• Published 28th Apr 2018
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Light and Magic - Allenator05



Sunset Shimmer has made mistakes in her past that she's trying to move on and learn from. What happens when she meets an iron-willed Guardian with a similar past?

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Everfree

Hildr finally found the entrance to the castle and walked outside. By now, the sun was setting and the first stars were appearing. She walked a short ways from the castle and took note of her surroundings. Even in the fading light, the pastel colors were very vibrant. Hildr frowned. So far, everything in this world seemed even more cartoonish than the other world. She sighed and awkwardly sat down, calling out, "Raven?"

"Yes?" the Ghost replied, materializing in front of Hildr.

"Look around and tell me what you think," she said.

Raven took a moment to float around and take scans of the surroundings. "Interesting. I don't know if it's because of the magic this world possesses, but all of my readings are fuzzy," he said finally.

Hildr nodded to herself. "I feel the same way." She looked down at her hooves and added, "It's gotten better, but the magic in my body isn't reacting well with my Light."

"What do you think that means?" Raven asked.

"I don't know," Hildr admitted, "and I don't like not knowing what's going on with my own body."

Raven floated back to the castle and started scanning. "I'm sure you already guessed this, but the castle is made entirely out of a crystal-like substance that is infused with magic."

"Probably that friendship magic everyone seems to care about so much," Hildr grumped.

"What's wrong with that?" Raven asked.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with friendship, but to put so much importance on the bonds you share with others seems like an excuse to not grow yourself. Constantly relying on others only stunts your growth as an individual and makes you weak," Hildr said.

Raven floated back to Hildr. "There's a difference between depending on others and relying on others. And even you can admit the advantages of having allies to go with you on your journey."

Hildr glared at her Ghost. "I'm not saying you can't depend on others, but it is better to trust and believe in yourself first, and others second. Other people will constantly fail and or abandon you. The only person you can reliably trust is yourself."

"That may be true, but no one person can do all things at all times," Raven argued. "Having friends and allies means there will be someone to make up for your own shortcomings."

"I'm not disagreeing with you," Hildr growled. "All I'm saying is, it's foolish to place so much trust in others, or place so much importance on such a fragile thing like friendship."

Raven floated forward and gently nudged Hildr on the cheek. "You know, you used to have people you trusted."

"And look where that got me," Hildr replied, shaking Raven off. She then looked down at her body. "Raven, summon my armor."

"Why? I don't think it will fit," Raven replied.

Hildr glared at him and replied, "Of course not, you twit. I want to make changes so it WILL fit."

"But why? You look so nice," Raven said.

"I'm practically naked," Hildr retorted.

"I've seen you naked before," Raven replied.

"Do as I say!" Hildr snapped.

With a huff, Raven summoned the pieces of Hildr's armor and they appeared on the ground. "I should have some extra armor parts and materials to make the changes," he said.

"Actually, wait a second," Hildr said.

"Now what?" Raven said with annoyance.

"I don't want to ruin my good armor in case this doesn't work. Pull out some of my spare armor," Hildr said.

"Oh. I guess that makes sense," Raven said. A flash of light later and Hildr's normal armor was replaced with spare pieces. It took some time, since Hildr couldn't really do anything herself, but Raven managed to make adjustments and craft a set of armor to fit Hildr's pony form. She wore a cloth and leather robe with chainmail sleeves that covered her front legs to her knees. The rest of her forelegs were covered with thick padded cloth and armor plate, leaving her front hooves bare. A belt tied around her waist prevented her robes from slipping and falling off her flank. She wore leather armor on her rear legs with her feet in custom metal boots that protected her lower legs.

Hildr shook herself all over and walked around to get a feel for the new armor. "I think this will do for now," she said.

"It better. I did all the work you know," Raven replied. Hildr shot him a disapproving look. Finally ready, Hildr started walking down the path that lead from the castle.

By now, the sun had fully set and the moon was just above the horizon. HIldr looked up at the softly glowing orb and let her thoughts wander. "Do you suppose this moon is similar to our own?" she asked.

"In what way?" Raven asked. "Do you think there is a horde of bloodthirsty monsters hibernating below the surface, waiting to unleash hell on everything?"

"That's not quite what I meant," Hildr said. "From here it looks to be of similar size and shape to our own moon."

"Wanna go and take a look?" Raven asked.

Hildr shook her head. "I don't think we have time for that. Speaking of which, I wonder why this Princess Celestia wants to meet with us."

"Probably to ask questions about where we came from and why," Raven said.

"Perhaps, but if our theory is correct, she's at least partially responsible for why none of the Vex technology works on the other world," Hildr said.

"So what are you going to do? Go up to her and say, 'Hey, miss Almighty Powerful Princess Pony of the Sun, could you possibly, maybe, undo your little spell-thingy so we can use the technology of the murderous robots to go home?' That will go over REAL well," Raven said.

Hildr stared at her Ghost and asked, "What's got you all fired up?"

Raven shrugged his points as best as he was able. "I don't know. Maybe I'm finally cracking up from having to deal with you all the time."

Hildr was unimpressed. "Really?"

"Probably, Raven suggested. Hildr rolled her eyes and shook her head.

By now, she was quite a ways from Twilight's castle and looking back, Hildr noted that it sat on the edge of a small town near a forest. Recalling an earlier conversation, she remembered this was the town of Ponyville and the forest was called Everfree. "Why do you suppose they call it Everfree Forest?" she asked.

"Who can say?" Raven said. "From what I've heard, the forest doesn't follow the rules that govern the rest of Equestria. Supposedly, the ponies find it strange and disturbing that plants grow without the care of ponies, the animals are wild, and the weather changes unpredictably."

Hildr thought for a moment. "If that's true, then the name Everfree is very fitting."

"What do you mean?" Raven asked.

"Like you say, the forest and its inhabitants exist without the oversight of the ponies, meaning it is free from their influence. Hence, 'Everfree,'" Hildr said. She noticed her current continued into the forest, and after a moment of thought, and proceeded forward.

"Wait. Where are you going?" Raven asked.

Hildr stopped at the entrance of the forest and looked upward. From here, the trees towered overhead menacingly and the branches sighed in the breeze. Despite being a forest, there was very little sound from animals. The path forward was hazy, as if the forest was revealing just enough to spark the curiosity of naïve ponies or time-traveling Guardians. Voices seemed to whisper to her, urging her forward, yet Hildr remained stubbornly put. "I can see why the ponies would be wary of this place," Hildr said.

"It certainly gives me the willies," Raven said with a shudder.

"Worse than the Hive tunnels under the Moon?" Hildr asked.

"Not quite that bad, but pretty close," Raven said. "Well, perhaps not. The Moon presents an aura of death and decay, whereas this creates a more primal reaction. I think 'unsettling' is the word I would use."

Hildr nodded in agreement. "What do you say? Shall we investigate?"

"Really? Didn't you say to Twilight that since you were a stranger, you didn't want to cause trouble here?" Raven said.

"I did say that," Hildr admitted. "So what do you recommend?"

Raven looked from Hildr, to the forest, and back again. "I think it doesn't matter what I think since you've already made up your mind. Might as well get on with it then."

Hildr stared deep into the forest as far as she was able. "Raven, summon my sword. It will probably be the only weapon I have that I will be able to use."

"And how are you going to do that?" Raven asked as the sword appeared across Hildr's back. "You don't exactly have hands to hold it with and putting it in your mouth will never work."

"At least not in a satisfactory manner," Hildr said. She pointed to the horn on her head and said, "Since I have this, I might be able to learn how to use telepathy and control it with my mind."

"Good luck with that," Raven replied, sounding unconvinced. "It's probably a lot more difficult than the unicorns say, and they've had years to practice."

"Do you have anything positive to say?" Hildr growled. "So far, all you've done is whine, complain, and offer no solutions."

"Because this is crazy!" Raven exasperated. "You've been different ever since we came here!"

"Oh? In what way?" Hildr asked.

"For starters, you want to go and explore the haunted forest that every pony we've ever met has said, 'Stay away from the scary forest!' Hunter-like behavior is very rare for you," Raven pointed out.

Hildr turned back to the forest. "As much as I hate to admit it, I don't really understand it either. I feel like there's something whispering to me and it's telling me to enter the forest." Her face twisted in frustration and she angrily stomped on the ground. "Thinking rationally, I agree with everything you've said so far. But there's something deeper inside, a more primitive or basic instinct that is telling me venture forth."

An uneasy silence settled between the Ghost and his Guardian. Finally Raven said, "Hildr, Traveler knows you drive me completely bonkers sometimes. But I've always trusted your judgement." He sighed and floated down the path, into the forest. "And since there's no arguing with a stubborn Warlock, we might as well get this over with. Who knows? Maybe we'll find something useful or important."

Hildr gave a curt nod and followed as Raven light the path with his light. As they traversed deeper into Everfree Forest, it became apparent it was indeed different than the rest of Equestria. The trees towered overhead and the thick tangle of branches blocked most of the light from the moon and stars. A layer of mist covered the ground and made the path hard to see. The forest was also strangely quiet, although Hildr could hear rustling in the bushes every now and then. Hildr made sure her armor was fastened correctly and put her helmet on. The motion tracker on her head's up display was fuzzed out, as if something was interfering with it. "My tracker's not working. Looks like we're going in blind," she said.

"I'm also not having much luck with my sensors," Raven said. "Do you think it's an effect of the strange nature of the forest?"

They continued on, carefully following the path. As they walked, Hildr's focus turned inward and she thought of the magic that now permeated her being. Thinking logically, it was similar enough to her Light that learning to use it wouldn't be much of a problem. However, Hildr remembered what Sunset had said about a pony's magic being related to their special talent. So by that line of thinking, what did Light and Magic have in common, and how could it be used for healing? Lost in thought, Hildr didn't notice Raven had stopped until she bumped into him, startling her. "What is it?" she hissed.

"I'm not exactly sure," Raven said and Hildr stepped to the side to see around him. The path through the trees opened up into a small clearing. The moon broke through and cast an eerie glow through the mist. Through the clumps of grass, Hildr saw the ground was covered with a strange blue flowers. She saw one next to her foot and bent down to investigate.

The plant itself consisted of a blue flower and stem with five to six petals and a matching number of leaves sprouting beneath the flower bulb. The entire flower wasn't very tall, maybe six to eight inches in total height. Hildr noticed the flowers grew close together in dense clumps. Unfortunately, the path was overgrown with the strange flowers.

Raven took scans of the flower and added its information to his memory banks. "This is certainly an interesting plant," he said. "The reason it is blue and not the color of most other photosynthesizing plants is likely due to the introduction of magic into its growth cycle."

"So it's a magic plant," Hildr said. "Any idea what it does?"

"I don't think it actually serves a useful purpose, but from what I can tell, it secretes an oily organic compound that might cause a mild reaction in the form of a skin rash," Raven said.

Hildr thought to herself and said, "So it's like poison ivy then?"

"Possibly," Raven said. "Like I said, it's a weird magic plant and I have no idea what will happen if you touch it."

"Better to avoid it then," Hildr said and carefully backed away from the plant.

"Unfortunately, the path is overgrown with the stuff," Raven said.

"Then we'll walk around through the tree line," HIldr said and carefully walked around the meadow, making sure to avoid the blue plant. However, the underbrush was very dense and Hildr had a hard time walking through the trees and bushes. She was thankful for her armor, otherwise she would be covered in scrapes and scratches.

After much effort, Hildr finally broke through and looked around for the path. "Raven, do you see anything?" she asked.

"Nope. Sorry. The forest is also messing with my compass and direction finding, so I'm not sure which way we need to go," Raven replied.

Hildr closed her eyes and let out a long breath, trying to calm her frustration. It wasn't Raven's fault. If anything, the blame was solely with her. Just add this current mishap to the growing list of things that have gone wrong on this little adventure.

Hildr stopped suddenly and angrily stopped her hooves on the ground. Startled, Raven whirled around and asked, "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"No! Nothing happened!" Hildr replied curtly.

Raven slowly floated up to her and said, "Why don't I believe you?"

"I don't care if you believe me or not," Hildr said and shouldered past him.

Raven watched her go and said, "We're lost."

"I know," Hildr replied.

"The best thing to do when you're lost is to stop and wait for rescue," Raven said.

"I'm aware of that," Hildr said.

"And yet you are still moving," Raven said.

"NOT HELPING!" Hildr roared. Finally succumbing to her anger, she reared back on her hind legs and slammed the ground as hard as she could. Unfortunately, the ground cracked and gave way, dropping Hildr into an underground cavern.

"Hildr!" Raven shouted and dove down the hole after her.

Hildr couldn't see anything in the dark and curled herself up into a ball as best she could to minimize her injuries. She bounced and rolled around for quite a while before she finally came to a stop, landing awkwardly on her side. When her inner ear finally told her brain she wasn't moving anymore, Hildr slowly untangled herself and took stock of her current situation. Somehow, she had punched a hole in the roof of an underground cave. Bioluminescent moss provided very little lighting and moonlight shone through the hole. Hildr looked around and saw a large pool of water in the middle of the cavern. On the far side looked to be a path that Hildr hoped led back to the surface.

"Hildr! Are you okay?" Raven asked as he zipped up to her face.

Hildr glared at him and snorted. "What does it look like?" she asked.

Raven floated around her and took scans. "Looks like you just have some bumps and bruises, but otherwise you appear to be okay."

"Really? Then why does it hurt to breathe?" Hildr winced. She tried to stand up, but her legs wouldn't support her weight. "I don't know much about equine anatomy, but my ankles are numb and will probably start swelling soon."

"Oh. I guess I missed that," Raven replied sheepishly. He scanned her again, carefully this time and found what Hildr said was true. In addition, he found she also had mild internal trauma. "Sooooooooo…now what?" he asked.

Hildr simply glared at him. "Now is the part where you say, 'I told you so.'"

"Nah. I'm not going to do that. In your current state, it would just upset you even more," Raven said. He then floated off to explore the cavern. If he thought the forest was strange, this cave proved to be even more so. When they first arrived in the human Equestria, Raven had decided to label the unknown and unique energy signature as 'Magic.' Since arriving in pony Equestria, the level of background Magic greatly increased. And now in this cavern, the Magic reading was blanking the rest of Raven's sensors. He was able to determine that the pool of water was the source of Magic, otherwise, the cavern itself was unremarkable.

While Raven was off fliting about, Hildr tried not to move very much to further aggravate her injuries, and thought about her current situation. With no hands and no way of exercising fine motor control, Hildr couldn't perform first aid on herself. She briefly considered ending her own life and having Raven resurrect her, but Hildr decided that would be an extreme last resort option.

There was an electricity in the air that seemed almost palpable. Hildr couldn't quite put her finger on it, but she figured it had to be the effect of a large concentration of Magic energy. To prove her point, Raven spoke up. "So I've been able to determine that this pool of water is a large source of Magic."

Hildr slowly pulled herself toward the water's edge and peered inside. Surprisingly, the only thing reflected was Hildr's face. The water began to ripple and the reflection changed to show Hildr's true face, but it appeared to have aged many years. Her hair color was duller and her face lined with wrinkles. What really caught Hildr off-guard were the eyes. There was no fire, no spark of life, only regret and resignation.

This made Hildr pause. What was this reflection showing her? Was it the future? Or perhaps, the water was showing Hildr her true reflection, the face that she refused to show to anyone, including herself. Behind the cold mask of stoicism and indifference was the face of a woman who had experienced much pain and suffering and as a result, was barely holding it together.

Hildr thought back to that night spent in the Vex ruins. She could tell she was getting close to her breaking point, but stubbornly refused to admit it. How long could she keep going? Hildr told herself the answer was "As long as it takes," but she was only fooling herself. Nothing was indestructible, least of all a human being. Humans can be very stubborn and willful, but that means nothing if the body starts to waste away. When was the last time she had stopped to take a break? How long had she been pushing herself? It was certainly well before that fateful day on Venus when she first entered the portal. She had convinced herself that the only way to deal with the pain was to push it away, compartmentalize it, and to keep moving forward no matter what. Hildr was afraid that if she stopped now, all of the emotions and memories she refused to deal with would come crashing down upon her.

Hildr shook her head and tried to think about other things, anything for that matter, to keep her mind off the past. Increasingly, she found it harder and harder to do so. She put up a stubborn front because that was the only way she knew to keep people from seeing the truth about her. So what if people found her cold and unlikeable. That was fine with her. She didn't need pity or false companionship. In fact, things like that angered her. That kind of sentiment was insincere, designed only for the person in question to feel good about themselves or soothe their own guilt.

A sharp, stabbing pain in her side reminded Hildr that she had injuries to attend to. Normally, her Light would protect her and quickly heal minor injuries, but the process was taking longer. Hildr shifted herself into a more comfortable position and closed her eyes to meditate.

She shifted her focus inward and was able to find the dense concentration of energy that was her Light. It was surrounded by an ethereal energy, which Hildr assumed was Magic. At first, she imagined grasping the Magic with her hands, but it slipped through her fingers like water. Slightly peeved, Hildr thought about what to do next. She took a small portion of her Light and fashioned it into a container and gathered the Magic together. Satisfied with the results, Hildr carefully poured out the Magic and put the Light back together. To her surprise, the Magic retained the shape of the container.

Now that she had the Light and Magic separated, Hildr took a close look at the Magic and realized her initial assessment of the energy wasn't quite true. While the properties of Magic were quite different from Light, the two energies could be mixed. Hildr thought back and tried to remember if Sunset Shimmer had told her anything about the particulars of using Magic, but nothing came to mind. That was fine with Hildr. She'd just figure it out on her own.

Hildr took a small amount of Light in one hand and Magic in the other. They really did seem like polar opposites. Where Light felt dense, heavy, and warm, Magic was lighter, more ethereal in nature. Hildr brought her hands together and focused on merging the energies together. At first, they fought against each other and Hildr struggled to keep them from getting out of control. Quickly growing frustrated, she growled and willed the energy to mix. To her surprise, the Magic suddenly became very docile and mixed with the Light. Hildr wondered if that was the trick to controlling Magic, simply willing it to do what you want. Now that she had successfully merged the Light and Magic, Hildr wondered what to do with it.

Why not combine ALL of the Magic and Light together? The sudden thought took Hildr by surprise, but she then realized that was probably the best course of action. It probably wasn't good for her body to keep the energies separate. Hildr took a deep breath and gathered all of the Light and all of the Magic in her body and carefully brought them together. Just like before, Hildr exerted her will over the Magic and it obeyed. The combined Light and Magic felt both familiar and alien to her and Hildr let the new energy fill her being. She suddenly felt light-headed at the rush of energy and her body began to tremble. As she tried to catch her breath, Hildr wondered if she had made a mistake. She shook her head and steeled her resolve. She had made her choice and now she would live with the consequences. With her unshakeable will intact, Hildr gained control of the swirling energy within her body and she felt at ease.

Hildr finally opened her eyes. Her whole body felt tingly with electricity and her hair stood on end. This new sensation was quite different and she figured it would take a little time to get used to. Raven warily floated over to her and took scans of her body. "How do you feel?" he asked.

"Tingly," Hildr admitted. "I feel like I'm being shocked all over with a very mild current. Not enough to cause discomfort, but enough to know that something is happening."

"So another win for the mad scientist I guess," Raven said. When Hildr gave him a strange look, Raven explained. "I kept track of your vitals while you were meditating and whatever you were doing caused them to go crazy. I wasn't sure what to make of it and actually thought about bringing you out, but everything stabilized and you ended up waking up on your own."

"Sorry to worry you," Hildr replied with a sigh, and winced. Her injuries were slowly healing, but they still caused her some discomfort. "Remember what Sunset Shimmer said about Magic being related to one's special talent?" she asked.

"I believe so," Raven replied.

Hildr closed her eyes and concentrated. She didn't know the specifics or the fancy words for a spell, but she knew what she wanted her Light/Magic to do. Let's start by fixing myself up. Raven watched as Hildr's horn started to glow with a golden light and her face twisted in concentration. There was a bright flash and pool of swirling white energy appeared around Hildr's body. Her injuries began to rapidly heal, and in mere moments, she was good as new. The rush of energy almost took her breath away and a moment of panic flashed through her mind. After a few moments, the pool of energy disappeared, leaving Hildr panting for breath.

"Wow. What was that?" Raven asked in amazement.

"I'm not quite sure," Hildr replied.

"Do you think you could do it again?" Raven asked. Hildr nodded and closed her eyes. This time, the pool of light appeared quicker and didn't seem to place as much of a burden on Hildr. Raven quickly floated around and scanned the pool from all angles. "This…this is amazing!" he said.

"I was able to fuse my Light and Magic together to form a new energy," Hildr said. She held up a hoof and a bright ball of flame appeared. "It looks like the Magic enhances my Warlock abilities."

"Well I've never seen a warlock ability that creates pools of healing energy," Raven said.

"Then I guess I just invented a new one," Hildr said. "Light is a constant and living element. It's not surprising that new abilities will be discovered."

"At least it's a useful ability. I can only imagine the stupid or silly things Hunters would do with this," Raven said. "They never take anything seriously."

Hildr ignored her Ghost's rant about Hunters and looked herself over. Her injuries were fully healed now, but she felt like her fatigue had increased. She figured it was probably due to exerting so much effort over her new abilities. She stood up and walked around to get the blood flowing through her legs again.

"How are you feeling?" Raven asked.

"Tired," Hildr admitted. Just then, a wave of dizziness came over her and she almost fell over. "Hey! Take it easy will you?" Raven said as he zipped right up to her.

"I feel…strange," Hildr said with a frown. She walked back to the pool of water and looked at her reflection. Her hair was matted with sweat and her eyes had dark circles under them. Chills ran down her body, causing her to shiver. "I guess the Magic took more out of me than I thought," she said. Hildr lay next to the pool with Raven hovering uncertainly over her. She suddenly had the urge to do something she hadn't done in a very long time. Hildr clenched her teeth, but no matter how hard she tried to fight it, the feeling wouldn't stop. The pool began to ripple and her reflection changed back to the tired human face she had seen before. A wave of resignation washed over Hildr and she gave in.


Twilight and Sunset ran out of the castle with Spike huffing and puffing behind them, trying to keep up. Sunset quickly realized she had no idea where she was going and let Twilight take the lead. They ran down the path and quickly approached the entrance to Everfree Forest, but instead of going straight in, Twilight veered off and made a beeline for a small cottage nearby. Stopping to catch her breath, Twilight knocked on the door. "Fluttershy? It's me Twilight."

After a moment, footsteps were heard and the door cracked open, revealing a creature so strange, Sunset took a step back in surprise. It was like whichever deity had created this thing had no idea what they wanted, so the put a little of everything in a pot, turned up the burner, let everything simmer, and poured it out. He had a long, serpentine body that was covered with both fur and scales. Each of his limbs was from a different animal and the head sort of resembled an elderly pony. He wore a night cap on his head and was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. "Do you have any idea how late it is?" he chastised the two ponies.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you Discord, but we need your help," Twilight said. At this, Discord blinked his eyes in surprise and the hat disappeared with a POOF. "Really now. What could be of such concern that the mighty Princess of Friendship needs the help of a lowly me?" he asked.

"You…you're Discord?" Sunset stammered.

Discord turned his gaze to the unicorn and cocked his head to the side. "Why yes I am. Who else would I be?" he asked. Suddenly, he was right in Sunset's face and she fell back in shock. Discord frowned and stroked his chin. "I don't believe we've met and that should be impossible since I've met everypony."

"I'm Sunset Shimmer," Sunset replied. She cast a pleading glance in Twilight's direction, hoping for some help.

With a poof of smoke, Sunset suddenly found herself being scrutinized under a very large microscope, with Discord wearing a lab coat and taking notes. "Sunset Shimmer? Where have I heard that name before?" His eyes suddenly lit up and he snapped his fingers. "Ah yes! Celestia's prodigal student!"

"Um yeah, that's me," Sunset replied dejectedly.

Discord noticed this and clapped his hands together. The microscope disappeared and Sunset now found herself lying on a couch. Discord was sitting in a recliner, wearing slacks and a sweater and scribbling furiously on a notepad. "Now tell me my dear, how are you feeling?"

"What?" Sunset asked, clearly confused. Discord's antics were throwing her off and she was struggling to make sense of what was happening.

"Your feelings! As your psychologist, how can I help you if you won't open up to me?" Discord asked.

Just then, a Pegasus with pale a pale yellow coat and pink mane appeared in the doorway. "Discord, you shouldn't make such a fuss or the animals will wake up," she said.

Sunset's couch instantly disappeared and she fell on the ground. Discord jumped up and bowed deeply in apology. "I'm sorry my dear, but our guests are the cause for the commotion."

"Guests?" she asked and finally noticed Twilight and Sunset. "Twilight? What are you doing here?"

"I'm sorry to bother you Fluttershy, but we need your help," Twilight said.

"You need my help? With what?" Fluttershy asked.

"Well…Hehehehehe," Twilight rubbed her head and laughed nervously.

Sunset carefully approached they shy pegasus. "You're Fluttershy?" she asked.

Fluttershy backed away slowly from Sunset. "Um. Yes. That's me," she squeaked.

Sunset smiled and tried her best to soothe Fluttershy's nervousness. "I'm Sunset Shimmer. I'm a friend of Twilight."

"Sunset Shimmer?" Fluttershy asked. She frowned and suddenly her face lit up as she remembered where she had heard that name. She let out a small "Eep!" and ran back in the cottage.

Sunset winced at Fluttershy's reaction. "I don't know why, but that kind of hurts," she said.

"Don't take it personally. My friends here haven't met you and all they know is you tried to take my crown once," Twilight said.

"Yeah. About that. I'll never live that one down, will I?" Sunset said.

Twilight placed a reassuring hoof on Sunset's shoulder. "Just give it a little time and they'll warm up to you."

"But right now, you don't have time do you?" Discord asked. Both ponies jumped as he appeared behind them.

"Discord! Stop doing that!" Twilight said as she tried to catch her breath.

"You have to liven things up every now and then. Otherwise everything is boring and boring isn't any fun," Discord replied with a shrug.

"So, what do you need so late at night?" Fluttershy asked, reappearing in the doorway.

"Well, the short answer is someone is lost in Everfree Forest and we need to find them," Twilight said.

At this, Fluttershy stepped through the doorway, a look of concern on her face. "Oh my. Are they okay?" she asked.

"How would we know that if they're lost?" Discord asked.

"Oh. Right. Silly me," Fluttershy replied. "Who was it?"

"Oh. Um, it's…somepony…you don't know," Twilight said. Fluttershy and Discord shared a look.

"Okay look. The short story is the missing person came with me through the mirror from the other world," Sunset spoke up.

"Oh. That does complicate things," Discord said.

"In what way?" Twilight asked.

"If they came from the other world, they don't know how dangerous Everfree Forest is and could be in great danger," Fluttershy said.

"Oh come now, is it really that dangerous?" Discord asked and waved his hand dismissively. "Clearly you've seen scarier things than an old haunted forest."

"That's not the point," Twilight insisted. "Sunset's friend is lost and we need to find her."

"She's not exactly my friend," Sunset mumbled.

"Oh the poor thing. All alone, in the forest at night, with all the strange animals. She must be so scared and confused," Fluttershy spoke up.

"I seriously doubt that," Sunset said, but no one heard her.

"You haven't seen anyone come through here recently have you?" Twilight asked.

Fluttershy shook her head. "Not at all. We were busy getting the animals ready for bed and cleaning up from supper." She then looked very guilty and stared at the ground.

"It's not your fault," Twilight assured her. "She would have only passed by here a few minutes ago anyway."

"So there's a chance she hasn't gone too far in then," Fluttershy said and Twilight nodded.

"Well that's settled then," Discord said. "Shall we go?"

The three ponies looked between themselves and made up their minds. Fluttershy went back inside the cottage to make sure the animals were settled for the night and locked the door behind her. "Um, I really don't think going into the forest at night is a good idea, but I can do my best to find your friend," Fluttershy said quietly.

Twilight swallowed nervously. "We'll be careful." The three ponies and Discord set out down the path and into the forest.

Although Twilight and Fluttershy had been in the forest multiple times before, it was still unsettling. Discord strutted boldly ahead, unconcerned with the strangeness of his surroundings. Twilight followed close behind and tried to put on a brave face. Fluttershy didn't even try and hide her fear and did her best to blend in with Twilight's tail. Sunset brought up the rear. She had never been in the forest on this side, but she had grown up hearing the stories. Parents would tell their children to behave or the Everfree Forest would send its monsters to carry them off. Sunset was almost certain that wouldn't happen. Almost.

Just then, Sunset heard footsteps rapidly approaching. She whirled around, her horn glowing red and prepared to cast a defensive spell.

"Hey! Wait you guys!" Spike called out.

Sunset sighed with relief. "I'm sorry Spike. I guess we got caught up in what was happening and sort of forgot about you."

"Yeah," Spike muttered and crossed his arms. "I always get left behind."

Sunset smiled and crouched beside him. "Hop on. I'll give you a lift."

Spike's face lit up. "Really? Thanks!" He climbed on Sunset's back and gave her a pat on the shoulder. Sunset stood up and ran to catch up to the others. The mist seemed to grow thicker and after a few moments, Sunset frowned and stopped.

"Hey Sunset, why did you stop?" Spike asked.

Sunset looked around and sighed. "I hate to break it to you Spike, but I think we're lost."

Spike smacked himself on the head. "Really? Man this stinks." He crossed his arms and began to pout.

Sunset looked around, but it was hard to see through the mist and darkness. Her horn lit up and she cast an illumination spell. The mist cleared away and they were able to see where they were going. Sunset continued down the path and kept a close eye out for Twilight or Hildr.

"Hey Sunset, what's that?" Spike asked and pointed to the ground. Sunset leaned down to look and noticed several sets of hoof prints and whatever prints belonged to Discord. "I think they came through this way," Sunset said and began to follow the prints. However, a few feet later, Sunset noticed something strange about the prints. When she looked closer, she realized the prints actually led back the other direction. When she turned around, Spike asked, "Hey! Why did you turn aroud?"

"Because the hoof prints lead back in this direction," Sunset replied. She followed the prints until the path came to a small clearing. The ground was covered with small blue flowers. "The prints end here," she said.

"Sunset watch out!" Spike cried out. Startled, Sunset reared back and Spike fell on the ground. "Oof. Why did you do that?" he complained and rubbed his backside.

"Well you startled me," Sunset said and helped the small dragon to his feet. "What's wrong?"

"That blue flower. I recognize it from something that happened a while ago. It's called Poison Joke and it causes funny things to happen to you if you touch it," Spike said.

"Like what?" Sunset asked.

Spike started to giggle. "Well for one, it made Twilight's horn all floppy and wobbly. Every time she moved her head, it wiggled around like a worm!"

"Uh-huh," Sunset replied slowly. She looked back to the clearing and said, "Do you think the others might have walked through it?"

Spike shrugged. "Hard to say. If they saw it in time, they might have walked around it."

Sunset looked to either side of the path and took note of the thick underbrush. "And we would have no way of knowing if they did."

"I guess," Spike said. Sunset thought for a minute and her horn started to glow red. At first, she was hesitant about trying to use her magic after so long, but the familiar spells quickly came back to her. Sunset focused her magic and a small jet of flame appeared and the flowers began to burn.

"What are you doing Sunset? You'll burn the whole forest down!" Spike cried out.

"Relax Spike, I know what I'm doing," Sunset assured him, but Spike remained unconvinced. A pungent aroma soon filled the air and Sunset's eyes began to water from the smoke. Once the fire started to die out, Sunset cast another magic spell that created a small whirlwind that sucked up all the air, smothering the flames. Then she summoned a small cloud and drenched the area with water, putting out any remaining embers.

"Was that really necessary?" Spike asked. "We could have gone around, and if everyone did come through here, you burned up any tracks they left behind."

"Stop worrying Spike. Fires happen all the time and the flowers will grow back eventually," Sunset said and walked through the burnt clearing. Steam rose from the ground, causing the temperature to rise. It actually felt nice during the cool evening. The only problem was now Sunset and Spike were covered in soot.

"Thanks a lot Sunset. Now I need a bath," Spike groused and tried to wipe the soot off his scales, but only succeeded in making the mess worse.

Sunset stopped and thought to herself for a moment. "I wonder if this is what Hildr feels like with Raven," she mused.

"What?" Spike asked.

"Nothing! Nothing at all," Sunset replied with a smile. She did agree with Spike about needing a bath later. Sunset cast her illumination spell and continued onward.

The path became uneven and showed signs of neglect. The trees bent over the path, as if reaching for them with old bony fingers. The path became so tight, Spike had to lean over Sunset's shoulder. "Are you sure you know where you're going?" he asked.

"Nope," Sunset replied.

"Aren't you worried?" Spike asked.

"Not really," Sunset replied.

"Oh. Okay then. I guess I'll just have to be worried for the both of us," Spike said.

"What's wrong Spike?" Sunset asked.

"What isn't wrong?" Spike nearly shouted, causing Sunset to wince. "Please don't shout in my ear," she said.

"Sorry, but we're lost in Everfree Forest and it's dark out. I don't see how it could get any worse," Spike said. As if to answer his question, something in the bushes started to growl.

Sunset stared over her shoulder at Spike and she was not happy. "This is your fault," she said.

"What did I say?" Spike asked. Sunset rolled her eyes and started to run. Whatever growled at them gave chase and Sunset ran for all she was worth. She did her best to dodge the trees and rocks, but Spike's extra weight threw her off. Adrenaline coursed through her body and spurned her onward. Strangely enough, she wasn't really afraid. Everyone said Everfree Forest was unnatural and should be avoided, but Sunset had considered that a personal challenge and always wanted to explore the depths of the forest.

"Sunset! Up ahead!" Spike called out and pointed ahead to a small cave. Sunset didn't question and quickly dove inside. Whatever was chasing them got caught in the entrance and snarled angrily over the escape of its prey.

Gasping for breath, Sunset skidded to a stop and looked behind her. She couldn't tell what had been chasing them, but a pair of angry yellow eyes burned in the darkness. Perhaps emboldened by the close call, Sunset stuck out her tongue and made a face.

"Don't antagonize it Sunset! We can't stay in here forever," Spike complained.

"Well, technically we can, we just won't like it," Sunset said. Her horn lit up and she ventured deeper into the cave. To her surprise, the cave was reasonably lit with glowing moss on the walls and ceiling. "Do you know where we are?" she asked.

"Hmm. I'm not sure. There are all kinds of caves and stuff in the forest," Spike said. Sunset nodded in reply and kept walking. She also noticed the path began to slope downward, and she heard what sounded like voices. The path finally opened up into a large cavern with a large pool of water in the center. To her relief, she saw Hildr sitting next to the pool. To Sunset's surprise, Hildr was…singing?

"Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore."

Sunset was transfixed. Hildr's voice was very powerful and full of raw emotion. Sunset knew that Hildr came from a place that wasn't very nice, but what could have possibly happened to her that she could sing with such sorrow? It tore at her heart and she had to blink back the tears. Sunset approached carefully, not wanting to startle Hildr and upset her. Fortunately Raven noticed her appearance. "Look. It seems we have a rescue."

Hildr turned to Sunset, her face twisted with fury and angry tears running down her face. Sunset was taken aback at the display. "What happened?" she asked softly.

"I'm not sure," Raven said. "At first she was fine, but then she started to come down with some kind of illness, and the next thing I knew, Hildr started singing. For the moment, it seems she can't speak normally."

As if to prove his point, Hildr started singing again.

"There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark
Finally I can see you crystal clear
Go 'head and sell me out and I'll lay your ship bare
See how I leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do
There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and its bringing me out the dark."

Sunset sat in awe throughout Hildr's song. When she was done, Sunset gently reached out to Hildr. "I don't know what's happening, but I'll do my best to help you figure it out," she said. Hildr only gave a curt nod. Sunset turned to Raven and asked, "Just how did you end up down here anyway?"

"It was right after we went traipsing through the trees to avoid the meadow of blue poison ivy-like flowers," Raven started, but Sunset quickly interrupted. "Blue flowers? What did they look like?"

Raven explained what he had seen and Spike nodded in agreement. "Yep. That sounds like the Poison Joke all right."

"Poison Joke?" Raven asked.

"Yes. Apparently it's a flower that inflicts ailments that cause others to make fun of you. For instance, it made Apple Jack super tiny and made Fluttershy talk in a really low voice," Spike said, giggling at the memory.

Sunset noticed the death glare Hildr was giving him and said, "Um Spike? I don't think now is the time to be laughing about it. Is there a cure?"

Spike realized the heavy atmosphere and quickly became serious. "Sorry. Yes there is a cure, but we'll have to go see Zecora. She lives here in the forest."

Hildr quickly jumped to her feet and Sunset asked, "Do you know the way? Can you take us there?"

"I think so. I've been there a few times, but that was during the day when I could see where I was going," Spike said.

"We should get going," Sunset said and led the way back up the path.

"So how did you find us?" Raven asked.

"Actually, it was kind of an accident," Sunset admitted sheepishly. She then recounted the tale from when she and Twilight left the castle, to the current time.

"Wow. Now I feel bad for getting you lost," Raven said.

"Don't worry about it. I'm just glad you're okay, relatively speaking," Sunset said. When they reached the mouth of the cave, Sunset carefully poked her head out and looked around. "Looks like the coast is clear," she said and they ventured out. "Okay Spike, which way?"

Spike jumped down from Sunset's back and walked out to look around. "Hmm. I think I recognize that funny looking tree there and that rock there." He squinted his eye and held up his hands like a frame. "If I remember what Twilight taught me about reading stars, that one points north, which means we came from that way." He mumbled to himself and started to walk in circles.

Sunset could hear Hildr starting to breathe heavily to try and fight it, but she began to sing as quietly as she could.

"I can't stand it I know you planned it
But I'm gonna set it straight, this Watergate
I can't stand rocking when I'm in here
Because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this stupid thorn in my side
Oh my God, it's a mirage
I'm tellin' y'all it's a sabotage"

"I don't know if I'd call it sabotage, more like an accident," Sunset whispered back.

Just then Spike spoke up. "Hey! I think I know the way!" he said and pointed. He climbed up on Sunset's back and led them through the forest. Unfortunately, they weren't alone.

"Come on! We can outrun them!" Sunset called out and took off in a gallop. She quickly stopped when she realized Hildr wasn't following. She looked back and found Hildr walking as fast as she could and looking none too happy. "Oh. Right. You don't know about galloping or running." Sunset smacked herself on the forehead and ran back to Hildr. By now, the animals making the growling noises appeared from the trees and surrounded the two ponies. It was hard to see clearly, but the growling and overall shape and poise of the animals made it clear what they were.

"Uh oh. Timberwolves!" Spike said and started to panic.

Raven took cover behind Hildr and peeked out through her mane. "So what are they?"

"Exactly what the name suggests. Wolves made out of bits of wood," Sunset growled. Her horn flared and she took a defensive stance.

"Just hit them hard enough and they'll fall apart," Spike added, holding on to Sunset for dear life.

Hildr seemed more annoyed than anything by the whole thing. The timberwolf nearest Sunset made a sudden lunge at her, but she managed to dodge out of the way and gave it a solid kick with her hind legs. Bits of wood and bark fell off the timberwolf's body as it slid across the ground, but it remained intact. Before it could regain its footing, Sunset blasted it with her magic. Spike put his arms up to shield his face from the flying debris.

The other wolves took that as their cue and the battle was started. Sunset did her best to fend off the wolves, kicking and blasting any that got to close. Several wolves circled around Hildr, unsure of what to do. Evidently, they had never seen a pony of her size. One of them lunged at her and she quickly crushed its skull under her hoof. She then gave a look to the others, as if bored with their attempt on her life. Two more jumped at her and her horn flashed, sending out a short blast of energy. It had the added effect of creating a layer of firey armor around her body. She quickly dispatched the remaining wolves.

Sunset sighed and shook herself all over. The ground was littered with twigs and little bits of wood. She walked up to Hildr, but before she could say anything, Hildr nodded with her head. Sunset turned to look and saw the larger pieces of wood were tumbling along the ground, creating a large pile. The wood began to shake and took on a new form.

"Oh you have got to be kidding me!" Spike complained. The wood had re-formed into a new timberwolf that towered above the ponies. Its eyes lit up and let out a howl that rattled the trees and forced Sunset to cover her ears.

Inwardly, Hildr seethed. She was already angry beyond measure at her current ailment, and now this thing was standing between her and a cure. Sure it was big, but it was made of wood and she had seen Hive Ogres and Vex Hydras bigger than this thing. A small part of her said this was just an animal and it didn't know any better, but the rest of her didn't care. She reared back on her hind legs and created a large fireball with her horn. With a toss of her head, Hildr sent the fireball streaming toward the overgrown timberwolf. The fireball landed on the ground in front of the timberwolf and expanded into a large sun that quickly ignited the wood. The timberwolf reared back and Hildr tossed another fireball, turning the timberwolf into a bonfire.

Enraged, the timberwolf charged at Hildr and Sunset, scattering them to the side. Sunset blasted it with magic and earned a swipe for her trouble. She tried to dodge, but the timberwolf's paw was too large and it knocked her to the side.

Now enraged, Hildr's horn began to glow brightly and the sword on her back levitated up into the air. With a bit of effort from Hildr, the blade became wreathed with flames and she held it in front of her, ready to strike. The timberwolf let out a mighty roar and HIldr sent the flaming sword straight through its mouth. The timberwolf yelped in surprise as the sword shot out the back of its head. The sword circled back and this time, Hildr struck the ground with all of her might. The ground cracked apart and a wall of flame raced out and knocked the timberwolf to the ground. With one last cry, the timberwolf was swallowed up by the flames and broke apart, this time for good.

Sunset rose shakily to her feet and was in awe of the destruction. It seemed Hildr was always surprising her. She shook herself off and looked around for Spike. "Spike? Where are you?"

"I'm here Sunset," Spike called out. Sunset found him tangled up in a holly bush. With a bit of effort, Sunset pulled him out and they went to meet Hildr. She was breathing heavily, but Sunset wasn't sure if it was from anger or exertion. "Are you okay?" she asked.

"We're fine. How are you holding up? You took a pretty nasty hit," Raven said.

"Oh I'll be sore in the morning for sure, but otherwise I'm fine," Susnet assured him. By now Hildr's miniature suns had burned out, leaving behind chared remains. The forest was torn up pretty good from their fight. Sunset hoped the rest of the animals, such as manticores and ursa majors would leave them alone.

"Now where were we before being so rudely interrupted?" Raven asked.

"Oh. Right. This way everypony," Spike said and waved them onward. Thankfully, Spike remembered the way and they arrived at Zecora's hut without further incident. He walked right up to the door and knocked politely. "Hello? Zecora? Are you awake?" Spike asked politely.

The door opened, revealing Twilight Sparkle. Her face lit up and she nearly collapsed with relief. "Oh thank goodness you're okay! After we got separated, we came straight here, thinking you would do the same. When we heard the howling and loud noises, we didn't know what to think."

"And it never occurred to you to go and investigate?" Raven asked testily.

Twilight's face fell. "We were debating whether or not to go look for you, but arrived here anyway."

"No thanks to you," Raven mumbled and Hildr shot him a glare. Twilight opened the door and they entered inside. Fluttershy was sitting in the corner with Zecora, while Discored lazed about, drinking tea.

"An ordeal you have had, this is true. Some food and rest will be good for you," Zecora said.

Sunset carefully approached the exotic zebra. "Zecora? We've never met, but I'm Sunset Shimmer. I'm sorry to bother you, but we need your help."

Zecora narrowed her eyes as she regarded Sunset, then she smiled. "Sunset Shimmer? I have heard of you. Celestia's student, once were you."

Sunset smiled painfully. "Yep. That's me."

"Relax my dear, no need to fear. No harm will come while you are here," Zecora said. She turned to Hildr and said, "A mighty warrior you must be! I humbly welcome you to Everfree."

"Thanks, I guess. Your home is certainly interesting," Raven said. Zecora's eyes went wide and she took a step back. "A floating box? And it can talk! Please forgive me if I balk."

Sunset stepped up to Zecora and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but we really need your help. I was told you had a cure for Poison Joke?"

"Yes, yes, I do indeed. I am always willing, to help those in need," Zecora said. With Twilight's help, she found the right ingredients and mixed them together.

"Just how did you get into the Poison Joke?" Twilight asked.

"Well, we were walking along the path when we came upon a clearing that was full of these strange blue flowers. I thought she avoided it, but I guess we weren't as careful as we thought," Raven spoke up.

"So, um, what did it do to you?" Fluttershy asked quietly. Raven and Sunset shared an uncertain look. "I don't think that's something we need to get into," Sunset replied.

"Oh come on, how bad could it be?" Twilight asked. "At least it can't be as embarrassing as what happened to me."

"Or me," Fluttershy added.

"Seriously Twilight, now is not the time," Sunset insisted.

Twilight narrowed her eyes as she stared at Sunset. "I take it you know what it is?" After a moment of hesitation, Susnet nodded. "Oh come on! Why do you get to know and I don't?" Twilight whined. "The Poison Joke affects everypony differently. This could be important for research!"

Discord pulled out a bag of popcorn and sat back to watch the bickering. This was a golden opportunity and it wasn't even his fault! He wasn't going to let this chance go to waste. With a flick of his finger, a small thorn poked Hildr in the flank and she let out a small yelp. Unfortunately, this small crack in her armor let the Poison Joke do its work and she began to sing.

"Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence."

For a few moments after she was done, no one said a word. "That. Was. AMAZING!" Twilight squealed. A notepad and pen suddenly appeared and she got right up in Hildr's face and furiously started scribbling. "So the Poison Joke makes you only talk in song lyrics? You have such a wonderful voice? Were you a famous singer back where you come from?" Twilight suddenly frowned and said, "Poison Joke normally makes you do things that people will make fun of you for. I don't really see a down side to your particular case." She went back to writing and mumbling to herself.

Sunset didn't need her Empathy Touch to feel the anger and humiliation emanating from Hildr and became anxious over what she might do when she snapped. "Hey Twilight? How about we save this for the morning. We've had a long day and everyone is tired."

"No! This has to be done now before I start forgetting things," Twilight insisted.

"Twilight. Hildr is clearly uncomfortable with this situation. You need to back off," Sunset said firmly.

"Oh please. It's not so bad. If Poison Joke affected me like that, I don't think I'd ever want the cure," Twilight flippantly.

Zecora carefully approached Hildr and said, "Please my dear, come with me. Very soon you'll be ailment free."

Zecora had set up a bath behind a privacy curtain. Raven helped Hildr remove her armor as Zecora added a pouch of ingredients and stirred them into the water. Hildr stepped into the warm water an lay down. She closed her eyes and sighed as Zecora poured the water over her. "How are you feeling? She asked.

"Better. Thank you," HIldr replied.

"You are most welcome my dear. A job well done is good to hear," Zecora said.

Hildr wished she could stay in the bath a little longer, but she didn't want to impose on Zecora's hospitality. She stepped out of the bath and carefully shook herself dry. Zecora and Raven helped her towel off and Hildr dressed in her armor. Her decent mood was spoiled when she heard Twilight and Sunset arguing. Narrowing her eyes, Hildr stepped out. "Just a few more days, a week at the most. That's all I'm asking," Twilight said.

"I'm sorry Twilight, but I don't have that much time," Sunset said. "I have responsibilities and stuff, and my Fluttershy is pet sitting for me."

"Then Hildr can stay then," Twilight pleaded. "I have so much to talk to her about!"

"But I don't have anything more to say to you," Hildr spoke up, startling everyone.

Sunset looked relieved and said, "Looks like the cure worked."

Hildr nodded and turned her angry gaze to Twilight. The atmosphere in the room suddenly turned chilly and Fluttershy tried her best to hide in the corner. Discord eagerly pulled out his popcorn and started munching away.

Twilight looked around quickly. "What do you mean you have nothing more to say to me?" she asked.

Sunset rolled her eyes and smacked herself in the head with her hoof. Hildr walked up to Twilight until she towered over her. Twilight took a step back uncertainly. "If you ask me, the Poison Joke lived up to its name," Hildr said.

"But…but nothing bad happened to you," Twilight insisted.

Hildr's eyes flared angrily. "Nothing happened you say? That was probably the most humiliated I've ever been in my entire life."

"But you sing so well," Twilight said, suddenly feeling very small. Hildr's oppressive aura had such weight that Twilight felt her legs start to buckle.

"What difference does that make?" Hildr asked, raising her voice. "I detest being the center of attention and some things are meant to be kept private. Princess of Friendship? Ha! Do you even consider the feelings of others before you thoughtlessly impose on them? Making light of the plight of others is not cute or funny, it is humiliating and cruel."

"I…I'm sorry," Twilight stammered as tears started to form in her eyes.

Hildr let her gaze travel across the room before settling on Sunset, who wore a worried expression on her face. Hildr let out a huff and the anger slowly melted away, leaving her face a stony mask. She then turned and walked out of the door. When it closed, all eyes turned to Discord, who was wholly engrossed in his bag of popcorn. He stopped and his eyes went wide when he noticed everyone staring at him. "What? I had nothing to do with any of what just happened," he said with a shrug. "In this case, I think she was right. That was pretty careless of you, Twinkle-butt."

The gentle criticism from Discord was the last straw and Princess Twilight Sparkle burst into tears.


Listen Twilight,

You are my friend and I care about you very much, but Hildr was right. You were definitely in the wrong here. I understand why you would be excited about meeting Hildr and wanting to learn all about her, but I can't emphasize this enough: she's not like us, and you can't force her to be. Hildr is a complicated person, or at least she comes across as such, and you can't expect her to just go along with whatever you say.

However, one thing I've learned about Hildr is she probably won't stay upset with you for very long. She has difficulty admitting or expressing her feelings, so whatever apology you get from her, just take it and be happy.

Sorry if this seems short and to the point, but I'm not exactly happy with you either. We'll talk in the morning.

Sincerely,

Sunset Shimmer