• Published 29th Jan 2012
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The Dresden Fillies: Strange Friends - psychicscubadiver



Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, accidentally travels to Equestria. What could go wrong?

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Chapter Six

Chapter Six

Written by: Psychicscubadiver
Edited by: Silentcarto

Disclaimer: I don’t own The Dresden Files or My Little Pony, that is Jim Butcher and Hasbro, respectively. This is a fanfiction only. Comments are appreciated, trolling is not. This takes place before season two in MLP and between books five and six in the Dresden Files.

Nopony could remember when the quarry had been abandoned. Few even knew it existed. It had once supplied stone for the Castle of the Royal Sisters, but it had gone to ruin long before the palace. Located deep in the Everfree Forest it was a secluded and empty place. The Great and Powerful Trixie had stumbled across it on one of her earlier journeys. The workers’ quarters had once been a massive building capable of housing dozens of ponies, but these days it was a crumbled ruin. Still, some of its rooms were preserved enough to act as shelter and Trixie had taken one as her home. The cold stone room wasn’t a place she would have preferred to live, but beggars, or in this case secretive unicorns, couldn’t be choosers.

The mare appeared there an hour or so after dusk in a dazzling display of light. She brought with her a pair of worn saddlebags and a small, sleeping dragon. Trixie set her hostage on the ground and checked her saddlebags, pleased to see their contents were unchanged. The small pocket watch she’d liberated from its unpleasant owner gave nine soft chimes reminding her of the time. Trixie was displeased; she still had hours to go until the proper time.

To keep herself busy Trixie strengthened the sleeping spell on the little dragon, ensuring he’d stay unconscious for the next few days. Her stomach rumbled, and she considered her store of food. She didn’t have much, but a simple dinner of oats and wild berries would do just fine. She did need to mind her trim, lovely figure, after all. Once she was done there was still time to kill, so she practiced her magic. The voice whispered its usual encouragement and advice as she worked. Under its tutelage she had vastly improved her already impressive skills. As the minutes ticked closer and closer to midnight her excitement grew until she could no longer focus on her magic. The voice cautioned her to be patient, but she could feel that it was even more on edge than she was.

At a quarter to midnight, she stopped pretending to practice and gathered her materials. From the sealed chest in the rear of the tiny room, she withdrew the fruit of her months of labor. The war hammer was unnaturally heavy, and it gleamed silver even in the lightless shack. It was made from no ordinary metal; it was not even some enchanted alloy. The hammer was made from the ore of a shooting star. It had taken weeks, even with her new ally’s help, just to craft the spell to locate a metallic meteorite and longer still to actually find a piece big enough for her purposes. The blacksmith in Hoofington had thought she was crazy when she brought him the otherworldly rock and told him to make her a hammer; an opinion not helped by the way she would occasionally answer the voice in her head out loud. She’d spent the last of her bits to convince him, and he had grudgingly taken the job. Losing the money hurt, but the voice had insisted. The hammer was necessary to enact its plan.

Trixie finished admiring the hammer; whatever his doubts, the blacksmith had done a beautiful job. It was almost a shame that she had to take the hammer without paying the rest of her promised price, but eventually his wounds would heal. Besides, when she at last gained the recognition she deserved, he would be well-rewarded for this service to her. She set it down and opened her saddlebags. The prizes within winked at her in the soft moonlight as she lifted them out. Five necklaces and a gaudy tiara joined the hammer. The Elements of Harmony had been pathetically easy to steal, considering their importance. She could have guarded them better than that foal of a Princess. Of course, what pony would dare to take the most priceless gems in existence from the study of Princess Celestia herself? The Great and Powerful Trixie would! Those useless Bearers would suffer for the Princess’s arrogance. The Princess might increase her security after this, but Trixie didn’t intend to give her a second chance.

Trixie checked her watch again; it was 11:55. She stared at the Elements wondering what order she should put them in. Twilight’s Element would be last of course, only she could be the finale. It was tempting to put Magic first, but Trixie knew that the anticipation would make the reward all the sweeter. First would be that timid, pathetic, little pegasus, Kindness, and then that annoying pink one, Laughter. The Honest farmpony and the Loyal daredevil would be next. Generous Rarity would be second to last. That showy upstart had dared to call Trixie’s magic unsophisticated. Only after her precious friends would it be Twilight’s turn.

Trixie’s heart thudded a frenzied drumbeat within her chest as the seconds passed. Even the normally phlegmatic voice bubbled with malicious glee. She raised the hammer in a telekinetic grip waiting. Just before midnight struck she spoke, her voice and the one in her mind perfectly in sync.

“At the darkest hour she wielded a fallen star. Her heart full of naught but hatred, she struck, destroying Harmony and releasing the darkness from its prison. Thus, was the Nightmare reborn.”

The hammer descended crushing the tiny butterfly in the center of the Element of Kindness. Splinters of pink crystal fell from it as the hammer rose again. With maniac energy Trixie smashed the happy party balloon next. The apple, lightning bolt and diamond studded necklaces quickly followed suit, and then, only Magic was left. Trixie breathed heavily, partially from the exertion of swinging the hammer, but mostly from her growing feeling of power. She had never felt so alive, so strong!

And it only gets better, the voice purred.

Trixie lifted the hammer once more and brought it crashing down on the glittering tiara. It survived the first blow unscathed. Trixie blinked, stunned, but her surprise quickly turned into a burning fury at its resistance. The second hammer strike drove a deep crack through the heart of the purple jewel. The final one reduced the once-proud stone to mere shards. A powerful explosion erupted from beneath the hammer. The backlash threw Trixie to the ground, where she lay stunned for a long moment.

When she rose, a pitch black mist began seeping out of the shattered artifacts. It paused for a moment and then drew together, streaking across the rocky terrain to surround her with its ebony coils. Even if she would never admit it, not even to herself, Trixie was paralyzed with fear at the sight. But as the inky miasma sunk into her coat, the terror faded, and instead she felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. She had done it.

It would more accurate to say that we have done it. The voice had returned stronger than ever. No longer a small whisper, it was now a full voice, one as strong and melodious as her own. It came with a presence, a strange, new entity that she could feel, sharing her mind and body. Trixie knew she should have been frightened, maybe even terrified, but the Nightmare felt as familiar and welcome as an old friend.

Of course, the presence said. After all, we have communicated mentally for months, even though you could barely be reached through the seal. That, however, is of no real import. You have done everything that has been asked of you. Now, you will receive the promised reward.

Trixie felt herself gasp, driven to her knees, as her mind nearly succumbed to the sudden sensation. All of her, – mind, body, and spirit – was filling with power. More than she had ever dreamed of; the feeling was pure bliss. She floated in an endless ecstasy. Her entire world was nothing but—

Pain!

She stiffened, trying to scream, but her frozen lungs wouldn’t let her. It was too much. Her body was only a small glass to the cascade of magic that poured into it. The energy began spilling from her in luminous waves as she fought to hold it, to hold herself together.

That will not do at all, the Nightmare stated coldly. Your body must be altered to better control your new abilities.

Trixie could barely nod her agreement before the changes began. She had thought she couldn’t possibly hurt any more; mental acid already ate at her psyche as liquid fire poured through her veins, but then her body added its own chorus of physical torments more excruciating than anything she had ever experienced before. Bones creaked as they lengthened, muscles and ligaments screaming at the sudden stress until the magic caught up to them. Her entire coat and mane crawled with the feet of a thousand imaginary insects. Then, suddenly, it all stopped. The pain was gone. Trixie staggered slowly upright on her new legs, feeling strangely at peace. She was still awed by the power she held, but no longer was she overwhelmed by it.

But that could wait. With a thought and the barest exertion of power, she summoned an enormous mirror. She hardly recognized the shocked face that gaped back at her. Trixie had been beautiful before, but now she was utterly radiant. She stood almost as tall as Princess Celestia, but, she thought with a smirk, she had a nicer figure to go with that height. Perfectly shaped, slender legs led to a beautifully curved flank where her cutie mark twinkled proudly. Her coat had become a blue so dark it bordered on black, and her eyes had turned a cruel, steely gray.

And my mane. Oh, my mane! It had become a flowing banner of silver. Each strand was made of metal purer than any jeweler could imagine. Such a mane should have been heavy and stiff, but her gorgeous hair flowed easily in the soft breeze, as light and smooth as silk. Her horn had changed as well; it was now twice its original length and came to a wickedly sharp point. The Great and Powerful Trixie laughed; at last she had a form fit for her, one with a beauty and elegance that lesser mares could only envy!

As she admired herself in the mirror, Trixie noticed a twitch of movement behind her. The shattered pieces of the Elements were beginning to draw back together like iron filings around a magnet. Trixie and the Nightmare felt a brief surge of displeasure as the pieces hesitantly began to fuse. The Elements of Harmony couldn’t be permanently destroyed, not by any means known to the Nightmare at least, but both had hoped that the artifacts would have been slower to heal themselves without the presence of their Bearers.

Oh well, that hardly matters. Trixie thought, her mind quickly turning inward, eager to explore the possibilities of her new powers.

Remember, the Nightmare cautioned, it will take days to learn full control of these powers. Do not lure the Elemental of Magic here until you are well prepared.

Trixie pouted at that, but with some careful cajoling her ally proved as persuasive as ever. She sighed, dismissing the mirror and frowning at the tiny room around her. “Fine, but in the meantime, we must do something about these accommodations.” She glared at the dank stone surrounding her and huffed haughtily. “Such a place isn’t fit for the Great and Powerful Trixie.”

She paused, a strange thought crossing her mind. “That name won’t do either. Trixie needs a new title to reflect her improved form.”

She remained immobile, sorting various possibilities in her mind until she cried out. “Aha! I’ve got it! Henceforth I shall be known as … The Dark and All-powerful Trixie!” She stamped her hooves in excitement over her cleverness, oblivious to the craters she was making and the shuddering of rocks yards away.

There was a startled silence from the Nightmare, but it found its voice before Trixie completely destroyed the stone underhoof. It is no worse than Nightmare Moon; it will do. Now let us begin constructing your new domicile. What did you have in mind?

Trixie stopped her prancing, but excitement still showed in her grin. “Why, the only place worthy of me, of course. I must have a castle.”

Very well. This will be good practice for you. You will be guided, but focus is necessary. This will be difficult.

.........

Rarity sighed as she entered her beautiful boutique; it had been such an eventful day. Sweetie Belle and her friends had been underhoof for most of the morning, and she had received an order for two new dresses in addition to the alterations to one she had already finished. Rarity had made good progress on that front once Sweetie Bell left, but it was only a short while later that Twilight had shown up with a new crisis, forcing her to put work aside.

The whole ordeal had been odd, and that meant something coming from a pony used to Pinkie’s antics. Mr. Dresden was such a strange fellow, but Rarity had warmed to him. True, he had seemed frightening at first, but seeing him cowed by a pony half his size had alleviated much of her trepidation. Not that Twilight’s anger hadn’t scared Rarity as well, but the situation was rather amusing in hindsight. His fashion sense seemed severely lacking other than his fascinating coat, but who was she to judge the fashions of another world?

That coat, though. She still wanted to know more about. He’d seemed nervous, evasive even, when she’d asked. She had stopped out of courtesy, but that didn’t prevent her from wondering. Perhaps it had some symbolic or religious purpose; she had sensed some unfamiliar magic woven into it. He had put it back on as soon as she had let him, and had even worn it in addition to the cloak despite the fine evening.

Rarity hoped he wouldn’t go home too soon. Their talks had been fairly direct and focused on the business at hoof. She would love to hear more about his world. That city he mentioned sounded intriguing. Neigh York wasn’t it? Visions of an alien city full of strange, new fashions, brimming with exotic material and fresh inspirations, danced through her mind. She shook her head. It was obvious she wasn’t going to get much sleep tonight anyway. She may as well get back to work on one of the new dresses.

She wasn’t sure how long she had been working when the quiet sound drew her attention. A furtive, stealthy sort of noise that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Looking up, she saw that the door was slightly ajar, creaking faintly in a soft breeze. She closed it again with magic. Was there something wrong with the latch, or…? But the shop was empty.

Returning to her work, she had barely rethreaded her needle when one of the floorboards gave a loud creak. Rarity whipped around, heart thudding, but there was nopony else in the room. The boutique was silent beyond the drumming in her chest.

Am I just imagining it? She wondered. She’d had a busy day, after all, and perhaps—There! A rustle and a flash of motion in the corner of her eye! She spun to face whatever it was, her horn glowing as she prepared herself, but once again she was faced with nothing.

I am definitely not alone, the unicorn thought, trying to hold her fear in check. But a lady always faces danger with dignity…

“Boo.” Whispered a mouth next to Rarity’s ear.

Rarity shrieked, dignity forgotten, already lashing out with a blast of magic.

“Wheeeeee!” Pinkie cried as she went sailing through the air to land with a mighty thump in pile of fabric rolls. She picked herself up quickly and trotted over to her angry, embarrassed friend. “That was great, Rarity! You shoulda seen the look on your face. Priceless!”

“Pinkie, what are you doing here so late? You scared me half to death!” Rarity glared daggers at Pinkie, but the irrepressible party pony seemed only slightly apologetic.

“Sorry. I was just sitting at home getting ready for bed and feeding Gummy, feeling awfully disappointed that I couldn’t throw Harry a ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ party ‘cause nobody but us can know about him and so I wanted to do something fun, when Twilight suddenly appeared and told me that we had a new problem and that I needed to come over here right away and tell you to close all the windows and curtains but to leave the lights on and stay out of sight and I thought if I had to stay out of sight I should do it the moment I arrived but then you were so scared I remembered I needed to tell you all this and I was about to say something but you looked so silly with that scaredy-pony expression so I wanted to surprise you, isn’t it funny?” Rarity struggled to process the torrent of words, and then Pinkie seemed to remember something and added. “Oh, and apparently Spike’s been kidnapped so we need to go rescue him.”

What? Pinkie, how could you not mention that first?” Pinkie opened her mouth to respond, but she was cut off by the other pony. “I mean really. Oh, poor Spike. Poor Twilight! How was she? Who did it?” She paused. “Did you mention something about pulling the curtains?”

Pinkie thought for a moment. “I said Spike’s been kidnapped, I kinda forgot, she seemed angry but ok, I don’t know, and yes.” Rarity took a moment to process her friend’s odd answer and realized the last bit was the only important part. She gathered her magic and began pulling the curtains shut. That done, she turned to Pinkie for a more detailed description of the current situation. But before she could, there was a sudden glow and soft popping noise as Twilight and Applejack appeared in the middle of the room.

Applejack shook her head, trying to clear her dazed expression, “That weren’t much fun. I think I’ll just walk the next time.”

“Sorry, Applejack,” Twilight replied, “but time is of the essence and we can’t afford to be seen.” Her attention shifted, locking eyes with Rarity. “Did Pinkie tell you what’s going on?”

“No! Well, yes, but—” Rarity began.

“Good,” Twilight interrupted, “I’ll be back soon with Dash.” And she disappeared again in a flash of light.

“Will somepony please tell me just what’s going on, and why we’re all gathering at my boutique?!” Rarity shouted, forgetting proper etiquette for a moment.

“No need to shout, sugarcube. We kin all hear you.” Applejack rubbed her eyes sleepily. “All I know is that Twilight woke me and said Spike’d been kidnapped. I hurried to get ready ‘cause she was all impatient to go. Once I had everything, she told me to wait with y’all and dropped me here.” She frowned at Pinkie. “Do you know just what’s going on?”

Pinkie nodded seriously, “Twilight popped in to see me first and told me everything. She and Dresden got back to the library and found a note that said somepony had taken Spike. Twilight thinks it’s Trixie, with some kind of evil plan for revenge. Twilight isn’t supposed to tell anypony about it, but Dresden can follow Spike so we’re secretly meeting up to go rescue him!” Her voice had turned peppy as she talked and by the end she was back to her usual bouncing. In stark contrast, her friends’ faces became more worried the longer she spoke. There was a second of silence after Pinkie finished, but Applejack quickly broke it.

“So Spike disappears and now we need to follow some suspicious fella we just met today out to Celestia knows where in the middle of the night? This sounds mighty strange to me.”

“Applejack! I found Mr. Dresden to be a colt of impeccable character, despite his peculiarities. I can’t believe you’d be so untrusting when we need to pull together during this crisis.” Rarity sniffed and turned away to reorganize the materials that Pinkie’s landing had scattered.

Applejack flushed, looking a little shamed, but held her ground. “I ain’t saying he’s not nice, but he’s downright mysterious. I can tell he’s got all sorts of secrets he ain’t telling us. Do you really wanna trust him with your life, or any of ours?”

“Why not?” Pinkie was still in high spirits, but she looked unusually serious. “Twilight trusts him enough to lead all of us, and she doesn’t even like him that much. Besides, doesn’t everypony deserve some trust, no matter how mysterious, sinister or downright spooooky they might be?”

Applejack wanted to argue further, but from her friends expressions it’d just be a waste of time. She sighed and changed the topic. “So Pinkie, Twi thinks Trixie’s the culprit? Did she say why?” Pinkie shook her head solemnly, and Applejack frowned. “Huh, I thought that two-bit little show-off learned her lesson the last time. I guess she needs a reminder. Nopony hurts my friends, and a few parlor tricks ain’t gonna stop me this time. I wonder how great and powerful she’ll be after a few bucks to the head?”

Rarity finished tidying and turned back to the conversation. “In that I agree with you completely. She displayed a horrid lack of style last time, but at least she had seemed above abduction. If she’s truly taken the left-hoof path then it’s our duty to stop her.” Her eyes narrowed and her smile turned fierce. “And if it so happens that kicking that narcissistic charlatan’s flank is necessary… well, that’s just a bonus.”

Pinkie and Applejack chuckled, but their laughs were interrupted by Twilight’s reappearance. This time she held a sleeping Rainbow Dash in her telekinetic grip. Twilight set the cyan pegasus down carefully, and turned to go, speaking briefly,

“Sorry, but I couldn’t wake her. Be back soon, okay? Thanks, bye.” Rarity barely had time to notice that the purple unicorn’s hair looked a little frazzled before she vanished.

Everypony in the room stared at the sleeping pegasus. “Any ideas?” Rarity asked.

Pinkie grinned, “I can think of a few.” The pink pony pulled a pair of cymbals from somewhere and brought them together with resounding crash. “WAKE UP, DASHIE!”

Rainbow Dash just rolled over, snoring slightly. Pinkie frowned. She positioned the cymbals right next to Dash’s head and drew in her breath for another try.

“Hold up there,” Applejack interrupted. “I know something that’ll work.” Pinkie withdrew but still held the cymbals at the ready. Applejack leaned over the heaviest sleeper in Ponyville and whispered something in her ear. Dash shot into the air like she’d been thrown in an icy river.

“I’d never! I mean no way, that’s just not cool. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m innocent, I swear!” Pinkie giggled and that seemed to break Dash’s panic. She flushed angrily at her friends’ bemused expressions and glared at Applejack. “That’s not funny and you know it, AJ.”

The cowpony chuckled a little, “I dunno, Dash. It looked pretty funny from down here.” A scowl joined the glare aimed at her, and Applejack stopped her laughing. “Sorry, but we needed ya up an’ about inna hurry.”

Dash seemed to notice her surroundings for the first time and landed next to Pinkie. “Fine, but how did I get here?”

“Twilight brought you here.” Pinkie said, and began bringing her sleepy friend up to speed on their latest crisis.

Rarity leaned over to Applejack while Pinkie was busy getting Dash caught up. “Just what did you whisper to her?”

Applejack chuckled, “Can’t tell ya.” Rarity pouted, but Applejack just shook her head. “Nope, I Pinkie swore not to tell anypony about it. But I can tell you that it’s one hay of a funny story.”

Rarity wanted to press her for more juicy details but there was a familiar flash of light. Twilight reappeared with Fluttershy in tow and winked back out of existence without even a word to her friends.

Fluttershy gave a soft “Eep” as every pony in the room focused on her. The yellow pegasus stared uneasily at her hooves. “Umm… Twilight said I needed to ask Pinkie for an explanation. She just said something terrible had happened and she needed me. That is, if you don’t mind Pinkie?” Pinkie nodded sagely and launched into her third rendition of the story.

Dash drifted over to Applejack and Rarity. “We’re all here, so why’d Twi leave this time?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Rarity asked, “She needs to collect Mr. Dresden. It’s his spell that will lead us to Spike. Did she look out of sorts to either of you? Teleporting over such distances isn’t easy and she’s been doing it nonstop – and with passengers, no less.”

“C’mon, Rarity.” Dash spoke up, “That egghead knows magic like nopony else. Besides, we need the speed if we’re gonna surprise Trixie and rescue Spike.”

Applejack shook her head, siding with Rarity. “Most of the time, I’d be on your side, Dash, but she just lost Spike. I doubt she’s thinking things through right now.” She shrugged. “Not that we can do anything until she gets herself back.”

Pinkie’s narrative grew louder and Applejack stopped speaking just in time for the three to hear her say, “And then there were ninjas everywhere!” before her volume dropped again. The earth pony, unicorn and pegasus shared a sigh.

“I reckon I’ll need to set Fluttershy straight once Pinkie’s done. How ‘bout you two work on getting supplies together? We don’t know how far it is to Trixie’s hideout.” Her friends nodded and all three set to work, but they’d barely started before Twilight and Dresden appeared.

“-said ‘be quick’ doesn’t mean you should push yourself too far. We can walk there.” Even as he finished the sentence, the wizard realized it was a moot point. He frowned at Twilight, but it broke into a yawn. He looked tired, but he was bright-eyed and energetic compared to Twilight.

The purple unicorn swayed unsteadily, both eyes half closed, and when she spoke it was slurred. “No, I’m fine. You worry too much.”

“Twilight!” Rarity cried, darting to her friend’s side.

Dresden just scowled and leaned against a wall, rubbing tired eyes. Pinkie trotted up to him and sat on her haunches, sucking in a deep breath. “Okay, so you and Twilight got back to the library and found a note that said somepony had taken Spike, and that’s when the Black Spider ninja clan attacked—”

The rest of the ponies crowded around their tired friend, all talking at once. Twilight’s lavender eyes darted back and forth between her chattering friends in distracted confusion, as her posture gradually tightened from exhaustion to annoyance.

“Quiet!” she snapped. All of her friends backed away, surprised. “Uh, please. Sorry, I just need a moment and I’ll teleport all of us into the Everfree forest. Then we can get started.”

“Oh, Twilight. Are you sure? I mean, you look so tired. Shouldn’t you take a rest?” Fluttershy offered.

Twilight shook her head irritably. “No, we need to get moving now. The faster the better.” Her horn began to glow, but its light flickered like candle and couldn’t steady itself.

Dresden put a hand on her shoulder and solemnly shook his head. “The letter gave us days. We can spare the time to walk there, but we can’t spare you.”

Twilight shook his hand off her. “Spike needs us. He needs me. We have to!” She tried again to work her magic, but the world kept slipping away from her. Applejack leaned down in front of her, staring her in the eyes.

“We both know I got some experience with being too tired an’ stubborn to get a job done right. And I’m telling you right now, sugarcube, that you need to listen to us. We’re your friends, ain’t we?”

Twilight stopped. Applejack was right. Her horn lost its glow and she offered a wan smile. “You’re right. You all are. It won’t hurt to walk from here.” Her knees wobbled when she said ‘walk’, but nopony seemed to notice. “We just need to get everything ready and we can go.”

“Awww,” Pinkie said, “We love you too. Group hug!” The little pink pony stretched out her front legs impossibly long pulling all the other ponies close. She smiled at the lone human, “You too, Mr. Dresden!”

The tall wizard seemed startled by the invitation, and he held his hands up in a placating gesture. “Thanks, but hugs aren’t really my thing. You see-”

“Just get over here,” Pinkie interrupted with a giggle. He hesitated a moment more before joining the hug. His arms were stiff and a little awkward, like he wasn’t used to hugging, but Pinkie seemed satisfied. At the end of the hug she was beaming even brighter than usual.

“Now what?” asked the ever practical Applejack.

Twilight thought for a moment. “You said you’ve done this kind of thing before, Mr. Dresden. You should lead us.” He nodded like he’d been waiting for her to say that and stepped forward.

“I’ll make this brief. Everyone needs to pack some food, something to keep them warm and as much water as they can carry. Also take anything that’ll help in a fight. Got that?”

All of the ponies nodded, “Good. Let’s get to it, everybody.”

………

Twilight lurched ahead, but it was hard going. Somepony had replaced her hooves with lead weights, and her legs with pieces of rubber. She almost made a full yard, but Dresden put out his hand to stop her. It didn’t take much force. “Hold on, Twilight,” he said in a softer tone.

“What?”

“I wanted to ask you about something.” The other ponies followed Rarity toward some of the back rooms, and they were alone. “Applejack and Rainbow make sense. I can even understand why you might want Rarity or Pinkie, but are you sure we should bring Fluttershy? There’s pretty good chance we’re going to have to fight. Can she handle that?”

Twilight gave Dresden a tired grin. “Don’t worry, Mr. Dresden. When her friends are in danger, Fluttershy can do some amazing things. Once she stared down a full-grown dragon to protect the rest of us.” His eyebrows rose almost to his hairline, but Dresden let the matter drop. Twilight understood his hesitation, but all of them drew strength from each other. It wouldn’t feel right doing this without Fluttershy. “Besides, she has some basic medical training.”

He shrugged. “Fine, you know her best. But until we have everything packed, you need to rest.”

“What?” She protested. “I’m fine. I don’t--” Her argument would have been more convincing if she hadn’t yawned in the middle of her sentence. She tried to push past him to help her friends pack, but her legs weren’t working right. Her left legs remained glued to the floor and the right side just twitched and moved a few inches before settling unsteadily down. Dresden just stared at her until she felt her cheeks warm. “Okay, maybe I could use a few minutes. But wake me up as soon as we’re ready.” He nodded solemnly, and Twilight stopped fighting the exhaustion that washed over her. She vaguely felt his arms lift her up and set something soft beneath her head. She sighed as she made herself comfortable. A few minutes won’t hurt.

Author’s Note: Major thanks to my tireless editor, Silentcarto. This chapter was more messy than most. Also, realized I never gave credit for the story image. That wonderful work of art was done by the talented Lynxgriffin.

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