• Published 14th Sep 2012
  • 4,084 Views, 224 Comments

Roses for the Grave - Mordy

Dark magic is a powerful and banned art believed to be long forgotten. Unbeknownst to the common Equestrian citizen, that art is very much alive and practiced in secret by less harmonious individuals.

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Ch8: Welcome to Ponyville

Author's Note:

Updated 11/2/2014:
I finally proofread and edited the whole chapter! I hope I didn't miss anything. Added a few things here and there. Made Applejack a bit more suspicious of Julius and what not. I took my sweet time on this. Sorry for the long wait!

Update 5/22/2014:
Still doing updates, but finally picked it back up again. Not even halfway through. Just a bit of laziness on my part.

Update 3/31/2014:
A few more fixes and improvements. I still have a lot of work to do.

Update 3/15/2014:
In the middle of updates. More to come, this will be a bit slow going.

MLP: Roses for the Grave
By Mordy

Ch8: Welcome to Ponyville

As ponies stood outside the newest addition to Ponyville, it was met with mixed reactions. Many were disappointed with the new shop and had gotten all excited for nothing. Others thought it was a bit of a waste and couldn’t see it being very profitable. A few looked at it with mild interest and wondered if it would bring in new ponies who would want to live in their town. The unicorn population pondered about the new shop and began to think this would be an opportune time to maybe explore their magical abilities that they had neglected when they pursued carriers that dealt with their cutie mark instead of their latent attributes.

Overall, everypony looked on at the structure of purples, blues, and greens with a bit of bewilderment. Over the doorway was a sign with a tilted tome and the words, “Magic Shoppe” written on it. Most of the crowed scratched their heads and thought who in all of Ponyville could ever make use of such an establishment?

The obvious answer came in the form of what one would call a very high pitch squee and suddenly it seemed like the shops business would be booming. The source of said squeal was a lavender unicorn bouncing up and down on her hind legs while pressing her fore hooves against her mouth in a futile attempt to contain her excitement.

Twilight was so happy and excited at this new addition she didn’t noticed all the stares she was getting from some of the town's ponies. Next to her Pinkie Pie was bouncing along with her with her patent grin that spread across her entire face. On the other side was Rarity who just smiled brightly at her friend, expecting this kind of reaction from her. Spike stood in front of them, looking at Twilight instead of the shop, finding her reaction to be funny and was trying to quell his own giggle fit.

Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash were also with the group. They had been waiting for them while Rarity and Pinkie Pie was getting Twilight. Applejack was relieved that it wasn’t new competition against her apple farm. Fluttershy hid behind her mane and was feeling embarrassed for Twilight and all the stares she was getting. Rainbow Dash, after being disappointed at what the new place was, picked up where she had left off in her Daring Do novel. She was only about a third of the way through it now, much to Twilight's annoyance.

“Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!” Twilight incoherently rambled as she made her way to the front of the crowd. Her eyes were on the “Closed” sign that hung on the inside of the door. She noticed that she couldn’t see in beyond that sign and that all the windows had their blinds closed and seemed to even be tinted. She hoped they would open today; perhaps they were closed on the weekends? Her mind considered the possibilities of why they weren’t open yet as her friends approached from behind her.

“Are they even open?” Fluttershy inquired as she looked behind her at some of the dispersing crowd.

“Pfft, that jerk made such a big deal getting this place built by today and they’re not even going to open?” Rainbow Dash said as she looked up from her book. She was flying a few feet off the ground and never did liked walking when she had the choice.

Rarity then voiced her opinion, “Perhaps they’re still setting up or maybe they’re expecting some supplies? Could be planning to open on…”

“Oh look!” Pinkie Pie bounced as she pointed at the shops sign. It was being turned around to say “Open” on it.

Twilights eyes literally sparkled as she eagerly reached out for the door…

Femme Fatale flipped the magic sign over to open. She wasn’t expecting anypony to really visit except maybe a few curious townsfolk. Back at their old shop they never got customers. Only reason they made money was because they shipped out orders. They were more comparable to a warehouse than an actual shop.

As she trotted to the counter she had a very gracious smile on her face. After Julius, Ecto, their new servants, and her finished packing away everything and setting up shop, she and Julius found a nice bed down below and “celebrated” their new home. She was absolutely glowing and humming out a little tune because of this.

Femme let out a dreamy sigh as she picked up her romance novel about two mares in love with each other, but were being forced into an arranged marriage with two other stallions for the good of the community. She was deeply enjoying the book when all of the sudden she felt as a disturbance within the force or rather her personal space. She looked up to see only pink and an all too cheery voice shouting, “Hi!”

“Augh!” Femme screamed out as she fell out of her chair.

“Are you alright?” The pink menace asked as she looked over the counter while scratching her neck.

Before Femme's close encounter of the pink kind, Twilight was making her way into the shop with her friends tailing behind. She was quite surprised to find that it was very dark and if not a bit dusty. It was quickly noted that there was a sign right in front of her that said, “Shop contains materials sensitive to light. Please keep the curtains and shades closed. Thank you, the Management.”

Twilight had no reason to doubt the sign and thus began to make her way to the counter where a red head mare was reading a book. She looked around as a wide smile erupted on her face from all of the materials, books, and scrolls they had at their disposal. What made that smile even wider were the prices. It was all so much cheaper than supplies ordered from Canterlot. Also, add onto the fact she wouldn’t need to pay shipping charges for anything she bought here.

She looked back to the mare at the counter and Twilight's face grew very grave as she noticed Pinkie was now right up in the mares face. Before she could stop her a loud and surprised yelp echoed through the shop as the mare fell over.

Down below in the hidden lair of the magic shop, Julius stirred slightly in one of the guest bed. Somewhat of an oddity considering his reclusive lifestyle. He had been up most of the night having "fun" with Femme, but he still felt pretty well rested. He stretched out and noticed something was a bit off. Julius felt some metal around all of his hooves and noticed he was sprawled out. Attempting to get up, he found that he couldn't move his hooves more than a few inches. Slowly opening his eyelids, he looked around and noticed that he was bound to the bed's four posts with metal hand cuffs. What worried him more was Femmes absence.

Julius groaned out in annoyance, “Not again!” He pulled at the posts and then shouted out, “Femme!” He waited a moment and yelled again, “Femme!!!”

To his relief Ecto floated into the room through one of the walls. She was looking very tired for a ghost and even had bags under her eyes. “Oh, thank Luna! Glad to see you’re up Ecto… uh… are you alright?”

She yawned and while covering her mouth. “Yeah, just didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Sorry to hear that, but listen would you let me out? Femme forgot to unlock my cuffs again.” He smiled at his hope for freedom, but he only got an annoyed look from her.

“Like how you forgot to sound proof the room last night?” She deadpanned.

“Right, like how I forgot to… oh…" He grinned sheepishly at her with a nervous laugh.

“Well, I’d be glad to help.” She smiled at him and he returned it, thankful she was forgiving him. “But I seem to have forgotten to get enough sleep last night. Let me just go get that and I’ll let you out in a jiff!” She added on as she floated out of the room.

Julius jaw dropped and he groaned. “Ecto! Get back here or you are grounded missy!” He let out a long drawn out sigh when she didn't come back and then looked at his bindings. “So, time to see if I learned anything from my escape artist classes…”

Femme suddenly felt like she forgot something important, but disregarded it as she got up off the floor to glare at the devil wearing pink. It was then Rarity came up and began to apologize for her, “I am so sorry, Pinkie gets a little excited and little too friendly at times,” she said with a harsh glare at Pinkie.

The angry mare suddenly found her rage melt away as she caught eye of the lovely purple mane unicorn. She quickly got right up to Rarity and was batting her eyelashes at her, unable to resist flirting a bit. “Oh, it’z no problem! It vould vee my vault zat I vasn’t paying attention,” she said in an unfamiliar, foreign accent.

Rarity got so distracted by her accent that she didn't notice the little hints of interest she was getting. Twilight was the first to bring up the accent, “My, that’s an interesting accent. I don’t believe I’ve heard it before.”

Femme had a quick flush of red as she noticed that it wasn't just Pinkie and Rarity in the room. She took note that the lavender unicorn was pretty, but Femme was having eyes elsewhere at the moment. She did turn to Twilight though and spoke in a normal Equestrian dialect, “Forgive me, I sometimes slip into my ol’ Trotsylvanian accent.”

At the mention of Femme’s home country, Rainbow Dash perked up from her novel and eyed her with suspicion for a moment before quickly disregarding her wayward thought. Her eyes fell back to her Daring Do book.

“Isn’t that far up north?” Twilight inquired as she took notice to Femme’s red eyes, but more importantly her lack of horn.

“Why, yes it is. Beautiful old country.” She nodded again to Twilight as she glanced at all the mares in the room. She noticed Applejack’s eyes scanning the various books they had while Fluttershy was examining the ingredients in stock, such as herbs that could be used for medical purposes.

Twilight didn’t mean insult or to change the subject, but she felt the need to ask, “I couldn’t help, but notice that you’re not a unicorn.” This earned her some odd glances from some of the other mares.

“Gee, what gave it away? Was it the lack of a horn?” Femme replied with some annoyed sarcasm.

Twilight waved her hooves defensively. “No, I didn’t mean anything by that. I-I-I was just wondering why an earth pony is working in a magic shop?” She smiled sheepishly not meaning to offend her.

“You don’t need to be a unicorn to sell things. But if it makes you feel any better, shop is owned by a unicorn. Lazy bum is probably still sleeping in,” she joked with a little chuckle, putting Twilight a little more at ease.

Meanwhile Julius was blindly trying to pick a lock using a bobby pin and his magic while his eye uncontrollably twitched in frustration. He occasionally growled out in annoyance at his failed attempts of getting free.

Back with Twilight in the gang introductions were now being done. “Anyway, I’m Twilight Sparkle and this is Spike,” she said, nodding to the purple dragon on her back. This caused Femme a great deal of intrigue since it wasn't often one saw a dragon. Twilight then began to introduce her friends.


“Charmed!” She shook Femme’s hoof delicately

“Pinkie Pie.”

“Hiya!” Pinkie grabbed Femme’s hoof from Rarity and shook it violently. Femme had to forcefully pull it away as Pinkie was practically shaking her whole body. Pinkie was also starting to get a bit of a rash from all the scratching she had been doing since entering the shop.


“Howdy partner!” Applejack tipped her hat to the stranger.


“Meep! I mean, um, hi!” She waved meekly from behind her mane.

“And Rainbow Dash!”

“Yo.” She waved a hoof while not looking up from her book. Twilight frowned at this, but would chew her out for it later.

Femme cleared her throat. “Vell, I am Femme Fatale,” she said all of this in her Trotsylvanian accent, giving them a sultry smile which might have been a bit more friendly than it was meant to be. It caused a few of them to blush and Femme chuckled inwardly.

Twilight broke the ice and started to gush, “I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a magic shop in town! I used to have to order everything from Canterlot, but this will be so much more convenient!” Twilight’s face was stretched out by her large smile.

“So, you’re going to be a regular customer?” Femme asked while raising an eyebrow.

“Of course!” Twilight answered with glee.

“That’s… great!” Femme replied while putting on a fake smile. Great, now I actually have to work instead of catching up on my novels...

Julius shook his right fore hoof as he finally managed to unlock one of the cuffs and he grinned at his success. He pulled himself up so he could get a better view as he worked on one of the cuffs on his hind legs. To his great surprise, the cuff on the right leg came undone almost instantly. His smile brightened and cheered out, “I still got it! I could have been a locksmith if this magic career hadn’t worked out!”

He decided to go for the left hind leg next and he got that unlocked almost as fast as he got his other leg. “I’m on a roll!” he cheered again as he spun himself around into a more comfortable position while he telekinetically brought his tool of freedom to the last cuff.

Julius in the next few moments learned something very interesting. The sound of a ponies’ spirit breaking sounds exactly like a bobby pin snapping.

His jaw dropped as he stared at the broken pin. This was followed by a roar of agony at the last cuff. “Why did she have to get the magic proof cuffs! I could have been out of here if could use an unlock spell on these!” He proceeded to attempt to use the broken bobby pin to crudely attempt to unlock his last brace. This was easier said than done as he had to get the two pins to work together while splitting his magic to manipulate both of them.

He sighed in frustration as he began to work…

Femme stared at Pinkie with concern as the poor pink pony proceeded to scratch her neck more and more. Her friends were browsing, even if most of them couldn’t use anything from the shop it was still interesting to see what they had lying around. Pinkie came across a little cactus and to Femme’s surprise, or maybe she was surprised that she wasn’t surprised, the Pink pony began to scratch her neck with the cactus letting off sighs of relief.

“Are… you okay?” Femme finally voiced out causing Twilight and the others to notice Pinkie’s distress.

“You okay there, Pinks?” Rainbow Dash floated over, putting away her book to examine the rash growing on her neck while keeping her distance to avoid the prickly plant being rubbed profusely against her neck.

“Oh dear, I think she might be having an allergic reaction,” Fluttershy said meekly as she tip hoofed over to the other side of Pinkie also keeping her distance from the makeshift neck scratcher.

Rarity pulled the cactus away from Pinkie with her magic and suggested as Pinkie went back to using her hooves, “Dear, I don’t think you should be using this nice mare’s merchandise to take care of your neck woes.” She tried to smile brightly at Pinkie, but the pink mare's gritted teeth and irritated frown made It hard to do so.

“Don’t worry girls,” Pinkie tried to reassure them with a forced laugh. “It’s nothing really! Just my Pinkie Sense!” At the mention of her Pinkie Sense the others started to look worried. Femme however, just looked confused.

“That thar means… uhh…” Applejack pondered for a moment and muttered under her breath, “Itchy neck… itchy neck… itchy neck… uh, RD?”

“Oh, that means… wait… what does that mean?” Dash was at a lost as well and she was the most familiar with her quirks.

“How about we let Pinkie tell us?” Twilight suggested as she nodded to Pinkie Pie, causing the others to look at her for an answer as well.

Pinkie looked around nervously for a moment and then admitted, “I-I-I don’t know what itchy neck means." She scratched harder and faster. “This is a new one for me,” she lamented and frowned wanting the itchiness to stop.

There was a cough from behind them as Femme walked up to the group of friends. “Excuse me, but… Pinkie Sense?” She pulled out a little tube of cream and hoofed it over to Pinkie who quickly poured some into her hooves and started to rub it around her neck, sighing and letting her tongue loll out as the itchiness numbed and a delighted smile returned to her face.

“Oh!” Twilight exclaimed. “Well Pinkie Sense is… well… it’s this weird feeling Pinkie gets when something is about to happen. Kind of like a warning,” Twilight explained before Dash jumped in to further elaborate.

“Yeah! Like twitchy tail means something is about to fall, or her knee gets pinchy something scary is about to happen, oh and look out for doors when her ear flops, then eye flutter, then knee twitches.”

Femme just stared blankly as her mind attempted to try to comprehend the ludicrousness of such a claim. Twilight spoke up before Femme could fully process this information, “How do you remember all of those?”

Rainbow shrugged, “Eh, you hang out with Pinks a lot you just start to pick up on them.” This received a wide smile from Pinkie who was scratching a lot less now.

“Hey can someone bite my neck?” Pinkie randomly asked which illicit stares from the whole group. She looked around for volunteers then turned to Femme. “Hey Femmy! Mind biting my neck?”

Femme came out of her stupor in surprise. “Oh, that’s very sweet of you, but I already ate.” Now all eyes were on her instead and she shifted uncomfortably as a bead of sweat formed on her brow before she elaborated, “You know, because she wants me to bite her? It’s a joke?” She started to sweat a little bit more.

They all stared at her for a few moments before Pinkie giggled out, “Oh, that’s a good one! I should use that next time somepony asks me to bite them. Not that many ponies ever ask me to bite them, but you never know if somepony would. Always great to have a good one liner to an odd question like this one time... itchy neck! Itchy neck! Itchy neck!” Pinkie’s rant was thankful interrupted by her need to scratch. “Somepony chew my neck, hooves aren’t good for scratching!”

Julius stuck out his tongue and bit it lightly as he poured all his concentration into getting the last cuff that bound him to the bed. Sweat dripped down his face as he closed one eye in a futile attempt to see better as he worked on the tiny keyhole. The twitch in his one opened eye started up and it got worse as his anger began to boil over. His ears flipped and wiggled erratically while he gritted his teeth and growled out.

As his frustration and rage reached its peak, his horn erupted in a black aura. Finally no longer wanting to deal with this nuisance he unleashed his dark magics in the form of rage causing the whites of his eyes to become red as he channeled it into the magic resistant cuff. With the extra power he was able to pierce through its magical defenses and finally cast the simple unlock spell.

With a quick snap the latch unlocked and released his hoof. He gave it a little shake, as he took a few deep calming breaths to subdue his temper. With a more level headed form of thinking he smiled contently and stood up on his haunches as he raised his front hooves in the air with a huge smile. “Victory is mine!”

At that very moment Ecto floated through a wall and into the room. “Okay, got a quick nap. So, I’ll go ahead and let you–” She paused as she noticed Julius was now free. “Oh, you got out! Well then, I’ll just be heading back to bed. Toodles!” she cheered out as she passed back through the wall she just came through.

In that instant, Julius rage came back with a vengeance due to the universe timing that all too perfectly.

A fun fact about some unicorns is that there’s a few who, when angry enough, under enough emotional distress, or who practiced powerful dark magics, will actually change coat color and their manes and tails will actually catch on fire. This is believed to be caused by their magic being burned like fuel by their emotions. It’s also thought that Celestia and Luna’s manes worked similarly to this except without the need for the other listed requirements. Not many studies could be done on this due to the sheer amount of magic to trigger it and the rarity of finding unicorns that had this ability. Trying to study the two princesses manes was out of the question as most who even studied this would be far too afraid to touch royalty, let alone ethereal hair of a goddess. Also, it didn’t help that the one time that a researcher decided to touch Luna’s mane without permission ended up with him getting slammed against a wall… that was fifty feet away… by her using only the Royal Canterlot Voice. He ended up with a few broken bones and was partially deaf for a few days.

This now leads us back to Julius. There were only two unicorns in Ponyville that could pull off this feat. One was a certain infamous lavender unicorn and the other was Julius. His once grey coat turned pitch black and his mane and tail began to burn, turning into a blue flame fueled by his currently boundless rage. Even his very eyes seemed to be inflamed with blue fire and with a roar he yelled out while shaking the very foundations of his lair, “FEMME!!!”

He began stomping his way out of the room, the effects of his transformation quickly receding. Thankfully these scary transformations usually never lasted that long with unicorns. Usually...

Femme was watching the girls restrain Pinkie from scratching her very irritated neck as Fluttershy rubbed more ointment to subdue the itchiness. Pinkie had refused to leave until she figured out what causing this particular Pinkie Sense to trigger. So, the least her friends could do was make sure she didn’t scratch her neck raw. Thankfully once the ointment was on she started to resist the urges once again as it cooled and numbed any itchiness she felt. This finally allowed her friends to let go of her so she could calm herself and think.

Pinkie perked her ears up and so did Femme a moment later as they heard the sound of stomping. The others also noticed it as it got really close and the door to the back rooms slammed open when a unicorn with a violet and black tipped mane with a little goatee stood there, seething with anger. His teeth were clenched and each breath seemed to exhale that rage out into the shop, causing a few other curious customers to back away slowly

Fluttershy let out a cute squeak as the others backed up from the side of the counter. Femme however, just smiled and greeted the fury that had erupted into the store, “Morning sleeping head!”

This reaction caused him march over to her and get right in her face, glaring daggers into her eyes. She didn’t even flinch, even when he poked her accusingly with one hoof. “Femme,” He said barely controlling the volume of his voice. “I don’t mind your bondage kink. In fact I find it pretty fun. There’s just one little thing,” he said with a very forced smile while his eyes did not lose any of their fiery anger. “I would appreciate it if you would remember to unshackle me in the morning! I spent all this time trying to get myself out with a bobby pin!” He pressed his muzzle against hers as he continued his death glare.

Unfortunately for Julius she was unaffected by his intimidation tactics. She merely backed up to give herself some space and chuckled. “That’s what I forgot! I knew there was something I missed. Don’t just hate it when that happens?”

“Well what do you have to say for yourself?” Julius asked with an accusing hoof swearing she had done it on purpose.

She merely smirked and pointed a hoof at the Bearers of Harmony, “Julius, have you met our first customers?”

The stallion blinked away his anger to make way for confusion as he turned his head to see the six mares and other customers gawking at him. He didn’t exactly have the most appropriate conversation just now.

Fluttershy was trying to hide behind her pink mane in embarrassment for him. Applejack suddenly found the ceiling and floor more interesting, while Twilight’s mouth was agape with a flush on her own face with Spike just scratching his head not fully grasping what he had just heard. Behind them Rainbow Dash was just hovering and looking up from her book to give him the sliest grin he had ever seen. Rarity on the other hoof was covering her mouth to hide her incredibly wide smile from what would later be some very juicy gossip that had just landed at her hooves. Pinkie to Femme’s surprise, but not to anypony else’s was eating a bag of popcorn while occasionally scratching her irritated neck. Femme swore she hadn’t brought that in with her.

Julius looked at the group and his face flustered while his pupils dilated. He then slowly proceeded to back up out from the front of the shop, closing the door with his magic. Femme just smiled at the group while Rainbow fell to the floor laughing her plot off at the spectacle.

“Well darling, that was a very interesting moment,” Rarity stated, breaking the silence. “Was that dashing stallion the owner of this shop?”

“You would be correct and do you know what the best part about of this is?” Femme giggled out as she gained on a malicious grin.

“No… haha… what?” Rainbow asked, wiping a tear from her eye as she pulled herself off the floor.

“It’s about to get even worse for him,” she said looking at the clock and at the top of the hour she called to the back, “Oh Julius!” She said in an almost sing song voice.

There was a slight pause and from the back Julius mumbled back to her, “What?”

“My shift is over,” Femme replied and a very loud groan of annoyance echoed from the back of the shop sending Rainbow and even Pinkie Pie into another fit of giggles.

Julius was now at the front of the shop while the mares continued to browse its contents. Femme had retired to the back and thankfully her new friends had decided to give him some space after the awkward silence that happened after he returned. What was very lucky for him was that Pinkie Pie had chosen to ignore him as she sought out the source of her new Pinkie Sense. This left Julius to wonder why there were pegasi and earth ponies in his shop to begin with.

It wasn’t until he looked down from behind the counter that he noticed Spike, rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he stared up Julius sizing him up. Seeing a dragon was rare occurrence and seeing a baby one was even rarer. He began to rub his hoof under his own chin, a small smile plastered on his face at this chance meeting. Though he felt a bit of unease as he was being judged by the little purple dragon.

Spike then broke the silence by snapping his fingers and grinned. “Nice goatee!”

Julius brought his hoof further up his chin again and swore silently as he realized he hadn’t gotten rid of the bit of hair that had managed to stealthily grow on his chin during his time in disguise. His eyes crossed as he tried to glare at it without any success. He then focused his gaze back at the dragon and sighed out, “Uh, thanks…” He rubbed the back of his head and then proceeded to make himself seem busy by going through a binder with items in stock. Spike soon took the hint and let him be.

It wasn’t long before he heard a bit of an annoying buzz in his ear. Took him a moment to realize the buzz was actually the rapid flaps of Pegasus wings. He looked up to see the cyan pony Rainbow Dash smirking at him. She had decided to take a break from her novel to pester the shops owner. They just stared at each other for a moment before Dash asked, “Sooooo, bondage huh?”

Julius winced and then scrunched up his snout in irritation, “I am not having this conversation,” He stated firmly.

Dash shrugged if off before going back to her book, “Your loss….”

He didn’t give any thought to her statement as Fluttershy came up to the counter and placed the items before him, “I’d like to buy these… if that’s okay with you,” She squeaked out very quietly. He saw that the items were of medicinal use and he could see why somepony that didn’t use magic would want them. He rang her up and that was the end of that. Neither of them were eager to talk.

Julius continued to just watch the shop his eyes going to the mare in a stetson. Applejack was just browsing trying to make sense of some of the book titles on the various shelves. A few more customers had entered as well to browse his goods. He wasn’t used to having customers like in his old town. It was a nice change of pace from the boring droll of just sitting around and doing nothing. It was then the cowpolk mare decided to come up and make idle conversation.

"So, howdy neighbor! Where you from?"

Taken aback by the friendliness of the mare he then had to take a moment to recall what his background story was. Once he remembered it he then replied as he gave her the need to know basics, "I'm from a small neighborhood in Detrot, torn down sadly after the recent recession. I've traveled here and there while living abroad. My previous residence had a poor market so I decided to move where I could find more customers of the magical variety. Canterlot is too expensive to open up shop so I chose the close town of Ponyville where I can ship things up there while being in more affordable living conditions." Julius smiled as he remembered everything perfectly. It gave just enough to satisfy and thanks to a lot of neighborhoods being torn down in Detrot no one would be able to appropriately track down residences to confirm his story.

However, Applejack stared at him like he grew a second head and then a third one after that. She could have sworn he had just lied to her. Being the element of honesty she could discern a lie easily, but Julius had said everything with such a straight face and the fact there shouldn't be a reason for him to lie, she was wondering if she had just imagined it. Before she could possibly inquire further a shadow overtook her and Julius.

Julius looked up to see a pinkish aura surrounding a stack of thick books that was about the height of a pony. The pile was neatly placed on the counter and Twilight peaked from behind them with a grin. “Just a bit of light reading.” Julius returned the smile as dollar signs appeared in his eyes. He was also a bit happy to see somepony so enthusiastic about magic. If she become a regular he might actually have money to spare for a change.

Spike then muttered something from beside Twilight, “It’s only light reading cause you don’t have to carry it.” This earned him an annoyed glare from the lavender mare.

Julius was quick to ring her up with a wide smile. “Thank you, come again.” He gave a little wave as she started to pack some of the books in her saddle bags while Spike was forced to carry a few himself. It was then his last customer of that particular group came up with single book.

Rarity set the book titled, “Precise Levitating, Advance Guide to Knitting and Sowing,” down onto the counter. She was still holding in her mirth from the earlier events and she started to make small talk, “So, you two seem like a fun couple. How long have you been together?”

“We’re not dating. That will be 7 bits,” Julius answered after finding the price for the book.

“Married?” Rarity asked, raising an eyebrow.


“Then… what was that all about earlier darling?” Rarity was perplexed by the situation now. Even Twilight and Rainbow Dash were intrigued by this revelation while Fluttershy and Applejack sought to get away from anymore gossip of one’s private life.

“Uh, ever heard of friends with benefits?” Julius replied with a bit of hesitance and a flush of his cheeks.

Before any of them could respond with either a sound or a face, they were quickly interrupted by an insane pink pony. Said pony grabbed Julius by the collar of his robes and pulled him right into her face, “Alright, where is it?!” Pinkie shouted at him through gritted teeth. Her eyes were distant and void of sanity.

“Pinkie!” Rarity gasped at this sudden outburst.

“What’s causing it? Where is the source of my itchy neck?!” Julius cringed under Pinkie Pie’s unusual question.

“What?” Was all he managed to say as he stared with his mouth agape at the pink terror.

“Hey, easy Pinks!” Dash called out as she reached over with a hoof.

“Uh… Pinkie,” Twilight started, causing the crazy pony to turn her head almost completely around causing her to shutter at this owl like maneuver. She then continued with some unease, “I haven’t seen you scratched your neck in awhile.”

Pinkie suddenly released her grip of Julius and then rubbed her neck. “Oh… huh, it no longer itches. Wonder what caused that?” She scratched her head in thought then looked at Julius and gasped, causing him to hide behind his counter in fear, “I need to get to Sugarcube Corner! See you and Femme tonight!” A pink blur rushed out of the shop, kicking up dust and causing some bottles to spin, but remain in their place.

Julius dared to peak from behind his counter. “Uh, what just happened?” he muttered in bewilderment.

Hours later, the sun was beginning to set on Ponyville. The rest of the day had been mostly uneventful. The magic shop was occasionally visited by curious ponies and a few unicorns looking to dabble in magic. Twilight and her friends left without saying much to the shops owner, not wanting to make him any more uncomfortable after the events that had proceeded Pinkie's outburst.

Julius was now just lounging about; no other ponies with him except Femme who had decided to give him some company now after a nice long power nap. She was reading her saucy novel again while he just stared absent mindedly at the door. For a quick moment he took a look at Femme who had taken to disguise herself since they had arrived at Ponyville. Only a very small change; her coat was now a light manila color instead of the pale white it had usually been. Actually, Julius had seen her with this coat color before and wasn't sure which one he liked more. Regardless he still thought she looked lovely.

His eyes started to trace her curves; she was quite thin and very tall with long slender body that could easily be that of one of Photo Finish's models. He was barely her height which was always slightly intimidating. He then wondered what one his old friends would say about her. On second thought, he’d rather not think about what he would say. Guy had always been real pervert.

Looking at her cutie mark of a blood red thorn rose, he wondered how she had even got that. He knew what it meant, but she never told him how she had acquired it. Not that she wouldn’t, he just never bothered to ask. The mark was truly symbolic for her and he always admired that.

Her plot gave a little wiggle and he suddenly looked up to see her with a sultry smile and looking at him out of the corner of her eye. Seemed he’d been caught and slight blush came across his face as returned his attention to the front door. A small smile tugged at his mouth and he occasionally glanced back at her.

Before things could escalate further they heard the door open. Femme became quite miffed at the interruption, but her mood quickly shifted to one of delight as she saw Twilight enter the building, this time without her assistant, Spike.

The Lavender mare trotted up to the two of them. “Hey there Femme and… umm… I’m sorry what was your name again?” She smiled sheepishly.

“Julius,” He answered with slight nod. The studious mare of magic was to his liking. They never got into any conversations of magic when she had visited, but he could easily see her interests in it from the vast array of books she had purchased.

“Well Julius, I’d like to treat you and Femme to a treat at Sugarcube Corner! Think of it as a little welcome to our humble town.” Her face beamed with a friendly smile.

Femme interrupted her glee with a question, “What’s Sugarcube Corner?”

Her question was quickly answered by Julius, “Some kind of bakery from what some of the customers told me. Highly recommended from what I heard.”

A smile tugged at her lips, “That sounds like it could be fun.”

“Right! Then let’s go!” Twilight eagerly started towards the door with a bit of a skip to her steps.

“Wait, right now?!” Femme said with a bit of surprised urgency. This caused the unicorn to stop dead in her tracks and she looked back with her ears drooping.

She looked guiltily at them as though she had done something wrong. “Yeah, i-i-is that a problem?” She stuttered out, afraid she might have offended them.

“No, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just…” She turned her head to Julius and he looked back, the two sharing a silent conversation with each other.

Julius got the hint and picked up where she left off, “We still need to look after the shop and help any customers that wander in.” Twilight looked to the ground with a bit of disappointment. “Although…” Julius quickly added and her ears perked up with a faint smile.

He trotted around the counter and up to the front door. He barely opened it and stuck his head outside to look around. The streets were fairly empty which he found slightly odd, but his attention turned to the darkening sky as the suns beams were leaving the world, slowly.

He backed up into the shop, closing the front door. He gave Femme a nod and smile, causing her to look more cheerful. “Well, I suppose we can close up early, just for today.”

Twilight clapped her hooves in delight. “Great!” she answered when a thought came to mind. “Wait, how late are you open anyway?” Her brow furrowed at the thought of their shop being open for anymore than another hour.

“I’m a bit sporadic on times, but I’m usually up and open all the way past midnight most of the time. I’m a real night owl,” he replied as he passed Twilight, if he had turned around he would have seen an excited smile from a mare who had to deal with inconveniences of closed shops during late night studies.

“If you don’t mind I need to check on something before we go.” Julius didn’t wait for her to answer and trotted off to the back. Femme made her way over to Twilight and they decided to wait in front of the shop.

Twilight was quick to exit, but Femme made the same motions of Julius before as she exited. Examining the streets and then the sky. When she started to see a few stars poking here and there she grinned and trotted out. She let out a nice sigh as the cool night breeze brushed her frame.

It wasn’t long before Julius came out, locking the shop as he did. He was still wearing his robes as always, he’d had the habit of wearing them for so long they were practically apart of his skin. He sidled up to Femme and whispered, “Was just letting Ecto know where we’d be.”

Femme nodded and the three ponies began to trot off to Sugarcube Corner.

Approaching the delicious bakery, Julius noticed something off about the place. For one the lights were off and secondly the lack of ponies in the streets seemed a bit odd even at this hour. He leaned over to Femme, keeping an eye on their destination and Twilight who was in front of them while whispering, “Hey Femme, do you suddenly have a sudden sense of dread?”

Thinking for a moment, she took a good hard look at the bakery designed out of fake sweets then gave her insight, “Now that you mention, yeah. I suddenly feel a little uneasy. But it must be our imagination.”

“Yeah, our imagination…”

The three finally reached the front door and Twilight opened and stepped into the near pitch black room. Femme and Julius glanced at each other with unease before they both slowly walked in together. The moment they were in the lights suddenly all came on, blinding them for a quick moment before almost all of Ponyville was shouting at them, “SURPRISE!!!”

That night Ponyville learned a few things about Julius. One, he didn’t like very high adrenaline surprises. Two, he has an amazing reaction time that Rainbow Dash would be jealous of. And finally, his ability to absorb what exactly is threatening him is tad bit slower than his reaction time. This makes all the difference.

As soon as it all happened and they were shouted at by many ponies Julius shouted right back, “IT’S A TRAP!!!” He immediately wrapped his hooves around Femme’s neck and his horn glowed with an intense violet aura before time and space distorted around them and they were encircled by a black and purple sphere before it collapsed on itself leaving not a trace of them minus a few minor distortions and a dumbfounded party of ponies.

Out in the streets a few bolts of violet electricity discharged from a fixed point in space before expanding rapidly into a sphere about the size of two ponies, soon leaving Femme and Julius there in its wake. This all happened in the manner of less than half a second. That included the casting of the spell and it finishing off and leaving them where they were now.

It was about a few decimals of a second later that Julius’s thoughts started to catch up to him. “Femme… did I just panic and warp us out of a surprise party?”

Femme just looked over at him and deadpanned, “Yes Julius, yes you did. Mind telling me where you dropped us off?”

Julius let go of her neck and chuckled nervously. “Well, I didn’t have a destination in mind so we could be all the way at the other end of Ponyville or–”

“Or we could be just a few feet away from Sugarcube Corner,” Femme interrupted as she turned around to see they weren’t that far from the entrance.

“Yes, that too is a possibility...” Julius added as he got a bit embarrassed at how his spell didn’t go off quite as intended. Though it was probably a good thing in this case. He was also thankful that when he reacted with a fight or flight instinct that his choice hadn’t been fight. Otherwise… well he didn't want to think about it.

“Whoa, great trick! Do it again!” Pinkie Pie called as she peered out from the entrance. She was quickly joined by Twilight who now had a growing curiosity about the spell Julius had just cast. Most would think he had used an odd looking teleport spell, but Twilight recognized that it most definitely was not, even if it had the same desired effect.

Femme was quick to go back inside, while Twilight and Pinkie made way for her as Julius quickly tailed her, his face completely flustered. He chuckled lightly to try and cover up his embarrassment as all the guests just gave him odd stares.

“Uh, sorry I’m… uh, a bit jumpy.” His face just got redder as he explained himself, but thankfully the guests were quick to forgive and dismiss the odd behavior. They’ve seen stranger things.

Back at the new residence's secret underground lair, Ecto was having her own kind of party. A large white mat with polka dotted colors of red, green, blue, and yellow were laid out. On top of said mat was four skeletal ponies entangled with their hooves placed on various colors. Two of them actually had a leg actually detached from their bodies, but was still able to move the limb at will.

Ecto spun a little arrow on a small square board and a grin stretched across her ghostly face. This smile was eerily similar to a certain pink pony. She then looked at one of the skeleton ponies and it looked back at her with its eye sockets glowing with necromantic magic. “Okay Kenny, left forehoof green!”

The skeleton known as Kenny did a quick hop with its left front hoof and placed it on a green. A very difficult feat since it was one of the skeletons with a limb somewhere else on the mat.

They were playing Twister: Undead Edition (not officially sold by the Miltrot Bradley Company). It played like normal twister, but with an extra rule. The players may detach one limb and use it to reach whatever dot they needed. However, they could only keep one limb detached at a time and they can’t fall over as per the usual rules. It also was pretty difficult to reattach a limb without an extra set of hooves.

“Right hind hoof yellow, Kyle,” Ecto said after giving the arrow another spin. The one skeleton looked at the other that was currently in its way.

“You can do it Kyle!” Ecto cheered on as it struggled and kept looking at the other undead. One could almost swear it was glaring. Come to think of it, it was actually narrowing its eye sockets into a glare like stare. How it did that was any ponies guess. The undead skeleton made a few chattering noises with its teeth at one of the larger ones.

“Hey, be nice!” Ecto called out like a mother hen.

Kyle just looked at her as it kept chattering in it's guttural speak and glaring at the larger skeleton in its way.

“He’s not fat, he’s just big boned!” Ecto replied back to him. Though it sounded like they were just making noise, fellow undead could understand one another. Ecto then went on, “Besides, none of you have any fat or meat on you. You’re nothing but bones!”

This odd argument would continue on for awhile…

Back at the party Femme and Julius were getting dizzy from a whirlwind of introductions and greetings in the form of puffy pink tornado. Names and faces were quickly passing through their vision as Pinkie Pie kept naming them off one after another before quickly pushing them to a new pony to meet. “Lyra Heartstrings, Bon Bon, Caramel, Applejack, Spike, Nurse Redheart, Twilight Sparkle, and Pinkie Pie!” They were suddenly pushed to be right in front of the mare staring at her smile. “Oh wait, I guess you already know me,” She said in thought before they were spoken to from behind, “Well that’s everypony!” They looked back to see Pinkie now standing there. This caused both of them to do a double take as they looked back to where she had been only to find empty space.

They kept looking between the two spots until they finally looked to each other, Julius scratching his head with a hoof and Femme shrugged with no explanation as to what they had just witnessed.

“Well, now that’s done we can start have fun!” Pinkie cheered as she scratched her neck slowly. Femme immediately took notice to this.

“Your neck still bothering you?”

Pinkie opened her mouth to answer, but then her eye shifted to her hoof scratching her neck and her pupils dilated. With a small gasp she spoke quietly, “Itchy neck…” Before either of the two guests could say anything she was gone in a flash, kicking up dust as she left. This left two newcomers to their own devices. Femme decided to socialize while Julius went to the snack table to raid some food.

The manila mare with crimson red hair smiled with both her mouth and eyes at those ready to greet her. The few stallions that lived in Ponyville were eager to meet her. Especially when she had what some may consider a super model body comparable to Fleur de Lis or Luna. She might have had a few extra healthy pounds, but she was a real looker.

“Wow, how did that unicorn end up with a mare like her?” One stallion whispered to another.

“I hear she’s single!” Another replied.

“No, I heard she’s with that Julius guy.”

“Actually, I think they’re only friends.”

“I heard from a very reliable source that they’re friend with benefits and they’re in an open relationship!”

“I don’t consider the town gossip to be a reliable source of information.”

“Come on, Rarity has been right before!”

“I call dibs!” That one came from a mare and caught quite a few stallions off guard.

Femme loved the attention and she relished the feeling of being fawned over. She gave a sultry smile as she started to come up to a very large red stallion with a straw colored mane and a cutie mark of a green apple with its core showing and large yoke around his neck. Big McIntosh was sipping on his punch and didn’t notice Femme till she past right in front of him, her tail whipped up and lightly brushed his nose, letting him catch her scent and his attention.

“That’s sum mare,” Caramel whispered to him.

“Eyup!” Big Mac replied as he continued to watch her with his jaw hanging.

Applejack scowled from across the room at what just happened. She didn’t care if Femme was sexy. Okay she was a little envious of it and felt a little more self conscious much to her disdain. She didn’t mind if she was strutting her stuff. Actually she did, but she wouldn’t say it out loud. She kind of envied that level confidence. However, she did not appreciate teasing her brother like that. She wouldn’t want that kind of lewdness into her family. Granny Smith would have a cow if Big Mac brought her in. Not to mention her relations to Julius. Something just seemed off about that stallion and she could have sworn he kept speaking lies whenever he talked about himself, yet every time she kept second guessing herself when she though he was.

It was then Applejack noticed she wasn’t the only one who was having ill thoughts about Femme. Looking around she saw quite a few other mares with hints of annoyance and jealousy. It escalated to those who were married and caught their spouses eyeing the mare.

“Who does she think she is?” Golden Harvest, a yellow mare with orange mane and carrots as her cutie mark said to her. She had noticed Applejacks distaste for Femme as well and assumed it was for the same reason as her, though it was mostly just for hitting on her brother.

Two pegasi, Cloudchaser and Flitter, quickly joined in, “Yeah, she just waltzes in here like she owns the place and thinks she can have anypony she wants,” Cloudchaser was the first to speak.

Flitter then voiced her concern although a bit more meekly than Cloudchaser’s bravado, “I hear she sleeps around with that shop keeper. Bet she does it to get extra pay.”

Applejack furrowed her brow at the responses. “Now listen here, no reason to go judge a barn by its cover,” before she could say more Rainbow Dash landed nearby with a cup of punch in her hooves. She took a sip before speaking.

“I think you mean book Applejack. She doesn’t seem that bad, although…” Rainbow trailed off for a moment. The others leaned in eager to hear more, but when she didn’t say anything Cloudchaser urged her to go on.

“Although what?”

Rainbow looked back at them and then hesitantly answered, “It’s just… well does something seem… off about her?”

“You mean how she’s trying to be the center of attention?” Golden Harvest answered.

Applejack then made a quick jab at Rainbow’s expense, “Wouldn’t that make ‘er Rainbow there?”

This earned a cold stare from Rainbow before she tried to elaborate, “No, I mean something that’s not obvious or can’t be seen. Like there’s something more to her that we’re missing. Something… I don’t know,” Rainbow sighed in defeat in her effort to explain herself better.

"I get more of that from that Julius feller..." Applejack muttered under her breath.

“I know exactly what you mean Rainbow!” Rarity spoke, surprising the others as she trotted up to the lot.

“You do?” Dash turned towards her, hoping to have some pony explain these unnerving vibes she kept getting. Though she would never admit to that she was having them. Her pride wouldn’t allow it.

“Yes, it’s easy to miss, but once you see it everything becomes crystal clear darling!” Rarity spoke in her usual eloquent demeanor. “It’s very simple. What she has is confidence. Sure she has a body that escalates her attractiveness, but what speaks volumes is the confidence she displays. That makes it easy for her to garner so much more attention. I’d also like to add if all of you would have taken the time watch her more carefully instead of creating a little clique you’d notice that even though she has the attention of so many she has yet to make any attempts to straight up seduce them. She seems perfectly content with being noticed.”

The other mares looked to the ground a bit guiltily and Applejack spoke for them, “I suppose we were lettin some unkind thoughts get in the way of our judgment.” The others agreed glumly.

“All in all I agree with everything Rarity said. She was pretty dead on,” Femme said a bit smugly from behind them. This facilitated another startled jump from the mares as they turned to her. None ever heard her approach; it was like the times when Pinkie Pie would pop out of nowhere except she did it in a more subtle and calm way. In a way it was a even more unsettling for the group.

“Uh, how much did you hear?” Flitter asked casting her gaze away from Femme.

Femme smiled coyly. “I have very good hearing, so everything from the moment you started talking to Applejack,” This caused them to stare in disbelief. She had been on the other side of the room when they started talking and the party was by no means quiet.

“How good is your hearing, exactly?” Rainbow Dash asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Like a bat, but I think a demonstration is in order." Femme happily answered her question by naming off what she could hear, “There’s a stallion currently complimenting my flank, another is choking on something he ate too fast, a mare is saying to another how much she likes the hair of somepony named Flitter,” Flitter perked up at her name, “Twilight is talking to Julius about magic, the buzzer just rang in the kitchen, and I think I hear some light snoring from two sources… above me,” She looked to the ceiling wondering who’d be sleeping at a time like this.

“Uh, that’d prolly be Mister and Missus Cake’s kids,” Applejack said with her mouth hanging. She wasn’t the only one stunned by all the details.

“Oh, that makes sense, but yeah, my hearing is pretty good,” She said as if it was no big deal. She just continued to get odd stares.

“… then she grew large butterfly wings and was able to fly!” Twilight announced with glee to Julius who had been listening to some of the more unique magic’s she had casted in her time in Ponyville.

“Fascinating! I’ve heard of such a spell before and wondered why it wasn’t more widely used, but from the way you described it that spell is far too taxing to be worth casting. Add onto that that the wings aren’t very durable it would be a risky way to travel,” Julius commented on the spell and then added, “There’s got to be a more efficient way to cast the spell or a way to get more satisfying results.”

“I have looked into it, but short of turning oneself into an alicorn, which is a neigh impossible feat, the spell itself is designed too inefficiently. I believe a different approach would be needed to get the right results,” Twilight furrowed her brow as she thought back to the spell and other possible ways to implement it.

Julius was quick to agree, “That’s a very distinct possibility. I’d have to see the spell myself, but it’s very likely it was initially made with a brute force approach to get the desired effects.”

“I’ve reached the same conclusion. Though I think some of the approaches were very innovative.” Twilight then remembered something and got excited as she spoke, “Oh, I just recalled, the Cakes have a unicorn foal that can fly by using her magic to telekinetically lift herself up!”

Julius coughed up little of his punch. “That’s amazing! Must be some real raw power behind that one.” He then tapped his chin in thought cursing once again that he forgot to shave his goatee. “I suppose if one’s mental capabilities were strong enough to lift more than their own weight a unicorn could fly at a whim. Though the mental concentration and the rate one could move at would be a bit limiting.”

“Also mental exhaustion could leave one to pass out. With physical wings you could merely slow down and take longer strokes, but with magic you’d need to maintain the same amount of exertion to keep yourself up in the air,” Twilight said finishing his train of thought.

“Yes, most definitely. Still, would be a useful skill to have in a pinch.” He smiled and mused at the thought of flying with his own magic.

Twilight then decided now would be a good time to ask, “That spell you used when you first came in. It was some form of teleportation, but I’ve never seen it used in such a way. What kind of teleport spell was that?” She was very intrigued and eager to learn more about it.

Julius got a bit nervous. How was he to explain that he had used a form of dark magic to perform an alternative form of teleporting? He really didn’t need anypony snooping around. With a swallow he started to think up an answer, “Uh… well you see….”

Before he got any further he was slammed against the table by a very disturbed Pinkie Pie with a disheveled mane and twitching eye. She was scratching her neck with her one free hoof. She narrowed her eyes at him, “What is causing it!”

“C-c-causing what?” Julius stammered back.

“My itchy neck! I know you’re the cause of it so spill the beans!” She was right up in his face making his ears drop back as he tried to pull away from the insane mare. This got Femme’s attention and she quickly rushed over to them. The whole party’s eyes were on Pinkie now.

“Whoa, what’s going on here?” Femme reached out a hoof to Pinkie, but quickly retracted it after quick death glare from the pink horror.

She still answered her question, “I know he’s causing this Pinkie Sense! I want to know what it means! What is causing my itchy neck?” She yelled into Julius’s face.

He just stared dumbfounded at her. “What?”

“You heard me!” She almost roared back.

Twilight then tried to calm her down, “Pinkie, you're scaring him. He’s a guest and you threw this party for him. You shouldn’t be making him feel uncomfortable. So what if your neck itches? Nothing bad has happened because of it so maybe it’s not a big deal?” She smiled sheepishly at her when Pinkie turned her glare to Twilight. However, it quickly melted and she back pedaled away from Julius.

“Y-you’re right. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have acted like that,” she said while tapping her two front hooves together and looked down at the floor in shame.

Julius got off the table and reassured her while keeping his distance, “It’s fine. Just a misunderstanding, right?” He gave her an uneasy smile, but really he wanted nothing more to do with this pony if he could help himself.

Her bright smile warmed up a bit and she cheered out, “Yeah! Let me get you something to make up for it.” She pulled a tray of pink frosted cupcakes with pink and yellow sprinkles covering them out of nowhere. Julius wondered how she did that and when he looked around for someone to explain it all he found was everypony else as bewildered as he was.

Cautiously, he took a cupcake with his magic and out of some paranoia he cast a spell to check for poison, which turned up negative. He shrugged and took a bite; Pinkie leaned in with anticipation for his verdict, still scratching her neck with a free hoof. After a few bites he smiled as he swallowed. “Delicious!”

Pinkie’s face lit up with her impossibly wide smile that seemed to be larger than her face. She quickly turned to Femme. “Ooo, Femmy! Have one!”

Femme looked at the cupcakes like she was being offered a rotten apple. “Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I’ve already ate– mmph!” She was interrupted by Pinkie stuffing nearly a whole cupcake into her mouth. She struggled to chew on it and then finally swallowed and gasped for breath. Pinkie leaned in waiting for her opinion. She struggled to smile at the pony and meekly said, “Delicious...”

Pinkie quickly bonded off to offer the cupcakes to the other guests and Twilight followed her to make sure she didn’t go crazy again. Meanwhile, while everypony went back to doing their own thing and nopony was looking at them anymore, Femme grabbed Julius’ punch he had been holding with his magic and poured the liquid into her mouth. She swished the drink around in her mouth a bit before spitting it back into the cup, “Blech!” she stuck her tongue out in disgust before giving back his drink. It was then Julius' turn to be disgusted.

Julius set aside his drink and got close to her to whisper, “I thought you said you ate already?”

“I did, but not enough to make everything stop tasting like ash.” She shivered in disgust as the taste lingered in her mouth.

“Listen, it might be a good idea for us to leave before that Pink mare causes anymore trouble for us,” he suggested. Julius never really had been one for parties or social events anyway.

Femme pouted, but then sighed out, “I’m inclined to agree. You really think we can sneak out?”

“We can certainly try,” he replied as they started to slowly make their way past the other guests and towards their freedom. Alas it was not meant to be as soon as they were just a yard away from the door Julius was grabbed and spun around to the center of the cake shop. The entire world blurred into an array of colors around him before he eventually stopped, trying to regain his balance and sense of direction. Soon, everything went dark as he was blindfolded.

“Time for pin the tail on the pony!” Pinkie cheered out. Julius cringed as he heard her voice in his ear. He was smacked on his plot to move forward as a pin with a fake pony tail dangling from it was placed in his mouth.

He awkwardly stumbled forward and bumped his nose against the wall that held the picture of the tailless pony. After a moment of rubbing his nose he sighed inwardly and pinned the tail on just to get it over with. Removing his blindfold to find that he had placed it far above where the plot of the pony was. There were a few laughs, mostly from him bumping into the wall earlier.

With a shrug he moved off to the side as he continued to recover from the spinning world. He was greeted by a pat from Femme before she was quickly pulled away and spun around similarly to how he was. Julius couldn’t believe how fast Pinkie could spin her around and started to get dizzy from just seeing it happen to Femme.

She too was blindfolded and had the pin placed in her mouth by Pinkie Pie whose neck was looking raw about now. Unlike Julius, Femme took the pin out of her mouth with a hoof and then her ears twitched in various ways. Her mouth opened for a moment. Some ponies thought they could hear something as few rubbed their ears in annoyance. Femme smiled as the dizziness wore off and she got her sense of direction. She put the pin back into her mouth and trotted forward before stopping just before the poster. Her ears perked around a bit more before she made an educated guess and stuck the pin in, nearly getting it right on the target.

“Whoa, nice job!” Pinkie Pie cheered as she bounced over to Femme as she removed her blindfold. With a toss of her mane she trotted victoriously over to Julius.

He just smirked knowingly at her. “You cheated.”

“No rule about seeing with your ears,” she retorted.

“Umm, excuse me,” a voice at nearly whisper said to them from the other side of Julius. They turned to see Fluttershy nervously rubbing her leg as she talked to them. “You can leave if you're starting to feel uncomfortable… if that’s okay with you! I-I know Pinkie can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.”

“You’re… Fluttershy, correct?” Julius responded to her. She let out a quiet meep in response before nodding at them. Julius then went on, “Twilight mentioned you take care of the animals and live near Everfree Forest. Am I mistaken?”

“Oh no, I do. I just love being near all my little woodland friends.” She perked up as the subject changed to something she was more comfortable with. “The Everfree can be scary, but as long as I don’t live in it I’m fine.” She gave her best confident smile that radiated a tender softness.

“Well, that’s an interesting lifestyle I bet.” He then looked to Femme and then back to Fluttershy. “It’s good to know we can leave cause I’d hate to be around if she were to blow up like that again.” Julius stole a glance at Pinkie out of the corner of his eye. She was spinning another random pony for the game and wasn’t looking at them for the moment.

“Oh yes, I’ve never seen her act like that towards somepony new before. It was very scary,” Fluttershy noticeably trembled as she said this. She then quickly regained her nerves. “It was very nice meeting you. I hope you enjoyed the–” Fluttershy yelped as Pinkie grabbed her and gave her a big spin like she had done the others.

Julius and Femme nodded to each other as they quickly and quietly sneaked out, leaving the party of the crazy pink pony behind.

When Femme and Julius got home they locked everything up and were about to descend into their lair. Julius took a moment to ask Femme something, “How’s your supplies?”

Femme looked away from him. “Fine, just fine.”

“Femme...” He looked down upon her wanting the truth.

“Okay, it’s a little low, but I already ordered some more and we should get the supplies before I run out,” she reassured him.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Alright, but if it gets dangerously low you tell me immediately. Got it?” He gave her a hard stare before she promised to let him know should she need more.

With that they descended into their home away from home. Julius decided to go to bed early after the exhaustion of the day while Femme decided to check on their food and get a little snack. They both stopped on their way to their respective destinations to give odd looks at the jumbled up undead skeletons that were now entangled into a giant mess of bones. Ecto smiled sheepishly at them, but somehow this now seemed normal and both carried on to their respective destinations.

Femme wandered to a fridge that was kept in a private room that was set aside just for her. Inside was a bunch of plastic bags, but she grimaced at how few there were. She picked one up; the cold clear plastic carried a dark red liquid inside of it. If she ran out, she would have to do something risky that could seriously jeopardize their cover.

“You're running low,” Ecto called from behind her causing the mare to jump and put the bag back in the fridge and close it shut. She turned back to the ghost that hovered before her.

Femme cast her gaze to the floor before bringing it back to her spectral friend. “Yeah, I am, but a fresh supply is coming in!” She tried to put on a reassuring smile, but she was a bit worried too, “I’m sure it will arrive in time. Don’t worry Ecto!”

Ecto didn’t seem too sure, but she gave her wide smile that was now very similar to that of Pinkie Pie’s in Femme's eyes. Still, it put her at ease as well. Ecto then remembered the undead servants, “Oh, I better help those guys out of that little mess I got them in! Take care and have a good night Femme!” She waved at her then sped off phasing through the walls.

Femme smiled back at where she disappeared to for a little while before turning back to the fridge. She opened the door and pulled out one of the bags filled with the red liquid. Marked on the bag was a bunch of letters followed by a plus sign and a minus sign. The letters were that of A, B, AB, and O; the A was circled in black marker and the plus sign was circled for the other two.

Femme closed her eyes for a moment and then gave into her hunger. Her eyes shot back open and were practically glowing. A hiss left her mouth as two of her teeth extended into sharp canines and she pierced the plastic bag with her newly grown jowls. The smell and taste of iron filled the air as she began to drink the bag filled with blood.