjusted her helmet with a wing.

“Wow… I can hardly believe it!” Rainbow’s expression wilted a bit. “But I gotta ask: why’d you keep your name off the books? Don’t you want ponies to know you really exist?”

“Oh, you know,” Daring said nonchalantly, examining one of her hooves. “Humility and all that. Plus I didn’t want the press bogging me down all the time. I have adventures to go on, you know?”

Rainbow’s eyes sparkled as she nodded quickly. Any complaints that might have been brewing over Daring’s attitude were gone, replaced by a sensation not unlike flying.

Daring turned back to the window, hiding the guilt in her expression. Little did her new partner know that Daring hadn’t taken up a quest in more than eight years. That wouldn’t stop her from finding the foals, though. It wouldn’t stop her from proving to Ditzy that she was every bit of the brilliant adventuress in the books. It wouldn’t stop her from wrangling up some bad guys in the streets of Manehattan and turning it into a bestselling novel. She grinned at the passing countryside, already imagining the new book on display: Daring Do and the Orphan Foals.

She frowned a bit. It needed more syllables. Maybe an adjective for the orphans? Daring Do and the… Missing Orphan Foals. She shook her head, casting aside the boring title.

“Missing…” she said under her breath, scrunching up her brow. “Missing, taken, nabbed, abducted, stolen, taken… no, I already said taken, I don’t like that…”

“Are you saying something?” Rainbow asked.

“Just brainstorming, kid,” Daring replied.

“About how to find the foals?”

Daring waved a hoof. “Nah, that’ll be easy. One of the kidnappers is missing a leg and uses his wing to walk.”

Rainbow Dash reeled on her. “What? How do you know that?”

“Clues in the crime scene,” Daring explained. “I took one look at the place and knew exactly who we were after. Don’t worry, kid, this is gonna be a breeze.”

Rainbow’s ears drooped. “So… we won’t even cross the ocean?”

“Not in the plans. When we find ‘em, we’ll probably chase them around Manehattan for a while—you know, make it worth the trip. That way we’ll have a story to tell when we get home.”

Chasing foalnappers alongside Daring Do? Rainbow Dash beamed at the prospect.

“Sounds good to me!” she chirped. “As long as the foals are safe, of course.”

“Course,” Daring mumbled, examining a smudge on the window.

Rainbow surveyed her hero with a thoughtful grin. “You know, you’re different than I thought you’d be,” she said.

“Yeah?” Daring asked, tapping the glass experimentally.

“Yeah. You’re more… I dunno, normal, I guess. I thought you’d be all quiet and mysterious, I guess, but whenever you spoke, you’d have these deep, mind-blowing things to say.”

Daring gave her a questioning glance. Rainbow grimaced and held up one of her hooves.

“I’m not saying I’m disappointed or anything! It’s just… I dunno, it’s just weird that you’re so… normal.”

Daring snorted. “Believe me, kid,” she said, “I’m anything but normal.” She tapped her chest, making the zippers on her new shirt clink. “Inside this snarky rind is a whole world of mystery and depth. Just wait ‘til we start scoping out those Haissanic punks. Then you’ll see the real Daring Do.”

She clenched her jaw to stop from laughing at Rainbow’s wide-eyed stare. The sparkle in the blue mare’s eyes suddenly faded when a shadow engulfed the train. All of its passengers looked out the windows to spot the source of the shade. Some let loose sighs of relief while others gasped in delight at the towering buildings flanking both sides of the slowing locomotive.

“Speaking of rinds,” Daring said, watching Rainbow ogle the skyscrapers, “welcome to the Big Orange.”

{-DD-}

The door to the library creaked open.

“Look here, Spike!” Twilight called out, tapping a stanza in the middle of the page. “The Bandersnatch makes an appearance in the Hunting, too! Carol doesn’t describe any of the creatures with much more than a few words, but the few details he does include are uncannily accurate, if my memory is correct. I’m having to go off what I remember from the princess’s lessons, though. We don’t have any helpful books on Tartarus in the whole library!”

“Uh… sorry, Miss Twilight,” a little voice replied, “but I’m not Spike.”

Twilight spun around to see Dinky Doo in her doorway. The periwinkle filly was soaked to the bone and looked exhausted, but wore an enormous grin nonetheless. A small flute case hung from her stubby horn.

“Oh.” Twilight looked at the world outside the library, noticing only now that it was pouring rain. She winced. “Sorry, Dinky. H-how was the concert?”

The filly’s giant smile nearly doubled. “It was amazing!” she began, rattling off the rest of her tale faster than Pinkie Pie. “At first there weren’t very many ponies in the audience because of the rain and Miss Cheerilee was really sad but then Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom went to Sugarcube Corner and convinced Pinkie to move the party to the stage outside the schoolhouse and even though it was raining Pinkie got everypony to come and the band played better than ever and everypony was dancing and clapping and having so much fun and it was so awesome!”

Twilight gaped in surprise. “Gosh, Dinky! That’s quite a set of lungs you’ve got there!”

Dinky giggled as she closed the library door. “Sorry,” she said. “Sometimes I forget to slow down. Did you catch any of that?”

Twilight magicked a towel from another room and moved closer to the dripping filly. “Yes, I caught it all. That was nice of your friends to bring a bigger crowd.”

“Cheerilee was so happy!” Dinky remembered, letting Twilight lift her flute case in a cocoon of magic while she dried her mane.

“That’s good to hear.” Twilight smiled as she examined the case. “She tends to get pretty worked up if things don’t go the way she planned.”

Dinky hid a smile.

“I’m glad the concert went well,” Twilight continued, suspending the flute case in front of its owner. “Sorry that I didn’t make it, and I’m sure your mother is very sorry, too.”

Instead of snatching the case with magic, Dinky twisted her head and slid her horn into its handle, letting it dangle by her ear.

Twilight tried to smile politely. “Can you levitate yet?” she asked.

Dinky laughed. “No one my age can use magic yet, Miss Twilight!”

“I could,” Twilight said proudly, placing a hoof to her chest. “Maybe I can teach you while your mother is away.”

Excitement danced in Dinky’s golden eyes. “Wow, really? That would be amazing!”

“It’s the least I can do,” Twilight assured her. “I used to help foals at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns after graduating myself. I haven’t been able to try my hoof at teaching for years. It’ll be fun to help you learn!”

“Yay!” Dinky gave Twilight a quick hug. “My mommy was right to leave me with you!”

Twilight rubbed her head affectionately. “I’m glad she thought of me.”

Dinky slid out of the hug and stretched her jaw in a loud yawn. Twilight quirked an eyebrow glanced at the clock. “Goodness, it’s almost six o’clock. Where have you been since the concert ended?”

“Sugarcube Corner,” she answered sleepily. “After the band finished playing, everypony hurried back there to get out of the rain. It was lots of fun, but then I remembered my mommy told me to come here after the concert. Plus I was getting pretty—” She yawned again. “—tired.”

Twilight giggled. “You can head upstairs if you’d like. I’ll be up in just a minute to arrange another bed for you.”

“Okay,” Dinky agreed, trotting toward the staircase. “What have you been working on? I didn’t understand anything you said when I came in.”

Twilight laughed. “I hardly understand it myself. Maybe there’s nothing to be understood.” She magically flipped through the pages of Carol’s anthology. “It seems like there’s more to these poems than meets the eye, but I can’t quite put my hoof on it. If only I had more information on the creatures it mentions.”

“Have you been reading it for a long time?” asked Dinky from the bottom of the stairs.

Twilight shook her head. “Pinkie Pie lent it to me just last night.”

“Then why don’t you ask her?” Dinky suggested, climbing one step at a time.

Intrigued, Twilight turned her head toward the filly. “Ask her what?”

“Ask her what she knows about the book,” Dinky elaborated. Her eyes were drooping with fatigue as she bounded up the last few stairs. “If she’s had it for a while, maybe she knows about the creatures or… eeeaaaaww… something.”

Dinky disappeared from view, but Twilight’s mind was already whirring, remembering phrases from past-Pinkie Pie.

“Bluish Carol was a genius!” “I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from this book!”

Pinkie was convinced that there was more to Carol’s writing than childish nonsense. How much did she know about him? Where had she gotten this huge collection? And what exactly had she learned?

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “Dinky!” she called out. “You can sleep in my bed for now. I’m going to go get Spike from Sugarcube Corner and ask Pinkie a couple of questions.”

A muffled “okay” drifted down from the loft as Twilight galloped out into the rain.

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