• Published 20th Jan 2012
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The Third Generation - Candle Light

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The Third Generation Chapter Four

The Third Generation

Chapter Four

By Candle Light

“And here we have the Ponyville Theater, darlings. One of several, I should say; we have many musical talents here in Ponyville.”

“There’s something we have in common,” Twilight commented. “I guess ponies everywhere likes to sing.”

“You wanna hear a song right now? Please tell me you wanna here a song right now!”

“Later, Pinkie.”

The royal introductions done, Luna descided to fly back to Canterlot to start organizing a search party for the missing ponies – and get some sleep; she wasn’t used to being awake at this hour. Celestia, ending their introduction by telling them to look forward to more company tomorrow, promising to send ponies to teach them all about Equestrian customs and history, had been more than willing to come along when Rainbow Dash had offered them a tour of the village.

Nearly everypony in town had come along at first, but the more places they passed, the more they dropped off – likely to go check on Pinkie Pie, whom the village Sweetie Belle had taken home to rest – until only Rainbow Dash and a few of her friends – Razzaroo, Wysteria and Whistle Wishes, if Twilight remembered correctly – were accompanying the Princess and her entourage.

“Next up, we have my fashion boutique,” said Rainbow Dash. “Do come inside, darlings, there is plenty of room for one and all.”

Twilight thought it was going to be crowded in there with thirteen ponies in one room, but the interior was much roomier than she had thought. All along the walls were hangers filled with different kinds of clothing, and much like in Rarity’s shop, there were the occasional pile of fabric on the floor. “It’s not much, but here is where I make all our garments.”

“Very nice establishment indeed,” the Princess commended. “It’s nice to see an earth pony working with fashion. It’s becoming quite rare these days.”

“Well, I hardly see what that would have anything to do with—” Rainbow Dash cut her own sentence short, her eyes swelling up. “Oh no,” she gasped, trotting over to a pile of cloth, poking it with her hoof. She kept poking it, as if trying to wake it up, her expression gradually descending into despair. “I can’t pick them up!” She then tried to scoop the sheet up, but it would only glide off. “How am I suppose to make clothes when I can’t even pick up the fabric?!”

“Can’t you just use yer mouth?” suggested Applejack.

“And get teeth-marks all over the cloth?!”

“Oh darling,” calmed Rarity, “you don’t have to use your teeth. See?” She demonstrated on a piece of pink fabric, holding it up with her muzzle, and then dropped it on the floor, leaving no mark of any kind. “I do it all the time, when my horn is occupied with other things. You’ll just have to be, well, extra good at it.”

“You can do it,” Razzaroo pepped. “No one makes dresses and hats like you do.”

A smile returned to Rainbow Dash’s face. “You’re right; I’ll just have to adapt, just like everyone else. Thank you, Raz and Rarity, for being so darling.”

When the Princess was done looking around the shop, they all went outside to continue the tour. They passed over the river on a pink bridge, walked through a park right next to a big roller coaster – to which Twilight was surprised to see Pinkie Pie wasn’t rushing off to play – and onwards until they reached the Ponyville air balloon yard. All in all, Twilight found the village rather endearing, and surprisingly modern for a town that had been hidden away for a thousand years.

“Why is everything so gaudy?” complained Scootaloo. “There’s like a heart shape on every door.”

“We put heart-shapes on things back home too, you know,” remarked Twilight.

“And I never liked it. At least we don’t have heart-shaped lamp posts.”

“Well, little darling, I think it adds a homey touch,” said the local Rainbow Dash. “After all, doesn’t every girl like it bright and colorful?”

“Not really my style,” Scootaloo said dismissively.

“I’m with Scoot,” the pegasus version of Rainbow Dash agreed. “All this pink is kinda making me dizzy... no offense.”

“None taken, darling; every village has their own customs. Why, in Unicornia, everything is themed around rainbows, darlings! I’ve wanted to moving there for a while, but I could never bring myself to leave my friends behind. But now that it’s just a stone’s throw away, maybe I can!”

“Ah think it’s kinda nice here,” said Apple Bloom. “It’s peaceful and bright, and everypony is mighty friendly.”

“If by peaceful you mean boring,” said Scootaloo. “I wanna go check out that mountain! We could be the Cutie Mark Crusader Mountaineers!”

“Didn’t we already try that?” pointed Sweetie Belle.

“Yeah, but not on a real mountain! That’ll be way more exciting that going around looking at buildings and flowers!”

“Well then, little darlings, would a castle be exciting enough for you?” As they left the garden, there, atop a small hill, one of the castles they had seen from the carriage came into view. It was pinkest structure yet, contrasted only by a few smudges of yellow. It was also the smallest castle Twilight had ever seen, only slightly bigger than one of Applejack’s barns. A hot air balloon was parked by one of the towers, floating in the air uselessly.

“Castles are cool,” said Scootaloo, eagerness returning to her eyes. “But why is it so pink?”

“It used to be purple, actually,” Rainbow Dash told them, “but one day, on Pinkie’s birthday, we decided to paint the whole town pink in her honor. We all agreed afterward that the castle just looked more darling this way.”

“That’s debatable,” remarked Scootaloo. “But I’m definitely all for exploring a castle!”

“Yeah!” agreed Sweetie Belle. The fillies grouped together and added, “Cutie Mark Crusader Castle Explorers are go!

“What’s a Cutie Mark Crusader?” asked Razzaroo. “Sounds like fun!”

“It’s a ton of fun!” said Apple Bloom. “We’re on a crusade…”

“…a quest…!”

“…a mission…!”

“…to find a way to get our cutie marks. We’ve been trying a bunch of different stuff!”

“But no results so far.”

“But we’ll get it eventually! We just have to keep on trying.”

“So these things are actually called cutie marks?” said Razzaroo, fascinated. “Toola-Roola will be happy to hear that. I just call them butt symbols.”

“That reminds me; I can’t wait to meet Scootaloo!” said the orange filly. “I mean, both Rainbow Dashes and Pinkie Pies share similar cutie marks; there’s gotta be a clue to what mine’s gonna be.”

“I think Scootaloo went to check on Pinkie,” said Rainbow Dash. “But I’m sure we’ll run into her eventually. Now, into the castle we go.”

The drawbridge already down, the entourage of ponies walked into the pink building and into a big hall that was only marginally less pink. The cutie mark crusaders wasted no time running off in all directions to explore. “This is where we hold extra special events, such as the Friendship Ball, or birthday parties.”

“Remarkable architecture,” commented the Princess, observing the heart-arcs and the star-shaped doorways. “Very reminiscing of the Heartthrobian design from a couple of centuries back, but the ceiling is definitely a St. Lightsburg inspired piece that was popular about five hundred years ago. Intriguing…”

“Hey, there’s a second floor to this place!” Scootaloo called to her companions, who rushed over to her. She then turned to their guide. “What’s up there?”

“Why don’t we go and have look,” she suggested. “I think it’s time we gave Spike a real royal wake-up.”

***

Celestia scanned the cluttered library that made up the second floor of the castle; piles of books thrown unceremoniously on the floor, a bed that had clearly been unmade for a long time, a desk filled to the brim with half-empty mugs, quills and half-scribbled parchments. On the floor, not the bed, lay a blue creature, its back turned to the entering ponies. But its spikes and tail was more than enough for her to recognize the creature. It almost made her heart stop.

“Spiiike!” called Razzaroo. “Oh, it’s no use, nothing we’ve tried had made him so much as budge. You don't happen to know how to wake a sleeping dragon, would you Princess?”

It was too much to be a coincidence. Celestia walked around the creature to get a better look at it, and the conformation to her suspicion made her gasp out loud. “Kenbroth!”

“Do you know this dragon?” asked Twilight, surprise in her voice.

“Yes but… I don’t believe this! I never thought I’d see him again!”

Her faithful student came to her teacher’s side, examining the dragon-like creature, her eyes filling with curiosity. “This is an Earth Dragon, isn’t it,” she realized, eying it with utmost fascination. “But I thought they went extinct several thousand years ago, when the Windigos covered the land in snow.”

“Earth Dragons are one of the world’s most intelligent and cunning creatures; many survived by moving deeper underground,” Celestia explained to her. “There are only a handful left in Equestria. As for this one… I do happen to know how to wake him up.” The Princess set her horn aglow, initiating a memory spell, then carried it down to the dragon’s forehead. With the voice akin to a knight addressing her liege, she spoke, “Your Majesty Sir Kenbroth, it is time to rise!”

The effect was immediate. The dragon rose into sitting position, looking around wildly. “Whu-wha? It’s time already? But I…” After a few moments he calmed down, and the first thing he saw was Princess Celestia, gazing down on him with a serious look. At first he only looked drowsily back at her, but then, slowly, realization filled his eyes, until he said in an almost whispering tone, “Celestia?”

“Good morning, Master Kenbroth Gilspotten Heathspike,” she greeted. “I trust you’ve had a nice sleep?”

He looked at her dumbfounded, then turned his head to see the other ponies in the rooms. Then he turne back to the Princess. “Princess Celestia… what in all of Equestria has happened?” he asked incredulously, though his voice still carryed that deceivingly quirky nature that earth dragons were known for. “I-I don’t remember anything… except that one moment I was with you and Princess Luna, and the next I… yes, I think I was given a mission by someone: ‘guard this flower,’ they said, ‘and teach whomever finds it the way of the Princess.’ That’s when Wysteria and Pinkie Pie found me! I’ve been here staying here in Ponyville ever since, but… that was all a dream, wasn’t it.”

“Like the rest of the village, you were put under a spell,” Celestia told him. “Just as you were when Discord took you from us. You were our most loyal adviser, an integral part in upholding our society with Discord at large… but I suppose we underestimated his cunning.”

“Ah yes, it's coming back... oh, Princess, I-I…” The look of dismay spoke volumes more than his stuttering, which answered a question Celestia had been asking herself for centuries. He had not been a traitor after all. “I have no excuse for what I did; whatever I did. I do remember bits and pieces, now that you’ve brought it up… yes, he snatched me away, then dug his claws into my head, and…” he paused, looking down at his feet. “Oh my. I went and lent him all my wisdom, didn’t I. It is because of me that Discord rose to power...”

“What is done is done, and lamenting the past will serve us no purpose,” spoke the Princess. “Discord’s rule lasted only eight years, and more than a thousand years has passed since then. This village, and the illusion you were under, was the last of his legacy; now his magic only exists as a scattered remnants within some of the residents of this town.”

The blue dragon turned his attention to the ponies, watching them curiously as they were watching him. “Ah yes, I suppose your appearances were also just a part of the dream. Nonetheless, it’s so good to see you are well. You must be Rainbow Dash, yes? I didn’t know you were really a pegasus.”

“Uhh… hello, darling?” the outsider Rainbow Dash managed, giving him a sheepish grin. He looked at her conspicuously, then jumped as he saw her lookalike right behind her.

Two Rainbow Dashes?” he observed, like many others before him shifting his eyes between the two. “This is peculiar indeed.”

“You could say that again,” agreed the Rainbow Dash he was acquainted with. “You look rather different yourself, darling; you were not so big when we saw you last, nor were your scales quite so… scaly.”

“Now that you mention it,” the dragon realized, “I do seem to be taller. Why, before I went to have my nap, I was only half your size; now I’m nearly double!”

“Still mighty small for a dragon, if ya ask me,” said Applejack.

“Earth Dragons never get bigger than this,” said Celestia. “He’s actually more than two thousand years old.”

“Three thousand, if you add the time I’ve been asleep,” added the Earth Dragon. He turned his attention to the village local Rainbow Dash, staring deep into her eyes. “Hmm, yes, I do sense a little bit of Discord left in you, my dear. Not to worry, it’s just a small drop among all the other wonderful things that makes you you. But…” he moved on to one of the other local village ponies, staring her into the eyes, “Wysteria, I sense nothing in you, except your kind heart and warm compassion.” He moved on to Whistle Wishes, and then Razzaroo. “Nor you two.”

“Just as I suspected,” said Celestia. “Of all ponies currently in the village, only Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie carry the remnants of Discord.”

“Are you sure?” asked Twilight Sparkle.

“Yes, I checked them each individually when they introduced themselves, which leads me to believe that those who are still missing also carry a fragment of Discord.”

Realization swept over Twilight’s face. “Rainbow Dash, how many ponies are missing right now?”

“Let’s see; Minty, Rarity and… Star Catcher, right?” But then Rainbow Dash gasped, “Kimono, darlings!”

“That’s right!” said Razzaroo, “she wasn’t there when we introduced ourselves. How could we forget about her?”

“She lives in a cave outside of Ponyville,” Wysteria explained to Celestia. “She’s wisest pony in the land, and keeper of pony legends and lore.”

“This confirms my suspicions,” concluded Celestia. “Six elements of harmony…”

“…six missing ponies…!” Twilight filled in. “Each carrying a remnant of Discord!”

“What, so it’s like some kind of Elements of Discord?” guessed Applejack.

“No, the traces are too faint,” said Celestia. “But it could be a piece to a larger puzzle. It only means we need to be careful how we handle things, and that we need to find the missing ponies post-haste.”

“No sweat, Princess,” the cerulean pegasus said. “When we find them, we’ll just zap ‘em with the good ol’ rainbow, and they’ll be good as new.”

“Unless that turns them to stone,” pointed Rarity. “Or send them to the moon.”

“Rarity is right; the Elements are a mystery unto themselves,” the Princess agreed. “We don’t know how it would react to them, and we certainly don’t want to punish those who have done no wrong.”

“I take it from this conversation that you and Luna actually found the Elements, then,” interrupted the dragon.

“We did, and with them, we ended the war and turned Discord into a statue,” Celestia recapped to him what was now ancient history. “Perhaps it would be best if we ended the tour here, Rainbow Dash; Kenbroth and I have a lot to discuss. Twilight, why don’t you and your friends spend the day here, get to know the villagers better. I’ll come pick you up at sundown.”

“An’ here Ah’d promised Big Mac I’d be back to help with the buckin’ come supper,” Applejack said with a sigh. “Guess he’s on his own.”

And with that, everypony filed out of the room, leaving the Princess alone with her old royal adviser. Despite it all, she was happy to have him back, as he had been one of the sister’s closest friends back in the day. She looked forward to having a good chat with him for the first time in eons.

But before she could, Pinkie Pie with the poofy mane popped back up from the stairs. She looked up at her, an uncharacteristic seriousness in her look. “Princess, I would like to ask you a favor.”

***

“Well, darlings, where should we go next?” wondered Rainbow Dash.

“I’m worried about Kimono,” Wysteria suggested. “We should at least check her cave, see if she’s still there. Maybe she’s locked herself in.

“I agree, darling. Besides, there is much to see on the way there: we have Wysteria’s flower garden Daffy’s beauty parlor…”

“Flower garden?” repeated Scootaloo. “Beauty parlor? Isn’t there anyplace more fun we could go? Someplace not so snuggly-wuggly?”

“Have patience, little darlings, you’ll get to see everywhere eventually.”

“But that’s no adventure! The Princess said it would be an adventure! We wanna go explore on our own, don’t we guys?”

“Yeah,” agreed Apple Bloom. “How are we gonna be the Cutie Mark Crusader Explorers we’re just following a group.”

“I know you you want to stretch your legs,” said Twilight, “but we can’t have you wandering off on your own in an unfamiliar town; how are we going to find you?”

“I could go with the kids,” offered pegasus Rainbow Dash. “If we need to find you, I’ll just spy you from the sky.”

“Awesome! Can we, miss Rainbow Dash?” The three little ponies gave the earth pony a pleading look, adding in chorus, “Pleeeease?”

“Oh, all right, darlings, if it’s that important to you,” she gave in. “Just don’t venture outside the village.”

Twilight considered it for a moment. She was against the idea of splitting up the group; who knew what other tricks Discord had hid around the village? But she knew how impatient the kids could be – and Rainbow Dash as well, for that matter – so maybe letting them have their fun wasn’t such a bad idea. “Alright kids, but you’ll have to come back to us around dinnertime. Can we count on you to fetch them for us, Fluttershy?”

“Uh, okay,” the yellow pegasus said with a small nod.

“Thank you, Twilight!” said the three all together. And with a final, “Cutie Mark Crusader Explorers are go, yay!” they ran off the opposite direction from the castle, the cerulean pegasus following in tow.

“By the way, where’s Pinkie Pie,” noticed Twilight. “Ours, I mean.”

“Here I am!” said mentioned pony from behind. “What did I miss?”

“Nothing much, just the fillies running off with Rainbow Dash on an adventure.”

“Oh, makes sense. Actually, I can’t stay either, got lots to do. See ya!”

“Pinkie, wai—” but the pink party pony had already rounded the nearest building. Twilight sighed. “And that’s what we like to describe as Pinkie being Pinkie.”

“Did we say something to offend her?” asked Razzaroo.

“Nah, she just likes to run around doin’ her own thing,” assured Applejack. “Makes ya wonder what she’s up to this time.”

“Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, I can’t wait to see that garden.”

***

“So, Crusaders, do you have a plan?” asked Rainbow Dash, having watched the fillies running around aimlessly for about ten minutes. Three ponies had mistaken her for the other Rainbow Dash already, so she made sure to keep herself in the air to avoid confusion.

“Sure we do,” answered Sweetie Belle. “If we’re gonna be the Cutie Mark Explorers, we need to go where there is most exploring to do.”

“You mean the amusement park, right?” said Apple Bloom.

“No, I mean that.” Sweetie Belle pointed at the tall mountain towering over the village. “I say we cross that mountain and see what’s on the other side!”

“Yeah!” Scootaloo whooped, flapping her wings. “One of us are bound to get our cutie mark if we can climb that thing.”

“Alright, girls, knock yourselves out,” said Rainbow Dash, estimating a total climb height of ten pony lengths before they would decide to go around the mountain instead.

As the girls made their way through town, towards the looming behemoth of a mountain, Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but note the excessive cutesiness that was the overlaying theme of this town. Seriously, pretty much everything in this town had a heart-shape somewhere on it, weather it be a window or roof ornament. Sure there was some of that back home, but not so blatantly gaudy. Every rooftop had been painted with a bright and colorful scheme; pink most of the time. Also, unlike her version of Ponyville, buildings were usually made of bricks and stones around here, as opposed to tree and thatch.

It didn’t take long before they arrived at the last stretch of grass separating the town and the mountain, and there, the Cutie Mark Crusaders came to a halt. Because on the grass, they spotted…

“Scootaloo!” called the orange filly, running over to her counterpart, which very much took her by surprise. “You’re Scootaloo, aren’t you? I’m Scootaloo! Man, I bet this is how I’ll when I grow up. Well, if I dye my mane.”

At first, the grownup version only seemed confused, but then she laid eyes on Rainbow Dash, and realization seemed to hit her. “Oh! You came here with the Princess, didn’t you. Holy smokes, you do look like a younger me! And you’re…” she took a second look at Rainbow Dash, “…not Rainbow Dash, are you.”

“Thank you!” the pegasus replied. The mix-up had been fun the first ten times, but it was getting old fast. “You think having a smaller version of yourself around is confusing? If I didn’t have these wings attached to my back, even I couldn’t tell myself apart.”

Grown-up Scootaloo laughed. “I know, it’s weird, right? I tried asking the Unicorns of Unicornia about it, but they say this is beyond any magic they’ve ever seen.”

“Yeah yeah, enough about that,” said the filly Scootaloo impatiently. “Let’s see your cute mark!” she rounded her flank eagerly, but then the smile dropped from her face. “A butterfly? My special talent is a butterfly?!”

“Special talent?” asked the grown-up version. “Is that what they’re supposed to represent?”

“Don’t they teach you anything in school?” commented Apple Bloom.

“What’s school?”

“You don’t have school around here? It’s where you learn how to write, read, do math; that sorta thing. Ah’m jealous.”

“Oh. My mom taught me all that when I was a kid,” explained grownup Scootaloo. “I don’t see what my mark’s gotta do with my talents, though. Pinkie Pie told me I got it when I was chasing a butterfly when I was a baby. I thought it had to do with things you liked, not what you’re good at. I’ve always liked butterflies.”

“Aww,” said the filly-version in disappointment. “I thought you’d give me a clue on how to get my own cutie mark. Though I guess I’m glad my special talent isn’t a butterfly. I don’t wanna be an animal tender like Fluttershy.”

“I thought cutie marks were the same anywhere,” said Apple Bloom. “I’ve never even heard of somepony getting theirs when they’re just a baby.”

“Don’t feel bad,” said Sweetie Belle, “it’s probably just Discord messing with the laws of reality.”

“I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’ve been under a spell our whole lives,” the village Scootaloo shared. “But I’ll be honest with you, ever since I ‘woke up’, as it were, I’ve felt… different. Like I’ve entered a body that’s not my own, taken on a different life. It’s a strange feeling alright… but not altogether bad. I don’t know how to describe it, but the world feels more alive somehow.”

“Yeah, I can relate, actually,” Rainbow Dash told her. “I was under Discord’s spell once too.”

“Seriously?!” the filly version exclaimed, and the cerulean pegasus realized she never actually told her about it.

“Yeah, Scoot, not a proud day. I was in my own world, where nothing matter but me myself and I. Getting out of there was one of the biggest reliefs I can remember. But I guess that’s not the same; I didn’t spend my whole life there.”

“So is Discord is gone?” asked big Scootaloo. “That’s why the spell around the village broke, right? Because you defeated him?”

“More or less.”

“Well, I guess that means we're in charge of our own lives from here on out. It’s been nice meeting you guys; I gotta scoot. I’ve been avoiding my friends for too long. And Scootaloo, next time we meet, I’ll show you some of my wicked Scooter tricks.”

Her eyes lit up. “I can’t wait!” And with that, the grownup version of Scootaloo galloped off back into town.

***

“Kimono, darling?” called the village Rainbow Dash as the group gazed into the dark cave. “Are you there?”

Silence. And darkness. Kimono’s cave was never dark; every time Rainbow Dash had come to visit, torches had been lit along the walls, giving the place a welcoming glow. Now, the cave only extended into blackness, a slight echo greeting Rainbow Dash’s call.

“There’s a pony living in here?” asked Fluttershy. “It’s so dark and cold.”

“This can’t be the right cave,” said Wysteria. “She would always decorate the entrance with pots of flowers.”

“But where else could it be?” Rainbow Dash rebutted. “I say we at least go have a look inside. That is, as soon as we go back and fetch a torch.”

“Allow me,” offered Twilight, and without another word, her horn started glowing. “Will this do?”

“Perfect, darling. Let’s go.”

There were indeed signs of residence – empty baskets, torch holders – but nothing that would indicate someone actually living here. Dripping of water could be heard from all around them, and the occasional bat would fly off and frighten them, making Fluttershy squeak in terror. The cave bent to the right, and just as Rainbow Dash remembered it, there was a wooden door. She did not, however, remember it being so cracked and rotted.

“I really, really don’t like this place,” said Fluttershy in a shaken voice. “Do we have to go in there?”

Rainbow Dash found herself sharing the sentiment; just looking at the worn-down door filled her heart with unease, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever they would find beyond would not be pleasant. Nonetheless, they couldn’t turn back now; if by any off-chance Kimono was still in there – perhaps unable to move or speak – they couldn’t just leave her there. “I’m afraid we have to. Anyone want to go first?”

“I’m the one with the light, so I guess I’ll go,” said Twilight. As she pushed the door open, Rainbow Dash half-expected something to jump out at them… but nothing came. They entered the room, the light from Twilight’s horn revealing a picture that almost made Rainbow Dash’s heart stopped.

This was Kimono’s room alright, but everything was in ruin. One brought not by physical struggle, but by the test of time itself. A rotted pile of wood occupied one corner, the iron skeleton of a bed another; the few pieces of furniture that were still standing were covered in cob-web. No water was dripping here, making it perfect for dust to settle, and once again being stirred as the ponies entered.

“There are heavy traces of magic here,” Twilight told the group.

“Hay, even ah can feel it,” said Applejack. “And it's givin' me the chills. It’s like Discord’s in the room with us.”

“I don’t feel anything,” said Razzaroo. “Except creeped out. This can’t be Kimono’s cavern.”

Fluttershy was shaking head to hoof, her posture very low. “W-whatever it is, I-I d-don’t wanna be here. I really don’t wanna be here.”

“That’s something we can agree on,” said Rarity, observing what must have been a closet in ages past, now only a wooden hollow square. “I’ve never seen a place quite so dusty. Would you like go back and wait outside, dear?”

“I-I’m okay. As long as we're done soon.”

“It’s like no one’s been in this room for who knows how long,” pondered Twilight. “Are you absolutely sure this is Kimono’s cavern?”

“Not so much anymore,” admitted Rainbow Dash. “But the interior is the same, what's left of it anyway, and I’m pretty sure we took the right path here. Why, I visited Kimono just a few days ago, and it was as homely as could be.”

Twilight looked like she was thinking hard. “Just to clarify: the town as you remember it is still the same, before and after the spell was broken, right?”

“More or less, yes.”

“In other words, the Time Capsule must have preserved the village as it appeared when the spell was first cast. This place, on the other hoof, looks as though it’s been left to its natural flow of time. Was it some flaw in Discord's magic, or did he plan it this way? Why here?”

Rainbow Dash gasped. “But if the cave has fallen into such state, what if Kimono…!”

“It’s too early to say that,” said Twilight, calming Rainbow Dash down before her imagination could get the better of her. “I think it's safe to assume she was spirited away into Equestria, just like you and Pinkie. That said, Kimono and Discord must have been connected somehow. Enough for Discord to want to leave his mark on her home.”

Rainbow Dash walked over to her old bedside table, staring into what used to be the mirror, now only a slab of old metal. She was about to open a drawer, when Twilight let out a loud gasp, startling her. “Rainbow Dash!” she spoke frantically. “There! On the wall! Is that Kimono?”

Looking up, she saw Twilight’s glowing horn illuminating a small framed picture on the wall. The colors were faded, but there were no doubts the mare depicted on in the frame shared an exact similarity to Twilight Sparkle. She stared at it wide-eyed; despite the fact that she looked like someone else entirely, for reasons she could not explain, there was no doubt in her heart that this was indeed Kimono. “Why, it must be!”

“Well Ah’ll be strung by mah own rope,” said Applejack, staring at the picture. “That’s you to a tee. Is yer middle name Kimono, Twi?”

“Not that I know of...”

Rainbow Dash couldn’t stop staring at the picture. Somewhere deep within her mind, she felt she knew the girl on the picture from somewhere long before she met Twilight Sparkle, or even Kimono. Almost like memories that had been long forgotten were starting to resurface. Then, out of nowhere, the image of a creature came to mind, one whose only body part resembling a pony was the face. And immediately she knew what she saw. “I think we’ve stayed here long enough, darlings,” she opted. “I think the magic in this place might be getting to me.”




Special thanks to Tess Tesseract for help with editing.