• Published 6th Apr 2020
  • 5,149 Views, 378 Comments

Final Corruption - Epsilon-Delta

Twilight's smart enough to have nothing to do with Rarity and her gang of delinquents. But as her world view is challenged and as Rarity takes interest in her, slowly Twilight finds herself getting closer to Rarity and becoming a delinquent herself.

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Chapter 3. The fruit of eternal youth

“What?” Twilight rubbed her eyes, her weary mind slowly remembering. “Oh, you mean that stupid rumor? I already heard that story.”

“This isn’t a game,” said Applejack. “Vampires are real and I’m a hundred percent all three of those ponies are vampires. I've seen what they really look like. Nopony knows where they came from because they came from the Everfree Forest. And I’m pretty sure they’re after you.”

“Is this a joke? You’re seriously saying vampires are real?” Twilight groaned. Even one in the afternoon was too early for this. “I’m surprised at you, Applejack. I’d expect one of those three to be talking about the supernatural, but you should know better. You can get arrested for peddling superstition in public.”

If any police even existed in this town, that was.

“I know. I don’t blame you. Just give me five minutes!” Applejack pushed back Twilight to get inside her house.

“Well at least I know you’re not a vampire,” Twilight muttered and followed Applejack to a nearby table.

Applejack set out her books carefully on Twilight’s dinner table. Twilight wearily looked over them. Most were journals marked with a cutie mark or a name. The only one with a proper title was a particularly large and thick manual titled ‘Monster of the Everfree’.

“My family has lived here for centuries and we’ve been fighting against the corruption of the Everfree that whole time as it got closer and closer to home.” She opened Monsters of the Everfree and started looking through it. “And they recorded everything they ran into. I got centuries of notes now. This is the most complete record about the Everfree Forest outside of Canterlot castle.”

“We’re really not supposed to be thinking about what’s inside the Everfree Forest.” Twilight felt a twinge of disgust. Applejack seemed like such a nice pony, but Twilight was starting to think she was just as bad as all the others.

“Rarity’s not in the forest now,” Applejack pointed. “This is just for stuff that comes out. I swear.”

Twilight was skeptical of that. She didn’t like this one bit.

Twilight watched as Applejack flipped through the book. As soon as it was opened, Twilight recognized it as a sort of bestiary. The whole thing had been written down by hoof with detailed sketches of creatures and body parts on each page. Most of the monsters Twilight saw were real, but some of them weren’t the official Canterlot bestiary and had to be made up.

And that contradiction brought up the main problem with this book.

“And none of these books are on the approved book list!” Twilight looked through a few of the books. “Are they? Applejack, we could get in a lot of trouble for all this!”

“We wrote these for our personal use. Of course they ain’t gonna be officially approved. But they’re not banned neither.”

“I dunno. This is all suspicious. I don't like splitting hairs with this kind of thing.” Twilight lifted another, unmarked book and looked at it skeptically. Was it too much to ask for one pony in this town to not be a delinquent in some way? “I’m not trusting anything that’s not on the approved book list. Ponies can literally write anything they want in unapproved books.”

“I know, I know. But just listen. When you see this, you’ll understand.”

Twilight decided to humor her, though the matter was already settled in her mind.

“Now, a few of ancestors used to be part of those expedition forces, one had one of those platinum cards even and drew everything they saw in this here book. If you go real deep into the Everfree, there are things worse than a dreadstalker out there. There’s one monster that looks kinda like ponies and, well we’ve always called them vampires anyways.” Applejack finally turned to the vampire page and lifted it up to Twilight, pointing to the picture. “And look at this.”

Twilight looked at the picture of the vampire drawn in the book.

It was Rarity.

It looked exactly like Rarity, even had the exact same three diamond cutie mark that was already burned into Twilight’s mind. The only difference was a different mane style and, of course, that she was a vampire in the picture. She had the stereotypical vampire stuff, the tufted ears, fangs just big enough to poke out of a closed mouth, and slitted eyes.

The vampire Rarity sat there on the page, smiling sweetly enough at Twilight. It was that cocky little smirk Rarity always had too.

“You see that?” Applejack lowered the book just enough to look Twilight in the eyes. “Rarity is literally the example vampire in the book!”

“So you drew a picture of Rarity as a vampire?” Twilight grabbed the book and looked it over.

There were a lot of drawings in this section, anatomical drawings of vampires, artifacts, and food they carried, and where they were supposed to live. All the actual vampire drawings were of either Rarity or this one other vampire that had bat wings, though she didn’t look like anypony Twilight knew.

Really Twilight was just wondering how Applejack’s ancestor convinced the vampires to let him draw this many pictures of them in this fantasy scenario.

“No.” Applejack grabbed onto the book and turned it back to the full profile of Rarity. “This picture was drawn by the grandfather of my grandmother’s grandmother well over two hundred years ago! He met her way back then and drew her. Rarity is at least two hundred years old.”

“Even if that was drawn two hundred years ago-“ Twilight pushed the book down, trying to look disinterested in it. “Look, showing me hoof-drawn pictures of vampires, in an unapproved book remember, is never going to convince me they’re real. I bet if you showed me a bunch of your ancestors some of them would look a lot like you. That doesn’t mean anything.”

“There’s more.” Applejack took out a second, smaller journal and opened it to a bookmarked page. “Our family’s run into Rarity specifically plenty times before. Granny Smith told me about how she comes out of the forest sometimes. She gets mentioned in these journals all the time. The one who drew that picture, he met a large group of vampires that Rarity was part of and those vampires slaughtered almost his entire adventuring party.”

Twilight grabbed the journal and skimmed through it while Applejack spoke. In it, Rarity’s name was circled every time it appeared. She didn’t get much time to skim, but on the day this entry took place the ‘Rarity’ he ran into was just talking to him about plants that grew nearby. She must have waited a bit before slaughtering him.

“She fought another one of my ancestors a few decades later and left him with a real bad scar.” Applejack took out another journal but didn’t bother opening this one. “Granny Smith ran into her when she was young too. Not much happened back then, but she did steal my grandpa’s hat more or less. And I admit that one doesn’t sound like much, but the very first time I saw Rarity you know what happened? She threw three hats at me and said ‘interest’. I didn’t even know what that meant till I went and looked it up.”

“So she’s a polite vampire?” Twilight looked up from the journal.

“No! Remember that other stuff? She gave me those hats cause she must have known we had these journals and I’d look her up and- and it was some kinda threat! I know it. She was letting me know that she’s back and now she’s moving in and kicking the rest of us out.” Applejack got up with a huff and trotted over to the window, looking out into the Everfree. “Every time she’s come crawling out of the forest, she’s gotten more and more brazen. Now she’s moving in like she owns the place and bringing all these other monsters with her! We gotta be careful.”

“Uh-huh.” Twilight leaned back, unmoved by Applejack’s passion. “And she’s gonna eat me? Cause I was completely at their mercy last night and- honestly they were way nicer than I thought they’d be.”

“A lot of ponies go missing in this town. And Rarity just happens to show up right after dreadstalkers start coming out of the forest. I’m almost positive she’s offing some ponies, using that as a cover. But no.” Applejack came back to the table and spoke quietly like this was a secret. “Listen, I think they might be trying to turn you into a vampire too.”

“Again, they could have bitten me.”

“It don’t work like that. The dark magic of the Everfree radiates off of them, corrupting everything they get close to. They poison water, make the forest spread faster and they turn normal ponies into vampires. Just being around them you're gonna absorb their poison and start changing. They act nice now to keep you close, but eventually, they're gonna turn on you. They're gonna offer you something called the fruit of eternal youth and when you don't eat it, then they'll devour you."

"The fruit of eternal youth?" Twilight asked. "That sounds incredibly fake."

"Well it ain't. My ancestors have seen it plenty. It makes it so you stop aging and makes you immune to every poison, that's what they tell you. But what they don't tell you is that eating it makes you cursed, so you can't ever leave the Everfree Forest no matter how hard you try. And then you slowly transform into a monster just like them. That's what they're doing- trying to drag you into the forest so you'll be trapped there with them forever!"

Now Applejack had made the mistake of moving to a topic Twilight had a good education on. Now she was talking about magic and transformation.

“Rarity doesn’t look like this.” Twilight grabbed the first book and pointed to her picture again. “Does she wear a mask?”

“Well- no. She transforms. I’ve seen her-“

“Ah-ha!” Twilight stood up triumphantly. “There’s not enough magic left for transformation spells. Not even Sunset Shimmer can do transformation magic and all the shape-shifting species are extinct. So how am I supposed to get transformed, huh? How does Rarity do it when it’s physically impossible? Or do they wheel Celestia out here every night so she can change Rarity back and forth?”

“It’s the magic from the forest. The dark magic is what changes you.”

“Dark magic is unusable. It literally does nothing but kill you. That’s the entire problem.” Twilight closed the book and shoved it back at Applejack. “And that's not even touching the fact that curses don't exist. I took years of courses on this stuff. You’re not going to tick me with your superstition. I've seen plenty of PSAs about how superstition leads to the downfall of society.”

“Well I’m not a hundred percent sure how it works, okay?” Applejack took the book back with a sigh. “But I know it does. I’ve seen their real forms before. Like, personally. I can’t not believe it.”

“Well I’m a hundred percent sure you’re crazy at this point. The academy already discovered everything. There’s no more science to be done, nothing new to invent, and no spells left to be discovered. Everypony knows that. If doing any of this with dark magic, or with anything, was possible, they’d know.”

“I’m not going to question that. But just cause they know everything doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you everything.”

“So now this is a conspiracy theory too?”

“Well-!” Applejack sighed, then started impatiently tapping her hoof against the table, trying to think of some other angle. “Okay, I don’t right blame you for not believing me. But just remember this, okay? If you keep hanging around them, you’re gonna start changing. The first thing, from what I gather, is your eyes will start changing, become sensitive to sunlight. If that happens-“

“Yeah, I’ll get you if I start having eye problems.” Twilight rolled her eyes and yawned. “Look, I’m not even a hundred percent sure I’m going to hang out with them anymore. Last night was a lot and they’re clearly insane.”

But then again, it looked like the entire town was crazy. Twilight started to wonder what secret insanity Thunderlane had yet to reveal to her.

“That’s a good idea either way.” Applejack nodded. “Those three are a terrible influence on this town. And Rarity’s real manipulative. Actually- do you remember Pinkie? I don’t know if you heard about that time she went missing.”

“Yeah. I did, actually.”

“Well you know, I knew Pinkie before she disappeared. Let me tell you, she was nothing like she is now. She was a real quiet, polite demure pony who respected authority and the right way to do things. She had some heart condition that kept her inside most of the time. Then she comes back and it's like she's a completely different pony! She's a hissing maniac and her incurable disease just up and vanished. You know, I tried to tell her parents where she is, but Pinkie doesn’t even want to go anywhere near them anymore. It’s like Rarity just completely brainwashed her. She probably convinced her to run away in the first place.”

“That is a little disturbing.” Twilight might not have believed it, but that did fit with what Thunderlane told her. “That’s like a cult thing. Maybe I should be more careful around them.”

“That’s a good idea.” Applejack nodded. “I want to leave these two books here with you for now. Just don’t forget what I said.”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Twilight yawned again. “Look, I really need some sleep right now.”

“Alright, I’ll see you later.”

Applejack left the two books she’d shown Twilight and took the rest with her when she left. Twilight let out a sigh of relief when Applejack left. She was starting to wonder if having her as a neighbor was really that great.

That thing about Pinkie was certainly something she should investigate.


Twilight looked at the door, then down at the books, then back at the door. Suddenly she was a little less tired.

This was the first time she’d been in the same room as an unapproved book before. Curiosity was something Twilight always struggled with, something that got her into trouble so many times. Right now was no different.

They technically weren’t banned so Twilight could technically read them, so long as she knew everything written in them was basically fiction. It wasn’t like she had grades to worry about or classmates looking to snitch on her anymore. She wouldn’t have to watch eight hours of PSAs when this caught up with her.

Twilight made sure all the blinds were closed and locked the door. Then she turned back to the books and crept up on them like she was approaching a fuzzy spider that might just be a jumper. It almost felt like she was about to read something that was actually banned but reminded herself that it was technically okay.

Twilight was just going to do it. Nopony would ever know!

She decided to continue reading that journal, curious to see how that scene lead to a ‘slaughter’.

It took a moment to find where this vampire episode began. The whole thing was set in much older times when they were still sending those expeditions out to try and get to the center of the Everfree forest. Applewood, Applejacks’ thrice-grandfather, was on one of these expeditions when she ran into a group of seven vampires.

His reaction to meeting them was perplexing. ‘Can you believe I found seven vampires?’ and treated them with the amazed curiosity of somepony who just found an entire patch of four-leaf clovers or a pride of albino lions. He seemed to already believe vampires existed but thought they were too rare to ever actually see.

And the two groups got along just fine for about six days or so. Applewood’s group was starving, sickly, lost and many of them were badly wounded. The vampires took them back to where they lived, a house carved directly into a tree.

The vampires tried to get them to eat fruits from the forest, often enough to annoy Applewood. The fruits, the vampires claimed, would turn them into vampires too, grant them eternal life, and then they could stay in the forest forever. Applewood’s group refused each time but stayed for a few days out of exhaustion and curiosity.

‘Rarity’ was the one he spent the most time talking to and the one who tempted him with fruit the most often. She appeared to be a tailor and was keen on showing off all the dresses she made to the expedition force. Even if this was real, the Rarity in the story had to be a different one. Twilight really couldn’t imagine the Rarity from last night making dresses.

There were several pages more where the fictional Rarity told him about plants and animals in the woods and he drew diagrams of everything. Applewood seemed especially interested in that. But Twilight skimmed over that part, worried she might start thinking about the Everfree Forest too much if she did. All this was already past the line.

On the seventh day, Applewood’s captain showed up, severely wounded, wanting them all to leave immediately.

Then there was no entry for almost a week.

The next entry was talking about the massacre in the past tense. Vampires slaughtered Applewood’s entire party except him and one other pony who barely escaped. He seemed most concerned about detailing exactly how the vampires fought, explaining all kinds of made-up spells and weapons that Twilight knew for a fact didn’t exist.

But he never went back to explain the reason why the two groups ended up fighting in the first place. It gave Twilight the impression that the vampires just slaughtered them out of nowhere, or maybe they just didn’t want them to leave that badly. It certainly sounded like the Rarity in the story wanted him to stay a little longer.

With that part missing, the story felt dissatisfying, like she didn’t get an actual ending.

It didn’t look like he had anything more to say about vampires for a while after that, running into other monsters instead. But there was a footnote at the end of this little episode that referred Twilight back to the bestiary. Twilight decided to follow it.

Twilight rubbed her eyes, getting tired again. She took the journal over to the couch and lied down with it.

Vampires, the manual said, were the opposite of normal ponies. Dark magic was perfectly safe to them, but light magic had the same toxic effect that dark magic would on a normal pony. The sun, the greatest source of light magic next to Celestia, burned them for this reason. Holy water, high-level spells, and powerful enchanted objects were all extremely effective weapons against them because of their weakness to light magic.

Not like a normal pony could get any of those things today.

There was one fruit, it said, that was not poisonous but would grant you eternal youth instead. Vampires were ponies who’d given in to temptation and ate the fruit of eternal youth. The fruit made it so they never aged, but twisted their form and left them completely morally depraved. And, as Applejack warned, left you unable to leave the forest.

They were filled with an insatiable urge to lure other ponies into the forest and feed them this fruit so their target would be stuck in the forest too and become completely corrupted. To that end, they always appeared friendly at first, made sure you saw them as the best friend you ever had. But then they would offer you the fruit of eternal youth and if you denied them, the vampire would devour you instead.

That was the same line Applejack gave before and it was consistent with the other journal. Maybe that was why the vampires killed all of Applewood’s group, for saying no to the fruit.

An obvious flaw in the story was that if Rarity was a vampire, she must have eaten the fruit and become unable to leave the forest. Yet she wasn't in the forest last night, so that disproved that.

...Only dreadstalkers were similar. They couldn't leave the forest because Celestia's magic kept them back. But they could get into Ponyville now, because it was surrounded, so what if the same was true for vampires?

She was giving this all way too much thought!

Twilight was exhausted by now, too tired to keep reading much more. She propped the book up on a nightstand next to her couch, rested her chin against the couch’s arms, and just flipped through the pictures. It had some sketches of the treehouses the journal mentioned.

She flipped back to the start and found herself staring at that picture of Rarity. Most likely it was just some other pony that looked like her, but it was so similar that Twilight couldn’t help but immediately think ‘Rarity’ when looking at it.

Even as a vampire, she was so pretty. She was adorable, perfect, just sitting there, smiling. Twilight liked the way her eyes were drawn and found herself starring at them. She remembered staring into them for real last night, shining blue in the dimly lit room.

Twilight was too tired to keep her eyes open longer. Thankfully, she was feeling pretty snug suddenly and cuddled into the couch. She closed her eyes, unsure if she was resting for a minute or going back to sleep. Time felt broken now.

Even with her eyes closed, she could still perfectly picture Rarity in her head. So much of last night haunted her, was crystal clear in her mind.

And soon enough she was asleep.


Twilight eventually got up again, this time well past four. She got up not because she felt like she’d gotten enough sleep, but because her mind was drowning in melancholy.

Some portion of those hours of lying around was spent asleep, Twilight knew because she had a dream. Rarity was in it, but that was all Twilight remembered at this point. Twilight remembered waking up briefly feeling cozier than she’d felt in a long time. She remembered being surprised that Rarity wasn’t there and realizing it’d been a dream. She remembered being a little disappointed by that, that it was one of the nicer dreams she’d had, one she badly wanted to remember and decided she’d write down as soon as she got up.

But she closed her eyes for another second and fell back asleep in an instant. There was no second dream and now she couldn’t remember anything about the first one. She tied to remember, but it was forgotten and gone forever. That thought filled her with a sad melancholy that’d become too familiar at this point. She felt like she’d lost something nice.

Compared to everything else, this was such a stupid thing to get upset about. It just felt like she had no control over anything, she couldn’t even hold on to a dream.

Twilight’s eyes drifted back across the room, to that box of pictures, still taped shut. Opening it wouldn’t change anything. Nothing would change anything.

She sighed and looked down to find that monster journal was still on the nightstand, still opened to that page with a drawing of Rarity. Without really meaning to, Twilight found herself looking over Rarity yet again. Images from last night haunted her. Rarity’s shining eyes, her sitting up on that couch at the top of the stairs like a queen, that dangerous smile she got when she said something outrageous. Twilight didn’t get to decide if these were in her head either.

Well, Twilight did still have an invitation to meet up with the Blue Diamonds in a few hours. If Twilight couldn’t have Rarity in her dreams, she could settle for having the real Rarity.

The absurdity of the thought did cheer her up a little. Twilight could do something if she wanted.

But did she want to go and was it a good idea? Twilight had yet to get a chance to think about it.

The first objection her mind came up with was that there wouldn’t be time. She had to start work tomorrow and staying up until sunrise should be an impossibly bad idea. But last night forever destroyed everything about time Twilight took for granted until now.

Her shift was from one in the afternoon to seven. Hypothetically, she could go to sleep at four in the morning and still get eight hours of sleep. It felt like it was impossible, but it wasn’t. She almost wanted to try it as an experiment.

And Twilight felt relatively awake now. Her headache was mostly gone, so it looked like even that excessive amount of candy didn’t do any serious damage. Twilight was weirdly disappointed that she wasn’t feeling sick anymore. Loathe as she was to admit it, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were right.

But only about that one thing!

Maybe that was the real problem with going, that they were going to be a bad influence. Twilight didn’t want to pick up any of their bad habits or ideas.

They were so brazen about everything. Cursing constantly, wanting her to get an inter-tribal haircut, watching horror movies, even outright asking why you should care about the rules. And it wasn’t just that they did all these things but that they were proud of all of it. She’d never met ponies like them.

And maybe Twilight could have ignored all of that if they weren’t right about that one stupid thing. Or if Twilight hadn’t done such a terrible job arguing against a bunch of punks.

Twilight wanted badly to prove them all wrong about everything else. She wanted a second chance at arguing why their behavior went too far. They were clearly interested in arguing it, would actually listen, and Twilight knew that if she had more time to prepare she could do a much better job. Their ideas were just so out of left field that nopony could refute them on the spot. They had to be wrong, so Twilight just needed to be a little better to prove it.

That was it!

She could write down her arguments in essay form and give that to Rarity and the others! She was a lot better at this sort of thing when she had time to write everything down. And it did feel wrong to not be writing essays after a lifetime of doing so.

Twilight would just go over there, get it out of her system: Rarity, this argument, all of it. Maybe confronting it a second time was the only way to get last night out of her mind.

She’d be prepared this time. She’d be ready for their crazy curveball questions now and wouldn’t look like an idiot. She’d say no to coffee and leave by midnight at the latest.

There were only a few hours left before she had to leave so Twilight sat down at her desk and started writing down her thoughts on the subject of swear words. That seemed like a good starting point.