• Published 28th Jan 2012
  • 6,808 Views, 249 Comments

No Matter How Dark - Picardy Third



Attacks and destruction in Ponyville occur on top of Twilight's recent incidents of memory loss

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Moonlight Madness

Chapter 2

Moonlight Madness

When Twilight awoke, there was an absence of light in her bedroom, indicating that it was nighttime. Twilight attempted multiple times to fall back asleep and put her sleep schedule back to normal, but try as she might, she was not going to sleep again anytime soon. Conceding defeat, Twilight decided to get up and try to calm herself with a midnight snack.

Even as she walked, she became insecure of herself. Luna could be watching her right now. She could be peering into Twilight's very home with a magical mirror… what was that, anyway? Twilight subconsciously brushed her mane with a hoof while she passed Spike's bed. A small feeling of sadness swept over Twilight as she realized that he wasn't there.

In the kitchen, Twilight poured herself a glass of milk and grabbed the leaf chips from before. After all this, she hadn't had her snack that she promised herself before. Chuckling slightly at this thought, Twilight indulged in her small snack, enjoying the organic taste of the salty chips. The smooth milk sent a shiver down her body but ultimately warmed her pleasantly.

As Twilight's mind began to wander, she started to speculate what this training was that Spike could be undergoing right now. She found it very unlikely that the princess would neglect to inform Twilight of any special training, but… then why did this happen? And what training could Spike even need? Spike had already learned his lesson about greed, Twilight made sure of that.

Twilight brought her milk glass over to the sink and was getting ready to wash it when she looked out the window and saw a bit of movement. Twilight squinted her eyes and saw Fluttershy walking down the streets of Ponyville with a small lantern in her mouth and bulging saddlebags on her back. Although Twilight knew she should probably leave Fluttershy to whatever she was up to, her curiosity got the better of her. Besides, she was much too awake to go back to sleep now.

Twilight stepped outside the library, taking note of how empty the streets were at this hour. The town was fast asleep, as Twilight should have been (something that she pushed to the back of her mind for the time being). Fluttershy was now a good distance from the library, but Twilight trotted toward her anyway.

"Fluttershy!" Twilight called. Fluttershy leapt in the air with a yelp and hid behind a nearby barrel, dropping the lantern.

"Relax, Fluttershy. It's just me." Twilight calmed her friend.

"Oh! Good evening, Twilight. What brings you out so late?"

"I was actually just coming over to ask you the same thing." Twilight said.

"Oh, I always walk through here at this time on Wednesdays. There are a couple families of raccoons on the other side of town that I bring fresh veggies every week."

"Wow, that's really nice of you, Fluttershy." Twilight commented. If it was one thing she could count on, it was Fluttershy going to any extent when it came to caring for the animals.

"I love the animals." Fluttershy said. "But you know that."

"Well, I'm wide awake right now. Do you mind if I come with you?" Twilight asked.

"Not at all, Twilight!" Fluttershy said. "These raccoons are very friendly, they'll love to meet you!"

Twilight wasn't too hot on the idea of entering the home of multiple families of raccoons, but if Fluttershy was there, she felt safer. Twilight did enough reading up on raccoons to know how hostile they tended to be. However, things in Ponyville tended to be more docile than usual. She hoped that the raccoons would be no exception.

"Forgive me for asking, but aren't Raccoons a little… dangerous?" Twilight asked for lack of a better word.

"Oh, yes." Fluttershy said calmly, which disturbed Twilight a little, "But," Fluttershy continued, "When you know what you're doing, they are quite nice."

"Maybe I shouldn't go…" Twilight decided nervously.

"Oh, it's really nothing to worry about Twilight." Fluttershy said, then felt she overstepped her boundaries and instantly retreated, "Um… well, unless you really feel like going home, then…"

"It's fine, Fluttershy." Twilight said, "Really, I'll be fine."

"Oh, okay."

There was silence for a few seconds, then Twilight spoke, "How is it you always seem to know how to deal with these dangerous animals like raccoons, snakes, or even the manticore."

Fluttershy smiled, "Sometimes you need to look in a creature's heart to know if they are truly bad. The raccoons just want to protect their families, they aren't really mean, just protective." Fluttershy continued, "Snakes are really just a little paranoid, they don't mean to harm you. They're just scared of you. And the manticore, well I knew about manticores, and I know that they aren't hostile by nature."

"And the hydra?" Twilight asked. Fluttershy didn't have an answer right away. "Sorry, I was just…"

"N-no, there's nothing wrong, Twilight." Fluttershy said quickly, "It's just… some creatures' hearts are cold, too cold to help. The hydra is nothing but a cold-hearted killer. That's also why I fear dragons. You can't usually get through to a dragon. Its heart is too overcome with greed."

"But the heart is still there, that's why you were able to get through when we were up in the mountains that one time." Twilight said with wonder, like she did while she was a student directly under Celestia.

"Well, yes." Fluttershy said shyly. "I like to believe that every creature has a heart, and no creature's heart is too far gone to reach."

"I guess that's how you got your cutie mark, huh?"

"In a way, yes." Fluttershy smiled. Fluttershy continued walking at her gentle pace as always. Twilight enjoyed the silence for a short while, just listening to the sounds of their hoofsteps. She knew that it wasn't in Fluttershy's nature to make casual conversation as she went about her work, but even with this in mind, Twilight quickly grew tired of the silence and found herself aching to speak.

"So… how far out of Ponyville are these raccoons?" Twilight asked.

"Only a little ways," Fluttershy assured Twilight, "They're right on the river."

"Oh." Twilight replied. Well, that conversation didn't last long.

"I was actually wondering… if you don't mind me asking, why were you up so late?"

Wow, Fluttershy actually started a conversation? Twilight thought, "I was just so exhausted after what happened yesterday at Sweet Apple Acres that I fell asleep very early and woke up in the middle of the night."

"You mean with the house and the barn?" Fluttershy asked. Twilight nodded in reply. "That was amazing, Twilight." Fluttershy said complimentarily, looking off into the distance, as if recalling the sight, "But… you kinda scared us at the end there while you were making the barn."

"That's what Rainbow Dash said. Sorry about that, I really don't know what came over me…" Twilight said. Really, it was because she didn't remember what happened.

"It's alright, Twilight." Fluttershy said. "We were going to ask you about it back at the farm, but you took off with Rainbow Dash so fast we didn't get a chance."

"I was very tired." Twilight said honestly.

"I understand." Fluttershy said.

A small noise made Twilight's ear twitch.

"Did you hear that?" Twilight asked, turning around.

"Hear what?" Fluttershy replied calmly. "I didn't hear anything."

"Must have just been hearing things." Twilight reasoned skeptically.

"You might be more tired than you think, Twilight." Fluttershy said.

"Maybe." Twilight said. The two kept walking for a bit, but then Twilight heard a noise again, this time a little more prominent. She didn't say anything this time, for fear of frightening Fluttershy. She didn't even give notice to it other than heightening her hearing and keeping a critical ear. It sounded like hooves against a hard surface, but Twilight couldn't be sure.

There it was again. Twilight definitely heard it that time. She decided that she had had enough of the mystery and was going to use now as a time to test out a new spell she had been reading up on. She slowly tapped into the magic that flowed within her and her horn began to glow softly. Fluttershy noticed this, but didn't stop walking.

Twilight now began to see around her with magic. If there was a living thing in the vicinity, Twilight would know about it. Twilight had a difficult time trying to see both with her eyes and with her magic. It was difficult to stay focused. If she kept her focus in her magic for too long, she would most likely walk astray and run into Fluttershy, which would be hard to explain. Likewise, if she ignored her magical vision, she would most likely miss whatever was following them.

Sure enough, as it appeared in her magical vision as a pony-shaped blur on the roof of a nearby house, there was a follower. Twilight knew that if she raised the alarm to Fluttershy, the timid pegasus would become too paranoid to complete her task, so Twilight decided to fix this problem herself.

"Uh… you go on, Fluttershy. I think I am a bit too tired." Twilight said, faking a yawn. "Yep, I'm gonna go on back home."

"Okay, Twilight. Thanks for walking with me!" Fluttershy said, continuing on her path as Twilight walked the opposite direction. Twilight then took this opportunity to close her eyes and properly scope the area with magic. The stalker pony was much more defined this time. Twilight could see as it looked around the chimney of the house it was sitting on, looking at her.

What a creepy pony. Twilight thought.

"Alright, come out here." Twilight said, releasing her magical vision. There was no movement. "I know you're out there, now come out." Still no movement. Twilight sighed heavily and closed her eyes, feeling around for the mysterious pony again. It was now backed up against the chimney, trying its best not to be seen.

Twilight once again used the teleportation spell she had used two days previously and brought the mysterious pony to be seated right in front of Twilight. Twilight opened her eyes, saw who she had teleported in front of her, and took a step back in confusion.

"Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash suddenly began to feel the ground around her. Dash looked up at Twilight with fear and blushed heavily.

"What were you doing up there?" Twilight asked, "Why were you following us?"

"Uh…" Rainbow Dash stammered, "Same reason you were! Wondering where that Fluttershy was going, sneaking around Ponyville after dark like that. Suspicious, huh?"

"Feeding a family of raccoons?"

"Is that all? Well, mystery solved, better get back to bed!" Rainbow said, beginning to fly away.

"Oh no no no no." Twilight said, grabbing Rainbow's tail with her teeth and holding her down. Rainbow Dash tried to fly away, but only succeeded in lifting Twilight off the ground a few hooves. Defeated, she fell to the ground, careful to set Twilight down easily.

"Now what were you doing?" Twilight asked. Rainbow looked ashamed, but Twilight's look was not one of anger, but of confusion and misunderstanding. Rainbow Dash sat on her flank like a punished filly and looked at Twilight.

"I was… just…" Rainbow tried to talk. She was losing focus quickly, her eyes becoming blank.

"Rainbow Dash?" Twilight snapped her out of her daze.

"I… was just worried about you, okay?" Dash said, crossing her front legs and huffing, breaking the eye contact. Twilight retreated with bewilderment.

"Worried? But… I'm fine."

"Yea, well… I was." Rainbow Dash said, getting very defensive.

"You don't need to worry about me, Dash." Twilight said calmly. "I know I may be having this problem with my memory and all, but… I'm still here, I'm still healthy for the most part."

"You don't understand, Twilight." Rainbow Dash said, "There's no way you would understand."

"What? Why?"

"Don't worry about it." Rainbow Dash said, "It's you who needs to be worried about."

"I'm fine, Dash." Twilight said, "Why would following me around town help with your worry anyway?"

"Well, you never came to Pinkie's party, so of course Pinkie was worried about you, but Applejack and Rarity assured her that you were just tired."

"Well, I was asleep." Twilight said.

"That's what I thought, but I was still worried." Rainbow Dash said. "And since I'm usually out pretty late anyways, I decided to just… make sure you were alright."

"So you were spying on me?" Twilight asked, amused. First Celestia and Luna, and now Rainbow Dash. Am I really that interesting?

"No! I just checked up on you every now and then." Rainbow Dash said. "Then I saw you coming out to see Fluttershy and I decided to just see where you were going."

"Why didn't you just come down and join us?" Twilight asked.

"I… I don't know." Rainbow Dash said meekly.

"Oh Rainbow Dash, you can be so funny sometimes." Twilight said with a smile, "But that's alright, I appreciate your concern."

"Heh, thanks." Dash said nervously. She got up and stood in front of Twilight, looking at her with interest.

"What?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash shook her head. She looked happy, yet sad. Something was troubling her, Twilight was sure of it.

"Nothing."

"You seem to use that answer a lot." Twilight said, "Is there something you're not telling me?"

"Uh… no." Rainbow Dash said. Despite the darkness, Twilight reasoned that Rainbow Dash was probably blushing. "I am tired, though, so I think I'll just be… going then."

"Alright, goodnight, Dash." Twilight said. Rainbow Dash took off into the night sky, leaving a confused Twilight below.

"I don't think I will ever fully understand anything in this town." Twilight said to herself. The library was still a short walk away: a walk that Twilight made with no haste whatsoever.

"I suppose I should try to sleep now." Twilight said once she reached her house.

Her head throbbed once, making her vision distort. Twilight rubbed her forehead with a hoof and felt a twinge of worry.

That's new. Twilight thought. And painful!

Another throb, this time more intense. Twilight sat down and held her head. Twilight became quite concerned now, wondering what the problem with her head was.

And before she could think anymore on the issue… blackness.

***
***

Twilight awoke in her bed like usual. The covers were neatly placed over her body and she felt well-rested.

That's good. Twilight thought. I needed my strength back after my magical endeavor with Applejack's farm.

"You're awake!"

Twilight Screamed and whipped around, throwing herself off the bed. As she fell, she caught a glimpse of Rainbow Dash standing a short distance from her bed, then she hit the floor with a thud. She knew such a stunt would usually make Rainbow Dash laugh her head off, but she remained quiet.

"Rainbow Dash!" Twilight scolded. "What are you doing here?"

"I… you…" Rainbow Dash stammered. Twilight looked at her confused expression and suddenly felt horror course through her body.

"What did I forget?"

"Not a whole lot, just… you remember last night, right?"

"You mean…"

"Your walk with Fluttershy? Seeing me?"

"I walked with Fluttershy last night?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash didn't know what to say. How could Twilight forget an entire conversation with Fluttershy and her?

"You don't remember getting up last night?"

"I remember going to bed after talking to Princess Celestia." Twilight said. Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight, awe-struck.

"Uhm… well, you and I were talking last night." Rainbow Dash said, thankful at least that Twilight forgot about how Rainbow Dash had been spying on her, "And you went home, and this morning I found you passed out right by your front porch."

Twilight paused a bit, taking in the information, "Why would I have passed out on my front porch?"

"Beats me, but that's nothing compared to what else happened last night."

"It's… not?" Twilight asked hesitantly.

"You… seriously don't know?" Rainbow Dash asked in desperation.

"Well, I did just wake up."

"Oh, right." Rainbow said, then her expression turned to worry, "There's a reason why nopony else is here, waiting for you to wake up."

***
***

Disaster, catastrophe, disarray…

These were three of many words that could have been used to describe the scene before Twilight's eyes. Carousel Boutique had certainly seen better days.

The first thing that caught Twilight's attention when she first saw the mess was that the two large windows on either side of the purple door were shattered. The hoof-painted sign depicting an elegant pony model sporting a fashionable dress was now in pieces to the side of the door, obviously moved out of the way in order to allow the door to move. The sloped roof sported many jagged scrapes and holes, the bigger of which were easily the size of Twilight's head.

All of these damages were dwarfed, however, by the top of the building having been ripped completely off and now lay to the side where a trail of debris connected where it once stood to its new resting place. It appeared as though something grabbed it by the top and ripped it off, leaving no more than three hooves of wall past the first story of the building.

Unlike Applejack, Rarity was taking the damages much more seriously, and dramatically. Having been unable to calm herself down from her fit of hysterics, she was escorted by Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to Sugarcube Corner, where she was being tended to by her two friends and the Cakes.

This left Twilight, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash to tend to the damages and try to assess the situation. Who did this? Why? The fire at Sweet Apple Acres could be explained by faulty wiring, but faulty wiring can't rip a building in half. No, this was an attack.

"Now who in tarnation would wanna do a thing like this?" Applejack inquired, her brow furrowed, "Ain't nopony here in Ponyville got a thing against Rarity."

"I don't get it either." Twilight replied, "Even if somepony had a problem, why would they do this? Why didn't they ever bring it up with Rarity? It just doesn't make sense."

"When do you think this could have happened?" Rainbow Dash asked, "I mean, I know it was last night, but I crossed over Carousel Boutique at 2 in the morning and it was fine!"

"Rarity said it was real early in the mornin'." Applejack said, kicking a broken piece of sign, "'Fore the sun came up."

"And nopony heard it and came out to help?" Twilight asked.

"Yea, where was everypony?" Rainbow Dash accused nopony in particular.

"Well, RD, y'all were up in the clouds, Ah was out at the farm, so the closest pony was Twilight. Y'all were jus' down the road."

"I didn't hear anything." Twilight said, realizing that she almost incriminated herself.

"Exactly. There ain't nuthin we could'a done." Applejack concluded, "It is what it is. Now, what are we gonna do about all this mess?" Applejack asked, looking at the broken building.

"This isn't nearly as bad as your farm was, Applejack. I can handle this." Twilight said.

"If yer sure, Twilight." Applejack said.

"Hold up!" Rainbow Dash butted in. "Twilight, I don't think this is a good idea." Rainbow Dash said in hushed tones.

"And why not?" Twilight replied. Again, Rainbow Dash? Twilight thought.

"Twilight, I just have a bad feeling about this." Rainbow Dash said.

"What's gotten into you, Rainbow Dash?" Twilight suddenly barked. Rainbow Dash recoiled, surprised at the sudden outburst. "You're usually the one egging me or anypony on to do dangerous stuff without any care for what happens to them. Why are you suddenly so worried about me?"

"I… I…" Rainbow Dash stuttered. "I… you're right, Twi, I… think I'll just go check on Rarity. You got this." Dash said slowly, walking away, toward Sugarcube Corner. Rainbow Dash's reaction surprised Twilight. If anything, she expected Rainbow Dash to defend herself to the ends of the world and never back down. It was something Twilight liked about her. If anything, it was Rainbow Dash who was a bit off right now. Twilight wanted to follow Dash to Sugarcube Corner to make sure she was alright, but knew that she had to help Rarity as she had done for Applejack.

"What… jus' happened?" Applejack asked, confused.

"I suggest we don't worry about it." Twilight said, sending Applejack a quick smile to assure her that it was nothing to worry about. Applejack screwed up her face skeptically and approached Twilight.

"Is there somethin' goin' on between you n' Dash?" Applejack asked suspiciously.

"Not… that I know of." Twilight replied innocently.

"Really?" Applejack asked, as if Twilight had just told her that the grass was blue, "Cuz yer all that filly talks about."

"What? No I'm not!"

"You better believe it, Twi." Applejack said, then drew back. "She is actin' different, I noticed mahself."

"I don't know what's gotten into her. She's been doing nothing but worry about me ever since I fixed your farm."

"Twi, we've all been worried about you." Applejack said, "'Tain't easy watchin yer friend lose control like that."

"If you're referring to what happened at your farm, I never lost control." Twilight lied, "But… I appreciate your concern."

"Thank ya, Twilight. Now, why don't we give Rarity's Boutique the ol' fix-er-oo?"

"Be glad to." Twilight said with a smile finally.

***
***

Twilight Sparkle and Applejack walked into Sugarcube Corner with joy in their hearts. Once again, a crisis was averted thanks to Twilight's magic. If anything would calm Rarity down, it was with the news that her Boutique had been completely restored. They would need the help, too. One look at Rarity and they could tell that she was in no fit state to even think about being happy.

Rarity's eyes were bloodshot and tear-stained. Twin trails of tears lined both edges of her snout and she sniffled softly, apparently having calmed down slightly from her earlier fit of hysterics, though still fairly despondent. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were sitting at a round table with her. Pinkie Pie, though her expression was glum, would occasionally jump up happily and replace whatever sweet treat Rarity had recently devoured with a new one. Fluttershy, on the other hoof, simply stayed in the chair beside Rarity and rubbed her back.

"Twilight! Applejack!" Pinkie Pie shouted, jumping up from the chair with an amount of happiness that any normal pony would deem inappropriate for the time. Twilight reasoned that this was because Pinkie Pie had already assumed that Twilight had fixed Carousel Boutique.

"Rarity," Applejack said, making Rarity look up at the pair, "Ah think Twilight wants to show ya somethin'."

Rarity sniffed, "Y-you do?"

"Why don't you come next door to Carousel Boutique?" Twilight asked, smiling. Rarity's eyes lit up in a way that hadn't been seen all day and she walked over to Twilight with haste. Pushing past Applejack and Twilight, Rarity rushed out the door and stopped dead a few hooves outside the entrance to Sugarcube Corner. Her face was one of shock as she looked over Carousel Boutique's flawless recovery.

Twilight walked over to Rarity and stood next to her. "What do you think, Rar-OH!" Twilight was interrupted by Rarity pulling her into the absolute most zealous hug she had ever experienced. Rarity was crying again, but not of sadness, but of joy.

"Thank you Twilight, oh thank you!" Rarity sobbed into her friend's mane. Twilight felt slightly uncomfortable, but appreciated Rarity's thanks all the same. Twilight raised one of her front legs to hug Rarity back and patted her back.

"Don't worry about it, Rarity." Twilight said. "It was really no trouble."

"Twilight!" Rarity shouted, pulling out of the hug and looking Twilight in the eyes, "You are the single most generous pony in Ponyville. Why… it should be you with the element of generosity!"

"Now Rarity, you know you'd do the same for me."

"Of course, dear!" Rarity said, then let out another sob of joy and hugged Twilight again. This time, however, Twilight was the one to pull out of the hug when she realized that something was missing. Twilight looked around at the smiling ponies around her and suddenly realized something…

"Where's Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked.

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked.

"We thought she was with you!" Pinkie Pie said.

"She…" Twilight said, looking over at Applejack, who shrugged. "…must have just had something important to do. I'm sure she's fine."

"I can go see if she's home if you want." Fluttershy suggested, lifting a few hooves off the ground and pointing toward Rainbow Dash's cloud home, which was barely visible in the distance.

"You don't have to, Fluttershy." Twilight said.

"Oh, that's alright. I think I will anyway. I am a little curious as well." Fluttershy said, appearing to try her best not to offend Twilight.

"Well, alright." Twilight smiled. Fluttershy returned the gesture and turned toward Rainbow Dash's house. Her gentle flapping carried her away from Carousel Boutique and into the sky, where she disappeared within minutes.

"Now, Rarity." Twilight said, turning her attention back to Rarity. "If you don't mind, can I ask you about what happened last night?"

"If you must, Twilight." Rarity said, her expression once again reverting to one of seriousness.

"Sorry, Rarity, but I really want to know what happened." Twilight tried to ease the situation.

"I understand, Twilight." Rarity said. She smiled, "Why don't we go inside?"

Entering the boutique, Twilight quickly discovered that just because the exterior was mended didn't mean the interior would be in any better condition. The shop floor was in complete disarray with mannequins overturned, fabric laying everywhere, scraps in places they shouldn't be, and a great number of dresses strewn about.

"Oh my, Rarity, let me-" Twilight was cut off.

"No, no, no, Twilight! You have done enough. This is a mess for me. Besides, I know where everything goes." Rarity said with a wide smile.

Twilight smiled back, "Alright, Rarity."

"Well…" Rarity said, using magic to pull two chairs to the middle of the room. The maneuver would have upset the order of the room on any normal occasion, but this was hardly a normal occasion. Plus, the room was already messy. "Shall I begin?"

"Please." Twilight said.

"Well, I was woken up by the sound of breaking glass." Rarity said. "And by the time I got downstairs and saw that the attacker had thrown a large stone through the window, a second one broke the other window!" Rarity narrated dramatically. Twilight listened intently. "I ran outside straight away, but I suddenly realized that whoever was attacking me was beginning to hurl balls of magical energy at the shop, and at me!"

That must have been where the holes in the roof came from. Twilight thought.

"I ran back inside the shop and ducked for cover. The brute tore many holes in the ceiling and destroyed half my merchandise." Rarity said, waving a hoof over the shop where Twilight noticed that the dresses on the floor were not intact in any way, but had large holes in them that appeared to have been singed there by magic.

"Then, there was this awful sound, like the whole building was going to collapse!" Rarity said. "I thought I was done for! But to my relief, he had only succeeded in ripping off the top of my bedroom."

There was a pause that Twilight used to take in everything and Rarity used to recover from recalling the traumatizing events. To Twilight, it seemed that Rarity was on the verge of tears once again, so she quickly hurried on with the analysis.

"Well we know the attacker was a unicorn. Did you see what color the magic was?" Twilight asked, levitating a dress toward her face so she could survey the damage a little more closely. Rarity failed to answer at first, merely stammering.

"It's okay if you can't remember, this is just clues to the puzzle." Twilight said, "If we know the color of the magic, we can narrow the search down."

"Th-that's just it, darling." Rarity said, "The magic was light purple, the same color as… yours."

Twilight released the dress and let it fall to the ground. The lavender-colored magical energy surrounding both her horn and the dress dissipated, leaving Twilight's surprised face.

"M-mine? You sure it wasn't darker or lighter?" Twilight asked.

"I am positive, Twilight." Rarity said. "I still remember it clearly."

"Rarity, I didn't-"

"Relax, Twilight, I don't believe that the pony that just saved my boutique was also the pony that destroyed it." Rarity said with a smile, "But," Twilight shuddered slightly, "I daresay if we get any police ponies involved, they will be harder to convince."

"Well, there are plenty of ponies in this world with the same color of magic. We just need to find them and bring them in. I've never seen a unicorn in Ponyville with purple magic, but I'm sure we can find them."

"Thank you, Twilight." Rarity said, "You really are a good friend."

"Thanks, Rarity." Twilight replied, blushing slightly. Twilight got down from her chair and walked toward the door, "I think I'll be getting home then. I want to do some reading on this destructive magic that was used on your house."

"Go on, Twilight!" Rarity said, "Oh, and Twilight?"

Twilight stopped halfway through the door, "Yes?"

"Do check on Rainbow Dash." Rarity said with a softer tone, "You two seem to be close and… well, I just think she's been a bit off lately."

"I think you may be right." Twilight replied glumly, although she was a little confused as to why Rarity of all ponies was concerned about Rainbow Dash's well-being.

***
***

With a quick glow of her horn, Twilight cast the spell she had used once previously to allow her friends and her to visit Cloudsdale. If she was going to visit Rainbow Dash, she would need to be able to walk on clouds, considering Rainbow's home was constructed with clouds. A sensation similar to dipping her hooves in warm water crawled up Twilight's legs, stopping mid-way up, slightly above her knees. She moved her legs a bit, testing the seals, and then prepared her second spell.

Above Twilight was Rainbow Dash's residence: a castle-like two-story home constructed completely out of clouds complete with pillars, arches, and decorative rainbows that Twilight swore were unnatural. The sight was really quite something and Twilight hoped that she would be able to see what it looked like inside.

With a dull flash and tingling sound, Twilight was gone. A second later, she reappeared on the edge of the cloud home that was previously above her. A rainbow pool lay to her right, spilling over the edge and dissipating in the air in such a way that Twilight made a mental note to read up on when she got the next available opportunity. In front of her was Rainbow Dash's front door, which Twilight approached and knocked on thrice without hesitation.

"Fluttershy, is that you already?" Twilight heard Rainbow Dash's voice on the other side of the door. The door opened and Rainbow Dash looked out, eyes widening in surprise.

"Twilight? But… how did you-"

"Magic." Twilight said, smirking.

"Oh, right, uh… well, come in I guess." She offered, letting Twilight in past her.

"I take it Fluttershy's coming back?" Twilight asked.

"She didn't say she was." Rainbow Dash said, closing the door. "I just assumed it was her because… well, she's the only other pony that visits me."

Twilight was busy taking in the sight of Rainbow Dash's cloud home, something she had never seen before. It was really different, odd almost, but incredible all the same. The stark white makeup of the floors and ceilings made for a very friendly atmosphere. All the surfaces were solid to the point that Twilight was almost confident that she could remove her cloud walk spell. Despite this, she decided against it.

What was more amazing was how the solid floors, walls, and ceilings seemed to swirl and flow. The house almost appeared to be alive, which is an odd realization to make considering Twilight's house literally was alive.

"Rainbow Dash, this house is incredible." Twilight said with wonder.

"Oh, thanks!" Dash replied, stepping beside Twilight and looking at the familiar surroundings with her.

"Did you build it?" Twilight asked.

"Helped." Rainbow Dash said, "I had a lot of help from some Cloudsdale construction pegasi."

"I've never seen anything like it." Twilight admired, walking forward and looking around as if she were in a dream.

"Heheh, so, uh… what brings you down?" Rainbow Dash asked, though she wasn't foalish enough to not be able to guess.

"I just wanted to talk." Twilight said. "I got some new information about the attack on Rarity's boutique." Twilight said.

"Oh yea?" Dash asked. Twilight relayed all the information she had gathered about the mysterious attack. She was hesitant when bringing up the detail about the attacker's magic matching her own, but she knew that of all the ponies, loyal Rainbow Dash would never suspect Twilight of such a crime. While Twilight talked, she couldn't help but notice that Rainbow Dash seemed distant, unfocused, seemingly not really listening to what Twilight was saying. It got to Twilight a little bit, but she didn't voice her concerns.

"And the part I'm most worried about is that if we get any police ponies involved, then I will become a suspect." Twilight said. Being the first time she had ever spoken those words in that way, their actual meaning actually began to sink in.

"Nopony would ever think that you did this!" Rainbow Dash said.

"But… it adds up." Twilight said.

"What?"

"Well, think about it Dash." Twilight mused, "The attacker used magical attacks of a seemingly high degree of difficulty and had the same color of magic as me."

"So what? That's just two things. There are plenty of talented unicorns out there, and you said yourself that lots of unicorns share the same color of magic."

"Yes, but not in Ponyville."

"Twilight." Rainow Dash said. She put a hoof on Twilight's shoulders, making her turn and look. Twilight's eyes were overcome with worry, something that wasn't exactly foreign to the little bookworm.

"You overthink everything." Rainbow Dash said plainly, "Take a step back for a second. Did you attack Rarity's boutique?" She was being serious.

"No, of course not!" Twilight replied.

"Then what's to worry about?" Dash said, "As long as you know that you're telling the truth, you'll be fine."

"But what if-"

Rainbow Dash silenced her by taking her hoof off Twilight's shoulder and pressing it against her muzzle. Twilight scowled playfully and removed Rainbow Dash's hoof.

"Well, if it's a subject change you want," Twilight started. "I've been meaning to ask you, are… you okay?"

Rainbow Dash gave her a confused look, "Okay?"

"Yea, you seem a bit… off, is all."

"What makes you say that?"

"Well for starters, why did you leave the boutique and come back here without telling anypony?"

Rainbow Dash didn't answer. She just looked straight forward, away from Twilight.

"I just… wanted some time to think." Rainbow Dash said after some deliberation.

"Think?" Twilight asked incredulously, "Dash, I think. You don't think. You take action. I would normally be overjoyed by you slowing down for a moment, but recently you've just been acting different."

"Different how?" She replied, as if Twilight were accusing her of a crime.

"Like how you're constantly worried about me." Twilight said.

"Okay, everypony's worried about you, Twilight." Rainbow Dash said, "It's just that I also know about your recent memory loss problems, so I just worry a bit more."

That triggered something in Twilight's memory (ironically), and she quickly voiced it, "That reminds me, you told me that you found me passed out on the library front porch this morning, right?"

"Right."

"I'm starting to remember last night… just a bit." Twilight said.

"You are? That's great! What do you remember?"

"I remember talking to you… but I can't remember what about." Twilight said, "Then I walked into my house and… a-after there I can't remember anything. So weird… It's like a dream, like something that didn't really happen, but… it did, didn't it?"

"Well, I know you talked to me." Rainbow Dash said, "But if you walked into your house, then why did I find you on the porch?"

"I don't know." Twilight said, "Maybe it really was a dream."

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