In the broad daylight

by Askre

First published

Two of the Cutie Mark Crusaders witness the foalnapping of a classmate. But do they want to help?

It began as a normal day in Ponyville on the last day of the week, but it quickly changes into drama when a young filly is foalnapped during broad daylight and another one is left injured in the hospital.

Two of the Cutie Mark Crusaders witness the tail end of the crime and become unsure how they should feel about the whole thing, especially when considering who the foalnapped filly is. Should they do something to help or just let the adult ponies handle this?

This story is part of The Equestria Tales series

The first story in "The story of Tango and Snow Heart" arc

Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The school bell clanged loudly to signal the end of another school day. Soon after, a row of young fillies and colts began pouring out of the door with their teacher’s cheerful voice calling after them.

“And don’t forget Monday’s assignment, short paper on a famous pony through Equestria History. Scootaloo, that does not mean another paper on Rainbow Dash.”

The orange Pegasus filly this last remark was aimed at blushed and grinned sheepishly before hurrying out of the schoolhouse. Cheerilee chuckled at the reaction of her student, knowing she had thwarted her plans. The first time she got a paper on Rainbow Dash had not been out of the ordinary, but when almost every writing assignment somehow managed to be about Rainbow Dash no matter how specific the subject was, it was worrisome.

Cheerilee followed the last students out and stopped on the porch and waved goodbye. “Have a nice weekend.”

Scootaloo had in the meantime caught up with her two friends. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom waved back to their teacher, but the pegasus pony held her head low, still feeling a little embarrassed. The unicorn and the earth pony noticed, but before they could comment on it, their friend was already talking.

“How could she know I was going to write about Rainbow Dash?” she complained and kicked a small stone on the dirt road leading away from the school. “It’s like she read my mind.”

“Scoot, ya only write ‘bout Rainbow Dash,” Apple Bloom pointed out and Sweetie Belle nodded. Scootaloo’s head jerked up.

“I do not,” she protested, feeling indignant. But seeing the unimpressed looks on her friend’s faces caused the filly to lower her head again. “Okay, maybe I do.”

“Don’t worry; we’ll help you find somepony to write about. We got the entire weekend,” Sweetie Belle chirped cheerfully. Apple Bloom nodded in agreement.

“Speaking of the weekend, I’m ready to put school out of my mind right now. What shall we do for the rest of the day, Crusaders?” Scootaloo wondered and glanced at her friends. Their walking arrangement had her in the middle, the yellow pony on her right and the white one on the left.

“Ooh, ooh!” The unicorn suddenly jumped in excitement as an idea hit her. “Pinkie Pie was at Rarity’s shop yesterday. She said she was doing a new super duper cupcake recipe and was going to test run it today. We should totally go to Sugarcube Corner and see if we can taste it.”

“Hey that does sound great and at least it will get school out of my mind for a while,” Scootaloo agreed. Apple Bloom was nodding furiously at the prospect of a tasty treat after a long day at school.

The three fillies continued trotting further into Ponyville, headed for the town’s local bakery. Suddenly Apple Bloom stopped and her expression indicated she had just remembered something. She stamped one hoof on the ground in frustration. Her two friends looked at her questioningly.

“Oh shoot, Ah plain forgot. Applejack told me to come straight home after school today. She wants me to help Granny with her gardening,” the yellow filly grumped. “Guess Ah got to put a rain check on that cupcake.”

“Hey that’s alright. We’ll just see you later then,” Scootaloo assured her. She and Sweetie Bell had long since learned that their friend had far more chores to do than them, living on a farm and all, and was thus expected to help there.

“I know, we’ll ask Pinkie Pie to hold some of the cupcakes and bring them to you,” the unicorn filly suggested.

“That’s sounds great. Well, Ah better run. See ya gal’s later.” Apple Bloom grinned before running off, changing her direction to Sweet Apple Acres.

The two remaining fillies waved before continuing their trek towards Sugarcube Corner. As the gingerbread house-like bakery came into view, the two young ponies stopped short. The cause for their immediately halting were the two other school ponies just entering the building - one with a magenta coat and a tiara crown on top of her head and the other with a gray coat and a very striking silver spoon cutie mark on her flank.

“Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, oh great,” Scootaloo groaned, not looking forward to having to meet the two divas of Ponyville Elementary inside the bakery.

“Come now, Scoot, we can handle those two.” Sweetie Belle patted the pegasus encouragingly on the back.

“Sweetie, you’re always so chipper, how do you do it?” the orange filly wondered.

The unicorn grinned. “I dunno, maybe that’s my special talent,” she giggled and so did her friend. “Come on, those cupcakes won’t deliver themselves out here to us.”

“Yes, you’re right,” Scootaloo agreed and they continued towards the building.

When they came to the front steps, the door opened and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon came waltzing out, each carrying a brown paper bag, no doubt filled with something tasty, in their mouths. Scootaloo steeled herself, expecting the magenta pony to do something to try and get a rise out of her and Sweetie Belle.

Nothing happened. The two fillies exiting the shop barely gave the two Crusaders a half disinterested glance before trotting away together. The orange pegasus halted and watched them go, finding herself amazed that nothing was said or even attempted. Sweetie Belle, on the other hand, completely ignored this and was already inside and by the counter addressing Mrs. Cake.

“Hi Mrs. Cake. I heard Pinkie Pie was going to try a super duper new cupcake recipe today,” the unicorn filly said.

“Oh yes, I do believe so. She’s in the kitchen right now preparing them,” the blue mare chuckled. Scootaloo now entered the bakery proper and stood beside her friend.

“Hi girls!” A pink head with an extra fluffy pink mane peeked quickly out of the kitchen door before disappearing again.

“You here to taste my new cupcakes?” Again the pink pony peeked out and disappeared just as quickly.

“Yes please,” Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo confirmed in unison. At that Pinkie Pie sprung out of the kitchen as if she had been fired from a cannon, confetti trailing after her.

“Yes! My first cupcake testers for my test party,” she cheered. With amazing speed, she grabbed the two school fillies and had them sit by a table. In almost all the same movements, the Crusaders were given party hats and party whistles before Pinkie zipped back into the kitchen and barely a second later came right back holding a plate full of cupcakes.

“I’m so excited. We got all kind of new ingredients to bake with and some I had never tried on cupcakes before, so I just had to make a whole new type of cupcakes - “Super Duper Cupcakes” - with all of them. I’ve invited everypony in town to come this afternoon to try them out and you’re the first here,” the pink hyperactive pony explained in her usual motor mouth way. Then she blew her own party whistle that she had not been holding a second before.

The Crusaders did not complain, used to Pinkie’s hyper ways. They blew their whistles too before beginning to eat the cupcakes on the plate. Turned out they were delicious and melted wonderfully in their mouths. The two fillies just couldn’t stop eating the sweet treats.

“You like them?” Pinkie bounced up and down.

“Like them?” Scootaloo remarked and began gorging on another cupcake.

“We loooove them,” Sweetie Belle giggled and was about to get another cupcake when she remembered the third Crusader. “Oh wait. Pinkie, we need a batch for Apple Bloom. She had to go home to do her chores and we promised to bring some cupcakes for her.”

“Not a problem. I’ll put few in a box,” Pinkie Pie assured her and zipped away again. She did not come immediately back this time. A few seconds later her head peeked out of the kitchen. “Sorry girls, you have to wait a bit. The next batch isn’t ready just yet.”

“That’s okay,” the white unicorn told her. Pinkie grinned and disappeared into the kitchen once more.

“Now you girls be careful not to get a tummy ache,” Mrs. Cake addressed them, having watched the whole scene with a patient smile.

“Don’t worry, we…*belch* won’t.” Scootaloo smiled contently and patted her tummy. She eyed the last remaining cupcakes on the plate. “Maybe we should just save these for Apple Bloom.”

Sweetie Belle nodded and realized that they could probably have told Pinkie that already earlier. The unicorn rose up, considering doing just that, but her attention was brought to the front door when it opened and a new customer entered the bakery. Scootaloo glanced over as well.

The newly arrived pegasus pony was on the larger side, as large as Apple Bloom’s brother Big Macintosh. He had a dark brown coat and his mane, tail and hooves were gray in color. On his flank was the image of an axe with a silver head.

“Hello and welcome to Sugarcube Corner. What can I get you?” Mrs. Cake addressed him.

There was nothing but silence in answer. The stallion began looking around for a moment, a rather hard, almost unfriendly expression plastered on his face. Mrs. Cake raised an eyebrow, wondering if she had said something wrong. Finally the silent pony pointed at the shelf containing muffins.

“I take it you want muffins?” Mrs. Cake asked and the pegasus nodded. “How many would you like?”

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo both tilted their heads in confusion when instead of opening his mouth to answer, the stranger began clapping one hoof ten times on the hardwood floor. The Crusaders looked at each other with a ‘what?’ on their faces, but then they heard the bakery owner gasp slightly in realization.

“Oh my, I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t realize,” she said smiling apologetically. “Ten muffins it is, yes.”

“What, the ten claps meant ten muffins?” Scootaloo leaned over the table and whispered to Sweetie who shrugged.

The stallion showed no sign of being offended. Mrs. Cake gathered the ten muffins in a bag and the pegasus paid for his purchase and left. The two school fillies looked at the blue mare who had resumed her more customary patient smile.

“Uh excuse me, Mrs. Cake, but what didn’t you realize?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Oh, he was mute, dears. He couldn’t talk, so he has to use signs like clapping a hoof on the ground to communicate,” she explained to them.

“Ooooh,” both Crusaders said in unison and sat back down.

“You know, there was something familiar about him.” The unicorn frowned slightly in thought.

“Oh?” her friend looked at her questioning.

“Yeah, you know where I live with my parents’, right?” Sweetie Belle said. “Only a street or two away from Diamond Tiara?”

“Yeah.” Scootaloo nodded. Sometimes the little pegasus wondered if that was an additional reason why Sweetie so often visited her sister.

“Yeah I think I’ve seen that pegasus walk past our street and towards the one she lives on, several times over the past few weeks,” Sweetie Belle said. “And I know nopony new has moved into the neighborhood. I mean, Ponyville isn’t that large. We always get to hear when somepony new moves in.”

“Maybe he just likes walking that way,” Scootaloo shrugged.

“What? Somepony new has moved into Ponyville and I didn’t know?” Pinkie was suddenly standing there with eyes open wide and mouth hanging in a mixture of startled amazement.

“What? No, but as I said, I’ve seen that pegasus several times passing my street,” Sweetie Belle corrected her. “The one that was here a minute ago.”

“Oh no,” Pinkie gasped putting her hooves on each side of her head. “Maybe he’s looking for a place to live and can’t find any. What if he’s been wandering around Ponyville for weeks without a place to sleep or eat? Maybe his hunger finally drove him here.”

“Um, Pinkie,” Scootaloo raised an eyebrow.

“No time to chat. I have a new pony to welcome,” Pinkie Pie declared and prepared to rush off.

“Wait Pinkie, he’s already gone and he’s a pegasus. He’s probably flown off already,” Sweetie pointed out. Pinkie seemed to trip over nothing when hearing that, landing flat on the floor.

“Oh that’s true,” she said and jumped back to her legs. Then she put on a determined look. “Guess I’ll just have to look for him, then. What did he look like?”

“Pinkie, what about your cupcakes? You are expecting ponies to come, remember?” Again it was the white unicorn that spoke.

“Shoot, I guess I’ll just have to wait.” Pinkie frowned but then shrugged and immediately put up her usual smile and trotted away. “Well, back to the kitchen.”

“Oh right. Here are the cupcakes for Apple Bloom.” the pink hyper pony was almost immediately back holding a small box tied with a bow and placed it on the table. She smiled at the two fillies. “Thanks for tasting my cupcakes.”

“You’re welcome. They really were super duper,” Sweetie Belle declared and Scootaloo nodded in agreement.

Soon the two fillies figured they should head off. Mrs. Cake provided them with a paper bag for the few leftover cupcakes they had been testing. Sweetie carried that while Scootaloo placed the box on her own back. The Crusaders headed outside just as Rarity and Twilight Sparkle were approaching the bakery.

“Hey girls, you got into Pinky’s new cupcakes already?” the purple unicorn pony addressed the fillies.

“Yep, and they were super duper, just as she said,” Scootaloo confirmed. Sweetie Belle nodded, shaking the paper bag in the process.

“Yes, she wouldn’t stop rambling on about them when she came by yesterday to invite me over,” Rarity chuckled. She then looked at her little sister. “Now Sweetie, don’t go eat all of that before dinner time. Remember, I invited you and our parents over.”

“Yeth Wawithy,” Sweetie said, still holding the bag in her mouth.

“Darling, don’t talk with your mouth full. Put the bag down and then speak,” her older sister gently scolded her.

“Wight.” Sweetie put the bag down and looked up, smiling innocently. “Sorry. I won’t eat all the cupcakes before dinner, Rarity.”

“Good, I’ll see you then,” the fashion designer nodded. She and Twilight then headed inside after saying goodbye to the two Crusaders.


Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were still in Ponyville, but gradually approaching the bridge that would lead to the road going to Sweet Apple Acres. They were passing some of the last houses when they heard a voice arguing with someone.

“Do I have to do all the thinking here?”

“We are on a vital mission and you stop to get something to eat?”

“Oh stop looking at me like that. We both know what will happen if we screw up. She will flay us alive and leave us rotting for the authorities to pick us up.”

“I don’t care if you are hungry.”

The fillies blinked and looked at each other in confusion before looking around. Soon they realized this was coming from a nearby alley. Curiosity being their strong trait, the Crusaders slowly approached, hugging the wall of one of the houses forming the alley. Carefully, once they were close enough, the two girls peeked inside.

They saw the pegasus with the axe cutie mark, still with the bag of muffins in his mouth. In front of him stood a large gryphon who was almost as big as the stallion. The half eagle, half lion-like creature had a white feathered head with a big yellow beak, the rest of the front half of his body were covered in jet black feathers, but the lion half was dark tan colored. In his right talon the creature held a large bag that was wriggling and a muffled, nearly inaudible voice came out of it.

“You were supposed to be my lookout. She nearly got out into a too-populated area for me to grab her,” the gryphon hissed and looked around, revealing that he was missing one eye and had replaced it with a glass one.

The stallion just snorted. His expression was still hard, but there was a hint of annoyance in it. He glanced at the nearby dumpster. His friend just groaned and rolled his real eye.

“Oh come on, I didn’t hit her THAT hard. You know what she said - no witnesses. I had to knock her out before I grabbed our target,” the gryphon stated. He looked sharply around again. “Now let’s get out of here before we’re spotted.”

With these words, he spread his wings and took off to the air. The pegasus hesitated for a second and looked at the dumpster again. His friend noticed and stopped his ascent and looked back down.

“She’ll be fine. Somepony will find her. Now let’s go,” the gryphon hissed in annoyance. The silent stallion snorted again before spreading his own wings and flew off. Fortunately for the two hiding Crusaders, their flight path did not go over where they peeked into the alley.

Silently and carefully, the two school fillies sneaked into the alley, wondering what this had all been about. They couldn’t see much looking around - most alleys in Ponyville were pretty clean. That’s why something lying at the other end of it caught Scootaloo’s attention and she ran over.

“It’s two paper bags,” she called over to Sweetie Belle. The orange Pegasus picked them up with her mouth and ran back to her friend, who had put her own bag down.

“What’s in them?” the unicorn wondered. The other Crusader shrugged and they both opened them and were surprised to find untouched candy in both, plus some fancy looking pastry.

A soft groan snapped their attention to the dumpster. Somepony was definitely in there. The girls glanced at each other, unsure. Slowly Scootaloo shifted the box off her back and down to the ground so not to ruin the cupcakes inside. Then she approached the dumpster with Sweetie Belle following close behind. The orange filly put her head up against the green painted metal and listened.

“Girls, what are you doing?” a voice addressed them from above, causing the two Crusaders to jump. Looking up they saw a light blue-colored pegasus with a rainbow mane and tail hovering above them.

“Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo shouted in both excitement and with some urgency. She pointed at the dumpster with her hoof. “There is somepony in there.”

Dash’s brow rose. She had been on her way to Sugarcube Corner on the invitation of Pinkie from yesterday when she had seen the two fillies sneak into the alley. Curious as to what the two were up to, the rainbow-maned pony had silently flown over, witnessing the two fillies approaching the dumpster.

“Someone in the dumpster huh?” she said. As if to confirm it, another soft groan escaped from the big metal container.

Rainbow Dash immediately flew closer and landed in front of it. She grabbed the lid and pulled it up to open the dumpster. The pony’s eyes opened wide in shock and she gasped. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle reached up to peek in as well and their jaws dropped at the sight before them.

Moving weakly in the garbage was the gray-coated form of Silver Spoon. Her usually well-kept and groomed mane was a mess after something had hit her hard on the head. Small trickles of blood came down from the gash on her crown. The right lens of her glasses were cracked and the frame itself was broken in two.

Silver Spoon was conscious and once the filly was aware that the dumpster lid had been opened and someone was looking down at her, she looked up weakly, tears brimming in her eyes.

“H-help…” she moaned, reaching out with a small, shaky hoof.

End Chapter 1

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” Rainbow used her head to hold up the dumpster lid before reaching in with both front legs and pulled the injured filly out. She carefully cradled the gray, crying lump of a foal, making sure not to disturb her injury. The glasses were left behind in the dumpster.

“Girls, I’m taking her to the hospital. You go and get help,” the rainbow mane pony said, spreading her wings for flight. Something seemed to frighten Silver Spoon and she began struggling in the pony’s grasp. But the pegasus figured it was just an after effect from what had happened to her and took off into the air.

“But… but.” Sweetie Belle was the first to find her voice, but by then Rainbow Dash was gone in a multicolored flash. She looked at Scootaloo, who was still slack-jawed, unsure where to go get help.

“Let’s go to Sugarcube Corner. Maybe Twilight and Rarity are still there,” the orange pegasus suggested, finally waking up from her startled state.

“Yes, right,” the white unicorn agreed and the two fillies quickly ran out of the alley, leaving all the pastry behind for anyone to find who cared to have them.

The two Crusaders quickly found themselves again at the bakery, having run like their lives depended on it. They barged in, nearly toppling a few pony customers that had arrived to taste Pinkie’s new cupcakes.

Ignoring them, the girls spotted where Rarity, Twilight and Fluttershy, who had only recently arrived, sat by a table drinking tea and eating cupcakes. The two fillies immediately begin shouting and flailing their hooves as they tried to explain in rapid succession what they had just witnessed.

“Girls! GIRLS!” Twilight finally shouted. It had been impossible to follow them. “One at a time and in a lower volume.”

“Sweetie Belle, you’re shaking,” Rarity rose up and walked over to her little sister. She calmly and gently caressed the filly’s mane. “Now calm down dear and start from the beginning.”

“Are you girls alright?” Fluttershy asked, making her way over to Scootaloo who did not shake as visibly, but was clearly flustered. The yellow pegasus sat down beside her, gently putting one hoof on the girl’s back.

Finally, once they calmed down enough, the two fillies began explaining what they had seen and who they had found in a dumpster. The three mares and other ponies around who listened with wide open eyes, blinked and gasped. Fluttershy covered the mouth with her hooves.

“Oh no how horrible! Poor Silver Spoon,” she whispered.

“What ruffians would attack a young, defenseless foal like that?” Rarity was aghast. She grabbed her little sister in a tight hug. “Oh my little precious darling, I’m so sorry you had to witness something like this!”

“Pinkie!” Twilight called for the pink pony, but she was already there having heard the commotion and came out of the kitchen to investigate.

“Pinkie, since you know everypony in Ponyville, I need you to go and tell Silver Spoon’s parents that their daughter is in the hospital,” the purple unicorn told the pink pony.

“Yes, Twilight.” Pinkie needn’t hear more and she immediately zipped out of the bakery. Twilight rose up and began walking for the exit; she glanced back at her remaining friends.

“I’m going to the hospital to learn what I can there. Fluttershy, why don’t you take Scootaloo home?” she suggested. The yellow pegasus nodded with a small smile.

“Yes, Twilight you go. I think I’ll take my sister home,” Rarity informed her friend when Twilight looked at her. The librarian nodded and hurried out of the bakery.

“I’ll be right here if you need anything before you leave,” Mrs. Cake informed the two remaining mares who nodded their thanks. The bakery owner returned to the counter, but still sported the worried frown. Some of the other ponies in the shop began nervously fiddling with their hooves before heading out, mentioning something about checking on their siblings/children.

The white unicorn turned her attention back to her little sister who clung to her with tears in the eyes. Reality had finally sunk fully into Sweetie Belle; she realized just how close she had been to sharing Silver Spoon’s fate. She had seen her attacker, been close enough to see him clearly.

“There, there now my precious little gem, you are safe now,” Rarity soothed and continued to gently caress her sister’s mane.

While she comforted her sibling, Fluttershy was trying to coax Scootaloo. The orange filly had turned silent and gloomy.

“Come now, Scootaloo. I’ll take you home,” the yellow pony said gently, trying to nudge the school filly to move, but the younger pegasus refused and sat on the floor with a glum look.

“What in tarnation is goin’ on here?” a southern voice spoke. Rarity and Fluttershy looked up and saw Applejack standing in the exit. Apple Bloom came running towards them, a concerned expression on the filly at seeing her two friends so distressed.

“Hey gals, what happened to ya’ll?” she asked in a worried voice.

“Oh Applejack, it’s simply horrid!” Rarity gestured to the farm pony to come closer.

“Silver Spoon was attacked,” Fluttershy whispered, but both Apple Bloom and Applejack heard her.

“What?” the orange earth Pony and her sister shouted.

“Yes and Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo saw the attackers leave the scene of this dreadful crime,” the fashion designer continued.

“Oh my stars!” Applejack gulped. “Is the filly a’right?”

“Twilight went to the hospital to check on things,” Fluttershy responded. She had given up for now trying to get Scootaloo to move.

When Twilight arrived at the hospital, she immediately went to the ER waiting room. She saw Rainbow Dash flying impatiently back and forth in the air. When the blue pegasus spotted her friend, she immediately flew over and landed.

“Hey Twi, you heard already?” she asked.

“Yes, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo came to Sugarcube Corner to let us know what happened. How is she?” the purple pony inquired.

“I don’t know. They wheeled her in the moment I brought her, so I’m still waiting. I didn’t want to just leave. Damn, Twilight, this is creepy as Tartarus. Somepony just dumped that kid in the dumpster after attacking her. Who can be so heartless,” Rainbow Dash snapped, stamping one hoof hard on the floor.

“I don’t know, but the girls did see two suspicious ponies before they went into the alley. Well, a suspicious pony and a gryphon, actually,” Twilight told her.

“A gryphon?” Dash frowned. Her friend nodded and gave the description of the two or at least what she had managed to gather from the fillies’ explanation.

“Big, dark brown pegasus with an axe cutie mark? That sounds like Silver Axe,” the rainbow mane pony scowled.

“You know him?” the librarian wondered.

“Not really, but I’ve heard of him. Injured his throat in a thunderstorm near Cloudsdale many years ago, or so they say. Hasn’t been able to speak since,” Dash explained. “And come to think of it, a gryphon with a glass eye is sounding familiar, too.”

“Oh?” Twilight tilted her head.

“Yeah, during Junior Speedster Flight camp. Gilda was sometimes visited by this gryphon, I think she said he was her uncle or cousin - can’t remember. He had a glass eye,” the blue pegasus shrugged.

“Interesting and now both these two appear here in Ponyville.” Twilight tapped her muzzle gently with a hoof. Her thoughts were interrupted when the door to the waiting room opened and Filthy Rich, Diamond Tiara’s father, walked in.

“Oh hello Mr. Rich,” she addressed the dark, amber-colored earth pony with the money bags cutie mark.

“Hello Miss Sparkle. I understand that Silver Spoon was brought here,” the stallion inquired.

“Yes, I brought her here,” Rainbow Dash responded.

“Yes, thank you very much, Miss Dash. You see her parents are on a business trip with Spoiled Rich and she was staying with me and Diamond Tiara for the weekend. Diamond wasn’t with her, was she? She hasn’t come home at all. I was startled to hear Miss Pie tell me that Silver Spoon was in the hospital, but nothing about Diamond,” Rich explained. It was audible in his voice that he was worried and slightly agitated.

“Oh no, the girls didn’t mention seeing Diamond Tiar…” Twilight froze as a detail from the girl’s description came up in her mind.

“Miss Sparkle?” Filthy Rich approached her and Rainbow Dash glanced at her friend curiously.

“The bag, the bag the two guys had, that the fillies saw.” The unicorn’s gaped as the horrible implication came over her.

“The bag?” Dash asked, confused.

“The bag was wriggling and they said a muffled voice came out of it,” Twilight cried. She looked at Filthy Rich with a regretful look. “Oh Mr. Rich… I really don’t want to say this… but I think your daughter has been foalnapped!”

“W-what?” the stallion whispered. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

At that moment the doctor arrived in the waiting room. The light amber unicorn cocked an eyebrow when seeing the three ponies. So far they hadn’t noticed him come in. Twilight was still looking regretfully at Rich who was still taking in what he had been told. Dash watched, looking just as surprised as the stallion.

“Excuse me,” the doctor finally broke the silence and the three ponies looked at him. “I take it you are all here regarding Little Miss Spoon?”

“Y-yes… how is she?” Rich whispered.

“She will be fine, she suffered a minor concussion and has a nasty cut on her head, but she’ll recover. It was a good thing she was brought to the hospital so quickly. If she had been in that dumpster for too long the wound could have gotten infected,” the doctor told them.

“Can I go see her? Her parents are away and she was staying at my house,” Rich asked.

“Yes, yes of course, but be careful. This was obviously quite a traumatic experience for the young filly,” the unicorn instructed and gestured for them to follow him.

The hospital room was not dark even if the lights weren’t turned on. The sun still hadn’t gone down for the day and a ray of light landed on the bed the young gray filly lay in. Her head was covered in white bandages.

The tickle of the sun did not cheer her up. She barely even noticed it. Silver Spoon lay and stared down at her hooves. She could barely focus on them; they looked more like gray blobs without her glasses. Her head hurt and she had a big empty feeling in her stomach, but not from hunger, just emptiness.

Things had happened so fast. She had heard Diamond Tiara shriek and then something picked her up. She could only see flashes of sharp talons, feathers and flapping wings. Those wings, the filly shuddered, flapping and something making an awful noise. Something hit her hard on the head. She tried to scream, cry for help, but nothing came out. Then everything went black.

Barely able to move and unable to see, she tried to crawl somewhere. Someone must have heard her because the next thing she knew she was in the air and suddenly surrounded by vaguely pony-shaped blobs, the color white so prominent on them.

The filly heard them talk to her gently and calmly, but she couldn’t take it in. It was just too frightening and she had begun to sob and cry. Someone gently cuddled her and tried to calm her down. After a while she did and fell silent once more. Now the young girl was just in her bed, staring down at her grayish, blob-like hooves.

Silver Spoon didn’t look up until she heard the door to the room open. Vaguely pony-shaped blobs began filing in. She squint her eyes in a vain hope to try and see clearer who they were.

“Hey Silver…” a voice began addressing her. She would have usually recognized that as the voice of her friend’s father, but something had caught her attention. Wings, flapping wings.

“No… no get away. GET AWAY!” Silver Spoon screamed at the top of her lungs and began thrashing in the bed.

Someone grabbed her and managed to hold her securely despite her struggling. She cried and begged, beating her little hooves against whoever it was. She just wanted to get away from those wings.

“Silver, Silver it’s alright. You are safe. Nopony is going to hurt you.” The soothing voice of Rich tried to calm her down.

“Flapping wings… wings… get them away. GET THEM AWAY!” Silver Spoon cried and tried again to escape, but she was still held in a firm, gentle grip.

“Oh Rainbow, your wings, she can’t see us clearly. Silver Spoon is nearsighted,” a female voice said. “Your wings must be reminding her of the attacker. Stop flying.”

“What? Oh sorry.”

“Sshh, Silver it’s alright. See, no one is here to harm you.” Rich’s voice continued to attempt to calm the filly down. She finally did stop struggling but the sobs escaped her lips and her cheeks were drenched with tears.

“I’m sorry, Silver Spoon. We didn’t mean to scare you,” the gentle female voice addressed her. Then there was silence for a moment.

“Maybe we should leave. Will you be all right, Mr. Rich?”

“I will be fine, Miss Sparkle. Thank you and thank you again, Miss Dash.”

“I can have someone run after some glasses for her; she probably needs them desperately right now.”

“That is probably a good idea. Thank you again.”

“You’re welcome. Come on, Rainbow. No, don’t fly until outside. Remember the wings!”

“Ack, sorry!”

Silver Spoon didn’t notice anything. She was finally calming down after her outburst and beginning to feel sleepy. She did whimper slightly and buried her face in the coat of the pony gently holding and reassuring her. She wanted to feel safe, but she wasn’t sure if she could. Not while everything looked so blob-like.

“If I ever meet the bastard who did this!” Rainbow Dash growled as she and Twilight Sparkle left the hospital. The pegasus stamped her hooves on the ground and took into the air now that there was no risk of her upsetting Silver Spoon. Although she didn’t know the gray filly that well, it was angering her that someone had attacked a pony in her town and gotten away with it.

“I’m going to alert the authorities to this. I can’t believe we have a case of foalnapping here in Ponyville.” The purple unicorn shook her head in dismay.

“Why would they foalnap someone from here anyway? Wait, you don’t think they are going to squeeze bits out of Mr. Rich, do you?” Rainbow wondered.

“I… I don’t know, Rainbow. It’s possible. He and Silver Spoon’s parents are among the richest families in Ponyville,” Twilight said.

“Well…” Rainbow Dash scowled. “I’m going to go ask around.”

“What? Where?” her friend asked confused.

“Let’s just say I need to pay an old friend a visit,” the light blue pegasus grunted and increased her speed and was very shortly gone in a rainbow trail.

Good luck, Twilight thought. “Looks like I have a doozy to report to the Princess.”

“A doozy indeed,” Applejack appeared. She had been waiting near the hospital.

“Hey Applejack,” the unicorn greeted the orange earth pony with a half-hearted smile. “What are you doing here?”

“Rarity and Fluttershy told me ya’ll would be here. Ah just wanted to know how it’s goin’ for Silver Spoon,” the farm pony stated.

“Oh Applejack, you should have seen the poor thing. She was traumatized so badly. She mistook Rainbow Dash’s wings for the ones from her attacker and was scared out of her mind,” Twilight told her. “But that’s not the worst part; I think they took Diamond Tiara.”

“Hold it right there, yer tellin’ me that not only was Silver Spoon attacked, but Diamond Tiara is gone and foalnapped?” Applejack could hardly believe her ears. “What is Equestria comin’ too if two young fillies can’t walk safely in Ponyville in the broad daylight and all?!?”

“I don’t know, AJ. But since it was Diamond Tiara, this is probably targeted at Mr. Rich. Silver Spoon was just unlucky to be in the way,” the unicorn told her with a heavy sigh.

“Say, how are the other girls? If you saw them, I left Sugarcube Corner in a hurry,” Twilight asked. The two ponies began walking towards Ponyville town center.

“They were a bit shaken up, realized just how dangerous things had been for ‘em,” Applejack said. “Poor Sweetie Belle was in tears. Ah left Apple Bloom with them, told her she could spend the night at Rarity’s - ya know be a friend in need an all. Ah then helped Fluttershy git Scoot home. That pegasus was really silent and gloomy.”

“Well they are strong girls. No doubt will be up and cutie mark crusading once again before the weekend is over.” Twilight smiled and Applejack laughed.

“Ah don’t doubt it,” the farm pony agreed. “So what are ya up to now?”

“Well as I said, think I’m going to report this to the Princess and the local authorities. I don’t think we have had a foalnapping case in Equestria in a long time, at least none that I’ve heard of,” the unicorn explained before glancing skywards. “I think Rainbow Dash is up to something as well. She said she was going to ask around, then remarked about needing to pay an old friend a visit.”

“Huh, wonder who she’s meetin’?” AJ frowned before shrugging. “Ah well, if you need any help, just give a holler.”

“I will Applejack, thanks.” The librarian smiled gratefully before glancing towards the sun, it’s sinking indicated Celestia was pulling it down and Luna was raising the moon and the rest of the night along with it.

“Not exactly a good way to end the day, is it?” she remarked sadly.

“You said it, girlfriend.” Her friend shook her head in dismay.

End chapter 2.

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

“Good mornin’.”

Sweetie Belle blinked awake only to see Apple Bloom staring down at her. The little unicorn yawned and rubbed her eyes tiredly.

“Ya goin’ to sleep all day? Come on, Rarity’s gotten late breakfast goin’.” The yellow earth pony grinned and jumped on the bed before jumping down to the floor.

“Apple Bloom, it’s Saturday and…” Sweetie Belle groaned and glanced at the alarm clock. Her eyes opened wide. “It’s ELEVEN?”

“Yeah, that’s why Ah said late breakfast - better to call it lunch by now,” Apple Bloom giggled and walked back over. She rose up to her hind legs and put her front hooves on edge of the bed.

“Ah have actually been awake for a while, never gotten used to sleepin’ in. Ya know how it is with farm life, even for a little filly,” she chuckled. “At first Ah just stayed here and read some books until Rarity was up. She made breakfast for me but, told me to let ya sleep in.”

“So did Rarity tell you to wake me up or was that just you?” Sweetie wondered and finally jumped down from her bed. She looked at her friend who dropped down to a sitting position.

“Welll… that was me. Ah was gettin’ a little bored,” Apple Bloom grinned sheepishly and glanced further into the room. The unicorn followed the gaze and was surprised to see all her books stacked up on the floor. They were books she liked to keep at Rarity’s when she stayed with her big sister.

“You read all of them already?” she gasped, looking at the earth pony. “How long were you up?”

“Uh, since just before sunrise,” her friend admitted.

“Wow, I really must have been… uh…” Sweetie Belle stopped and tried to think of the right word.

“Conked out?” Apple Bloom offered, but immediately regretted it when seeing the grimace come over her friend’s face. Yesterday’s events were still fresh on her mind. “Um sorry.”

“It’s okay. I didn’t think this would bother me so much,” the unicorn scratched her head.

“Well I feel a little bad leavin’ you and Scoot yesterday.” Apple Bloom rose to stand. The two fillies began walking for the door.

“Well you didn’t know we would be finding Silver Spoon in a dumpster. Scootaloo and I even saw her and Diamond Tiara come out of Sugarcube Corner only an hour or so earlier. At least I think it was an hour,” Sweetie told her as they walked out of the bedroom.

“So they must still have been on their way… wait what about Diamond Tiara?” Apple Bloom frowned realizing that so far the snobbish pink pony had not been brought up at all.

“I don’t know I…” Sweetie Belle stopped short as the two fillies came down the stairs to the ground floor. Rarity was escorting two dark gray earth Ponies in police uniforms into the house. One was smaller than the other one, who was fairly tall but lanky.

“I’m going to see if she is awake… oh she is,” Rarity turned to look at the stairs and smiled warmly at her little sister. “Sweetie, Mulberry and Tango would like to speak with you about yesterday, if you feel up to it.”

“Um, alright,” Sweetie Belle said and hesitantly came down the rest of the stairs. “I’m not in trouble, am I?”

“What? No, no darling not at all,” Rarity assured her sibling.

“We just want to know what you saw and heard yesterday, Sweetie Belle. It might help us solve what happened,” the taller officer, Tango, explained with a gentle smile.

“Why don’t we speak in the kitchen? I was preparing a late breakfast for her,” Rarity suggested.

There were no objections and the five ponies headed for Rarity’s kitchen. Sweetie Belle was served food while the officers accepted cups of coffee. Apple Bloom, having already eaten, watched at first, sitting beside her friend. But when the officers began talking with the little unicorn and the smaller one, Mulberry, brought up a notebook to write in, the yellow filly’s curiosity compelled her to try and take a look.

“What’cha doin’, Mulberry?” Apple Bloom asked and tried to peek at the notebook.

“I’m taking notes of what your friend saw yesterday,” the officer explained, glancing briefly at the yellow filly. He moved the notebook out of her view.

“Will it help?” she questioned, suddenly peeking over from the other side of him at the notebook.

“It usually does assist in solving cases, yes,” Mulberry said and moved the notebook away again. There was a hint of resignation in his eyes, having dealt with the crusaders numerous times in their hunt for cutie-marks. He was aware this one seldom gave up. Apple Bloom tried for the third time to peek at it when the sharp voice of Rarity addressed her.

“Apple Bloom, don’t bother them and sit down properly if you want to be here too.”

Apple Bloom jumped back to her original seat, grinning wide and innocent. Sweetie Belle giggled at her friend’s antics. The officers just shook their heads. Mulberry rolled his eyes, but Tango was smiling, also used to the antics of the crusaders.

“Tango,” Sweetie Belle addressed the officer once she finished her giggling fit courtesy of Apple Bloom. She did have one burning question. “Um, was Diamond Tiara in that bag we saw?”

Neither officer answered right away. They looked at each other before glancing at Rarity who could only shrug. Tango finally looked at her again.

“I didn’t think she was your friend. Was she?” he asked.

“No, not really.” Sweetie shook her head. “But she and Silver Spoon are always together, at least as far as I know.”

“Well don’t worry about it, we are going to solve this,” Tango declared and rose up, as did Mulberry. “You have already been very helpful. You just now enjoy the rest of the weekend with your friends.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Sweetie Belle said and continued to munch on her breakfast.

“I’ll show you out,” Rarity declared and followed the two stallions out of the kitchen. Her sister and Apple Bloom waited for a second before jumping down from their chairs and hurried to the door. They peeked out and could see Rarity standing by the front door talking in a low voice with the officers.

“Yes, Mr. Rich has in fact received a ransom note from the foalnappers. The envelope did contain a lock that matched his daughter’s mane and tail color.”

“Oh this is so dreadful! I do hope the poor child is alright and that you find her soon.”

“We’re working on it. Thank you for allowing us to talk with your sister, Rarity.”

Sweetie Belle pulled herself back into the kitchen and returned to the table. Apple Bloom soon followed, sitting down beside her. The unicorn filly absently picked at the remainder of her breakfast, deep in thought.

“You know, I sometimes wished Diamond Tiara would disappear or move away or something, but I’m not sure I wanted her foalnapped,” she spoke after a bit.

“Ah know what ya mean. This is weird. Ah so wanted her gone two days ago when she was teasin’ me for the bazillionth time, but this is a bit too much,” Apple Bloom concurred.

The two fillies glanced at the door when Rarity returned to the kitchen. The older unicorn smiled warmly at them, but there was a hint of worry in her eyes. Sweetie wondered if her sister was picturing these current events happening to their own family.

“Rarity, where are mom and dad?” she asked.

“Oh you know, they have to work during the weekends sometimes,” Rarity responded while she began cleaning off the table, her horn glowing blue as she levitated cups and plates off. “So you are staying with me this weekend. They felt… it was safer.”

Sweetie Belle raised an eyebrow and looked at Apple Bloom, who seemed as confused by that last statement. The young unicorn had to admit that her parents and Rarity had turned overly attentive yesterday, never really leaving the young filly out of their sight while she was awake.

“Are you all right, Rarity?” she asked.

“I’m fine, really,” Rarity laughed and tried to smile reassuringly. It still didn’t hide the worries in her eyes. “Why don’t you two go out and play?”

“I can do that.” Sweetie Belle nodded and jumped out of her seat. Apple Bloom concurred, bouncing down from her own chair.

“Just don’t go too far!” Rarity called after them. “And don’t stay out too late.”

Rarity watched the two fillies leave through the door with a dual “we won’t” assurance. The fashion designer nervously clicked both her front hooves on the ground. She had to will herself to continue with the cleaning and keep herself from running after her sister and Apple Bloom to keep an eye on them.

Outside, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom automatically took the route that would lead them to the clubhouse. It was pretty normal for them to do and it was after all the meeting place of the three Crusaders. The two fillies had no intention of letting yesterday ruin today.

When they arrived near town hall, they heard a distant whirring sound. The two fillies stopped and looked around, but the source of the mysterious noise was soon revealed. Scootaloo came speeding on her scooter, donning her purple helmet.

“Scootaloo,” both her friends cheered. They recalled how glum and down she had looked yesterday, but with her speeding around now it seemed she had recovered from her funk.

“Hey girls,” the orange pegasus greeted them just as she sped past. Before she got too far, she jumped with the scooter, turned 180° in the air and returned once landing, coming to a dead halt right in front of her friends.

“Sorry how I zoned out on you yesterday,” she apologized with a weak smile.

“Don’t worry about it. I was bit bothered by what happened too,” Sweetie Belle said nodding and so did Apple Bloom. “We were headed for the clubhouse. Let’s go.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Scootaloo grinned and the three fillies continued onward.

As they approached the road that would both lead them to Sweet Apple Acres and once taking the correct turn, to their clubhouse, two of the fillies noticed that their friend didn’t look so happy. Scootaloo was once again looking glum and there was also a hint of discomfort in her face.

“Hey Scoot are ya a’right?” Apple Bloom inquired. Scootaloo zigzagged a bit on her scooter before looking up.

“I…” she started but her eyes quickly diverted back down.

The three fillies stopped, two of them staring at their orange-coated friend who kicked up a bit of dirt from the road. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle eyed each other before returning their attention to the pegasus. Scootaloo’s face hardened and with a scowl she raised her head towards them.

“Girls… am I awful for not feeling sorry for them?” she whispered.

“What? You mean Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara?” the yellow earth filly asked.

“Yes,” Scootaloo snapped and threw her scooter down. “I… I don’t care what happened to them. I don’t care that Silver Spoon is in the hospital with a head wound or that Diamond Tiara was foalnapped.”

The orange girl gave a frustrated snort and stamped her hooves on the ground. Her friends could only watch as she continued her tirade, letting go of everything she had bottled up since yesterday.

“Would they care if something like that happened to us? Would they? They make our lives miserable every chance they get; belittling us, making fun of us, laughing at us for being blank flanks. Why should I care that Silver Spoon was attacked and thrown into a dumpster? Why should I care Diamond Tiara was stuffed into a bag and taken away? I… I…” Scootaloo closed her eyes tight for a second before screaming. “I HATE THEM!”

A silence settled around the three fillies. Scootaloo was breathing heavily after her rant and her friends stared at her, unsure what to do. A few adult ponies were around and had also witnessed the event unfold, staring shocked and confused at the three girls.

“Scoot…” Apple Bloom started, but the young pegasus turned away.

“All I hear is ‘poor Silver Spoon’ this and ‘poor Diamond Tiara’ that. I just don’t care,” Scootaloo cried, her voice broken. “Even mom and dad are saying it. Why should I extend sympathy to some pony who would never do the same for me?”

“Look, Scootaloo.” Sweetie Belle stepped over to her distressed friend and sat down beside her. “We won’t judge you for this. If you don’t feel sorry for what happened to them, then that’s that. We won’t force you or anything.”

“Yeah, Ah mean it’s not like we’re plannin’ to go and rescue her or sumthin’,” Apple Bloom said, reaching to pat Scootaloo on the back.

“Thanks girls.” The orange filly looked up, smiling sadly. “Guess I got worried you would be talking about them too like my parents and the others have.”

“Well you know us, we are no fans of them either,” the unicorn giggled.

“Yeah,” the earth filly agreed. “I mean okay, I wouldn’t wish something like foalnapping on her. My idea of revenge against Diamond Tiara involves her getting covered in tree sap instead of us.”

The mental image of Diamond Tiara covered in sticky sap was too much and the three girls began giggling. Scootaloo’s smile looked much more natural now; the filly was feeling much better at the reassurance of her friends.

“So anyway, who cares what the adults are saying? We won’t. Besides not much we can do even if we had something to say,” Sweetie Belle said and stood back up.

“Exactly. Now let’s go to the clubhouse, gals. We have some crusadin’ to catch up on,” Apple Bloom declared, pointing into the air with a hoof. Her friends did not argue with that and for the second time the girls resumed their trek.

Somewhere deep in some Equestrian woods was an old cottage. The windows were barred with planks and the once thatched roof was mostly replaced with hurriedly put in place tree branches. The paint was wearing off and if there had once been a garden around it, it had long disappeared under weeds and other wild plants.

In front of this rundown place landed a large, dark brown pegasus - Silver Axe. Due to his weight there was a heavy thud on the moss-covered front steps. The stallion folded his wings, looking around before he kicked open the old door with a front hoof.

“Careful! You don’t want to bring this place down anymore than it already is,” a voice hissed. The one-eyed gryphon was lying down further inside, glaring at the pony.

Silver Axe just walked in, ignoring the stare. Using a hind hoof, he kicked the door to close it. It was quite amazing it survived this abuse, though there were a few new cracks in it now. The gryphon shook his head, muttering something before laying his head back down.

The pegasus walked further into the old cottage where a dresser missing the drawers was placed. On top of it was his paper bag of muffins he had bought in Ponyville yesterday. He still had five left.

“You sent the note?” the gryphon looked up again. His only eye peered at the stallion.

Silver Axe nodded and proceeded to get a muffin out of the bag.

“Good, at least you’re doing something right,” the creature snorted. The pegasus glared at him while munching his treat. His comrade ignored it and lay down again.

“Well someone would do better to let me go!” a girl’s voice snapped from one of the corners of the cottage. The gryphon grimaced and grabbed his head with his talons.

“Oh no, there she starts again,” he groaned.

Silver Axe raised an eyebrow and looked over to the corner in question. In a small steel cage, blue eyes glared right back at him, Diamond Tiara’s was - her coat was all ruffled, her mane had a lock cut out of it and her tail was a mess. She sneered at her captors, focusing mostly on the pegasus for now since he was the one looking.

“You are in so much trouble when my father finds me. You hear me. So much trouble!” she yelled, banging her hooves on the bars.

“You’ll be banished to the Everfree Forest. No, put in a dungeon and then banished!” the girl snapped.

“Yes! Yes! We know already,” the gryphon growled. This was not the first time the filly had begun a tirade of threats, in fact she had spent a good portion of the night doing it. “Shut up!”

“No, you shut up!” Tiara sneered and turned her attention to him. “I’m not afraid of you, you… hippogriff.”

“I am not a hippogriff!” the gryphon snarled and rose up to his full height.

Silver Axe watched the exchange with an amused smile, munching on his muffins. For a brief moment he wondered which one was the child the way the filly glared at them and how his gryphon friend kept reacting to what she said.

“Arrrg, I wish the boss would show up soon so she can deal with this,” the gryphon groaned and sunk back down.

“And another thing. When am I getting something to eat? I’m starving!” the filly complained.

“Good,” the gryphon snorted, wrapping his front legs around his head in a vain attempt to block out the noise from the girl.

“Now, Paul. You shouldn’t talk to a fine little lady like that,” a female voice addressed him, dripping with mockery. It came from the front entrance, so the gryphon, Silver Axe and Diamond Tiara looked over.

Standing there, covered for the most part in a black and white cloak, was a mare. She was a bit smaller than the pegasus, but was much, much thinner. The hood of her garment covered her head for the most part, but the white muzzle was still visible. It had a sinister grin plastered on it.

The mysterious mare entered the cottage, closing the door behind her by whipping her dark gray and white tail at it. As she approached, Paul rose up to stand and Silver Axe stopped eating. Diamond Tiara tilted her head slightly - there had been something eerily familiar about that voice.

“Hmmm, good work boys, good work indeed,” the mare purred when she had a full view of the filly’s cage. “I take it that the first note has been sent?”

“Yes, Axe saw to it,” Paul answered.

“Aw, always so reliable, Silver Axe,” the mare turned towards the stallion and patted him gently on the cheek with her hoof.

“I don’t think he’s always so reliable,” the gryphon muttered under his breath. A pony’s tail whipped him in the beak.

“What was that Paul?” the mare switched her attention to him.

“Nothing Ma’am.” Paul rubbed his beak gingerly.

“Good.” The pony nodded, satisfied. They were quickly reminded of their prisoner who began complaining again.

“I want something to eat. And I want to be… no I demand to be set free!” Tiara shouted, glaring now at the mysterious mare. Paul cringed and grabbed his head again with his talons.

“Oh Diamond Tiara, you haven’t changed one bit have you?” the mare laughed and began approaching the cage.

She finally threw off her hood, revealing her head. The mane was short and in the same two colors as the tail. The pony had piercing golden eyes and her grayish, white coated face showed some signs of age. She removed the cloak fully, revealing a large snowflake cutie mark on her flank. But what was most noticeable about her was the broken stub on her forehead that used to be a full unicorn horn.

Diamond Tiara gasped as she recognized the face and the cutie mark. The mare had resumed her sinister grin as she stared down at imprisoned filly. The girl felt a chill go down her spine.

“S-Snow Heart?” she whispered.

End Chapter 3.

Chapter 4

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Chapter 4.

“Oh you remember me, I’m so touched,” Snow Heart put a hoof on her chest pretending to be flattered.

“Remember you? You almost killed me!” Diamond Tiara shouted, her surprise changing into brief anger. It quickly disappeared when a white hoof slammed onto the wooden floor leaving a crack. Snow Heart lowered her head, glaring daggers at the filly.

“I did NOT almost kill you, you stupid brat!” she snarled. “I was trying to prevent you from making any more mess than you were already making!”

“You threw me across the living room!” Tiara protested but shrunk back when the mare’s eyes began to twitch and her snout twisted into a sneer.

“I slipped on the mud you were trailing all over the floor, that I had spent HOURS cleaning before you waltzed in without a care in the world!” Snow Heart growled.

“You did not fly across the room. You just skidded across it. But no, as usual you had to make up huge drama over everything, accuse me of trying to kill you and of course your father believes every word of his precious little princess!” The mare raised her head but still glowered down at the filly.

“You were already driving me up the walls with your bratty behavior. Every time I clean something, you messed it up only a moment later. And Celestia forbid I spoil your fun by asking you not to mess everything up, crying to daddy that I’m being mean to you! Make up stories about me; accuse me of doing something I never did!” the Unicorn stamped her hoof again hard to the ground; the crack became a bit wider at the force.

“You know how easy it is to get a new job when your last employer believes that you were harassing his daughter? It’s practically impossible! I couldn’t even afford the surgery needed to mend my horn that you caused to break!” Snow Heart lowered her head again still frothing in anger.

Diamond Tiara could only listen, the older mare looked feral and frightening at the moment. After a bit more glowering the anger seemed to vanish from the white pony. The sinister grin returned and she raised her head.

“But you are going to help make up for all that. If your father wants to see his precious little princess again, he’s going to be forking out the bits. He is going to suffer for what you did to me,” the mare chuckled.

“My father is going to have you exiled for this!” Tiara growled but fell silent when a hoof kicked the cage. The shaking caused the filly to fall down. That really hurt.

“All your father is going to be doing is paying up, he owes me a lot of back pay,” Snow Heart snorted, she watched the disoriented girl in the cage for a moment before looking at Paul.

“Give me the key to the cage,” she ordered the Gryphon who began searching his chest feathers. He pulled out a string hidden under them holding a small key. Paul took it off and gave it to his boss.

Snow Heart’s brow wrinkled in hard concentration and a white glow came on her stub and the key glowed too as she took it via levitating magic. This was clearly a struggle for her with a broken horn and the sweat poured down her head. But the mare stubbornly turned around and used the key to open the cage.

Diamond Tiara was still dizzy after the kick and trying to orient herself. She didn’t notice the cage door open until Snow Heart reached in and grabbed her tiara with her mouth and pulled it off.

“Hey!” the girl began to rise up again but the mare was already locking the cage.

“Give me back my tiara!” the filly shouted and tried to reach for it through the bars but was ignored.

The old mare tried to levitate the key back to Paul but finally lost what little concentration she had. The horn stopped glowing and the key fell to the ground, but the Gryphon walked over and picked it up, replacing it on the string. The Unicorn rubbed her forehead tiredly for a moment before spitting the tiara to the floor.

“Give it back!” Diamond Tiara reached as far as possible through her prison. She could almost touch it, it was so close. But a white hoof came crushing down and smashed it to pieces.

The young filly’s eyes bugged out and the jaw hung loose at the sight. Her precious tiara was gone, only smashed pieces of metal and pearls remained. Slowly she sunk down with one leg still reaching out from the bars. The girl looked up, a cruel face stared right back down at her with an evil smirk.

“What? No ‘daddy is going to do something to me’ for this?” Snow Heart asked and laughed mockingly.

“My… tiara…” Diamond Tiara whispered. Tears began to form at the corners of her eyes.

“Aw did I break the crown of the poor precious princess?” The mare continued to mock the filly.

“I could keep this up all day; alas I must get going again. Paul, you sweep up the remains into an envelope, it will go with our next note to her dear old daddy.” Snow Heart turned around and began walking away. She grabbed up her cloak and swept it around herself, pulling the hood over the head.

“Yes Ma’am,” the Gryphon saluted, his beak forming a solid grin. He had enjoyed the show very much. He rescued an envelope from an old table and began using the end of his own tail to sweep up the tiara remains.

“You boys behave now and keep an eye on our meal ticket,” Snow Heart ordered and glanced back from the cottage exit. “I’ll be making sure we get our first payment.”

“So do we send the next note before or after we get the money?” the Gryphon asked.

“We’ll send it after we get the first pay, unless Mr. Rich needs further encouragement. I’ll notify you boys when the times come. For now just keep watch,” Snow Heart explained to him before leaving the cottage.

Paul nodded and finished sweeping up the remains. He put the envelope on the table and proceeded to lie back down. He took one last glance at the cage and chuckled. Diamond Tiara was still lying down, one leg reaching out from the bars and the tears crawling down her cheeks.

“Not so mouthy now you stupid little brat,” he muttered and stretched with a big yawn. The Gryphon curled up and proceeded to make full use of the blessed silence and take a nap.

Silver Axe had watched the whole thing in silence, mostly due to his inability to talk. He looked at the cage, Diamond Tiara was still not moving from her position. The stallion wondered why the filly was so heartbroken over a simple tiara. He figured she had a closet full of the things back home.

He glanced at the dresser and saw he had one last muffin left. Using one wing he grabbed it up and walked over to the cage, the Pegasus dropped it down within reach of the filly. The girl stirred and looked up. There was no sneer, no haughty look. Her lips were trembling and the eyes showed genuine distress.

The large pony stared back, first with his usual hard almost unfriendly expression. Then for a brief second a flicker of a smile crossed his lips. Silver Axe turned around and walked away. He glanced back and saw that Diamond Tiara had pulled the muffin closer and was nibbling at it through the bars.

Rainbow Dash groaned in frustration and took to the skies once more, leaving the house she had been at behind. The Pegasus had spent a good portion of last night flying to where she originally thought her old friend lived, but the female Gryphon had moved away. Dash then found a cloud to nap for the night before resuming her search in the morning.

She had then been going from one place to another for most of the day. Dash couldn’t at first understand it; it seemed the Gryphon never lived for very long at any house or apartment. It didn’t look like she was trying to disappear since she always did leave a forwarding address for her mail and/or any family.

“Or friends if she has any left,” the light blue pony snorted. At the last location she was now racing away from she had finally figured out why Gilda was always moving.

“That’s the tenth house I’ve been at. Why is she always moving!” she had shouted in frustration.

“Probably because she is a very bad tenant,” The landlord pony had bluntly stated.

It turned out Gilda was always so loud and rude that complaints piled up against her in matter of weeks, forcing any landlord to finally evict her. Rainbow Dash couldn’t believe she hadn’t figure that out sooner. Other landlords had always frowned and scowled when the Pegasus had brought the Gryphon up and then flatly stated she didn’t live there anymore.

“Oh horse apples, I forgot to ask for her forwarding address,” Dash groaned and took a sharp turn back.

But if she isn’t at that address I’m quitting this, she seems to be bouncing around all of Equestria, the Pegasus thought and found herself quickly back at the big house.

“Hey, I forgot to ask if Gilda left a forwarding address,” she addressed the maroon colored Earth stallion who was painting the building.

“She didn’t,” the landlord said with a shrug. Dash’s face fell, looked like her search had come to a dead stop.

“She hasn’t sent it yet, so she probably hasn’t found a new place to live in. I think she said something about going to Las Pegasus before taking off,” he added.

“Great, if she hasn’t found a place yet I might still find her there,” Rainbow pumped one hoof in the air before speeding off again calling thanks back to the landlord.

“Wonder why she’s going to Las Pegasus,” she wondered as she left Fillydelphia behind and headed for the gambling capital of Equestria.

The flight took few hours, even for a pony as quick as Rainbow Dash, but finally she could see the first tall buildings of the city in the distance. The pony grinned and figured Gilda was good as found. She didn’t even bother with avoiding few small clouds in her way, smashing right through and pulverizing them.

Aha, a challenge. The Pegasus smiled even wider when a particularly large cloud appeared in her way. “I will show you who the boss is.”

She went right through, the cloud was too large to disappear that way, so the Pegasus intended to fly up and do a back flip back into it to make more holes. That was at least the original plan, unfortunately the moment she reached the other end she crashed right into someone.

“Hey watch it, I’m flying…” a rough female voice began growling but it changed into mild surprise. “Dash?”

“Whoa what the …” Rainbow managed to untangle herself away; they weren’t falling since the crash had landed them on another cloud that fortunately held them. The pony flew back up and realized she had barreled right into her former friend from Junior Speedster Flight Camp.

Gilda’s surprised expression quickly changed into annoyed one and she too took to the air. The Gryphon snorted and folded her front legs, glaring at the Pegasus who was doing the same now.

“Oh great, that’s just what I needed. I’m kicked out, again, have to find a new place to live in and now you show up!” she snapped and prepared to fly off, much to her frustration Rainbow Dash immediately followed her.

“Hold it right there, Gilda we have to talk,” the pony shouted.

“About what? You chose to live with those dweebs back in Lameville,” the Gryphon snorted and quickly found herself nose to beak with Rainbow Dash who gave her a stinging glare.

“Hey! You don’t call Ponyville lame or my friends’ dweebs. If anything I should be mad at you for how you treated them. Oh wait, I am mad at you for that,” the Pegasus pony snapped.

“Whatever!” Gilda grunted. She pulled herself back and tried to fly around but Dash immediately zipped right back in front of her.

“Leave me alone Rainbow Dash, it’s been a very long bad week for me and I’m in no mood for you,” the Gryphon snarled and again tried to get past the pony.

“I will leave you alone if you tell me about your cousin or uncle or whatever, the one with the glass eye that visited you back in flight camp,” the Pegasus flew right back into her former friend’s flight path.

“Cousin Paul? Huh, he’s even lamer than your Ponyville,” the half lion/half eagle female snorted.

“What did I tell you about calling Ponyville lame?!” Dash growled and poked her hoof harshly into Gilda’s feathered chest.

“Whatever Dash…” the Gryphon snapped and pushed the hoof away. She didn’t try to escape this time, she folded her arms again. “What do you care about Paul anyway?”

“Because he is involved in a foalnapping in Ponyville and attacked a filly that is now in the hospital,” the Pegasus said. “I need to know how we can find him.”

“Cousin Paul a foalnapper?” Gilda blinked before she started to laugh.

“Hey, what’s so funny?” Rainbow asked scowling.

“That geek would never have the guts to pulls something off like that. He’s all talk and no brawn.” The Gryphon continued to chuckle.

“Well I don’t know that many Gryphons and the one who attacked the fillies matches his description,” Dash pointed out. Gilda snorted and rolled her eyes.

“Look Dash, I know Paul. He’s always pretending to be tougher than he really is. Always talking about finding work with somepony who could get him easy money, always thinking he is such a gangster. He even made up a street name for himself. Glass-Eye Paul, laaaame,” she explained and snorted again.

“What if he has?” Rainbow asked frowning heavily. “When is the last time you met him? Gilda, your cousin has badly injured a young girl and foalnapped another. Is that cool even by your standards?”

Gilda opened her beak to say something but fell silent. Her eyes shifted down as she seemed to be considering something.

“Gilda, I’m not here to demand an apology for what you did to my friends back in Ponyville. I know you are far too stubborn and proud to do that. But if you really did consider me your friend once, could you please tell me where I can find your cousin.” The Pegasus eased her frown a bit and watched her former Gryphon friend who seemed to be having some inner debate.

“Sorry Dash, haven’t seen him in years.” Gilda finally spoke after a while. She flew around the pony and headed towards the city.

Drat, I really thought I was on to something, Rainbow Dash thought and watched the Gryphon disappear into Las Pegasus. With a sigh she turned and headed back for Ponyville.

Applejack followed the sound of music coming from among the trees. She had been doing a routine checking of the fields when the tunes reached her ears. The farm pony knew exactly where it was coming from and just couldn’t resist checking on things. As she had suspected the Cutie Mark Crusader’s clubhouse was soon in view. By the sounds of things the three little fillies were having the time of their lives inside dancing to some upbeat tunes.

The Earth Pony chuckled and was convinced now that her sister’s friends weren’t letting yesterday’s events bother them too much. If anything Apple Bloom was probably not allowing them to dwell too much on it. She was about to head back when hearing a rustle and hoof steps approaching.

Now who the hay could that be? She thought and stood still, watching the direction the new sound was coming from. The farmer got her answer soon enough, Rarity came into view looking nervous and worried.

“Hey Rarity, what brings ya to these parts? Checkin’ on your sister?” AJ addressed her friend. The Unicorn almost jumped, she hadn’t noticed the other pony.

“Why, uh yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing,” Rarity chuckled nervously.

“Or where ya maybe always followin’ them from discreet distance and were first now catching up?” Applejack peered at the fashion designer as she trotted closer, a knowing smile crossing her lips.

“I um… why do you say that… I wouldn’t spy on my sister…” the white pony tried her best to look innocent as ever. The farm pony chuckled and shook her head.

“’Cause Sugar Cube, almost everypony in Ponyville is doin’ the same with their own youngins, either keepin’ them close or followin’ from a distance,” she pointed out. “This whole foalnappin’ case has everyone rattled.”

“I… well yes I guess it is true.” Rarity relented. “It’s just such a dreadful thought, Applejack. I can only imagine how Mr. Rich is feeling. I was surprised that you allowed Apple Bloom to stay with us for the night.”

“Well, gotta admit that Ah did have an uneasy feelin’. But Ah trust ya Rarity and figured Apple Bloom would be just as safe in yer house as she would be at Sweet Apple Acres,” Applejack told her friend. She then nodded towards the clubhouse. “An’ Ah feel a bit safer knowing she’s on the farm now. This is a secluded and private.”

“True enough.” The Unicorn agreed. The music continued playing from the clubhouse, intermixed were happy giggles of young fillies.

“I probably should return to my shop,” Rarity said, feeling less worried.

“Ya do that and have no fear; we’ll keep an eye on her while she is on the farm,” Applejack assured her. “Want me to walk with ya back to Ponyville?”

“I would be very glad with your company,” her friend nodded. After taking one last glance at the clubhouse the white pony left with the orange one the way she had come.

The two mares weren’t gone long when the music stopped. Inside the Cutie Mark Crusader’s headquarters Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle stopped spinning and dropped down to sit. The two fillies laughed lightly as they caught their breaths again.

“That was fun.” The yellow pony smiled, her Unicorn friend nodded furiously in agreement. They both twisted around to check their flanks and groaned when nothing appeared.

“It doesn’t look like we will have cutie marks in wild dancing. Anything on you Scoo…” Sweetie stopped and looked around. She had been so involved with her dance number that the girl had lost track of the Pegasus. Scootaloo hadn’t gone far, she was sitting by the table with one hoof under her chin, the gloomy look returned.

“Oh not again,” Apple Bloom sighed and rose up. She walked over followed by the white filly.

“Scoot, what’s really botherin’ you?” the Earth pony asked and sat beside her glum friend.

“Um…” Scootaloo dropped her hoof and tapped it nervously together with her other one.

“Yeah, it’s not just that everypony is feeling sorry for Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara but you’re not is it?” Sweetie Belle wondered. The orange filly shook her head.

“Then what is it?” Apple Bloom was starting to wonder if they would ever manage to pull the reason out of her.

“Remember earlier when I asked you if I was awful for not feeling sorry for them?” Scootaloo whispered, tears threatened to come from the corner of her eyes. The Pegasus quickly dried them off but knew there was no use hiding it, her friends had seen it.

“Yeah and we said we didn’t mind… wait did someone call ya awful for it?” the yellow pony asked frowning heavily when her friend nodded, Sweetie Belle’s jaw dropped.

“Well no, not call me awful but… I didn’t just blow off on you guys… you see the police ponies came this morning to ask me about what happened yesterday. After I had told them what I remembered, I heard mom tell the police that we were all shocked over what happened and felt deeply sorry for them…” Scootaloo sighed and dropped her head to the table.

“That’s when I knew I did not agree with that. I did not feel sorry for them and… I said it and argued with mom about it and that’s when I said I hated them and didn’t care what happened to them. Mom said I shouldn’t be saying such awful things…” the Pegasus lifted her head. “I was told to go to my room to think about what I had said. But I snuck out the window and sped around Ponyville on my scooter until I saw you girls.”

“Wow,” Sweetie Belle said.

“Well yer mom shouldn’t be saying ya feel sorry for someone if ya don’t feel sorry for ‘em,” Apple Bloom stated. “Ah mean why do adult ponies always try to say we say sumthin’ we didn’t?”

“Yeah and if we try to correct them they just hush us,” the unicorn agreed.

“Adults sure are weird, huh?” Scootaloo chuckled weakly and so did her friends.

“Apple Bloom?” a deep voice called from the outside. “Ya in there?”

“Huh, wonder what Big Mac wants.” The yellow filly turned a bit to look at the entrance to the clubhouse. “Ah’ll be right back.”

“Comin’ big brother,” she yelled while galloping outside. The girl rushed for the railing and leaned half on it as she looked down. Down on the ground stood her older brother Big Macintosh, chewing lazily on a straw. But the large red stallion wasn’t alone, a light yellow Pegasus with a light purplish mane and three parasols on her flank stood beside him with a worried expression.

“Oh howdy there Parasol.” Apple Bloom blinked when recognizing Scootaloo’s mother. She wasn’t a common guest around Sweet Apple Acres.

“Hello Apple Bloom,” the Pegasus mare greeted her back.

“Parasol here is lookin’ for Scootaloo, she up in there with ya?” Big Mac asked.

Apple Bloom hesitated to answer knowing that her friend was upset with her mother right now. But the Earth filly’s silence was all the answer Parasol needed; she unfolded her wings, flew up and stopped to hover in front of the railing.

“Scootaloo,” she called, the concern in her voice was very evident. “I know you are in there, please come talk with me.”

“Why? What’s there to talk about?” The orange filly peeked out of the window with an angry frown. “I’m not taking back what I said about them.”

“No, no of course not,” Parasol said knowing too well how independent and willful her daughter was. She ascended a bit to get over the railing and landed on the wooden platform surrounding the tree house.

Apple Bloom in the meantime glanced back to the ground when hearing Big Macintosh clearing his throat. The large red stallion was nodding to her to come down. The yellow filly nodded but knew she would have to get Sweetie Belle out first. The young Earth pony tip toed over to the entrance and waved to the Unicorn to come. Scootaloo didn’t notice as her attention was fully on her mother.

“Why don’t we all go an’ take lil’ walk while they speak with one another?” Big Mac suggested when the two fillies came down. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle reluctantly agreed and walked away from the club house with the stallion.

End chapter 4.

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5.

“Scootaloo, I’m sorry I was cross with you this morning,” Parasol said. She sat by the window her daughter peeked out of. The orange filly still stared at her with an annoyed angry face.

“I just don’t want to think I raised you to be hateful. Hate is such a strong emotion honey, if it’s allowed to fester deep within it can cause you to do things you will later regret,” the mare continued and reached to touch her daughter on the cheek with a hoof

Scootaloo didn’t say anything, her eyes trailed downwards and the scowl eased a little. The filly still looked unhappy but she didn’t move her head to remove the hoof from her cheek. Her mother sighed slightly and edged herself as close as she could and began gently caressing the girl’s mane.

“Dear, I’m not asking you to like them. I realize that Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara are not your friends, not by a long shot. But I want to ask you to consider their families. If someone attacked you and threw you into a dumpster or foalnapped you I would be horrified and heartbroken. I’m not sure I would be able to eat or sleep until you were brought back to me,” the mare explained. Her daughter’s unhappy face slowly became sadder.

“I… guess they would be feeling pretty awful,” Scootaloo whispered and slowly traced circles with her hoof on the wall under the window. “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

“You have nothing to apologize for my little Wonderbolt,” Parasol assured her and kissed the filly on the forehead before mock glaring at her. “Except for almost killing your mother with worry by disappearing out of your room like that.”

“Heh, yeah… sorry about that,” her daughter giggled and blushed slightly in embarrassment.

“It’s alright, just as long as you are safe,” the mare said and reached through the window to give her daughter a one leg hug. Scootaloo hugged her mother back. “We still friends?”

“Yes mom.” The Pegasus filly nodded and the two parted.

Parasol rose to her feet and unfolded her wings. For a moment mother and daughter stared at each other, both smiling and a feeling of relief washing over them, especially Scootaloo who felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her mind.

“I won’t disrupt your time with your friends any longer, just remember not to stay out too late,” the yellow Pegasus said.

“I won’t mom.” Scoot said and waved her mother goodbye when the mare flew off with a wave of her own.

Now where have the girls gone off too? the orange filly wondered and looked around. She scurried out to the platform and looked down from the railing. The girl thought she heard distant chatter and jumped down from the clubhouse. Spreading her little wings the best she could the young Pegasus managed to glide for the most part down before crashing to the ground.

“Still need to work on the landing, ugh,” she complained and rose up. While dusting off herself the filly was certain she heard chatter come from the picnic table further off.

Scootaloo headed over there and found her suspicions to be true. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle sat by the table and spoke with each other. They looked up when hearing their friend arrive.

“Howdy Scoot, how did yer chat with ya mom go?” the Earth filly asked.

“Great,” the orange filly jumped to sit beside Sweetie Belle. Her friends could clearly hear on both her voice and see it on her that the Pegasus was really feeling great now.

“Super, how about we get some proper crusading going then?” the Unicorn suggested and was met with sound agreement from her friends.

“So what should we do?” Scootaloo asked excited.

“Um, Ah dunno. Let’s go to the farm, maybe Applejack has any ideas she can give us.” Apple Bloom shrugged. Since the other Crusaders couldn’t come up with anything better they jumped down from the table and headed off to the farm proper.

After a bit of walk through the trees they finally arrived on the dirt road leading to the farmhouse. But the fillies didn’t need to look for Applejack long; the orange Earth pony was already heading down it, since this road also went to Ponyville. The Crusaders rushed over to the farmer once they spotted her.

“Hey Applejack, where ya goin’ sis?” Apple Bloom asked curiously.

“Howdy Crusaders,” Applejack greeted the girls with a small grin. “Ah was just headin’ over to Mr. Rich, wanted to offer him mah condolences and see if he be needin’ anythin’. Ah was goin’ to do it when Ah walked with Rarity to town, but plum forgot and was already at Sweet Apple Acres when Ah remembered so Ah was just turnin’ around and headin’ back.”

“Rarity was here?” Sweetie Belle asked cocking one eyebrow.

“Yes, she was just checkin’ if you were around these parts with yer friends,” Applejack told her with a wink. The little Unicorn tilted her head as she considered the answer but shrugged it off.

“Ya all can tag along if ya want,” the mare then offered the Crusaders.

“Might as well, until we get an idea for a cutie mark crusade,” Apple Bloom whispered to her friends who agreed. They hurried to catch up with Applejack again who had gotten ahead of them.

“Ah take it they haven’t found Diamond Tiara yet?” the yellow filly addressed her big sister.

“No, it’s not very easy and it only happened yesterday. The two hoodlums Scoot and Sweetie saw could fly and thus could be anywhere in Equestria,” Applejack explained. “Ah heard Silver Spoon’s parents came back to Ponyville via the midnight train, so at least she has her parents now with her. Heard also that her mother had a very bad case of hysteria.”

“What, she was laughing?” Sweetie Belle frowned in confusion.

“No, it means she panicked Sweetie Belle,” the mare corrected her. “And Ah don’t blame her, don’t reckon ya want to hear yer little girl was attacked while yer outta town.”

“True, that must have been awful for her,” Appla Bloom nodded and her friends agreed.

As they arrived near Ponyville and saw the first buildings of the little town, the four ponies immediately noticed something different. Several large white Pegasus ponies in golden armor were flying around in the air above.

“What in tarnation?” Applejack raised her brow.

“Wow look at all those royal guards,” Scootaloo gasped in awe.

“What are they all doing here?” Sweetie Belle wondered.

“Ah reckon we’ll find out once we get into town,” AJ said and resumed her trot, the fillies following.

When they reached the town center, they spotted Twilight Sparkle come out of town hall. Applejack immediately headed towards her but the Crusaders stopped for a moment to look at the royal guard ponies that were walking around town.

“Hey Twi, what the hay is goin’ on? What’s up with all these guards?” the orange Earth Pony asked when catching up with the Unicorn.

“They were sent by the Princess. They are here to assist the Ponyville police searching for the kidnappers,” Twilight explained. “She’s also sent her guards to other places in Equestria to search.”

“Sounds like she is taking this foalnapping case pretty seriously,” the farm pony nodded and looked around.

“She is, the Pegasus guards were only the first ones to arrive since they could fly straight to Ponyville, we are expecting the non-flight guards with the train later today,” the librarian explained.

“At the very least the presence of the guards will help ease some of the parents’ worries,” Applejack remarked.

“You noticed the increased amount of hovering parents too?” Twilight chuckled, her friend nodded.

“Can’t fault ‘em for it though, this whole ugly business has everypony shakin’,” the Earth Pony looked around and spotted where the Crusaders where still admiring all the shiny armored ponies. She glanced back at the purple Unicorn. “Well Ah better git goin’, was goin’ to drop by at Mr. Rich’s to offer him my condolences.”

“Oh I think I saw him heading for the hospital. He was with Silver Spoon’s father, they are probably going to check on her and her mother,” the purple mare informed her.

“Well that saves me the trip to the other side of Ponyville,” Applejack chuckled and glanced over where the Crusaders had managed to corner a hapless guard and were raining him with questions.

“Crusaders, Am a goin’,” she called and had to hold down a laugh when seeing the guard breathe a sigh of relief when the three fillies darted away from him.

“Say, what were ya buggin’ the guard about?” Applejack asked, peering at the girls when they arrived.

“Just how he got his cutie mark big sis,” Apple Bloom grinned innocently as did her two friends. Her older sister and Twilight looked at each other before shaking their heads.

“Hey Axe, you got any of those muffins left?” Paul asked and stretched, newly awoken from his nap. He looked at the burly Pegasus and grunted in disappointment when seeing him shake the head no.

“Great,” he scratched his back with his talons and stretched the wings. “What time is it?”

Silver Axe just shrugged his shoulder. The large pony hadn’t really moved much for the past hour or so. He was rather content on just staying by the dresser. The Gryphon frowned and walked over to the door to peek out, but it was hard to make out the sun past the trees. The best he could gather was that it was daytime.

“I need to stretch my wings, watch the brat.” Paul disappeared out without even looking at the annoyed Pegasus.

That is what I have been doing anyway, he thought. The pony glanced towards the cage. Diamond Tiara had finished her muffin and now lay down with her forehead resting on the bars. Her front legs stuck out between the bars, resting on the wooden floor. The filly looked angry again but there was more sadness over her, she didn’t look at him and only stared down.

Wish I could talk, Silver Axe silently sighed and raised one hoof up to touch his throat. The coat concealed the scars from his old injury that robbed him off his speech. Not everyone understood the hoof signals and sometimes he just didn’t bother with them.

Being the literally silent one could get quite annoying and frustrating. Clicking your hooves on the ground or together in complicated signals wasn’t always very effective way to communicate when only many understood it.

“Excuse me,” a small voice brought the Pegasus partly out of his thoughts. The prisoner had turned her attention to him once again.

“I was just wondering…” Tiara nervously clicked her hooves on the ground. “When will you let me go home?”

Still half lost in his thoughts; Silver Axe just automatically began signaling by clicking his right hoof on the ground. He stopped when realizing that but the filly didn’t look at him with a blank confused expression.

“Well, go on,” she urged gesturing to him with a hoof.

‘Wait you understand hoof signals?’ Silver Axe signaled mildly surprised.

“Well… yeah. Dad always feels you must understand everypony, so I’ve been learning to understand hoof signals in private classes,” Diamond Tiara admitted and looked down for moment.

Huh, that made things conveniently easier, the Pegasus thought but shrugged it off. He instead returned to his previous explanation:

‘As I was saying, it all depends on how quickly your father pays your ransom.’

“And what makes you think you’ll get away with this?” The girl frowned; she felt a little better to talk with someone, even if it was one of her jailors. And at least he doesn’t seem as hostile as the Gryphon… or Snow Heart.

’I don’t know,’ Axe responded to her question. The stallion was beginning to wonder if he should be “speaking” with the prisoner. Then again Snow Heart hadn’t said they couldn’t.

“You don’t know? I thought your type were always so confident in your schemes, convinced that the authorities would never grab you,” Diamond Tiara said with a raised eyebrow.

‘Snow Heart is the one with the plan, I just implement it,’ the Pegasus simply said.

“Well that was insightful,” the filly muttered sarcastically.

“Should I even bother asking why you are working for that witch?” she asked. Silver Axe didn’t respond and just assumed his usual silent unfriendly expression. They were interrupted by the Gryphon who looked inside from the entrance of the cottage.

“Hey Axe. I have to quickly fly back to my apartment and pick something up. Snow Heart wanted it for this job. I completely forgot about it until just now,” Paul explained and left without a further word. Silver Axe scowled, snorted and glared at the entrance.

Do I really want to know what he is getting? Diamond Tiara wondered worried. Anything that horrible Snow Heart wants can’t be too good for me.

She glanced towards Silver Axe who was in the process of lying down. The Pegasus stretched out one wing and began preening the feathers. Now the filly couldn’t help but watch. She had never seen a Pegasus in the process of grooming the wings.

I would have thought they would use a brush though, Diamond Tiara made a face; the thought of using her mouth to groom herself was not appealing.

The Earth filly watched for a bit before her eyes drifted once more to the floor. She sighed sadly and wished she was home. The girl had been looking so forward to spend an entire weekend with Silver Spoon; they had even been preparing a small private party.

I hope Silver Spoon is alright, she thought allowing a small tinge of worry towards her friend to slip through. Diamond Tiara hadn’t really seen what happened to her, having been stuffed into a bag very quickly.

Something shining on the floor caught her attention. The sun was on a downward move outside and managed to send few extra beams through the cracks on the boards covering the windows. Some of the light landed on the floor near the cage and reflected on a small thin strip of metal.

The girl held down her breath and eyed the stallion that was still busy with his wing. Slowly the filly reached for the strip and managed to drag it over. She almost squealed in delight when recognizing it as a piece of her old tiara. Carefully the girl managed to maneuver it into her cage without Silver Axe noticing.

All that is left, but at least it is something, Diamond Tiara thought as she balanced the metal on her hoof.

Sorry mom… it’s broken now… the filly sighed and hugged the metal to her chest. Small tears began crawling down her cheeks. After a moment she reached for her tail and pulled it closer, carefully the girl weaved the metal strip into it and made sure it was secure and hidden.

Having concealed what was left of her precious tiara, she glanced back to Silver Axe. He didn’t appear to have noticed anything and was now working on his other wing. He had already gathered a bit of brown feathers around himself.

“Is there anything more to eat?” she asked. The muffin had helped a bit but it wasn’t exactly a proper meal.

Silver Axe stopped preening and eyed the girl. The stallion rose up scattering the feathers as he moved. He walked over to a closet on the other side of the cottage and opened it. After rummaging through it for a bit he pulled out two carrots. Those he took over to the cage and dropped them in front of it.

Diamond Tiara reached for the vegetables and pulled them in. Two carrots weren’t much and she almost opened her mouth to voice it. But the filly fell silent, Snow Heart had already demonstrated to her that no amount of whining and complaining would work. Instead the girl began munching on the food, though she really wished they were cleaned, steam boiled and served with mashed potatoes and parsley.

End chapter 5.

Chapter 6

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Chapter 6.

It was getting late when Rainbow Dash finally returned to Ponyville, the sun was just about to disappear down the horizon in the west. The speedster Pegasus was tired after a long flight and disappointed that her one possible lead hadn’t taken her anywhere. She had been so positive that Gilda would tell where her cousin was.

The light blue pony descended as she neared the town, debating whether she should head home and crash down for the night or talk with someone first. Dash had mentioned she was going to talk with an old friend to Twilight; the purple Unicorn would probably begin asking her about it anyway tomorrow.

Rainbow was still debating this when she noticed the royal guards flying around town, most were either coming or going. The Pegasus stopped and hovered while taking in the sight. She didn’t recall Twilight saying the Princess was coming for a visit; why else would there be so many guards around?

Right, now I have to know. She decided and headed straight into Ponyville with the direction to the library. While doing so she took the opportunity to glance some more at the various guard ponies.

Almost as cool as the Wonderbolts. Wonder how I would look like in armor? she thought grinning a bit.

Although tired the mare still flew fast and was soon at the library. The lights were on and one window was open so she simply flew right through it and inside. Twilight was sitting by a table reading and books were piled up around her.

“Hey Twilight, I’m back,” Rainbow announced causing her friend to jump.

“Rainbow!” The Unicorn glared up at the grinning Pegasus. “Don’t startle me like that. I have a door, can’t you knock next time?”

“Now where would be the fun in that?” Dash laughed and flew closer to the ground.

“Very funny,” Twilight Sparkle grunted before assuming a more inquisitive expression. “So where did you go?”

“To find Gilda,” the Pegasus answered and grumbled something inaudible aimed at her former Gryphon friend.

“Really?” the unicorn cocked an eyebrow. “Why? To ask her about this relative of hers you recalled?”

“Yes and after searching almost all day I finally found her, you wouldn’t believe how many places she’s been kicked out of,” Dash told her and spread out her legs to emphasis just how many they had been.

“Well, could she tell you anything?” Twilight wondered, shelving for now her worries about Dash meeting her old friend again. They hadn’t parted on the best of terms.

“Nothing,” the Pegasus grunted. “Except that his name is Paul and apparently likes to talk big and consider himself some sort of a dangerous guy. Gilda didn’t believe he was able to pull off a foalnapping, said he didn’t have the guts.”

“Well either this Paul managed to gather up those guts, or someone who just happens to match his description foalnapped Diamond Tiara,” Twilight said, her brow dropped in a frown. “You are sure that their descriptions match right?”

“Jet black feathers except for the chest and head, dark tan fur, glass eye, that’s the Gryphon I saw back in Junior Speedster Camp,” Dash stated firmly.

“What about that other guy? You seemed to recognize him too,” the purple mare inquired.

“Silver Axe? Well I considered checking on him too,” the Pegasus landed and sat down. “But I really only heard this one story about him, long ago way back in Flight Camp. It was really supposed to be a cautionary tale you know, to tell us Pegasi to be careful in thunderstorms.”

“Guess that makes sense. Mrs. Cake did confirm that this big Pegasus the girls saw first came to Sugar Cube Corner. He couldn’t talk and had to use hoof signals to let her know what he wanted,” Twilight told her.

Rainbow Dash nodded and wrinkled her brow while thinking. She was trying to remember the exact details from the story, but about all the Pegasus could recall was what she had already told Twilight.

Guess I should have paid closer attention back in camp, Dash thought and glanced towards the window she had flown in from. “Say, what’s up with all the guards?”

“The Princess sent them to help the police search for the foalnappers and Diamond Tiara,” the Unicorn responded. She was levitating a quill and writing on a scroll what Rainbow had told her.

“Wow, looks like we are going all out in this search.” The Pegasus rose up and stretched. “Do they have any ideas where they could possibly be?”

“None, both having wings they had a pretty good head start, even if one was weighted down with Diamond Tiara.” Twilight shook her head.

“Nuts,” Dash snorted. “I’m going home to rest a bit then I’ll join the search.”

“If you want to know what areas have already been searched, drop by town hall. The guards regularly report those in,” the purple pony informed her as she took off to the air.

“Will do,” Rainbow Dash saluted before darting out through the window.

Twilight rolled up the scroll and put it away. She was about to return to the books when footsteps from the steps leading down to the main library caught her attention. Soon enough her assistant Spike came up holding a large book.

“I found it,” he proclaimed proudly and hurried over to the librarian with it. “Weather related disasters and accidents in Equestria over the past twenty years.”

“Great work Spike, Rainbow Dash might not be able to recall enough about this Silver Axe guy, but this will hopefully lead to some clues about him,” Twilight said, her horn began to glow and the book was enveloped in the purple magic aura as she grabbed it from the dragon.

“So why do we need to find anything about him and how will that help finding the foalnappers?” Spike wondered.

“Rainbow Dash is probably right about the Gryphon and she has managed to bring up both his name and who he is related too. But we need to look into all possible leads and if we can find out more about Silver Axe it could be very helpful in locating them. We must not leave any stone unturned Spike,” the purple Unicorn explained to him while shifting through the book.

Scootaloo scrunched her face while examining the board in front of her. The pieces were in place and everything should be set. The filly didn’t want to make the wrong move at the worst possible moment. A piece in the incorrect place could spell disaster and the whole game would be ruined.

What to do? What to do? The orange Pegasus tapped her snout with a hoof. This could be the crucial move that could win her the…

“Just make a move ALREADY!” Sweetie Belle shouted waving her legs in agitation.

“Don’t rush me,” Scootaloo pointed at her friend, determination on her face

“Scoot, we have hardly even started.” The white Unicorn pointed at the chess board. She was playing black while the orange filly played white and had the opening move which the girl hadn’t done yet.

“I know, I know…” the Pegasus grunted and in the end chose to move a pawn.

“Finally!” Sweetie Belle snorted and moved pawn as well. She sighed when seeing that Scootaloo became indecisive again about what move to make, examining the row of pieces carefully.

“Ya gals haven’t played further than this?” Apple Bloom entered the room.

“We would if Scootaloo didn’t take a long time to decide what to do,” the white filly grumbled.

“Looks like chess isn’t one of our special talents either,” the yellow filly chuckled and sat down near them.

“Nope, what did your sister want?” Scootaloo asked.

“Just wonderin’ if Ah had seen Granny’s glasses and asked me to search for ‘em in the laundry room just in case,” Apple Bloom shrugged.

The three fillies had decided on another more proper sleepover, this time including Scootaloo. None of the parents or Applejack objected to this idea and this time the location would be at Sweet Apple Acres.

“So girls…” the Pegasus filly put another pawn forward on the board. “Where any of you bothered by how Mr. Rich looked like at the hospital?”

“Well he’s obviously worried about his daughter,” Sweetie shrugged and moved a knight.

“Ya aren’t gonna funk on us again are ya?” Apple Bloom peered at her orange coated friend.

“No, no, but I am a little worried,” Scootaloo admitted. “Mom said if something similar happened to me, she wouldn’t eat or sleep until I was returned to her.”

“You don’t think Mr. Rich is doing that is he?” the yellow filly gasped.

“No probably not, guess my talk with mom was just high on my mind,” the Pegasus said while hovering a hoof over a chess piece, preparing to move it. But Apple Bloom suddenly jumped right on top of the board, scattering everything all over the floor. “Hey.”

“But what if he really is doin’ it,” the Earth filly cried in agitation. “What if they don’t find Diamond Tiara? What if Mr. Rich starves to death over his lost daughter?”

“Uh, Apple Bloom, she’s only been foalnapped for a day or so,” Sweetie Belle pointed out. She jumped when her yellow friend turned towards her with eyes wide open in terror.

“And they haven’t found her yet. Ya know what will happen if Mr. Rich dies of starvation? We lose our most valuable business pony. Mr. Rich always buys the first hundred jars of the zap apple jam. If we lose him we lose hundred jars of profit. Our farm would be ruined,” Apple Bloom rambled on looking more and more terrified with each word.

For a moment Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle just stared unsure at their rambling friend. They traded glances with each other and could really only shrug. Apple Bloom did have a strange flare for drama and huge imagination sometimes.

“You are way to easily overexcited,” The Pegasus claimed

“Besides what can we do about it?” the Unicorn asked. The Earth filly stopped her rambling and sat down on the chessboard as she considered the question.

“Ah know, we’ll search for Diamond Tiara,” she then declared striking into the air with a leg.

“What!” her friends shouted in unison.

“Isn’t this something we better leave to the adult ponies?” Scootaloo scratched the back of her head.

“Yeah, besides the Gryphon and the pony who foalnapped her were so big and mean looking. What could we do against them?” Sweetie Belle frowned heavily.

“Oh sillies, Ah said search for her. When we find her we will lead the guards to where they are and they will take care of the hoodlums,” Apple Bloom laughed.

“Ooooh, yeah that makes more sense,” the Unicorn nodded, the frown replaced with a smile.

“Yeah I think I can handle that,” Scootaloo nodded. The fillies fell silent when there was a knock on the bedroom door and it opened.

“Ah heard shoutin’, everythin’ okay in here?” Applejack looked inside.

“Yes AJ,” all three girls declared.

Applejack’s brow rose slightly at the quick response and the smiling faces. Somehow that raised her suspicion that something was up. She noticed the chess board her sister was sitting on and the scattered pieces on the floor.

Ah hope they aren’t thinkin’ of a cutie mark in makin’ messes, she thought. “Well alright then, just don’t forget to pick up the pieces. Ah’ll be downstairs if ya need anythin’.”

“Yes AJ,” the fillies responded and watched her leave.

“So how do we actually search for her,” Scootaloo wondered, the three fillies rose up and began rounding up the scattered chess pieces. “I mean the guards have probably scoured most of the area around Ponyville we could reach on foot.”

“True,” Apple Bloom agreed but then had a thought. “What about Silver Spoon. Ya think she heard somethin’?”

“If she did, the police probably already asked her,” Sweetie Belle pointed out while sweeping chess pieces towards the board with her tail. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this; the adult ponies probably have everything under control.”

“Gals, like Ah said we will just search for their location. Then we will hurry back to find guards and lead them to it, they will handle the rest,” Apple Bloom explained again.

“I’m down with that, but where do we search? For all we know they could be in the Everfree Forest or something or even somewhere much further,” the Pegasus responded, she began gathering a pile of pieces into a box.

“Ah still think we should ask Silver Spoon, didn’t ya say that the Gryphon was talking a lot? He could have said something before ya’ll came and overheard him,” the yellow filly said.

“And I still think it is a bad idea, but guess we can try,” Sweetie Belle relented.

“Then it’s settled, we go ask Silver Spoon tomorrow at the hospital.” Apple Bloom grinned; she was only met with half hearted enthusiasm from her friends.

Shower never felt so good, Gilda thought and allowed the spraying water to run all over her. She felt really tired from the long flight and a bit on the edge after meeting Rainbow Dash.

After a while she reluctantly turned off the faucet and stepped out and grabbed a towel to dry herself with. The whole time the encounter with the rainbow Pegasus played in her mind.

Accusing Paul of foalnapping, she snorted. As if, he couldn’t even steal a candy from a baby Gryphon.

Gilda searched the cabinets and found a brush made for feathers. She began on her chest feathers and would work herself to the wings. She glanced around the bathroom; it wasn’t too big and while brushing had to sit to really fit properly.

Speaking of the geek, where is he? He said I could crash in his apartment if I was ever flying in Las Pegasus. The Gryphon put the brush back once she was done.

She left the bathroom and almost immediately entered a small living room with an old worn sofa and a TV. Aside from the exit and the bathroom, there was only one other door that lead to the bedroom. Gilda trotted over to the small kitchen corner and opened the fridge. Much to her dismay there wasn’t much in it at all.

Typical, she grunted and checked all the cupboards and cabinets available. No food at all. Jeez does the guy eat on the run?

Grumbling the Gryphon lay down on the sofa and used the remote to turn on the TV. But no amount of channel surfing revealed anything worth watching. She turned it off in disgust and rose back up.

“Looks like I better just lie down,” Gilda muttered. “I’m taking the bed, if Paul comes back while I’m sleeping, he can sleep on the sofa.”

The Gryphon entered the bedroom and closed the door with a slam. She dove for the ratty old bed, twisted and turned while finding a comfortable position to lie on before drifting off to sleep.

“Damn, did I leave the lights on? Oh well.”

Gilda tiredly opened her eyes as a voice and a noise outside disturbed her rest. She glanced at the clock but couldn’t remember when she had gone to bed. The darkness outside did indicate it was nighttime, but it had already been dark when she arrived in the apartment.

“Now where did I put that camera?”

“Ugh, guess the dofus of the house has arrived,” the female Gryphon muttered and glanced at the bedroom door. She could hear movement outside and someone rummaging around.

“I could have sworn I left it here.”

Guess I’m not going to be getting much sleep until he finds that thing. She crawled out of the bed and started for the entrance of the room.

“Aha, there it is. Now we can take those pictures Snow Heart wanted us to take of the snooty brat,” the triumphant voice of her cousin shouted. Gilda stopped just as she was about to turn the knob of the door when hearing it.

What? She bent down to peer through the keyhole. Sure enough there was her cousin Paul holding a camera in one talon, the male Gryphon was heading for the exit.

“When we get that money we’re bleeding out of the father, I am so getting some bigger space and selling this dump. Heck might just hand it over to Gilda.” Paul stopped for a moment to glance over the apartment.

You got to be kidding me. Rainbow Dash was right? Paul did foalnap someone? Gilda’s jaw dropped down to her chest. Meanwhile her cousin was half out of the apartment already. But then he stopped and snapped two claws on his right talon.

“Oh wait, I probably should take extra batteries with me. I think I have some in the bedroom.” He turned around and headed right over there.

Oh shit, Gilda looked around but saw nothing big enough to hide her. She suddenly had no desire to let her cousin find her in the apartment.

Having only seconds to make the decision, the female Gryphon dived for the window, opened it and flew out. Her tail was barely through the frame when her cousin walked in. Using her claws, Gilda hung on the wall just outside. She saw the lights turn on in the room and heard Paul talk while rummaging through the bedroom.

Dammit Paul, what kind of crap have you gotten yourself tangled in? Gilda thought and for a brief moment considered reentering the apartment and confront her cousin.

“Did I leave the window open too?” Paul remarked. His talons appeared in the frame as he reached to close the window.

Crap, Gilda was now stuck outside; she had taken the spare key into the apartment.

The female Gryphon let go of her grip on the wall and spread her wings to fly up. She landed on the roof of the building and sat down; letting out a breath Gilda hadn’t even realized she was holding.

“Okay, stealing an item or two from a shop, eh who cares, nobody misses one or two misplaced things,” she muttered. “But foalnapping a foal and put another in the hospital…”

“To Tartarus with it, Rainbow is right. That is not cool, not even by my standards,” Gilda growled and rubbed her forehead.

“Who would have thought, geeky old Paul actually doing something big,” she stood up and walked over to the edge of the roof. “And maybe it’s something too big.”

She saw movement down on the pavement; the figure unfolded its wings and took to the air. Gilda recognized it as her cousin. He was heading straight out of Las Pegasus, flying discreet as possible.

“Dammit Dash, you just had to be right.” Gilda spread out her wings and took off, heading straight after her cousin. Whatever you are doing Paul. I’m putting a stop to it.

End Chapter 6.

Chapter 7

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Chapter 7.

Sunday morning arrived bright and sunny. The only real cloud was the dark figuratively speaking one that hung over many ponies in Ponyville regarding the still unsolved foalnapping case.

At Sweet Apple Acres, The Cutie Mark Crusaders hurried with their breakfast so they could sooner head to town. As the fillies rushed out of the house, they noticed Applejack and Big Mac speaking with one another. While listening in on what the two adult ponies were saying, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle climbed into the wagon and Scootaloo prepared the scooter.

“They need more local volunteers? Huh guess that makes sense,” Applejack remarked.

“Eeeyup,” her brother agreed.

“A local could show ‘em areas they hadn’t thought of yet. But what makes ‘em think the hoodlums are still around here?” the orange Earth Pony wondered. Big Macintosh only shrugged.

“Well Ah hope they don’t need ya all day, there is a lot to do on the farm as ya know,” she said.

“Eeeyup,” the red stallion replied nodding. “No need to worry AJ. Ah doubt they’ll need me all day.”

“Come on, let’s go,” Apple Bloom said since it was obvious this conversation was near its end. Scootaloo stepped up on her scooter and took off flapping her wings.

“We are goin’ to Ponyville sis, see ya!” the yellow filly called just as they passed Applejack and Big Mac.

“Alright, Ah’ll be at the apples stand in the market around lunch,” the farm pony shouted after the Crusaders who were already turning into a distant dot on the road thanks to Scootaloo’s speed.

“You think they will let us in to see Silver Spoon? We aren’t exactly her friends nor are we family,” Sweetie Belle asked while the Crusaders sped towards Ponyville.

“The ponies at the hospital don’t have to know that we aren’t strictly speakin’ her friends,” Apple Bloom told her. “We just have to say we are uh acquaintances from school.”

“I’m not sure they will buy that.” The Unicorn didn’t hide her skepticism.

“Don’t worry Sweetie Belle, Ah’m sure they will let in worried classmates,” The Earthy Filly assured her.

Sweetie was about to respond but suddenly the wagon began swerving. Scootaloo was trying to break and prevent them from hitting a pony that had appeared on the road near the bridge leading into town. The Pegasus had been going so fast that she hadn’t noticed the new obstacle until a bit late. Her two passengers held on for dear life and screamed.

The scooter hit a rock in the attempt to prevent collision. Scootaloo flew high into the air before crashing head first in a bush. The remaining Crusaders were thrown off and landed harshly on the road.

“Oh my, are you girls alright?” the pony they had almost crashed into asked and approached them.

“Peeeyu, the road does not taste nice,” Apple Bloom spat dirt out of her mouth and struggled to her feet. She was disoriented after the hard fall and had few bruises.

“I’ll be fine once the world stops dancing,” Sweetie Belle remarked, she was still lying on the ground feeling dizzy.

“Somepony get me OUTTA HERE!” Scootaloo shouted and struggled to get out of the bush but was all tangled into it.

Sweetie Belle began to rise and was offered white hoof. She looked up and saw it was the adult pony. The little Unicorn accepted it and was helped to stand. Apple Bloom went to try and pull their Pegasus friend out of the bush.

“Uh thanks miss, sorry we almost crashed into you,” the white filly apologized.

“Oh think nothing of it dear. I’m just glad to see that none of you hurt yourself,” the mare said and drew back the hood on her black and white cloak, revealing her dark-gray and white mane and broken unicorn horn.

“Just Scoot’s pride I wager,” Apple Bloom giggled and dragged Scootaloo out of the bush. The orange filly grumbled. She was covered in leaves and twigs and did have a slight cut on her left front leg. The yellow pony helped her friend brush off.

“Are you new here?” Sweetie asked the mare curiously. “I have never seen you around here before.”

“Well I use to live here in Ponyville, but that was many years ago. I’m just visiting now, returning after a long absence,” the mare answered with a warm smile.

“I’m Sweetie Belle and those are my friends, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo,” the young Unicorn introduced herself and the rest of her friends as the two other fillies approached. “And together we are…”

“The Cutie Mark Crusaders!” all three girls finished in unison.

“Cutie Mark Crusaders,” the mare giggled in amusement. “How charming, I am Snow Heart.”

“Nice to meet ya Miss Snow Heart, are ya going to stay long here in Ponyville?” Apple Bloom inquired, she tried desperately not to stare at the broken horn of the adult unicorn.

“Oh I’m really just passing through. Maybe for a couple of days or so, see how much has changed and catch up with old friends,” Snow Heart told the girls. There was an odd emphasis on the last two words.

“What happened to your horn?” Scootaloo asked cocking an eyebrow.

“Scootaloo,” Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle hissed at their friend. Fortunately the mare took no offense and just laughed lightly.

“Oh it’s alright girls; I guess my stub is rather obvious. I had a little accident and couldn’t afford having it fixed,” the adult pony and pulled her hood back over her head. “But I better get going, you three be careful now not to bump into any other ponies.”

The girls waved bye and watched Snow Heart head across the bridge and into Ponyville. Once she was out of earshot two of the Crusaders glared at the Pegasus member of the group.

“Scoot, you don’t just ask people like that about obvious old injuries,” Sweetie Belle scolded her.

“Yeah, ya never know if it somethin’ they don’t like talkin’ about,” Apple Bloom concurred.

“Sorry, it just dropped out by accident. I was really just thinking out loud,” Scootaloo grunted and went to pick up her scooter. The other girls fetched the turned over wagon and hooked it back to their ride.

“You know, I got a nagging feeling I’ve heard that name before,” the Unicorn Filly commented and climbed back into the wagon.

“You too?” the Pegasus glanced back at her fellow crusaders.

“Now that Ah think about it, the name does ring a bell. Then again she said she used to live in Ponyville, maybe we’ve heard our relatives mention her?” Apple Bloom suggested while fixing her helmet. She jumped up into the wagon.

“That’s probably it yeah.” Sweetie nodded and Scootaloo did as well.

“Well off we go to the hospital,” Apple Bloom declared.

“Hold on,” the Pegasus said and once again took off.

The speed of the orange filly quickly brought them to Ponyville Hospital. The scooter and wagon was parked near the front steps and hurried inside. But only few seconds passed before all three of them walked back out with their heads hung.

“Aw she’s already checked out and gone home,” Sweetie Belle sighed.

“Guess they figured she needed the familiarity of her own house.” Apple Bloom shrugged.

“So do we go home to her? You think her parents will let us talk to her?” Scootaloo asked while stepping on to her scooter.

“We can try, but we don’t know where she lives. I only know where Diamond Tiara lives because I live in the street next to hers,” Sweetie Belle pointed out.

“Actually, Ah know where she lives,” the Earth filly corrected the Unicorn.

“You do?” both her friends exclaimed.

“Yeah, I mean Mr. Rich isn’t the only important business pony who deals with the farm. He’s just the one who buys the most zap apple jam,” Apple Bloom explained.

“Well let’s go then.” Scootaloo flapped her wings and once again the three Crusaders were off.

Charming girls, quite different than Mr. Rich’s little devil spawn, Snow Heart thought and held back a slight chuckle. She was near town hall and noticed all the guards coming in and out of it. Hm, looks like the search for the little princess is in full swing.

“Excuse me miss,” a rough sounding voice addressed her. The mare looked back and saw a Unicorn guard approach with a dead serious expression.

“Yes?” she asked and pulled down her hood.

“We noticed you were arriving into Ponyville. You wouldn’t happen to have identification on you? I apologize for the intrusion but we must screen all new ponies entering the town,” the dark gray pony explained to her.

“Oh it’s no trouble, yes I have identification,” Snow Heart answered and reached into her cloak.

She pulled out a small I.D card and showed it to the guard. The stallion used his horn to levitate it from her so he could get a closer look. At the same time he pulled a large sheet of paper and compared the ponies listed on it to the card. The Unicorn guard frowned slightly in thought and for a moment the mare wondered if all her plans had just fallen through in one swoop.

“Everything seems to be in order. I apologize again for the intrusion Miss Snow Heart,” the stallion said and eased a bit his expression as he gave her back the card.

“I don’t suppose you could tell me why new ponies are being screened?” the white Unicorn wondered while replacing her card in the cloak.

“A young filly was foalnapped from the town on Friday, the search is still ongoing for the perpetrators,” the guard explained.

“Oh my how horrible. I guess since you are screening new ponies you do not know who they are?” the mare asked.

“Well we do know actually…” the dark gray Unicorn was silenced by the sound of someone clearing his throat. Another guard, this time a Pegasus with the same coat color, was approaching.

“Excuse me private, but we do not discuss the cases so openly with civilians,” the newly arrived growled.

“Oh… um right,” other stallion grinned nervously.

“I apologize, miss, but this case is very sensitive and we can’t talk about it too openly. All you need to know for now is that we are searching for the foalnappers,” the Pegasus addressed Snow Heart.

“Oh it’s quite alright, I need to get going anyway,” the mare said. She quickly turned around and walked away, she could hear the superior guard continuing to scold the other one.

Well that was interesting to hear, it does seem they have some idea who did the foalnapping, she thought and narrowed her eyes. So the idiots were seen. Oh I am going to have to give them an earful for this.


Snow Heart reeled back when Pinke Pie suddenly appeared right in front of her. The party pony was smiling ear to ear and her eyes held a clear recognition.

“Is that you Snow Heart? Really? You’re back to Ponyville?” the Earth Pony squealed in excitement. She then began dancing around the surprised Unicorn. “Snow Heart is back. Snow Heart is back. Back. Back. Back. Back. Back.”

“Hello Pinkie Pie… I see you haven’t changed much,” Snow Heart chuckled nervously. So much for discreet entrance into Ponyville.

“Of course I haven’t changed and it’s always super exciting to meet old friends,” Pinkie said and grabbed the mare in an air chocking hug. “We gotta throw a welcome back party!”

“Oh wait, you don’t like parties.” The pink pony released Snow Heart who had to take a moment to regain composure after the embrace.

Thank Celestia she remembered that. The Unicorn fixed her cloak and eyed the hyper pony who was frowning in thought for a moment before springing back to her feet grinning eagerly again.

“Then a welcome back song will have to do,” she declared.

Oh no, the mare palmed her face with one hoof.

“Hey Pinkie, who is this?” Twilight’s voice interrupted the Earth Pony before she burst into one of her on-the-whim songs.

“Oh hi Twilight,” Pinkie waved the purple unicorn who approached carrying a saddlebag on her back.

“This is Snow Heart, she used to live here in Ponyville few years ago, she used to work…” suddenly the pink mare fell silent and cringed. She eyed the white pony with an apologetic look. “Oh right… you moved out for a reason...”

“It’s alright,” Snow Heart said with a strain in her voice. “I try not to think about it.”

“Are you alright?” Twilight asked raising one eyebrow. The other Unicorn was digging one hoof hard into the ground.

“Ah…” the white mare stopped and lifted her hoof. “I will be fine, I’ll just go to the café and have something to drink and calm down.”

With that Snow Heart trotted off muttering under her breath. Twilight eyed Pinkie who seemed embarrassed and was rubbing the back of her head. Before she could say anything the party pony gestured to her to follow in the other direction.

“So what was that all about?” the purple pony wondered as they walked away.

“Snow Heart worked as a housekeeper at Mr. Rich’s house,” Pinkie whispered, glancing carefully in the direction the white unicorn had gone into.

“It was about a year, no two years before you came to Ponyville. Something happened at Mr. Rich’s; there was this big mess around his daughter. Snow Heart was accused of attacking Diamond Tiara. She was found innocent but the whole situation really made Snow Heart snap and she went really mad and stuff and was found trashing everything at the park. She was so mad she even broke her horn on a rock,” she explained.

“Wow,” Twilight remarked.

“Yeah I know. It took Big Mac to hold her down until she finally calmed down. They tried to take her to the hospital but she broke free and ran out of Ponyville, not to be seen again until today,” Pinkie shook her head sadly.

“Wonder what has prompted her to finally return. You think she came to make amends?” the Unicorn wondered.

“Oooh maybe I should throw a ‘Snow Heart makes amends’ party,” the Earth Pony bounced in excitement for second before she remembered a crucial detail again. “Oh wait no, she never liked parties.”

“Maybe we should just give her some space. By what you told me already and from what I saw she may still have some issues,” Twilight suggested. Pinkie considered for a moment before nodding in agreement. She considered another topic to talk about and noticed her friend’s saddlebag.

“Where are you going?” she asked, but the question was almost immediately answered as town hall came into view.

“I discovered some new information about one of the foalnappers, Silver Axe,” Twilight said and used her magic to open the bag and pulled out a book. Still using the levitating aura the Unicorn opened the volume and turned to a page and showed it to her friend.

“Huh. ‘A Pegasus is badly injured in a thunderstorm near Cloudsdale’,” Pinkie read. “Hey Twilight, it says this happened many, many, many, many, many years ago.”

“Read further,” her friend instructed.

“Okay. ‘A local of Cloudsdale, the Pegasus Silver Axe was badly injured after flying through a thunderstorm while searching for his daughter who had gone missing. A lightning struck him, causing him to crash to the ground. Doctors say that most of his wounds will heal but he may never speak again as his throat was badly injured in the crash’,” the party pony kept reading. “I don’t get it. What has this to do with him today?”

“Pinkie, it says he had a daughter that went missing,” Twilight reminded her and closed the book. “He clearly loved her enough to risk flying through a storm to search for her. Can you imagine somepony like that foalnapping?”

“Huh, I guess it does sound a little strange. I mean, he would know how painful it is to lose a child,” Pinkie said thoughtfully. The purple pony nodded in agreement.

“There isn’t a lot more info about him, at least not much I can get in the library, the police or the guards will have to handle that. But from this small piece of information, he doesn’t seem like the pony to foalnap, unless the loss of his child and his injuries snapped him,” the Unicorn said and replaced the book in the saddlebag.

“You think this will help find Diamond Tiara though?” the Earth Pony wondered.

Twilight had to consider this question. It was true that the information wasn’t exactly anything more than an expansion of what Rainbow Dash had told her. It didn’t contain information on where the Pegasus in question was now. At best it just gave possible insight on his psyche.

“I don’t know Pinkie. But every bit of information we can get could be helpful. You never know what could come in handy later,” the librarian finally answered.

End chapter 7.

Chapter 8

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Chapter 8.

“Whose idea was it again to ask Silver Spoon?” Scootaloo complained as she pulled the crusader wagon away from a big white mansion with her scooter.

“How was Ah supposed to know they would immediately take her away from Ponyville to recover somewhere else,” Apple Bloom shot right back, she wasn’t feeling too happy about their lack of luck either.

They had arrived at the Mansion few minutes earlier, only to discover that Silver Spoon’s family had never returned there after fetching the filly from the hospital. A pony on the house keeping staff informed the three girls that Spoon’s parents had immediately decided to take their daughter on a trip, hoping to take her mind away from the whole attack.

Scootaloo stopped once they were clear off the gate. She glanced back at her two friends sitting in the wagon. They both looked as annoyed as her. Apple Bloom grunted and looked around while she considered the next move. There were still plenty of guard ponies around, a lot where Pegasi flying in or out of town.

“Well without Silver Spoon to ask, how are we going to do this search? They could be anywhere now and we can only cover so much ground on foot,” Sweetie Belle wondered.

There was no response, it did seem like their planned search was a bust before it even really began. The Unicorn noticed that the Earth Filly was still watching the guards with a faraway look on her face.

“You okay Apple Bloom?” she asked concerned. Her yellow friend blinked back to reality and looked at her.

“They are flying,” Apple Bloom stated and pointed up at the guards.

“Uh yeah, so?” Scootaloo raised an eyebrow and so did Sweetie Belle.

“The foalnappers could fly,” the Earth Filly was oblivious to the confusion she was currently causing.

“Yeah, which is why they could be anywhere by now,” the Pegasus Filly pointed out.

“Not just anywhere. What direction did they go in? Do ya remember that?” Apple Bloom looked at Scootaloo.

“I didn’t notice,” the Unicorn shook her head.

“Why does that matter anyway?” Scootaloo grunted in annoyance. “They would probably have changed direction anyway.”

“Not if they don’t think they aren’t being watched. The search didn’t start until yesterday mornin’, they foalnapped Diamond Tiara on Friday afternoon,” Apple Bloom stated and again looked intently at the orange filly. “Do ya remember what direction they went in?”

“Well, if I were to guess because I’m not sure mind you,” Scootaloo frowned as she thought back to Friday. “They did go in the general direction of Whitetail Woods.”

Apple Bloom gasped when hearing that. Her friends weren’t sure what to think about the excitement that suddenly shone in her eyes. But she didn’t say anything just yet, the yellow Earth Filly instead signaled Scootaloo to start moving. The Pegasus did so reluctantly and charged up her wings to move the scooter.

“Are we going somewhere specific?” the orange pony asked.

“The old Claymore Cottage in Whitetail Woods,” Apple Bloom informed her with a broad grin. She and Sweetie Belle barely managed to remain on the wagon when Scootaloo halted the wagon immediately.

“Claymore Cottage?” she groaned. “I have no idea where in Whitetail Woods it is.”

“No one knows, it’s been lost and abandoned for years. In fact do we even know for sure it exist?” Sweetie Belle asked. “I’ve heard people talk about it but nobody I know has any idea where exactly it is.”

“Ah’ve heard it is very deep in Whitetail Woods, far away from the regular road they use in Runnin’ of the Leaves,” Apple Bloom told them. “That is why the cottage would be the perfect place to hide.”

“Apple Bloom, they are probably scouring Whitetail Woods anyway. They would have probably found it by now,” the Unicorn pointed out.

“Not if what Ah hear is true. Applejack told me that there are pockets in Whitetail Woods that are so thick with trees and bushes that ya could hide a whole house there without anyone noticin’ it. Ya could walk right past one without even knowin’ it,” the Earth Filly claimed.

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle shared the same unimpressed expression while they eyed their friend.

“Got to admit, at least it isn’t Everfree Forest and it is close enough to Ponyville,” the Pegasus relented and took off again.

“I’m still not sure this cottage is real,” Sweetie Belle said. Apple Bloom didn’t respond and just kept smiling.

Diamond Tiara woke up with a start. Her night had been haunted by the events of last Friday and when she had met Snow Heart again. She looked around and felt a pit in her stomach form when seeing this whole ordeal wasn’t just all a bad dream. The bars of the cage still surrounded her and by his post near the dresser was Silver Axe.

The filly whimpered and pulled her tail closer to herself to hug it with her front legs. The only real comfort she felt was seeing the glint of metal she had carefully hidden in it. The last piece she had left of her precious tiara.

Dad will buy me a new one, I know, she thought, burying her face in the mass of hair that formed her tail. But it won’t be the same.

Diamond lay like this for a while and might just have drifted back to sleep if the sounds of loud hoof steps hadn’t invaded her ears. First she thought that the large Pegasus was just walking over to another place in the cottage, but when the noise didn’t let up she finally looked. Axe was pacing and would occasionally glare impatiently at the front entrance.

How can someone who is mute be so loud? The filly tried covering her ears in her tail but failed. Her fear and distress became momentarily replaced with annoyance.

“Excuse me,” she glared through the bars. The pacing stopped and the Pegasus looked at her. “Would you mind? You pace so loudly.”

Oh wait, why should he care if he’s annoying his prisoner with loud pacing? The bars of the cage reminded the girl of her actual status and position in the cottage.

She half expected the pacing to resume but there was nothing but silence. Silver Axe had sat down and now just stared at the door. The filly raised an eye-brow wondering why the Pegasus had listened to her at all.

“Why are you so different?” she dared herself to ask.

Axe removed his attention from the door and turned to glance at the prisoner. Tiara sat up and dropped her brow in a thoughtful frown. The filly wondered when she would eventually wear his patience out. So far the only one he had shown any distain to was Paul.

“You don’t act like this Paul and you’re definitely not…” Diamond Tiara paused and shuddered. “Snow Heart.”

Nothing but silence met her. Silver Axe didn’t raise one hoof for a signal. He turned his head back towards the door and remained like that. The girl sighed and lay back down. She hadn’t really been expecting an answer.

Guess he’s just in it for the money, she thought and examined one of her front hooves. It was in a serious need for a hooficure.

The door to the cottage swung open marking the return of Paul. The one-eyed Gryphon waltzed inside with a broad grin on his beak, around his neck dangled a camera. He ignored the glare Silver Axe gave him and walked over to the old table.

“Sorry it took so long,” the Gryphon said not sounding very sincere. He removed the camera and put it on the table. “There were lots of ponies flying around. Guess they are searching like mad for us.”

Silver Axe rolled his eyes at the obvious statement. Paul paid no heed to it and stretched his body before lying down. He seemed to be ready to go to sleep right there, but impatient stomping forced him to look at the Pegasus. The large pony was still glaring at him. The Gryphon groaned in frustration and could somehow guess what his partner in crime wanted.

“No I wasn’t followed. I evaded everyone who was searching,” he said with a smug smile. “I do know how to use my brain after all.”

Well, someone is full of himself, Diamond Tiara thought and rolled her eyes. The Pegasus didn’t appear too impressed himself and snorted in disgust.

Paul yawned while examining his talons for a moment before looking at Silver Axe again. He grunted when seeing that this had not been a good enough explanation for the burly pony.

“I checked several times on my way here, I heard nothing and saw nothing. I wasn’t followed,” he claimed.

Call it timing or coincidence, but the moment Paul let go of those last words the door burst open. The Gryphon was so startled that he leaped up and remained hovering in midair. Silver Axe quickly rose up but didn’t take flight. Instead he prepared himself for trouble as he glared at the intruder in the doorway.

“Paul! What in Tartarus do you think you’re doing?” Gilda snarled. Her face was disfigured in a heavy scowl and her tail swished back and forth angrily.

“Gilda?! What? How? When? What are you doing here?” Paul somehow managed to quickly find his voice despite his shock when recognizing his relative.

“I followed you from your shitty apartment, that you were going to saddle me with once you got rich from…” the female Gryphon stopped and quickly eyed the large Pegasus who had began approaching. But he stopped when hearing her explanation. Slowly he glared up towards Gilda’s cousin.

“What? You were in my apartment?” Paul shouted and landed on the floor. He didn’t approach and even took a step back.

Gilda didn’t respond just yet and was taking in the scene in front of her. She saw where Diamond Tiara watched this newest development with wide eyes from her cage. The female Gryphon took further notes of the large Pegasus. He did not look like someone to mess around with.

She cringed and realized that bursting in just like that may not have been a bright idea. Gilda figured she could handle her cousin if he was alone but the Gryphon hadn’t exactly counted on him having backup.

“Yes I was in your apartment. You said yourself I could use if I needed.” She quickly hid her worry and reassumed her scowl. “I can’t believe you would sink this low you stupid dork!”

“I’m not stupid and I’m NOT a DORK!” Paul roared and almost made as if he was going to charge. He quickly changed his mind and just glowered at his cousin. “You are one to talk Miss ‘Let’s see what I can shoplift today’.”

“Stealing a lousy two bit item from a store is far cry from foalnapping!” Gilda growled.

“Don’t you try to preach morals to me you stupid bully! You aren’t exactly the saint in the family!” her cousin snapped. “How many apartments have you been kicked out this time just for being a complete jerk?”

“Well I…” Gilda had to stop as these words sunk in.

“Axe, can you take care of her already? You know what the boss said, no witnesses,” Paul growled at the Pegasus since his cousin had become tongue tied.

Silver Axe looked at the male Gryphon and then at the female one. Gilda was still composing herself and her focus was not on him. The Pegasus glanced at the cage where the young filly stared at them unsure and confused.

“Well?” Paul shouted. His face fell when the large pony simply sat down.

“What are you doing Axe? Take care of her!” the glass-eyed Gryphon snapped and gestured to his cousin.

The only response he got was tapping. Silver Axe began tapping hoof signals on the floor. Paul stared at him in utter confusion; he didn’t understand this language at all. At best he had managed to learn reading the pony’s expressions.

Diamond Tiara blinked and realized the Pegasus had meant for her to translate when he glanced at her earlier.

“He’s saying, ‘she followed you here. She’s your problem’,” she peeped from her cage.

“My problem? But… I…aaaarg,” Paul groaned loudly and spread his wings. The Gryphon took off charging for Gilda.

Fortunately for his cousin she had already managed to regain her senses. She quickly ducked when the male Gryphon came and he went sailing right out of the cottage. There was a loud crash outside; looking over her shoulder Gilda saw that Paul had smacked right into a tree.

“You’re such a dork Paul, can’t you remember that I was always too quick for you,” she remarked with a chuckle. Her cousin didn’t respond since he was still sinking to the ground and not quite recovered from the crash.

Gilda turned back only to see a silver colored hoof arriving right for her face. The Gryphon was not quick enough to avoid the kick and was thrown back outside, landing hard on another tree not far away from her cousin’s. She groaned in pain and slowly glanced up seeing Silver Axe walking out. The Pegasus was rolling his eyes at Paul who was struggling to stand up.

“Alright, that was a lucky shot,” Gilda snorted and scrambled back to her feet. She almost fell back down when a dizzy spell came over her, the left side of the face really hurt. The pony was clearly a heavy hitter.

The female Gryphon was going to rush back and attack Silver Axe, but Paul had by now recovered from his crash and leaped for her with a snarl. The male began slashing like mad with his talons, forcing Gilda to back away and defend herself with her own.

Silver Axe watched the two Gryphons lock into heated battle; it was difficult to see who was angrier. At first they just slashed with their talons but then Gilda tried to use her wings to hit her cousin over the head. He managed to duck but that made him vulnerable to a hard punch that sent him back a bit.

Gilda leaped with a shrill shriek for Paul and he couldn’t react quickly enough as she grabbed him in a tight wrestling grip. He struggled to free himself, causing them to roll for a bit on the ground, tearing up parts of the undergrowth on the forest floor with them.

Finally Paul did manage to break free and using his back legs kicked his cousin as hard as he could. That did send Gilda away but not very far. She tried to jump for him again but this time the male Gryphon was quick enough to roll out of the way. He leaped up into the air and dove for the female intending to slash into her with his talons. She saw it coming and jumped to avoid it, what also helped was her cousin’s poor depth perception due to lacking one eye.

Once again the battle turned into simple slashing and punching with the talons. Gilda clearly had the upper hand, Paul was maybe bigger but his handicap and his lack of fitness was working against him. His cousin had years of flight exercises and other training behind her and it showed well.

Paul finally dodged a slash and didn’t see another punch coming since it came from his blind side. His cousin immediately followed that punch with another and another. The male Gryphon could do little but have his head smacked right and left before finally a really hard hit caused his head to snap up. With a groan he crumbled to the ground and was out for the count.

“Aha, teaches you cousin. You should have known better than to tussle with me!” Gilda remarked triumphant, but reality quickly came to her when seeing the burly Pegasus Pony watching from the front steps. Crap! Forgot him!

She took a moment to look at herself; she had few cuts and bruises from the fight. The left side of her face still stung and her back was smarting. The Pegasus’s contribution to the fight had been one punch and somehow the Gryphon doubted that had been tiresome for him.

Keep it cool Gilda, I mean it’s just like in video games, one boss fight after another… he’s probably dumber than he look… Gilda tried to reassure herself.

“You aren’t going to cause me any trouble are you?” she said trying to sound intimidating. It didn’t really work to well, she was tired from the last fight and it was beginning affect her.

“Alright tough guy, let’s see what you got,” the Gryphon jumped up and leaped for Silver Axe.

As she prepared to slash with her talons a jolt of pain came over the left side of her face. Gilda winched and due to this it cause her to miss Silver Axe and she fell to the ground at his feet. She tried to quickly rise up again but something hit her head hard, knocking her back to the ground. The Gryphon moaned in pain and slowly looked up; the last thing she saw in a while was the Pegasus raising his right front hoof for another hit. Then everything went black.

Silver Axe sighed and lowered his hoof. His strike a second earlier had been enough and the female was now unconscious. The pony looked over at Paul and shook his head in dismay. He trotted over and grabbed the scruff of the male Gryphon’s neck in his mouth. Axe then proceeded to drag the unconscious carcass of his partner in crime back into the cottage.

After throwing Paul into one corner the Pegasus returned outside. He spread his wings and flew up into the skies. Axe looked around for a suitable cloud and found one not that far away drifting above the forest. Using his front hooves the pony grabbed it and pulled it with him back to the ground.

She’s lucky Gryphons can walk on clouds like us Pegasi, Silver Axe thought when he returned to the cottage with the cloud.

After making sure it wouldn’t float away from him, the Pegasus pulled Gilda up and placed her on top of it. He then flew up and pushed the cloud with him skywards. Once they were high enough the pony stopped pushing and moved to hover in front of it. Silver Axe started to beat his wings faster, creating strong wind currents that moved the cloud.

Someone should find her eventually. Silver Axe eased up on the wing power and watched for a moment the cloud carrying Gilda drift away before returning to the cottage.

End chapter 8.

Chapter 9

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Chapter 9.

Snow Heart carefully observed her surroundings while drinking tea at Ponyville Café. She sat by an outside table with view over town center. She had few times been hesitantly greeted by ponies that recognized her again. The Unicorn would usually greet back but broke off any attempts at conversation with claims of wanting to be alone.

The white mare also kept an eye out for a certain pink pony. Just in case that one decided to return and act on that welcome back song. But Pinkie Pie remained away for now, much to Snow Heart’s relief.

I need to find out somehow if he’s made the first payment without suspicion being drawn to me, she thought and sipped her tea.

“So it’s true, you really are back,” someone said, there was a slight gust of wind as a Pegasus landed by the table.

“Hello Parasol and yes it is true,” Snow Heart greeted half heartily. She was beginning to wonder if it had been a good idea at all to oversee the money transfer herself. I’m not ready for this phase yet.

“Is this any way to greet an old friend? I’ve been worried sick about you since you disappeared.” Parasol sat down uninvited much to the Unicorn’s annoyance.

“I had my reasons,” she responded to the Pegasus looking down at her tea.

“I guess I can see that, but you could at least have sent a letter or something. Let us know you were alright,” the yellowish pony pointed out.

Snow Heart narrowed her eyes and sipped her drink. When she glanced up, her old friend was still watching with concerned eyes. The white mare sighed and put the cup down. She looked around and noticed that more ponies were sitting down by the outside tables as the day grew older.

“I did not want to be found,” she stated but didn’t turn her head back to her old friend.

“Then why come back now to Ponyville?” Parasol asked confused.

Why indeed, Snow Heart was really regretting this part of her plan. “I guess… I was hoping everyone had forgotten me.”

“Forgotten you?” Parasol was hurt by those words. “I always keep an eye out for you every time I fly to work in Cloudsdale’s Weather Factory. Scootaloo doesn’t even remember you anymore and you used to love her to pieces. You used to amuse her with your ma…”

Parasol cringed and shut her mouth immediately. She eyed the stub on Snow Heart’s forehead. The Unicorn glared at her old friend for a second but said nothing; she instead just drank her tea. The Pegasus swallowed nervously and took a moment to consider what to say next. She did remember the white mare having quite a temper.

“I’m sorry Snow, it’s just that Scoot loved you too and after the… incident she kept asking about you and it was hard that I couldn’t really answer her where you had disappeared to. She stopped asking in the end and seems to have forgotten all about you,” the yellow pony said quietly.

Snow Heart put the cup down and remained silent. It was a bit awkward silence now at the table, neither pony was sure really how to break it. Parasol glanced at the other tables but fortunately none of the other guests seemed to be paying too much attention to them.

“I… hate to admit it, but I had forgotten her too,” the Unicorn finally spoke up, recalling when she had almost been run over by the orange filly and her friends.

“She hasn’t changed much, still the same little speed demon. Just now armed with a scooter,” Parasol chuckled weakly and was glad to see that cracked a smile on her old friend.

“I noticed,” Snow Heart finally turned her head fully back to the Pegasus. “I sort of literally ran into them as I was coming into town.”

“Oh my, did she happen to be pulling a wagon with two other fillies riding it?” the Pegasus asked and had to hold back laughter when the Unicorn nodded.

“And they had this really charming name for themselves, Cutie Mark Crusaders,” the white pony mentioned and giggled slightly.

“That’s them alright,” Parasol now laughed. “They are literally searching for their cutie marks, doing everything they can think of. You should hear what they did in the bowling alley.”

“Dare I ask?” Snow Heart asked but the curiosity in her eyes indicated that she dared.

Parasol opened her mouth to tell the tale but nothing came out. Instead the Pegasus’s eyes opened wide in alarm. The Unicorn raised an eyebrow wondering what was going on and was even more confused when her friend began quickly shaking her head as if to signal someone to stop.

Then a voice addressed the white mare that caused her eyes to twitch. Slowly, as a sneer was forming on her snout, Snow Heart turned her head and saw Filthy Rich slowly approaching. The stallion didn’t look too good, his mane was unkempt and his eyes shone with tiredness and worry.

“You!” Snow Heart snarled and rose up quickly.

“Snow Heart… I-I heard you were back…” Mr. Rich said.

“Mr. Rich this really isn’t a good…” Parasol began saying but was cut short by the Unicorn.

“Yes I’m back! So what?” the white mare snapped. “Is something wrong with that? Do you have a problem with that? Are you worried that I will do something to your precious little Princess again?”

“No, no, not at all Snow Heart I…” the stallion tried to explain.

“Mr. Rich!” Parasol flew over the table and landed right between him and her friend. Ponies were beginning to crowd around watching the event unfold.

“I know you are having a difficult time right now Mr. Rich but please, she does not want to talk with you,” the Pegasus said and stood strategically to prevent either of them to approach one another.

“I-I just wanted to…” the Earth Pony said quietly and cringed when Snow Heart began shouting:

“You have NOTHING to say that I WANT to hear!”

With that Snow Heart turned around to leave. She couldn’t get far right away since there were many ponies in her way. But the moment the Unicorn glared at them, they immediately parted to make a path for her.

Parasol took one last sad look at Mr. Rich before flying straight after Snow Heart who was already galloping away. The stallion sighed mournfully and dropped his head; he turned around and headed in the other direction.

“Snow Heart!” Parasol called as she caught up with the white unicorn. “Please don’t run away again.”

Snow Heart didn’t respond at first but she couldn’t gallop fast enough to lose a fast flying Pegasus. The Unicorn slowed down her pace until she was trotting, Parasol matched her speed and for a moment the two just continued on in silence.

“Sorry about that,” the white pony apologized, the scowl didn’t disappear. That was close, I almost blew it.

“No, no it’s alright. He did hurt you after all and your anger towards him is understandable,” Parasol told her with a friendly smile. “Guess you forgot that he still lives here too.”

Not quite, Snow Heart thought and eased up her expression. “I knew I might run into him… just wasn’t sure how prepared for it I was.”

“He’s having some troubles though. His daughter was foalnapped,” Parasol explained and shook her head sadly.

“Oh really?” the white mare feigned a surprise.

“Yes, they are still searching for them but nothing’s been found yet,” the Pegasus continued. “I think he’s paid the ransom or at least so I’ve heard, but I don’t know all the details about it.”

Hm, he’s paid the first payment. Perfect and this little scene at the Café might actually work in my favor too, Snow Heart thought. Maybe I should play along for a little bit. I must admit it’s been nice catching up with Parasol. I can’t believe I forgot all about Scootaloo.

“Look Parasol, I… I do appreciate your help there and I must admit I have missed my friends here in Ponyville.” The Unicorn looked at the Pegasus and smiled faintly.

“And we have missed you.” Parasol landed so she could walk beside her friend. “Are you staying somewhere in Ponyville?”

“I hadn’t really managed make any arrangement, this trip was rather spontaneous,” Snow Heart admitted.

“Not a problem, you can stay in our guestroom as long as you wish. I’m sure Scootaloo will be happy to meet her Snowy again,” the Pegasus offered immediately.

“You’re too kind,” the white pony claimed and on the outside she smiled in relief. Inside the mare was laughing. Looks like the next part of the plan will work wonderfully. Let’s just hope the idiots didn’t blow it by being spotted.

“We are off the main road, now what?” Scootaloo wondered.

The Crusaders had arrived in Whitetail Woods. They had followed the road through it at first before heading off into the forest itself. The woods were green and thick due to the late spring season and the sun only managed to send some faint glimmers of light through the canopy.

“Look for Claymore Cottage of course,” Apple Bloom responded to her friend and climbed out of the wagon. The undergrowth prevented them to use it anymore.

“The wagon will serve as a marker, so we know this is the way back to the main road,” Sweetie Belle stated and pushed the wagon to a tree. Scootaloo put her scooter up against it as well.

“Sensible, now let’s git searchin’.” The Earth Filly nodded and removed her helmet, her friends followed suit.

The girls put their head gear in the wagon before starting off further into the woods. Whitetail Woods was not as thick or dark like Everfree Forest, but it still proved to be a challenge to get through when not walking the roads.

“How can we even be sure we will find anything,” Scootaloo grunted and jumped over a gnarled tree root.

“Well we need to search first before we know for sure don’t we?” Apple Bloom pointed out.

“I still think this cottage doesn’t exist,” Sweetie Belle claimed. It didn’t matter in what direction she looked in, all the little Unicorn saw were trees.

The yellow filly turned her head towards the white one to respond but instead she walked right into something. Or somepony was more correct, the girl had walked right into a stallion with a light brown coat and darker brown spiky mane and tail. An hourglass cutie mark adorned his flank and he was carrying saddlebags on his back.

“I’m so sorry,” the Earth Stallion said with a chuckle. “I didn’t see you there.”

“Oh it’s no trouble,” Apple Bloom said and stood back up, having fallen down to sit after the impact.

“Doctor Whooves? What are you doing here?” Sweetie Belle asked, the stallion sighed.

“It’s Time Turner…” he muttered. “Why does everypony insist on calling me Doctor Whooves?”

He looked at the three fillies who just stared back at him, waiting for him to answer the question the Unicorn had asked. Time Turner sighed again and wondered if anyone actually cared at all about his real name.

“I’m just collecting plants for my collection.” He decided to brush it aside; he had been doing it so far.

“You’re a plant collector?” Scootaloo raised an eyebrow.

“Oh it’s just a hobby really,” the stallion admitted and opened his left saddlebag to show some of the plants in it. “Whitetail Woods is abundant with plants that don’t grow elsewhere in Equestria.”

“So ya come here often?” Apple Bloom asked.

“First time this year actually,” Turner admitted. “Been here all weekend as a matter of fact.”

“All weekend? When did you go?” the Pegasus filly inquired.

“Friday morning, why?” the stallion admitted and couldn’t but wonder about the surprised expressions coming on the three fillies.

“So you haven’t heard about the foalnapping?” Sweetie Belle gasped.

“Foalnapping?” Time Turner blinked and almost regretted asking because all three girls began immediately telling him about it. “Oh my, that doesn’t sound good.”

“No and everypony is searchin’ everywhere. We came here because we think the foalnappers took Diamond Tiara to Claymore Cottage,” Apple Bloom explained why the Crusaders where in the forest.

“No, she thinks they are there, we are just with her,” Scootaloo corrected immediately.

“And I still say that cottage is just an old pony tale,” Sweetie Belle stated.

“Oh Claymore Cottage, it’s exist alright. I know where it is,” the stallion claimed causing jaw drops in all three fillies. “But I was there on Friday and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

Apple Bloom hung her head and groaned in disappointment. Scootaloo rolled her eyes and Sweetie Belle shook her head. The three fillies were about to thank the stallion and turn away, but noticed that the male pony appeared to be considering something.

“Then again I was there Friday around lunch; you said this foalnapping happened in the afternoon. I usually take a circle in my journey and Claymore Cottage is just one of my many points to know I’m going in the right direction. So I haven’t been there since then,” he explained.

“So it’s still possible they are there,” Apple Bloom jumped feeling all hopeful again.

“Well I suppose…” Time Turner agreed unsure.

“Can you take us there?” Scootaloo asked and was starting to catch her friend’s excitement, now that there was a real possibility that they were getting somewhere with the search.

“We just want to make sure they are there and then we will go right to the guards searching and tell them,” Sweetie Belle told him, remembering the original plan of the Crusaders.

“Well I’m not sure it’s such a good idea, if those foalnappers are there,” the stallion protested.

“We’ll be quiet, they won’t even know where there and then before they know it, we’ll have the entire Canterlot Royal Guard on their door steps,” the orange Pegasus declared, then she gasped as an idea hit her. “Wait here I’ll get my scooter.”

“But…” Time Turner began but Scootaloo was off before he could say more. He looked uncertain down at the other fillies who both grinned eagerly.

“Well Ah’m glad to see ya two are gettin’ into this finally,” Apple Bloom chuckled at Sweetie Belle.

“But now wait…” the male pony was getting a tad worried about the rising enthusiasm he was witnessing.

“I was only unsure because we had no idea where to begin to search.” Scootaloo returned propelling herself on the scooter. It was easier for her to maneuver in the woods now that she didn’t need to pull the wagon after her.

“Girls…” the adult Earth Pony tried again to cut in.

“Yes and I said I would do this too, even if it is kinda dangerous.” The Unicorn nodded.

“GIRLS!” Time Turner finally shouted loudly, the fillies immediately looked at him startled.

“Girls, we don’t even know yet if these foalnappers are at Claymore Cottage. Even if they are, they probably have a guard about so this could be very dangerous. It would be very irresponsible of me to take you there,” he told them sharply. The male pony didn’t like the blank look he was receiving from the girls.

“Look I could get my hide tanned if I put you into danger,” the stallion claimed.

“But you’re already tan,” Sweetie Belle said and gestured to him with a hoof.

“That’s not tan,” Time Turner stated and looked at his coat indignant. “That’s light brown or grayish amber… anyway my point is I can’t take you somewhere potentially dangerous.”

“But we will only take a peek from the bushes, see if anyone is there and then high tail back to Ponyville and get the guards,” Apple Bloom told him.

“Yes and I’ll be even quicker there on my scooter.” Scootaloo grinned and reared her scooter to make the point.

“But…” the stallion began protesting again.

“Pleaaaaaase?” all three fillies put on their most endearing faces and cutest smiles.

“This is all going to end in tears, I just know it,” the brown Earth Pony muttered before he finally relented. “Alright, alright!”

“Yay!” the girls shouted in unison.

“But we are only going to Claymore Cottage to take a quick look, if there is anyone there we are not approaching,” Time Turner reminded them.

“Cutie Mark Crusaders Foal Rescuers are go!” the fillies shouted and rushed off past the stallion.

“Wait, wait!” the male pony shouted and ran after them. “It’s the other direction!”

Paul groaned as he twisted and turned on the floor, his head banged on the wall. He yelped and rolled himself to the other direction. Slowly the Gryphon rose to sit. Just about every spot on his body stung and hurt. He felt for his face and learned he had lost the glass eye in the fight.

“When I get my hands on that…” Paul slowly glanced at Silver Axe who as usual sat by the dresser. The large Pegasus didn’t look too impressed. “Where is she?”

Axe looked at Diamond Tiara before he began tapping on the floor. The stallion was taking full advantage that he actually had a translator for his hoof signals. He was though still on guard just in case the filly tried to be smart and mistranslate on purpose.

“I knocked her out and then sent her floating away on a cloud. Someone is bound to find her eventually,” Tiara translated. She had already figured that since Silver Axe had treated her kindly she might as well return the favor. The girl was kind of amused at Paul’s predicament, even if the fight hadn’t ended in her rescue from her prison.

“You let her go?!” Paul shouted but regretted it almost immediately; a sharp pain in his head told him that loud noises were not an option. He groaned and grabbed his head in his talons.

To the question Silver Axe only shrugged and watched the Gryphon mutter and groan in his corner. The stallion rose up shaking his head. With a quick signal he told Tiara that he was going out to the well. Despite its age it still produced drinkable water.

The Pegasus walked past Paul who just lay flat on the ground with his talons wrapped tightly around his head. The Gryphon didn’t say anything, just groaned. Axe opened the door to the cottage and headed out. He walked around to get to the old stone well beside the left side of the building.

The pony grabbed a bucket in his mouth and made sure the rope was still attached to it. He then threw it down the well and could hear faint splash as it hit the water below. Axe began pulling the rope up, using his front hooves to keep the rope from slipping back down. The bucket was almost up when the stallion thought he heard something.

Silver Axe stopped his work and looked around. Seeing nothing he grabbed the bucket handle and pulled the bucked out and put it down on the ground. The Pegasus glanced around again, almost certain that he had heard something. A suspicious frown came on him and he spread his wings to take into air. The pony didn’t go too high but enough so he could glide towards where the sound came from.

He couldn’t land too softly due to his weight, but the stallion acted quickly enough to push away the bush he had dropped down in front of. The Pegasus narrowed his eyes on the four startled and surprised ponies hiding behind it.

“Ah… uh…” Time Turner gulped and grinned nervously. Slowly the Earth Pony gestured to his saddle bags. “Um I’m selling these fine snack plants?”

End Chapter 9.

Chapter 10

View Online

Chapter 10.

“Hey big guy.” Rainbow Dash descended down until she was hovering just above Big Macintosh.

The large Earth Stallion was walking on the road just west of Whitetail Woods. He nodded a greeting to the Pegasus who lazily swung back and forth above him. Dash glanced casually around. She could see a Unicorn guard pony bit further off closer to Ponyville, otherwise they were completely alone on the road.

“You searching too?” she asked to break the silence that had commenced.

“Eeeyup,” Big Mac simply responded.

“Yeah, I was just coming from scouring around the edges of Everfree Forest. We haven’t searched Whitetail Woods yet?” Rainbow Dash looked up and did notice the general direction they were headed in was towards that particular forest.

“Not all of it. The denser northern parts are left,” the stallion answered. “Ah want to show them Claymore Cottage, it’s difficult to see from air an’ easier to git to it on foot.”

“Wow you know the way to Claymore Cottage? I could never find it, but I guess you have a point if it’s not easy to find from the air,” the Pegasus shrugged.

“Not many know exactly where it is an’ some think it doesn’t exist,” Big Mac told her. “It’s a rundown place anyway an’ nopony has lived there for years.”

Rainbow Dash nodded in response and continued to hover just above the stallion, matching his walking speed. She noticed few Pegasus guards flying in the air but they were all headed for Ponyville. The Unicorn she saw earlier was long disappeared from view.

“I sure wish to get my hooves on those bastards,” she muttered.

“I would advise you let us handle the perpetrators,” a commanding voice said from behind her causing the mare to turn around.

Two Pegasi Guards came flying from behind. They didn’t stop their approach until both were flying on either side of Big Macintosh. The red stallion glanced at either of them neutrally.

“Mister Macintosh, we have searched the areas you have suggested. Unfortunately it provided with no results. We will need to return to Ponyville to report those areas as searched,” one of the guards said, it was the one who addressed Rainbow earlier.

“Not a problem. Ah’ll be waitin’ for ya by the entrance of Whitetail Woods to show ya’ll the cottage,” the red stallion told them. The guards simply saluted and flew off towards the town.

“All business huh?” Dash snorted and flew up a bit so she could do a circle in the air. She did few more rather casually before descending down to be almost face to face with Big Mac. “You don’t mind the company, do you?”

“Nope,” the stallion said.

“Great, I’m empty of ideas where to search and need some time to think and consider. Besides the Royal guards are everywhere anyway, we’ll probably have entire Equestria searched by the end of the week,” Rainbow Dash ascended a bit and assumed her previous position of hovering just above the red pony.

“You know now that I think about it, Claymore Cottage would be a perfect place to hide. It’s well hidden, few know where it is and others don’t think it even exists. Why didn’t we think of going there first?” The Pegasus began to wonder. As she considered this, she unknowingly descended to land right on top of Big Macintosh.

“Ah recon everypony figured they would go further away from Ponyville. But we don’t know if they are at Claymore Cottage yet,” the stallion responded, he made no comment on the mare perching on his back.

“Yeah true…” Dash gently rubbed a hoof on her snout in thought. The blue pony frowned when noticing she moved forward without walking or flying. Looking down she raised her brow high when seeing the red backside of the large male Pony. The Pegasus immediately flew back up, blushing in embarrassment. “Woops sorry, wasn’t thinking there.”

“It’s a’right. If yer tired ya can hitch a ride,” Big Mac offered kindly.

“I’m not tired,” Rainbow grumped and folded her front legs. The Earth Pony only shrugged, not going to argue.

Then again, not every day you get to ride… A cloud drifting high in the sky away from the woods interrupted her train of thoughts.

Rainbow Dash knew clouds well and as one of the main weather ponies of Ponyville she knew when one was not in its proper place. The weather of Whitetail Woods fell under her weather team’s jurisdiction and she was pretty sure this cloud was not supposed to be there.

“Hang on, gotta check something,” she announced and took off towards the cloud, leaving a rainbow trail behind her.

It didn’t take her long to reach it, but she came to a dead halt and the pony’s jaw dropped in shock as her eyes took in the sight of badly beaten up Gilda. The Gryphon groaned in pain and was slowly regaining consciousness.

“Sweet Celestia, what happened to you?” Dash shouted but the only response the Gryphon gave was another groan.

“Miss Dash? Is everythin’ a’right up there?” Big Mac called from the ground.

“It’s Gilda!” Rainbow shouted back down. “She’s hurt bad, she looks like she’s been in a fight and lost.”

“Then take her to the hospital,” the stallion advised.

“Right of course, the hospital.” The Pegasus grabbed the cloud but before she could begin pushing it to Ponyville a talon grabbed her right leg.

“No!” Gilda hissed wearily and began to rise so she could sit. “No hospitals.”

“Gilda, don’t be stupid you are hurt,” Rainbow argued and gestured to the cuts and bruises riddling the Gryphon’s body.

“It’s nothing” her former friend snapped and gingerly touched the left side of her face. “Ow.”

“Gilda, your face is swollen on the left. You look like you just went through Tartarus. What happened to you?” the Pegasus asked.

“You just had to be right,” Gilda grunted and looked down. Rainbow Dash tilted her head in confusion.

“Miss Dash?” Big Mac called again from the ground.

“Uh, you go on ahead Big Mac, I’ll take care of Gilda,” the blue pony responded before returning turning back to her old flight camp friend. “What happened, Gilda?”

Gilda didn’t respond at first. She looked down from the cloud and watched Big Macintosh who hesitated for a moment before proceeding towards the forest. The Gryphon snorted and rubbed one front leg gingerly. Her entire body was aching, her head was ringing and the left side of her face was feeling numb.

“Gilda,” Rainbow Dash said impatiently and narrowed her eyes.

“You were right,” Gilda snapped and looked at the Pegasus. “About Paul I mean.”

“I didn’t believe you when we met yesterday. Anyone who knows Paul wouldn’t believe you. He was a dweeb, bigger mouth than anything else. Always liked to talk big and think he was the smartest thing this side of Cloudsdale,” she growled and cringed when a pain came over her head.

“I was heading to his apartment in Las Pegasus to crash down while I got back on my feet. He was family and I wasn’t going to snitch on my family no matter what a loser he was, especially when you came with a wild accusation like that on him.”

Rainbow Dash listened with a frown. The pony guessed she couldn’t blame Gilda for showing loyalty to a member of her family. She was still bit miffed that the Gryphon hadn’t told her where she was going. Who knew, Dash could have caught Paul or at least had him grabbed by the guards.

“Anyway, he wasn’t there when I came and I just made myself at home. He had told me I could do that. I went to sleep and he came during the night I think and didn’t notice me since I was in the bedroom. I overheard him talking about the foalnapping,” Gilda continued to explain.

“And he caught you in the apartment?” Dash asked.

“No, he never saw me and I followed him to where he was keeping the filly with his partner, a big Pegasus, dark brown, silver mane and tail and axe cutie mark,” Gilda grunted and looked down again. “I kind of burst in on them.”

“And let me guess, they kicked your tail,” Rainbow Dash looked her friend over; she was surprised the Gryphon began laughing.

“More like I kicked Paul’s tail. He’s still a wimp with just a big mouth,” she snorted and gestured to her cuts and bruises. “Those are minor annoyances. No it was the Pegasus who knocked me out but not until after I had smeared the forest ground with Paul.”

“And knocked you good, we think that Pegasus is Silver Axe. You remember the story from flight camp?” the blue pony asked and received a hesitant nod from Gilda.

“So, my idiot cousin Paul has teamed up with a big brute that is the origin of the fright story we were told back in camp about flying in uncontrolled thunderstorms,” the Gryphon grunted.

“So it seems, now about that hospital,” Rainbow Dash took back to the air, her old friend growled.

“I’m not going to any hospital. I’m going back and get some payback,” Gilda snapped and spread her own wings to fly. It took some effort but she managed to take off from the cloud.

“Gilda, you are in no condition to do anything,” Dash snorted. She reached quickly with her right hoof to shut Gilda’s beak when the Gryphon opened it to protest some more.

“At least not without help, let’s go,” she said and let go of the beak. “Where is it?”

“Wait what?” Gilda blinked for a moment in confusion.

“Come on, there is no time to lose. Where is it they are keeping Diamond Tiara?” Rainbow Dash asked again.

“In some old rundown cottage, I think in these woods,” the Gryphon pointed towards Whitetail Woods.

“Claymore Cottage,” Dash gasped. “Gilda quick, you use the cloud to fly back there unnoticed. I’m going to let Big Mac know, I’ll be right back.”

Before her old camp friend could say anything the rainbow mane pony was gone in a multicolored flash. Rainbow Dash dove for the ground at top speed and just before she reached the road she took a sharp turn to go forward above it. The Pegasus headed straight for the entrance of Whitetail Woods and could already see Big Macintosh standing there waiting for the royal guards.

“Big Mac, you were right, they are in Whitetail Woods at Claymore Cottage,” she shouted and screeched in the air to halt right in front of the big red stallion.

“We have no time to lose. Gilda was fighting them, she took care of the Gryphon but the big Pegasus is still unaccounted for and it was he who knocked her out. But who knows they might decide to bail since their location is known,” Rainbow Dash quickly explained to Big Mac.

“That does not sound good at all. Ah better head over there and see if Ah can’t do somethin’. You git some of the guards and tell ‘em to head over to Whitetail woods,” the large Earth Pony said and nodded his head in the northeastern direction. “Claymore Cottage should be this way in the air, but it is difficult to see from there so keep yer eyes open.”

“But there is…” Dash couldn’t speak further as Big Mac was already running straight into the woods.

No time for guards, better go up and get Gilda to go in the right direction, she thought and headed straight up. She spotted the cloud and that the female Gryphon was on top of it and steering it.

“Wrong direction Gilda, we have to go northeast,” Rainbow Dash flew straight behind the cloud and put her front hooves on it. “Hold on.”

“Hey what…” Gilda had barely realized that the Pegasus had arrived before the cloud was off with her on it at top speed. “AAAAAAH!!!”

“Now see here sir, I am sure you are wondering why a stallion…” Time Turner paused for a second to take in the sight in front of him and cringed. “A smaller stallion that is… is here with three young fillies hiding in the bushes and spying on you as you get a pail of water.”

“As I’m sure you also have a reason to be here all sinister looking and staying at an abandoned cottage… that nopony has lived in for years,” The Earth Pony grinned nervously as the much larger Pegasus came closer and was almost snout to snout with him.

“Oh we are in trouble now,” Apple Bloom whispered where she huddled together with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. The Unicorn and Pegasus filly recognized Silver Axe again.

“Maybe we should run,” Sweetie Belle suggested.

“We can’t leave Doctor Whooves all alone,” Scootaloo said though the filly didn’t sound as determined as she had hoped.

“That is an excellent idea, RUN!” Time Turner snapped, ignoring that he had again been called by a wrong name.

“But…” Apple Bloom protested.

“RUN!” the adult Earth Pony screamed and proceeded to grab a hold on Silver Axe with his front legs. “I’ll hold him back. You get out of here!”

After moment’s hesitation the three little fillies took off. Time Turner waited until they were gone before looking at Pegasus who hadn’t budged. Silver Axe was staring right down at him and didn’t appear too impressed by the Earth Pony’s attempt of keeping him back.

“Uh, surrender?” the smaller stallion asked and grinned weakly when all the response he got was a roll of the eyes from the larger one.

Time Turner let go of his hold and backed slightly away. Silver Axe stamped one hoof on the ground and snorted. The Earth Pony took that as a cue and darted off hoping that the Pegasus’s larger body was a hindrance to run in the woods.

Why am I doing this for her? Silver Axe sighed in resignation before he charged right after Time Turner and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

“Are we even going in the right direction?” Sweetie Belle called as She and her friends ran through the woods.

“Ah don’t know,” Apple Bloom responded.

“Hurry up girls!” Scootaloo shouted. She was just ahead of the others on her scooter.

Right now the three fillies were simply putting as much distance between themselves and the cottage. It wasn’t easy; the undergrowth here was much thicker than where they had entered the woods.

“Ow!” Sweetie Belle fell hard when her right hind leg got caught in a root of a bush. Apple Bloom skidded to halt and returned right to her.

“Scoot, go ahead of us. Ya are the quickest!” the yellow filly called while she helped the Unicorn to untangle her leg.

“No way am I leaving you behind,” Scootaloo snapped and turned around. She ditched her scooter and ran over to her friends.

The young Pegasus and the Earth Filly worked quickly to get the root off Sweetie Belle and helped the Unicorn to rise up. But when the white pony put weight on her hind leg she felt a sharp pain and would have fallen back down if her friends weren’t supporting her.

“I think it’s twisted,” Sweetie sniffed holding back her tears and gingerly held the injured leg up, standing only on three.

Apple Bloom had her friend lean on Scootaloo so she could turn around to check the injured limb. The root had managed to scrape her a bit but there was no open wound. The yellow filly frowned and took a closer look but was careful not to touch anything.

“Yer probably right, come on we’ll support ya,” she said and resumed her previous position to help Scootaloo hold the Unicorn upright.

The three fillies began walking but very slowly. Sweetie Belle tried not to cry but couldn’t help but give a whimper if she accidentally moved her offending leg too much. Scootaloo meanwhile spotted her scooter and an idea hit her.

“Hey, Sweetie can sit on the scooter and we’ll push her on it, we should go faster,” she suggested.

“Worth a shot,” Apple Bloom nodded and they steered their friend towards the small vehicle.

“Sorry girls,” Sweetie Belle whimpered.

“Ya had an accident, ya got nothin’ to be sorry about,” the yellow filly assured her.

“Yeah we…” Scootaloo fell silent when a shadow passed over them from somewhere above the canopy.

The fillies looked at each other before their eyes drifted skywards. They gasped when down from the trees Silver Axe descended, cracking and breaking tree branches on his way down. The large Pegasus landed with a heavy thud that sent a slight tremor through the ground. He was right in the way to the scooter.

“We are so sunk,” the orange Pegasus cringed and huddled closer to her friends.

Silver Axe looked down at the filles with a hard expression. The girls slowly backed away. It was difficult for Sweetie Belle on only three legs and she only managed it thanks to the other two Crusaders. They whimpered when the big Pegasus began approaching.

An amber colored flash jumped over them and suddenly Time Turner stood there between Silver Axe and the Crusaders. The Earth Pony had lost his saddlebags in the run but at the moment that was the least of his concerns. He held up one front hoof towards Axe who had stopped his advance.

“Aha, thought you were pretty clever to go ahead of me and go for the girls first since they were further away already,” the smaller stallion said.

Silver Axe sighed and rolled his eyes again before scowling down at Time Turner. He reared up to his hind legs and spread out his wings in a threatening manner. This caused the Earth Pony to shrink back a bit.

“And it was very, very clever indeed,” Turner conceded and closed his eyes expecting to be struck hard. This is so going to hurt.

Nothing happened; there was a heavy thud and a crash. Behind him the three fillies gasped in astonishment. Time Turner dared himself to open one eye and then both, before his jaw dropped at the scene in front of him.

Silver Axe had been thrown away by a sudden impact from another pony. The large Pegasus had connected with a tree that cracked under the weight. He silently groaned and rolled back to his feet, but a yellowish hoof was put on his right wing to prevent him to get up.

“Ah would kindly advice ya to stay down if ya don’t mind,” Big Mac snorted down at him.

The Pegasus glared at the red stallion before jerking hard at his wing and managed to pull it free. He rose up and was face to face with the equally large Earth Pony. While Silver Axe was scowling, Big Macintosh only had a slight frown and still chewed his straw from one corner of his lips.

“Ah’m not the violent sort, but don’t think Ah won’t prevent ya from harming mah sister and her friends,” Big Mac claimed calmly.

The only answer Silver Axe gave was a hard hit with his right hoof. The punch was good enough that the red pony staggered back a bit shaking his head at the sudden impact. But he recovered quickly and narrowed his eyes on the Pegasus who was stomping the ground and readying himself for a charge.

“A’right if that is how it got to be,” Big Mac grunted and spit his straw out. He braced for impact as Silver Axe came charging.

End chapter 10.

Chapter 11

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Chapter 11.

Time Turner quickly turned to face the Cutie Mark Crusaders when the two larger stallions clashed together. The Earth Pony noted Sweetie Belle’s injury and realized ordering them to run again wasn’t going to work well for her.

“Quick, get her on my back, then we must run like crazy and find the royal guards,” he whispered and crouched down in front of them.

“B-but…” Apple Bloom stammered. Her attention was mostly on the fight.

Turner didn’t wait for her to snap out of it. He quickly reached and grabbed Sweetie Belle by the scruff of her neck and swiftly slung her to his back, causing the filly to squeak in surprise. He rose up and using his front hooves managed to usher the other two fillies away from the battle.

Unlike the Gryphon fight, this one was far more equal. Both stallions weighed the same and were the same size. Silver Axe main advantage was his ability to fly, but in the woods that didn’t do much good. For now this was a ground battle and that was Big Mac’s strongest advantage.

They kicked and punched, but both barely budged from their positions. Sometimes one managed a charge that caused the other to back a step but he immediately came right back. So the fight really hadn’t moved much except in a small circle. Big Macintosh was focused on keeping Silver Axe away from the others. For all he knew the Pegasus had every intention of harming them.

Why am I doing this? Silver Axe thought as he dodged strike. He quickly used his own head to butt it against Big Mac, but it didn’t do much and the Pegasus had to duck another blow.

Is it really worth it? He reared up and struck with his front hooves but his opponent matched the move and the strikes only hit the red pony’s legs.

A hard blow hit Silver Axe in the head causing the Pegasus to back a bit shaking it. But his inner thoughts had distracted him enough so he didn’t immediately charge back. He looked up when realizing that Big Mac hadn’t followed up either, just stood there and blocked his way back to the cottage.

“Had enough yet?” the red pony asked. “Ah can do this all day.”

So can I. Have to do it, have to for her. Silver Axe narrowed his eyes. Glancing around him he saw there was just enough space. The Pegasus reared up, spread his wings and began flapping them hard and fast.

Big Mac was nearly caught off guard by this move. The gust of wind that hit his face was really strong and forced him to back few steps. He tried to struggle against the air current produced by the other pony but found it was taking a lot just to stand his ground. Soil and plants they had kicked loose during their struggle were thrown around and some hit him.

This got to stop. The red pony managed to eye around and noticed a particularly large rock half buried in the ground. Big Mac started to move over; it was a little easier as he wasn’t working up the wind.

Silver Axe frowned and wondered what the Earth Pony was up to. He was becoming frustrated that the wind hadn’t knocked his opponent off yet, he increased the tempo of his wings and was now flapping so hard that he was hovering a foot above the ground.

Oh pony feathers. The Pegasus suddenly realized what Big Mac was doing when the red stallion was behind the rock. Had there been more distance between them he would probably have had time to react when his opponent kicked the boulder with all his might. But as it was he was too close and the projectile hit him square in the stomach, sending both him and the rock flying up and through the canopy.

Big Mac took a moment to catch his breath when the wind finally let down. He glanced back and could easily see in what direction the Pegasus had been sent by the broken branches on the trees.

Mister Turner has taken the fillies away. Good. Ah better go make sure this feller is down, somehow Ah don’t think one rock is goin’ to keep him down, he thought frowning. Then the pony galloped in the direction Silver Axe had been thrown into.

“Oh no, I took wrong turn.” Time Turner cringed when he and the girls were right back at the cottage, this time facing the still open front door.

“Yeah, that Gryphon is probably still there,” Sweetie Belle gulped, she clung to the stallion’s neck.

The four ponies moved to turn around but Apple Bloom glanced back and gasped when seeing Paul come walking around the corner. The male Gryphon was just returning from checking where Silver Axe had gone off too.

“Hey!” Paul shouted when spotting them.

“Hey, we are just passing through,” Time Turner responded. He and the fillies ran right back into the woods.

Paul growled and had every intention to fly up and cut their escape short. But his body reminded him that he had recently been in a fight and the Gryphon crashed right back to the ground. Snarling and cursing he rose back up and simply began running after the escaping ponies.

He didn’t run too far either, there was a thud and something landed hard on his tail. The Gryphon yelped and crumbled back to the ground. He looked back only to see Rainbow Dash had come crushing down from the sky and landed right on his tail.

“Oh no you don’t,” the Pegasus snapped.

“Why you little…” Paul began rising up only to see something else come from the sky and land right beside him, it was Gilda.

“Hello again cuz,” the female Gryphon hissed and raised her talons for a strike.

“Oh you got to be kidding me,” her cousin groaned, barely ducking punch. He pulled quickly at his tail and managed to get it free from Rainbow; in the same move he slashed his own talons at Gilda who avoided it easily.

“Forget this, I’m outta here!” Paul declared and darted off.

“Not so tough when you don’t have your Pegasus friend around cousin?” Gilda immediately gave a chase followed by Rainbow Dash.

Paul growled but ignored the insult for now. At the moment the male Gryphon just wanted to get distance between himself and his cousin. Neither ran very far, their injuries from the fight were once again irritated too much and both almost at the same time tripped and fell to the ground.

“You alright Gilda?” Dash stopped first by her old friend who just nodded and immediately began rising up. The Pegasus nodded and trotted over to Paul who still lay groaning on the ground.

“And you stay down if you know what’s good for you!” Rainbow Dash snapped at Gilda’s cousin and threatened to hit him with one hoof.

“No, no I give up,” Paul whimpered and covered his face with his front legs.

“Told you he was all talk and no guts,” Gilda chuckled while slowly approaching. The pony grinned and put her hoof down again.

It didn’t take too long to find the rock. It had crashed into a big clearing and ripped up a bit of the grass and dirt in the process. Big Mac walked over, keeping an eye out for the Pegasus that had been sent with the boulder. But walking around it revealed no sign of Silver Axe’s body.

The Earth Pony frowned and took a closer look at the ground. He saw something heavy had laid there and the stallion noticed faint hoofmarks in the dirt. They were roughly his size so his opponent most likely had been here.

Oh shoot, he’s a Pegasus. Big Mac’s realization came just a second too late. He was thrown forward when something heavy barreled right into him from the air.

Big Macintosh grunted as he landed harshly on the ground, skidding few meters on it in the process. He slowly looked up and wasn’t too surprised to see Silver Axe hovering by the rock and glaring at him. The dark brown Pegasus had both dirt and tree leaves sticking out of his coat and mane.

“Ah take it ya are not here to surrender.” The red pony rose up.

Silver Axe sneered and ascended slightly before dive bombing for Big Mac. The Earth Stallion sighed and jumped out of the way just before his opponent landed with a loud thud, sending dirt and grass scattering and visible cracks formed on the ground. The Pegasus didn’t stay long and immediately jumped right for the other pony.

Again they began trading punches and kicks. But this time there was more fury in Silver Axe’s punches, forcing Big Mac to be more on the defensive. It didn’t help the red pony either that they were now in the open. The Pegasus had the option of aerial assault.

Silver Axe finally realized that as well and broke away from the close contact fight. He took to the air and began swooping at Big Mac who could do little now except ducking and trying to throw himself away. The red stallion tried his best rearing up and scoring a hit that way. It helped and was easier to do than try kicking into the air. Silver Axe was maneuverable enough to avoid the kicks.

Big Mac was just glad that the Pegasus was clearly not a fast flyer and relied on his weight. He still had the advantage of flight and the Earth Pony wondered if he could trick Silver Axe back into the woods. So far the dark brown pony was scoring more hits and was beginning to bump forcefully into his opponent.

Ompf, Big Mac grunted when his opponent threw him off his feet. The pony spit grass and dirt out of his mouth and started to rise up only to be forcefully slammed back down. Silver Axe had dive bombed right on top of him.

The Earth Pony groaned and for a moment was too disoriented to realize that he began to move. When Big Mac came to his senses he saw the ground far below and realized two strong front legs were held firmly around him. Silver Axe had picked him up and taken to the air. Before the red stallion could struggle, the Pegasus spun suddenly in several circles before letting go of his hold and sending his opponent towards the woods.

There wasn’t much Big Macintosh could do except take the unexpected and uncontrolled flight through the air. It wouldn’t last for too long though and the pony braced himself for impact as his body began to descend down towards the canopy. He didn’t go through, something caught him and suddenly he was going straight forward just above the tree line.

The red pony looked up and was surprised to see it was his opponent who had caught him and saved him from certain serious injuries. He might have lived but it would probably have involved a long stay in Ponyville Hospital. The flight didn’t last long though, Silver Axe was going more on momentum than his own wing power and soon they were at the edge of White Tail woods. Once there he let go and Big Mac fell to the dirt road below them.

Ow that hurt, the red stallion groaned as he rolled on the road. Though this is nothing compared to if I had fallen through the trees at the speed Ah was goin’.

He could have finished me off with that first throw, why did he save me? Big Mac rose to his feet and saw that Silver Axe was preparing for another assault from the air. Why am Ah having a funny feeling he’s as reluctant about this fight as Ah am.

Sweetie Belle held on to Time Turner for dear life, it was a bumpy ride because the stallion was running fast as he could and had to jump a lot due to the trees and undergrowth. This wasn’t doing her injured leg any favors.

She wondered how well her friends were keeping up and tried her best to look to the sides. The Unicorn frowned and twisted her head to look back. Sweetie gasped and quickly tapped at Time Turner’s neck.

“Doctor, Doctor!” she cried.

“It’s Time Tu… oh never mind, what is it?” the stallion asked.

“Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, they aren’t following us,” the filly told him.

“What?!” Time Turner screeched to a halt and Sweetie Belle was almost thrown off him. Fortunately she managed to bite into his mane and had a tight grip around his neck.

“Where… ack… loosen your hold a bit,” Turner choked and the girl did as he asked.

“Sorry,” Sweetie Belle apologized, but stallion was already looking frantically around.

“Where are the girls, oh no they weren’t captured where they?” he asked no one in particular, it was almost as if he had forgotten the Unicorn girl on his back.

“What should we do?” Sweetie asked and was starting to become scared. The stallion turned his head so he could see her.

“Well…” he chewed on his lips for a moment. “I probably should get you to safety first and alert the guards. We know where they are and the guards are everywhere right now so it shouldn’t take too long.”

“Are you sure?” the filly asked unsure.

“We don’t have a choice, you at least need that leg looked at and besides this is a job for the guards.” Time Turner reluctantly began trotting the route he had been going in previously, before he broke into a full gallop.

“Thinking the same as I?” Scootaloo asked when seeing Apple Bloom catching up with her.

The Pegasus filly had deliberately slowed downed on their escape and allowed Time Turner to get too far ahead of her. Then she had high tailed back the way they had come. But her Earth Filly friend had noticed and followed.

“That Diamond Tiara must be in that cottage, eeyup,” Apple Bloom responded, mimicking her brother’s trademark positive answer.

“Yeah, figured Time Turner could get Sweetie Belle away and I could sneak in and get Diamond out of there,” the orange filly said.

“You sound more determined to help than before, why the change of heart?” her friend asked.

“I dunno, something my mom said. Something about hating and she was right, she didn’t raise me to hate. I don’t like Diamond Tiara mind you, but helping her get out feels more right than just leaving her there,” Scootaloo explained and Apple Bloom nodded.

“Say, wasn’t that Gryphon supposed to be following us?” the Pegasus then asked. “I was all ready to jump and avoid him in the bushes.”

“Yeah, we should be almost back to the cottage now,” Apple Bloom commented and just then the two fillies ran into the small clearing the cottage was in. They stopped when seeing Rainbow Dash busy tying up Paul and Gilda standing nearby watching. An old bucket near them indicated where they had produced the rope from.

“Hey!” the blue Pegasus immediately spotted them. She threw the rest of the rope to the female Gryphon who finished tying her cousin up.

Rainbow Dash swiftly flew to the fillies, but the girls didn’t wait for her to arrive. They both shouted Diamond Tiara’s name and ran for the cottage. The mare raised an eyebrow and followed them.

“What? What are you doing here?” the half startled and confused voice of the foalnapped girl asked.

Dash entered the cottage and saw the two Crusaders by a small cage in one corner. In it was Diamond Tiara; the filly seemed to be deciding if she should be relieved or annoyed over who were rescuing her.

“We’re rescuing ya, what does it look like?” Apple Bloom explained.

“You?” now Tiara really showed an expression of disbelief.

“Stand back girls,” Rainbow Dash pushed Scootaloo and Apple Bloom out of the way. She faced away from the cage and raised one hind leg and quickly kicked the lock of the cage. It didn’t break. The Pegasus grunted in annoyance. “Oh come on.”

“Please don’t do that again!” Tiara begged, the cage had been rattled in the process and thrown the filly around. “The Gryphon has the key.”

“I’m on it,” Scootaloo declared and rushed out.

The orange Pegasus ran straight to where Gilda stood guard over her cousin. The filly jumped right on top of Paul who winched in pain as she hit some of his still tender bruises. His only eye then had a full view of Scootaloo’s frowning face.

“Where is the key to the cage?” she demanded.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Paul grunted unimpressed but then Gilda appeared above Scoot’s head and raised her left talons.

“You heard the girl, where is the key,” she snapped.

“Hidden in my chest fur,” the male Gryphon muttered meekly.

“Here let me shave that for you, kid.” Gilda pushed Scootaloo back a bit and began slashing at Paul’s chest feathers, revealing the key.

Scootaloo grabbed it in her mouth, breaking the string it was tied on and ran back into the cottage. Meanwhile Gilda was looking questionably at her cousin. Paul had let out a chuckle once the filly was gone.

“Why are you laughing?” she demanded.

“The fact that you think you won just because you have freed the filly,” Paul grinned and didn’t drop it when his cousin grabbed his neck with her right talons.

“What are you talking about Paul?” she growled but now the male Gryphon just laughed.

“Beat me up as much as you wish cousin, I’m not talking. I’m maybe all talk and no guts but I’m no sneak,” he claimed.

Big Mac felt a bit of pain in his ribs. The pony would have wondered if he had cracked one or two in the rough landing on the dirt road if he wasn’t in a middle of a fight. Silver Axe was again using the advantage of flight to either dive bomb or bump hard into him.

Got to take his flight away somehow, he thought and ducked another dive.

He spotted some large rocks further down the road and headed for them. Silver Axe might not fall for the same trick again but at least this might cause the Pegasus to be the one to dodge for a while. The red stallion jumped behind one large rock and with all his might kicked it hard. It flew into the air but his opponent was now far enough away to avoid it.

Another rock was sent through the air forcing the dark brown pony to back away. Big Mac took notice and started to kick rock after rock, sending a volley of stony projectile towards Silver Axe. This gave the Earth Pony a bit more time to think things over since his opponent was busy staying out of the way of the boulders.

He should be slightly distracted now. Big Mac sent one more rock before running for a moderately sized tree. With a mighty kick the stallion broke it and as it began falling he ran into a better position and raised both hind legs.

Silver Axe ducked the last rock and began searching the ground for his opponent but couldn’t spot him right away. Instead he saw a large tree trunk head his way. The Pegasus gasped for a moment before diving to the ground to avoid it.

That was what Big Macintosh needed. The moment the Pegasus was close enough, the red stallion charged and jumped for the other one. They collided and fell to the ground with a loud thud, the ground shook lightly at the impact.

The two ponies rolled on the ground for a bit before they began hitting each other again with their hooves. Big Mac did his best to prevent Silver Axe from flying by holding on to the Pegasus who tried to break free.

Axe tried to head butt his opponent, it was hard enough that Big Mac’s grip loosened and the Pegasus began prying himself loose. The Earth Pony recovered but saw it wouldn’t be quickly enough to regain his hold. He instead quickly managed to give the dark brown stallion a hard kick in the head.

Silver Axe broke free and staggered away. He was too disoriented to fly and walked right into something. The Pegasus shook his head and tried to focus on what he had bumped into. His eyes shot wide open when face to face with a white head covered with a golden helmet.

Oh crap, the Pegasus quickly backed away from the Royal Guard only to bump into another one.

“Are you alright Mister Macintosh?” the first guard addressed the red stallion who sat on the ground catching his breath. He had been about to followed up with his kick when the guards came flying down.

“Eeyup,” he only responded.

“This would be one of the foalnappers correct?” the other guard inquired.

Silver Axe stood between the two guards but he wasn’t concentrating on them. He was still disoriented after the kick and now that the fight was over the pony was starting to feel tired. He collapsed to the ground breathing heavily. He glanced slowly towards Big Mac and stamped his hoof on the ground before losing consciousness.

“Curious,” one of the guards commented and approached the worn out Pegasus.

“What was that all about?” Big Mac asked confused.

“That was a hoof signal I believe,” the same guard looked at the red pony. “If it was, he said ‘you win’ I think.”

“Oh,” Big Macintosh said before he crumbled to the ground himself, he didn’t slip into unconsciousness but right now he was too tired to make any further comments.

End Chapter 11

Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

It was quiet in the town hall at the moment. Most of the royal guards were currently out searching, the last pair of searchers had reported in about ten minutes earlier. Twilight Sparkle was going through a small stack of papers with Ponyville’s only two police officers and the lieutenant who was in charge of the guards.

“Very little on our only suspect who has a name,” Twilight remarked with disappointment.

“Worked various small jobs for a while after his accident until he completely disappeared five years ago,” one of the officers said, the Earth Pony was stocky and only a bit taller than the librarian.

“That is until he popped up in our town and foalnapped a filly,” the other officer grunted, he was taller and thinner than his partner. “Still think we need more excitement in this job?”

“Well considering that most major disasters happening in this town have been handled by others, no offense Twilight, yes I do,” the previous one claimed. Twilight blushed a bit in embarrassment while the lieutenant raised an eyebrow at the sudden bickering of the two Earth Ponies.

“Well I like it quiet, Mulberry. I’m happy we work in a town that’s so quiet,” the taller officer snorted and tried to return back to the papers in front of him.

“Wait Tango, are you calling witnessing the return of Nightmare Moon, attack by a Ursa Minor, Dragon in the mountains nearly chocking us with his snoring smoke, invasion of Parasprites that nearly ate the whole town, our local Librarian going so crazy that she enchanted her doll so everypony went nuts after it, again no offense Twilight, several disasters happening during that Mare-Do-Well incident, our local dragon growing up and going on a rampage, two con-ponies trying to drive our local apple farmer out of the town and various other things I’m probably forgetting, quiet?” Officer Mulberry asked astonished.

“No I’m not, what I mean is that we have a low crime rate,” Officer Tango clarified.

“Guys,” Twilight tried to intervene but the two dark gray Earth Ponies either didn’t hear her or ignored her.

“That almost begs the question why we have police in this town at all, even having two seems to be overdoing it.” Mulberry rolled his eyes.

“Officer Mulberry! Officer Tango!”

The sharp voice of the mayor rang in the room. Soon enough Mayor Mare came storming out of her office not looking too pleased. The two bickering police officers hung their heads and their ears lowered.

“Are you two arguing? Again?” she asked annoyed stomping towards the four ponies, her entire focus on the Earth Stallions.

“Well I…” Mulberry started.

“We were just…” Tango tried to say but both ponies were waved off by the mayor.

“Do I need to remind you that we have been honored by the presence of the Royal Guards of Canterlot. Who are helping us finding the foalnappers and their lieutenant doesn’t need to see what our local police force seems to be best at. Arguing over petty things,” she ranted while pacing right in front of Tango and Mulberry.

“Ah, she does know I’m standing right here doesn’t she?” the lieutenant whispered to Twilight.

“She’s in speech mode, don’t worry about it,” the Unicorn told the Pegasus who nodded in understanding.

Their attention was brought to the door when Spike came running inside and seemed to be in quite a hurry. Twilight and the lieutenant looked at Mayor Mare who continued chewing out the officers. They shrugged and trotted over to the young dragon still catching his breath, allowing the mayor finish with Tango and Mulberry.

“Hey Spike what’s up?” Twilight asked.

“Foal…nappers… caught… hospital now… fight…Big Mac…” Spike said between each breath. He was nearly thrown off balance when four surprised voices shouted:


Before Spike could really elaborate further, purple aura surrounded him and he was flung onto Twilight’s back. The Unicorn galloped out of town hall, followed by the lieutenant, Mayor Mare and the two officers. But they had not been the only ones informed of the current events, several ponies were also heading for the hospital and there were many already crowding up in front the building.

The royal guards had managed to create a perimeter by the front entrance, making sure that the citizens of Ponyville wouldn’t overflow the hospital. When Twilight and the others arrived the lieutenant immediately flew up past the crowd and the line and ordered the guards to let the group he came with through.

Inside in the waiting room, they were met with Applejack pacing in front of Apple Bloom. The farm pony had a mix of relief, worry and anger in her expression as she seemed to be both scolding and congratulating her sister simultaneously.

“Ah don’t know if Ah should spank the livin’ daylight outta ya or hug and congratulate ya. What in tarnation where you thinkin’ goin’ off to actually look for the foalnappers?” Applejack ranted

“But sis we weren’t gonna do anythin’, just find Claymore Cottage and let the guards know,” Apple Bloom explained.

“An’ see where that got ya, Big Mac is being treated for injuries and Sweetie Belle has a sprained ankle,” her older sister immediately pointed out, causing the yellow filly to cringe a bit.

“Applejack,” Twilight interrupted as she, Spike, the lieutenant, Mayor Mare and the two officers approached.

“Oh hey Twi, ya heard? They got the foalnappers,” Applejack greeted her friend.

“Yes, what can you tell us?” the purple Unicorn asked.

“Nothin’ too much to tell, the Crusaders went off to Claymore Cottage, met up with Time Turner and somehow convinced him to take them to it. There they ran into the foalnappers, one chased after them but Big Mac who was helpin’ with the search managed to stop him after big fight. Mister Turner managed to get Sweetie Belle back to town only to realize that Apple Bloom and Scootaloo had snuck off and gone back to the cottage and ran into the other thug but luckily Rainbow Dash and… can you believe it… Gilda took care of him. They found Diamond Tiara in the cottage and got her out of there and then finally alerted the guards to take care of the hoodlums,” the farm mare explained.

“Mr. Rich is already with Tiara, they are giving her a checkup. I think there are guards with the foalnappers, they needed to be patched up too. Rainbow Dash is with Gilda who also needed to be checked for injuries,” she added.

The lieutenant nodded after Applejack seemed to be finished. He walked to the front desk and asked to be allowed to go in along with two officers. Twilight and Spike decided to remain in the waiting room with their friends, but the mayor accompanied the others. The dragon used the opportunity to jump off the purple Unicorn’s back and to the floor.

“Right now Ah’m deciding whether to punish or reward my sister for her little stunt.” The orange Earth Pony glanced down at her sister who tried to smile innocently.

“Well I guess she meant well. How is Sweetie Belle, you mentioned something about a sprained ankle?” Twilight asked.

“She’s at Rarity’s and doing fine all things considerin’. Scootaloo had to go home since her mother sent for her, apparently they have a visitor she wants her to meet.” Applejack finally sat down, putting future punishment/reward for her little sister on hold.

Twilight was about to sit down as well when the doors opened and a nurse looked in. She smiled at the two Apple sisters and walked over to them. The farm mare figured this must be about their brother and rose up again. Apple Bloom shuffled closer to stand beside her sister.

“Big Macintosh is doing fine, he does have a cracked rib and has a mild concussion, otherwise it’s just bumps, bruises and minor cuts,” the nurse told them.

“Will he be here long?” Applejack wondered but didn’t frown since the nurse almost immediately shook her head.

“We just want to keep him overnight for observation but he should be good to go tomorrow,” she said.

“Can we go see him?” Apple Bloom asked feeling more perky now that she knew her brother was alright.

“Of course come with me.” The nurse beckoned them to follow and the two sisters, Twilight and Spike followed her into the corridor beyond the door.

She led them to a room where Big Mac lay on a bed. The stallion was awake but did look tired; he had rib bandages on his body and some band-aids for some of the cuts he had received in the fight. He looked up when his sisters, Twilight and Spike walked in and smiled a little.

“Jeez big brother, can’t ya do anythin’ without hurtin’ yerself?” Applejack joshed as she approached the bed. Big Mac chuckled weakly but said nothing.

“Ah’m awful sorry big brother that you got into a fight on mah account.” Apple Bloom raised herself up, placing the front hooves on the edge of the bed. The stallion smiled and reached to ruffle gently his little sister’s mane.

“Think nothin’ of it Apple Bloom. Ah’m just glad to see ya and yer friends safe,” he said. Then he looked at Applejack and Twilight and his expression became a bit more serious.

“But Ah could almost swear the pony was as reluctant to fight as Ah was. Heck he could have easily done me in easy at one point but he didn’t and saved me from a very bad fall,” he told the two mares.

“That’s curious.” Twilight furrowed her brow in thought, Applejack nodded in agreement.

Rainbow Dash tried not to snicker too much when she was finally let into the room Gilda was in. The female gryphon had several bandages on her body and due to her head feathers almost looked completely white with few brown spots.

“I still can’t believe you managed to talk me into going here,” Gilda complained and jumped out of the bed. She cringed a bit when stressing some of her wounds too much.

“I don’t recall I had to talk you into anything,” the Pegasus reminded her.

The Gryphon grunted and hung her head. It was true and she had in fact just woken a while go in the hospital and saw ponies busy mending her wounds. The last thing she recalled was trying to interrogate her cousin after his rather cryptic remark, everything was blank after that.

“So what happened?” Gilda asked and walked over to the window with Dash following.

“They say you probably collapsed from exhaustion, no adrenaline left to keep you up. When I came back out with the Crusaders and Diamond Tiara you were out cold right on top of your cousin. He was still awake whining and complaining since you weren’t doing his wounds any favors,” the Pegasus explained.

“Huh, serves him right,” her old friend snorted.

“And shortly after that royal guards arrived and they took you and your cousin to Ponyville Hospital. Your cousin’s room is currently under guard though I’m not sure you want to pay him a visit,” Rainbow Dash shrugged, she wasn’t too surprised Gilda snorted again.

“Seen enough of that idiot to last me a good while,” she growled and opened the window. The Pegasus’s brow rose high when the Gryphon prepared to climb out through it.

“Hey wait where are you going?” Dash raised one leg, prepared to halt her.

“I’m not staying here a minute longer, besides I’m not so sure I’m very welcome here… after last time…” Gilda said and glanced back at the pony.

“Well… no guess not,” the Pegasus agreed. “Maybe if you apologized?”

“Not going to happen. Look it’s probably just better this way anyway,” the Gryphon claimed and managed to climb fully out and was now hovering just outside the window.

“Well I know you well enough that nothing I will say will convince you otherwise,” Dash said and poked her head out of the window. “But I am still going to say I think you are wrong about that. My friends can be pretty forgiving if you are really sincere.”

“Whatever,” Gilda waved her talons dismissively.

“So where are you going?” Dash asked since it was obvious, just as she suspected, that the Gryphon wouldn’t be talked out of this.

“Well it’s crummy, but I don’t think my cousin needs this apartment right now, so I’ll be there,” her old friend answered and began ascending. “Bye Dash, this was fun.”

“Bye Gilda, thanks for the help,” Rainbow Dash called back and watched Gilda fly away for a moment before turning around shaking her head.

Diamond Tiara couldn’t be happier at the moment. She was no longer in the small uncomfortable cage or in the musty old cottage. The filly was still in the hospital but had been given a clean bill of health, except for some minor bruises. The doctor said she only needed a good proper meal and she would be fine.

Her father had arrived very shortly after she was brought back and for a while it was questionable if he would ever stop hugging his daughter. Tiara was much the same and even as the doctor gave her a checkup she remained close to Filthy Rich.

“We can most definitely arrange the meal, we’ll go to your favorite restaurant and order whatever you want,” Rich told her after the doctor had left the room to allow them to be alone. They were momentarily waiting because either the royal guards or the police would probably like to question the filly.

“I’ve been dying all weekend to go there dad. It was horrible, they only gave me carrots, well one muffin, but there was almost nothing else to eat,” Diamond Tiara complained and hugged her father again.

“Don’t worry Tiara, you’ll get much better food now and I’m sorry this had to happen to you,” Rich said and returned the embrace again.

“By the way, how is Silver Spoon?” his daughter asked, remembering her friend.

“Oh she is fine, she had quite a scare and had a nasty bump on her head. But her parents took her away for the weekend to help her recover from the ordeal,” the Earth Stallion explained.

“Can we go somewhere for a while?” Tiara pleaded. Her father smiled warmly and nodded.

“I’ll need to arrange it but I’m sure we can go somewhere later this week,” he assured her.

Diamond Tiara frowned and almost considered pleading they go immediately after the visit to the restaurant. But then she remembered something else and let go of Rich and began searching furiously through her tail. Her father could only watch, wait and wonder what his daughter was up to until she finally drew forth the metal piece she had hidden there.

“Look dad, she broke my tiara, the one mom gave me,” Tiara sniffed and presented the metal strip to him.

“She?” Filthy Rich frowned, he was pretty sure they had told him both foalnappers were male.

“Snow Heart. She had me foalnapped, she even kicked the cage I was in and broke my tiara,” his daughter explained and tears began forming in her eyes.

“Snow Heart?” Rich blinked in surprise.

“Yeah, but she wasn’t in the cottage when they rescued me, I don’t know where she is,” Diamond Tiara said and leaned on her dad again.

“Tiara, are you…” her father was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Ah come in.”

Into the room peeked Officer Tango, the gray Earth Pony walked fully in and with him came one of the royal guards. The police officer smiled gently at father and daughter but the guard remained rigid as a statue.

“We have just finished speaking with the suspects, that is, the one who was the most willing to talk and actually could talk. Is it alright if we ask your daughter few questions as well? Just to wrap things up,” Tango wondered.

Filthy Rich looked down at his daughter who nodded slowly. The officer came closer and sat down in front of them. He managed to produce both a notebook and a pencil from his uniform.

“Well Miss Tiara, can you tell me about what happened ever since Friday?” Tango asked.

The filly hesitated a bit before she began recounting the best she could the events from the weekend. At first all Tango did was hum and nod but when she reached the part with Snow Heart, the officer frowned in confusion and looked at her father.

“Wait hold on, Snow Heart as in your old house keeper?” he asked.

“I think so, Tiara are you sure it was her?” Rich looked at his daughter who nodded furiously.

“She was horrible, she laughed at me, kicked the cage I was in and broke the tiara mom gave me,” the filly told them and showed the metal strip again.

“I see,” Tango’s brow sunk heavily and he began shifting through his notebook, even the guard showed a curious expression.

“Is something wrong officer Tango?” Filthy Rich asked impatiently.

“Hold that thought, why don’t you finish Tiara?” Tango looked at the filly who shrugged and finished telling the rest. When she was done the police officer didn’t look any less confused.

“Your story almost matches except for one thing, the Gryphon, Paul, is claiming full credit for the whole foalnapping,” he told them.

“WHAT?” Diamond Tiara shouted.

“He mentioned no Snow Heart, said he only really hired Silver Axe to help him keep everything safe until he got the money. He would then give the Pegasus a cut in the ransom,” Tango explained.

“But…but…” the filly protested.

“Now don’t worry, we will look into it and talk with Snow Heart and hear what she has to say,” the officer assured her.

“What? You know where she is?” Tiara blinked.

“Tiara, Snow Heart returned to Ponyville earlier today, I made the mistake of approaching her at the Café while feeling a bit distressed over your abduction. She has not quite forgiven us for the last time she was here,” her father explained.

“Arrest her! She had me foalnapped. She broke mom’s tiara. Dad she’s evil!” the filly shouted and waved her legs in agitation.

“Tiara, please calm down,” Rich tried his best to hold her still.

“Like I said, we will have a word with her,” Officer Tango repeated, he began backing away and nodded to the guard to head out with him. “We’ll um, leave you two be for now.”

Filthy Rich didn’t really notice as he was still busy trying to calm his daughter down. He was inclined to believe his daughter, but there was still small tinge of doubt in the stallion. Having met Snow Heart at the Café earlier didn’t help much either. If she was responsible for foalnapping Diamond Tiara, why would she return to Ponyville?

It just doesn’t make sense, he thought.

End Chapter 12.

Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

Scootaloo could hear voices coming from the kitchen when she arrived home. The filly hadn’t been too happy to be pulled away from her friends so soon after helping catching the foalnappers, but figured she might at least humor her mother and meet this guest before heading out again. She unstrapped the helmet from her head and tossed it to the floor before leaving the small front hall of the house.

“Scootaloo, is that you?” she heard her mother call.

“Yes mom, I got your message,” the girl answered and started towards the kitchen.

“Pick your helmet off the floor and hang it up properly,” Parasol ordered.

The filly halted and glanced back to where her helmet lay. The Pegasus sighed, trotted back to the discarded headgear, picked it up and hung it on the nearby coat hanger. She then resumed her course back to the kitchen, wondering how her mother always knew even if she wasn’t even present.

“Hey Scoot, look who has returned,” Parasol greeted her daughter when she entered.

Scootaloo blinked when seeing Snow Heart by the kitchen table with her mother. She did remember the white mare from earlier today when she almost ran her over on her scooter. But what she was doing here in her home the filly couldn’t even begin to understand.

“Uh… hi?” The orange Pegasus carefully approached, not quite sure what to think. Snow Heart didn’t look angry so maybe this wasn’t about this morning’s incident.

“Hello Scootaloo, I must apologize for not recognizing you this morning. You’ve grown so much since I last saw you,” Snow Heart said and smiled warmly to the girl.

“It’s Snow Heart, Scootaloo,” Parasol said as if that answered everything, but the blank look on her daughter said otherwise. “You really don’t remember her.”

“Oh I can’t blame her; it’s been several years since we last saw each other.” Snow Heart shrugged and sipped on her tea cup. “It’s not like I was any better when we almost crashed into each other today.”

“True,” Parasol nodded. Her daughter climbed to a chair and sat down on it, still bit confused about this visit.

“Scootaloo, it’s Snowy. Remember Snowy?” the yellow Pegasus tried again and now there came a glimmer of recognition in the girl’s eyes.

“Vaguely, I recall someone called Snowy. Wait that’s you?” Scootaloo gasped and her eyes grew even wider when the white unicorn nodded.

“You two used to be such good friends, Snow Heart even sometimes foalsat you,” Parasol continued to remind her daughter.

“Ooh,” the filly thought she understood now. “So I guess we are the old friends you were going to catch up with?”

“Well… uh…” Snow Heart fumbled a bit with her words. Parasol looked at her questionably.

“You told me you were hoping everyone had forgotten you,” the yellow Pegasus reminded her.

“That is true and what Scootaloo said is true as well,” the Unicorn said once she had regained her composure again. “I must admit I haven’t been entirely honest with you Parasol.”

Parasol raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Scootaloo tilted her head wondering why the Unicorn would say two different things. Snow Heart appeared calm on the outside but mentally she was banging her head against an imaginary wall.

I knew I should have waited with this and prepared myself more properly, she thought.

“Oh wait I think I get it,” suddenly the Pegasus Mare spoke up and smiled knowingly. Snow Heart closed her mouth, having been about to speak and only stared half confused at her friend.

“Ah, you do?” the Unicorn asked and wasn’t sure what possible conclusion Parasol could have arrived at.

“You came back because you were hoping to see Mulberry again,” the Pegasus accused and pointed straight at her friend with a hoof.

“Of all the…” Snow Heart couldn’t believe her ears and looked truly indignant. “What an idea! Think that I would even be remotely interested in that idiot. Besides it was Tango that I was infatuated with.”

Silence commenced in the kitchen. Scootaloo looked between the two mares all confused. Her mother was still smiling but triumphantly, Snow Heart’s expression had changed from disgust to utter horror as if she had realized a terrible error on her part. Then the Unicorn decided her forehead needed a closer and more intimate look at the top of the kitchen table.

“I did… not just say that,” Snow Heart’s muffled voice groaned.

“Yes you did,” Parasol chuckled. Slowly her friend looked up, resignation plastered on her face.

“You intentionally mentioned the wrong officer because you knew I can’t stand Mulberry,” she claimed and it was no surprise to her that the other mare nodded.

Bless your romantic heart Parasol, you just saved me from having to come up with something myself, Snow Heart sat up properly and composed herself once again. “Alright, I admit it. I did come to see if I could talk with Tango in private.”

“I knew it,” Parasol cheered and pumped the air with one front leg. Scootaloo rolled her eyes at her mother’s antics.

“Well you are in luck; he is still working here in Ponyville. Though he might be tad busy as he’s working on the foalnapping case,” the yellow Pegasus told her, this snapped her daughter to life.

“Oh right, mom they have caught the foalnappers,” Scootaloo declared. Snow Heart nearly spit out her mouthful of tea, Parasol didn’t notice as she was looking at the filly in surprise.

“What?” the older Pegasus rose up from her seat and rushed to the window to look out, just at that moment ponies were running around announcing the news outside. A large crowd of them were rushing off into the direction of the hospital.

Those idiots! Snow Heart thought but somehow managed to retain her calm frontal appearance.

“How?” Parasol turned away from the window to look at her daughter.

“Oh you’re going to love this mom,” Scootaloo grinned proudly before she told exactly what happened since after she and the other Crusaders crashed into Snow Heart. The two older mares listened to the story, both with astonished expression. Even the Unicorn had to admit this was quite impressive.

I’m not ready for this phase yet, I wasn’t going to implement it for another week. Snow Heart resisted the urge to palm her face or bang her forehead on the kitchen table again.

“Wait, you three actually went to look for the foalnappers?” Parasol asked, the realization of what exactly her daughter had done was slowly sinking in.

“Well strictly speaking we only went to search for their hideout then we were going to alert the guards,” the girl clarified.

“You have any idea how dangerous that stunt was?” her mother asked sharply.

“Well… uh kind of…” Scootaloo sunk a little in her seat.

“And you still did it?” Parasol approached the table and the just the sound of her hoof steps indicated how displeased she was with her daughter.

“Now Parasol, can you really blame her? I mean we searched high and low ourselves for Claymore Cottage when we were little, I’m sure the girls really didn’t expect to find anything there even if they did find it,” Snow Heart finally spoke up again stepping in Scootaloo’s defense.

“Yeah, uh I never thought they were really there at all,” the filly nodded in agreement.

“I really should ground you for this young lady,” Parasol said and still glared at her daughter before eyeing Snow Heart. “But I suppose I can’t look past the fact that it did result in this awful foalnapping case being finished.”

“There is that too,” the Unicorn nodded and looked at Scootaloo. “I take it Diamond Tiara is a friend of yours, since you risked so much finding her?”

“Oh no, no, no,” the filly shook her head quickly. “She’s annoying and drives me and my friends crazy; she bullies us for being blank flanks.”

“Oh?” Snow Heart’s brow rose high, but it was only a brief surprise. Inside in her mind the Unicorn began grinning deviously.

“We did it mostly just to help Apple Bloom and maybe in vain hope to get a cutie mark in foal rescuing,” Scootaloo smiled innocently. Her mother groaned and put a hoof on her own forehead, Snow Heart couldn’t but chuckle.

“Yeah, Apple Bloom was worried that Mr. Rich would kind of die if Tiara wasn’t brought back, the Rich family does big business with the Apple family,” the filly explained.

“Ah I see,” the Unicorn nodded.

“And of course cutie marks were involved as well,” Parasol sighed and sat down again.

This might work to my advantage, as long as Paul did what he was supposed to do, Snow Heart thought.

“By the way Scoot, between that and your regular crusading this weekend, did you finish that school report you’re supposed to turn in for Monday?” Parasol asked.

Scootaloo’s jaw dropped and for a moment the filly just sat there frozen in terror. Then she sprang up with such force that the chair was kicked down from under her, but the girl was already gliding back to the floor. The mares could then only watch as she sprinted out of the kitchen and took a sharp turn for the front hall, yelling as she went:

“Gotta go! The girls were going to help me with that!”

“I do believe that was ‘no I have not finished that school report’,” Snow Heart commented on the abrupt departure of the filly and both ponies giggled.

The mares returned to their conversation before Scootaloo arrived. Parasol had mostly been filling her old friend in on what had been going on in Ponyville since she disappeared. Snow Heart did listen with mild interest and became so lost in it she momentarily forgot her previous scheming. But she was brought back to reality when the Pegasus asked:

“So where have you been all these years Snow Heart?”

“Ah…” the Unicorn hesitated and quickly began scrambling her brain back into focus. “I did sort of wander north, far north.”

“Past Canterlot?” Parasol wondered and received a positive nod.

“Almost all the way to the Crystal Mountains,” Snow Heart admitted in a low tone, trying not to tell too much.

“That is far north,” her friend commented with a slight frown. “And what did you do with yourself all this time?”

“I…” again Snow Heart hesitated for a moment. “I was taken in by this Pegasus who lived alone just by the mountains. He was rather solitary and didn’t seem to like company too much. But he allowed me to stay.”

“Wow, that was kind of him,” Parasol nodded.

Hm, I need to jumpstart on phase 2. Paul better have done what I told him to do or this will be very hard to explain later, Snow Heart mulled in her mind before she finally hung her head. “Oh Parasol, I’m sorry to have lied to you.”

“Huh?” her friend frowned in confusion.

“I didn’t come here to see Tango… I’m over him, long time ago,” the Unicorn looked up and put on a distressed expression. “I came here because I’m looking for him, the Pegasus who took me in. He disappeared few weeks ago I don’t know why.”

“Wha… but why didn’t you just say that?” Parasol asked feeling mildly hurt that her old friend didn’t think she could be open with her.

“I didn’t want anyone to get involved, I guess I was just too used to doing things on my own by now,” Snow Heart sighed. “I was only going to quickly pass through Ponyville see if anyone had heard of him here and then head back out.”

“Alright, alright. I won’t pretend to understand your reasoning Snow, but you really should just have come to us with this immediately. Have you talked with the authorities?” Parasol wondered.

“No. Like I said, I didn’t want anyone else involved,” Snow Heart repeated and pushed her empty cup away.

“What’s his name, the Pegasus that is?” the yellow mare asked.

“He called himself Silver Axe,” the Unicorn answered and tilted her head when her friend’s eyes opened wide in shock.

“Did you say Silver Axe?” she whispered, hesitantly Snow Heart nodded. Then as if on cue there was knock on the front door.

“I’ll just be a second,” Parasol said and rushed out of the kitchen.

While she was now unseen by others, Snow Heart’s brow sunk in a scowl as she thought things over. She remained alert though and could hear Parasol address someone and the Unicorn heard a voice she found vaguely familiar. Her Pegasus friend hesitated before almost reluctantly inviting someone in. The white mare quickly assumed a neutral expression as the yellow pony escorted both Officer Tango and Officer Mulberry into the kitchen.

“Hello Snow Heart, nice to see you again,” Tango addressed her half smiling.

“Uh… yeah hi Snow Heart,” Mulberry didn’t sound as happy.

“Hello yourself,” Snow Heart greeted them warily; she looked at Parasol who looked back with an apologetic smile.

“I wish the circumstances were better though, we really must take a statement from you,” Tango continued.

“Oh really,” the Unicorn’s brow dropped heavily. The Pegasus cringed.

“Yes, you have been named in our current foalnapping case,” Mulberry explained and was lightly kicked by Tango. The stocky stallion glared at his partner who glared back.

“We agreed I would do this and I would break it to her more gently,” the thin stallion whispered between his teeth.

“I’ve been what?” Snow Heart’s eyes began to twitch. Ooh I’m going to stomp that Gryphon to the ground when I get my hooves on him.

“Look now, don’t get upset Snow Heart,” Tango quickly said and raised one hoof as if to try and calm the mare down from the distance. “You see we have conflicting statements from our suspects and the victim.”

Snow Heart narrowed her eyes a bit but the twitching stopped. The Unicorn hardly dared to hope how those statements conflicted with each other. Tango cleared his throat before carefully approaching; he also gave his partner a signal to just stay where he was.

“You see, it’s rather embarrassing. I mean we do know why you left Ponyville and it sounds almost ludicrous that the moment you return you… are almost immediately accused…um…” the Earth Stallion fell silent when Snow Heart’s eyes began twitching again.

“Snow, look can you just tell us where you have been for the past week or so?” he then whispered.

“I CAN’T!” Snow Heart snarled causing Tango to back quickly away, Parasol winched and Mulberry braced himself.

“Let me guess, the conflict of statement is that Diamond Tiara is blaming me for being foalnapped and the thugs who did it don’t know what she’s talking about. Well I CAN’T tell exactly where I have been because you can’t verify it anyway. I have no witnesses that can confirm it. You want to know why? Because I’ve been on the road for the past several weeks, I’ve not been in contact with anypony and nopony can probably verify my locations!” the Unicorn snapped and hammered her hoof on the kitchen table.

“Snow Heart, please calm down,” Tango pleaded. “Look yes you are right, Diamond Tiara did accuse you but one of the foalnappers has contradicted that statement by saying he and his partner where working alone.”

“How did you know it was Diamond Tiara who was foalnapped?” Mulberry asked.

“Because I told her,” Parasol stated dryly as she approached the kitchen table and walked over to her friend. Tango eyed back to his partner who cleared his throat in embarrassment.

“Well here is my statement. I had nothing to do with it, I’ve been spending weeks looking for somepony who is very dear to me,” Snow Heart barked and ignored Parasol’s attempt to calm her by placing a hoof on her back.

“Well then we will take that statement,” Tango nodded quickly and looked at the other officer. “Mulberry, take that statement.”

“Yes right,” the stocky officer produced his notebook and began writing in it, the pencil firmly placed in his mouth.

“Of all the nerve…” Snow Heart fumed, but deep inside she was laughing. Oh dear Paul, I must apologize for my silent threat. You have done well.

“Snow Heart…” Parasol began but then looked at Tango. “Tango, tell her the names of the foalnappers.”

“What? Uh sure, it’s a Gryphon named Paul, he’s the one claiming the credit and a Pegasus named Silver Axe,” the thin stallion told them.

Why didn’t I just become an actress? Snow Heart thought as she immediately changed her enraged expression to one of utter shock.

“Is he a large pony, with brown coat, silver mane and tail and silver axe cutie mark?” she asked and jumped down from her seat.

“Yes as a matter of fact he is, ah you know him?” Tango asked with a worried frown. Mulberry scowled but said nothing at the moment.

“Where is he?” Snow Heart demanded, changing back to anger. She stomped one hoof hard on the floor.

“He’s currently detained at Ponyville Hospital, he was in a fi…” the thin Earth Stallion had to watch as the Unicorn galloped out before he could finish. Parasol jumped up and flew after her friend, leaving the two officers in the kitchen.

“Is it just me or is this thing getting more complicated by the minute,” Mulberry muttered.

“She hasn’t changed one bit,” Tango commented with a smile, ignoring what the other officer said.

“Yes, jumps between three different emotions in a single leap,” his partner snorted.

“It gives her character,” the thin pony snorted and started towards the kitchen entrance. “Come on, we better go after them and see how she knows this Silver Axe. I wonder he’s the somepony she was looking for.”

“Yes it gives her character, a psycho character,” the stocky officer remarked as he followed.

“She’s not a psycho,” Tango snapped.

“May I remind you that in fit of rage she broke her own horn on a rock,” Mulberry said.

“Shut up!” the other officer grumbled.

End chapter 13.

Chapter 14

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Chapter 14.

Parasol was sitting outside the hospital room Silver Axe was kept in when the two police ponies arrived. With her was also the royal guard appointed with guarding the room. Both of them glanced towards the incoming officers. Mulberry slowed down his approach before they fully arrived, but Tango didn’t stop until he was right with the two Pegasus Ponies.

“Where is she?” Tango inquired about Snow Heart.

“In there.” Parasol indicated to the closed room. “She’s talking with Silver Axe.”

“Alone?” Mulberry asked frowning; he didn’t like that idea much.

“Yes alone, she’s been searching for the guy for weeks and finally finds him here in Ponyville hospitalized and under arrest for foalnapping. He took her in and apparently she cares enough about him, I think she deserves to be allowed to talk with him in private,” the yellow Pegasus stated sharply.

“Yes of course, that is quite understandable,” Tango nodded and ignored the questionable glare he got from his working partner.

“Tango, do I need to remind you that Snow Heart was named by Diamond Tiara as well in this case?” Mulberry pointed out.

“And we got contradicting statements about that,” the thinner Earth Stallion countered. “It doesn’t help either that Snow and Tiara’s histories together aren’t exactly in Tiara’s favor. She has already accused Snow wrongly before and the Gryphon is already taking all the credit for the foalnapping.”

“But….” Mulberry protested but was cut short by Tango’s stern look.

“You read too many crime novels Mulberry. The fact of the matter is nopony can back up Tiara’s statement. Her own foalnappers say it was only them and so far Snow Heart has stated she’s been on the road for weeks. We need something more solid and even a witness that can confirm Tiara’s account before Snow Heart can be put under suspicion,” he told him.

Mulberry dropped down to his haunches and made no attempt to respond to his partner. He now only watched as Tango began quietly talking with Parasol, the guard appeared to be listening as well but didn’t really partake much in the conversation.

“Ah’m gonna check on Sweetie Belle, see ya later sis.”

The police pony looked back over his shoulder when hearing the child’s voice. He saw Apple Bloom trot quickly out of another corridor and head for the door leading downstairs. Shortly after the girl was gone Applejack and Twilight Sparkle came walking from the same corridor. Spike was riding on the librarian’s back.

The stocky Earth Pony glanced back to where Tango and Parasol were talking before standing up and headed over to the two mares and the dragon. They noticed his approach and all three greeted him.

“So how is the case going with the foalnappers caught?” Twilight asked then she added with a wink. “I don’t expect you’ll need my help any further.”

Mulberry cleared his throat in embarrassment knowing what she was referring to. He truly didn’t mind the help she and her friends had done for the town; his desire was far more to solve real criminal case rather than dealing with dragons and parasprites.

“Hold that thought Twilight. This is case has become more complicated than we thought it would,” he said. Applejack raised an eyebrow while Twilight frowned in confusion. Spike scratched his head.

“What do you mean more complicated?” he asked what the two mares were thinking.

“First of all, the Gryphon is claiming full credit for the foalnapping, stating he only hired Silver Axe as a muscle to help him. Diamond Tiara has stated that Snow Heart is the one behind it all. Snow Heart meanwhile claims she’s been on the road for the past several weeks looking for somepony that took her in. That somepony turns out to be Silver Axe,” Mulberry explained.

“Huh, Ah heard Snow Heart was back in town,” Applejack remarked. Twilight nodded and opened her mouth to say something but a multicolored flash interrupted her. Suddenly Rainbow Dash was there staring intently at Mulberry.

“What was that about taking credit?” she asked.

“Ah the Gryphon, Paul is claiming credit for the whole foalnapping and that he hired Silver Axe as his muscle,” the officer repeated. All eyes were now on Dash who was scowling, something didn’t make sense to the rainbow mane Pegasus.

“If Silver Axe is the hired muscle and Paul was his boss, then why would Silver Axe let Paul be beaten up by Gilda? Why didn’t he do what he was hired for?” she asked.

Mulberry blinked, so did Applejack and Twilight. Again Spike scratched his head looking very confused. They looked over to Silver Axe’s room and saw that Snow Heart had emerged from it and was speaking with Parasol and Tango.

“Something is not right here,” Twilight remarked. “And it is an odd coincidence that Tiara would name Snow Heart and then she arrives in Ponyville the day Diamond Tiara is rescued.”

“That’s what I thought,” Mulberry grunted. “But Tango as usual can’t see any wrong on Snow Heart. I think he’s still embarrassed over the incident few years ago when Tiara first accused Snow Heart.”

“Maybe we should just ask her,” Rainbow Dash grunted and prepared to head straight to the other group, she was quickly stopped by an orange hoof stepping on her tail.

“Hold it there Sally, if something is up and Snow Heart already has made a statement that is conflicting with Tiara’s,” Applejack said to the annoyed Pegasus.

“Then she’s not going to confess anything incriminating when she has no reason too,” Twilight finished.

“Yeah, currently the only one who can name her is Tiara and her foalnappers are not agreeing with her.” Mulberry nodded.

“So what will we do?” Dash asked.

“We need to carefully ask around,” Twilight explained. “Is Gilda still in her room?”

“No she has already left,” the blue Pegasus told her. “She’s going to claim her cousin’s apartment in Los Pegasus.”

“If I recall correctly she was the last one with Paul, go after her and ask if Paul said something out of the ordinary,” the Unicorn instructed. Rainbow Dash frowned but then shrugged and took to the air and flew to the stairs.

“We need to keep a close but subtle eye on Snow Heart and hope she slips up somehow. Maybe we should talk with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle again, they did witness the tail end of the foalnapping, maybe they overheard Paul say something,” Twilight said.

“I can do that,” Mulberry claimed.

“Good, Applejack did you know Snow Heart back when she used to live here?” The Unicorn looked at the farm pony.

“Not really. Knew of her and remember the ruckus that caused her to leave, but Ah can’t say we were much acquainted. Pinkie knew her better, but then again she knows everypony, Parasol over there was her main friend if I recall correctly,” Applejack responded with a slight shrug.

“I wouldn’t bother talking with Parasol, she’s already shown that she’ll stick with Snow Heart,” the police officer grunted.

“Friends tend to do that, she has no reason to suspect someone she calls a friend,” Twiligh told Mulberry with half a smile.

“But what if Snow Heart is innocent after all?” Spike asked.

“That is still possibility Spike,” the Unicorn said and turned her head to look at the young dragon. “But there is still enough reasonable doubt to at least investigate. There are few questions unanswered and her arrival seems rather convenient.”

The group fell silent when sounds of hoof steps indicated that Snow Heart, Parasol and Tango were approaching. The guard remained outside Silver Axe’s room. The white Unicorn and the yellow Pegasus just politely greeted the three ponies and dragon before heading down the stairs. Tango halted and looked at his partner.

“You coming, Mulberry? The mayor probably wants us to finish up this case and give her a report,” he said.

“I guess,” Mulberry grunted. While Tango turned towards the downstairs entrance and headed for it, the other stallion leaned closer to Twilight but kept an eye on his partner.

“I’ll drop by the library later to talk about this extra investigation, I don’t think Tango is too open for any discussion on it,” he whispered. Twilight nodded her head and with Applejack and Spike watched the officer depart after the other one.

“Well Ah better head home and update Granny on Big Mac,” the farm pony spoke up and started towards the stairs.

“We’ll come with you,” Twilight said and followed.

Apple Bloom noticed Scootaloo’s scooter parked just outside the door of Carousel Boutique. She didn’t think much of it and figured the Pegasus filly had finished with whatever her mother wanted and had dropped by to check on Sweetie Belle. The girl opened the door and peeked inside.

Rarity was working with a client who was in need of a new hat. The white unicorn had a stack of headwear nearby and her customer stood in front of a mirror putting them on and taking them off to see how they looked on her.

“I’m also sure darling we could also get a fine gown to match the hat you will pick,” Rarity assured the gray Pegasus.

“No thanks, I just need a hat,” the mare said.

“Good day, Rarity.” Apple Bloom entered the store fully when not spotting Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo right off the bat from her vantage point. “Good Day, Derpy.”

“Oh hello Apple Bloom, how is your brother doing?” Rarity turned around and so did her client.

“He’s fine, just bumps and bruises, he’ll be out tomorrow,” the yellow filly informed her with a nod.

“Well that’s good to hear, if you are looking for Sweetie Belle, she is upstairs with Scootaloo,” the white Unicorn said.

“A’right, thanks,” Apple Bloom took a beeline for the stairs. Rarity and Derpy in the meantime turned back to the matters of hats.

“Dear, if you pick this one,” she gestured to the dark blue wide brimmed hat the Pegasus was currently wearing. “I have a dazzling cape that would go right with it.”

“Oooh, that does sound neat,” Derpy nodded in excitement.

Meanwhile Apple Bloom reached the second floor and walked over to the room Sweetie Belle made use of when visiting her older sister. She could already hear faint almost frantic voices of her friends and frowned in confusion. It didn’t help at all when she opened the door to see what was going on.

Sweetie Belle lay on the bed and madly flipped through a book, her sprained leg was properly wrapped and propped up so not to disturb it. Scootaloo was quickly skimming through a stack of books, tossing the ones she finished with behind herself. Already a pile of books was forming there.

“We are doomed, we are doomed,” the orange filly complained as she continued to toss books away after skimming them.

“We are in so much trouble,” Sweetie Belle cried, her voice cracking a bit.

Wow, and they say I overreact, Apple Bloom blinked at this peculiar scene. “Hey gals, what’s the trouble?”

“Apple Bloom,” Scootaloo jumped away from her pile of books and rushed over to the newly arrived filly. She grabbed her friend and began shaking her frantically. “We forgot the school assignment for tomorrow.”

“W-w-w-h-h-h-a-a-a-t-t-t?” the Earth Filly could only stammer as she was shaken, she managed to break free mostly because the Pegasus was letting go and began pacing back and forth.

“Our writing assignment, an important pony through pony history and I can’t write about Rainbow Dash again,” she explained.

“We were so busy with the foalnappers we forgot to even find anypony to write about,” Sweetie Belle waved the book from her position.

For a moment Apple Bloom just stood there as the realization hit her. Slowly the lower jaw began descending towards the ground, her eyes shrunk and she felt cold sweat coming all over her body. Scootaloo stopped pacing to look at her friend and Sweetie Belle was watching too.

“Yer right, we are doomed,” the yellow filly whispered, she grabbed Scootaloo and began shaking her this time. “What are we going do to? What are we going to do??”

“We are trying to work on it,” the orange filly pulled herself loose. “We just can’t find anything; Sweetie Belle doesn’t have many history books here.”

“Well then, why don’t we go to the library?” Apple Bloom wondered.

“I dunno if Rarity will let me,” the Unicorn sounded unsure. “I’m supposed to stay here until our parents come and pick me up.”

“Alright, Apple Bloom and I will go to the library and get books, we’ll come back here and if you have already been picked up we’ll come to your home,” Scootaloo suggested, that prompted positive nods from both her friends.

“Sounds good to me, we better skedaddle though and hope Twilight is back there by now,” Apple Bloom said.

“Okay, see you again soon,” Sweetie Belle waved.

The two other fillies darted out of the room and galloped down the stairs. Derpy was still trying on hats and had added a cape too. Rarity turned her head sharply when the two girls came running past them.

“Girls, no running in the house!” the Unicorn snapped.

“Sorry Rarity, we’re just going to the library to get books for a school assignment!” both fillies shouted as they disappeared out of the boutique.

“Children,” Rarity sighed and shook her head; she then turned back to her customer. “So Derpy, you never told me why you needed a new hat.”

“So what did he say?” Parasol asked while she walked back home with Snow Heart trotting beside her.

“Well he didn’t really say that much, he’s mute dear,” the Unicorn told her and chuckled at the ‘you know what I meant’ glare she got from her old friend.

“He admitted he liked me, liked me very much and he wanted to help me a get a horn operation,” she explained and sighed slightly. “But those are terribly expensive and he didn’t really work anymore.”

“So he decided to help foalnap a filly?” Parasol scowled.

“He was desperate, he did say he only agreed to this as long as the filly would not be hurt and returned immediately to her parents once the ransom was paid,” Snow Heart shook her head.

“Well the ransom was paid or so I heard, but I guess Mr. Rich will get that money back since they got caught,” the yellow Pegasus said.

Indeed, a slight chink in the plan, I had hoped to at least get the first payment. Oh well, the plan is pretty much on inprov right now, we are too soon in it, Snow Heart thought as she nodded to what her friend was saying.

“Well I guess I’ll be staying a bit longer than planned, I’ll want to see Silver Axe’s trial and where he’ll be taken,” she mentioned.

“You can stay with us as long as you need,” Parasol assured her.

Their route took them close to town hall and the two mares noticed a large gathering of ponies in front of it. Mayor Mare was stepping up to a podium and seemed to be preparing a speech. Snow Heart and Parasol looked at each other half confused then curiosity spurred them to take a closer look.

“Citizens of Ponyville,” the mayor started. “I am pleased to announce that the dreadful foalnapping case is over with the capture of the two foalnappers and Diamond Tiara’s safe return to her father Mr. Filthy Rich.”

“I see the mayor hasn’t changed much,” Snow Heart murmured. Around her the crowd was cheering the news.

“We naturally thank the Royal Guards for their valuable help in apprehending the criminals, but we can also take pride in it that our very own citizens participated in the search and rescue. A proper celebration will be held in due time and you’ll hear the announcement of that soon.”

Yak, yak, yak, still loves the sound of her own voice, the unicorn snorted and turned to leave.

Parasol waited a bit to listen more to the speech but lost interest when it just went on to congratulate those who participated in the search. She headed after Snow Heart who waited for her outside the crowd. The Unicorn looked at the arriving Pegasus but a thrill shout then caught her attention.

“You should be in jail!”

Diamond Tiara appeared on the run with a new tiara on her head. The filly stopped right in front of Snow Heart and glared up at her. The mare only took a step back and raised an eyebrow. Mr. Rich appeared soon after looking apologetic but didn’t get a chance to speak either as his daughter was rambling on.

“You foalnapped me. You broke the tiara mom gave me. You should be arrested!” she cried and pointed an accusing hoof at the mare.

Parasol winched and wondered if she should step in. Snow Heart’s eyes were beginning to twitch, a sure sign that the Unicorn’s temper was rising. Rich was trying to reach and drag his daughter back but Tiara kept evading him.

“I-I’m sorry Ms. Heart, she is just still recovering from her ordeal,” he tried to explain.

So she is, deep in her mind Snow Heart was laughing. And playing right into what I had in mind for her all along.

The Unicorn took a moment to eye around; it hadn’t escaped her that the mayor had fallen silent. The entire crowd of ponies and Mayor Mare were watching the spectacle, all appearing unsure what to think of what they were witnessing.

“I see,” Snow Heart snorted glaring daggers at Mr. Rich. “I see your daughter hasn’t changed much, throwing wild accusations around as per usual.”

“Snow, maybe we should just go.” Parasol finally made the decision to try and get her friend away and approached.

“I should be demanding an apology here,” the Unicorn ignored her friend for now, stomping her hoof hard on the ground. Some of the ponies in the crowd cringed and seemed to fear the worst.

“But.” All anger suddenly vanished from her face and she looked away with an indignant expression. “I suppose I can understand and forgive that the child is confused after her ordeal.”

“What… but… Daaad!” Diamond Tiara looked at her father who just shook his head and gave her a stern look.

“We don’t exactly have the best history together Diamond Tiara and I. I suppose it’s just natural for her to think of me as some bad scary mare, especially after her frightful experience this weekend,” Snow Heart continued, appearing more indifferent now.

There were murmurs from the crowd. Ponies were now nodding in approval and some looked sympathetically at both Snow Heart and Diamond Tiara. The mayor was smiling and approached the podium again.

“Well it does seem we have two happy occasions today. A dreadful criminal case over and a return of an old friend, welcome back to Ponyville Snow Heart,” Mayor Mare declared.

This caused the crowd to break into cheers and greetings. The ponies gathered around both Snow Heart and Parasol and soon enough both were being escorted to the Mayor. The Unicorn at first pretended to protest this sudden overwhelming welcome, but relented soon enough.

Mr. Rich and Diamond Tiara were left behind. The stallion was sighing in silent relief that nothing disastrous had happened. His daughter on the other hand was watching with her mouth agape and eyes bulging out in shock and disbelief. She just could not believe that her tormentor was being welcomed so readily and now was shaking hooves with the mayor.

“Come along Tiara, let’s go to the restaurant like we were planning to do,” Filthy Rich gently began ushering his daughter away from the crowd.

The filly didn’t resist as she was just too shocked to do it with any conscious effort. But as they passed the crowd, the girl did take one last look towards the stage. Her eyes met with the golden colored eyes of Snow Heart who was staring right back at her, smirking slightly before the mare turned back to the mayor and resumed a more normal smile.

Why does nopony believe me? Tiara was almost tempted to run back and challenge the Unicorn again, but the crowd was too thick and her father kept prodding her onward.

End Chapter 14.

Chapter 15

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Chapter 15.

The sun was already well on its way down beyond the horizon when Apple Bloom returned to Sweet Apple Acres. She and Scootaloo had come to the library closed, locked and neither Twilight nor Spike anywhere in sight. They had spent a while to go all over Ponyville to search for the librarian but no avail. Finally they both had to admit defeat and return to their respective homes for dinner.

The young Earth Pony was trying to think up all kinds of excuses to give Cheerilee tomorrow about why she hadn’t finished her homework. The girl sat down on the front porch with a sigh, trying to find the foalnappers sounded legitimate enough but would her teacher accept that?

“Apple Bloom?” Applejack appeared in the window calling, it took the mare a moment to realize that her sister was sitting right there on the porch. “Oh you’re there, dinner is ready.”

“Coming,” the filly said and rose up. She entered the house and just missed her older sister returning to the kitchen. The girl followed, still mulling over what to do about her homework.

“Hi Apple Bloom.”

The familiar voice snapped Apple Bloom out of her thoughts. Looking up the girl blinked when seeing both Twilight Sparkle and Spike sitting by the dinner table. Granny Smith was putting the last tray with food on the table.

“What? Ya where here all along?” the filly groaned in frustration. Twilight, Spike and Applejack shared confused glances.

“You were looking for me?” the Unicorn asked uncertainly.

“Yes, Scootaloo and Ah came to the library to borrow history book to finish our homework for tomorrow,” the filly explained and almost regretted it when her older sister scowled.

“What the hay, ya haven’t finished yer homework yet?” the orange Earth Pony snapped.

Apple Bloom realized she had to explain more quickly or Applejack would send her right to her room to finish her homework, even if she right now had no reference material. The filly opened her mouth and sped out:

“Yes ya see, Sweetie Belle and Ah promised Scootaloo to help her with her homework, which is to write about an important pony through pony history. Sweetie Belle didn’t have any history books, Ah know Scootaloo don’t have any and she can’t write about Rainbow Dash again. But then we got all caught up in the whole searchin’ for the foalnappers and the whole mess around that and we didn’t realize we hadn’t written anything until just now and so Scootaloo and Ah went to the library to get history books and take them back to Sweetie Belle and finish our reports with her, but Twilight wasn’t there so we gave up and went home because it was almost dinner time anyway.”

When Apple Bloom finished she closed her mouth and waited. Everyone in the kitchen had been listening without a word. Applejack’s scowl did ease a bit much to the girl’s relief, though it still could mean anything at the moment.

“If I think I got that all right, you three need some reference material to be able to finish your homework,” Twilight spoke up, she sighed when receiving a blank look from the filly. “You need a book about important ponies from pony history to finish your homework.”

“Yes exactly.” Apple Bloom bounced on the floor.

“Well I think we can fix that, we can go to the library after dinner if Applejack doesn’t mind,” the librarian offered.

“None at all,” Applejack shook her head and gave her sister a strict look. “As long as this does not happen again.”

“Yes sis, Ah promise,” the filly assured her sister with a furious nod.

“Well that’s settled then, let’s dig in,” Granny Smith declared and those still standing sat down around the dinner table.

They hadn’t been eating for too long when there was a knock on the front door. Applejack excused herself and rose up, but didn’t really need to go out to see who it was. Rainbow Dash suddenly popped up in the half open kitchen window.

“Hey guys,” she greeted them. “I found Gilda and talked with her again.”

“Rainbow, we were just sittin’ down to eat, ya wanna join us? We can talk about Gilda after that.” Applejack offered.

“Don’t mind if I do,” the Pegasus Pony accepted, not one to turn down a dinner invitation at Sweet Apple Acres with its reputation of good food. She opened the window fully and simply flew through it before the farm pony could protest this way of entering the house.

Applejack grunted but said nothing, knowing she had pretty much asked for it when inviting Dash inside. Twilight just shook her head with a smile, Apple Bloom and Spike chuckled and Granny Smith seemed to have fallen asleep. A gentle nudge from the orange Earth Pony woke the elder back up.

With no further interruptions the ponies and one dragon finished eating. When they were done Applejack told Apple Bloom to help Granny clean up, Spike also offered to help. The three remaining mares headed out to the front porch to talk there.

“So I found Gilda bit outside Ponyville, she couldn’t get too far in her condition really and was resting on a cloud,” Rainbow Dash began telling her friends.

“I talked with her about her cousin and she did say he said something funny before she passed out. Something along the lines of ‘that you think you won even if you rescued the filly’ or something like that.” The Pegasus shrugged, she couldn’t recall the Gryphon’s exact words.

“Now that is strange,” Twilight said thoughtfully, tapping her muzzle with a hoof. “Now why would he say something like that… unless Diamond Tiara was meant to be found?”

“Maybe he figured he won because he was paid the ransom?” Applejack suggested.

“No, the ransom was given back to Mr. Rich after Tiara was returned to him since nopony came to claim it,” the Unicorn shook her head.

“Well this guy is claiming the credit; even if it makes no sense that he’s the brains behind it. Gilda had free run beating him up, she said Silver Axe barely raised a hoof to help him,” Dash mentioned, her friends both nodded.

“I’ll run this by Officer Mulberry when he comes over to the library, I’ll maybe get a chance to ask either Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo about what they overheard when I help Apple Bloom with the books as well,” Twilight said.

“Huh? What books?” Rainbow Dash asked. The purple pony explained the homework dilemma of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

“What? She can’t write about me again? That’s straight A+ material there,” the Pegasus Pony huffed but only received amused giggles from the other mares.

“So this is your room?” Snow Heart looked around questionably.

Scootaloo had been given the task of showing the Unicorn around the house after dinner. Right now they were in the filly’s bedroom. It was an obvious shrine to the girl’s adoration to a certain rainbow maned Pegasus. There were homemade posters of Rainbow Dash and various other smaller drawings hung up on the wall, some even depicted Scootaloo flying alongside her hero and on the bedpost hung a blue colored headwear with a rainbow colored mane decoration.

There were some exceptions, the bedding was official Wonderbolt merchandise and there were some posters depicting the famous air show team around. It was still minimal compared to all the items the filly seemed to have on her idol.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo responded, her mind was a bit absent as she was still wondering what to do about her homework, without letting her mother know she hadn’t really finished it yet.

They walked back out and headed to the living room where Parasol was just sitting down after finishing in the kitchen. Scootaloo’s bedroom had been the last stop on the tour.

“It’s certainly a nice house you have got here Parasol,” Snow Heart complimented.

“Yes it is, but we still need to work our tails off to pay for it. Silver Script had to go yesterday to Canterlot to help with a play there and won’t be back until next week,” the Pegasus Mare explained.

“Dad writes plays and is sometimes asked to be an extra too if they can’t fill all the roles,” Scootaloo clarified.

“Yes I recall,” Snow nodded while she got seated.

Scootaloo turned away and headed back out of the living room. She figured the two adult mares would begin talking about various adult subjects she was not interested in so the filly intended to go back to her room and see if she could salvage her homework somehow.

I wonder if someone from the Wonderbolts would count, she mused. If the Pegasus couldn’t write about Rainbow Dash, maybe she could at least write about another subject she liked.

The filly was about to enter her room when she heard a knock on the front door. Almost immediately her mother’s voice rang out:

“Scootaloo, can you see who it is?”

“Fine,” Scootaloo grumbled and changed course to the front hall.

The young Pegasus opened the door a crack and peeked outside. The filly had expected many to be there but not Officer Tango. The skinny gray Earth Stallion was out of uniform now and his baton Cutie Mark was thus clearly visible on his flanks. He smiled nervously at Scootaloo and hesitated before speaking.

“Hello Scootaloo, is Snow Heart in?” he asked.

“Yeah I guess,” the girl responded and opened the door fully. She turned around and trotted out of the front hall and to the living room. Tango waited on the front porch, glancing around as if he was afraid someone was watching him.

“It’s Officer Tango, he wants to talk with Snow Heart,” meanwhile the filly was informing the mares who had arrived.

“Oh?” Snow Heart raised an eyebrow and rose up. Parasol frowned in confusion and tilted her head.

“You want me to come with you?” she offered but the Unicorn shook her head.

“I’ll handle this,” Snow Heart assured her and left for the front door.

The white mare assumed a questionable expression when seeing the stallion. She glanced back and saw that everything was wide open to the living room. The Unicorn snorted before returning her attention to the officer.

“Yes?” she finally asked.

“Hey Snow Heart, I’m not here on business. I just wanted to um… talk with you, maybe in private? We could take short walk,” Tango said, furtively eyeing to his sides as he mentioned the walk.

“I guess there is no harm in that,” Snow shrugged and glanced back into the house and called. “Parasol, Tango wants to talk with me in private, we are going to take a short walk. I won’t be long.”

“Alright,” the yellow Pegasus responded before adding with a slyer tone of voice. “Have fuuun.”

“Oh hush you!” the Unicorn snorted and did have to suppress a giggle before she walked out, closing the door behind her.

“Let’s go this way, it’s the most quiet and private at this time of the night,” Tango instructed and lead the way from the house. Snow Heart followed without word, holding her head high and with a confident expression.

They walked for a bit in silence; Tango kept looking around as if he expected something to leap at them from every shadow. Snow Heart’s brow began sinking into a scowl as they entered the more secluded and sparsely populated area of Ponyville

Tango finally stopped near some bushes and began walking in circles while checking to make absolutely sure they were alone. The stallion then faced Snow Heart and cringed when seeing her scowl, he huddled down under the stinging glare the mare was giving him.

“I thought you were going to be making sure the search parties stayed clear of Whitetail Woods until we were ready,” the Unicorn hissed.

“I was, but the mayor began gushing so much over how Princess Celestia sent royal guards to help us that she just gave them free reign. They even began recruiting civilians from the town to help with the search instead of just using designated rescue workers,” Tango whispered.

“Ugh, just great. I was going to torment that little brat for at least two more weeks before allowing them to find her,” Snow Heart snorted and restrained from stomping on the ground.

“I’m sorry, I tried everything I could. The best I’ve managed is keeping the reins on Mulberry, he’s suspicious of you but we have closed the case and the investigation,” the police officer apologized and hung his head.

“Good and Paul had enough brains to do what he was supposed to do when captured; Silver Axe seems to be on the level too so this operation can still be salvaged. Diamond Tiara is going to have to watch as I’m welcomed and adored here in the town despite her knowing I ripped her away from the comfort and security of her home. She’ll suffer that much at least,” the Unicorn smirked nastily.

“Yes, yes and you’ll forgive me for… um you know… accusing you of that crime you never committed years ago?” Tango slowly looked up with a hopeful smile.

“Why of course I will,” Snow Heart purred and approached the stallion.

The Earth Pony held down his breath as the Unicorn reached forward with her head and gently rubbed it against his. He felt a tingle go across his spine and didn’t breathe out until the mare pulled herself back slowly.

“Once I’ve found new place here to live in, I believe I will need some help to warm the place up,” she said with a very suggestive tone in her voice.

“Uh huh…” Tango nodded smiling wider but then dropped it as he remembered something. “Uh… about Silver Axe… there isn’t anything between you… is there?”

Tango wasn’t quite sure how to interpret it when Snow Heart laughed heartily. He did feel a small tinge of hope though when the mare began shaking her head.

“No, no dear, nothing at all. I’ll be giving the sob story that he was so in love with me that he stooped down to foalnapping to try and help me get a horn operation, but that’s about it. The guy is just means to an end, heck he didn’t even know he was being hired to a foalnapping until it was too late to back out,” the Unicorn explained. The stallion sighed in relief and became more relaxed.

“How did you manage to get him to agree to it?” the officer asked. “What we found out about him doesn’t exactly point to a typical foalnapper.”

“I flashed enough money at him, that seemed to do it and he turned out to be surprisingly reliable so far,” Snow Heart shrugged and turned around. “I better head back before Parasol begins to worry, she’s been rather protective of me since I returned.”

“Well the two of you were the best friends,” Tango pointed out, the mare nodded in agreement.

The two ponies began trotting back the way they came, once more in silence. Snow Heart was once again with her head high and confidence both in walk and face. Tango was more relaxed and didn’t look around nervously anymore. As they approached Parasol’s house they heard voices.

“Hey Scootaloo, here is a book that should help you finish your homework.” The stallion recognized the voice of Twilight Sparkle.

Snow Heart halted before they turned the corner and were revealed to the librarian, the two ponies continued to listen in.

“Oooh thanks Twilight, what are you going to do Apple Bloom?” Scootaloo’s excited voice responded.

“Twilight suggested Ah do Smart Cookie, ya know the advisor of Chancellor Puddinghead the leader of the Earth Pony tribes,” Apple Boom answered.

“Have you been to Sweetie Belle yet?” Scootaloo asked.

“Not yet, say Scootaloo while I got you here. Remember back on Friday when you and Sweetie Belle witnessed the foalnapping?” Twilight’s voice got lower but not low enough to be missed by the two eavesdroppers.

“Yeah,” the Pegasus filly said.

“You don’t remember the Gryphon saying anything strange, like say that he and his partner might be working for someone else?” the librarian asked.

“Huh…nooo not that I remember, Sweetie Belle might have heard, I think she was closer,” Scootaloo said.

Snow Heart turned her head to Tango who was mentally cursing. “Shut off the case, hm?”

“Mulberry must have decided to continue on his own with Twilight’s help,” Tango whispered and seemed just as annoyed as the mare. “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with him.”

“You better,” the white Unicorn narrowed her eyes before returning her attention back to the conversation they were listening on.

“Well we are headed to Sweetie Belle next, goodbye Scootaloo, good luck with your homework,” Twilight said.

“Yeah see ya tomorrow Scoot,” Apple Bloom said.

“Alright, they are going, you go deal with that idiot. I’ll see what I can do here,” Snow Heart whispered to Tango when hearing the hoof steps going away. The officer nodded and didn’t follow as the mare turned around the corner and headed to Parasol’s house.

The Unicorn saw Scootaloo on the front porch examining an old book. The filly looked up when the mare approached and put the book down.

“Hey, where is Officer Tango?” she asked.

“Oh he’s gone home, we were just catching up on old times. We were old friends too back when I lived here,” Snow Heart told her, “What is that book?”

“Just old history book Twilight Sparkle loaned me,” Scootaloo sighed and looked down at the old tome with disinterest. “I’m supposed to write one page about a famous pony in pony history for school tomorrow.”

“Ah I see,” the Unicorn nodded, she could easily see that this was not a subject of great interest to the filly. She would rather be doing something else, anything else. “You know, I could help you with that, I do like history.”

“You could?” Scootaloo perked up.

“Sure, sure, but let’s go inside and see what we can find in this book.” Snow Heart reached down to pick up the book into her mouth.

The filly nodded and sprang to her feet and lead the way back in. The Unicorn followed but before she closed the door she glanced back. She frowned and could almost have sworn seeing something in the shadows across the street. But nothing was moving so Snow Heart shrugged and shut the front door with a back hoof.

Mulberry jumped out of the bushes and galloped away the moment the front door shut. The stocky Earth Pony headed straight for Twilight’s Library with a panicked look and deep in his mind he could only repeat: Oh crud, oh crud, oh crud.

End Chapter 15.

Quick Author's note: Silver Script is apparently the placeholder name for the background pony that appears with Parasol in the Heart's and Hooves Day episode, so due to that he gets to be Scootaloo's father in this story. I really do love how I can just pick up background ponies to use when writing pony stories.

Chapter 16

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Chapter 16.

Silver Axe groaned when he woke up and his body reminded him of why he was lying in a hospital bed. The medication he had been given had mostly worn off so he didn’t feel as groggy or out of it.

The Pegasus frowned as he glanced around and wondered for a brief moment when and how he got here and how much time had passed. He really couldn’t recall much after passing out after the fight, though his foggy memories recalled hearing Snow Heart’s voice talking with him.

Wait, he thought focused a bit more on that memory, she had probably been here when he was still too hopped up on medication to response properly. And no doubt used that to her advantage.

Glancing at the window only revealed that it was still night, the Pegasus then took note of the rest of the room. He was alone in it and first now did the stallion notice that he was in fact restrained to the bed, though in his current condition escape was the furthest thing away from Axe’s mind.

I don’t recall what I was meant to do if I was caught, not that it matters. He frowned; events of the weekend were slowly coming back to him.

The Pegasus’s ears perked up when hearing faint voices. Ponies were talking outside his room but he couldn’t quite make them out. He didn’t need to wonder for long, the door opened and a yellowish mare with blue striped mane and tail came walking in. Silver Axe could just glimpse a guard standing outside through the open doorway.

“Oh, I see you are awake,” the nurse pony said and smiled. “I just wanted to check and make sure you hadn’t disturbed any of your bandages.”

Silver Axe raised an eyebrow but it wasn’t as if he was in any position to protest. The nurse removed his blanket to reveal more of his bandaged body. She then carefully inspected the wrappings but nothing was out of order and the Pegasus was soon covered again with his blanket.

“Now do you feel like you need more pain medication?” the nurse asked. “The doze we gave you should be worn out by now.”

Rather not, that batch really knocked me out, Axe thought and quickly shook his head.

“I’m sorry about the restraints, but the guards insisted on them since you are under arrest,” the mare explained and smiled more sympathetically. The guard outside cleared his throat rather audibly but the nurse ignored him.

“It will be morning soon, if you feel up for some breakfast I can note it for the next shift so they bring it to you,” she offered. Silver Axe considered it for a moment before nodding.

“Splendid, well it’s still few hours before dawn so you can rest a bit before breakfast,” the nurse said before heading out.

Silver Axe shook his head and doubted he would fall asleep again anytime soon. He watched the nurse leave and began to close the door, but it stopped half way and the Pegasus could hear her address someone:

“Big Macintosh, you really should stay in your room.”

“Ah know, but Ah really need to talk to that feller I fought,” Big Mac said.

“It’s highly irregular, you both need your rest,” the nurse protested.

“Ah’m aware of that and Ah’ll take full responsibility for it,” the red stallion assured her.

“Well… what do you think?” the nurse addressed the guard now.

“Very well, but don’t be long,” the guard grunted.

Why would he want to speak with me? Silver Axe brow rose and he watched as the door opened fully again and Big Macintosh entered. He was only slightly less bandaged as the Pegasus.

“Now Ah understand that ya can’t speak?” Big Mac addressed him while approaching the bed. Silver Axe nodded in confirmation.

“Well that’s alright, Ah’m not much of a speaker mahself,” the red stallion explained and sat down.

Silence commenced for a brief moment. The guard had closed the door so the two big ponies were pretty much alone in the room. Silver Axe kept his gaze on the ceiling waiting to find out what exactly the Earth Pony was after. Big Mac was contemplating how to begin.

“Why did ya not finish me off?” the red pony finally asked. Silver Axe slowly glanced towards him. “Oh right, that’s difficult to answer when ya can’t talk and Ah don’t understand hoofsignals.”

“Alright, let me just be blunt then Mister Silver Axe. A lot about ya right now don’t make lick of sense. Ah admit Ah went face first into the fight because Ah figured you were going to harm mah sister and her friends. But now that Ah’ve had time to think, ya never really tried to break off from the fight at all. Ya had plenty of chances to break off and run, even go and warn yer partner. Ya both had the advantage of wing power. Then when ya threw me, ya could have easily just let me crash land and Ah would be far worse off than Ah’m right now,” Big Mac started on his theory, speaking probably more now than he had for the past several months.

“Now stop me if Ah’m wrong but why do Ah have a feeling that ya wanted to be captured?”

Well it wasn’t supposed to be quite like this but no you aren’t wrong so to speak, Silver Axe thought before simply nodding.

“Ya wanted to be captured?” Big Mac asked again though it was more in surprise that he had been correct. Silver Axe nodded the second time.

“Ya are not really working with the foalnapper are ya?” the red stallion’s brow rose high when the Pegasus shook his head.

“Alright, if Ah find somepony who understands signals, will ya explain now what exactly yer part in this is?” Big Macintosh asked and he immediately rose up when Silver Axe nodded. The Earth Pony trotted as quickly as his injuries allowed to the door and peeked outside.

“Hey, do ya understand hoofsignals?” he asked the guard standing outside. The white Unicorn guard looked at him questionably.

“Uh a bit, why?” he asked.

“Yer prisoner wants to explain something,” the red stallion told him.

Might as well explain what I’m really up to now, maybe that will get the ball rolling, Silver Axe waited until Big Mac returned with the guard. Soon enough both were sitting on either side of his bed.

“Alright, talk, well signal, what is it you have to say?” the guard asked.

The Pegasus carefully raised his right hoof and began tapping it on the bed railing, forming his thoughts into clicking signals as long as you understood them. The guard translated every word.

I fully confess that I’m guilty of assisting with the foalnapping of Diamond Tiara. I had honestly hoped to be able to stop things in its birth but things moved faster than I anticipated. You see, I had been living in solitude near the Crystal Mountains for many years when a mare calling herself Snow Heart arrived on my doorsteps, Silver Axe began his tale.

At the time she looked like she had been traveling for weeks nonstop and was both hungry and thirsty. I allowed her to stay for few days to recover until she could on her own continue whatever journey she was on. She did leave after a week and I thought that was the end of that, she never asked anything of me and seemed just as eager to get going.

Then few weeks ago she returned with a Gryphon named Paul. She asked me if I needed a job, I informed her that I wasn’t really looking but she turned very insistent. She said it was an easy job and all I needed to do was make sure Paul did what he was supposed to do. I almost threw them right out when the job was revealed to be foalnapping.

Silver Axe stopped for a moment to rest his hoof. He was still weak and tired so this was more laborious than usual. Both the guard and Big Mac waited patiently for him to continue.

Something struck me about this, you may or may not know but years ago I lost my daughter in a terrible storm. I know how it is to lose a foal and I would never wish that on anypony else. I realized that these two would just go and find somepony else to work for them, maybe even a pony far more willing to foalnap for easy money. I figured if I played along I could unravel their plans and expose them before the foalnapping took place.

I just didn’t take into account what a good strategist Snow Heart turned out to be. First of all Paul and I were supposed to do all the hard work. Snow Heart would come to the hiding place later and only stop there for a short while then go and collect the ransom money. Paul was then in event of capture to claim full credit for the foalnapping and I was simply the hired thug.

The day the foalnapping took place I attempted to bungle things up; I took my time to arrive to the meeting point with Paul and even stopped in the local bakery. Unfortunately Paul didn’t turn out to be as incompetent as I thought and succeeded in getting Diamond Tiara without anypony noticing.

Once again the Pegasus stopped both to rest and because he looked almost embarrassed. Big Mac wondered if Silver Axe felt he had done more harm than good. The Guard also used the opportunity to go to a nearby sink to drink some water, since he was doing the translation. When both were ready the pony on the bed continued his tale.

After that I was pretty much at loss what to do. The plan had gone mostly without a hitch. I could have alerted someone to our presence but Paul would then just claim the sole credit for this and Snow Heart would escape and she sounded like the type to try again no matter what. But after seeing what that mare really had in mind for the poor girl, I decided to Tartarus with it, at first opportunity I was exposing us.

If I really was going to be doing my job I would not have allowed Paul to go back to his apartment, but I did and as I suspected would happen he was followed, by his own cousin who proceeded to beat him up. I took some mild satisfaction in watching him being used as a mop on the Forest floor. I figured his cousin would do to lead search parties to us and thus knocked her out and sent her away on a cloud in the general direction of the town.

Things didn’t quite happen in the order I wanted, first just these kids and a stallion arrived. I tried to scare them off in hope they would also get a search party into the area, of course I had to act as if I was chasing them just in case Paul was watching. Then Big Macintosh came and we had our brawl. At that point I was so frustrated that things didn’t happen like I wanted them too that I honestly stopped seeing Big Macintosh and kept seeing Paul and that I was beating him up.

That’s why I didn’t let you crash, I got too carried away imagining I was beating up Paul and realized my error when I sent you flying. When I dropped you off outside the woods and within view of the town, I realized this was perfect to finally alert myself to the search parties so I kept the fight going as long as possible. Of course Big Macintosh turned out to be the better fighter anyway.

Silver Axe finally finished. The guard and Big Mac were staring at him looking both surprised and mildly confused. The Unicorn finally opened his mouth to say something but the Pegasus began tapping again with his hoof.

There is one more thing.

“Oh please, do go on,” the guard allowed him.

While I reluctantly allowed Snow Heart to formulate her plan in my cabin, she did receive letters from somepony. I don’t know who and if either Paul or I asked, we didn’t get much in response.

Snow Heart wrote letters too and sent them regularly. When Paul voiced his concern how close our hiding place would be to the town, she told him not to worry and that it was covered. I don’t know about you guys, but it almost sounded like Paul and I weren’t the only pony and Gryphon in her employment.

I mean, when I arrived at the forest line I was surprised to see how close the woods were to the town. Any good searching party would have no trouble finding the cottage we were hiding in. It was almost as if this was deliberate, like it would be ensured by somepony that we wouldn’t be found.

I honestly think Snow Heart had somepony on the inside, probably whoever it was she was writing letters too.

“So let me get this straight, you were trying to sabotage the foalnapping efforts from the inside?” Guard asked and Silver Axe nodded. The Unicorn glanced skeptically towards Big Macintosh.

“Well he was confirmed to enter Sugarcube Corner by Mrs. Cake before the foalnapping took place and Ah find it strange he would not just let me crash after throwing me, not to mention he never really tried to chase mah sister and her friends,” the Earth Stallion pointed out.

“And yes, he did allow this Gilda to beat up on Paul without interference and then just sent her off to be easily found,” the Guard looked back at Silver Axe who just shrugged.

For the record I’m not trying to deny my involvement. I fully realize I should have had this stopped much sooner, I just wanted to try and ensure Snow Heart be caught as well and hopefully find whoever accomplice she has in this town, the Pegasus added.

“Um… I probably should report this to my superior,” the Unicorn Guard glanced unsure back to the door.

“Eeeyup,” Big Macintosh agreed.

End Chapter 16.

Chapter 17

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Chapter 17.

Tango entered Town Hall on Monday morning and the first thing he saw was the lieutenant Pegasus who was in charge of the royal guards. There was no sign of Mulberry or anyone else.

“Where is Officer Mulberry? I need to talk with him,” Tango asked.

“I don’t know, I was just arriving myself,” the Pegasus shrugged. “I’m expecting a report from my guards at the hospital.”

“I’m sure Vigilance has appreciated the help, he’s never had two criminals in the hospital before, well he’s never had criminals in there at all,” the Earth Pony said and sat down.

The lieutenant nodded and glanced at the clock, it was still very early. Tango eyed the door; he had been counting on Mulberry arriving early as usual. The stocky little pony did take his job seriously enough despite his many complaints.

“Maybe he’s sick?” the lieutenant suggested.

When I’m through with him, he’s going to wish he was, the officer thought. “Maybe.”

When the door began to open, Tango rose up and prepared to berate his working partner for continuing the investigation. The stallion scowled, raised one hoof and opened his mouth. Only to see two royal guards, a white unicorn and a black one enter Town Hall.

The police officer slunk back down and lowered his hoof again, feeling mildly embarrassed and annoyed that this hadn’t been Mulberry. The two newly arrived guards raised their brows then looked questionably at their lieutenant who was trying not to snicker.

“Are you alright Officer Tango, you seem tense?” the Pegasus asked.

“I’m fine,” Tango grumbled, mentally strangling the absent Mulberry now.

The lieutenant shrugged and walked over to the two guards who both straightened up. The Pegasus saluted them before giving them a signal to be at ease, the two ponies relaxed their stance.

“We have a very important report from the hospital, sir,” the white unicorn guard spoke when given a nod to begin.

“What is it?” the Pegasus asked. “Is it about the prisoners?”

Tango stopped grumbling to himself when hearing the word prisoners. Slowly the Earth Pony rose up and casually got a bit closer to the three royal guards but didn’t stand too close. They didn’t seem to mind and ignored the officer completely.

“Yes sir, the one called Silver Axe has made a rather interesting confession just few hours ago,” the black Unicorn continued and his partner nodded in agreement.

What? Tango made every effort not to show any outward signs of his confusion. He resisted the temptation to frown.

“It seems he was not as in the whole foalnapping case as we thought he was,” the white Unicorn said. “Turns out he was apparently actively trying to sabotage it from the inside of the group.”

It was only by miracle that Tango wasn’t already galloping out of Town Hall to warn Snow Heart. The officer knew he hadn’t heard the whole thing so he had to wait and listen more, but deep down his heart was beginning to beat faster in panic. The officer tried to appear as if he was just casually listening and mildly interested due to this being his job. It was really hard.

“That is interesting, how exactly was he allegedly doing that?” the lieutenant asked and seemed to put an emphasis on that question.

Tango didn’t notice the odd weight the Pegasus had put on the question, but he did listen intently when the white Unicorn began telling Silver Axe’s entire confession from few hours ago. The gray pony’s eyes shrunk in utter shock, his jaw dropped and his coat actually got paler as sweat began pouring down his brow.

“You know you’re right Mulberry is probably sick I better go check on him!” Tango sped out of his mouth before charging for the front door and left Town Hall on as much speed as his four legs permitted.

The guards watched him leave but weren’t surprised. The lieutenant glanced back to the office door of the mayor, it was slowly opening and out peeked Twilight Sparkle, Mulberry and Mayor Mare.

“You think this will work?” Mulberry whispered. He looked frightened.

“We’ll soon find out,” Twilight said and trotted out of the office. “It was a good thing the guards actually reported Silver Axe’s confession a lot sooner so we could properly stage this little show.”

“I… I still can’t believe it.” The mayor followed the librarian, a look of disgust on her face. “Tango involved in this dreadful business?”

“I told you I saw them talk with each other last night,” Mulberry furtively sneaked out of the office. “Then I saw them listening in when Twilight was talking with Scootaloo. I just knew then Tango would know we were still investigating and I just couldn’t go home after that because I knew Tango would try and find me and who knew what he would do too me…”

“Yes we know, Spike found you hiding in my pantry,” Twilight glanced down at the officer; he was walking so low he appeared smaller than her.

“Well you weren’t home, I had to hide somewhere,” Mulberry muttered.

“In my pantry?” The purple Unicorn peered at the gray pony.

“Alright, I was hungry too,” the officer confessed.

“Well this is all well and good but we probably should head after Tango now,” the lieutenant pointed out.

“Right, Spike should be hiding near Parasol’s house so at least we have a lookout if anything happens,” Twilight nodded and assumed a thoughtful expression as if something had occurred to her.

“Good, I have guards stationed near Mr. Rich’s house just in case as well,” the Pegasus nodded, he and the two unicorn guards headed for the front door.

The mayor, Twilight and Mulberry watched the guards leave. The officer had finally calmed down enough to stand up normally; he glanced at the librarian who hadn’t moved at all after them.

“Weren’t you going too?” he asked.

“I was, but I think they can handle this. You and I are going to the hospital,” she said and started for the door.

“What? Why?” Mulberry asked and followed.

“Something just occurred to me, I’ll tell you on the way,” Twilight answered and waved the mayor.

“Good luck, keep me informed,” Mayor Mare waved the two ponies leaving the building. She then sighed and shook her head before returning to her office.

Spike peeked out from the bushes but nothing was happening yet. The young dragon pulled his head back in and sat down. He was starting to get a bit bored; it’s been several hours already and nothing had happened. He had seen Scootaloo head to school an hour ago and that was probably the most activity around the house. Parasol and Snow Heart had waved the filly bye but then both gone back inside.

The dragon’s stomach grumbled, reminding him that he hadn’t really eaten breakfast yet. Things had been happened so quickly after he found Officer Mulberry hiding in the pantry. Before Spike knew it, he was put on spying duty near Scootaloo’s home.

“Spike? Why are you hiding in a bush in front of my house?” Suddenly the orange filly was there in the bush with him, behind her peeked Apple Bloom.

“Aaah!” This had happened so suddenly that Spike jumped and accidentally let out a wisp of green fire that singed parts of the leaves around them.

“I’m sp… shouldn’t you three be in school?” the baby dragon asked, he knew he hadn’t been waiting for that long for something to happen.

“We were but Miss Cheerilee only took our weekend assignments and then gave all of us the rest of the day off, she said we probably could use the extra day after the whole foalnappin’ stuff this weekend,” Apple Bloom explained.

“So we were coming here to get my scooter and the wagon and then we were going to pick up Sweetie Belle since she can’t walk due to her sprained ankle, when we saw you peek out of the bushes,” Scootaloo finished and then eyed the dragon intently. “Which brings me back to why are you hiding in a bush?”

“Well you see,” Spike began to explain and carefully glanced out to see if anybody else was there.

The dragon was about to pull himself back down when he saw Tango appear in the distance heading straight for the house. Spike gasped and quickly grabbed Apple Bloom, who was only half inside the bush, by the tail and dragged her in to hide.

“Hey!” Apple Bloom protested but she and Scootaloo quickly got a shush signal from Spike, the dragon looked worried and now listened intently as Tango’s galloping hoof steps came closer.

“What’s going on? Why are you hiding from Tango?” Scootaloo whispered but was just shushed again by the young dragon.

They heard Tango knock on the door and then shift back and forth on the front porch while waiting for an answer. Spike very carefully shifted one branch of the bush so they could see. The stallion had stopped when Parasol finally appeared in entrance.

“Hi, can I speak with Snow Heart?” the officer asked, trying to look calm as he could.

“Sure, just a moment,” the yellow Pegasus said and went back in. Tango again began shifting back and forth and reassumed his panicked look.

“Yes?” When Snow Heart arrived so suddenly, he almost jumped and galloped away. He managed though to turn around to face her.

“I have bad news, very bad news,” he whispered. The Unicorn mare frowned and stepped outside, closing the door behind her.

“What is it?” she asked with a frown. Tango leaned closer to whisper; Spike and the fillies had to strain their ears to hear what he was saying.

“Silver Axe just made a confession where he apparently was not on your side at all and was actively trying to sabotage the entire thing,” the officer told her and quickly backed a step when he was done.

Snow Heart stared right at him, a scowl slowly forming on her face, the eyes were twitching and her mouth started to form a sneer. Tango braced himself for whatever storm was coming.

“What!!?” she hissed and dug her front hooves hard in the ground.

“Like I said, Silver Axe confessed few hours ago…” the stallion fell silent and shrunk down when Snow Heart was right in his face looking just about ready to commit murder.

“Few hours ago?! Why didn’t you come sooner!” she snapped.

“I didn’t get the report until just a few minutes ago. The guards didn’t come until then,” Tango said meekly, he closed his eyes when the mare raised one hoof as if to hit him. When nothing happened, the officer opened one eye. Snow Heart had stopped in mid swing, rage gone from her face and instead she was cringing and staring past him.

Tango followed her gaze and saw Scootaloo stand by a slightly singed bush, one hoof raised and with a sad frightened expression. Spike was half way out himself in a failed attempt to grab the filly, Apple Bloom head peeked out from the bush looking startled. Then to top it all Parasol stood in the front entrance of the house, one hoof covering her mouth in shock.

“There they are! Grab them!” the bellowing voice of the Pegasus lieutenant rang across the area.

Snow Heart quickly looked over and saw the two Unicorn guards and their commanding officer coming towards them on stop speed. She looked back at Tango who seemed just as surprised by their arrival. The mare turned her head towards Scootaloo then Parasol for a brief moment before taking off.

Tango rose up and was about to follow but the black Unicorn guard arrived and quickly tackled and pinned him down.

“You are under arrest officer,” the guard snorted.

“Scootaloo,” the voice of Apple Bloom shouted. The guard glanced back and saw the orange filly take off after Snow Heart with her friend right behind her. Spike followed and so did Parasol. After them then went the Pegasus lieutenant and the white Unicorn guard.

Twilight and Mulberry entered the hospital lobby and went straight to the front counter. The nurse manning it put her book away and sat up when seeing them coming.

“Hello, we would like to speak with Silver Axe if possible,” Twilight addressed the white mare.

“Just a moment, I’ll see if it’s possible,” the nurse said and left the counter.

“You really think he’s not telling everything?” Mulberry whispered while they waited.

“He left something out in his confession, Mulberry. Diamond Tiara was yes the foalnapping victim, but she wasn’t the only victim. She wasn’t alone when this Gryphon Paul attacked her. Silver Spoon was with her, I want to know what Silver Axe has to say about that,” the unicorn explained.

“Oh right, of course,” the officer nodded.

The nurse returned and with her was the brown security guard pony of the hospital, Vigilance. He didn’t look all too happy, the Mohawk mane stallion was frowning hard and it just seemed to get harder when seeing both Officer Mulberry and Twilight.

“Well it’s about time somepony came around,” he snapped. “I thought those royal guards were going to help me keep the prisoners in check!”

“What? They didn’t put replacements when they left?” Twilight asked surprised.

“No, they just immediately left and told me that they needed to report something to their superior, said they wouldn’t be long and now it’s been several hours!” Vigilance growled.

“Oh they probably thought they wouldn’t be long, but the lieutenant dragged them over to my library to speak with me and then we went home to the Mayor and then we cooked up a plan to catch Tango and Snow Heart in a trap. I’m sorry Vigilance, we completely forgot to send replacements,” the Librarian cringed and face hoofed herself.

“Has there been any problems?” Mulberry asked worried.

“Fortunately not, but I’m only one pony and these two are in two separate rooms even if they are restrained,” the security guard grunted and glanced back. “You were going to talk with Silver Axe right? Very well come with me.”

Vigilance turned around and escorted the two into the hospital proper. They took the stairs to the second floor and took the corridor leading to Silver Axe’s room. The security guard’s mood seemed to have mellowed a little on the way, he wasn’t frowning anymore. Twilight mentally berated herself again for forgetting about the guards.

They entered the room the large Pegasus was in but stopped short when seeing the empty bed. The restraints had been snapped in two. Three mouths were agape as the ponies took in the scene in front of them, the question of how and when started to rush through their heads.

A scream pulled them out of their shock. Vigilance was the quickest to react and rushed off, Mulberry and Twilight followed soon after. They galloped to another corridor where a nurse was backing away from a doorway and had dropped the tray holding a patient’s breakfast to the floor.

The three ponies rushed over and when the nurse saw them she could only point at the room and babbled nonsensically. They all three carefully peeked into the room and once again their mouths hung open.

Paul lay completely still on his hospital bed, but his head was not in a natural angle and his tongue lolled out of his beak. There was no sign of life in his only eye and the Gryphon was not breathing. His talons were slightly bloodied, a sign that he had tried to defend himself but clearly not succeeded. Two notes lay on his blanket covered boy.

Twilight took one step inside but was halted by Vigilance. He had noticed Silver Axe. The large Pegasus was sitting by a window staring out; there were scratches on his front legs, possibly after talons from a Gryphon. The remains of his restraints where still fastened on him.

The Pegasus didn’t even glance over to them. Instead he just raised one hoof slightly and began signaling. Vigilance and Mulberry looked at Twilight who had gasped while listening to the hoof signals.

“Oh my…” the unicorn blinked.

“What did he say?” Mulberry asked.

“He said: ‘I should not have tried to bungle it up. Again I could have prevented a filly being hurt but instead I did something stupid. Had I just done my job my daughter would still be alive and I could still talk. Had I just met Paul when I was supposed to, I could have prevented him from harming that filly he dumped in the dumpster to die. I waited for the right moment. I couldn’t do it at the cottage, then I would have had to explain myself to Snow Heart. No it had to be when he was helpless. Helpless like that filly, so he could feel how it was to be helpless.’” Twilight translated.

“Did he have to… kill him?” Mulberry cringed and took a step in. He almost jumped back when Silver Axe turned his head to look at them.

Twilight reacted on instincts. Quickly her horn began to glow and suddenly a purple force field bubble surrounded the large Pegasus. Silver Axe looked up and around but otherwise didn’t move.

“Vigilance, get Big Macintosh, I know he’s technically a patient but right now he’s the only one strong enough to handle this pony. Mulberry, you help the nurse,” the librarian ordered.

Neither stallion argued, the security guard quickly disappeared down the corridor and Mulberry went to tend to the nurse pony that still huddled up against the wall opposite the door. Twilight entered the room and kept a careful eye on the force field around Silver Axe.

“Look Silver Axe, I’m sorry about your daughter. But the other filly, the one Paul attacked; she was found right away and brought to the hospital, just so you know. She is alive, her parents took her on a trip to help her recover,” she addressed the Pegasus, he only hung his head.

Twilight frowned; it was puzzling that the stallion would react this violently regarding a filly he didn’t even know. She glanced at the bed and saw the notes, using a levitation spell she picked them up and brought them closer. One had a lot written on it.

“Rain Dove was the most beautiful little filly ever born in Cloudsdale. Her little dove like wings always flapping in excitement when it rained, her beautiful gray coat always shimmering in the sunlight, her silver gray mane and tail were always well kempt and often braided up by her mother. Despite her problems with learning, she was always a bundle of optimistic joy and never let anything bring her down. She loved playing in the rain and making big splashes in the puddles. She loved flying in the rain too and was always mesmerized in wonder when there was a scheduled thunderstorm.”

The purple pony looked over at Silver Axe, it was rather mood to say that he was silent since he was mute, but he was looking a whole lot sadder. The librarian noticed that more was written on the other side of the first note and flipped it over.

“Rain Dove did have problems learning and never understood why she couldn’t fly in thunderstorms. She always wanted to go closer to what she called ‘the pretty lights’. We always had to keep a close eye on her during storms, or she would try and sneak out to fly. One day we made a mistake, we dropped our guards. The storm was not even scheduled; it was an accident from the weather factory and storm clouds escaped out of control from it. It took dozens of Pegasi to get everything back under control. I was one of them until my wife arrived and told me that Rain had managed to sneak out and she couldn’t find her. I raced away to search for her and who knows, if I had just continued to gather up the clouds things might have gone fine. The worst moment of my life happened when I found my daughter’s charred body and had to bring her back home to my wife.”

Twilight sighed sadly, there was no denying it that this was a sad tale but it didn’t really answer a question that still burned on her mind. Why had he finally killed Paul and even waited with it until an opportunity arose. She looked at the other note and expected more written on it, but instead it was a drawing of a filly placed in a dumpster.

The librarian turned the note around and raised an eyebrow when seeing a drawing of a small filly flying in what apparently was supposed to be a storm. The mare turned the note around few times before looking back at the first note and gasped when rereading the description.

“Oh… she reminded you of your daughter,” the Unicorn whispered startled. She glanced at the force field and saw that Silver Axe was in the process of nodding, tears in his eyes.

I should have helped her, but I didn’t! I should have helped them both! The Pegasus signaled with his hooves.

End chapter 17.

Chapter 18

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Chapter 18.

Scootaloo wasn’t really sure why she ran after fleeing Snow Heart. It was not like they had just bonded overnight even if the mare had helped her last night with her homework. The filly still only had vague memories of the unicorn from her early childhood. Maybe it was because she had seen how happy her mother was to have her old friend back?

“Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom caught up with her since the young Pegasus wasn’t on her scooter. “Do ya know what is goin’ on?”

“No,” the orange filly answered.

“Well yer mom is right behind us, as are two royal guards. Ah don’t know about ya but Ah for one want to know what’s goin’ on here and why Snow Heart was about to hit Tango and then ran off,” the Earth Filly stated.

The Pegasus girl glanced back and saw Parasol flying behind them and approaching rapidly. The mare wasn’t looking at her or Apple Bloom; she looked past them towards fleeing Snow Heart. Only slightly further behind was the lieutenant Pegasus and on the ground but closing in was the Unicorn royal guard with Spike on his back. The baby dragon had fallen behind only to be picked up by the white stallion.

“Where is she going?” Scootaloo wondered.

Apple Bloom glanced around, there was something familiar about the route they were chasing the Unicorn mare. It hit her when they suddenly ran past Sweetie Belle’s parents’ house. The injured crusader was peeking out of her bedroom window and stared wide eyed at the group racing past her home.

“I think she’s headed for Mr. Rich’s house,” the yellow filly answered, but as they approached the street Snow Heart suddenly took an immediate right turn away.

The two Crusaders noticed that a little too late and didn’t manage to stop themselves until they were in the street leading to Mr. Rich’s mansion. Parasol and the two guards on the other hand were just further enough back to be able to turn and continue the chase without stopping.

“Why did she…” Apple Bloom fell silent when Scootaloo pointed at all the royal guards around Mr. Rich’s mansion.

“Come on or we’ll lose them,” the Pegasus filly took off to resume the chase.

“What the hay is goin’ on around here,” the farm filly complained as she followed her friend.

“We won’t find out until we catch up with the others,” Scootaloo told her and ran as fast as she could to catch up at least with the white Unicorn guard.

Meanwhile her mother had caught up with Snow Heart. Parasol matched the speed of the running Unicorn so she would be flying just above her. She considered forcibly stopping her friend by tackling her, but decided to try first to talk.

“Snow, what is going on?” she asked.

There was no response, Snow Heart completely ignored her and was muttering something angrily. Her brow was in a heavy scowl and her muzzle twisted in a sneer. Still Parasol tried to press on.

“Snow Heart, you know you can talk to me, please tell me what is going on. Why were you going to hit Tango and what was this all about Silver Axe?” the Pegasus raised her voice.

Snow Heart still didn’t listen and ducked into a side street, Parasol barely managed to follow. They had entered one of the few parts of Ponyville that could turn into a bit of a maze with all the buildings around.

Wait Snow Heart isn’t familiar with this part of Ponyville, it was built after she left, the Pegasus thought but wasn’t sure if she should warn the fleeing Unicorn. She did want the chase to end and hear some real answers.

“Snow… will you please talk with me,” Parasol pleaded and sighed in frustration when still there was no answer.

As the yellow mare suspected, the chase was soon over. Snow Heart ran into an alley between two houses that had a wall built between, forming a dead end. The Unicorn skidded to a halt but didn’t turn around; instead breathing heavily she glared at the brick wall. Parasol landed and folded her wings; she glanced back when hearing a heavy thud behind her. It was the Pegasus Lieutenant who had had followed from a higher altitude, once they stopped he dove in to land.

“There is nowhere to run now Snow, please, what is going on?” the yellow Pegasus asked once again.

“Ma’am, I am sorry to tell you this, but your friend is after all apparently involved in the foalnapping case. One of her accomplices, Silver Axe, has in fact confirmed Diamond Tiara’s words,” the lieutenant informed Parasol.

“W-what?” she gasped in shock. “That… I can’t… that just isn’t possible…”

“Officer Mulberry also witnessed Officer Tango and Snow Heart talk last night, we have the third confirmation of her involvement,” the stallion added.

Parasol fell silent and looked back at her friend who still faced the wall. She wasn’t sure what to say. Right now the Pegasus mare was feeling numb; this was just a bit too much to take in so suddenly. She could only watch as the lieutenant took a step towards the Unicorn, preparing to place her under arrest.

Before the Pegasus got too close to Snow Heart, the mare suddenly stomped the ground hard with one hoof. This caused the stallion to halt and Parasol flinched a bit. The Unicorn finally turned to face them, mad glint in her eyes and still the same angry sneer in on her muzzle.

“This was all so perfect!” she snapped, frothing at the mouth.

“I found an idiot who wanted to make a name for himself in the criminal underground and a stupid mute brute with insecurity issues to do all the dirty work and take the fall when they got captured. I planned for everything!” Snow Heart kicked the wall with her right hind hoof, leaving a crack in it.

“I even had a pony on the inside that would sabotage all search efforts until I was ready to allow that stupid brat to be found. But no, these idiots had to be captured the same weekend, forcing me to go to next step too soon and then that stupid mute idiot goes on and blurts everything away!” The Unicorn was growing angrier and angrier with each sentence.

The Pegasus lieutenant braced himself for anything, Parasol was now sitting and just staring slack jawed at Snow Heart. They didn’t notice that behind them the Unicorn guard, Spike, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo had finally caught up. The four newly arrived could only stop and watch much like them.

“But… w-why?” Parasol dared asking when nothing more came from Snow Heart.

“Because I wanted that filthy bastard and his obnoxious brat to SUFFER!” the Unicorn snarled.

“They wanted to make a villain out of me, FINE. I showed them what I really can do! Diamond Tiara got to see just how badly I really can treat her. If I have to be accused of something, at least now I’m actually GUILTY of something!” Snow Heart snarled and kicked the wall again.

“What is she talking about?” the lieutenant asked confused.

“An event that was full of both misunderstandings and miscommunications,” Parasol sighed and looked sadly at her old friend. “Snow Heart, stop please, listen to me.”

Surprisingly Snow Heart did halt and stared right at the yellow Pegasus. It wasn’t a glare even though the anger was still emitting from the Unicorn. Parasol took a deep breath rose up.

“Snow Heart, your biggest fault has always been your temper, it has clouded your judgment often enough. The only one to really accuse you of anything years ago was Diamond Tiara and she was just a much younger filly than she is now. Yes Mr. Rich has coddled her and she hasn’t exactly grown to be a fine understanding girl, but the fact remains that she is still just a young filly used to get her way,” the Pegasus began, she could only hope her friend would listen since Snow Heart’s eyes were narrowing.

“Try to remember Snow Heart, yes Diamond Tiara did slip in the living room and yes in your process to try and stop her she was accidentally sent skating even further in causing even a bigger mess. She was upset naturally and did accuse you of trying to kill her. Mr. Rich sent you home after he arrived on the scene not because he believed his daughter like you thought, but because he saw you were about to lose your temper. He knew it was better to give you the rest of the day off,” Parasol continued.

“As you know this isn’t a big town and news fly fast. Rumors and gossip began going around but nopony really accused you of anything. Tango never accused you; he came around as a friend to just ask you about what happened. But you were upset and your fierce temper probably didn’t help much either. Mr. Rich never even pressed charges, even though some ponies often seem to remember otherwise.”

Parasol watched for further reactions from Snow Heart, she still hadn’t reacted to the Pegasus’s long explanation. The Unicorn looked just as angry as before, she dug her hooves into the ground hard like she was restraining herself. Finally she gave the wall a hard kick with both her hind hooves.

The brick wall cracked quite a bit, but the mare wasn’t strong enough to tear it down if that was her intention. The Unicorn snorted and stomped towards others, the lieutenant got ready in case Snow Heart was actually intending to do more than just kick inanimate objects. But she just stopped immediately in front of Parasol, the sneer was gone but she wasn’t smiling either.

“Your biggest fault Parasol is how naïve you have always been,” she snorted before glaring at the lieutenant. “Well!? Isn’t the jig up as they say? I am under arrest right?”

“Right, private, take her away,” the lieutenant ordered after a slight hesitation, you didn’t often hear the criminal requesting to be arrested.

Spike jumped down from the Unicorn guard as the stallion moved forward. The dragon glanced at Scootaloo and Apple Bloom who had both just stared wide eyed and unsure at the whole scene. He stepped out of the way when the guard walked back as he escorted grumbling Snow Heart out of the alley. The mare halted for a moment when seeing Scootaloo, she stopped grumbling and sighed before resuming her walk. The dragon could have sworn he heard her whisper ‘what have I done’.

“Huh, that’s interesting,” he mused.

“Spike, do ya know what the hay is goin’ on?” Apple Bloom addressed the baby dragon; she had finally shaken the surprise out of her.

“Well it seems that Snow Heart had this big convoluted plan to foalnap Diamond Tiara, hired Silver Axe and Paul the Gryphon to do it and had Officer Tango on the payroll as well to sabotage any search efforts, it all went down the drains when Silver Axe actually confessed against her. That’s the gist of it I think,” the dragon told her.

“Wait hold on, ya telling me the pony that almost beat mah brother was on our side?” the farm filly blinked.

“Yeah appears so,” Spike nodded.

They looked at Scootaloo who hadn’t given any input into the conversation. The orange Pegasus wasn’t really paying attention to them. She was staring at her mother who had sat down with her head hung. The lieutenant had already flown away, probably to oversee the imprisonment of the new prisoners.

“Uh Spike, maybe we should go check on Sweetie Belle, bet she’s wonderin’ what is going on too since we ran past her home,” Apple Bloom whispered to the dragon when the Pegasus filly rose up and walked over to Parasol.

“Yeah we should do that,” Spike agreed. The Earth Filly and the baby dragon then made a quiet exit out of the alley.

Scootaloo meanwhile was sitting down beside her mother but didn’t say a word. She wasn’t sure what to say or what to feel, things had happened so fast. The young Pegasus looked up at Parasol when hearing a sniffle.

The yellow mare was silently crying but a small sob had managed to escape her lips. Scootaloo’s ears dropped and the filly reached with one hoof to place it gently on her mother’s leg. Parasol looked over and when seeing her daughter, the mare wrapped her front legs around girl in a hug.

“Mom, are you alright?” Scootaloo quietly asked as she returned the embrace.

“I will be,” Parasol responded.

“Is Snow Heart what you meant about what hate could do to you?” the filly wondered.

“I…” the yellow mare hesitated and hugged her daughter a bit closer, resting her cheek on top of the girl’s head. “I didn’t really… didn’t have her in mind no. But I guess she does fit with it yes.”

“She seemed so nice,” Scootaloo said, thinking back how Snow Heart had reacted to the Crusaders and how she had helped her with her homework last night.

“Yes,” Parasol sighed and raised her head again. “She was.”

The lieutenant headed towards Town Hall since he knew that both guards would bring Tango and Snow Heart there. He was already half way over when he noticed a Pegasus guard heading towards him from the distance at great speed. He stopped to hover while peering towards the incoming guard.

Hm, isn’t that one of the guards I sent north yesterday to search Silver Axe’s cabin? he thought.

“Lieutenant Knight! Lieutenant Knight!” the guard shouted when seeing he was headed towards his superior officer.

“He seems to be in a hurry and sounds alarmed,” the lieutenant frowned, he didn’t need to wait for much longer, the guard at his speed was soon right in front of him and saluting.

“Sir!” the newly arrived Pegasus addressed him.

“At ease, private, I take it you found the cabin and have searched it?” Knight asked. One eyebrow rose when the guard cringed and nodded furiously.

“Sir, yes sir, we did. Found it. Yes… been flying all night to get back to tell you. We found it,” the private sped out and was shaking.

Lieutenant Knight tilted his head and wondered how this guard made it out of boot camp. He just couldn’t imagine what they could have possibly found in the cabin to leave one of his guards this shaken.

“Calm down soldier!” he ordered sharply and somehow the private did manage to stop shaking. “Now tell me, what in Equestria did you find there that is leaving you trembling in your armor?”

The guard took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a second as he prepared himself. Then he leaned closer to Knight and whispered everything to him. The lieutenant found this rather peculiar but as he listened his eyes grew wider and wider. Soon his jaw was making an attempt to reach the ground.

“Come with me!” Lieutenant Knight ordered and darted off towards Town Hall with the guard right on his tail.

They were very soon there and just arriving as well was the white Unicorn guard escorting Snow Heart. The lieutenant immediately headed for them and landed so suddenly right in front of the two earthbound ponies that the mare jumped a bit back, the Unicorn stallion seemed more used to this kind of entrance and didn’t even flinch.

“You!” Knight’s whole attention was on the mare.

“Um yes?” Snow Heart responded. Surely she couldn’t be in more trouble than she already was since all her schemes and plans had fallen apart.

“Silver Axe, how much do you actually know about your mute lackey?” the lieutenant asked.

“What? Honestly, didn’t he tell you all everything anyway? I didn’t know we were going to be doing the interrogations out here,” the mare frowned.

“Just answer!” Knight demanded spreading out his wings in irritation.

“Fine. Not much honestly, he was mute, lived in a cabin in the woods between the Crystal Mountains and Manehattan. He agreed to play the muscle for Paul for money, that’s honestly all I know about him. Oh sure I first met him few years ago and he allowed me to stay a week until I found my way to Manehattan, but other than that honestly nothing,” the mare snorted.

“Did he ever act strange? Was there an area in the cabin he did not allow you to enter?” Knight asked.

“Seriously? I mean you caught me already it. What is so relevant about these questions?” The mare and the Unicorn guard shared the same confused expression.

“Please, Snow Heart. I am in a hurry, answer me,” the lieutenant snapped.

“Alright, alright. I didn’t go into his bedroom if that is what you want to know. When I first met him, I wasn’t exactly in a good mood. I was still stewing after the first scene I caused in this town. Didn’t notice anything strange about him because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, he didn’t seem sorry to see me go when I left,” Snow Heart shrugged. “And afterwards I was rather busy planning for what I’m currently under arrest for.”

Knight turned his head towards the Pegasus guard who leaned closer and whispered something to him. The lieutenant nodded and returned his attention to the two Unicorns.

“Alright, you take her in. Who did you have replace you guarding the prisoners in the hospital?” the lieutenant addressed the Unicorn guard who blinked then slapped his face with a hoof.

“Oh horse apples, we forgot, we were only going to be away for few minutes,” he confessed.

“What?! The prisoners are unguarded?” Knight shouted.

Without further word the lieutenant took off, flying straight for Ponyville Hospital. The private ranked Pegasus quickly followed. Snow Heart watched them leave then glanced at the Unicorn who was still berating himself for his error.

“Am I the only one feeling like I’m missing something here?” she asked. “I mean, I’m the big villain here right? I dared to have a filly foalnapped, had a pony on the inside and everything.”

“I have no idea to be honest,” the Unicorn stallion shrugged.

End chapter 18.

Quicky author's note: Yay I finally gave the Lieutenant Pegasus a name. No he was not a character I forgot a name, he was never intended to have a name, but then I figured ah what the heck. Unfortunately his full name is very unoriginal, it's Golden Knight. If somebody already has a character with that name, please let me know and I'll change it.

Oh and by the way, not much left of this story.

Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

“Well, this has been rather enlightening,” Twilight put the notes down.

The Unicorn mare hesitantly glanced at the hospital bed still containing Paul’s body. A doctor had finally arrived but all he really could confirm was that the Gryphon was no more to this world and then covered the body with a sheet. Then Vigilance helped the doctor wheel out Paul’s bed.

Big Macintosh stood near the force field bubble that still surrounded Silver Axe, by him was also Officer Mulberry. Neither Earth Pony needed to be there, but both felt they probably should be on guard just in case.

“Silver Axe, you did well by confessing and confirming that Snow Heart was actually the real mastermind behind the whole foalnapping incident. But you didn’t have to kill Paul,” the librarian addressed the large Pegasus.

Silver Axe made no move to response. He had resumed watching out the window. Twilight leaned to the side to try and see his face. The Pegasus’s expression was neutral but his eyes still looked misty after the crying earlier.

“I guess we better lower this force field and take you back to your room. We are going to have to restrain you again to your bed,” Twilight said, her horn began glowing as she prepared to dispel the bubble.

“Hold on, Twilight,” Big Mac suddenly spoke up and approached the Unicorn. The large Earth Pony sounded mildly concerned.

“Yes, what is it Big Mac?” she asked curiously.

“Don’t ya find anythin’ off about this here whole scenario?” the red stallion lowered his voice to whisper.

“What do you mean?” Twilight glanced between Big Mac and Silver Axe who appeared to be paying no attention to anyone.

“That pony just upright killed someone, Twilight,” Big Mac said.

“Ah yes, I know, Big Macintosh. I kind of saw the body and all,” Twilight reminded him.

“Twilight, he broke free of his restraints, came over to that Gryphon’s room, snapped his neck and then sat down all calm like in front of the window,” the Earth Pony counted up and first now his brow sunk into a slight scowl.

“Huh, he does have a good point there. Silver Axe looked awfully calm when we found him here.” Mulberry agreed from his spot near the force field.

“What are you guys saying?” Twilight asked but already in her mind she was trying to work it out. Now that I think about it…

“Ah’m saying, we should probably consider that this might not be an unknown territory for him,” Big Macintosh responded, the Unicorn didn’t seem to be listening as she was examining the notes again.

“Wait a minute,” Twilight flipped the picture note around. Both fillies have wings, but Silver Spoon is an Earth Pony.

Twilight looked up from the note, first she stared at Big Mac before slowly leaning sideways to see Silver Axe who still hadn’t moved. Using levitation she picked up the written note and read it again, over and over.

“Silver Axe, you say you brought the charred body of your daughter to your wife. But according to the reports from Cloudsdale I read, you crashed in that thunderstorm too.” Twilight put the note back down.

This time she got a slight reaction. Silver Axe hung his head before glancing ever so slightly back at her. He looked sadder but there was something off about it. Twilight couldn’t quite put her hoof on what it was.

They were interrupted when Lieutenant Knight burst into the hospital room, followed by the private ranked Pegasus guard and Vigilance. The senior guard came to an abrupt halt when seeing that Silver Axe was encased in a force field bubble, almost causing the private and Vigilance to crash into him.

“Do NOT drop that force field Twilight Sparkle!” Knight ordered, raising one armored hoof in alarm.

“Alright, you’re the second pony to tell me to not do that,” the purple Unicorn shook her head. “I take it you are here with something new to tell?”

Knight took a moment to catch his breath. He had first charged straight for Silver Axe’s room and had quite a fright when seeing that the large Pegasus was gone. But Vigilance spotted him and the other guard and told them were the prisoner was so he had raced immediately over hoping he wasn’t too late.

“Miss Sparkle, you know that I sent few guards north to check Silver Axe’s cabin, the private here has just returned and reported to me their findings. In fact he flew all night to report what he found,” the lieutenant began.

Twilight raised an eyebrow when noticing how Knight was staring with contempt at Silver Axe and the private guard eyed the force field worried. Mulberry as well glanced back and forth between the guards and the prisoner.

“They found bodies Twilight Sparkle, down in a basement that was accessed through the bedroom. Bodies of young foals all charred as if struck by lightning. They also found a backroom in the basement with small graves. That pony is a serial killer!” Knight snapped.

“And pictures sir, the pictures on the wall,” the private whispered. “And the writings…”

Twilight Sparkle couldn’t say a single word. Her eyes were wide as saucers and she grimaced while the new information sunk in. Mulberry’s gray coat actually seemed to grow paler and he looked as if Nightmare Moon, Discord and Queen Chrysalis had all three materialized right in front of him. Quickly the small stocky stallion scrambled away from the force field bubble, staring horrified at the large prisoner.

“Well, Ah’ll be darned,” Big Macintosh’s brow rose slightly and his were eyes fully open now.

“He’s…he’s…” Twilight stammered. Her attention was brought back to the prisoner when a steady stream of tapping reached her ears.

Silver Axe was signaling with his hooves. His eyes were narrow and looked more intense. The mouth was just a straight line. He didn’t stop tapping, just kept going and going like he was saying the same thing over and over again.

“W-what is he saying?” Mulberry asked. He found the constant stream of knocking unnerving.

“He’s repeating ‘I tried to save her’ over and over again,” Knight frowned.

“Just like he wrote on the walls in red ink,” the private guard whispered in disgust.

“I don’t think that was red ink, private,” the lieutenant cleared his throat before he looked straight at the royal guard Pegasus.

“Private, I want you to head immediately to Canterlot and request for the prison train to be sent here immediately. We are shipping this pony straight there to face trial, he’s going to be under maximum security from now on,” Knight ordered the guard who saluted quickly and disappeared quickly out of the room.

“I’m not risking anything with that thing,” The lieutenant glanced over to the force field. Silver Axe stance hadn’t changed much but it was almost as if his eyes looked more insane.

“I-I’ll maintain the force field around him, only powerful magic can dispel it,” Twilight immediately assured him.

“Good to know, by the looks of it our regular restraints aren’t good enough,” Knight nodded, glancing at the remains that still hung on Silver Axe.

“So wait let me get this straight,” Vigilance looked at the Knight. “This guy has been killing ponies… foals… regularly?”

“I dare say we have just solved several missing foal cases in one fell swoop,” the lieutenant muttered, glaring at the prisoner darkly.

Twilight picked up the notes once again with a levitation spell and stepped over to Knight and Vigilance. She showed the papers to the guard, making sure to flip them over when he was done with one side. The security stallion also stole a glance at the notes.

“You may want to take those with you to Canterlot. That pony needs psychiatrist care, it is obvious now that losing his daughter really sent him over the edge,” the Unicorn told him.

Knight nodded and took the notes. Mulberry now approached having recovered from his shock. The stocky stallion still looked disturbed. He was seriously reconsidering his stance of having more criminal cases in Ponyville. Big Macintosh still kept an eye on the force field trapped Pegasus, just in case since the pony had already surprised them few times.

“I’m going down to Town Hall… no wait Tango is no longer… wait, I’m the only officer left in Ponyville…” Mulberry groaned and hung his head.

“What were you going to do?” Twilight wondered, gently patting the stallion on the back.

“Ask Tango what to do next,” Mulberry muttered, he hated to admit it right now but it was usually his former work partner who knew what to do.

“Well you can still do that, you probably just can’t take anything seriously he says,” Twilight chuckled. Then an idea hit her. “Hold on, you should probably search his house, there might be more there regarding his connection to Snow Heart.”

“Of course, I’ll go do that,” the stallion nodded eagerly. Before he left, he gave Silver Axe a one last unsure glance. “Sounds more what I had in mind for police work than…”

“He does know that dealing with deadly criminals is actually regular for police officers right?” Knight asked when Mulberry was gone.

“You’ll have to excuse him; usually the most excitement he gets is when Rarity’s cat gets stuck up a tree. This isn’t exactly high crime area after all,” Twilight chuckled.

Tango wasn’t sure if he was supposed to feel embarrassed or disappointed in himself. This was quite a bit of a downfall for someone who had been a pony of law and order for the town. The stallion was also starting to regret his involvement a bit, but knew there was nothing to do about it and all he could do was face the music.

He glanced around the empty room. It was one of the rooms in the Town Hall that the Mayor was going to change into more office space. Due to nothing being in it at the moment and since the building also doubled as the police station this served as his and Snow Heart’s jail cell. They had never gotten around installing a proper one as it had never been needed before.

“I don’t suppose you had any plans for this?” he asked though not expecting an answer. Snow Heart had been stewing in one corner of the room since she was brought in and not even bothered looking at him.

“Well I suppose Mulberry got his wish, a real criminal case in Ponyville,” the stallion walked over to the window and glanced out, standing below it was the black Unicorn guard who had arrested him.

Tango could see the clock tower from his vantage point. It was late afternoon by now so he had been here for big portion of the day already. He watched Time Turner leave the tower and head off towards Ponyville garden. He saw the local mail mare Derpy Hooves fly past the tower, she carried her mail bags but instead of mail it carried her daughter Dinky who waved her hooves in excitement.

Yeah… I have a feeling it will be a while before I can watch this sight again, He shook his head in dismay.

The former officer backed away when he saw a Pegasus guard land in front of the Unicorn one and began talking with him in a hurried voice. Tango strained his ears to try and hear what they were saying, but mostly only managed to make something about the Gryphon dead and other prisoner going to be shipped to Canterlot.

Huh, wonder what’s going on? Tango frowned; the Pegasus looked to be in quite a hurry.

“Snow, I think they said Paul is dead.” The stallion looked at the mare.

“What?” Snow Heart looked up and sounded genuinely surprised.

“The guards outside,” the Earth Pony looked back out but the Pegasus was gone by now. “They mentioned something about the Gryphon was dead and that the other prisoner will be moved to Canterlot.”

“Other prisoner? In singular, not plural?” Snow Heart frowned in confusion.

“I think so,” Tango shrugged.

“Can’t be Silver Axe, they’ll probably give him a medal for confessing my involvement,” the mare grunted and lay down.

Tango didn’t respond and looked at the door that was opening. Snow Heart glanced back too and the two ponies watched as Lieutenant Knight and Mayor Mare entered the room. The former officer turned to fully face them, but the Unicorn didn’t move any more than she already had.

“Snow Heart, I need to ask one more time,” Knight addressed the white mare. “Where you aware of anything odd about Silver Axe or did you see anything strange in his cabin?”

“Oh for the love of… NO!” Snow Heart snapped. The mare rose up and turned around. “I already told you. I was barely in the main area of his cabin for a week and only returned later to hire him to help me.”

“So you never went into his bedroom?” Knight asked and quickly added when seeing the indignant expression arrive on the mare. “And access the basement?”

“What? What basement?” Snow Heart blinked in confusion. “There wasn’t even an attic; this was a single story cabin. I think there was a shed outside.”

“So you never saw the bodies, or the writings or the pictures he kept?” Knight asked in deadpan voice.

“No I… what?” Snow Heart stopped when she realized exactly what the Pegasus had just said. Tango was already ahead of her with a truly shocked expression and his jaw trying to make a break for the ground.

“It turns out that this Silver Axe quite literally had a few skeletons in his closet,” Mayor Mare told them, the way she spoke indicated she too was only recently informed of the grizzly revelation.

“Congratulation Snow Heart, you hired a child serial killer to foalnap a filly,” the lieutenant said in a voice heavily laden with sarcasm.

“I…huh?” Snow Heart plumped down to sit, her mouth wide open and her eyes shining both shock and confusion.

“I… never… no…wait…” the Unicorn mare couldn’t form a complete sentence; this had just been a bit too much even for her.

Knight turned to leave without further word, feeling he had pretty much confirmed that Snow Heart had been in the dark about Silver Axe. The mayor followed at first but stopped in the doorway and glanced back.

“We are still going through few things, but I’ll be talking with the judge soon about a trial date. Don’t think you’ll be waiting for too long though,” she told the two ponies, but they were still both just too shocked to respond.

The door closed and locked, leaving Tango and Snow Heart where they sat. The stallion did eventually manage to regain some of his senses and glanced towards the Unicorn. He bit his lips when seeing the tears that were forming in her eyes. The mare closed her mouth and swallowed something before slowly looking at him.

“I-I’m a monster,” she whispered, her voice broken.

“No, I think Silver Axe turned out to be that one,” Tango tried to helpfully point out.

“Yes and I HIRED him!” Snow Heart snapped at him. “I hired a serial killer to foalnap, nopony was supposed to die or risk dying. I was going to scare them yes, not kill them!”

“Is this a bad time to point out that Paul attacked Silver Spoon and dumped her injured into a dumpster?” Tango mentioned and cringed when seeing Snow Heart’s enraged expression arrive.

“HE. DID. WHAAAAT!?” Snow Heart screamed at the top of her lungs.

“No, no, NO. This was not supposed to happen!” the mare ranted and began pacing around, switching between as if she was about to cry or looking like she was ready to stomp someone to the ground.

Finally she just slumped down to the floor and covered her head with her front legs. Tango hesitated to approach, knowing that with her temper the mare might just well began raging again.

“I guess he took the ‘no witnesses’ a bit too literally,” the stallion said.

“I never said ‘no witnesses’. I told him to make sure nopony saw him foal nap her, I meant he was supposed to grab her when she was alone… oh what am I saying, who cares what I meant?” Snow Heart cried.

“I care?” Tango suggested but there was no response from the mare, she just continued to cry on the floor.

End chapter 19.


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“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Gilda shouted and stumbled from the bedroom. She had been woken up by constant knocking on the apartment door. She stretched but was mindful of her bandages.

Grumbling the Gryphon wondered who it could possibly be at this time, ignoring the fact that outside it was quite clearly day time. She opened the door and peered outside, it took her a minute to recognize the light blue and rainbow maned Pegasus standing there.

“Hey Gilda,” Rainbow Dash greeted her.

“Dash? What are you doing here?” Gilda grunted and debated for a second if she should let the pony inside.

“Look I know we can’t say we are bosom buds anymore, but hey you helped out down in Ponyville, finding where your cousin was and all,” the Pegasus started and rubbed the back of her head. “And you kind of left in a hurry after that. Figured I should come around and thank you and all that jazz.”

“Eh, I was just making sure Paul stopped being stupid,” Gilda grunted.

“Yeah sure,” Dash nodded though she didn’t quite believe the female Gryphon. She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a piece of paper and gave it to her.

“What is this?” Gilda eyed the paper questionably.

“Check from Filthy Rich, Diamond Tiara’s father. He gave rewards to everyone who was involved in rescuing her daughter, I offered to bring yours to you,” the Pegasus explained but now started to twitch a bit. She was not sure how to tell the next bit of news.

“Wow, Filthy Rich is a right name for the dude,” Gilda eyed the check. “I could buy a new apartment for this.”

“Yeah… uh can I come inside, I got some more news,” Rainbow Dash looked back to make sure nobody else was around.

Gilda stepped aside without a word, still working her brain round the amount of money on the check. She closed the door once the pony was inside and walked to the sitting area, Dash followed silently trying to come up with a way to gently say the next part.

“Man, Paul must be stewing; I bet this is more than his employer was going to pay him,” the Gryphon snickered and grinned wide when she looked back at the pony. It dropped when seeing the solemn face Rainbow Dash was sporting.

“Uh Gilda… about your cousin,” the Pegasus sighed and shifted a bit on her legs.

“Yeah?” Gilda frowned, she half expected to hear that Paul had escaped imprisonment and was on the loose.

“He’s dead.” Dash could not think of any other way to say it. Best just be blunt and take whatever reaction her old friend would show.

“Oh…” the Gryphon wasn’t really prepared for that and unsure how to really respond. She sat down and just stared at Dash for a moment before looking down at the floor.

“How?” she asked quietly.

“Silver Axe killed him… turned out he’s a complete wackjob who uh, kept recreating the accident that killed his daughter using other fillies as substitutes. Neither Paul nor this Snow Heart who hired them knew anything about it,” the Pegasus told her.

Gilda didn’t respond, just stared at the floor. Rainbow Dash started to walk over but the Gryphon turned away. Her talons were digging into the floorboard and the tail twitched. But so far she remained silent.

“I’m sorry Gilda.” Dash could obviously see that her old friend had cared about her cousin, despite his rather idiotic criminal behavior. “If there is anything I can…”

“Just go… I want to be alone,” Gilda tried to growl but as she was already trying to suppress most of her emotion it came more out as a raspy sob.

“Your family still lives in Cloudsdale right? Want me to contact them?” Rainbow Dash asked, she was not going to leave just like that unless she could at least make sure the Gryphon was alright.

“Whatever!” Gilda rose up and hurriedly walked into the bedroom slamming the door shut.

Rainbow Dash let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. The mare hadn’t expected this to go well and this almost matched how Pegasus had pictured things going. She glanced at check that had fallen to the floor. Dash picked it up and placed it on top of the coffee table before heading for the front door.

“Gilda, I’m going. I’m sorry what happened, I’ll contact your family in Cloudsdale,” Rainbow Dash called. There was no response so all she could do was leave the apartment and her old friend behind.

“How is your leg?” Apple Bloom asked and slurped on her milkshake.

“Better, I can walk now without it hurting too much,” Sweetie Belle responded munching on a cookie.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders were in Sugarcube Corner, seated by a round table. All three fillies had a milkshake each and several cookies and muffin to snack on. Another weekend was approaching and hopefully with less excitement than the last one.

“I bought new roller skates with my reward money, what did you girls use it for?” Scootaloo wondered.

“Oooh, I got lots of new toys, mom helped me mail order them from Fillydelphia since our toy store here in Ponyville didn’t carry what the catalogue showed,” Sweetie Belle beamed.

“Right, then next on our agenda is invading Sweetie Belle’s room to hog her toys,” Apple Bloom jested. Her friends giggled though the Unicorn added blowing a raspberry towards the Earth Filly.

“As for me Ah haven’t really decided yet what to buy, Applejack suggested Ah save it for something special,” she then responded to the reward question.

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle nodded. The fillies were quite content right now and hacked away their sweets and drunk their shakes. Apple Bloom looked over to the door when it opened and saw Twilight Sparkle enter. The purple Unicorn went straight to the counter and struck up a conversation with Pinkie Pie who was manning it.

“It’s been wonderfully quiet week since Mr. Rich took Diamond Tiara on a trip,” Scootaloo commented, she lazily spun the straw in her milkshake. Both her friends nodded in agreement.

“You think she and Silver Spoon will act nicer now after what happened to them?” Sweetie Belle wondered.

For a moment the crusaders fell silent as this thought sunk in. But it didn’t take them long to burst into giggles. Scootaloo almost snorted out a mouthful blend of both milkshake and cookies.

“As if, I have a feeling all we bought from them is a temporary truce,” the orange Pegasus rolled her eyes.

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom nodded in agreement.

“Hey girls,” Twilight had arrived at their table, on her back balanced a box filled with goodies she had just bought. The fillies all greeted cheerfully. “How are you three doing?”

“Good!” they responded in unison.

“Twilight, is it true what they said about that Silver Axe character?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Well…” the librarian cringed slightly, it was no secret. Ponies everywhere were talking about this shocking twist in the foalnapping case and it was in all the papers.

“Yes it is true I’m afraid. Don’t worry about it, he’s far away now and locked in,” she said.

“Twilight, what about Snow Heart and Tango?” Scootaloo questioned and frowned slightly.

“They are going to jail as well. They will be there for a while I imagine,” Twilight explained with a nod.

“But can you believe it? Tango involved as well?” Sweetie Belle asked with an audible gasp.

“Yeah, he always looked so prim and proper,” Apple Bloom nodded.

“It was quite a revelation yes, we did find out that they have been keeping correspondence with each other ever since the time Snow Heart first ran off. Mulberry found so many letters we are still going through most of them,” Twilight told them and looked at Scootaloo.

“Incidentally, Scootaloo, how is your mother?” she wondered.

“Oh, she’s fine I guess,” the orange filly shrugged.

“Still think she is a bit sad over what happened,” she then added. Twilight nodded in understanding.

“Well I better get going, you three enjoy your weekend. No trying to find foalnappers this time around,” the purple Unicorn winked at them.

“We promise!” All three crusaders grinned innocently.

Twilight chuckled and left the fillies to their munching and waved Pinkie bye before leaving the bakery. The librarian entered the busy Ponyville street with ponies either selling things on stands or just walking around attending to their private businesses.

Up in the clouds above the town Rainbow Dash took her afternoon nap, though the rainbow mane mare still felt a bit uneasy and worried about her old Gryphon friend. She could only hope Gilda’s family could help her, they had been more than ready to head to Las Pegasus after she contacted them.

Inside the bakery the crusaders continued their little feast, planning their next cutie mark acquiring plans for the weekend. This time keeping it safe like bungee jumping or juggling bowling pins while balancing on a beach ball. So life in Ponyville returned mostly back to normal.

Until next time.

The End.