The Rainbow Crusade

by TheRainbowDashShow

First published

The Cutie Mark Crusaders mission to save Rainbow Dash's job turns into something much larger

Sixth in the Rainbow Series, sequel to The Rainbow Spiral
With Ponyville back up and running thanks to Filthy Rich everything seems to be returning back to normal. After a surprise visit from an unexpected pony Rainbow Dash finds her job as a cloud clearer in jeopardy. The Cutie Mark Crusaders set out to find a way to save her job but as events unfold it turns out to be far more than they expected.

Chapter 1

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Raven Flame dragged a large rectangular box into the Cutie Mark Crusaders clubhouse. The box was decorated with red and blue striped wrapping paper and a glinting golden bow-tie sealing the paper together. Pushing it into the corner with another stack of boxes she trotted over towards the record player and made sure it was working properly.

Now convinced that the music had been taken care of, Raven then returned to setting up decorations. Lacing the walls and ceiling with shining silver streamers. She lifted the net that held down the dozens of balloons, letting them fly free to the roof. With the decorations in place she walked towards the window and positioned the rotating mirror she placed outside.

The sunbeams bounced off the mirror and through the open window and caught on the streamers and balloons reflecting the golden light and scattering it throughout the walls in a dazzling display. Raven Flame looked around the room, making sure everything was perfect. She heard the sound of distant chattering coming closer to the tree house.

Quickly Raven Flame turned on the record player and trotted outside, waving at the approaching ponies. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle waved back. Sweetie Belle was levitating a closed bakery box just a few inches away from her as they approached. "Where's Scootaloo?" Raven Flame called out.

"She'll be here in a few minutes, Rainbow Dash wanted tah talk tah her." Applebloom answered back as she walked up the ramp.

"Okay!" Raven Flame hopped back inside excitedly.

The two fillies followed her inside and gawked at the display, "You did all of this?" Sweetie Belle stared as she mentally compared the display to the set she had made the day for the talent show.

"Geez, usually we just have cake until we can't move." Applebloom blinked.

Raven Flame laughed nervously, "I just wanted to make it special."

"Well ah'll say." The two fillies trotted over to the corner and sat down in the chairs next to the small table. Sweetie Belle lifted the box of the lid and checked on its contents making sure it hadn't been damaged on the trip over.

A gray Pegasus with blonde hair landed clumsily into the tree house crashing into the record player. Clutching an envelope in between her teeth she trotted over and dropped it by Raven Flame. Reading the envelope she quickly halted the retreating pony, "Derpy, this is for Pony Joe!"

Derpy looked at the envelope a little confused and then retrieved a stack of envelopes from her mail bag, dropping most of them to the ground. Finally she sorted through them and handed out the proper envelope addressed to Scootaloo. She flew back out the window, knocking her hoof against the mirror as she took off.

Raven Flame re-adjusted the mirror and placed the colorful envelope on top of the boxes. The three fillies tilted their ears when they heard the sound of hoof steps approaching. Quickly they all took places by the door.

Scootaloo walked in, "Guys, I'm…" she stopped midsentence at the scene.

"SURPRISE!" The three fillies shouted, jumping out behind her.

Scootaloo jolted around, "You guys did all this for me?" she asked with a bright smile.

Applebloom shook her head, "Naw. We just got the cake, Raven did everything else."

Scootaloo grinned widely at Raven Flame, making a quiet squeaking noise of excitement, "Thanks guys."

Raven Flame hid away her blushes as Applebloom and Sweetie Belle still weren't aware of the relationship she and Scootaloo had.

Sweetie Belle hovered over one of the presents from the corner and dropped it near Scootaloo, "Happy birthday Scootaloo!"

Scootaloo eyed the bright purple box and tore it open with her teeth, revealing a poorly sewn together pony jacket with only one sleeve. She couldn't help but laugh at Sweetie Belle's creation, "Thanks." She said with a goofy face.

Applebloom eyed the box of cake in the corner of the room, "Yah'll sure yah don't want some cake?" she asked, her mouth watering a little.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes, "Let's go have some cake then."

Applebloom let out a cheer and dashed over towards the box and pushed open the lid. The cake had already been cut into equal slices back at the bakery. She picked up a piece and moved it towards her mouth and bit down at nothing. "Hey!" she cried out, looking at Scootaloo who had taken her slice.

Scootaloo grinned and stuffed it into her own mouth, chewing as noisily as she could, "I wanted the first piece." She said her mouth still stuffed with the food.

Raven Flame dragged the largest of the boxes with her towards the table and nudged Scootaloo, "Happy birthday."

Scootaloo's eyes widened at the large box. Scraping a hoof at the bow she unraveled it and tore off the layer of paper. Beneath the paper, was yet another layer of paper, which she then tore off as well. After another five layers of wrapping paper an unmarked brown cardboard box was revealed. She pried open the flaps of the box and a wave of packing peanuts poured out.

There was a loud clattering as a shining silver scooter with orange handle grips fell to the ground. Raven Flame smiled, "I thought you'd want a new one, since you lost yours a few months back."

Scootaloo remembered the day where she nearly drowned on her trip Canterlot. The scooter had sunk to the bottom of the pond with everything else and she had no luck finding the place again since. She rubbed her hoof against the cool metal and bounced around joyfully, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she squeaked.

Raven Flame's began to giggle and her blushes broke through, "You're welcome."

Scootaloo stopped jumping and turned to her with an almost ravenous look in her eyes. She charged at the giggling Raven Flame and tackled her to the ground, swarming her with kisses. Wrapping her forelegs around the black filly she paused for a moment to peer into her glinting blue eyes before placing one last deep kiss on her lips.

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle looked at each other awkwardly. Sweetie Belle leaned over to Applebloom, "She must really like that scooter." She whispered. Applebloom responded with a silent nod as she watched.

Raven Flame looked over at the two staring fillies and squirmed herself free of Scootaloo's grasp. She let out a nervous laugh as she tried to think of a way to explain what was going on. Scootaloo noticed the stares as well and she knew there was no point in hiding it any longer, "Me and Raven Flame are sort of… marefriends."

"Ohhh, that makes much more sense." Applebloom said.

"I don't know why you guys didn't just say so." Sweetie Belle said taking a bite of cake.

Raven Flame turned to Scootaloo, "Why didn't we just tell them?" she asked.

Scootaloo shrugged, "I dunno, I just thought they might think it was weird I guess."

"Ah guess yah fergot who mah sister is married too." Applebloom laughed, "Anyway, yah still have more presents!"

Scootaloo unwrapped the remaining presents and piled the assortment of gifts next to her. After the last of the boxes were opened she reached for the single envelope and examined it. She tore open the seal and opened it, a single blue card falling out. She picked it up and read silently.

"Whose it from?" Raven Flame asked peering over Scootaloo's shoulder.

Scootaloo's good mood vanished as she read the card. Though it didn't bare any bad news of any kind, what bothered her was the pony that had sent it. She frowned, closed the card and tossed it into the pile of torn wrapping paper, "It's from my dad."

Scootaloo rolled uncomfortably in the straws of hay as a ray of light pierced through the hole in the wooden doors of the barn. The place she could barely have called a house had been torn down. No pony was even aware that she had now been resorting to sleeping inside the barn of Sweet Apple Acres, nor did she want them to know she had stooped to such a level.

She sat up and pushed out the hay bale that formed a crude kind of door for the small hut of hay that concealed her whereabouts. She started squirming through the hole, her stomach still felt bloated and heavy from eating too much cake. Taking a few quick glances she pushed herself out of the straw tunnel and unburied her scooter that hid nearby.

Nudging open the barn door she rolled herself outside on top of her scooter. Propelling herself forward with her wings she bolted through the orchard. "Well howdy!" a voice called out from behind one of the trees. The noise distracted Scootaloo, she turned her head to see who was talking to her and crashed into one of the trees.

Applejack trotted over, "Ah'm sorry sugarcube, yah okay?" she asked offering a hoof to help the filly up.

"Yeah…" Scootaloo groaned rubbing her shoulder, "Is Raven awake yet?"

Applejack tilted her head, "Yah didn't hear?"

"Hear what?"

"They re-opened the schools." Applejack looked at the shadows cast by the trees to gauge the time, "Ah reckon if yah hurry yah won't be too late."

"Great." Scootaloo grumbled picking up her scooter.

"Yer not goin' like that are yah?" Applejack asked, taking a tuft of Scootaloo's straw-filled mane.

Scootaloo looked at her mane and a surge of panic shot through her. She quickly scraped out the hay, when finished bits of her mane flung themselves upward into the air. "It's not that bad." She said with a fake grin.

Applejack laughed, "Yah look worse than a buckin' branco after a rodeo." She ruffled her hoof through the filly's mane and dropped her brown cowboy hat on Scootaloo's head. "Yah can borrow that, but ah want it back once yah finish with school for the day."

"Thanks." Scootaloo muttered, accepting favors always made her feel a little uncomfortable. "Well, I should hurry." She said waving a hoof.

"Be careful with mah hat!" Applejack shouted.

"I will!"

Scootaloo rushed through the dirt road and onto the cobblestone roads of Ponyville. The streets were packed with construction ponies and merchants hoping to sell goods to them. Ever since an unexpected Zap Apple Jam harvest the outside ponies had started to return. When the opportunity of money coming back to the town Diamond Tiara's father Filthy Rich, quickly took advantage of the business opportunity that was presented to him.

To get things started, Filthy had personally financed the reconstruction of any buildings that had been ruined. When word that there were jobs back in Ponyville the ponies came flooding back. Soon everything from food to clothes was in high demand and the Fashion Boutique and Sugar Cube Corner reopened shortly after.

Weaving through the traffic of ponies Scootaloo finally arrived at the school. It had been layered with a new coat of paint and the roof had been re-shingled. The school bell had also been changed out with a completely new and polished bell. Fluttershy was standing by the school windows, aligning flowers on side of the building.

"Oh… Hi Scootaloo." Fluttershy said quietly when she heard the filly approach. "You know school has already started, right?" Scootaloo answered her back with a nod. Fluttershy plotted the flower she held in her hoof and approached Scootaloo, "You go to class, I'll take care of your scooter."

Scootaloo smiled and rested her scooter against the wall. She opened the red door and trotted quietly inside, the entire class turned to stare at her. She gulped nervously and took the closest empty seat, the class still staring at her.

Miss Cheerilee cleared her throat, "Children, I know Scootaloo has a nice hat on, but let's stay focused." She gave Scootaloo a reassuring wink.

The class cast their gazes away from the orange filly and back at the front of the room. Miss Cheerilee trotted up towards Scootaloo's desk and gave her a pink piece of paper. It was the same thing the ponies at the start of every school year, the paper had a picture scribbled on it.

The picture on the sheet matched the same picture of a sheet that had been given to some pony else in the class. The goal of the exercise was to make every pony interact with one another by trying to find the pony to which the sheet belonged to. The ponies with the purple sheets stayed at their desk while the ponies with the pink sheets found them and took their new seat by the pony's side.

In Scootaloo's mind the activity was rather pointless as there were never any new ponies so they were all quite familiar with one another. "Okay every pony, go find your match." Miss Cheerilee said enthusiastically.

Scootaloo looked at her paper, the picture of a feather imprinted on it with black ink. With a heavy sigh she pulled herself off the desk and slowly ducked her way through the ponies. She caught glimpse of the matching picture on some pony's desk. She trotted closer to find Diamond Tiara sitting there impatiently.

"Here you go." Scootaloo said disinterestedly, dropping the paper onto the pony's desk.

"Again?" Diamond Tiara grumbled this was the second time they had been stuck sitting together, "You know, sometimes I think Miss Cheerilee does this on purpose."

Scootaloo took her new seat next to Diamond Tiara, "Not like I like it anymore than you do."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Diamond Tiara hissed.

"Nothing." Scootaloo answered rubbing her temple with a hoof, "Please kill me…" she whispered beneath her breath.

"Well, I guess if we are going to be stuck with each other for another year, I might as well make the best of it." Diamond Tiara adjusted the crown on her mane, "Do you like my new Tiara? My daddy got it for me in Manehatten."

Scootaloo groaned and started to bang her head against the desk, she found the painful thumps on her forehead easier to deal with than the filly's grating voice.

"It's made out of real silver and real diamonds." Diamond Tiara continued to ramble on proudly.

"They always look the exact same!" Scootaloo cried out hoping she would stop talking.

Diamond Tiara let out a chuckle to make herself feel and sound superior, "That's because you don't understand anything about jewelry."

The noise coming from the light-pink pony's mouth was becoming unbearable, "Maybe you can teach me how to properly wear a tiara so I can get a cutie mark just like yours." Scootaloo said over excitedly to show she was being sarcastic.

Diamond Tiara looked at the orange filly's flank, "I see you still haven't gotten your cutie mark yet." she said snidely.

Scootaloo just wanted her to shut up, one school year of being near her had been bad enough, let alone a second. The irritation the pink filly was causing her blocked out the filter in her brain, "I see you're still a stupid, annoying, spoiled pony." she remarked back without thinking.

Diamond Tiara let out a shocked gasp, she sputtered for a few seconds. She couldn't think of anything to say back at the filly, so she flicked off the hat on top of Scootaloo's mane. She forced out a loud laugh at the sight of the mane, drawing attention to every pony around her. Every pony soon joined in the laughter with the exception of Sweetie Belle, Raven Flame and Applebloom.

Diamond Tiara gave Scootaloo an evil grin and held out her hat, "I think you dropped this." She said innocently.

Scootaloo snatched the hat out of the pony's hoof and placed it back on her own head. She plopped back into her desk and buried her face in her hooves as the ponies continued laughing.

"Now every pony lets settle down!" Miss Cheerilee called out, the ponies still ignoring her. She made several more attempts to calm the classroom before she gave up. She blew into a small metal whistle, the loud ringing quickly silencing the class, "That's better."

A few minutes passed and there was yet another loud ringing throughout the classroom. Miss Cheerilee looked up at the class, "Alright, recess." She said waving a hoof. Every pony squeaked excitedly and rushed out the back door of the class.

"Scootaloo, can you stay behind for a minute?" Miss Cheerilee shouted through the noise.

"I'll meet you outside." Scootaloo said nudging Raven Flame's hoof gently. The black filly trotted outside leaving the two ponies behind.

"Are you okay Scootaloo?" Miss Cheerilee asked with concerned eyes.

"I'm fine." Scootaloo answered in a casual tone.

Miss Cheerilee retrieved a brush off of her desk and picked up the hat off of Scootaloo's mane and brushed vigorously at it, "If you want some pony to talk to, I'm always here for all of my pupils." She said sweetly. The purple mane finally submitted into a somewhat flattened state and she dropped the hat back on the filly's head, "Okay you're excused."

"Thanks Miss. C." Scootaloo said trotting away quickly to avoid any further questions the pony might soon have. Looking around the school yard, she found Raven Flame with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle sitting in the shade of a tree near the chain-link fence.

"What'd she want?" Sweetie Belle asked as the orange filly approached.

Scootaloo shrugged, "Nothing." She said as she sat down next to them.

"What happened to yer mane?" Applebloom asked while chewing noisily on an apple she withdrew from her schoolbag.

"Nothing." Scootaloo repeated, "Do you ever stop eating Applebloom?" she asked with a laugh trying to keep the topic off of her.

"Oh look it's the blank flank squad." Diamond Tiara said mockingly as she and Silver Spoon trotted up towards them.

Raven Flame sighed, she hardly even knew the pony but after having seen how she treated Scootaloo she wasn't even going to consider giving the pony a second chance. She stood up off the damp grass and met the two ponies, "You know why you're cutie mark is a Tiara?"

"Enlighten me." Diamond Tiara said sounding amused.

"I'd be glad to." Raven Flame said with a smile, "Because you don't have a special talent, you are so pathetic that the thing you are best at is wearing a piece of jewelry. Guess you got so used to floating on life through daddy's money that you expect all you'll ever have to do is stand around looking pretty."

"Oh please." Diamond Tiara scoffed, "You're just upset because I actually have parents who care about me. Your parents left you in an orphanage and abandoned you."

"What?" Raven Flame shouted stamping her hoof angrily into the ground. A small fire was starting to build up in the back of her brain. "How do you even know that?"

"I know everything that goes on in this town." Diamond Tiara said with a sneer, "For example, I know that you don't know how to fly. How sad is that?"

"Shut up!" Raven Flame shouted, the flame growing even brighter inside the back of her mind.

Diamond Tiara let out the same despicable grin she had earlier when she revealed Scootaloo's mane, "And you know what else? The only pony who even wanted you is a pair of filly foolers." she let out a chuckle, "Just like you."

Raven Flame felt the anger in her skull nearly about to erupt. She did everything she could to fight the temptation. Diamond Tiara stood in front of her with an irritating smirk. The expression that covered the filly's face made it impossible for her to contain her emotions anymore. The rage exploded outward as a single swipe to Diamond Tiara's face.

The filly fell to the ground clutching the purple swelling that was forming on her cheek and began to cry. Raven Flame felt her own tears starting to break free for the regret of what she had just done. She couldn't even bring herself to apologize to the pony for having hurt her. Turning away quickly she ran through the opening in the chain-link fence and away from the schoolyard, her three friends chasing after her.

Raven Flame slowed down, stopping at a tree and sat herself on the dirt beneath the shade it provided, hiding her watery eyes behind her forelegs. "Go away!" she screamed at the three ponies approaching her.

The three ignored her and came closer, "Are you okay?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Applebloom swung a hoof around Raven, "Don't yah worry 'bout Diamond."

"I thought that was awesome!" Scootaloo squeaked. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle gave her a disapproving look. "Err, I mean, yeah, are you alright?"

"I'm fine…" Raven Flame sniffled, drying her eyes on her foreleg. "Is Diamond Tiara okay?"

"Who cares?" Scootaloo grinned.

"I care!" Raven Flame shouted, "I just wanted her to leave us alone, not clobbering her in the face…"

"Well I'm sure she won't bother you anymore." Scootaloo said nudging Raven playfully.

Raven Flame knew Scootaloo was just trying to make her feel better but the comment only made everything worse. It just made her feel like every pony should be afraid of her and shouldn't go anywhere close to her. "Just leave me alone." She said, standing back up and running away from her friends and towards Sweet Apple Acres.

"Should we go after her?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Ah think maybe we should just let her be." Applebloom answered turning around back towards the school.

Scootaloo stood still glancing at Raven Flame and then back to her friends walking back to the schoolyard. Finally she made her decision, "I'm gonna go with Raven." she said as she ran back to the schoolyard and retrieved her scooter from the rack where she had placed it and followed the pony's trail back to the orchards.

Raven Flame reached the farmhouse and galloped inside, slamming the door behind her. The noise awoke the lazy Pegasus napping on the couch from within the living room. "School out early?" Rainbow Dash asked watching the pony storm up the stairs and the house shook with another door being slammed shut.

Rainbow Dash stretched and hopped up onto her hooves and trotted up after her. Knocking on the door softly, "You okay in there?" she asked, but there was no answer. She pushed open the door and found Raven Flame crying with her head under the pillow.

Rainbow Dash immediately felt uncomfortable as she always did when presented with a situation where she needed to show compassion and act like a parent. She walked over to the bed and sat next to the crying lump, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing!" Raven Flame said quickly, she rolled over and looked at the disbelieving Pegasus looming over her, she took a short breath, "I don't want to talk about it."

"Kay." Rainbow Dash thought for something she could do to make the filly feel better, "You wanna go practice flying?" she asked softly.

Raven Flame perked up her ears, she always enjoyed their practice sessions even though they almost always resulted in her crashing into the trees, "Okay…" she sniffled.

"Alright!" Rainbow Dash lifted her up giving a quick hug before plopping her gently on the floor, "Go head downstairs, I just need to get a few things."

Raven Flame nodded and galloped down the stairs excitedly. Once out of the room Rainbow Dash trotted into her and Applejack's writing a quick note saying where she was going. When the note was finished she grabbed her saddlebag and coach hat off the floor.

Rainbow Dash smiled, she decided she would try a different teaching approach today as her usual method had seemed to have completely halted her progression in the passing weeks. Hopping down the stairs she met Raven Flame at the door, "You ready?"

"Sir, yes ma'am!" Raven Flame replied goofily with a salute.

"Let's move out!" Rainbow Dash commanded.

Raven Flame followed the Pegasus and noticed almost immediately they weren't heading to their usual spot, "Where are we going?" she asked a little confused.

"Trying something new and we need more space than this." Rainbow Dash grinned, "Sorry squirt, no flying into trees today."

"Aw shucks!" Raven Flame pouted, "But plucking out bits of bark from my feathers is my favorite part." She laughed.

The two joked and laughed as they trotted absentmindedly to large grassy field, unaware that Scootaloo was close behind them. Walking up a steep hill once they reached the top Rainbow Dash dropped her saddlebag and opened it pulling out a Frisbee from with inside of it.

Raven Flame tilted her head, "We're playing Frisbee?"

"Sort of." Rainbow Dash stretched her neck muscles to get ready, "I'm going to throw it and you have to fly and catch it. If you don't catch it then I get to ask you a question and you have to answer it."

Raven Flame saw where this was going, "Guess I'll just have to make sure I catch them then." She said confidently even though she had yet to stay airborne for longer than half a minute. "What do I get if I catch it?"

Rainbow Dash smiled, "If you catch it five times, next time I'll let you wear the hat."

"Deal!" Raven Flame ducked down, narrowed her eyes and extended her wings into the starting position she had seen Rainbow Dash use so many times after both her wings had finished healing.

Rainbow Dash bit down on the disc, securing a tight grip on it. She twisted her neck towards her left and jolted back the opposite direction releasing the Frisbee as she did so. Raven Flame launched off the top of the hill after it.

A breeze changed the direction of the Frisbee, it swerved around circling behind her. She tried turning, clumsily she dipped herself to far down and lost balance in the air spiraling downwards into the soft grass. She grumbled and shook out the bits of grass that caught in her mane and picked up the disc trotting back to Rainbow Dash.

"So, how was school?" Rainbow Dash asked, taking the Frisbee back from her.

"Bad." Raven answered back.

"What happened?"

"Hey, only one question per toss!" Raven cried out, hoping to avoid the topic as long as possible.

"Fine!" Rainbow Dash gave the disc another throw and Raven Flame chased after it. Again Raven lost track of the disc and plopped back into the green grass. She trotted back with the Frisbee and rubbed her hoof against her knee.

"You okay?" Rainbow Dash asked with concern.

"I'm fine." Raven Flame let out a chuckle, "but that counts as a question."

Rainbow Dash stared stunned at the filly who had so easily tricked her, "Fine!" she groaned and tossed the Frisbee again.

Raven Flame returned yet again after another failure, knowing what she would be asked next she decided to just get it out there, "Diamond Tiara was making fun of me." She said with a frown.

Rainbow Dash patted her gently on the head, "Don't let her bother you, that pony wouldn't know the difference between a quill and a chicken."

Raven Flame giggled, but her depression quickly came back, "Let's go again." She said trying to take her mind off of it.

Rainbow Dash released the Frisbee for the fourth time. Raven Flame flew off again, remembering the words Diamond Tiara spouted making her angrier. She flapped her wings hard and flew above the Frisbee and dived downward at it, catching it with her teeth and pulling back upward landing softly on the ground.

Rainbow Dash clapped excitedly and trotted up towards her, "One of five." She said with pride in the filly. She thought a few seconds and tossed the Frisbee aside, "Why don't you just practice flying by my side for a bit."

This had been something Raven Flame always wanted to try, but Rainbow Dash had only recently been in well enough health to actually fly again. She let out an excited squeak, "Okay!" she said with a grin.

Rainbow Dash tipped off her hat and got into her take-off position and Raven Flame mimicked her. The two took off simultaneously, at first just flying straight forward, the black filly lagging slightly behind. Raven pushed herself harder and matched the blue Pegasus's pace.

Rainbow Dash grinned and shifted herself upward, flying higher into the sky, "Try and catch me!" she called out below her. Raven Flame followed slowly starting to fall behind. She took a deep breath and continued flying upward, ignoring Rainbow Dash when she turned and leveled out.

Without the hundreds of trees that she had to maneuver between she found flying wasn't nearly as difficult. Raven Flame kept climbing higher into the sky, finally she leveled herself out and dived back down after the unsuspecting Pegasus. With a smile spread across her face she dropped down directly into Rainbow Dash.

The two crashed into the grass, Raven Flame giggling loudly, "Caught you!" she said in between breaths.

"I knew you'd be a good flier." Rainbow Dash said poking Raven in her stomach before nudging her off, "But next time I won't go so easy on you!" she said with a grin.

"She said my real parents abandoned me…" Raven Flame said unexpectedly.

"Diamond said that?" Rainbow Dash asked feeling a new loathing for the pink pony.

"She also called you and Applejack filly foolers." Raven let out a heavy sigh pushing back her own tears, "And me…"

"What?" Rainbow Dash shouted, "What else did she say?"

"Nothing." Raven said nervously.

Rainbow Dash stared at her suspiciously, "Nothing?"

"She didn't have a chance." Raven Flame looked away shamefully, "I hit her in the face…"

Rainbow Dash burst out laughing, "Well she had it coming."

Raven Flame let out a smile that faded just as quickly as it appeared, "Is this how every pony is going to treat me because of who I like?" she asked sadly.

Rainbow Dash frowned and took the filly in her hooves, "Not every pony…"

"But a lot of them?" Raven Flame asked bursting into tears again, dropping her head into Rainbow Dash's shoulders.

"Yeah…" Rainbow Dash said gently petting Raven's back.

A strong breeze blew past followed by the sound of a sneezing pony. Raven Flame heard the noise and trotted towards it. Scootaloo had been sitting there on the opposite side of the hill listening in to everything the two had been talking about.

"Hi." Scootaloo said innocently.

"I told you to leave me alone, not spy on me!" Raven Flame shouted.

Scootaloo stood up and brushed the grass off of her, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

"Well you could have done that when you were cracking stupid jokes instead of taking me seriously back at school." Raven said harshly.

"What was I supposed to say?" Scootaloo cried out defensively.

Raven Flame groaned irritably, she had no real answer and she wasn't really mad at Scootaloo, she was upset at Diamond Tiara and afraid of what might happen to them because of what she had done. "Sometimes I wish I didn't know you." She lashed out.

Scootaloo frowned and picked up her scooter and pushed herself down the hill. She ignored the almost immediate apologies that chased after her. She propelled herself faster with her wings and bolted inside the barn of Sweet Apple Acres, hiding herself inside her small hut, pulling the block of hay in with her.

Raven Flame pushed herself off the ground and flew after the orange filly that vanished out of sight. She stopped at the barn, the door still open and trotted inside. She peered around inside, checking the corners but found no pony in sight. She left the barn, and called out hoping Scootaloo might here her, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it…"

The barn door creaked open, "Sugarcube, yah know yah don't have tah sleep in the barn." Applejack called out from the doorway.

Scootaloo quieted and slowed her breathing to an almost complete stop. Her mane and tale were a tangled mess with the straw that littered the floor. Her eyes were red and puffy from having been crying. She didn't want to be seen looking like this, let alone found burrowing herself away in stacks of hay every night for a place to sleep.

Applejack continued talking, "Ah know yer in here, ah saw yah go in the barn yesterday and this morning yah were covered with hay." Scootaloo still didn't budge. Letting out a heavy sigh she asked, "Can ah at least get mah hat back?"

Scootaloo caved in and pushed out the bale and squirmed her way out from beneath hay. She dropped the brown cowboy hat and retreated back inside her hovel. Applejack picked up the hat with her teeth and flipped it into the air and onto her head. She kneeled down and peered inside, "Yah sure yah don't wanna come inside?"

"No thanks…" Scootaloo answered quietly.

Applejack frowned, "Why not?"

"I just don't."

"Raven already went tah sleep, so if yah change yer mind me and Rainbow Dash are staying up fer a bit." Applejack stood up and trotted back into the light of the stars outside.

Scootaloo continued to lie inside her small hut, the bits of straw jabbing at her uncomfortably. The scratching of the hay irritated her skin and her muscles were cramping from the tight space. A few more minutes passed and she couldn't take it any longer and crawled out. Giving her legs a quick stretch she trotted out of the barn and into the cool night air outside.

Pausing at the front door of the farmhouse, she plucked out the bits of straw from her mane and tale before giving them a quick pat down. She held her hoof a few inches against the door but quickly retreated. Walking back and forth on the porch she debated silently whether to take up the offer or not. With a loud grumble she stepped back in front of the door and knocked on it quickly before she could change her mind.

Applejack pulled open the door and gestured for the filly to enter. She trotted inside the illuminated kitchen where Rainbow Dash was sitting and sipping from a glass mug filled with a foamy golden liquid. "Yah want some? Applejack asked, her hoof slid through the handle of a third mug.

"If you don't want it, I'll always have yours." Rainbow Dash said hopefully. Scootaloo grinned and took a seat giving Applejack a small nod. "Aww…" Rainbow Dash whined as the mug was filled and slid over to the orange Pegasus.

Scootaloo took a sip of the cider and set the cup back on the table, "Is Raven okay?"

Rainbow Dash waved a hoof, "She's fine."

Applejack lightly kicked Rainbow Dash, "She'd been in her room crying all day. She finally tuckered herself out and fell asleep about an hour ago."

Scootaloo shifted her glance towards the table, "Oh…"

Rainbow Dash giggled, "I still can't believe she hit Diamond Tiara."

Applejack gave the blue Pegasus another disapproving glance, "Hush you." She said quickly.

A mischievous grin formed on Rainbow Dash's face, "Make me!" she said playfully.

Applejack raised an eyebrow, "Maybe ah will!"

"I'd like to see you try." Rainbow Dash said sticking her tongue out. She let out a terrified squeak as the orange earth pony hopped out of her seat and tackled her. The two laughing gleefully as they smothered one another with their lips.

Scootaloo blinked and waved a hoof at the two but they were far too distracted with one another. She quickly drank the rest of her cider and retreated into the dark living room, "I'm going to sleep on the couch, kay?" she asked but was given no answer.

Scootaloo hopped onto the couch and stared blankly at the ceiling. The sound of Applejack and Rainbow Dash giggling while they clambered up the stairs clumsily, followed by the door shutting behind them. Another door opened and closed as well as another set of hoofsteps trotting down the stairs, "Scootaloo?" Raven Flame whispered.

Scootaloo sat up and turned towards the staircase, "I thought you were asleep."

Raven Flame walked towards the couch clutching a small stuffed pony toy and took a place next to Scootaloo. She kicked her hoof nervously at the wooden floorboards then tossed her forelegs around the orange Pegasus, "I'm sorry."

"It's fine." Scootaloo said, not really wanting to talk about earlier. She returned the hug and dropped her head back onto the cushion.

Raven Flame embarrassed she was still clinging onto her toy for comfort and had been for the past few hours. She quickly tossed aside her stuffed animal and it landed on a shifting yellow lump from across the room. "Scootaloo?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah?" Scootaloo answered holding back a tired yawn.

Raven Flame looked down at the orange Pegasus, "Can I stay out here with you?"

"Yeah." Scootaloo repeated.

Raven Flame lay down next to Scootaloo and wrapped her hooves around her. "Yah know some ponies are trying tah sleep!" Applebloom grumbled from across the room.

"Why aren't you in your bed?" Raven Flame asked looking over towards where the voice originated from.

"Cause yah locked me out of it, remember?"

Raven Flame laughed uncomfortably, "Oh, sorry."

"Would yah two keep it down, we've got P.E. tomorrow." Applebloom asked with a yawn as she dropped her head back down on the pillow she was resting on.

"Sure." Raven Flame said quietly and turned her attention back to orange Pegasus, "Scootaloo, I've been thinking." she paused.

"About?" Scootaloo asked.

"Well we haven't actually…" Raven Flame paused again.

Scootaloo was starting to grow a little impatient, "Haven't what?"

"Do you want to go to Sugar Cube Corner with me tomorrow…" Raven Flame took a deep breath, "on a date…"

The question shocked Scootaloo a bit, despite how long the two had been together; they had yet to have actually gone on a date together. She pressed her lips against Raven Flame's cheek and whispered back, "Okay."

Chapter 2

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"I'm tired, when can we go to bed?" Sweetie Belle whined, placing a pillow over her head to cover the lights that kept her awake. Rarity was completely absorbed in a new dress she was working on and paid no attention to her. She threw her pillow at the pony when she received no answer, "Rarity!"

Rarity groaned, the impact of the pillow caused her to place a stitching in the improper place, "SWEETIE BELLE!" she screamed.

Sweetie Belle trotted up angelically, "Are we going to bed now?"

"Look what you made me do." Rarity commanded pointing at the stitch.

"What's the big deal?" Sweetie Belle said picking at the stitching until it came free and was no longer noticeable, "See, it's fine!"

"That's not the point! You could have made me completely ruin the dress and I would have had to start over. You need to be more careful." Rarity scolded, quickly turning her attention back to her work.

Sweetie Belle prodded her stomach, "Can we go to bed now?"

"Honestly, Sweetie Belle, can't you see I'm trying to focus?" Rarity said waving a hoof at her as a gesture to dismiss her.

Sweetie Belle grumbled incoherently and trotted around the room. Bored, she climbed up on the bed and began to bounce on it. The springs started squeaking noisily every time she landed back down. "Sweetie Belle!" Rarity cried for a second time, "Why don't you go play outside or something."

Sweetie Belle blinked, "Do you even know what time it is?" she asked but once again she was back to being ignored. "Fine, I'm going to spend the night at Applebloom's, okay?"

"Yes, okay, fine, whatever." Rarity mumbled still not taking her eyes from the project.

"Bye!" Sweetie Belle said waving as she trotted outside beneath the glittering star-filled night sky. Walking slowly towards the dirt road she felt her hooves touch onto soft grass and decided to stop and gaze into the sky.

Laying down she stared, the stars twinkling their soft yellow and white lights like tiny jewels in the sky. A breeze brushed past her carrying a pack of leaves that fell loose from the nearby trees. She stared up at the pale glow of the moon as the orange and red leaves swirled through the view, filling her with a warm comfort that filled her with inspiration and she began to hum quietly to herself as her brain worked out the words.

The sound of hoofsteps passing by on the road tore her away from her song. She turned her sight towards the noise and saw a small pony walk passed. Although it was too dark to make out the pony's face, she could recognize her anyway. The moonlight caught onto the diamonds and silver, bouncing off the tiara as she trotted.

Curious as to what Diamond Tiara could possibly be doing this late at night she decided to follow her. Weaving carefully behind trees and buildings she kept a close eye on the filly that trotted quickly through the dark village. Eventually the filly stopped near the center of town at the fountain and soon another pony approached.

Sweetie Belle moved closer until she was close enough to make out the cutie mark on the second pony, a silver spoon. "What in the hay are you two doing?" she thought to herself as she stepped away to make sure she wasn't spotted spying on them.

The two were whispering to each other, too quietly for Sweetie Belle to understand. Soon Diamond Tiara moved herself closer and the shadow of her face overlapped with Silver Spoon's. Sweetie Belle blinked rapidly to make sure she wasn't seeing things. The Tiara on Diamond's head tilted slightly, reflecting a silver ray of light on the two ponies confirming her suspicion.

Sweetie Belle let out a gasp at the sight and stumbled onto a rock, crashing into the wall of a nearby house. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon panicked and pulled apart from one another and ran in separate directions. As Diamond ran, her Tiara caught onto a low branch and clattered to the ground and was left behind by the filly.

Quickly, Sweetie Belle recovered herself from the fall, trotted over and picked up the piece of jewelry. She would have never believed it in a thousand years if she hadn't seen it with her own eyes. Without missing a beat she turned around and started running towards Sweet Apple Acres, she couldn't possibly wait until the morning to tell them what she had just witnessed.

Knocking loudly on the door of the farm house, she heard Applebloom cry out, "FER PONY'S SAKES!" from inside.

A few seconds later the door popped open, "What are you doing here?" Raven Flame yawned rubbing her tired eyes.

Sweetie Belle rushed past Raven Flame into the living room where both Scootaloo and Applebloom were. She paused and stared at the orange Pegasus lying on the couch, "Why are you here?"

"Well, I WAS sleeping, but then some crazy unicorn barged in and woke me up." Scootaloo groaned.

"Yeah." Applebloom picked up the stuffed animal that had been tossed onto her earlier quite by accident. Taking aim she threw it at Sweetie Belle, "Now what was so important that yah couldn't wait till mornin'?" she giggled.

"This!" Sweetie Belle said holding out the Tiara but it was too dark for them to see.

"I don't get it…" Scootaloo said as she tried to make out the object.

"Ugh!" Sweetie Belle stepped in front of the window into the moonlight illuminating the Tiara she held in her hoof.

"So… you stole Diamond Tiara's Tiara?" Raven Flame asked.

"I still don't get it…" Scootaloo repeated.

"Same here." Applebloom joined in.

"Diamond Tiara dropped it!" Sweetie Belle explained.

"So yah took it?" Applebloom asked tilting her neck.

Sweetie Belle started to become more excited, "She dropped it when she was running away!"

"What was she running away from?" Scootaloo asked, hoping to use this knowledge in possible future pranks on the filly.


Scootaloo laughed, "Why was she running away from you?"

"Because I caught her!"

"Good gravy, just get on with it, caught her doing what?" Applebloom shouted, the suspense starting to irritate her.

"I caught her with Silver Spoon." Sweetie Belle said proudly.

"Well, yeah, those two are always together." Scootaloo said losing interest.

"You don't understand, they were…" Sweetie Belle paused.

"THEY WERE WHAT?" Applebloom cried out wanting to get back to sleep.

A grin covered Sweetie Belle's face, "They were kissing." she whispered.

The alarm clock blared, waking up Rainbow Dash. She looked to her side to find Applejack wasn't there, but instead sprawled against her stomach. Making a feeble attempt to shut off the clock she reached for it and flung her hoof but couldn't quite reach. Unable to turn off the alarm she giggled and began to tickle Applejack.

"Stop it!" Applejack cried in between laughs, her legs flailing around defenselessly against the assault.

Rainbow Dash continued her attack, "Sorry, I can't hear you!"

"Ah can't breathe!" Applejack blurted out in between her guffaws. She rolled from side to side until she rolled off of Rainbow Dash and plummeted onto the floor.

Rainbow Dash chuckled, "You alright?"

"Ah'm fine!" Applejack called out still recovering her breath, "Could yah shut off that infernal racket?" she asked as the piercing noise of the clock stabbed at her ears.

Rainbow Dash shut off the clock then popped her head from the side of the bed, with wide eyes she peered down at the panting orange earth pony, "Can we have pancakes?" she asked in her sweetest voice.

Applejack blushed, "Of course we can." She answered; she could never resist giving Rainbow Dash what she wanted when she made that face. Unwilling to wait any longer, Rainbow Dash hopped off the bed excitedly and slung Applejack onto her back and ran down the stairs.

"Woah Nelly!" Applejack cried out as they bounced down the stairs.

The noise the Pegasus made running down the stairs awoke the three fillies that slept in the living room. Applebloom grumbled she had barely gotten any sleep with the constant intrusion of ponies that continued to awaken her. Pulling herself off the large cushion she followed Applejack and Rainbow Dash into the kitchen and sat down.

"What happened to you?" Rainbow Dash asked looking at Applebloom's ruffled mane and baggy eyes.

Applebloom waved her hoof heavily and dismissed the question, "Can ah have some coffee?" she yawned.

Applejack laughed, "Yer too young for coffee."

"Aw, horseshoes!" Applebloom muttered dropping her head to the wooden table.

Sweetie Belle was the next to enter the kitchen, "Morning!" she said cheerfully, she had already finished her manetenance and appeared far livelier than the exhausted filly, she turned to Applebloom, "Geez, what happened to you?" she asked.

"Every pony kept waking me up last night!" Applebloom pouted hoping she could fall back to sleep on the table and scrounge up a few more minutes of rest before school started.

"Oh, right…" Sweetie Belle said quietly taking a seat next to Applebloom.

Raven Flame and Scootaloo trotted in together both grinning excitedly for the events that the day promised them. They gave each other a quick kiss and Scootaloo trotted to a seat while Raven went to greet Rainbow Dash and Applejack. She took a quick sniff of the air and smelt the familiar scent of cinnamon and apples, "Pancakes?" she asked excitedly.

"Pancakes!" Rainbow Dash squeaked back, the two of them joining together in bouncing up and down excitedly.

Applejack stared in awe, holding back her growing need to laugh at the sight; she snickered quietly to herself, "Alright yah two, go sit down before yah hurt yerselves."

The two blushed as they looked around the room to find every pony staring at them. Rainbow Dash waved a hoof, "Hay sticks with you ponies, pancakes are… AWESOME"!

Raven Flame nodded in agreement and slinked her way to the seat next to Scootaloo, "Good morning every pony." She said shyly, still embarrassed at the display she had just provided.

Applejack turned around with a first batch of her pancakes and noticed the glistening tiara resting on Sweetie Belle's mane, "Where'd yah get that?" she asked suspiciously.

Sweetie Belle gulped, the four of them had planned to keep this a secret, "Oh this?" She said nervously, pulling the crown off her mane and waving it awkwardly, "I uh, I found it!" she answered quickly.

"Yah found it?" Applejack repeated in disbelief.

"Yeah!" Scootaloo joined in, "She found it uh, in the chicken coop." she said weakly.

Raven Flame placed one hoof on her face and lightly hit Scootaloo in the shoulder, "Diamond Tiara dropped it and uh, a chicken ran off with it, we're going to give it back to her at school." She said not sounding much more convincing than the other two.

Applejack glared suspiciously for a few seconds but the smell of the next set of pancakes starting to burn distracted her and she turned her focus back towards them. The four fillies sighed with relief and each reached for one of the fluffy discs from the plate but their hooves met an empty plate. Rainbow Dash cackled maniacally as she poured a large glob of syrup and attacked her pancakes fiercely.

"Dashie!" Raven Flame cried out in disappointment, "Save some for the other ponies will you?"

"Sorry." Rainbow Dash said with a muffled mouth, "But they're just so good!"

Applejack laid down the second batch, "Don't yah'll ponies fret none, Ah'm sure RD here won't mind cleaning up after breakfast." She said with an evil grin.

Rainbow Dash sputtered, "Fine!" she said reluctantly.

Applejack glanced at the clock in the living room, "Sorry yah'll but yah better eat fast if yah don't want tah be late."

"I don't mind being late!" Applebloom said hopefully as she retrieved her share from the new batch.

Applejack gave the filly a frightening and stern look, "Yah'll better eat fast." She repeated.

"Yes ma'am!" Applebloom said devouring her pancake with a blazing speed, the other three following her example.

"Done!" The four called out simultaneously and ran over to the front door.

"Don't ferget yer bags!" Applejack called out.

"P.E. today, we don't need them." Scootaloo called back.

"Hold on!" Rainbow Dash shouted. She chased after them as the fillies ran out the door, "Uh Raven." She said awkwardly.

"Yeah, Dashie?" Raven Flame answered.

Rainbow Dash charged after the filly and gave her a tight hug, "I just wanted to say I love you, and I hope you have a better day than yesterday." She choked uncomfortably. "Don't you dare tell anyone that I was being all sappy!"

Raven Flame giggled "Not me you have to worry about." She said pointing towards Applejack standing at the doorway, then returning the embrace, "Love you too and I will." She said before breaking the free from the Pegasus's grasp and trotting back with her friends who had already started walking away.

"What'd she want Raven?" Scootaloo asked as they trotted down the dirt road.

"Nothing." Raven answered back casually, defending the Pegasus's image as requested.

"So, what are we gonna say tah Diamond?" Applebloom asked as she shifted part of her body weight onto Sweetie Belle to save as much energy for class as she could.

"I say we just tell every pony!" Scootaloo said vengefully.

"No!" Raven Flame protested instantly, the three turned and looked at her confused. "If she really is a…" Taking a heavy breath she forced herself to utter the words, "Filly fooler. Then why would she pick on some pony else for being one?"

"Cause she's a brat?" Scootaloo answered without hesitation.

"Well, yeah, she is." Raven Flame nodded, "But I don't think that's it. Think about it, her father is one of the richest ponies in Equestria."

"So yer saying she's hiding it from her dad because he might be a fooler basher?" Applebloom asked.


"That does make much more sense." Applebloom muttered to herself.

"Well, we better figure it out what we're going to do soon." Sweetie Belle said pointing her hoof at the school yard where every pony was starting to fill in.

"We'll talk to her after class." Raven Flame said, "Don't say anything to her about it." She glanced over towards Sweetie Belle, "And take off that tiara before she sees it." She ordered as they walked through the fence opening.

The four of them stood in line with the other ponies and waited until the school bell rang loudly. The rest of the ponies quickly filled in the gaps of the line before the coach pony came out from the building. A blue Pegasus wearing a black and white checkered hat trotted out and blew loudly on a whistle, "Alright every pony, we've got a lot of work to do so let's keep the chatter to a minimum!"

"Dashie?" Raven Flame muttered in disbelief beneath her breath.

Rainbow Dash flashed her a quick grin then returned to the class, "We're going to start out with 5 laps around the yard, now move it!" she commanded blowing into the whistle again. Every pony began to run counter-clock wise around the field and the group soon began to branch off in clusters of friends that herded together.

"Wait until my daddy hears that I had to take class from a filly fooler." Diamond Tiara whined as she continued moving at an incredibly slow trot.

Rainbow Dash flew over towards her, "So, you think you are better than every pony that the rules don't apply to you huh?" Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes and continued trotting.

Landing in front of her Rainbow Dash blew the whistle loudly right in front of her face, "I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!" she barked.

Diamond Tiara scoffed, "Please, you're ruining my mane with that atrocious noise."

Rainbow Dash blinked, "I would have hit you if I were Raven as well." She mumbled quietly.

Diamond Tiara froze and finally gave the Pegasus her full attention, "What was that?"

With a menacing look Rainbow Dash stared at her, "I said if you don't move it you can play dodgeball against everypony else, now move your flank!"

Diamond Tiara gulped and pushed herself into a jog. "Faster!" Rainbow Dash ordered and the filly moved into a run.

"FASTER!" she screamed and Diamond Tiara broke into a full on sprint breaking ahead of the heard.

Rainbow Dash dusted off her hooves and trotted back to the center of the field and watched carefully as Diamond Tiara finished the five laps before most were on their third. Satisfied, she blew her whistle and beckoned everyone back to the center before any of the other ponies were done with their own laps.

"Alright every pony!" Rainbow Dash boomed, "We're going to play some dodgeball. Every pony to my left, you are on team one. Every pony to my right, you are on team two!"

There was a mixture of groans and cheers as the two teams formed and moved towards their sides. Raven Flame looked around to find both Applebloom, Sweetie Belle and Diamond Tiara were on team one, while she and Scootaloo were on team two.

An idea popped up into Raven Flame's head and before joining her team she trotted towards Rainbow Dash, "Is flying allowed?" she asked hopefully.

Rainbow Dash glanced around and compared the two teams, "Well, it wouldn't really be fair but…" her eye caught on Diamond Tiara being on the opposing team. She chuckled mischievously, "Okay!"

Raven Flame sprinted back over towards her side next to Scootaloo, "Flying is allowed." She whispered to the Pegasus with a grin.

Again another loud trill of the whistle filled the field and then Pinkie Pie appeared in the middle of the field out of nowhere with a net of pink dodge balls and laid them out on the grass. She squeaked excitedly and bounced over to the bleachers and chomped down on a bag of popcorn as she watched the ponies charge.

Raven Flame stood in the back while the other ponies ran to the center in hopes to obtain one of the balls before the other team. Scootaloo stood beside her, "What are we doing?" she asked.

Raven Flame side stepped as a ball came hurdling towards her, "We're waiting, the further back we are the less chance of becoming a target." She explained.

"Oh, I get it." Scootaloo said picking up a ball that rolled to her feet and tossing it aimlessly across the field.

"Scootaloo, Snips caught the ball, you're out!" Rainbow Dash shouted.

"Oops." Scootaloo mumbled as she joined Pinkie Pie at the bleachers with a few other ponies.

"Popcorn?" Pinkie Pie asked holding out the bag towards Scootaloo.

"Uh, no thanks." Scootaloo said. She remembered after class that she and Raven Flame would be going to Sugar Cube Corner for a date, "Hey uh Pinkie, can I ask you a favor?"

"Whatcha need?" Pinkie Pie answered, "Do you need a harmonica, because I think I have an extra one in here somewhere." She said concentrating hard as she rummaged her hoof through her mane.

"What? No I don't need a harmonica." Scootaloo said shaking her head trying to keep her focus, "Me and Raven Flame are going on a date." She whispered.

Pinkie Pie jumped up and shouted excitedly, "A DATE?"

"SHH!" Scootaloo said placing a hoof over the pony's mouth.

"Sorry." Pinkie Pie said in a nearly inaudible whisper, "So what did you want?"

Scootaloo kicked her hoof nervously, the awkward feeling that she had whenever asking for something soon returned, "I was hoping you could… make it special" she said quietly.

Pinkie Pie gasped excitedly, "The place will be ready after school!" she squeaked and sprinted away leaving nothing but a pink dust cloud from behind her.

Scootaloo turned her attention back to the game. Only Raven Flame and Twist remained her team now. On the opposite team Diamond Tiara, and Snips were all that was left. "Go Raven!" Scootaloo cried out from the bleachers.

Raven blushed as she weaved clumsily through a barrage of projectiles. Twist had been ignored the entire game. Due to her lack of athleticism no pony saw her as a threat and had targeted other ponies. Finally, for the first time during the game she moved forward and picked up a ball, throwing it weakly it, the ball came into contact with Snip's hoof then bounced onto the ground.

"Snips, you're out!" Rainbow Dash shouted then watched as another ball flew forward from Diamond Tiara and bounced off of Twists back onto the grass as well. "Twist, you're out!"

Diamond Tiara threw the remainder of the balls that were on her side towards Raven Flame who hovered in the back of the field making her a difficult target to hit. Eventually Diamond Tiara tossed her last ball and was completely alone and defenseless on her side.

Raven Flame grinned and scooped up a hoofful of the balls and pushed herself off the ground. Locking the spheres beneath her foreleg's shoulder she grabbed ball after ball and let loose a barrage onto the filly.

Diamond Tiara cowered in place as they came flying at her, most of them landing on her back then bouncing off of her onto the ground, "That's cheating!" she cried out when Raven Flame landed back on the earth.

"Diamond Tiara, you're out!" Rainbow Dash screamed joyfully, "Team two wins."

"But she cheated!" Diamond Tiara whined childishly.

Rainbow Dash pointed at her hat, "Sorry, I didn't realize you were 'Coach Rainbow Dash', my mistake." She said sarcastically as she rolled her eyes. "Class is over for the day, see every pony next week!" she called out and took off back towards Sweet Apple Acres.

"Diamond Tiara, can I talk to you?" Raven Flame asked.

The filly groaned, "Make it quick, I have better things to do then waste my time with cheating filly foolers."

Raven Flame trotted over to Sweetie Belle and retrieved the Tiara from her and came back, "You dropped this." She said tossing it over to her.

A sudden look of panic covered Diamond's face and quickly faded, "Don't you touch my things!" she snapped.

Raven Flame walked away from the crowd of ponies and dragged Diamond Tiara along with her, "I know the truth." She said quietly.

The panic returned to Diamond Tiara's face, "And what would that be?" she asked, hoping that it was a bluff.

Raven Flame hesitated and tried to think of the most delicate way she could say it, "That you and Silver Spoon… like each other."

"W-what? N-no we don't!" Diamond Tiara sputtered.

"You two met at the fountain last night." Raven Flame said, "Then you two heard a crashing sound and ran your separate ways. While you were running, you're tiara got caught on a tree."

Diamond Tiara let out a quiet whimper as her already pink cheeks darkened in color, "Please don't tell any pony…" she begged. Without waiting for an answer she started running in the opposite direction when she felt the sign of tears trying to break free.

Scootaloo trotted next to Raven Flame, "How'd it go?" she asked.

"Apparently not well." Raven answered, "Anyway… you ready to go?" she asked with a grin, not wanting to have her concerns of what just happened ruin the rest of the day.

"Yep!" Scootaloo said and they began walking together through the chain link fence and towards Sugar Cube Corner.

"Have fun!" Applebloom called out as the two left together.

"Where are they going?" Sweetie Belle asked?

"They have a date." Applebloom giggled.

"Aww, bye you two!" Sweetie Belle shouted after them.

The two stopped at the bright pink door and looked around. The bright pink windows were dark and there were no signs that there was any pony inside. The usually lit electric candles at the top of the building weren't illuminated as well. "Are you sure they are open?" Raven Flame asked.

Scootaloo grinned, "Positive." She answered holding open the pink door for Raven Flame.

The door creaked open quietly, the room completely dark with the exception of a single dim candle illuminated with a soft pink light shining on a white-laced cloth covering a small square wooden table. On each side maroon cloths intricately folded into the shape of rosebuds resting on the menus placed on the table. A rug rolled from across the doorway towards the table, the gentle trickle of violins and pianos flowing in from across the room.

The two trotted nervously and each took a seat on silver velvet lined chairs opposite of each other. A red curtain stretched from one side of the room the other, secluding them from the rest of the shop. After a few moments Pinkie Pie emerged from the curtain wearing her black and purple saloon dress. She trotted up holding a small notepad, "My name is Pinkie Pie, I'll be your waitress for the evening!" she said holding back giggles.

"Hello!" Raven Flame said gleefully.

"So can I get you two something?" Pinkie Pie asked taking a quill in her hoof and prepared to jot down their order.

"Surprise us." Scootaloo said after giving the hoof crafted menus a quick glance.

"Okey-Dokey-Lokey!" Pinkie Pie said vanishing behind the curtain.

"This is nice." Raven said quietly, reaching her hoof across the table towards Scootaloo.

"RAWR!" Pinkie Pie shouted, suddenly appearing from underneath the table. The two fillies jumped back nearly falling off their seats. "Were you surprised?" she asked hopefully.

"That's not what I meant!" Scootaloo said as she readjusted her seat.

"Oh! You meant surprise you with the order." Pinkie Pie giggled and hopped away back behind the curtain.

Raven Flame blinked and straightened out her now somewhat frazzled mane. "So are you working on any new tricks with your scooter?"

"I'm working on a few, but nothing worth talking about." Scootaloo said modestly.

"Maybe you should try competing," Raven Flame said, "I'd bet the other ponies don't have anything on you."

Scootaloo brushed brightly enough that it was visible even in the dim lighting, "Thanks." She said quietly.

"I'm back!" Pinkie Pie said in a sing song voice, a silver tray balanced on her back. Trotting over carefully she slid the tray onto the table. Heart shaped cupcakes smothered with pink and white frosting. In the midst of the plethora of sweets was a large cup filled with milky chocolate ice cream with two red and white bending straws pointing in opposite directions.

"Can I get you two love ponies anything else?" Pinkie Pie asked.

Raven Flame blushed at the question, "Can you turn up the music?"

"Sure thing!" Pinkie Pie bounced behind the curtain and soon the music flooded much more noticeably into the room.

Scootaloo grinned and picked up a cupcake, removed its wrapping and stuffed it into her mouth. Raven Flame did the same, though forgetting to remove the paper before biting down. Not wanting to ruin the scene she forced herself to swallow the paper and chuckled nervously.

"How's that paper tasting for you?" Scootaloo asked with a grin.

"Oh shut up!" Raven Flame said, lightly kicking her hoof from beneath the table into Scootaloos. The two fillies kicked at each other playfully for a few seconds. Scootaloo didn't return the next light nudge against her; instead she gently caressed her leg against Raven Flame's.

Raven Flame reached her hoof across the table and took Scootaloo's into her own and they stared into one another's eyes. Sitting quietly they allowed the scent of the baking pastries, the crackling of the flame from the single candle and the peaceful orchestrated melodies wash over them.

"Dance with me?" Scootaloo whispered finally breaking the silence.

"I don't know how." Raven Flame answered back nervously.

Scootaloo's grin widened as she hopped off her seat and pulled Raven Flame along with her into a cleared out area of the room. Standing on her own two hind legs and taking Raven's two forelegs she lifted her up into a similar position. She placed her left hoof against Raven's waist and her right hoof beneath Raven's.

"I can't believe you know how to dance." Raven Flame said with a tone of surprise.

"It's not hard." Scootaloo said stepping slightly to her side, matching the slow pace of the music.

Raven Flame clumsily matched the movements, making a great effort not to trot into her own two hooves. Eventually her body adjusted to the strange positioning and she followed Scootaloo's lead with much greater ease, "This is kind of fun." She said with a smile.

Scootaloo released part of her grip from Raven Flame and twirled her in place, then stopped and dipped her backwards. Catching her with her hoof she pushed her back upright and they returned to their previous stance; however the two were standing much closer together.

Raven Flame still giggling from the experience of the spinning and sudden sensation of falling, she felt Scootaloo push her lips onto her own. The kiss caught her by surprise; she blushed, lost her balance and the two of them tumbled onto the floor. The two laughed momentarily before Scootaloo gave Raven Flame yet another kiss.

Pinkie Pie loomed over the two and quickly took a photo before they broke apart from the kiss. The flash of the light blinded them for a few brief seconds. The photo slid out from the developer and dropped onto the two ponies. "There, now you two will always have a photo to remember your first date!" Pinkie Pie said happily.

Raven Flame rubbed her still stinging eyes from the bright flash then took the photo in her hoof, "Thanks."

"Anyway, I hate to interrupt you love ponies but the Cakes kind of need the shop back now." Pinkie Pie said now sounding a little sad.

"Oh, okay. Thanks again Pinkie Pie!" Raven Flame trotted towards the door.

"It was perfect, thanks Pinkie Pie." Scootaloo said giving her a quick hug before joining Raven Flame by the door.

"See you two soon!" Pinkie Pie shouted, waving her hoof goodbye with a blazing speed.

Chapter 3

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"WHAT!" Rainbow Dash screamed.

The brown pony straightened his tie and adjusted the collar of his jacket, "Just sign the papers and I'll be on my way." He said.

"I'm not signing anything!" Rainbow Dash shouted as the farmhouse door creaked open, "Now get out!"

"This is your last chance; if you don't sign you'll only make things worse."

Rainbow Dash rose to her hooves, "GET OUT!"

With an exasperated sigh the pony gathered his papers, straightened them and dropped them into his briefcase. He stood up from his chair, trotted past Raven Flame and Scootaloo and through the open doorway. Rainbow Dash dropped her head to the wooden table and kicked at it angrily.

"Dashie, what's wrong?" Raven Flame asked, wrapping her forelegs around the Pegasus in a hug.

Rainbow Dash lifted her head and gave the filly a small smile, "It's nothing, don't worry about it."

"Sure didn't sound like nothing." Scootaloo said.

Raven Flame turned to Scootaloo, "Maybe it's best you come back later." She whispered.

Scootaloo nodded and waved her hoof, "I'll see you ponies later." She called out trotting back out the door.

Raven Flame took a seat next to Rainbow Dash, "So what did that pony want?"

"I said don't worry about it." Rainbow Dash repeated.

Raven Flame frowned, "What did he want you to sign?"

Rainbow Dash groaned, "You aren't going to let this go are you?"


Rainbow Dash scooted herself off the seat and walked towards the living room. She collapsed herself onto the couch, a look of irritation and worry covering her face, "They wanted me to sign papers that claim I am quitting the weather clearing services."

Raven Flame sat down next to the blue Pegasus, "I don't understand…"

"Raven…" Rainbow Dash hesitated and glanced at the sweet innocent pony, she hoped Raven Flame would never have to deal with anything like this when she was older, "One way or another I'm not going to lose my job…"

Raven Flame was still confused, "Why?"

"Well now that Filthy pretty much owns Ponyville…" Rainbow Dash's eyes drooped lowly staring at the floor, "He doesn't want any filly foolers working for him. Since I work for the cloud clearers and he pays the cloud clearers..."

"But, he can't do that!" Raven Flame cried.

"He's the richest pony in Ponyville and now he owns it." Rainbow Dash picked up one of the couch pillows and tossed it angrily across the room, "He can do whatever he wants."

"Why doesn't he just have you fired then?" Raven Flame asked.

"Probably trying to defend his image." Rainbow Dash explained, "Looks better that I quit then firing me without a reason."

"So what's he going to do?"

"Make up a reason to fire me that doesn't make him look bad." Rainbow Dash sighed.

The front door creaked open again, "Rainbow wake up!" Applejack called out suspecting the Pegasus was napping as usual.

Rainbow Dash hopped to her hooves, sprinted to the door and tossed herself onto the orange pony. "Did I ever tell you how much I love you?" Rainbow Dash asked as she absorbed as much comfort from Applejack as she could.

"What's wrong RD?" Applejack asked suspiciously.

"I didn't do anything! Honest!" Rainbow Dash answered still squeezing her tightly, "I just missed you is all."

Applejack blinked, "Okay, spill the gravy, what's wrong?"

"I'm probably going to get fired in a few days…" Rainbow Dash said quietly.

Applejack pulled herself away from Rainbow Dash, "What in the hay did yah do this time?" she asked raising her voice.

"I didn't do anything!" Rainbow Dash cried out, "It's because I'm a filly fooler…"

"Oh hay sticks, yah aren't getting fired because of that!"

Rainbow Dash turned to Raven Flame, "Can we talk about this in our room?" she asked not wanting to give more details to the filly then what she already had.

Applejack, still believing that this was something Rainbow Dash had done, she marched loudly up the stairs dragging the Pegasus with her. Raven Flame noticed she was still clutching the photograph from her date. She sprinted up the stairs and placed the picture beneath the mattress of her bed and headed back downstairs to find Scootaloo.

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were leaning against the outside wall of the farmhouse, watching Scootaloo as she zoomed around the orchards on her scooter. "Oh hey Raven, what's up?" Applebloom called out, removing the piece of hay from her mouth.

Raven Flame walked over dejectedly as she decided whether or not to tell the others what was happening. She joined the other two by the wall and stared off in the distance, completely absorbed in her own thoughts. Finally she made her decision, "Scootaloo, come over here I need to tell you ponies something." She called out.

Scootaloo rushed towards the wall, slamming on the brakes at the last second forming a cloud of dust that blinded them. "What's up?"

Raven Flame looked around, for some reason she felt uncomfortable talking here, almost as if some pony were watching her, "Let's go to the clubhouse…" She said, "And lets hurry."

They started running in the direction of the clubhouse with the exception of Scootaloo whom matched their pace effortlessly on her scooter. Moving up the wooden ramp, Raven Flame shut the door behind them and sat herself down on one of the cushions she had moved inside a few days ago.

"Well what is it?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"I think Filthy Rich is trying to get rid of any filly foolers in town." Raven Flame said.

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle burst into laughter, "That's ridiculous." Applebloom said in between laughs.

Raven Flame glowered at them, "I'm serious. Some pony was trying to force Rainbow Dash to quit the weather clearing team."

The two stopped laughing, "What?" they shouted out together.

"Then as the pony was leaving he said things would only get worse."

"Well what do we do?" Applebloom cried out.

"I don't know!" Raven Flame started to trot in circles back in deep thought.

Scootaloo cleared her throat, she couldn't believe the words she was about to utter, "I think we need Diamond Tiara's help…"

Sweetie Belle gasped, "Are you crazy?"

"Yeah, that pony wouldn't help yah cross the street if yah had a raccoon eating yer hoof!" Applebloom joined in.

Raven Flame considered this option and realized at this point, it was their only option, "I think Scootaloo is right." She said finally.

"But Raven!" Applebloom cried.

"What choice do we have?" Raven Flame asked, "She is the only pony who could even possibly change Filthy's mind about what he is doing." She said, opening the clubhouse door and trotting back down the ramp, "We need her help."

"Fine!" Applebloom and Sweetie Belle said simultaneously and followed Raven Flame down the ramp.

"Let's go!" Scootaloo shouted enthusiastically though inside she was dying at the mere thought of asking Diamond Tiara for help. Leaving her scooter behind she and the other three started off towards the mansion near the edge of Ponyville.

The four trotted hesitantly up towards the open large iron gate. They stared at the building; a white polished marble staircase aligned with decorative pillars that led up to a single oversized mahogany door. They gulped and pushed themselves to enter the premises.

Again the four paused once they reached the door, "Are yah sure yah wanna do this?" Applebloom asked nervously.

Raven Flame answered the question by knocking loudly on the wooden door. Apart from the sound of the knocks echoing off of the marble floors they waited silently. After a minute had passed, she knocked a second time, and waited.

"Guess no pony is home!" Sweetie Belle said feeling a little relieved.

The door pulled open just as they were about to leave, "Can I help you?" asked a gray unicorn wearing a black bowtie.

"We're friends of Diamond Tiara. Could we talk to her?" Raven Flame asked with a sweet smile.

"I'll be but a moment." The unicorn answered in a forced posh tone. Once the door was closed, Raven Flame coughed, trying to rid herself of the wretched taste that appeared in her mouth from claiming she was a friend of the pony.

"Oh… It's you ponies." Diamond Tiara said bitterly, "What do you want?"

"We…" Raven Flame swallowed her growing disgust, "We need your help." She choked.

Diamond Tiara broke into laughter, "Why would I help you?"

"Please, Rainbow Dash is getting fired just because she is married to Applejack!" Raven Flame pleaded.

"Not my problem!" Diamond Tiara said smugly.

"Well we'll make it your problem!" Scootaloo said angrily, "If you don't, we'll tell every pony about you and Silver Spoon!"

Diamond Tiara began to giggle again, "And who is going to believe you, you don't have any proof."

Raven Flame blinked, they didn't have any proof. The closest thing they had to a shred of evidence was the tiara and she had returned it. They had absolutely nothing on her and now that Diamond Tiara knew that they knew she would never as careless again. "Come on every pony, let's go." Raven Flame said turning around.

"Bye!" Diamond Tiara waved a hoof gleefully, absorbing the joy she felt from defeating them.

"Great, what now?" Scootaloo asked while they were trotting down the dirt road back to the orchards.

"We have to think of something!" Sweetie Belle cried, "The whole town could end up in ruins!"

"Hey Scootaloo." Raven Flame said with a little smile as an idea popped into her head.

Scootaloo turned to her curiously, "Yeah?"

"I think it's time we get out the old binoculars again."

Raven Flame awoke early the next morning feeling revitalized and confident. She hopped off her mattress, lifted it and removed the photograph. She smiled at the picture, but quickly tossed it onto her bed when she heard the sound of the roosters crowing. Trotting down stairs she ran outside the farmhouse door and met with Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Applebloom.

"What took you so long?" Scootaloo asked prodding her stomach.

Raven Flame rolled her eyes and ignored the question, "Let's go!"

The four fillies trotted down the dirt road early the next morning and stopped at the hedges that surrounded the fence of Filthy Rich's mansion. As they waited, soon more ponies began to arrive. First Rainbow Dash and Applejack, then Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie showed shortly after. Another fifteen minutes passed and Rarity finally met up with the rest of them, trotting as carefully as she could in a silk gown.

"Alright, we're all here!" Raven Flame said as they grouped around in a circle.

"Oh, will this take long?" Fluttershy asked shyly, "It's just, I have to be back home soon to feed Angel or he'll get cranky."

"It all depends on how well this goes." Raven Flame answered, "Rainbow Dash, you're going to circle the building near the windows in case we need to make a quick getaway."

"Yes ma'am!" Rainbow Dash said with a salute.

"Pinkie Pie, I need you to distract Diamond Tiara if she comes home for any reason."

"Okey-Dokey-Lokey!" Pinkie Pie squeaked.

"Applejack, I uh, didn't really need you." Raven Flame said awkwardly, "I guess you can help Pinkie Pie."

"Alrighty then." Applejack said tipping her cowboy hat.

"Fluttershy, I want you to watch the school, if you see Diamond Tiara, you come back here and give us a signal."

"Oh, okay… I'll try…" Fluttershy said nervously.

"Twilight, with your magic you can help us find what we're looking for so you're going in with the four of us."

Twilight Sparkle nodded then shook her head, "Wait, what am I even looking for?"

"We're looking for anything that can prove that Diamond Tiara is a filly fooler, like a diary or photographs."

"What about me, what am I doing and why did you have me dress like this?" Rarity asked.

Raven Flame turned to her and examined the gown, "You're the key to this whole operation. You are going to distract Filthy Rich and his butler while the five of us sneak inside."

Rarity felt a little confused, "How am I going to do that?"

Raven Flame covered her hoof with her face, "Really, Rarity?"

Rarity chuckled when she figured it out, "Oh, right."

They heard the sound of hoofsteps on marble approaching them. Every pony dived into the hedges with the exception of Rarity who simply stood there pretending to admire herself. Diamond Tiara emerged from the opened gate and trotted past Rarity, rolling her eyes as she did so. Once the filly was out of sight everyone climbed from the hedges.

"Alright every pony!" Raven Flame said, "Let's get to work!"

Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash both launched themselves into the air going in opposite directions. Pinkie Pie pulled an assortment of party items and placed on a goofy hat and entertained herself while she waited. Rarity elegantly trotted towards the door, Twilight and the four fillies following close behind.

Knocking as loudly as she could, the butler pony soon opened the door and greeted Rarity, "Can I help you madame?" he asked.

"Oh I'm just here to visit my good friend Rich." Rarity said in a charming voice, she gently rubbed the butler's cheek, "Be a dear and let me come in, I'd hate for my dress to get wrinkled with this weather."

"Yes, of course." The butler answered stepping aside quickly.

"Why thank you." Rarity trotted through the doorway, purposefully stumbling and falling into the butler's hooves. "Oh clumsy me, I'm always tripping over myself. I can't tell you how many dresses I've ruined because I can't keep a steady hoof."

While the butler was distracted with Rarity, Twilight and the four fillies ran in quickly and quietly, taking cover behind a nearby pillar. Rarity stood herself back up with the help of the butler pony, "Thank you again for catching me." She said sweetly, "If you could be so kind as to find Rich for me that would be most lovely."

The butler pony nodded and trotted off into another room. As soon as he was clear Twilight and the four fillies ran up the red velvet stairs in the center of the wall directly across from the front door.

"Where do we start?" Sweetie Belle asked once atop the staircase.

"Leave it to me girls!" Twilight said excitedly. Her horn began to glow and soon groups of lights illuminated through the walls of the upper floors.

"There!" Applebloom said pointing at a white painted door where a cluster of pale lights hovered together in the shape of a crown.

The five of them ran silently to the door and went inside. There was a pink curtained bed aligned with the far wall in the center of her room. On each side of the bed was a stand, a tiara resting on one of them, where the other was bare.

"Check everything." Raven Flame ordered, trotting towards the nearest dresser and opening its drawers. She rummaged through the scarves, jackets and dresses but found nothing.

Twilight Sparkle sifted through the closet and the bookshelves using her magic and after thorough searching, she too had no luck. "Nothing!" she called out.

Scootaloo checked beneath the pale pink pillows and beneath the mattress, but much to her dismay, she shared the same results, "Same here!"

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle peered around the room, looking for something, anything that they hadn't checked yet. Applebloom let out a hopeful gasp when she noticed the bare Tiara stands was slightly askew. She trotted over towards it and nudged the black felt and the top of it shifted. She pushed it open the rest of the way to find a small rectangular diary with floral patterns decorating its cover. "Ah found something!" she shouted.

The four of them trotted over and peered at its cover. Slowly and carefully Raven Flame tipped open the cover. The sound of Pinkie Pie's party cannon boomed across the room, startling Raven she pulled her hoof away before she had finished opening the cover. "Hurry up!" Scootaloo whispered, "Diamond Tiara is probably on her way back up here right now."

Applebloom rolled her eyes and flipped open the cover. The four of them gasped at the sight, they couldn't believe what they were seeing. Raven Flame snatched it from Applebloom's hoofs to get a better look. "It's blank!" she shouted as she flipped through the pages.

The sound of a pony chuckling from behind them, "You didn't think I'd be that careless, did you?" Diamond Tiara snickered, "By the way, your plan didn't work very well. Fluttershy lost my tracks when I snuck outside the other door of the school."

Scootaloo sputtered, "So all of this was just some sort of joke?"

"I knew you three were up to something when I followed you ponies all around town last night." Diamond Tiara laughed, "So I thought I'd play along with your little game."

Twilight Sparkle frowned, "Come on girls, I think we better go."

"Why don't I walk you ponies out." Diamond Tiara said snidely, "Knowing you ponies, you'd get lost in your own living room."

Raven Flame grumbled and followed the filly outside the room. Once outside the room Diamond Tiara shut the door behind them. Standing there, Raven Flame stared at the filly's smug face, that same anger she had felt the day in the schoolyard. Angrily, she kicked her hind legs at the white door, leaving a large dent in the wood.

"What they hay is wrong with you?" Diamond Tiara cried.

Raven Flame glared, "Relax; I'm sure your daddy can afford fixing a single door."

Diamond Tiara groaned in frustration, "Get out right now!"

"Sorry, I'm lost; you'll have to show me the way." Raven Flame replied instantly.

Diamond Tiara stopped herself from screaming with irritation and trotted down the stairs and towards the front door, closely watching the four ponies to make sure they didn't try to sneak away. She pulled open the large wooden door for them and with her free hoof gestured for them to leave, but halted Raven Flame who was still holding the floral book, "I believe that's mine." She said.

Raven Flame smirked, "You left it for us to find on purpose, so I guess that means you wanted us to have it." She let out a quiet laugh, "Besides, I'm sure your daddy can buy you a new one." She taunted.

"Fine, whatever!" Diamond Tiara said trying to contain her frustration, "Thanks for stopping by, feel free to come back never." She said slamming the door on the five ponies.

The three trotted down the steps and met with the others, "Well, that went better then it could have." Twilight said trying to keep the enthusiasm up.

"Yes, I guess so." Raven Flame replied, "I'm going back to bed." She said with a yawn.

"Me too." Sweetie Belle said.

"Same." Scootaloo joined in.

"Ah'd be fine with a cup of coffee." Applebloom said hopefully, nudging Applejack.

"Yer not having any coffee!" Applejack said firmly.

"Aww." Applebloom whined, "Fine I'm going back tah bed too." She said and started trotting down the dirt road, the other three fillies following her.

The four of them reached the farmhouse to find the front door was wide open, "Did one of y'all leave the door open?" Applebloom asked.

"I didn't." Sweetie Belle answered.

"Rainbow Dash and Applejack left after us, it must have been one of them." Scootaloo said.

Raven Flame however did not share the same optimism that the Pegasus was presenting. She ran inside quickly and up the stairs into her bedroom. She scanned beneath the sheets of her bed, underneath her mattress, on the desks and around the floor. Raven Flame knew instantly, Diamond Tiara had used the window of opportunity they had presented her with to take the photograph of her and Scootaloo.

Silver Spoon knocked on the polished wooden door and the butler pony soon answered, "Good afternoon, please come inside. Miss Tiara is upstairs in her room." He said politely as he held open the door for her.

Silver Spoon gave him a polite smile and trotted down the long carpet up the stairs. As she approached the white door she noticed a rather large hoof shaped dent in the wood. She knocked on the door, "Diamond Tiara, it's me." She called out.

Diamond Tiara opened the door, "Hey!" she said happy to see a friendly face.

"What happened to your door?" Silver Spoon asked as she trotted inside the bedroom.

Diamond Tiara grunted, "Raven Flame decided she wanted to kick it down."

Silver Spoon grinned and hopped on the bed, "I have something that will make you feel better then."

Diamond Tiara brightened up somewhat, "What's that?" she said hopefully, joining her companion on the bed.

Silver Spoon slid off her saddlebag and withdrew a photograph from within its depths, "I found this on Raven Flame's bed."

Diamond Tiara took the picture from Silver Spoon's hoof and examined it. She chuckled evilly then tossed her hooves around her friend and kissed her. "What would I do without you?" she asked caressing Silver Spoon's cheek.

Silver Spoon squeaked and gave her another kiss, "So what happened?"

Diamond Tiara grumbled, "She was trying to find something to use against me." She bounced up excitedly clutching the photograph, "But thanks to you we have something to use against her!"

Silver Spoon smiled, "What are we going to do with it?"

Diamond Tiara pondered the question momentarily, "First we need to make copies." She trotted to one of her desks and pulled out a silver key, "And I still have the keys to the school newspaper room." The two giggled, trotted out of the bedroom and back down the stairs. "Daddy, I'm going out for a bit." Diamond called out, "I'll be back soon."

"Have fun!" Filthy Rich called out disinterestedly from another room, not even pulling his eyes from the newspaper he was reading.

Diamond Tiara peered around her front door, making sure no pony was still around to follow her. Satisfied with the search she walked outside, locking the door behind her and Silver Spoon.

"Can we stop at Sugar Cube Corner after we're done, I missed breakfast." Silver Spoon asked.

"For you?" Diamond Tiara said sweetly, "Of course."

Silver Spoon blushed, "Thanks."

Diamond Tiara pushed in the key of the newspaper room and jingled it until the latch popped open. She stepped inside and flicked the light switch. Silver Spoon quietly rummaged through copies of the old news papers while the other filly worked. She found a copy of Gabby Gums and sat down to read it while she waited.

"Finished!" Diamond Tiara shouted from across the room a few minutes later. She picked up the ink stained towel nearby and cleaned herself off the best she could.

Silver Spoon dropped the newspaper and joined Diamond Tiara at the door, "Sugar Cube Corner?" she asked hopefully.

Diamond Tiara smiled and nodded as she relocked the newspaper room. A feeling of relief washed over her, "Now if Raven or those other three blank flanks try anything, I'll have these to use to make them back off."

"Welcome to Sugar Cube Corner!" Mrs. Cake called out as the two fillies walked through the door, "The usual?" she asked pulling out a small square box from beneath the counter.

Diamond Tiara nodded and dropped a few bits on the glass, "Thanks Mrs. Cake!" she said in a sweet and innocent voice as they walked away with the box.

Silver Spoon munched happily on the chocolate frosted cupcake as they trotted back down the dirt road towards the mansion, "Oh we have math homework." She said.

"Ugh…" Diamond Tiara frowned, "Did you pick me up a copy of the assignment?"

Silver Spoon nodded as she continued to eat her cupcake, "It's just review work to see what we remember from last year. It shouldn't take us to long."

"I suppose." Diamond Tiara said as she unlocked the large mahogany door of the mansion and pushed it open, "Daddy, I'm back." She called out.

"Welcome home." Filthy called back still paying almost no attention to the fillies.

"We're going upstairs to do our homework, okay?" Diamond Tiara shouted.

"That's nice dear." Filthy said, not even bothering to raise his voice so he was barely heard.

"I'll go get some quills and ink and meet you in my room." Diamond Tiara said trotting off in a separate direction.

Silver Spoon swallowed the rest of her cupcake and ventured up the staircase for the second time. She stared at the hoof shaped dent in the door. Now that she thought about it, it didn't seem like the best idea to upset a pony that wasn't afraid to clobber another pony. She pushed the thought out of her head, went inside and waited quietly on the bed.

A few minutes passed and Diamond Tiara came inside, "Sometimes that pony is so useless." She grumbled, "He couldn't even remember where he put the quills."

Silver Spoon pulled out two sheets of paper from her saddlebag and gave one of them to Diamond Tiara. Sliding the sheets in between a clamp on clipboards, the two lay on the bed and worked. They laughed and made jokes to keep themselves entertained or on occasion stopping for a break or just to stare at one another. The sun slowly sank away from the sky as the moon rose and took its place as they worked.

Silver Spoon looked outside the window, "It's getting late, guess I better go."

Diamond Tiara frowned, "You could always stay the night." She suggested with wide eyes, not wanting her to leave.

Silver Spoon blushed and giggled, "Okay, okay." She said. Diamond Tiara threw her hooves around her for a second time. "So what are we going to do with those copies?" Silver Spoon asked curiously.

Diamond Tiara glanced at the stack of pictures, "If they try anything, we'll post them all around town."

"I see." Silver Spoon said feeling a little queasy about the idea.

Diamond Tiara's eyes narrowed, "Does that bother you?" she asked in a much harsher tone.

Silver Spoon cleared her throat, "Oh no of course not! I'm just tired that's all."

"That's what I thought." Diamond Tiara said as she gathered the papers and placed them on her desk then flicked the bedroom light switch. She trotted quickly back to the bed and pulled the covers over her, "Good night."

Silver Spoon wrapped a hoof around Diamond Tiara and held her. Closing her eyes she whispered, "Good night."

Chapter 4

View Online

Raven Flame lay on her back atop her bed, tossing the floral designed notebook in the air. For hours she had been trying to figure out what to do next yet nothing came to her. She rolled over back onto her stomach and flipped open the notebook and stared at the blank pages. She loosened her grip on the diary and let it fall to the floor.

As the papers fell to the floor she noticed something and she quickly picked it back up and pressed it close to her eyes. However the room was too dark and she couldn't be sure of what she was seeing. Standing up she scurried to the lightswitch and flicked it back on.

"What the hay!" Applebloom mumbled.

"Shh!" Raven Flame brought the paper close to her eyes again. She ran her hoof against the pages and could feel the light scratching indents of a quill tip that were imbedded into the parchment. Without saying a word or turning off the light Raven Flame ran out the bedroom, down the stairs and into the cold dark night.

"Twilight open up!" Raven Flame called out as she banged loudly on the library door.

Twilight Sparkle treaded heavily towards the door, "Do you know what time it is?" she grumbled. Raven Flame ignored her and trotted inside closing the door behind her. Twilight blinked her tired eyes, "Make yourself at home I guess."

Raven Flame trotted to Twilight's work desk and rummaged through one of the drawers and pulled out a magnifying glass. She peered closely at the paper and began to giggle excitedly, "Hey Twilight?"

"Yes?" Twilight answered, looming over the filly to try and see what she was seeing.

"Is there any way to show invisible ink?" Raven Flame asked with a grin.

"Lemon juice I guess, why?" Twilight was far too tired for her mind to make any kind of connections to what was going on. Raven Flame squeaked and ran back outside. A few minutes later she returned with a basket of lemons. "Where did you get those?"

"Pinkie Pie." Raven Flame answered casually as she squeezed the fruit's juice into a small bowl.

"Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked, "But she's asl-"

"Hiya Twilight!" Pinkie Pie shouted from behind the two of them.

Twilight screamed, lost her hoofing and fell to the floor, "Don't do that Pinkie!" she hissed.

Raven Flame gently dabbed a few drops of the yellowish liquid onto the paper. A few seconds later a black ink revealed itself in the shape of lettering. She lightly covered the rest of the paper with the juice and soon the entirety of the page was covered with Diamond Tiara's hoof writing.

"Ooh!" Pinkie Pie squealed, "Are we playing a game?"

"Not now Pinkie Pie!" Twilight and Raven said together as they read the pages. They flipped through the pages repeating the process of lightly spattering the pages with the juice as they read. The two of them continued going through the diary in search of anything they could use against Diamond Tiara.

Hours passed and Pinkie Pie was sprawled across the floor snoring loudly with a small dribble of drool running down her cheek. Twilight Sparkle had fallen asleep as well; she was resting her head on the desk using a book to shield her eyes from the lamp's light. Raven Flame's eyes burned and her hooves ached from the tedious work. After another hour or so she had finished going through half the small book.

Finally she came to a single undated page and read it. She dropped the book, rubbed her eyes and reread it a second time just to make sure her lack of sleep wasn't making her imagine things. The rooster's crow echoed from outside the library. Raven Flame snatched up the book in her hoof and sprinted back out the library.

"Raven there yah are!" Applebloom shouted from across the road. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were standing with her.

"Why were you in the library all night?" Scootaloo asked, the three of them staring at her quizzically.

Raven Flame grinned, "Come on you ponies!" she called out running down the road towards Diamond Tiara's mansion. The three of them shrugged and followed her. Trotting up the marble staircase Raven knocked on the mahogany door.

Much to their surprise Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon answered the door instead of the butler pony, "Don't you ponies have something better to do than pester me?" She groaned, "I don't know, maybe trying to get your cutie marks or something?"

Silver Spoon frowned, "I um, I need to go home. My parents might be looking for me." She squeaked nervously before fleeing from the five other fillies. Diamond Tiara stared, she couldn't believe the pony had just abandoned her so easily.

Raven Flame grinned and flashed the pages of the diary now filled with visible written words, "I think I have the proof I need." She said smugly.

Diamond Tiara gulped and tried to snatch the book away from Raven Flame who moved her hoof away to quickly, "Give me that back!" she screamed.

"I'm going to ask you one more time, will you do something about your father?" Raven Flame asked.

Diamond Tiara's face started to grow bright red with anger, "I'm not doing anything for you!"

"Fine, I'll just have to read this to your sweet daddy." Raven Flame threatened.

Diamond Tiara calmed herself, "He would never believe you. Any pony could have written that. That isn't proof; you're wasting your time."

Raven Flame glanced at the book then back at the filly blocking her path, "Well you won't mind letting us in so we can show it to him then will you?"

Diamond Tiara sighed, "If you don't drop this then I'll just have to put the picture of you and Scootaloo all around town."

A smile spread across Raven Flame's face. A mocking expression that she knew something the other ponies didn't, "What picture?" she asked almost giggling from the thrill she was feeling of everything coming together so perfectly.

"This picture!" Diamond Tiara said reaching into her saddlebag but couldn't find it. She slid off her bag and rummaged through the sack but the copies of the photograph were nowhere in sight. "B-but, where are they?"

Rarity trotted up from behind Diamond Tiara, still wearing the dress she had on from the day before. She held up a stack of copied photographs as well as their original. Waving the papers she asked in her sweetest voice, "Oh do you mean these pictures?

"B-but, how did you?" Diamond Tiara sputtered.

"You told me that you knew everything that happened in this town." Raven Flame grinned, "So I figured since I knew your secret, you wouldn't dare let me out of your sight." Diamond Tiara still looked confused. "So I guessed as much that you already knew about the photograph, so I left it somewhere you could easily find it."

Scootaloo blinked, "You let her have the picture on purpose?"

"Would some pony please explain tah me what in the hay is going on?" Applebloom cried out in confusion.

Raven Flame turned to Applebloom, "When we went to tell the others to meet us here in the morning two nights ago, I had everything planned out."

"Had what planned out?" Sweetie Bell groaned, her head starting to ache as she tried to understand just what Raven Flame had done.

Raven Flame continued to giggle as she made her friends wait for a straight answer. Eventually they started giving her irritated looks and she caved in, "Alright alright, I'll tell you."

Two days earlier

The four fillies trotted inside the farmhouse and into the living room. Raven Flame slid off the saddlebag near the trash bin by the writing desk. The bag contained an assortment of utensils she thought necessary for their plan. She sat down at the writing desk and dipped her quill into the ink jar and started scribbling fiercely.

"What're yah doing?" Applebloom asked curiously as she dropped herself onto the couch.

Raven Flame ignored the question and continued writing. After a few minutes of silence she looked at the parchment, mumbled something, crumpled it up and threw it to the side of the desk. "AJ, Dashie, can I talk to you two?" she called out.

The two ponies came down from the upstairs bedroom, the two looking rather flustered as if they had been arguing and crying. "Yeah sugar cube?" Applejack said with a sniffle.

Raven Flame hopped up from her seat and trotted to the two, "I know how we can fix this." She said with a smile, "I know how we can get Filthy to leave every pony alone."

"Oh yeah?" Rainbow Dash said, "And how's that?"

"Just meet me outside Filthy's Mansion tomorrow after the Rooster's crow in the morning." Raven Flame said confidently.

Rainbow Dash shrugged, "Might as well, not like I'm going to have a job to go to in a few days."

"Alright sugar cube." Applejack said after much thought but couldn't see the harm in this one small request.

Raven Flame picked the saddlebag back up from off the floor, "Come on every pony, we've got work to do!" She said with a smile as she gestured for her friends to follow her.

"What're we doing now?" Scootaloo asked once they were outside the farmhouse.

Raven Flame looked around casually for anything she deemed suspicious, "I need you three to go tell Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Twilight to meet us at Filthy's mansion tomorrow morning." She said.

"Why?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"I'll explain everything later!" Raven Flame said waving a hoof, "I'll meet you back at Ponyville fountain!" she said and suddenly started running towards town.

The three fillies looked at another one quizzically. "Ah guess ah'll tell Twilight." Applebloom said and took off running as well.

"I'll go tell Fluttershy!" Sweetie Belle said quickly and galloped away.

"Guess that leaves me with Pinkie Pie." Scootaloo mumbled to herself as she hopped on her scooter and propelled herself out of the orchards. Soon she caught up with Raven Flame and waved at her as she zipped away.

Raven Flame rolled her eyes at Scootaloo as the pony passed her. Slowing her pace when she reached the cobblestone roads of Ponyville, she trotted into the Fashion Boutique, the bell jingling quietly as she opened the door. "Rarity, are you busy?" she called out, placing the saddlebag lightly to the ground and searched through it to make sure everything inside was still okay.

"Just a moment!" Rarity shouted from her workroom. She finished the last of her stitching and entered the room, "Raven my dear, what can I do for you?"

Raven Flame smiled sweetly, "I have a favor to ask of you."

Rarity looked down at the small filly wondering what she could possibly need from her, "Alright, I'm listening."

Raven Flame trotted into the backroom and looked around where she saw a rather large and poofy dress. Walking over to it she examined it and decided this would be well suited for the task she had in mind. She gestured for Rarity to come closer to her and the unicorn obeyed.

"Well what is it?" Rarity asked.

"Would you meet me outside Filthy Rich's mansion tomorrow morning?" Raven Flame asked.

"I suppose, but may I ask why?" Rarity asked politely.

"Thank you!" Raven Flame leaped up and hugged Rarity, burying her hooves into her purple mane.

Rarity blinked, "Run along now dear, I've got work to do." She said scooting Raven Flame towards the door.

"So you're still coming right?" Raven Flame asked at the doorway.

"Yes, yes." Rarity said waving a hoof for the pony to leave.

The bell jingled again as she exited the Boutique. She looked around to find Scootaloo already waiting at the fountain. Running up to the Pegasus, "Who'd you tell and did they agree?" she asked.

"I told Pinkie Pie and obviously she said okay." Scootaloo said rubbing her ears, "She said it quite enthusiastically I might add."

"We're all covered with Twilight!" Applebloom called out as she approached them.

"Same with Fluttershy!" Sweetie Belle said close behind.


"Yeah yeah we know that bit!" Scootaloo interrupted, "Why is Rarity here and how did she get the photos?"

Raven Flame groaned, "Rarity, would you care to explain?"

"With pleasure!" Rarity said, "After Raven Flame visited me, she had buried a note inside my mane." She turned and frowned at the Pegasus, "Which I had a most difficult time removing from my mane which required rather vigorous brushing afterwards."

Raven Flame rolled her eyes, "Sorry?"

Rarity cleared her throat, "As I was saying. When I finally retrieved the parchment it had rather specific instructions for what was required of me yesterday morning."

"When did you write a note?" Diamond Tiara blurted out, "I was watching you all day and I never once saw you write any notes!"

"At the farmhouse." Raven answered casually.

"You threw that away!" Diamond Tiara cried.

"No, I threw it into the saddlebag next to the bin to make you THINK I threw it away." Raven Flame said with a wink.

"May I continue?" Rarity interjected. The five fillies nodded, "After I read the note I was up all night working away to make adjustments to this dress, but I'll get to that later." She gave the photographs to Raven Flame and then continued, "While the others were upstairs searching your room, I was downstairs keeping your father and the butler busy."

"Filthy, you have such a lovely home." Rarity said as she admired the portraits aligning the walls.

"Please, call me Rich." Filthy said containing his irritation for being called Filthy.

"My apologies, Rich" Rarity corrected herself, "Oh what's in here?" she asked trotting inside a room with an open door.

"Oh this?" Filthy asked with a bashful chuckle, "This is the lounge."

"Isn't it simply gorgeous?" Rarity commented as she took rested herself on one of the red velvet seats. She turned to the butler, "Would you be a dear and…" she laughed embarrassedly, "How rude of me, I never even asked you, what's your name?"

The butler coughed and cleared his throat, "My name is-"

Filthy Rich interrupted, "Never mind that, go fetch our guest something to drink!" he commanded rudely waving a hoof at the butler whom nodded and trotted across the room towards a rack of glass bottled beverages. "My apologies, he sometimes forgets his place." Filthy said.

"That's quite alright!" Rarity said fluffing her mane. The butler approached her with a tray balanced perfectly on his back, "Thank you." Rarity said floating one of the glasses of grape juice over to herself and sipped quietly.

"So, what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?" Filthy asked, "You hardly stop by anymore."

"Oh, you know me, I'm always working." Rarity laughed, "I've just been so busy I hadn't had the chance to stop by. I had some free time on my hoofs today and I thought I would come and say hello."

"What a lovely thought." Rich said as he waved the butler away yet a second time.

Eyeing the front door from her seat she saw Raven Flame and the others being escorted outside the building by Diamond Tiara. Purposefully she spilled her glass of grape juice on her dress, "Oh no!" she cried standing up off the chair, "I'm sorry Rich, but I must wash this dress before it stains. I need it for an important fashion show I have coming up!" she said then trotted off quickly before they could object.

Hiding behind one of the pillars Rarity watched as Diamond Tiara exchanged angry words with the black filly. Running as carefully and as quickly as she could, she moved her way up the stairs and examined the doors until she found the one with a hoof shaped dent pressed into it. Giving herself a last stretch she went inside and hid herself in the bedroom closet.

"You were in my closet?" Diamond Tiara screamed.

"Yes, and I must say your clothes are very last season." Rarity said.

"Wait wait, wait! What were yah doing in her closet?" Applebloom asked.

"Waiting and watching." Rarity said, "Not to sound like some kind of creep pony, but I had been watching you all night Diamond." She grinned, "And Silver Spoon." She said with a wink.

"That doesn't prove anything!" Diamond Tiara shouted, "And neither does my diary!"

"No, it doesn't" Raven Flame agreed, "Also I was never really after your diary."

Diamond Tiara was taken aback by the comment, "W-what?"

Rarity smiled, "And that brings me back to my dress!" She patted Diamond Tiara gently on the head, "Aside from the note, Raven Flame left me a few other things inside a saddlebag by the door. But like I said, I had to make some alterations before I was ready." She removed the dress and flipped it inside out, revealing a strap that held a self-developing camera and dozens of photographs.

"Wh-what are those?" Diamond Tiara asked, a lurching sensation filling her stomach as she prayed it wasn't what she thought they were.

"Proof." Raven Flame grinned.

"Lemme make sure ah got this straight." Applebloom cut in, "We did all that so yah could sneak Rarity in her closet?"

"Yep!" Raven Flame said proudly.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Sweetie Belle asked feeling a little offended.

"I couldn't tell you, Diamond Tiara had been following us ever since we left two days ago." Raven Flame explained. She turned to Diamond Tiara, "Now I'm TELLING you, since I have the diary, my photographs, and dozens of photographs of you. Get your dad to leave us alone."

Diamond Tiara clenched her jaws and screamed with her mouth closed. She was fuming with anger, her entire face turning a dark red as she grew more and more furious, "Give me those pictures!" she screamed and began to charge at Raven Flame with blind hatred.

Raven Flame took a step back and swung her hoof at the hysterical pony that ran towards her. Once again Diamond Tiara fell to her knees and clutched at her already bruised cheek. Tears began to roll down her eyes from both the pain on her face and the fact that she had been utterly defeated, "Fine…" she whimpered climbing back to her hooves and trotted inside.

When the door shut Raven Flame began to bounce up and down excitedly, "It worked, it worked, it worked!" She scheered. She felt like she was about to burst at the sensations of her plan working so very perfectly. In an attempt to satisfy her emotions she did a small victory dance.

The three fillies gasped as a bright light flashed in front of them and they stared at the dancing Pegasus. Rarity laughed and cleared her throat, "Raven Flame." She said and the filly halted, "There is something else." She said pointing her hoof.

Raven Flame looked at her hips and launched off into the air squeaking "YESSSSSSSS!" After flying around in several loops she landed back down on the ground and tried to calm herself as she gazed at her cutie mark; It was the image of a light-brown wooden chess board with the king piece toppled over on its side.

Chapter 5

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A roar of deafening cheering was let out as Raven Flame trotted inside Sugar Cube Corner. As requested Diamond Tiara had gotten her father to back off of Rainbow Dash and allow her to keep her job. In addition to which, in hopes to stay on Raven's good side she had also convinced her father to personally finance Raven's cute-ceañera.

Raven Flame grinned widely as she looked around the room; balloons hovered to the roof, their strings dangling down to the floor. Music emanated from the corner of the room where Vinyl Scratch had set up her station. The floor was littered with shreds of confetti and the walls were plastered with boards for games like pin the tail on the pony.

Her friends and family stood in the center of the room with smiles just as big as hers. She rushed over and met them for a hug. "Raven Flame…" A pony said quietly. Raven Flame turned around to see it was Silver Spoon holding a small paper wrapped box, "I'm sorry." She said holding out the gift.

"It's fine." Raven Flame said with a smile, "But I think you should be worried that you hurt some pony else." She said pointing to the defeated light pink filly slumped over in a corner by herself. Silver Spoon frowned and sprinted over towards Diamond Tiara and nearly lifted her with a tight hug.

"So ah guess yah weren't kidding when yah said yah could take care of all this." Applejack said patting Raven proudly.

Raven Flame blushed, "It was nothing." She said modestly, "Who wants cake?" she asked not wanting all the attention to be on her, it made her feel a little uncomfortable.

"Ah thought yah'd never ask!" Applebloom said then she charged towards the table.

"I see Rainbow Dash is late, as usual." Rarity said sounding somewhat pompous.

Raven Flame shook her head, "I asked her to take care of some things she'll be here soon."

"Who wants to play a game?" Pinkie Pie shouted.

"Ah do!" Applebloom said her mouth full of food as usual.

"I'm just going to watch, if that's alright." Fluttershy said nervously.

While the other ponies talked Raven Flame nudged Scootaloo and gestured her to follow. The two trotted into the back room of Sugar Cube Corner where they were secluded from the rest of the ponies. "What's up?" Scootaloo asked.

Raven Flame threw her hooves around Scootaloo's neck and kissed her deeply on the lips, "Just wanted to do that." She said with a smile, "We should get back to the party before any pony gets suspicious." She giggled.

"R-right." Scootaloo stuttered, her cheeks bright red. Raven Flame's surprise kisses still always managed to catch her off guard and leave her a little two of them walked back into the crowded room and absent mindedly participated in the activities that had been set out for every pony.

Twilight Sparkle poked Raven Flame in the stomach, "Want to play chess?" she asked, hovering a chess board and a bag of pieces.

Raven Flame grinned, "You're on!" They trotted over towards one of the empty tables and began to set up the board.

There was a jagged scratching noise and the music stopped when a strange two legged bluish-green thing burst in through the door, a brown stallion with an hourglass cutie mark chasing it. The two ran into the next room and the back door slammed shut. Every pony blinked for a moment, shrugged and the music resumed.

Hours passed as both Twilight and Raven Flame's chess pieces started dwindling away. They were both staring at the chess board in deep thought. "Ah!" Twilight cried out excitedly as she moved her rook, "Check!"

Raven Flame giggled and took the rook with her bishop, "Check mate!" she squeaked excitedly.

Twilight Sparkle's jaw dropped as she stared at the board, she had never lost a game before. "Best out of three?" she asked.

Raven Flame laughed, "Maybe later." She said looking around the room, most of the ponies had left and she still hadn't seen Rainbow Dash. She stood up and trotted towards Applejack who sat looking exhausted as Pinkie Pie rambled utter nonsense to her, "Have you seen Dashie?" she asked.

Applejack glanced over, "No." she said. She thought for a moment, "No ah haven't…" she said again starting to sound worried.

Raven Flame shrugged, "I'm sure she is fine. She probably took a nap." She laughed, "She went somewhere she told me she hasn't been to in awhile so I'm sure everything is fine." She said though she felt a little hurt.

"Ah'm sorry sugarcube." Applejack said, "Why don't yah open yer presents." She said pointing her hoof at the stacks of boxes.

Raven Flame looked over at the pile, each box was rectangular in shape and the exact same height, width and length, "I don't think I need to." She chuckled, "Wait…" she remembered the silver wrapped present Silver Spoon had given to her. She picked it up off the table she had placed it on and unwrapped the paper.

Beneath the wrapping was a black box. She tipped it open and gasped quietly. She shut it, blinked a few times and opened it again. She dropped the open box to the ground and backed away from it. "Applejack…" Raven Flame said sounding frightened.

"What is it sugar cube." Applejack asked, trotting over towards the young filly. Raven Flame pointed towards the ground at the gift. Applejack looked at the wooden floor, to see something she thought she'd never see again. Beneath the black box lay a shining golden pendant with an engraving etched onto it.

Not wanting to risk even laying a hoof on the necklace, Applejack used the black box it come in to scoop it back up. Shutting the lid she and Raven Flame turned to Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon whom were still sitting in the corner. "EVERYPONY OUT!" Applejack shouted as she trotted towards the two young fillies. "Not the two of yah." She said when they rose from their seats.

"What did I do this time?" Diamond Tiara cried out.

Applejack ignored her, "Where did yah get this Silver Spoon?" she asked holding up the box.

Silver Spoon looked confused, "I found it." She said.

"Where and when?" Raven Flame cut in.

Silver Spoon looked confused, "I found it on the way home from school when I was staying in Canterlot a few months ago…" she said.

"Why did you give it to me?" Raven asked suspiciously.

Silver Spoon shrugged, "I thought you'd like it and I felt bad…" she frowned, "Do you not like it?"

Applejack pulled Raven Flame aside, "Ah don't think she knows anything." She whispered.

Raven Flame studied the gray filly and slowly nodded, "I guess you're right."

Twilight trotted back in from outside the shop, "Is everything alright girls?"

"Twilight, Raven…" Applejack turned to the confused fillies, "The two of yah, ah'm not letting yah out of mah sight till I know what the hay is going on. We're going tah the library."

Twilight could see the concern in both Applejack and Raven's faces, "What's going on you two?"

"Ah'll explain later." Applejack said, "C'mon we're leavin'." She said waving a hoof at the four.

Twilight unlocked the library door and held it open as the four walked inside. Shutting the door behind her, "Now will some pony please tell me what's going on?" she asked.

Applejack dropped the box on the table and tilted open the lid, "This." She said.

Twilight blinked, "I don't get it…"

"This Twilight," Raven Flame nudged the case she had no idea how to say this. Rainbow Dash had convinced every pony that her death was just some unknown pony had just set up an incredibly elaborate hoax. Since no pony could come up with any other explanation, they didn't bother questioning it.

Applejack shushed Raven Flame before she could say anything, "It's a long story Twi. Ah'm not gonna bore yah with the details but there is a unicorn named Shadow Scorn sealed away inside it."

Twilight scratched her head, "Applejack, have you been trying to buck all the apple trees by yourself again?" she asked looking at her as if she were delusional.

Applejack shook her head, "Look at me Twi, ah aint lying." She said staring directly into Twilight's eyes.

"Okay…" Twilight finally said and picked up the pendant, "Well if the pony is sealed away inside, then what's the big deal?"

Applejack glanced at the pendant, "Because Rainbow crushed it."

"If she is sealed inside this pendant…" Twilight's horn began to glow and dozens of books began to fly off the shelves stacking themselves in front of her, "Then she has to be mentioned in at least one of my books." She said picking up a book and flipping through it when she stopped. "Wait..."

Applejack cringed she had hoped Twilight wouldn't have pieced together the already given details, "Before yah even ask, yes Twi."

"Well what happened?" Twilight asked, "It would take some pretty powerful magic to reseal her."

A small wave of depression came over Applejack, "Ice Ember…" she said softly.

"Oh…" Twilight returned her attention back to the books; she didn't need to ask anymore to know what had happened. She finished scanning through the first book, "I think we should go ask Zecora." She said setting the book down.

"Who's Zecora?" Raven Flame asked.

Diamond Tiara groaned, "She's this weird Zebra who lives in the Everfree Forest."

Twilight rolled her eyes, "She isn't weird, she just has a different culture." She defended.

"I'm not supposed to go in the Everfree Forest." Silver Spoon said, "Can I go home?"

"Ah told yah, ah'm not letting the two of yah out of mah site till ah exactly what in the hay is going on." Applejack said in a firm voice.

"Go with YOU in the Everfree Forest?" Diamond Tiara whined, "I'm not going in there, not in a million sun festivals."

Raven Flame turned to her and gave her an intimidating look, "Are you sure about that?"

Diamond Tiara laughed nervously, "I mean I just LOVE the Everfree Forest, we should go right now."

Applejack chuckled and trotted towards the door, "Twi, yah lead the way, ah'm gonna make sure these two don't try tah get away."

"What are we, you're prisoners?" Diamond Tiara fumed.

"No, ah just don't trust yah." Applejack answered, "Now let's go."

The five stopped at the border of Everfree Forest, the stars were starting to show in the rose blotched sky. Silver Spoon looked nervously into the forest having never gone inside and only hearing frightening rumors of the place. Diamond Tiara took her hoof comfortingly, "It'll be fine." She said in an almost sweet and caring voice.

"Relax girls; I've gone through the forest dozens of times." Twilight said, "You have nothing to worry about."

The five of them finally started trotting tightly packed together. The melody of crickets' chirps surrounded the forest. The mossy trees shrouded their path from the sun's light, only a slowly fading pale green overcast of light dripped in. "How much further, it's getting dark and my hooves are tired." Diamond Tiara asked.

Raven Flame turned to her, "Do you ever shut up?"

"No she doesn't." Silver Spoon said suddenly.

Diamond Tiara glared at her, "Excuse me?"

"We're here!" Twilight called out as she knocked on the hut door.

"Ah, Twilight my good friend, How are you this weekend?" Zecora said as she answered the door.

"I'm fine, may we come in?" Twilight asked.

Zecora stepped aside from the doorway, "Well I must certainly say, You are most welcome to stay."

The five of them trotted inside. Diamond Tiara glanced around with disgust, "It's hideous in here." She said.

"Diamond!" Twilight scolded.

Zecora laughed, "Oh don't worry it's quite alright, to her it must be such a sight."

"Zecora, we were wondering if yah could help us." Applejack said.

Zecora raised an eyebrow, "Put my knowledge to the test, I will answer with my best."

"Uh right." Applejack said, "What do yah know about this?" she asked opening the black box to show the Zebra the pendant.

Zecora mused out loud, "A thing of pure evil I am afraid, the evil released when the trade is made."

"Yeah, we know that." Applejack said waving a hoof, "But how do we get rid of it."

Zecora frowned, "Sadly I will be of no help to you, most sorry I am but this is true."

"Wait, what was that about a trade?" Twilight asked, "What trade?"

Zecora looked at Twilight, "Whenever a pony is slain, the trade will let them rise again." She said when Raven Flame caught her eye, "Something is not right about you, something strange in those eyes of blue." She trotted away and removed a book from her shelf, "I think that it is time to leave for you, but take this book that may have a clue or two."

Twilight levitated the book from Zecora's hooves and dropped it into her saddlebag, "I guess we'll be going then."

"Be careful on your way to Ponyville, outside is most dangerous at night's chill." Zecora said waving her hoof as the ponies walked away from her.

"Well that was a waste of time." Diamond Tiara said once clear of the hut.

Twilight shook her head in disagreement, "Not quite, we got this book and she did tell us one thing."

"What's that?" Silver Spoon asked starting to enjoy the investigation she was being forced to participate in.

Twilight Sparkle pushed aside a heavy branch with her magic as they trotted, "We know that we're safe as long as no dead ponies wear it." She said. They reached the end of edge of the forest and trotted back inside the library. "Applejack, can I talk to you for a moment?"

"Sure Twi, what is it?" Applejack asked though she knew full well what she was going to be confronted about.

Twilight sighed heavily, "Raven Flame did she really…" she shook her head, "Nevermind." Pulling the book from her saddlebag and read the cover, "Ghosts, Goblins and Ghoulish Figures first edition?"

"Don't yah already have that?" Applejack asked.

Twilight pulled her copy from the shelf; the two books were nearly identical except with the exception of one having far less pages, "I guess not." She flipped open both books and scanned through them simultaneously, skipping through any identical pages.

Diamond Tiara turned to Raven Flame while the two older ponies worked, "What was Zecora talking about?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" Raven Flame asked trying to avoid the topic.

"Don't play games with me, you know what I'm talking about and you knew what she was talking about too."

Raven Flame grinned and raised her hooves, "I'm a zombie pony!" she said standing on her two hind legs, "Brains…." She mumbled walking slowly towards the filly.

Diamond Tiara folded her arms, "Fine if you aren't going to tell me what she was talking about, I'll just figure it out myself."

Raven Flame laughed, "Have fun with that."

"That's her!" Applejack shouted pointing at a sketching of a unicorn.

Twilight Sparkle read the article below the image, "Oh dear…"

"What?" Applejack asked, "Go on, read it…"

Shadow Scorn

The unicorn known most commonly as Shadow Scorn has no known origin, though there have been reported sightings of the pony dating back since the 400th Summer Sun Festival. Shadow Scorn is said to feed off any negative emotions turning them into her own strength. During any reported sighting two events have always followed. The first being a drastic increase in crime rate nearby the spotting. The second even during the hottest summer days the temperature would drop drastically, even so much as to turn rain into snow. During the 618th Lunar Festival Shadow Scorn was sealed away inside an amulet by Star-Swirl the Bearded. Despite the efforts of Star-Swirl the Beared he was unable to permanently destroy the amulet. The amulet then remained heavily guarded in Canterlot's chamber of dangerous scrolls and artifacts until it was stolen during the raising of the 987th Summer Sun.

"That's all it says." Twilight Sparkle said.

Applejack blinked, "That can't be it, ah mean how in the hay do we get rid of the thing?"

Twilight shrugged, "No idea.

Applejack frustrated, smacked her face into the desk, "There ain't nothing we can do?"

Twilight frowned, "I honestly don't know, but it's getting really late and we won't think clearly if we're all exhausted. I think we should get some sleep."

"Ah guess yer right Twi" Applejack sighed, "Rainbow Dash is probably already back at home waiting anyway."

Raven Flame stopped tormenting Diamond Tiara with ghostly gestures and trotted up to Applejack, "Are we going home now?"

"Yeah Sugar Cube." Applejack said.

"I'm going to keep researching this pendant for a bit." Twilight called out, "I'll let you know if I find out anything in the morning."

"Alright, see yah tomorrow Twilight." Applejack said pushing open the door.

Raven Flame climbed up onto Applejack's back, "Onward my steed!" she commanded then let out a tired yawn.

Applejack chuckled, "We'll be home soon." Raven Flame mumbled something back to her and began to snore loudly. "Ah swear yah get more like Dashie every day." She said as she trotted down the dirt road and through the gate of Sweet Apple Acres.

Applebloom pulled the door open as Applejack trotted up, "Where've yah been all day?" she asked.

"Don't worry about it Applebloom." Applejack said, "Is Rainbow Dash back yet?"

Applebloom shook her head, "Ah haven't seen her since this morning."

Scootaloo trotted up, "Hey Applejack, where's Rainbow Dash?"

"Ah have no idea." Applejack said as she trotted up the stairs and into Raven Flame's bedroom, "Ah hope she's okay."

Scootaloo went back down the stairs leaving Applejack alone with filly that she assumed was sleeping. Raven Flame sat up, "Applejack?"

Applejack turned towards her, "Yeah sugar cube?"

Raven Flame paused, "Good night." She said lowering her head back to her pillow.

"Good night." Applejack replied and trotted back down the stairs. She sat down on the couch and stared anxiously out the window, occasionally glancing at the old clock hanging on the mantle to check the time. She began to twist her mane to try and ease her stress as the hours went on, repeatedly asking herself, "Where are yah Rainbow?"

Chapter 6

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Rainbow Dash grumbled as she slowly drifted back into consciousness, a dull ache pulsating with pain in the back of her skull. Trying to rub the sore spot on her head she found herself unable to move her limbs. Opening her eyes she tried to identify as to what was restraining her but her eyes were still readjusting through the fog caused by the blow to her head.

Taking in a deep breath she identified that the air was both cold and thin. However her blurred eyes were unable to detect a glare cast from the moon, nor sun. To her relief the air did not feel stale, nor did it smell musty so at least she wasn't trapped in another basement. With the feeling of the hardwood floor beneath her she guessed she probably wasn't in a pony's cloud home though.

Attempting to roll over, hoping to get a better feel of her surroundings she heard the noise of an iron chain rattling against the floor she was laying on. Hardly able to move and her eyes still not working properly, "Hello?" she called out but received no answer. "Is any pony there?" she yelled out even louder than before.

A few minutes of silence passed and her eyes finally began to clear themselves. She was surrounded by four walls made of stacked wooden logs. A fireplace was crackling only a few yards away from her, the clasp that held her chain attached to a hook behind the flames. Reaching down with her mouth she bit down on the rope that bound her four hooves. Looking towards her tail she noticed a metal vice that clamped her wings down preventing her from extending them.

Standing up Rainbow Dash found the chain was long enough to stretch across the entire room. With a small hope she hurried over to the single door inside the room and attempted to open it but unsurprisingly it wouldn't budge. Trotting around the room she began to search for anything she could use to pry off her chains or open the door.

The floors had been thoroughly cleared of any objects and any jagged edges of wood had been smoothed over. The cupboards had not only been emptied, but stripped of their drawers, hinges and any other metallic objects. "Why does this always happen to me?" Rainbow Dash grumbled to herself as she trotted around the square room.

The sound of hoof steps approached the door; Rainbow Dash quickly positioned herself behind the door and readied her chains to use as a weapon. A few moments passed and the sound of a door opened but not the one she had readied herself. Looking towards the noise she found the pony had taken a trap door that had recently been installed on its roof.

"Morning." The familiar voice of the Pegasus said politely.

Rainbow Dash stared at the Pegasus she knew from somewhere but couldn't quite put her hoof on where she had seen her before. Carefully examining the silver Pegasus she noticed a small crook in the pony's wing. The memory came rushing back to her now, "Quicksilver?"

Quicksilver nodded, "You hungry?" she said pulling out a bagged sandwich from her saddlebag.

"No I'm not hungry!"

Quicksilver glanced at her, "Well you sure are a grumpy pony." She said.

"You clobbered me upside the head and chained me to a wall!"

"Alright, calm down." Quicksilver said, "Let's not dwell on what's already happened. No point in getting angry that I've kidnapped you, it's already happened."

"You're joking, right?"

"It makes both our lives easier if you just cool your jets." Quicksilver said taking a bite of a sandwich. "If it makes you feel any better this is nothing personal, just another job." She laughed, "You know you make a lot of ponies angry, you should probably consider changing your general attitude."

Rainbow Dash blinked, she could barely believe the pony who kidnapped her was saying that she needed to change, "I didn't do anything to any pony!"

"None of my business." Quicksilver responded finishing up the rest of her food and shaking off the crumbs from her hooves, "So how've things been with you and that orange pony?" she asked.

"Bad." Rainbow Dash said dully.

"Oh, why is that?" Quicksilver asked sounding as if she genuinely cared.

"Well it's bad because," Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, "BECAUSE I'M CHAINED TO THIS STUPID WALL AND NO PONY KNOWS WHERE I AM!" she screamed as loudly as she could.

"Yeah, I guess that does damper your relationship a bit." Quicksilver said trotting over to Rainbow Dash and stepping down on the chain, "Please don't scream again, I'd hate have to restrain you, as I'm sure this is already hard enough for you as it is." She said patting the pony's head.

Rainbow Dash sighed, her stomach starting to growl fiercely. She groaned to herself as if it weren't bad enough she was going to humiliate herself by stooping this low, "Can I still have that sandwich?" she mumbled.

"I don't know, are you sorry for screaming?" Quicksilver asked smugly.

"Oh come on!" Rainbow Dash cried, "What would you be doing if you were in my situation?"

"I'd be eating a sandwich." Quicksilver said with a grin, "Because I wouldn't be freaking out like a chicken without a head."

Rainbow Dash stunned, stared at the pony, "For hays sake, can I have the thing or not?" she asked after a few moments of silence.

Quicksilver trotted over to Rainbow Dash, pulled out the sandwich and held it out on her hoof, "There you go."

Rainbow Dash saw a small window of opportunity; the pony had forgotten to restrain the chain. With a quick jerk she flung the chain up in the air catching it with her hooves. Quickly she stepped to Quicksilver's side and pulled the chain against her throat, "Get me out of here, now!" Rainbow Dash commanded into the Pegasus's ear.

"I can't." Quicksilver replied.

Rainbow Dash tugged on the chains tightening them against her neck, "I said get me out of here!" she repeated.

"And I said I can't!" Quicksilver reached her hoof the side tipping out her saddlebag, "I'm not stupid enough to bring the key with me." She said. "You can kill me but no pony knows you're here and you'll starve to death."

"Fine," Rainbow Dash loosened the chains slightly, "I think you still remember the drill, who hired you this time?"

Quicksilver laughed, "In my line of business we don't use names, I thought you would have figured that out by now."

Rainbow Dash paused and thought about this. She had one question that could drastically narrow down her suspects, "How much are you getting paid?"

"I was paid 10,000 bits upfront and another 40,000 tomorrow when I bring my customer here." Quicksilver answered. "With this job I'm pretty much going to be set for life."

Rainbow Dash removed the chain and shoved the pony off of her, "Some pony is paying you 50,000 bits to kidnap me?" She couldn't help but feel a little flattered at the thought.

Quicksilver stood up and gathered her things back into her saddlebag with the exception of a collection of various bagged foods she had brought for her prisoner, "There is plenty of food to last you through the rest of the day." She flew up to the ceiling and picked up a bucket from off of one of the beams that stretched across. "There's water in this if you get thirsty." She said placing it down on the ground besides Rainbow Dash.

"You're leaving then?" Rainbow Dash asked. With a nod Quicksilver launched herself back up to the ceiling and towards the trapdoor. "Wait!" Rainbow Dash cried out.

"What is it?"

Rainbow Dash scraped her hoof against the wooden floor, "If, you know, this ends badly for me which it probably will." She breathed in deeply and pushed back a few tears, "Will you promise to tell Applejack and Raven Flame for me?" she choked.

Quicksilver frowned, "You really want them to know?" she asked.

Rainbow Dash nodded, "I know what it's like to both have lost some pony and have another go missing." Her words sounded heavy as they escaped her mouth, "When some pony goes missing, you cling desperately onto that small spark of hope that one day they'll just show up out of the blue, but they never do. At least when you know some pony is dead you know where they are and how they are. But when they go missing we can't help but cling onto that blinding hope until at the end of each day it just feels like you've lost them all over again. No pony ever deserves that, especially not my Applejack or Raven Flame."

Quicksilver blinked, "Where do they live?"

"Sweet Apple Acres, you don't have to tell them face to face. Just give them a note or something." Rainbow Dash said wiping her foreleg against her eyes to dry them, "Promise me you'll tell them."

With a heavy and reluctant sigh, "I promise." Quicksilver mumbled and flew through the trapdoor, shutting it behind her.

Rainbow Dash waited a few minutes just to be sure the pony was gone. Once sure she took the bucket and poured the water onto the still burning fire. "Quicksilver, for having taken so many precautions you sure are dense." She mumbled to herself as she scooted herself into the smoky fireplace. Turning herself she placed her back and her hind hooves on opposite walls of the chimney.

Taking a deep breath she grabbed the end of the chain and tugged on it as hard as she could. Her hooves began to ache as she pulled and soon had to stop. Taking small breaks she repeated the process for several hours. "Come on!" Rainbow Dash screamed at the chain as she yanked once again, her front hooves starting to feel as if they were cracking beneath the strain.

The hook still didn't budge and her front hooves were far too sore and her body refused to be forced any more strain on them. Tears of both fright and pain began to stream down her cheeks as she desperately kicked at the latch with her hind hooves. "Please…" Rainbow Dash begged delivering yet another powerful kick. There was the faint sound of stone breaking apart and the hook wiggled slightly.

The small movement of the chain was just enough to inspire her to keep at it. Kicking as hard as she could for another several minutes and the chain finally broke free from the back wall of the fireplace. Rainbow Dash giggled hysterically at her accomplishment. Running over towards the door she tried opening it once again but it still wouldn't budge.

Looking around she saw the wooden beam stretched out across the ceiling, just close enough that she would be able to reach the trap door if she could get herself up there. Her first instinct was to just fly up but her wings refused to move due to the metal clamps that pressed them down. Looking at the long chain she tossed it over the beam.

Taking the opposite end of Rainbow Dash tied the chain around the door knob on the immovable door. Looking at the trap door she suddenly realized that she couldn't tie down the chain or she would be back at square one. Removing the chain from the handle she stared and thought. "Think Rainbow Dash, think." She muttered to herself.

Finally with a shrug she decided to try something she thought was both absurd and highly improbable. Grabbing the chain end of the chain she pulled down on it and she lifted off the ground. She let go to move her hoof upward and she dropped back to the ground as she did. She tried again, still dropping to the floor before she could raise herself any higher.

Rainbow Dash tried for the third time, this time clamping down tightly on the chain with her teeth barely able to hold herself in place. Quickly she moved her hooves up and gave her jaws a rest and repeated the steps until finally the metal clamps that held her wings bonked against the wooden beam. Rainbow Dash took a deep breath and said a silent prayer.

Letting go of the chain she rolled herself to her back and reached her hooves for the top of the beam. Three of her hooves scraped against the wood and dropped with the rest of her body. Her fourth hoof however managed to grip itself onto the wood. Quickly she flung her other hooves upward and pulled herself up top.

Pushing open the trap door Rainbow Dash jumped and pulled herself onto the roof of the log cabin and looked around to find where she was. She laughed dejectedly, "Just perfect." She mumbled to herself as she recognized where she was. Small snowflakes dropped down onto her nose as she stared down from the top of the jagged cliffs of the mountains that loomed south of Ponyville.

Peering down the snowy mountain and chuckled nervously to herself, "It's only a few hundred feet Rainbow Dash, not a big deal." She mumbled to herself. "Yeah… not a big deal alright. You don't need your wings or anything." She whined. Trotting near the cliff's edge she scouted for the safest possible point for her to start climbing from.

The part of the mountainside that she was stranded on was almost completely flat. After making her third trip around and she finally gave up. There was absolutely no difference from one face of the cliff to the next. Trotting back towards the wooden cabin and noticed its contents had been thrown into a pile blocking off the front door.

Rainbow Dash stared at the snow covered pile. Everything seemed like absolute junk. From what she could see it was nothing more than a mess of couch cushions, broken cupboard doors, fireplace skewers. Picking up the skewers she looked at them, then back towards the clamps that bound her wings. Digging a small hole into the dirt beneath the wall of the cabin and stuck the metal pole in the hole, angled it and then reburied it.

Sliding the skewer through the small gap between the stomach clasp that connected to the wing clamps she pressed downward. After a few minutes a loud snapping echoed through the mountains. Rainbow Dash turned to find the rod had snapped in half. "Guess that was too hope for…" she mumbled. She began to repeatedly thunk her head into the logs of the cabin in hopes to spark an idea into her mind and one did.

Picking up the two halves of the broken pole she searched through the pile of assorted objects laying waste in the snow until she found some loose bits of cloth. Placing one half of the pole onto her foreleg she tied it down tightly with the cloth and did the same with her other. "What in the hay am I doing?" She asked herself aloud when she reached the edge of the cliff for a second time.

Taking one last look at the cliff side she took some relief that it seemed to mostly be made of ice. Backing up slowly she lowered her self down, held all of her weight up with one hoof and stabbed the skewer deep into the wall of ice. "Quicksilver, I swear if I live through this…" she mumbled to herself and finally removed her hoof from the surface and dug the other edge into the ice as well.

With a second glance down towards the base of the mountain she instantly regretted her decision to even attempt this. Now that she actually was dangling from two rusty pieces of metal stabbed into crumbling ice her idea seemed far more stupid than it had when her hooves were safely on the ground. Taking a deep breath she moved out her hoof and stabbed slightly lower and repeated with the opposite.

"Three inches down…" Rainbow Dash looked down towards the ground, "Only a million more to go…" she cried to herself. Lowering herself down a few more feet she couldn't help but wonder what kind of crazy earth pony would ever think this were enjoyable. Another ten feet down and her legs began to ache and the cold wind was stinging at her like needles.

As she stabbed the rod back into the ice the metal bounced back chipping off a thin layer of the frost that covered nothing but stone. Rainbow Dash whimpered fearfully as she searched for another spot to secure herself with. As she searched for a spot the sound of tearing cloth from her left hoof's wrapping. Stabbing blindly into the wall she found a spot just as the binding completely shredded.

Her left hoof fell away from the rod for a few seconds and she blindly grabbed for it and evenly distributed her weight on the two poles. Reluctantly she looked downward to see she had made scarcely any progress scaling the cliff side whatsoever. "Come on Rainbow…" she coaxed herself trying to remove the paralysis that froze her body, "Things won't get any better if you don't move…"

Blinking back the frightful tears she gingerly withdrew the rod and pushed it back in as quickly as possible just a few inches beneath where it had been originally. With a sigh of relief, "That's it, nice and slow…" she whispered to herself. Pulling out the unwrapped pole she jabbed back into the ice yet again.

As she pushed in this time she revealed once more only a thin layer of ice. The shock of her blow into the mountain caused the force to bounce backwards and propel out of her hoof. The sound of now her second binding starting to tear she quickly threw her other hoof and grabbed hold onto her only remaining lifeline.

"Well…" Rainbow Dash said no longer holding back her tears, "This really sucks…" She stared down at the base of the mountain. She couldn't believe it but now all she could do was wish she were still held captive. At least then she'd still be inside the log cabin away from the frigid air and snow and her hooves would be safely planted on the ground.

The rusted metal rod began to creak and bend from her weight, "Please no…" she cried to herself. The ice began to crumble away from beneath the pole. She would have never expected this was how it would end, with her trying to make a futile attempt to climb down an icy mountain with nothing but a pair of rusty fireplace skewers.

Watching as the rod began to bend further and further, she silently said her goodbyes. Her heart beat fiercely as the creaking stopped, her eyes watching every single detail of the brittle pale blue wall of ice began to crack and crumble beneath the weight. Finally the pole cracked in half with the sound of a thunderclap that echoed through the air.

Chapter 7

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Silver Spoon lay in her bed staring at the ceiling, the morning sunlight pouring into her room from the open window. She couldn't help but think of the pendant and everything else she had learned about it just from yesterday alone. She remembered every detail of that day when she had found it on her way back from school.

When she had awoken she went out to her usual spot and waited for Diamond Tiara so they could walk to school together as they did every morning. After half an hour she guessed her friend must have been sick and had finally given up and trotted to school by herself. When she arrived at class she had not only found Diamond Tiara was already there, but she had given her seat to the new pony in class.

During the break from class she had gone to talk to her, but Diamond Tiara completely ignored her the entire time. Every chance she had the opportunity to talk to her, Diamond would find some way of occupying herself. When school was finally out for the day Silver Spoon had decided to try being a bit more firm with Diamond Tiara.

Pulling aside the pink filly, "Why didn't you meet me at the willow tree?" she asked.

Diamond Tiara groaned, "It's not like I have to be with you every second of the day!"

The response took her by surprise, "W-what?"

"Honestly Silver Spoon, every pony needs their space and you just won't leave me alone." Diamond Tiara said.

"I don't understand…" she said.

Diamond Tiara placed her hoof on Silver Spoon's shoulder, "I've been thinking and I don't think this is going to work out with us." Diamond Tiara said softly, "I think we should stop seeing each other."

"B-but…" she said as tears started to pool around her eyes, "W-why?"

With a heavy sigh Diamond Tiara gestured to all of her, "I just can't deal with this." She said and trotted away.

Silver Spoon reached her hoof out at the pony as she walked away but her mind was blank with pain and her heart shattered apart inside of her like glass. A gray sky had formed and cold rain began to dribble from the sky. Lowering her eyes to the ground she started running back towards the apartment she and her older sister were staying at.

Once she had arrived she couldn't bring herself to go inside, not like this. Dropping herself to the stone streets she sat there crying. She didn't understand what had just happened, everything between the two of them had been going just fine. Whilst she was sitting there sobbing into her hooves the rain had slowly frozen into a heavy snow.

When the first of the flakes had fallen on her head she had looked up towards the sky and that was when she had seen something. There was a dazzling gold light that flashed through the sky and stopped right above her and vanished. She returned her eyes back to the ground and as she was drying her eyes off a golden pendant rested in the stones just a few feet away from her.

The snow and cold weather had seemingly vanished just as she had discovered the pendant. Sliding her foreleg through the chain she dangled it in front of her and popped open the latch to reveal the locket was empty. She didn't think much of its sudden appearance she had assumed she just hadn't noticed it when she had stopped here.

A few hours later after she had gone inside there had been a knock at the door. She had gone to answer it to find Diamond Tiara barge in throwing her hooves around her and crying hysterically. She explained that she had seen the heading for yesterdays newspaper about two filly foolers being attacked by a gang of ponies and were now being hospitalized. So out of fear she had wanted to end their relationship but after they had parted she could hardly care less about that anymore and wanted nothing more than to pretend the day never happened.

Silver Spoon frowned at the memories. Though glad that was nothing more than what they were now and for the most part everything had ended up okay. Now she couldn't help but wonder if there was something more to that day. With everything she had learned just yesterday her finding it made so much more sense to her. That day had easily been one of the worst days she had ever had in her life. With how she had been feeling that day she thought maybe the pendant must have somehow found her that day.

Her ears perked up when she heard the front door slam shut; "Is that you?" she called out excitedly hoping that it was in fact her older sister whom she rarely saw.

"Yeah, it's me. I brought you some breakfast." The pony called out.

Silver Spoon hopped up and sprinted into the kitchen giving the silver Pegasus a hug, "I missed you." She said.

"Aw, I missed you too." Quicksilver said with a smile, "So what've you been up to while I was gone?"

"Nothing much, just hanging out with Diamond Tiara." She answered as she retrieved a cinnamon bun from the table, "Applejack and Raven Flame dragged us all around town yesterday. I thought it was kind of fun although Diamond Tiara hated every second of it."

Quicksilver cringed at the mention of the two names, "Applejack and Raven Flame?"

"Yeah!" Silver Spoon said taking a bite of the sticky treat.

"Are they your friends?"

Silver Spoon laughed, "I like them but I don't know if they like me." She took another bite, "I feel kind of bad for them, Rainbow Dash didn't show up for Raven's cute-ceanera yesterday and she has been missing ever since."

Quicksilver began to feel nauseas, "Yesterday was Raven Flame's cute-ceanera?"

Silver Spoon nodded, "I'm sure Rainbow Dash is just fine though."

"Yeah…" Quicksilver said, "I'm sure she is." Her mouth began to try and her muscles tensed.

"You okay?" Silver Spoon asked worriedly as her sister started to sweat profusely, "You don't look that great."

"I'm fine." Quicksilver chuckled nervously, "I just need some air."

Silver Spoon smiled, "Alright, talk to you in a bit."

Quicksilver waved her hoof goodbye and ran outside the door and dropped herself against the wall. She started breathing heavily and her stomach began to grow more and more queasy. It was one thing for her to kidnap a pony she hardly knew but had become so much more. This pony had a family and her own sister both knew and cared for these ponies.

Conflicting thoughts ran through her mind, she needed the money and had already taken the advance. She couldn't just give the money back and be on her merry way. On the other hoof she couldn't just do this to her own sister and pretend to not only be okay with it but continue to lie to her every day for the rest of her life knowing that she was responsible for destroying the family of her sister's friends.

Quicksilver started to scream a slur of curses and launched herself up into the air. She pushed herself towards the orchards of Sweet Apple Acres and could hardly believe what she was going to do. Landing at the porch she held her hoof out by the door and retreated it. She began to trot back and forth, if she did this she was practically condemning herself to death.

If she were to die who would her sister have left to care for her? She slammed her hoof into the wall as she tried to think if this was really what she should do or not. "Can ah help yah?" Applejack asked rather angrily staring at the rather large dent that had just been planted into her wall.

Quicksilver blinked and saw a small fiery black filly standing next to the orange earth pony. She could only assume the young Pegasus was Raven Flame and seeing the pony just made everything more difficult for her. With a heavy sigh, "Uh do you remember me?" she asked.

Applejack trotted over inspected the Pegasus and then the damaged wall. Though she didn't recognize the pony at all the voice did seem to trigger the burning sensation in her brain that she felt whenever a memory slowly started to reform inside her head. "Ah don't know."

Quicksilver ran her hoof against her temple pressing down hard on it hoping it would somehow help her to think more clearly. She stared at the two ponies watching her with confusion and could see so much worry in their eyes. She had never stared directly at the lives of two ponies she would be directly affecting because of job she was doing. Now that she was her heart started to ache as she realized just how many lives she could have destroyed. "I'm sorry." She said as a trickle of tears ran down her cheek.

Applejack blinked, "Ah don't worry about it! It's not that big of a deal, ah can get this dent fixed no problem." She said placing a hoof on the silver Pegasus trying to comfort her.

"No, it's not that." Quicksilver said, "It's that I…" she paused and asked herself if she was really going to tell her the truth.

The searing pain inside Applejack's head intensified as the memory finished connecting back with her. It was a Pegasus she had only seen for a few brief seconds but her mind had recorded every detail that day. "What in the hay did yah do?" Applejack shouted suddenly pushing the Pegasus against the wall and pressing the side of her foreleg against her throat.

"I came to tell you…" Quicksilver coughed at the pressure, "Rainbow Dash is…" she couldn't squeeze out anymore words; the pressure on her neck was too tight for her to speak.

"Rainbow Dash is what?" Applejack screamed in the Pegasus's ear lightening her grip just enough for her to speak again.

"Rainbow Dash is in the cabin at the top of the mountain." Quicksilver gasped, "Please… that's why I'm here."

Applejack removed her leg from the neck causing the Pegasus to drop to the wooden floor, "And why is she there?"

Quicksilver breathed heavily and rubbed her throat, "Somepony paid me to kidnap her. Don't ask me who or why because I honestly don't know."

Raven Flame stared at the panting Pegasus and then towards the mountains, "What if Rainbow Dash escaped?"

"Even if she did get out of the cabin…" Quicksilver said in a scratchy voice, "She's at the very peak of the mountain and she'll never get those wing clamps off…"

Raven Flame ran inside and returned with her pair of binoculars and looked around finding a barely visible brown dot completely surrounded by cliffs. "Applejack, don't let her leave." She said as a plan slowly devised into her brain.

"Ah don't plan on it!" Applejack said grabbing the Pegasus's wing and dragging her into the house.

"Ow!" Quicksilver cried, "I came here on my own free will you don't have to treat me like a prisoner!"

"Hush it!" Applejack commanded, "This is the second time yah've put Rainbow Dash in danger. Ah wouldn't care if yah were Princess Celestia herself!"

Raven Flame watched as the two slowly moved inside the house and then she shut the door behind them. Not wasting another second she ran off the porch and launched herself off the air and headed straight in the direction of the snowy peak where she had seen what she could only assume was the cabin.

Hurdling herself through the cold wind towards the mountain top Raven Flame lifted the binoculars to her eyes. Adjusting the lens to clarify the image she spotted the cabin just barely visible through a passing cloud of mist. The trip had completely exhausted her; she was far from ready from making such a far distance she had forced herself to travel. Pushing herself forward she landed on the flat snowy surface where the cabin was.

Looking at the front door she could easily tell she was nowhere near strong enough to clear away what blocked it. However her eye caught glimpse of the tip of the trap door protruding from the roof. Lifting her tired body off the ground she flapped herself onto the roof and peered inside. Apart from the scattered bags of food that littered the floor the room was completely bare.

Upon further examination she noticed dust-covered hoof prints scattered around the room where they went out of sight beneath the wooden beam directly below her. On the stretched out log she could see thick deep scratches imbedded into it. Looking around the roof she found more hoof prints scattered across the ceiling.

Following the trail she peered down the cliff to see a silver chain dangling from a blue pony thrust her hoof into the rocks. Shortly after the sound of metal clanking against something hard and black iron flung from the ponies hoof and she was now being held by a single pole plunged into the mountainside. Raven Flame's eyes widened, Rainbow Dash was going to fall at any second and she definitely couldn't carry her. Looking around she noticed a single remaining fireplace skewer beneath the cushions.

Her mind raced for something, anything she could do. Sprinting towards the pile of junk she clenched the pole beneath her teeth and ran back to the cliff leaping off the edge. A deafeningly loud snap boomed from beneath her and Rainbow Dash began to fall. Driving herself down faster she grabbed at the chain that was following slightly above the falling pony.

The chain in hoof she slid the metal rod in between one of the links and lowered herself even further. The icy ground was rushing closer and closer towards them, her wings feeling as if they were burning themselves up just to provide the needed energy for the task. Stabbing the metal rod into the icy mountainside she threw herself upwards and pushed into Rainbow Dash's back to slow her fall as best she could.

There was a sudden jerk as the chain suddenly halted the Pegasus's fall, the force transferring into the black filly throwing her down into the snow only a few feet below her. "Raven?" Rainbow Dash shouted looking down as she hung from chain. The rod snapped and she plummeted the remaining short distance landing next to the black filly.

"Raven?" Rainbow Dash repeated brushing off the powder that covered her. There was no answer. She rotated the pony onto her side and the blue eyes opened, "Raven are you okay?"

"You're an idiot…" Raven Flame said weakly. Rainbow Dash laughed and grabbed her squeezing her tightly with a hug. She let out a cry of pain, "Let go, let go, let go!" she begged as her left wing began to twinge from the pressure.

Rainbow let go quickly and examined the awkwardly bent wing, "You're gonna be okay." She said gently and picked up the pony and slung her onto her back.

"What in the hay were you thinking?" Raven Flame scolded trying to keep her mind off the pain.

Rainbow Dash giggled, "When am I ever thinking?"

Raven nodded her head in agreement, "Good point."

Trotting through the deep snow down the gentle slope of the mountain towards the grassy fields at its base, "How did you find me?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Oh, you know, I just followed the overwhelming scent of you being a complete featherbrain." Raven Flame said grumpily as her pain intensified.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, "No, really, how did you find me?"

"Some pony named Quicksilver." Raven Flame scooped up some of the snow and dropped it onto her burning wing, "Next time you get ponynapped can't you just wait like… ten minutes?"

Rainbow Dash shook her head, "How else would I get you to do incredibly stupid things to save my flank?"

"Ask nicely?" Raven Flame said kicking Rainbow Dash's side gently.

Rainbow Dash frowned, "Sorry, I guess I missed your cute-ceanera."

Raven Flame mumbled, "Dashie, I think you should probably know…"

"What's that?"

"That pendant…" Raven Flame said shakily, "Silver Spoon found it and gave it to me."

"Wait…" Rainbow Dash halted in her steps, "THE pendant?"

"Yeah." Raven Flame dropped another hoofful of snow onto her wing, "It sounds like she found it the same day you smashed it." Rainbow Dash said nothing back; she broke into a sprint the rest of the way through the snow and onto the damp grass. Brushing herself past the tree lines and onto the dirt road she turned sharply through the always open Sweet Apple Acres gate.

Bursting through the front door Rainbow Dash slid Raven Flame onto the couch, "Applejack?" She shouted.

Applejack tackled the Pegasus, "Ah'm so glad yer okay!" she said smothering Rainbow Dash with her lips.

Rainbow Dash giggled, completely forgetting about the pendant for the moment, "I missed you too!" she said returning a kiss. The corner of her eye caught the sight of a silver Pegasus sitting in the corner of the room and her mood faded quickly. Shaking Applejack off of her she trotted over to the pony and kicked her in the leg.

Quicksilver let out a whimper of pain, "I'm sorry." She said quietly. Rainbow Dash ignored her and tipped over her chair, pressing her hoof down on her wing as she had once before.

"STOP!" Raven Flame cried from the couch, "Don't hurt her."

Rainbow Dash backed away and stared at the black filly, "She almost got me killed!"

"You'd be dead right now if she hadn't told us where you were." Raven Flame said.

Quicksilver smiled, "Thank you!"

Raven Flame blinked, "Quicksilver?"


"Shut up for a minute, okay?" Raven Flame said. Rainbow Dash giggled and stuck her tongue out at the silver Pegasus. "You too Rainbow Dash, I'm trying to think."

"What exactly are yah thinking 'bout?" Applejack asked as she trotted back into the room with a roll of linen.

"Quicksilver, how much were you getting paid?" Raven Flame asked raising an eyebrow.

Quicksilver scraped her hoof nervously against the wooden floor. She found it a little strange to be divulging such details to such a young pony, "50,000 bits." She said quietly.

"So it's fair to say that it's a bad idea for you to have backed out of this deal?" Raven asked, receiving a nod from the silver Pegasus as her answer. "If whoever the pony is, was willing to pay that much money, then I don't think they are just going to give up."

Rainbow Dash didn't like the way things were starting to sound, "What's your point?"

"My point is that we could get this all over with by tomorrow." Raven Flame said, "We just need Quicksilver to change where she was going to meet whoever hired her."

"Wait, wait wait!" Applejack shouted, "Yah want to purposefully put Rainbow Dash in the same room with the pony that hired a ponynapper to snatch her?"

Raven Flame frowned, "It isn't exactly like we have much of a choice." Both Rainbow Dash and Quicksilver had expressions on their faces that asked if they even had a choice in the matter. "You two have a better idea?"

The two Pegasus sat in deep thought for a few minutes, "No." they answered simultaneously.

Raven Flame hopped of the couch once Applejack finished bandaging her wing, "Didn't think you did." She said as she sat down in front of the writing desk. Dipping the feather quill into the black jar of ink she began to scribble her thoughts down rapidly on the parchment.

Chapter 8

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Diamond Tiara trotted nervously outside Silver Spoon's door. She had never sought out the company of the pony before. She had always waited for the filly to come to her, but her father had gone somewhere early this morning for the rest of the day without saying a word to her. The abrupt leave of her father made her feel especially alone and she wanted to be close to some pony she cared for and didn't want to wait for the pony to come to her.

Hesitantly she knocked on the door, her cheeks flushing bright red as it was pulled open, "Hi." She said softly.

Silver Spoon nearly gasped from shock at the sight, "What're you doing here?" she blurted out.

"I… I wanted to see you." Diamond Tiara stuttered, "Are you busy? I can always leave."

Silver Spoon grinned and yanked her inside. Glancing around the cluttered house she laughed nervously, "I didn't know you'd be coming over. I mean you've never come over before." She said defensively.

"It sure is…" Diamond Tiara tried to hold a straight face as she looked around, "cozy?"

"Yeah…" Silver Spoon grabbed a book off a nearby shelf then pulled back open the door, "On second thought why don't we go somewhere else." She said trotting back outside pulling Diamond with her. "I need to bring this back to the library anyway."

Diamond Tiara held a groan inside, the library was the last place she wanted to go. However she wanted to be alone even less so she followed silently.

"You're awfully quiet today." Silver Spoon said, "You okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Diamond Tiara said trying to use her usual superior voice.

Silver Spoon shrugged and walked through the library doorway, "Twilight?" she called out.

"Shh!" Twilight hissed from across the room, "Can't you see we're trying to focus?"

The two pones walked over to the crowd that gathered round the table near the center of the room. "Quicksilver?" Silver Spoon asked, "Why are you here? And what's going on?"

"I have to help Rainbow Dash with something in a bit." Quicksilver whispered back, "Right now we're just waiting, so Twilight wanted to play Raven in chess again."

"Check mate!" Twilight squeaked excitedly as she moved her piece.

Raven Flame laughed, "You can't do that or it puts you in check."

An alarm clock began to blare from across the room, "We'll finish this later." Twilight said feeling slightly relieved that it was time to get back to work.

Every pony began to scurry around the room gathering bulging saddlebags and other utensils, "What's going on?" Diamond Tiara asked loudly.

"Not now girls." Twilight called out.

Rainbow Dash grumbled, "Do I really have to wear this stupid thing?" she said holding up the wing clamps in one hoof.

"Yes!" Raven Flame said trotting over to the blue Pegasus. Snatching the bindings from the hoof she slid them around the pony's waist and shut them. Turning the lock with the key and stuck it to a strip of blue painted tape. Plastering the strip to the bottom of Rainbow's stomach, "Okay, you're ready." She said.

Rarity trotted inside from the back room with three thick brown sheets, two of which had camera straps sewn onto the center. She threw the plain sheet over Rainbow Dash and then dropped the others near Applejack. "Now this will only take a moment dear." She said as a wig and various makeup utensils began to float around the orange pony. Puffs of green smoke formed around the two and faded away.

Applejack coughed loudly as the dust cleared from her mouth and nose, "Ah can't believe ah let yah do this…" she said looking down at herself, her coat now a dark leaf green color. Looking towards her flank the cutie mark of apples had been drawn over.

Raven Flame trotted over, "You can't talk like that or he might recognize you."

Clearing her throat, "I do say I am rather skeptical of my decision to have given you permission to do such an act." Applejack said in the Manehatten accent she had learned to use when she was younger.

"Quicksilver!" Raven Flame called out, "You set up the meeting place, right?"

Quicksilver nodded as she picked up a duplicate key for the wing clamps off the table, "Everything's ready." She said.

"WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL US WHAT IN THE HAY IS GOING ON!" Diamond Tiara shouted at the ponies that hurried around the library.

"Ugh!" Raven Flame groaned. She trotted over to the two pones, "I guess you might as well make yourself useful. Just follow me, okay?" she said holding out a camera to each of the ponies.

Silver Spoon trotted over towards Twilight, Diamond following close behind her, "I brought back the book I borrowed." She said.

"Oh, that's nice." Twilight said scooping up the golden pendant and dropping it into her saddlebag, "Just put it on the table I'll get to it later."

"What am I doing again?" Pinkie Pie cried out confused amongst all the chaos.

"You aren't doing anything!" Raven Flame called out from across the room, "I didn't even ask you to come!"

"Okey dokey lokey!" Pinkie Pie said and hopped out the library window.

Raven Flame rolled her eyes and trotted to the wagon parked outside the library. Dragging it towards the door, "Rainbow Dash, come on!"

"Coming!" Rainbow Dash said wobbling awkwardly across the room trying to avoid the dangling metal chain and the brown sheet from being stepped on.

Once the Pegasus was on the wagon Raven did her best to re-conceal the pony beneath the sheet as not to alarm any ponies when they were moving through the streets, "Comfy?" she asked with a grin.

"No." Rainbow Dash grumbled.

"Great!" Raven Flame hopped away, "Is every pony ready?"

"Almost!" Rarity said, taking extra care while doing her own make up.

Silver Spoon tugged on Quicksilver's wing, "Ready for what exactly?" she asked hoping to get a straight answer this time.

Quicksilver glanced around, "I can't really go into details right now." She said, "I guess since you're helping now though I'll have to explain to you once we're finished." She sighed heavily, she had never really expected she'd ever of had to tell her sister what she did.

"Okay…" Silver Spoon said quietly.

Applejack and Rarity trotted outside, Raven Flame and Quicksilver following closely behind. "Remember Applejack, you can't break character." She said as she hitched up the two ponies towards the wagon and then tossed the brown sheets over the two ponies.

"You've absolutely nothing to worry about." Applejack said in her posh voice.

Quicksilver hopped into the back of the wagon next to the brown lump, "Guess we'll see you there."

Raven Flame nodded, "Every pony else let's go!" she called out.

"I guess that's us?" Diamond Tiara asked. Silver Spoon nodded and followed Raven Flame and Twilight.

"Where are we going?" Silver Spoon asked as she caught up with Raven Flame whom was now trotting into the Everfree Forest.

"The castle of the royal pony sisters." Raven Flame said as she rummaged through her saddlebag to make sure she had everything.

"Wait, we're going DEEPER into the Everfree Forest?" Diamond Tiara asked.

"You don't have to come." Raven Flame said almost sounding hopeful.

"No, that's fine, we're coming." Silver Spoon said quickly, not wanting to miss out on whatever was happening.

"Scootaloo!" Raven Flame shouted as they approached the bridge, "Any ponies come by?"

"Not that I've seen." Scootaloo answered from the top of a tree branch near the worn down castle.

"Same here!" Applebloom called out from one of the battered towers.

"Sweetie Belle?" Raven Flame asked. Sweetie Belle didn't answer she was busy humming quietly to herself at the top of the tree she had been stationed at. "SWEETIE BELLE!"

The small white unicorn jumped up in surprise, "All clear!" she said quickly.

"Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, I guess you'll hide inside with me and Twilight." Raven Flame said trotting inside.

"Hide where exactly?" Diamond Tiara asked staring at the empty stone room. The entirety of the room was visible from the doorway and there was nothing to hide behind.

Raven Flame groaned, "Just come on." She said yanking the two fillies towards the corner of the room. "Ready Twilight?"

"Yep!" Twilight said with a nod and her horn began to emanate its purple glow. Soon a formation of worn stones began to surround them.

"Well great, now we can't see anything…" Diamond Tiara complained.

"Would you shut up already?" Raven Flame shouted nearly about to cry from irritation.

"What are we even doing?" Diamond Tiara asked in grating and whiny voice.

"We're trying to get evidence to hold against this pony so he leaves both Rainbow Dash and Quicksilver alone." Raven Flame explained, nearly ready to clobber the pony upside the head.

The glow on Twilight's horn began to glow brighter and the darkness and the stones in front of them seemed to disappear. Poking the air in front of her with a hoof a ripple formed around her hoof. "Perfect!" she said most pleased with herself.

Diamond Tiara blinked, "Wait, won't we be seen?" she asked.

"Diamond I swear to Celestia." Raven Flame said with a hoof on her face, "If you don't keep quiet I'll put a muzzle on you myself." Both Silver Spoon and Twilight tried to hold in giggles at this.

The clattering of hoofsteps and the squeaking of wooden wheels against the stone outside drifted towards their ears. Shortly after the noise stopped and the double wooden doors creaked open. Three cloaked ponies, a bound Rainbow Dash, and Quicksilver all trotted into sight. One of the cloaked ponies looked around the room carefully, removed his own hood revealing his face was concealed by a black mask. He then proceeded to tip off the hoods of the disguised Applejack and Rarity.

Rainbow Dash blinked as she tried to get a better look at the figure of the pony, "Why are you doing this?" she asked with a fake cough.

"You know why." The pony answered. He made no effort to hide his easily recognizable voice.

"Dad!" Diamond Tiara squeaked, Raven Flame quickly covered the pony's mouth with a hoof.

"Filthy?" Rainbow Dash asked.

He didn't answer though no pony needed him to. Quicksilver cleared her throat, "Where's my money?"

"You'll get your money when we're finished here." The pony snapped.

"Why are you doing this?" Rainbow Dash repeated.

"I told you, you already know why."

"Because I'm a…" Rainbow Dash coughed again, "A filly fooler?"

"What?" The pony cried out sounding as if he were offended by the notion, "No. I don't care about that!"

Rainbow Dash was genuinely shocked, "Wait… then why were you trying to get me to quit?"

"I don't know what you mean." The maked figure said, "But if I did know, it would most likely because you're late for work more than half the time and it works out better for both parties if you had."

"Oh…" Rainbow Dash's cheeks turned red but faded, "If this isn't about me being a filly fooler…" she paused, now she really didn't' have any idea what it was about. "Then why in the hay are you doing this?"

"Stop playing games with me." The pony said trotting over to Pegasus and kicking her in the side. Applejack used all of her self control to restrain herself from moving. They needed him to take off his hood before they could make any kind of movement. "Now tell me what I want to know, and this will be over quickly."

Rainbow Dash groaned in pain, "I don't know what you're talking about."

The pony sighed, "Where is the pendant?" he asked, "And don't lie to me. I know your mother left it for you."

"The pendant?" Rainbow Dash blinked, she had only learned that she hadn't destroyed it just yesterday, "I broke it." She lied.

"You can't BREAK it." The pony said kicking her in the chest again, "Now tell me where it is."

"I... don't... know." Rainbow Dash heaved, trying to regulate her breathing, "What does it matter to you anyway?"

"That isn't any of your concern." The masked pony said then let out a frustrated groan and withdrew something from his cape. Kneeling down next to the Pegasus he held a jagged blade next to her throat, "Tell me where it is. Tell me now." He said calmly.

Every pony froze in place; the situation had escalated far past what had been anticipated. They had expected that at the very least Quicksilver would be requested to do any forms of torture so the pony could avoid getting his hooves dirty. In the event something like this had occurred Applejack, Rarity or Quicksilver were supposed to intervene. However now they were far too shocked to move.

"I don't know!"

The pony jabbed into her leg making a small gash, "That was your last warning." He returned the edge to her neck.

Once again, no pony interfered like they were supposed to. "Please…" Rainbow Dash begged a few tears rolling down her eyes to distract the pony. She decided the plan was completely pointless now and some improvisation was going to be needed. She slowly unraveled her fake bindings. "I honestly don't know."

"Twilight, do something!" Raven Flame whispered behind the wall prodding Twilight, but the pony didn't budge. "Why isn't any pony doing anything?!"

Just as Rainbow Dash felt the knife being pulled up at her throat she weaved from its path and kicked it from the pony's hooves. The blade glinted as it was flung into the air and clattered back to the stone floor. Rainbow Dash sprinted towards the knife. The maked figure tackled the Pegasus to the ground. The two wrestled for a few moments before the pony wa overpowered by Rainbow Dash and kicked off into the stone wall.

As the masked pony recovered himself the sound of crumbling and falling rocks separating from the wall behind him. Within seconds an avalanche of gray bricks came crashing onto him. A bloodied pony emerged from the settling gray dust. Both the pony and Rainbow Dash eyed the knife atop the stones. Both the ponies lunged for the blade. The concealed pony staggered, lagging slightly behind the Pegasus.

The masked pony let out a sudden gasp of pain as he looked down to find the tip of the blade plunged into his chest. Rainbow Dash blinked as her eyes followed the same path to find her hoof holding the weapon. She let go and backed away into the wall staring at what she had just done. Her mind went blank with guilt, regret and horror as she looked at the sight. Simultaneously both ponies collapsed to the floor.

"DADDY!" Diamond Tiara cried out pounding on the invisible wall that blocked her until the mirage shattered. She sprinted over towards her father, pulling off his mask and cradling his head in her small forelegs, "Daddy?" she sniffled.

"Diamond?" Filthy Rich said shamefully, "What're you doing here?"

Diamond Tiara's eyes flooded with tears, "You're going to be okay." She said softly then looked around, "He's going to be okay, right?" The crowd of ponies trotted up slowly, with the exception of Applejack who rushed to tend to the terrified Pegasus curled up against the wall.

"Diamond…" Raven Flame said, "I'm so sorry."

Diamond Tiara's breath sharpened as she squeezed her father tightly, "Do something!" she cried.

Convinced the catatonic Pegasus would be okay for now she cast her gaze at the crying filly, "Sweetie, there aint nothing we can do." She said as she trotted over and attempted to pull the filly away from the bleeding pony.

Diamond Tiara swatted the hoof off her, "This is your fault!" she screamed at Raven Flame then clambered back to her father, "Daddy…"

Filthy Rich frowned as he realized his biggest regret was how little he really knew his own daughter, "I'm sorry." He mumbled weakly.

"Daddy." Diamond Tiara sniffled trying to dry the stream of water running from her eyes, "I love you."

"I love you too Sweetpea." Filthy Rich said with another violent cough.

"Don't leave me daddy." Diamond Tiara whimpered, "You're all I have left."

Filthy Rich ran his hoof against the crying filly, "I spent my life trying to get your mother back." He pulled the filly's head closer and kissed her on the forehead, "I didn't even realize I still had you."

"It doesn't matter daddy. I still love you." Diamond Tiara rubbed her forehead against her father's cheek. With one last cough the ponies eyelids shut and his body stopped moving. "Daddy?" she asked receiving no answer. She began to shake him violently, "Daddy?"

Applejack pulled Diamond Tiara off of the pony for the second time, "He's gone sweetie."

"No!" Diamond Tiara cried, "No he isn't!"

"Diamond…" Twilight said softly, "He really is gone." She said taking the filly into her forelegs and hugging her tightly.

Diamond Tiara stared at the brown saddlebag just inches in front of her. Her dad said he wanted to bring her mother back and he had been looking for the pendant. She glanced towards Raven Flame and Zecora's words echoed through her ears. "No!" she shouted reaching her hoof into Twilight's saddlebag and retrieving the pendant.

"Don't!" Every pony cried out, but they were too late. A dazzling display of golden specks began to hover in the air, one by one dropping into the stallion. Shortly afterwards the knife pulled itself out from the wound and clattered to the floor. The pony gasped as his body began to reanimate itself.

When the golden lights had completely vanished, a swirl of black mist erupted from the evaporating pendant and shot through the room. The sound of thunder boomed from above and heavy hail began to pound noisily onto the stone ceiling. A thick layer of frost began to form around the room on the surfaces of the gray stones. Until finally, the black wisp found its way out into the darkening sky through a hole in the stone walls.

Rainbow Dash snapped herself out of her shock just long enough to realize what the filly had just unleashed, "Diamond, what in the hay have you done?" She cried out.

Filthy Rich looked around slightly confused, surrounded by the faces of unfriendly ponies. He glanced over toward his crying daughter. Quickly he snatched her up in his mouth and tossed her onto his back. Without saying anything he sprinted out of the castle, leaving the other ponies behind and completely speechless except for Silver Spoon whom chased after them.

Chapter 9

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The once crystal blue sky was darkening , filled with obsidian storm clouds that crackled with bolts of electricity as they crunched together. The silver moon now hidden away from the thick cluster of clouds, the only natural light provided for the world now were from the flashes in the sky. Applejack dropped herself onto the dirt between the two apple trees. She ran her hoof against the inscription on the dusty polished stone.

"Applejack?" Rainbow Dash called out, illuminating the dark orchards with an awkwardly held flashlight. The earth pony didn't answer; she was too far gone inside her own thoughts. Kneeling next to pony, "Applejack, don't do this to yourself, there's nothing you can do." She said.

"Ah know…" Applejack answered back reluctantly, "Ah just…" she pulled her eyes away from the stone and wrapped herself around the Pegasus, "Ah don't want tah think Ice died for nothin' yah know?"

"She didn't." Rainbow Dash nuzzled her face against Applejack's, "She saved all our lives and in a way she also gave us Raven back." Giving her a small kiss, "Come on, it's getting late and I don't think staying outside is the best idea right now."

Applejack picked herself up off the Pegasus, "Yer probably right."

Rainbow Dash smirked, "When am I not right?" she asked sarcastically, hoping to brighten the mood.

Applejack chuckled, "Sugarcube ah could write an entire book about all the things yah've been wrong about."

Rainbow Dash winced at the bandaged gash on her leg, "You think I'll ever go more than a few months without getting hurt by some crazy pony?"

Applejack shrugged, "Just be glad that's all he did tah yah. And at least now he has no reason tah bother us anymore."

Rainbow Dash shrugged, "I'm not exactly worried about him anymore. Silver Spoon said after Diamond Tiara and Rich bolted they headed straight for the train station. Or at least that's what their butler told her."

A light rain began to dribble from the black clouds above. A few seconds later the air began to cool to the point in which their breath formed a fog in the air. The rain froze over into pelts of ice that pounded down heavily on them as they galloped back to the farm house. A crackle of lightning stabbed down at an iron rod protruding from the top of the house and the lights inside darkened.

"Every pony okay?" Applejack called out when she opened the front door.

"We're fine." Scootaloo gasped trying to pry off the suffocating tight grip of Raven Flame.

"Where's Rarity and Sweetie Belle?" Rainbow Dash asked as she looked around the dark rooms.

"They went home." Twilight answered as she lit the fireplace with her magic, "Rarity said she didn't want to stay on a musty old farm for a minute longer."

Applejack rolled her eyes, "Figures."

Rainbow Dash plopped herself onto the couch in front of the warmth of the fire. "What do we do now?"

"There isn't much we can do." Twilight answered, "It's too dark to do any real research and until the weather dies out I don't think it's safe to leave the house either."

Applejack nodded in agreement, "Ah think the best thing we can do is get some sleep right now."

"Are you ponies crazy?" Rainbow Dash protested, "We can't sleep! Who knows what she'll do to us if we let our guard down!"

"I don't think she can do anything to us right now." Raven Flame said, finally letting go of the struggling orange Pegasus, "Last time we saw her she said it took her nearly a week before she had a body."

"She's right." Applejack said, "Ah think we're safe for now."

Rainbow Dash blinked in disbelief. Trotting over towards the window she pulled aside the curtains, "Last time THIS wasn't happening only after a few hours."

"You know, she's got a point." Scootaloo said.

"Yeah I guess so." Raven Flame said, "I guess we could sleep in shifts." The room filled with silence as every pony glanced at one another. After everything that had happened they couldn't deny they were all exhausted.

"Ugh, fine!" Rainbow Dash groaned, "I'll take the first shift."

"Ah guess ah'll get the second." Applejack said afterwards, "Twilight yah can take the third." Glancing towards Scootaloo, Raven Flame and an already sleeping Applebloom, "Ah think it's best we all sleep out here for the night as well. Yah'll get some sleep, after all yer only kids."

The ponies said their good nights to one another and buried themselves beneath the blankets they had retrieved from around the house. Soon the entire room was filled with the gentle snores of the ponies as they drifted into their dreams. Rainbow Dash continued to stare blankly at the apple-carved wooden clock hanging above the mantle.

As the small hand approached what marked the halfway point of her shift, Rainbow Dash's eyes began to strain. Trying to adjust her position on the couch she hoped it would push back her need for sleep but the change in stance brought no such luck. Another hour slowly drifted by, her eyelids growing heavier with each passing second. They began to shut slowly but she shook away the temptation. Another few minutes passed and her eyes shut for a second time and she drifted off into sleep herself.

Racing through the town stone streets of Ponyville, Scootaloo turned round one of the corners. As the walls cleared from her view she found herself no longer in the comforts of her hometown, but instead near a flowing river. She froze at the sight of a black unicorn walking toward her through the lush damp green grass.

"Hello, Scootaloo." Shadow Scorn said but Scootaloo blinked and said nothing. "What's the matter, don't you want to talk?" She asked. Again Scootaloo didn't answer. "Well you aren't much fun. I guess I'll have to get to the point." A yellow mare appeared holding an orange filly. "You remember this, don't you?"

"Don't..." Scootaloo said angrily.

"Don't you want to know why she did it?"

Scootaloo shook her head, "She was sick, I don't care what reasons she could have had to have done this."

"But she did it because of you."

"No, she didn't. I'm in no way responsible for what happened that day." Scootaloo answered back confidently.

Shadow Scorn sighed, "Okay, that may be true." She said with a mischievous grin, "But this is your fault."

In the blink of an eye Scootaloo found herself standing in the corner of the kitchen of Sweet Apple Acre's farmhouse. A drunken hysterical fat Pegasus stumbled in the room screaming. He staggered closer towards the table lifting the nearby barrel and tossing it at the other three ponies. Shadow Scorn chuckled, "That was your fault. As is what I'm going to show you next."

Scootaloo groaned, she had already come to terms with everything that had been shown to her so far and was starting to feel the pony had no idea what she was talking about. "Do I have too?"

Shadow Scorn was starting to grow frustrated. A blinding flash of white and the two ponies were now standing back at Ponyville Cemetery. A small orange filly trotted towards the unearthed grave and climbed down into the hole. "If you hadn't visited Raven's grave that day. None of this would be happening right now."

"I guess that's true." Scootaloo shrugged, "Then again, Ponyville would still be deserted." Letting out a quiet laugh, "I wouldn't have a marefriend. Rainbow Dash and Applejack wouldn't have a filly." she said.

Shadow Scorn stared irritably, "Well your dad is-"

"You are really bad at this..." Scootaloo interrupted, "Can't you just pester some pony else?"

Shadow Scorn planted her face into her hoof, "Fine!" she grumbled, this was not how things were supposed to have turned out. She grabbed Scootaloo and plunged her beneath a suddenly appearing pool of water, holding her beneath it as the filly flailed helplessly. Everything started to fade out from Scootaloo's sight. Letting out a loud cough her vision returned to her when she found herself laying next to Raven Flame safely inside the farmhouse.

Sitting beneath an amethyst sky, the sun blazing warmly as it slowly dropped down behind the caps of the snowy mountain. The soft lush grass clinging to her black coarse main as she pried herself away from the grassy hill. Turning around her deep blue eyes were met with a pair of soulless black eyes in front of her.

Backing away slowly, Raven Flame found the sky, the grass and sun had all dissolved away and transformed into a single room where she was now cornered. The eyes moved closer towards her, the jagged horn dripping with its red liquid that spiraled to its point. "What do you want?" Raven Flame asked as her shaking knees dropped her to the hard stone ground.

"Raven Flame the orphan." Shadow Scorn said in her chilling and grating voice, "You see the world in such a different way from every pony. Everything has to have a solution to you."

"Shut up!" Raven Flame hissed, she could already tell where this was going.

"Everything has a solution in your mind but one thing that is." Shadow Scorn smirked, "You try so hard to fit in, try to be like every pony else. But you aren't like every pony else." She said moving closer, "After what's happened to you though, you can't help but wonder how will you possibly blend into the crowd and live your life as if you were normal."

Raven's chin began to tremble, "Stop…"

"Very well." Shadow Scorn's horn began to glow and the stone walls faded into a molded cloud home. "You've always wondered why deep down you're always so afraid to fly." She pointed towards two black Pegasus huddling around a crib rocking back and forth. "Allow me to shed some light on your curiosity."

"What… what are you doing?" Raven Flame asked.

"Shh! This is my favorite part." Shadow Scorn said pressing a hoof against her lips. The hollowed out cloud began to grow colder. Without warning one of the Pegasus ripped off part of the crib and smashed it into the other and retrieved a bundle from the crib. The pony sifted away the cloud floor beneath and dropped the bundle. The bloodied Pegasus dived through after the blanketed pony. "There is the truth of it."


"Your fear of flying that you hide so well, the fear that you're parents neither loved or wanted you." Shadow Scorn said slyly, "This is where they come from. Your own mother tried to kill you while you were still just a baby."

"You're lying!" Raven Flame screamed. She soon found herself plummeting down towards the rocks below, her wings frozen and useless. As she made impact with the ground and a blink of an eye the wooden floorboards returned beneath her and she found herself awake in the midst of her friends and family inside the farm house.

Twilight fumbled a quill in her hoof as she scanned through an open book beneath the low lighting of her desk lamp inside the library. Dipping the quill's tip into the nearby jar of ink she raised it over her parchment, a single drop of red liquid splattered onto the paper. Looking up above her she hopped out of her chair and backed away at the sight of a jagged horned unicorn.

"What do you want?" Twilight asked as she backed into a bookshelf.

"I just want to have a little talk." Shadow Scorn said with what could be considered an almost pleasant smile.


"About you." Shadow Scorn grinned, "Twilight Sparkle, why do you pour yourself away into your studies?"

Twilight blinked, "Because I enjoy it?"

Shadow Scorn laughed hauntingly, "We both know that isn't the truth. You fill your head with knowledge because it gives you hope." Lifting a book she incinerated it and dusted off her ashes, "It gives you hope that one day you might find the answer."

"What answer is that?"

"You know as well as I do what that answer is." The entirety of the library faded away and the two found themselves standing far off in the distance looking over Ponyville. A beam of white light shot into the center of town and the buildings erupted in flame. "The thing you fear more than anything else in this world is yourself. So afraid you'll never learn how to control the power inside you that just waits to be let loose."

Twilight stepped back next to the mountain side she had been moved to, "That will never happen!" she said frightfully.

"But it will." Shadow Scorn said gleefully, "And let me tell you a little secret." Shadow Scorn trotted closer, "When the day comes, you won't be able to control it." She whispered. Her horn began to glow red and a nearby rock plummeted from the mountainside and crashed into Twilight Sparkle. With a gasp, Twilight opened her eyes to find herself beneath her blanket next to the crackling fire.

"Applejack." A voice whispered.

"Who's there?" Applejack called out, looking around the orchards until she spotted a crimson mane floating into the wind.

"I want to show you something, Applejack." Shadow Scorn said. The trees of the orchards vanished and the two were surrounded by tiled floors and white painted walls with a curtain partially pulled around a bed placed against the wall. The sound of a hospital heart monitor beeping monotonously echoed into Applejack's perked up ears.

Applejack trotted through the curtain to find an elder Rainbow Dash. Her mane was faded and torn, her face ragged and wrinkled from age. "Why are yah showing me this?" She asked trying to peel her eyes away from the sight.

"This is what you've done to your lover." Shadow Scorn trotted over towards the older Rainbow Dash whom couldn't seem to see the two of them, "Because of you she never could follow her dreams. She never accomplished any of her goals in life."

Applejack ran her hoof against the decrepit Rainbow Dash, "That can't be true."

Shadow Scorn nearly laughed, "You remember that night in the forest. She saved your life but in doing so she condemned herself to misery. She'll never be the pony she once was."

"That ain't true!" Applejack cried.

"Then there is the matter of you being afraid of abandoning your family like your father." The room vanished and the ponies were now stuck in a dusty field where hundreds of ponies rushed past, "But why did you really come to the rodeo? Was it really because you wanted independence, or was it a chance to run away from your responsibilities?"

Applejack found this part of whatever Shadow Scorn was doing to be rather ineffective, "Shucks, yah seem tah have got it all figured out. Why don't yah tell me?"

"First let me answer a question for you. One that's been bothering you all day."

Applejack gulped quietly, "And what would that be?"

"Ice Ember," Shadow Scorn laughed, "She did die for absolutely nothing and it's your fault."

"No she didn't."

"Back on topic though. The truth of the matter is you lie to yourself every day." Shadow Scorn said almost happily.

The statement seemed irrelevant and took Applejack by surprise, "Ah beg yer pardon?"

"You overwhelm yourself with work so you can keep your mind quiet." Shadow Scorn smiled, "You work yourself so hard that you can't think. On the days you can, you try to convince yourself Rainbow Dash's fate isn't your fault. You try to convince yourself you would never abandon those you love. But Rainbow Dash's fate is your fault and you already have abandoned them once."

"Shut up!" Applejack hissed.

Shadow Scorn trotted closer, "And you'll abandon them again." She whispered into her ear and then delivered a swipe into the pony's head. Applejack grabbed her throbbing skull and averted her eyes from the bright glow of the fireplace.

A black cloud surrounded Rainbow Dash which quickly faded and she found herself face to face with a black pony. Rainbow Dash grumbled, "What the hay do you want? I've got better things to do then listen to you ramble about your shiny pendant again."

"I'm not here to talk about that Rainbow Dash." Shadow Scorn said placing a hoof gently on the Pegasus's shoulder, "So, what was it like for you, killing another pony? Did you enjoy it?" she said perversely.

Rainbow Dash felt herself grow nauseous at the mention of the event, "He's not dead..." she said quietly, shaking off the hoof from her shoulder.

"But he could be!" Shadow Scorn replied, "And it would have been your fault."

"It wouldn't have been my fault..." Rainbow Dash said hollowly.

"You murdered a pony." Shadow Scorn smirked, "How could you ever live with yourself?"

"Shut up..." Rainbow Dash said with little confidence, "I didn't have a choice."

"But there is always a choice, Dashie" Shadow Scorn giggled.

"Go away..."

"Why would I do that?" Shadow Scorn mused, "So you can go back to your silly and impossible dreams of becoming a wonderbolt?"

Rainbow Dash glared at her, "I can still be a Wonderbolt..."

"Really?" Shadow Scorn scoffed and bounced the battered and scarred wing, "You think you will ever amount as much as any other Pegasus in this condition?"

"It's not that bad!" Rainbow Dash cried defensively.

"You poor thing." Shadow Scorn laughed, "So arrogant yet when the chance comes to really prove yourself you choke and hide."

"I do not!"

"You don't even realize that your loyalty is your downfall." Shadow Scorn said as she shook her head in pity, "So loyal to every pony except the one who should matter most."

Rainbow Dash glanced up at her, "And who would that be?"

"Yourself." Shadow Scorn whispered menacingly, "You've given everything you could for your friends and your family. What has it really gotten you? You've sacrificed your dreams for Applejack. Then you gave up the rest of your youth and freedom to an orphan filly."

Rainbow Dash put up a forced laugh, "I still have all those things!"

"Your dream of becoming a Wonderbolt? You couldn't even win a race against a group of no ponies." Shadow Scorn chuckled, "Fourth place? Not exactly the position the Wonderbolt's captain is looking to recruit." Shadow Scorn shook her head for a second time, "I'm going to show you what you're too afraid to ask yourself. What your life could have been like had you not told Applejack how you felt and the two of you never went into that forest."

The ground rushed away from beneath the two ponies' hooves and was replaced with soft plush cloud of the Cloudiseum stages. Four Pegasus flying through the sky at blazing speeds, one of which left behind a rainbow colored trail. "You would have made the Wonderbolts." Shadow Scorn said, "And so much more." The Cloudiseum vanished and they were now inside a large cloud mansion in a room filled with a glass showcase.

Shadow Scorn opened the showcase and pulled out one of the dozens of golden trophies, "In only a few short years after making the team you could have accomplished all of this. You would have been the youngest captain of the Wonderbolts to date."

Rainbow Dash stared at the room, her heart couldn't help but feel a desire for this place she found herself inside. Trying to ignore the craving inside her, "But I wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't have a family or the pony I love."

"The thing about love…" Shadow Scorn smirked, "Is that our heart changes its mind all the time." Just then a wooden door creaked open and both Spitfire and a duplicate of Rainbow Dash trotted inside. Their hooves joined together the two joined closer with one another and pressed their lips passionately on one another.

Rainbow Dash began to feel sick, "Stop it." She pleaded.

"You don't like the way your life could have been without Applejack?" Shadow Scorn said in a pouting voice. She stared at the saddened Pegasus, "Oh I see. Now you realize just what you could have been. You like what you're life could have been. You like it too much."

"Shut up, just get me out of here!" Rainbow Dash screamed. The black unicorn nodded and a shard of the glass showcasing flew over towards the Pegasus and stabbed into the scar of her wing. Rainbow Dash winced in pain and then it stopped. She opened her eyes and was back safe inside the farm house next to the warmth of the fireplace.

The five ponies' eyes opened simultaneously. Glancing around the room they all acknowledged each other but never spoke a word to one another. The gentle clattering of hailstones pounding on the roof was all that could be heard as they stared silently into nothingness. Though they didn't want to, their minds were unable to focus on anything else but what they had been shown and told.

Chapter 10

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Crackling fire, faint snoring from a still sleeping filly, and the continual clanking of hail outside were the only sounds which could be heard throughout the dark house.

Five ponies sat around the living room, eyeing one another. Occasionally one would open their mouth to speak but, unsure of what to say, words never formed. So the hailstorm's sound continued on without being interrupted.

Hours quietly passed by as the group continued to make last-ditch efforts to say something. Ultimately, they found it hard to express what they wanted and so opted for staying on their own sides of the room and thinking instead.

Finally, the pattering of hailstones drew to a close and the sun crept its way through the heavy storm clouds which tried to block its path. Rainbow Dash got up, headed to the kitchen, lit the gas stove, and placed a kettle on the burner. After several minutes, the pot began to whistle quietly. She removed it from the stovetop and mixed in a few spoonfuls of coffee mix.

Taking the whistling as their cue, the four other ponies clambered to their hooves and trotted silently into the kitchen where they each took their own respective seats at the dining room table. During all of this, no pony said a word as they were each were poured a steaming cup of coffee. The expressions on each of their faces were more than enough to communicate that something was on each of their minds.

After a moment's hesitation Scootaloo looked up and glanced around the room's four other occupants. They all seemed far more bothered than she was.

"So," Scootaloo started awkwardly, trying to make conversation. "uh… how is everypony?"

The four grumbled muffled responses simultaneously.

"Well that's good." Scootaloo said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. She stood up from her seat, hopped down, and bounced towards the black Pegasus who had dropped her head into her hooves. "You okay Raven?" she asked cautiously. "How's the wing?"

"My wing is fine. It was just a little sprain." Raven Flame responded. She then laced a hoof around Scootaloo's neck and pulled her in close er. "And I'm okay, just a little tired," she said. "What about you?"

"Me? I'm great!" Scootaloo said cheerily, sporting a wide grin in an attempt to bounce some of her positivity to Raven.

"Guess you're the only one." Raven responded glumly, letting go of Scootaloo's neck.

"Right…" Scootaloo said a little awkwardly. "Uh, how about you Twilight? You look pretty down, what's up?"

"I… I don't want to talk about it," Twilight said, sounding worried as her head hung low.

"Is any pony going to say anything besides me?" Scootaloo asked, sounding a little agitated.

A long silence hung in the air before Twilight spoke, looking up at Scootaloo. "I… I had a strange dream last night," she said.

Every pony looked up at Twilight at this.

"What was your dream about?" Raven Flame asked, growing concerned.

"It was…" Twilight's voice trailed off as she looked into the visibly dying embers of the fireplace from across the house. Her mind drifted into thought about the flames.

The flames had been easily manageable, so controllable, but, she realized, if agitated the right way they could grow alarmingly fast and break free from its secured environment. She could learn all there was to learn about magic, but book after book she never found what she was searching for. Only one thing truly alarmed her; herself. How alike she continually found herself in relation with the flames startled her. She too could build up into so much more, if she only allowed herself. It was a risk that pricked at the back of her mind, begging for an opportunity to be released. But she denied it, just like every other time. However, as the craving to push herself further expanded, so did the fear of herself and what she knew she could be capable of...

Suddenly there was a loud and startling crackle from a charred log. "I… I have to go!" Twilight said, ignoring the other's stares of confusion. The Unicorn rose from her seat and sprinted out the kitchen via the front door.

Outside, the ground was enclosed with a thick sheet of ice and the sky was a pale and saddening gray. The sun barely shone, almost as if it didn't want to reveal itself to the occupants below.

Twilight's dream continued to bounce around in her thoughts as she walked a further away from the house. The destruction she could so easily cause if pushed over the edge even once. The idea terrified her because, when she had been just a filly, she realized she could have easily destroyed all of Canterlot.

"What if she's right?" Twilight thought to herself. "What if I am nothing more than a bomb waiting to go off?"

Shaking her head, she tried to dismiss those thoughts. But they continued to linger. All it would've taken was to become frightened when she was a filly. Absolutely anything could trigger a second event, and if Shadow Scorn was right, then nothing could stop her.

Two ideas suddenly popped into her head. Two very difficult decisions she could make that perhaps would spare all of Ponyville if her dream were real.

On one hoof, she could leave. She could run from Ponyville and hide herself away from the rest of Equestria. However, she still risked losing herself and there was always the possibility that something, or somewhere else, might suffer instead. Although she would subject herself to solitude, nothing could guarantee that she wouldn't be set off by something else. If that became the case, she knew she could easily abolish any nearby forests close to where she resided. And if she lived near any households, those could be destroyed as well.

On the other hoof, she could do something that pained her to even think about. It was a thought that no Unicorn would ever consider. It would guarantee safety to everypony and she would not have to leave her friends. But the cost of such security would be something she still wasn't sure she could live with.

"If I do it, I'll lose my magic forever."

With a frightened sigh, she continued to weigh the options. Should she run from Ponyville and leave her friends behind. Or should she sacrifice her most prized possession—her horn?

Scootaloo watched as Twilight bolted from the kitchen and out the door. "Well, that was weird," she said shortly after. Every pony seemed to be back in their slumpish states. "Applejack," Scootaloo said after a moment. "Are you okay?"

"Ah could be better…" Applejack answered, staring down dejectedly at the table. The aged and torn wood felt almost as if were staring right back at her. She couldn't help but realize that once it had been part of a tall and mighty tree. It had stood so tall and vast, but now it was nothing more than a scraggly bit of run down lumber. She sighed, it could have been used for so much more, but here it stayed with them, never reaching its full potential.

"Rainbow Dash?" Scootaloo asked, breaking the silence yet again.

The Pegasus ignored her, instead choosing to walk over towards the kitchen window.

Applejack looked up. "Rainbow?"

Rainbow Dash didn't answer; she hadn't even heard her name being called out. As she thought, she gazed out of the window, up into the gray skies, and then down towards the orchards. The ponies behind her were her family, but this place didn't feel like home. She had so many plans for her future. In the end, she had tossed them aside all for Applejack's sake, all the while trying desperately to silence the ache in her heart for what she desired. She stole a quick glance at the orange pony but then quickly looked back. She could scarcely even look at Applejack without feeling resentment towards her now.

"Rainbow Dash?" Applejack repeated louder.

Rainbow Dash pried her eyes from the skies and tried to ignore the burning she was starting to feel towards the pony. "Yeah?"

"Yah alright, sugar cube?"

Rainbow Dash shrugged. "I'm fine." she lied in a most unconvincing manner. Her mind wandered away from the present and back to the dream. Though the pony was fine she had still killed him and the more she thought of it, the angrier she grew with herself. Soon the feelings began to stab at her painfully. All she could do was trade one pain for another: Everything she could have had, and everything she had wanted. Though she didn't want to admit it, deep down she knew that all of those things were gone now.

"I'm fine…" she repeated.

Applejack pulled herself from her seat and walked over to her partner. She bit down gently on Rainbow Dash's ear and pulled her outside the kitchen to talk.

"What's wrong?"


"Yer lying," Applejack said sternly. "Now spill it."

Rainbow Dash groaned irritably and trotted towards the stairs which led to her bedroom. "There isn't anything wrong! Just leave me alone!" she called out as she dashed up the stairs and entered the bedroom, shutting the door behind her with a slam.

"Geez, what's gotten into everypony?" Scootaloo asked.

Raven Flame tilted her head up. "I think we all had similar dreams… with Shadow Scorn in it."

"Wait, you had a dream like that too?"

Raven Flame nodded. "You did as well?"

"Yeah…" Scootaloo hesitated as she tried to recall the vague details. "It was pretty dumb, actually."

Raven Flame mumbled quietly and tried to hide the fear on her face by returning to her hooves once more.

Scootaloo caught glimpse of her face. "What's wrong? What was your dream like?"

Raven Flame didn't answer.

"C'mon!" Scootaloo nudged her playfully. "You can tell me."

"Shadow showed me that… my mom, my real mom I mean. She tried to kill me and killed my real dad when I was a baby." Raven Flame explained, trying to sniffle back the tears that threatened to cascade out of her eyes. "That's why I'm an orphan."

Scootaloo stared in disbelief. "Is it true?"

"I don't know!" Raven cried out. "Like I said, I was a baby."

Scootaloo gently ran her hoof through Raven's mane. "She was just trying to hurt you, don't listen to her."

"I know…" Raven Flame gripped the orange Pegasus. "But what if she was telling the truth?"

"Don't think like that." Scootaloo said comfortingly. "She was lying. Your real mother wouldn't try to hurt you!"

Raven sniffled and buried her head into the filly's shoulder. "But how do you know?"

Scootaloo chuckled to herself. "Because I'm me, and I'm never wrong!"

"But she was right about everything else…" Raven Flame mumbled quietly.

"Well, what else did she tell you?"

"N-nothing…" Raven Flame answered, quickly pulling away. She didn't feel ready to talk about that. It was one thing to talk about something that could just be considered a nightmare, but it was entirely different to talk about what she knew was true.

Scootaloo stared suspiciously. "Okay then…"

"I'm going to go check on Rainbow Dash and Applejack, ok?" Raven Flame said, hopping off her seat to avoid the uncomfortable silence.

She trotted into the hallway to find Applejack staring up towards the bedroom door, looking as if she were having a debate of whether to go up or not.

Raven Flame poked the orange pony in the chest. "I think you should go talk to her."

Applejack turned towards the black filly. "Ah reckon yer right." With a deep breath she quickly trotted up the stairs and into her room to find Rainbow Dash standing near a large bedroom window, staring back at the gray clouds once again.

Hearing someone come in, Rainbow Dash quickly crumpled up a Wonderbolts poster she had been looking at and dropped it behind her hooves. She then turned around as she heard the sound of the door shutting behind her.

"I said I'm fine." she muttered through clenched teeth, agitated that she was still being disturbed by the orange mare.

"Yah sure look it," Applejack said calmly. "Why won't yah talk tah me?"

"There isn't anything to talk about," Rainbow Dash hissed.

"Obviously there is," Applejack said, edging closer to the blue Pegasus. "Why are yah so angry?"

"I'm not angry!" Rainbow Dash yelled.

Applejack stopped her steps and blinked in surprise. "Yah sure about that?"

Rainbow Dash swung a hoof furiously at the wall, causing Applejack to wince in alarm. "Why won't you just leave me alone?"

"Rainbow, yer scaring me…" Applejack whimpered as she pulled herself further away from the Pegasus. Before she reached the door she spotted a crumpled up piece of paper on the floor. She squinted her eyes to see what it was.

"Is this…about the Wonderbolts?"

"Shut up!" Rainbow Dash yelled.

"Sugar cube, just talk tah me!" Applejack pleaded, attempting to defuse the anger that was steadily mounting up in the mare in front of her.

"What do you want me to say?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, growing crosser.

"Ah want yah tah tell me the truth!"

"The truth?" Rainbow Dash asked with an almost hysterical laugh. "You want the truth?"


"The truth is I have nothing." Rainbow Dash said in a flat tone.

The response took Applejack by surprise. "W-what do you mean?"

"Look at me!" Rainbow Dash demanded, extending her wings while grabbing a tuft of her graying mane. "I'm worn out and useless. I wasted my whole life towards something I'll never have. Every day I'm getting older and all I have to show for it is scars and gray hairs."

Applejack frowned. "Yah aren't useless Rainbow."

"Aren't I?" Rainbow Dash scoffed. "I used to be one of the fastest Pegasus in Equestria! Now I'm stuck with my job as a cloud clearer. I could have been up in the Cloudiseum being cheered on by hundreds of ponies, but instead I chose to be stuck on the ground with some earth pony."

"Some earth pony?" Applejack's eyes widened. "Are yah saying yah had yer eye on somepony else?"

"That's not what I meant Applejack." Rainbow Dash said firmly.

"Well then what did yah mean?"

"I just meant…" she started with a sigh. "I don't belong here…"

"Yah mean... here, on the farm?" Applejack asked fearfully.

Rainbow Dash nodded reluctantly.

"Well, ah mean, yah could always move yer cloud home down here?" She suggested hopefully.

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "That's not enough…"

"Well what is enough?"

The Pegasus shrugged her shoulders.

"Well if yah don't know what yah want, than what in the hay is the matter?"

"What's the worse that's happened to you?" Rainbow Dash burst out suddenly, filled with anger again. "I can't even fly without hurting my wing! You on the other hoof, a little scar on the head and you're completely fine."

"Excuse me?" Applejack exclaimed, raising her voice for the first time.

The Pegasus ignored her and continued her rant. "I set aside everything I ever wanted. And I did it for you. I gave up my dreams, my youth, and more. I set aside my own happiness because of you. I used to know why I did that."

"Yer own…happiness?" Applejack asked, tears beginning to form in her eyes. She knew that Rainbow Dash had hidden away some feelings inside as she adjusted to her new life on the farm with her, but she hadn't thought the pony was unhappy.

"Yes, my happiness," Rainbow Dash snapped. "How could I be happy with everything I've had to give up for a pony like you? You never had to give up your own dreams for my sake. What have you sacrificed? Nothing!" She hissed bitterly.

"But Rainbow…" Applejack took deep breaths to steady herself. "What about Raven?"

"Raven has nothing to do with this!" Rainbow Dash barked back instantly. "She's the only good thing that's ever came out of all of this."

"Rainbow, yer really scaring me, and ah had no idea that yah were this unhappy."

Rainbow Dash pierced the orange pony with harsh and narrowed eyes. "Of course you didn't, why would you ever even bother to think I might be. You're too busy focused on yourself to ever notice."

"That's not true!" Applejack defended. "Ah always worry about yah, ah just thought yah would talk tah me if something was bothering yah."

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so now it's my fault?"

"Ah didn't say that!" Applejack's breathing became harder and harder to control and her entire body shook. "Please, just tell me what's wrong, and how ah can help tah fix it."

"I gave up everything for you," Rainbow Dash repeated. "Now I ask myself why I did that and why I still do it. You want to help? Answer me this: why? Why am I putting you first over everypony else, including myself. Why? Because I sure as hay don't know anymore."

"Because yah love me…" Applejack answered weakly.

Rainbow Dash glared at her, trying to search for that feeling, but all she could find was a fiery loathing that continued to burn brighter with each passing moment. Turning away she pushed open the large window behind her. Seconds later she flew through and hovered outside. She then turned to face the mare. "No Applejack, I loved you."

Applejack's lips quivered and the tears from her eyes began to drip rapidly. Her heart felt as if it were splintering while the words echoed through her ears. She found herself unintentionally curling into her hooves. Finally she squeaked out, "W-what do you mean?"

"I'll be around to see Raven Flame…" Rainbow Dash said almost whispering as she made up her mind.

"W-what?" Applejack blubbered. "W-why?"

Rainbow Dash stared at the silver anklet on her foreleg. Slowly, she slipped it off and held it in her hoof, "I can't do this anymore," she said, tossing the jewelry through the open window and onto the bedroom floor. Now unable to look at Applejack any longer she turned herself away from the crying mare. "I've lost everything I've ever wanted because of you… I don't love you, and how could I? No, I don't love you… I despise you."

Chapter 11

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Hanging her head, seemingly defeated, Twilight continued down the muddy dirt road. Her dream lingering fresh in her mind, everything Shadow Scorn had said to her, still picking at her. Everything seemed so muddled to her now, she felt lost and scared. Before, her fears had just hidden deep inside her quietly, as if the two had a silent agreement that both wouldn't disturb one another. Now that such a devastating thought had been provoked inside her, she couldn't set it aside any longer. She knew deep down, that she was potentially a threat to the entirety of Equestria.

As she proceeded onward, she found herself frozen in place at the midpoint of Ponyville, and the road that would lead her towards Trotsdale. If she kept onward in that direction she would eventually leave all of pony civilization and there would be nothing but a vast stretch of wilderness for hundreds of miles. She could make a go of it out there. She had studied dozens of books on survival in the wild. From her research she didn't perceive it as difficult for a unicorn, especially for one with such magical potential.

"No," She thought to herself. "I can't leave my friends behind… I could never just abandon them." She pried her eyes away from the turn in the road and stared hard at Ponyville. Though the comfort of the library beckoned her, she couldn't bring herself to go. Her eyes wandered around, soon spotting a clump of tall green pines that hadn't been much affected from the night's storm.

With another gander towards Ponyville, she trotted away from the dirt road. Veering herself into the midst of the small cluster of trees. The small seclusion of nature and the quiet chirping of songbirds helped clear her mind, letting her think with more clarity. She leaned against one of the trunks of a tree and shut her eyes as she poured herself into a deep thought of what she planned to do.

"As long as I have magic, I'm a danger to everypony around me," Twilight thought to herself. "I can't put every pony else's safety over my own selfish desires." She glanced at a rather large rock. It was perfect for what she would do, if she were indeed going to go through with the plan. "But there isn't even a guarantee that you have anything to worry about," Her mind added.

"I can't just give up magic. It's my life!" She told herself. "But, so are my friends," She added. "What if I hurt them?" She shuddered. "I couldn't live with myself if that happened." The unicorn let out an agitated scream as she stomped her hooves into the ground. She dropped down onto the ground, trying to calm herself as she thought things through.

"What am I going to do?" Twilight asked herself with a whimper, pulling herself back onto her hooves. She started trotting in circles she stared disheartened at the nearby boulder. With a heavy breath, she headed towards it and rested her head on the side of it. Her horn began to shine its typical glow, encasing a nearby rock that soon hovered above her horn.

Shutting her eyes tightly, she let out another irritated scream as one of her conflicting thoughts finally won over. The rock smashed down heavily, releasing a deafening crackle that burst from its point of impact. The rock split evenly in two, each piece rolling off the boulder in opposite directions. Picking her head off the boulder she sighed. "My magic is what makes me who I am," She thought to herself. "And my friends will always love me, no matter what happens."

"Friends…" The word echoed inside her head. She had left so abruptly, without any real explanation. "They might be worried about me," She thought to herself. Not wanting to concern her friends about her fleeting, she bolted herself back onto the nearby dirt road and headed back towards the archway of the apple orchard's fence. As she trotted towards the farmhouse she began to feel uncomfortable with the idea of telling them just what she had been doing.

"Should I just come out and tell them? What would they think of me?" She asked herself. "I don't want to worry them, though. They might overreact…" She added. "And that might just make things worse. Magic is who I am, they'd tell me. They might even make me feel ashamed for having considered such things." As she reached for the door of the farmhouse, she silently promised herself that she wouldn't mention anything she had been thinking of, so long as no pony asked.


"Rainbow Dash, wait!" Applejack begged as the window pane slammed shut. "Please don't go!" Her cries fell on deaf ears as the blue Pegasus vanished from sight, headed towards the direction of the lake the two had used to visit. Applejack's heart cracked and ached dully as she lay there on the bed, sobbing into her pillow. She was so confused. Everything had happened so quickly that her mind could barely piece together what was occurring.

She pressed the plush, damp pillow into her face to stifle her loudening bursts of tears. "No Applejack, I hate you," the words bounced in her head. She had never heard Rainbow Dash's tone sound so grievous, so angry. The pegasus's voice had burned at her like fire as they had been sputtered. "Why? Why are you doing this?" Applejack thought.

Deep down she felt she knew the answer though. She had tried so hard to not blame herself ever since she had recollected the last of the events she had once forgotten. But how could she not? If she hadn't been so impatient with Rainbow Dash, if she had just listened that one day, everything would have turned out so differently. If she hadn't been so stubborn and prideful and had just come out and told her blue mare how she had truly felt.

"Is it really mah fault?" She thought sadly to herself. Avoiding Rainbow Dash those years ago had resulted in her leading the pony straight to the spot that had taken away her dreams, and nearly her life. That day in the hospital, she signed the waiver allowing the surgeons to snip away parts of her muscle, causing permanent damage she would never recover, even if she had done it for the pony's own well-being. For all she had known, there could have been something else they could try, but she had hardly even bothered to find out if there were any alternatives.

Now she found herself wondering how the pony had stuck with her for so long. She destroyed the pony's chance of being a Wonderbolt. Then as a repayment, she went out in a moment of weakness, seeking comfort from a stranger pony, which later took advantage of her befuddled state caused by an event that her love had pleaded her not to go to in the first place. Yet through all of that, Rainbow Dash had stuck by her side, and had stopped at nothing to find her again, just to be by her side once more.

"No!" Applejack shouted, shaking her head, trying to push away her slumpish state and reinvigorate her desire to keep on. "Ah'm not letting yah get away from me, Rainbow Dash… Ah love you, and ah'll fight for you if ah have tah," She said as she pulled herself onto her hooves and clambered out the bedroom and down the steps.

"Applejack, what's going on?" Raven Flame squeaked, blocking the final few steps at the base of the stairs. "Are you okay?"

The orange pony dried her eyes with the sleeve of her foreleg, "Ah have no idea what's goin' on!" Applejack said in a near whimper as she tried to control her eyes as they began flooding once again. "There's gotta be somethin' wrong with Rainbow! She'd never do somethin' like this!"

A look of confusion spread across Raven Flame's face, "Something like what?"

"Sh-sh-she just said that she…" Applejack's legs wobbled and collapsed beneath her and she burst into another heavy set of tears. The words that Rainbow Dash had said had already worked their way back into her mind, and had overpowered her so easily. As she continued her sputtering of noises, trying to finish the sentence, she found she couldn't bring herself to repeat the words that had been uttered to her.

Raven Flame blinked and quickly wrapped herself around the crying pony. "It's okay, mom," She said, hoping the word choice would help calm Applejack as it had done before. Though she was comfortable with calling Applejack her mother, she only did so on rare occasion, in some ways she never felt it was really appropriate.

Applejack lifted her eyes towards the black filly that cradled her, and gave Raven a small smile. "Thanks sweetie," She said, then buried herself back into the pony's shoulder, squeezing her tightly. The embrace soon helped steady her outburst of tears and frantic breathing.

Scootaloo padded noisily into the room with the others. "I just saw Rainbow Dash flying away. Where's she going?"

Raven Flame shot Scootaloo an almost burning glare to silence the orange Pegasus. "I'm sure she'll be back," she assured Applejack, as she continued hugging her tightly.

There was a quiet knock on the door. Applejack leapt onto her hooves, her heart beating frantically as it hoped that Rainbow Dash had already returned. She pulled open the door and felt herself sink as the purple unicorn trotted through the doorway. "Oh, hey Twilight…" She said, shutting and locking the door.

"Sorry I ran out earlier," Twilight said apologetically. "I… I had to think some things through."

Raven Flame thought back to Scootaloo's mentioning of her dream, and then she thought about her own as well. "Twilight, what was your dream about?"

"I… I don't really want to talk about it." Twilight replied.

"Please, it's important," Raven Flame said urgently. "I need to know exactly what you are so afraid of."

Twilight stepped back, a little surprised at the filly's statement. "I'm… I'm afraid of myself."

Raven gave her a quizzical look. "But what exactly about yourself are you frightened of?"

Twilight frowned and breathed shakily. "When I was a filly, I got scared and my magic completely took over. I… I could have destroyed Canterlot that day."

A smile flashed across Raven Flame as her mind started piecing things together. "What exactly were you thinking about when you had left?"

Twilight blushed. "It was stupid."

"Please, I need to know," Raven Flame said. Trotting over to Twilight she dropped her hoof softly onto the unicorn's shoulder and gave her a comforting smile.

Twilight sat herself down and buried her face shamefully into her hooves, "I was thinking of running away or getting rid of my magic…"

"And how would you do that?" Raven Flame asked. "Get rid of your magic, I mean."

"If you break a unicorn's horn," Twilight answered softly. "They lose their power. That's the source of all their magical ability."

"Why would you even want to do that?" Scootaloo blurted out. "Magic is totally cool!"

"Because I can't always control it," Twilight answered back instantly. "According to Celestia, she's never seen another pony that has as much magical ability as I do… But it can just take over, and I can't stop myself. I don't know what Celestia did, but she stopped it once. What if it happened again though? What if I lose control and no pony is able to snap me out of it. Then what happens?"

The group hummed together in a harmony of disappointed groans. For a few moments there was nothing but silence. Suddenly a thought struck Raven Flame and her smile shot back and grew into a toothy grin, "She's afraid of you!" She said, almost giggling.

"Why is she afraid of her?" Scootaloo jumped in again.

Raven Flame rolled her eyes at the orange Pegasus, "Because, Twilight can beat her!"

"No!" Twilight interjected. "I can't! What if something happened… what if I lost control?"

"I still don't understand something though," Scootaloo interrupted again. "Last time she had to, uh, feed, or something, before she even had a body. How is she so strong already?"

Raven placed a hoof on her chin and thought for a moment. Soon she let out a surprised gasp as something occurred to her.

"What?" All three of the ponies asked, looking up at her simultaneously, waiting for her to explain.

Raven Flame began to pace back and forth, "Ember didn't seal her away. That wouldn't make any sense…" She bounced up excitedly, "She sealed herself away!"

"Ah don't follow," Applejack said. "Why would she do that?"

"Think about it!" Raven Flame squeaked, resuming her pacing. "Ice Ember was about to roast her. Surely that could have been enough to finish her off."

"So…" Twilight cut in, "She put herself back inside to protect herself?"

"Exactly!" Raven Flame answered with a small nod. "We don't know what happened last time she was put in there…"

Scootaloo groaned, "Are you telling me she's fine and dandy?"

Raven disregarded the question as her mind pieced a few other things together. "We need to get out of here, now!" She said with a sense of urgency and fear.

"What?" Applejack asked. "Why?"

"This is what Shadow wanted! She was trying to break us apart," Raven Flame said as she unraveled a scarf from the rack near the door. "She was trying to get Twilight out of the picture. She's coming here! We need to leave, now!"

The sound of a solo applaud of hoof-stamping resonated from the dark corner of the room. "Oh well done," Shadow Scorn said sounding pleased. "You are clever. Perhaps I didn't give you as much credit as you deserve."

"How did you get in here?" Applejack asked, not moving from her spot.

Shadow Scorn shrugged, "Someone left the backdoor unlocked."

"Oops…" Scootaloo muttered beneath her breath.

Shadow Scorn raised an eyebrow, "I didn't expect you to be here…" she said, pointing a hoof at Twilight, her voice sounded a little shaken. "I thought you'd be halfway to the middle of nowhere by now."

Twilight glared, but said nothing.

"Anyway, I'd love to chit-chat, but I'm awfully busy. I do have other ponies to visit. Rainbow Dash for starters," Shadow Scorn's horn began to glow blood red as she stepped closer. She gave Raven Flame a sickening smile as she approached, "It just wouldn't be fair if I kept our dear Dashie waiting, now would it?"

Raven Flame grabbed hold of Applejack and then Scootaloo. The three of them collapsed onto Twilight when she yanked them forwards. "Get us out of here," Raven commanded into the purple unicorn's ear.

Twilight's eyes widened, "B-but, I've never teleported this many ponies at once, before…"

Shadow Scorn let out a howl of laughter, and a single bolt of jagged ice sprang at the huddled ponies, which soon dissolved into a tiny purple barrier produced from Twilight's horn. "Are you kidding me?" Raven cried out. "We don't have time for this! Just get us the hay out of here now."

"O-okay!" Twilight's horn began to glow; a puff of purple smoke shrouded them and vanished. The disorientation the spell began to fade as quickly as it had come on. They looked around to find themselves just outside the gate of the apple orchards.

The group sprinted off back towards Ponyville when Applejack halted. "Wait, what about Rainbow Dash?" She asked concernedly and began to turn around. "She said she was goin' fer her next! What if Rainbow goes back tah the farm?"

"I'll… I'll wait for her," Twilight said reluctantly, "I'll meet you at Rarity's." With a quick wave, she ran back off towards the farm.


A gentle stream of angry tears trickled down from Rainbow Dash's magenta eyes as she slammed the window behind her. Barely audible, Applejack called out to her from behind the glass. Without a second glance, she propelled herself forward, not caring where she was going. Her mind was blinded with absolute hatred, and she couldn't think. Anywhere would do, so long as she wasn't anywhere near the farmhouse. Her entire body and mind were on autopilot, directing her to an unknown destination.

Flying onward, her hate-filled thoughts kept on rattling inside her head. All she could focus on were the things that had been taken away in her life. Her mind instantly pinned the blame on Applejack, whether rightfully placed or not. She couldn't care if the thoughts of hers were justified or not. Her heart felt smashed and her life felt empty now, everything had slipped away from her and she had nothing left inside her to keep herself going.

Looking down towards the ground, she found herself hovering above a place that resurfaced memories. Lowering herself down, she examined her surroundings. Aside from the slush that covered a great portion of the ground, the lake she and Applejack used to visit hadn't changed in the slightest. The water was still, shimmering back to her the dull gray clouds overhead. Slight movement was visible beneath her. Most likely the disturbances were caused by the frogs leaping from the murky mud bank, back into the cool, silvery waters.

Touching down on the ground softly she rested herself on the damp grass of the silver lake's shore. Rainbow Dash let out a hollow sigh as she stared at her reflection in the shimmering pool. "Why did I come here?" She asked herself, realizing she had never once come here on her own. The only times she had visited this place was with Applejack. That had stopped years back, when she had sustained her injuries.

Looking down into the calm surface of the water she was met with the image of a pony she saw before her eyes that she could scarcely recognize. Aside from the noticeable aging, her physical appearance had hardly changed. What troubled her were the deep pink eyes she stared at. They had once been so proud and alive, but now they only seemed bitter and angry. Displeased with what she saw, she ran a hoof through the water's surface forcing ripples to shatter image.

Dipping her foreleg even deeper into the cold water, she then splashed her face with the liquid, sending a jagged chill through her body. The sensation calmed her and helped her to clear her mind, allowing her to think more sensibly. Back at the farm, everything had become nothing more than a blur to her. A part inside her had pleaded for her to stop and think things through, but something had silenced her cries.

"Oh, Applejack…" She mumbled to herself. "What have I done?" Her eyes began to glisten with the growing regretful tears. She loved Applejack with all her heart. She couldn't even recollect a single moment in which she wasn't at least thinking about her sweet Applejack. But in a flurry of anger and self-disappointment, irrationality had taken over and burned the bridge down in a desperate attempt to shield herself from the thought that her failures were really her own fault.

"How could I have blamed you?" Rainbow Dash asked herself aloud. "It was never your fault. You took care of me when I could hardly even walk… multiple times." She chuckled quietly to herself as she thought back to her childhood, back when she had first met Applejack. She had injured her leg in a failed attempt to land her first ever sustained flight.

That day so many years ago, she was immobilized from the pain in her leg and the growing hunger in her belly. Applejack had found her and took her in. She had fed her and mended the injured leg. Applejack had been her longest known friend, and the one pony she had always felt safe with. Without her, she may have never even known of the Wonderbolts, as she was the pony who told her about them. No matter what happened, Applejack had always been there for her to come too, regardless of the situation.

She knew now how unfair she had been to her orange farm pony. Applejack had made her own sacrifices for Rainbow Dash, whether it had been taking time from her day to be a comforting hoof, or even helping with dangerous stunts she had often tried to perform before. With a smile, Rainbow Dash shelled out the feelings of undeserved loathing towards the pony, and allowed herself to fill once more with the joy and warmth that she had always felt when the thought of her mare popped into her mind.

Drying her eyes, Rainbow Dash pulled herself off the frigid grass. A new determination coursed through her. Narrowing her eyes, "I'll make this right, Applejack," She whispered. She extended her wings and flapped them quickly, flinging off the water droplets to dry herself off. Once sufficiently dry, she pushed herself off the ground and back towards the farm.

"Applejack…" She thought. "What do I do to fix this?" Pushing herself faster, she ignored the twinge in her wing. Everything would only get worse with every passing second, and that was something she couldn't afford. Her mind rummaged through what she would need to say to even begin making up for her rash behavior. The idea of begging for forgiveness had even struck her mind, but she had too much pride and decided to use that only as a last and desperate measurement.

She froze, hovering a few feet off the balcony of the front door. With much reluctance, she swallowed back her fear and touched down onto the wooden planks. Now the moment had arrived she found herself looking around lamely, trying to find anything to delay her from the confrontation. Shaking her head she quietly stepped forward and raised a hoof to the door. Her ears twitched slightly and tilted as they picked up the noise of clattering hoof-prints approaching from behind her.

Rainbow Dash's heart leaped, she had instantly assumed it was her beloved orange mare. "Applejack I'm so…" She froze as the smoky black unicorn approached her. "W-What are you doing here?" She asked with a quiet gulp.

"Well done!" Shadow Scorn mused. "I hadn't thought it would be that easy to manipulate you and tear you from Applejack," She chuckled. "Of course, given your stubbornness I also hadn't thought you'd come crawling back to her so soon, either."

"Shut up!" Rainbow Dash hissed, starting to flap her wings again.

"Tssk, not so fast!" Shadow Scorn said with a slight glee. A flash of light burst from her horns. Rainbow Dash let out an agonized scream as a barb of ice pierced into her wings. "That's better. We wouldn't want you flying off on me now."

Rainbow Dash tested the mobility of her wings. Lifting up her wings, she let out a quiet gasp as the blazing pain stabbed through her. "W-what do you want? Where's Applejack, and Raven?" She asked in a near whisper as her growing fear began to wash over her.

"They are fine… for now," The unicorn peered down with an almost kind expression towards cowering Pegasus. "I'm going to give you a choice," Shadow Scorn said darkly.

"A… A choice?" Rainbow Dash asked cautiously, not liking the tone of voice that had been used. "What kind of choice?"

Shadow Scorn paused and hummed quietly to herself. After a few moments she let out a screeching giggle, "Did I say I was going to give you a choice? I meant I wasn't going to give you a choice," she said as she stepped forward.

Rainbow Dash fluttered her wings uselessly, hoping to become airborne. Her wing continued to sting at her and flopped helplessly back to her side, small droplets of blood trickling off her feathers. With the use of her wings gone, she continued talking in an effort to distract the unicorn until she developed some kind of plan. "What are you talking about, why are you doing this?" She asked, trying to suppress the sense of fear that bled into her words.

"I have unfinished business with you, and I say your time is up." Shadow Scorn's horn began to emanate its usual red glow. A string of jagged ice began to grow from the tip, pointing itself at the Pegasus.

"W-wait!" Rainbow Dash said, backing up into the door. She wriggled the knob with her back hoof to find it had been locked. Her heart started to race, she began to glance around frantically, looking for any kind of escape route. She found nothing, and the unicorn was stepping closer towards her. "Don't I get any last words, or something?" she asked, stepping off to the side.

"If you do, you've got about three seconds to say them," Shadow Scorn grinned. The red glow of the horn flashed blindingly, and the spear of ice launched itself forward.

The ice impacted and the sound of its splinters parting rang through the orchard. Rainbow Dash opened her tightly shut eyes, a small purple barrier stood just inches in front of her, separating the Pegasus, and the unicorn. The barrier exploded into tiny shards and slammed into the surprised and confused Shadow Scorn.

"Come on!" Twilight shouted, a small bead of sweat trickled down her forehead as the glow vanished from her horn.

"Twilight?!" Rainbow Dash squeaked in astonishment, sprinting towards the pony, "What are you doing here? Where's Applejack and Raven Flame?"

"We don't have time, we need to go!" Twilight took hold of Rainbow Dash and a familiar purple cloud enveloped them. A sudden rush of nausea and dizziness filled them and with a blink of an eye the smoke parted, revealing the white walls of the Fashion Boutique.

Rainbow Dash peered around, the first thing her eyes locked onto were the watery green eyes of an orange pony. Her heart pounded with adrenaline, and her mind flooded with guilt "Applejack!" She said and bolted towards the pony, tackling her with a tight hug. "I'm… I'm sorry…"

Applejack smiled contently as she breathed in the scent of the blue Pegasus's soft mane and kissed the multi-colored strands gently. Despite her doubts and fears, she found herself once again reunited with the Pegasus she cherished so dearly. "Ah know yah are sugarcube…"

Rainbow Dash choked as a wave of tears spilled from her magenta eyes. She could hardly believe after all she had said and done to the poor orange pony in a short few minutes, she was still being welcomed back with open hooves. After taking a few moments to relish in her lovers grasp, she knew she needed to try and make things right. Inhaling deeply, she fought back her clenching throat.

"Applejack, I don't know what I was thinking… I don't hate-"

"Oh hush…" Applejack said, pressing her hoof onto Rainbow Dash's lips and shushed her. Once confident the Pegasus would remain silent, she removed her hoof and pressed their lips against each other and held the kiss momentarily. Finally, she broke the kiss and gave her partner a loving smile. "It's okay. Ah know yah didn't mean it. Don't yah fret none, ah'll always forgive yah, and ah'll always love yah, sugarcube."

Chapter 12

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"Pinkie Pie!" Twilight screamed as she slammed her book shut. The pink pony continued bouncing around aimlessly, crashing into the shelves of the library. "Why can't you ever just stay still for one minute?!"

The pink pony tilted her head, feeling confused. "Oh Twilight, what's the point of staying still! You've gotta live life to the fullest!" She squeaked gleefully.

Twilight turned towards her and glared. "I'm trying to study, so you can either be quiet, or go find some other pony to bother!"

Pinkie Pie froze in place, "I'm… bothering you?" She asked softly.

"Yes!" Twilight shouted. "Just leave me alone!"

"I'm sorry, Twilight…" Pinkie said sadly, as she trotted towards the door. "You're still coming to the party next week, right?" She asked hopefully.

Twilight groaned, "I don't know! I've got a lot of catching up to do. I have to keep up with my studies. I don't have time for all these nonsensical parties!"

"Oh… okay!" Pinkie Pie said, trying to keep her sights on the positive. "Well, see you later!" She trotted through the door and closed it. She soon decided that not every pony could be busy; surely one of them was in a playful mood. As she ventured onward down the road, away from the library, she soon came across Rarity.

"Hey, Rarity," Pinkie said, waving a hoof energetically. "What'cha doing?"

"Not now, Pinkie Pie," Rarity said sternly, dismissing the pony with the swish of a hoof. "Can't you see I have better things to do then partake in shenanigans with you?"

"Oh, my bad!" Pinkie said, and began galloping away. As she proceeded, she soon started to notice the streets emptying as she approached. Within seconds of her arrival the street was deserted, as well as the surrounding ones. She carried on, thinking of it as only a mere coincidence. The wooden doors of Sugarcube Corner slammed shut as she came closer.

"Uh, Mr. and Mrs. Cake?" Pinkie Pie called out, knocking loudly on the door. Waiting briefly, she received no answer. "Mr. and Mrs Cake, are you home?" She called out again, wriggling the doorknob. The door pried itself open from the other side as her hoof came in contact with it.

Mrs. Cake leaned out the door, a strand of nervous sweat running down her forehead. "Oh, sorry Pinkie, we're uh… closed."

Pinkie Pie peeked through the cracks of the door to see Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy sitting at a table eating and chatting away happily. "No you're not!" Pinkie Pie said sounding a little less than cheerful.

"Yes… yes we are..." Mrs. Cake said unconvincingly.

With that, Pinkie Pie lost her patience and burst herself through the doorway and joined her friends at the table. "Hey guys, whatcha doing?"

Soon the happy laughter ceased, and the three ponies were quiet. Finally, Rainbow Dash let out a groan, "Well we were having fun, till you showed up."

Pinkie Pie blinked. "Now you're having super-tons of fun?" She asked happily.

Rainbow Dash dropped her head onto the wooden table loudly and let out another grumble of irritation. "No," She said angrily, "Now we're just annoyed."

"What do you mean?" Pinkie Pie asked obliviously. "What happened?"

Both Fluttershy and Applejack turned their heads shamefully towards the corner as Rainbow Dash let out a loud sigh. "Look, Pinkie Pie…" Rainbow Dash said clearly. "Don't you ever think it's strange that every pony is always busy when you show up?"

Pinkie Pie placed a hoof on her chin, "Well yeah, that's because they are busy!"

Rainbow Dash nodded, "Yes. Yes they are busy," She said. "Busy being busy so they don't have to talk to you."


"No pony wants you around, Pinkie Pie!" Rainbow Dash said, her voice growing louder. "So why don't you just leave every pony alone?!"

"I don't understand…" Pinkie Pie said sadly, her hair starting to deflate.

Rainbow Dash slammed her face into the table a second time. Peeling herself from her seat, she grabbed Pinkie Pie by the shoulder and dragged her towards the door of Sugarcube Corner. "No pony wants you here, so just get out!" She screamed. With a powerful shove out the door, Pinkie Pie found herself colliding heavily into one of the candy cane striped poles

Pinkie Pie opened her eyes and wiped away the single drop of sweat trickling down her forehead. "Whew!" She sighed, "What a crazy dream." She said happily, hopping off her bed. "Guess I shouldn't have so much chocolate milk before I go to bed." She said aloud to herself.

A dark laughter came from the corner of her bedroom. "Hello, Pinkamina." Shadow Scorn said mischievously.

Pinkie Pie bounced up excitedly and rushed towards the black unicorn. "Well hi there!" She screeched cheerfully. "It's a pleasure to meet you. You already know my name, so what's yours?" She asked, grabbing hold of one of the frigid black hooves. "Oooh, you're really cold. Why don't I go make you some tea?"

Shadow Scorn stared blankly at the pony that rummaged energetically around the room. She attempted repeatedly to get a word in, but the pink pony quickly interrupted her with rants about parties or pastries. "Oh the hay with this!" She groaned. She would have much preferred to toy with her prey's emotions, but she found herself not even able to finish a sentence in this pony's presence.

A bolt of red light flashed through the room and Pinkie Pie let out a muffled yelp of pain as her legs froze in place. Her knees soon crumbled from the weight of her body, dropping her down to the ground. She squirmed her neck around frantically; trying to investigate what had just happened. Seconds after the painful sensations started, there was a second feeling. It was the feeling of something cold, piercing into her stomach. The pain was unlike anything she had ever experienced before. Her mind, unable to tolerate it, pushed the pink pony back into sleep.


With a heavy sigh, Fluttershy trotted across the dimly lit hallway, her hooves clambering loudly on the linoleum tiled floors as she walked. She eyed inside the other rooms she passed as she walked towards her destination. Her hooves began to feel like lead, and her body and mind did all it could to slow her further as she continued to approach. Every time she visited, the weight of the world seemed to crash down on her. Finally, she reached the end of the hallway and nudged open the mahogany door and ventured inside.

"Hello dad," She said in a hushed tone of voice as she forced herself closer to the bed. "Are you feeling any better?"

The blanketed Pegasus grunted irritably but said nothing.

"Dad," Fluttershy whispered, running her hoof against the blanket, revealing the elderly pony's frail and ragged body. "Talk to me, please…"

"There isn't anything to say!" He snapped back.

The timid pony flinched at the sudden aggressiveness. Taking a few steps back, "Is there anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable?" she asked.

Her father took in a wheezing breath, "You can get your flank out of my room, that's what." He said harshly.

Fluttershy frowned; she never understood why she visited. They were always the same, she'd try to start a conversation, or ask him if she can do anything for him, but the result was always the same. On a good day, he would completely ignore her. However, on the average day such as this one, he would no doubt find any way possible to make the visit as hard on her as possible.

Taking a seat in the cold wooden chair, Fluttershy scanned at the clock overhead the pony's bed. Though she didn't enjoy her visits with her father, she was determined to at least once stay for the entirety of an hour. Every previous visit, the grouchy pony had managed to frighten her off within the first half-hour. She knew why he resented her so much; after all, she had been the pony who placed him in this place that he commonly referred to as a prison.

Fluttershy did love her father, and she couldn't blame him for despising her. In the days prior to his being sent here, he had started to grow more and more unpredictable. Soon it became too much for her to bear. With much debate on the matter, she finally did what she thought was best and had sent him to Ponyville's Old Ponies Home. Ever since then, her father refused to carry out even the slightest verbal communication, unless it was to try and make her feel guilty.

"Dad..." Fluttershy whispered, "I… I love you."

"Shut up!" Her father hissed back.

The response stung at her. Though in the passing months she had grown less and less fond of her father, she still loved for him. A single tear began to work its way out of her eye, which she quickly blinked away. "Dad," She said, trying to steady her breathing. "I'm sorry…"

"I guess that just makes everything alright then?" Her father said angrily, "You throw me in this hole, and you are sorry. That's great, Fluttershy, thanks."

"Dad…" Fluttershy whimpered, "Please, I didn't know what else to do."

"Why do you even come here?" He screeched, "Neither of us wants to be here, or see each other. So why do you even bother?"

"Because," Fluttershy spoke even more quietly than before. "I love you, and I want to make sure you're alright."

"If you loved me, why did you put me in this place?" He spat.

"You were out of control. You need constant care now. I couldn't keep my eyes on you all the time." Fluttershy hopped off the chair and trotted back towards the bed. "I just wanted what was best for you. I know you can't see it now, but this is where you should be."

The old pony shifted onto his side and tugged the blanket back over his face. "I'd rather be dead, than rotting away in this place any longer."

Fluttershy leaned over and draped her hooves onto her father, "Don't say that."

The pony grunted and shook the intruder off of him. He no longer wanted to be disturbed, and he was willing to say whatever he felt necessary to achieve this. "You're mother was so disappointed in you." He said suddenly.

Fluttershy froze in place, "W-what?"

"You heard me," Her father said quickly, "She thought you were such an embarrassment to her. How could she explain to the whole of Equestria, that her own daughter was not only a weak flier, but she was also afraid of heights..."

Fluttershy sniffled as the tears began to emerge from her eyes again, "That's not true… Mom loved me."

The elder pony let out a forced chuckle, his lungs rattling as he did so. "No pony loved you. Your mom was ashamed of you, how could she love you?" Pulling his blanket away from his face, he turned to the yellow Pegasus that was now on the verge of tears. "And after everything you've done to me, I sure as hay don't love you either."


"Get out!" The older Pegasus shouted.

"But, dad…"

"OUT, NOW!" He repeated. He reached over to a silver tray and tossed at the cowering pony. As the metal clattered towards the floor, she turned to the door and ran. The floor was slick from water, and in her speed, she lost her hoofing and slipped. Her head crashed down towards the hard tiled floor, with a dull and loud crack.

Gasping loudly, a cold sweat pooled around Fluttershy as she shifted out of her sleep. Her eyes slowly peeled themselves open. The cottage was still dark, and seemingly more cold than normal. Her slow, heavy breaths formed small clouds of mist as they escaped her nostrils. Tightening the thin blanket around herself, she stepped off the bed. As she turned the knob on the stove, and placed a kettle of water on the burner, small shivering fur caught her eyes. She headed towards the corner, where the fluffy white critter lay on his plush red pillow. As she moved closer, the shivering ceased, as well as any other noticeable movement.

A jolt of fear and pain shot through her heart and she leapt towards the creature and cradled him in her forelegs. As she held him, she saw no puffs of breath hovering in the nearby air, and his fur only seemed to be growing colder. His body was limp and heavy, and his eyes refused to open. A trickle of tears rolled down Fluttershy's cheek and splashed onto the soft cloudy fur.

"Please," Fluttershy whispered, "Don't leave me…" She pleaded, shaking the tiny body she held tightly. The rabbit continued to lie lifelessly in her arms. "Angel, please… I love you so much. Don't go…" Her friend remained still, not responding to her cries.

She didn't understand. Angel had been absolutely fine before she had gone to sleep. There hadn't been any indications that he was sick in anyway. The cold temperature of the cottage wouldn't have even caused her pet even the slightest discomfort. Within a few short hours, there had been absolutely no warning, and now her oldest and dearest friend was gone.

The tears that streamed from Fluttershy's eyes soon began to intensify as she stared heartbroken at her lost friend. Her quiet whimpers erupted into muffled sobs as she buried her face into the unmoving animal. "Angel…" She whimpered, pulling herself off the ground, still clinging onto her pet.

Stepping outside, into the cold slushy dirt, Fluttershy walked towards the bank of the stream, beneath the bridge. With much reluctance, she set down Angel on a nearby bed of flowers and started to scrape slowly at the sandy surface. Her legs trembled violently, making it difficult for her to properly dig the hole. Every few seconds she would glance briefly towards the flowers, then return her sight to the bank.

Though she struggled to admit it to herself, the hole was finished. She had to stop herself from continuing the dig, as she was trying to deny herself the truth. Her friend was gone, and never coming back. She knew she could plunge herself deeper into the earth and try to distract herself from what she had lost, but no good could come of it. With much dismay, she pried herself away from the small chasm and lifted the fluffy critter off the flowers.

Placing her companion gently in the crater and stared. She still couldn't believe he was gone. With a sad sigh she ran her hoof softly against the rabbit, feeling his soft fur one last time. Leaning down, she placed a kiss on his forehead then quickly pulled herself away as another wave of tears spilled over. Scraping over the loose soil she covered the hole with a single smooth wave of dirt.

The job was finished now. The last interaction she would have with her dearly departed. Now that it was over, she wished it weren't. Now all she wanted was something to take her mind off of the event, even for the briefest of moments. Dropping her head onto the sand, she let out unrestrained wails as she mourned her friend.

"Angel, I'll never forget you…" Fluttershy whimpered in between sobs.

Unaware of the approaching soft patters, Fluttershy continued to lie in place. Soon a heavy black shadow was looming over her, but she still took no notice to the intruder. The pony cleared her throat, "Pleasant dreams?" Shadow Scorn said snidely.

The crying Pegasus, startled, leaped up but was met with a heavy hoof that swatted her back down.

"Please, don't get up on my account," Shadow Scorn said. "I'll only be a moment." The black unicorn trotted closer to the petrified Pegasus. "Since my other subjects have somehow managed to elude me... for the time being. I've decided you will be sufficient to serve my purpose."

"W-w-what d-do you w-want?" Fluttershy squeaked.

"Oh, nothing much," Shadow Scorn put out a twisted smile as she spoke. "I just want you to say hello to your friends for me."

Fluttershy shivered with fright and nodded slowly in agreement. "O-okay…"

"Perfect!" Shadow Scorn's smile broadened. A bright flash of crimson light shot out, blinding Fluttershy. Soon after, all she could feel was pain. The pain was an agonizingly intense burning that seared through her chest. She could scarcely breathe, her limbs flopped down uselessly. She tried to cry out in pain, but her throat felt tight, and no sounds escaped. Something was tied around one of her wings and she felt herself being lifted. As she was pulled away from the sands her mind soon began to blur into blackness.

Chapter 13

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Twilight Sparkle’s eyes slowly drifted open as they adjusted to the misty morning light. The glowing orange embers from the fire that charred into blackness slowly faded, a steady stream of hazy gray smoke wafting towards her, stinging at her eyes. She pried herself up from the cold tile floor, and carefully trotted herself away from the huddle of sleeping ponies, being cautious to not step on any manes or tails.

After several minutes of stumbling, she successfully navigated herself away from her other slumbering friends and headed into Rarity’s well-kept kitchen. Everything was exceptionally tidy and had its own place. Everything, that was, with the exception of a rather large pile of protective spell books Twilight had retrieved from the library just minutes prior to her arrival. Rarity had protested quite vocally at the strewn out tomes that littered her mahogany table she claimed to have designed herself.

Eventually, Twilight managed to hush the complaining pony but by the time she had finished that task, she was far too tired to study and search for a protective barrier that she thought might actually be of some use. The words had become muddled in her mind from her desire to sleep and had settled for a simple ‘Pleasant Dreams’ spell on her friends. She had on occasion used upon herself whenever she was feeling anxious about an upcoming test. She hoped that the charm would be enough to shield the others from the nightmares that could be brought on as they slept.

Taking the musty crimson tome from atop the pile of books resting on the table she began to quietly flip through the pages. All the spells she came across seemed limited to something simple, like keeping out para-sprites. Any of the barrier spells she thought may be powerful enough, seemed far too complicated and surpassed her magical abilities well beyond what she believed she would be capable of even in the next five years.

A growing pain in Twilight’s stomach vocalized itself in the form of a low growl. She sighed and placed the book down. “How am I supposed to get any work done if I can’t even focus?” Twilight grumbled to herself. Her muscles ached dully as she scouted the cupboard for Rarity’s stash of Frosted Oats. Lifting the small clear bag seared her. She had been so tense the past few days with everything that was happening, her entire body was cramping up from the stress.

It felt unfair to her. All of her friends were relying on her to protect them from constant lurking pony that threatened them. She didn’t understand what every pony expected her to do about the situation. She knew just as much about what was going on as they did. Sitting down at the mahogany table, she scanned across the room before eying a cupboard.

Twilight’s horn flickered its’ pale lavender glow but the light quickly died out. Another irritated grumble escaped her, “Great…” She tiredly picked herself back up and trotted towards the cupboard and slid a bowl out from inside it. “I can’t even move basic household items, let alone conjure up some kind of protective barrier. How can every pony expect me to keep them safe?” She hissed, the agitation in her voice steadily growing.

Shaking her head and discarding the thought, she lowered her neck and bit down into the crunchy, sweet bowl of crisp oats. The light sugary frosting brought a gentle surge of energy back through her, instantly making her feel more revitalized and cheerful.

“Whoever came up with Frosted Oats was brilliant” She mumbled happily to herself as she continued eating. As she chewed she looked past her pile of books and towards the pile of still sleeping ponies. She wondered what crazy dream Pinkie Pie must be having at that moment. While pondering the thought, allowing silly images of Pinkie Pie devouring every cupcake in Ponyville, a silent alarm began to ring inside her head.

Hopping up quickly from her seat she galloped back into the other room and stamped her hooves onto the ground, sliding to a halt. She backed away slightly and counted, then re-counted. She then stopped counting and did a mane check only to see no fluffy pink manes hidden anywhere within the bunch. There wasn’t a single pink mane tucked away beneath the other ponies. Even if Pinkie Pie was sleeping in some obscure spot that hid her from eye-sight, there was still another pony missing.

Twilight Sparkle quickly began to shake every pony awake and repeatedly asking “Have you seen Pinkie Pie or Fluttershy,” as she awoke them. After much groaning and yawning, every pony was soon as wide awake as Twilight was. Now that every pony was here mentally, she decided to ask them one last time as a group, “Has any pony seen Pinkie Pie or Fluttershy since last night?”

The ponies blinked and looked left and right at one another. Finally they broke the silence and quietly said “No” while they scraped their hooves gently at the ground. Applejack stepped forward, “When was the last time any of y’all saw them?” She asked.

“Umm…” Raven Flame continued looking around her, “I think the last time we saw her was at the ruins.”

A gentle tapping emanated from the shop’s thin wooden door. The soft sound echoed against the cold polished tiles floating softly into Sweetie Belle’s perked up ears. The knocking seemed to go unnoticed from every pony else. Reluctantly, after a failed attempt to get some pony’s attention, she ventured towards the door and pried it open a crack.

The weight of an unconscious pony pushed open the door further as Fluttershy crashed downward towards the unsuspecting filly. Sweetie Belle let out a surprised yelp and hopped out of the way. The others rushed towards the aid of both the cowering Sweetie Belle and a pale Fluttershy lying nearby.

Twilight gently nudged the Pegasus with a hoof, “Fluttershy, are you okay?”

Fluttershy gave no response. Her labored and shallow breathing continued and her eyes remained shut.

Applebloom trotted forward shaking her head. She approached the unconscious pony vigorously, “C’mon Fluttershy, yah gotta wake up!” She commanded.

Applejack quickly scooped Applebloom up and pulled her away, “And what did yah think that was ‘sposed tah accomplish?” She hissed quietly after retreating to the back of the group.

Rarity stared inquisitively, “Twilight, what’s wrong with her? She looks absolutely dreadful!”

Twilight groaned agitatedly as she felt the pressure of everyone looking to her for answers once again. “How should I know?” She replied back, trying to keep herself calm. “Fluttershy is the one who usually knows what to do when somepony is sick or…” she pointed at the sleeping pony, “Or whatever this is.”

Scootaloo suddenly charged from the back of the room with a small bucket of water and tipped it over the pony. With the exception of chattering teeth and shivers the condition still stayed unchanged. Everypony stared irritably at the orange filly.
“Sorry,” Scootaloo said with a quiet chuckle and an innocent grin as she too returned to the back of the group.

Twilight used all of her self-restraint to stop herself from planting a hoof on her face. “Any pony else have any ideas they’d like to try out?”

Every pony remained quiet.

“Any pony at all?”

There was still no answer.

“Okay then!” Twilight’s horn illuminated in its purple glow and encased the Pegasus in a similar aura. Fluttershy began to hover for a few short moments before the light flickered and vanished altogether and once again the pony came crashing down to the floor. Another groan escaped Twilight’s lips. “Some pony help me carry her to Rarity’s bed.”

Rarity almost gasped, “My bed? Why does it have to be my bed?” She whined.

Twilight rolled her eyes and stared at her almost dumbfounded. Shaking away her gaze, she ignored the question and returned her attention back to Fluttershy. She kneeled down and scooted the pony partially onto her back. Applejack followed suit and the two slowly trotted into the bedroom.

“What do yah reckon is wrong with her?” Applejack asked as she brushed Fluttershy off of her and onto the plush bed.

“I don’t know.” Twilight said feeling a little defeated. She couldn’t stand it. Everypony was coming to her for answers and she didn’t have any.

The two quietly sat beside the bed, every hour on the hour, they made an effort to wake her up. Occasionally one of the gang would come inside and check up on Fluttershy, or bring news that there was a lack of news about the missing Pinkie Pie.

As the small hand of Rarity’s clock began to approach the six for its second rotation that day, Raven Flame marked her place in the book she held, shut it and pulled herself up and ventured into the bedroom bringing the book with her.

Raven Flame stood quietly behind Twilight Sparkle, “I had an idea, Twilight,” She announced after clearing her throat.
Twilight turned around and perked up an ear. It was a pleasant change for some pony to calmly tell her something, rather than breaking out into hysteria. “What is it, Raven?”

Raven Flame glanced towards Applejack, whom took the hint and left the room. The door shut quietly behind the orange pony and the obsidian filly took a deep breath. “I didn’t want to say anything in the other room because I didn’t want to make the others any more worried than they already are.”

Twilight tilted her head closer, “What is it?”

Raven Flame thought briefly, trying to think of how she could best word what she was about to say. Soon however, she noticed the exhausted purple unicorn’s face starting to grow impatient. “What if Shadow Scorn did this to her?” she asked.
Twilight grumbled. She had expected a bit more of an idea than that.

Raven started back up quickly, as to not give the pony the wrong idea. “I mean, well, obviously Shadow did this to her.” She said sounding a little embarrassed. “What I meant was…” She paused again. “Shadow has been inside our dreams, right?”
Twilight slowly nodded in agreement.

“Well, what if she locked Fluttershy away in a dream?” Raven Flame asked. “And now for whatever reason, we can’t wake her up out here.”

An idea sparked in Twilight’s mind, but she guessed Raven was already working her way up to suggesting what she had just thought of.

“Could you…” Raven Flame inhaled deeply and finished her thought aloud. “Could you go into her dream and find out what’s keeping her there?”

Twilight was right about sharing Raven’s idea. “I… I don’t know.” She said quietly. The idea of entering another pony’s dreams frightened her. It wasn’t something any pony should ever do. “I don’t even think I can do it” She said.
Raven Flame had expected and prepared for such an argument. She pulled open the book to a spell. “I thought you wouldn’t know how, so I found the spell for you.” She placed the book in front of Twilight and waited quietly.

“The Dream Walker?” Twilight read aloud before returning to the text and read silently to herself. The spell seemed relatively advanced compared to most of the spells that she performed. “This seems a little dangerous…” She said softly as she read on. “May result in memory loss of both the walker and the dreamer?!” She squeaked.

Raven Flame covered the warning text with her hooves, “Don’t worry about that! We don’t exactly have much of a choice. If Fluttershy really is trapped in her own dream and can’t wake up, she’s going to be missing a bit more than a few memories if we don’t wake her soon!”

Twilight gazed worriedly at the sleeping Pegasus, “I guess you’re right.” She said and returned to studying how to conjure the spell. After a few more minutes she decided that she would be ready to cast this spell as she’d ever be. She shut the book and trotted over to Fluttershy. “Raven, get me a chair.” She ordered, while gently placing the tip of her horn on the sleeping pony’s forehead.

Raven nodded and pulled up a rocking chair that sat in the corner. She dragged it slowly behind Twilight “Are you going to try it now?” She asked.

“Now is as good a time as any.” Twilight answered, trying to hush the quivering in her voice. Her horn flickered its glow briefly before cutting out once again. “Not now!” She hissed at herself. With a deep breath she pushed all of her focus, a steady stream of light emanated from her and seemed to flow into Fluttershy’s forehead.

A steady stream of sweat began to form as Twilight continued to push herself further. The chain of light began to phase in and out. “Come on…” She whispered to herself, giving one last final push. The aura grew brighter and all at once in a quick flash, there was a deafening explosion followed by a cloud of black smoke that eliminated Twilight's vision briefly.

"Raven Flame?" Twilight cried out. "Are you okay?" She coughed loudly, clearing the smoke from her throat, preventing her from hearing a response. "Raven Flame, I asked if you were okay!" She called out again.

Holding back her fit of coughing and choking she perked up her ears and listened intently. There was no response. Several moments passed and the smoke cleared. She looked around to find no pony present. Not only was she alone, but she found herself present in a room that she was completely unfamiliar with.

She gulped nervously, "Hello? Is any pony there?"

Except for the echoes of her own words all she could hear was the chattering of an unknown sound venturing closer and closer towards her.

"Hello? Where am I? Any pony?"

No response yet again. Only the continuously increasing loudness of the something coming towards her faster and faster.