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Flashladdin

Once upon a time, a long time ago in the hot desert sands of Equestria there was a kingdom called Saddle Arabia. Home to adventure and exotic treasures, this vast and glorious kingdom was truly a sight to behold.

One day, deep in the heart of the city, the local marketplace was as alive and busy as ever. By mid morning, ponies had set up their stalls to sell their wares and had attracted a sizable crowd. This accounted for the royal guard presence, as it was common for thieves to sneak up and take one or two of the many tempting exotic trinkets and oddities. One of these thieves was a young Pegasus stallion called Flashladdin. Having been brought up on the streets since foalhood with only his agility, speed, and street smarts, Flashladdin spent his days dodging palace guards and stealing the meals he needed to survive.

Flashladdin wouldn’t have escaped pursuit all these years if it weren’t for his very best friend, a baby phoenix named Peewee. They were both orphans, and dirt poor, but they didn't care. They had each other, best friends forever, and that was all that really mattered.

“I’d say it’s just about time for breakfast, Peewee. I’m starving.” Flashladdin said, scanning the marketplace stalls from an empty alleyway for something to steal. “Oh! And I’ve got my eye on that fruit stall over there.” He pointed a hoof down to a stall filled with all different kinds of fruit. He smiled and his mouth watered. “You know what to do, little buddy.”

Peewee nodded, flapped his little wings, and flew from his hiding place towards the stall to take their soon-to-be breakfast. He was moments away from reaching a particularly delicious-looking orange when he quickly ducked under the stall instead. A strange hooded mare had been walking down the street forcing Peewee to remain out of sight. The mare then spotted two young fillies standing beside a stall of baked goods; they were staring at the cakes, pastries, and breads longingly, hoping for just one taste. She approached them.

“Hello. Are you hungry?” She asked. They sadly nodded before the mare took two loaves and gave them to the foals. “Here, take some bread.”

The two fillies’ eyes widened in shock and they smiled, taking the bread in their hooves and hugging the mare tightly.

“Thank you!” One filly said.

“Yes, thank you!” The second added.

“You’re very welcome.” The mare kindly replied before the pair ran away with the bread in tow.

From his hiding place, Flashladdin was watching the exchange curiously. He seemed rather fixated on the mysterious shopper and he didn’t know why. When the foals were gone, the owner of the stall, who was a griffon with gray fur and feathers, turned around and saw the mare and two loaves of bread gone. He did not look too happy.

“You’d better be able to pay for that, miss.” The merchant said sternly.

“Pay?” The mare nervously asked.

“Uh oh…” Flashladdin muttered to himself.

“Nopony steals from my stall.” The merchant said, approaching the mare.

“Stealing? Oh, I’m sorry sir. I don’t have any money.”

“No money, you say? So you’re a thief then.”

“Thief? No. Please, if you just let me go to the palace, I can—”

“Do you know what happens to thieves like you around here?” He violently grabbed her hoof.

“Let go of me!” The mare demanded before Flashladdin suddenly appeared between the two of them. Hearing the commotion, Peewee flew from his own hiding place and quickly jumped onto his friend’s back.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy, Gustav. What’s going on here?” The Pegasus asked.

“Is it not obvious? I turn my back for one minute and this young filly right here; she stole some of my bread.” The griffon said angrily.

“Those foals were hungry.” She argued.

“That’s no excuse. You must pay.” He argued back before spotting a golden bracelet around her left foreleg. “And I think that lovely bracelet should cover it just fine.”

“My bracelet? No! It was my mother’s.” The mare retorted, backing away.

“So that bracelet is all you want?” Flashladdin asked, raising an eyebrow.

“That’s right. It should be more than enough.”

“Okay, then.”

“No! What are you doing?” The mare pleaded.

“Hey, don’t worry. Trust me.” Flashladdin whispered.

The two ponies stared at each other for a few moments of silence before Flashladdin turned around and gave the shopkeeper the mare’s bracelet.

“Here you go.” He said.

“Thank you very much.” The griffon said.

“What?! No, wait! Give that back!” She exclaimed.

“And have an apple, for your troubles.” Flashladdin tossed the griffon an apple and started to walk away with the mare following close behind.

“No! I am NOT leaving without my bracelet!” She demanded.

“You mean this one?” Flashladdin then showed the golden bracelet to her; her eyes widened in shock.

“But… how?”

“Slight of hoof. Now come on, let’s go.”

He took her hoof in his own. But not a minute later, an angry voice called out to them, which made the pair stop in their tracks.

“Flashladdin!” The griffon screamed.

“Are we in trouble?” The mare asked nervously.

“Only if you get caught.” Flashladdin answered, trying to sound confident.

“GUARDS! THIEVES! CATCH THEM!” The merchant called.

“Quick! This way!” Flashladdin said as he and his new companion started to run away from the ruckus.

“You don’t have to do this, you know!” The mare said, out of breath as she tried to keep up.

“Don’t worry about it! It’s about time I get myself into trouble today anyway. I’m Flashladdin, and this little guy is Peewee.”

Peewee chirped a friendly greeting.

“Nice to meet you. I’m—” The mare started but was cut off when the crowds parted and a line of palace guards were waiting for them. The guard in charge stepped forward with a smug grin on her face. Her rainbow mane was only just visible under the helmet she wore.

“HALT!” The guard yelled. “You’ve really done it this time, street rat. You’re not getting away so easy!” The guard fanned out her wings and readied herself to take off in pursuit.

“Who said this was easy?” Flashladdin asked, turning his attention to a large cart of barrels nearby.

He bounded to the side, kicked off the wall of the building and bucked his hind legs into the side of the cart, sending the barrels toppling over the unsuspecting guards. Not wasting any time, Flashladdin motioned for the mare to follow him down an alleyway.

“See that abandoned building over there? Wait there until I’ve given these guys the slip.” He said.

“But what about you?” The mare asked.

“Don’t worry, this isn’t the worst challenge I’ve faced.” Flashladdin said with a grin.

The mare then nodded, ignited her magic, and teleported across the street and out of harm’s way. Flashladdin was taken aback; he certainly didn’t see that coming.

“I didn’t know she could do that.” He said with a surprised chuckle.

“There he is!” One of the guards called out; he was a large earth pony stallion with a crimson coat and a light orange mane.

The pair of friends didn’t hesitate; they flew through the alleyway which led back into the heart of the marketplace. Unfortunately there were too many ponies around to make a clean get-away. Rather than stick to the streets, Flashladdin decided to take to the rooftops. With Peewee at his side, he pushed off hard from the ground and leapt onto a nearby awning, which propelled him up onto the roof.

“HALT!”

Flashladdin only had moments to react before he was sure to be caught. Taking a sharp turn, he jumped back down between a pair of buildings narrowly missing the clothing line between them as he fell. The guard, however, was not as fortunate. She flew straight into a rug, and before she could get herself free, the clothing line snapped her backwards into the sky again.

Flashladdin laughed and moments before touching the ground spread his own wings and flew off in a different direction. A minute later, he made his way inside the abandoned building he had mentioned, panting and smiling.

“See? Piece of cake.” Flashladdin said, slumping against the wall. He then looked around and realized something. “Wait… where is she?”

He looked around nervously for her before racing down the steps of the building and back out into the open.

Unfortunately, waiting at the bottom were the palace guards, who quickly seized him while he was distracted. The mare in question was struggling a few feet away. Flashladdin growled and attempted to fight them off, but the red stallion quickly knocked the wind out of him and his wings were already chained to his back.

“By order of the Sultan, you are under arrest!” The red stallion guard said, chaining Flashladdin’s hoof to his own.

“Let him go!” The mare called out angrily.

“And why would I do that?” The guard chuckled.

“Because I order you to!” The mare said, pulling off her hood.

The guards around her gasped and immediately fell to the ground in a bow. Flashladdin quickly realized that this stranger was none other than the Princess of Saddle Arabia. He’d never seen Princess Twila Sparkle before, but the moment he did he felt his heart skip a beat. She was beautiful, and he couldn’t look away from her kind lavender eyes.

“Your Highness, what are you doing outside the palace? And with this street rat?” The guard asked in shock.

“That is none of your concern, McIntosh. Do as I command, release him!” The Princess demanded.

“I’m very sorry, Princess, but the law is the law.” The guard nervously explained. “We’ve been after this thief for a long time, his crimes are too numerous to be ignored. You’ll have to consult your father about this.”

“Fine, I will. But if I learn that you hurt him in any way, I will report you to the Sultan myself!” The Princess declared. She gave Flashladdin a sympathetic smile, then spread her wings and took off in flight for the palace.

“Wow…” Flashladdin whispered in awe, unsure of what to make of any of this.

“Ah, you’re finally caught.” The guard with the rainbow mane said as she made her way towards Flashladdin and the other guards. “What’d I miss?”

“Well, Captain Dash… the Princess was just here.” McIntosh answered. “And she told us to not harm him.”

What?” She glared at Flashladdin. “Well you may think you have friends in high places, but no matter what the Princess says we’re free to handle thieves as we see fit. Right here on the street.” Dash took a sword out of her belt; Flashladdin nervously took a step back.

“Wait, stop! Stop everything!” An unfamiliar voice called.

The guards and Flashladdin all turned their heads to see a stallion with a pale white coat, pale blue eyes, a dark gray beard, and a large turban on his head trotting towards them. The stallion approached Flashladdin and pulled him away from the guards.

“There you are, my boy! Your mother and I have been so worried about you.” He said in a deep voice.

“Excuse me?” Flashladdin asked before the stranger yanked on his wing.

“Just play along, unless you want to sleep with the prison rats tonight.” The stallion hissed before turning back to the guards who all had very confused looks on their faces. “I am this colt’s father. He’s always getting into trouble, but he’s a good colt; he has a true heart of gold and a noble spirit. You could almost call him a… a diamond in the rough. Whatever it is that he stole, I’m sure this could cover it. You’ll notice there’s a little extra in there for all your hard work.” He then tossed a bag of golden bits to McIntosh and Dash.

“…Alright, the debt is repaid. You’re free to go. But don’t you ever let us catch you again.” Dash said.

Flashladdin nodded his head and gave a quick salute before the guards walked away in the direction of the palace, leaving the two ponies alone. Peewee flew out from his hiding place and perched himself on Flashladdin’s back.

“Who are you?” Flashladdin asked, looking back at the stallion who helped him.

“My name is not important.” The stallion said as he removed his turban to reveal a unicorn horn sitting atop his forehead. He wrapped a hoof around the Pegasus’s shoulders and led him back into the abandoned building. “You know, you’re quite the spry young stallion. I heard the royal guard discussing your history of dodging your arrest.”

“Yeah, well, it only takes one mistake to end up in the dungeon, so none of that really matters, does it?” Flashladdin responded.

“Ah, but you’re wrong my friend. Somepony with skills like yours could be of great use to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m usually a reasonable, compassionate pony. But one good deed deserves another…”

“I had a feeling there was a catch. What do you want?”

“There is a great treasure that awaits us if you are willing to take the risk… Only I know its whereabouts, but alas, my magic is too weak and my bones too brittle to retrieve it on my own. That’s why I need you. Think of it, lad; riches beyond your wildest dreams… riches enough to buy a pardon for your crimes, riches beautiful enough to impress a certain princess…”

“What will I have to do?” Flashladdin asked.

“Why don’t you come with me and find out?” The old stallion said as he took the Pegasus’s hoof.

It was just after the stroke of sunset when the pair of ponies had wandered into the desert on the outskirts of Saddle Arabia and came across the opening of a large cave in the shape of an Ursa Major head. Flashladdin took a few steps back and Peewee hid under his friend’s vest for protection.

“What in the world…?” The Pegasus muttered.

“This is no ordinary cave, lad.” The stallion said. “It is magical. You see, only one pony can enter. Someone true of heart and noble of spirit, the Diamond in the Rough… and that’s you.”

“ME?” Flashladdin exclaimed in disbelief. “How do you know?”

“I consulted with an ancient oracle and you are the one.”

“But why? Isn’t there somepony else who can do this?”

“There is nopony else! It has to be you! Now go!”

The stallion violently pushed Flashladdin closer to the cave entrance and to his shock, it began to speak to him.

“Who disturbs my slumber?” It said in a booming voice.

“Uh… It is I, Flashladdin.” Flashladdin answered with a slight tremor in his voice.

“You wish to seek my treasures?”

“Yes, I do.”

Peewee reluctantly poked his head out from under Flashladdin’s vest to take a peek, only to be met with a dark glare from the cave itself.

“You dare to bring a filthy bird into my treasure trove?” The cave exclaimed.

“Hey! This bird is my best friend! If he doesn’t go, I don’t go!” Flashladdin said defensively.

The cave paused before saying, “You are the Diamond in the Rough, the one whose worth lies deep within. You may enter. Take nothing but the lamp or face the consequences!”

The cave opened its enormous mouth to allow Flashladdin passage. As he approached, the old stallion called out to him.

“Remember, bring me the lamp and the rest of the treasure is yours!”

Flashladdin nodded and began the descent into the cave before a thought popped into his head.

‘I’m not allowed to touch anything else in this cave and this guy wants the one thing I can? How is that a fair deal?’ He thought.

“What are you waiting for, boy?! GO!” The stallion screamed in anger.

“Come on, Peewee.” Flashladdin whispered in defeat before he finally entered.

Once Flashladdin and Peewee reached the bottom of the cave, their eyes widened in wonder at the sight of the vast treasure within. The difficulty of the situation was just now sinking in as the pair both wondered in silence how it would be possible to find one oil lamp in these mountains of gold and jewels. It certainly didn’t help that they weren’t allowed to touch or take anything.

“Maybe if I get to higher ground, I might be able to get a better view.” Flashladdin said to himself as he started flapping his wings. “But where should we look first?”

Flashladdin was so busy searching that he didn’t even notice a dark figure watching him from the shadows… and it was following him around the chamber. Flashladdin searched almost the entirety of the cave until finally, he found what he was looking for. He and Peewee arrived in a separate section of the cave where large stone steps lead to a glowing pedestal above.

“That must be it.” Flashladdin whispered before setting Peewee down on the ground. “Wait here for me.”

He then began to ascend the steps, being careful not to slip on any of the treasure decorating the steps. But as he was climbing, he didn’t even notice that he accidentally made a ruby fall from one stair and it rolled a few feet away from Peewee who was staring at it. Once they reached the top, Flashladdin paused in surprise. Sitting in front of him was the lamp the old stallion had told him to get. He slowly and carefully reached out his hooves and took the item before inspecting it.

“This is it? This is what we came all the way down here to…?” Flashladdin muttered before he spotted Peewee about to take the ruby he dropped. “Peewee, NO!”

But it was already too late. The little phoenix picked up the gemstone with his wings and admired it in the torch light.

“What is THIS?!” The loud voice of the cave boomed.

“Uh oh…” Flashladdin whispered; Peewee froze and dropped the ruby.

“You have touched the forbidden treasure! Now you will never again SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!!”

“RUN!” Flashladdin screamed, taking the lamp and flying down towards his friend.

The two of them flew as fast as they could towards the cave entrance but just as they were about to head out, a rock suddenly hit Flashladdin in the head, which made him lose consciousness and fall to the cavern floor. When he came to, Flashladdin looked around and realized the caverns of vast treasure had vanished leaving nothing but long empty chasms. He and his friend were stranded hundreds of feet below the surface.

“We’re trapped. Oh no!” He exclaimed in exasperation. “Well that’s just great! How in the hay are we supposed to get out of here now?”

“You could always ask for help?” An unfamiliar voice suggested.

“Huh? Who said that? Who’s there?” Flashladdin called as he got back on to his hooves; he looked around for the intruder, but it was far too dark.

“Oh, a little dark in here, huh? Don’t worry, I’m on it.” The voice said before there was a flash of green fire.

A torch suddenly lit up and Flashladdin took a step back in surprise. There, hovering before him, was a small purple and green dragon and he was holding the torch.

“Hi.” The dragon said in a friendly tone.

“Uh… hi.” Flashladdin greeted back.

“Wow, I haven’t seen anypony else down here in, like, forever.”

“You want to escape, too?”

“Yeah, pretty much. I’ve been guarding this treasure for a long time, but I guess that was all for nothing. Oh well. I’m Spike, guardian of these caves. What’s your story?”

“I’m Flashladdin and this is Peewee.” Flashladdin introduced.

“Nice to meet you guys. So what are you doing down here anyway?”

“I was after this.” Flashladdin held up the lamp to the dragon, whose eyes widened in shock.

“You were after the LAMP?!”

“Yeah, but who cares? I nearly died because of this thing. I can’t believe it; all of this fuss over some stupid piece of junk.”

“This is no piece of junk, dude.” Spike took the lamp in his claws. “This lamp is so much more than you think.”

“What do you mean?” Flashladdin raised a suspicious eyebrow.

“If you don’t believe me, rub it and find out.” The dragon gave the lamp back to Flashladdin.

“Rub it? Well… okay, I’ll give it a shot.” Flashladdin examined the trinket before noticing something. “Wait, I think there’s something written here. But… it’s hard to make out.”

He then started to rub the side of the lamp with one hoof and before Flashladdin could say another word, the Lamp began to shake and move on its own. From somewhere within, a cloud of multi-colored smoke and fireworks burst forth from the Lamp and soon, a large glowing being had appeared. Flashladdin and Peewee jumped back in shock and terror, unsure of what just happened.

“Oh, YES! Yes, yes, YES! It’s about time somepony got me out of that thing! What a relief!” The creature said in a deep voice as he stretched out. He then saw Flashladdin holding the Lamp in his hooves; he gasped. “It’s you! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you so much, kid! You have no idea what it’s like to be trapped inside that thing for the past couple thousand years. And when you’re a creature of magic and chaos, brass oil lamps aren’t your typical go-to fashion choice.” He glanced over at Spike and smiled. “Spiky, my boy! I haven’t see you in a few centuries! Gimme some scales!”

“Yeah, whoo! It’s so good to see you again!” Spike said, doing a strange hoof shake with the creature.

“Good to see you too, old friend. Now, care to tell me who this young chap is?” The creature asked.

“Oh, right. This is Flashladdin; he’s your new master.” Spike said matter-of-factly.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait! What do you mean by ‘master’?” Flashladdin asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” The floating creature wrapped an arm around Flashladdin’s shoulders. “I’m the Genie of the Lamp you just found, you rubbed it, and therefore, you get three wishes.”

“Wishes?”

“That’s right. But there are a few rules you have to follow. I’m not really a rules guy, but you and I have to follow them anyway.”

“Rules? Like what?”

“Rule number one, no wishing for more wishes. Rule number two, I can’t make anypony fall in love with anypony else. Rule number three, I can’t bring ponies back from the dead. I mean, come on; it’s not a pretty picture. I don’t like doing it! But other than that, your wish is my command, master.”

The Genie bowed to the Pegasus, who had no idea what to say about any of this. He glanced over at Spike who gave him an encouraging smile. The Genie stood straight.

“So… other than those three rules, you can grant me any three wishes I want?” Flashladdin asked.

“That is correct, as long as you rub the Lamp while you make said wish.” Genie answered.

“Then for my first wish…” Flashladdin held the Lamp in his hooves and began to rub. “I wish for you to get all of us out of this cave.”

“Then in that case, we’re outta here!”

The Genie grinned and snapped his fingers and in a flash of bright white light, he, Flashladdin, Peewee, and Spike were all out of the cave and they appeared on the outskirts of Saddle Arabia.

“I’ll never get used to that.” Spike said in a daze.

“I don’t think I will either.” Flashladdin added, shaking his head.

“Oh, this is so much better! So much space and fresh air, I LOVE IT!!” Genie exclaimed as he made a lawn chair appear out of then air; he immediately laid down on it.

Flashladdin looked at the Lamp in his hooves; he can still hardly believe that he still had magical wishes at his disposal. He already used one and he wanted to make the other two wishes count. He looked at Genie.

“Hey, Genie? Can I ask you something?” He asked.

“Of course. What is it?” Genie asked.

“…What would you wish for?”

“Me?” Genie’s expression went serious. “No one’s ever asked me that before. But it’s an easy one. I’d wish to be free.” He knocked on the golden cuff around his wrist.

“You’re a prisoner?” Flashladdin frowned.

“It’s all part of whole genie gig. You’re granted with phenomenal cosmic powers, but an itty-bitty living space.”

“That… that’s terrible.”

Spike sadly nodded in agreement.

“But to be free?” Genie lamented. “That would mean more to me than anything else in the world! Much better than having to go ‘Can I help you?’ or ‘What would you like?’ or “’May I take your order, please?’ You get my drift. Freedom for me would be the ultimate wish.” Genie paused and his face fell. “But at the end of the day, I tell myself that I’m just giving myself false hope. It’s never going to happen.”

“Why not?”

“The only way a genie can be set free is if the owner of the Lamp uses one of his or her wishes to set the genie free. And the last time that happened was… never.”

Flashladdin looked at the Lamp, then back at his new friend. “Now I know I can use my third wish to set you free.”

“We’ll see about that.” Genie said, sounding unconvinced.

“No really, I promise.”

“You… you mean it?”

“Of course I do. What are friends for?”

“…We’re friends?”

“Yeah. Why wouldn’t we be?”

They smiled.

“Okay, now let’s make some magic! How about it, Flashy? I can call you that, right?”

“By all means.”

“Cool. So what do you want most, Flashy?”

“Well… there’s this mare.”

“Wait! I can’t make anypony fall in love, remember?”

“But she’s smart, fun, and…”

“Pretty?”

Beautiful! She’s got these eyes and this hair and her smile?” Flashladdin sighed and grinned like an idiot before snapping himself back to reality. “I can’t stop thinking about her. But… she’s the princess. If I had any chance with her, I’d have to be…” Then he got an idea. “Hey, can you make me a prince?”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold it!” Genie exclaimed. “There’s a lot of grey area in ‘make me a prince’. I can just make you a prince.” He snapped his fingers and a random white unicorn stallion with a blonde mane was suddenly standing in another corner of the desert. “And you’ll be snuggled up with that guy for the rest of your life.”

“What? Oh, no! No, no, no, no. That’s not what I meant.” Flashladdin said.

“Exactly! I told you I’m not a rules guy, but this is big one. You have to be specific with your words. If not, then you’ll either end up with something completely different from what you initially wanted or the wish itself could totally backfire and end up biting you in the butt.”

“Oh, that makes sense.”

“Ah, ah, ah, ah! Don’t say that! PLEASE don’t say that around me!”

“Say what? It makes sense?”

“Agh, please stop! I HATE that phrase!”

“Why?”

“Uh, hello? All-powerful genie and spirit of chaos. I thought that was pretty self-explanatory.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“It’s fine. As long as you don’t say it again.”

“I promise.”

“Hey! Have any of you seen my palace?!” The stallion yelled.

“Uh, you should probably send that guy home.” Spike pointed out.

“Good point. Sorry!” Genie called out before teleporting the unicorn back home. He turned back to Flashladdin. “Now… is that an official wish? Say the magic words.”

Flashladdin grinned, picked up the Lamp, and started to rub. “Genie, I wish to become a prince.”

The Genie then waved his hands over his head dramatically and conjured a great cloud of blue smoke. When it cleared, Flashladdin could see his appearance was drastically altered to reflect that of Saddle Arabian royalty with fine silks and gemstones. He beamed from ear to ear.

“Whoa, I look great!” He exclaimed.

“That’s an understatement. You look fantastic!” Spike cheered.

“Indeed you do, Prince Flash Sentry! But we’re not through yet!” Genie said with a grin. “Hold on to your hooves, kid! We’re gonna make you a star!”

At the palace, Princess Twila Sparkle had already confronted her father, Sultan Armor, about the incident at the marketplace the day before.

“I cannot believe this!” She exclaimed in anger.

“Look, Twila, I know you’re upset, but rules are rules.” The Sultan explained.

“Your father is right, Princess.” A familiar unicorn stallion said as he entered the throne room. “That stallion has already committed too many crimes. He must pay... and I say he’s already been dealt with.”

“What are you talking about, Neighsay?” The Princess asked.

“Your Highness, it is my duty to uphold the peace in Saddle Arabia, I merely carried out the stallion’s sentence.” Neighsay said with a twinge of malice in his tone.

“Sentence?” Twila asked in horror.

“Yes. I’m afraid I must inform you that the stallion was… banished to the desert. I don’t make the rules, Princess, I merely enforce them. We can’t go changing our bylaws because the princess felt bad for the street urchin. What kind of example would that set?”

“But… the scorching sands of the desert stretch on for miles… it’s a death sentence.” Twila cried.

“A tragic yet necessary part of Saddle Arabia’s prosperity. Besides, you have far more things to worry your pretty little head about, hm? Like… your lineage.”

“He’s right, my daughter.” The Sultan said. His ears were matted against his head and he heaved a sigh. “I promised the ponies a decision will be made before tomorrow at sunset.”

“But father, the stallions asking for my hoof are all selfish, egotistical, brutish braggers only after the throne! How could you possibly expect me to choose one of them to marry?” Twila asked.

“With all due respect, Princess, we cannot simply wait around for somepony to burst into the palace and declare they have found your true love.” Neighsay said.

The palace doors burst open and a strange unicorn stallion with a gray coat and a mismatched horn pushed a large cannon into view, aimed directly at the throne.

“Attention, everypony! Fillies and gentlecolts! Announcing the arrival of Princess Twila Sparkle’s true love!” The stallion declared, igniting the canon which promptly exploded into an array of balloons, confetti, streamers, and a regal Pegasus stallion soaring into the throne room with his head held high.

Neighsay stood in shock; he recognized this stallion almost immediately.

‘It can’t be. I thought he was DEAD.’ He thought, keeping quiet.

“Wow, what do we have here?” The Sultan exclaimed, taken in by the flashy entrance.

“Your Majesty, my name is Prince Flash Sentry and I have come to request the hoof of your lovely Princess Twila.” Flashladdin said, bowing before the Sultan.

“You certainly know how to make an entrance!” The Sultan said with a smile. “Come; meet my daughter, the rarest and most beautiful flower in all the land.”

Flashladdin bowed before Twila and kept his eyes locked on hers. She looked so different from the runaway he had met on the street, but her striking violet eyes remained as hypnotizing as he remembered. Flashladdin was frozen in place, unable to summon the right words to greet her in fear of her rejection. He cleared his throat as Genie poofed to a tiny floating version of himself hovered beside his ear, and told him what to say.

“Princess Twila, I have traveled a great distance and faced many obstacles to ask you this one question: Will you marry me?” He asked, kneeling before her.

The Princess furrowed her brow in a disapproving manner.

“If you think I can be won over by an over-exuberant entrance like that… then you’re a fool. Unlike my father, I’m far from impressed, Prince Flash Sentry, and I refuse to remain in the company of those who would treat me like some toy! I am not a prize to be won!” Princess Twila exclaimed, taking off in flight back to her chambers in a huff.

“…Well that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped.” Genie said to himself.

“I am very sorry about that, Prince Flash Sentry.” The Sultan said. “My daughter has always been a bit selective when it comes to suitors.”

“That’s okay, no hard feelings.” Flashladdin nervously replied as he stood up.

“I’m just glad you understand. Just give her some time to cool down and maybe we can try that again. In the meantime, Neighsay here will show you to your room.”

“Of course, Your Majesty. Right this way.” Neighsay answered as he led Flashladdin out of the throne room and down the hall, keeping a close eye on him as they walked.

Hours later in the courtyard below Princess Twila’s balcony, Flashladdin was pacing back and forth and nervously ruffling his wings. He was worried that he’d ruined his first impression with the Princess and ultimately her approval.

“I don’t get it. Was it something I said? What am I gonna do, Genie? She’ll never give me a chance now.”

“Cheer up, Flashy! I know this looks bad, but it’s going to be okay. You’ll get her, I know you will.” Genie said mindlessly blowing balloon animals that would then come to life.

“I don’t think she was too keen on the meet-n-engaged thing you had going on there.” Spike said.

“Good point.” Genie replied.

“Maybe if I just go up there… and explain how I feel… she might not hate me.” Flashladdin said dreamy-eyed.

“On it!” Genie said, snapping his fingers and making a giant heart-shaped hot air balloon with hearts plastered all over it appear out of thin air.

“Oh, uh… I don’t think I’ll need your help for this one, Genie. Not that your magic isn’t… great! It’s just that I can fly on my own.” Flashladdin said, showing off his wings.

“Oh, right. Well, whatever you want to do, I suppose. But remember…” Genie put a hand on Flashladdin’s shoulder. “…Be yourself.”

Flashladdin looked at his friends and smiled before spreading his wings.

Princess Twila shut herself in her chamber since the incident in the throne room. Her faithful pet owl, Owlowiscious, was close at hoof, wishing there was something that could cheer up his princess.

“Is this supposed to be my fate, Owlowiscious? Forced to marry someone who doesn’t even know me? This is why I tried to leave in the first place. I can’t marry one of those frauds and allow my father’s throne to be misused.” Twila lamented, she put a hoof over her face. “…But what other choice do I have?”

Owlowiscious suddenly leapt from his perch and glared in the direction of the balcony.

“What is it? Who’s there?” Twila wondered aloud, she crossed the room and opened the doors leading outside with Owlowiscious following close behind. Standing alone on the balcony was Prince Flash Sentry with an apologetic grin on his face.

“H-hello again Princess, please forgive my intrusion. I just—”

Flashladdin was cut off when Owlowiscious suddenly swarmed around him, trying to peck and claw at the intruder.

“Owlowiscious, no. Let me handle this.” Twila scolded.

“W-wait! Princess please, let me explain… I’m very sorry I gave you the wrong first impression earlier I just… I was so nervous to talk to you and I stumbled on my words.” Flashladdin said.

“That didn’t sound like a stumble to me; it sounded more like a proposal.” Twila replied flatly.

“Believe me, princess; even I don’t know what I was thinking… I only wanted to say the right thing and it got a little out of hoof. And I’m so very sorry. I don’t care about your wealth or your status. I only ask for a chance to get to know you better. Give me another chance, please.” Flashladdin said apologetically.

Though she wanted to turn the stallion away, there was something strangely familiar about this prince. She nodded her head curtly, much to the owl’s dismay. Owlowiscious hooted in disappointment.

“So… is there any other reason you came up here?” Twila asked.

“Well, I was going to ask you to come flying with me for a bit, but if you’re not up for it…” Flashladdin started.

“Go out for a fly? With you?”

“Well, yeah. Don’t tell me you’re scared.” Flashladdin said with a devious smile.

“Scared? Why would I be scared? It’s just… I’m a little out of practice when it comes to flying.” She nervously rubbed the back of her neck with one hoof.

“Practice makes perfect. Besides, we can get out of the palace and see the world.”

“Is it safe?”

“Come on, this can’t be the worst challenge you’ve faced.” Flashladdin said.

At the mention of those words Twila was reminded of what the poor stallion in the marketplace had said to her. She gave the prince a closer look, seeing the resemblance in his coat and mane.

“So do you trust me?” He offered his hoof to her.

She paused before smiling. “…Yes.”

She took his hoof and they spread their wings. Soon enough, the pair of ponies flew from the Princess’s balcony and into the cool night sky. There was always something magical about flying over a moonlit city. In the span of a few minutes, Twila’s mind and her heart was changed about this stallion and she embraced feelings of oddly placed romance. As their love began to blossom, Flashladdin debated whether or not to tell Twila the truth about who he really was, but fearing he might lose her decided instead to remain quiet.

After their flight around the city, the happy couple returned to the Princess’s balcony. Before it was time to leave, Flashladdin pulled the princess into an embrace.

“Thank you so much. I never thought I would be this happy. I have to find my father right away.” Twila said, taking off from the balcony in flight with the brightest smile on her face.

“Goodnight, princess.” Flashladdin said when she was out of earshot.

Moments later, Genie, Spike, and Peewee joined their friend on the balcony.

“You DID IT!” Genie rejoiced. “I knew you had it in you!”

“Way to go, dude!” Spike cheered as Peewee chirped with joy.

“She’s the pony of my dreams, Genie, and I could’ve never done this without you.” Flashladdin said.

“Aww, shucks. Ooooh, I’m so excited! I have so many plans for when I’m finally free!” Genie started. “I can travel the world, I can do whatever I want, I can even throw an enormous party in history and invite EVERYONE! Ooh, I can hardly—”

“Genie, hold up.” Flashladdin trailed off.

“What is it?” Genie asked.

“I… I don’t know if I can keep up this charade on my own. Twila still thinks I’m a prince and the only thing I have to my name is a fancy title and some expensive looking clothes. If I can’t convince the princess that I am royalty I don’t have a chance.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying… I might need to hang onto my third wish… for now…” Flashladdin said nervously.

“But… you… and the… I thought… you can’t!” Genie cried.

“Wow, that’s just cold.” Spike said, Peewee agreeing with a soft nod.

“Oh come on, guys, you can’t blame me for being worried! I just… I don’t want to lose her.”

“Fine. If you need me, MASTER, you know where I’ll be. Trapped inside my sardine can!” The Genie said, disappearing back into the lamp in a huff.

“Oh boy.” Flashladdin sighed, covering his face with his wings in guilt. “I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore.”

“I’ll say you aren’t.” A dark familiar voice boomed from behind the Pegasus. “Looks like you’re already out of luck, Prince ‘Flash Sentry’ or should I say… Flashladdin.”

In a flash of light, Flashladdin was transported to the throne room of the palace. His fine robes had turned back into rags and his friends Spike and Peewee were being restrained by the Saddle Arabian guard. Standing confidently in the midst of them was the Sultan’s advisor, Neighsay… whom Flashladdin immediately recognized as the mysterious stallion from the market who tricked him into getting the Lamp in the first place.

“Seize him!” Neighsay demanded. “The last thing I need is for somepony to decide to be stupid and heroic.”

Two guards suddenly came up from behind and held Flashladdin in place. In the confusion, Flashladdin’s lamp was pried from his hooves and he was detained by the remaining castle guard. Neighsay held up the lamp and let out a triumphant laugh.

“At last! The lamp is finally MINE!” He shouted. “You! Bring me the Sultan and the Princess. They need to see this.”

The guard didn’t hesitate and carried out Neighsay’s demands. As they did so, Neighsay rubbed the lamp to summon the genie. A great flash of light and smoke appeared from within and the Genie suddenly appeared and he didn’t look very happy.

“Flash, if you’re here to apologize, forget it. You’re too late. And I am getting REALLY tired of yo—” Genie started before he saw that it wasn't Flashladdin who summoned him; he froze. “…I don’t think you’re him.”

“Quiet! I am your master now and you will do as I say!” Neighsay declared.

“I was afraid of that.” Genie muttered.

“Genie, don’t!” Flashladdin cried out.

“I’m sorry, Flash, but I have no choice.” Genie said sadly.

“Remember, he who holds the lamp controls the genie.” Neighsay smugly said. He turned back to the Genie. “And you owe me some wishes.”

The palace guards returned with the Sultan and the Princess, both of whom protested angrily but were unable to sway the guards’ objective.

“Let us go!” Twila cried.

“There’s no use, your ‘Majesty’. Your loyal guards answer only to ME now! All it took was a simple brainwashing spell and their minds are now mine to control.” Neighsay cackled.

“Neighsay, you traitor!” Sultan Armor yelled.

“Call me what you will. Genie! For my first wish, I wish to rule the land as sultan!” Neighsay shouted, rubbing the lamp.

“Fine.” Genie said, rolling his eyes and snapping his fingers.

In a bright white flash, Neighsay’s dark clothes were suddenly changed to white royal robes. Neighsay cackled.

“Congratulations, you are now the Sultan!” Genie sarcastically declared.

“No!” Spike and Flashladdin cried.

“Neighsay, I order you to stop this madness at once!” Sultan Armor demanded.

“Ah, but there’s a new order now. MY order.” Neighsay said. “Finally, you will bow to me.”

“We will never bow to you!” Twila said, trying to sound brave.

“Never!” Flashladdin chimed in.

“Not in a million years!” Spike added.

“Hmph, I guess being Sultan isn’t enough for you ponies.” Neighsay furrowed his brow and sneered at the Princess. “If you won’t bow before a Sultan, then you will cower before a sorcerer!” He rubbed the lamp again. “Genie, for my second wish, I wish to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world!”

Reluctantly, the Genie snapped his fingers again and Neighsay’s form began to change as he was lifted off of the floor and engulfed in a swirling black vortex. And in a bright flash, Neighsay’s body had changed completely. His irises were now blood red and his pupils became slits, his coat went from almost white to a dark ashen gray, his mane grew longer and flowed like smoke, and his horn had become curved, sharpened, and tipped in red. The power-crazed grinned, revealing his teeth to have become a pair of fangs.

“Fillies and gentlecolts, let’s give a warm Saddle Arabian welcome to Sorcerer Sombra!” Genie announced just as sarcastically as before.

Sombra ignited his horn and cast a spell on the Princess and the Sultan to make them bow down to him. Flashladdin watched in horror; he couldn’t bear the sight.

“You won’t get away with this! I refuse to obey somepony as evil as YOU, Sombra!” He shouted, struggling against the guards that restrained him.

“Hm? Ah yes, the meddling Pegasus; I almost forgot. Your little charade ends now, my naïve little friend. Did you really believe I wouldn’t recognize you when you came parading in here like you owned the place? And what must the princess think of you now, hmm? Now that she knows what you really are?!”

“I already knew who he was!” Princess Twila said bitterly, raising her head to look at the conflicting ponies.

“Wait, what?” Flashladdin said in shock.

“You didn’t think I could forget you this easily, did you Flashladdin? Once I saw you on the balcony I recognized you. I knew you were only pretending to be a prince to bypass the law of my father.” Twila admitted.

“Hm, smart girl.” Genie said, stroking his beard.

“It doesn’t matter anyway!” Sombra roared. “There’s only one way to get rid of a street rat!”

Sombra ignited his horn and stamped his hooves on the ground, causing it to quake. Everypony including the guards lost their balance, giving Flashladdin the opportunity to escape. He raced towards the Princess only to be thrown in the opposite direction by a great scaly tail that appeared between them.

“Flashladdin, no!” Twila called in distress.

“Oh boy…” Sultan Armor muttered, eyes wide with fear.

They saw that Sombra had transformed himself into a giant, sleek black snake with glowing ruby red eyes and even bigger fangs. He snapped at Flashladdin who narrowly missed. He leapt and flew away from Sombra’s continued attacks, but knew eventually fatigue would spell his doom. He was just about to reach the Princess when Sombra whipped the end of his tail at Flashladdin and coiled himself around the Pegasus, threatening to squeeze the life out of him.

“NO!” Twila cried.

Peewee screeched out in fear as Spike covered his eyes with his claws.

“Give it up, Flashladdin! You’ve failed! You thought you could defeat the most powerful being on the planet?! Ha!” Sombra scoffed. “Without the genie, you’re NOTHING!”

Flashladdin looked at Genie and got an idea.

“Oh yeah? Well the Genie has more power than you’ll ever have!” Flashladdin retorted. “He gave you your power and he can take it away!”

“Dude, what are you doing? Shut up!” Spike hissed.

“Flash, what are you doing? Why are you bringing me into this?” Genie asked nervously.

“He serves ME!” Sombra yelled.

“For now, but you’ll never have more power than the genie. Face it; you’ll always be second best.”

Genie finally caught on to what Flashladdin was trying to do. He smiled.

Sombra paused. “I REFUSE to be second best in ANYTHING!!” He grabbed the lamp with his magic and looked back at Genie. “For my final wish, I wish to become the most powerful being in the universe! MORE powerful than you!”

Genie paused and stroked his beard in thought. “Hmmm, there’s a lot of grey area in that wish.”

“JUST DO IT!” Sombra yelled, rubbing the lamp.

The genie nodded his head and the room flashed with a burst of magic, transforming Sombra from snake to a menacing genie with the same glowing red eyes and magic like great plumes of shadowy black smoke.

“I feel the power coursing through me! Yes, yes, YES! Nopony can stop me now!” Sombra said with a mighty laugh.

“What have you done?!” Twila yelled.

“Trust me!” Flashladdin said as he raced across the room while Sombra was distracted, following the black smoke to its source. He skidded to a stop in front of a lamp that seemed to be made of black obsidian. He picked it up and smiled.

“The universe is mine to command, to control! And now Flashladdin, prepare to meet your doom!” Sombra declared as he raised a hoof, only to be stopped by a black metal cuff appearing on both of his forelegs. He froze in shock before looking back at Flashladdin. “What have you done to me?!”

“What are you talking about? I haven’t done anything to you, Sombra.” Flashladdin said, matter-of-factly. “This is your wish, not mine. You wanted to be a genie, you got it. And that includes everything that goes with it.”

“What!? No! This isn’t what I wanted!”

“Exactly. Be specific with your words, otherwise you’d end up with something else or it would backfire and bite you in the butt. In your case, you get both results.” Flashladdin looked at Genie for confirmation. Genie nodded excitedly.

“No! No, stop!” Sombra said, moments too late to prevent Flashladdin from rubbing the crystal lamp.

“For my first and ONLY wish, I wish for you to banish yourself from all ponykind somewhere far away where no pony nor creature will ever find you AGAIN!” Flashladdin shouted.

Sombra roared in protest, but his magic ignited and with a mighty and resounding boom he disappeared, taking his obsidian prison with him. The moment he was gone, everything in Saddle Arabia turned back to what it was before. The guards weren’t hypnotized anymore, the Sultan and Princess were free, and Genie was no longer under Sombra’s control.

“Flashy, you are a GENIUS!!” Genie declared excitedly.

“You did it!” Spike cheered.

“Flashladdin!” Twila cried in relief, running into Flashladdin’s open hooves. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Flashladdin said, holding the Princess close. He looked her in the eye. “Twila, I’m so sorry I lied to you.”

“It’s okay, I know why you did.” Twila said.

“A disaster! An absolute catastrophe! I cannot believe I actually trusted him to…” Sultan Armor paused and looked at his daughter with her new lover. “Why, Twila, can it be true? …Have you finally decided on a suitor?”

Twila nodded and smiled.

“But your Majesty… I lied. I’m no prince.” Flashladdin said sadly.

“You’re so much better than that.” Twila said, holding his hoof. “You’re true of heart and noble of spirit.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Sultan Armor said, approaching the young lovers. “Flashladdin, I couldn’t have asked for somepony better to wed my daughter. Besides, who am I to argue with true love?”

“Oh, this is so beautiful! Here come the waterworks!” Genie said, trying to hold back tears.

“It’s okay, buddy. Let it out, you’re among friends here.” Spike said comforting his friend.

Flashladdin picked up the brass lamp and turned to look at the genie. “… Do I still have a wish?”

“Of course you do.” Genie said. “It’s my wedding gift to you. What will it be?”

Flashladdin smiled and started to rub the lamp. “For my final wish… I wish to set you free.”

The Genie suddenly paused and stared at Flashladdin in disbelief before another magical transformation took place. Sparkling, brightly colored magic swirled around the Genie until the golden cuffs around his wrists had vanished and the brass lamp in Flashladdin’s hooves wasted away and turned to dust. Genie floated down to the ground and looked at himself, admiring his new legs, tail, and body; he had been transformed into a tall and sleek draconequus. Genie stared at Flashladdin, unsure of what to say or do in that moment.

“I’m free? I can’t believe it. I’m free. I’m actually FREE.” He said before a thought popped into his head. “Wait, I want to be sure. Tell me to do something, wish for something outrageous. Say anything, just give me an order.”

“Uh… get me some gems.” Flashladdin suggested.

After a moment, Genie nervously said, “Get them yourself… Get your own gems.” His shocked expression quickly turned into one of sheer joy. “Oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH! That feels SO GOOD! I’m free! I’m finally free!” Genie then started to dance and bounce all over the room, unable to contain his excitement anymore. With no limit to his power, he would now be free to spread his crazy energy across the globe. Spike soon joined in on the little celebration, feeling just as free as his friend.

“You know, your Genie friend isn’t the only one facing a brand new future.” Sultan Armor said as he led Flashladdin and Twila to the balcony. Crowds of ponies had gathered around to see what all of the commotion was. The Sultan cleared his throat and looked down upon the crowd. “Good citizens of Saddle Arabia! My daughter, Twila Sparkle, has finally chosen a suitor!”

The ponies below suddenly cheered as the two lovers locked their lips in a romantic kiss. That very night, Flashladdin and Princess Twila were married and they all lived happily ever after.