Scared in a Normal Cave

by toxbox

First published

After becoming trapped in a cave, the CMC must find their way out.

After becoming trapped in a cave, the CMC must find their way out.

Loosely inspired by Ted's Caving Page.

The Only Chapter

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"You're such a pig, Scootaloo!"

"Am not!"

"Are too!"



"ENOUGH!" Apple Bloom screamed.

"Sorry!" Her two friends sheepishly chimed back at her.

She rubbed her ears gently. She was starting to have second thoughts about this camping trip they had gone on. It had seemed like such a good idea on Friday: take a weekend to get away from all the adult ponies in White Tail Woods, and maybe do some crusading for old times’ sake.

It was pretty easy to convince her sister to let her go. The woods were only an hour or so away from Ponyville and were very safe. They were older now, anyways, so it wasn't such a big deal to go off and do things on their own these days.


Scootaloo aggressively covered her mouth with her hooves as flecks of s'more flew out. "Pfftt, nu-uh."

Sighing, she rolled her eyes. If only her friends would stop arguing. They'd been at each other's throats pretty much the entire weekend now.

"C'mon ya'll, put a can in it. There will be plenty of marshmallows at home, anyways. Let's get back to packing."

"I was saving that one special though," Sweetie pouted.

Scootaloo stuck her tongue out. "It's not like you need any more marshmallows, Sweetie, you practically look like one already."

"HEY! You take that back, you stinkin' chicken!"

Scootaloo bristled, "Chicken? I'll show you chicken."

"EEP!" Sweetie shrieked.

Apple Bloom refrained from facehoofing. "Ya'll know what, Ah'm gonna take a walk." Glancing at her brawling friends she muttered, "not like ya'll are paying' any attention to me anyways."

A walk would help clear of her head of the insanity the last few days. First they had argued over who was going to carry the tents. Then they'd argued over who'd get to sleep in which tent, who had to cook and who had to clean. It wasn't like it even mattered in the end, Apple Bloom had ended up doing pretty much everything. She'd carried the tents in their red-wagon, done all the cooking, and NOW she was also doing the packing for their return trip.

She sat down on a rock in the middle of a clearing, she could still hear the distant echoes of her friends arguing. It seemed like, even though they were older, some things would never change.

Shaking her head, she hopped off the rock. Moping wasn't going to help her situation any. Stepping a hoof forward, she was surprised to find nothing there. A second later she screamed, and was plunged into darkness.


"See Scootaloo, you've gone and upset Apple Bloom!"

"What do you mean I upset her? You probably upset her with all your whining. Seriously, I don't think I've ever heard anypony complain as much as you before, well, except maybe Rarity."

"Hey, you leave my sister out of th-"

The both paused as a shrill scream rang out.

"Who was that?"

"Apple Bloom," Scootaloo replied, "c'mon let's go see what's up."

Sweetie followed Scootaloo into the clearing. They'd been playing here the other day and it'd seemed safe enough. What could've possibly spooked Apple Bloom enough to get her to scream like that? Glancing around revealed nothing.

"Where is she?" Sweetie said.

Scootaloo sniffed delicately at the air, before wandering over to something. Sweetie could hear her sniffing again as she approached it.

"Hey come over here, I thinks she's down there."

She quickly made her way over to the discovery, eager to see what Scootaloo had found. To her surprise, she found herself standing on the edge of a small crevice. She wouldn't have ever noticed it if Scootaloo hadn't pointed it out, it was so small. The opening was barely large enough for a foal to slip in, and then they'd only be able to fit in head first.

"You thinks she's down there?"

Scootaloo said nothing, and instead pointed at a hoofprint in the mud on the other side of the hole.

"Unless there's somepony else out here, it's gotta be her."

Sweetie started feeling nervous, this was REALLY serious. This hole was deep enough that the bottom was barely visible, and it looked like an almost 20 foot drop. Apple Bloom could be unconscious, hurt, or worse. They needed to get help and they needed to get it now before her situation got any worse.

"I think we shoul-" Sweetie started.

"Hold that thought, I've got an idea,'"Scootaloo interrupted.

Sweetie felt herself start sweating as Scootaloo wandered back over to their campsite. What could she possibly be doing?

"Apple Bloom?" Sweetie called down the hole, there was no reply.

A second later Scootaloo reappeared, tugging their small red wagon behind her. It still held basically all of their supplies, including what was left of their food. Scootaloo pulled a coil of rope out from the bottom, even though Sweetie didn't actually recall them packing it.

"I thought maybe we could use this to try out rock climbing, but I totally forgot I had it until just now." She began uncoiling it. "Anyways, it's lucky I brought it, I can just rapel down there and rescue her!"

"Rappel," Sweetie corrected, "plus Scoots, you've never actually been climbing before." Peering skeptically down the hole again, she noted sharp rocks jutting out from the sides. "...And this doesn't exactly look like a good spot to learn, either."

"Whatever, I mean we can't just leave her down there, she's probably hurt if she isn't responding."

"We should go get an adult, Ponyville's only an hour away."

Scootaloo's face suddenly flushed with anger. "You want to abandon her, seriously?"

"Listen Scoots, I know we used to do crazy stuff like this when we were crusaders, but this is different. Apple Bloom could be REALLY hurt."

"I KNOW she could be hurt! Why do you think I want to go down there?" Scootaloo turned away from Sweetie, "And if you won't help me then I'll just rescue her myself."

"Scoots this ISN'T going to work," Sweetie practically shouted, "you're just endangering both of your lives."

"SHUTUP, just shut up, ok? If you're not going to help me than just be quiet."

Biting her lip, Sweetie nervously looked behind her. It was true that Ponyville was only an hour away, but what if Apple Bloom was seriously hurt? Scootaloo was right, it'd be a lot faster if they just took her back to Ponyville, instead of having to wait for somepony to come help.

"Ok, I'll... I'll help."

Scootaloo turned around to face Sweetie and grinned, "Awesome, I knew I could count on you, Sweetie! Let's do this."

Swinging the ends of the rope around a tree branch directly above the hole, Scootaloo fastened the rope around herself in a crisscrossing pattern. By the time she was done, it looked like she was wearing an intricate rope-vest.

"I don't think that's right, Scootaloo..."

"Trust me, this is definitely how it's supposed to be, I've seen some ponies do it like this before in a magazine," she insisted.

Surveying the tree branch Scootaloo had tossed the rope over, Sweetie felt a little nervous. "You know, I might not be an expert at this sort of thing, but isn't it supposed to go around the tree trunk, and not a branch? It's just, it looks sort of flimsy, Scoots."

"This is fine, I'm a pegasus, remember? We're super light, plus this branch is plenty thick enough to support me and 'Bloom."

"Well, if you say so. What should I do?" Sweetie squeaked nervously.

"Can you knot that with your magic?" -Scootaloo gestured towards the rope lying on the tree branch- "I can't really reach it."

"Alright, I can try. You know I'm not so good at levitation yet though."

Concentrating, Sweetie extended her magic to the rope, grabbing both ends and pulling them together. A bead of sweat formed on her brow as she carefully formed a small knot, securely fastening it to the branch. It was amazing how even just a feat as small as tying a rope could leave her feeling exhausted.

"So, uh, what now?"

"See how I've got the rope under my wing? I can control my descent by tightening or loosening my grip on it"-she put a hoof under her chin-"or at least that's how it works in practice."

"In practice?" Sweetie asked, alarmed, "Scoots... I'm REALLY getting a bad feeling about this."

"You need to stop worrying so much Sweetie, I got this," Scootaloo huffed.

Sweetie contemplated asking Scootaloo how she planned on getting Apple Bloom out of the hole, but reconsidered. They would worry about that once she got to the bottom. If worst came to worst she could just go back to town to get help anyways.

Scootaloo leaned back into the rope and began her descent into the hole. She kept her back-legs positioned against the narrow wall, and controlled her descent with rope tied around her wings. Sweetie was surprised, it actually looked like it was working as intended.

Scootaloo stopped a foot or so in. "Hey, can you hoof me our flashlight? I can't really see anything down there."

"Gimme a sec, I'll go grab our wagon."

Pulling their wagon over next to the hole, Sweetie rummaged for the flashlight.

"Pthnks," Scootaloo sputtered, grabbing the flashlight with her mouth and spraying Sweetie with spit. She made a mental note to wash her hoof later before eating.

With the flashlight now in her mouth, Scootaloo continued lowering herself in. The flashlight illuminated the narrow channel, with the light reaching all the way to the bottom. Sweetie could make out the red-tinge of Apple Bloom's bow, the rest of her body out of sight. The light showed that the cave opened up at the bottom into what looked like a large room.


Sweetie looked up back up. The rope had slipped around a thinner section of the branch, and it was starting to break under Scootaloo's weight.




Sweetie stuck her head into the hole and grabbed the rope with her teeth, yanking with all her might. The rough texture chafed the edges of her gums as it slipped in and out of her mouth, and she could taste blood.

"Sweetie, you have to pull me up!" Scootaloo's panicky voice echoed up. A large clunk echoed out a few seconds later when the flashlight she had dropped and smacked against the bottom.

Sweetie grunted with exertion. Her entire body was sweating under the load of holding Scootaloo up, if she could just get better footing she might be able to do it though.

Shifting her left foot backwards a step, Sweetie felt her leg slide. She had just stepped onto the wagon.



Scootaloo woke up feeling groggy. She had the weirdest dream about her and Sweetie Belle going rock climbing together. She snorted as she stretched. Fat chance of that ever happening. Her bedroom was oddly dark this morning, and she didn't remember her bed feeling like it was made of rocks. And when did her parents have a window installed in the ceiling...?


It HADN'T been a dream. Scootaloo immediately looked for her friends, confirming both of them were still out of it but present. Sweetie Belle looked relatively unscathed, considering the distance they had fallen. She also noted, surprised, that Sweetie had dragged their wagon down with her. It was a bit lucky, really. Scootaloo was pretty sure they still had a bit of food on them.

Apple Bloom hadn't fared so well. It looked like she'd taken a mild hit to the head, judging by the dried blood on her brow. She looked oddly still though, which scared Scootaloo.

Rushing over, she put an ear up to her friend’s mouth and waited. She felt a warm breath tickle the outside of her ear and immediately sat back with relief. She hadn't wanted to consider it a possibility, but she still felt a bit lucky considering the situation.

Right, the situation: they were stuck in the bottom of a cave, with no immediate way out. A cursory glance around the cave revealed nothing interesting. It was shaped a bit like a pyramid, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. There were two paths that lead out of the room they were currently in.

Glancing at her unconscious friends, Scootaloo shrugged. She might as well try and do something productive while they were out, and wandered over to the first opening. If Scootaloo was to ever call something "cave-like," it would be this. The opening revealed a long, bumpy passage. Well, that was a bust. If anything it just looked like it went deeper in, which was not super useful.

"Scootaloo?" someone asked.

"Sweetie, is that you?" Scootaloo whispered back. She could see a pony standing next to Apple Bloom.

"Oh thank goodness, I thought for a second that- well, never mind." Sweetie turned her head down to the ground, gave a few short coughs, and then stumbled forward slightly.

"Hey wait a minute," -her eyes narrowed- "SCOOTALOO YOU IDIOT!" Sweetie screamed. "I TOLD YOU THIS WAS A BAD IDEA, NOW SEE WHERE IT GOT US!"

Scootaloo felt a rush of guilt hit her and raised her hooves defensively. "You can't blame me for all of this. You weren't supposed to fall in if something went wrong! You could've been half-way to Ponyville if you weren't such a klutz!"

"Oh not this again! First I'm a whiner, and now I'm a klutz?" Sweetie made a point of blowing a strand of hair out of her face, and dusting herself off. "Well, while you're off playing 'Cutie Mark Crusaders: Spelunkers' or whatever it is you're doing, this klutz is going to help our friend."

Scootaloo watched nervously as Sweetie retrieved their first aid-kit from the fallen wagon. She already regretted what she'd said. It was just, being stuck down here wasn't ALL her fault! It wasn't fair for Sweetie to accuse her like that.

She sighed and made her way over to the other side of the room to investigate the other opening. She had almost looked over this passage because of its size. It was two feet in diameter, and went down at a 45 degree angle, continuing on for as far as she could see. The flashlight illuminated the edges of the passage, showing circular bumps on the smooth walls at irregular intervals. Raising a hoof to the opening, she could feel warm air traveling over her skin.

"Weird," she muttered, shivering slightly at the strange sensation. Scootaloo didn't know very much about caves, but she was pretty sure that this sort of thing wasn't normal. Shouldn't the air being traveling the other way?

"Hey, Sweetie, you should come look at-"

"Where... where am ah?"

"Apple Bloom, you're awake!" Sweetie exclaimed, dropping an alcohol pad.

Apple Bloom made to stand up, and immediately collapsed after giving a gasp of pain. This was the first time Scootaloo saw the real extent of damage her friend had taken. Apple Bloom's leg was, for lack of a better word, mangled. It hung limp and twisted, with bone pressing out of the skin in a few locations. Scootaloo suddenly felt very hot, and felt her stomach turning over inside of her body.

Apple Bloom's eyes shut tight and her head thrashed. "BUCK. That HURTS!" she screamed.

Sweetie immediately raced over to her, grasping her friends head with her hooves. "You hurt your leg pretty badly, you REALLY shouldn’t be moving it right now. I can try treating it in a bit, but you know I'm not an expert..."

Apple Bloom spent a few more moments gasping and straining while cradling her leg. After a few seconds her breathing finally calmed down. She looked back down at her exposed leg skeptically, "Ah can see that. Is Scootaloo here?"

"Over here," Scootaloo interrupted, walking back over to the duo, "you took a pretty nasty tumble. What were you doing, anyways?"

"Ah was trying' to get some peace-and'-quiet from your bickering, Ah must've slipped down here by accident."

Sweetie rolled her eyes. "Yes, and then Miss Smarty Pants here had the bright idea of jumping in after you. We're all down here now because of her."

Still holding her leg, Apple Bloom looked around the cave, her eyes falling on the entrance far above them. "Well that's great and all, but have y'all given any thought to how we're gonna get out of this mess yet? Ah'd really like to get this treated, no offense, Sweetie."

"Climbing out is, well, out," said Scootaloo, giving a small flutter of her wings, "entrance is way too steep."

"And I'm not strong enough to levitate our rope back out," Sweetie said, rubbing her horn.

"Y'all check those exits yet?" Apple Bloom replied, nodding towards the

"I poked around them a little. As far as I can tell they just lead further into the cave." Scootaloo replied.

"Well unless y'all wanna sit around here all day, it might be worth checking' out. Caves sometimes have multiple entrances and exits ya know."

Sweetie gave Scootaloo a scowl. "How about you go explore, and I'll finish cleaning up Apple Bloom?"

"Alright, alright. I'm keeping the flashlight though."

"Whatever, just get out of here before you screw anything else up."

Scootaloo bit back a retort. Arguing wasn't going to help the situation, so with a resigned sigh she approached the larger of the two passages. The other one still left her feeling sort of unsettled, but she wasn't about to admit that to her friends.

This passage felt much more natural than the other one. For one thing, it didn't have the bizarre bumps. It was also much larger. She estimated it was roughly seven or eight feet in diameter, and headed downwards with a small incline. The walls were rough and jagged, and small, pointy rocks hung off the ceiling. She thought she remembered Ms. Cheerilee naming those as "stalagmites." There was some dumb phrase to help her remember it, it was something like, 'Stalagmites MIGHT fall from the ceiling' or maybe it was 'Stalactites hold TIGHT to the ceiling...'

Absentmindedly brushing a cobweb out of the way, Scootaloo barely even registered the fact that the ceiling was now touching her head. Even after only a few minutes of walking, the passage had shrunk considerably. The space ahead of her looked even more cramped. Getting on all fours, she shone the flashlight through the lowest space. The passage looked to have about a foot of vertical clearance, though it widened considerably after that. Deciding that was enough exploring, Scootaloo prepared to turn back and inform the others about what she'd found.

Unfortunately that didn't seem like a very good option as an exit. It went DOWN after all, and they needed to go back up. Plus, she wasn't even sure if Apple Bloom would be able to crawl in her current state. Maybe if they put her in the wagon, but...

While retracing her steps, she heard a low rumble. It reverberated through all the space around her, making it impossible to tell the source of the noise. As soon as it had started, it stopped.

The rest of the walk back was uneventful. The first thing she noticed upon returning to the entrance was that Apple Bloom had been loaded into their red wagon. Sweetie appeared to be fussing over her leg.

Apple Bloom waved. "Hey Scoots, good to see you're back! Y'all find anything?"

"Uh, no, not really. The passage got really small after a couple minutes. I could've probably squeezed through, but it definitely doesn't look like an exit." Pausing, Scootaloo hesitated, "More importantly, did you guys hear that noise earlier?"

Sweetie rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me, you're scared of the spooky rumbling noise? Please Scoots, we're underground, it could've been just about anything."

"H-hey, I'm not scared! I was just curious if you heard it too."

Apple Bloom stuck a hoof thoughtfully under her chin. "We did, maybe there's a waterfall somewhere further down? It could've been makin' that noise."

Scootaloo shrugged. "Oh well, it probably isn't important, we'll just..."

Scootaloo's line of thought was cut off by a strange noise coming from the smaller hole. She noticed her friends ears perk up in response to the sound.

"What's that noi-" Sweetie started to say, turning towards the passage.

Scootaloo instinctively shoved her hooves into her ears as the noise reached deafening volumes and let out a cry of pain. After a few moments of excruciating intensity, the noise quieted. After only the echoes remained, Scootaloo realized what they had just heard: a scream. It sounded distinctly unlike a pony and had left Scootaloo with her fur standing on end and her heart racing. Her fight-or-flight response had also kicked in, and she found herself contemplating making a break for it.

"Girls...there's something in here with us," Scootaloo quietly hissed.

Apple Bloom looked shaken, but held steady. "Hold on Scoots, let's not work ourselves into a tizzy."

Sweetie appeared to be completely unfazed, though Scootaloo could've sworn she had been clutching her ears just moments ago. "Yeah, it was probably just an animal that hurt itself or something stupid."

"That didn't sound like any animal I've ever heard."

Sweetie eyes hardened. "Listen, our situation is bad enough without making up 'ghost' ponies or whatever it is you're about to say. Just forget about it."

"I wasn't going to say it was ghost ponies!" Scootaloo quickly insisted. She sighed, "Alright, fine, whatever. Why's 'Bloom in the wagon?"

"Well... Ah can't exactly walk in mah current state, so we thought this would be the best solution," Apple Bloom said, gesturing to the wagon she was sprawled out in.

Scootaloo nodded, and started rummaging through the pile of supplies they had heaped next to the wagon Apple Bloom was now occupying. After a few moments of searching she found it: the water bottles Apple Bloom had filled up this morning. Uncapping one, she pushed it against her lips and drank deeply. Even though it was slightly dusty and warm, it still felt intensely refreshing.

"Scootaloo!" Sweetie’s voice shocked Scootaloo out of her bliss.


"That's the only water we have down here, we've got to make it last!" She growled, snatching the bottle out of Scootaloo's grasp with her magic.

"Hey, I wasn't done with that"

"Yes, you were. Plus, Apple Bloom needs it more than you do, she's injured!"

Scootaloo considered snatching the bottle out of the air, but reconsidered. Sweetie kind of did have a point.

"Sorry," She meekly offered.

Sweetie rolled her eyes. "Back to the issue at hand, I got Apple Bloom fixed up as best as I could." Sweetie gave Scootaloo an appraising look, "I suppose I should also do you. It would be bad if any of us got an infection down here. We also went through our supplies. We've got a couple bags of chips left, and we're lucky Apple Bloom decided to fill up our water bottles this morning." She paused, making a point to stare at Scootaloo again. "That said, unless you found a way out, our best bet is probably going to be just waiting here for help.”

Scootaloo's brow furrowed. "Well, it looks like both passages just lead further down. Also have you two looked at that one over there in the corner," she nudged her head towards the smaller of the two passages. "I was getting a really weird vibe from it earlier, it doesn't exactly look natural."

Sweetie Belle looked confused. "You know, I actually didn't even notice that opening until you pointed it out, has it really been there the whole time?"

"Uh, ya, it was like the first thing I noticed when I woke up." Apple Bloom chimed in.

Sweetie Belle cautiously approached the opening. "And you didn't check this one out? Maybe it just leads right up to the surface. Sort of looks like somepony dug it out."

"W-well I mean it goes straight down, I really don't think it's going to be a way out," Scootaloo stuttered. She REALLY didn't want to have to explore that hole, not after it had given her the heebie-jeebies so badly earlier.

Sweetie frowned and looked like she was about to say something, but Apple Bloom cut her off. "That's alright Scoots, Ah don't think the chances of there bein' multiple exits was all that good in the first place. Ah think our best chance is like what Sweetie said, we just rough it out here for a day or so. Ah'm sure our sisters will come looking for us when we don't show back up today."

Apple Bloom struggled into a sitting position with a short grunt of pain. "Ah mean, we're what, fifty feet from our campsite? A hundred at most? We'll be able to hear them, and yell out to let them know we're here," she said with a confident smile.

Scootaloo felt a wave of relief wash over her as Apple Bloom spoke. She hadn't realized it, but she'd been quite tense ever since going to explore. Looking over to Sweetie, she saw that Sweetie visibly relaxed as well.

"I think you're right, 'Bloom," Scootaloo said, looking nervously at Sweetie. "And uh, would you guys mind if I took a nap? I actually didn't sleep too well last night, kept having nightmares," she lied. She had slept sound as a baby last night, but going down that passage had been exhausting.

Sweetie made an exasperated noise. "Aren't you a little old to be having nightmares, Scootaloo?"

Apple Bloom grimaced and said, "C'mon Sweetie, cut Scoots some slack." She turned towards Scootaloo, "Sure y'all can take a nap Scoots, not like we have much else to right now anyways."

"Thanks 'Bloom," she said, walking over to her friends’ wagon, and resting her head onto the cold, cave ground. "Wake me up if anything interesting happens," she yawned.


Sweetie Belle felt incensed as she watched Scootaloo drift to sleep. She was being absolutely useless. Not only was she the reason they were stuck in this situation in the first place, NOW she was napping. And what was up with her behavior earlier, wasn’t she supposed to be the brave one? Must not be very brave if she got spooked by an animal and a stupid hole.

"Hey, uh, Sweetie," Apple Bloom cautiously spoke up, stifling a yawn with her hoof. "Y'all mind if I take a bit of a snooze too? Ah'm not feeling' all that well, truth be told."

"Oh, of course!" Sweetie replied, flashing a fake smile. "If anyone deserves a nap here it's definitely you."

Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow. "Y'all are being' a bit harsh on Scoots, don't ya think? And sure it might not've been the brightest idea comin' down here after me, but what's done is done. Not much getting' angry will do about it."

Sweetie felt flabbergasted, Apple Bloom was siding with Scootaloo after everything she'd done. She did have a point though, getting angry wasn't really accomplishing anything. "Alright, I'll try," Sweetie meekly responded.

Apple Bloom grinned. "Thanks Sweetie, knew Ah could count on you," she said, before collapsing back into the wagon, letting out a hoarse cough.

Sweetie watched her two friends drift off to sleep for a while. Apple Bloom looked a little paler than she had earlier, but that was probably just because of her injury. A quick glance at the twilight-coated sky told her that night would be falling soon. It'd been, what, noon when they'd first gotten stuck down here? That meant the probably should've been back in Ponyville four hours ago. It was probably still too early to expect anypony to come looking for them, though she had secretly been hoping they would. The faster they got out of here, the better. She'd done her best with Apple Bloom's leg, but it definitely wasn't enough, and Sweetie had a sinking feeling that her friend might never walk the same if it healed in its current condition.

A sudden snore from Apple Bloom interrupted Sweetie's train of thought, and she restrained a small giggle. She really should probably try and get some rest like them, but she just didn't feel tired at all. Instead she decided to explore her surroundings more thoroughly.

In particular she focused her attention on the second, smaller passage. The one Scootaloo had neglected to go into, and the one the noise had come from. If an animal was trapped in there, wasn't it possible there was an exit down there? Maybe it had wandered in after hurting itself. It certainly didn't make any sense for something to have gone down using the entrance on their side. With another glance towards the two sleeping fillies, she decided to explore it while they slept. It's not like anything dangerous was actually living down here, they'd be perfectly safe for twenty minutes or so.

Picking up the flashlight Scootaloo had discarded earlier, she meandered over to the hole. Now that she was up close and personal, she could see what Scootaloo had meant: It DID seem a bit strange that it would be so perfectly circular, even for something pony-made. The shape seemed distinctly unnatural to her. The bumps were all at equal, perfect intervals. There's no way that was a natural occurring cave pattern, and she couldn't come up with a good reason for why a pony would dig in that way.

Tentatively putting one hoof in, she tested the floor. It was smooth, much smoother than the floor she had just been standing on. It also felt moist to the touch. Stepping her whole body in, she could feel a warm air current moving over the surface of her coat. Sweetie grinned, suddenly filled with confidence, air movement DEFINITELY was a good sign. After all, why would air be moving out of this opening if it didn't directly lead outside?

Sweetie immediately trotted further down. The constant angle of the passage made it easy to explore. A hundred hoofsteps down and she could no longer hear the tweeting of birds from outside, and it felt unnaturally dark. Even more surprising was the lack of any change in the scenery. Every three hoofsteps she would pass over one of the ridges.

After a few minutes Sweetie began to feel somewhat nervous. Exactly how long did this tunnel go on? She tried scrambling her head for a map of the areas surrounding Ponyville, and whether or not their camping spot had been near any cliffs. If the exit was going to be on a cliff face, she'd need to make sure she didn't approach it too quickly.

Sweetie’s thoughts were interrupted by a sound. A rumble echoed through the passage she was currently standing in, and with it came a blast of air. She froze, and focused the flashlight down the centerline of the passage, looking for any signs of movement. She hadn't counted on encountering the animal they had heard earlier.

She was considering turning back when the air in the passage went still. It was like an unseen exit had been suddenly been blocked. A scraping noise rang out through the narrow space ahead of her. It couldn't have been more than 500 feet away, yet the flashlight didn't penetrate far enough for her to see exactly what was causing it.

Sweetie Belle felt an overwhelming sense of panic at the noise. Something was very wrong. No animal should be able to make that noise, or at least no animal she was familiar with. She moved much faster than she should've been able to in such a cramped space, much faster than she had ever moved in her life. Her only thought was to get out of the passage as quickly as possible. Whimpering from fear, she tried to listen to the noise she had heard, but it had gone silent. She could feel the silence pounding in her head as she ran. The passage was much harder to run up, and she found herself slipping on the ridges. After only a minute, she was approaching exhaustion, and her respiration had gone through the roof when she finally spotted the bright light marking the end of the passage.

Bursting through the exit, she collapsed in a heap on the floor, gasping for air.


Scootaloo jolted awake at the sounds of Sweetie hitting the floor. “Sweetie, are you okay, why are yo-," Scootaloo began to say, but quickly stopped when she saw the look on Sweeties face. She was gesturing rapidly for Scootaloo to be quiet.

Straining her ears, Scootaloo caught an odd sound. It was like something scraping against the surface of a rock. "Hey, is that the animal?"

Upon hearing the sound, Sweetie bolted across the room towards her, allowing Scootaloo a full view of her friend. She was soaked in sweat, and covered in small cuts.

"It's not an animal, I don't know what it is, but we need to leave NOW!"

"C'mon Sweetie, I know I was spooked earlier but really it's probably just an animal."

"It's NOT an animal," Sweetie shouted back.

"Alright, well it’s not exactly like we can just waltz out the exit. We already tried that earlier."

Sweetie motioned her head towards the passage Scootaloo had explored earlier. "We go that way then, I'll grab Apple Bloom."

Grabbing the wagon handle, she began dragging it over the bumpy surface of the cave floor, jolting Apple Bloom awake.

"Hey what's the big idea, Sweetie? Can't Ah-"

"SHHH!" Scootaloo and Sweetie responded, cutting her off.

While Sweetie explained the situation to Apple Bloom, Scootaloo eyes locked onto the entrance Sweetie had just come out of. What she was saying sounded a little ridiculous. Sure, Scootaloo had been afraid of maybe being stuck down here with a wolf or something, but what Sweetie was describing was more like a boogeyman. Picking up the flashlight Sweetie had dropped, she slowly approached the entrance.

She paused briefly at that bizarre noise again. It sounded like something hard was rubbing up against the wall, scraping it.

"H-hello, is somepony down there?" She whispered into the hole.

She wasn't certain, but she could've sworn she saw a shape moving out of the darkness towards her.

"G-girls, I think something is in there."

"Help me move Apple Bloom, the wagon’s stuck!"

Throwing both of their weights against the wagon, they quickly pushed the wagon down the larger passage.

"C'mon girls, so Sweetie got a bit spooked by a noise, Ah'm sure if we head back we're just going to find an animal that's just a scared as we are. Really, y'all are makin' a bigger fuss out of this-." Color drained from Apple Bloom's face when an unearthly scream echoed out of the room they had just left.

"Ya know, on second thought, maybe this it isn't just an animal."

"YA THINK SO?" Scootaloo panted out.

They ran for a few excruciating moments in silence, the only noise the sound of the panting fillies. The sounds coming from behind them had thankfully stopped. In under a minute they had reached the edge of where Scootaloo had quit exploring earlier.

"Is it still following us?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Do you really want to hang around and find out? C'mon, there's a room on the other side of this passage, it's gonna be a bit of a squeeze though.

"Ah think the wagon will fit if ah just lay flat, can you two push me?" Apple Bloom said, while curling her body up.

Scootaloo responded by pushing her head against the edge of the wagon, it easily slipped through after a couple seconds of straining.

"Ok you next Sweetie."

Sweetie lay prone on the floor, and started pushing herself forward with her hooves like she was swimming.

Scootaloo watched Sweeties legs slowly disappear, before she abruptly stopped.

"My... My HORN IS STUCK!" she practically shrieked.

"SWEETIE, TURN YOUR HEAD SIDEWAYS!" Scootaloo yelled back.

Scootaloo watched as Sweeties legs quickly disappeared. It was her turn now. Sucking in her breath so that her body was small as possible, she quickly wormed her way through the narrow opening. Even though it was a bit of a squeeze, it wasn't nearly as bad as Scootaloo had been expecting.

"Scoots, can you turn the flashlight back on? We can't see anything."

Scootaloo silently cursed. "I-I think I left it behind. Sweetie can you make us a light?"

Scootaloo heard a grunting noise as Sweetie illuminated the room they were in. It was fairly expansive, she couldn't see the other side from where they were standing. The ceiling was still relatively short though, it would've been cramped for an adult pony. More noticeable though, was how the walls were covered in openings.

"What the buck?" Scootaloo wondered aloud, staring at the wall.

"This... this isn't normal for a cave, is it?" Sweetie whispered, turning towards Apple Bloom.

"Why are ya'll asking me? It's not like Ah'm a cave expert or somethin'."

"So what... do we just like, pick one?" Sweetie responded.

"Hold up, let's look around for a bit, maybe one of them goes up?"

The group walked over to the closest opening, Scootaloo pulled the wagon. Her heart sank a little when they approached it, it was a perfect replica of the smaller passage from the room they had first been trapped in.

"Oh you've got to be kidding me." Sweetie groaned, burying her head in her hooves. "There are MORE of these things?"

"Let's just check the others real quick, girls." Apple Bloom suggested.

A few minutes later, they had done a complete circle around the room. Almost all of the exits were carbon copies of the first one. Well, all except two. One appeared to have caved-in, the other passage, located in the middle of the room, lead straight forward.

"So, which is it?" Scootaloo asked.

"Definitely, the one that doesn't go down, right?" Sweetie nervously responded. Scootaloo had noticed she had stayed a healthy distance away from all of them while they had investigated. It was clear she didn't want to have a repeat experience of earlier.

Apple Bloom frowned, she tried sitting up but grunted and lay back down. "Guess it's our only real option, huh?"

"Let's get going then." Scootaloo said, grabbing the wagon handle with her mouth.

The new passage looked disturbingly similar to the one the one they had escaped through earlier. A few minutes later they emerged into yet another circular room.

"Anypony else getting a feeling of déjà vu?" Sweetie asked.

"Dayja what now?" Scootaloo responded.

"Sweetie means like, when you get the feeling you're experiencing' something that's already happened."

"I can see why she'd say that. What's up with this place? This is beyond creepy."

"Ah'm starting to think this place ain't exactly natural."

"What tipped you off, Captain Obvious? The monster chasing after us, or all the freaky replica tunnels?"

"Scootaloo, don't be a jerk!" Sweetie interjected.

Scootaloo was tempted to keep arguing, but stopped herself. "You're right, sorry, Apple Bloom. I don't know what came over me. Guess this place is just starting to get to me."

"It's alright, Scoots, Ah know you didn't mean it in a bad way, it was sort of a dumb statement."

"So, um, what do we do now?" Sweetie questioned.

Apple Bloom shook her head. "Same thing as before, I s'pose. Unless ya'll got any burning' desire to go down one of these here tunnels."

"I'm good."

"Me too."

They patrolled the perimeter of this room, just like the last one. It was exactly the same, except much larger. The room before they had been able to complete a full circuit around in just a couple of minutes. In this one, they still hadn't even reached the far wall.

She noticed that this time, there were multiple straight passages that didn't go down. After a while Scootaloo felt completely lost.

Scootaloo started to get bored. Sure, she was still scared out of her wits, but she was also exhausted from the earlier escape. At this point she and Sweetie were covered in bruises and scrapes. Apple Bloom had managed to escape that, but she still had her broken leg, so she was probably even worse off. There was something else too though, something she hadn't thought of until now.

"Hey, uh... Do you think we could take a break to eat and drink? I just realized how thirsty I am"

Sweetie Belle bit her lip nervously. "Scoots, I'm sorry but we're all out of water..."

"Wait a sec, do y'all hear that?"

"Hear wh-" Scootaloo began, before Sweetie shushed her.

They all went silent for a few moments, Scootaloo straining her ears. She felt a creeping sense of dread overcame her. If this was that... thing again, she wasn't sure she'd have to energy to escape it again.

"I don't hear anything, do we need to leave?" she hissed.

"Is that what I think it is?" Sweetie responded. To Scootaloo's surprise she noticed Sweetie was broadly grinning.

"Eeyup, Ah think it is!"

Laughing giddily, Sweetie ran away from the group. Scootaloo watched as the light surrounding them disappeared, leaving her and Apple Bloom bathed in darkness.

"We should follow her, Scoots. Trust me, you're gonna like this," she heard Apple Bloom say through the darkness.

"Yeah, yeah. Think I'd like it a lot more excited if I wasn't surrounded by a bunch of loonies." She said, though kept that last bit under her breath.

They slowly approached Sweeties light. It was a bit surreal, seeing it so far away. She would've found it rather creepy if she hadn't known Sweetie was the one making it.

As they got closer Scootaloo could clearly make out the form of, Sweetie rolling around in something. There was also a familiar noise, it almost sounded like...

"Is that... is that water?" Scootaloo exclaimed incredulously.

A few steps later and she could clearly see Sweetie rolling in a small, gurgling stream. The source came from a small crack in one of the large walls of the tunnel, and it went down one of the many tunnels littering the walls. It was small, maybe the smallest "stream" she'd ever seen, but it still filled her with renewed hope. Water meant a MUCH longer survival time in this place, and moving water was probably okay to drink.

Even if it had been stagnant, she wasn't sure she would've been able to stop herself from greedily gulping down large quantities. She pressed her mouth directly against the source and drank deeply.

"What gives, Scootaloo! I was enjoying that."

"Sorry, sorry." Scootaloo mumbled back, wiping a dribble of water off her face.

All three of the fillies were absolutely beaming. Scootaloo hadn't felt this happy since, well, since before all of this had happened.

"Ya know, Ah think this stream is good for more than just drinking out of," said Apple Bloom. "Stream's gotta go somewhere, maybe it leads on out of this cave," she said, making a point of nodding down the passage.

Scootaloo saw Sweetie shiver and say, "I'd really rather not, Apple Bloom... I don't trust these tunnels, not after what happened to me back there. I can't even imagine going down and being trapped with that thing again."

Apple Bloom shook her head and gave a reassuring smile. "We'll all go down together this time, how's that sound?" She sheepishly grinned, "At least as long as ya'll don't mind dragging me along for the rid-." Her sentence ended in an abrupt fit of coughing.

“‘Scuse me,” Apple Bloom sputtered.

Sweetie looked alarmed, and rushed to Apple Bloom’s side. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, Ah’m fine, just been developing’ a bit of a cough,” she replied, weakly smiling.

“You’re covered in sweat...”

“Ah said, Ah’m fine, just a little warm in here is all,” Apple Bloom snapped back.

Scootaloo thought the cave was rather chilly this far in, but didn’t think pressing the point would make things any better.

She also felt hesitant about the idea. 'Bloom did have a point, the water seemed suspicious. On one hand it could just be pooling in a large underwater lake or maybe exiting through a crack so small they couldn't fit through. At the same time it looked more promising than any of the other passages they'd found, if only because it was different.

"I say we do it," Scootaloo spoke up. "Maybe it doesn't go anywhere, but maybe it does? It's not a better or worse option than any of these other holes," -she gestured to the rest of the room-"and at the very least, it'll keep us close to a supply of water."

Sweetie nodded. "Right, I guess the limiting factor down here really is water. We could go without food for a while, but without water..." her voice trailed off as she realized exactly what she was suggesting. Coughing slightly, she awkwardly shuffled her feet. "Sorry girls, I didn't mean to be so grim."

Scootaloo suddenly felt very cold. Sweetie had just said what had been on the back of her mind ever since they first got here. At first it just seemed like a silly thought, but considering their present situation, there survival didn't seem like it was guaranteed anymore.

She fluttered her wings nervously, it was probably best not to think about that.

"So are we all in agreement?" Apple Bloom asked.

Scootaloo and Sweetie nodded their heads in agreement and the three fillies proceeded to make their way down the passage. Scootaloo couldn't help but note that it felt like they were walking through a giant mouth, swallowing them up from the rest of the world.


For the first time since getting into the cave, Sweetie was bored. Progress was slow, mainly because of Apple Bloom. The wagons wheels kept getting caught on the weird ridges on the surface of the tunnel and they had to slow down a lot to stop her from being thrown out. She winced at the thought of Apple Bloom landing on her broken leg.

Still, she estimated they'd be going for around twenty minutes at this point, and nothing had changed. It was like they were going down a never-ending corridor with constant scenery. She still found herself constantly looking behind her back too. She told herself it was just to make sure her friends were still following, but part of her wanted to make sure nothing was following them too.

She'd also smelled a faint odor the further they went down. It was hard to tell if it was from the cave or from themselves though. They were both filthy, completely covered in dirt. More than that, she was getting very tired. Her horn ached from constantly maintaining the light spell she'd cast many hours ago, and her hooves were sore from walking so much.

She glanced back at Apple Bloom, and saw her grit her teeth as the wagon passed over yet another ridge. She couldn't complain when Apple Bloom had it so much worse than her. And it wasn't like Scootaloo had it any better.

She was about to ask them if they wanted to take a break, when something changed in the passage up ahead.

"Hold up," she said, coming to a full-stop. She immediately regretted it as the wagon Scootaloo had been pushing hit her rump, causing her to slide forward slightly.

"Why'd we stop?" Apple Bloom croaked.

"There's something up ahead, I can't really make it out," Sweetie hissed back.

"Is it an exit?" Scootaloo yelled from the back of their train.

Sweetie made a loud shushing noise. Peeling her eyes, she tried to make out what it was. From where she was standing, it just looked like a black smudge on the wall.

"Stay back, I'm going to take a closer look."

Cautiously, she shuffled forward a few feet. The smudge on the wall turned into what was obviously an opening.

"Girls there's an opening over here!" She excitedly shouted back to the others.

Moving quickly, she rushed forward into the opening.

"Sweetie, wait!" She heard Apple Bloom call after her.

Nothing. There was nothing. It was just a stupid little room that had probably formed when one of the walls of the tunnel had collapsed. Dejectedly, she slumped herself against the wall.

"Sweetie, are you okay?" Scootaloo had rushed into room after her, presumably after she had heard Apple Bloom's warning.

"I was so excited there for a second, Scoots. I thought this was our ticket out of this place, but it's not." She slammed a hoof down onto the ground. "It's just a stupid little room, there's nothing in here that we can use."

"That's not true Sweetie. Maybe there's still something at the bottom? And, at least we still have water."

Sweetie sniffled, "I guess you're right, Scoots. Thanks."

"HELP!" a hoarse voice rang out from the passage.

"Oh shoot, Apple Bloom!" Scootaloo cursed, and swiftly ran out.

Sweetie cautiously poked her head out of the alcove, bathing the passageway in magic-light again. Scootaloo was pulling the wagon back up the passage with a sheepish grin on her face.

"Sorry about that 'Bloom. Sort of forgot about you in the heat of the moment."

"Yeah yeah, it's fine. Just didn't really want to speed all the way down to the bottom on mah own, ya know?"

Sweetie giggled. "Well, I'm totally pooped. What say you we take a rest here?"

Apple Bloom nodded in agreement. "This is a good spot, it's sheltered, so things can only get in through the front. I'd rather take a rest here, than back up in those wide-open rooms."

Sweetie shuddered slightly at the thought of something sneaking up on them while they were sleeping. In retrospect, it made the nap they had taken earlier seem a lot more risky.

Sweetie rubbed at her eyes, she wasn't sure how long she'd been awake at this point. Much longer than she normally went in-between sleeping, that's for sure.

Sweetie and Scootaloo curled up around the wagon Apple Bloom was in, and slowly drifted to sleep.


Scootaloo woke up in darkness. She wasn't sure how long she'd been asleep. She’d woken up a few times to Apple Bloom coughing, but had managed to go back to sleep. Heck, down here she wasn't even sure if it was a new day or not. She immediately noticed that her mouth felt incredibly dry.

"Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, are you awake?" she whispered into the darkness.

No response, great, she thought grumpily to herself. Getting a drink in the dark was going to suck. She found herself silently wishing she hadn't forgotten their flashlight.

Placing a hoof against the wall, she carefully traced a line around the perimeter of the alcove they were in until she reached the entrance. It was a little unnerving, stepping out into the pitch black passage unguided. The darkness was disorienting, and she kept a hoof against the entrance just in case she lost track of where she'd come from.

Reaching her other hoof out, she groped along the floor, looking for the small trickle of water they'd seen earlier. She was rewarded with a small splash. Eagerly, she stuck her head down towards the floor and quickly began lapping up water. She hadn't realized just how thirsty she was until now.

Cutting out of the darkness she heard Sweetie timidly ask, "Scootaloo, is that you?"

Scootaloo thought about not responding as a prank, but considering their current situation it wouldn't have been very funny. "Yeah Sweetie, sorry, did I wake you up? I was thirsty."

"No, it's alright," Sweetie responded.

A few moments later the alcove was bathed in light from her horn.

"Should we wake Apple Bloom up?" Scootaloo hesitantly whispered.

"No, let her sleep. She's had it rougher than either of us, anyways. I’m pretty sure she’s gotten a cold or something, even if she doesn’t want to admit it," Sweetie chided.

"Ok, um, well. Actually this is really embarrassing but, I need to use the little fillies’ room. Where should I..."

Sweetie stared. "Right. Just do it in the water, that's where me and Apple Bloom went yesterday."

Scootaloo felt surprised. "When did that happen? Pretty sure I was with you two the entire time."

Even through the magical-lighting, Scootaloo could see Sweeties face flush slightly. "She woke me up while you were still sleeping and asked me to help her."

A few moments later, a much relieved Scootaloo re-entered the alcove. "So, how about some food?" She said, casting a hopeful look at the wagon.

Sweetie got up and rummaged through their pile of supplies. Shaking her head, she walked back over to the entrance. "We've got a couple bags of chips left, nothing substantial that's for sure. I think it'd be better if we waited to eat."

Scootaloo's stomach growled, and she clutched at it. She'd gone without eating before, but never for this long. "Alright," she responded, slightly downtrodden.

"What do you think we should do now, then?"

Sweetie’s brow furrowed. "That's a good question. We could keep going down, which was our original purpose in coming down here, but I'm not so sure anymore." She started pacing around the small room, a hoof under her chin. "I'm starting to think heading back to the entrance is our best bet. Who knows how far down this thing goes.

Scootaloo nodded. "I agree, coming down this way was a bad idea. We've gone down way too far for there to be any sort of exit at the end of this."

Despite agreeing with her, she noticed that Scootaloo still seemed hesitant. "You don't look totally convinced, Scoots."

Scootaloo let out a sigh. "That's because I'm not. Getting that wagon down here was hard enough, getting it back up is going to be a real nightmare."

"We could take turns pushing it," Sweetie offered.

"It's not just the climb back up. We were lost yesterday Sweetie. I know we didn't admit it at the time, but I couldn't tell you which one of those passages we came in through. I don't think we'll be able to find our way back in one go. I wish one of us could go and scout out where exactly the entrance is so we don't have to spend forever dragging that wagon around."

"I don't know, Scoots, I don't like the idea of splitting up. If something happens, we won't have any way of knowing..."

"The more time we spend up there, the more time we're exposing ourselves to encountering that thing again. Plus, Apple Bloom's not up yet, you could explore while she's still asleep."


"Well, yeah. You're the only one of us who can make light."

"Now that you mention it, I actually know a spell that can make something glow for a while," Sweetie whispered, picking a loose rock off the floor.

"So you think I should go?"

"You're more athletic than me, Scoots, we both know that. You'd be able to get in and out faster."

Scootaloo watched as the rock took on the same color as Sweeties magic, and then a second later started glowing an eerie green.

"I don't know how long it'll last, especially since I've been using my magic almost constantly since we got down here. It'll start flickering when it's about to go out, make sure you're back before then, I don't even want to think about being stuck out there with no light."

"Alright, see you soon." Scootaloo prayed that wasn't a lie.

Grabbing the chunk of rock, Scootaloo headed out of their make-shift shelter and back up the slope they had run down the other day. It was surprisingly steep, more so than she remembered it being.

It felt like she'd been walking for hours by the time she finally reached the top. She'd tried counting her breaths as a way of measuring time, but lost track somewhere in the low hundreds. The stone was still glowing at full strength, so it couldn't have been for too long.

At long last, she stood at the entrance to the maze. Or at least that's what it had felt like before. A trick she'd learned for solving mazes was to always stick to one side. That way she would eventually find her way back to the beginning. It would also make it easy to find the way back to their shelter later. It wouldn't perfectly work in this situation, since so many of the holes were replicas of the one her friends were currently staying in. She was lucky that this one was distinct because of the water flowing down it, even if it was totally dark she'd be able to at least hear it. Otherwise it would've been almost impossible.

They'd only needed to go through two passages to get to this room, so if she didn't arrive back at the beginning after two hallways she'd just turn around and head back to the start.

Scootaloo headed through one of the straight passages that seemed like it was around the place where they had entered. While walking, she noticed a few strange things. Some of the openings were much larger than anything she remembered seeing the last time they had come through here. They hadn't seen the whole room though, so it was possible they'd just missed these bits.

Exiting the first passage, she was dumped into a large room. The immediate difference between this one and the last were large rock-pillars that littered the area. They were made out of roughly the same material as the floor, and connected from there up to the ceiling. It almost looked as if they had been chiseled out. She couldn't tell how they would've formed naturally, but it seemed ridiculous that they would be pony-made.

"Well, this is obviously wrong, assuming these didn't spring up overnight."

Turning back around, she went directly back through the passage she'd just been in. Coming back into the large room, she started wandering around the perimeter, looking for another passageway that didn't go straight down. It was unbelievable how many holes there actually were in here. She was starting to think they had barely seen any of the room when they had been in here yesterday.

At last she found another one. She wandered in, feeling slightly more hopeful this time. It was possible she just overshot the right one when she'd picked one at the beginning, and that this would the one that would take them back to the entrance.

The passageway took her into a room that was much different from either the big-room, or even the room with the rock-pillars. Instead, this one was shaped like, well... the closest thing that came to her mind was a donut. It was like a smaller circle had been stuck into a bigger circle, and she was in the space between the two. It didn't really matter though, it wasn't the right room, AGAIN.

"Stupid stupid STUPID," Scootaloo yelled out in frustration, kicking the wall.

She panted momentarily from the exertion, before sitting her haunches down onto the ground. She might as well explore the room while she was here. Plus, she just felt curious about the donut-room. She made it to the other side of the room when a strange sensation caused her to stop. She could've sworn that it felt like something had just moved over her back almost like a... breeze.

She couldn't place it exactly, but this air felt, well, fresh. The other air currents held felt sort of stale. It was just a feeling though, definitely worth exploring further though. She looked around her immediate surroundings for where the wind could be coming from, and spotted a small crevice, parallel to the ground.

Approaching the crevice, she pushed the stone in slightly to try and gauge how far it went. It looked to be about five feet before it opened up some. Carefully retrieving the stone with her mouth, she placed it outside of the crevice and prepared to try and squeeze her way in. It was going to be a tight fit, that was for sure.

Lying down, she wiggled into the hole slightly before looking back to see how far she'd made it in. She found herself surprised at how dimly the stone was glowing now, hadn't it been brighter just a minute ago?

Feeling a panic come on, she silently cursed herself. How could he have been so dumb as to forget there was a TIME LIMIT attached to this thing. She'd gotten over eager with exploring.

Struggling to get out of the hole, she ran to pick up the stone again. Sprinting back the way she came, the stone held a steady flicker. She still had some time until it went out, but she knew she could make it. She just had to get back to the big-room and find the water, then it didn't matter if the light went out. She'd be there, safe again with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. She just had to keep running, she just had to stay determined.

The light went out.

Scootaloo stopped dead in her tracks and shook the stone in frustration.

"Work, work PLEASE work."

It sparked slightly and then went out again.

Huffing in frustration, she threw it at the wall. It made a distinct clunking noise and sparked every time it bounced off of the ground, causing her to wince. She was somewhere in the hall outside the big-room.

Her breathing rapidly increased, and she found herself clutching at the walls like a safety blanket. The muscles in her wings clenched and unclenched randomly and she found herself sweating profusely. The darkness was suffocating, and she had dizzying sensations of being upside-down for a few moments.

She tried relaxing her muscle to no avail. She just needed to calm down, there wasn't anything near her. The thing they'd encountered was far away, and she was safe. Very blind, but safe. She just needed to follow the wall like she had thought to do earlier. Follow the wall and she'd reach her friends. Follow the wall back to safety.

Going was slow now that she was blind. She kept a wing tip against the wall to her right, and walked slowly. Even though there weren't really very many obstacles littering the ground, she still didn't want to trip. If she got disorientated for even a second, she might start following the wrong wall, and that would be very bad.

It was impossible to tell the scale of her surroundings. Everything felt the same, and time moved impossible slowly. The only thing that let her know she was making any progress at all was the texture of the wall changing against her wingtip.

After an eternity, the wall against her wing finally vanished. Initially startled, she quickly recovered when she realized this meant she was in the big-room. Turning her head uselessly in the dark, she tried to decide which way to go. The room was MASSIVE, if she picked the wrong wall to follow it could take her, well, she didn't know how long, but a long time to get back. And the less time she spent out in the open, the better. She didn't even know if that thing could get into this place, but she didn't want to take that risk.

Before she left though, she'd need to mark this spot. She'd want to come back later to investigate that crevice. Flailing her hooves along the ground, she searched for a rock. After a few moments she found a suitably large one and dragged it over to the entrance. Placing it in the middle, she hoped she'd be able to find it again later.

Picking randomly, she decided on right. Sticking her wing against the wall once again, she slowly set off again. After a hundred feet or so, the wall against her wing disappeared. She eagerly listened for the sound of water, but was immediately disappointed. It was silly for her to expect to find the right one so quickly, considering how many she had passed to get here in the first place.

This happened several times, every time that sensation disappeared she felt a tinge of excitement. Eventually, she heard the tell-tale sound of a trickle of water.

Rushing forward, she happily splashed it with her hooves before calming herself. She groped the wall, looking for the opening that would lead her back down to her friends. She felt the wall vanish in front of her hooves, and grinned broadly. She was very annoyed when a rush of wind pushed her away from the entrance. She couldn't help but wonder what would even cause that to happen.

Shrugging it off, she found the entrance she descended once again, this time with hope in her heart. She hadn't found the place they had first fallen into, but a potential exit was worth checking out. She'd get another stone from Sweetie, or better yet, just get both her friends to come with her back there. Her heart fluttered with excitement, and she barely even paid attention to how far she'd gone down. Sweetie would have her light on after all, wouldn't she?

After a while, her adrenaline high was starting to wear off, and she was starting to think in her excitement she may have overshot their hidey-hole. Right before she was going to turn around, she heard a sniffling in the darkness.

"Sweetie?" she whispered into the darkness.

"Scootaloo?!" a shocked voice rung back. A second later, warm unicorn light lit up the passage.

"Jeez Sweetie! I was starting to think I'd missed our spot." Sheepishly pawing the ground she said, "The light on the stone you gave me went out. I made it back okay, well, I guess that's obvious since I'm here. BUT SWEETIE! You won't believe it, I didn't find the entrance, but I found something even better."

Throwing her hooves into the air, "I think I might've found a way out! I'll have to go back to make sure, but it seemed REALLY promising," she exclaimed.

Pausing after her outburst, Scootaloo finally took the time to look at Sweetie. Her friend was covered in sweat, and had an unsettled look on her face.

"Sweetie, what's wrong? You don't look so good."

"Well, Scootaloo, it's just that that's amazing but..." she whispered.” But, that thing. It was just here, didn't you see it? It couldn't have left more than 15 minutes ago. "

"WHAT?!" Scootaloo shouted. "But I didn't see anything."

Sweetie looked perplexed. "I don't know how you would've missed it. I heard it just a little while ago, making that awful noise. I was so scared, Scootaloo. I cut my magic and held my breath, and it went right by. I'm glad you're okay though, I was starting to get worried when you were gone for so long. You said the light went out? "

"Yeah... I got a little overeager with exploring I guess. Whatever, it turned out alright, right?" Scootaloo replied. She still felt unsettled though, was that what the gust of wind had been? That thing emerging from the opening?

"Well that explains why you didn't see it."

"Is 'Bloom still not up?"

Sweetie gave Apple Bloom a concerned glance. "I'm afraid not. I'm actually starting to worry she might be sick, I checked her forehead earlier and she's really hot."

Scootaloo put a hoof up to Apple Bloom's face and sure enough she was burning up.

"She's sick? But… how? Wouldn't she have had to have gotten it from one of us?" Scootaloo sputtered.

Sweetie Belle frowned. "Not necessarily, sometimes it takes a few days for symptoms to start manifesting. I'm actually more worried her leg is infected." She walked over and gave Apple Bloom's leg a delicate sniff before making a face.

Scootaloo didn't really understand what Sweetie meant by the first part, but she did know that infections were bad news. She'd gotten an infected cut before, and had to go to the doctor to get medicine to treat it.

"What can we do?"

Sweetie shrugged. "Not much, there isn't anything in the first-aid kit for stuff like this, and even if there was I don't know if I could identify it. I guess we just have to find a way out, or hope for help to come.

Scootaloo's heart fell. Hope for help to come. It was almost laughable, they both knew that was almost impossible at this point. Even if the adults somehow discovered their campsite outside, there was no way for them to know the Crusaders were currently at the bottom of a cave that might not have even been discovered yet.

"I want to go out and find that spot again. I really did have a good feeling about it, Sweetie, I think it might be our ticket out of this place."

"Alright, tell me more about this supposed exit, what makes you think it's a way out?"

"Air, Sweetie. There was a breeze coming out of it!"

Sweetie shook her head. "Don't you remember? There was a breeze coming out of that first hole too, and that one certainly didn't go anywhere. Anywhere good at least."

"Yeah, well, this one had FRESH AIR! I could practically taste freedom."

Sweetie looked unconvinced. "I'm still don't know, Scoots. What if... what if you run into that thing? It's out there, somewhere. I don't want to have to do this alone."

Scootaloo's heart went out to Sweetie. "I understand, but I've gotta do this. For you and 'Bloom. How else are we gonna get out of here? Just sitting in this damn hole isn't going to get anything done. You've gotta make sure 'Bloom's okay, so it's gotta be me."

Sweetie sniffled. "Alright, I can make a new stone for you, but not right now." She rubbed at her horn gently. "My horn's been acting up, I think I've been using it too much keeping this place lit up, and that spell took it out of me earlier. Gimme a couple hours to recharge."

"Sounds good to me, I was going to rest for a bit anyways."

"Say Scoots, you don't happen to know what's at the other end of this passage?" Sweetie nodded towards further down the tunnel. "We haven't really tried exploring that way, what do you think is down there?"

Scootaloo scrunched up her face. She hadn't actually thought about going that way, since freedom was almost certainly in the opposite direction. It was a good point though.

"Didn't you go down one of these passages when we first got here? What did you see then?"

Sweetie shook her head. "It was just like this one, but I didn't actually reach the end. This one's a bit different though. There was a breeze going up the last one like I said, it made me think it lead outside." Sweetie lay down. "I don't think any of them lead out, the ones that go down at least," she quickly added, "And I don't think they're natural either. They feel almost organic to me, or fabricated."

Scootaloo lay down too, and let out a heavy sigh. "I know what you mean, I saw a room full of pillars while I was out exploring. They looked, well, pony-made. There's no way that sort of thing forms on its own. This whole place feels unnatural."

When Sweetie didn't answer, Scootaloo lay down her head, and tried to sleep.

"So... what do you think it is?"

Scootaloo looked up, startled out of her dozing. Sweetie had let the room go dark hours ago, and neither of them had said anything for a while, content to lay in the darkness.


"I said, what do you think it is, the thing that's out there."

Scootaloo was quiet for a moment before answering. "I don't know Sweetie, does it really matter?" She didn't want to have to think about that thing any more than she had to.

"Well... I was just thinking, you passed right by it, and it didn't try to hurt you, right? Maybe it's not bad."

"Why did it chase us then, Sweetie? Why did it chase YOU?" Scootaloo felt her face heating up.

"It was just a thought, Scootaloo." Sweetie said quietly.

"Sorry, I just. I just really want us to get out of here okay, you know?"


They both fell silent for a while. The silence was interrupted by Scootaloo's stomach rumbling.

"Sorry, guess I'm pretty hungry. We haven't eaten in a while." She said, massaging her stomach. "I think I could eat an entire pie right now."

"Me too. I'd give just about anything to be back in Ponyville right now, at Sugar Cube Corner eating a whole pound of cupcakes."

Scootaloo laughed. "A pound of cupcakes, huh? Just imagine what Rarity would say."

"Haha, yeah... Imagine would Rarity would say" Sweetie weakly replied.

"Sorry, Sweetie, I didn't mean to-"

Sweetie cut her off. "It's fine, I mean, I'll get to see her again soon, right? We're going to find a way out of here, thanks to you."

Scootaloo felt her cheeks burn slightly. "T-thanks, Sweetie."

"Well, I think I'm ready to try that spell again, if you're ready to go again."

Standing up, Scootaloo stretched her wings. "Alright, I'm ready."

"I'll try and make it last a little longer this time, do you think you can make it back in time?"

Scootaloo nodded confidently, "I marked the spot. If I can find it on the first try, I should have time to spare."

Sweetie lowered her head, her horn lighting up. The process was the same as before, and left a glowing green stone.

Picking it up, Scootaloo sputtered, "Take care of Apple Bloom, yea?"

"Will do."

With that, Scootaloo trotted out of the hole and began the familiar climb back up into the now familiar big-room.

The way there was mainly uneventful. Scootaloo had to fiddle around a little in order to find where she'd placed her marker, but it hadn't been too bad. With that, she found herself once again next to their way out.

Scootaloo shoved her nose into the crack and inhaled deeply. The air coming through the crack was definitely less stale than the air in the cave.

The opening itself couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 inches at the widest. But there was definitely something past it, and she had to try. Apple Bloom and Sweetie were depending on her! Still though, the prospect of squeezing through such a narrow space filled her with anxiety. What if something got behind her while she was going through?

Looking down at the stone Sweetie had given her, she made her decision. With a decisive toss, she slid the stone under the low wall to the other side. The stone caused the small opening to produce an ethereal glow. At least she'd be able to see now.

"There, now I'll HAVE to do it," she whispered aloud.

She trotted in place, and gave a few quick breaths before thrusting her body into the crevice in an awkward half-crawl half-jump maneuver. This way she'd clear the whole thing in one go!

Her momentum was halted almost immediately. She struggled violently, trying to worm further into the narrow opening. As she struggled, she felt sharp rocks littering the floor and wall bite into her skin. After a few moments, she gave up, and lay still panting. This wasn't working, she needed to back out an-

She couldn't move.

Pushing backwards with her hooves and squirming, she still couldn't move. She felt her breathing and heart rate increase as she started squirming even harder. The rocks cut deeper into her skin and she felt something warm smear against her coat.

Stopping, she tried focusing on calming down. If she could just repeat the motions she made to get in backwards, she'd be able to get out, right? Relaxing her body, she tried scooting backwards again. Still nothing.

She awkwardly pushed the rock aside with her chest, and focused on reaching the light. It was only seven feet ahead of her, she was so close. Grunting, she began moving forward again, this time slowly. She kept her head tilted, and gently eased herself forward trying to avoid small rocks on the floor. At the three foot mark, she hit the lowest point in the passage. The ceiling was scraping painfully against her wings, and even the walls had tightened in slightly. No matter how hard she tried she couldn't squeeze through it.

Her efforts left her exhausted, and she lay panting and sweating in the confining space. It was a long shot, but if she held her breath there was a CHANCE she might be able to make it through the squeeze.

Steadying her breathing, she slowly exhaled all of the air in her lungs until her chest collapsed against the cave floor. She couldn't feel the ceiling anymore, success! Squirming forward, she quickly cleared the remaining space between her and the light-stone and picked it up with her mouth.

The remainder of the passage opened up considerably, and it wasn't long until she was able to walk on all fours instead. The passage ahead reminded her of the one that initially led them into this nightmare. The ceiling was tall and littered with the pointy-ceiling rocks. Somehow, she found herself cheered by seeing them, it had been a while since she'd last seen one. Scootaloo walked for a few minutes before reaching what appeared to be a dead end. Upon closer examination she realized that it was yet another one of the "mystery holes" that almost seemed commonplace at this point.

Sighing, she approached the wall. What she needed was a way up, not a way further into this hell-hole. She peered into it, and gasped in surprise. It was exactly the same as all the others, perfectly circular, smooth and lined with small ringed-bumps. Except there was one key difference, this one was angled UP.

Scootaloo's body tingled with both excitement and dread. She could feel a cool breeze drawing her further into the hole, but that would require actually climbing all the way up and seeing was at the end. She shivered nervously. Even though she hadn't encountered the creature in one of these tunnels specifically, Sweeties description of her encounter filled Scootaloo with dread. She had to do it though, for her friends.

She hadn't gone more than a hundred feet when the passage changed dramatically. The bumps disappeared, and it started to resemble a more "natural" cave. The breeze also felt a little stronger.

She heard birds and saw a dim light up ahead.

Scootaloo felt like she was about to burst her heart was thumping so hard. She went from trotting to running, and burst out of the cave.

Gasping with joy, Scootaloo rolled around in the dirt. She was free!

Scanning her surroundings, it appeared she was in the open fields beyond White Tail Woods. She could see the woods themselves, only a few hundred feet from where she lay. It would be so easy for her to just go back to Ponyville right now, safe and sound. She'd get help for her friends, of course! But she could be safe.

It'd be hours though. In her state, it'd take her two hours just to get back, and then another hour or two to find her friends again, maybe more if she got lost. A lot could happen in four hours.

Steadying her nerves, she picked up the glowing rock and turned to face the cave again. She wasn't about to abandon her friends.

She raced back down the hole, determined to get her friends out of as soon as possible. Grinning, she couldn't wait to see the look on Sweeties’ face.

Scootaloo was so preoccupied with her hopes that she didn't even notice the wall in front of her, and proceeded to run directly into it. The world went black.


Scootaloo awoke in total darkness and rubbed at her head tenderly. A large goose-egg sized welt had appeared next to her temple, and she could feel dried blood flake off at her touch. Her mouth was drier than a sandpit, and she licked her lips feebly. How long had she been out for, anyways?

"Gross," she muttered into the dark, before standing up. She regretted getting up almost immediately, as she was overwhelmed with dizziness and retched. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, she didn't have anything in her to vomit up.

Taking a few steps, she steadied herself. She'd done this before, she could do it again. She just needed to get back through the squeeze passage, and then getting to her friends would be easy.

Groping the wall, she searched for the hole she had crawled through. It was a lot easier when she still had a light source, but she still managed to find it. Squeezing in head first, she slowly made her way back through. It was easier going out, if only because she wasn't as worked up this time.

The rest of the way back was also easier. It wasn't so bad doing this a second time. The time passed quickly with the excitement she felt at her discovery. She worked her way through the donut-room, the big-room and eventually the passage marked with water.

She kept a sharp look-out in the distance for where she hoped Sweetie's light would be. Something else stopped her before she saw any light though, a terrible smell. It wasn't a smell Scootaloo was familiar with, or one she remembered being here before. It was sweet, but oddly pungent, like a piece of fruit that had been left out in the sun for too long.

Her ears perked up at a quiet sniffling coming from the dark. Scootaloo's brow furrowed, was that Sweetie? Why was her light not on if she was awake? Had the creature been by again?

"Sweetie, are you there?" Scootaloo whispered into the dark.

The sniffling suddenly stopped, and the alcove was slowly lit by soft unicorn light. The light revealed Sweetie Belle, lying in the middle of the room. She looked terrible. Her coat was completely filthy, a far cry from the pristine condition it had been in when they'd first embarked on this trip, and her face was stained with tears. Her eyes were bloodshot and accented by heavy bags.

Scootaloo slowly entered the small alcove. "Sweetie?" she asked timidly.

Sweetie croaked, "Where have you been?"

"Sweetie," Scootaloo said cautiously, "I was looking for the exit, remember?

Sweetie stared. "That was almost a day ago, Scootaloo"

"A whole day? I got knocked out, but, I didn't think it was for THAT long."

Sweetie rubbed a tear out of her eye. "I've been sitting here in the dark Scoots for I don't know for how long. My horn hurts whenever I make light anymore. I was so worried about you, I thought... Well I thought the worst had happened."

And Apple Bloom?" Sweeties voice fell to a lower than a whisper, "She hasn't regained consciousness since you left."

Sweetie’s sobs intensified and she put her hooves up to her face. "We're never going to get out of here, are we?"

Scootaloo huddled up next to Sweetie, stroking her mane. "I found a way out, and not just to the entrance, but an actual way out! I came back for you guys, of course. But we're going to get out Sweetie, we really are!"

Sweetie’s eyes started swimming as she let out another choked sob. "R-really? Did you really?"

"Oh Sweetie yes! I could smell the fresh air, and I even heard a bird singing! It was morning. We just have to get back there with Apple Bloom, and we'll all be alright!"

Sweetie wiped the tears out of her eyes and wandered over to the wagon, illuminating Apple Bloom. Scootaloo followed her, and realized the stench was coming from Apple Bloom's body. Her body was completely still, Scootaloo wasn't sure she was even still breathing.

"Is she... is she okay?"

Scootaloo paused at a noise that came from the tunnel. Her heart raced as a she strained to listen. A few seconds later a loud scraping noise began.

"We need to leave NOW!" Scootaloo shouted, grabbing the wagons handle and pulling it and Apple Bloom out of the alcove.

Sweetie started crying again, but quickly followed Scootaloo out of the alcove. Her breathing rapidly increased until she was hyperventilating. Scootaloo strained her ears again, praying that the noise was coming from the lower section of the tunnel.

It was coming from above them.

"Listen," Scootaloo hissed, "we need to go further down and lose this thing, we'll come back up after it's gone and get out of this bucking place, okay?."

"Scoots, it IGNORED me before, we should just stay here!"

Scootaloo shook her head, "You didn't hear it before though, did you Sweetie? I don't want to chance all us dying just because something worked before."

Sweetie blubbered "We don't even KNOW what's down there though!"

Scootaloo ignored Sweetie and prodded her until she had started trotting down. Scootaloo had to make sure Sweetie kept moving. Sweetie had been hysterical earlier, and she wasn't sure how much more Sweetie could take before completely losing it.

"Well it's down there or we try taking that thing on."

Sweetie didn't respond.

It was awkward running backwards with the wagon. She was forced to look back up the passage. The light from Sweeties horn was pulsating, creating strange shadows on the walls. Peering into the dark, Scootaloo swore she could see a larger shadow, looming out of the darkness towards them. After blinking a few times, it disappeared.

Scootaloo lost track of time, she couldn't hear the scraping noise anymore over the sounds her and Sweetie panting, and it felt like an eternity. She finally turned her head behind her, to see how Sweetie was doing when she tripped.

Scootaloo watched as Apple Bloom's body flew out of the wagon and fell onto the floor. Time seemed to slow down as Sweetie ran further down the passage, and the light disappeared off of Apple Bloom's body. Scootaloo couldn't have been sure at the moment, but it almost looked like something had pulled Apple Bloom back into the darkness.

Turning around, she started running to catch up with Sweetie, who had stopped running.

"Why'd you stop?" Scootaloo asked, before coming to a stop next to her. With one look forward, it was immediately obvious.

They were standing on the edge to a small waterfall. She could hear water splashing below them, though she couldn't see the bottom.

Sweetie turned towards Scootaloo. "What do we do-." She stopped.

"Scootaloo, where's Apple Bloom?"

"I... I tripped, and she fell out. There wasn't enough time to go and get her."

"WHAT ARE TALKING ABOUT!" She screamed before throwing herself back up the cave. "WE CAN'T JUST LEAVE HER."

Scootaloo grabbed Sweeties tail with her teeth and tugged, hard. Sweetie madly clawed at the floor, desperately trying to pull herself back to where Apple Bloom had vanished.

"Sweetie, it's. too. late." Scootaloo grunted through a mouthful of tail-hair.

"WE LEFT APPLE BLOOM" she shrieked.

The scraping noise was getting louder, Scootaloo could hear it over the sound of the waterfall.


Sweetie was about to say something, but Scootaloo pushed her off the edge. She watched her light fall for a few moments, before everything went black, and she threw herself off the edge.

Cold shocked her senses. The water was freezing.

Coughing and sputtering, Scootaloo burst through the surface of the water. Sweetie had already floated to the top, her horn was weakly glowing again. Grabbing Sweetie, Scootaloo dragged her out of the water and onto the rocky shore. She could feel waves smacking against her hind-legs from their fall.

"Sweetie," -she prodded her-, "Sweetie you need to wake up." Sweetie coughed again.

"Scootaloo," Sweetie weakly replied, "I'm so tired."

"You have to try, we have to keep moving."

"I can't feel my leg, Scoots."

Looking down, the damage was obvious. One of her hind-legs was bent at a funny angle. She had probably hit a rock when she fell into the pool. There was no way she would be able to walk, let alone run.

Grunting, Scootaloo bent her neck over and rolled Sweetie onto her back. The filly squirmed slightly, settling her into a more comfortable position.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie, I got ya.”

“Thanks,” Sweetie weakly gasped.

“I think we lost it, but let’s head a bit further in just to be sure. We’ve gotta find a way to get back up there.”

When Sweetie didn’t respond, Scootaloo took it as a sign to leave. Her heart was still violently thumping in her chest as she moved further in the cavern. Turning away from the waterfall, the cavern was illuminated. The space had opened up considerably, and the ceiling was no longer visible. The pool they had fallen into extended endlessly outward into the darkness, shimmering and rippling in the light of Sweetie’s horn. Small crystals were also visible on the walls. It would’ve been rather beautiful in different circumstances.

“P-pretty…” Sweetie mumbled.

“It is, isn’t it?”

Quickly moving forward, the cave widened even more. The walls slowly disappeared from sight, though the thin film of water remained constant. At a few points, Scootaloo noticed water dripping down from the ceiling. Occasionally a splash would ring out from behind them, echoing off of the walls and urging her forward.

She wasn’t able to keep up the pace for long. Sweetie wasn’t the heaviest filly, but she wasn’t exactly a lightweight either. Pegasi weren’t built for strength in the first place, and the walking was wearing her out. If Apple Bloom had been here she would’ve been able to carry Sweetie easy.

Scootaloo seized up at the thought of her friend. The friend she’d left behind. Maybe things would’ve been different if she’d just gone to get help when she had the chance. Or if they had just stayed in the alcove, maybe Apple Bloom wouldn’t be d-

Sweetie had just rolled off her back, landing in the water with a small splash.

“Sweetie!” Scootaloo exclaimed, “are you alright?”

“I don’t feel so well, Scoots,” Sweetie groaned back. “I don’t think I can hold onto you anymore.”

Scootaloo noticed that the water had turned crimson around where Sweeties leg lay.

She bit back a sob and draped a wing over Sweeties shivering form. "It's okay, we can take a rest here for a little while. I don't think it's chasing us anymore."

“Scoots… you should just go on ahead of me.” Sweetie let out an airy sigh, “I’m just slowing you down.”

“No you’re not,” Scootaloo quickly retorted. “And there’s no way I’m abandoning you, Sweetie, I’m not losing you too.” Scootaloo immediately regretted saying it when she saw Sweetie’s face contort.

"Do you think we'll see Apple Bloom again?" Sweetie asked, bluntly.

Putting on a brave face, Scootaloo replied, “Definitely. You and I will get out of this place! And then we'll get all our friends to come back with us. They'll definitely save her, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Applejack..."

Sweetie Belle smiled. "You're right Scoots, we will get out of here. I trust you." She closed her eyes and leaned up against Scootaloo. "I think I'll take a quick nap, if that's alright. You look like you could use a rest too, to be honest."

Scootaloo chuckled, and wiped a tear out of her eye. "Go ahead, you've earned it, and you’re right, I am beat. I don’t think it’s following us anymore, either."

The light from Sweeties horn slowly vanished as her friend drifted to sleep, leaving Scootaloo immersed in darkness. She lay next to her friend, awake, and stared into the darkness. Eventually she heard a splashing in the distance. It was coming closer. Closer. She thought she could feel a small breeze blowing towards her, just like in the tunnels, only… warmer. And there was that sweet, awful smell again, lingering in the air now. Hugging Sweetie tightly, she closed her eyes, and waited.