• Published 10th Mar 2013
  • 2,371 Views, 46 Comments

Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara are Filly Cure! Magical Fillies!? - Starwind Dood

Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara must work together to save Equestria from looming shadows, the Crystal Empire from it's own painful past, and especially their classmates from their own sorrows? They'll have to to become Filly Cure!

  • ...

Now, Cuorezzato, wallow in your suffering!

The colorful mare threw herself onto the lyre, not landing on her hooves but rather collapsing herself over the remnants. She lifted the broken lyre high. It was unnerving to Apple Bloom, the way the mare rocked back and forth while her face twisted with maddening glee. "It's time," the mare shouted, "for the first exhibit!" A wind picked up, unnatural and otherworldly. It wrapped around the colorful mare, becoming an impenetrable barrier, howling like a mad chorus of screaming that overlaid the colorful mare's loud cackling. Apple Bloom couldn't get close and neither could Diamond Tiara.

"No." Apple Bloom turned around. Sherbert's cool demeanor was breaking apart fast. She was shaking, almost crying, hiding behind Diamond Tiara's back. "No!"

"It's them again!" Apple Bloom heard Custard cry.

Diamond Tiara stomped a hoof. "What!?" she screamed. "What are you going on about!? What's happening!? Are you ever going to explain anything!? Just what's going on!?"

"This lyre is a work of art!" came the colorful mare's voice again. Apple Bloom planted her hooves into the ground as the wind grew louder and stronger. Whatever joke the mare laughed about was over. From deep within her came terrible and powerful words. "Engraved upon it are the hopeless dreams of a broken heart!" The cocoon of wind began to beat, like a heart. Faster and faster, faster and faster, faster and faster until nothing more could be heard but this despairing beat.

Now, Cuorezzato, wallow in your suffering!

Evening was a special time. Blue gives in to a dancing collage of pink and orange and the temperature drops just enough for a chill but comfortable breeze. It's on these perfect moments that Lyra would sit in the park and play her lyre for an audience of passer-bys. This was long after a day of wrestling herself out of bed, long after a day of dealing with her day job, and long after finally losing her cool and quitting said job on foul terms. Perhaps she could play away all her pains? Perhaps she'd make a few bits by playing up the starving artist angle? Lyra arched her back against the bench and laid her lyre on her leg. An open case laid on the floor under her. She plucked a single string, creating a sound that danced with her breath. Her world was melting away, replaced by the notes that would soon play from her lyre. One more pluck…

Music was engulfing the park: simple and light with only the single instrument carrying the tune, but carrying with it a message of hope. Lyra held onto hope that she could buy her own dinner that night instead of continuing to rely on a close friend. The passer-by audience would occasionally pay for their attendance fees, but the park was even more empty than usual today. The coins would clink a little as they hit the floor of the lyre case. One, two, five even? She was gaining enough for afford the cheapest bites of Sugarcube Corner at least, but her routine was coming to an end, and after a certain hour there was no point in encore performances.

"Lyra!" came a squeaky little voice.

Lyra looked up in response. "Sweetie Belle!" she called back. Now there was one reason for an encore. The excitable Sweetie Belle galloped to her bench and hopped on top of it. "You're looking spry, Sweets. What's happening?"

"I came to visit you." It sounded like the simplest thing in the world.

"Aw, I'm touched. You're not with your sister today?"

Sweetie Belle poised herself with the kind of dignity that she learned to copy from her older sister. "Lyra I am a young mare. I can go out on my own leisure and enjoy the finer things in life." Lyra found Sweetie Belle's act incomprehensibly cute so she bent down to rustle Sweetie Belle's mane. "Besides, I wanted to see you."

"Aw shucks, Sweets. I'm touched." Lyra had left Sweetie Belle's mane a mess.

"So, can you play that last song again? I don't think I've heard you play it before" Sweetie Belle began begging, sealing her act with a large pair of puppy-dog eyes that she had had years to practice on her parents.

Lyra laughed at the filly's attempts to break her will. "That doesn't work on me, kiddo. Try harder." Watching Sweetie Belle switch from cute to cross was a favourite of Lyra's. "It's a new piece, so I guess I'm still working on it. You know, changing notes, trying out new stuff, really musical genius kind of stuff."

"That's so-o cool!" That sentence was stretched out over twenty seconds.

"Yeah, I guess. Well, since you are here, Sweets, I'll play that song again. Maybe you can figure out what's missing." Lyra repositioned the lyre in front of her. Watching Sweetie Belle nearly burst with joy was just enough to assuage her ego. At least, she would have, but a slight drop of water hit her nose first. "Huh?" She looked up, and saw pegasi positioning dark clouds up high in the sky. It was rain. "Looks like this show has been canceled due to rain. That's always a problem with these classy outside venues."

"Really? Aw." Sweetie Belle let out a wail of disappointment. "Will I see you tomorrow, at least?"

"Maybe," Lyra sighed. "I kinda have a gig to take care of."

"A gig?" Sweetie Belle repeated. "What's a gig?"

"Something I need." Lyra had just sealed the case protecting her Lyre. She got up from the bench and started on her way home. "See you around, Sweets." And she was off and gone.

"She's so hard to understand sometimes." It was beginning to rain. The longer she stayed out, the harder it would be to hide that she had snuck out. Quickly spinning about, Sweetie Belle smacked right into another pony. "S-sorry." She backed up and looked up to the pony, but all she could see was a hoof. No pony was visible in the darkness of the pony's hood. "Wish I brought a poncho too. Must be nice to have one now."

"Such beautiful art, such beautiful art," the cloaked pony prattled on, over and over again without so much as acknowledging Sweetie Belle. The voice was distinctly that of a mare, and the hooded mare raised a hoof over Sweetie Belle's head.

"Woah!" Sweetie Belle jumped to the side, just escaping being stepped on by the hooded mare. "Well, excuse you. Don't you think you should apologise?"

"Such beautiful art, such beautiful art." The hooded mare continued to ignore her as she continued on. Like a machine, she hooded mare was not impeded by the building rain, but it did knock down her hood. She had a rainbow-like mane, like another pony Sweetie Belle knew, but longer, and, somehow the colors moved, but there was not time to contemplate further. The mare had disappeared over the horizon.

Sweetie Belle picked herself up and dusted off some dirt. "That was weird."

The rain was picking up more and more now. Sweetie Belle had been reduced to the soggy likeness of a mangy dog. Forlorn and wet, Sweetie Belle was ready to go home, but she spotted a familiar yellow dot between her pink and purple strands of drenched mane. "Apple Bloom!?".

"Huh?" Apple Bloom groaned and turned towards the sudden call. Sweetie Belle was bounding up to her rapidly. "Oh, evenin', Sweetie Belle. Er, isn't it kinda late for you?"

"I'm a young mare," she replied with a falsely-dignified voice. "I can go out on my own."

"Do your parents know you're out here?"

"Apple Bloom, you're the last pony that can talk to me about that." Sweetie Belle was tapping a hoof. "Why does everypony act like I can't take care of myself?"

"Sorry, I'm just kinda sore." Apple Bloom groaned again and she stretched out her back. "I just need to go home right now."

Sweetie Belle looked over Apple Bloom, and discretely hidden all over Apple Bloom's body was an assortment of bruises and scrapes that no normal pony could have gotten in one day, let alone the few hours since Sweetie Belle has last seen Apple Bloom. "Was this because of detention?"

"Detention? N-no," Apple Bloom quickly stammered. "This was from... something else."

"Something else—"

"I-it's fine! I just need to get home."

Apple Bloom was very obviously hiding something, and if it were a nicer day Sweetie Belle would have inquired further, but it was not a nice day. It was a storm now, and Apple Bloom looked like she would collapse if she didn't get home. "Want me to join you?" Sweetie Belle didn't wait for an answer. She was already helping Apple Bloom back home, because that's what friends do for each other.

Apple Bloom was on her way through Ponyville. She had a new day ahead of her now, one that could have been filled with possibilities and opportunities. Instead, she had nothing but dread and disappointment ready. From the moment she woke up she saw every sign needed for a bad day; the sun was covered by an overcast of despairing clouds haphazardly put together by whichever pegasus was on-duty. Granny Smith had to shoo her out the door when she wasn't ready on time. A dull ache in her withers seemed to cement the deal, but the worst was still ahead: Diamond Tiara. After that anything seemed better.

The squeaky call of a friend caught her attention.

"Apple Bloom!" Sweetie Belle calling to Apple Bloom just a block ahead, Scootaloo right next to her. "Hurry up or you'll make us all late!"

The least of Apple Bloom's worries. "I hear ya, I hear ya!" Apple Bloom stomped her hooves down and skidded to a stop right next to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. Neither noticed the little red compact mirror that bounced out of Apple Bloom's tail for all of half a second. With a fatigued sigh Apple Bloom greeted her friends. "Good mornin', girls."

"Good morning." Sweetie Belle seemed as happy as ever. "Are you feeling better?"

Definitely not. "Yeah. Thanks for the other day."

"Something happen?" Scootaloo poked her head around Apple Bloom; welts and bruises everywhere. "Woah, hey, did a tree fall on you or something? You look terrible!"

Apple Bloom felt terrible too. She wouldn't say it though. If she could she would just tell them the truth, but the annoying yellow fairy wouldn't have it. "I'll be fine. You try working on a farm sometime scoots, and you'll look worse than me!"

"No way, pass!" Scootaloo huffed and twirled about. The three of them were now on their way to school. "Anyway, after class yesterday, Sweetie Belle made me try her cooking. Ulgh!"

"Hey," Sweetie Belle said with offence, "you weren't complaining before,"

"Yeah, that was before I tried it. Then I tried it." The terrible memories of Sweetie Belle's 'cookies' were threatening to come up Scootaloo's stomach. "Sweetie Belle, stay out of the kitchen because cooking is definitely not your cutie mark."

"I don't care." Sweetie Belle swung her head back, her curls bouncing towards Scootaloo. "One day you'll be begging to eat my cooking. Just you watch."

"I'll have to be in the middle of the desert and have already eaten my hooves and wings before that! Now quit your bellyaching already, right Apple Bloom?" No answer. "Hey, Apple Bloom. Scootaloo to Apple Bloom, do you read me?" Still no answer. Scootaloo turned and Apple Bloom was still next to her with her nose almost glued to the ground and her eyes shut. "Pick up a trick from your dog?" Scootaloo punctuated her sentence with a hard prod.

"Custard!" Apple Bloom yelled out loud, swinging her head back haphazardly.

"Are you hungry?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Apple Bloom realized she was not in bed and that a magical talking mirror was not bouncing on her head. "Y-yeah. I could really go for some custard," Apple Bloom slowly replied. "Hey, Sweetie Belle, think you could make some?"

"Were you not paying attention to anything I said!?" Scootaloo yelled out. Apple Bloom was not paying attention and Sweetie Belle was just happily nodding along. "Oh brother."

The schoolhouse was in-view and there was but a few minutes left before the school bell would ring. "C'mon, girls," Scootaloo said. "Apple Bloom, are you okay?"

"Yah, just fine." Painstakingly Apple Bloom quickened her pace to reach the schoolhouse, the destination in mind being her assigned seat at the front of the class. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo followed just after her, neither overtaking her pace and instead staring at her from behind. Both of them were concerned.

Just at the edge of the doorway, Apple Bloom was nearly knocked to the side by a certain quartet on ponies on wheels.

"One side!" "Watch your back!" "Hurry up, Rumble!" "You all suck!" the roller ponies shouted to one another. Another stumbling block in Apple Bloom's day.

She slumped over to her desk and collapsed over it. Maybe now she could rest, but that thought was interrupted by a quick glint of silver. A sword was suddenly shoved in front of Apple Bloom's face, causing her to bob back and come face to face with its owner,: a gray colt with a blue mane. "What the hay!?" Apple Bloom said to him. She knew him, if only a little. "Lance, what are you don'!" Apple Bloom smacked the sword aside; it was made of rubber.

"I want a rematch, Apple Bloom." He growled at her to seem threatening, but wasn't the scariest thing Apple Bloom had seen all week. Besides, she was too tired to feel intimidated. He went on some more. "A rematch for the humiliation you handed me before."

Apple Bloom stared at him for a moment before realizing what he was was so worked up over. "Oh, from the sword fight we had, when I had the cutie pox?"

"The one where you faked a cutie mark, right?" Diamond Tiara answered. Apple Bloom twirled in her seat to find Diamond Tiara sitting with her hooves under her chin and her lips curling into a sneer. Compared to the bruised Apple Bloom, Diamond Tiara sparkled with perfection. She was the other half of Filly Cure and fought with Apple Bloom against King Sombra the other day, but she looked fine. Why wasn't she covered in injuries?

Apple Bloom returned to Lance; he was still leering at her. "Yeah, as she said, I didn't win the fight fair and square. You don't need to challenge me or anything, Lance. You'll win."

"Unacceptable," Lance barked back. "This is for my pride as a fencer and the head of the fencing club!"

"Which you’re the only member of," Diamond Tiara said with a mean-spirited grin. "The only there's ever been, too."

"It still has pride!" Lance shouted back.

Apple Bloom yawned. Lance threw her one last misplaced stare and took his seat as Cheerilee walked into the classroom. She greeted everyone with a drawn out but spirited greeting.

"Good morning, class!" Every student greeted her back. "I hope nopony is late today. We have so much fun stuff to cover it would be a shame if anypony was late."

The door to the classroom shot open as two unicorns came barreling through the door, scampering over to two desks in the back as if it was normal.

"Snips, Snails," Cheerilee said with a sigh.

"Yes, Ms. Cheerilee?" Snips and Snails said with the toothiest grins they could muster.

Cheerilee hung her head in defeat. "I'll let it slide today, but please don't make this a habit."

There was a dim light in the royal bedroom. On the corner of the bed sat Shining Armor and at the moment his name would be the last adjective to describe his appearance. A ragged mane hung off his head and his princely white coat was more a sickly gray. No sleep that night, just worry, pacing and planning. In the corner opposite the locked door, almost collapsed onto her vanity was Princess Cadance. The princess didn't look princessly either. Shining Armor cleared his throat. "Did you send a letter to Princess Celestia?"

"Just this morning." Princess Cadance croaked. "I asked them not to let anypony know about Sombra."

"Would it really be terrible if everypony knew?"

"The crystal heart is powered by the positive feelings of the crystal ponies." Shining Armor knew this speech. "That positive feeling that they all summoned in what was the face of certain danger that empowered the Crystal Heart and destroyed King Sombra." Facts Shining Armor knew five times over. "Or, at least I thought destroyed him. However, if the crystal ponies were to lose heart..."

"Then the crystal heart will lose all its power and the crystal empire would be vulnerable to whatever King Sombra has planned, even though he already got in the castle." Shining Armor nearly collapsed, exhausted out of his mind. "Something like that, right?"

"Right." Princess Cadance said.

"So now Princess Twily is out of the loop? Guess she won't be the star of this story." It was a funny thought. Just what was his sister up to these days, Shining Armor wondered.

"This isn't Twilight's duty to handle. It's mine." Those words echoed in her head, ringing louder and louder to engulf her every thought. "Before, it was to test her, a test I'm glad she passed with flying colors because I was incapable of doing anything at the time, but this time is different. I can do something, and I will do something. Twilight has her own matters to attend to, and these are mine."

"And by extension, they are mine as well. So, how will we find them?"

Cadance's head snapped back at the uttering of the word 'we'. "That's a much more difficult question to answer." Princess Cadance sunk back into her vanity. "I don't know, but unless action is taken soon there will be much more pressing matters to deal with. I'm certain he is looking for them as we speak. I have no time to be idle, but I don't know where to start."

"Let's start from the top then. Just how much do you know about the crystals?"

"The crystals react to pure hearts and hide themselves within the heart of the user."

"Ew," Shining Armor gagged.

"Metaphorical hearts, if it makes any more sense. These are all things I remember from what my mother told me, and that was more than a thousand years ago."

"Anything else?"

"Just one." Princess Cadance heart sunk deep into the pit of her stomach. "One way to extract the Aurora Crystal from its host is to break her heart..."

Shining Armor cocked his head. He stared at Princess Cadance, expecting some kind of joke after such a wild statement. All she had for him was silence. "Break their hearts? How does that even make sense?"

"You're asking me how magical crystals older than I am work?" Princess Cadance said with a flash of irritation, leaving Shining Armor too stunned to reply. "It's what my mother told me. The crystals will hide in pure hearts, and the only way to break them out is to break the heart around it. And that's all I have to go on."

To break a heart: it was such a nebulous idea that neither of the two ponies really knew what it meant, but it was not a light phrase. As ill-defined as it is, a broken heart is a terrible pain to inflict on others.

The lunch bell sounded off. Apple Bloom sunk back into her desk as around her students started pouring out into the play-yard, dragging their lunched behind them. Normally she would join them, but today she had someone else to deal with first. Apple Bloom's eyes peeked around to Diamond Tiara; Diamond Tiara was glaring back at her. Custard, as a mirror, was bouncing around in Apple Bloom's tail. She was definitely not looking forward to this.

"Apple Bloom, let's go," Scootaloo called to her.

"Go on without me, Scoots. I gotta talk to Diamond Tiara about something." They were painful words to say, like trying to chew bark, a sensation Apple Bloom learned was rather painful.

Silver Spoon came between Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara. "And just what are you planning?" she asked irritably.

"Ignore her." Diamond Tiara nonchalantly rose from her desk. "Let's go, Silver Spoon."

"Huh, wait!" Apple Bloom called out as she shot out of her desk. "Diamond—"

"There's nothing to talk about." Diamond Tiara shut her off and left the classroom with Silver Spoon on her tail. Nothing was left but the air of spiteful animosity and Apple Bloom's irritated huffing.

Apple Bloom grounded her teeth and yelled out, "that spoiled little brat!"

"Apple Bloom," Cheerliee said with a doting tone.

"That spoiled little brat," Apple Bloom whispered under her breath so no one would hear.

"Ignore her." Scootaloo smacked Apple Bloom on her back. "It's lunch-time. Let's quickly finish some sandwiches and plan our next cutie mark foray!"

"Fine," Apple Bloom huffed as she left into the schoolyard with her two friends. It was hard to remain focused when around Diamond Tiara, even with her two friends next to her for moral support. Yet still, If there was one thing she could always count on it was Diamond Tiara finding some way to always make her mad. Always.

The school-yard was as bustling as ever, but instead of the usual fillies on jump-ropes and colts by the tetherballs, nearly every single pony was around the jungle gym, their attention completely undivided.

"Let's check it out," Scootaloo said as she pulled Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle through the crowd. Sitting rather oddly at the front of the jungle gym was a sea-green unicorn mare. Many new this pony by the name...

"Lyra!" Sweetie Belle cracked in surprise. "Lyra, what are you doing here?"

"Heya, Sweets," Lyra replied back to her with a lazy wave. "Just sitting around, you'know?" Next to her floated a bronzed golden lyre, or at least seemed like it was made of gold. All Lyra had to do was play a couple masterful notes on it to have the entire crowd in awe. If it only it was always this easy, she thought.

"That was so cool," came Snips's raspy voice.

"Let me get your picture for the school paper," Shady Daze begged.

"You could play for the Princess," Pipsqueak squeaked.

"Colts, colts, calm down," Lyra laughed. "You're making me blush." She placed both her hooves on the hovering lyre and began playing a rather lively melody on the strings, bringing out a much more enthusiastic response from her crowd.

With the sweet music playing, Apple Bloom found herself in high spirits once again. She was in complete awe of the power of Lyra's music. With each second, she cared less and less about Diamond Tiara complete brush off of her. It seemed so far away and petty now. She just wanted to enjoy the moment, but one pesky nagging inkling in her tail wasn't going to let her. "Ugh," she groaned as she brought her tail to her ears. "Custard, what is it?"

"Something's wrong," Custard whispered anxiously. "I've got this weird feeling going around."

"Weird, like Sombra weird?" Apple Bloom asked back, her heart sinking into the pit of her stomach.

"Nope, definitely not that."

"Then leave me alone," Apple Bloom sighed as she swatted her tail back.

"Alright, kiddies," Lyra announced as she finished her piece. "I'll play for you all later. I got something I need to take care of real quick. See you all later." She rose from the playset and strolled through the crowd as it opened up for her, disappearing into the schoolhouse.

"Wow, she was so cool," Scootaloo gushed. "I-I mean, like, not as cool as Rainbow Dash, but you know. She's still pretty cool."

"I had no idea she was like that," Apple Bloom added. "I've seen her around Ponyville plenty too."

"She likes to play in the evening," Sweetie Belle chirped up. "I got to hear her playing once when I dragged Rarity out for ice cream. Since then I've been hooked on her playing." Sweetie Belle closed her eyes, rising onto the tips of her hooves as if she were floating, and started humming the first melody she heard so long back on that night. Rather, she was about to. A mere second after she started she remembered where she was and fell flat on her face. "Ow," she groaned as she she started chewing on some grass.

"You really like her music, huh Sweetie," Apple bloom laughed as she swatted away a piece of dirt from Sweetie Belle's face.

"Yeah!" Sweetie Belle chirped.

"Oh no!" Scootaloo suddenly yelled out. "We've only got five minutes to each lunch left!"

Apple Bloom stuffed her face into her backpack and pulled out a peanut-butter and apple sandwich. "Wan' f'ome?" she offered with the sandwich still in her mouth.

"No thanks, I already ate," Sweetie Belle replied, still chewing on the grass.

Shining Armor sat quietly in the royal archives. His was hunched against a wall and his eyes red from exhaustion. Surrounding him was a fort of books, walls high from abundance. He had gone through all these books, one by one, skimming through the words as he looked for keys; keys to the mystery of King Sombra and the Aurora Crystals. All he learned was that the empire had a strange obsession with festivals. "Tell me, Cadance, did the crystal ponies really feel it was necessary to throw a festival because you used the potty for the first time?"

Cadance, from behind another barricade of bulky books, stared daggers back. "The crystal ponies were a jovial and happy race in the time of my mother and she encouraged them to be merry."

"And now?" Shining Armor turned to another book as Princess Cadance prepared her speech.

"Now they are still recovering the wounds inflicted by King Sombra, by years of suffering and then being displaced in time. One thousand years have passed without their knowing and they now have to live in a new Equestria. Why do you think Auntie Celestia outright begged the chairpony of the Equestria Games to select our kingdom as a candidate instead of Cloudsdale? It was to help them get back into the world. To have something to smile about again."

"To be welcomed back into contemporary Equestrian society and insure peace across our land. Is that how the rest of it went?" Shining Armor stacked another book onto a pile. He was considering using it as a base for an artillery cannon of some kind.

"If you know the rest, why did you ask?" Princess Cadance snapped open another book.

"I love the sound of your voice." Most of the time.

Princess Cadance rummaged through a sea of books. Not books from any library, but ancient books about the time before the Crystal Empire was a unified city. Books before the time that she knew her mother came to preside over the crystal ponies. "Aurora Lights, Aurora Lights, Aurora Lights," she repeated to herself in hurried breaths as she skimmed from title to title looking for clues and answers. "I need to know something if I'm going to do something."

"Cadance," Shining Armor called to her from behind a pile. "I'm done searching through the stacks over here."

"And did you learn anything?" Cadance asked hopefully.

"Nothing new." Shining Armor sighed. "Should I get started on the stack by the windows?"

"Leave those," Princess Cadance said quickly.

"Is there something wrong with them?"

"They are," Princess Cadance paused as she looked at the innocuous stack. "They're mostly old photo albums left behind by my mother. I would prefer you not to go through them."

"Painful memories?"

"Painful memories and more. My mother was an eccentric and crazy mare that felt the need to keep pictures of every little thing. For any one festival that was held she had at least a thousand photos and could recite the name of any pony in any picture perfectly." Princess Cadance shut the open book in front of her, heavy hearted. "They're just full of so many ponies I will never see again. The maids and servants, the teachers, the babysitter, my mother."

"So, the babysitter had a babysitter?" Shining Armor laughed at the notion.

"Oh, hah, hah," Princess Cadance groaned. "I was a foal once too. I needed somepony to look after me because auntie sure knew wasn't any good at that."

"Was she the best babysitter a pony could ask for," Shining Armor asked with a catty smile.

Princess Cadance looked at him, first to berate him, before she herself broke out in a smile. "He," she corrected him, "was a meek and toneless individual that wouldn't know fun if it bit his unkempt and ratty mane. I had him wrapped around my hoof."

"Why don't I like the sound of that?"

"Because you're worried you're in the same boat," Cadance joked.

"Okay class," Cheerilee chirped as her class of bored fillies and colts slumped over on their desks. Her smile was unwavering in that regard. "Now, I want you all to put your hooves together for your new music teacher, Ms. Lyra Heartstrings!"

At once the class perked up as Lyra strolled into the room from the front door. "How's it goin' everypony," she greeted everyone with a lazy smile. "How's it hanging?" Most of the class had stood at attention to wave and smile to her.

"I wish I got that kind of attention," Cheerilee joked. "Okay class, since music is an important part of the curriculum and my musical prowess is... less than needed, Lyra here as taken of the job of teaching you all about the magical world of music!"

"Music is magic, after-all," Lyra laughed.

"Oh, today is the best!" Sweetie Belle gushed. "Oh, what will you teach us first?"

"Let's just start with the music scale, filly," Lyra answered her. Her horn came alight with a golden aura and the chalk on the teacher's table came to life and trailed across the chalkboard to draw a lop-sided and uneven music scale. "Close enough. It's just close enough. So, who knows what this is?" Three hooves were raised.

"It's a scale!" A light pink pony in the back of class was bobbing up and down in her seat. "It's used for reading music based on the placement of the notes and, and, and—"

"Slow down, kiddo. Let's get everypony else up to speed first. Your name is?"

"H-Half Note, and I really love music and want to sing and, and and—"

"Noted, kiddo, noted. Alright class, so I your cirricu-thingy mandates that I pass out these worksheets for you all to work on. It's just simple stuff about the scales. Why don't you all start pairing off to work on these together?"

"Apple Bloom, Diamond Tiara," rang Cheerilee's voice. "I want the both of you working together."

"What!?" Apple Bloom said.

"Why!?" Diamond Tiara argued.

"Because I want you two to start working together," Cheerilee said with a smile on her unwavering face. "I just know that together you'll be able to do some great things."

Lyra went around, passing the worksheets to everyone, and two-by-two the class began to pair up and move their seats together. Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara looked at each other: one sighed in defeat and the other one only groaned and grumbled. Apple Bloom moved her desk to connect with Diamond Tiara's.

Apple Bloom looked down at the paper and then back to Diamond Tiara. "So, do you know know anything about music?"

"No, and I bet you know even less,"

"Okay then, well will you at least talk to me now?"

"What's there to talk about?" Diamond Tiara's eyes glazed over the work-paper.

"I want to know how you got that mirror."

"It's fell into my room and started spouting nonsense. I bet that's the same thing that happened to you, right?"

"Then you saw the star shower too? Did you make a wish?"

Diamond Tiara's eyes snapped to Apple Bloom and a venomous scowl twisted on her lips. "No, I didn't. That's for babies, like you, right?"

"I'm not a baby." Apple Bloom clenched her teeth.

"And, let me guess, you wished for a cutie mark?"

"Is there something wrong with that?" Apple Bloom said while growling.

"Maybe," Diamond Tiara said with a spiteful snear. "Well, it's not like it worked, right? Instead all we got is a couple of dumb talking mirrors."

"Sounds like you did make a wish."

Diamond Tiara's face lost color, a surprising feat for a furred pony. She slowly twisted to Apple Bloom who wore a victorious grin that showed every tooth in her mouth and every bit of chewed apple in-between, and from deep within her-own tail, Diamond Tiara could hear Sherbet laughing at her. "I did not make any wish."

"Okay, fine, whatever you say, but since all we got were 'a couple of dumb talking mirrors', why don't you give me yours? It's dumb, right?"

"Shut up," Diamond Tiara said quickly, "this conversation is over. We've got a worksheet to do and I don't want you ruining my grades!"

"Apple Bloom, Diamond Tiara," Cheerilee said at the end of the school-day. Fillies and colts were pouring out, but Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara stayed in their seats just a little longer. "Did either of you think about that nice thing? You're both very bright bright fillies, so I know you can think of one nice thing to say about each other." Neither Apple Bloom or Diamond Tiara looked ready to answer. "Diamond Tiara, why don't you say something nice about Apple Bloom, hm?"

Diamond Tiara gagged at the thought. "She's, uh, like, too nosy for hew own good."

It was an improvement! Cheerilee thought, even if it was far from a compliment. "W-well, Apple Bloom, do you have anything nice to say about Diamond Tiara?"

Apple Bloom groaned at the thought. "She... looks like toothpaste."

"Something you don't use," Diamond Tiara snapped back.

"Do too!"

It was just a slight improvement, Cheerilee thought. "Keep thinking girls, I know you two can think of one nice thing about each other. I know you two can do great things if you both set aside your differences and worked together. I know you can do it. You can't disappoint me, because I know you know you can!" As the words came out of Cheerilee she feared more and more that they would let her down, but it was a teacher's duty to put faith in their students, over and over again. "You two are more alike than you think."

"Yeah, sure," Diamond Tiara said with apathy. "Can we go now?"

"Yes, Diamond Tiara, Apple Bloom, you two are excused." Cheerilee sighed.

Apple Bloom swung her backpack over her shoulders and treaded out of the classroom. Outside, she saw Lyra with Sweetie Belle and Half Note. "Girls!" she called out to them. "What are y'all doin'?"

"These two were trying to get me to play them a song." Lyra threw her back back in a fit of laughter. "It's not done yet, kiddo. Another time."

"But your music is amazing!" Half Note was gushing as she clamored for Lyra's attention and, even more so, her music. "Sweetie told me that you were playing a new piece last night?"

Apple Bloom's tail swung over to her face. "Apple Bloom," Custard's worried voice said, "I can feel bad things again."


"Ms. Lyra Heartstrings!" came a new voice. A mare with a gray coat and mane that was a darker shade had appeared suddenly out of nowhere to Apple Bloom, but none of the others noticed in the heat of their conversation, and the closer she got the more Custard began to shake deep within Apple Bloom's tail.

"O-oh, good morning." Lyra nervously bowed before the gray mare, keeping her eyes and nose close to the ground to not offend. "S-so, have you made a decision yet about letting me onto the Canterlot choir?"

"I have, but first I would like to hear a demo."

"A-a demo? O-of course!" Lyra shot up. She pulled out her Lyre and was about to start playing the instrument. "I-I don't suppose we could take this somewhere else?"

"Oh?" the gray mare said with an annoyed expression.

"J-just, if it's alright, can we just move over to the park? I mean, it's where I'm most comfortable, so I should be able to play better."

"Well, if you're more comfortable there and can play your best." Just as fast as the mare had started to scowl she was now giving off a pleasant yet eerie smile. "Let us be on our way."

"Lyra, can we come to?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"Please," begged Half Note.

"N-no, you two go home." Lyra packed up her Lyra and slung it over her shoulders. "Go, this is important business for me."


"Go!" Lyra yelled, her temper at its peak. "This is more important than you, kids! Leave me alone and go home!"

Half Note slinked away, torn but in her own way angry. "Well you suck!" she yelled before galloping away, but Sweetie Belle was in pieces.

Lyra had never yelled at Sweetie Belle before. It was different from any mother or father's berating. "L-Lyra?" she sobbed.

"Lyra," the gray mare called, "let's get going. Leave her behind."

"Y-yes!" Lyra lead the gray mare away from the schoolhouse, but looked back once at the torn up Sweetie Belle. She went on.

"Apple Bloom!" Custard yelled in her ears. "We need to follow her! I've got this bad feeling that something bad will happen!"

"You don't say," Apple Bloom sighed.

"Well," came Sherbet's voice. Apple Bloom looked behind her to find the imp of a pony floating. "Let's go, Diamond Tiara. I've got a really bad feeling about this too."

"And why should I care?" Diamond Tiara spat back.

"Because you might get to beat something up again?"

"Well, I guess that's fine."

The park was clear, with few ponies in sight. Lyra rested on the familiar bench where she had played so many evenings away. Just like before, she thought to herself. She had to give it all she had to impress the Canterlot pony. "Alright, here I go." Lyra floated the lyre between her forelegs and began plucking away a sweet and soothing ballad on the strings.

"No," the gray mare responded.

Lyra stopped dead in her melody. "N-no?"

The gray mare looked dully at Lyra. "Try something else."

"Y-yes." Lyra played again, this time a lively tune, one that could have gotten any ponies around to dance.

"No, no, no," the gray mare said again and again. "All wrong. Try again."

"Y-yes!" Lyra plucked the string again, this time with a rapid rhythm laced with the most complex chords she could muster.

"No, this is all wrong. Try again."

"Y-yes!" And this kept going, on and on in a pitiful cycle. Lyra would play a melody, and the gray mare would reject it. Lyra would play another one, and it would be rejected, and with each cycle Lyra's confidence fell more and more. Her rhythm became sluggish and sloppy, she missed notes or misplucked a string, and she never noticed the wicked smile opening on the gray mare with each mistake.

"Can't you play better?" the gray mare asked with the face of a hungry lion that's just found food.


"Lyra is the best player!"

Lyra's head shot up and the gray mare swirled around with the disposition of a dragon spotting invaders. Sweetie Belle popped out of the bushes, covered in spikes and thorns. She brushed herself up and stood tall with confidence that irked the gray mare.

"Lyra is the best music player in all of Equestria! There's something wrong with your ears if you can't see that!"

"And who are you?" the gray mare snarled, closing in on Sweetie Belle. "This is an adult conversation. Little fillies should go home and make hoof-paintings!"

"Shows what you know." Sweetie Belle blew the gray mare a raspberry. "I'm a young mare, and more adult than you if you can't see how good Lyra's music is!"

The gray mare's anger raised with one of her hooves. "I'll crush you," she whispered to herself. Her hoof trembled violently as her mouth spasmed in every direction. The sight was enough to bring Lyra to action.

"Don't you dare touch her!" Lyra threw herself onto the gray mare, but in less than a blink the gray mare had spun around on a single hoof. She struck Lyra down mid flight knocking the wind out of Lyra and with no visible effort. Lyra shot backwards, the world spinning around her before her vision went black and started gasping for breath, but when she finally hit the ground she didn't land on flat land. There was a loud crunching sound when she fell.

"Your lyre!" Sweetie Belle gasped.

Lyra, with what little strength he had left, dragged herself up onto her hooves. She felt around for the lyre as her vision slowly came back. She found it in two pieces. "No." A tear rolled down an eye.

"Well, that's sad. Isn't that sad? It's very sad!" the gray mare said with a sadistic grin, inching closer to the broken lyre with the poise and fluidity of a rag doll. "You can't play without an instrument. Is your heart breaking?"

"I-I can get a new one!" Lyra sputtered back. In her hooves she was trying to piece the fragments back together. It was in two mostly shole pieces. It can come back, right? It can still work, right? It hasn't all been for nothing, right? Lyra finds the shadow of the gray mare consuming her own as she comes face to face to her, breathing frostbitten breath right onto Lyra's face.

"With what money? You have nothing, nothing! Your silly little dreams are over! You are nothing now!" she said less than an inch away from Lyra's face.

"No!" Lyra said back defiantly. She had to. "It's my dream to play in Canterlot, to play for the Princesses!"

The gray mare's lips curled in delight as bits of colored splotches began to break out over her coat. "Well, now your dream is over."


"Yes!" The gray mare pulled back, and to Lyra's horror she was no longer the drab gray that she was before. Her pelt was dancing, screeching even, with color. A cacophony of colors that twisted on her fur with no order to guide them. "Your dreams are over!"

Lyra dropped her lyre and her tears fell with them. "I-it's over? It's really all over?" Lyra slumped down. "Yeah, I guess so. I wasn't good enough for Canterlot. I'm not even good enough for Ponyville. I'm a washed-up has-been with nothing to play now."

"No you're not!" Sweetie Belle's voice ranged in Lyra's head. "She's wrong! She's all wrong!"

"Quiet!" the colorful mare said. A sudden gust of wind knocked Sweetie Belle into the air. She landed squarely on her back, painfully, bringing more joy to the colorful mare as she started inching over to Lyra again, drinking in the heartbroken mare's tears with a malicious grin the curled with delight. "You're useless, done, defeated."

Lyra shot up and released a bolt of golden magic against the colorful mare. She has never remembered learning such magic, but she didn't care right now. The colorful mare was stunned long enough for Lyra to abandon the lyre and race to Sweetie Belle's side. "Sweetie Belle? Sweetie Belle, say something!" She was unconscious, but breathing.

The colorful mare's eye twitched behind Lyra. Lyra hugged Sweetie Belle close to her body to protect. "Useless, useless," the colorful pony started muttering to herself. Another surge of ill-wind flared up around her and hammered into Lyra. Lyra held her ground to protect Sweetie Belle. "Useless, useless. You're useless, useless." The colorful mare looked down on Lyra and Sweetie Belle with one eye more open than the other, one nostril more flared than the other, and one side of her mouth twitching more than the other. Another gust of wind tore right into Lyra, and she collapsed onto the ground.

"You monster!"

From nowhere Apple Bloom flung herself onto the colorful mare's face and started striking madly into it. "Who are you? What are you? Why are you doing this? What the hay do you think you're doing!? And get away from my friends!" Apple Bloom, not bothering to see what she was doing, managed to bring both of her hooves down on one of the colorful mare's eye.

"Get off, get off!" The colorful mare bucked about and stomped about before finally throwing off Apple Bloom. "Who are you who am I who are you!" Apple Bloom almost landed on the hard ground, but found that she had been caught by Diamond Tiara.

"I believe we asked first." Diamond Tiara dropped Apple Bloom on the floor. "You don't see many ponies with coats like that, or ponies that can do magic like that without a horn, hmm?" She had a point, the colorful mare was no unicorn, but, just like that, with no horn or incantation or even the slightest movement, another gust of wind surged up from the colorful mare and was barreling right at Diamond Tiara. At the last moment it was stopped by a magical barrier, Sherbet and Custard on opposite sides of that barrier.

"Sherbet, Apple Bloom, Yogurt!" Diamond Tiara shouted.

"It's Custard!" Custard said back all flustered.

"Just make with the light show already!"

Sherbet and Custard both poofed back into their mirror forms and opened themselves up, shooting a series of lights into the sky. Diamond Tiara extended her hoof down to help Apple Bloom up and the moment their hooves touched they called out the magical words that they didn't know were engraved deep into their hearts.


Light surged up around and enveloped the two fillies, granting them great power and the vestments of the red and violet warriors. The light shattered into a stunning rain of light to reveal Cure Red and Cure Violet: Filly Cure. They both stood on their hind legs and pointed at the colorful pony.

"Protecting the light that spreads across the world, Cure Red!"

"The beacon of hope shines down on us, Cure Violet!"

"Together we are Filly Cure!"

"Envoy of deepest darkness!"

"Prepare to be cured!"

Diamond Tiara collapsed back onto all fours. "Will we do that everytime we transform?"

"Yes," Sherbet answered her.

The colorful pony didn't move in the presence of the fillies. She had become like a statue an unnervingly still one to Apple Bloom. "Think she's ok?" she thoughtlessly asked, but then the colorful mare spasmed to life, laughing more like a hyena than any pony ever could.

"It's Filly Cure!" she screamed with what sounded like joy. "It's Filly Cure, Filly Cure! It's really really Filly Cure!"

"That's not the reaction I was expecting," Uneasiness settled into Apple Bloom as the disturbing and colorful mare continued to laugh. The chaotic swirls of the mare’s coat had started to become even more deranged in their colorful displays.

The colorful mare threw herself onto the lyre, not landing on her hooves but rather collapsing herself over the remnants. She lifted the broken lyre high. It was unnerving to Apple Bloom, the way the mare rocked back and forth while her face twisted with maddening glee. "It's time," the mare shouted, "for the first exhibit!" A wind picked up, unnatural and otherworldly. It wrapped around the colorful mare, becoming an impenetrable barrier, howling like a mad chorus of screaming that overlaid the colorful mare's loud cackling. Apple Bloom couldn't get close and neither could Diamond Tiara.

"No." Apple Bloom turned around. Sherbert's cool demeanor was breaking apart fast. She was shaking, almost crying, hiding behind Diamond Tiara's back. "No!"

"It's them again!" Apple Bloom heard Custard cry.

Diamond Tiara stomped a hoof. "What!?" she screamed. "What are you going on about!? What's happening!? Are you ever going to explain anything!? Just what's going on!?"

"This lyre is a work of art!" came the colorful mare's voice again. Apple Bloom planted her hooves into the ground as the wind grew louder and stronger. Whatever joke the mare laughed about was over. From deep within her came terrible and powerful words. "Engraved upon it are the hopeless dreams of a broken heart!" The cocoon of wind began to beat, like a heart. Faster and faster, faster and faster, faster and faster until nothing more could be heard but this despairing beat.

"Now, Cuorezzato, wallow in your suffering!"

"Explanation, now!" Diamond Tiara barked at the mirrors, but they didn't respond. There was no need. She and Apple Bloom could see what was happening perfectly.

The wind exploded, and the colorful mare had disappeared. In her place was a towering lyre, larger than the school house with writhing strings that reached out in every direction. A single knotted claw extended out from its side, and what could be considered a pair of eyes that resembled pieces of a heart broken in half, glaring angrily at Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara. It let out a single head-splitting roar.

"What is this! Nopony ever told us about this!" Diamond Tiara said in her shrill and whiny voice, seemingly taking no heed of the situation to Apple Bloom. "Apple Bloom, let's just finish this thing in one blow with the Shining Wave."

A sentiment Apple bloom agreed with. She nodded and held out her hoof to Diamond Tiara, but the lyre monster's claw extended between the two fillies and swatted Apple Bloom into the air. "The hay!?" Apple Bloom cursed as she was sent flying, but the monster's strings wrapped around her mid-flight and slammed her back into the ground. "Ow."

"You’re useless," Diamond Tiara scoffed as she charged right at the monster. She kicked herself off the ground, mad with glee for another fight. She looked up, ready to look the monster in the strings, but it had disappeared. She looked around, left and right, down and, finally, up. There it was. "No fair!" Diamond Tiara couldn't escape in time before the monster came crashing down on her.

"Well, serves you right." Apple Bloom laughed weakly as she brushed some dirt off of her ridiculously poofy dress, but diamond Tiara wasn't completely crushed. Apple Bloom saw Diamond Tiara barely holding the full weight of the monster up, no doubt thanks to the magic of their dresses.

"Serves you nothing!" Diamond Tiara belligerently screamed back, her forelegs slowly giving in to the weight of the lyre monster. "Do something! I can barely move!"

"Comin' at ya!" Apple Bloom dug her hooves into the ground and flung herself forward off the ground. Mid-flight she spun herself to break the monster to pieces with a good hind kick. That's what she wanted to do, but the wily strings of the lyre monsters had managed to catch her at the very last moment, wrapping around Apple Bloom with a grip that would have crushed a regular filly. "Aw, dang!" Apple Bloom was hoisted higher into the air. She couldn't do anything but flail her legs around to try and throw herself out of it's grasp. No luck.

"Why do things never go right for me!?" came the booming voice of an adult mare. The source was unidentifiable.

"What was that?" Apple Bloom looked around, but there were no other ponies in sight. "Where?"

"Why can't I make my dream come true!?" Apple Bloom found the source, the monster.

"Sherbet!" Diamond Tiara yelled from underneath the monster. "Explain, now!"

"It's made from her feelings," Sherbet said. "This monster was made from the emotions that playing pony felt when the harp broke."

"That doesn't make any sense!"

"Why is it no matter how hard I try I get nowhere!? I'll never leave this crummy town! I'm stuck here! STUCK HERE!"

Apple Bloom felt herself being pulled again but in a different direction. Her vision blurred as the monster began spinning her, around and around. "Diamond Tiara! Heeeeeelp meeeeeee!" Apple Bloom cried out ineffectually. The monster let go, and Apple Bloom found herself crashing straight through one of the many park trees. No filly, let alone pony, could have survived that without a magical frilly dress.

"You stupid thing!" Diamond Tiara, unable to take any more, dug into the very last reservoir of strength she had and began lifting the monster. "I'll crush you! I'll crush you to pieces!" She lifted the monster an inch higher and then slammed it into the ground as hard as she could. "I'm going to crush you into itty-bitty pieces!"

A string of the monster shot upwards and then angled to Diamond Tiara. She was in no position to resist. The strings wrapped around her, faster than the eye could see. Diamond Tiara was lifted into the air, and promptly smashed into the ground. The strings unwrapped from Diamond Tiara and the monster lifted itself back up.

"Dangit, this isn't working." Apple Bloom reached for the compact mirror attached to her waist. She held it up and opened it. "Hey, Custard, how can we beat this thing?"

Custard's dopey face appeared in the mirror. "The powers of Filly Cure work best when in tandem! When your feelings are as one, then you're capable of anything!" Coming from Custard it didn't sound silly in the slightest.

Apple Bloom sighed and repeated the word verbatim to Diamond Tiara. Coming from Apple Bloom, the words sounded like pure nonsense.

"More feelings nonsense!" Diamond Tiara shouted back as she crawled out from her crater. "You want us working together? Fine! Apple Bloom, your hoof, now!" Diamond Tiara held out her own hoof. Was she asking for help? "Hurry!"

Behind Diamond Tiara, the monster was raising it's claw again. Apple Bloom clipped the mirror back to her dress. "I hope you know what you're doin'." Apple Bloom ran forward to meet Diamond Tiara, hoof to hoof. She reached the edge of Diamond Tiara's crater and grabbed her hoof. "Just what are you-"

Diamond Tiara began spinning Apple Bloom around her.

"-doin'!?" Apple Bloom screamed as the world rushed past her. She felt Diamond Tiara kick off the ground, but the world was too much of a blur to see what happened next. She felt the sting of the monster’s strings whip her body a few times, but the force of Diamond Tiara spinning her had become a barrier, knocking away the strings with the force of a magically-empowered filly with a habit for gorging herself. Then, Apple Bloom heard Diamond Tiara call something out.

"Filly Cure Sub-apple-ic Collider!" Diamond Tiara shouted as Apple Bloom was smashed into the Cuorezzato. The grain along it's spine cracked. "What do you know, working together does work!"

"This is not working together!" Apple Bloom was pulled out of the new indenture by Diamond Tiara, but not long after Diamond Tiara had started spinning her again.

"What are you talking about?" Diamond Tiara squealed with delight as she once again swung Apple Bloom, this time upward to shatter the looming claw of the monster. "See, look how useful you are now!"

"Hows about I show you!" Apple Bloom twisted around and grabbed down on Diamond Tiara's hoof. "It's your turn!" She swung Diamond Tiara sideways, but Diamond Tiara turned at the last moment, turning Apple Bloom's ram into a kick, one that shot the Cuorezzato upwards.

"Yeah, right," Diamond Tiara chided as she once again turned the tables on Apple Bloom and threw the unsuspecting filly upwards. "Bon voyage!"

"I'll bon voyage you when I get back down there!" Apple Bloom yelled back as she flew up into the air. She caught up to the Cuorezzato in no time.

"I can't do it! I can't do it! I can't do it!"

"I'm so sorry, Lyra," she sighed a little as she put her hooves on the broken monster. "But, I have to bring this thing down." At the apex of her flight, she dragged the monster below her. "Filly Cure Apple Turnover!" she screamed as she began her descension. Each second was bringing her closer to the ground, faster and faster, with more and more force, until she finally hit, cracking the monster into two pieces barely held together by a single string. "Is it over?"

"Not yet." Diamond Tiara extended her hoof out. "The Shining Wave. Let's finish this."

"I hope things end well..."

"Resound, Oh Yonder's Glorious Break, Irrevocable Voice!" Powerful light began to condense in front of the two. "Filly Cure Shining Wave!" The light surged out from them, engulfing the lyre monster in a torrent of impenetrable light that rather than exploding in every direction, surged upward to form a pillar of light that before finally fading out. Where the monster once stood was now just a broken lyre.

"It's over?" Apple Bloom started gasping for breath. "It's over! Oh, great granny's girdle that was scary... speaking of girdles, can I please get thing thing off now?"

The red and violet cloths of Filly Cure disappeared off of the two fillies, leaving them as normal fillies that were much more worse for wear.

"Ugh," Diamond Tiara groaned as the sores began to settle in. "This might be more trouble than it's worth."

Apple Bloom wasn't paying attention to Diamond Tiara. She was pulling herself over to the unconscious unicorns. "Sweetie Belle, Lyra, please get up."

Sherbet floated over to Sweetie Belle. "I can still sense life in the little one. The other is also still with us, but her light is becoming dim."

"Light? Dim! Is she dying!?" Apple Bloom threw herself onto Lyra. "Ms. Lyra, please, wake up!"

"She's not dying, Apple Bloom." Sherbet calmed her down, or tried to. Apple Bloom was only becoming more panicked. "It's not that she's dying, but her heart is broken."

"Sucks for her," Diamond Tiara said with little sincerity. Seconds later, she was tasting dirt, on the ground with Apple Bloom over her.

"Do you even listen to yourself!?" Apple Bloom's trembling hooves were not enough to keep Diamond Tiara pinned. She quickly was thrown off.

"So what do you want me to do? Sing songs? Spout cliches with fake understanding? Act like things get better? How old are you? Four?"

"You... you little—"

"Lyra!" Sweetie Belle's voice rang between the two. They both turned around, and Sweetie Belle was helping up a defeated-looking Lyra. "Lyra, are you okay?"

"Sweets? Is that you?" Lyra slowly stirred back to the waking world.

"Yes!" Sweetie Belle cried as she buried her face in Lyra's chest. "I-I thought that... where did that strange mare go?"

Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara were hit with realization. They both jerked around, looking for the colorful mare that had brought so much misfortune down. Who was she, they both wondered. But now she was gone.

"S-she's gone?" Lyra groaned as she got up. Her horn lighted up with a golden aura, and the broken lyre rose from the ground. "She's gone, so I guess I really am no good for Canterlot. I can't do anything with a broken lyre. I really am done."

"N-no you're not!" Sweetie Belle's voice was full of emotion. "You're a really good musician! Even if no one can see it you're really good! But-but if you keep acting sorry for yourself you'll just-just end up no... nowhere..."

"I guess, I guess I am just acting sorry for myself." Lyra looked deep into the broken lyre, seeing her warped image off the glossy reflection. "Sweets, you're pretty smart, you know that?"

"I-I am?"


Diamond Tiara stared at the scene with nausea. Apple Bloom felt herself being warmed from the inside. "Ya'see," she said to Diamond Tiara. "And that's something Sweetie Belle can do, and something you can't, Diamond."

"Like I'd want to," Diamond Tiara gagged. "Well, I've had my fun. Sherbet, we're leaving, or would you prefer I leave you behind?" She turned around, and limped off.

Sherbet cooly flipped her bangs to the side. "Take care of Custard, Apple Bloom, I'm counting on you. You both did excellently today." She poofed back into a mirror and shot off straight after Diamond Tiara.

"Welp, all's well that ends well!" Custard said in delight. "Another victory for Filly Cure! So, how does it feel to have saved the day, and get no recognition for your hard work?"

"Terrible." Apple Bloom collapsed onto the floor. "This Filly Cure business sure is painful."

"O-oh no!" Custard started to panic. "Oh, oh, Sugar Bell!" he screamed out and then poofed back into a mirror.

Sweetie Belle, unsure if she had been called, turned around. "Huh? Apple Bloom!" She screamed out as she rushed to her friend's side. "Oh no, Apple Bloom! Are you okay?"

"I will be, Sweetie Belle, but, I really need to get home, and I can't move."

The end of the day was here at last and all Shining Armor could think about was collapsing. He had never gone through so many books in his life. "Scholarly pursuits were never my thing," Shining Armor sighed as he abandoned all grace and collapsed in the middle of the hallway. "What I would do right now to find Cadance and just cuddle up in bed."

"Prince Shining Armor," came a stuffy voice. He turned around to greet one of Princess Cadance's various vassals, and stuffed into an equally stuffy dress with far too many poofs that, coupled with her mess of a mane, gave her all the appearance of a disheveled dog. "May I ask you refrain from finishing that thought?" she said with a high-strung voice.

"Good evening, Lattice," Shining Armor groaned. "If you're looking for Cadance then I would love to know as well."

"Actually, this concerns you, Prince Shining Armor." From within the pockets of dress she pulled out a letter and offered it to Shining Armor. He happily obliged by surrounding it with his aura of magic and unwrapping the letter: it was addressed to him from Cadance.

Dearest Shining Armor,

I have decided to act. By the time you have gotten this letter I should have left the castle and be soaring through Equestria. I can no longer sit and wait and sift through books that only repeat what we already know. I must act, because Sombra will not lie still and wait. I wish we could have been together just before I left, but you would have persuaded me to stay, and I would have listened because I do love you, and I know you love me too, but actions must be taken. We have already lost a day to him.

While I'm gone, you will be the acting head of the Crystal Empire. Lattice should be the only one that knows of my leave of absence, but she does not know why. I have instructed her to support you in every way possible. You can tell them I'm taking a trip to delegate with a foreign land. They must not know of Sombra. The scars he has left are still too fresh and could cause the Crystal Heart to lose power. He has already infiltrated the castle once, and you are still the strongest and bravest warrior I know. Stay vigilant.

I believe in you, Shining Armor, and even if you see this as another habitual secret of the Princesses I can only enact on this hair-brained plan because I know you can take care of the Crystal Empire. You are a prince, Prince Shining Armor, even if you don't have the body of one I know you have the soul of one.

With love, adoration and faith,
Princess Mi Amore Cadenza

Shining Armor carefully folded up the letter. He would rather ball it up and burn it in a fire. He looked over to Lattice who seemed to be waiting for something. "She's gone off to delegate something," Shining Armor sighed.

"Is that so, Prince Shining Armor," Lattice said back with a voice as sour as expired milk. "Well, I have my orders. Does his majesty have any announcements to make, perhaps one that explains this matter of events to his royal subjects so they don't go around asking where they're beloved princess is?"

"You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?" Shining Armor felt a headache coming on.

"Since when has ruling been easy, your majesty?" Lattice replied with a desert dry tone. "There's more to royal affairs than training ponies to jump, polishing spears or standing handsomely next to her majesty like a, what's the word, trophy? Though, a trophy usually implies worth."

"You want an announcement?!" Shining Armor roared loud enough for his voice to carry to every corner of the castle. "Gather the attendants, gather the public! I'll make an announcement that will put every kingdom in the world to shame! My cutie mark will change from a shield to a megaphone!" Shining Armor swiftly turned around and galloped down the hall towards the balcony where Princess Cadance made all her announcements, never noticing the wry smile playing off Lattice's lips. "Wrapped around her friggen' hoof, gah!"

"Well, that wasn't very hard," she chuckled. "Well, I'll make a prince out of you yet."

"Does it hurt when I do this?" Granny Smith asked as she placed some ointment along Apple Bloom's back.

"Y-yes, granny!" Apple Bloom squealed in pain.

"Then it's working."

"I swear, Apple Bloom," Applejack started to admonish her. "You and your cutie mark crusader friends seem to find more ridiculous ways to hurt yourselves every day. Just what was all this for this time?"

"A being a hero cutie mark," Apple Bloom answered honestly.

"Apple Bloom, you don't need a cutie mark to be a hero," words spoken from experience, Apple Bloom knew. "And you sure as hay don't need to put yourself through this kind of trouble. Just settle down and let your cutie mark come to you naturally."

Apple Bloom sighed and dropped her head in defeat. She couldn't tell Applejack about Filly Cure or Custard or anything. "Yeah, yeah, I get'cha."

"Good, now you take it easy while Big Mac and I work on dinner. We'll be sure to cook up something extra yummy to help you feel better."

"Y-you mean it!?" Apple Bloom asked, going sparkly eyed. "Maybe I should—"

"Hold that thought, missy," Applejack caught her. "I'm feeling nice today. Do you want to try that little scheme you're planning on a bad day?"

"N-no, big sis."

"That's what I thought. Now, take it easy, alright?"


"This Filly Cure business is beginning to bite." Diamond Tiara laid in bed with a poorly-bandaged hind leg. "Agh, this really hurts!"

"C-calm down, Diamond," Sherbet said soothingly. "If you thrash about, you'll only make it worse."

"Easy for you to say! You're not the one busting hoofs!"

"I-I understand, but that doesn't change that you need to rest if you want to heal."

"How can I rest when I'm not healing fast enough!?"

"That was a lame comeback," Sherbet sighed. "Where's your father? Shouldn't there be dinner being made right now?"

"Dad's probably off at work, too busy to pay attention to me," she grumbled.

"I-I see, then just leave it to me," Sherbet replied cooly while flipping her bangs. "I'll have you a delicious meal ready within the hour."

"And what's a stubby little imp gonna make? Pixie dust?"

"Now that one was better," Sherbet sighed with approval. "Just stay in bed. I'll have you feeling better in no time."

"Why, just so I can go and fight again tomorrow? I wonder what I'll get to fight this time? Maybe a sandwich monster! Then maybe I'll get a decent meal!"

"If you've got enough energy to throw back such great insults, then you're already healing. Take it easy, Diamond." Sherbet floated out of the room and down to the kitchen. Diamond Tiara stayed motionless in bed, trying not to let the pain overtake her. Just like any other night, she felt mostly cold and alone.

A dark room, filled with nothing. The only illumination to be had was a tiny light emanating from the center, but for the few ponies standing within its walls that was all they needed. A cloaked pony stood at one end, doing its best to contain some cackling over a joke no one heard before. On another side stood a scarlet mare with with a deep-black mane, and on another side stood a mare clad in lusterless armor carrying a lance.

"So we've made our move?" the scarlet pony started. Her voice was like venom, trying to drip its way into unsuspecting ears, and oh so very feminine. "Good, it's about time."

"The crystals are there, the crystals are there!" the cloaked mare started repeating over and over again, jumping up and down like a filly with candy. "The crystals are there, the crystals are there! All we need to do is find, find, find them!"

"To make the crystals appear, we must break the hearts of those who hold them," the scarlet pony noted with humor. "But, since we don't know who has the crystals, then we'll just need to break all their hearts. Simple enough."

"Stir up too much of a commotion and somepony is bound to be on to us, Astratto, Cantante," came a strict and hardened voice from the mare in lusterless armor. Her tone was low, almost boyish. A far cry from the others in the room.

"A giant harp monster just went rampaging through the home of the national heroes," the scarlet mare giggled. "It doesn't get more auspicious than that. Besides, Filly Cure is there, so we know that the crystals are just lying around in some poor schmuck's heart over there. All we need to do is keep picking them all out till we hit the jackpot. Thats a simple plan even you can follow, right, Giostra?"

"Filly cure?" A fourth voice rang, belonging to a younger mare that stepped out from behind the armored mare. "Filly Cure has been sighted?"

"Filly Cure, Filly Cure, Silly Filly Itty Cure!" Astratto sang out.

"Just leave everything to me," Cantante gleefully sung. "Everything is for the true king right? Ciao."

The scarlet mare left the room. Astratto, the hooded mare, continued to sing and babble inanely. Giostra, the armored mare, planted her lance in the ground as the fourth mare nuzzled next to her. At the center of them all, the sole bit of light in the dark room, was a broken red horn.