• Published 15th Jul 2018
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The Day of Red Night: The Alushy Chronicle - Tall Tail Hoofmann

An accurate account of the events surrounding the mythological Vampony known as Alushy

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Birthday Nightmare

Chapter 2: A birthday Nightmare

Castle of Princess Twilight Sparkle; 25 years post Black Wish Incident:

Where Twilight Sparkle was awoken that morning, not by the sound from her alarm clock but by the sound of her alarm clock cutting off abruptly as it fell from her bedside table.
“Darn it” she muttered to herself as she rolled over, slid her legs out from under the covers and set her hooves on the floor, bending forward to scoop up device, “that’s the third one this month.” The trouble was that they worked for the first couple of weeks but then she became used to the sound and slept right through it. As a result it meant they just kept ringing until Spike came to wake her up . . . or it broke. She was just thinking that she should either get a larger bedside table or an alarm clock that didn’t vibrate quite as much when Spike stuck his head through the window that joined his cave to Twilight’s bedroom.

The dragon had undergone a sudden and typically violent draconic puberty ten years ago complete with all the changes that brought, including a massive growth spurt. Though Twilight was glad her friend had finally reached maturity some days she still wished he hadn’t found that untapped vein of Gems whilst he’d been exploring an abandoned mine beneath Rockfall. Keeping it all for himself had turbocharged her baby dragon’s puberty. Though she had to admit it had been better than him stealing other pony’s property. Nowadays he was so large he couldn’t get through the castle’s front door, much less walk the corridors with her. And so he lived in the large crystal cave that had one day sprung up at the rear of the castle, conveniently connected to Twilight’s bedchamber via that window and a hidden passage behind the corner bookcase.

“Morning Twilight” he said, yawing and heating the room fifteen degrees. Turning his head to get a better look at the thing in her hand he chuckled, the deep base sound reverberating slightly around her room. “Another alarm clock sacrifices its life for the cause of waking your royal laziness up I see.” Twilight frowned at the tease, but only slightly. He knew perfectly well she had always been an early riser. Nobody was ever likely to accuse her of being slothful, and she would have been horrified if they had. That day was especially important. Fluttershy’s birthday had come again, and Twilight had cleared her schedule of all royal and school obligations to attend the party Pinkie Pie was throwing for her.
“Good morning to you too spike” she responded aloud, standing and pulling on her favourite Purple dressing gown. “Do you want to have breakfast? Fluttershy’s party starts in a couple of hours.” She pushed her wings through the slits in her gown and paused as a thought crossed her mind, “I assume you are going?” she asked. “or did you forget to get her a present, like you did on Applejack’s birthday and have to rush off to the Dragon Lands on ‘emergency dragon business’ again?” she asked, making air quotes with her fingers. Spike grimaced at the not so subtle reminder. Quite the sight as it revealed more than a few of his very large teeth to Twilight.
“No, I got her something” he assured her. “Are you eating down here with me or in the great hall?”
“With you silly” twilight said on a slight chuckle, turning back to the window to pat her faithful assistant on the snout. “Everyone else is getting ready for the party. I’ll be down in ten minutes.”

Twelve minutes later Twilight trotted into Spike’s cave with a stack of pancakes floating along in front of her, suspended in her telekinetic field, Fluttershy’s present in one hand and a copy of the latest proposals regarding the limitation of access to BFP in the other. She cantered over and sat down at the small table near the entrance to Spike’s cave. The dragon was already there, gnawing on a ruby the size of a pony’s head.
“Ah come on Twilight” Spike rumbled. She looked up from the folder into the huge green eye now fixed on her.
“What?” she asked indignantly, though the hairs of her mane prickled in embarrassment. She knew what he was going to say.
“You know what” he responded, pausing to pick a ruby splinter out from between two Unicorn horn sized teeth. “It’s Fluttershy’s birthday. Can’t you take your mind off work just for today?”
“But I have a meeting with the inquiry committee the day after tomorrow” Twilight insisted, flipping through the pages. “These proposed changes in legislation could affect the lives of every pony in Equestria. Spike gave her the stink eye. “I’m serious spike” she insisted, “listen to this.” She flipped back a few pages and read aloud as she continued to eat:

In order to gain a clear understanding of the need for the suggest changes that follow we must examine, briefly, the works of scholars like Dr Gear Grinder and Professor Bright Spark. Both have published in depth work on the development of what is commonly described as the ongoing “Progress era”, the period of extraordinary and rapid technological, social and cultural growth, largely attributed to the efforts of Princess Twilight Sparkle and the court of Friendship’s actions in strengthening national friendship and international co-operation in Equestria and beyond. That is not to say, of course, that Equestria had no such industries prior to this time. As observed by Professor Kat in his paper, 'Musings on the future of Equestria following the failure of Friendship and the collapse of peace', colloquially known as 'Fallout Equestria': Equestria could not have had railways without Steel mills and metal forges to create rails and the engines that ran upon them. Nor could fashion designers have produced garments without textile mills to produce the fabrics they required (CE2012, P. 4-8).

The “Progress Era”, also described as “the Time of Invention” or “the Industrial Revolution” by various scholars, has seen the commonplace adoption of the magical transistor, pioneered in Equestria’s music industry for use in lighting fixtures and musical equipment such as speakers, in a wider variety of technologies, thus allowing the magical energy of unicorns to be captured, stored and utilised in an endless variety of manners and devices. It has seen the development of the first motorised carriage, allowing ponies to travel from place to place and haul larger loads with far greater ease. And, significantly, it has seen an almost lightning fast evolution in the realm of Blast Powder firearms. Blast Flower Powder, first discovered and applied in combat over one thousand years ago in the far east of Equestria, henceforth referred to as BFP changed the very nature of peacekeeping almost overnight. For millennia magic had been the game changer in any fight between two individuals. If a unicorn had the right spell they could almost always succeed in any confrontation, no matter how physically inferior they may be to their opponent. However, with the discovery of BFP and the rapid developments in firearms technology that invariably followed it was suddenly possible for an Earth Pony to strike down a unicorn without needing to get close. Or for a Pegasus equipped with a BFP rifle to eliminate a target from on high before their presence was even known about.

But the Progress era has caused an explosion in weapons development thanks to the innovations and new techniques in metal working and machine tooling. “In the space of two years Equestria went from revolving chamber side arms and single shot breech loading rifles to clip loaded semi-automatic pistols and heavy calibre machine guns. It was a change of such pace that the very swiftest of Pegasus could not have kept up” (Col. Bullseye CE1999. P43). As a result use of new BFP weaponry by the common pony was outlawed by the Princesses almost before they existed. Even today, twenty years later, it is almost unheard of to see BFP weapons in use by any but members of the Royal peacekeeper battalions, police, or ponies in very specific high risk occupations. The “Progress Era”, and its many radical technical, social and cultural innovations, has irrevocably altered the fundamental balances of power in Equestria that remain to this day and, as such, without the institution of further laws and precautionary restrictions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our citizens we find ourselves reaching a tipping point that could lead us to ruin if not addressed with the utmost urgency.

“You see?” Twilight asked looking up from her folder. “I have to know these findings inside and out!”
“Not if I ate the members of the enquiry” Spike growled.
“SPIKE” Twilight snapped, trying to look stern but fearing that she sounded more worried. Spike just stared back. “Oh all right” she conceded, closing the folder and sliding it aside as she took up her fork. “Only for today though.” Spike grunted with satisfaction, a puff of smoke escaping his nostril.

Half an hour of eating and light conversation later Twilight returned to her room to collect Fluttershy’s present from under her bed, then return once more to the cave so that she and Spike could leave together for the party. They were just taking to the air when they were intercepted by the blue mare who screeched to a halt in front of them, the heels of her dress horseshoes ploughing furrows in the dirt as she slid to a stop.
“Hey Twilight” Rainbow Dash said cheerfully as she tucked a red strand of hair back into the peaked cap she had somehow managed not to lose in her flight. “Are you heading to Fluttershy’s party too?”
“Yes we are” Twilight confirmed, then cast a critical eye over her long-time friend. “Why are you wearing your REAF dress uniform?” she asked.
“Oh well you know” she said, turning slightly pink and failing to make eye contact as she offered weakly, “dress for the occasion?” Unimpressed, Twilight stared at her.
“You hate formal wear” she said, flatly. Rainbow dash grimaced but didn’t say anything. “This was her idea wasn’t it?” Twilight asked.
“Yeah pretty much” Rainbow Dash admitted. She sighed and took off her cap “I mean, damn it, I love that mare but she gets carried away sometimes. The moment I told her I was going to the party she had my whole dress uniform dry cleaned. She even bought new shoes and left the whole lot at the end of my bed. I had to wear it out of the house or it would have upset her.” She shrugged and set the cap back on her head at a jaunty angle, “I’ll just take it off when we get to Fluttershy’s.”

“You know sometimes I think you forget what that uniform stands for Rainbow” Twilight lectured unable to contain herself at her friend’s flippancy. “The Royal Equestrian Air Force was formed by Spitfire prior to-”
“-Prior to her death under the name Equestrian Volunteer Defence Wing, or EVDW, as a means to defend Equestria against airborne threats.” Rainbow Dash interrupted, in a rather insulting imitation of Twilight’s best lecture giving voice. “Originally a volunteer force of Pegasii trained solely by members of the Wonderbolts Aerial display team and based at the Wonderbolts academy, now Flurry E. Warwing Air Force Base, they are one of the oldest active branches of the Equestrian armed forces today.”

Twilight glared but Rainbow grinned impishly and went on in the same irritating tone of voice. “Following the engagement defending Canterlot against an invasion of Dragon rogues just a year after its inception, they were rapidly formalised and incorporated as part of the Princess’ reformed E.U.P.G (Earth, Unicorn, Pegasus Guard), under the newly appointed Air Chief Marshall Soarin and Air Vice Marshall Fleetfoot. The REAF now consists of over sixty thousand servicemares and stallions, of all types and operates over fifty squadrons in Equestria and beyond. They remain the largest standing air force in the world.” She did a little backflip in the air and shrugged. “I know that entire lecture by heart, even after fifteen years. You helped me study for my officers exam remember?” Spike chuckled a deep rumbling chuckle evidently he remembered.
“Touché” Twilight conceded.

Twilight glanced down at her own purple sun dress wondering, for a moment, if she should have worn something more ostentatious. Maybe if it had been Rarity’s birthday but not Fluttershy’s she decided. She half smiled and shook her head at her friend’s concern for her wife’s feelings. They’d been together ten years now, yet every time the rainbow mare talked about her she sounded as besotted as the day they’d gotten engaged.
“Come on” she said flapping her wings and taking off again “or we’ll be late.”
“You’ll be late you mean” Rainbow retorted shooting fifty feet straight up in the air. “Rainbow Dash is so awesome she’s never late for anything.”
“Rainbow Dash also starts to sound like Trixie when she talks about herself in the third person” Twilight remarked mockingly. Rainbow seemed annoyed at her but Twilight just smirked and turned away in the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage. Rainbow darted forward to fly alongside her. The two were buffeted briefly in the turbulence caused by Spike stretching his great wings and launching into the air after them, but soon they were well on their way toward Fluttershy’s cottage and the party that would change everything.

Twilight thought that the party at Fluttershy’s was low-key for an event planned by Pinkie Pie; just the one long table for them and several of the Pegasus mare’s closest animal friends, food and cake of almost every description, a table for presents already stacked with at least twenty gifts that Twilight suspected were either from students at the school of friendship or all from Pinkie Pie herself, and a large banner hung along Fluttershy’s porch railing which read “Happy Birthday Fluttershy” in pink lettering and framed at either end by an image of her three butterfly cutie mark. Pinkie had somehow even managed to get the Pony Tones back together to perform, their stage set up beneath a huge ancient oak that grew in Fluttershy’s garden between her house and the chicken coops.

They weren’t the first to arrive. Pinkie Pie was already there of course, devouring a large slice of something. Rarity was also present, dressed in her still pristine Pony Tones outfit, and was chatting with the birthday pony as she slid a large blue and white wrapped birthday present onto the pile. She spotted them as they approached (though they would have been hard to miss when accompanied by a fifty foot dragon) and waved happily, drawing Fluttershy’s attention too.
“Hello there Twilight dear” she called rushing forward to give her a hug the second she landed. “And you too Rainbow Dash. You look fabulous darling!” She gushed, hugging Rainbow Dash as well despite the Pegasus mare’s valiant attempt to fight her off. “And of course you too Spike” Rarity went on, trotting over and giving spike a kiss on the tip of his snout. “Fluttershy was worried you two might not make it” Rarity said, turning back to Twilight and Rainbow Dash.
“I didn’t really think that” said Fluttershy quietly, stepping forward to offer each of them a far less vigorous hug, “I just said it would be okay if you couldn’t make it.”

“Are you kidding?” Rainbow dash asked, hugging her friend back. “We wouldn’t let you down like that!”
“Rainbow’s right” Twilight insisted, “I never miss a chance to spend time with you girls. We all seem to be so busy these days.”
“Oh I know darling” Rarity agreed with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “Even Pinkie is so busy these da-Pinkie!” Rarity yelled, cutting herself off mid-sentence as she looked around for the Pink pony. “Stop stuffing your face for a minute, Twilight, Rainbow and Spike are here.” Pinkie Pie’s head emerged from a pile of food, her muzzle covered in whipped cream as was the apron she still had on over her tank top and pink skirt. When she spotted them her face split into a wide grin and she waved exuberantly before bouncing over to hug them too, squeezing so hard Twilight thought for a moment that her eyes would pop out.
“Hi girls!” she chirped exuberantly, hugging both of them repeatedly. “I’m so so so glad you could make it. Fluttershy was worried that you wouldn’t but I told her there was no way they’d miss your birthday. ‘Fluttershy’ I said to her, ‘Fluttershy it wouldn’t matter if the changelings turned evil again or Starlight accidentally broke the entire universe with another Uber spell those girls would never never never miss your birthday party no matter how busy they were’. And I was right because here you are! Oh its so so good to see you we’re all so busy I feel like I never get to see you!”
“OH LOOK PINKIE APPLEJACK’S ARRIVED” Twilight yelled over Pinkie’s babbling, which she had somehow managed all in one breath.

Pinkie whipped round immediately, when she spotted the orange mare, with her sun weathered and worn Stetson, western shirt, faded jeans and old boots trotting toward them over Fluttershy’s front lawn the pink earth pony immediately galloped toward her arms flung wide to give her a hug too. Fortunately for Applejack she saw Pinkie coming and had more time to prepare. She flung her arms out to hold pinkie at bay as the Pink pony leapt toward her, arms and legs flailing madly.
“Whoa there missy!” Applejack warned as she caught hold of Pinkie in mid-leap and practically spun her around as though she was a sign twirler and Pinkie weighed as much as candyfloss, before setting her back on her hooves. “Ah’m happy t’see you too but ah kinda like havin’ air in mah lungs as well.” Pinkie seemed completely unconcerned with being twirled around like a cheerleader’s baton.
“Me too. Air’s really useful without it I wouldn’t be able to laugh.” She remarked casually, spinning on her hoof and cantering back toward the others. Applejack rolled her eyes and cast an exasperated look over her pink friend’s shoulder toward Twilight and the others. Twilight chuckled, grinning in agreement. No matter how many years went by Pinkie still behaved like the teen filly she had been when they all had first met.

“Hi there birthday girl” Applejack said as she slid an orange and green wrapped present onto the table with the others and turned to hug Fluttershy.
“Hi Applejack” Fluttershy replied quietly, a smile on her gentle face. “I’m glad you could come.”
“O’ course. Y’all know I wouldn’t miss yer birthday unless somethin’ dire happened.” She looked around at everyone else greeting them in turn. “Glad t’see you made it Twilight” Applejack said “Fluttershy thought you wouldn’t make it.”
“I actually said that it would be okay if they couldn’t” Fluttershy corrected, “not that I thought they wouldn’t” actually starting to sound a touch annoyed.
“Oh, right. Well its good t’see y’all either way.” Applejack said.
“OH MY, DARLING” Rarity suddenly gasped, gazing at Applejack with what Twilight could only describe as abject horror.
“What is it rarity?” Twilight asked, panic flaring in her chest.
Of course something awful happens the one time I take a day off. But Rarity rushed toward Applejack and swept the hat of her head, staring in horror at her orange friend’s mane or more specifically the long grey streak that ran from her fringe all the way through her braid to the tip of her ponytail.
“You still have that awful age streak in your beautiful blonde mane, what happened to that hair dye I gave you when we met up last month?”
“Ah” Applejack suddenly looked awkward, “yeah, about that. I kinda, sorta didn’t use it an’ Applebloom took it. Said she wanted t’ ‘try a new look’.”
“Why in Equestria wouldn’t you use it?” Rarity demanded sounding both saddened and mortally offended at the same time.
“Cause it wasa whole lotta mess ah didn’t have time for. Besides” she added, “Bourbon said it made me look distinguished.”

Rarity still looked disapproving but the comment about Applejack’s fiancée seemed to have mollified her somewhat.
“So I take it things are going well between the two of you?” she asked, sliding onto the bench seat between Applejack and Rainbow Dash.
“Very” Applejack agreed, already reaching for the plate of apple fritters. “We’re thinkin’ o’ havin’ the wedding just before harvest season so that the honeymoon won’t be too long. Ah hate to be away from work too long.”
Twilight, sitting next directly across from her blonde maned friend, set down her teacup and smiled at her. She knew all too well what it was like to be a workaholic, yet somehow Applejack had still managed to find time for romance. Something Twilight had never seemed to manage.
“Applejack, Sweetest Apple is the largest producer of Apple Cider in Equestria, or anywhere for that matter” she reminded her. “I think they’ll survive without you if you took some time off for your honeymoon.”
“Ah, I know” Applejack agreed, blushing a little with embarrassment. “I’m just nervous. Y’all know I’ve never bin a real big fan o’ big parties an fancy duds but Equestria Daily got wind o’ it somehow and wants to send a fancy photographer an everythin’ now! They want it t’be a big deal an now I’m just wishin’ we could keep it private.”
“Darling, if I knew my wedding was going to be on the front page I’d spend six months just making the perfect dress” rarity declared standing up and twirling on the spot posing, her horn aglow, so that the spectral image of a beautiful wedding gown formed around her.
“I know you would” growled Applejack in mock disgust, tossing an apple fritter casually at Rarity who squeaked loudly and ducked, the spectral dress vanishing. “But that’s because you’re a prancin’ show pony!” Everyone laughed.

The party went on in that way for another hour and a half as the six friends laughed and talked and exchanged their various bits of news. Rarity was launching a new line in a few weeks, Pinkie was planning a party for a Hippogriff dignitary and his wife to celebrate their new child, Rainbow was up for promotion. After Starlight finally arrived and began apologising profusely for being late, having been caught double booked for counselling sessions with students at the school, they moved on to the various party games that Pinkie had planned. Then there was one last sterling performance by the Pony Tones before Pinkie announced that it was time for Fluttershy to open her presents. Fluttershy though looked reluctant.
“But we can’t” she insisted when Pinkie held out a present for her, a large pink one with bright yellow polka dots. “Discord isn’t here yet.”
“Uugh seriously?” Rainbow asked, dropping back to the ground and looking both sullen and disgusted. She had been hovering practically everywhere since they arrived.
“Yes” Fluttershy insisted resolutely. “He’s my friend too. And he did say he was coming.”
“I know but he’s just . . .ugh” Dash threw her hands up turned to flop down onto a nearby chair. Discord had been ‘reformed’ for decades and had helped them out on more than one occasion, though admittedly not without causing his own fair share of trouble in the process. Despite that Dash had never seemed to be willing to forgive the Spirit of Chaos quite as readily as Fluttershy had. None of them had, if it came to that, but Rainbow was the only one was still openly hostile. This, Twilight had decided, was probably why Discord targeted her more than anyone else for his various pranks and mischief making.

“I’m just what?” Asked the present still clutched in Pinkie Pie’s hands, the bow on the top morphing grotesquely into a pair of mad, bloodshot yellow eyes, their red pupils fixed on Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash stared back in horror, having paled to an ugly shade of blizzard blue.
“Oh hi Discord” Pinkie remarked, completely unconcerned with the viscous yellow ooze starting to drip from the seemingly severed eyeballs over either side of the pink present she was still holding. The eyes rolled over to look at her, squishing loudly, but Pinkie was still un-phased. “Fluttershy didn’t want to start unwrapping her presents without you.”
“Well of course she wouldn’t” said the present. The ribbon then unwound itself from around the package and slithered to the floor where it stood on its end, the eyeballs still looking around. Then with a squelching sound like wet offal being stepped on the ribbon morphed and expanded into the mismatched, disturbing, Draconequus form of Discord. “I’m the very life and soul of any party” He declared. He snapped the talons of his eagle claw hand and a massive box appeared, wrapped in luminous purple paper decorated with the eight pointed star of Chaos. “Plus I always give the best presents.” The box growled loudly.

“Hello Discord” Fluttershy said, cordially as though her demonic friend hadn’t just appeared in such a disturbing manner. “I was worried something bad had happened.”
“I am sorry my dear” he said. There was a flash of light and suddenly discord wore a bright yellow blazer, a pink shirt and a horrid orange tie, all of which looked dishevelled and he suddenly had bags under his eyes. A tattered looking briefcase was held in his lion paw hand. “I would have been here sooner but I got held up at work. The Chaos Realm has been even more Chaotic recently and it has been driving me round the bend.” As he said ‘bend’ he contorted, bending his back over so far that he was able to look at Fluttershy from between his own legs. Twilight heard the sound of a spine snapping in several places and thought she might be sick. Rainbow looked as though she might actually be sick. She had paled so much she was almost white.
“Well that’s alright.” Fluttershy assured him. “You’re here now and that’s what’s important. You can enjoy the party with the rest of us.”

Discord sprang back into his normal shape with more loud cracks and his ridiculous attire vanished.
“Thank you Fluttershy you’re always so kind and understanding” he bent forward and, in a gentlemanly manner, kissed her lightly on the back of the hand.
“Oh stop you” Fluttershy said jokingly, and discord smiled. Much as Twilight was still impressed by how Fluttershy had managed to tame the once feared Chaos Spirit she still found their relationship a little disturbing at times.

It took another two hours for Fluttershy to unwrap her presents. As Twilight had expected over half of them were from Pinkie alone and included everything from the mundane, like a new dressing gown, to the outlandish, like a miniature version of Fluttershy’s own cottage made entirely out of carrot cake. Rarity had made Fluttershy an entire winter wardrobe, with matching horseshoes, and a miniature set for Angel Bunny III that matched perfectly. Applejack: a crate of rare vintage apple cider. And Rainbow Dash, looking a little less pale, tickets for an all-expenses-paid week’s holiday in Las Pegasus at the same time the Wonderbolts just happened to be performing. She also had VIP tickets to that too. Spike revealed his present to be a homemade lawn ornament. A rock that he had melted several holes in, containing a vast quantity of geode crystal that, when a fire was lit at its base, was illuminated from within by a pale green glow and cast sparkling, dancing light, from its many holes. When the paper finally came off Discord’s present it was revealed to be a cage containing a massive, rabid looking creature that appeared to be a cross between a lion and a hyena but if both were the size of rhinos which was scary for all of five minutes before Fluttershy had it purring and wagging its tail like the worlds ugliest cross bred dog. Twilight wondered if hers and Starlight’s presents, both of which were books, didn’t seem boring by comparison but Fluttershy showed no sign that she liked them any less than the others.

“Thank you all so much” she said beaming around at them. “This has been the best birthday party I’ve ever had.”
“You say that every year” Rainbow dash complained, by now thoroughly drunk on hard apple cider, the tie of her dress uniform tied around her rainbow mane like a bandana and the shirt of her uniform unbuttoned so far that most of her chest was in full view. Something neither Spike, Discord nor Big Macintosh (who had stuck around the party to be with his sister after the rest of the Pony Tones had departed) had failed to miss, and continued to fail to miss until Applejack glared at them.
“Only because it’s always true” Fluttershy insisted solemnly, looking serious. “They’re always perfect.” Rainbow Dash just rolled her eyes but smiled happily anyway. As though on cue there was a sudden, startled yelp of pain from Rarity. Twilight looked across at her white coated friend sitting next to Fluttershy. Apparently she had been attempting to cut another slice of birthday cake for herself whilst at the same time levitating her tea towards herself and focusing on what Fluttershy was saying. As a result she had sliced into the cake at the wrong angle and nicked the end of her finger, drawing a tiny droplet of blood.

Fluttershy, being Fluttershy, was of course immediately fussing around her as though she were in mortal peril.
“I’m fine dear” rarity insisted flapping at Fluttershy feebly with her uninjured hand though still grimacing in pain.
Ever the drama queen Twilight thought.
“Are you sure?” Fluttershy asked still fussing around her friend.
“Of course I am darling. Look it barely broke the skin” Rarity said, holding her finger under Fluttershy’s nose. Fluttershy had to lean back slightly in order to look down her muzzle at it.
“Well” she decided finally, “I suppose it’s only a tiny drop of b-bloo…” She trailed off suddenly, her pupils dilated but her one visible eye still fixed firmly on the scarlet droplet on the end of Rarity’s finger.
“Fluttershy?” Twilight asked when her friend remained that way for several seconds.
“Is she alright?” asked Applejack from Rarity’s other side, standing up to peer round her. Rarity began to wave her raised hand in front of Fluttershy’s face. Her eye followed Rarity’s finger but beyond that she didn’t respond.

Forgetting about the cut on her finger Rarity reached out to grasp either side of her friend’s head.
“Fluttershy? Darling? Are you alright? Do you need a doctor?” Rarity suddenly withdrew her hands, staring in bemusement at her injured finger but she didn’t say anything and Twilight wondered if she’d gotten static shock from her friend’s coat or something. Without warning Fluttershy toppled from her chair and began to convulse violently on the ground.
“Oh Sweet Celestia!” Twilight cried lurching to her feet, preparing to rush to her friend. “Someone go get a doctor quickly!” she cried. Then several things happened at once. First, Discord’s entire form suddenly wobbled so violently that his entire body might have been rubber. Then Twilight was hit with a wave of nausea so powerful she immediately doubled up and vomited copiously into her empty trifle dish. Further down the table she heard more retching and guessed that Starlight was having the same problem. Even Rarity groaned loudly and clutched her stomach, though she didn’t vomit.

“What in the hay?” Applejack cried in alarm. One of her closest friends was having a seizure and now another three were violently ill. Not to mention Discord who had stopped wobbling like a jelly on a bumpy hay cart but had now turned a strange shade of teal and was clutching his head in pain, his body coiled like a snake in agony.
“Pinkie for the love o’ the Princesses go find a doctor!” Pinkie, who for once wasn’t grinning whilst all around were losing their heads, just nodded and turned to gallop toward away. Before she had gone more than ten paces she was swept up in a clawed talon as Spike flipped the pink mare onto his back and charged away launching into the sky and disappearing toward Ponyville.
“Rainbow Dash!” Rarity barked. Applejack jumped. She had thought Rarity was out of it too but the white mare was clutching the edge of the table, digging her perfectly manicured fingernails into the wood so hard that her purple nail polish cracked. She somehow managed to look commanding, if a bit sick. “Help Twilight and Starlight” she ordered as she rushed to Fluttershy.

Rainbow Dash, who had sobered up rapidly when her friends had taken a turn, looked as surprised as Applejack felt at Rarity’s unexpected order but ever the professional soldier she immediately followed it and darted to Twilight’s side. She seemed to be having the most violent reaction; continuing to vomit even though Starlight had already stopped. “Applejack, help me with Fluttershy we need to turn her!” Rarity ordered. Applejack crouched beside her convulsing friend. She grasped Fluttershy and turned her on her side as gently as she could to keep her airways clear. A procedure made more difficult than it otherwise would have been because the Pegasus’ wings kept flaring open and closed, at one point hitting her under her chin, knocking her hat off and nearly knocking one of her teeth out. She then did her best to keep her there as she waited for the convulsions to end whilst Rarity moved to check on Discord and Big Mac ran around trying to corral all of Fluttershy’s panicking critters.

After another minute or so they finally came to an end. Fluttershy looked up at her.
“What happened?” She asked. “I just remember Rarity cut herself, then my head hurt and now I’m down here. Oh dear did I cause some sort of trouble?” she murmured, horrified. She attempted to sit up but Applejack held her down.
“No, no it’s alright sugar cube. Ya just seem t’have had a funny reaction to Rarity cuttin’ herself.” She tried to put on a grin. “I knew you were scared of a lotta things Fluttershy but I didn’t know ya were a scared o blood too.”
“Neither did I” Fluttershy admitted looking confused. Then she looked up at Applejack again. “Can you please let me up now? I feel better.”
“Ya sure?” Applejack asked.
“Yes” Fluttershy said, now looking embarrassed.
“Alright then” Applejack took her hands off Fluttershy and they both rose to their hooves, Fluttershy a little unsteadily. Across the table Rainbow Dash was supporting a pale indigo Twilight.
“Y’all feelin’ better now?” Applejack asked as Rainbow Dash lowered the Princess of Friendship into the nearest chair. Twilight nodded weakly but didn’t speak.

Applejack gazed at her with concern for a few more moments before turning her gaze on Starlight. “How about you hun? You feelin’ okay?”
“Better now” Starlight assured, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, “but I’ve never felt magical feedback like that in my life before.”
“Magical feedback?” Rarity asked.
“It’s a rare occurrence that affects unicorns when there is an incredibly powerful magical surge in their vicinity” Twilight explained, her voice shaky. Applejack turned back to her. Her friend was resting her elbow on the table, a hand cradling her forehead as she spoke. “The more powerful a unicorn’s magic the stronger her reaction to it. If Luna or Celestia had been here than surge may well have killed them.” Applejack’s eyes widened in shock at the assertion. “As it is I need to get to Canterlot as soon as possible and inform them of this.”
“I’d better come with you.” Discord uncoiled from where he’d been lying with Rarity watching over him anxiously. His usual joking, mischievous demeanour was gone and he looked deadly serious.
“Why?” Twilight asked.
“Because I haven’t felt a magical disturbance as strong as that in Equestria since Tirek” he explained. “And because it wasn’t just a surge of magical energy, it was dark, chaotic energy almost as powerful as my own. Maybe more so.” That made Applejack nervous. She remembered only too well the damage and pain both Discord and Tirek had caused when they had been working together to steal all the magic in Equestria. She shuddered. If something as bad as that was coming? Well. They were all in trouble.

The deep whooshing thuds of giant wings heralded the return of Spike and Pinkie Pie with Doctor Horse from Ponyville general. He rushed over with his doctor’s bag, obviously worried about what he would find. When he saw Fluttershy sitting at the table looking pale and upset but not in the throes of a violent seizure he slowed his headlong gallop a little. Applejack got up and moved out of the way and he slid into the spot next to her. Applejack walked away from the table to where Pinkie, Rainbow, Rarity and the others had all gathered. They didn’t speak to each other for the longest time. When the doctor stood up and put his stethoscope back into his bag they all immediately rushed back over to the table.
“Well there’s nothing wrong with her that I can see” Doctor Horse said when they asked if she was okay. “In perfect health in fact, as far as I can see. There’s no real reason that she should have had a reaction like that” he admitted. “That said, I would like you to swing by the hospital in a couple of days for a check-up just in case I missed something okay?” he asked, turning back to Fluttershy.
Fluttershy looked mortified at the prospect by simply said “Okay doctor.”
“And what about you Princess?” Doctor Horse asked turning back to the assembled group. “I understand you and your unicorn friends suffered magical discordance nausea and vomiting.”
“Yes we did” Twilight admitted glancing to each side at Rarity and Starlight, “but it seems to have passed now.”

“That’s a relief” Doctor Horse admitted. He paused for a moment then removed his glasses and hung them on the breast pocket of his white doctor’s coat. “I was actually hoping that you had some explanation for that yourself” he said. “It seems that every unicorn in Ponyville suffered MDN at the exact same moment. I spilled my coffee everywhere when it hit me. Even the unicorn fillies and colts in the foal’s ward complained of tummy ache at the same time. It’s bizarre. It may be just a coincidence but if Fluttershy’s seizure is related then she is, as far as I know, the only non-unicorn who’s been affected.” Twilight didn’t answer but Applejack didn’t miss the look she shared with Starlight and Discord. Doctor Horse waited expectantly for a few more seconds, but when no answer was forthcoming he put his hand out for Twilight to shake. “Well, whatever it is I’m sure you and the other princesses have the situation well in hand. Goodbye for now then” He patted Fluttershy once more on the shoulder before he turned and walked away.

The mood sullied by the odd occurrences the party came to an end fairly soon afterward. Fluttershy was saddened to see her friends looking so tense and worried, especially since she knew deep down that it was her fault. Though they promised it wasn’t. Twilight, Discord and Spike were the last to leave. They were all heading to Canterlot to tell the Princesses about what had happened. Fluttershy was left alone with Angel and her other animal friends to clean up the remnants of her party.
“Oh” she muttered, setting down what remained of the carrot cake cottage, which she had apparently knocked to the floor when she had fallen from her seat, and picking up a jug of fruit juice that still sat at the end of the table. She slumped into her seat and drained the whole jug in one go. Her ‘little episode’ had left her incredibly thirsty. It was the third drink she’d had in the past five minutes. As she set the empty jug down she gazed along the table at the forlorn remnants of her party “so not the best birthday ever.” She went to bed that night tired, upset and still thirsty.
“I’d better mention that to Doctor Horse” she told Angel, “I could be coming down with something after all.”

That night she had a very strange dream. She was flying along through Applejack’s orchard. It was the dead of night and a light fog drifted about, gently obscuring the ground beneath the branches. Above her Luna’s full moon shone bright and clear illuminating everything so clearly that, to Fluttershy, all seemed to be in daylight. She turned her head to look back at Applejack’s farmhouse, marvelling at how she could make out each individual timber in the roof and the petal on every flower in the window boxes. Then she was hit with the most divine smell she had ever encountered. It was like if every good thing at Sugar cube corner had been mixed with the freshest juiciest, ripest fruit to ever have existed, all combined into a fruit salad and then multiplied by a thousand. She stopped, hovering high in the air as she searched for the source of the smell. Then she spotted it. Trotting along through the fog beneath the trees was . . . a literal bowl of fruit punch on legs. Fluttershy giggled at how silly it looked. But what wasn’t silly was the smell it was giving off, so delicious that her mouth was already beginning to water. She wanted to dive down on it and drink every last drop. The idea made her so happy she smiled again but this time a strange soft hiss escaped her instead of a laugh and she covered her mouth embarrassed at the sound.

The punch bowl below her stopped moving. It seemed to have heard her and turned about as though looking for her. She guessed somehow it spotted her because it turned and galloped off into the fog back toward Applejack’s barn, the liquid in it sloshing violently but never spilling over. Apparently it wanted to play. Fluttershy laughed in delight and dove after it, swooping low and brushing the tree tops, moving faster than she ever had before. The punch bowl was still galloping but Fluttershy was gaining on it easily, too easily. She slowed a little to let it pull ahead and then sped up again. As she did so she was suddenly joined by Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, flying along on either side of her, grinning and laughing as well, their eyes too were aglow with joy and exhilaration. Below her she heard more hoof beats and somehow she knew that Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Applejack were all galloping through the trees laughing along with her.

Ahead of them, their prey had reached the edge of the orchard and broken from it, galloping across the open ground toward the open door of Applejack’s farmhouse. Half way there Fluttershy caught up again, stopping directly above it, and dove down upon it. Then suddenly, it wasn’t a punch bowl anymore it was an equine like her. A big white one with wings and a horn alight with the magic of a partially charged spell, but Fluttershy found she didn’t care. She was too thirsty, and the pony smelled too good to stop now. She crashed into her at full speed, mouth open wide ready to sink her teeth in and drink all she could.

Princess Celestia awoke from her nightmare screaming. The bedclothes of her four-poster lay twisted about her from her frantic sleep galloping. A second later the door to her chambers burst open and two guards charged in weapons drawn. When they saw that the room was empty they lowered them, looking to their sovereign with confusion. They were just as quickly shoved aside by Princess Luna forcing her way in too looking grim. She turned and shooed the guards from the room, slamming the door behind her. Celestia used the momentary distraction to pull the strap of her chemise back up onto her shoulder.
“Have you had another nightmare sister?” Luna asked turning back.
“I have dear sister. Worse than the last one. No indistinct shapes or voices whispering threats in the dark. I was chased, hunted by demonic ponies with glowing red eyes and razor sharp fangs, all laughing and grinning as they chased me down and slaughtered me like a dog!” she shivered with fear.
“I know, I saw this as well but chose not to interfere and for that I apologise sister.”
“I understand” Celestia said. “We both know these are warnings. Warnings that we must heed and understand. And I am sure, after what Twilight and Discord told us today, that whatever it is a warning about is drawing nearer.”
“I have told you what it is” Luna growled, sweeping her arm out in a gesture of frustration, setting the silver stars embroidered into her royal gown ashimmer.
“And I have told you that it is impossible!” Celestia retorted, raising her own voice in reply. “He was destroyed centuries ago, along with all who followed him. They are all gone!”

Princess Luna didn’t argue. There was no point; her sister didn’t want to admit the possibilities that her prophetic dreams entailed. But Luna did and she would take steps to begin to counter the threat she knew must return soon. She inclined her head to her sister.
“As you say” she said. “If you will excuse me I must retire to sleep. I have much to think on if we are to combat this new threat.”
“A good idea sister” Celestia agreed. “I have things I must attend to also.” Luna turned and swept from her sister’s bed chamber, her own black armoured night guard falling into step on either side of her as she proceeded down the corridor. Once out of earshot of her sister’s sentinels she turned to the mare on her right.
“Blackest Knight, I need you to contact him immediately. Do it in secret. My sister must not know.”
“Of course Princess” the Pegasus mare said.
“And Falchion” she turned to the stallion on her left, “I wish you to collect my armour from the castle armoury then bring them the crystal caves beneath Canterlot. I wish to spar with you, and I cannot do so anywhere my sister will bear witness.”
“Yes Princess” the steel grey stallion answered promptly.
“I must be seen to retire to my chambers, at least until my sister has left her own to go about her duties. Once she has, knock twice upon my door, then go to the tasks I have given you.”
“Yes Princess.”
A great darkness is returning to Equestria. I must be ready if I am to save my beloved land. Luna thought, seating herself at her dressing table and gazing into the mirror there. And for just a moment her reflection gazed back at her through slitted eyes.

Comments ( 5 )

that was a long wait to be triggered ... i was NOT expecting such a wait. still interested in this

A wait between chapters or the time jump in the novel? Because if it's the former, please bear in mind that I am working on five different projects at once and I am on a rota of cycling through them. I have to give equal attention to all of my projects. Please bear with me.

the time jump in the novel, i'm fine waiting for new chapters.


Alushy:" Oh gods.. Its orientation day!

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