• Published 22nd Sep 2011
  • 1,945 Views, 21 Comments

A Fire on the East - CouchCrusader

When fires invade the dreams of an unlikely pegasus, she ventures forth to figure out why.

  • ...

2 | The Messenger Bird

The candle helped. She spent the night loafing in a field of sunny, summer grass as a lavender breeze drifted over her.


The next morning, Angel helped Fluttershy ready medicines for the early patients before they ate a quick breakfast of field greens and vinaigrette topped with watercress and cilantro. When the pegasus journeyed outdoors, the sky glowed with the warm purple of an early morning. She heard low thuds rumbling over from Sweet Apple Acres—probably Applejack, she thought, bucking her spring crop while most other ponies slept. Fluttershy's morning patients kept her too busy to visit the farmpony in the mornings, which was fine. Even though they had lived close to each other for years, she hardly knew what to talk about without feeling like a nuisance to the hard-working mare.

The pegasus began her rounds with a chipmunk resting beneath the eaves of her cottage. The gash on his paw was healing nicely and only needed a fresh bandage. A little paw tapped her back hoof as she finished wrapping the wound—when she turned around, one of Cottontail's kits looked up at her with huge, quivering eyes. She smiled, telling the little one not to worry about her mother before sending her off with a packet of herbs. Behind her, a horned owl with aged, milky eyes alighted on a nearby willow, just as Angel arrived with a bottle of eyedrops in his mouth.

Pegasus and rabbit made a slow tour around Fluttershy's cottage as they worked— they checked on the ferrets by the creek and left insects and nectar for the hummingbird nests. The number of patients Fluttershy tended to kept her on the tips of her hooves—after a couple of hours, her coat had picked up a good sweat. She saved the chicken coop for last, refilling the feed trough with a smooth pass from the feed bag while Angel scampered inside for eggs.
As soon as she re-entered her cottage, Fluttershy retreated upstairs for a well-deserved soak and brush. She scattered a cup of rose heads on the water and lowered herself in, drawing wisps of fragrant steam through her nostrils. Her mane meandered just beneath the water like roads, threading between the blossoms as they turned on the surface. She turned them into a game of sorts by pushing them around—every blossom she displaced drew two more in its wake. She continued playing with the flowers so long that only after she drained the tub did she remember—

"I was going to see Twilight today!" she gasped. She had nearly gone the entire morning without thinking about her dreams—but they were the entire point behind her visit, after all. She had no doubt her friend had the perfect book to put this terrible business behind her for good.

"Oh, I hope she's still there," said Fluttershy as she galloped through her front door. However, she did not get very far before looking up—and she ground to a halt so violently that she felt her teeth rattle in her skull.

"Wha—no, no. I—I must be seeing things. This can't be." The way between her cottage and the buildings of Ponyville opened before her—but the sky remained just as dark as when she first stepped out to make rounds. She glanced out at the clock tower at the edge of town wondering if she had finished ahead of schedule, as she sometimes did. However, both hands pointed straight at the sky studded with the pre-dawn stars.

This had happened before. Fluttershy's thoughts shuttled back to when she first met Twilight Sparkle, the Princess' personal protégée. In the course of one tumultuous night, she had ventured forth with five other brave ponies to confront an ancient, forgotten menace—one who would not rest until Equestria fell under eternal night. Even though they eventually triumphed, Fluttershy could never forget how small she felt under Nightmare Moon’s vendetta. If the events of that night were beginning to repeat themselves here?

She did what she felt any sensible pony would have done in her horseshoes. She screamed, sprinted back into her cottage, bolted the door behind her, and dove beneath her couch.

"Angel," she whispered as the rabbit joined her. "What do I do? I can't fight whatever's out there. I can't."

Clop! Clop! Clop! Clop!

"Ahhhhh!" Her head knocked against the underside of the couch.


Though the heavy wood muffled the voice on the other side of the door, Fluttershy recognized that country twang. "A—A—Applejack?" She rushed over and opened it. "Applejack? What are you doing here?"

The farm pony gasped for breath as the brim of her hat fell over her eyes. "We need to get to Twilight's place," she said, knocking her hat back into place. "Something ain't goin' right with the sun today, and I'm sure she's already tryin' to figure out why. She'll want us all there with her, I reckon."

Fluttershy's ears pinned back. "But—but it's dark out there," she whimpered.

"You were out there earlier this morning," said Applejack, frowning. "I heard you singing to a bunch of critters."

"Well, yes. But that was when it was supposed to be dark. It's not supposed to be dark now." Fluttershy sank to the floor. "I'm sorry. Tell Twilight I won't be able to make it out there. I'll only hold you all up, anyway, just like last time."

"C'mon, Fluttershy." Applejack let herself into the foyer and nudged her friend to her hooves. "I'll be right by you the whole way there. Ain't no other pony you can rely on better than ol' Applejack. 'Sides, there ain't no dragons out there this time—even though you sure gave that last one a good talkin' to, heh heh." The earth pony held out her hoof. "There ain't nothin' to be afraid of."

Flutterhy took it. "But—"

"I mean it. Get along, little pony! Yee-hah!" Applejack galloped out of the cottage, her hat bouncing on her mane.

"Applejack, wait!" The pegasus took off after her. "I'm taller than you," she muttered.


Ponyville was not boiling over in chaos—there were no singing duck heads bursting from the flowers, or buildings uprooting themselves for a stroll. But it was confused. Ponies milled outside with their heads fixed on the stars—to preventable, yet concussive results. A trio of silhouettes on the Carousel Boutique rooftop cried, "Cutie Mark Crusaders: Sun Saviors! Yay!" before a white hoof snatched them back indoors.

North of the main square, flashes of violet light erupted from various windows along the Books and Branches Library. Books flitted across the windowpanes like hummingbirds, only to be sent back seconds later by the outline of a unicorn rifling through the library's collection.

Despite making good time from the cottage to the library, Fluttershy and Applejack were not the first ponies at the front door.

"Pinkie! Rainbow! Rarity!" The pegasus pounced on the three ponies, wrapping them in her forelegs. "I'm so glad to see you girls here. Did Twilight call you over?"

"She didn't have to," said Pinkie Pie.

"We had a feeling she'd want us here," Rarity added.

"That's right," said Rainbow Dash. "I knew something was wrong the moment I woke up and it was still dark outside, and I knew Twilight would want my help to investigate." The colorful pegasus put on an ear-to-ear grin.

"You could've just risen early for once, Rainbow," said Applejack.

Rainbow gasped. "Are you kidding? I'd like to see you try that someday."

Applejack—the hard-working, hardly-tiring farm pony—let those words sink into her friend's brain. When it did was easy to tell—her eyes bulged wide, her mane went frazzly, and her ears peaked like mountains.

"You think you're so smart," Rainbow Dash growled as her features fell back into place.

Applejack knocked on the door. The top part swung open to reveal an out-of-breath lavender unicorn, her mane and tail ruffled like wrinkled saddles. The shock of seeing her five best friends on her doorstep canceled the shimmering glow around her horn, and everypony heard the thunder of hundreds of books hit the floor soon after.

"Girls!" The relief radiating from Twilight Sparkle's eyes alone could have wrapped up a small ice age. "Thank goodness you're all here. Get inside, quick."

The Books and Branches library resembled an evacuation site. More books lay scattered off the shelves than on them, papers and scrolls spilled from overextended drawers, ladders and tables lay on their sides. Candles contained within glass bowls burned everywhere, casting conflicting shadows on the ceiling and shelves.

"Sorry about the mess, girls," Twilight continued, levitating a book to flip through its contents. "I've been searching the library all morning about why the sun hasn't come up yet." Finding nothing, she tossed he book aside.

"We figured you'd be up to something like this," said Rarity, levitating a mane brush. "Be a dear and hold still, I'll get your mane sorted out in no time."
The unicorn smiled. “Thanks, Rarity. At the rate I’m going now, that’s probably the only thing I’ll get straight today.” She looked to her friends, her expression somber again. “Does anypony have an idea on what’s going on?

Nightmare Moon’s laughter echoed in Fluttershy’s mind. Some of the others provided their thoughts, but none of them sounded convinced. Her pulse quickening, the pegasus steeled herself to speak her mind.

"You don't think Princess Luna's turned into Nightmare Moon again, do you?" asked Rainbow. "We haven't seen her in a year. What if she spent that time coming up with a plan to take revenge on Princess Celestia?"

"I don't think that's the case." Twilight Sparkle summoned The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide from a nearby pedestal. "The book doesn't say anything about Nightmare Moon after she escapes from her prison."

"The book also didn't say anythin' 'bout us beating her, either," Applejack pointed out.

The unicorn had to admit she had a point, but her tight frown showed she was far from persuaded. "Princess Celestia has mentioned her sister in some of the letters she sent me, and Princess Luna was always doing fine. But before you go questioning my mentor’s perceptive capacity, do remember that she's ruled Equestria for millenia. She’s seen her share of conspiracy in her time, I’m sure. And, she has used the Elements of Harmony before, including the Element of Honesty. If Princess Luna was planning something, I've no doubt that her sister would have taken notice and asked us for help."

"Have you sent her a letter yet?" Finished with Twilight’s mane Rarity, moved down to straighten her tail.

"Spike sent it a couple of minutes before you all got here—oh, ouch, that’s a tangle."

"That means the Princess should have responded by now," said Pinkie Pie. Seeing the looks everypony gave her, she added, "What? She got back to you pretty quickly when she first sent you from Canterlot last year, right?"

Twilight suddenly looked like she wanted to strangle a bird—or else she was dying to ask her friend a question. Then she clamped her jaw shut and shook her head. With Pinkie Pie, it was sometimes better not to ask how she knew what she did.

"Pinkie's right," Twilight conceded. "The Princess doesn't take this long to answer, normally."

"So it is Nightmare Moon, then," said Rainbow Dash. "We gotta get outta here and beat her before she throws Equestria into eternal night. Again.” She primed her wings for flight.

"Whoa there, partner!" Applejack chomped on the tip of the pegasus's tail. "We can't rush to conclusions, Rainbow. What if the Princess is only sick? Happens to everypony." She let go of Rainbow. "Even if she's in charge of raisin' the sun every mornin', maybe a cold's keeping her in bed."

"Applejack's right as well," said Twilight. "I know the Princess has a good reason to keep the sun down. But until we get that letter back from her, we're going to have to get our hooves dirty."

"What? Count me out of this."

"Rarity, it's a figure of speech."

"But why that figure of speech?" the unicorn whined.

"Because—augh." Twilight rolled her eyes as she stepped away from her friend. "I appreciate the brush, Rarity, but there's too much going on for us to argue. Pinkie Pie, go find the book that'll give us the answer to this. You're the best out of all of us for that."

The pink pony gave her a blank stare. "Twilight, it doesn't work that way," she said, shaking her head. "You told me exactly what to look for the first time, and Dashie came zooming in and knocked everything over the second."

"So we need something really fast to hit the library again?" Rainbow Dash fired off a salute. "I'm on it."


The pegasus disappeared under a pile of ponies before she could fly out the window.

Having refrained from the ambush, Fluttershy took the chance to slip away to the upper floor. Was would her staying there accomplish? She had no hope of making herself heard above the others once they got arguing. She could, however, start sifting through the books for the answer to the darkness, her original fixation on her dreams forgotten.

The titles on the shelf before her were as random as they were obscure—How to Carpet your Walls, Volume 2; The Various Shapes and Styles of Confetti; Sea Ponies: Only a Conspiracy Theory? What the Princess Doesn't Want You to Know! No wonder Twilight had Spike organize the library most of the time. Then again, she suspected he did not do much organizing at all—he was a baby dragon, after all, and babies were not known for their work ethic.

She sighed as she moved onto the next shelf. The titles here were just as useless as those on the first. Just as she looked away, however, something flashed outside the window

Fluttershy almost shattered the glass knocking it open—she certainly got the attention of the other ponies downstairs.

"What's going on up there?" Twilight called.

The pegasus ignored her as she searched the sky—the sky? She was certain that, if what she had seen had even been there, it had been flying at the time. She found nothing out to the west, and the southern skies were just as empty.


Fluttershy shot a chilly glare over her shoulder. "Quiet, Twilight!" Her brain caught up with her a moment too late. "Oh my goodness," she said, ears flattened. "I'm so sorry about that. I don't know what came over me—"


That cry! Fluttershy almost toppled out the window. She managed to catch herself against the window ledge at the last moment, though the heaving ground beneath reminded her of how close a call she had.

But that cry! She had heard it before. Certainty rushed through her as she looked out to the east—even at a distance there was no mistaking it. The intense red and gold plumage, the whip-thin tail lashing in the air, the curls of flame trailing behind its wings.

"Philomena!" Fluttershy launched herself from the window and flew. What in Equestria was Princess Celestia's phoenix doing in Ponyville?

"Aroh?" At the sound of her name, the phoenix broke out of her loop, disoriented, before she spotted the yellow pegasus dashing right at her. "Ar-rr-aai!"

Pegasus and phoenix met midway, with the latter dropping into the former's outstretched hooves. Though Philomena did not burst into flames this time, she was in bad condition. The better part of her wing feathers showed cuts, frayed edges, and soot—in fact, many of her primaries and secondaries were outright gone. Scab lines covered her talons, and patches of feathers were missing from her chest.

Her breathing was slow, her pulse raced. Fluttershy could see her pupils. A charred stench fluttered across the pegasus's nostrils.

A horrible thought flooded over her. Was it possible for phoenixes to get burned?

"Fluttershy, would you mind sharing what the hay you're doing up h—ohmigosh." Rainbow Dash had rushed to her friend’s side bent on giving her a lecture, but she fell silent as soon as she saw the phoenix cradled in her hooves. She reached out to take Philomena, but Fluttershy drew the bird closer to her chest.

"She needs medical attention immediately," she declared, turning toward her cottage.

"Anooo..." The phoenix lifted a trembling wing in protest.

Fluttershy silenced the bird with a furious stare. "Philomena, this time, I will not take 'no' for an answer. This time, I am going to treat you right."

"No, hold it, Fluttershy—"

When Fluttershy leveled her stare on Rainbow Dash, the cyan pegasus's wings snapped against her sides.

"She's here to tell us somethiiing," Rainbow yelled as she plunged to the earth.

"Then it can wait until she's better," Fluttershy yelled back. Just before she could race off, however, a lasso snapped around her back hoof.

"I get the feelin' it's something she means to tell us now?" Applejack's voice called from below.

Fluttershy was not a very athletic pegasus. The farm pony's rope work made short work of her, grounding her in a matter of seconds. The rest of her friends gathered around and walled her off in the middle.

"What are you all doing?" she demanded, throwing her stare around. "The longer we wait, the worse she gets. Do you see how hurt she is? The others flinched as if they were being pelted by boulders, but they somehow stood firm against her onslaught.

"Fluttershy, please listen," Twilight Sparkle pleaded, stepping in front of the pegasus. "We know that it's odd Philomena came here, but she trusts you the most out of all of us—"

"She does,” Fluttershy snarled. “So step aside and let me—”

"Rohhh." Philomena jabbed her wing behind Fluttershy. Everypony followed its track east.

"The Everfree Forest?" Rainbow asked.

Philomena shook her head and jabbed twice more in the same direction.

"Beyond the Everfree Forest?" Rarity ventured.

Philomena nodded.

"Is that where you just came from?" asked Twilight.

“Raa.” Philomena nodded again, just before her head went limp and her eyes closed. Fluttershy determined the phoenix still had a pulse and was still breathing on her own—for the moment.

"Now may I take her?" Fluttershy’s eyes narrowed to slits.

"Hold on," said Twilight. She traced a gentle hoof across the phoenix's head. "We should figure out where she just came from. It's likely the Princess will be there, too. But I can't think of any places in Equestria beyond the forest—"



"The Princess will be at Flamewithers," the pegasus continued, rising into the air. "My hometown, Twilight." She kicked Applejack's lasso off of her hoof and flew off beneath the darkened sky.


Flutteshy dropped into her couch, utterly exhausted. She buried her muzzle into the velvety fabric while trying to hold back tears—Philomena had taken hours to stabilize, but she had finally dozed off, pain-free, in the little bed by the stove. Fluttershy was grateful the burn ointments she had on hoof worked just as well for magical creatures as it did normal ones—and that they had not given the phoenix hives this time.

Just before she could fall asleep herself, though, somepony knocked on her door. She stumbled over to it, almost tripping over a washbasin on the way.


"Hey, Fluttershy." The unicorn had her saddlebags on. Fluttershy wonder what they were for.
The two of them walked over to the pegasus’s newest patient. "She looks better,” said Twilight. “Did she put up any fights this time?"

"None at all." Fluttershy adjusted the phoenix's pillow. "I don't understand what happened to her. How does a phoenix get burned?"

Twilight frowned. "Is that what happened to her? My gosh. Your guess is as good as mine."

"It's not only the burns, either." Fluttershy rolled the covers back a little, just enough to reveal braces wrapped around both of Philomena's wings. "She tore a few muscles on her way over here, as well—and I had to set a broken talon. And if she came from Flamewithers..." The pegasus trailed off as her eyes looked far off in the distance. She trudged over to her couch and sat down.

"What is it, Fluttershy?" Twilight settled in next to her. She swept her friend's mane to the other side of her head. "You mentioned Flamewithers was your hometown, if I recall correctly. I thought you used to live in Cloudsdale with Rainbow Dash."

"That was only for summer flight camp," said Fluttershy. "I couldn’t fly very well, you see. My parents made me go there every year, and I hated it. The year I met Rainbow Dash, I was the oldest filly there, and they wouldn't take me for another year no matter how many bits Papa tried to pay them. So when I wasn’t in Cloudsdale, I lived in Flamewithers. Do you know what ponies out there do for a living?"

"You've got me."

"Flamewithers isn't supposed to be public knowledge." Fluttershy continued nonetheless, telling Twilight about its proximity to Drakvarna, and how her parents kept the fires of that land in check.

"Pegasi can manipulate fire?" Twilight exclaimed. "Fire's nothing but the immaterial product of an oxidation reaction."

"We can manipulate heat," Fluttershy corrected. "I can roll an updraft beneath my wings when I fly, and Rainbow can do it in her sleep. Fire patrols fly low to the ground, where fires burn the hottest, and channel their heat to shoot themselves extremely high into the air, killing the flames as they went. It was a lot like pulling weeds, if you want to think of it that way."

Twilight nodded. "That makes sense. So are the dragons are responsible for these firestorms, then?"


"And..." The unicorn sat up straight as it dawned on her. "You think Philomena got into a fight with a dragon."

Though it should not have been possible, Fluttershy sank even further into her couch. Her voice barely escaped past the cushioning. "Yes."

"This is all very strange." Twilight hopped onto the floor and paced back and forth. "First the sun doesn't rise. Then the Princess is out east instead of in Canterlot. And now we have a dragon-injured phoenix—and the dragon’s still out there, possibly hurting other ponies.” The unicorn rubbed her head and cringed. “None of this is making any sense—and the Princess still hasn't replied to my letter."

"Why haven't you and the others gone to Flamewithers yet?" asked Fluttershy.

"Why haven't you?" asked Twilight.

"Because Philomena is hurt too badly," said the pegasus, sitting up, "She is going to require my care for the next month or so, until she recovers I can't leave a patient like that. That's even worse than refusing to take her in in the first place."

"Don't worry about it," a boyish voice said from the front door.


"Fluttershy, let go—I can't—breathe—! Ack!" Twilight's eyes rolled in opposite directions as Fluttershy released her from her inadvertent chokehold. Once her senses returned to her, the unicorn continued, "I asked Spike if he was willing to team up with Angel and take care of your patients for you, and he agreed."

"That's right." The baby dragon emerged from his hiding place and tried to calm the jittery pegasus with a few pats on her shoulder. "Don't you want to go back home again? It sounds like everypony could really use you out there."

"Oh.” Fluttershy lowered her ears. “Even if they could, Spike, my home is a full day's flight from here.” She paced across the room. "I can't just up and leave here like this."

"Sure you can, darling."

Fluttershy turned. Rarity and the rest of her friends stood by the doorway, all of them with saddlebags draped across their backs—and all of them with encouraging smiles on their faces. Even Rainbow Dash gave her a brief nod.

"Rarity?” She looked from one friend to the next unable to believe they were all standing there. “What's going on—why does everypony have their bags?"

"We're gonna have to be prepared if we're gonna help the Princess out," said Rainbow, striding over. "We don't know how long it's gonna take to get through the Everfree Forest, so we tried to cover all our bases. We even brought stuff for you so you can come along with us right away. Check it out."

The pegasus pointed out each pony as she listed their contribution—each in turn produced with a flourish. "Applejack's gotcha covered on food. Rarity brought her grooming supplies. Twilight got you a field journal in case you wanted to write anything down while we were out there. Pinkie has—well, I dunno what it's for, but it's funny, so we're keeping it. And I—"

Rainbow Dash unlatched one of her bags and drew something out with the speed of an Appleloosan triggerpony. It came down over Fluttershy's head—a leather strap circled around the back of her skull, and two heavy, round things settled on her forehead, just above her eyes.

"I got you my very own Wonderbolt goggles, from the first air show my parents took me to," the pegasus beamed. "Every time I wore them, I felt like I could do anything. Now that I can do anything—thank you," she said, bowing to absent applause, "thank you—it's time I passed 'em on to some other pony who needed them more."

"I—I—" Fluttershy removed Rainbow's goggles and turned them over in her hooves. They were surprisingly sturdy for a souvenir—the lenses were dense, and crack-free despite their owner’s best efforts—all enclosed within honest brass rims. Engravings along the top of each rim read, "THE WONDERBOLTS" in angular letters, with their motto, "FLY WITH YOUR DREAMS" inscribed along the bottoms.

"We've got a lot of ground to cover, sugarcube," said Applejack. "You're comin' with us."

It was not a question. Fluttershy looked to each of her friends, unable to believe the prodigious faith they put in her presence. She read the inscription on Rainbow's goggles a second time: "FLY WITH YOUR DREAMS".

She looked over her shoulder at Philomena, who continued to rest in peaceful slumber.

She was afraid of the journey. She was afraid of what the darkness meant. She was afraid she had no idea what was going on.

But more importantly, she was afraid of what would happen if she did not go with her friends. Philomena had come to her on the brink of consciousness. Though she wished she could stay behind and tend to the phoenix for however long her recovery took, she wanted to know the reasons behind why harm had come to the Princess's pet.

She wanted to know what she could do to prevent what happened to Philomena from happening to anybody else.

Her eyes flashed like newly-polished iron. "Give me a moment, girls," she declared, marching toward the staircase. "I'm packing my bags."

Soon afterward, Fluttershy returned with a curious amount of clinking coming from within her saddlebags.

"What did you pack in there?" asked Twilight.

"Medicine," the pegasus replied, "as much as I can carry. I don't know what lies ahead, so I thought I’d better be ready for anything."

"You said it, sister," said Pinkie, firing off a celebratory party popper.

The pegasus collected the other things her friends had brought her as well. "Ooof. Heavy."

"I can take some of your things if you like," Applejack offered.

"No. I mean, no thank you." Galloping for long stretches would be difficult, but Fluttershy thought she could maintain a trot without too much trouble. "I'll be fine. Spike?"

The purple dragon hopped on top of Twilight's head. "Yes, Fluttershy?"

"Please do your best to look after all the animals. Especially Philomena." Fluttershy had to resist the urge to look over—leaving the phoenix behind, and out of her care, was unbearable as it was. "I know you'll do a good job."

"No need to worry, sister," said Spike, jabbing his thumb into his chest—a little too forcefully. "I—Ow. Ow. Ohhh." He flopped over Twilight's head.

"Spike, you've got to be careful with your claws," the unicorn admonished. "Your scales are still developing, after all."

"Do y'all think Spike looks all right?" Applejack asked, walking over. "His eyes are goin' a little funny."

The farmpony was right. Spike's eyes floated in opposite directions, and then his spines stood up on end. His whole body tensed as a familiar bulging filled his cheeks.

Rainbow Dash was the first to figure it out. "Incoming!" she yelled.

Six ponies hit the floor as the dragon unleashed an almighty blast of green fire. When it dissipated, a heavy scroll wrapped in a crimson ribbon dropped on the floor.

"The Princess!" Twilight cried, unfurling the ending. The paper glowed violet as the unicorn's eyes darted over the lines, her expression growing darker and less certain the further she went on.

"What is it?" asked Applejack, leaning in. "What's it say?"

Twilight hesitated. Her ears pinned back as her lips mouthed words her lungs would not supply. "It's—It's not from Princess Celestia." She turned the scroll around for everypony to read.

"It's from Princess Luna."

Everypony crowded in to read the letter—the lunar royal's handwriting scrolled across the page in compact, orthogonal lines. Every letter possessed precise strokes and proportions, every word stood separated by perfect pacing. Rarity let out a squeak of admiration.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I regret to contact you under these circumstances, and under short such notice. I am Princess Luna, writing on behalf of your treasured mentor and my beloved sister. She is indisposed, but otherwise fine. However, we are certain her condition will not remain stable for long.

We have relocated to Flamewithers Outpost, on the border between Everfree and Drakkvarna, the land of the dragons. Whether you know of it is irrelevant. We require your immediate assistance, as well as the assistance of the rest of the Elements of Harmony, and have enchanted this sending with a teleportation spell to spare you an unpleasant journey through the forest.

Please make haste. Recent events along the east have us fearing for Equestria, but I fear even more for Tia.

Princess Luna

"How convenient," said Twilight, turning the scroll over. A circular lattice of arcane filigree glowed blue on the reverse side. "Is everypony ready?"

"We're ready," the Elements of Harmony chimed in unison. Fluttershy was surprised at the conviction in her voice.

"To Flamewithers, then," Twilight cried, her horn glowing with mystical energy. "Let’s go!"

A blinding flash of light engulfed Fluttershy's living room as Princess Celestia's protégée triggered the spell.