• Published 27th Aug 2017
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The Blue Mage - Nebula Star



Gifted with extraordinary power, Apple Bloom must learn to control it and try not to lose herself in the process.

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Chapter 14: Befriending Death

The Blue Mage
By Nebula Star

Chapter 14: Befriending Death
***

Twilight sat across from Sweetie Belle in the small nook where they often had their lessons. Both were silent for the moment. It had been some time since Apple Bloom had left, but neither had spoken. Sweetie was looking down at her hooves, unwilling to look up, and see the disappointment in the Princess’s eyes.

Finally, Twilight broke the silence. “Why would you say that to Apple Bloom, Sweetie?”

Sweetie sniffed looking away. She didn’t answer at first, instead she scuffed the floor with one forehoof. “Why am I still your student?” She asked finally.

“What?”

“I’m obviously no good at magic. Apple Bloom’s already casting time spells, creating illusion bodies that you can’t even tell aren’t real, learning to fly with magic wings; and I’m still struggling to learn the come-to-life spell…”

“Oh Sweetie, do you really think I would give up on you?” Twilight said reaching out her wing to touch her shoulder.

Sweetie didn’t look up. “You should just make Apple Bloom your student, she’s obviously better at magic,” she said bitterly, blinking back the tears in her eyes.

“Sweetie, look at me,” Twilight said firmly. Slowly the filly looked up, tears falling freely from her eyes. “You are a wonderful student. You’re hard working, and plenty talented. You’ve already learned more than most unicorns ever learn.

She sniffed, looking away again.

“Sweetie, I mean it.” Twilight said, using a hoof to gently force her to meet her eyes again.

“But, Apple Bloom…”

“Apple Bloom’s magic is not pony magic.” Twilight interrupted, her voice soft and gentle. “Listen. Rekaj told me a bit about his magic. It works much differently than our magic. For Apple Bloom, it’s like a branching path where each branch is a different spell. All she has to do is memorize which branch to send the magic down in order to cast a spell,” she explained, as Rekaj had explained it to her. “But our magic, we have memorize everything, even the shape of the branches.”

Sweetie looked up at her, comprehension dawning in her eyes.

“Apple Bloom isn’t learning faster than you because she’s better at magic; she’s learning faster because her magic is a hundred times easier to learn.”

Tears filled Sweetie Belle’s eyes as she realized her mistake and remembered the hurt look in Apple Blooms eyes. “I’m such an idiot.” She whimpered. With an understanding smile, Twilight pulled her into a hug.

“We all make mistakes, Sweetie.” Twilight said, gently rubbing her back. “Perhaps I should have made sure you knew how proud I am having you as my student.”

“Are you still proud of me?” she asked softly.

“Of course.” Twilight said, confidently releasing her and reaching out to boop her nose. “Because I know you’ll make this right.”

She blushed looking down. “I should probably go find Apple Bloom to apologize.”

Twilight smiled and nodded. “That would be a good idea.”

Sweetie waited a moment more, then reluctantly got to her hooves. She hadn’t even started for the door, however, when there was a loud knock.

“I’ve got it.” Feather said softly, before either of them could say anything. She opened the door to find a blue pegasus stallion standing there.

“Captain Feather.” Rekaj said quickly in greeting. “I need to speak with Twilight.”

Surprised by the worried tone in his voice, Twilight stepped toward the door. “I’m right here Rekaj. What’s wrong?”

Feather stepped back, letting him in. “Do you know where Apple Bloom is?” He asked worriedly.

Twilight shook her head. “Not at the moment, why?”

“Because I felt the reset spell activate again… multiple times.”

~~~

Apple Bloom wasn’t sure how far she’d flown. Below her was forest, nearly as far as she could see. Only the mountains in the distance, and the occasional cliffside broke the nearly endless carpet of tree canopies below. Figuring she’d gone far enough, she glided down to one of the cliffs and landed. With a sniff, she kicked a stone over the edge and watched in fall into the trees below. The wind while flying had dried up her tears some time ago, but the sting of first Sweetie Belle and then Scootaloo’s words hadn’t faded.

She hadn’t been trying to show off. She’d just wanted to spend more time with her friends. Sure she’d learned some amazing magic, but she’d just wanted to learn, she wasn’t trying to make Sweetie look bad. And once she’d gotten in the air, who could blame her for not waiting for Scootaloo to go further in their flight lessons… maybe she could have held back a bit. But with the sky calling, who could possibly resist!? Surely Scootaloo could understand that!

But now both her friends wanted her out of their sight. She’d accepted Rekaj’s magic in order to spend more time with her friends. What was the point of even having it if they still didn’t want her around? ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have taken it in the first place…’ She thought, sadly. But then a few memories flashed through her head. A small white filly looking on in terror as jaws filled with enormous razor sharp teeth closed around her. An orange pegasus skipping across the ground like a stone before smashing into a tree with a sickening crunch. Finally a pink filly, crying tears of joy as she curled up next to the father she’d thought she’d lost…

“No. It doesn’t matter if Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are mad at me! It’s still worth it! Even if they… if they don’t…” She shook her head, not wanting to think about it. “It doesn’t matter! I can still use this power to help ponies! I can still be a hero!” Looking up at the horizon where the sun hung low in the sky, she gave a determined smile. “I’ll be the best hero Equestria has ever seen!” She shouted. “I can fly, control time, cast illusions, create duplicates of myself, conjure anything I can imagine! I can’t even be killed!”

She tensed slightly as she said the last. She may be able to talk about it now, but the fear of experiencing dying again was still there, and she knew it. She snorted in disgust. ‘Some hero… afraid of your own power…’ She thought bitterly. She could actually do what even the most powerful Alicorns of all time could only pretend to do: Come back from death itself. And yet, Death still frightened her. She knew it couldn’t hold her, but the fear remained.

There was no doubt that being unable to die was one of the greatest powers she had, but to take full advantage of it, she couldn’t be afraid of it. She couldn’t afford to be afraid of dying.

She gritted her teeth, taking a deep breath. Well there was nothing else for it. Applejack always said that the best way to deal with fears was to face them head on.

Her shoulder glowed brightly for a moment, then she opened her illusory wings again and took flight. Quickly she climbed high into the sky. She still didn’t recognize where she was, but at the moment she didn’t care. If she was going to be the best Hero she could be, then it was time she conquered her fear.

Nearly to the first cloud level, she took a deep breath, and closed her eyes, gliding for a moment. Then, before she could lose her nerve, she canceled her wing spell.

Wind began rushing past her as she fell from the sky. She let herself roll in the air until her back was to the ground, feeling the wind rush past, ruffling her main and tail. Fear gripped at her heart but her wings were gone and the very fear that demanded she recast the spell was preventing her from concentrating enough to do so. She clenched her eyes shut, feeling the strange sensation of freefall. There was no telling how close she was, no telling when she’d hit or what she’d land on… she hoped it would be quick.

Her tail was whipping around painfully and her bow was long since gone. Maybe she’d gone too high, she was beginning to have second thoughts. There might still be enough time; maybe she could recast the wings spell and save herself. Maybe she could still be a hero even without the reset spell…

Dozens of branches whipped against her back, lacerating her soft hide as she crashed through the canopy. A larger branch collided with her hips and she began tumbling as pain exploded through her. Then…

She was standing on a cliff in the depths of the forest as the glow on her shoulder dimmed back to normal. She blinked a few times, then collapsed, her entire body shuddering as she realized what must have happened. ‘It’s alright Apple Bloom. You’re still you.’ Princess Twilight’s words echoed in her thoughts, pushing back the terror of knowing that she’d just died a second time. Her mind went back to that moment; to the feeling of being held in the Princess’ embrace, wrapped in her wings… held… as a mother would hold her foal.

That thought immediately began to calm her mind as she lay there. Soon she began to really think about what she’d experienced. Honestly it hadn’t been that bad, once you get past the existential terror. The death had actually been pretty quick. Sure she’d hit several branches on the way down, but it had been mere moments of pain, then it was over. And as for the rest, she’d already died to the hydra. Even if each death really was the end of that version of her, well then it was already too late to worry about it wasn’t it? Maybe dying wasn’t so bad.

But there was no guarantee that she’d always dye in such a quick, and relatively pain free way. What if the death were drawn out and painful? She shivered, thinking about it. Maybe she’d try a couple more quick deaths first.

Falling from the sky had certainly been quick, but she didn’t want to keep dying the same way. The whole point was to get used to dying in different ways. Getting to her hooves she went over and looked down off the cliff. It wasn’t quite high enough to guarantee death if she jumped. Going over the spells she knew, she wondered if there were any that she could use to make sure she died… Then she recalled Rekaj’s demonstration and warnings about the time field spell she’d been practicing. That would work.

Focusing on the spell, she created a small field just off the edge of the cliff, a field where time was flowing a hundred times faster than normal. If she was right, it should be like the time Rekaj had made a slow field around an apple and dropped it. Anything entering the field from the outside should be shredded by the time-flow differential. Taking a deep breath, she jumped.

She felt the air rush past her, then her hooves hit the time field. There was a pinching sensation and she barely registered watching her legs disappear in a fine red mist, then she found herself standing back on the cliff again as her shoulder stopped glowing.

She blinked. That had been even faster than falling from the sky. Her body barely had time to register the pain before she was gone. Still a shudder ran through her body, and she collapsed as she again came to terms with the fact that she had died once more.

“I’m still me.” She said softly to herself. “It doesn’t matter how many times I die…” She let the memory of being held in Twilight’s hooves fill her, and as before, thoughts calmed and she soon felt her heartrate returning to normal.

‘Okay. That’s two,’ she said standing back up ‘…still not very easy.’ Taking a few more deep breaths she let herself calm a bit more. ‘Probably should stick to quick deaths a bit longer.’ She glanced around. ‘So how else can I kill myself quickly?’

Honestly she had a lot of ways, but many of them would be almost as instant as the time field, and so really wouldn’t be that different. But Rekaj had taught her some combat spells, and trained her a bit in using them. Most involved conjuring blades or other simple weapons that she could then control with her mind. Unfortunately she hadn’t been very talented at controlling floating blades, but blades that were essentially worn, like wing blades or a conjured hoof blade; those she’d been a natural with.

Raising her right forehoof she conjured a blade that she had trained with under Rekaj for many hours, to the point that she could summon and dismiss the blade in the blink of an eye. It was roughly half the length of her foreleg, extending from the edge of her hoof in a translucent blue wedge that could be razor sharp and hard as diamond when she wanted it to. She held the blade up, looking at it, admiring just how deadly it was.

Taking a deep breath, she braced herself as she turned the blade inward. Then, before she could lose her nerve, she jammed it into her throat.

~~~

“Now what do you mean you felt the reset spell activate several times!?” Twilight exclaimed looking over at Rekaj as they made their way to Sweet Apple Acres. Rekaj had been in town when he’d first sensed the reset spell activate and so had gone to Twilight first to see if she knew where the farm filly was.

“At least five times so far.” Rekaj said with a wince.

“FIVE!?” Sweetie Belle squeaked trailing along behind them with Spike. Feather and a squad of guards had taken up positions around the group, though only the captain was obvious.

Reluctantly, Rekaj nodded.

“Are you telling me Apple Bloom has gotten herself stuck in a loop where she keeps dying!?” Twilight asked, understandably sounding a little upset.

“No, that’s not it…”

“Are you sure? Why else would she keep dying?” Twilight demanded.

“I’m sure, because she’s recast the reset spell…”

“What?”

Rekaj sighed heavily. “That’s why I know it’s activated at least five times, because she keeps recasting it. If it weren’t for that I’d have no way of knowing how many times it activated.”

Twilight glanced over at him, her eyes widening as she realized what that meant. “You mean she might have died more than five times!?”

“Quite likely… six now…”

“You mean she just…”

He simply nodded as they kept at their fast pace toward the apple family farm.

“But if she’s not stuck in a loop, then why would she keep dying!?”

“I think she’s doing it on purpose,” Rekaj said heavily.

“What!? You mean she’s trying to kill herself!?” Sweetie Belle squeaked in horror.

“Not permanently. Let’s find Applejack and I’ll explain what I think she’s doing.”



Fortunately, the farm mare was easy to find for a group consisting of mostly flyers. When they reached the acres, Rekaj simply flew up and spotted her out in the north orchard tending the trees there. She immediately knew something was up when she saw them.

“Something happen to Bloom?” She asked, sounding almost resigned as they approached.

“I’m afraid it’s more something she’s doing…” Rekaj said heavily.

Applejack raised a brow. “What do you mean?”

“He said Apple Bloom’s reset spell keeps activating over and over and he thinks Apple Bloom is doing it on purpose.” Twilight said looking to Rekaj to explain.

Applejack’s eyes widened knowing all too well what that meant. “WHAT!? You think Bloom is killing herself over and over on purpose!?”

He sighed and nodded.

“Why in tarnation do you think she would do somethin’ like that!?”

“Because I did the same thing when I first created the spell.” Rekaj said then went on to explain. “Obviously when I created it, I didn’t actually know if it would really work, I was fairly certain, but not enough to bet my life on it.” He said with a weak laugh. “We were at war, though, and eventually I did die in battle.

“Obviously, the spell worked, but the thing was, I was still afraid of dying. I realized just how powerful of a spell it was, that I truly could not die, but still I was afraid. What good is a power you’re afraid to use? Finally, I decided I couldn’t afford to be afraid of it anymore. I went out and got myself killed again and again in all kinds of different ways until I got used to dying.”

“And that’s what you think Apple Bloom is doing?” Twilight asked, horrified.

Reluctantly, he nodded.

“So you’re saying that mah sis is out there getting herself killed over and over because she doesn’t want to be afraid of dyin’!?”

“Yes.” He sighed again and shook his head. “What I don’t understand is why she’s doing this now? I thought she might eventually but I wasn’t expecting her to do this so soon. She seemed so happy when I last spoke with her.”

“What do you mean?” Twilgiht asked worried.

“When I did this, it was shortly after my first mate, Rella, died. I was not in a good way. I was angry, and wanted revenge; I wanted all the power I could get; that’s why I decided to get used to dying, so that I could take full advantage of the spell. I’m just wondering what could have set her off.”

Twilight glanced at Sweetie Belle, seeing the look of horror and realization in the filly’s eyes. “Do you think getting in a fight with one of her best friends would be enough?” Twilight asked softly.

Rekaj looked between them realizing that the question wasn’t exactly hypothetical. “It would certainly push her in the right direction.” He confirmed sadly.

Sweetie Belle whimpered.

“We need to find Apple Bloom. Though there’s not much we can do. She’s already died numerous times. She’s probably already becoming accustom to the experience by now;” He sighed and went on; “but she’s clearly upset, and could use a reminder that she still has people that care about her.

Twilight nodded in agreement.

“Wait, hang on.” Applejack said suddenly. “Bloom showed me some of that time magic you taught her, including how you can turn back time. Couldn’t you just turn back time to before this started and find Apple Bloom then to prevent it? Come to think of it, couldn’t you have done that the first time Bloom died!?” She looked at the disguised dragon accusingly.

“No he couldn’t.” Twilight interjected. “I thought of that too and already asked Rekaj about it.”

“Well why not?”

Twilight looked to Rekaj to explain.

“It’s because of the nature of the reset spell. When it’s activated, it creates a break in the timeline.” He scratched a line in the ground as he explained. “Like I explained before, when cast it creates a temporal anchor.” He scraped a mark across the line. “Then when activated it snaps time back to that anchor and starts a new timeline from that point.” He added a new line, starting from the mark and continuing on from there, then gestured to the start of that line. “But because of that I can’t turn back time before that point, because as far as my magic is concerned, the timeline we’re in now didn’t exist before that point. I can never turn back time past the last time the reset spell activated.”

Applejack frowned looking down. “Oh… Ah suppose that makes sense.”

“We just need to find Apple Bloom. Do any of you have any idea where she might have gone?”

“We were supposed to meet up at the clubhouse after my lessons.” Sweetie Belle spoke up. “Maybe Scootaloo saw her?”

“It’s worth a shot.” Twilight said with a shrug.

Rekaj nodded. “Why don’t you see if you can find her; I’ll begin searching for Apple Bloom.” He said then turned to Twilgiht. “Princess, would you object to me using my surveillance spells?”

She frowned, but nodded. “Alright, in this case, I’ll allow it.”

“Thank you, It will be faster to search if I don’t have to worry about maintaining a physical presence. I’ll leave my illusion here at the farm in case you find anything.

“Alright, as for the rest of us; let’s go find Scootaloo.”

~~~

“Why is it those varmints are never around when I need them…” Apple Bloom muttered under her breath as she scanned the trees below. She was deep into the Everfree Forest now but still there was no sign of her quarry. After being stabbed through the throat, and later the heart; crushed, diced, and reduced to a fine mist, along with near a dozen other quick deaths, most variations of those first few; she felt confident that she could handle quick deaths now. It was time to start on slower, and more violent deaths. She’d already experience one such death; the first one, but she’d have to experience more before she’d be confident she could handle it. So she’d set out in search of some of the monsters of the Everfree. She’d thought at the very least that Timber Wolves would be easy to find, but so far she’d had no luck in that regard.

“Aw to Tartarus with it!” She growled then dove down toward a gap in the canopy. Landing beneath the trees. Taking a breath, she recast the reset spell, then started off into the dark trees. Time had passed between reset spells and it was already getting past sunset. She knew her family was likely worried about her, but she was determined not to be afraid anymore. She probably could have just left the reset point at that first cliff where she’d started, and just kept resetting from there, but it was too late now. It was already well past time for her to be home, but she wasn’t going back now.

She had no destination in mind as she walked through the darkness beneath the trees. She just kept walking hoping to come across some monster or another that would consider her a decent meal. It didn’t take very long.

There wasn’t much warning, just sudden heavy footfalls and a flash of movement to the side. Apple Bloom looked and found a large timber wolf already bearing down on her. Though this was what she was looking for, instinct kicked in and she turned, bolting at a full gallop. It was already too late, though, and two more timber wolves closed in on either side, emerging from the shadows.

One pounced and she didn’t have time to evade. She felt its claws sink into her back even as its teeth sank into her neck. Its weight bore her down to the ground and she gave a frightened whinny, thrashing her legs uselessly as the monster pinned her down. Its jaws clamped down on her neck like a vice and she felt her throat collapse. Still she thrashed trying in vain to get the beast off of her. Slowly her vision began to fade, as her lungs burned for air. Her thrashing slowed and then stopped. Finally, the last bit of light faded from her eyes.



“Ouch.” Apple Bloom whimpered, once again standing where she’d landed as her shoulder faded back to normal. She took a deep breath to steady herself and as she had after each death, took a moment to think about and analyze the experience. Honestly she was already growing used to the dying itself. The only thing different this time was the amount of pain and fear that proceeded it. It wasn’t quite as bad as with the hydra, feeling her body crushed in the monster’s throat, bones snapping…

She shivered slightly at the memory. But as bad as the pain was, once she died and reset, that’s all it was; just a memory. The pain was still temporary. She was far from used to it, but it wasn’t as bad as she had thought.

Taking a deep breath, she stood up and looked off into the trees. “Ah wonder what other monsters live in these parts.”

~~~

Gliding over one of Ponyville’s parks on her way home, Rainbow Dash spotted something she hadn’t expected. Scootaloo sitting alone by a small pond. Not only was it getting late, but the filly had told her that she’d had plans with the crusaders for the evening. Had something happened?

Not wanting to leave the filly alone, Rainbow glided down to land softly by her side. “Hey kiddo; shouldn’t you be getting home?”

Scootaloo glanced up at her. “I guess so…” She said but didn’t move.

“Something wrong?”

She didn’t answer at first, just sat there staring out over the pond. Rainbow wasn’t sure what to say; she hadn’t seen the filly this down in some time. “Do you think I’ll ever be able to fly like you, Rainbow?”

“Oh, geese. Is that what this is about?” Rainbow gave a relieved laugh, “Scoots, you’re doing incredible! Twilight told me she didn’t even think you’d be hovering yet, let alone flying around town.” She put a wing around the filly and gave her a squeeze. “I know it can be discouraging seeing how much harder you have to work at it than everypony else, but don’t let it get you down, okay?”

“But Apple Bloom is already flying way better, and she’s only had wings a few months…”

“Yeah, she’s a pretty quick learner, but she’s also cheating a bit. That Rekaj fellow made her spell imitate Pegasus magic exactly how it needs to so that she can fly. She didn’t even need pegasus instincts.”

“She’s still learning way faster.” Scootaloo grumbled.

Rainbow shrugged. “And she’s going to top out pretty quick too. She’ll be average at best. Definitely not a stunt flyer.”

“But do you think I’ll ever be able to be a stunt flyer?”

“Heck yeah, Scoots. It will take a lot of work, but I know you can do it. And when you do, I bet you’ll be one of the best flyers in all of Equestria!”

“You really think so?” She asked sounding doubtful.

“I know it!” Rainbow said confidently. “Scoots, have you seen me and Twi flying lately?”

She shook her head.

“Well long story short, Twi can even keep up with me now.”

Scootaloo looked up at her in surprise. “Really!?”

“Yep, in fact she’s this close to being able to do a rainboom herself.” She held her hooves an inch apart. “And it’s all because of the knowledge she gained on pegasus magic after… after what happened with Achlys. Knowledge that she’s teaching you.” Rainbow told her, tapping her lightly on the snout.

“Then… do you really think I’ll be as good as you one day!?”

“I think you’ll give me a run for my money, that’s for sure. Think about it, kid. Twi’s not an athlete, but by using her magic how she does, she can make up the difference and even keep up with me. You, you’re already an athlete, so if you keep at it, and learn to use your magic like she does…”

Scootaloo’s eyes were wide with excitement. “Then I could do rainbooms!”

Rainbow grinned and gave her a squeeze. “I bet you will one day, kid. It will be a lot of work, but don’t let that discourage you; it will be worth it. Besides, there’s other awesome stuff you’ll be able to do with your magic as well. Did you know Twi can create a tornado with one swing of her wing?”

“A tornado!? Really!?”

Rainbow grinned, glad she'd been able to help her surrogate sister cheer up. “Yep, and I bet there’s other neat stuff you could do with your magic as well. I’m tempted to ask Twi to teach me, to be honest. But all that studying, blegh.”

Scootaloo grinned up at her. “Ah, it’s not so bad. Twilight’s a great teacher. Me and the crusaders always look forward to Twilight time…” She trailed off frowning.

“Something wrong?”

“I… I had a fight with Apple Bloom earlier.” She admitted, looking down. “I told her I didn’t want her to come to flight lessons anymore.”

Rainbow sighed. “Yeah, I was kind of afraid that might happen.” She pulled Scootaloo against her side. “I know you’ve been frustrated, Scoots, but you shouldn’t take it out on your friends.”

“I know.” Scootaloo said looking down.

“Twi told me that Apple Bloom said one of the main reasons she took Rekaj’s magic was because she hoped it would let her spend more time with you and Sweetie Belle.”

Scootaloo just stared at the ground in silence for a few moments. “I should probably apologize, huh…”

“It’s what friends do.” Rainbow agreed, then got to her hooves. “Come on, let’s stop by the Apples’ place, and then I’ll walk you home.”

Scootaloo nodded and stood as well. “Could we fly?” She asked hopefully.

Rainbow grinned. “Sure thing, kid.”

~~~

Apple Bloom stood at the edge of a small pond in the depths of the Everfree. There was a line of stones that seemed like a convenient way to cross, but she remembered well Applejack’s story about the cragadile they ran into when the Everfree was running wild. Without hesitation she took a step closer.

The cragadile burst from the water faster than she could react, and the next she knew its jaws were clamping down on her left foreleg right at her barrel. She felt herself being pulled into the water and could do nothing to stop it.

The pain was intense as the cragadiles long jagged teeth tore through her flesh. Then the beast began to roll. Apple Bloom was pulled under, feeling her bones snap and tendons tear, little more than a rag doll at the beasts mercy. Flesh tore from flesh and for a brief moment she was released, floating in the blood clouded water. The pain was agonizing as she realized in an almost detached way that her front left leg was gone.

Then the cragadiles jaws clamped down on her again, this time around her neck and began to twist and roll once more. Something snapped…



And she was back in the forest where she’d last cast the reset spell. She glanced down at her left foreleg. “Ouch.” That had been the first time she’s lost a limb, even if only briefly. And probably one of the most painful deaths so far. Turns out, angering an ursa was actually a rather quick death. She was morbidly curious what her corpse had looked like after the house sized monster had stomped on her…

~~~

“There you are!” Twilight called out as she spotted Rainbow and Scootaloo flying overhead.

Rainbow having spotted them already, glided down, wondering what was going on, it was getting a little dark for flying anyway. “Hey guys, something up?”

“We’re looking for Apple Bloom, we thought maybe Scootaloo knew where she’d gone?” Twilight told them as the two pegasi landed.

Scootaloo looked up in surprise. “Apple Bloom is missing?”

Twilight nodded. “She had a fight with Sweetie Belle earlier and ran off, pretty upset. Then a while later, Rekaj found me and said that Apple Bloom’s reset spell was activating over and over.”

“You mean something’s killing Apple Bloom!?” Scootaloo shouted, wide eyed.

“That’s the thing… Rekaj thinks she’s doing it herself.” Twilight said heavily.

“What!? Why would she…!?”

“She’s not trying to kill herself permanently.” Twilight clarified quickly. “Rekaj thinks she’s trying to get used to dying so that she won’t be afraid of it anymore. But even so, Rekaj doesn’t think she’d be doing it unless she was upset about something, so we need to find her.”

Rainbow gave Scootaloo a pointed look and the filly bit her lip for a moment, then broke down. “I’m so sorry! This is all my fault!”

Twilight looked at her concerned. “What do you mean.”

“We were supposed to meet at the clubhouse after Sweetie’s lessons, but when I got there only Apple Bloom was there. She seemed upset and said that Sweetie probably wouldn’t be coming and I… I got mad at her, and yelled at her; I told her I didn’t want her coming to flight lessons anymore.”

“Oh dear.” Twilight said softly. “If one friend wasn’t enough, two would certainly do it… Did you see where Apple Bloom went?”

Scootaloo looked down and shook her head. “She took off and turned invisible.”

“Alright, well, Rainbow, could you take these two home and tell their families what’s going on?”

“Sure thing, Twi.”

“But…!” Sweetie Belle tried to object.

“I know you want to help, but that will be up to your families. It’s already getting late.” Twilight told them firmly.

Reluctantly they both nodded.

“The rest of us will regroup with Rekaj at Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Do you want me to rally the rest of the guard?” Feather asked.

Twilight sighed. “We may have to, but to be honest, I haven’t a clue where we’d start looking. Maybe once we meet back with Rekaj, we’ll have a better idea where to start. Just alert them for now.”

Feather nodded and signaled one of her subordinates to pass on the order.

“What if we can’t find her?” Applejack asked, worried for her sister.

“Then I guess we’ll just have to wait until she’s ready to come home…”

~~~

Frantically Apple Bloom kicked her hooves, trying to climb back up from the depths of the lake. She couldn’t even see the surface she was so deep. Not in the pitch black night. She could barely tell which way was up. Still she desperately tried to swim; her lungs burning for air. Her mind began to feel fuzzy, deprived of oxygen. Eventually instinct took over and in desperation to fill her lungs, she opened her mouth, trying take a breath. Water filled her lungs causing her to gag and gasp and slowly conscious thought faded.

Author's Note:

Well it was only two months this time. Good news is I already have the next two chapters written in rough draft, so I will be posting those over the next couple weeks. And there will likely be one more chapter and an epilogue to follow. In total this story will likely be between 70-80k when it's finished.

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