• Published 10th Apr 2013
  • 1,733 Views, 174 Comments

Libera Mé - EZTP



Set just after the events of season 3, Twilight Sparkle and her friends must rise to a challenging beast the likes of which will test her not only as an alicorn, but as the Princess of Friendship.

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20 Pony Flavour

20

Rarity lay back on the soft grass to stare up at the sunlight now easing its way through the mild cloud cover, a humid warmth blanketing her. It was days like this she lived for. Her eyes ached for rest and she obliged. The visits to Zecora were more frequent since that incident a week ago. Its injuries left it unable to escape from them and they exploited that to every wonderful detail. She had taken a shine to the creature now, it still remained reserved about telling her anything new yet she had decided this was not a bad thing. To Rarity it was not lying to them at least, just hiding the facts.

The past few days had been thankfully quiet in the kingdom. No new monsters and no new problems. No walking. Twilight had perfected a new spell in this time to use against the creature yet Rarity did notice that her enthusiasm in doing so was all but faded. Despite all her efforts she still did not have the moment to talk to Twilight about it yet.

Rainbow Dash was struggling to pull herself away from an odd short novel Rarity had lent her. ‘The Marionetter’ was certainly a steamy one, something to get her blood going in that drab, colourless place. It was initially meant to punish Rainbow for mocking her taste yet it ended up being a very nice way to pass time in the hospital. The doctors had grown accustomed to her remarkable healing seeing her active within three days after the event. An alarming number of stitches had to be made but the section they shaved would grow back eventually.

One thing Rarity noticed about the creature was that it had taken an unusual interest in Fluttershy’s wings. It would ask her to fly and seemed enraptured in the form. Fluttershy was true to her name about showing off but she did gain more confidence each time. While strange she could only remember its desire to help and chose to remain silent.

A sharp grunt sounded in the distance followed by Applejack barking orders. “What was that? My Granny can do better. Just for that I’m taking you through another one. Now up to it before I drag you up! No! Get off the ground, no time for sleeping. What are you- No Teddy! No! Put that down. I said put that down. Don’t you dare throw th-,” a scream followed and Rarity saw the very amusing sight of Applejack being hit neatly with a mud ball. She felt bad for the creature seeing Applejack smile and pick up a wad of her own, this was the wrong pony for mud slinging.

Applejack had made it her business to look after the creature. The rehabilitation was remarkably quick. Every day it seemed to grow stronger, back to its original self. Lately it was almost able to beat Applejack in several contests. Despite what they assumed it was not as strong as them. It seemed healthy yet it was no tougher or able than herself. Significantly less so than Applejack, who pointed it out on every occasion possible.

It now lay on the ground being pelted by Applejack mercilessly to lay still, from here Rarity to see a tiny grin. It was gruelling to watch her running it ragged. Slowly its performance was improving. A smile trickled to her face seeing the creature laying still as Applejack cautiously approached. Lately it rarely wore her new outfit, choosing to stay with a more simple ensemble she gave it for relaxing. Only when going out into the forest did it use her camouflage pattern, each trips purpose though was always confidential. After learning of its carnivorous nature, they all decided that was for the best.

A cry for help sounded as the creature reached around sharply to pin Applejack down. Amidst the laughter she fought to get free but had no chance to escape as it pretended to fall asleep on her. It was extremely heavy despite its size. According to it, there was no change in the way it felt yet a single stomp could quake the ground. It commented that this trait was unusual for it. Fluttershy was surprised that the damage was as little as it was. For her though the harder of the tasks was realigning the splintered ribs, a painkiller and Zecora’s potions helping to a near unbelievable extent. After speaking to Zecora about it she had concluded that the bones were more dense, after all the wolves never broke one wit their bites.

Of all of them she could not understand why the others could not be here. Twilight would enjoy talking to it, the insight and depth of thought were astounding for such a brute. Sometimes she felt a little silly around it. Its thoughts were provocative and detailed, her favourite being its logic behind Twilight. It believed she was still going through a mourning phase and was stuck on anger. Using her spells and studies as a coping strategy to repair the damage and channel the sadness. Something she did notice though is that how simple mentioning her distraught friend sobered up any moment. It clearly was still thinking about her, each time suggesting something new to help.

Applejack finally rolled it off her but it remained limp, stubbornly refusing to get back to its training. From what she saw it was not needed, however there was a lingering doubt the creature was in perfect condition. The wounds had sealed, the same burning ointment used. Each day they went around to patch up a little bit more, not an easy task with the pain. It was now laden with markings befitting a zebra. There were lines etched out all over the body, in some places the coat had simply stopped growing.

She closed her eyes as the sun now shone through, the warmth seeping into her tired legs. Rarity had wanted to help more but decided she would be there as moral support, although Zecora had sneakily persuaded her to pick up a chore every now and then. Todays were a lot of herbal retrieval chores. They had made her hooves ache but it was worth it to help out. They had formed a friendship with the creature now, though it did seem an uneasy one.

Since that morning Rarity could never get the feeling out of her head it may walk again. When Crystal was not around she was on the tips of her hooves with nerves. The past few days had seen no such behaviour though, if it was true at all. Applejacks account had been worrying.

The search for the creature had eased a little. Fewer patrols were focused on it now, being sent to the savannah regions after a sighting of Chrysalis, no further signs yet.

A sudden thud made her eyes open to see the creature next to her, collapsed to the ground and wincing as the pain in its body subsided.

“Hello.”

“She’s crazy.”

“Well it is for the best.”

“Do you know how many times she made me do that climbing thing? Agony.”

Rarity laughed as the creature stretched its claws open.

“You’ll feel better in no time.”

“Shame Miss Fluttershy isn’t here, I could use a fix up after today.”

“Where is Applejack?”

“She has concluded our day. Thankfully.”

“You are getting better though?”

“Yes thank you. How was the herbal hunt?”

“Shan’t complain. A little dirty.”

“Thank you for helping out.”

“Oh think nothing of it. It’s the least we can do after all this nonsense.”

A pause followed as they listened to the birds around them. “You know I was thinking about it, perhaps it is time I met Princess Twilight.”

“That would be delightful. Are you certain you want to?”

“No. But that won’t stop me.”

“Recent events would indicate very little actually can.”

“Oh stop it.” Her cheeky comment made it embarrassed and she laughed at its humility.

“You look tired. You certainly smell tired.”

“My apologies, let me go clean up.”

“Please rest dear. You needn’t concern yourself. I am not complaining.”

“Finally getting used to the odour? Impressive constitution, it makes me nauseas at times.” A brief chuckle shared between them ended abruptly as it stood up to stare out at the forest. Rarity hated it when the creature did this, the Applejack looked following its gaze so did she.

“Everything alright?”

“There’s something there, inside now.” She did not question and rose up to back slowly to Zecoras door, Applejack readying to close it in an instant. Zecora though seemed remarkably calm. She chuckled at their stunned expressions and pointed to the sleeping Crystal, not bothered by whatever the creature was staring at. They sighed collectively in relief.

“Something has told me of a certain pony, this way she comes, she is strange to some. Her heart of joy does hold a ploy, yet soon we shall see, the one known as...”

“Oh dear.” Rarity was shocked to see Pinkie casually trot up from behind the creature and sit to its side. What made this so odd is that nothing could normally get near it without it knowing. She made a mental note to ask Pinkie later how she did that. The pink pony looked to them and winked. Applejack had to clamp her muzzle shut with her hoof trying not to laugh. The creature was oblivious.

Pinkie followed the monsters gaze into the forest, tilting her head sideways at an exaggerated angle.

“Pssst.”

“Be silent, there’s something there.”

“Psssssssssst.” It was difficult not to laugh with this. Rarity nearly let out a snigger. She wished Fluttershy could see this.

“Go inside quickly, I will see to whatever it is.” The monster drew the new blade, the same template as the other. Pinkie stood on her hind legs and stretched her forelegs out to imitate it, puffing out to try to look bigger. Applejack had nearly lost it, Rarity not far behind. Pinkie sat down neatly composing herself.

“Pssssssssssssssssssst.”

“What!” The creature turned to the pony, stunned.

“BOO!” It jumped back with the shock nearly falling over.

“YOU!”

“Noooooooo. Pinkie!” Rarity, Applejack and Zecora lost it seeing the look on the monster. Their long hearty laughter bringing ease to the beast as it sheathed the knife trying to recover from the shock. After some moments they wiped their tears and came out again to them two.

“Teddy, this is Pinkie Pie, a friend of ours.”

“Was this planned?”

“Darling when Pinkie is around there are no plans.”

“Is she going to be a liability?”

“What’s liabilimity?”

“She’s fine Teddy, just let her get a good look at you and be sure not to make any sudden moves.” Pinkie was now enraptured in the oddity, twirling around it, biting the arms and sniffing its head. The whole time it remained still while she explored, showing remarkable patience.

“Pinkie, why don’t you give the poor dear a breather and tell us what you are up to.”

“One moment!” her enthusiastic energy breaking through for a moment. She quickly jumped up and reached around the head to squeeze tightly in a hug, it was pulled down sharply by the new weight. “OH MY GOSH! It does feel like a teddy!” It was stunned.

“Miss Rarity...Miss Applejack...what’s happening?”

“I think she likes you,” Applejack teased.

“OoOh you just want to squeeze until the head pops off!”

“Pinkie darling, would you be a dear and give Teddy a tad more space.” With a disappointed groan Pinkie slid off.

“Why do I smell banana?”

“Oh!” she bolted off to the bush where the monster had been staring, a scarecrow with a pie for a head.

“I wanted you to eat something besides ponies. I thought; put it on a scarecrow so you mistake it for prey. Oh hey! Scare crow, I just got that!”

“Pinkie,” Applejack chuckled, Teddy doesn’t eat ponies.

“Oh? Then pie?”

“Why don’t we just go in and start over please.”

“Teddy, there is no starting over with Pinkie. Just go with it and smile.”

“I don’t-”

“SMILE!” barked Pinkie. The creature did so nervously looking more terrifying than happy, “Great! Let’s go eat, gals.”

Taking their seats in Zecora’s home they awaited the conversation soon to follow. Pinkie’s reaction was always as unexpected as it could be yet this was a slight increase to the usual. Applejack was seated next to creature on couch, Rarity in one of the adjacent single seaters and Zecora was passing around some drinks to go with the mock prey pie. Upon completion she eagerly joined the silent group.

Pinkie pie felt strange sitting in front if the creature that had taken Twilight’s smile away. Not strange like a mystery but strange like not eating a cake when offered a slice. A kind of a funny mushy thing in her stomach. Not the cake. Without the cake the feeling was still there. She wondered if the monster ate cakes and what flavour they would be, pony flavour the more likely choice. The thought of pony flavoured cakes came to mind, they would taste sweet. Fluttershy would be a butterscotch because butter made her think of yellow, twilight a raspberry blackberry combo, rainbow a sweet vanilla with blue frosting, she didn't know why, vanilla seemed right.

“Is she alright?”

“She tends to voice her thoughts sometimes, all we can do is be patient. She’s rather energetic so do try to be patient with her.” A grunt from the creature and another small victory.

“I will have to. Miss Pinkie?”

“Yes?”

“Your behaviour is somewhat strange at the moment.”

“Oh?”

“Are you not in the least bit concerned about me?”

“Umm...” she put her hoof to her lip and looked up in thought, “Nope!” The stunned expressions encouraged her to continue, “Well you’re all alright with it, so why shouldn’t I be? I can’t wait to tell Twilight!”

“Pinkie...we all agreed we would wait for Rainbow to recuperate first.”

“Including the fact that I am not ready to meet Miss Twilight.”

“Why?” her head tilted to the side.

“I have to think of something with more substance before I can speak with her. To cure her of that immortal conundrum.”

“Oh...yeah.” Pinkie became glum alarmingly quickly, “You shouldn’t have taken her smile.”

“I know, that is why we must wait. I need some days more before I can try to bring her smile back, as you say.”

“Why did you take it away then? We were only trying to be nice so you could get out of there. It’s your own fault for being such a meanie!”

“No arguments here.”

“Teddy has undergone a bit of a change of late.”

“Uh huh... Oh well! New friend! Lets celebrate!” As she tucked into the pie the creature was shocked.

"Miss Pinkie?"

"Don't worry sugar, she does that."

"I just can't take my eyes off it. The whole pie in one bite. Can you creatures unhinge your jaws or something?"

"Not at all."

“You're certain I am safe here?”

“Well pinkie is surprising but she is a good friend.”

“How would one go about getting her attention?”

“Pinkie? You alright there sugar cube?”

“Hmm? Oh right. Sorry! I should have brought more pie!” She laughed with a tiny belch, her muzzle covered in the remains of the carnage.

“Not a problem Pinkie,” she giggled.

“It’s just sickening...”

“How so?”

“Look at her...she’s so cute it’s sickening.”

“Cute?”

“Forget it. Miss, could we discuss your presence here.”

“Hmm, okay.”

“How did you know I was still here?”

“Elementary! You're umm...red was dragged to the door back there. Also we are surrounded by swamp and marsh. The only real way to Zecora's was the way we came. It's really quite easy, I'm surprised Twilight didn't see it. I guess she was too worried about Rainbow being hurt and all. I wasn't! Knew she would be fine with you.”

All four of them looked stunned at Pinkie as she sipped from her cup noisily while trying to hold a posh pose. The monster whispered to Applejack unable to take its eyes of Pinkie.

“She's playing with our minds?”

“...I don't know...”

“How could I play with a mind? Unless it was one of those super bouncy balls ha ha you know, the ones that go boing when they bounce. Ha ha, boing sounds funny! Boing!”

The monster rubbed its eyes and shook its head as though coming out of a trance. Rarity giggled. She knew what it was trying to do, understand how pinkie thought. It had done it with her and the others, able to change its tone of speech and behaviour to be more friendly and comfortable to each of them. These creatures were oddly empathetic. Despite its ability, it had no chance with Pinkie.

“Alright, so you knew I never left, but why didn't you say anything?”

“Oh I know you're not bad. Knew it from the first day. A real monster would have eaten rainbow before we could rescued her. Not vanilla! Rainbow cake! That’s the flavour!”

“What?”

“Oh nothing.” They giggled along with her at the confused creature. “Then when Applejack came back I saw she was smiling! Then I saw your shadow move and decided to say thank you, you really have to work on your pony skills. It's not nice to try and hit others.”

“Alright then, what about this reaction? If you knew about me the whole time why not say anything.”

“Oh...I forgot.” The creature rubbed its eyes again to the laughter of the others. “I'm glad you ladies are enjoying this at least.”

“Oh don't be cranky already, you grumpy teddy.” Zecora was as amused at the antics.

“Regardless, thank you for your pie...and not revealing my location to Twilight.”

“Oh I think she'll figure it out eventually. Better idea to let her relax a little. If I were her I would want to give you a good but kicking for sure!”

“No arguments here Miss.”

“I think she likes you now, or she doesn't hate you more. That's good, she's learning. Twilights really smart, she will be fine. I feel it in my tail. That's what I wasn't afraid of you. My tail told me so!” The monster stared blankly onwards, “It's my pinkie sense!” The monster suddenly leaned back and smiled, Rarity found the reaction odd. “Well...”

“Well what Miss?”

“Do you wanna know?”

“About?”

“My pinkie sense! Everypony eventually asks.”

“Not really.”

“Come on” she whined. “Please...”

The smirk could be recognised, Rarity stared in amazement. It was impossible yet it seemed possible.

“I bet you would like me to guess.”

“Oh my gosh yes!”

“Alright, some sort of instinct you were born with.”

“Nope!”

“A keen eye for body language?”

“Nope!”

“How about a funny word to confuse me.”

“Mangoes.”

“Good one Miss Pinkie.”

It was astounding to watch, the monster became more at ease with each guess. It showed remarkable patience and after a considerable number of tries it finally gave up.

“Okay! When something is about to happen, I get these twitches and I know from the place what will happen. It works when I meet ponies too. My monster sense didn't go off so I know you are not a monster.”

“That's very interesting miss. I bet you would like to know something else about me, something involving our encounter in the castle.”

“Guess!”

“How did I get that clown makeup, that you covered me in, off? Extra strength no doubt.”

“Yup!” Although Pinkie did not seem stunned Rarity and Applejack nearly dropped their jaws together.

“Just wiped it off on my clothing, I guess your makeup was meant for ponies, and I am not a pony.”

“Ooooooh,” she realised tapping her head for feeling foolish, “Thanks, making mental note; more makeup adhesive.”

“You are not as insane as the initial appearance would lead one to believe Miss. Quite insightful.”

“And you are not as boneheaded, ill mannered and bad tempered as you acted like. Thank you though, that's four of my friends you have been nice to.”

“Four?”

“Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow.”

“Alright Miss. What is the standing between you and me.”

Pinkie took a deep sip of her drink, “Friends!”

“I have to say she is a lot easier that the rest of you to convince.”

“Oh, before I forget again...” she tossed it a bell, “Wear this for your nighttime problem then you can wake up if you move around.” Once again she had stunned the monster.

“How did you know?”

“Let's just say I know a mare. This might not work but it's all I could come up with. Unless you want to go back to the cell!” Pinkie was upset it didn't laugh, the face around her stopped smiling instantly. She had made a tiny mistake, then again she wasn't aware what a big mistake was. She began wondering if there was am arbitrary measurement system for mistakes. A cup of mistake, a pound of mistake, a pinch...

“She's doing it again...”

“Just let her be, you alright?”

Fine Miss Applejack. Perhaps we should end this little escapade, I am starting to feel tired.”

“Alright gals! You heard Teddy, it wants to sleep.”

“Probably for the best I dare say. I have an appointment to meet up with Fluttershy to go see Rainbow again.”

“Can I come?”

“I don’t-”

“Maybe I’ll stay here and cheer you up Teddy!” A long exhaust exhale followed from the creature. Rarity had to giggle.

“Actually I would love to have you join us. Rainbow has been a little down of late. Thank y ow Zecora and see you in two days.”

“You are welcome anytime friend of mine.” As they eased out Rarity caught the creature mouthing ‘I owe you one’. She managed to wink back to it before they left. It had been a strange day, at least strange in a pleasant manner.

“Alright Teddy, let’s get you resting nice and comfy.” Applejack grabbed the blanket in her teeth and eagerly awaited the creature to lay back.

“You need not bother with that Miss Applejack, it is too humid today for that.” Applejack quickly folded it back and rested it on the single seater, looking a little disappointed. “Thank you for your help today.”

“I doubt you needed it.”

“Oh don’t be modest. Wouldn’t be this tired without your help.” Applejack chuckled. She went to follow the others but stopped at the door. It had been a strange day in more than one moment. She looked to her hooves shuffling trying to find the right words to say. A sharp whipping sound with a shout from behind drew her attention. Zecora had for some reason hit the creature with her staff, its arms held out in defence and the weapon already recoiled over her head to strike again. Zecora looked very irritated with it, her bottom lip stuck out and a glare to match.

“Zee! You do that again and-”

“Ask her you foolish thing or the next one will really sting!”

“I don’t know-alright! Alright! Put it down, Please.” Applejack failed to hold back a laugh at the creature massaging its hindquarters where Zecora’s staff had struck. It sat up and cleared it’s throat, “Miss Applejack, is there something bothering you?”

Applejack had to breathe to stifle her giggles, the thought slowly making her more nervous. “I just wanted to say...thanks...for Rainbow...and Me.”

“You are most welcome. Satisfied you stripped-okay! Okay! Miss Applejack could you please come sit here.”

Applejack smiled and turned her head out the door to the waiting Rarity and Pinkie, “You gals go on ahead! I’ll be fine. Send Rainbow my love!”

“Alright darling, do be careful. There’s monsters out here!”

Applejack felt better. She closed the door and trotted over to sit by her friend, still glaring at Zecora and her staff. As she sat by it she saw it stick its tongue out at Zecora. A sharp thwack to the head silencing it.

“She is not big enough to protect all your stuff. Now be nice to Applejack or I’ll come back!” It was funny to see this monster put in its place by good old Zecora. The two shared a special friendship. She pulled away and lit a few lights around her home to stave off the encroaching darkness. She retracted her staff and went to her potions once more. Applejack noticed that she had been working a good part of the day, never complained or got tired trying to find that cure.

“Now tell me what is on your mind.”

“It’s nothing, really.” She funnelled her hooves still unable to choose her words.

The creature leaned back with a grunt, “Miss Applejack, would you like to know a little about my family? It only seems fair.”

“I...sure...” she was stunned by the sudden warmth. She smiled and leaned back, only to have its arm catch her and pull her in. Her breath caught with the shock but it soon eased feeling the shaking body.

“Is there something wrong?” it chuckled.

“Not at all,” she took of her hat and let it rest on the sofa’s back corner. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to enjoy the moment. It was not what she was worried about but she had missed this ever since that night.

“So...father was a free spirit. Very wise, artistic, a little lung problem but it never stopped him for enjoying himself. He was quite the character, a...do you ponies have hair stylists here?”

“Well I never use them but yeah.”

“Doesn’t feel like you need to,” those sharpened digits ran through her mane again. She had admit though, her mane truly missed this. “Well he and my mother met when they were young, carved out a life from nothing. Very impressive work. We had a big family from all around the...land. Not well known but a bunch you would want to be caught in a snowstorm with. My mother was a tough lady, not a single obstacle would slow her down. Voice that could shatter stone.”

Applejack chuckled, “She sounds like your medicine alright. What about brothers and sisters?”

“I have no brothers or sisters. I miss them though. Really should have dropped by and said hello before starting this nonsense.”

“Did you know you were coming here?”

“No, but I should not have cancelled our meeting the week before. I’ll tell you a little secret, I get scared time passes differently here. I may return one day as old as them, or a long time after they are gone. They will never know what happened to me.”

“That’s kind of a scary thought. You miss them a lot I bet.”

“Oh I am sure I will see them soon. We will meet at our usual watering hole and have a nice evening soon enough. Watering hole is-”

“There you go again!” It grunted as she hit the stomach, “Oh sorry, I forgot about the ribs.”

“It’s alright.”

“Are you normally fast healers? You...whatevers?”

“Not really. Zee has the right stuff to get me back up.”

The door was pushed open and a large crystal wolf with a stump for a tail came in. It used its head to close it again and collapsed in front of the two, panting furiously.

“Hot today isn’t it girl. You’ve been gone awhile.” The eyes looked up through the softened brow and closed.

“I could stay like this forever.”

“I have nowhere to be for a while. I am guessing you’re as tired as I am.”

“You bet your boots I am.”

“I should clean up though.”

“A little dirt never hurt anypony. Just hold still and stay this soft.”

“Won’t your family be worried?”

“Well Big Mac knows now I can take care of myself. Applebloom is his new priority.”

“Applebloom?”

“My little sister.”

“Oh, you are a strong family Miss.”

“Soon enough I’m inviting you for breakfast with the Apples.”

There was a calm about the veining as the insects calls set in, the dull bubbling and clunks of Zecora's work, that claws digits running the full length of her mane. As sleep weighed in on her she decided to let go again, the toll of the work today being felt. After all, with Crystal here, she was safe.

*

Rarity and Pinkie were greeted in a well lit Ponyville by a nervous Twilight. Since the incident the barrier had been removed, no longer fulfilling it’s purpose, and the guards had been more prevalent. The search for the changelings remained steady in the other regions but the monsters presence entitled Ponyville to the elite guard itself.

“Where were you guys for ponies sake!”

“We were...umm...well you see-”

“Just doing some super sleuthing at Zecora’s for clues!”

“Ah. Good job girls.”

“We were just in our way to meet up with Fluttershy and go chat to Rainbow. Care to make our trio a quartet?” Twilight seemed hesitant, “Twilight darling, you can’t blame her for shouting. She did have a point.”

“Yeah but, it’s a monster Rarity! I mean you saw it!”

“True darling, what it did was bad but then it helped out Rainbow. I do not know, but I’m starting to have my doubts. I mean after all, I was alone with it for an entire night and I am just as stunning as always!”

“I know Rarity, but then why did it have to tell me that? Why do I care? Why can’t I just not care?”

“You know a friend of mine once told me the best way to fix a problem you are stuck on, is to take your mind off it for a while. We are all worried about you Twilight.”

“Yeah! This is the first time you’ve out of your home since Ted-” Rarities hoof shot out on instinct.

“Oh I’m sorry, thought I saw a fly.” Pinkie was wide eyed in shock realising it for herself.

“Thank...you...”

“You girls are right. It’s time I put it on the back burner for now and let the answers come to me. That is I’m sure that Princesses Celestia and Luna want me to. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all actually some kind of initiation.” Twilight managed to smile. Rarity could not contain herself and grabbed her friend holding tightly, a squeaking Pinkie joining in. It was just as Teddy had described it, now into the bargaining stage of grief. Eventually they pulled away, “Lets go see Rainbow then before visiting hours are closed.”

“Oh I’m sure they will stay open for a princess.”

Rarity nearly screamed, “I knew you had it in you.”

“It is for a good cause, I don’t mind throwing a little royal muscle around.” Twilight did not see it, distracted by Pinkie, but Rarity had to dry a few tears. Everything seemed like it was all slowly falling into place.

*

Applejack was facing the door ready to head out home, she was sure by now Big Mac had burned something down. She still hadn’t talked about what had really been bothering her today.

“Everything alright Miss Applejack?”

She spoke to the floor, “Yeah. I’m fine thanks. The door suddenly shut, she did not even hear the creature move her mind was that lost.

“Everything alright Miss Applejack?”

“I’m fine!” she chuckled nervously, “Don’t go looking into nothing.” It brought its face up to hers now, she fell back to sit down.

“Everything alright Applejack?”

“I...”

“You worry too much, thank you for not saying anything to the others. I’m glad you are safe.”

“It was a really close one last time. It really does happen, doesn’t it?”

“It would seem so. I will have to be away from here for another night.”

“They are becoming more frequent.”

“How many today?”

“Three...I’m a little scared Teddy.”

“Really hate that name,” Applejack giggled, “there it is. Cheer up little one, Crystal will keep us all safe.”

“Teddy...the thing that’s been bothering me... When you say she will protect us, how far will she go?” It was worrying how the wolfs ears dropped and she rested her head to face away.

“She will protect you at any cost, as I expect her to. Do not worry.”

Applejack could not contain herself and jumped up to hold the creature. On her hind legs she was more than tall enough to reach comfortably. It sank to one knee with her. “We have to figure something out now.” Its arms came around to support her.

“Zecora is trying.”

“No, I mean we have to do something now.”

“Perhaps it would not be a bad idea to reconsider the incarceration then...”

“No, nothing like that. Just something.”

“Are you-”

“Look, it’s been bad enough this is all happening but now if that thing comes back and Crystal-”

“Applejack, you are concerning yourself with nothing...Applejack?”

She felt her self on the brink of tearing up, “Don’t let go. Please don’t go my friend. Look, you’re really sick. We can help you, please just come with us now.”

“I would but I’m not a fool. It’s too dangerous.”

“You still don’t trust us. Do you?”

“I want to. Stars above I want to.”

“Why don’t you?”

“I just don’t know...I’m sorry.”

“Then can I stay here? It should be safe right?”

“That’s too dangerous my friend. Miss Zecora is very tough, she can handle me. I don’t want to hurt anything else.” The creature sighed slowly, “I am so tired Applejack, so tired.”

“It’s alright, just hang on till Rainbow gets out and we’ll all go have a chat with Twilight, then Princess Celestia. We’ll get you all sorted out, sorry you have to go through this. I promise we will help you.” The creature remained silent fro a while. It was very calming to hold it close, truly it needed help. It squeezed tighter to her and she let her eyes close to let herself nuzzle the shoulder. Its grip felt securing, safe.

“Teddy, that’s a little tight there,” she chuckled. A scraping drew her attention and her heart stopped, Crystal was standing, ears back, teeth bearing and facing her. Zecora reached for a staff and slowly approached, her face addled with concern as she glanced between them and Crystal. The grip was still growing. “Teddy? Zecora... TEDDY!”