The Secret Life of Rarity

by BronyWriter

First published

Rarity has a deep dark secret that she cannot control but must hide from the world.

Everypony in Ponyville is happy, carefree, and content with their life on the whole... except one. Rarity harbors a dark, murderous secret. She is Equestria's only active serial killer. She has to balance her fashion life, her friends, and her murderous urges as best as she can. This is the story of her mind.

Edited wonderfully by Kaidan and Kagji5

Now with a TVTropes Page!!!

One final bit, I do not condone the actions taken by Rarity in this story. I do not support violence and murder even for her reasons. if you have urges to hurt other people, please seek help. Do not do the things that she does here.

First Blood

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Today was the day.

As the sun came over the horizon, bathing the lands in its warm glow, a purple maned, white unicorn filly's head popped off of her pillow. She grinned and grabbed a nearby calendar with her magic. She squealed in delight and clopped her hooves together when she saw the date.

Today was the day.

With another giggle, she threw her covers off and scrambled out of bed. She screeched to a halt just outside of her door and checked her mane in the mirror. Some of the purple curls stuck out in odd directions, but she used her magic to curl it so that it looked nice again.

Content that her mane looked perfect, she bounced out of her room to go see if her parents had woken up yet. She hoped so. Today was a special day, and she didn’t want to miss a moment of it.

She poked her head through the entryway into the kitchen where she saw her mother at the stove making toast, while her father was reading his newspaper. They heard her come in, as they stopped and turned around to smile at their daughter. She smiled back and jumped up on her usual spot on at the table. “Good morning, Mom! Good morning, Dad!”

Her father lifted his daughter into the air with his magic, and wrapped her up in a crushing hug. “Hey there, champ. You sleep well?”

The filly ducked her head to get away from her father's attempt at giving her a noogie, and playfully poked him in the chest. “Not at first because I’m so excited, but I think I’m okay. I’m really excited for today!” Rarity wrapped her forelegs around her father's waist. “I can’t wait for my first day of school!”

Her father chuckled and finally succeeded in giving her that noogie, but he didn’t do it so hard that her mane was messed up.

The filly's mother joined the group, lifting three sets of plates of toast and glasses of orange juice. The filly sat back down at her chair, and her mother fondly patted her on the head. “I remember my first day of school. You’re going to really love it, Rarity.”

Rarity vigorously nodded before her eyes and smile widened even more. "Maybe I'll get my cutie mark at school! Do you think I will, Mommy?"

Her mother smiled down at her overjoyed daughter fondly and put a loving hoof on her shoulder. "I think that my very special daughter will find her very special talent very quickly." Rarity's mother motioned over to her daughter's room. "I know that you love playing dress-up, maybe it has something to do with that?"

Before the excited filly could answer, her father stood up off of his chair. "So, are you ready for school yet, Rarity?"

Rarity nodded and leaped onto her father's back. "Yes, dad! I'm as ready as a butterfly that just came out of her cocoon!" The filly's face scrunched up into a frown as she thought about her analogy for a second before scratching her head. "Or something like that." Her parents laughed at their daughter's words, something that Rarity promptly joined in with.

Rarity jumped off of her father's back. She ran over to a nearby chair where a fresh new saddlebag sat, waiting to be filled with the contents of her journey of learning. She eagerly put it on; it fit like it was made for her alone. She ran over to the door, which her parents opened, so that they could escort their daughter to the schoolyard.

After the group walked out of the door, Rarity's father locked the door of their tiny one-story house. He paused for a moment to look the run-down abode over. With Rarity's schooling the broken shutters couldn't be fixed for a while, the rusty door hinges would have to wait, and the gutters would need to be replaced later. He sighed and ran a hoof through his mane. His wife glanced over at him and frowned. "Something up?"

Rarity's father sighed and shook his head. "No, not really. Yesterday was a long day. My boss wanted to get that contract for the Ponyville Sewer Company done and, well, a day of digging ditches can be taxing. I'll be fine when I can sleep in next Saturday."

Rarity's mother glanced over at her daughter. Rarity was grinning and bouncing up and down in anticipation. She exhaled deeply. "Do ya think that you can take some time off? I'm worried about Rarity spending too much time alone, what with both of us working for her schooling."

Rarity's father waved a hoof dismissively and shook his head. "No. We're going to have to scrimp and save this month as it is. No need to make it more difficult by having me take a day off." He beckoned his wife to follow him towards Rarity. "Besides, Rarity needs this. She's too excited for us to just keep her away from it because work makes me a little tired."

Rarity's mother nodded as the happy filly bounced over to them. "Are we gonna go yet?" she squeed. "Is it time for school?"

Rarity's father chuckled and rustled her mane. "You bet, Rarity. We're on our way."

As they approached the school, a delighted Rarity saw a dozen or so fillies her age. They were laughing and playing in the schoolyard without a care in the world. Rarity never really had much contact with other fillies her age because of where she lived, but the prospect of meeting some new friends made Rarity all the more excited. She ran over to the schoolyard as her parents went over to talk to her teacher, and the eager filly stopped in her tracks for a minute to get a look at the conversation. Her parents were happily chatting with a tan earth pony mare with brown hair. The mare that looked like the most wonderful pony that one could ever meet. Rarity knew immediately that she would be the best teacher in all of Equestria.

Rarity turned around and saw a happy looking purplish earth pony filly smiling warmly at her. "Hi there, you must be the new student in our class."

"Why yes, my name is Rarity. What's yours?" she asked, doing her best to control her excitement. She was making a friend, on her very first day!

"I'm Cheerilee, it's nice to meet you." The filly extended a hoof and Rarity shook it. "So, you're the pony who lives on the outskirts right? Yours is the house beyond the edge of Town Hall?"

Rarity nodded proudly. "Yep, that's my house alright. I know it isn't the best, but it's home," she said, echoing a statement her parents had made many times. Cheerilee smiled and was about to respond, but a nasty voice from behind her cut her off.

"So, this is the new poor kid then?" said a colt from behind Cheerilee. "I knew she'd look like a moron."

Cheerilee sighed in frustration and turned around to see two colts and a filly smiling evilly at Rarity. One of the colts was an earth pony with a maroon body, short brown hair, and no cutie mark. He seemed to be the leader of the group. The colt on his left was an earth pony with a light brown body, short tan hair, and a hoofball as a cutie mark. The filly was a unicorn with a sky blue body, teal hair that fell to her shoulders, and no cutie mark.

Cheerilee glared at the trio and moved in front of Rarity to shield her from the verbal assault. "Dug, what are you and your stupid cronies doing here?" she angrily growled at the one with spiky green hair. "Don't you three have anything better to do than be mean to everypony?"

The trio just laughed at her. "We're just here to see the poor pony, Cheerilee, relax. We heard they look like freaks and I have to admit, it's really funny to see just how right we were!" said Dug with a snicker.

"I mean, look at her hair! It's so tacky," the unicorn filly cackled.

Rarity blushed and put her hoof up to her perfectly styled curls. "Tacky?" she whimpered.

Cheerilee narrowed her eyes and took a step towards the trio. "Her mane is beautiful, Annie. You wouldn't know beauty if it came up and bit you! Now back off and leave her alone!"

"Or what exactly?" scoffed the other colt. "Are you gonna tell teacher on us? Are you gonna be a rat?"

"Yeah, Kicker, I will!" she retorted.

"Lighten up Cheerilee, we're just having fun with the poor filly. I mean, we're not the first to remind her of her sad situation, right?" snarked Dug.

Their piercing words caused Rarity's eyes to begin to filling with tears. She had never been more humiliated in all of her life than at that moment. Rather than invoking a little sympathy, Rarity's tears caused the trio to howl in mocking laughter.

"Uh-oh, looks like poor kid's crying now!” Annie leaned her head down as if she was addressing a foal. “Did we hurt her wittle feewings?"

Rarity began sobbing and ran away, glancing back only to see Cheerilee yelling at her three classmates, who merely continued laughing. Rarity turned her head back around and scanned the courtyard for her parents and her stomach clenched when she saw that her parents had already left. They wouldn't be back until later that afternoon. She was on her own.

As she ran, her tears obscured her vision until she could hardly see what was in front of her. She didn't care. She just had to get away from those three. However, the lack of vision proved a detriment as she soon found herself colliding with a solid object, namely her teacher.

"Oh, goodness," said her teacher with an amused smile, turning around to see what had run into her. She saw Rarity on the ground and she widened her smile. "Well hello there! You must be Rarity. It's─" Her teacher stopped when she saw that Rarity was crying. “What's the matter?" The devastated filly was crying too hard to coherently answer her teacher, so she merely pointed to the schoolyard where Cheerilee was still arguing with the laughing bullies. The teacher frowned. "I see," she said in a business-like tone. "Yes, I've had problems with those three before. You just go in and sit at your desk, Rarity. Don't you worry. I'll have a talk with them."

Rarity continued sobbing, not even attempting to get to her desk. Her teacher put her foreleg around her shoulder and gently nuzzled her student. "Tell ya what, Rarity: there's a small creek behind the schoolyard, just a little ways in that direction. Why don't you go there and calm down for a while before you come back. Does that sound good?" Rarity slowed her crying, and looked up at her teacher with hopeful eyes. She nodded and helped Rarity to her hooves. “It’s just forty or so yards that way. You can’t miss it. I know it helped me relax after school when I was your age.”

Rarity sniffled and wiped my eyes. “Really?”

“Of course.” The mare patted Rarity on the head. “You just go on and calm down for a few minutes.”

Rarity slowly nodded and, with heavy steps, she trudged in the direction where her teacher had indicated the creek was. She walked a small way into the peaceful forest near the school. She had to admit, the trees were so close together that she began to wonder whether or not this forest even had a clearing.

Of course, her teacher was not a liar. Rarity soon pushed through the dense trees and found herself in the clearing that her teacher had described. Rarity's breath caught in her throat at the sight, and she could only think of one word to describe it: "Whoa.”

The area was surrounded by tall, majestic oak trees that were spaced far enough apart that golden rays of sunlight shone through the trees into the clearing. The grass underneath Rarity's hooves was soft, cool, and the prettiest shade of green. However, it was the creek itself that drew Rarity's attention. It was a small stream of water, not very wide and the water would only go up to the top of her hooves, but it trickled lazily along, seemingly uncaring of the events of the world around it.

The sound of the creek flowing made her calm down as she entered the clearing. It didn't appear to be too large, she could run around the edge of the clearing in a half-minute or so, but to her it was a mighty, unshakable sanctuary. She sat down on a rock and actually managed a smile. The tears had stopped at least. She dipped her hoof into the water and wiped her face. The cool water made Rarity feel like her mother was there, drying her tears and telling her that everything was going to be okay. The feelings of terror and humiliation she felt during her encounter with the three bullies were fading away, as if it had never happened at all. For the first time since meeting Cheerilee, a smile formed on Rarity's face, and she laid down next to the small stream.

After about half an hour of relaxing, a nagging voice in the back of her head told her that she had better go back to school. Even if the bullies were there, the prospect of school was too exciting for her to pass up, and she slowly got up and trotted in the direction of the school building. As she exited the clearing, she turned back to it and promised herself that she would visit as often as possible.

When she entered the schoolhouse, her teacher was at the front of the class lecturing on the upcoming school year and what she expected from her students. When she saw Rarity enter, she smiled warmly at her and pointed towards an empty desk. To her delight, she saw that Cheerilee was in the desk next to hers. Cheerilee smiled and motioned for Rarity to come over and sit next to her. Rarity nodded and skipped over to the desk.

As she sat down, Cheerilee leaned in and whispered to her. "How are you doing, Rarity?"

"Oh, I’m feeling much better," she whispered back. "What happened to those three?"

"They got suspended for a week," Cheerilee responded. "You won't see them for a while."

Rarity grinned and began listening to the teacher. The mare took a few papers out of a notebook and laid them out on her desk. "Okay, class, there's one more thing that I'd like to talk to you about before we begin our math lesson for the day. We have a few after school activities for those of you who are interested. I've gotten a few tutors from around Ponyville, and they're all delighted to help." The mare cleared her throat. "Okay, just raise your hoof if you would like to sign up for a class. The first one offered is a sewing class. Who would like to join that one?"

Rarity's hoof shot into the air faster than anypony else.

* * * *

"And so the pegasi created the city of Las Pegasus to both deal with their expanding population, and promote cultural growth in another part of Equestria."

Rarity's teacher looked up at the clock hanging over the door and shut her book. "Okay, class. That's it for today." The collected foals hopped out of their seats and began putting their books away in their saddlebags. "Don't forget to read pages four and five of your history books for tomorrow!"

Rarity snapped the clasp of her saddlebag shut and levitated it onto her back. She moved closer to Cheerilee, who was putting her own saddlebag on her back. "That was a fun lesson, wasn't it?" Rarity chirped.

Cheerilee slid her pencil in one of the pockets before turning to Rarity. "I always thought that pegasus history was cool, but I like to learn about Ponyville a lot more!"

"Yes, that does sound interesting," Rarity replied.

The two fillies filed out of the schoolhouse, and trotted into the yard. "Your parents coming to get you, Rarity?"

Rarity shook her head. "No, they both have to work today. I'm gonna walk home."

"Well if you don't mind, I'd love to walk with you," said Cheerilee. "I don't think that my house is too far away from yours."

Rarity cocked her head. "Really?"

"Yeah. My house is on the opposite side of town hall. It's a five minute walk, I think."

Rarity's eyes lit up and she squealed in excitement. "That means we can see each other when we're not in school!"

Cheerilee nodded and beckoned Rarity to follow her. "Yep! I wanna meet your mom and dad sometime."

And so the two new friends walked to Rarity's house, chatting animatedly about themselves. As they walked, Rarity felt a warm feeling of contentment inside of her. The bullies had been scary, but they weren't around anymore.

Maybe school isn't going to be so bad.

* * * *

The next week was pure bliss for Rarity. Not only were those nasty foals gone, but the classes she had were wonderful. She sat next to Cheerilee every day, and the two of them always hung out during lunch and recess. Given that Cheerilee's house was only a five minute walk from Rarity's, there were a few days where the two of them would hang out after school.

While Cheerilee sitting next to her was wonderful, her favorite part of the day was the sewing class that she got to take. It turned out that there were styles that she had never even considered using when she was teaching herself to make clothes. She was really looking forward to the end of the year project where she got to make whatever kind of clothing she wanted. As a matter of fact, she had begun some preliminary sketches the moment she had been told of the assignment.

After her first week, Rarity found herself gleefully skipping to school alongside her mother. She rapidly talked about all of the fun things that her and Cheerilee were going to do that day, and all of the wonderful things that she was going to learn.

As they walked, Rarity saw the schoolyard approaching and saw all that she had come to be acquainted with over the week spent happily playing in the yard while waiting for class to start. "It's school!" Rarity squeed. "You have to meet Cheerilee!"

"Oh, I haven't met your friend Cheerilee yet, have I?" Her mother chuckled. "You talk about her so much that it's about time that you introduced us."

Rarity gleefully nodded and scanned the courtyard for her friend, but her smile fell slightly when she couldn't see her. "I guess she's not here yet, Mommy."

Her mother chuckled and put a hoof on Rarity's shoulder. "Well then you'll have to have her come over for dinner tonight, if its alright with her parents."

Rarity's smile returned in full force at the suggestion and she vigorously nodded. "That would be wonderful, Mommy! I can't wait to see her so I can─"

Her words were cut off and her smile instantly faded when her eyes landed on three familiar foals kicking a ball around just in front of the schoolyard entrance. At the sight of her tormentors, Rarity instantly shrank back and nuzzled closer to her mother. "Mommy, maybe school isn't such a good idea today," she whimpered. "I'm not feeling so good."

Rarity's mother frowned and cocked her head. "What do you mean?" she asked. "You were just excited to go. What's wrong?"

Rarity shakily raised a hoof and pointed at the trio of bullies who had seen her by this point. They were flashing her those cruel smiles that she had become all too familiar with on the first day of school. Her mother's eyes landed on the foals and she sighed. She led Rarity to a nearby tree and sat her down. "Rarity, just because those foals are there doesn't mean you can't have a good time at school. The best thing is to ignore them. They'll get bored and leave you alone."

"But they were so mean to me," Rarity sniffled. "Why would they do that?"

Rarity's mother extended her forelegs and wrapped her into a hug. "I don't know, Rarity," she admitted. "I don't know why those foals would be mean like that. Just know that even if they are mean, you can still enjoy school. You have Cheerilee and your teacher to help you out, right?" Rarity gave a slight nod and her mother returned it with an encouraging squeeze. "You see? They don't get to control what school is like for you. It'll all be okay in the end."

Rarity broke away from the hug and smiled up at her mother. "I guess you're right, Mommy. They can't make school bad for me if I don't want them to!" She stood up with her mother and they walked over to the schoolyard. After one last hug, she walked away, leaving Rarity all alone to deal with whatever the bullies had planned for her.

The second her mother was out of sight, Rarity lost all of the courage that her mother had built up in her. The three of them had not let her leave their sight, but they had not come over to her yet. She flattened her ears and dropped her head as she hugged the fence, walking alongside it as if it would somehow give her protection from their wicked gazes.

Rarity walked alongside the fence until she reached the point where the fence connected with the side of the schoolhouse. She sat down in the shade that the building provided and rued the fact that Cheerilee was not there to help her deflect the bullies.

Something that she wished was true even more when, to her horror, the three turned the corner of the building and began walking up to her. They didn't run, they moseyed closer to her, each relishing the fear that they brought out in her. Rarity curled up into a ball and held out her hoof as if to stall their advance. "Please just leave me alone," she mewled.

Rather than apologize and walk off, the foals merely cackled at her pleas and continued walking forwards. "If it isn't the little rat," said Dug with a malicious chuckle. "What's the matter? You can't just pony up and admit that we're right about you?"

Rarity put her head to the ground and put her hooves on top of the head to make herself seem even smaller. Maybe she could just shrink away and disappear for a while. Maybe then they'd leave her alone. No such luck, as they stopped right in front of her.

She flinched as a hoof came down right next to her ear. Kicker was standing directly above her, glaring downward. "I wouldn't keep telling Teacher about us," he growled. "We don't like rats at this school."

Rarity was whimpering softly, her rear hooves shaking against her chest. The forelimbs she held over her eyes, nor her ears flattened against her head, did not shield her from their cruel laughter. "P-please l-leave me a-alone."

"But this is fun, isn't it, Rat?" Annie snickered. Rarity could feel her stepping on her tail as she circled around her like a timberwolf. "You don't want to tell Teacher about this and stop us from having fun, would you?"

Rarity flinched as a twig snapped, and a small sob escaping her lips. She heard Dug’s snickering get closer. "Trust me, Rat, it'll be better for you if you just keep Teacher out of it. We wouldn't want you to get hurt."

Rarity held her forelegs tight against her eyes to hold back the tears. She whimpered again and tried to back away even further, but she was as far back as she could go. She heard Dug snort. "I think the rat has learned her lesson. Come on, guys, let's go play on the swings."

Rarity didn't lift her head up until the last of their hoofsteps had faded into the banter of happy foals playing without a care in the world. When she was sure that they were gone, Rarity laid her head on the ground and cried.

* * * *

As wonderful as the first week had been for Rarity, Dug, Annie, and Kicker made sure that the following weeks were quite the opposite. Given that they had been suspended for what they had done on the first day, they had opted to be far more subtle about it from then on. They never openly confronted her or cornered her in the schoolyard. Cheerilee was always there anyway. There would be days where Rarity found threatening cut-and-paste notes in her saddlebag after recess, or one of the them would whisper something derogatory in her ear whenever she passed. She always tried to avoid them, but it wasn't always a possibility.

Unfortunately for Rarity, neither the notes nor the whispers of ‘rat’ could be punished, let alone traced back to the trio. They continued on with no regrets or remorse, shrugging off the teacher’s constant lectures on behavior.

As the weeks dragged on, Rarity slowly came to dread school more and more. Not even Cheerilee's presence could offset how frequently the three of them found small ways to torture her. Always it was something small and seemingly insignificant: a whisper here, or a ball thrown in her direction that barely missed her there. The little tortures ensured they would not be in big trouble when the teacher confronted them about it. She came to loathe each day of class, waiting anxiously for where the next taunt would come from, and found it took fewer acts of cruelty each day to bring her to tears. Some days it was as if her teacher didn't even care, even when she knew what was happening. She did occasionally try to stop it, but wasn't in a position of power to do more than lecture them.

"We weren't saying anything, honest!"

"It was just a joke! Can't the kid take a joke?"

"We didn't throw that ball at her, we swear! Dug was tossing it to me and it got away from him, that's all!"

"She told you we said that? We weren't even near her. Dug and Kicker can vouch for me. We were on the other side of the playground."

As much as they excused their behavior, occasionally they crossed the line and were given detention or even a short suspension. Each of those times Rarity felt that maybe they'd understand that their behavior was wrong and leave her alone.

It was not to be. Each time they were punished they upped the ante and found even more malicious, but equally subtle, ways to torment her. Finally after two months of terror she stopped telling the teacher, her parents, and even Cheerilee. She reasoned that if telling only made it worse, then there was no reason to bother.

That's not to say that there were no respites. She still tried to visit her creek each and every day, and often found herself staying for hours once school was over, just to relax and cry her fears away. The tranquil setting offset the fear that she felt waking up every morning. It was her last bastion of freedom; her one sanctuary where not even those three could come. They didn't know she came here, so they could not follow her. There she was safe, she was protected, and nothing could ever hurt her.

Three months into her schooling, Rarity was sitting at her creek, relaxing after yet another rough day. Once again at recess Dug had thrown a ball just above her head. This time it clipped her horn, sending a sharp pain through her skull. She had fallen to the ground, wailing in pain and clutching her head. Cheerilee had begged her to go see the teacher, but Rarity had long since asked Cheerilee to just ignore it like she did. 'If you want to protect me, just leave it alone', she had said.

Rarity idly rubbed the base of her horn where she had felt most of the pain, and leaned back against a tree. Tears began welling up in her eyes as she realized that in twelve short hours she would have to go to school again. She would have to endure a whole other day of Dug, Kicker, and Annie poking her with metaphorical needles. Then it would be another short twelve hours before it happened again.

At least here she was safe.

Rarity walked over to her creek and fixed it in her gaze. Her eyes were puffy and her usually well-groomed mane was disheveled, making the pony in the water look quite unlike herself. A pair of tears rolled down her eyes and dripped into the water, sending ripples through the creek.

"Why doesn't Teacher do anything?" she whimpered. "She suspended them the first day, why doesn't she just kick them out of school for good to make them leave me alone?"

Rarity sat on her haunches and closed her eyes, but the second she did the image of the three of them laughing at her flashed into her vision. Her body was instantly consumed with rage, and she slammed her hoof down in the creek, splashing both herself and the surrounding area with water. "I HATE THEM!" she screamed. "I WISH THEY WERE DEAD!"

Rarity opened her mouth to let out another anguished scream, but it died in her throat when the full weight of her words hit her. "What did I just...?" she whispered to herself. She turned her attention back to the creek. The ripples combined with how wet she was distorted her appearance even more. Her mane clung to her neck, giving the impression that she was wearing seaweed.

Rarity blinked once and then looked around the clearing. "Do I really?"

Rarity tried to push the taunts of the bullies that echoed through her mind out of it, but the more she tried the louder they became and the more appealing their deaths were to her. She grabbed her head in her hooves and moaned.

'Stupid little rat. You gonna be a chicken and tell teacher?'

"Shut up!" she screeched.

'Look at the poor little rat, what's it like living with your kind in the slums?'

Rarity screamed and pounded the ground with her hoof. "Just leave me alone!"

"bet that hurt when you got hit. Is the poor foal gonna cry now?'

"I SAID SHUT UP!"

With one final scream she grabbed a nearby rock and slammed it into a tree. The adrenaline mixed with her rage and fear increased her drive, and the blow took a chunk out of the base. Had she done something like that before she met the three of them, she would have likely found herself horrified by her actions, but now it felt amazing to hurt something, even if it was just some silly tree.

As she continued to pound away at the base of the tree a question flickered in her mind for the briefest of moments: what it would be like to do it to hurt them like this?

* * * *

Later that week was more of the same for Rarity. She went to school in utter silence and did her best to ignore the torment that the bullies inflicted. None of it mattered. Nothing she or anypony else said did any good. Her teacher had suspended the three of them on more than one occasion, but the last suspension was a month ago as Rarity had stopped telling her about it.

After the five hours of torture that was school, Rarity once again found herself back at her creek. She dejectedly leaned her saddlebag against a tree, stopping only to run her hoof over several large gash marks that she had inflicted on the trunk. She looked around the clearing where many of the other trees had similar marks on them.

Rarity sighed and laid down in the cool grass next to the trickling stream. She wanted to pick another tree to attack, but for whatever reason today of all days had left her feeling blank, and she didn't feel that it was worth the effort today.

"So, this is where the poor kid comes to hide like a chicken. Good job finding her, Annie," cackled an all too familiar voice. Rarity's heart sank as she heard the malicious laughter of the three bullies. She bolted up and any hopes that she was just being paranoid ended there. Dug, Kicker, and Annie all stood in front of her, laughing at the cornered filly.

Rarity whimpered and took a small step backwards. No, they can't be here! I'm safe here! They couldn't be here! "No, please, just go away!" she pleaded.

An evil smile spread across Dug’s face. “What’s the matter, Rat? We just wanna talk to you.”

"Yeah,” Kicker added as he flanked Rarity on the right. “We never did thank you for all of those times where you tattled and got us kicked out of school.”

"No, just go away! I don't want you here! Just leave!" Rarity begged.

Annie circled to Rarity’s left. “We just wanna talk, kid.” She wore a grin that indicated they planned to do much more than just talk.

Rarity cowered at the sound of Dug slowly popping the joints in his neck. “Let’s show her what happens to rats in this school!”

They all took a step forward, closing in on Rarity. “Keep away from me!” squealed Rarity, backing away further. Her eyes flickered around the clearing looking for something, anything to defend herself with. Her eyes landed on a large rock a few hooves from where she was standing. It would have to do if they came closer.

"Or what?" scoffed Dug who was advancing closer with each retreating step that Rarity took. "It's just you and us out here; nopony can save you now! If you try to tell anyone about us beating you up—well, let's just say that nopony cares too much about the poor kids. Not when our parents actually have money!" Rarity jerked backwards when she noticed Kicker and Annie had advanced right up to her sides. "We're not in school; Teacher can't suspend us for this!"

Rarity's eyes darted around looking for a way out, yet always ended up on the rock. It was as if something was telling her that there was no other option. Still, there was another part of her that didn’t want to do it. She continued to plead with them to leave her alone.

As Rarity tried to get away, she felt a new emotion bubble up in her. It was like what she felt when she hit the trees with the rock, but it was more potent. Beneath the unadulterated fear, something else was creeping up. It rose with her heartbeat. It was like anger, but still different. She whimpered and tried to push back the new feeling for fear of doing something foolish.

She saw Dug’s hind legs uncoil as he lunged forward. “Get her!”

“I said leave me alone!” yelled Rarity. The fear drove her to protect herself; the suppressed rage instantly overtaking her. She used her magic to pick up the rock, slamming it as hard as she could into the side of Dug's head. He collapsed without uttering a sound, almost as if strings holding him up had just been severed.

In that instant, time seemed to stop for all three. Dug was lying on the ground motionless, his eyes wide open. A large pool of blood was forming around his head, flowing from the large gash that the rock had made when it smashed into his skull. Kicker and Rarity simply stared silently at the corpse while Annie instantly burst into tears.

The clearing was silent for a few minutes. Rarity was trying to register what she had done and what to do about it now. She was surprised to find that she didn't feel upset with herself or even horrified with her actions. In fact, she had gotten quite the rush when the rock had collided with Dug's head. It was one of the greatest feelings she had ever experienced. It was as if raw power had coursed through her veins in the moment that she had attacked Dug. Her fear had vanished instantly; the months of torment instantly forgotten. She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding in. "That was..." She blinked once and looked down at the rock. "Amazing."

She saw the blood starting to trickle into the stream, tainting the clear water. Tainting. His blood was tainting the pure water, just as the three of them had tainted her spot. Rarity had never really liked filth, and avoided it when she could, but growing up in poor conditions meant that she was surrounded by uncleanliness, so she had trained herself to tolerate it to the best of her abilities. With what had just happened, she realized just how horrible it was when filth was allowed to taint something so innocent and pure.

She looked up at the two remaining ponies who were still staring in shock at the lifeless body of their leader. Annie was shaking and crying. Her head was turned so that she had to look sideways to see the body. Her eyes occasionally flickered away as if she was trying to tear her eyes away completely, but her gaze remained fixed on Dug. "Is... is he dead?" she whispered.

Rarity didn't even try to suppress the all-consuming rage this time. This time she enjoyed it bubbling up inside of her. She had no sympathy for the creature in front of her. Annie wasn't a pony; she was filth. Filth needed to be cleansed, or else it would destroy her world.

Kicker uneasily bit his lip and shakily got to his hooves. He slowly trotted up to Dug's body and uneasily poked it. His friend didn't move, causing a jittery Kicker to put his ear next to Dug's chest to check for a heartbeat. Finding none, his head snapped back up and he looked at Annie with fear in his eyes. "He's dead! The rat killed him! She─"

His words were cut short when the rock smashed into the side of his head, sending a resounding crack echoing throughout the clearing. Kicker fell to the ground and the second he hit it, Rarity smashed his head with the rock again, and again, and again She was getting splashed by specks of blood, and her pristine coat was becoming dirty, but for once in her life, she didn't care about that. The only thing that mattered to her was cleansing the filth. She stopped her assault and saw that Annie was looking in shock at the brutal killings of her best friends. She looked at Rarity for a brief moment before she screamed at the top of her lungs and ran like a bat out of Tartarus for town. Rarity snarled and ran after her.

The ensuing chase was not a long one. As it turned out, Rarity was a far faster runner than Annie and, within a few short moments, Annie was smacked in the head by Rarity's rock. Content that her victim was down for the count, Rarity walked over to Annie and discovered that, despite the profusely bleeding head wound, Annie was merely unconscious. Rarity sighed and sat on her haunches.

"What now, Rarity?" she said to herself, mimicking a trait of her father when he needed to think. "You can't just hit her with the rock again. The other two died too fast."

"Well, Rarity, you can't keep her alive too long. You gotta clean up the other two before you go home."

She groaned in frustration. This was going to be harder than she had originally thought. She sighed and grabbed one of Annie's hind legs in her mouth and dragged her back to where the bodies of Dug and Kicker were. When she reached the bodies of Dug and Kicker, she saw the giant mess that she had made and the anger that had been leading her on gave way to crippling panic.

Blood. Blood was everywhere! In front of her were two colts, dead by her hooves!

Rarity let out a whimper and she slowly began backing away from her victims. "Oh no," Rarity whimpered. "Rarity, what did you do? You killed them, Rarity. You killed them!"

A tightness welled up inside Rarity's chest and she let the beginnings of sobs escape. "You don't have good enough magic to clean them up, Rarity. Somepony is going to find this!"

Tears began streaming down her face and she sat down on her haunches to cry. It was all over. That much was certain. Princess Celestia herself would probably throw her in a dungeon somewhere and never let her see something as simple as sunlight ever again. That's what they do to evil foals, she reasoned. The lives of my mommy and daddy be over. Nopony will ever want to be friends with them again. They'll hate them. They'll say that they didn't raise me right.

Rarity's sobs grew steadily louder. "IT'S NOT FAIR!" she wailed. "I . . . D-DIDN'T WANT TH-THEM . . . TO HURT ME!” She raised her head and looked into the increasingly cloudy sky. "I don't want to die!" she moaned. "I don't wanna die or go to jail!"

She wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. "No, you can't let that happen, Rarity. You gotta make sure Mother and Father don't have to feel bad because of this."

"But how can I clean them up, Rarity?" She scanned the clearing. "There's nothing here to make the bodies go away!"

"Nothing except the Everfree Forest."

Rarity's ears perked up as the thought crossed her mind. "The Everfree Forest." She slowly pushed herself to her hooves and trotted to the far edge of her clearing. "It's close to here, isn't it? I can put them in there!"

"And nopony has to know." Rarity turned around and began walking back to the bodies. "You can do something better next time."

Rarity stopped in her tracks and frowned. "Next time, Rarity? What next time?"

A smile crossed Rarity's face. "That feeling when you hit Dug was really good, wasn't it? Don't you want that again?"

Rarity shook her head and pushed all thoughts of the future from her mind. "One step at a time, Rarity," she whispered to herself. "No need to go planning things before their time."

She took one of Dug's forelegs in her mouth and began dragging him in the direction of the forest. After a few minutes of moving him, she managed to get Dug's body a little ways into the forest. Content that nopony would find him before the predators did, she moved Kicker's body as well.

As she walked back, the tightness in her chest began to fade away and she found herself with a little spring in her step. "I didn't need to cry like a foal, Rarity. It's okay."

"I think you might have just gotten away with this, Rarity." She giggled to herself and began bouncing. "It's consequence free!"

"Which means I can do it again if I like it and don't get caught." Rarity stopped bounding just as she reached the edge of her clearing. "And I think I did like it."

When she got back to the clearing she saw that Annie hadn't woken up yet. Rarity cocked her head and checked on her unconscious victim. She didn't want her to bleed out before she could have a little fun with her. After all, it wouldn't be a good punishment if she just bled out. She put her ear to Annie's chest and to her delight; she heard a faint heartbeat.

Rarity immediately got to work stopping the flow of blood from her head. She put pressure on the gash and used some nearby leaves as a sort of dressing. It was absolutely ridiculous, but it would have to do for now. It took a few minutes but eventually the flow of blood stopped. Rarity was content that Annie wouldn't die before she could decide what to do with her.

After clearing up Annie's wounds, Rarity sat down on the rock she had been sitting on that morning and began patiently waiting for her victim to wake up. After a few minutes of silence, Rarity realized a potential problem once Annie woke up: her horn. Rarity wasn't sure what kind of magic Annie was capable of, but if she did wake up and got enough sense to use her magic, odds were that Annie could at least grab a rock as a weapon to use against Rarity.

She sighed and got up. Maybe it would be best to just send her off with the others, she mused. Sighing, she dragged Annie's body to where she had deposited Kicker and Dug's. However, this time what she saw when she got there was both terrifying and relieving. A trio of timber wolves were feasting on the remains of her first two victims. Rarity didn't dare go near them as she figured that she might be their dessert.

She slowly dragged Annie's body away to find some other means to get rid of the evidence. She looked up in the sky and saw that it was hardly five o' clock if she learned her lessons about time well enough. Her parents wouldn't be home for another four hours at least. She giggled and began looking around the creek for a means of disposing of Annie. Her eyes landed on a large scrap of wood that would be perfect as a sort of makeshift shovel. Rarity went to an open spot in the clearing and began digging around a bit to see if she could find a weak spot on the ground where she could dig a sufficient grave. She found the perfect spot underneath an old oak tree and began digging. At first, it was harder than she had originally expected, but with her magic she was able to dig well enough.

As the hot sun burned overhead, Rarity was beginning to get tired out. She would definitely need a bath after all of the sweating she was doing during her work, but she did have a sizable hole going. It was easily deep enough to deposit the remains of her victim. She put the makeshift shovel down and massaged her head for a few moments. It had been a bit of a strain digging for that long and the effort had given her a small headache, but her work was finally finished. She looked up at the sky. It was going on six o' clock now, still plenty of time. She trotted over to Annie and to her surprise, Annie let out a weak groan when her attacker approached her, and she tried to fire up her horn. The trauma to her head was too much, and the unicorn filly was only capable of weak sparks.

Rarity cocked her head, surprised that Annie had actually woken up. She summoned her rock over to her and, using her magic to steady it, she lifted it over her head. However, before she went in for the fatal blow, a thought struck her. She smiled and put down the bloody rock. Annie was vaguely awake at this point and slightly coherent. She opened her mouth and whispered something. Rarity leaned in closer. "What's that, darling?"

"I... I didn't mean to. I'm sorry," moaned Annie. Her voice was barely audible, and tears were falling from her eyes. "I w-wanna go home."

Rarity straightened up and frowned. "I don't care." Rarity's frown twisted upwards in a gleeful smile and she leaned in next to Annie's ears. "You made me scared of you for months. Now you're scared of me. It isn't fun to be scared, is it?" Rarity giggled. "As much as I hate to admit it, I can see why you like tormenting other foals. It does give you a nice feeling, doesn't it?"

Annie opened her mouth, but a gargled moan was all that came out. Rarity turned around and pushed Annie with her hind legs. She rolled into the grave, hitting the ground with a thud. Rarity walked up to the grave just as Annie rolled over so she was lying face up. Annie raised her hoof in the air, hoping that this weak display would cause the unicorn to take pity on her and go get help, but all that she received instead was a cold stare.

The tears began falling faster from Annie's eyes as Rarity used her magic to pick up the plank. Rarity pushed the plank into the pile of earth that she had created when she dug the hole in the first place and scooped it back into the hole. Rarity heard her victim quietly squealing as the dirt was pushed back into the hole.

"No," she pleaded. Her voice was so weak that Rarity hardly registered it. Another scoop of dirt entered the hole and covered Annie's right hind leg.

"No," she repeated as another scoop of dirt entered the hole. Rarity continued to work with a passion. She was determined to bury her alive. All Annie could do was lie there and accept her fate as another scoop of dirt hit her in the face.

* * * *

Rarity patted down the dirt and smoothed it out. Hopefully nopony would realize that the dirt had been dug up. But there was really no reason for anypony to come looking for them here.

Rarity looked around at her clearing and saw that it really was a bloody mess. She hadn't thought about how she would clean up all of this blood She bit her lip and started thinking. Nothing was coming to her mind. Nothing that she liked anyway.

All of a sudden, Rarity heard what to her was the most beautiful sound that she could have imagined at that moment: thunder. Her mouth broke out into a smile just as a torrent of rainwater fell on her. Celestia was clearly on her side today. She jumped up in joy and began bouncing around in a circle, giggling like a maniac. The rain would wash away all of the blood. Her creek would be cleansed from the vileness that had tainted it. She was free from worry.

She ran back home as fast as she could, not even caring about the fact that she was soaking wet, it was the most cleansing feeling that she had ever felt. When she arrived back at her house, her parents were still away, which suited Rarity just fine. She trotted into the bathroom and drew a hot, relaxing bath for herself. When the tub was full, she stepped inside and slid onto her back to relive the memories of what she had just done. She searched her emotions, expecting to feel some regret for what she had done. The first kill could be considered self-defense. He was going to attack her after all. Even the courts would agree with her that she had acted in defense of her well being.

She slid deeper in the bathtub and grinned to herself. "Dug, you may have been self-defense, but your little cronies? They were just for fun. I guess you could even call it..." Her grin slowly faded. "Murder. I guess it was murder."

Rarity sighed and leaned her head on the edge of the tub. "Rarity, You got lucky. What would have happened if the rain and timberwolves hadn't come along?"

Rarity tisked. "Well they did, and I don't have to be punished for it."

Rarity frowned and tapped her lower jaw with her hoof. "Rarity, the events of today were certainly exhilarating, but I think it would be best for you and your family if you did not do it again."

"Oh but Rarity, we did everypony such a great service today. Now not only will they not torment me anymore, but they will leave the other foals alone too."

Rarity clicked her tongue and began squeezing bubble bath into the tub. "Yes that's true, but what happens if you get caught, Rarity? Think of your parents!"

Rarity chuckled and leaned back so that only the top half of her head was sticking out of the water. She dipped a washcloth into the water and draped it over her eyes. "Oh Rarity, you must have more faith than that. I think I should do it again. It was so wonderful. I'd just have to make sure that nothing could go wrong before I tried again. I mean, with the right amount of planning, I'm sure that nothing bad would happen."

"Well, Rarity... if you are sure that nothing will go wrong."

"I assure you, Rarity, I will do everything in my power to make sure everything will be fine."

"Well... okay, Rarity."

Satisfied, Rarity got up out of the tub and dried herself off. She used her magic to style her mane and tail to their normal perfect curls and sighed in contentment. Life was going her way now. She trotted to her room and began tossing around the idea of checking a few medical books out of the library. Those would certainly come in handy.

Sister and Parents

View Online

Five Years Later

Rarity awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the wonderful smell of apple pancakes being made on the stove wafting into her nose. The fragrant aroma helped wake her up as she imagined the tasty delights to come. She got out of her bed and stretched before spending a few moments to put her mane in her favorite style. It was being particularly difficult this morning as she had slept on it wrong. She had to pick up her curling iron, something she only used for hair emergencies, to get it to curl right. After a few minutes of what she would dramatically describe as combat with her hair, she finally managed to subdue her difficult curls so that they resembled something like how she normally styled her mane.

She harrumphed at her mane, but stopped for a brief moment to admire her cutie mark of three shining blue gems. She had received it only a few weeks after taking care of those nasty little foals five years ago. As such, she did not think it was mere coincidence that she had three gems on her flank. Three gems for three little foals dead by her hooves.

She giggled at the thought of her first kills. Oh how young and foolish she had been back then. It was still a surprise to her that she hadn't been caught. Why, if the rainstorm hadn't come along to wash her creek clean of any taint then she would almost certainly have been found out. No, she was much more careful these days.

She sighed happily as she reached under her bed for her special box. It was nothing special on the outside, just a small container carved from an oak tree. Any outsider would wonder what the significance was. As a matter of fact, the contents would be a mystery to any snoopers too.

Rarity used her magic to lift the lid, revealing nothing more than a simple rock. She placed the box down and lovingly lifted the rock out of its resting place with her magic. She walked over to the center of her room where there was a clear spot on the floor. There was always a clear spot for her as she kept her room spotless at all times. Not much had changed in the last five years in terms of her cleanliness. If anything, thanks to her... secret activities, she was much more into cleanliness than she was when she had made her first kills.

However, Rarity was thirteen now and had certainly gotten better at her craft. She raised the rock into the air and swung it down as hard as she could. It hit only air this time, but she would never forget the moments in time when the rock had connected with pony skulls. Giggling again, she gently put the rock on the floor next to her. She summoned the box closer and sat down. This was a ritual she had performed many, many times, and she always loved it. She was a big believer in taking pride in ones work, and the records of hers were the things she treasured most. She took the second item out of the box; it was a piece of wood that fit perfectly into the bottom. She pulled it out and examined it in her hooves. It was a perfectly carved square piece of wood with obvious exceptions; the square had nine gash marks in it. Nine gash marks, nine ponies.

She leaned back against her bed and ran her hoof down the marks. A teenaged couple walking in the woods. A new student who had called Cheerilee an idiot and was lured to Rarity's creek with the promise of meeting a classmate he had a crush on. A drunk stallion that was walking home alone one night. All had fallen to rock or knife, though, most of the kills were in recent years. Goodness knows she couldn't kill a full grown stallion at age nine.

She put the murder tally down and picked up the box. It was special to her, too. Both it and the piece of wood were carved from a fallen tree from her creek. The creek itself was still as beautiful as ever for her. It was her place to be alone with her thoughts. It was how she kept herself so thoughtful and organized. Everypony should have a spot like that, she mused.

As she twirled the counter in her hooves, further examining her marks, she took a deep breath. "Rarity... do you ever regret doing this? If you're ever caught then you will be killed."

Rarity scoffed and placed the counter back in her box. "No, I don't think so." Rarity giggled and placed the rock back in the box and snapped the lid shut. "It just makes me feel so alive!"

Rarity stretched her neck and shoved the box back under her bed. She fired up her horn and levitated a thick pile of newspaper clippings held together with a paper clip. She took the paper clip off of the clippings and began leafing through. "Besides, the results are far too interesting. I do this enough to feel good, but not so much that anypony suspects foul play."

She lifted up the first clipping, smiling at it fondly.

The funeral was held today for the three missing foals, two of whom were found dead in the Everfree Forest last week. Investigators believe that they were playing there and were attacked by timberwolves. Authorities urge the residents of Ponyville to stay away from the forest so that we may avoid such tragedies in the future.

The entire town gathered at Town Hall where the newly elected mayor gave a speech about what happened, saying that the community needs to band together during this time. Sources state that the parents of the filly, whose body was not found, are moving out of Ponyville.

A group of schoolfoals were interviewed after the funeral, and it is clear that the deaths of their classmates have affected them. "I feel really bad about them dying," said a crying foal named Cheerilee. "They didn't have to die!"

Rarity scoffed and shook her head. "I think I did you all a great service," she muttered. Rarity adjusted the clipping in her grasp.

Another of their classmates named Rarity was equally distraught saying, "We didn't like each other that much, but I didn't want them to die! Nopony deserves having that happen to them."

Rarity put the article down and giggled. It was such a marvelous performance. She even got a few tears in there.

Rarity put the clipping back on the pile and secured them with the paper clip again. She pushed the clippings back under the bed and pulled out a thick green book. She brushed some dust off of the cover and opened it to the first page.

Equestria's Monsters: Pony Serial Killers Throughout the Ages

Rarity grinned to herself and flipped open to one of the pages she had marked with a piece of cloth. No reason to not do a little light reading before breakfast if she was reminiscing.

The Canterlot Killer was a serial killer who rampaged throughout the capital city of Equestria seven hundred years into the sole reign of Princess Celestia. The first victim was discovered disemboweled in an alleyway a few blocks from the castle. All identifying marks such as teeth, mane, and cutie marks had been removed, making identifying the pony difficult.

Over the next eight years, thirteen such ponies were found disemboweled in alleyways close to the palace. It took using three of the palace's servants as bait for the Canterlot Killer to finally be captured eight years to the day after his first kill. Four days later, Princess Celestia herself publicly executed him by beheading.

Rarity clicked her tongue and turned the page. There was no need to have a traceable M.O. The only thing that should matter to a good serial killer was body count. Rarity's mind wandered back to her counter under her bed. Nine kills in five years. She'd beat the Canterlot Killer's body count yet.

A loud knock on her door brought her out of her daydreaming of times past as her mother called from the other end. "Rarity, breakfast is ready!"

"Coming!" said Rarity in a sing-song voice. She placed the book back under her bed and stood up. Rarity walked down the stairs of the house humming a merry tune. She was glad to have an upstairs room now. When she had gotten her cutie mark and found the stash of gems in the rock, another thing she thought was no coincidence thanks to her experience a few weeks prior, she and her parents were able to afford a lovely house in the main Ponyville area. It had been a house that was only available because a couple grieving the violent death of their daughter had moved out. Rarity laughed at the irony of it all.

She reached the bottom step and trotted over to the table where her mother and father were happily gazing into each others eyes. Each plate had a stack of apple pancakes on it. Rarity then levitated her silverware and dug into the pancakes. "Good morning, Mother. Good morning, Father. How are things with you this fine day?"

Rarity lifted her first bit to her mouth, but mother gently put her hoof on her daughter's shoulder. "Actually, before you dig in to this breakfast your father cooked, we have something very important to talk to you about."

Rarity cocked her head and put her fork down. "Why, Mother, whatever is the matter?" Her eyes shifted over to her parents who were still gazing into each others eyes. Something was off, that much was certain. They were never this open about their relationship at the breakfast table. No, they had something to say and it was going to be something big. "M-Mother I─"

"You're going to have a new little brother or sister, Rarity," said her father.

Rarity's jaw dropped. "There... there is going to be a new foal in the family? I'm going to be getting a new sibling?" Rarity sharply inhaled. "Mother, I... I don't even know what to say!"

"Your Mother's due in five months. Are you surprised?"

"Am I ever!" said Rarity.

Rarity's mother cocked her head. "Uh... are you happy?"

Rarity only had to think about the answer for a brief moment. "Am I ever!" she cried. She jumped up into the air with a squeal of delight and threw her forelegs around her mother. "Oh this is so wonderful! I can't wait to find out if it's a colt or a filly!"

"Based on the statistics... probably filly," her father muttered.

Rarity paid no heed to the comment and instead went over and hugged him too. "I'm sure we'll all be very happy either way."

She sat back down and began eating her pancakes. As she ate, she realized just how perfect life was for her. She had loving parents. Her gem finding spell meant that she was financially secure for life. Her clothes making skills were getting better each day, and she was already in a position to buy up an old building in town for the business she was planning to create. Nopony in Equestria suspected that she was well on her way to becoming the deadliest serial killer in history. Best of all, she had a new brother or sister coming.

Yes, life was beautiful.

* * * *

Rarity deeply exhaled and continued her pacing. Her family had been sitting down to dinner when her mother had gone into labor. Her father rushed her into the hospital, and she had been wheeled in to the E.R. Rarity groaned and looked over at the clock. That had all been six hours ago! She could only sit in the waiting room and count the seconds until someone came to get her.

She sighed and surveyed the spotless waiting room to see if there was maybe a fashion magazine in there that she could read while she waited. Her eyes landed on a stack of magazines lying on a table a few chairs away, and she trotted over to them and started searching for one she hadn't read yet. She groaned after a few seconds of searching. Nothing new was in the stack. One of them was so old that the fashion trends it had advertised had gone out of style. Taffeta capes indeed. Rarity chuckled at the silliness of it.

She did find one that she had enjoyed earlier in the week about an up-and-coming designer named Hoity Toity. Rarity was always eager to get news on him as he was well on his way to becoming the most influential designer in Canterlot, a title that Rarity dreamed that she would one day hold. She picked the magazine up and began leafing through it again.

However, before she could engross herself in the magazine entirely, she heard the most unbecoming voice behind her. "Well howdy do there, miss. You here waitin' on someone?"

Rarity glanced behind her and saw an orange pony with long blonde hair that was tied back in a ponytail with gaudy red hairbands. She had three apples as a cutie mark and seemed to be about Rarity's age. The mare had a large smile plastered over her face, but there seemed to be something a little... forced about it. It was a little too wide and didn't quite reach her eyes.

Rarity decided to ignore that for now and she cleared her throat. "Well, considering I am in a hospital waiting room, I think one can reasonably think the answer is yes," she said a little more coldly than she intended, but the other pony didn't seem to notice.

"Ah thought so." The mare extended one of her hooves in greeting. "The name's Applejack."

Rarity subtly examined the proffered hoof. It was cracked and dry, not to mention caked with mud from whatever kind of farm work this pony did. Rarity gingerly lifted up her hoof and shook Applejack's. "Oh yes, how do you do?" She forced her own smile. "My name is Rarity." After a quick shake of Applejack's hoof, she surreptitiously wiped hers on the foreleg rest of her chair.

"Well it's a pleasure to meet you, Rarity," said Applejack with a warm smile. "What's goin' on with you?"

Rarity flinched back as Applejack's loud voice surged through her ears, and she felt her dislike of the pony continue to rise. It wasn't because she was dirty, although there was that too, but she was just so loud and pushy. Rarity made a mental note to remember Applejack for... later events.

Rarity forced a smile on her face and motioned over to the double doors leading to the E.R. "Well, my mother is in the delivery room giving birth to my new brother or sister."

"Well congratulations!" Applejack cried. She seized Rarity's hoof in both of hers and began shaking it vigorously. Her smile even flashed with a little sincerity for the briefest of moments.

Rarity's forced smile slipped into a pained grimace, and she pulled her hoof out of Applejack's grip. "Yes, thank you, Applejack. What are you doing here exactly if I may ask?"

Immediately, all of the happiness and vigor left Applejack's face as her forced smile fell. "Well, mah Ma and Pa were just in a carriage accident. They were crossin' the street and somepony didn't secure their carriage right. It rolled down the hill where it was positioned and..." Applejack's lower jaw wobbled and a pair of tears streaked down her face. "It hit 'em both. It was about ta hit me, but mah pa pushed me outta the way before it did. It hit him, and Ma couldn't get outta the way fast enough either. The docs 'round here are doin' their best to patch 'em up."

Rarity gave a fake gasp and put on the mask of sorrow that she had become so adept at wearing during tragedies. "Oh my goodness! That's horrible. Are they going to be alright?"

Applejack merely shrugged. "That's the worst part," she mumbled. "Ah hate not knowin'."

Rarity extended a hoof and put it on Applejack's shoulder. "I'm sure they'll both be no worse for wear in no time at all."

Applejack gave a small smile and wiped away her tears. "That's mighty kind of ya to say, Rarity. M-mighty kind indeed."

Applejack's tears started anew and she threw her hooves over Rarity's shoulders and pulled her into a bear hug. "Ah'm so scared for them!"

Rarity immediately stiffened up at this, but she still put a small bit of effort into wrapping one of her forelegs around Applejack waist as a sort of awkward hug. "I'm sure it will be fine," she said in her best attempt at a soothing voice.

"Thanks," said Applejack who continued to cry into Rarity's shoulder for a few more minutes. After a short while, Applejack managed to regain control and broke off the hug. "Ah... Ah'm sorry fer dumpin' on ya like that. Ah hardly know ya, and here Ah am tellin' you mah worst problems."

Rarity waved away Applejack's words. "It's no trouble," Rarity reassured her, despite the fact that she believed it was trouble for sure. "This awful thing is happening and you want to let it out."

Before Applejack could respond, a doctor came through the door to the waiting room. "Which one of you is Rarity?" he asked, surveying the two ponies.

Rarity bolted up, eager to be away from this sad mess of a pony. "I am, sir!" She had said that perhaps a little too fast, but Applejack didn't notice.

The doctor nodded and beckoned for Rarity to follow him and she eagerly rushed over to his side. "What happened, doctor? Are they okay?"

"Your mother and your new baby sister are doing just fine. You can go see them now. They're in room 12-A, just down the hall."

Rarity's ears perked up and a wide smile spread across her face. "S... sister?"

The doctor returned the smile. "Yes indeed. Congratulations, Rarity, you have a new baby sister."

Rarity jumped up and gave a shout of joy before bolting down to room 12-A. She burst through the doors and saw her mother holding a tiny bundle with her father's front legs wrapped over her shoulders. Rarity rushed over to her mother's side and saw the tiny filly in her arms. She was the same shade of white that Rarity herself was, and she had a pink and purple striped mane complete with a tiny horn on top of her head.

Rarity's mother gently nuzzled the tiny filly. "Isn't she just the most precious thing you've ever seen?" she whispered.

Rarity's eyes filled with tears of joy and she stroked her sister's mane. "Yes! Yes she is!"

Her mother extended her front legs and hoofed the newborn over to Rarity. Rarity gingerly sat on the floor and cradled her new sister. The unicorn foal shifted slightly in her blankets, but otherwise remained asleep. Rarity smiled fondly at her and kissed her on the head before looking up at her parents. "What's her name?"

"Well, we actually haven't thought of a name yet," said her father. "We were hoping for a little bit of input from you."

"Well, she's just a little sweetie, isn't she?" Rarity cooed. "I think that should be a part of her name, don't you think?" At that exact moment, a bell began to ring in the distance from the Ponyville Tower signifying that it was eleven o'clock at night. "Bell... Belle. Belle with an 'e' at the end means beauty, doesn't it? How about Sweetie Belle?" She looked expectantly up at her parents, both of whom smiled back at her.

"I think that's a wonderful name," said her mother. A doctor beside them nodded and went off to go make the birth certificate.

"Yes, Sweetie Belle," said Rarity softly. "My baby sister Sweetie Belle." Rarity relished this perfect moment in time and she almost wished it could go on forever. The doctor did trot back into the room after a few minutes, putting Sweetie Belle's birth certificate in a manila folder.

"I'm sorry, you three, but I'm afraid that one of you needs to go home for the night. Visiting hours are over, and the hospital only allows for one of you to stay with the patients."

Rarity nodded and gave her sister back to her mother. "I suppose that would be my cue to leave."

"Are you going to be okay, Rarity?" her father asked. "It's really dark out."

"I'll be fine, Father," Rarity assured him. "It's not like a small town such as Ponyville is dangerous, even at night. Besides, I've stayed by myself at home many times. You know that." Rarity stood up and motioned over to her mother and sister. "Your place is here with Mother and my new sister."

Rarity kissed Sweetie Belle's forehead one more time before walking out of the room.

As Rarity skipped down the hall, she hummed a happy tune and squealed in joy every now and again. "I have a baby sister!"

As she passed by one of the rooms, a noise entered her ears that sounded a lot like crying. She screeched to a halt and frowned. Yes, somepony was crying. In fact, the crying sounded vaguely familiar now that she thought on it. She swiveled her ear to see if she couldn't pinpoint the location of the sorrow. It seemed as if it was coming from the room right in front of her.

Upon further investigation of the door, she saw that it was slightly open and debated with herself for a moment. "You really shouldn't be snooping, Rarity," she muttered to herself. She began walking away before turning back with an eager grin. "Oh, but it's so much fun, Rarity!" She opened the door another inch and glanced in.

When she saw what was inside, her stomach clenched and she almost shut the door. She saw Applejack inside, her hooves wrapped around a sorrowful looking doctor. He was the same one who had gotten Rarity to tell her that her sister had been born. Applejack was weeping openly into his shoulder. Behind the two of them were two beds with two ponies covered by large white sheets. On a bedside table next to the closer body was a worn down Stetson hat. The doctor was muttering something to Applejack, trying to get her at least a little calm.

After a few minutes of this, Applejack managed to gain a little control and she broke away from the doctor. She walked over to the bed on the right and kissed the head of the pony underneath. "G... goodnight Ma," she said before walking over to the other bed. She repeated the action. "Goodnight Pa, Ah'll see you two... l-later then."

It seemed to Rarity that she was about to collapse on the ground and cry like a little foal, not that Rarity would have blamed her for such an action, but Applejack retained a surprising amount of control given the situation. Still, a few more tears flowed from her eyes as she began walking towards the door. Rarity was about to move, but saw that Applejack had stopped. Applejack walked over to the bedside table and grabbed the Stetson off of the table and placed it on her head. She turned towards the doctor. "Thanks for everythin', doc. Ah know ya did all ya could."

As Rarity moved away from the door, she was surprised to discover that she almost felt sorry for Applejack. She had seen this, of course. Her victims' families would act this way whenever their love ones would disappear, but for the first time, Rarity felt a small tear of her own roll down her face.

She continued trotting down the hall. "Should I kill Applejack, Rarity?" she whispered almost inaudibly. "I can't imagine what it would be like growing up without Mother and Father. If I reunited Applejack with her parents it would be a kindness to her."

She nodded to herself. "Yes, Rarity. It would be very kind to her indeed."

As she walked down the halls of the hospital trying to find an exit so she could plan for her attack on Applejack, she heard her name being called. She turned to see Applejack standing behind her. "Oh, hello, Applejack."

Applejack's mouth moved shakily, but no words came out. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "H-hey, Rarity. How's yer mother? Did you get yer new brother or sister okay?"

"Oh... um, yes. My mother fine, as is my new baby sister. They're resting now." Applejack nodded and Rarity saw her jaw quiver once more. Applejack let loose a solitary sob and quickly pulled her hat over her eyes. Rarity slowly trotted over to the distraught pony and put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "How are you, Applejack? I heard about your parents."

"Ah'm doin'..." Applejack took a deep breath and continued staring at the floor. "Look, Ah know this is too much to ask, seein' as how Ah hardly know you and all, but would you mind walkin' me home tonight? Ah... Ah gotta talk to somepony right now or Ah'll go nuts."

The corners of Rarity's mouth gently turned up in a smile. She knew just the spot to do it if she could just get Applejack there. She settled for giving Applejack a half-hug. "Of course, darling. You go ahead and talk about whatever you need to and I'll listen."

Applejack thanked Rarity and the two began walking towards Applejack's house. During the whole journey, Applejack talked about her parents. She talked about her favorite memories with them, how she hoped they were in a better place, and how she hoped they were proud of her. All the while, Rarity was leading Applejack to a spot in the woods where she often took victims for their final moments. Applejack was so wrapped up in everything that had happened to her that she didn't even notice. She just continued to blindly followed Rarity's lead.

Applejack continued to talk about her parents as the duo walked onwards, with Rarity chiming in with a comforting word every now and again, but Rarity's mind was really on how close they were to their destination. Just a little closer now, and this poor pony would see her parents again.

As they neared the spot, Rarity picked up a rock with her magic to use. Rocks were always messier than Rarity liked, but she hadn't had time to prepare anything else, so it would just have to do. Applejack didn't even notice that she was being led to her death; she just stared at the ground and kept talking. Rarity brought the rock closer, moving it in position for the kill. At that moment, something Applejack said actually made it into Rarity's ears. "Ah just don't know how mah baby sister is gonna' to grow up without parents."

Rarity immediately lost focus and the rock slipped from her magical grasp. "So sorry, did you say 'baby sister'?"

Applejack nodded. "Yeah, her name's Apple Bloom. She was only born a couple of months ago."

Rarity let out a tiny gasp. You have to call this off, Rarity. Think of how Sweetie Belle would react to finding out she had a big sister who died before she was born! Apple Bloom deserves a sister if she can't have parents.

The fire that had driven Rarity to this point to end Applejack's life immediately faded away, and she looked wildly around the clearing. "Oh my goodness, I think we may have taken a wrong turn somewhere. How do I get to your house again?"

Her question brought Applejack out of her misery for a second as she looked around. "Whoa, how did we get all the way over here?" she questioned. "Ah'll lead ya in the right direction. Ah guess we just lost our way for a bit there."

* * * *

It had been a few months since Sweetie Belle's birth, and life was just as good as Rarity had imagined.

Rarity had walked Applejack home and talking to Rarity seemed to do her a lot of good. Applejack had no idea how close she had come to death herself that night, nor would she if Rarity had anything to say about it. That wasn't something that others needed to know, after all.

Sweetie Belle and her mother had been discharged from the hospital a few days after that, and both of them were doing absolutely fine. Rarity marveled at the wonder that was modern medicine, as something as complicated as a pregnancy and delivery was considered simple in her time when even sixty years ago it was far more dangerous. However, there had been no complications with Sweetie Belle's birth, and both her and her mother were perfectly healthy.

On this particular evening, both of Rarity's parents were gone for the day. Rarity's father had work, and Rarity's mother had matters to attend to with work as well regarding maternity leave. As such, it was just Rarity and Sweetie Belle in the house today and at the moment, Rarity was in Sweetie Belle's room laying her down for her nap. To Rarity's delight Sweetie Belle was a very happy little filly, if a bit stubborn sometimes, but even in her stubborn moments, Rarity loved her all the same.

As she watched Sweetie Belle's tiny form breathe in and out, she heard a trio of sharp knocks on the door. Rarity froze and looked down at Sweetie Belle, expecting the sound to have woken her up. However, Sweetie Belle slept through the intruding noise.

Grumbling to herself things that foals should not be privy to, Rarity trotted down the stairs and opened the door to find a pony that she had never met before. He was dressed in a cheap suit and had a suitcase slung on his back. He was clearly selling something, despite the 'no solicitors' sign on the door of the house. Why in Equestria does nopony notice them? Rarity grumbled inwardly.

The solicitor smiled at Rarity when she opened the door. "Well good afternoon, miss. May I have just a moment of your time? I'm with the Fillydelphia Valley Corporation, and we're looking for a few ponies here in Ponyville to do a survey for our company regarding business prices and customer satisfaction. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"

Rarity forced a polite grin on her face. "Oh, no thank you. I am not interested."

She tried to close the door, but the stallion moved forwards a few inches, almost as if he was going to put his hoof in the door. "It would just take few moments, miss."

"I said─"

"Only a few moments and you will receive a twenty bit gift card for our business," pushed the solicitor.

Rarity inwardly gritted her teeth, but just as she was about to slam the door in this rotten pony's face, she was struck by an urge she had not had in a long time. Ooh, this one could be fun. She widened her venomous smile and adopted a sweeter attitude. "Well, I suppose it's okay if it really will just take a moment. Would you like to come in? I have some tea on the stove."

The solicitor smiled. "Why that sounds very lovely, miss...?"

"Oh, Rarity." Rarity inclined her head and bent one knee in a small curtsy. "My name is Rarity."

"Well, Rarity, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," he said.

Rarity stepped aside and led him into the house. "Likewise. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go check on the tea."

"Take your time."

Rarity nodded and went into the kitchen. She opened up a drawer and pulled out a large vegetable knife. Rarity kept them sharp for occasions like this. Rarity trotted out of the room and back to where the intruder was. He was looking at photos on the mantelpiece. When he heard Rarity come in, he turned around with a smile. "Is that your new sister in the picture on the far right? I must say that she is─"

At that exact moment, Rarity clasped the knife between her hooves and stuck it directly in the solicitor's neck. He dropped to the floor immediately. It was an experience she had not had in months. She hadn't killed since she found out that Sweetie Belle was on the way. Despite her anger, it was absolutely marvelous. She hated to admit it to herself, but she had missed the rush that came with butchering another pony with her own two hooves.

"When. I. Say. That. I. Am. Not interested. I. Mean. Go away!" she screeched, each word incurring another stab wound. As she pulled the knife out after the last word, she heard a faint noise upstairs that was beginning to grow louder. Rarity dropped the knife and realized what the noise was. "Oh my goodness! Sweetie Belle!"

She started to run up the stairs when she screeched to a halt and turned back to the solicitor. He was long gone and was leaving quite the bloody mess. Rarity rationalized that he wasn't going anywhere and that her sister needed her attention right now.

She ran up the stairs and into Sweetie Belle's room. She gently picked up her crying sister and sat down on the floor so she could hug her tight. She began singing a lullaby in order to try to calm her down. "Hush now, quiet now, it's time to lay your sleepy head. Hush now, quiet now it's time to go to bed."

The soothing melody of her voice began to calm Sweetie Belle down and she stopped crying. Rarity nuzzled her sister gently and sighed in relief that her sister had calmed down until she looked down at herself. Both she and Sweetie Belle were covered in blood! Rarity held back a shriek of terror, and it took her a moment to realize that it was the blood of the solicitor and not Sweetie Belle. For a brief terrifying moment, Rarity had imagined that she had... No, she didn't want to even think about that.

She pulled Sweetie Belle into a tight hug and, despite every effort to the contrary, she began sobbing. "Oh, Sweetie Belle! I promise I will never, ever hurt you! Do you hear me? Big sister will never, ever hurt you!"

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Three years later

The moment had arrived. Years of scrimping, saving, favors, and working her hooves off had finally paid off. Now she had achieved one of the goals that she had had since foalhood. It had taken far longer than she had wanted it to, but Rarity now held the deed and the key to the run down building that she had her eye on ever since she was a young teenager. It was certainly true that the place was filthy, but Rarity enjoyed cleansing filth. She had ever since her first murders. However, that was eight years ago, and a lot had changed in that time. For one thing, she had now moved out of her parent's home. This building would not only be her business, but it would also be her house. In fact, the selling point for this building had been the potentially cozy room on the top level that would be perfect for her room. On top of that, there was a fabulous room on the bottom floor which would make an excellent workroom.

Smiling to herself at her good fortune, she took the key to her new home out of her saddlebag and unlocked the rusty door. Much to her chagrin, it promptly swung shut again once she was inside. The atmosphere inside her house was dank and musty, and it took Rarity a few moments to get used to the smell. She looked around for a light switch and when she found one, she flipped it on. The light overhead flickered briefly before a crackle of electricity ran through it and blew out the bulb. Rarity ground her teeth together. It was just one more thing to pay to get fixed around here. Money was no issue of course, as her ability to find gems had long since set her up for life, but she still disliked having to pay for things to get organized. She pulled a candle out of her saddlebag - the blown-out bulb was something that she had anticipated - and lit it to get some light in the room. It wasn't much, and the sunlight shining through the door offered more light than the candle did, but it was just enough to see with.

Rarity trotted outside where a group of movers were lounging around, waiting for Rarity to give them the go-ahead to begin moving her things inside. She nodded at the foreman who clapped his hooves together to signal his workers that they had better get to work. The stallions groaned, but they shuffled to their hooves and started moving Rarity's belongings into her house.

Rarity went inside ahead of them and used her candle to locate curtains for her to open. She found some and threw them open, letting sunlight flow through the window. The dust that had been accumulating on the curtains for however many years flew into the air, and Rarity fought the urge to sneeze. It was a lost cause. She sighed and dabbed her nose with a hoofkerchief.

She shook her head to clear it after the facial explosion and looked back up to examine the curtains. She saw that they were a garish mustard yellow color and shrank back with a tiny squeak. "I should kill whoever put these curtains up," she grumbled. She used her magic to tear them down and piled them in a back corner. "A light blue maybe," she mused. "Anything but..." She glanced over at the piled curtains and let out a noise of disgust. "That."

She shook her head and turned around just as the team filed into her home. She smiled and trotted over to them. It was time to begin.

* * * *

The day was a busy one for Rarity and the movers. Hour after hour was spent cleaning the rooms, carrying items into the rooms, and Rarity dictating were she wanted everything neatly put. Rarity privately thought that all of these stallions were brutish and idiotic. Sometimes it seemed as if they were deliberately ignoring her orders. They'd put a dresser in the workroom instead of in her room, or a display case in her room instead of the main hall. It was little things like that which made Rarity grow steadily more irritated with the workers as the day moved on. Her biggest worry was that one of them would snoop around and find her box, but none of them did. Her box was secure in a fold of fabric where it was supposed to be. What really irked Rarity was the fact that every now and again she received the occasional lewd look from one of the workers when they thought she wasn't looking. The foreman in particular shot a glance her way whenever he got the chance. She supposed she should be flattered that they were admiring her beauty, but it really was quite bothersome for her.

Finally, after eight hours of work, she was officially moved into her home. As Rarity looked over the completed job, she felt a sense of freedom that she had never felt before, even while committing her murders. She was free! She was completely on her own now, and out from under the rule of her parents. Not only that, but she was starting her own business in Ponyville. She still cared deeply for her family, particularly a fast growing Sweetie Belle, who had just celebrated her third birthday this past month. She had been sad to see Rarity move out, but Rarity hadn't moved too far away and the two could see each other every day.

Still, there was something more than a little exhilarating about the fact that this was her home, that she had purchased with her money. Her eyes scanned it, and her smile grew steadily larger as she did. "This is my home," she whispered to herself. "This is my home!"

Rarity allowed herself a victorious little giggle and turned around to see the foreman come up to her. "So, were you satisfied with our work here today?" he asked.

Rarity 'hmmed' and tapped her lower jaw, but slowly nodded after a few seconds. "Well, everything is where it should be for the most part, and my home certainly does look much nicer than it did before. So yes, I think you did an adequate job today."

The foreman grimaced at the word 'adequate' but seemed to shrug it off. "Alright then, lady. If you'll just pay us we'll be out of your hair."

Rarity nodded and walked over to a nearby chest. "Oh yes, of course. How much was it again? Two hundred bits I believe was the agreed upon price." Rarity opened it and pulled out a bag of coins containing the proper amount and handed it to the foreman. "Here you are, good sir."

The foreman took the bag from her and opened it up. He scanned the contents, then looked up at Rarity with a scoff. "Yeah, about that. See, when you hired us, you didn't say that we'd have to help clean your house too. You owe us four hundred bits now."

"I beg your pardon?" Rarity pulled the bag of bits back and tossed it back in the chest. "I hired you because I heard you were hard workers and not too expensive. I was told that your rate was two hundred bits for a job like this!"

"Well, your house was a special case, lady. Like I said, you didn't hire us to do any cleaning," the foreman retorted.

Rarity shot him an angry glare. "I wouldn't pay four hundred bits for your hide, much less the mediocre job you did today!"

The foreman took an aggressive step forward and his face twisted into a snarl. "Well I can involve a lawyer in this whenever I want, lady! Pay up or we'll sue!"

Rarity's eyes narrowed, and she had to hold back a request that he wait for a moment while she got a kitchen knife. Her actual response was more level-headed than that. "Well then, if you are willing to involve a lawyer in this extortion, then I suppose I had better pay up, shouldn't I?"

The foreman's mood of anger faded away to replaced with a smug smirk. "That's the idea, lady. You wouldn't want us to have to give your store here bad press before it even opened."

"Indeed not," said Rarity stiffly. "However, I don't have an extra two hundred on hoof at the moment, so if you would be so kind as to wait until I have gathered that amount, I would appreciate that."

The foreman nodded and snatched the bag of bits out of the chest. "Just drop it by my office by tomorrow morning." The foreman turned to go, but as he did, he turned back to Rarity with a reinforced glare. " If you don't, I will get a lawyer involved."

As he exited the house, Rarity smiled to herself and glanced towards the kitchen where her collection of knives had been placed. She opened one of the drawers and gently pulled out a gleaming butcher knife. She held it up to the light and allowed the sun's rays to reflect off of it, giving it an almost other-worldly glow. Perfect.

She smiled and placed the knife inside her saddlebag. "Oh Rarity, it's so nice when ponies get what's coming to them, isn't it?"

Humming to herself, Rarity trotted up the stairs to her new room. The bolt of fabric hiding her box was tilted until the box slid out. She leaned the fabric against the wall and lowered the box to the floor. She unlocked it with her magic and flipped the lid open.

She levitated the rock out of the box and grasped it in her hoof. She sat down on the floor and raised the rock high as she remembered the foreman's behavior. "So brutish. So despicable," she cooed. "Just like the rest of them of late. He's a bad pony, Rarity, and it's quite obvious what I do to bad ponies."

Rarity cackled and swung the rock down.

Putting the rock aside for the moment, Rarity lifted her kill counter out of the box. In the past five years, she had added eleven more gash marks to the box. Twenty-six ponies in all. Time for number twenty-seven.

As Rarity put the counter and the rock back in the box, she frowned to herself. "You know, Rarity, if you're not more careful then you could get caught. It's dangerous killing local ponies who quarrel with you."

Rarity scoffed and snapped the lid shut. "And what exactly traces them back to me, hmm? There are only two ponies who know that the foreman tried to exploit me tonight and one of them is going to be food for timberwolves in a few hours. Besides, I mostly kill ponies from out of town anyway."

Rarity put the box next to the bolt of fabric and got to her hooves, stretching out her back as she did. The sun was slowly sinking over the horizon, darkening the landscape. If Rarity's information was correct, it was just about closing time.

* * * *

That evening found Rarity hiding in the bushes next to the office of the moving company, waiting for the foreman to exit. It reminded her of the way a snake waited for a mouse to come out of its hole. She shifted uncomfortably as one of the branches poked her in the side, and she rued the fact that she needed to wait for him in such an unclean place. Still, it would all be worth it when he came out. Oh yes, it would all be worth it to see the look on his face when she tore him apart.

Rarity focused her full attention on the building in front of her just in time to see the foreman leave his office. With a yawn, he locked up the office building and left for home. Rarity eased out of the bushes when he was far enough away. She always made sure to keep her distance so as to not alert her prey, but stalking ponies in the dead of night was just another skill that had become second nature to her.

As Rarity continued to follow him, she saw that the number of houses in the area had decreased. Rarity recognized this part of town as the one she had grown up in many years ago. "Oh don't say that he lives in my old house." Rarity smiled and darted behind one of the nearby buildings. She poked her head around the corner just as the foreman stopped directly in front of her old house. Rarity giggled and stepped out of the shadows. "Goodness, I haven't killed here since that day with Sweetie..." Rarity's words died in her throat, and her stomach twisted itself into knots as her pupils shrank. Blood. So much blood all over her dear sister. Rarity cleared her throat and shook her head. "Since that day with that solicitor."

Pushing all thoughts of that night aside, she checked her saddlebag once more to make sure that she had everything that she needed for the kill. Content that she was ready, she walked up to the door and knocked. She heard a slight commotion inside the house, a mumble of irritation and the sounds of someone coming to the door. Within a few seconds, the foreman opened the door. When he saw Rarity, he raised an eyebrow. "Uh, can I help you, miss?"

Rarity flashed him a sweet smile. "I believe you can. You see, I was about to deliver the money to your office when I ran into a lawyer friend of my own. I spoke with him about the events of this afternoon, and he assured me that I certainly had a case against your extortion. In fact, I believe he informed me that I can sue you for enough to gain control of your entire operation." Rarity's smile flashed with smugness for the briefest of moments. "Celestia knows that I could run it better than you do."

The foreman's look of confusion quickly gave way to one of unease and he shifted where he stood and cleared his throat. "Uh, look miss, I'm sure we're both reasonable ponies. Maybe we can work something out here?"

Rarity giggled. "Oh, that is precisely the purpose of my visit, good sir. Nopony wants a mess on their hooves, do they? Do you mind if I came in so we could discuss the matter more comfortably?" The foreman grunted and inclined his head to beckon Rarity into his home.

Rarity walked inside the house and looked around. The layout obviously had not changed, but the fact that somepony so mean lived here was a taint on the home of her youth, and she almost sensed that in the air. She tisked and shifted her saddlebag. I hope somepony better moves in after tonight. I'd hate to have to keep coming back to kill here. Once is enough.

The foreman led Rarity into the living room and directed her to a chair. Rarity shook her head with a smile. "Oh no thank you, I prefer to stand," she said. He shrugged and sat down on a chair himself.

Before he could begin his discussion, an orange pegasus mare whom Rarity surmised was his wife came into the room. She frowned when she saw the Rarity in her living room and turned to her husband. "Honey, who is this?"

"Oh yes, pardon me," Rarity began. "My name is Rarity, and I am here to make sure neither I nor your husband have any reason to go to court against each other. You see, your husband here tried to extort me for double what I owed him after I used his services. I am merely here to straighten the matter out."

The foreman bit his lip and flattened his ears against his head. His wife's eyes narrowed and she flared her wings out as she turned to her husband. "Is that true?"

Rarity sighed and nodded. "Oh I'm afraid that it is quite true, madam. Having said all of that, I'm not actually here to discuss money or lawyers."

The foreman's ears perked up and he exchanged a glance with his wife. "Uh, then why are you here?"

Rarity opened her saddlebag and pulled out her butcher knife. Time to make it sing. "I'm here to kill you."

The foreman and his wife froze in shock, trying to register what Rarity had just said. The moment of shock was all she needed, and with a snarl of rage, she lunged towards the foreman and sunk the knife deep into his shoulder. He screamed in pain as Rarity threw her body weight into the knife, and it sank deeper into his body. The foreman fell to the ground writhing in pain, and his wife began screaming in terror. Rarity wheeled around and pointed the knife at her. "I would stay very quiet if I were you. Your life and the life of your husband depends on you entirely, so please, shut up!"

The words silenced her, and she began quietly sobbing. She moved over to her husband and knelt down beside him, trying her best to ease his pain. She could only place his head on her lap and look up at Rarity. "How could you?" she cried, angry tears flowing from her eyes. "Is a little money worth this?"

Rarity merely laughed and wiped the blade of her knife against a foreleg rest on a nearby couch. "Why of course, dear." The wife quietly gasped and Rarity rolled her eyes. "I mean, one must be firm in matters like this. Extortion is wrong, isn't it sir?"

The foreman weakly nodded. "We... we won't tell the cops on you, Rarity, just let us go." A jolt of pain coursed through his shoulder, and he gasped in pain.

Rarity scoffed and took a step forward, pointing the knife at the frightened couple. "Oh, don't take me for a foal. You know what I look like, you know where I live, and I just stabbed you in the shoulder and made no secret of my desire to kill you. Why, the second I leave it would be your duty to call the authorities on me, and they would catch me very quickly. So really, don't insult my intelligence by saying you won't tell anypony because you certainly will."

There was a brief moment of silence while Rarity pondered what to do next. The position the two were in made attacking outright difficult as the wife would certainly begin fighting to save her husband. Attacking the wife first would possibly be risky too as she would know when Rarity was going to attack by her body language and possibly fight back. She suddenly remembered how she had accomplished her thirteenth and fourteenth kills and decided that the situation called for that same strategy. She smiled sweetly a the two ponies in front of her, and tapped the knife on her lower jaw. "I'll tell you what, sir, I will let you go if you give me something."

The foreman's eyes widened and he smiled eagerly. "Anything! Just name it!"

Rarity slowly pointed her knife at the pegasus mare. "Your wife, or more accurately, her life. If you let me kill her right here and now, I will let you go."

The wife gasped and looked down at her husband. "Honey, you—"

"Yes! It’s a deal, just take her and let me go!"

His wife let out another tiny gasp and took her husband's head out of her lap. She let it fall to the floor with a thunk, eliciting a cry of pain from the foreman. She slowly stood up and began backing away, tears falling from her eyes. "I... I don't..."

Rarity merely smiled. It could not have gone any better. "Well then, I suppose we know what to do now then don't we?" With another snarl of rage, she jumped on top of the foreman and swung her knife down. With a few quick swipes, he was gone.

Rarity regained her composure after a few seconds, and looked up to see the wife staring blankly at the bloody mess before her. Rarity stood up and walked over to her. "I'm so sorry you had to see that, darling. Not me killing him, obviously, but I'm sorry you had to see his betrayal like that. Things of that nature are immensely distasteful to me." Before the wife could respond, Rarity drew the edge of the knife across her neck.

Rarity wiped the blade off on the mare's body and began cleaning herself up. "Maybe not stabbing next time if I do a house kill again," she muttered.

Rarity trotted over to where she remembered the bathroom to be. She cleaned the bloody knife and used a few towels hung on a rack to clean herself off as well. She then picked up the bloody rags and went to go move them over to where the bodies were but decided that as long as she was here, maybe she could stop by her old room briefly to see just how much it had changed, for old time’s sake. She placed the towels in a pile on the floor and trotted towards her old room.

The door was closed and, oddly enough, painted in bright rainbow colors. It seemed rather unlike this couple to do something like that, as the rest of the house was painted in dull greys and reds. Rarity opened the door and what was inside the room almost caused Rarity to give a small yelp of shock. On a tiny bed on the far end of the room was a sleeping pegasus filly. Rarity quietly entered the room and tip-hooved closer to examine her. She was just about Sweetie Belle's age, and had a light orange body and unkempt lighter purple hair. Tiny wings were folded at her side, and Rarity noticed that they seemed to be a bit small for a filly her size.

Frowning to herself, she looked around the room and saw a picture frame on the wall to the left of the bed. Rarity took a closer look and saw the foreman, his wife, and the filly in the picture, smiling happily at the camera. A caption underneath the photo read; "Mom, Dad, and our darling daughter Scootaloo at the Fillydelphia Fair." So, her name is Scootaloo, is it?

Rarity turned back to the sleeping filly and tapped her hoof on her chin. "Er... Rarity, it might be best to go all of the way," she muttered. "No need to make this poor dear suffer the pain of dead parents."

Nodding to herself, Rarity went back to the bathroom and collected her knife from where she had left it in the sink. When she returned, the filly was still sleeping peacefully, unaware that her parents lay butchered in the sitting room not fifty feet from where she now slept.

Rarity stood over the filly and raised her knife over her head. It would be quick.

* * * *

Rarity walked through town in a brisk pace, lest somepony see her. Sleeping peacefully in her saddlebag was the little filly from the house she had just been to. Rarity had lost the nerve to kill little Scootaloo a few seconds after she raised the knife. She just hadn't been able to kill her like that. She had imagined what the three year old filly would look like with a large gash in her throat, and Rarity immediately flashed back to that horrid day when she had held a blood-soaked Sweetie Belle in her forelegs. She realized at that moment that there was no way that she could kill this little filly. Rarity had hurriedly wrapped her in a blanket and put her in her saddlebag. She had spent a few hours cleaning up the house so that it would be spotless to even the most thorough investigation. Then she had wrapped up the corpses in a large tarp which she carried into the Everfree Forest for the predators to dispose of.

Rarity was actually surprised that Scootaloo had not woken up yet, as she was certain that the bumpy journey towards their destination would have brought Scootaloo out of her slumber. Having said that, the screams of her mother as Rarity stabbed her father should have done that as well, but little Scootaloo remained fast asleep.

After an hour of walking, Rarity reached her destination: the Ponyville orphanage. It was located outside of the town itself, but it was still considered a part of Ponyville. It was a perfect place to deposit the tiny filly, as Rarity didn't know anypony in Ponyville who would appreciate waking up in the morning to see a sleeping pegasus foal on their doorstep.

Rarity used her magic to gently lift Scootaloo out of her bag, and she placed her on the doorstep of the orphanage. She also pinned a note that she had written using a sample of the mother's hoofwriting on Scootaloo's blanket. It merely said: 'Please take good care of our daughter Scootaloo as we cannot.'

Rarity pounded her hoof three times on the door and bolted away. She hid behind some bushes, and peeked through a gap in time to see an elderly mare open the door. The mare gasped at the sight of the sleeping Scootaloo on the doorstep, and she immediately picked her up and brought her inside.

After the door to the orphanage shut, Rarity let out a breath that she hadn't realized she had been holding in. Scootaloo might not have any parents now, but at the very least she was safe. Rarity nodded and took a moment to close her saddlebag before turning around and trotting back to her home, content that her job was done.

Darkness Returns

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Five years later

Rarity awoke to the sound of her doorbell chiming downstairs. As music went, her doorbell could have been a worse way to wake up, but it was pleasant for Rarity to wake up like that on most days. Still, her shop wasn't open for another hour, so as she pushed herself up, she figured that it was her parents or Sweetie Belle coming to visit her. She shuffled out of bed, stopping for a moment to style her mane, and then trotted down the stairs.

Just as Rarity began walking down the stairs, she heard the doorbell ring once more. Well, it certainly isn't my parents or Sweetie Belle, then, as neither of them would be so rude! They would wait patiently for me at the door and not presume to ring the silly thing until I needed to get it replaced!

She tisked to herself but allowed herself a frustrated growl when the doorbell rang yet again. "I'm coming! I'm coming! Hold your horseshoes!"

She finally reached the door and opened it. To her surprise, she saw the mayor of Ponyville standing in front of her. Oh, this was different.

Rarity blinked in surprise at the sight of the town mayor and she needed a moment to get past how rude she had been to such an important pony. "Oh! I... well, g-good morning Madam Mayor," she stuttered. "What can I do for you?"

The Mayor, rather than being angry at her rudeness, flashed her a warm smile. "Hello there, Rarity! I hope that I didn't wake you." Rarity shook her head and The Mayor nodded. "Excellent. Well I'll be direct: our lovely princess has chosen Ponyville as the location of this year’s Summer Sun Celebration!"

Rarity's eyes widened in joy and a large smile spread across her face. "Here! The Summer Sun Celebration is going to be... here?!"

"Indeed it is," said The Mayor, smiling at Rarity's joy. "As such, everypony here needs to do their part in making sure our fair town looks the best that it can be for the celebration. I would like you to be the one who decorates town hall. I can think of nopony better to undertake such a task."

If anypony watching thought that Rarity's eyes couldn't get any wider or that her smile couldn't get any bigger, they would be wrong. Rarity's levels of joy tripled and she grabbed The Mayor in a bear hug and began jumping up and down in happiness.

"Oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!" she squealed. "You won't regret this, I promise! I'll make Town Hall look more beautiful than it has ever been in its entire existence!"

The Mayor gave a weak chuckle and eased her way out of the embrace. "Oh, yes, you're quite welcome, Rarity. You have a blank check for whatever you need. Just bill it to my office. I know you'll do just fine."

"Oh, I'll do better than fine, Madam Mayor! I'll do a spectacular job! Why, I’ll be the best decorator Town Hall has ever had!"

Rarity continued to rant to herself about how amazing of a decorator she would be. She didn't even notice that The Mayor had slipped away from the conversation.

* * * *

Rarity surveyed her work on Town Hall with a grin stretched over her face. She had decided early on that since this was the Summer Sun Celebration, she should make the theme of the decor something to do with the morning sky. Her original designs had called for a lot of yellow, representing the sun, but when she had put the idea into practice she found that the color was rather overpowering and off-putting to the pony eye. She immediately decided to use sky blue from that point as it was much more aesthetically pleasing.

She gave the entire room a last once-over and beamed to herself at how well she had done. The room was filled with sky blue streamers with a beautiful bouquet of flowers at every connecting point. It was here that she found out that she could use a color other than sky blue, and she utilized a beautiful bouquet of white flowers at most of the connecting points. Around the edges of the room and on the ceiling were banners emblazoned with symbols representing different aspects of nature, as well as others representing different moments in Equestrian history.

As she looked around, she realized that a few pillars did not have ribbons on them. She tisked and shook her head. "There's no point in decorating this room if you can't make it absolutely perfect, Rarity," she muttered. "Now, where did I put that box of ribbons?"

Rarity scanned the room and her eyes landed on a brown box that was currently resting on the balcony above her. She levitated the box off of the balcony and placed it at her hooves. She smiled and began lifting the individual colors out of the box, testing them out to see which one she liked. As she tried different ribbons, she began giving them verbal denials. "No, no, no, oh, definitely no." She was vaguely worried that she would run out of colors before she actually landed on one she liked. No, that was a ridiculous notion, she decided. There would be something in the box for her to use, there always was.

She shook her head and continued but soon found herself so engrossed in her job that she hardly noticed when the door to the room opened. She didn't even realize that two others had entered the room until she heard them begin talking to each other. She grimaced to herself. For goodness sakes. Can't they see that I'm working here?! She sighed and tossed another ribbon back in the box. Maybe they'll go away if they see how busy I am.

"Good afternoon," she heard a female voice say, much to her chagrin. Not only were these two intruding, but they seemed to want to talk to her. She inwardly sighed and reasoned that they might be here to check up on how she was doing. Admittedly, it would be rude, not to mention unladylike, to simply tell them to go away.

She forced a few tones of warmth and happiness in her voice and addressed the mare. "Just a moment, please. I'm in 'the zone' as 'twere." Rarity continued checking ribbons until she held up a sparkling red one. "Ah yes!" She tied the ribbon into a neat knot around the pillar. "Sparkle always does the trick, does it not? Why, Rarity, you are a talent."

She saw the pony in the corner of her eye examining her work. Ah yes, my audience.

She turned to the arrival. "Now, how can I help you─" Rarity shrieked as she got a good look at the mane of the pony in front of her. She was vaguely aware that this new pony was standing next to a baby dragon, but that hardly mattered to her right now. The monstrosity that was this new pony's mane was commanding her attention. It was so messy and frizzy and... horrid was the only word that came to Rarity's mind that adequately described the mess. It must be dealt with immediately. "Oh my stars, darling! Whatever happened to your coiffure?"

The new pony looked up at her ghastly mane. "Oh, you mean my mane? Well, it's a long story," said the new pony. She clearly did not understand just how horrible she looked. "I'm just here to check up on the decorations and then I'll be out of your hair."

"Out of my hair? What about your hair?" said Rarity. This had to be fixed. If this pony wasn't open to Rarity's generous help, then Rarity supposed she had enough time to kill her and get rid of the body. Well, except that she had a dragon companion. Rarity had never killed a dragon before, but she suspected that even a baby one would be immensely hard to kill. Maybe if she could slip him some poison or something it would do the job. She certainly had such things around in case she needed to make a quick kill. A knife for the dragon was certainly out of the question as even a baby one would doubtlessly have thick scales that would be almost impenetrable, not to mention his fire breath. However, it all seemed to be moot as, despite the fact that this new pony was resistant to Rarity pushing her towards Carousel Boutique, she wasn't putting up any serious effort. At any rate, once she figured out that she couldn't talk Rarity out of this she followed her willingly.

Within a few minutes they arrived at Carousel Boutique. Rarity grabbed the pony's hoof and pulled her over to a mirror. "Now is there a particular style you like, darling?" said Rarity as she levitated her emergency mane repair kit over to her.

Twilight patted at her poofy curls. "Yeah. I usually just have it straight with the end curled around my neck."

"Straight with the end around your neck." Rarity unzipped her kit and levitated a brush and some hairspray out of it. After wetting the brush, she dragged it through Twilight's mane until it looked at least passable. "Is this correct?"

Twilight turned her head both ways and examined her hair in the mirror. A small smile crossed her face and she turned back to Rarity. "It looks good. Thanks."

Rarity returned the smile and zipped the case shut. "Oh not at all, my dear. I was quite happy to do it." Rarity floated her case onto a nearby table and her eye caught on one of her 'experiments', as she liked to call them. She tapped her lower jaw and glanced back at Twilight. "You know... I might be able to further improve your looks. Would you maybe be interested in modeling some things for me?"

Twilight bit her lip and flattened her ears. "Oh, that's okay. I wouldn't want to take up too much of your time."

Rarity chuckled and waved her hoof. "Oh it would be no trouble at all, darling." She eagerly grabbed the hoof of the new pony and levitated some dress forms over to her. "This is a rare opportunity for me as of late: having somepony model dresses that I've had been tinkering with."

Twilight gulped and scanned the dresses. "Uh, no problem, I guess." The mare put each one of them on with what seemed to be quiet dignity and grace, but as each one was put on, Rarity realized that each one needed to be adjusted in some way or another. At the very least, none of them looked good on this pony.

Rarity tisked and slipped a sky blue dress off of the pony. "Don't worry, I will find something good for you, Miss..." Rarity's ears perked up. "Oh my goodness! I'm sorry, darling. I never asked you your name and where you're from."

"I'm Twilight Sparkle and this is my assistant, Spike," she said, pointing to the dragon.

"Spike?" Rarity smiled down at the dragon. "It's a pleasure to meet... meet..." Rarity's smile faded and she leaned her head away ever so slightly at the sight of the dragon. He had a large, goofy grin plastered over his face, and Rarity could swear she saw cartoony hearts over his eyes. Well I suppose that's flattering, but... Rarity turned back to her dresses. Unwelcome. Maybe he'll go away if I don't show any interest.

As Rarity continued to have Twilight try on clothes, she remembered a corset that she had been saving for a special occasion and she decided that Twilight would look absolutely marvelous in it. After she nixed the latest design, a souped up aerobics instructor, Rarity grabbed the corset and slipped it over Twilight's head. To Rarity's delight, it did look absolutely wonderful on her. Rarity realized that she needed to tighten the straps of the outfit but decided that she had done enough talking for the moment. "Now go on my dear, you were telling me where you're from." She grabbed the straps in the back with her teeth and put her hind hooves on Twilight's back for maximum strength and began pulling as hard as she could.

The strain on her ribs meant that Twilight could only get out one word at a time thanks to the corset constricting her breath. "I've... been... sent... from... Canterlot... to..."

Wait, Canterlot? Did this pony just say she was from Canterlot?

"Huh?" Rarity released the straps, sending both ponies flying in opposite directions. "Canterlot?! Oh I am so envious! The glamor, the sophistication! I have always dreamed of living there! I can't wait to hear all about it!" She leaned in next to the bemused pony. This is clearly the type of pony that I should get to know. Who knows? Maybe Twilight can get me business contacts in Canterlot! New town, new customers, new outfits, new victims, it's a dream situation is what it is.

Rarity leaned in further until she was almost cheek to cheek with Twilight."We are going to be the best of friends you and I!"

Rarity's eyes trailed down to the large gemstone adorning the front of the corset. It seemed this outfit did have a flaw after all. "Emeralds?" Rarity shook her head. "What was I thinking? Let me get you some rubies!" With a grin Rarity trotted off to get the necessary stones.

When she returned, while levitating a large ruby in front of her, she saw that Twilight was nowhere to be found and the corset that she had been wearing was lying on the back of a chair.

Rarity growled to herself. "Please tell me she didn't..." Rarity placed the ruby down on a nearby table and levitated the corset over to her. A quick glance confirmed Rarity's fear: Twilight had torn a small hole in the side of the garment in her hurry to leave. Not only that, but one of the emeralds in front had popped out as well.

Rarity gritted her teeth and gently placed the corset down. "Twilight, when I see you next I am going to─"

"Welcome her to Ponyville at her welcome party!" squealed a high-pitched, excited voice behind her.

Rarity jumped up into the air with a startled yelp. When she landed, she turned around to see a smiling pink pony behind her. "Oh, Pinkie Pie, you startled me." She had hoped to maybe catch her breath with a minute of silence after being surprised like that, but Pinkie Pie put any thoughts of that to rest when her own mouth opened.

"Well that's silly! I've been in here for five minutes." Pinkie wrapped Rarity in a squeezing hug then put her down on the floor when the corset caught her interest. "The new pony in town seemed uncomfortable when you were pulling on her clothes like that."

Rarity chuckled and glanced ruefully at the corset. "Yes, well, that's just part of the way that the outfit works, darling." Rarity turned her gaze back to the excitable party pony. "Now, what were you saying about a welcome party?"

"Well, I ran across the new pony today in the town square and I realized that I didn't know her name and if I didn't know her that means that she's not from around here and if she's not from around here then she must not have any friends and how sad is it to not have any friends am I right? So I decided that the best thing to do was to invite everypony in Ponyville for a great big party to welcome Twilight to Ponyville and I found out from The Mayor that Twilight was staying in the library and I've been on the move the whole day organizing this party for her and I've been inviting everypony in Ponyville to this party and since the Summer Sun Celebration is today nopony has anything really to do so they all said they'd be delighted to come to the party!"

Rarity shook her head, unable to believe that anypony could talk for that long without taking a breath. "I see, Pinkie Pie. Oh and by the way, her name is Twilight Sparkle and her dragon companion is named Spike, I believe."

Immediately, Pinkie started in on another long-winded rant about how awesome it was to have Twilight in Ponyville and how amazingly fun the party was going to be. Rarity managed to tune it out while nodding occasionally to whatever Pinkie was saying. She tuned back in just in time to her Pinkie say "And then I heard you say, 'when I see you next I am going to' and I said 'welcome her to Ponyville at her welcome party'!"

Rarity mused that Pinkie's idea of the second half of her sentence was quite off. Rarity was thinking more along the lines of strapping her down and removing her internal organs while her poisoned dragon lay dead at her hooves, not welcoming her to Ponyville. She wouldn't be in Ponyville for very long anyways, as mishandling her clothing was always a fatal offense to Rarity. It was good to know that Twilight was staying at the library, though.

As Pinkie Pie left the boutique, Rarity promised her that she would be at Twilight's party. Pinkie Pie said her goodbyes, content that one more pony would be at her wonderful parties. Rarity rolled her eyes in amusement at the retreating figure. She had to admit it, she liked Pinkie Pie. As hard as it was to be around her sometimes, and she took a lot of energy to put up with, she genuinely enjoyed her company. It was hard not to like somepony who made it her goal in life to make you as happy as possible. Rarity was often curious about whether or not Pinkie would get Rarity new victims if Rarity told Pinkie it would make her smile. She didn't want to press her luck on that, though.

Rarity shut and locked the door to her boutique right after Pinkie Pie left, and went into a storage room next to the main entrance to her shop. Inside was nothing more than a small, worn down piano; something unassuming to the casual looker; not that anypony came in here anyway. Rarity played the tune to the lullaby that she used to sing to Sweetie Belle when she was younger, and a secret door opened up to her right, revealing some stairs. Rarity had found this basement when she had moved in and, with a few adjustments, it became her secret workroom. It had nothing to do with fashion, though. No, this room was for her kills.

Rarity reached the bottom of the stairs and flicked on a light switch to her left. An outside pony would be absolutely horrified at the sight before them: the walls were caked in blood and entrails, some of it all too fresh. Every now and again, a stray bone could be found on the floor, and maybe a piece of flesh as well. A large metal table fitted with leather straps was placed in the center of the room, and it too was caked with dried blood. On the opposite wall from the door was a large workbench of sorts, and strewn across the room were a few tables with multiple candles on them for the smell.

Rarity sighed as she walked over to her workbench. "You know, Rarity, you really should clean this place up now and again. It is starting to smell a bit, even with the candles you put down here."

"Oh I know, Rarity, but we've had this conversation before. This is my personal space to shed the clean, sophisticated part of me. I can just let it all go here, you know that." Rarity took a deep breath and sniffed the air. "Okay, Rarity, you may be right. It could use a little adjusting. Maybe there's a spell for the odor."

Rarity sat down at her workbench and pressed a button on the bottom. The top of the workbench popped open to reveal Rarity's toys. Knives, her rock, anesthesia needles, a vegetable peeler, a small hammer, anything an active serial killer would need.

She picked up a large knife that she used to skin her victims alive. She had only done it a few times before and their pelts now hung on the wall to her left. Rarity had originally done it to keep trophies of her victims, but had stopped doing it with any consistency as she didn't have that kind of space on her wall. The wall on her right side was dedicated to scalped manes. She had about half a dozen of them right now in contrast to the four pony hides that decorated the other wall. She had decided after her first disastrous attempt at flaying a corpse that she should only do it for hides and manes that she found particularly beautiful.

As she examined the knife, she considered for a moment whether or not Twilight's mane or hide deserved to be on her wall. She had already decided that Spike's scales would play some part in the decoration of her room. After all, how often does one get a chance to kill a dragon? Even the successful murder of a baby dragon was something to be proud of.

Rarity thought back to the moment not half an hour ago when she was toying with Twilight's mane. She recalled that it was rather silky and smooth. It was obvious that Twilight took good care of her hair. Good enough care that she should be on my wall, Rarity decided.

Rarity nodded to herself and placed the skinning knife on a medical tray next to the table. Since Twilight was from Canterlot, she deserved a spot on Rarity's wall. Plus, Rarity had certainly admired the beauty of her cutie mark; how unique and intricate it was. She made a mental note to remember the design for possible future outfits once the memory of Twilight had faded from the town. Maybe she could even try to find a way to make fake dragon scales too. The possibilities for that were endless.

Rarity scanned her collection of items, trying to find out what else she wanted to use when she killed Twilight. Spike would have to be poisoned, unfortunately, as she simply couldn't risk it. Of course, she could have all of the fun she wanted with Twilight. Oh and what fun she was going to have with Twilight! A hammer, a tourne knife, and paring knife were placed on her tray as she scanned her collection of sharp instruments. Oh yes, those would do very, very nicely for when Twilight's time came. As she went to close the desk, she spotted her boning knife. She shrugged. "Well, why not?" She placed it on the tray too.

Content that she was ready for her latest victim, Rarity trotted up the stairs with a little spring in her step and checked the clock. It read six thirty-three which meant that Twilight's welcoming party would be starting soon. She giggled in anticipation while she looked around the room for a brief moment before she shrugged and walked out the door.

As she walked towards the library, she spotted Twilight talking to Fluttershy, a shy yellow pegasus pony that Rarity had a soft spot for. She seemed to be immensely uncomfortable around Twilight, despite what appeared to be Twilight's best efforts to be friendly. Rarity chuckled to herself. "Well, Rarity, I think we know one pony who won't miss Twilight."

As Rarity continued walking, she considered briefly how she would get Twilight to her boutique in the morning. Obviously, she couldn't incapacitate them at the library. Somepony would see her moving an unconscious pony and a dead dragon into her home. She decided that the best course of action would be to ask Twilight to come to her house so she could give her a welcoming gift. She would Pinkie Promise that Twilight would love it and that she had better come over to the boutique as soon as possible and to bring Spike as well. If his looks in her direction were any indication, Spike would come if she asked anyway. She would feed them cupcakes, one to knock out Twilight and one to kill Spike, and then she could do what she liked with Twilight once she woke up.

Of course, there was always the risk that Twilight wouldn't show up. Twilight had yet to understand the importance of Pinkie Promises. Although, if everything went according to plan then she would never understand them. It was considered the highest offense to Pinkie Pie to break a Pinkie Promise. Rarity knew that Pinkie Pie would never actually hurt anypony who broke one, no matter how mad she was—and seeing Pinkie mad actually scared Rarity—so, Rarity had taken it upon herself to do the job for her, as evidenced by the light green pelt on her wall.

Pushing those thoughts aside for now, Rarity knocked on the door of the library and was met by a bouncing Pinkie Pie. "Ooh goody, you're here! We're just waiting for Fluttershy now. Everypony else is here!"

"How delightful!" said Rarity, walking into the library. Pinkie closed the door behind her, making the entire room pitch black. "Um, Pinkie, why is it so dark in here?"

"Well we've got to make it dark so we can surprise her when we turn the lights on, silly!" Pinkie explained.

"Have the pony be shrouded in darkness then have them be surprised by their surroundings when you turn the light on..." A wide smile crossed Rarity's face. "Pinkie that's genius! I have to remember that one."

That's when they heard the door open.

* * * *

The party had been a decent success. Twilight had unfortunately drank a fair amount of hot sauce a few minutes in and used that as an excuse to stay up in her room the entire night. The party was still fun without her. Rarity had found out that it was indeed fun when you turned on the light to surprise a confused pony. She would certainly have to begin Twilight's session in that manner, as the mare's reaction was even better than she had imagined. She must jumped ten hooves into the air.

After the party had ended, all of the ponies in the library went directly to Town Hall to meet the princess and watch her raise the sun. Rarity felt a great rush of pride as the ponies of the town admired her work, and she eagerly ate up the various compliments that she received from the townsponies.

Of course, as wonderful as the compliments were, she still had a certain unicorn to keep tabs on. Rarity was about to begin surveying the crowd for Twilight when, to her surprise, The Mayor approached her. "Rarity, would you like the honor of pulling back the curtains to introduce Princess Celestia on my mark?" Rarity's giddy grin returned, causing The Mayor to take a few steps back, lest she be pulled into another giant hug. Thankfully for her, this time Rarity merely nodded and rushed towards the balcony.

As she got into position, she looked out into the crowd for Twilight and found her in the middle of the room with Spike on her back, talking to Pinkie Pie. Well, more like Pinkie Pie was ranting to Twilight about something or other.

The crowd fell silent as The Mayor began talking about the ceremony, something about how Princess Celestia raised the sun every day. Rarity decided that she had better focus on what The Mayor was saying as opposed to Twilight, and it was a good thing too as she was just beginning to introduce Celestia.

"And now, it is my great honor to introduce to you the ruler of our land. The very pony who gives us the sun and moon each and every day, the good, the wise, the bringer of harmony throughout Equestria: Princess Celestia!" At the last two words, Rarity pulled the cord, opening the curtain behind her. Rarity heard a gasp emerge from the crowd and she looked over to where she thought Celestia would be. She let out a small gasp of her own when she saw the balcony was empty. She decided to investigate. She looked through the back rooms of the Town Hall and any other rooms that she came across during her quick search. Nothing. Wherever else she may be, Princess Celestia definitely wasn't in Town Hall.

Rarity trotted back up to the balcony and addressed the crowd. "She's gone!" The crowd gasped again. Rarity was wondering what this all meant but stopped for a moment when she heard Pinkie Pie yelp in shock. She turned around to see not Princess Celestia, but a pony who seemed to be her very opposite materialize out of a smoky, starry mass. If Celestia was the sun incarnate, this pony was the night made flesh. Her flowing mane was much like Celestia's, but it seemed to be infused with twinkling stars. Her midnight coat was covered in silver armor, and it seemed to Rarity as if she was girded for war.

The corners of the alicorn's mouth turned up in a sort of sneering smile as she scanned the crowded hall with her draconian eyes. "Ah, my beloved subjects. It has been so long since I have seen your precious little sun-loving faces!" said the evil looking Alicorn as she looked around the room. The mere sight of this pony made Rarity's stomach twist into knots, and she was beginning to wonder what to do now. She half considered attacking, but she didn't know if she had the ability to kill her before she was stopped. Rarity didn't even have a knife on her right now. Of course, she could just crush her throat with a punch. It was something that she had done on occasion.

Rarity kept her eyes trained on this new mare as she flew over to Fluttershy and said something to her that Rarity couldn't quite make out. Right after she turned her attention from Fluttershy, she appeared next to Rarity, grabbing her face with her other-worldly mane. "Did you not recall the legends?" Her face twisted into a malicious grin. "Did you not see the signs?"

Do it now, Rarity, she thought. All it's going to take is one quick punch to the throat and she's dead in minutes. Do it, and this whole thing can be over.

However, before she actually worked up the nerve, the mare gave her a quick slap with her mane and moved on. Rarity growled at her missed chance. The mare had now turned her attention to Twilight who was talking with her. Twilight was doing her best to keep a brave face through this ordeal but she seemed to be losing her nerve.

"You're the Mare in the Moon." Twilight's eyes narrowed. "Nightmare Moon!"

As Nightmare Moon exchanged a few more words with Twilight, Rarity desperately wished that she had a knife on her, just something simple that she could use to sever Nightmare Moon's spine at the neck, but alas, she had nothing.

Just as she was about to try to back away and escape from town hall, Nightmare Moon said something that made her freeze in her tracks and sent a shiver down her spine. "Remember this day, little ponies, for it was your last. From this moment forth, the night will last forever!!"

The Shadow of the Moon

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The night will last forever.

Forever.

Forever.

Forever...

The words rang inside Rarity's head as she saw the figure of Nightmare Moon laughing in front of her. Her shock did briefly give way to irritation though. Sure, being bad and bringing misery to other ponies was fun, but did she didn't have to stand there giggling like a maniac. It was so undignified.

As Nightmare Moon continued to laugh, Rarity was beginning to regret not crushing her throat when she had the chance. She was standing right in front of her; it would have been so easy! Just one little jab, and everypony could go home. Although, now that she thought about it, she wasn't completely sure that it was possible to kill a goddess in that way, or at all.

Well, it seemed at least that The Mayor was going to try to subdue one at least. She motioned to a trio of royal guards who had just been standing there for some reason and pointed at Nightmare Moon. "Seize her! Only she knows where the Princess is!" The three charged Nightmare Moon, prompting Rarity to question whether or not they even had a plan beyond saying 'You are under arrest now tell us where Princess Celestia is.'

As the three charged her, Nightmare Moon's eyes glowed white. "Stand back you foals!" Still laughing, Nightmare Moon shot bolts of lightning at them causing all three to be blown back by her raw power. Seeing how easy it had been for Nightmare Moon to take out three highly trained soldiers, Rarity became glad that she had not attacked. She had no doubt that Nightmare Moon could have erased her from existence with one swift move if she had failed to get an instant kill.

Before anypony could do anything further, Nightmare Moon wrapped her flowing mane around herself and vanished into a cloud of starry smoke which instantly flew out the door of Town Hall.

Seeing the goddess leave, Rarity allowed herself to ease up a bit and she ran down the stairs towards the main crowd of ponies. Rainbow Dash had already flown out to try and catch the wisp of smoke, but Rarity already knew that it was no use. Nightmare Moon was a goddess, after all.

She spotted Applejack in one corner comforting a shaking Fluttershy. Even Pinkie Pie had stopped smiling and was oddly silent. Rarity ran towards them. Applejack was whispering to Fluttershy, her forelegs wrapped around the shaking pegasus' shoulders, and stroking her mane. "It's alright, sugar cube. Nightmare Moon's gone. She won't hurt you."

Fluttershy continued shaking. "B-but what if she comes back? You heard her; she wants the night to last forever! My animal friends can't live in eternal night! I can't live in eternal night!" Fluttershy wailed and wrapped her forelegs around Applejack's waist. "We're doomed! We're all doomed!"

"Now hold on there, sugar cube. We ain't just goin' to let this one go." Applejack pried Fluttershy off of her and looked her in the eye. "Do ya remember Twilight? That mare we had that party for today? Well, if she knew who that pony was then she probably knows how to stop her. Ah think she'll know what we ought to be doin' next."

"Yeah! Twilight will know how to defeat that nasty old meanie!" Pinkie Pie agreed. "I vote that we go and find her!"

"I think that Pinkie is correct." Rarity trotted closer to the group and put her hoof on Pinkie's shoulder. "We really do need to go see Twilight."

Fluttershy nodded weakly but she seemed to have gotten ahold of her nerves better for the moment. Her violent shaking had toned down a little at any rate. With Applejack's help, Fluttershy got to her hooves and followed the other three ponies out the door of the Town Hall.

As soon as the four had exited Rainbow Dash landed in front of them. "Where are you four going?"

"We are on our way to the library," said Rarity as she motioned towards the building in question. "We thought that because Twilight knew so much about who Nightmare Moon was, then maybe she knows how to stop her!"

Rainbow Dash's eyes lit up. "Yeah, it is kind of funny how Twilight knew so much about Nightmare Moon isn't it?" Rainbow Dash took wing. "Let's get some answers out of that pony!"

With that, the five ponies ran towards the library. Rarity inwardly sighed as she remembered her original plans for the evening regarding Twilight and her dragon. She supposed that she would have to put those plans off for now, as filleting the one pony who could get them out of this mess seemed a bit counterproductive at the moment. However, she promised herself that she would have her time.

The library came into view and Rainbow Dash zoomed in ahead of the other four to and burst into the library. Within a few seconds, the other four entered the room just in time to hear Rainbow's accusations. "...and how do you know so much about Nightmare Moon, huh? Are you a spy?!"

Applejack pulled her back by the tail, quick to diffuse Rainbow's anger. "Simmer down there, Sally. She ain't no spy, but she sure knows what's goin' on." Applejack and the other four moved in closer to Twilight. "Don’t ya, Twilight?"

Twilight sighed and began her explanation of the events of that night. She brought up something called the 'Elements of Harmony' and how they could potentially stop Nightmare Moon, if they could even be found that is.

Rarity frowned. Maybe Twilight wouldn't be such a good help after all. They certainly needed something a little more concrete than old pony tales if they were going to defeat night incarnate. Maybe the group would be better off letting the royal guard deal with this situation as opposed to six random ponies betting on old mare's tales.

However, Pinkie Pie's high-pitched voice broke through her train of thought and forced Rarity back to the events happening in the library. "The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide."

Twilight immediately knocked her out of the way and found the book that Pinkie had brought up. "How did you find that?!"

Pinkie Pie bounced back towards the group; completely uncaring that she had just been knocked halfway across the room. "It was under 'E'," she responded in a happy, singsong voice.

Twilight's eyes narrowed slightly in bemusement. "Oh." She levitated the book off of the shelf. Pinkie meanwhile had come to rest between Fluttershy and Rarity. "There are six Elements of Harmony," Twilight recited as she flipped through the tome, "but only five are known: Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Honesty, and Loyalty."

At the mention of the word 'generosity', a feeling awoke inside of Rarity that she couldn't explain. It was almost as if a spirit was lying dormant inside of her, something that was a very part of her soul. It was a pure being that lay inside of her core, beyond the love of fashion, beyond her love for her family, beyond even the need to kill. Whatever it was, it seemed to have been awoken when Twilight mentioned The Element of Generosity. Rarity inwardly frowned. What was that all about? she thought. However, she didn't have much time to think about it as Twilight continued on with the book.

"The sixth is a complete mystery. It is said that the last known location of the five Elements was in the ancient castle of the royal pony sisters. It is located in what is now..." Rarity blinked for a brief second. Suddenly, when she opened them she found herself at the edge of...

"...the Everfree Forest!" gasped all six ponies in unison. This was it. This was the first time in Rarity's life where she would be entering the forest with other ponies and she, theoretically, would not be the only one who came out in the end. She had to admit, the thought was more than a little unsettling. The very thought of going deep into the forest to search for some ancient artifacts that may not even exist... it was a suicide mission is what it was.

As per usual, though, Pinkie Pie immediately went back to her bubbly, happy, 'Pinkie Mode', as Rarity liked to call it. Her trademark smile stretched across her face, and she began walking towards the forest. "Whee! Let's go!"

Twilight shook her head and held out a foreleg, blocking the path of the pink pony. "Not so fast!" she said. Pinkie screeched to a halt and frowned at Twilight. "Look, I appreciate the offer, but I'd really rather do this on my own."

"Suit yourself," Rarity mumbled. However, Applejack laid any thoughts of that nature to rest.

"No can do, sugar cube, we sure as hay ain't lettin' any friend of ours go into that creepy place alone. We're stickin' to you like caramel on a candy apple." Rarity rolled her eyes at the analogy but followed Rainbow into the forest and copied the grunt of agreement that Rainbow and Fluttershy gave all the same.

"Especially if there's candy apples involved!" Pinkie Pie chirped. Twilight shot Pinkie a look of utter disbelief, something that didn't faze Pinkie. "What? Those things are good!"

The beginning of the journey to the castle was largely uneventful. Most of the fear that the group experienced was coming from the atmosphere of the forest as opposed to any tangible dangers that they faced. Rarity had to admit, when you weren't the thing to be afraid of, the forest was pretty scary. It would have likely be dark and dank even if Nightmare Moon hadn't brought eternal night to the lands.

As the group continued to walk towards whatever destination that Twilight was leading them to, she heard Twilight gain the nerve to begin talking about their situation. "So, none of you have ever been in here before?"

Rarity opened her mouth to respond with a 'yes but never this far' but she closed it when she realized that such an admission would lead to awkward questions. She decided to settle for something far less curious. "Heavens no! Just look at it. It's dreadful!" She putting more fear into her reply then she really felt, although she was slightly afraid. She dearly wished that everything had gone to plan and that the Summer Sun Celebration had gone like it did every year. She would be slicing Twilight to ribbons right now instead of following her to some unknown fate.

"And it ain't natural," said Applejack. "Folks say it don't work the same as Equestria."

Twilight shrank back and flattened her ears. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nooopony knows!" said an ominous voice, which turned out to be Rainbow Dash, flying creepily out of the shadows. "You know why?"

Under normal circumstances, Rarity would have rolled her eyes and ignored Rainbow's obvious attempts to hide her fear. However, given the circumstances her voice did unlock a twinge of fear inside Rarity.

Applejack on the other hoof, would have none of it. "Rainbow, quit it!"

Rainbow moved in close to Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, still doing her best to scare them. Despite herself, Rarity felt herself lean back a few inches. "Cause everypony who has ever come in has never... come... out!"

Before Rarity could respond, she felt the ground underneath her give way. Rarity found herself and the other three non-pegasi of the group sliding down towards a ledge. It didn't take a genius to guess that a steep drop awaited them at the end of the ledge and she squealed in terror. However, before she slid too far, she felt a tug on her tail and looked back to see herself being hoisted in the air by Fluttershy. Her savior carried her towards the ledge and flew down until they touched the ground. Rarity sighed in relief and hugged Fluttershy. "Oh thank you, darling. I would have been a goner were it not for you!"

Fluttershy only had time to flash Rarity a small smile before she took to the air again. Rainbow Dash had deposited Pinkie next to Rarity before taking wing herself.

"Oh, no, Twilight!" Pinkie cried.

Rarity followed her line of sight and saw Twilight dangling on the edge, in imminent danger of falling to her death at any moment. However, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash had spotted this too and were flying underneath her, ready to catch her in case she did fall. It only took a few seconds for their position under Twilight to show its use as she fell towards the ground with a scream of terror, only to find herself in the capable hooves of the two pegasi. Rarity breathed a sigh of relief as the two carried Twilight down towards where her and Pinkie stood. Applejack followed behind them, jumping down on different protruding ledges.

When the group reconvened where Pinkie and Rarity stood, Twilight ran over to Fluttershy and Rainbow and pulled them into a hug. "Oh, thank you both! I thought I was a goner for a minute there."

Rainbow chuckled and nonchalantly ran a hoof through her mane. "Yeah well, what were we going to do? Just let you fall?"

Twilight exhaled. "I'm glad you didn't." She pulled out of the grasp of her pegasus friends and grabbed Applejack into a hug. "Thanks for helping me through that. I didn't know what was going to happen."

Applejack blushed. "Aw, it ain't nothin', Twilight."

With the safety of the group assured, the six all began walking towards their destination again. True to form, it was only a few seconds before Rainbow was recounting her tale of amazing heroism. Rarity chuckled at herself, but managed to tune Rainbow out as she had learned to do very early on when the pegasus began to get full of herself. She heard Twilight's voice break through the rant and started to pay attention to the conversation again just in time to hear the next piece of bad news.

"A manticore!" Twilight cried. Rarity looked where Twilight was looking and sure enough, a very angry looking manticore was blocking their path. He looked like he was about to charge at any second. Rarity had never seen a manticore this close up. She had only spotted one once when one of them was picking the remains of one of her victims clean. The manticore reared up on its hind legs and gave a mighty roar that shook Rarity to the core. "We've gotta get past him!"

The manticore immediately sprung into full attack mode and pounced at Rarity, swiping his massive paw at her head. Rarity managed to duck just in time to avoid an instantaneous decapitation, and she wheeled around to smash her hind hooves into the manticore's face with as much strength as she could muster. Her hind legs weren't as strong as the hind legs of a pony like Applejack, but they still packed quite a decent punch.

"Take that you ruffian!" she said triumphantly. To her surprise, her kick did little more than anger the manticore, who roared directly in her face. Rarity felt her hair blow back from the force of the roar, and looked up at it to see that the manticore had made it all frizzled and poofy. "My hair!" she wailed before she realized that she had bigger problems at the moment. She looked back to see the growling manticore and with a yelp, she retreated.

She ran behind the group who was still doing their best to deal with the monster. It was better that they dealt with it, as Rarity could obviously do nothing about it right now. Besides, her hair demanded immediate attention. With a quick spell, she managed to curl it back to normal, just in time to see Rainbow flying fast around the manticore in an obvious attempt to make it dizzy. It didn't work as well as she hoped, and Rainbow was sent flying with a flick of the manticore's scorpion-like tail.

Once Rainbow got up, Twilight geared up for a charge. Rarity saw the manticore do the same, but Twilight made the first move and ran towards the manticore. Rarity and the others followed, desperately hoping that Twilight had an actual plan. To her surprise, and the surprise of the group, they were stopped in their tracks by Fluttershy of all ponies. "WAAAAAAIIIT" The group skidded to a halt.

Rarity frowned, curious as to why her friend was stopping the battle, but her jaw dropped when she saw Fluttershy begin walking up towards the manticore. The beast promptly raised a paw, ready to crush Fluttershy with one swift motion. The strength of the beast would leave no doubt of the outcome should he score a hit.

Rarity closed her eyes tightly. She was used to death at this point, but she couldn't bear to watch a friend of hers be swatted away, leaving only a broken and bloody corpse. Rarity braced herself for the sound of a sickening crunch, but none came. She opened her eyes and her jaw dropped when she saw the manticore holding a giggling Fluttershy and licking her mane. "I knew Fluttershy was good with animals but this..." She turned her head to Twilight. "This is beyond what even we knew her to be capable of!"

"Remarkable," said Twilight softly. She shook her head and jerked her head to motion to the others that they should move past the beast.

Rarity followed Applejack and Rainbow Dash past Fluttershy and the happy manticore towards whatever challenge awaited them next. She turned back briefly to see Fluttershy talking briefly to Twilight, her mane sticking up in the most unseemly manner. Fluttershy began following the group, but Rarity held out a hoof to stop her. "Just one second, darling. That creature made an awful mess of your mane."

"He's not an awful creature!" Fluttershy insisted. "He's a manticore, and a perfectly nice one too."

Rarity inwardly snorted while she used her magic to fix Fluttershy's mane, but replied with something more placating. "Oh, yes, sorry, I meant manticore." Rarity examined Fluttershy's mane and smiled when it met her standards. "There, all done darling, you look lovely."

Fluttershy gave Rarity a quick hug. "Thank you, Rarity." She began trotting faster to keep up with the group with Rarity following closely behind her.

As the six continued to walk, Rarity was getting frustrated by the silence that had settled into the group. She felt the ground underneath her get squishier. "My eyes need a rest from all of this icky muck," Rarity complained. Yes, it was a silly complaint and Rarity wasn't even sure what it was supposed to mean. As they continued walking, the moon was obscured by the treetops, and it became so dark that Rarity could hardly see her hoof in front of her face. "Well I didn't mean that literally," she muttered.

"That ancient ruin could be right in front of our faces and we wouldn't even know it!" said Twilight.

"Oh wait, Ah think Ah stepped in somethin'," Applejack murmured, lifting up a dirty hoof caked in mud. Rarity was confused by the shriek of terror from Fluttershy that followed Applejack's revelation and apparently, so was Applejack."It's just mud."

However, Applejack turned to see what Fluttershy was screaming at and her gaze was met with a giant, twisted tree in front of them; a threatening face plastered on its trunk. Now it was the turn of the other ponies to shriek in fear.

A million thoughts ran through Rarity's mind at that moment. The most prevalent one was the voice of reason that was itself panicking. This is it. The deadliest serial killer in Equestrian history is about to be eaten by a giant tree!

Rarity continued to scream, expecting at any moment to feel the twisted branches wrap around her body, bringing her closer to the tree's gaping maw. However, what she heard instead was laughter. Pinkie Pie's laughter to be more specific. She managed to open her eyes and to her surprise, Pinkie Pie was standing in front of a tree, laughing her head off at how silly she thought it looked. Rarity's surprise increased when she noticed that the terrifying tree hadn't gobbled her up.

"Pinkie, what are you doing? Run!" Twilight cried.

Somehow, Pinkie Pie responded to this perfectly reasonable demand with more laughter. "Oh girls, don't you see?" Pinkie promptly began moving to a beat that only she could hear. Naturally, Pinkie began singing one of her famous improvised songs that often accompanied such beats. Rarity had often been present for the moments when Pinkie burst out into rambunctious song. Twilight on the other hoof, had never had such an experience.

"Tell me she isn't," the unicorn deadpanned.

Rarity sighed inwardly. "She is.". If questioned, Rarity would have admitted that she perceived the song to be ill timed as the trees would surely become annoyed at her singing and destroy them all, but Pinkie seemed to be singing about how best to handle the situation.

"She said 'Pinkie, you gotta stand up tall! Learn to face your fears, you'll see that they can't hurt you just laugh to make them disappear." And with that simple shred of wisdom, Pinkie turned towards one of the trees and, with a confidence that Rarity certainly didn't share, she laughed at it. Rarity's eyes widened as the offending face on the tree vanished without a trace.

...Oh.

Soon, all of the ponies were laughing at the trees and to Rarity's surprise, the twisted visages that the trees once held began to pop out of existence. Rarity wasn't sure how it worked, but all she cared about now was the fact that they were no longer in danger. She didn't know how Pinkie had done it, but she had learned a long time ago that explaining Pinkie Pie was impossible.

Once the laughter of the six ponies faded away, they began their journey again, giving Rarity a little more time to reflect on her companions. Somehow, Rarity found herself more at ease around the other five ponies. Certainly more so than she had ever been before. She had always adored Fluttershy, and she had a soft spot for Pinkie Pie as well. She considered Rainbow to be too self-absorbed for her tastes, and she had always felt awkward around Applejack since the day that she had tried to kill her. As for Twilight, well, Rarity had a set of knives waiting to carve Twilight up when they got back.

However, as the group continued onwards, Rarity began to think about Twilight and just what she had done so far. She was a little neurotic, sure, but she seemed like a genuinely nice pony. Rarity briefly imagined ripping Twilight apart and instead of the usual exhilaration that came with planning a kill, she felt empty. It was as if the idea had become far less appealing to her now that she had spent some time with her on this adventure. She bit her lip and looked over at Twilight. I don't suppose... I don't suppose I can kill her now, can I?

As the group continued to walk, they heard the sound of a rushing river draw closer to them. After a few minutes, they reached the source of the noise. Sure enough, the water was rushing too fast for them to even consider trying to cross it on hoof.

"How are we going to cross this?" asked Pinkie Pie.

With the help of the pegasi of course.

As Rarity turned towards Pinkie to suggest this, they all heard a wail come from an area not too far from where they were. The group frowned and went over to the source of the misery.

When they got close, they saw a serpent with half a mustache, absolutely wailing in sorrow, splashing his coils into the water, triggering the splashes that were causing the rapids. "What a world!" it wailed. "What a world!"

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me, sir. Why are you crying?"

The serpent stopped his moaning long enough to answer. "Well, I don't know. I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when this tacky cloud of purple smoke whisked past me and tore half of my beloved mustache clean off! And now I look simply horrid!" The serpent, who broke out into a fresh string of wails and thew himself into the river, drenching the entire group.

Rarity ran her hoof through her sopping wet mane. For goodness sakes, did he have to get my mane wet? Rarity's gaze flickered up to the sobbing serpent, and she touched her mane on reflex. Well, I suppose I can sympathize. If half of my mane was severed...

Rainbow Dash was not so sympathetic. "Oh give me a break."

"That's what all the fuss is about?" Applejack scoffed.

Rarity stepped forward and glared at Rainbow. "Why of course it is! How can you be so insensitive?" She turned to the serpent. "Oh, just look at him." She began stroking the serpent's snout. "Such lovely luminescent scales."

The serpent sniffled "I know!" he moaned.

"And your expertly coiffed mane!"

The serpent straightened up and stroked his hair. "Oh I know, I know!"

Rarity widened her smile. "And your fabulous manicure!"

"It's so true!" the serpent squealed.

"All ruined without your beautiful mustache!"

The serpent threw his arms into the air. "It's true, I'm hideous," he wailed.

Rarity narrowed her eyes. "I simply cannot let such a crime against fabulosity go uncorrected!" It would no doubt be difficult, but she knew what she had to do. She leaned in and grasped one of the serpent's scales in her mouth and yanked. It came loose easily and the serpent recoiled in pain. Rarity payed him no heed as she raised the razor sharp scale high.

Twilight frowned at Rarity. "Rarity, what are you...?" Before Twilight could finish, Rarity swung the scale. Instantly she felt the latter three-fourths of her tail sever neatly like a hot knife through butter.

She paid no attention to the gasps of shock from the others as she used her magic to attach her tail to the ruined half of the mustache. The serpent perked up at this and gave a squeal of joy. "My mustache! How wonderful!"

"You look absolutely smashing," Rarity complemented.

"Oh Rarity, your beautiful tail!" Twilight moaned.

Rarity turned to face the others with a half smile, half grimace on her face. "It's quite alright, my dear. Short tails are in this season. Besides, it'll grow back."

Rarity inwardly scoffed at her lie. It almost makes me feel ill to say that. She shook her head and looked over to the serpent who was fawning over his regenerated facial hair. A small smile crossed her face. Though I have to admit, fixing his mustache... Her smile widened. It felt wonderful. Almost like the feeling I get from a kill.

She put on a smile as she crossed the river to the other side, not actually paying attention to her surroundings. Instead, she was deep in thought about this whole experience. Rarity had never actually had any true, deep friends. Yes she had friends like Cheerilee growing up, but the two of them had grown apart as time went on, mainly because Rarity had been focusing more and more on her murders. But now, she was beginning to feel a deep bond forming between her and the other five ponies. She wasn't sure what it was, and it certainly wasn't happening by choice. She still might kill Twilight after all of this was over.

Would I really?

She tuned back in to the real world in time to see Rainbow Dash fluttering her wings at Pinkie Pie and flying across a ravine to tie off a broken rope bridge that was the only thing stopping them from entering the ruins of the castle that had appeared in the distance. Rarity steeled herself. The Rarity who went into the castle and the Rarity who came out at the end would be different ponies. It was possible that even her desire to kill would be eradicated by whatever was in those ruins. She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she hardly noticed that Rainbow Dash was talking to a trio of ponies who looked like the evil twins of the Wonderbolts. She was far more focused on the moments ahead of them: the moments when The Elements of Harmony would be revealed.

After a short time, Rainbow Dash flew back over to the group. Rarity knew that she had defeated the other ponies somehow, but she was still tuned out. A casual onlooker wouldn't be able to tell that she had been lost in thought for a while now.

As they entered the ruins, Rarity saw what the group had been looking for: The Elements of Harmony. Rarity surveyed the ancient stone relics. They really didn't look like much, just circular stones with a symbol carved on the front. However, Rarity knew that just because something looks plain and unassuming does not mean that there is not tremendous strength underneath. It was something that Rarity had suspected of Fluttershy for a while, now that she thought of it. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew up and retrieved the Elements from their pedestals and put them down next to Twilight, their wings kicking up a cloud of dust as they flew close to the ground.

Pinkie looked at the Elements and began counting. "One, two, three, four... there's only five!"

Rainbow raised her eyebrow at this revelation. "Where's the sixth?"

Twilight leaned down and examined the stone objects. "The book said, 'when the five are present, a spark will cause the sixth Element to be revealed.'"

"What in the hay does that mean?" asked Applejack.

Twilight looked at the Elements with a determination that only she could pull off. "I'm not sure but I have an idea. Stand back! I don't know what this will do." Her horn began to glow as she started to cast a spell on the Elements. As Rarity stood back, her heart began beating fast. Somehow, being in the presence of the Elements was affecting her in some way. She felt scared, but calm at the same time. Her eyes landed on one of them and she swore that it seemed to almost call out to her.

However, Applejack beckoned the other four out of the room. "Come on now y'all, she needs to concentrate." As much as Rarity hated this and did not want to miss whatever happened, she knew that Applejack was right and that Twilight needed to be on her own for right now. She filed out of the ruins with the rest of them.

It killed her inside to just sit there and wait, but she did not have to wait long. Within a few moments of the five leaving, they heard Twilight's shocked yell and the five rushed inside just in time to see Twilight jump inside a whirling vortex that surrounded the Elements before she vanished without a trace.

Immediately, the five began running around the ruins in a vain attempt to find their new friend. Rarity knew that Twilight was no longer in that particular part of the ruins, and so she looked outside a window and saw a different part of the castle. Its windows were all lit up and Rarity immediately knew that Twilight and the Elements were in there. "Look!" she pointed to the other four.

Applejack took immediate action. "Come on!" she said to the other four and she led the charge towards a hallway, hoping that it would lead them to wherever Twilight was. Luckily for the five friends the hallways of the ruins, what was left of them anyways, were fairly straightforward. Whatever parts of the castle that different turns had led to were long gone, and there was only one staircase in their path that looked like it went somewhere else. Immediately the five climbed it and began calling out for Twilight.

As they reached the top of the stairs, Rarity heard Twilight talking confidently to Nightmare Moon, or at least, that's who Rarity assumed she was talking to. "Quiet!" she hissed to her friends who hushed up and listened to what she was saying. They couldn't make out the words, but as they entered the room, Twilight's speech to Nightmare Moon, who was standing on the opposite side of the room with what appeared to be the destroyed Elements at her feet, became clearer.

"Well you're wrong, because the spirits of the Elements of Harmony are right here!"

The shards at Nightmare Moon's hooves began glowing, and they flew over to each one of Twilight's new friends. Twilight had said that she was the Element of Generosity because she sacrificed her tail. Rarity's stomach twisted into a knot. Yes... I suppose that it was generous of me, wasn't it?

"The spirits of these five ponies got us through every challenge you threw at us!" said Twilight. Rarity glared at the evil being in front of them. It was time for a reckoning for Nightmare Moon.

"You still don't have the sixth Element! The spark didn't work!" Nightmare Moon's eyes shifted around the room as if expecting the sixth element to appear out of nowhere. Rarity allowed herself a smug smile. Nightmare Moon knew that all hope was lost, that she had been defeated and the sun would rise again.

"But it did work! A different kind of spark!" Twilight turned towards each of the five ponies and spoke as if their very beings were now one. "I felt it the very moment I realized how happy I was to hear you, to see you. How much I cared about you. The spark ignited inside me, when I realized you all are my friends!"

As she said those last words, the sixth Element of Harmony appeared above Twilight. Rarity smiled inside. Any thoughts of victory for the fallen goddess were now surely gone. Rarity somehow knew that this was the Element of Magic. It probably had something to do with her spirit being entwined with an Element as well. Just as Twilight confirmed that this was indeed the Element of Magic, Rarity saw that the shards around her formed into a necklace that immediately placed itself around Rarity's neck. A beam of light shot out of each Element which then formed a beam of pure rainbow which enveloped Nightmare Moon. Nightmare Moon's yells of terror faded away as the rainbow beam seemingly obliterated her.

Once the rainbow beam faded away, Rarity felt her hooves touch down on the ground. She felt that she had just used an amazing amount of magic, but she did not feel tired at all. As a matter of fact, she felt better than she had in her entire life. She realized that her tail felt odd for some reason. she looked behind her and to her delight, her tail had grown back! "Oh, why Rarity, it's so lovely!" cooed Fluttershy.

Rarity brought her tail close to her head and nuzzled it. "I know, I'll never part with it again!"

"No, I mean your necklace. It looks just like your cutie mark!"

Rarity looked down and sure enough, on the center of her necklace was a gem, shaped just like her cutie mark. She looked at Fluttershy. "So does yours!" Rarity glanced over at Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, both of whom had made a similar discovery.

"Gee Twilight, I thought you were just spoutin' a lot of hooey, but I reckon we really do represent the elements of friendship," said Applejack.

At that moment, a powerful, yet serene voice filled the room. "Indeed you do," said the voice. At that precise moment, the sun rose on the horizon and a regal looking alicorn stood in the middle of the room, looking proudly at them all. Rarity gasped inwardly and sunk to her knees. This was Princess Celestia herself. Rarity was in awe of the princess. She had never met her before and she had only seen pictures of her, but Rarity felt that those pictures did not do the raw power of her presence justice.

Rarity was both comforted and frightened at the sight of her ruler as questions raced through her mind. Does she know, Rarity? If she finds out, will she tolerate it because you are now a bearer of an Element of Harmony? Rarity pulled her gaze away from Princess Celestia and glanced over to the remains of Nightmare Moon. She cocked her head at the sight of a small blue alicorn lying on the ground: the remains of Nightmare Moon. Rarity briefly remembered the knives she had in her basement. If she could just... Rarity inwardly scoffed. Don't be ridiculous, Rarity. That would be impossible.

However, before Rarity could react any further, Princess Celestia walked over to the huddled alicorn. "Princess Luna." Luna looked up and when she saw Celestia, she shrank back in fear. "It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this. Time to put our differences aside. We were meant to rule together little sister." Rarity's jaw dropped in surprise. Nightmare Moon and Princess Celestia were sisters? Well, then it would be awkward for Rarity to kill her, now wouldn't it?

As Rarity looked on, Celestia forgave Luna and Luna accepted Celestia's forgiveness. It was a beautiful moment.

* * * *

The next few hours had passed by in a blur for Rarity. The biggest thing that she remembered was that Twilight would be staying permanently in Ponyville, a notion that pleased her. She had fully accepted Twilight, as well as the others, as her friends now. She had never had that kind of deep connection before, but she knew her friends were beyond mere friends now. They were her family.

A few hours after sunrise, Rarity unlocked the door to her house. Pinkie's party that she had thrown in honor of the return of Princess Luna had worn her, and indeed everypony, out. Rarity had one stop to make before collapsing on her bed.

She played the piano that opened her secret basement. As she entered the basement the gore that lined the walls and floors became slightly repulsive to her now. Rarity's stomach churned at the sight of the bloody pelts adorning her wall. Somehow they were even worse than the dried blood.

She trotted over to her workbench. As she sat down, she stared at her shiny metal tray which held all of the tools that she had meant to use on Twilight. She had wanted to kill Twilight Sparkle. She had set up her private room to kill Twilight Sparkle. Twilight was a mare who was now as much a part of her life as Sweetie Belle, a pony she had promised that she would never hurt under any circumstances.

At the sight of her instruments of death, a great wave of anger consumed Rarity and she knocked over the tray, sending her knives sliding along the floor. She roared and began tearing up her kill room. She ripped the knives in her desk out of their holders and flung them across the room. She tore at the straps on her kill table and ripped them clean off. She used her magic to tear her grim decorations from their spots on the wall and she threw them on the blood stained floor. Rarity tried to gain control of her anger, but she felt it gave way to overwhelming sorrow. She collapsed on the ground, sobbing into her front legs.

She curled up into a ball and continued wailing in self pity. "I'm a monster, Rarity!" she sobbed. "I was going to kill Twilight!"

"Yes. And now..." Rarity pushed herself onto her haunches and poked at her butcher knife. "Now you wield an Element of Harmony." Rarity scoffed and wiped her tears away. "All you've ever done is take pony's lives away from them. Surely you regret that now that you're a champion of Equestria."

Rarity bit the inside of her cheek and grabbed another nearby knife. She lifted up the gleaming blade and examined it. "Well... no, I really don't." She chuckled to herself and tapped the knife against her head. "I feel terrible that I was going to hurt Twilight, but being a serial killer in general? It's just so wonderful. Why would I ever regret something like that?"

Rarity took a deep breath and lowered her knife to the ground. She looked around her basement. Knives were scattered everywhere and the pelts and manes were beginning to become a little bloody. Rarity quickly used her magic to put her manes and pelts back where they belonged, as well as to repair the damage to her table. She pushed herself to her hooves and looked down at herself. "Blood and tears." She allowed herself a smirk. "Not a very flattering combination, is it?"

Rarity ignited her horn and began summoning her scattered knives over to her. She grabbed each one out of the air and lovingly placed them back in their proper spots. "Still, I don't suppose nothing will change. It almost seems wrong to just be a merciless killer and an Element of Harmony."

Rarity clicked her tongue as she put her butcher's knife back in its spot. "I suppose not, Rarity. That doesn't mean you still can't kill. You just have to change your motivations a bit."

Rarity grabbed her skinning knife out of the air and rubbed a speck of blood off of it. "True. Slaughtering anypony who makes eye contact with me seems wrong, but what about protection? Twilight and the others are family to me now. I don't want to see them hurt."

"And they won't be." Rarity placed the last knife inside her workbench and slammed it shut. "Not as long as you're there to help them. You're generously using your skills to protect them, just as you would do for Sweetie Belle." Rarity righted her medical tray. "I think you're on to something here, Rarity."

Content that everything was in order, Rarity walked up the stairs to take a bath. As she reached the top step and closed the door behind her, a maniacal smile stretched over her face.

Extortion and Revenge

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Rarity played the final notes of her secret piano password, and the hidden door to her basement popped open. Sounds of a sobbing pony echoed from downstairs. A smile crossed Rarity's face and she giddily skipped down the basement steps and into her kill room. Currently she was not alone down there as the crying pony in question was a blue earth pony mare strapped to her table.

Rarity did a little pirouette when she reached the bottom of the steps and began humming an upbeat classical tune to herself as she levitated her tray of knives over to her. "Hello, darling," she sang to the mare strapped to her table. "So sorry if I kept you waiting."

The mare slowly tilted her head up and her mouth began moving up and down as if she was trying to say something. Rarity paid her no heed and placed the tray just to the left of the table. "Are you ready to begin?"

The mare's mouth continued moving up and down but she managed to sputter out one single word. "Please."

Rarity chuckled and began examining the knives on her tray. "Please what?"

The mare whimpered. "Please let me go."

Rarity tisked and looked up at her victim. "And why do you presume I would be open to such a request? I mean, I took all of the trouble of capturing you and bringing you down here, not to mention the time spent choosing the knives I wanted to use to tear you to shreds..." Rarity picked up a filleting knife with her magic and began idly examining it. "With all of the work I put into our time here, I really do deserve to actually enact my plans, don't I?"

The mare whimpered and tried her best to lean away from Rarity. "I don't understand," she moaned, "what did I do?"

Rarity's gaze flickered upwards, and she raised an eyebrow. "Oh come now; surely you aren't so dense that you don't even know what you're doing down here. I mean, what were you doing when I saw you last?"

Fresh tears began streaking down the mare's face and she shut her eyes tight. "I don't wanna die," she whispered. "I don't wanna die."

Rarity rolled her eyes and put the knife back down on the tray. "Yes, well, you don't want to die, but I want to kill you. You are strapped down, and I have the knives, so it seems that I'm the one who is going to be getting her wish, doesn't it?"

The mare sniffled and leaned away another few centimeters. "Please just let me go."

Rarity sighed and shook her head. "No, I don't think so. However, if you can tell me why you're down here, and I know that you know, then your time here will be far shorter and much less painful." Rarity walked a few steps closer to the mare and placed a hoof on her head. "Does that sound fair?"

"I don't know!" the mare whined. "I don't think I've ever met you before in my life!"

Rarity put her hoof down and shrugged. "Maybe you haven't, but you met my friend Pinkie Pie today at the post office, didn't you?"

The mare's eyes snapped open and her jaw dropped slightly as Rarity's words hit her. "P-Pinkie...?"

The corners of Rarity's mouth turned up and she tilted her head in a slight nod. "I see you remember her. If that's the case then you remember what you did that could have warranted me bringing you down here, correct? You said something about how she was a 'hyperactive retard', if I'm remembering right."

"I didn't mean to say that!" the mare wailed. "I-it just slipped out! I apologized, didn't I?"

Rarity shrugged. "Who knows? If you did I had already walked out to prepare for this. If I didn't hear you then I can't know for sure if you're lying to me to avoid me slicing you open."

"But it's true!" the mare cried. "Sh-she knocked a fragile package off of my back, and I heard something inside it break, and it just slipped out! I didn't mean it!"

"Yes that's nice," Rarity said nonchalantly as she picked up her hacksaw.

The mare shut her eyes once more and tensed up when she saw the hacksaw. "Please, I got a little foal at home! Sh-she's just a three month old filly! She's gonna want her mommy!"

Rarity scoffed and tapped the mare's head with the hacksaw blade. "I know this may sound cold-hearted, darling, but I truly could not care less." She placed the hacksaw on her victim's stomach, steadied it with her magic, and began hacking away. A wide grin split Rarity's face as she relished in the mare's screams. This mare wouldn't be cruel to anypony ever again, and it was all for Pinkie Pie. It was so nice when a juicy kill was made all the sweeter with the taste of vengeance.

However, Rarity's gleeful slicing was cut off when she heard the bell that she had installed down here to indicate when somepony rang her doorbell go off. She frowned and placed the hacksaw back on the tray. "Who could that be?" she muttered.

The mare slowly opened her eyes and lifted her head. "Please." A trickle of blood dripped from her mouth. "Please don't—"

Her words were cut off when Rarity slammed a hoof directly into the side of the mare's head. The mare twitched weakly and let out another small moan of pain. Rarity shook her head in amusement and used her magic to clean the blood off of her hooves before walking up the stairs. She closed the door to her basement just in time to hear the doorbell ring again.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," she growled. She opened the door with a frown. "Hold your—"

Her eyes widened when she was greeted with the sight of no less than a dozen royal guards and police ponies standing on her front doorstep. With a squeal of fear she tried to slam the door in their faces, but the lead guard forced his way into the building, knocking Rarity backwards and allowing the other guards entry into the house. Rarity quickly got to her hooves and bolted towards the back door of her house. A spell hit her on the back of her right leg, freezing her body from the neck down.

"Please! I didn't do anything!" she wailed as her frozen body was levitated towards a quartet of guards. "I don't know what is going on here but I—"

Her words were cut off with a gasp as her eyes landed on a trio of guards who were searching the storage closet with the piano in it. "No," she whimpered, but the guards paid her no heed. One of them knocked on the hidden door and, when he discovered it was hollow on the other side, he blasted it off of its hinges. Immediately six guards went down into the basement.

Rarity whimpered as one of the guards next to her leaned in next to her ear. "It was your friend Applejack," he said softly. "She saw you kidnap the mare who went missing and reported it to us. What were you doing down there with her, hmm?"

Before Rarity could answer one of the guards who had gone down into her basement ran back up the stairs, his face was green, and it looked like he was holding back the urge to vomit. "Is it that bad down there?" questioned one of the guards standing next to Rarity.

The guard who had been in the basement had to choke back bile that was rising in his throat before he could answer. "Worse," he moaned. "She didn't just kidnap the pony we've been looking for, this mare is a serial killer! There were pony skins on the walls; I've never seen so much blood in my life."

The guard shakily took a few more steps forward and collapsed onto his haunches. "The mare we were looking for was down there, all hacked open. We've got one of ours trying to get her stitched back up, but I don't know if she's going to make it."

Rarity felt a guard behind her lean in again. "You're going to die for this, murderer!"

Rarity couldn't even weep in fear.

* * * *

Rarity's head and ears were drooped as she was led out of her home, her fore and hind legs secured with hoofcuffs, and flanked by four of Celestia's guards. Her ears perked up slightly when she heard the hushed speaking of a crowd of ponies around her, and she chanced a glance at the crowd of her friends that had gathered around her shop, looking on to see what the commotion was. Her heart sank when she saw her new friends in the front of the crowd.

Applejack had a look of grim satisfaction on her face. She felt that she had done some good here, however painful it was for her to do. Her and Rarity locked eyes for the briefest of moments and Applejack flashed Rarity a look of pure contempt. However, the look almost instantly faltered, and she pulled her hat down over her eyes.

Pinkie's mane and tail were deflated and they now hung like curtains instead of their usual bouncy state. Her pink coloration had lost its shine, and her eyes were dripping tears. Fluttershy had her hooves wrapped around Rainbow Dash's shoulders and her body convulsed with heaving sobs as her tears drenched Rainbow Dash's fur. Rainbow herself was fighting a losing battle with her emotions, and Rarity saw tears falling from her eyes as well.

However, the one that hurt Rarity to see the most, even more than Applejack, was Twilight. She wasn't crying, she just had a look of utter betrayal on her face. She shook her head once she saw that Rarity was looking at her. Rarity flinched when she saw the betrayed look on Twilight's face turn to rage.

Rarity whimpered and looked away from Twilight towards her home. Her eyes widened when she saw two medical ponies running out of it, her latest victim laid on a wheeled stretcher between the two of them. The mare groaned and raised her hoof as they stopped so that an approaching ambulance could reach them.

"I w-want muh-muh-my foal," she moaned. "W-want my foal."

The medic pony to her left gave her a warm smile and grabbed her hoof. "We'll get you your foal, okay? You're gonna be fine. You're gonna see your foal again, and she's gonna hear about what a brave mare she has for a mommy. We're gonna get you all fixed up, I promise."

"Just want my foal," the mare muttered, her eyes watering. "Wanna hold her."

"You're gonna do that very soon, okay? Just hold on for her. Just hold on."

Applejack looked over at the medics and Rarity's victim, and separated herself from the group to walk over to them. She stopped when she reached the mare and gave her her best attempt at a comforting smile. "Hey, mah name's Applejack. Ah'm the one who noticed that Rari..." Applejack's lower jaw quivered, and she took a deep breath. "Ah'm the one who noticed that you had been taken. Ah told the cops where you were."

The mare's eyes widened slightly, and she turned her head to look up at Applejack. Her own eyes started watering, and she gave Applejack a small smile. She reached up and touched Applejack's cheek, neither noticing that her hoof still bore her own blood. "Thank you," she whispered. "I... I'll never forget this."

"Ah know." Applejack took the mare's hoof in her own. "If'n y'all need somepony ta watch yer foal fer a little bit while ya get all fixed up, Ah can do that for ya."

"I w-would like s-somepony t-to make sure she's okay." The ambulance approached their position, and the medic ponies opened the back. "T-take her to come see me, okay?"

"Ah promise," Applejack said with a nod, the first tears now streaking down her face, mixing with the blood on her cheek. "Yer foal will see her mommy again."

Applejack let the mare's hoof go as the medics loaded her into the back of the wagons before hopping in themselves. They closed the doors behind them, and the ambulance immediately took off for the hospital. Applejack watched it go for a few moments before sighing and collapsing on her haunches.

Unable to watch anymore, Rarity chanced another glance at Twilight. She saw her looking at Applejack, but she too looked back to Rarity. When she saw Rarity looking at her, Twilight's glare returned, and she trotted over to the prison wagon Rarity had been loaded on to, stopping just in front of the guards. "I want to talk to her."

"I'm afraid we can't let you do that, Miss," said one of the guards. "If you could please step—"

"As the personal protege of Princess Celestia herself, I command you to let me talk to her!" Twilight snarled.

The guard stared silently at Twilight for a few moments, then sighed and nodded. "Make it quick."

As Twilight approached the carriage, Rainbow and Applejack trotted over as well. Fluttershy moved on to holding Pinkie Pie for comfort. Twilight stared deep into Rarity's eyes. "How long have you been doing this?" she whispered coldly.

A placating reply died in Rarity's throat as Twilight's glare intensified. She had to focus all of her brain power to stutter out a response. "Twilight, I don't think you want to—"

"HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BUTCHERING OTHER PONIES, RARITY?" Twilight's hoof snapped out in the direction of the retreating ambulance. "HOW MANY PONIES DID YOU DO THAT TO?" Twilight let out an angry sob and squeezed her eyes shut when tears began falling from them. "And don't lie."

The volume of Twilight's voice had cut through Rarity's shock, and tears began falling from her eyes. "I first killed three schoolyard bullies at the age of eight. I've been doing it since then."

Twilight took a deep breath and nodded. "How many?"

Rarity closed her eyes and flattened her ears as she leaned her head against the bars of the wagon. "I have killed seventy-one ponies." At this revelation, Rainbow Dash whimpered, buried her head in Applejack's shoulder and began sobbing.

Applejack glared at Rarity through her tears. "Have you ever thought about killin' one of us, Rarity?"

Of all of the questions she could have gotten, this was the one that she had hoped her friends would never ask. However, she had to tell the truth. It was pointless to lie now. "That night your parents died, Applejack, the reason that we ended up in the forest was because I had led you there to kill you. I figured that if you were so sad about your parent's death, I would reunite you to ease your suffering. I stopped because you mentioned that you had a baby sister. I couldn't bring myself to do it as I had just gotten a baby sister of my own that night."

Applejack's eyes trailed to the ground and she tilted her head in a slight nod.

"Anyone else?" asked Twilight.

Rarity nodded. "The day you came to Ponyville to supervise preparations; I set up my basement to kill you and Spike once the celebration was over. You had torn a hole in a dress that I had made."

To see Twilight's reaction to this news, one would imagine that she had just been slapped in the face, a reaction that filled Rarity with regret once she saw it. However, Twilight soon regained her composure and fixed Rarity with another glare. "Speaking of Spike, once he found out what kind of a monster you really are, he shut down. He seems to have gone into a self-induced coma because of what you did, Rarity, and I don't know what to do with him now!" Twilight turned her back to Rarity. "Think about that while you're rotting away."

With that, Twilight beckoned Applejack and Rainbow Dash away from the cart, never to see Rarity again. Applejack followed Twilight wordlessly, but Rainbow Dash spared Rarity one final sad glance before joining the other two.

The moment that they left, the prison carriage began to move towards Canterlot. The sudden movement of the cart threw Rarity off balance and she tumbled to the floor. With a whimper she got to her hooves and looked back through the bars at the retreating forms of the ponies that were once her friends.

In a last attempt at mercy, Rarity reached through the bars to the retreating ponies. "I'm so sorry, Twilight, please don't let them kill me!"

Twilight didn't respond.

* * * *

The carriage arrived in Canterlot and was pulled towards the royal palace. Ponies lined up in the streets to catch a glimpse of the deadliest serial killer in Equestrian history being pulled to her doom. Rarity merely curled up into a ball on the floor of the carriage. She had abandoned any attempts at dignity when she saw how her friends reacted to finding out what she really was.

Eventually the carriage stopped. The door opened and Rarity was led out to face the wrath of the princesses. Rarity was led to a large door that she surmised opened into the courtroom where she would face her judgment. When the ponies were in front of it, the door opened from inside. Rarity was confused to see that the room was empty, but before she could think too much about it she was shoved inside and the door was slammed behind her.

Rarity looked around the golden hall. It looked like an average court room, but she had expected to see somepony there waiting for her. I don't get it. Aren't I going to have a trial of some sort?

She did not have long to brood with her thoughts. Within a few minutes of her forced entry into the room, a large door on the opposite side of her opened and in walked Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. At the sight of the two regal sisters, Rarity shrank back as far as she could. To her surprise though, neither princess looked angry at her. Luna looked contemplative and Celestia's look was one of sorrow. The two sisters stopped in front of Rarity, and stared down at her for a brief moment before Celestia exhaled deeply. "My dear Rarity, what have you done?"

Rarity began to shed tears again. "I don't even know," she whimpered. "I killed ponies, if that's what you want to hear."

"How many of our subjects met their ends at your hooves?" Luna questioned.

Rarity wished they would just be angry at her like Twilight and Applejack were. This sorrow and disappointment were far worse than the wrath that she had endured from Twilight. However, she could not lie. If this was the end, and she knew it was, she was going to be completely honest. "Seventy-one, Princess Luna. Thirty stallions, thirty-four mares, four fillies, and three colts."

For the briefest of moments, Celestia's composure slipped and tears began forming in her eyes. She wiped them with a hoof and looked down at the floor. "Oh no," she whispered.

"What are you thinking now, Rarity?" Luna asked.

Rarity's ears raised and she looked between the two sisters. "I..." Rarity growled and shot to her hooves. "Why aren't you angry with me? Why haven't you destroyed me where I stand? I have killed more ponies than any other serial killer in Equestrian history and yet, despite all of that, you don't seem to be mad at me! Why?"

The two sisters exchanged a grim look before Celestia answered her. "My dear Rarity, it is true that what you have done is beyond terrible and you will be remembered forever in history as a monster." Celestia put a hoof on Rarity's shoulder. "I feel sorrow, not anger, because you are a wielder of an Element of Harmony. You had so much good in you, even now I know that. I feel that you would have gone on to do great things had this not happened."

"I do not feel wrath because you freed me from my dark persona of Nightmare Moon." Luna put her own hoof on Rarity's other shoulder. "I have done far worse than you have ever done, and you helped free me from that side of me."

"You never killed like I did!" Rarity moaned. "You never buried a suffering filly alive!"

Celestia shed a single tear at this detail and had to turn her head for a brief moment to regain her composure. Luna however, raised an eyebrow at Rarity. "You think I never killed as Nightmare Moon? You think I never slowly watched a filly die at my hooves? Tore families apart so that their sorrow would be greater than ever before they met their ends? You think I never tortured a small child to insanity?"

"But I've done all of those things too!" Rarity pushed Luna's hoof off of her shoulder. "I'm just as bad as Nightmare Moon if you have done what I have. Does amount really matter?"

Luna took a deep breath as she contemplated this answer before shaking her head. "Nevertheless, Rarity, you cannot imagine some of the terrors I wrought as Nightmare Moon. You are guilty of heinous crimes against ponydom, but never feel that I do not sympathize with the need to destroy."

"Enough of this!" Celestia snapped. "I do not wish to be reminded of those times."

Luna nodded. "Forgive me, sister, I merely wished to give Rarity a small comfort, whether she deserves it or not. I feel I owe her at least that much."

Celestia nodded and turned her attention back towards Rarity. "Before we pass down our judgment on you, we have one more thing to say." Rarity looked up into Celestia's eyes, fearing the words that would come next.

To her utter surprise, Princess Celestia broke out into a huge, goofy grin and she brought her face very close to Rarity's. "Rarity, are you in there? Come out Rarity!" said Princess Celestia in... Pinkie Pie's voice? Wait, since when does Princess Celestia talk like Pinkie Pie?

Rarity's eyes snapped open. It took her a few minutes to realize that it had all been a nightmare. A terrible, terrible nightmare. Rarity took a few deep breaths. The realization that she was not about to be executed and that her friends didn't know about her secret life as a serial killer, and thus still loved her, slowly washed over her. She lifted her head off of her pillow and was surprised to see the material was stained with tears.

She heard Pinkie Pie's voice call to her from outside her house once more. "Rarity! Wake up you sleepyhead! I need your help with something!"

Rarity groaned and rolled out of bed. Walking over to her window, she opened it to see Pinkie Pie looking up at her and bouncing. Rarity yawned and rubbed her eyes. "Oh, hello there Pinkie Pie." She yawned again and waved her hoof at Pinkie. "Of course I will help you, darling. Just give me a moment to wake up and get ready."

Pinkie continued bouncing, her head moving up and down each time her hooves touched the ground. "Okie dokie loki!"

Rarity looked in the mirror to see that her mane needed styling again and with a quick spell, she curled it as perfectly as always. She then lifted up a brush and brushed her coat a few times. After that, she went downstairs and quickly ate an apple before putting some mints in her mouth, and opened the door to go meet Pinkie Pie. Pinkie looked elated to see her friend as always.

"Good morning, Pinkie Pie," said Rarity. "What can I help you with this morning?"

"Well, I need somepony to help me carry a delivery back to Sugarcube Corner," Pinkie explained. "See, the Cakes ordered a large amount of confectionery supplies and they asked me if I would bring it back since they need to set up for the morning. I realized that I needed some help and then I remembered that you and I haven't hung out in a while and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity!"

Rarity smiled at Pinkie. "Of course I'll help you, darling! I have wanted to spend some time with you lately as well, and you are quite right, this is a good way to do that." Pinkie widened her smile, which Rarity returned, and the two friends walked, or in Pinkie's case bounced, over to the post office.

After a few minutes, the duo reached their destination and walked inside. Rarity and Pinkie walked up to the counter, expecting to see the usual clumsy, wall-eyed pegasus that Rarity was so fond of there to assist them. Instead they were met with a brown coated earth pony mare who gave them a blank stare as they came up to her.

"Good afternoon, miss," said Rarity to the bored looking pony. "Might I ask where Derpy is today?"

"I don't think that is any of your business," said the mare flatly.

Rarity raised an eyebrow at the mare's rude tone, but shrugged it off all the same. "I see. Well perhaps you can assist us then. We are here to pick up an order for the Cake family. Do you think you could help us?"

The mare just sighed and rolled her eyes at Rarity. Rarity half expected the mare to tell them to go away, but instead she slowly got up off of her chair and walked over to a record book. "You're here for the package for Sugarcube Corner, right? Order 8675309?"

"Yes indeedy doo!" said Pinkie Pie. The mare rolled her eyes once more at the duo. Rarity frowned. She was beginning to lose her patience with this rude pony. The mare went to a back room and returned with four brown paper packages. "That's them!"

Pinkie and Rarity each took two of the packages from the mare. Rarity leaned in close as she took her packages to see the name tag of the mare and saw that her name was Janice.

"Alright you two, I need one of you to sign for these and pay for them," said Janice.

"Alrighty," Pinkie chirped as she reached into her saddlebag. "Just let me get my coin purse and I'll get you your money!"

Janice groaned. "Just be quick about it, okay?"

Rarity ground her teeth together and flashed Janice an unseen glare. She was skating on thin ice, treating Pinkie Pie like she was an annoyance. Pinkie Pie, however, paid no heed to the rude behavior of the worker and tossed a dozen bits onto the counter before signing the offered clipboard. "Okay Rarity, let's get these babies home!"

"Not so fast," said Janice. "You owe us twenty bits for these packages. That was the deal, five bits per package."

Pinkie Pie cocked her head and frowned. "Umm... but when we ordered them, your boss said it was only three bits per package."

Janice smirked and crossed her forelegs. "Well I guess even my boss can make a mistake, huh?"

Rarity cocked her own head. She could swear that Janice was trying to hold back a grin. Rarity's jaw dropped open slightly. So, extortion is your game then, is it?

Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie wasn't so astute, so she shrugged and put an additional eight bits on the counter. "Okie, dokie, loki. Twenty bits it is." Pinkie's smile returned and she tossed two of the packages onto her back. Rarity ignited her horn and picked up the other two packages before turning to follow Pinkie out the door. As she left, she glanced back to see Janice sliding the extra eight bits under the counter. Rarity quietly growled as she followed Pinkie.

It's the basement for you.

* * * *

As soon as Rarity had dropped off the packages, stopping briefly for a 'thank you' cupcake from Pinkie Pie, Rarity rushed home to prepare her basement for Janice's arrival. She flung open her desk and pulled out a vegetable peeler, a skinning knife, and a boning knife and placed them on her tray. She hoped that it would be enough, but the knives in her desk weren't going anywhere.

A few minutes before the post office closing time, Rarity was trotting back to the post office with a giant burlap sack rolled up in her saddlebag. She entered the post office to see that Janice was still sitting at her desk, filing her front hooves. When she heard the bell over the door ring, she looked up to see Rarity enter. She groaned when she saw Rarity walk towards her. "You again? What do you want now?"

Rarity flashed Janice a sugary sweet grin. "I'm so glad you asked." She hopped over the counter to the side where Janice was stationed. "I was hoping you could help me with something."

Janice slammed the hoof file on the counter and shot to her hooves. "You aren't allowed to be back here! Get out before I call the cops on you!"

Rarity giggled and waved a hoof. "Oh I doubt you will ever see another pony of the law again in your entire life!"

Janice looked at her quizzically. Rarity reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a tiny syringe. Before Janice could react to it, Rarity stuck the needle into her neck. Janice squeaked as the needle went into her neck, but she collapsed onto the floor before she could run. Rarity smiled and proceeded to stuff Janice into the burlap sack she had brought with her. She tied off the top and looked around to see if anypony had seen her. No witnesses in the area. She breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the empty post office. She didn't want to kill any innocent ponies.

Stuffing Janice underneath the counter for a moment, Rarity levitated a typewriter over to her and sat down at Janice's chair.

Went home at normal time today, but I'm feeling a little under the weather so I might not come in tomorrow. I also received some family news that means I have to be out of town for the next week. I will mail more details about it when I get them.

Janice

* * * *

Rarity had absolutely no trouble transporting Janice to her basement. The sack she was carrying had a picture of potatoes on the front, so anypony who saw her merely assumed that she was carrying a sack of them. It was a trick that she had used many times and it had always worked like a charm.

Once Rarity was safely in her basement, she strapped Janice to the table and sat down at her workbench. If my calculations are correct, and if I've gotten the correct dosage for a pony of Janice's size, she should be waking up at... ah, she's waking up now.

Janice groaned and began looking around. A scream echoed throughout the basement when Janice saw the horrors around her. She whimpered and began struggling against the straps holding her to the table.

Rarity walked into her line of sight. "Oh, don't bother trying to work your way out of the straps, darling. Nopony has been able to yet," Rarity chuckled. Janice began shivering as Rarity wheeled her tray in front of the table and used a lever to turn the table so that it was vertical. She ran her hoof over Janice's fur and mane and looked at her wall before shaking her head. "You really need to take better care of yourself, darling. Your fur and mane are an absolute nightmare."

Rarity walked over to her workbench and placed the skinning knife lovingly in its usual spot before picking up a machete. As she walked back over to her victim, Janice began stuttering something. Rarity perked up her ears and leaned in close. "What's that, darling?"

"I-i-if you l-l-let me g-g-go I p-p-promise not to—"

Before Janice could finish her sentence, Rarity's eyes were consumed by rage, and she slammed the machete on the table, close enough to Janice's head to cut off the tip of her ear. "IF YOU SAY 'IF YOU LET ME GO I PROMISE NOT TO TELL ANYONE' I WILL MAKE YOUR LAST HOURS OF LIFE MORE MISERABLE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE!"

A sob escaped Janice's lips and her shivering increased. Seeing this, Rarity calmed down and stroked Janice's mane with her hoof. "Shhh, it's okay. Just try and relax, darling. I'm sorry I lost my temper there just now. Just relax, and it'll all be okay soon."

Rarity sighed and started pacing. "It's just that I hate it when ponies say that to me." Rarity motioned around her basement. "As if my decorations alone weren't enough to tell the ponies that I bring down here that this is the end for them. It's a rather foolish statement, I get it every time, and I'm just too tired of it to tolerate it anymore. Take this pony for instance." Rarity pointed to a dark blue hide on her wall. "She continued to repeat it even after I had sawed off her hind legs. I mean really, there comes a time when you just need to stop being foolish and accept what is happening to you."

Rarity turned her attention back to Janice who had her eyes shut tightly and was muttering to herself. Rarity walked back over to her and leaned in to hear what she was saying.

"It's only a dream, it's only a dream, it's only a dream..."

Rarity giggled and tapped Janice's head with her hoof. "Oh I assure you that this is no dream, darling. This is very, very, very real." Rarity pulled the machete out of the table and wiped the flecks of blood off of the knife. "Now Janice, I need you to look at me, please." Janice continued to mutter to herself, not paying Rarity's order any heed.

Rarity rolled her eyes and sighed. Seeing no other choice, she took the machete and made a deep cut into Janice's right hind leg. The pain brought Janice out of her foolish tirade and she let out an ear-splitting scream. Rarity briefly covered her ears but thankfully, Janice only let out one scream before she began hyperventilating. Rarity decided to try again. "Janice, I need you to look at me, darling." Janice continued to hyperventilate, but she turned her attention towards Rarity. "Good. Now, it is important that you answer me honestly because it is going to save you a lot of trouble and pain. Do you know why you are here?" Janice continued to hyperventilate as she looked down at her leg which had begun bleeding profusely.

Rarity followed her line of sight and clicked her tongue. "Oh dear, I think I may have cut you too deep. I'm terribly sorry about that. Answer me truthfully and I will stop the bleeding. You might want to hurry, though, I think I cut you deep enough that you'll bleed out in a very short time."

Janice took a few seconds to stop hyperventilating before she stuttered out a response. "I... I'm here because I took that money from your friend."

"And?"

"And because I was rude to you."

Rarity broke out into a grin. "Excellent! Alright, I am a pony of my word so let me stop the bleeding here." Rarity took a piece of cloth and tied it tightly around Janice's sliced open leg to create a tourniquet. "There you are, that should slow the bleeding down nicely." Janice groaned and leaned her head back. "Well, we should get started as I can't be doing this all day, much as I would like to. Would you like anything before we begin? A glass of water perhaps?"

Janice moved her head to look at Rarity. "W-why are you being so nice to me now?"

Rarity smiled at her and began stroking her mane comfortingly. "Well you're kind of pathetic now, aren't you?"

Janice turned her head and looked away from Rarity. Rarity sighed and nodded. "Very well, I suppose we should begin now."

Rarity looked at the machete in her hoof and decided that it didn't feel right to use in this situation. She once again went back to her workbench. Replacing the machete, she scanned the various tools she had in order to find something that suited her fancy at this particular moment. After a few seconds, her eyes landed on one in particular and Rarity knew that it would be the best: the hacksaw.

She picked it up and walked back over to Janice. "Okay, darling, this is going to hurt more than anything you have ever experienced." A smirk crossed Rarity's face. "Just so you know."

Rarity saw Janice tighten up, anticipating the feeling of the hacksaw slicing her up. Rarity placed the saw on Janice's stomach and began cutting her open. To Rarity's surprise, Janice didn't scream, she didn't even cry. She just tensed up, hoping that it would be over soon.

A Rarity continued to cut open Janice's stomach, she began to get annoyed by the lack of extreme reaction she was getting out of this pony. She was cutting her open with a hacksaw and getting no reaction to speak of from her victim! That had certainly never happened before. Usually they were screaming or crying or begging for mercy. Silence was the most unusual reaction. Rarity hated to admit it, but the satisfying feeling of sharp steel roughly slicing up another pony was dulled when the pony in question gave no reaction.

Within a few more minutes, Rarity felt the blade of the hacksaw scraping across the ends of Janice's ribs and she stopped cutting. "Why don't you cry? Why don't you scream? Surely this must hurt, darling."

Janice took a few seconds to respond. "N-n-not gonna g-g-give you the pleasure."

Rarity raised her eyebrow and cocked her head. The room was silent for a few seconds while Rarity mulled this answer over. Within a few seconds though, Rarity broke out in a small smile. "I find that interesting, darling, very interesting indeed." Rarity picked up the hacksaw and began cleaning it with another strip of cloth. "Do you know that I do not exactly remember all of my victims? Goodness knows, I can't remember every single pony out of the seventy-one that I have killed."

At that number, Janice opened her eyes wide and stared at Rarity in horror. "However," she continued, ignoring her expression. "I must say that I will most certainly remember you. It's not everyday that you slice open a pony and she has a strong enough will to not make a peep. I think you would have been an interesting pony to know outside of this." Rarity picked up the hacksaw again and shrugged. "Oh well, back to work I guess. Now since I have started to feel the hacksaw scraping against your ribcage, I think I started too high up. I'm going to begin again but go a little lower this time, okay?"

Janice shut her eyes again and turned her head away. Rarity shrugged again and began anew.

She only got a few centimeters in when a bell that she had placed in her basement to notify her when somepony rang her doorbell went off. She perked up her ears and stopped sawing. She put the hacksaw down and began cleaning herself up. "Don't move, I'll be right back."

As Rarity bounded up the stairs, she stopped dead in her tracks. "The dream. This is all going exactly like my dream, Rarity!" Rarity's gaze flickered between the door to her home and the door to her basement. "Postal worker who was rude to Pinkie, cutting her up with a hacksaw to the stomach when the doorbell rang..." Rarity bit her lip and took a small step towards the door. "Rarity... you're being foolish. You can't panic every time something like this happens. You were very careful to not let anypony see you."

As she approached her door, she her breathing became quieter, and her steps were getting smaller. "It's not a platoon of royal guards, Rarity," she whispered. "You're being foalish. Don't be paranoid. Nopony knows Janice is here."

Rarity stopped in front of her door and took a deep breath. "Just open the top half of your door, Rarity. It's easier to buy time to escape if..." Rarity took another deep breath and threw her door open to see... nothing. She stuck her head out of the door to see who had rung her doorbell and was rewarded with the sight of a beautiful bouquet of flowers! She inwardly sighed. See, Rarity, you were being paranoid.

She leaned in and took a deep sniff into the flowers. They were wonderfully fragrant and they instantly made Rarity forget all of her worries and... Rarity had the sudden urge to sneeze. Her head shot up out of the flowers and Rarity saw sneezing powder at the end of her nose. Immediately she began sneezing, vowing to find whoever did this and get her revenge. She sneezed a few more times before she heard laughter coming from the bushes next to her house. Following the source of the laughter, she saw Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, holding up a jar of sneezing powder and laughing their heads off.

Before Rarity could do anything, Rainbow zoomed away, dropping the jar of sneezing powder behind her. The fall caused some of the powder to fly up into Pinkie's nose and with one sneeze, Pinkie flew backwards and out of sight. Rarity smirked "Just my friends playing a harmless prank." She ignited her horn and lifted the flowers into her home. "You must get them back for this someday, Rarity."

Going back downstairs, she saw a very pale Janice, her eyes closed and a pool of blood all around her. Rarity walked over to her and checked her pulse. She was alive, but only just. She would bleed out in a little under five minutes, no matter what Rarity did. Rarity sighed and stroked Janice's mane once more. "You've been very brave darling," she soothed. Janice's eyes fluttered open, too weak for a response. Rarity walked over to her workbench and picked up a large hammer. Walking back over to Janice, she said "I know you only have a few minutes left in you, so I decided to just cut your time short." Rarity raised the hammer high. "Don't worry, this probably won't hurt."

With one quick swing, it was over.

Rarity dropped the hammer onto the tray. Despite not having a good enough hide or mane to make it onto Rarity's wall, Janice had a spirit to her that Rarity really liked. She just had to have something of hers to remember her by. As she looked over the corpse, she noticed that Janice took very good care of her hooves. Indeed, Rarity had remembered that when she had drugged her, Janice had been filing her hooves. Rarity decided they were the perfect thing. Grinning, she picked up her hacksaw once more and got to work.

Birds of a Feather

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Rarity stretched slightly before she used her magic to fling the last remains of Janice deep into the Everfree Forest. It had taken her all night to dismember the corpse and get rid of the remains, but Rarity finished her work just as the morning sun had come up over the horizon. As she trotted back to her house, Rarity smiled fondly at the memory of the four severed hooves that were tied together with a string which had been hung up on her wall next to the pelts.

Entering her home and going upstairs, she decided to take a bath to simply lounge in. A unique and memorable kill like Janice relaxed Rarity very much, and she was far too worn out at the moment to get any work done for the shop. Besides, she deserved a personal day.

Rarity turned the nozzles on the bathtub, and it immediately began filling up with hot water that would do wonders to wash the stress away. She then went over to a nearby cabinet and scanned the various bottles of bubble bath it contained, before deciding on one called "spring rain". She squirted it into the tub, turned off the water, and lowered herself into the water. She sighed contentedly and leaned her head back. "Oh, today was simply marvelous, Rarity. Not only did you get revenge for Pinkie Pie, but you also had a wonderful kill, even if you didn't get to draw it out nearly as much as you wanted."

"Well that's how life goes sometimes, Rarity. At the very least, you got some time."

"Part of me wishes that I had extended it more to break her spirit. I could have gotten hours if I had taken that approach, Rarity," Rarity mused.

Rarity clicked her tongue. "Oh I don't think so, darling. She was bleeding out rather fast. I suppose that now you know not to slice a leg open like that."

"True, Rarity, true."

After soaking for twenty more minutes, Rarity decided that she had better get out of the tub and do something. However, as she levitated a towel over to herself, she realized that she was at a loss for what to actually do. That was her one problems with being a serial killer: she could never figure out what to do in the immediate hours after her latest kill. She relished the days when some matter called her attention once she had finished the cleanup.

Rarity dried off and decided that as long as she was being lazy today, she might as well go the whole nine yards and go to the spa. Yes, the spa sounded like a wonderful idea.

After drying off, she moseyed on down to the spa, enjoying the warm rays of sunshine that were covering her body. The day was continuing to be bright and glorious.

As Rarity passed the town square, she saw a sight that she had yet to see before in her life: a griffin! Rarity had never seen a griffin before, she was certainly impressed by how regal she looked. She was the size of a pony and had the front half of an eagle with the back half of a lion. Rarity just imagined her pelt hanging on her wall, but there really was no need for that. She was very likely a perfectly nice creature, and Rarity didn't see the point.

As she kept walking towards the spa, she continued to keep an eye on what the griffin was doing. To her surprise, she stole an apple from a cart and ate it without paying for it! Rarity raised an eyebrow. "Maybe she does belong in my basement," Rarity muttered.

As she mulled it over, she stopped Bon Bon, who was passing by her on the street. "Please excuse me, darling, but do you know who that griffin is?"

Bon Bon looked back at the griffin and nodded. "Yeah, she's a friend of Rainbow Dash's. I saw the two of them flying around town this morning. They seemed to be having a pretty good time."

Rarity nodded. "Alright, thank you, darling." Bon Bon returned the nod and the two parted ways. "So, she's a friend of Rainbow Dash's is she?" Rarity mumbled to herself. "I see. Well maybe she is going to pay for that apple she stole; I shouldn't misjudge her when I hardly know her."

Within a few moments though, Rarity saw a sight that guaranteed this griffin a spot in Rarity's basement. The griffin had been walking and had run into Fluttershy who had been leading a family of ducks to safety. That was innocent enough, could have happened to anypony. However, the griffin's reaction was not so nice. Rarity could hear the nasty creature berate Fluttershy from where she stood. Rage boiled inside Rarity as she saw the griffin continue to yell at an increasingly distraught Fluttershy. Rarity wanted to go over and snap that filthy beast's neck right now! However, she did figure that that would be a tad counter-productive as not only would she be arrested, she would lose all love from Rainbow Dash, and she would scar Fluttershy for life. Rarity felt her will to not kill in the open weaken when the griffin let loose a mighty roar of anger at the frightened pegasus pony.

As Fluttershy ran away in tears, Rarity decided that the spa could wait. She had a basement to prepare.

* * * *

What is the best way to brutally murder a griffin?

That was the question that Rarity found herself asking as she stared silently at her collection of tools. Her tray lay empty beside her as she contemplated how to kill the beastly creature that had hurt Fluttershy so. Each time she reached for a knife, she found herself withdrawing her hoof, second guessing her choice.

"Um... well..." Rarity reached into her workbench. "Pliers might be useful if I want to rip out her feathers, I suppose."

Rarity retracted her hoof. "But is it going to take pliers to pull them out?"

"I suppose not." Rarity clicked her tongue and tapped her butcher knife. "Her tail might be an issue, though. She grabbed that apple with it. I'm not sure how dexterous she is with it, but it would be best to cut it off, Rarity."

Rarity frowned and retracted her hoof again. "But does that mean the butcher knife or something more or less precise?" Rarity groaned and put her head in her hooves. "This might be more difficult than you thought, Rarity."

Rarity grunted and finally decided on a skinning knife. "She's certainly going to make it on your wall, Rarity. How often do griffins come along?"

Rarity grinned and picked up a sharp bread knife. "If she's as much fun as I hope she is, I might have to find and kill one again."

Rarity's ears swiveled back as she heard the doorbell ring, and she gave a small, angry growl. "What part of 'closed' do ponies not understand?" After slamming her workbench shut, Rarity walked back up the stairs and answered the door. To her surprise, she saw a smiling Pinkie Pie on the other side. "Oh, goodness Pinkie, I didn't expect to see you there. How may I help you?"

"Hello Rarity!" said Pinkie in her usual happy voice. "I was wondering if you knew about Gilda!"

Rarity cocked her head. "Uh, Gilda, darling?"

"Yes, Gilda! She's Rainbow Dash's griffin friend!" said Pinkie. "She's staying in Ponyville for a while and I though that it would be a nice thing to do if we threw a party for her!"

Rarity smiled at Pinkie. That was Pinkie Pie, always welcoming, and always willing to throw a new guest in Ponyville a party. Sometimes Rarity made it a little game to see who could get to a new pony in Ponyville first. It would either be Pinkie and her parties, or Rarity and her basement. Much to Rarity's chagrin, Pinkie usually won those competitions which meant that Rarity would refrain from going in for the kill. "I take it the party is at Sugarcube Corner?"

Pinkie's grin widened. "Yes indeedy do! This afternoon at three o clock."

"Well, I will be sure to be there, Pinkie Pie. I would never miss one of your parties," said Rarity.

"Okie dokie loki!" said Pinkie Pie as she bounced away. "See you at three!"

"See you then, darling!" said Rarity as she waved goodbye to Pinkie Pie. As Rarity shut the door, she realized that she still had a grin on her face. The realization only made the grin bigger. "Goodness gracious, Rarity. How does she make me smile like that?" Rarity chuckled. "That takes talent, if I do say so myself."

As she walked back down to her basement and looked over at the nearly empty tray. She clicked her tongue and shook her head. "You know what, Rarity? Just improvise. Celestia knows you've done it enough."

As Rarity thought about how best to get Gilda in her basement, she was struck with an idea. She remembered how she had lost her temper at one of the things that poor Janice had said. Rarity had an idea of how best to avoid a situation like that again and she grabbed the necessary supplies for her idea, and went to work on it.

* * * *

As Rarity put her creation on the wall facing the table where she strapped her victims, she glanced at a clock that was on her wall. It was two forty-five! "Oh goodness, Rarity, you must pay better attention to the time!" she scolded. She put the final pieces of tape on the wall before sticking her creation to the wall and zooming towards Sugarcube Corner.

She arrived out of breath and a tad sweaty from the run. The confectionery was packed with the residents of Ponyville, all of them eagerly awaiting the arrival of Gilda. Rarity glanced at the clock. It was a few minute before three. Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. She entered the shop and went over to greet Applejack who wasn't talking to anypony at the moment. "Hello there, Applejack! It is good to see you here this fine afternoon."

"Hello, Rarity," Applejack replied with a smile. "Ah'm glad to be here. Ah'd never miss a Pinkie Pie party." The two friends walked over to each other and gave each other a greeting hug. As the two broke apart, Applejack's smile faded away. "So who's this Gilda Ah've heard nothing about?"

"I heard she's an old friend of Rainbow Dash, a griffin! So rare," Rarity replied.

Applejack nodded. "Friend of RD's, huh? Well, any friends of hers is a friend of mine, Ah guess."

Rarity inwardly grimaced. She wanted to tell Applejack to withhold saying that particular statement until she had actually met the griffin in question, but she held her tongue.

They did not have to wait very long for the guest of honor. Gilda walked in after a few more minutes, and was immediately met with a smiling Pinkie Pie, who welcomed her to the party. Rarity observed Gilda's behavior as Pinkie Pie extended a hoof in greeting. Gilda suspiciously took the hoof and was immediately met with a zap of electricity. Rarity smiled. Ah the old hoof buzzer prank. Pinkie Pie had only done it to Rarity once as Rarity had made her Pinkie Promise not to it to her ever again. She wasn't thrilled with the results that the prank had on her mane. She laughed at the successful prank like the rest of the ponies, but still kept an eye on Gilda.

* * * *

As the party went on, any thoughts that Rarity had that Gilda did not deserve to be in her basement faded into oblivion. Somepony, likely Pinkie Pie, had set up various pranks throughout the party and by whatever luck, Gilda had been the one to set them all off. She started by eating lemon drops laced with pepper, something Rarity felt that she should try at some point; only Rarity would replace the pepper with strychnine or something like that. A dribble glass and spring snakes in a can followed suit. Rarity noticed that Gilda's composure, something Rarity was surprised that the naturally irritable Gilda had in the first place, was slowly eroding as the party went on. Rarity was sure that the re-lighting birthday candles would set her over the edge for sure and that she would completely lose her cool in front of everypony. However, despite manhandling Pinkie Pie and threatening her, she did not blow her fuse. Rarity mused that this was possibly an indication of what Gilda would be like in her basement.

Before Rarity could dwell on the matter more, Applejack called the attention of everypony there. "Hey y'all, it's pin the tail on the pony! Let's play!" said Applejack, motioning to the game.

Rarity smiled in delight at the idea. "Oh my favorite game!" said Rarity. "Can I go first? Can I have the purple tail?"

To Rarity's complete lack of surprise, the second she reached for the tail the greedy griffin snatched it out from under her. "Well I'm the guest of honor, and I'll have the purple tail!" said Gilda snidely.

Rarity shot her a glare that would have killed Gilda on the spot... if looks could kill, that is.

Spike tied the blindfold over Gilda's eyes and Pinkie Pie spun her around. Rarity was confused to see that, despite the fact that Pinkie led Gilda towards the poster, Gilda instead ignored Pinkie and walked in the opposite direction. It was just Gilda being cruel to Pinkie Pie as usual. However, this did not have the intended effect. True, Gilda would have run into a wall eventually, but she actually managed to slip on a clump of frosting on the floor, and she slid right into the kitchen with a loud crash.

Silence filled the room as everypony looked on in shock at the collision. Gilda came out of the kitchen, no worse for wear, but with the pony tail draped over her beak. "Uh, Gilda, you pinned the tail on the wrong end," Pinkie Pie observed.

The room began laughing at the ridiculous looking griffin. As the room continued to laugh, Rarity saw the last shred of self-control dissolve into anger and she watched with a smile as Gilda let out a furious roar.

The livid griffin began berating everypony in the room, but Rarity paid no heed to her words, despite the mask of shock that she had put on her face. She was lost in thought as she realized that she had not figured out how she was going to get Gilda in her basement. Drugging her outside of the bakery wouldn't work as she wasn't quite sure how much she would need. Plus, she had to figure out to drug her. She needed to figure out some way to lure Gilda to the boutique, but she was unsure of what Gilda would want there. Then the idea struck her: revenge. Rarity smiled to herself and rejoined reality just in time to see Gilda storm angrily out of Sugarcube Corner. It was time. Or at least, it would soon be time. It would be a tad suspicious if Rarity left immediately after Gilda did. She would have to bide her time for a few minutes, but not so long that she wouldn't be able to find Gilda.

After another ten minutes at the party, which began with a round of apologies, Rarity decided that she had better get on with it. She walked up to Pinkie Pie who was drinking punch and eating large slices of cake. "Hello there Pinkie Pie," she greeted

Pinkie swallowed the piece of cake in her mouth and smiled at Rarity. "Hey there Rarity, are you having a wonderful, super-duper fun time?"

Rarity nodded happily. "I am indeed, Pinkie. You always throw the best parties. However, I have some work to do at my shop, and I'm afraid that I must leave."

Pinkie's ears drooped and she looked sadly at the floor. "Okay, I suppose I'll see you later then."

"Before I go, I have to say that I really enjoyed the hoof buzzer trick you played on Gilda. Do you mind if I borrow that?" Rarity smiled mischievously and glanced at the bakery's door. "I think it would be a great prank to pull sometime."

Pinkie perked up again. "Of course you can, Rarity!" Pinkie Pie reached into her mane and pulled the hoof buzzer she had used on Gilda and hoofed it over to Rarity.

Rarity took the buzzer and placed it inside her saddlebag. "Thank you, Pinkie. I'm sure I'll find a good use for this. Have a wonderful evening, darling."

Pinkie nodded happily and Rarity left Sugarcube Corner to go find Gilda.

As luck would have it, Rarity found Gilda in the exact spot that she expected to find her. Gilda had gone back to Rainbow Dash's house to collect some of her things before she left Ponyville for good. When Rarity saw Gilda fly out, she called to her. "Yoo hoo, Gilda! Might I have a word with you please?"

Rarity saw Gilda roll her eyes, but her wings turned downwards and she landed in front of Rarity nonetheless. "What do you want, dweeb? I wanna get out of here!"

Despite years of masterfully displaying fake emotions, Rarity still had to work at maintaining her casual demeanor. "Well, I just wanted to tell you that I thought what Pinkie Pie did to you at that party was simply dreadful. I know that she claimed to be throwing that party innocently, but you had her pegged right. Take it from somepony who has lived here all her life and knows everypony around here." Rarity's stomach twisted into knots, lying about her good friend like that, but all would be corrected soon.

Hearing this news, Gilda raised an eyebrow in interest. "I knew that she was just trying to get under my feathers! Nobody is that mindless!" Gilda narrowed her eyes. "Why are you telling me this anyway?"

Rarity gave a small laugh and leaned in close next to Gilda. "Well, I heard that you enjoy a good prank and as it just so happens, I enjoy a good prank myself. What would you say to me assisting you in getting a little revenge on Pinkie Pie, and indeed anypony you wanted to around here?"

Gilda's leer faded and was replaced by an eager grin. "Heck yeah!" she said, flying into the air. "Sign me up!" She flew down next to Rarity and jumped up and down excitedly. "What are we gonna do?"

Rarity softly chuckled. This was going to be easier than she thought. "Well first off, let us go back to my home where we can discuss our plans. I was quite the prankster back in my teenage years and I have some wonderful things in my basement; very elaborate stuff. None of this childish hoof buzzer or dribble glass nonsense."

"Lead the way!" said Gilda.

"However, we must be careful not to be seen going into my house!" Rarity cautioned. "If the ponies of this town saw the two of us together, then it wouldn't be difficult for them to figure out that it was us pulling the pranks."

Gilda nodded. "Makes sense to me." Gilda grinned evilly and rubbed her claws together. "Alright, let’s get this party started!"

The two snuck quietly back to Rarity's house. Luckily, most of the ponies in Ponyville were still at Pinkie's party and thus, the streets were fairly quiet. Their journey to Rarity's house was uneventful. When they reached her house, they sneaked inside and Rarity led Gilda into her basement. "Nice touch with that secret piano password, dude," said Gilda. "I've never seen anything like that."

"Why thank you, Gilda," said Rarity as the two walked down the stairs.

As the two continued walking down the stairs, the smell of decaying ponies wafted towards the duo and Gilda sniffed the air as they neared the bottom of the steps. "What the heck is that smell?”

Rarity sighed sadly and shook her head. "Oh, my basement burst a pipe a few weeks back and I'm afraid that the smell hasn't quite gone away yet."

Gilda looked around uneasily for a moment but shrugged all the same. "Alright, I guess that makes sense."

The duo reached the bottom of the stairs and entered the basement. Gilda's eyes widened when she saw the horrors in front of her, and she slowly began backing away. Rarity held up a hoof to stop her. "Don't you worry, darling. None of this is real! This is just one of my more elaborate pranks. If we decide to go with this one, we'll put on masks so Pinkie doesn't know that it is us, and we'll make her think that she's about to be killed!"

Gilda swallowed nervously and took a step backwards. "Uh... yeah, maybe this one is a bit too extreme. I mean come on, we don't want to scare her too badly."

Gilda continued to back away, still visibly nervous as Rarity sighed and levitated two small syringes over to her from her workbench. "Well that's a problem because I'm afraid that I do want to scare you that badly."

Before Gilda could respond, Rarity stuck the syringes into her neck. Gilda yelped and, rather than fight Rarity, she began running back up the stairs, trying to escape. Rarity merely smiled at the foolish display and began moseying after her.

Gilda's movements became slower as the drug took effect and she soon collapsed on the stairs, still slowly trying to crawl away to freedom. Rarity began humming and levitated a third syringe over to her. She stuck it into Gilda's back between her wings. It had the desired effect. Gilda stopped moving and lay unconscious on the stairs. Rarity gave a satisfied nod and encased Gilda's right arm in her magical glow and, with a grunt, pulled her halfway off of the floor. Moving forward, Rarity slid herself under Gilda and used all of her strength to lift the her onto her back.

As she carried her victim towards the table, she glared at her. "Honestly, d... Celestia she's heavy darling, if I wasn't about to do it for you, I'd suggest you take off a few pounds!"

Finally with one last grunt, and some more help from her magic, she managed to get Gilda onto the table and strap her down. Rarity cracked her neck and stretched her back into the air, in a move reminiscent of her cat, to ease some of the soreness that had come from lifting Gilda.

Her back placated, Rarity had nothing else to do other than sit at her workbench and wait for Gilda to wake up. She crossed her hind legs and tapped the workbench. "Now, Rarity, you've never killed a griffin before. Are you absolutely certain that nothing is going to go wrong?"

Rarity patted the curls on her head as she examined Gilda. "Well I think so." She glanced down at Gilda's tail and clicked her tongue. "Oh, well, maybe not, Rarity. She did seem to have some control of her tail in the market earlier this morning."

"Not to mention her claws." Rarity grunted and opened up her workbench. "She could easily shred the straps, couldn't she?" Rarity sighed as she picked up her boning knife. "Honestly, Rarity, when are you going to get those metal cuffs you've been meaning to find?"

She approached the sleeping Gilda and flattened her claws against the table. "I do hope the pain doesn't wake her up," Rarity muttered. "But... I have to risk it, Rarity. If she wakes up and gets out because I didn't do this..." Rarity shook her head.

She held Gilda's claws down with one of her hooves and, holding the knife with her magic, she began cutting one of Gilda's claws off. After the removal of the first one, she glanced over at Gilda. No movement. After putting the severed claw in a nearby bucket, she got to work finishing the de-clawing.

Within fifteen minutes, the eight severed claws lay in a bucket at Rarity's hooves. Rarity was irritated that there was still no movement from Gilda. Rarity frowned and tapped Gilda's head. "Honestly, darling, it's very rude to keep a lady waiting!" A dripping noise entered Rarity's ears and she glanced down at the mutilated claws. She sighed. "I suppose I'd better cauterize those." she chuckled and ruffled Gilda's feathers. "I wouldn't want you to bleed out before we got the party going, so to speak."

Rarity went back upstairs and got the iron that she used to iron out her clothes. Returning to the basement to see that Gilda was still unconscious, she plugged in the iron and gave it a few seconds to get hot before cauterizing the bleeding stumps. Once it was sufficiently hot, Rarity brought the iron down on the bleeding stumps, sealing the wounds shut.

When she returned to the basement after replacing the iron, she saw that Gilda was finally beginning to wake up. After only a few more seconds, which Rarity used to administer a painkiller that she had designed after borrowing a book on local herbs from Twilight to dull the pain in Gilda's claws, the griffin woke up.

Rarity moved her empty tray next to the table. "It is so nice of you to finally join me in the world of the awake, darling. I'm sorry if I didn't quite get the dosage right on the drug I gave you, but you can hardly blame me when I've never actually had to drug a griffin before."

Gilda didn't respond, she was too busy looking around in horror. All doubt that the pelts and manes that adorned Rarity's walls were fakes was gone. As she looked around, her eyes landed on a giant poster on the wall in front of her and her terror faded into confusion. "Uh, what's that?"

Rarity's eyes glowed with pride. "Do you like it? I just made it today." Rarity turned her head to look at the poster and smiled fondly at it. "You see, I have been doing this for years now, and every time I get somepony down here they start saying some foolish statement or other and I finally decided that I had enough of it. I actually lost my temper at the poor darling who was in here yesterday when she said one of these things. So, I decided to make a poster for my victims to see so they would know what to not say while they're down here." Rarity smiled as Gilda's eyes strained briefly to read the poster. Gilda still had not noticed her mutilated claws.

"Don't ever say 'let me go and I won't tell anyone', 'you don't have to do this', 'please stop', 'let me go', 'if you let me go I'll...'" Gilda stopped reading it aloud and scanned the rest of it silently. When she finished, she frowned at Rarity. "Uh... okay. What now then?"

Rarity smiled. "I'm so glad you asked! Now I get to rip you part piece by piece until you're dead, at which point I will use your feathers in my dresses somehow as well as use your lower half to decorate my wall. Same with your beak, I think. I'm not quite sure what to do with your claws yet." Rarity frowned and tapped her lower jaw. "Do you think I should make them into a necklace to wear when I am down here with a victim?"

Gilda gave Rarity a horrified look before glancing at her claws. When she saw that only mutilated stumps remained, she shrieked in terror and started violently thrashing, trying to escape.

"You stupid jerk!" screeched Gilda, "What did you do to my claws?!"

Rarity raised her eyebrow and cocked her head. "Isn't that obvious darling? I took my boning knife and removed them so you wouldn't shred the straps holding you down and escape. Honestly, you must think these silly questions through before you ask them; otherwise you'll just waste my time." Gilda continued to thrash about in a rather undignified manner. Rarity rolled her eyes. "Alright, Gilda, I must ask you to please stop this silly display, you really look quite foolish."

"Get me out of these straps you stupid horse!" yelled Gilda.

"I'm not a horse, darling, I'm a pony," Rarity deadpanned. "Do I look like I'm from Saddle Arabia to you? Now please stop thrashing about, you look ridiculous."

"Get me out of here!"

"Now Gilda, darling, I know that that phrase isn't written exactly on the poster, but it is pretty close to 'let me go'. However, you didn't see it there so I will give you a free pass on saying this once," said Rarity.

"Let me go!"

Rarity frowned at her. "Now darling, you read the poster and you know that I don't want you saying things like that. Now, I'm going to count to three and if you don't stop thrashing about like a fool I am going to cut off your tail with garden shears. If you do stop thrashing I will leave it alone for now."

Gilda ignored Rarity who sighed and retrieved the garden shears from her workbench. She walked back over to a thrashing Gilda. She used her magic to straighten Gilda's tail and she placed it between the blades of the gardening shears. "One... two... three."

Seeing that she had not stopped thrashing about, Rarity merely shrugged and quickly brought the handles of the shears together, snapping the blades back to their normal position and neatly severing the Gilda's tail. Gilda's eyes widened and she let out a bloodcurdling scream. She stopped moving around, though, which was a plus.

To Rarity's surprise, Gilda managed to regain her composure after a few more seconds. Maybe griffins didn't have many nerve endings in their tails or something. "Are you finished tossing about like a madpony? All that fighting and the straps didn't even budge. And now look at your tail!" said Rarity. Gilda whimpered while staring in horror at the tail that Rarity was dangling in front of her.

"You're insane," she whispered.

Rarity rolled her eyes and tossed the tail aside. "That might be another one that I put on the poster. While my actions might seem objectively insane to you, I assure you that I am very, very, very sane. An insane pony would merely hack you up for the fun of it, but I do it to protect the ones I love.' Rarity shrugged. "I'm not insane, Gilda, I just have no empathy. That's all."

Rarity walked over to her workbench and picked up the hoof buzzer that she had borrowed from Pinkie Pie earlier that day. Walking back over to Gilda, she dangled the contraption in front of her. "Remember this, Gilda? You seemed to really get quite the shock from it." said Rarity. "Now I know that this doesn't have the voltage to do any serious damage, but I imagine that if it is placed in the right spot it would really hurt, don't you think?"

Gilda flinched away and began shivering. "Like where?"

"Well, I was thinking that I should wait until I can press it against exposed muscles or organs, and I still might do that, but for now, I think we'll start with your eyes if that's okay with you."

Gilda immediately shut her eyes tightly and turned her head away. "No that is not okay with me! Why would you ask that!?"

"Well, formalities I guess. I'm going to do it whether you want me to or not, so you might as well just accept it. Now, which eye do you think, right or left?" Gilda didn't respond to the question so Rarity merely shrugged. "You know, I think that I'm only going to do one right now as I want you to see what is going on." Gilda continued her silence and kept her eyes shut tight. Rarity rolled her eyes and used her magic to turn Gilda's head towards her and force her eyes open. Gilda could only watch in horror as Rarity brought the hoof buzzer closer and closer to Gilda's right eye. "Now stay very still Gilda because this is really going to hurt."

Rarity pushed the button on the hoof buzzer into Gilda's right eye. Gilda immediately began contorting in pain and, based on the vibrations Rarity felt through the buzzer, the hoof buzzer was really in top form. She must remember to thank Pinkie Pie when she returned it.

Gilda continued to convulse in pain until Rarity decided that she had had enough and withdrew the buzzer. She gave a grunt of disgust when she saw what the buzzer did to Gilda's eye. "Wow, that was impressive, was it not?" Gilda began hyperventilating as tears of pain fell from her good eye.

Rarity turned Gilda's head to the side and examined the damaged eye. "Gracious, I didn't expect it to do that. Well, we'll just have to see what it does to you a little later, won't we?"

"Go to Tartarus," Gilda growled.

Rarity giggled and waved her hoof. "Oh, I've been doomed to go there ever since my first murders. I assure you that you'll get your wish someday." Rarity's face brightened. "Maybe I'll see you there!" Gilda continued crying from the pain and turned her head away from Rarity again. Rarity shrugged. "Alright then, let's see how easily your feathers come out, shall we? I'm pretty sure that they can be removed with a simple tug but if not, I have pliers that I can use if we need them. We'll start with your stomach since that's the spot I want to cut open next." As Rarity leaned in to start pulling out feathers, she moved her right front hoof to the right a bit to adjust her balance and slipped on the pool of blood that had formed thanks to Gilda's severed tail. She stumbled around for a few seconds before regaining her balance. "Oh, clumsy me. I really must be more careful so I can avoid slipping on your blood."

Rarity noticed that some of the blood was getting on Gilda's severed tail and staining it red. She picked it up an examined it before giggling.

"What's so funny?" Gilda moaned.

"Remember earlier today when we were playing 'Pin the Tail on the Pony' and you wanted the purple tail just so I couldn't have it? Well we just played 'Take the Tail off the Griffin' and I have the red tail just so you can't have it!" Rarity laughed uproariously at her joke but stopped after a few seconds when she saw that Gilda was looking at her with shock and confusion. Rarity controlled her laughter before clearing her throat and giving an embarrassed grin. "Yes, you're quite right, that wasn't one of my better... jokes."

Shrugging, Rarity leaned in and grabbed one of Gilda's feathers in her mouth and tugged. With a small snap, the feather came right out. Rarity placed it in the bucket where she had deposited Gilda's claws. "That was rather easy wasn't it, Gilda? Did it hurt?" Gilda didn't respond. With another shrug, Rarity got back to work pulling out Gilda's feathers.

She heard Gilda take a deep breath and groan slightly before she said anything. "Rainbow Dash will wonder where I am," she said weakly.

Rarity scoffed and shook her head as she pulled out another feather. "I hardly think that will be the case, darling." Rarity tugged at another feather, but decided that tweezers would be more accurate than her mouth. It certainly wouldn't leave a poor aftertaste at least. She levitated a pair over to her. "Honestly, after that fight the two of you had today? I think she'll be glad to see you gone."

"What, do you think that's the first, or worst, fight we've ever had?" Gilda retorted. "Our fights usually end up with one of us on the ground with a black eye or a bloody beak, but do you want to know something?"

Rarity rolled her eyes and yanked another feather.

"We didn't stop being best friends! We made up and usually laughed our flanks off about it later!" Gilda grunted when Rarity tore out another one of her feathers. "Do you seriously think the worst thing I've done to Dash is get really annoyed with her friends? I called that grey pony with the weird eyes a retard once, and the ensuing fight put us both in the hospital!"

Rarity raised an eyebrow and glanced back up at Gilda. "You called Derpy a retard? Well, I suppose that you really do deserve to be down here, don't you?"

"You're not listening to me!" screeched Gilda. "Dash and I have done bad stuff to each other, but we didn't stop being friends and do you want to know why? Because she's a loyal friend, something she learned from being friends with me! I stuck by Dash when things got rough for her, and she appreciated it so much it became one of her most valued character traits!"

"You're saying she learned loyalty from you?" Rarity smirked and rolled her eyes before maneuvering the tweezers once more. "I'm sure she did, darling."

"Griffons are - OW - some of the most loyal beings on the planet! Do you have any idea how much our society values loyalty? Dash learned how much she appreciated that when I was the one who was there for her to lean on when stuff got bad, and she repaid me in kind!"

"You weren't so loyal to her at the party today, were you?"

The fire that fueled Gilda seemed to diminish and she slowly hung her head. "I... I know," she mumbled. "I never said I was perfect, okay? But when we were walking back to your house after you stopped me, a lot of me wanted to take a detour back to Dash to apologize. I was being a bad friend to her by not at least giving some of you a chance, I know that."

Gilda snapped her head back up, and she glared at Rarity with nothing short of pure defiance and hatred. "But even if I walked out on her a hundred times I'd still be a better and more loyal friend than you could ever hope to be!"

A surge of anger coursed through Rarity and with a yell she picked up a large knife and slammed it directly into Gilda's chest. She arched back on the table and let out a shriek of pain. "NOW LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!" Rarity screeched.

Gilda slumped down and her breathing became more and more labored. "Better friend than you," she mumbled weakly. "Rainbow Dash deserves better friends than the scum of Equestria."

Rarity glared at her and began pulling the knife downward, eliciting gasps of pain from her griffin victim. "Hope Dasshhhhh finds outta 'bout you. She'll hate you fo—"

Rarity grasped the knife with her magic and violently twisted it inside Gilda. Gilda weakly arched back one more time before slumping down and laying still.

Rarity checked Gilda's pulse and confirmed the kill. She sighed and tore the knife out of her chest before using a rag to clean it and setting it back on her tray.

With that finished, she smirked to herself and leaned in next to the ear of her victim. "Maybe you were a better friend, but the fact is that Rainbow won't find out because you are dead and I am not. I don't think she'll miss you very much."

Rarity slammed her hoof into the side of Gilda's head, causing it to snap to the left. Rarity chuckled to herself and picked up her skinning knife.

What Boasting!

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Rarity giggled like a maniac as she sewed a string of lace onto her latest design. She sat down on the floor to get a closer look at the underside and rubbed her hooves together when she saw the flawless stitching perfectly in place. "It's almost complete!" Rarity sang.

Rarity shot to her hooves and moved a bolt of sky blue fabric over to her table. She cut several strips out of it and effortlessly attached them to the sides of a soft yellow dress. It was almost complete, and it would have been so if somepony hadn't chosen that precise moment to loudly knock on her door.

Rarity's eyes narrowed. "WHO DARES TO DISTURB ME WHEN I AM CREATING A MASTERPIECE OF MODERN FASHION?!" Silence fell over the room as Rarity gained control of her anger. However, just as she did, the knock came again. Giving a frustrated groan, she stormed over to her door and opened it.

Standing on the other side of the door were the two most beastly colts in Equestria: Snips and Snails. Oh, they should have been thankful that they were not classmates with Rarity, or else she would have left their sliced up corpses for the timber wolves to feast on. She silently rued the day when she Pinkie Swore to herself to never kill foals. Once they hit sixteen, though...

Trying her best to not lose her temper and kill them where they stood, she forced a grin on her face. "Oh, it's you two. How may I help you?"

"There's a new unicorn show in town! We were told by her to go gather ponies to see her show!" said Snails.

Gracious, his voice was even more grating than Rarity remembered, and she found it more difficult to maintain her grin. "Oh, you don't say? Well, I suppose I should have to go see this new show then. Uh, thank you for letting me know. Goodbye!" Rarity slammed the door in their faces and shuddered. The mere presence of those two colts made Rarity feel dirty. She did her best to push thoughts of them out of her mind and get back to work.

A half hour later, Rarity finally managed to finish up her dress. She grinned and circled around her creation to make sure that it was perfect. Her examinations revealed what she had hoped: the dress was perfect in every way. She certainly didn't expect to have it in stock for very long.

She ignited her horn and moved the dress form into her washing room so the dress could be cleaned before it went on her clothes rack. She glanced at a clock inside the wall and noticed that it was closing time. To her surprise though, the thought of this traveling unicorn performer was stuck in her head as she put away her sewing supplies. Ponies that were constantly on the move were easy prey for Rarity as they were often overlooked by most, and she mused that she had not had a kill since Gilda a few months ago. Rarity shrugged, she might as well see if she couldn't get this one in her basement if the mood struck her.

She trotted over to her door and exited her shop. Locking it behind her, she followed an increasingly large crowd of ponies to what appeared to be a trailer of some sort in the town square. It was a simple little trailer, and was completely normal aside from the garish flag that hung from the door.

Spotting her friends, sans Twilight, she walked over to them. "Hello there Applejack, Rainbow. How are you this fine evening?"

Applejack shrugged. "Ah'm doin' alright, Ah guess. 'M just standin' here, waitin' for this here show to start." She motioned over to her apple cart. "Ah was about ta pack up and go home fer the day when this crowd and wagon showed up." Applejack surveyed the crowd and smiled. "Ah like traveling shows like this. Ah hope this one's good."

"Yeah, I expect some good stuff out of this," Rainbow Dash agreed. "Since all unicorns can do some magic, this one must be pretty good if she's got her own show going."

Rarity nodded and opened her mouth to respond, but she found herself cut off by the most obnoxious, self-centered, boastful voice that she had ever heard in her life.

"Come one, come all! Come and witness the amazing magic of The Great and Powerful Trrrrixieeeee!"

At that name, the trailer began to morph into a stage, complete with a kitschy backdrop. Once the transformation was complete, a powder blue unicorn female appeared on the stage, sporting the most unbecoming grin. She was wearing a purple hat and cape with multicolored star patterns on them. Rarity's jaw dropped slightly at the sight of her. She could have created a better design using nothing but the skins in her basement... in her sleep... drunk... with one eye.

"Watch as The Great and Powerful Trixie performs the most spectacular feats of magic ever seen by pony eyes!" Trixie pushed herself onto her hind legs as more fireworks and sparks appeared behind her.

Rarity's face hardened into an annoyed glare. "My, my, my, what boasting."

"Come on," said Spike beside her. "Nopony is as magical as Twi... Twi... Twi... oh! Uh, hey, Rarity." Rarity glanced over at Spike who was stuttering something about a mustache. Before Rarity could say anything, Spike zoomed away.

Rarity looked at the retreating form of the baby dragon with confusion. What was that all about?

Before Rarity could ponder it further, Twilight trotted up to the gathered ponies. "There's nothing wrong with being talented, is there?"

"Nothin' at all," said Applejack. She shot a glare in Trixie's direction as the showmare conjured some flowers. "'Ceptin' when someone goes around showin' it off like a school filly with fancy new ribbons."

"Just because one has the ability to perform lots of magic does not make one better than the rest of us," Rarity agreed.

Rainbow Dash flashed her trademark smug smile. "Especially when you have me around being better than the rest of us," she gloated, prompting a sharp glare from Applejack. Rainbow Dash flinched under Applejack's piercing gaze. "Uh... I mean... yeah, uh, magic, schmagic! Boo!"

Rainbow's forced response did nothing to lessen Applejack's glare, but Trixie turned her boastful attention to the group. "Well, well, well. It seems we have some ne-e-eigh-sayers in the audience. Who is so ignorant as to challenge The Great and Powerful Trixie?!" Trixie glared at them. "Do they not know that they are in the presence of the most powerful unicorn in all of Equestria?"

Rarity merely gave Trixie a bored stare and shook her head. I wonder if I should tear her horn off before or after she wakes up in my basement. Unable to verbalize those thoughts, she blew a raspberry. "Just who does she think she is?"

"Yeah!" Spike interjected. "Since we all know that Twilight here is—"

"Spike!" Twilight cut off her dragon assistant and pushed him away from the group. Meanwhile, the others continued to argue amongst themselves, with occasional snide remarks from Trixie, about what should be done about her. Rarity inwardly scoffed. This one is going to be fun. I do wish I could cut her horn off now to take her down a peg, but I don't suppose that would be very fun.

Rarity shook her head as both Applejack and Rainbow Dash went up to challenge Trixie. Rarity knew that both would fail to best the snide performer. It wasn't as though Trixie would really fight fair anyway.

After Rainbow Dash recovered from being sent spinning around like a top, Spike, Applejack and Rainbow Dash began making subtle hints that Rarity should be the next one to challenge her. How petty of them.

"What we need is another unicorn to challenge her. Someone with magic of her own," said Spike, nudging Twilight.

Rarity rolled her eyes. Don't fall for this nonsense, Rarity.

"Yeah! A unicorn to show this unicorn who's boss!" agreed Rainbow. Rarity fought to keep her composure.

"A real unicorn-to-unicorn tussle!" said Applejack.

Well that did it; Rarity had had enough of this nonsense. "Enough, enough all of you!" she chided. "I take your hint, but Rarity is above such nonsense. Rainbow Dash and Applejack may behave like ruffians, but Rarity conducts herself with beauty and grace."

Trixie gave Rarity an evil grin. "What's the matter? Afraid you'll get a hair out of place in that rat's nest you call a mane?"

Rarity didn't even try to control her anger. This bully had to be taken down a peg even before Rarity dissected her later.
"Oh, It. Is. On!" she snarled, rage coursing through every molecule. "You may think you are tough with all of your so-called 'powers', but there is more to magic than your brutish ways. A unicorn needs to be more than just muscle." Rarity used her magic to bring Trixie's curtain towards her. She half wished that she had verbalized her thoughts to Trixie that she could create a better outfit while asleep and drunk, but a demonstration would have to do for now.

Within seconds, Rarity had made the most delightful and fashionable gown out of the curtain. The ponies in the crowd oohed in awe of Rarity's skills. "A unicorn is not a unicorn without grace and beauty." Rarity struck a pose that accented her dress the best. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

At that moment, however, Rarity felt her hair being enveloped in a bright glow. Something was wrong with her hair. Something was very, very, very, wrong with her mane. "QUICK!! I NEED A MIRROR!! GET ME A MIRROR!!" Rarity screeched. "What did she do to my hair? I know she did something terrible to my hair!"

"Nothing," Twilight lied.

"It's fine," Rainbow Dash reassured her.

"It's gorgeous," agreed Applejack.

"It’s green," said Spike bluntly.

Green hair! That monster had turned her hair green! She looked up at it and not only had she turned it green, but she had made it look like a rat's nest! Oh, Rarity would make sure that Trixie suffered like none of her victims had ever suffered before.

"No! Not green hair! Such an awful, awful color!" she wailed as she ran away.

* * * *

Once back home, Rarity had turned her mane back to normal with a simple spell, but after her third hour of scrubbing it, she still didn't feel as if it was clean. Trixie had to die; there was no doubt in Rarity's mind about that. Tears fell from her eyes as she remembered what her mane had looked like after Trixie had used her magic on it. She could endure her mane being soaked in blood, it came with her work, but that went far beyond crossing the line.

As she contemplated her next move, she heard a large roar coming from outside. It was not a roar from an animal that Rarity was familiar with, so she exited her shop to see a crowd of confused ponies walking directly towards the strange noise; Applejack and Rainbow Dash among them.

The crowd arrived in the town square just in time to her what Rarity had suspected all along. "I can't! No one can vanquish an Ursa Major, I just made the whole thing up to make me look good!" said Trixie. Rarity gave a satisfied smile. So, Trixie wasn't so 'Great and Powerful' after all.

Before Rarity could question what brought about the confession, she saw a truly terrifying sight: a giant, transparent, starry blue bear-like creature appeared behind a house, standing on its hind legs. Rarity had never seen a creature so massive! Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked just as worried as Rarity herself was. Maybe this creature would take care of her Trixie problem for her... on the other hoof, maybe it would obliterate the town with it.

Before she could contemplate her imminent destruction, Rarity saw Twilight walking directly in front of the Ursa Major, almost as if she was going to... no, she couldn't possibly. Even the Element of Magic couldn't do that! The proof was in the pudding, or magic, Rarity supposed, when Twilight's horn began glowing brighter than Rarity had ever seen it.

As Twilight continued casting spells, Rarity heard the most soothing music which made the Ursa rock back and forth sleepily. Against all odds, Twilight was doing it! She was vanquishing the Ursa!

If Rarity was impressed with Twilight's performance thus far, it was nothing compared to the shock of what Twilight did next. She actually used her magic to lift up the Ursa and place a gigantic water barrel into its paws before levitating it back to wherever in the forest it had come from.

Rarity and her friends looked on at Twilight in awe. A cheer began to form in the crowd and Rarity eagerly joined in, happy to know that she wasn't about to be destroyed. "Heavens to Betsy!" said Applejack in an impressed tone. "We knew you had ability, but not that much!"

To Rarity's surprise, Twilight looked at her friends fearfully. "I'm so sorry, please don't hate me!"

Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity looked at Twilight in confusion. "Hate you?"

Rarity smiled reassuringly at her friend. "Why, whatever do you mean, darling?"

Twilight looked away uneasily. "Well... I know how much you all hated Trixie's showing off with her magic tricks and I thought--"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Magic's got nothing to do with it," said Rainbow Dash with a frown. "Trixie's just a loudmouth."

"Most unpleasant," Rarity agreed.

"All hat and no cattle," said Applejack.

A look of uneasy surprise crossed Twilight's face. "So, you don't mind my magic tricks?"

Applejack gave her a warm smile. "Your magic is a part of who you are sugar cube, and we like who you are. We're proud to have such a talented unicorn as our friend."

"And after whuppin' that Ursa's hindquarters, we're even prouder!" said Rainbow Dash. Rarity and Applejack gave grunts of agreement.

Well, Twilight was happy for now. Rarity tuned out of the conversation and looked around the crowd for Trixie. After a few seconds, she heard Trixie speak up. Target acquired; she wouldn't be getting away. Rarity's eyes were trained on Trixie. If she could just get her alone... However, before Rarity could contemplate how, Trixie had vanished in a puff of smoke. Rarity looked around wildly for her and saw her running down the path out of Ponyville. Rarity inwardly growled, but mumbled something to Applejack about needing to get back to her shop which prompted a nod from Applejack.

Rarity bolted away from the crowd and towards Trixie. The puff of smoke was only a distraction, so Trixie couldn't be that far away.

As she continued running, she heard crying coming from some bushes not far away. She trotted up to the bushes and looked behind them. It was Trixie. Her hat was crooked on her head and she was sobbing into her forelegs.

Rarity cocked her head and cautiously approached her. Unfortunately for Rarity's plans, she stepped on a twig and the resulting noise caused Trixie to bolt up when she heard somepony walking behind her. Wheeling around, she came face to face with Rarity. She shrank back at the sight of the one of her supposed tormentors.

"What do you want?" she asked accusingly. "Have you come to make fun of Trixie? Make her even more miserable?"

Rarity resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Even now she was still boastfully referring to herself in the third person. However, she instead gave Trixie a kind smile. "No darling, I haven't. I think the way that they treated you back there was just ghastly," said Rarity as she put a sympathetic hoof on Trixie's shoulder.

Trixie cocked her head and a confused look spread over her face. "You...you aren't here to make fun of Trixie?"

"Of course not! I'm here to offer you some help if you need it," said Rarity.

"Even after I ruined your hair?"

Rarity chuckled and waved Trixie's unease away. "Oh darling, I overreacted to that. It just took a simple spell to turn it back to normal. No real harm done there." Trixie nodded glumly. Rarity smiled comfortingly at her and used her magic to straighten Trixie's hat on her head and readjust her cloak. "I know that your trailer was smashed in the Ursa attack; I saw the remains. Do you have a place to stay for the night?" Fresh tears formed around Trixie's eyes and she shook her head. "Well, you are welcome to stay at my house for the night. I have a guest room that you can use for as long as you need it. We have to be careful to not be seen when we get back into town as I imagine that you won't get the warmest reception. It would probably be beneficial to avoid such unpleasantness."

For the first time that night, a genuine, albeit small, smile crossed Trixie's face. "I-if I won't be imposing, I would like to have a place to sleep for the night."

"Well then, you are welcome in my house." Rarity walked behind Trixie and nudged her forward. "Come with me. We'll get you settled in for the night."

Trixie returned Rarity's kindly smile with a slightly wider one of her own and, before Rarity could react, Trixie threw her forelegs around Rarity's shoulders and hugged her close. "Thank you," she whispered. "I didn't expect you to be this kind."

Rarity chuckled and patted Trixie on the back. "Oh it's not problem at all, darling. I'm happy to help you out."

Trixie pulled out of the hug and Rarity beckoned her onwards. The two walked quietly towards Rarity's house, making sure that they were not seen once they arrived in Ponyville. Rarity had become adept at knowing when they were being watched or even glanced at. Thankfully, nopony saw them.

As they entered Carousel Boutique, Rarity led Trixie into the kitchen. "Would you like anything to drink before bed?"

Trixie nodded. "Just a glass of water is fine."

Rarity nodded and walked into her kitchen to pour Trixie a glass of water. She glanced back at Trixie to make sure that she wasn't looking. She was examining some photos on Rarity's mantlepiece and not paying attention to her hostess. Rarity allowed herself a small grin and pulled a small pouch of a sleeping drug that she had developed from a book she had checked out in the library. She poured the contents into the drink, watching the liquid for a moment to make sure everything had dissolved nicely. The bright red powder almost instantly dissolved, leaving the water only a touch murkier than before.

Content that the drug was hidden well enough, Rarity trotted back over to Trixie with the glass in her magical grip. Trixie smiled at her and thanked Rarity as she accepted the cup. She took a small sip.

As Trixie nursed the water, Rarity motioned to her hat and cape. "I can take care of those for you if you need me to." Trixie tilted her head in a nod and Rarity ignited her horn. She lifted Trixie's garish hat and cape off of her and laid them on a nearby chair after neatly folding the cape. Doubtlessly they would be burned once Trixie was dead.

Rarity looked back over to Trixie who was just beginning to feel the effects of the sleeping potion. Her eyelids drooped, and her head kept tilting forwards as if she was going to fall asleep where she stood. "Uh, I guess I'm more tired than I thought. Uh, where is your guest room? I'm feeling really sleepy right now."

"Oh, it's in the basement darling if you will just follow me," said Rarity. With some effort, Trixie got up and slowly followed Rarity, becoming more disoriented with each step. Rarity was actually surprised when Trixie managed to get down the stairs without collapsing. "Here we are!" said Rarity happily motioning to the horrors that made up her basement.

Trixie's eyes widened in horror. "I... wha... w... uh..." Before she could run from the basement, Trixie collapsed onto the floor.

Rarity smiled at the unconscious form and ignited her horn, lifting Trixie into the air. "Time to get started."

* * * *

As Rarity finished strapping Trixie to her table, she remembered Trixie's horn. Her horn would need to come off before she woke up. If Trixie's talent was magic, it would be best if she didn't have that when she woke up. Rarity grabbed her hammer and with one powerful swing it was done. Trixie convulsed for a few seconds, but did not wake up. Rarity tossed the broken horn into her bucket and sat down to wait for Trixie to wake up.

Blood was already starting to ooze from the severed horn as Trixie slowly started to wake up. She was groggy at first, but she came to full consciousness soon enough. "Ah, so glad to see you're awake darling. I was worried; I don't have all night and the more tired I get, the more disoriented I am. However, we're both wide awake now so we can begin!"

Trixie let loose a tiny squeak of fear as she looked around in horror at her surroundings. "What are you going to do to Trixie?" she whimpered.

Rarity tisked rolled her eyes. "Well first off, if you refer to yourself in the third person once more I am going to cut out your tongue and slice it to pieces in front of you. Is that a good start?" Trixie squealed in fear and clamped her mouth shut. "Well, aside from that, let me tell you a bit about what it is that I do down here." Rarity motioned to her surroundings paying particular attention to her wall of pony skins. "I bring mean, nasty ponies that hurt me or my friends in some way and I make their last few hours as miserable as possible. If I like their manes or hides, I put them on my wall. Simple enough, yes? Now, you hurt and embarrassed not only my friends, but me as well." Rarity glared at Trixie and levitated her tray over to her. "I don't like ponies that do either."

Tears began falling from Trixie's eyes. She scrunched up her eyes and concentrated in an attempt to perform a spell to get her out of this mess. The attempt only made the blood coming out of the stump where her horn used to be flow faster.
Trixie realized that her horn wasn't working when streams of blood began trickling down her face. Her eyes shot open and she looked up to where she thought her horn would be. She began to panic when she didn't see it. "WHERE IS MY HORN?!" she screamed. Rarity took Trixie's horn out of the bucket and levitated it in front of her. Trixie stared at the broken off horn in shock.

"Did you really think that I would forget to do this part? I mean, you do have magical talent, I won't deny that. As such, it was my best interests that this had to go as soon as possible," said Rarity. Trixie's eyes widened as she stared at the horn. Suddenly, she let out an ear piercing scream that caused Rarity to drop the horn and cover her ears. She rushed over to Trixie and pressed a knife against her throat. Trixie stopped screaming at the feeling of sharp metal against her throat. "I WOULDN'T DO THAT AGAIN IF I WERE YOU!" yelled Rarity. Trixie regained control and started breathing heavily.

Rarity placed the knife back on her tray and sighed. "I know that you had no way of knowing this, darling, but I really hate it when ponies do that. You see, this room is soundproof so you could scream until your throat bled but nopony could hear you. Nopony except me that is. So, for the sake of my ears, I must ask you to not do that, okay?" Trixie shut her eyes and nodded.

Rarity walked over to a shopping bag that she had gotten a while ago. "Now, I was going to use this to potentially repaint my bathroom, but decided that now would be a better opportunity to use this." Trixie opened her eyes and looked at Rarity in time to see Rarity pull a bucket of green paint out of the bag. She turned towards Trixie and used her magic to levitate the bucket and pull off the top. a malicious smile crossed Rarity's face. "I think green hair is simply horrid, don't you?"

Trixie's eyes widened and she struggled to get out of the straps but it was no use. Rarity levitated the bucket over Trixie's head. With a giggle of glee, she flipped the bucket over causing the contents to spill over, drenching the hapless ex-unicorn in green paint.

Trixie began to panic again once she felt the pain splash all over her and she started to thrash about. Rarity groaned quietly. She hated it when ponies thrashed about. It was so undignified. "Trixie, I must insist that you calm down, you're getting paint all over the place."

"Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow," Trixie whimpered.

Rarity raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. "Ow? It's just paint, darling, how does it... oh, I see." Rarity grabbed a washcloth and began cleaning paint out of the stump where Trixie's horn used to be. Trixie's eyes filled with tears of pain as Rarity continued to clean green paint out of the bloody stump.

After a few minutes, Rarity placed a bandage over the hole. "I'm so sorry, I didn't even think about the paint getting into the hole. Do forgive me, darling." Trixie shook her head. Rarity frowned. "Well, there really is no point in being polite with you, is there? I didn't have to clean the paint out of the horn you know!" Trixie just continued to whimper as tears of pain fell from her eyes. Rarity rolled her eyes. "Well, I suppose we should just get along to the main event shouldn't we?"

Rarity grabbed a large steak knife out of her workbench. She was particularly fond of this knife as she had to order it from Griffonia. Ponies didn't eat meat and as such, they didn't have knives designed for cutting meat. Griffins weren't so picky.
Rarity went back over to Trixie and started slicing her open, causing a gasp of pain from Trixie. Rarity stopped cutting and ran her hoof over the cut. "Oh dear. I'm afraid that because of the paint I can't cut as smoothly as I want to. Just give me a minute while I clean the incision area out, will you?"

Rarity ran upstairs and grabbed a fresh washcloth and filled a bucket with warm water. Going back downstairs, she saw that Trixie was staring blankly at the large cut on her stomach. Rarity dipped the washcloth into the water and began scrubbing the paint off of Trixie. Rarity noted that Trixie had a look of resignation on her face, as if she had accepted that she would die here. Well, she wasn't wrong of course. She most certainly would die here.

As Rarity continued scrubbing, Trixie began talking to her. "I come from Hoofington originally, did you know that?" Rarity shook her head and continued cleaning the paint off. "Five years ago, my father left our family to go on a business trip to Ponyville and he never came home. We searched frantically for him, but we never found him. Eventually the police gave up and told us to get on with our lives, so we did. My mother was never the same after that. It was just her taking care of four foals all by herself. As the oldest, I had to take care of my younger sisters while my mother was sitting in her room, drunk off of whatever she could get her hooves on. It was very tough."

Rarity nodded. "I can see how that would be the case."

"My father always told me that I was his magical little filly. I was amazing at magic, even at a young age, and I was going to go to Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. I got in, but I quickly learned that I wasn't able to keep up with the schoolwork that they set. I didn't have the magical range that I thought I did, so I had to drop out after a few months. My father was disappointed, but he told me that he was still proud of me and that he would never stop loving me.

"My mother, on the other hoof, was visibly upset, and it came out in the way she interacted with me. I could tell that, unlike my father, she actually loved me less because of what I couldn't do." Tears now fell from Trixie's eyes. "She kept her verbal abuse to a minimum around my father, but when he disappeared... I don't know, she just kind of snapped. She began hitting me and my sisters, until she discovered alcohol of course. We were sure to never be around her when she was drunk... or sober for that matter."

"So you turned to performing in order to try to make your mother love you again is that it?" asked Rarity.

Trixie nodded. "I thought that if I could become the most powerful unicorn in Equestria, then maybe some of the scars that my father's disappearances left would heal and we could be happy again."

"If your mother was here right now, what would you say to her?" asked Rarity.

Trixie chuckled weakly. "Help, this crazy unicorn broke off my horn and is about to slice me open."

Rarity smirked and put the washcloth back in the bucket. "Alright darling, I'm finished now. We can begin." Rarity ran a hoof over Trixie's clean stomach and chest, searching for any last remains of paint. Finding nothing, she grabbed the knife again and began slicing Trixie open once more, starting from the original incision point. As she sliced, Trixie tensed up and tears of pain fell from her eyes once more. As Rarity continued to cut Trixie open, a question crossed her mind. "What was the purpose of that story, darling? Was it meant to inspire sympathy in me so I would let you go?"

Trixie gave a few squeals of pain before she answered. "I... I... I don't know... maybe I suppose."

"Hmm, 'maybe you suppose.' Interesting. Well, I do feel a little sorry for your situation. Are your mother and sisters still in Hoofington?" she asked. Trixie nodded. "Good, I'll be sure to look for them when I go to deliver some dresses next week."

Trixie's eyes widened in fear. "No! Please don't hurt my sisters; they didn't do anything to anypony!"

Rarity glanced up from her work. "Are you sure?"

"Yes! Please don't hurt them!" Trixie begged.

"Well, would they be better off with your drunken, abusive mother or in foster care?" she asked. Trixie began weakly struggling to get out of the straps once more. Rarity sighed and began twirling her knife. "Look, if it is any consolation, I don't kill foals. I haven't since I was eleven years old. If the story you told me is true, then they would be better off without her." Trixie didn't respond. "Well, at any rate I'm finished with this part." Rarity pulled the flap of skin open and Trixie almost passed out from the shock and pain, but Rarity injected a adrenaline needle into Trixie's neck. "Come on now, there's no need to pass out."

Trixie's body convulsed from the drug, but she remained awake. Rarity got to work cutting Trixie up. As she was worked, Trixie weakly started to say something to Rarity. Rarity stopped cutting and leaned in next to Trixie. "What's that darling?"

Trixie took a few labored breaths before speaking again. "Did... did you kill my father?" she asked in a weak whisper.
Rarity mused for a second. Five years ago, businesspony stallion... She shrugged "I don't know, what did he look like?"

"Light brown color, darker brown mane, suitcase cutie mark." Rarity scanned her wall and pointed. Trixie looked to where Rarity was pointing. She turned away and began sobbing harder than she had this entire time.

"Is that him?" Rarity asked. Trixie merely nodded. Rarity returned the nod as she went in for the kill.

* * * *

One week after Trixie's death, Rarity was sitting in a bar in Hoofington, relaxing for a moment after a particularly large sale before she went back to Ponyville. Her client had recommended this place to her as a good place to get a quick drink. It was only a few seconds after she had sat down that the bartender came up to her. "What'll it be?"

"Oh just a cranberry juice, please," she said, placing a few bits on the counter.

Rarity heard the most unbecoming laugh to her left and glanced at the source of the noise to see a drunken unicorn mare. "A *hic* cranberry juice? Lookie here fellas, *hic* this pony here can't take her booze!"

Rarity turned to glare at her, but stopped when she saw that this unicorn looked oddly familiar. She had the came coloration as a certain paint splattered pelt that adorned her wall right next to a light brown one.

The drunken unicorn continued to act in a most unseemly manner. "Hey, you're a unicorn! My daughter Trixie is a unicorn. She calls herself *hic* 'The Great and Powerful Trixie!'" The mare frowned. "More like 'The Useless and Abandoning Trixie.' That useless slob was supposed to have been home two days ago!"

Rarity raised an eyebrow, a new interest in this drunk. "Trixie, you say?" said Rarity sipping her cranberry juice. She began drinking her juice quickly and once she drained the cup, she leaned in close to the bartender. "I think she's had enough, don't you?"

The bartender looked at Trixie's mother and nodded. "Alright miss, you've had enough. Pay up and get out of here!"

Trixie's mother suddenly bolted out of the door without paying. The bartender got up to follow her, but he didn't pursue her beyond the door of the bar. Rarity quickly exited the bar as well and quickly chased after Trixie's mother.

The chase was not a long one and before too long, Trixie's mother went inside her house and slammed the door behind her. Rarity quickly began looking through the windows of the house and was delighted to see Trixie's mother asleep in what Rarity guessed was her room.

Slowly Rarity opened the window from the outside and climbed inside the room. She landed silently on her hooves and looked down at the mare unconscious on the floor. Igniting her horn, Rarity slipped the dirty bed sheets off of the small bed in the room and twisted them into a noose. She slipped it over Trixie's mother's neck and began pulling. The sudden loss of air woke the mare up immediately, but in her inebriated state she could do little to prevent the noose from crushing against her throat.

"Shh, just go to sleep, darling," Rarity cooed. "Just fall asleep. It will all be over soon."

The mare clutched at the sheets as her horn emulated weak sparks. Within a minute her struggles became weaker, and with one final sharp tug on the sheets she was still.

Rarity smiled to herself, but continued tugging on the sheet for another minute to ensure the kill. When she was satisfied, she opened up the closet in the room and pushed aside the few dresses and formal wear that were hung inside. She dragged the mare's body to the closet and tied the end of the sheet to the wooden bar inside the closet before lifting the mare up and moving a nearby chair under her. She stood the mare up on the chair and tightened the noose one final time.

Rarity put a hoof on the back of the chair and looked up at the mare's body. "Just a sad drunken mare who couldn't take it anymore and wanted to end it all."

With one more burst from her horn, Rarity pulled the chair out from under the mare, leaving the body hanging inside the closet.

Rarity chuckled to herself and trotted back to the window. "Perfect, Rarity. Absolutely perfect."

Inter Sanguinem

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Cutie marks. That was all Sweetie Belle talked about these days. 'Where's my cutie mark?' she would say. 'Why don't I have a cutie mark?' she whined. Rarity certainly wasn't prepared to deal with that. She felt that Sweetie Belle should stop being so silly.

Rarity sighed as she watched Sweetie Belle leave for some party or another. She knew that she really shouldn't be too hard on Sweetie Belle for wanting her cutie mark. After all, Rarity herself had been like that at Sweetie Belle's age. Rarity briefly imagined what it would look like if Sweetie Belle had gotten her cutie mark in the way that she wanted: by being like her big sister.

Rarity had a mental picture of that scenario in her mind. Her baby sister would be standing over the slain corpses of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon in a secluded part of the forest, a large rock in her hooves and blood splattered all over her coat. The idea seemed interesting to Rarity. If she had the urges that Rarity did, the two could certainly kill together. The mental picture in Rarity's mind changed to one of a pony' severed head on a table in her basement. It was Nightmare Night and they were making it into a Jack-O-Lantern. Rarity was helping Sweetie Belle with the eyes. Rarity's hoof would guide Sweetie Belle's as the two carved a new, grim face onto the hapless pony that they had killed together.

"NO!!!"

Rarity snapped out of her fantasy and she actually had to sit down as the memory of her holding a crying Sweetie Belle, both covered in blood from Rarity's latest kill, came rushing back to her. It was a memory that Rarity had thought that she had repressed, but every time she thought about Sweetie Belle being like her it came rushing back. She never, ever wanted Sweetie Belle to be like her. Although, it would be interesting if she was. No, Sweetie Belle couldn't be the mare her sister was.

Rarity shook her head to clear the memory out of her mind and began work on her latest dress design for her latest very important client. Still, no matter how hard she concentrated she couldn't get the idea of Sweetie Belle being a murderer out of her brain. Rarity didn't know what she would do if she found out that Sweetie Belle had murderous urges.

A few hours after Rarity had begun working on new dress designs, Sweetie Belle came back from her little party. To Rarity's surprise, she heard her talking to two other fillies as well. She recognized one as Applejack's sister Apple Bloom, but as the three fillies talked, Rarity realized that she didn't recognize the voice of the third filly in their little group. Frowning, she got up from her work and walked over to her kitchen where the three friends were getting an afternoon snack.

"Hello there, Sweetie Belle. Who are your friends here?" she asked.

Sweetie Belle greeted her with a smile. "Well, I know you already know Apple Bloom, sis, but this here's Scootaloo," she said, motioning towards the third filly, an orange pegasus with unkempt purple hair, who waved at Rarity. Rarity cocked her head slightly. Scootaloo... Scootaloo... where have I heard the name Scootaloo? She certainly looks familiar. Where have I...?

All of a sudden, it hit her like a brick. Scootaloo had been the filly that she had dropped off at the Ponyville Orphanage! Rarity held back a squeak and put on a smile to hide her shock. "Oh... yes. Hello Scootlaloo, it's nice to meet you."

Scootaloo frowned. "My name is Scootaloo, just one 'L' in there."

"Oh, yes, of course, my mistake," said Rarity with a false laugh. "I don't believe I've ever met you before. Are you from around here?"

Scootaloo shrugged. "I lived in the Ponyville Orphanage for a while. I still go there when I can't find a place to sleep at night or I can't scrounge up some food. Other than that, I live pretty much wherever."

"You have no parents?" asked Rarity.

Scootaloo shook her head. "Nope, they just dropped me off at the orphanage when I was a tiny filly. Nopony knows where they are." Scootaloo's smile turned confident, and she leaned back in her chair, draping one foreleg over the back. "But I'm gonna find 'em, though. They left a note with me at the orphanage saying that they couldn't take care of me, but one day I'm going to find them and we're going to be a family again." Scootaloo's smile fell slightly and she sighed. "Well, when I'm old enough to get a job to find them, that is. Still keeping my ears open for now."

"Well, I wish you nothing but the best of luck." Rarity smiled warmly at Scootaloo and gently patted her on the head. "You are more than welcome here if you need a place to stay."

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened, and she wrapped her forelegs around Scootaloo. "Yeah! My parents are traveling salesponies so I live here lots. It'd be awesome if you did too!"

Scootaloo smirked and gently wiggled out of Sweetie Belle's grasp. "I'll keep that in mind. The orphanage ain't always that cool. They don't let me have my scooter with me when I go to bed!"

"Oh yes, I can see how that would be frustrating," said Rarity. "Well, uh, it was nice meeting you Scootaloo, but I must get back to work. Apple Bloom, be sure to tell your sister 'hi' from me."

Apple Bloom nodded. "Will do, Rarity. See ya later!"

Rarity went back to her dress making and began pondering how Scootaloo's life had turned out as a result of her actions. The filly's life had turned out even worse than she could have imagined. Not only did she not have parents who loved her, anymore or even now, but she was constantly wondering when the next meal was going to be. It made her wonder if she had done the right thing by sparing her life. Sweetie Belle for sure seemed to think so, even if she didn't know it. The two were getting along wonderfully it seemed. She sighed sadly as she continued her work.

* * * *

A few hours later, Rarity had just finished helping a customer pick out a dress to wear for a fancy party she was attending in Canterlot when she saw that Sweetie Belle's friends had left. Rarity smiled to herself. It was good that Sweetie Belle was making friends in school.

Rarity began work on a new dress when she heard Sweetie Belle mumbling something as she cleaned up the mess she had made in Rarity's kitchen from the snacks her and her friends had eaten. Rarity strained her ears to listen to what she was saying. She couldn't make out all of it, but what she did hear was... interesting.

"Stupid Diamond Tiara and... be mean to... gonna get you for that... aloo and Apple Bloom are..." Rarity didn't need to hear all of it to fill in the blanks.

When Sweetie Belle finished cleaning up, she walked back up to her room to do her homework or something of that nature. Against her better judgment, Rarity called Sweetie Belle to her as she was walking up the stairs. "Uh, Sweetie Belle, can I talk to you for a few minutes?"

"Sure sis!" said Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle walked back down the stairs towards Rarity who led her into the kitchen where they sat down at the table. "So sis," said Sweetie Belle with a grin. "What do you want to talk about?"

Rarity opened her mouth to outright say what she wanted, but her words died in her throat. She softly groaned and tapped her temple. "Uh, Sweetie Belle... I..." Rarity shut her mouth and frowned. "Oh, how do I put this?"

Sweetie Belle cocked her head slightly and raised an eyebrow. "Are you okay?"

Rarity sighed and decided to bite the bullet. "Sweetie Belle, do you feel that you can be honest with me? If there was something big in your life that was bothering you, could you tell me about it?"

"Uh, I guess," said Sweetie Belle. "Like what exactly?"

"Like if you maybe had angry feelings towards your bullies at school and you wanted to hurt them."

Sweetie Belle raised her eyebrow even more. "Uh, they make me mad sometimes, but I don't really want to hurt them or anything." A slight look of disbelief crossed Rarity's face and Sweetie Belle flattened her ears. "Well, maybe sometimes if they make me really mad."

It was Rarity's turn to raise her eyebrow. "Really? How would you want to hurt them?"

Sweetie Belle looked away, preferring to stare at a wall rather than make eye contact with her sister. "Why are you asking me this?" she asked in a quiet, nervous tone.

"I heard you mumbling things when you were cleaning up in the kitchen today about how you want to get revenge on them," said Rarity.

Sweetie Belle's ears drooped down more and she continued to avoid eye contact with Rarity. "Oh, you heard that huh?" Rarity nodded. "I dunno, I just get so mad at them sometimes when they're mean to other ponies."

Rarity put a comforting hoof on Sweetie Belle's shoulder. "It's perfectly natural to feel those things. I know that now that you have two best friends of your own you want to protect them from that kind of abuse."

Sweetie Belle looked up at her sister and cocked her head. "I still don't know why you want to talk to me about this."

"Well, I just want to make sure you were okay and that you weren't going to act on these feelings. It's a dark road that is hard to get away from."

"How do you know?" Sweetie Belle questioned.

Rarity 's mouth opened to respond, but the reply died in her throat and she only managed the faintest traces of stuttering before she was silent.

Sweetie Belle's eyes narrowed as she took a step forward. "I said, how do you know?"

"Well, I had some bullying problems in my youth and I got in a fight on my first day of school and I don't want that to happen to you," said Rarity.

"I don't believe you!" said Sweetie Belle, a grain of anger appearing in her voice. "What do you mean 'it's a dark road that's hard to get away from'?"

"I... you're too young to know," Rarity stuttered. 'Oh Faust, let that be the end of it.'

Sweetie Belle groaned and rolled her eyes. "I know you're not telling the truth. Have you hurt other ponies before?"

Rarity bit her lip and flattened her ears. "Well, yes, like I said I got into some fights when I was a filly at school."

Sweetie Belle scoffed. "What are you trying to hide? Mom and Dad said that you never got into fights and that you only had a problem with three bullies once and..." Sweetie Belle's eyes widened and she stood up from the table. Rarity's heart dropped into her stomach. "... And they were found torn to shreds in the Everfree Forest a few days after that." A tear formed in Sweetie Belle's eye as she backed away from Rarity. "Oh."

'No, please don't let her have...' Rarity lowered her head closer to her sister and took a tentative step forward. "Sweetie Belle, what's the matter?"

"I... I remember something from when I was just a filly; something I never really got. I remember you holding me and crying. Blood, I remember there was a lot of blood." Sweetie Belle whimpered and hit the back corner and laid on the ground, curling up into a small ball.

Rarity's eyes widened. "But you were only a few months old! How do you...?"

Sweetie Belle looked up at her, tears of fear streaming down her face. "Whose blood was it?" she whispered. "Please stop lying to me."

Rarity's normally sharp mind was at a complete loss as to what to do now. Her jaw twitched up and down as if doing so would will words coming out, but nothing came. Sweetie Belle had found out. Sweetie Belle suspected what she did.

"Does it have anything to do with your basement?"

The question snapped Rarity out of her shock and she let out a large gasp. "How do you know about my basement?!"

Sweetie Belle turned her gaze to the floor in a pose that almost reminded Rarity of when the filly was caught doing something she wasn't supposed to. "I... I came home from school one day when we had a half day," she began. "I walked through the back door a-and I heard a piano playing. I followed the noise and saw a door close in that storage closet you have. I thought about knocking, but didn't because I thought you'd be mad at me since you didn't tell me about it. I thought you didn't want me to know."

Rarity closed her eyes and sighed. She shook her head and listened to Sweetie Belle's subtle movements in the corner. After a few moments of silence, Rarity gained the courage to speak up once more. "The memory with me and the blood, how much do you remember?"

Sweetie Belle's face scrunched up as if she was deep in thought, and her mouth moved up and down as if to form coherent words. "I... I remember that you seemed very scared. You were covered in blood and you were holding me and saying something. That's all, though."

"I still have nightmares about that night," Rarity admitted. "I was so scared when I saw the blood on you; I thought for a moment that I had hurt you. What I was saying was 'I will never hurt you, do you hear me? Big sister will never hurt you'." Rarity reached out a comforting hoof, but Sweetie Belle flinched away from it. "That is still true Sweetie Belle. I would never do anything to hurt you!"

Sweetie Belle's eye widened in fear, and her eyes flitted between Rarity and the floor. "Have you... have you ever hurt anypony bad enough that you killed them?"

Rarity took a few deep breaths to hold back a few tears, and walked closer to her sister. "Sweetie Belle, I..." Deep breath. "Sweetie Belle, I want you to know that big sister loves you very much, and she would never do anything to hurt you—"

Rarity was cut off by a piercing whimper from Sweetie Belle who buried her head in her forelegs and began softly sobbing. Rarity uneasily took a step towards her sister, and Sweetie Belle flinched away violently. She curled up into a tighter ball and rolled so that her back was to Rarity.

Rarity could only stare at the weeping form of her sister, unsure of what to do to make it all better. Her filly sister had just figured out that she was a murderer. She didn't know the extent of her crimes, but that hardly mattered now. Despite her inner warnings about it, something that Rarity really felt that she should listen to one of these days, she blurted out "Please don't tell anypony!" Sweetie Belle shakily moved her hoof over her chest like an 'X' and then placed it over her eye. A Pinkie Promise. Nopony in town had the nerve to break a Pinkie Promise.

Sweetie Belle continued to cry on the floor for another half-hour. Rarity could only sit back down at the table and watch her cry. Celestia knows what she was thinking and feeling at the moment. Betrayal? Horror? Anger? Sadness? Probably all of them plus a million more.

Finally Sweetie Belle's sobs got quieter, and she was soon merely sniffling. She wiped the tears from her eyes and turned to face Rarity. "So... what now?"

Rarity flattened her ears, and moved to sit on the floor in front of her sister. "I don't know Sweetie Belle. I just don't know. I said I would never hurt you, but..." Rarity closed her eyes and shook her head. "I clearly broke that promise today."

Sweetie Belle nodded. "Yeah, you did." After a few more moments of silence, Sweetie Belle spoke up again. "I want you to show me what's in your basement."

Rarity immediately shot to her hooves, and stood in front of the doorway to the kitchen.. "No! I can't let you go into my basement! You would never recover!"

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened with horror once again. "Does... does the reason that I can't go into your basement have anything to do with the pony you killed?" Sweetie Belle subtly flinched back again. "Have you killed more than one?"

Rarity opened her mouth, every fiber of her being desperately wishing she could deny the charge and her sister's innocence could be preserved. However, the one word that came out of her mouth was far different.

"Yes."

Sweetie Belle whimpered but she somehow gained the resolve to stand up. "I... I think I need to go lie down," she whispered. "I don't..." She wiped away another tear and shook her head.

"Oh, of course Sweetie Belle. We can talk more about this later."

Sweetie Belle shrugged, and Rarity moved aside to allow her sister to leave the kitchen. When the filly was out of sight, Rarity shook her head sadly, and sat down at her table.

"Why didn't you lie?" she asked herself. "Why didn't you try to protect her?" Before she could answer herself, a familiar melody entered her ears. It sounded like somepony was playing her piano, the one that led to her basement. Rarity's eyes widened in horror when she realized who was playing the piano. "No!" said Rarity desperately, running towards her basement. "Sweetie Belle, please don't do this to yourself!"

Rarity reached the door in time to see the secret door into her basement open and Sweetie Belle hop off of the chair she used to reach the piano and bolt down the stairs. Rarity followed after her, only a second behind her. If she could just reach her sister before she got to the bottom, catch her before she entered into Rarity's world from where there was no coming back, then maybe everything would be okay and they could go back to the way things had been before this terrible conversation.

Sweetie Belle's hoof reached the bottom step and she looked into the main room. Sweetie Belle's eyes went wide and her mouth dropped slightly. Tears began streaming down her face, and she lifted a shaky foreleg as if to run from what she saw, but her other three limbs remained glued to the floor. Rarity cried out in panic as she reached the bottom of the steps, hoping to shield her sister from a world in which she had no place.

A scream echoed through Carousel Boutique.

Non Somnium

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Rarity's eyes snapped open. It had all been a dream. Sweetie Belle had not found out about her secret life. She was still an innocent filly, blissfully unaware of what her sister really was.

And yet she was still screaming.

Rarity looked at her surroundings and she was still standing on the basement stairs. Sweetie Belle was still looking into her basement in horror at what she was seeing. She was still screaming. She wouldn't stop screaming. The screams reverberated through her house. It filled the very air and bounced around in Rarity's skull to the point where Rarity was sure that it would leave a permanent scar in her mind. She grunted and shakily reached a hoof up to cover one of her ears.

Rarity's eyes snapped open. It really had all been a dream. Sweetie Belle had not found out about her secret life. She was still just an innocent filly, blissfully unaware of who her sister really was. But somepony was still screaming. Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle was screaming. Rarity squealed and bolted down the stairs and scooped up her screaming sister. She placed Sweetie Bell on her back and ran up the stairs, slamming the basement door behind her. Sweetie Belle stopped her screaming when they exited the basement, but she began hyperventilating. Rarity ran Sweetie Belle up to her room, and gently moved her from her back to the bed. She used her magic to pull the covers over her sister and tuck her in tightly. The filly whimpered, but stopped sobbing.

Rarity kissed Sweetie Belle's shaking head and gently stroked her mane. "I... I'm so sorry, Sweetie Belle."

Her sister didn't respond, so Rarity kissed her on the head and trudged out of the room. She shut the door behind her and went down to her workroom. She could think better there.

Rarity stopped just as she reached the bottom of the steps and leaned against the wall. She wiped her eyes and thunked her head against the door frame to her workroom.

"You really are evil, aren't you, Rarity?" she growled.

Rarity squeezed her eyes shut and choked back a sob. "I could have stopped her," she whispered. "I... I could have done more to protect her."

"She was having such a wonderful day before you ruined it." A snarl crossed Rarity's face, and she slammed her hoof on the ground. "She had just made two friends. She was so happy and you destroyed that happiness when she found out that you're a... a..." Rarity groaned and flattened her ears. Her gaze trailed to the ground and she thunked her head against the wall once more. "I don't suppose that they really have a name for what I am, do they?" she muttered. "Monster doesn't quite seem to do it justice."

Rarity reached her workroom, and her eyes scanned the room, looking for something to do, something that could occupy meaningless time until she could figure out what to do next. Her eyes landed on a half-finished dress that was draped over one of her mannequins. It would do. She blinked tears out of her eyes, summoned the half finished dress and sewing materials over to her and got to work.

A few hours went by before anything happened. Rarity was sewing a pattern on her dress when she heard quiet steps coming down the stairs. She perked her ears up and turned off her sewing machine just in time to hear Sweetie Belle's timid voice behind her.

"Hi, sis."

Rarity turned around and almost had to hold back a sob at the sight of her sister. Sweetie Belle's eyes were bloodshot and her mane was unkempt. To cap the image off, her legs were shaking as if an earthquake was going through the house and she looked like she hadn't slept in years.

Rarity put on her best brave face and stood up from her stool. "Oh. Hello, Sweetie Belle. How... how are you?"

Sweetie Belle leaned against the door frame, her eyes trailing to the floor. "I don't know." She took a deep breath and her gaze moved up to Rarity. "What did I see down there?"

"Well, I don't know. What did you see down there? Tell me and I'll do my best to explain."

Sweetie Belle bit her lip and closed her eyes to visualize what she had seen. "Well... I saw a table, a lot of what I think was dried blood, uh, pony skins and manes on the wall, something with feathers and, uh, hooves maybe?"

"That's about the extent of it really," Rarity admitted.

"What does it mean?" she asked. "I get the blood, but what was with the skins?"

Rarity cleared her throat and put her sewing materials back in their case. "Well, if a pony that I... you know... has a hide or a mane that I particularly like, I put them on my wall."

"Oh," Sweetie Belle muttered.

"What are you thinking right now?" asked Rarity. Sweetie Belle shrugged. "That's all; you don't know?"

Sweetie Belle turned her head and looked in the direction of the basement door. "Well, I guess I want to see the basement again now that I know what's down there."

Rarity's eyes widened and she took a step towards her sister. "Oh Sweetie Belle, I don't think that is a very good—"

Sweetie Belle turned back to her sister and fixed her with a glare. She stomped a hoof on the ground. "I practically live here when Mom and Dad are gone! I know how to get in anyway; I'll do it whether you want me to or not!"

"Sweetie Belle, that's not a world that I want you to be a part of!" Rarity took a step forward, extending her hoof towards her sister. "I don't want you seeing that part of me! Please don't go down there!"

"I've already seen it!" said Sweetie Belle. "I just..." The fire drained out of Sweetie Belle, and she lowered her head and drooped her ears. "I don't know, I think I'll feel less scared if I can see it already knowing what's down there."

"Sweetie Belle, that doesn't—"

"I'd rather go down with you," she said.

Rarity's eyebrow raised and she cocked her head. "Even though you know I caused all of it?"

Sweetie Belle nodded. "It makes me feel bad because I don't understand. I need to know."

Rarity sighed and she turned her head to the basement. "If you really are sure about this..."

"Yeah. I am."

Rarity slowly began walking towards the basement door. "Follow me."

The trip down to the basement was far less eventful than their previous one. Sweetie Belle seemed nervous as they walked down the stairs, but she still had the determination to understand that she had when she had come down here last time. As they walked in to the main room, Sweetie Belle's eyes widened with fear as she got a good look at the carnage inside. "We can leave whenever you want to Sweetie Belle," said Rarity.

Sweetie Belle merely nodded. The next few minutes seemed like an eternity to Rarity as she watched Sweetie Belle explore her dark world. She read her poster, examined the skins and manes on the wall, and she even managed to find her large collection of knives. "Anypony I know here?" she asked when she examined the wall of skins.

Rarity pointed to the paint splattered pelt. "That one is Trixie, the boastful unicorn who came to town a while ago. The one with feathers is Gilda, Rainbow Dash's friend."

Sweetie Belle nodded. She examined the wall for a few more moments and ran her hoof over a blank spot on the wall. "Can we put Diamond Tiara's skin here?"

Rarity's eyes widened and she moved Sweetie Belle away from the wall. She planted herself firmly between the two. "No! I don't kill foals!"

Sweetie Belle's glare returned. "But you killed those bullies when you were a filly!"

"Yes I did, Sweetie Belle, but I was a filly myself back then. I haven't killed a foal since I was eleven years old and I promised myself I wouldn't do it again!" Sweetie Belle continued to glare at her. Rarity groaned and facehooved. "Look, Sweetie Belle, I cannot escape my actions. I've killed countless ponies and I can never take those deaths back! You don't have to be like me!"

Sweetie Belle's glare faded and her ears flattened. "But... but I've always wanted to be like you," she whimpered. "I was always proud to have you as my big sister."

"Something I never deserved; then or now," Rarity insisted.

Sweetie Belle's muzzle was nearly touching the ground and she would have hidden in her mane if she could. "What do you want me to do now?"

"I want you to go back upstairs and do your best to forget that this ever happened." Rarity placed a gentle hoof on Sweetie Belle's shoulder. "Push the angry feelings out of your mind, and don't be like me."

Sweetie Belle looked up at Rarity angrily, tears forming in her eyes. "You know I can't ever forget this! Let me help you once or I'll tell!"

Now it was Rarity whose eyes fired up into a glare. "You Pinkie Promised, Sweetie Belle! Do you know what happens to ponies that break Pinkie Promises?"

"What? What do you do?" asked Sweetie Belle, her anger rising with Rarity's.

Without thinking, Rarity pointed at one of the hides on the wall. Sweetie Belle's anger faded away and she shrank back.
"If I tell, you'll do that to me?"

Rarity let out a small gasp and flattened her ears. "No! Sweetie Belle, if you told the entire kingdom of Equestria what I do down here I still wouldn't hurt you at all! I made a promise to never hurt you and that promise remains!"

Sweetie Belle straightened up slightly. "Well, then what now? I'm not forgetting that this happened; that's impossible for me to do. I can never look at you the same way now!" Sweetie Belle's glare returned. "I have angry feelings too, you know. I've imagined myself hurting Diamond Tiara. I can help you do this!"

"There is a huge difference between imagining it and actually doing it, Sweetie Belle," Rarity insisted. "Everypony has imagined what it would be like to hurt another pony, but the actual action is something far different. You would never be the same."

"You don't seem to be too sad about it!" said Sweetie Belle. "Do you ever feel bad about what you do?"

"Yes, I most certainly do!" Rarity lied. She sighed and looked around her basement, her eyes scanning the various pony parts that adorned it. "I wish that I could go back to the day when I first killed those bullies and stop myself from ever killing them, even the one I killed on accident and in self-defense."

Sweetie Belle cocked her head. "On accident and in self-defense?"

"Yes, they were coming towards me to beat me up and I hit the leader on the head with a rock." Rarity moved over to her workbench and levitated the stone in question out of its spot. "This rock, as a matter of fact."

Sweetie Belle took the rock from Rarity and examined it for a few seconds before handing it back to her sister.

"Can I watch the next time you do it at least?"

"Absolutely not! I don't want you to be part of this." Rarity put a hoof on Sweetie Belle's shoulder. "Please trust me on this. I want you to promise big sister that you'll never hurt anypony. Take solace in the fact that you have good friends. I didn't have friends like you do now back when I was your age. I was too busy with..." She motioned around the room. "This."

Sweetie Belle nodded. She began walking back towards the stairs. "I understand, sis." She walked up a few more steps before she turned back to Rarity. "I don't hate you for this."

"That's more than I deserve, Sweetie Belle. What I've done merits death."

Sweetie Belle merely shrugged and walked back up the stairs.

Rarity moved over to her workbench and gently placed the rock back in its usual place. As she adjusted the rock, she took a good long look at her collection of knives and imagined how Sweetie Belle must have felt when she saw it. To think that an innocent filly like her had seen them and understood what Rarity used them for was disheartening. She sat down and ran her hoof over the handles of a few of them, remembering what she had done with them. To her surprise, she felt tears begin to well up in her eyes. She quickly slammed her workbench to hide her tools of death.

"What have I done to you, Sweetie Belle?" Rarity whispered. Finally her emotions overwhelmed her and she put her head in her forelegs and cried.

Calamitas Vix Aversa

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Rarity wiped her eyes and got up from her workbench. She didn't know what to do with Sweetie Belle now. She had insisted that she be allowed to kill somepony! The thought that her desire to be like her big sister extended that far almost made Rarity want to throw up. The idea latched onto her brain like a parasite; infesting all the happy memories she had with her sister. The worst part was that Rarity felt that she was the one responsible for this whole mess. Well, she was responsible for all of it. There were no doubts in Rarity’s mind that if she wasn't a serial killer this would never have happened. Still, she wondered if her need to go comfort Sweetie Belle the moment after she had murdered the solicitor was what had potentially given Sweetie Belle her desire to kill Diamond Tiara. If Sweetie Belle hadn't experienced what it was like to have another pony's blood all over her then maybe she would have never felt like this.

As Rarity went upstairs to take a bath, she mused that maybe it wasn't that day when Rarity had killed the solicitor; maybe Sweetie Belle was born with the killer instinct. On that matter though, there was the question of if Rarity herself was born with the desire to kill or if it had developed when she endured the torture at the hooves of her bullies. She went back and forth on that.

"Well, Rarity, it has been a tough day, but now that it is over I hope we can both move on and Sweetie Belle will not let this affect her," she muttered to herself.

"Well, Rarity, I know that this is completely crazy, but what would be the harm of letting Sweetie Belle at least audit one of your kills?" Rarity dipped a washcloth into the water and draped it over her eyes. "Then she would see how horrible it is and she would never want to have anything to do with it again!"

"But you don't know that, Rarity! What if she wants to do it more than ever? What if she goes out and tries it on her own? She could get caught! The punishment for murder is death, there is no wiggle room on that. If she did kill and get caught, would you take the blame for it?" Rarity paused for a moment and pondered her question. She did feel responsible for how Sweetie Belle was acting right now, and if Sweetie Belle was caught trying to kill another pony, she may have to take the blame herself.

"I... I don't know if I would, Rarity. Even if I did admit my guilt, both of us get executed. You know that I've done my research on this. The death penalty has been given to foals before. The youngest one was eight years old, which is just how old Sweetie Belle is. Both of us would die for it!"

"Then that is a choice that we must accept in that instance, Rarity." Rarity lifted the washcloth off of her face and glanced in the direction of Sweetie Belle's room. "You just have to make sure that it never comes to that."

"Agreed. It can never come to that."

When Rarity got out of the bathtub, it was night time. It was time for a well-deserved sleep. Things would look better in the morning; they always did.

Rarity had just finished drying her mane when she heard the door to Carousel Boutique shut. Curious as to the source of the noise, she went downstairs and saw that nopony was there. It seemed that somepony had left her boutique but the only pony that could have done that was Sweetie Belle!

Rarity ran down to her basement and threw open her workbench. To her horror, she saw an empty space in the bench where her meat cleaver usually rested. With a yelp she bolted back upstairs and out the door, calling out into the night. "Sweetie Belle! Sweetie Belle, where are you?" She ran back into her home. Maybe Sweetie Belle was still in her room and it was the wind that had opened and shut her door. The idea was foolish of course, but she had to hope.

Throwing the door to Sweetie Belle's room open, she saw what she feared the most: Sweetie Belle's bed was empty, and her saddlebag, which was always hung on a bedpost, was missing too.

Rarity ran back downstairs and out the door. She wracked her brains trying to figure out where her sister could have gone with one of her knives. She wanted to hurt somepony; that much was certain.

Suddenly, it hit her: Diamond Tiara or Silver Spoon. She was going to go kill one of them! Rarity ran towards Silver Spoon's house, but stopped after a few steps and ran in the other direction. Rarity knew where both fillies lived, but she knew that with the head start that Sweetie Belle had, Rarity only had time to go to the house of one of them before Sweetie Belle tried to kill the unlucky filly that she had chosen as her first victim.

Rarity tried to think like Sweetie Belle would in this instance. Sweetie Belle could decide to go after the filly that had tormented her most first, but she may start smaller and go after Silver Spoon. The cogs in her head turned as she tried to figure out how her sister would act in this situation.

As each second ticked by, her stomach clenched more and more and she knew that each second she wasted increased the chance that she would next see her sister covered in blood and surrounded by police ponies. Rarity whimpered, but decided that she could only guess.

She ran towards Diamond Tiara's house. It was a large house on the outskirts of Ponyville as her father was very rich. Sweetie Belle would have a very hard time getting into that house without being spotted.

After ten minutes of running, Diamond Tiara's house appeared on the horizon. With each step it came closer. Each second possibly bringing her sister committing the ultimate sin. Each moment increased the moment that Rarity was too late.

When she approached the house, she began searching for her sister around the grounds, desperately hoping that her eye would catch a glimpse of her sister, but she saw no trace of her.

With each passing minute without a single trace of Sweetie Belle, Rarity became more and more sure that she had chosen wrong; that a young filly had died tonight because of her actions. Rarity knew that Silver Spoon's house was on the other side of Ponyville, and that there was no way for her to get there in time to prevent Sweetie Belle from murdering the defenseless filly in her sleep.

Panic swept through Rarity's mind as she imagined what this would mean not just for Sweetie Belle but for her entire family. If Sweetie Belle was caught then Rarity would also turn herself in, leading to both of their deaths. Her parents would lose their jobs for sure. Nopony would want to buy items from a couple that had raised two murderers.

As Rarity scanned the grounds of the house, her panic levels rose and she became acutely aware that she had guessed wrong. Even as slow as her sister was, she would still have made it to Silver Spoon's house by now. She had failed.

"Oh no, Sweetie Belle. Please no," she whispered. Tears began welling up in her eyes as she imagined her filly sister murdering her tormentor. She had imagined that scenario before, but tonight it had become reality.

Just as Rarity turned to trudge back to her home, she saw a flash of white in the corner of her eye. She wheeled around just in time to see a small filly turn a corner to another side of the house. Rarity ran after it and to her relief, she saw Sweetie Belle sneaking around, looking for the best way into the house. "Sweetie Belle," Rarity hissed. "Come here at once!"

Sweetie Belle jumped a bit and let out a startled squeak. She wheeled around and her ears flattened when she saw her sister standing behind her "How did you find me?"

"Lucky guess," she deadpanned. "You must come home at once. I won't let you do this!"

Sweetie Belle's moth twisted into a snarl, and she stomped her hoof on the ground. "You can't tell me what to do! I'm doing this whether you want me to or not!"

Rarity bit her lip. She had to make a decision and fast, as Sweetie Belle was going to do this whether Rarity was okay with it or not. Even if Rarity managed to drag her sister back to her house without waking up its residents, Sweetie Belle would likely try this again until she was successful, or worse. Rarity sighed as she realized what she had to do to keep her sister safe.

"Sweetie Belle if you come home with me now..." Rarity exhaled and closed her eyes. "I'll let you audit my next kill."

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened and her jaw dropped slightly as her sister's words registered in her mind. A small, open-mouth smile crossed her face. "Do you really mean it?"

Rarity averted her eyes and scowled. "Yes I do, but you must come home now!" To Rarity's relief, her sister nodded happily and the two quickly made their way back to Carousel Boutique.

When they arrived, Rarity wordlessly beckoned Sweetie Belle into the kitchen and sat her down at the table. "Now, can you tell me what you did wrong tonight, Sweetie Belle?"

Sweetie Belle's smile faded, and she flattened her ears and looked away uncomfortably. "Well, I broke into your basement, I took some of your stuff without permission, I—"

"Despite the fact that that is all true, that is not what I am talking about."

Sweetie Belle cocked her head. "What do you mean?"

"Well, what do you think I mean?" Rarity replied.

"Uh, what I did wrong with the kill?" she guessed. Rarity nodded. Sweetie Belle frowned and scratched her head while looking contemplatively at her saddlebag. "Well, I don't really know. I've never done this before."

"Precisely. And as a result you almost definitely would have been caught. Do you know what they do to ponies who even try to kill another pony?" Sweetie Belle shook her head. "Attempted murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Successful murder is death. There is no wiggle room for either sentence."

"Even for fillies?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"Yes, even for fillies. The youngest filly ever to be executed was eight years old which, if you recall, is just how old you are. Celestia wouldn't care about your age."

Sweetie Belle poked at the table. "Oh."

"Now..." Rarity opened Sweetie Belle's saddle bag with her magic and dumped the meat cleaver onto the table. "Your first problem is that you picked the wrong weapon entirely. What were you planning to do with this anyway?"

"Well, I don't really know," Sweetie Belle admitted. "I just grabbed the biggest knife that I could find. I guess I would have just... cut her or something."

"Sweetie Belle, I use this knife to hack off limbs if I want to do it quickly. I do not use it for slicing ponies open." Rarity pushed the meat cleaver over to Sweetie Belle. "Pick it up; feel the weight."

Sweetie Belle slowly grasped the handle of the meat cleaver and lifted it. She was thrown off by its weight and it clattered onto the table. She looked back up at her sister and blushed.

"That's what I thought." Rarity pulled the meat cleaver towards herself. "You don't have the strength or magic to use this properly. On top of that, this isn't a weapon that lends itself to instant kills unless you hit the perfect spot with just the right amount of force, something you just proved you are incapable of doing. The second you cut her she would have begun screaming and you would been caught in seconds."

"I guess so," Sweetie Belle mumbled.

"Also, do you even know the layout of Diamond Tiara's house? Do you know what room she sleeps in, what floor she is on, what the quickest way to get to her room from the outside is, how to get inside the house in the first place, where her parents sleep, or anything of that nature?" Sweetie Belle flattened her ears shook her head. "That's what I thought."

Sweetie Belle perked her ears up, her eyes wide. "I just wanted to be like you."

Rarity scoffed quietly. "Sweetie Belle, even I don't kill ponies in their homes if I can avoid it."

"But you've done it before?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"Only twice and those were special circumstances. I never do it for a casual kill."

"I guess that makes sense," Sweetie Belle muttered.

The two sat in silence for a moment before Sweetie Belle spoke up again. "So, when are you going to do it next?"

Not for a while if I can help it, Rarity thought. I can wait until Sweetie Belle forgets all about this nonsense. Being unable to say that out loud, Rarity opted for a shrug instead.

The ghost of a smile crossed Sweetie Belle's face. "But I still get to help right?"

Rarity ignited her horn and picked her meat cleaver up. "You can watch."

"Pinkie Promise?"

Rarity froze for a moment, almost dropping the meat cleaver. She half-stuttered out some unintelligible words, and almost flinched back as Sweetie Belle's scrutinizing gaze turned angry. Rarity grunted and leaned her head against her hoof. "Pinkie Promise," she muttered, making the motions that went with the promise.

Sweetie Belle smiled before getting up and hugging Rarity. "You're the best big sister in the whole world!" she squeed. "But, I think it's time for me to go to bed. It's been a long... weird day."

Rarity gave a slight nod and a small smile before Sweetie Belle went up the stairs to her room. Sweetie Belle's words stayed with Rarity for a moment. She thought that Rarity was the best big sister in the whole world, but she doubtlessly would not think that if she actually saw her sister kill.

Rarity decided that she had better get to bed too, and, after taking a drink from the sink, she went up the stairs to her room. She passed Sweetie Belle's room and heard a strange noise coming from it. She opened the door a crack and peeked in.

Sweetie Belle was lying on top of the covers on her bed and curled up in a ball.

She was crying her eyes out.

* * * *

Sweetie Belle laid in her bed, curled up in a ball and stroking her tail, which she was clutching as close to her as she could. Tears dripped onto the pillow she was resting her head on, and she was trying to stop herself from crying. "Rarity isn't a bad pony," she whimpered to herself. "Sh-she just does bad things sometimes, but that doesn't make her a bad pony. She doesn't seem too sad about it, so it must not be that bad. I-it must be pretty easy if she can do it and be okay."

Sweetie Belle sniffled and wiped her eyes with her foreleg.

"She's not a bad pony. She's not a bad pony."

De profundis clamavi ad te Domine

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She had really done it this time.

The tomato vendor in town, a white earth pony mare about Rarity's age with dark brown hair with a single tomato as a cutie mark named Scarlet Tomato, had always run a tough business. She was never afraid to try to squeeze a few more bits out of a customer if she could.

That was the twisted reason that Fluttershy was her favorite customer.

Scarlet Tomato only reserved her extortion techniques for the ponies that she knew they would work on, that is, the shyest or most gullible ponies in Ponyville, or any town for that matter. Fluttershy not only fit into both of those categories, but even if she did know that she was being cheated, and she undoubtedly did, she would never cause a ruckus about it. As such, Fluttershy often found herself paying the outrageous price of three bits per tomato.

This particular day, Fluttershy was buying tomatoes for a dish that she was making for a potluck dinner that the six of them were going to have the next day. As per usual, Fluttershy walked up to the tomato stand with her head low and her ears flattened; a stance that Rarity had seen her in often when she was embarrassed. Scarlet Tomato greeted her with her usual satisfied grin, and the two began chatting about tomato prices.

Fluttershy scooped a trio of tomatoes into her bag and dejectedly placed ten bits on the counter. Rarity, who had recently purchased tomatoes had paid two bits for five tomatoes. Rarity glowered at Scarlet Tomato as she scooped the bits into her cash box, still wearing that insufferable grin. Rarity gritted her teeth and growled. She had to talk to Fluttershy about standing up to her one of these times, but for now, she would have to talk with Scarlet Tomato. It would be a talk that would determine how long Scarlet Tomato had left to live.

Rarity marched up to the tomato stand and shot the Scarlet Tomato a look that left little doubt as to how mad she was. To Rarity's frustration, Scarlet Tomato seemed relatively unfazed by the glare, and returned it with one of irritation. "What do you want?"

"I want you to go into your cash box and give me the eight bits you stole from my dear friend Fluttershy!" Rarity commanded.

Scarlet Tomato snorted and replaced her irritated glare with her smug smile. "Or what? I didn't force her to give them to me. I just asked her for ten bits and she hoofed 'em over. There's hardly anything too illegal about that."

"You deliberately stole money from a poor, defenseless pegasus. Have you no shame?!" growled Rarity.

Scarlet Tomato paused for a second at this question. She looked deep in thought and she scratched her head for a brief moment before turning back to Rarity with that same smug grin. "Nope, I can't say that I do! Now if you'll excuse me, I have other customers to attend to." Rarity looked behind her and sure enough, two ponies were waiting impatiently behind her. Rarity turned her attention back towards Scarlet Tomato who continued to give her that infuriating smug smile. "We have a little saying in the tomato business for ponies like you: get the buck away from my tomato cart!"

If looks could kill then Scarlet Tomato and her entire extended family would have been struck dead on the spot. Rarity ground her teeth together. "This. Isn't. Over."

Scarlet Tomato laughed and poked Rarity's nose. "I think it is. Now go away." Rarity turned around to begin the short journey back to her shop. As she walked away, she heard Scarlet Tomato call out to her. "I look forward to the three bits per tomato you're gonna owe me!"

That was the final straw. Scarlet Tomato would die tonight; as slowly and in as much agony as possible. Rarity would take special pleasure in peeling off chunks of her skin with her specially sharpened vegetable peeler. Oh, and her teeth would have to come out too. Then she couldn't give anypony else that irritating smug smile ever again. She could smash her in the mouth with a hammer or maybe she could revel in Scarlet Tomato’s screams as she pulled them out one-by-one with a pair of pliers. There were just so many juicy opportunities.

Rarity entered Carousel Boutique and immediately went down to her basement. In retrospect, she wasn't completely sure why she even went down into the basement to prepare in the first place. Hardly any of the knives she extracted from her workbench were actually used, and Rarity felt that it was often more gratifying in the heat of the moment to improvise. Still, there was something oddly satisfying about the sense of control that she had when she was picking her instruments of death. She opened her workbench and scanned the rows of her toys. She licked her lips with the tip of her tongue as her eyes landed on a straight razor. She giggled and lifted it out of its spot. She turned it in the air, giggling again as the light in the basement reflected off of the immaculately polished blade.

"You're going to do it tonight, aren't you?" whispered a young voice behind her.

Rarity yelped and nearly dropped the razor. She turned turned around and saw Sweetie Belle looking at the arrangement of knives in Rarity's drawer. "Oh, Sweetie Belle, I didn't hear you come down. Uh, yes. Tonight is a kill night."

"And I still get to audit tonight right?" asked Sweetie Belle, a large grin stretching across her face. Despite that, Rarity sensed a twinge of fear in Sweetie Belle's demeanor. Her left ear twitched, and her grin didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Oh, yes of course." Rarity put the razor onto her tray and idly picked up her skinning knife. "Uh, I'm going to go out and get the pony in question tonight at nine. You may wait in the kitchen for my return... or you can just forget the whole thing and go to bed." She had said that last part rather quickly, hoping that the twinge of fear that Sweetie Belle felt would be enough to discourage her. No such luck.

"I'll see you in the kitchen sometime after nine then, sis!" Sweetie Belle snapped before storming back up the stairs.
Rarity growled in frustration and turned back to her knives. "You really must change the lock sometime, Rarity," she muttered.

She shook her head and glanced up at the clock on the wall. Seven forty-two. There was still plenty of time to decide what to do with Scarlet Tomato.

Suddenly, she was struck with an idea. A wonderful, wonderful idea! She was surprised at herself for not thinking of it before now. She glanced at her clock once more. She had more than enough time to accomplish what she needed to do.

She trotted up the stairs, making sure to close the basement door behind her, and exited the shop. She slipped her saddlebag onto her back and made a beeline straight for Twilight's tree house, hoping that Twilight would be able to help her. Rarity didn't see why not though; she was asking for a spell that Twilight had cast many times herself.

When she arrived at Twilight's door fifteen minutes later, she knocked on the solid wooden door and immediately heard a commotion from the inside.

"Spike can you answer that?" asked the familiar voice of Twilight Sparkle. She heard Spike's mumbled reply and within a few seconds, the door opened revealing a mildly irritated Spike. As per usual, when Spike saw Rarity he immediately tensed up and started babbling like a filly with a schoolyard crush. Rarity didn't have time for Spike's silly little crush right now. Her sister was at stake.

She walked in to see Twilight hunched over a dusty old book, completely immersed in its pages. Twilight's eyes scanned the pages, looking for whatever she was searching for in the book and her mouth moved to mouth a word whenever she read it. It was a habit that Twilight exhibited whenever she was lost in the pages of a book or a scroll that she was reading.

Rarity amused herself for a moment by trying to guess what words Twilight was reading while she waited for Twilight to give Rarity her attention. Magic... onion... astrophysicist... Luna... and... sail... botany... wife. Either Twilight was reading a very strange book or Rarity wasn't very good at reading lips. She opted for the latter.

Rarity glanced at the clock on Twilight's wall. It was eight oh-two. She didn't have time to wait for Twilight to finish up what she was doing! Rarity cleared her throat which seemed to snap Twilight out of 'The Zone'.

She grinned and used her magic to shut the book. "Hey, Rarity. Sorry about that, I just reading this fascinating book about how thousands of years ago, Princess Luna helped an astrophysicist transport magical onions across the sea for a botany convention that his wife was attending. It's really interesting stuff and I kind of got lost in if for a minute there."

"Try thirty-five," Spike muttered.

Twilight shot him a glare before turning her attention back towards Rarity. "What can I do for you?"

"Well, I was hoping that you had a book on memory spells or something of that nature. You see, Sweetie Belle is having trouble remembering the details of a presentation that she has to give to the class and she lost the script. She's too nervous to ask Cheerilee for another one, so I was wondering if I could get a book on memory spells to see if I can't help her out a little bit."

Twilight seemed to buy the lie as she smiled warmly at her fellow unicorn. "Yeah! I have just the book for you," said Twilight, walking over to one of the shelves in the library and pulling out a dark blue book. "This should do the trick, Rarity. Oh, and don't worry, unless you have absolutely zero magical talent, there should be no bad effects if the spell isn't cast properly."

Rarity breathed a huge sigh of relief and hugged her friend. "Oh thank you, Twilight. You are a lifesaver for Sweetie Belle!"

Twilight chuckled and patted Rarity on the back. "I'm always glad to help out a friend, Rarity. Let me know if you need help with it or anything!"

"Oh I most certainly will, Twilight." Rarity broke away from the hug. "I must take you to the spa sometime. You have truly done a wonderful thing for me!"

With a final round of goodbyes, and a complimentary kiss on the cheek for Spike, Rarity left the library and, when she was sure that she was out of sight in case Twilight or Spike was watching her go, she quickened her pace back to her home. She found Sweetie Belle sitting in the kitchen waiting for her when she opened the door. Sweetie Belle looked over to her big sister and gave a confused frown when she saw that Rarity was alone. "Where's the pony we're gonna kill?"

"I'm going to kill, Sweetie Belle. You're going to just watch."

Sweetie Belle's ears drooped. "I can't even help just a little?"

"Not tonight." Rarity deposited her saddlebag on the back of one of her chairs. "As for why the pony in question is not here, I have not collected her yet. I said that I would go at nine and it is hardly eight thirty yet. We have some time."

"So, do you know who it's gonna be yet?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"Yes, Sweetie Belle. I'll show you who it is when I bring her back." Rarity opened up her cupboard and took out a pair of hay bars. She placed one in front of her sister and opened up her own.

"What... what are we gonna do with her?" Sweetie Belle looked down at the hay bar, but didn't touch it. She looked a little green. "Is she going to go on your wall?"

Rarity shook her head and swallowed her bite. "No, darling. I don't think so. As for the other details, well, they just kind of happen naturally. It rarely goes how I plan them in terms of method. I was thinking of starting by slicing off her ears and maybe removing her teeth."

Sweetie Belle's ear twitched and she began blinking quickly, but made her best attempt at a smile. "Oh... yeah, that sounds... great, I guess." Sweetie Belle's ear twitched again, and she glanced in the direction of the stairs. "Uh, I think I'm gonna go up to my room and uh..." Sweetie Belle pushed her hay bar away and stood up. "Something."

Rarity sighed and facehooved. "Sweetie Belle, you clearly don't want to do this. I must insist that you not be down there for—"

Sweetie Belle's eyes flashed with anger. "No! You said I could be there with you and I'm gonna be there! Don't break your promise now!"

Sweetie Belle stomped up the stairs and Rarity gave another frustrated groan. How could Sweetie Belle be so stubborn?! Our parents aren't stubborn ponies, so where could she have gotten...? Oh, right. Rarity cleared her throat.

She opened one of the top cabinets in her kitchen and used her magic to pull out another hay bar. It would serve her well to have the proper amount of energy for tonight's task. While she ate, she scanned Twilight's book, skipping past the section to restore memories. She didn't want a memory spell to bring back memories; she wanted a memory spell to erase memories. After some searching, she found what she was looking for. It looked simple enough. She shouldn't have any problems with it if she could catch Sweetie Belle unawares.

As she finished the bar and finished reading the section describing the memory spell that told her how to cast it, skipping the rest of the useless information, she glanced at her clock. Eight forty-five. She sighed. She was far too restless to just sit there waiting for another fifteen minutes. She got up and walked out into the main room and called up the stairs. "Sweetie Belle, I'm leaving a little early. If you are down here when I get back, then I know you'll still want to watch. If you're not, then I'll know you don't."

"Okay," came Sweetie Belle's shaky response.

Rarity nodded and used her magic to secure her saddlebags to her back. Even as she exited out the front door, she heard quiet hoofsteps coming down the stairs.

* * * *

Half an hour later, Rarity returned to her home with Scarlet Tomato placed securely in a potato sack. The kidnapping had gone as well as Rarity could have hoped, and she was in and out of Scarlet Tomato's house in five minutes. She glanced into her kitchen with a tiny hope that Sweetie Belle had lost her nerve and would not be joining Rarity for tonight's events. No such luck. Sweetie Belle sat at the kitchen table, staring intently at the floor. She looked up when she saw Rarity come in.

"Is that...?"

Rarity nodded. "Wait ten minutes for me to get everything set up then you may come down."

Sweetie Belle took a deep breath and turned her gaze to the floor. "Okay."

Rarity opened her basement door and went downstairs to begin the process. She opened up the bag and placed Scarlet Tomato on the table. She strapped her down and placed the table in a vertical position. She was in the process of checking the straps when she heard Sweetie Belle coming down the stairs. "Did you shut the door behind you?"

"Yes, sis," said Sweetie Belle.

Rarity continued to check the straps holding Scarlet Tomato down as Sweetie Belle reached the final step. When Sweetie Belle saw who was strapped to the table she gasped. "Oh sis, not her! Anypony but her!"

Rarity frowned. "Why not, Sweetie Belle?"

"Her little sister is in my class! I sit next to her in school and we talk to each other every day before class starts, and she always talks about how much she loves her big sister Scarlet Tomato! You can't kill her! Her sister was telling me how she was going to take her on a sister-sister day this week, and they were going to do the Sisterhooves Social this year!" Tears started forming in Sweetie Belle's eyes. "Can't you pick somepony else?"

Rarity shook her head and continued checking the straps on the table. "I'm sorry, Sweetie Belle, but I'm afraid that it has to be her tonight. There is no other option."

Sweetie Belle sat on her haunches and began sobbing. "But why her?!"

"She had been bullying and extorting money from Fluttershy for weeks now. Every time Fluttershy goes to buy tomatoes from her, she charges Fluttershy a ridiculous amount."

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened. "That's what this is all about? A few extra bits for tomatoes?"

Rarity shook her head. "No, darling. It's more about protecting Fluttershy. I tried to talk to Scarlet Tomato about how she shouldn't treat Fluttershy that way and she refused. Furthermore, she told me that I would now have to pay extra for tomatoes."

"You could just get them somewhere else!" Sweetie Belle insisted.

Rarity shook her head again. "No, that's not how I operate," she said bluntly. "Now, since this is bothering you so much, I must insist that you—"

Sweetie Belle shot to her hooves and stomped on the floor. "No! I'm staying right here! I'm gonna sit here and watch you do this. You promised, sis!"

Before Rarity could argue further about it, Scarlet Tomato groaned as she slowly began to wake up. The two sisters looked at their victim. There was no going back for Sweetie Belle now. Scarlet Tomato woke up in earnest now and whimpered as she looked at her surroundings. To Rarity's relief, she merely began whimpering instead of screaming like so many of her victims did.

Scarlet Tomato looked at Rarity and Sweetie Belle. She stared at Sweetie Belle for a few seconds, her eyes wide with horror until Rarity cleared her throat. "Over here, darling. We have some things to discuss before we begin.

Scarlet Tomato's attention snapped over to Rarity, and she whimpered under her piercing glare. "Look, i-if this is about the money you wanted earlier, I-I'll give it back. In fact, I'll give every cent that I took from Fluttershy back plus..." Scarlet Tomato began shivering and blinking rapidly as tears welled up in her eyes. "P-plus ten, no, fifteen percent interest if you let me go!"

Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes as she began moving the knives over to the tray. "Before we begin, I must ask you to read this." Rarity levitated a straight razor and tapped it on her poster. "It will save us both a lot of trouble."

Scarlet Tomato turned her gaze to the poster with visible unease, and she began scanning the entries. As she got farther along, she began whimpering, and was softly sobbing by the end. She turned her head back to the two other ponies, being careful to avoid eye contact with Rarity. She looked at Sweetie Belle instead. "You... you're in my sister's class at school, aren't you? Yes, your name is Sweetie Belle, isn't it?"

Sweetie Belle's breathing became heavier as the mask of calm that she was trying to maintain slowly started to split. Sensing this, Rarity grabbed Scarlet Tomato's head in her hooves and jerked it so that she was facing her. "Leave her out of this. This is just between us."

"How could you?" she whispered. "How could you let her see this?"

Rarity's eyes narrowed and the first traces of a snarl appeared on her lips. "I said leave her out of this. Celestia help you if you speak to or about her again." As Rarity wheeled her tray closer to the table, she glanced at Sweetie Belle who was trying to steady her breathing, but her legs were shaking as though an earthquake was going through the basement. Rarity wondered how long she would last once Rarity began cutting in a few moments.

Rarity picked up a straight razor and flattened Scarlet Tomato's ear against the table. Scarlet Tomato began hyperventilating. "Please... don't do this."

Rarity glanced up and levitated her knife closer. "You read the poster, darling, and you know that I don't like it when ponies say that to me. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to think of other fun things to do while you're still alive. Now hold still or I'm liable to mess this up."

Scarlet Tomato shut her eyes tight as Rarity began slicing off Scarlet Tomato's ear. As Rarity continued to slice, Scarlet Tomato's whimpers became louder and they gradually turned into cries of pain. Sweetie Belle was silent for now, so Rarity ignored her.

With one quick tug using her magic, the ear came off of Scarlet Tomato's head. Scarlet Tomato's screaming sobs echoed throughout the basement as Rarity nonchalantly tossed the ear aside. "Okay then. One more to go and then we can move on to your lips and teeth." Rarity grinned and ran the flat of the blade against Scarlet Tomato's remaining ear. "You know, I really hated that smug grin you were giving me this morning, darling. It was extremely rude."

Scarlet Tomato didn't respond except to cry in pain. As Rarity moved on to the right ear, she noticed that Sweetie Belle had picked up the severed ear and was examining it in her hooves. Rarity saw that she was going a little green. "Sweetie Belle, put that down, please."

Sweetie Belle tossed the ear aside and, with what seemed to Rarity be a great deal of effort, she began watching again as her sister sliced off the other ear.

Even with Sweetie Belle watching, there was something exhilarating about the feeling of a razor slicing through a pony's ear. This was a new trick for Rarity, and one that she simply must remember for the future. With another sharp tug, the other ear came off with little effort.

Scarlet Tomato forced her eyes open and turned towards Sweetie Belle. "How can you just sit there while she does this to me?"

Rarity glared at her victim and slammed a hoof onto the table. "What did I say about talking to my sister?"

Scarlet Tomato wiggled her foreleg as if pleadingly reaching out to Sweetie Belle. "You're friends with my sister! You're just a filly. You shouldn't see this."

"Shut up now!"

Sweetie Belle was slowly backing away from the table. Her tears were coming fast, mixing with the occasional heavy sob.

"I know you; you're not like your big sister and you never will be. You—"

Before she could finish her sentence, Rarity used her magic to force Scarlet Tomato's mouth open and she shoved the razor into her mouth. She proceeded to slice open everything in Scarlet Tomato's mouth, paying particular attention to her tongue. Scarlet Tomato screamed in pain and thrashed about on the table, but she couldn't do anything to stop the vicious assault.

"I told you to stop talking to my sister!" Rarity screeched. "You didn't listen to me, and now look at what's happening to you!" Rarity doubted that Scarlet Tomato even registered the words that Rarity was speaking to her over the immense pain in her mouth.

After a few more seconds of slicing, Rarity removed the razor. Blood dribbled out of Scarlet Tomato's mouth, staining her coat. "Are we through being foolish?" she growled. Scarlet Tomato merely groaned and began weakly spitting blood out of her mouth. Rarity clicked her tongue and placed the razor back on her tray. "Very well, then. I suppose that I can leave your lips and teeth alone for now. What say you to a little skinning, hmm?"

Rarity fired up her horn and levitated her sharpened vegetable peeler towards her. Scarlet Tomato whimpered and tried to slide her legs out of the straps, but the straps were too tight and she couldn't form any coherent noises with her mouth sliced up like it was. Rarity had made sure to do a little work on in her throat as well.

Rarity placed the vegetable peeler on Scarlet Tomato's stomach and was about to begin when she heard a small voice beside her.

"Rarity's not a bad pony," Sweetie Belle whispered. "Doing this doesn't make her a bad pony. It must not be that bad if she can do this and be okay."

Rarity frowned and turned her head to look at her sister. Sweetie Belle was in the corner of the basement, curled up into a ball and stroking her tail. She was shaking as though it was freezing in the basement. Rarity frowned and turned around. "Sweetie Belle? Are you okay?"

Sweetie Belle turned her head up to look at her sister. Her gaze flickered over to Scarlet Tomato who was still trying to wiggle out of the straps. She gulped and slowly got to her hooves. "Can... can I do something?"

Rarity groaned and put the vegetable peeler back on the tray. "First off, Sweetie Belle, I have already told you Celestia knows how many times that you are just going to be watching for this one. Secondly, you look like you are about to keel over and die at any second. This is clearly disturbing you and I haven't even gotten to the worst parts yet; not by a long shot. Furthermore, if I was in my right mind now I would send you back upstairs where you belong!" Rarity looked between the bleeding pony on the table and her crying sister. "In fact, now that I think on it, you've seen enough, Sweetie Belle. Go upstairs and get yourself to bed! I'll be up when I'm done here, okay?"

To her utter relief, Sweetie Belle nodded and slowly began trotting towards the steps. Rarity would definitely have to use the memory spell on her as soon as possible. Although, that was something that she was planning to do at any rate.

As Sweetie Belle walked towards the stairs, she accidentally bumped Rarity's tray and the resulting collision sent it crashing towards the ground, scattering all of the assorted sharp objects on the floor. Rarity groaned and righted the tray. "Sweeeetiieeee Bellllle! Look at what you've done!"

Sweetie Belle looked at the assorted knives on the ground and before Rarity could do anything, she grabbed a scalpel, rushed over to Scarlet Tomato, and stabbed her in the leg. Rarity stood in shock for a few moments. Scarlet Tomato was convulsing in pain and blood was pouring from the stab wound in her leg. She was bleeding far more than was normal unless... "Oh Celestia!"

When she saw what she had done, her sister violently backed away from the bleeding mess that was Scarlet Tomato and began crying. "Rarity! I don't understand! Why is she bleeding like that?! I... I only meant to give her a little cut!"

Rarity quickly grabbed a nearby rag and pressed it against the wound. "You severed the femoral artery, Sweetie Belle!" she cried. "She's..." Scarlet Tomato's convulsions became weaker, and it wasn't more than a few seconds before they ceased altogether. Rarity exhaled and dropped the bloody rag on the ground. "She's already dead."

Scarlet Tomato lay motionless on the table, eyes wide with fear, looking directly at Sweetie Belle as if staring directly into her soul, pleading her to not do what she had just done. Sweetie Belle sat in the corner, not even crying anymore. She just looked at the mare that she had just killed in an almost contemplative way. Rarity wiped the first traces of tears from her eyes as she dropped the bloody rag on the floor. Her sister had just killed another pony, something that Rarity had never wanted to happen, but the deed was done.

Sweetie Belle began shaking violently and before Rarity could say anything, she pulled a bucket close to her and vomited into it. When she finished, she still had the look of contemplative shock on her face. "What did I just do?" she whispered.

Rarity didn't even attempt an answer. She gently lifted Sweetie Belle onto her back and walked back up the stairs. Sweetie Belle slowly turned her head and chanced a glance at the wide-eyed corpse strapped to the table. Her gaze flickered down to the bloody scalpel still embedded in Scarlet Tomato's leg, and she began shivering and quietly sobbing.

Rarity shut the door to the basement behind her and set Sweetie Belle down on the floor of the main room. She walked over to her kitchen and grabbed a dishtowel and bucket. She filled the bucket with water and dunked the rag into it. She walked back to Sweetie Belle and began gently cleaning the blood off with the rag.

When she finished, Sweetie Belle curled up into a ball on the ground, not moving, not even crying. She was just lying there in shock. Now was her chance. Rarity fired up her horn. If she did it right, Sweetie Belle would forget about this whole thing and simply wake up believing that she had fallen asleep on the floor.

Sweetie Belle squealed when she heard Rarity's horn fire up, and she quickly rolled out of the way. Rarity's spell hit the floor where her sister's head had been seconds before.

"No! Please don't kill me!" Sweetie Belle wailed as she backed away. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to hurt her so bad! I won't tell anypony; just don't kill me!"

"No, Sweetie Belle, I'm trying to save you!" Rarity insisted. She fired off another memory spell which Sweetie Belle easily dodged.

"I don't believe you! You're going to leave my dead body in the Everfree Forest for the timber wolves to rip to shreds!"

"I would never do that, Sweetie Belle!" said Rarity, firing off another memory spell.

Sweetie Belle was slower to react to this one, and the spell hit her in the ear, knocking her backwards. Sweetie Belle quickly recovered. "You killed that mare in the basement! I saw you stab her in the leg and I'm going to tell everypony I see!" Sweetie Belle turned tail and began running towards the door.

"Sweetie Belle, you Pinkie Promised me that you wouldn't tell anypony about what I do in my basement!" Rarity cried.

Sweetie Belle stopped dead in her tracks and looked confusedly at Rarity. "Uh, no I didn't. The last Pinkie Promise I made to you was to clean my room by the time you got home from Twilight's. That was last month."

Rarity rushed over to her door and blocked Sweetie Belle's path. "Sweetie Belle, don't you remember? You Pinkie Promised that you wouldn't tell anypony about big sister being a serial killer!"

Sweetie Belle frowned, thinking over Rarity's words for a moment before shaking her head. "I think I would remember making a Pinkie Promise like that."

"Sweetie Belle! You..." It hit Rarity at that moment and she facehooved. "Oh for Pete's sake."

Sweetie Belle ran towards the back door and Rarity moved to intercept her. She didn't dare try another memory spell right now as she was not sure what the outcome would be. She quickly levitated her saddlebag over to her and took out a syringe that she stuck into Sweetie Belle's neck. Sweetie Belle dropped to the floor like a marionette whose strings had been cut. Rarity had to use a levitation spell to prevent her from hurting herself when she hit the floor.

Rarity took a deep breath and levitated her potato sack over to her. She gently lifted her sleeping sister into the air and placed Sweetie Belle into the potato sack. She secured the top and ran out of her house, running towards the home of the only pony that she felt like she could turn to at this moment.

Within ten minutes, she was pounding on Twilight's door. It took a few minutes, but the door was answered by Twilight who grinned when she saw her friend. "Oh. Hey, Rarity. What's in the bag?"

"Twilight, thank goodness you're awake! I have a huge emergency and you are the only pony that I can turn to!"

Twilight's expression turned to one of concern and she moved aside to let her friend in. "I'll help in any way I can Come down to my basement. Spike's sleeping, so we won't disturb him there."

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief and managed a weak smile. "Thank you, Twilight. You're a lifesaver!"

Rarity followed Twilight into the basement and placed the potato sack down. She opened it, revealing a still frozen Sweetie Belle. Twilight flinched back and yelped at the sight of Sweetie Belle. She stared at the limp filly, a look of horror on her face. "What in the name of Celestia happened?!"

Before Rarity could respond, Sweetie Belle softly whimpered and a shiver coursed through her. "Rarity... blood..." she squeaked.

Twilight's jaw dropped open slightly and she looked between Rarity and Sweetie Belle. "What? What was that?!"

Rarity bit her lip and touched her sister's forehead. "It was the memory spell. I think I cast a variation of it that I didn't intend to. It altered her memory somehow, and she now thinks that a dream that she has been having on and off again is real."

Twilight cocked her head and leaned down to examine Sweetie Belle. "What dream?"

Rarity opened her mouth to respond with a little lie, but everything that had happened that night had left her drained and she was drawing a blank. She moved her mouth, wishing words to come out that Twilight would believe.

Twilight cocked her head with a frown. "Rarity, what dream? Does it have to do anything with what she said about you and blood?"

Rarity took a deep breath and took her hoof off of Sweetie Belle's forehead. "I think so. To hear her describe it, the only part that she remembers when she wakes up is me holding her as a baby pony, panicking about something. We're both covered in blood."

Twilight raised an eyebrow and gently stroked Sweetie Belle's mane. "Wow, sounds like a pretty horrifying dream." Twilight tightened her jaw and furrowed her brow. "I think I have a solution here."

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh that's simply wonderful, Twilight!"

Twilight nodded and opened a closet to their left. "I've been working on this machine that can recall dreams and memories and display them on this screen here." Twilight patted the hull of the machine. "I think that if I can find the dream that she's been talking about, we can pinpoint what in her subconscious is causing it and we can see what kind of damage the spell did and where and with what memories. If I can find those, I'll be able to fix her. We'll know what memories are damaged because they'll show up blurry on the screen. This dream you're talking about should be a good starting point."

"You're reading her mind?" Rarity looked uncertainly at the machine. "Is that... er... ethical? I do want to help my sister, but a memory reading machine seems... intrusive."

Twilight froze for a moment before nervously rubbing the back of her neck. "Well... it was really just for dreams at first. The memory aspect was kind of by accident." Twilight turned her head back to Rarity. "I can try something else if you want."

Rarity bit her lip and looked between the machine and Sweetie Belle. Her sister was still whimpering and twitching on the floor. Rarity flattened her ears and lowered her gaze. "If it's the best option, I'm willing to do what I need to."

Twilight nodded and wheeled the machine next to Sweetie Belle. She levitated what looked like a sweatband with wires coming out of it off of a hook on the side of the machine and secured it around Sweetie Belle's head. She began using her magic to press keys on a keyboard connected to the machine. The machine's screen came to life, and immediately an image flashed onto the screen. All the duo saw was Sweetie Belle standing in the middle of an apple orchard, like the kind Applejack tended to. She was shivering, almost as if she was cold, and uneasily walking around. It was dark outside, which was presumably the cause of her fears.

Suddenly she squealed in terror and began running from some unseen force. Tears were pouring down her face as she ran from her nightmare. She dodged tree stumps, ducked under low hanging branches, and her mouth was open in a silent scream the entire time. As the dream continued, Sweetie Belle twitched and whimpered on the floor.

Twilight and Rarity watched the screen silently, each wondering what it was she was running from in the dream. They did not have to speculate for long. Eventually Sweetie Belle tripped over a root and she tumbled onto the ground. She rolled over to see her pursuer and screamed once more. She tried to back away but a brick wall appeared behind her, impeding her progress.

Sweetie Belle extended a hoof to ward off her attacker and it was at that moment when the two of them saw who was chasing Sweetie Belle: Rarity.

Rarity let out a pained gasp and had to sit on her haunches as she watched herself silently standing over her squirming sister. Twilight, meanwhile, simply stared silently as the screen.

Rarity whimpered as her dream self took another step towards Sweetie Belle and her sister squealed in terror again. "Twilight, please turn it off!"

Twilight snapped out of her shock and powered down the machine. Immediately the offending images faded away, leaving the two staring silently at the dark screen. Twilight was the first to break the silence. "What was that?"

Rarity gave a humorless chuckle. "She's had dreams of us being covered with blood that she believes are real and I just put a sleeping spell on her. I think that would do it, yes?" Rarity's weak smile faded and she took a deep breath. She sniffled as she slowly crawled over to Sweetie Belle and wrapped her up in a hug. "Big sister would never hurt you, Sweetie Belle," she whispered. "I-if you can hear me in there, believe me when I say that I would never do anything to hurt you."

Twilight cleared her throat and nervously scratched the back of her neck. "Uh, if you don't want to do this right now we can always... well, we can put her in my guest room and see if she sleeps it off."

Rarity gently put her sister back on the floor and shook her head. "No, I need to know how to fix what I did."

Twilight nodded and powered the machine back up. "Okay, when was the last time she had a dream like the one you described?"

Rarity wiped a tear from her eye and said the first thing that popped into her head. "Uh, I believe that she last mentioned one a few days ago."

"Okay," Twilight muttered. She turned back to the machine and began adjusting a few knobs and hitting a few keys on the keyboard. However, the screen in front of her showed only static.

Twilight frowned and began adjusting a few more knobs on the dream machine. "I don't get it, I know for a fact that this machine works because I used it only a few days ago." She began typing again. "Maybe if I expand the time range we can find it." She clicked a few more keys, but the machine still showed static. "Hmm... well, we can try one other thing. I'm going to search for it in the 'memory' category. I doubt something like you two being covered in blood is actually there, but with the memory spell it's possible."

Rarity froze. She desperately wanted to destroy the machine; to pull the plug and try her chances with the memory spell again. It was likely that because she had been so rushed and had only hit Sweetie Belle's ear that was the reason that the memories hadn't been completely erased. "Okay, file 'memories', keywords 'Rarity', 'filly Sweetie Belle', 'blood'." Twilight pressed a few more buttons and after a few seconds, it appeared.

Rarity involuntarily let out a tiny whimper and had to suppress a full blown sob as the memory began playing out in front of her. It was a memory that she hated revisiting, and now here it was; displayed on the screen for Twilight to see and her to relive. There was her thirteen year old self, trying to hold it together in front of a baby Sweetie Belle. Both were covered in blood.

Twilight was staring at the view screen in shock. "I guess this is it," she said quietly.

"I guess so," Rarity whispered.

Twilight hit one of the buttons and paused the memory. Her eyes flickered over to a smaller screen on the machine above the keyboard and she examined the information scrolling across it. Twilight frowned and clicked a few keys. "But, that doesn't make any sense," she muttered to herself.

"What?" asked Rarity.

"According to this, this memory was from when she was just a few months old, but I searched for the most recent of these memories. So unless you really messed up with the spell..." Twilight turned to Rarity with a grim look. "This is no dream, it's a real memory."

Silence filled the basement for a few moments before Twilight spoke up. "Rarity, would you mind explaining this to me?" Twilight raised a hoof and pointed it at the view screen. "Whose blood is that?"

Rarity didn't have the mental capacity to formulate an answer. The events of that night combined with seeing this memory once again, with Twilight in the room no less, had almost fried her brain, blocking the thought processes that would have resulted in a decent lie.

Twilight warily turned back towards the machine and began typing again. She read the information that came across the screen silently for a moment before turning back to Rarity. "Rarity, the machine told me that you cast a 'forget' spell on Sweetie Belle today. There seem to be eighteen minutes of memory that aren't there anymore, scattered over a bunch of different days. What did you want her to forget, Rarity?" Twilight tapped the viewing screen. "Does it have something to do with this?"

Rarity gently cleared her throat and regained enough brain power to begin speaking again. "I... I... Twilight, let me explain."

Twilight glared at her but didn't say anything. Rarity tried to formulate an explanation, anything that would shift suspicion off of her, but no words came.

"Rarity, whose blood is that?" Twilight asked quietly. "That's too much blood to have come from a simple cut or something. That amount of blood would only come out if you..." Her eyes widened and before Rarity could react, Twilight hit her with a freezing spell inhibiting Rarity's ability to move anything below her neck.

Twilight silently lifted the headband off of Sweetie Belle and placed it on Rarity's head. Having taken note of the date of Sweetie Belle's memory, she typed it into the computer.

"Twilight, no!" Rarity pleaded, but Twilight was unresponsive. She started the process and Rarity felt a small shock go through her head as the memory played out on the screen again, only from her perspective.

Twilight silently set the machine to show Rarity's memories from a few minutes before that point. The image of the solicitor flashed across the screen.

"Well good afternoon miss, may I have just a moment of your time? I'm with the Phillydelphia Valley Corporation, and we're looking for a few ponies here in Ponyville to do a survey for our company regarding business prices and customer satisfaction. Would you mind it if I asked you a few questions?"

"Oh, no thank you. I am not interested."

"It would just take few moments, miss."

"I said...."

"Only a few moments and you will receive a twenty bit gift card for our business."

"Well, I suppose it's okay, if it really will just take a moment. Would you like to come in? I have some tea on the stove."

"Why that sounds very lovely, miss...?"

"Oh, Annie, my name is Annie."

"Well, Annie, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Likewise, now if you'll excuse me, I must go check on the tea."

Twilight stared in horror as thirteen year old Rarity did not get tea, but instead grabbed a large knife. Rarity could only stare on as Twilight saw her brutally murder the solicitor. Finally the memory caught up to where it had originally started and Twilight paused the machine once more and turned towards Rarity. She stared at her in silence for a few moments, tears streaming down her face. "Why?" she whispered.

Rarity blinked away the first traces of tears as she answered. "When I was eight years old, I was tormented by three bullies who were attacking me in a place that was very dear to me. They were going to beat me up, saying that since my parents didn't have money nopony would care.

"As their leader approached me to begin the torture, I grabbed a large rock lying nearby and hit him in the head with it. I didn't mean to kill him, but that didn't change the fact that that was exactly what I had done. I then proceeded to murder the other two bullies,"

Twilight turned back to the viewing screen, and stared at the frozen image of Rarity standing above the solicitor; her bloody knife raised high for another blow. "I don't understand. What does that have to do with this?"

Rarity's closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath. "Those three bullies were just the beginning. I have since killed a total of seventy-three ponies, one griffin, and I participated in the killing of a seventy-fourth pony tonight. I was not the one to actually do the killing."

Twilight quietly gasped and wheeled around to face Rarity. Her eyes were wide, and she glanced at the basement door as if she was considering running. "You're a serial killer?" Rarity nodded and Twilight took a few steps back from her friend. She gave a pathetic whimper as her legs gave out under her. She sat down curled into a ball, hugging her hind legs and rocking back and forth, tears steaming down her face.

After a quarter of an hour of this, she finally looked up at Rarity. "Rarity, what happened tonight?"

Rarity couldn't answer if she wanted to. Twilight looked like she as about to die of sorrow right there. Guessing that Rarity wasn't going to answer, Twilight stood up and began typing into the machine. "No, Twilight, don't do this to yourself!" Rarity pleaded. Twilight just ignored her and started up the memory, starting with the capture of Scarlet Tomato.

"Why her?" she asked.

"She has been extorting money from Fluttershy for a long time now and being a general bully to her," Rarity weakly explained.

Twilight wheeled around and fixed Rarity with a furious glare. "So you decided to murder her? You could have just contacted the police!"

"I had no guarantee that justice would be served, Twilight," said Rarity softly. Twilight's angry glare did not fade but she turned back to the screen.

Twilight continued to watch as Rarity took Scarlet Tomato down into her basement. When they got there, Twilight paused the image to fully take in everything that was down there. She saw the pony hides and manes that hung up on the walls, the open workbench revealing Rarity's collection of knives, the table where she strapped down her victims so she could kill them, she saw it all.

Somehow Twilight worked up the nerve to continue and she watched in horror as Rarity sliced off Scarlet Tomato's ears, all the while yelling at her to stop talking to Sweetie Belle. She saw Rarity slice up Scarlet Tomato's mouth, she saw Sweetie Belle ask to help with the killing, she saw Sweetie Belle knock over the tray of knives, and she saw Sweetie Belle stab Scarlet Tomato in the leg, severing her femoral artery and ending her life. Twilight paused the memory there and looked back at Rarity. Tears still streaked her face, but this time her expression was disturbingly blank.

"Twilight? Are—"

Twilight shook her head and her ear twitched. She turned her back to Rarity and powered down the machine.

The numbness that was spread over her body slowly dissipated, and Rarity moved her forelegs to ease some of the stiffness out of them. Twilight was curled up into a ball on the floor once again, rocking back and forth. Her expression was completely blank. Rarity walked up to her and charged up her horn. Twilight's ear swiveled in Rarity's direction, but she didn't move. She merely tilted her head in a subtle nod.

* * * *

"Thank you again for the book, Twilight. I'm sorry we came so late," said Rarity as she and Sweetie Belle walked out the door of the library.

Twilight followed them out with a large smile on her face, stopping at the door frame to wave goodbye. "No problem at all, you two! You are always welcome. Just return that cookbook whenever you are done with it."

"We will. Goodbye, Twilight!" said Sweetie Belle happily. Twilight gave one final wave and went back inside her house.

"What a great idea to make a late night snack, sis!" said Sweetie Belle as she bounced up and down. "I've always wanted to make sunflower brownies, and making them with the best sister in the whole world will make them taste even better!"

Rarity smiled at the bouncing filly. "I'm sure that you're right. And doesn't making them this late at night seem more fun?"

"Definitely!" said Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle stopped in her tracks for a few moments before pulling Rarity into a tight hug. "I love you. You really are the best big sister a filly like me could ever have."

Rarity smiled and hugged Sweetie Belle back. "Why thank you, Sweetie Belle. You are a wonderful sister too, and I love you very much." The two continued the hug for a few more seconds before Rarity broke it off and led Sweetie Belle back to her house. "Now come on, let's go make some brownies, shall we?"

Diamond Dogs

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The evening began to settle over Ponyville as Rarity placed the last jewel on Sapphire Shores' costume and took a step back to admire her work. It glistened in the light, commanding the attention of anypony who would be in the room at the moment. This was her best work yet, and she knew that Sapphire Shores would absolutely love it. At least, she hoped that Sapphire Shores would love it.

Just as she was about to give the outfit a final once-over to see if every gem was perfectly in place, she heard somepony knock on her door. Frowning, Rarity placed her glasses on the table and went to answer it. To her surprise, there were two police officers on the other side.

"Oh..." Rarity shifted her gaze between the two officers. "Good evening, gentlecolts. How can I assist you?"

The cops tipped their hats to Rarity. "Sorry to bother you, Ms. Rarity," said the one on the left, "but we're investigating the disappearance of a local pony."

Rarity gasped and put a hoof over her mouth. "That's... that's positively dreadful! Who was it?"

"Her name was Scarlet Tomato," replied the other cop. "She was last seen entering her home a few weeks ago, but no trace has been seen of her since then."

Rarity flattened her ears and shook her head. "That's horrible! Do you have any leads?"

The cop on the right sighed. "Not yet. That's why we're asking the locals."

"We were told that she had..." The other guard scratched the back of his neck hesitantly, "less than pure business practices. It's possible that somepony hurt her."

Rarity widened her eyes and gasped again. "H-hurt her? Oh officers, I know that she had enemies, but I doubt that anypony would stoop so low as physical violence. Ponyville especially has nopony around that seems capable of that kind of thing."

"Yeah, speaking of enemies..." The first cop levitated a notepad out of his front pocket. "We were told that she argued with you about something. Business prices, am I right?"

Rarity took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I'm afraid she did. She greatly overcharged my friend Fluttershy, and I reprimanded her for it." Rarity's eyes snapped open. "But I would never dare to hurt her for that! I am an Element of Harmony and a lady, you know."

The second cop gave Rarity a small smile. "I know, Ms. Rarity, and we wouldn't ask otherwise. We just want to follow up on anything that might help us find her."

The first cop nodded and put his notepad back in his pocket. "I'm sure we will, though. Most ponies that disappear are found in the first week."

Rarity smiled warmly at the two. "Well then I'm sure she will be fine. She probably just..." Rarity shrugged. "Well, I'm not sure where she could be, but I'm certain you two fine gentlecolts will have her back safe and sound."

The two cops smiled and tipped their hats again. "Thank you for the encouragement, Ms. Rarity."

"If you have any leads, don't hesitate to tell us."

Rarity gave a small curtsy. "Of of course, officers. If you need my help, do not hesitate to ask."

The two police officers nodded, and after a round of farewells, the two walked away. Rarity closed the door behind them and a wide smile crossed her face. "Yes, I do wonder where Scarlet Tomato could have possibly gone off to." Rarity giggled and skipped over to complete her dress.

Before she could, the door behind her opened and Twilight walked in, smiling that happy smile that Rarity liked so much. "Ah, good evening Twilight. How are you?"

"Oh I'm doing just fine, Rarity." Twilight entered the boutique and her gaze landed on the jewel encrusted costume that Rarity had just completed. "I see that you've finished Sapphire Shores' outfit!" Twilight grinned and leaned in to examine the clothing.. The sparkly gems reflected in her eyes. "It looks absolutely beautiful."

"Why thank you, darling," said Rarity. She used her magic to place her sewing kit in its proper place. "Now, what can I do for you?"

"Well..." Twilight blushed, and glanced down at her saddle bag. "I just..."

Rarity raised her eyebrow and frowned. "Are you alright, darling?"

"Yeah, I was just here because... because of the Diamond Dog incident last week."

Rarity raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

"Yeah. Basically what I was wondering was if you could give me an account of what happened down there... if you want. See, ponies don't exactly know a lot about Diamond Dogs, and I think your experience down there would give a lot of amazing data about them!"

"Oh! Yes of course, darling. I'd be happy to help." Rarity led Twilight towards the kitchen and sat her down at the table. "Oh, before we begin, here is the book on memory spells that I borrowed from you." Rarity levitated the book from the counter and placed it on the table next to Twilight.

"Oh, thank you Rarity. I was wondering where that had gone to." Twilight reached into her saddlebag and took out a quill, ink, and notebook. "Now then, let's begin."

Over the next half hour or so, Rarity described in detail the events of her ponynapping at the paws of the Diamond Dogs. She described their behavior, how they seemed to view ponies as lesser creatures, and how they seemed to have a sort of unorganized hierarchy with a kind of military state, or at least the clan that Rarity had encountered did.

"Okay, Rarity, I think that's good for today." Twilight's grin widened as she scanned the notebook. "Oh, this is just wonderful! I haven't been able to find a lot of this in my books."

"Just out of curiosity, what do you ponies know about Diamond Dogs?" asked Rarity.

"Well first off, they live in a far off land somewhere beyond the great desert. It's a rite of passage for a Diamond Dog to cross the desert to make it to one of the outposts in Equestria. Only the males are allowed to make the journey, and they must come back after seven years with as many jewels as they can find or they are banished and disgraced forever. The Diamond Dogs who ponynapped you were just one of the outposts around Equestria."

"I see." Rarity glanced in the general direction of her basement. "Now how large are these outposts in general would you say?"

"From what I can gather, there can only be a maximum of twenty Diamond Dogs per outpost. It's easier to split the gems that they find that way," said Twilight as she closed her book.

Twenty, thought Rarity. That means that there are only eighteen left in the outpost taking away the two I killed while they had me in their ghastly clutches. So, fifteen soldiers and the three leaders. Shouldn't be a problem, provided the weapon that I have chosen is sufficient for the task.

"Rarity?" said Twilight. "Equestria to Rarity, are you in there?"

Oh that's right, Twilight is still here, isn't she? Rarity shook her head and gave her friend a smile. "I do apologize, Twilight. I guess I kind of fazed out of there for a minute."

Twilight shrugged. "It's fine. Were you thinking about anything in particular?"

Rarity waved her hoof. "Oh, I was just thinking for a brief moment about my time down there."

"Makes sense, I'm sure it was a traumatic experience on some level for you. Actually..." Twilight opened her book once more. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about today. Basically what I was wondering was if you could give me an account of what happened down there... if you want. See, ponies don't exactly know a lot about Diamond Dogs and I think your experience down there would give a lot of amazing data about them!"

Rarity raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. "Why darling, whatever have we been doing for the last half hour if not that?"

Now it was Twilight's turn to raise an eyebrow and cock her head. "Half an hour? I just got here, Rarity."

Rarity narrowed her eyes and frowned at her friend. Something was wrong, she was definitely beginning to suspect that. "No, Twilight, we have been discussing the Diamond Dog incident for the past half hour. See, it's all in your notebook!"

Twilight looked down at her notebook and scanned the notes that she had written down. "Huh... that's funny. I don't remember writing any of this." Twilight gently ran her hoof down the page. "But it is my hoofwriting, so I guess I did."

Rarity gently placed a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Maybe you had better go home and take a nap, Twilight."

"Yeah... I think I had better do that too." Twilight shook her head as if she was clearing it. She stood up from the table and put her saddlebags on her back. "Well, thank you for your help, Rarity. I'm sure whatever information you gave me will be invaluable to my research."

Twilight walked out the door of Rarity's home. "Take care, Twilight."

Twilight looked back and smiled at her friend. "You too!"

The second the door was closed behind Twilight, Rarity ran towards the memory spell book in her kitchen, recalling that there was a small section she had not read.

* * * *

When one is dealing with a memory erasing spell, one must have the utmost care and caution as well as a great deal of skill in the arts of magic. If this spell is improperly cast, it will at first have the illusion of success, but after a short time, the memory of the recipient will slowly begin to deteriorate. It will be simple at first, maybe the subject will misplace an item or forgetting a memory that just occurred.

However, as time goes on, the memory of the recipient will fade until they can scarcely remember who they are. The spell eats away at all of their memories until they have none remaining in their brain. For adults, the process takes place over several months while with foals it can be up to several weeks. The process is much faster with children as they have fewer memories to lose. Once all memories have been erased, the recipient can then begin to store memories once more, but all past memories can never return.

Rarity looked up from the book in horror. Twilight's spell was obviously miscast, but maybe she had gotten it right with Sweetie Belle. She desperately hoped so. She turned back to the book, hoping to Celestia that there was a reversing spell.

There is a simple way to reverse an improperly cast forget spell: one must merely cast a simple memory spell on the recipient of the forget spell and all of the memories will be returned and no further deterioration will occur. It must be cast before all memories are gone or else the damage is irreversible.

Rarity closed the book and gave a sigh of relief. All it would take to fix Twilight was a memory spell. Easy as pie, as Pinkie Pie would say.

Rarity began to walk out the door before stopping dead in her tracks. If she cast the memory spell on Twilight, then Twilight would remember that she was a serial killer!

Rarity's eye twitched. On one hoof, if Twilight's memory was not restored, then her identity would be completely gone. All knowledge of magic, all memories of her friends, her family, of Princess Celestia and the Elements of Harmony, gone. On the other hoof, if she fixed Twilight, she would not only remember that her friend a serial killer, but that Sweetie Belle had committed a murder as well. Despite a nagging voice in the back of her mind telling her to do the right thing, Rarity wondered if Twilight's very identity was worth her life and the life of her sister. Despite her deepest wishes, she knew there was no clear-cut answer.

Rarity also realized that if she didn't fix Twilight, Princess Celestia would get involved very quickly once the mental state of her favorite student was deteriorating, and she would fix Twilight personally, which would in turn reveal Rarity's true self to Celestia directly.

Rarity groaned and glanced back out the window just in time to see a familiar grey pegasus approach her door. Rarity walked over to her door just in time to hear Derpy knock.

Opening the door, she saw that Derpy was holding a note in her mouth. Rarity used her magic to take it from her. "Hiya there, Rarity! There's a package for you at the post office! It just came in a few hours ago."

Rarity grinned and glanced down at the note. Ooh, she had been waiting for this one for a while. "Why thank you Derpy, I will be on my way shortly to collect that." Rarity grabbed a few bits and placed them in Derpy's bag. The mailmare gave her a wide smile of thanks before flying off again.

Rarity went back inside. The post office closed in twenty minutes, so Rarity had to be quick. She grabbed her saddle bag and placed a pair of hunting knives inside - another import from Griffonia - before heading out to the post office.

She arrived at the post office mere minutes before it closed and walked in. The new mare behind the desk who greeted her, a light brown unicorn, seemed far friendlier than that nasty Janice did. At any rate, Rarity doubted that she would put her hooves up on her wall. "Good evening," said Rarity in a friendly tone. "I'm here to pick up a package."

"Alright," said the smiling unicorn. "Can I see your delivery slip?" Rarity nodded and took the slip out of her saddlebags. She placed the slip on the counter and the unicorn scanned it for a brief moment. "Ah, you're order two-four-six-oh-one. I'll be right back with that."

As the mare disappeared into the back room, Rarity began to get excited about the contents of the package. This one was another import, one that had taken her a long time and a lot of favors to find. It would all be worth it to see the final looks on the faces of the Diamond Dogs when they saw what she had in store for them. She had been training with a replica ever since she had come up with the idea to kill them this way and, while she was no expert with it, she imagined that she could defeat her adversaries. At any rate, she didn't know how else she could kill them anyways. It wasn't like she could bring eighteen dogs down to her basement.

The mare came back after a few moments carrying with a long, brown package with her magic. "That should be the one," said Rarity.

The mare nodded and gave the package to Rarity. "That'll be eighty-five bits. Just sign here." Rarity pulled out a bag of money and gave it to the mare before signing her name on the proffered clipboard.

"Very well, that should be all for today. Thank you, darling."

"Don't mention it," said the mare. "Have a good evening."

"And you as well," Rarity replied. She walked out of the post office and began the journey towards the tunnels. She knew that what she had to do must be done now. The memory problems with Twilight, and possibly Sweetie Belle, would have to wait for now. She had some Diamond Dogs to deal with.

Rarity went to the outskirts of town where she had run into the Diamond Dogs the last time, and began searching for a hole into their lair. A few minutes was all it took for her to come across a deep hole in the ground, doubtlessly leading her to her targets. She shuddered for a moment as she remembered the feeling of their filthy claws on her beautiful coat as they dragged her into the dirt. She pushed the memory aside and jumped into the hole.

The hole, thankfully, did not lead directly to the ground, but instead curved, creating a slide which Rarity rode down into the lair. The journey lasted only a few seconds, and soon Rarity was dusting herself off and making sure her mane was not out of place. She lifted up the package once more with her magic and went down the nearest tunnel.

Despite the fact that she had not come down here willingly last time and had been carried to the main lair, she still remembered which tunnels led to the main hall. Rarity grinned as she imagined how much she would relish the moment when the last Diamond Dog lay at her hooves, begging for mercy before she would take the contents of the package and end his life. She giggled at the thought and began skipping towards her destination.

Thankfully for Rarity, she stopped skipping just in time to see a sleeping Diamond Dog guard leaning against his spear and snoring. Rarity grinned at this easy warm-up kill, and tip-hooved up to him. She slowly taking a knife out of her saddlebag as she did. The poor fool never knew what hit him as Rarity drew the hunting knife against his throat. The dog woke up and clutched at the bleeding gash. His twitches soon became weaker, and he collapsed onto the ground and lay still.

Being careful to not step in the blood, Rarity continued towards the main room. It was not long before she reached her destination.

Looking inside the hall, she found the remaining fourteen guards sitting at a table, eating something or other. It clearly was an unsavory meal, as they all seemed to have a hard time eating it. The three main Diamond dogs who had ponynapped Rarity were sitting at a separate table, quietly discussing something. Or at least, the smaller two were. The third listened in silently.

Rarity walked into the room and cleared her throat. Instantly, the seventeen Diamond Dogs looked at the intruder. The leader shot to his paws and yelped when he saw who it was.

"You!" he cried, backing away slightly.

"Me," she said simply.

The leader signaled the guards. "Quick, surround her! Don't let her escape!" A malicious grin crossed the leader's face now that the surprise had worn off, and he began greedily rubbing his paws together. "We've got you now, pony! We'll cut out your tongue before we put you back to work!" The fourteen guards quickly surrounded Rarity, each pointing a crude spear at her.

Rarity just rolled her eyes and put the package down on the ground. "I believe I asked you to call me 'Miss' or 'Rarity' or 'Miss Rarity'. I thought I made it perfectly clear that I am a lady and wished to be addressed as such."

The leader growled. "You will never see the light of day, pony! We have you surrounded and we won't let you get away!"

Rarity sighed. "No, I am afraid that it is I who will not be letting any of you get away. However, this banter is meaningless in the end. Tell me..." Rarity motioned around to the guards surrounding her, "how well can these brutes that are surrounding me fight?"

The smallest leader dog puffed out his chest proudly. "They could take on an entire pony army armed with nothing but their claws!"

Rarity rolled her eyes. "Yes, well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, don't you think? I mean, I think it would only take a few protective royal guards to take all of you out." Rarity used her magic to cut the string on the box before looking up at the dogs with a vengeful fire in her eyes. "Or one. Really. Angry. Unicorn." Relishing in the amount of menace she had put into those last words, Rarity reached into the box and pulled out a katana.

There was a brief moment of silence as the Diamond Dogs pondered this new development. One of the guard dogs glanced uneasily at one of his fellows. "Does that prissy, whiny pony really know how to use that thing?"

Rarity chuckled and readied her weapon. "Unfortunately for you, I most certainly do."

With a snarl that would have made a dragon shrink back in fear, she lunged at the nearest one and swung her sword. The mutt's head was instantly severed and the twitching corpse fell to the ground. The razor sharp blade was in good form, and it cut through skin and bone like they were made of butter. Rarity lunged at the next dog in line and slashed him across the torso, sending him to the ground howling in pain before lying still on the ground.

The Diamond Dogs were beginning to react to the attack now and one thrust his spear at Rarity, who expertly dodged it and swung up, neatly severing his front leg at the elbow.

The beasts were beginning to panic now, but they still had the clear advantage of numbers on their side. The three lead Diamond Dogs had overturned a table and were now hiding behind it, each shouting separate orders.

The guards were packed together in a tight group, and the ones in front were jabbing at Rarity with their spears. Rarity would be cornered soon if she didn't so something fast. She opened up her saddlebag and pulled out one of the hunting knives. She threw it into the crowd of Diamond Dogs where it lodged itself directly into the eye of one of the closest dogs. He fell backwards, tripping up the dogs behind him which was all the opening that Rarity needed. She rushed towards the stunned group and swung her katana at the crowd once she was close enough. She reveled in how sharp the blade was and how weak the dog's hides were, as that one swing cut through the throats of two of the dogs who fell to the ground.

The Diamond Dogs began tripping over themselves in an attempt to back away from this madpony who was supposed to be an easy target for them to capture quickly. Since their numbers were at eight now instead of fourteen, they were beginning to doubt whether or not they could win as this pony had effortlessly killed or maimed six of their comrades. Still, she could get tired soon.

As Rarity advanced towards the frightened group, she felt a sharp pain across her back right leg. She looked behind her to see that the Diamond Dog whose foreleg she had severed had just slashed her in the leg with his spear. She snarled at him and with one swift movement, she jumped over to him and dispatched him.

As she pulled it out, she felt another sharp pain across her back and sure enough, one of the braver remaining dogs had seen this distraction as an opportunity to attack. If he wasn't such a brutish beast, he could have easily stabbed her in the head or in the sides instead of grazing her back. Rarity surmised that the gash wasn't deep but it still hurt like Tartarus.

She swung her sword, neatly severing the dog's lower jaw. He fell to the ground writhing in pain. Just as Rarity went in for the kill, she felt herself being grabbed from behind. She dropped the katana on the ground, where it was quickly picked up by the lead dog. She saw that the largest one had wrapped her up from behind in a bear hug and held on tight. The lead dog went up to Rarity.

"It was a good effort pony... a really good effort actually," he said, mumbling the last part. "But you have failed. I think we'll ignore the fact that you can find jewels and just use you to pull carts. That means bye-bye horn, pony!" Rarity struggled to get out but it was no use, the dog holding her was just too strong.

As the thug approached her to rip off her horn, Rarity remembered her saddlebag. She smiled and opened it up with her magic and she grabbed the other hunting knife and slashed the face of the lead dog with it. He backed away, dropping the katana and howling in pain, giving Rarity the time to levitate the knife with her magic. She used her magic to stick the knife directly into the back of the dog holding her.

She heard a thunk and a grunt of pain as the knife went into his back . He immediately dropped her and fell onto the floor, trying to reach back to pull out the knife. Rarity used her magic to bring the katana back to her. She walked over to the large, writhing Diamond Dog and pulled the knife out of his spine before decapitating him.

Rarity scanned the room. Two lead dogs left, the main leader and the small dog as well as eight guards, one of them severely injured. Two of the guards had dragged the injured dog away and were already trying to carry him further away from the battle. Rarity's horn glowed and the neck of the Diamond Dog was bathed in a magical aura. Within a few seconds, the room rang with the sound of his neck snapping. Rarity hated to kill him that quickly, but in all honesty he had suffered a little.

The lead dog was desperately trying to stop the flow of blood coming from the large gash in his face but he wasn't too distracted to give orders. "For goodness sakes, everyone charge her at once!"

The remaining dogs just stood there in fear. The leader groaned. "Triple the jewels for anyone who kills her! Quadruple if you get her alive!" This piqued the interest of the guards, who immediately charged Rarity, spears at the ready. Rarity readied her sword and charged the guards as well. At the last second, she dropped onto the ground and slid underneath the wall of spears, slicing both legs of a guard off.

As he fell to the ground, Rarity quickly stood up and stabbed one of the guards in the back, killing him instantly before decapitating another. Rarity giggled as the remaining four guards turned around. They had such slow response time.
Learning from her mistake, she finished off the Diamond Dog at her hooves before turning her attention to the last six Diamond Dogs. "Look, this is just wasting my valuable time. If you just drop your weapons now I can promise you a painless death. I mean really, look around you! If I can beat eleven of you while just gaining a few scratches. Why can't I defeat six with no trouble?"

The room was silent for a moment. The last six dogs merely stood there, their tiny brains trying to think up a way for them to get out of this situation. However, unbeknownst to Rarity, the smallest leader dog had a trick up his sleeve, or more accurately, a knife. He slowly pulled it out while the pony's attention was focused on the four remaining guards. He slowly inched closer to the pony, who didn't suspect at all that her death was imminent. With one quick motion, the dog drove the knife directly into Rarity's neck, severing an artery. Rarity fell to the ground, clutching at the large gash in her throat, looking helplessly around as the remaining six dogs circled around her.

"Well, it looks like we won in the end after all, pony," the leader crowed. "All you accomplished was killing easily replaceable guards and one moron." The other five howled in laughter at Rarity as her life ended before them.

Or at least, that was the plan that the dog had worked out in his head anyway. Rarity had seen him with the knife the second he had pulled it out. Rarity grinned to herself and adjusted her stance for the new attacker.

As the Diamond Dogs silently pretended to not notice their tiny leader approach Rarity, she was counting down the seconds. Five... four... three... two... one. At one, Rarity swung her sword around and, since the dog was so small, she managed to completely cut him in half before charging the remaining four guards.

Within a few minutes, it was just her and the leader. She turned around and saw the leader running away. She picked up her saddle bag, placed the knives in them using her magic and gave chase.

Rarity had managed to ignore the cut on her leg while the fight was going on, but during a chase it was becoming a big bother. Luckily for her though, the last Diamond Dog was leaving paw prints behind him. She would catch him, that much was clear. There was no escape for him.

Rarity turned a corner and saw the Diamond Dog leader. He was desperately trying to dig himself away from this mess as he had just hit a dead end. Rarity fired a freezing spell at each of his paws, freezing them to the ground. The Diamond Dog struggled to get away but it was no use. Rarity calmly walked up to him and put her saddlebag on the ground. "Well, today has certainly been exciting hasn't it?"

The dog's eyes widened with fear. "If you just let me go I'll..." A glare from Rarity cut his words short. She opened up her saddlebag and pulled out one of the knives. She ripped a piece of cloth off of the dog's vest, and used it to wipe the blood off of her knife.

"Are you familiar with the Lunar War that happened in Equestria oh so many years ago?" The dog quickly nodded as Rarity tossed the bloody rag on the ground. "Well, I'm going to do this thing that they used to do in the Lunar War called 'Head on a Stick'. Basically, in the beginning of the war, the forces of Nightmare Moon would sometimes capture a ranking officer in Celestia's forces and they wondered, 'how can we stop them from getting away? We don't want to do any damage that will weaken them which will mean that they'll be less likely to give us the information we want'. So, the forces of Nightmare Moon created this thing called 'Head on a Stick'." Rarity paused for a moment to really soak in the Diamond Dog's fear before leaning in and whispering in the dog's ear. "Because once your spinal cord is severed, that's really all you are."

Rarity gave the dog a smug grin before slamming the knife directly into his spine. The dog howled in pain as Rarity threw her whole body weight into the handle of the knife, sliding it in a few more inches. The dog whimpered and began hyperventilating as Rarity pulled the knife out.

She reached down to one of the dog's legs with her knife and made a deep cut, severing the femoral artery. She cut it deep enough to sever the artery, but not so deep that the dog would bleed out in seconds. She wanted the dog to see its life slowly slipping away, to comprehend the horror that nopony could save him now.

Rarity cleaned off the knife and placed it back into her saddlebag. She walked away from her victim before turning back for a second. "You take care now," she said in an overly sweet voice.

* * * *

Rarity exited the Diamond Dog cave. She had placed her katana back into the box, which had miraculously avoided even a drop of blood. She had managed to stop the bleeding from her wounds easily enough, and was looking forward to a nice long bath when she got home. She was absolutely filthy.

As she exited the cave and approached Ponyville proper, she relished in the fact that the streets were empty at this time of night. It made sneaking around much easier.

Rarity's beloved boutique came into view and she gave it a loving smile before crossing onto the street that would lead her straight home.

As Rarity crossed the street she heard a loud screeching noise and a 'look out' from her left side. She turned her head in that direction and was horrified to see a cart barreling straight towards her. She didn't even have time to react before it collided with her, sending her flying backwards. Pain shot through every inch of her body as she collided with the ground, and she almost believed that she was on fire.

With a great deal of effort, she looked up at the now toppled cart that was now only a few hooves away from her. Somepony, whom she could only presume was the owner, was wildly looking between the cart and Rarity, almost as if he wasn't sure what to do. Before Rarity could reach out to him, to plead with him to get her to a hospital, he bolted in the opposite direction. She would find him later. For now, she needed to hide her weapons before somepony came and found them. If she was found with weapons like that, then ponies would begin asking a lot of questions.

With the last ounce of her strength, she used her magic to take the katana and hunting knives and stash them in a large bush that was nearby. It wasn't the perfect hiding spot, but it would do for now.

Content that her knives were safe, she slipped into unconsciousness.

Memories

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Beep.

Oh Celestia this hurts.

Beep.

"Is she gonna be alright doc?" asked a muffled, faraway voice. It sounded vaguely familiar, like it belonged to somepony that she knew.

Beep.

"Well, we'll have to see. I'm pretty sure that she'll be okay. Although that cart really did a number on her. If it had been going any faster it would probably have killed her instantly. I'm just glad there was no damage to her horn or things would have gotten really messy," said a second voice.

Beep.

"Well, thanks for helpin' her out doc, I know you're doin' everythin' you can for her," said the first voice.

That voice... Apple-something. Apple... Applejack! Yes, that voice is Applejack! Rarity did her best to listen to her surroundings, and she heard sniffling mixed in with the occasional sob from her friend. Whatever is the matter with her? Does it have something to do with the excruciating pain I'm in?

She heard Applejack's voice become clearer. Rarity surmised that she was leaning in to talk into Rarity's ear. "Ah won't let you die, sugar cube. Ah won't let this happen again! Do you hear me, Rarity? Don't you dare die on me!"

* * * *

Beep.

More pain now. It had gone away for a while there, but now there was blackness with the pain. Blackness, like she was asleep or something. Maybe she was still dreaming. Rarity wracked her brains trying to figure out just what had happened to her, but she was drawing blanks.

Beep.

A cart. I... I remember something about a cart. With the cart came the pain. With the cart came the pain! Oh my goodness, I was hit by a runaway cart! How in Equestria does somepony fail to secure their cart like that?!

Beep.

Oh well, I can just hunt down the owner later.

Beep.

Grrr, what is that infernal beeping noise?! It's becoming quite bothersome. Rarity tried to open her eyes or move her limbs, but her body refused to follow her commands. Every time she even moved a millimeter, unimaginable pain shot through her body.

Beep.

She mused that she would have some serious complaining to do when she woke up, but given that she wasn't able to even move, she began to wonder if she was going to wake up. If she didn't, Twilight and Sweetie Belle's memory spells would be reversed by Celestia, and they would tell her everything. No, that wouldn't happen because I'm going to wake up right now! Rarity poured all of her limited strength and willpower into opening her eyes. Things could be done if she just woke up.

Beep.

With the beeping this time came a fuzzy light. It might be a good sign that she was waking up. Or it could mean that she was about to die. Either way, something would get done. As she continued to try to force her eyes open, the fuzzy light grew clearer and larger, and she heard voices around her.

"I think she's waking up!" somepony cried. It sounded like Pinkie Pie.

"Oh thank goodness, I was so worried!" said Fluttershy. Rarity's eyes opened completely and she saw four of her five friends, as well as Sweetie Belle and Spike, standing around her bed. Each was smiling widely, and there was clear relief behind their grins.

"Hey, look who's awake!" said Twilight happily.

"Ubisdhbmrl," said Rarity weakly. It seemed coherent thoughts and sentences would have to wait for a little while.

"She's sure looking better than she was two days ago," said Rainbow Dash.

"Yes, she'll be just fine." Rarity's gaze flickered over to the entrance of her room, and she saw the doctor walking in. He was smiling and levitating a clipboard in front of him. "She'll be pleased to know that they caught the owner of the cart that ran into her. It seems as if he failed to secure it properly, and it rolled down the hill where it hit her."

Rarity was not pleased to know this because she couldn't very well murder somepony in a police station. She pushed that aside for now and tried once more with the whole talking thing.

"Uh," she said. Dang it, no good. Rarity scanned the room once more. She saw that Applejack was sitting in the corner of the room away from the rest of the group. Her hat was tilted over her face, and she wiped away tears that trickled down her muzzle. In her mentally weakened state, Rarity wondered why Applejack was crying in the corner. She was going to be just fine according to the doctors.

"When will she be up and about again?" Twilight asked.

The doctor scanned a chart. "Well, she has several large gashes all over her body, two broken ribs, a compound fracture in her right foreleg and a clean break in her left. There is heavy bruising all over her body, and she also sustained a severe concussion from the injury. I'd say at least a month before she completely heals. I can't say for sure when she'll be out of here though."

Twilight nodded and turned her gaze to Rarity. Almost as quickly she looked back at the doctor. "When will she be up and about again?"

The doctor raised an eyebrow, as did everypony else in the room with the exception of Sweetie Belle who just stared blankly at Rarity. "Uh, I just told you, at least a month."

For a third time, Twilight nodded and shifted her gaze between Rarity and the doctor in quick succession. "When will she be up and about again?"

"Uh, I'll be right back." The doctor jotted a note down on the clipboard and rushed out of the room. He poked his head back in and pointed at Twilight. "If you could stay here, Miss Sparkle, I would appreciate that."

Twilight frowned and cocked her head. "Uh, I wouldn't leave Rarity..." Twilight blinked and her left ear twitched. "Uh, I wouldn't leave Rarity. She is... she is my friend, after all."

The doctor bit his lip and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Twilight shrugged and turned back to her friends, all of whom were looking at her with wide eyes. "I guess he needed some more information." Twilight looked back at the door to Rarity's room. "Although, that doesn't make sense! He had her chart with him the whole time!"

Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash exchanged uneasy glances, and Rainbow Dash put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Uh, Twilight. Why did you ask him three times when Rarity would be up and about again?"

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Rainbow Dash, I only asked him once and he left the room. I think I would remember asking him three times, Fluttershy."

Fluttershy whimpered and flinched back while Rainbow Dash exchanged another glance with Pinkie Pie. "Twilight, what's my name?"

Twilight scoffed and chuckled quietly. "Oh come on; you know I know the answer to that question. You name is Flutter..." Twilight's right ear twitched. "No... uh..." Twilight put her hoof to her face and rubbed her temples. "I'm sorry, Rainbow Dash. I don't know what's gotten into me today."

Pinkie frowned at Twilight and cocked her head. "Say Twilight, when's the last time you got any sleep?"

"I think I got a full seven hours last night," she said.

"It's true. She was in bed by midnight," Spike confirmed.

Rarity watched this exchange with a feeling of growing dread. The doctor seemed to realize what was happening to Twilight. However, what unsettled Rarity the most was the fact that Sweetie Belle just kept giving her that blank stare. She didn't even blink. Her expression was a mix between uncertainty and confusion; as if she wasn't quite sure who she was looking at.

Within a few more minutes, the doctor walked in. "Miss Sparkle, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me. I think you may have been on the wrong end of a 'forget' spell. We—"

But before the doctor could continue, Sweetie Belle let out an ear splitting shriek. "Rarity! What happened to Rarity?! Why is she in the hospital?!" Sweetie Belle rushed over to her sister and gently stroked her sister's mane. "Y-you're going to be okay, right? Nothing bad is..." Sweetie Belle squeezed her eyes shut and her ear twitched. When she opened her eyes, she whimpered and backed into a corner. She curled up into a ball and scanned the room. "Who... who are you? What's going on?!" Sweetie Belle's lower jaw quivered, and she covered her head with her forelegs. "I want my mommy. Can you tell my mommy to come get me?"

The doctor's eyes widened. He turned to Rainbow Dash and pointed at Sweetie Belle. "Can you get her to come with me too? There isn't a minute to lose!" Rainbow Dash saluted and flew over to Sweetie Belle. She scooped her up in her forelegs, and followed the doctor and Twilight out of the room.

"Unguh!" said Rarity frantically. She tried to reach out to her sister, but agonizing pain coursed through her forelegs and she could only whimper. Fluttershy smiled sadly at Rarity and put her hoof on one of Rarity's.

"Shh, it's okay. I'm sure that both Twilight and Sweetie Belle are just fine." She gently patted Rarity's mane. "They're probably just tired; that's all. They're going to be okay."

I know, thought Rarity. But I won't be.

After a few minutes of watching Fluttershy stroke her mane comfortingly, Rarity's body felt that it had had quite enough excitement for now. Unable to keep her eyelids open, Rarity closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

* * * *

"You're doing better, Rarity. I think you could be out of here in a few weeks, maybe even less."

Rarity smiled weakly at the doctor. "Thank... you."

"Speaking still hurts, huh?" The doctor jotted that down in his notebook. "Well, I wouldn't worry too much about that. Your voice should come back fine soon."

"Good." Rarity bit her lip and scooted up higher on the pillow. "And... Twilight and... Sweetie Belle?"

The doctor's small smile faded, and he took a deep breath. "Well... we think that we might be close to finding out what's wrong. Given that Ms. Sparkle is Princess Celestia's student, we'll probably talk to her about it in the next day or two. She's already been informed that Ms. Sparkle is in the hospital, and she's offered to do whatever she can. We'd prefer to at least figure out the problem before we ask for her help. She's a busy pony, after all."

"I... see."

A pair of tears streaked down Rarity's face, and she sniffled despite her best efforts. The doctor's smile returned, and he put a hoof on Rarity's bed. "Look, they'll be fine, I promise. I highly doubt that what's happening to them is threatening their lives. It's probably some kind of virus maybe. We've asked Ms. Zecora if she knows anything in the Everfree Forest that might be the answer."

"Getting... worse?"

"Rarity, don't think like that. We're doing everything we can for Twilight and Sweetie Belle. We're trying to contact your parents about it, so they should be here soon to help you both. Until then, you focus on your own recovery. I know you're worried about them, but that won't help you." The doctor sighed and snapped his folder shut. "We're doing everything that we can. We'll help them."

With one last comforting smile, the doctor turned around and began walking out of Rarity's room. Just as he reached the door, Rarity stopped him.

"Doctor..." The doctor turned around and frowned at Rarity. Tears were coming out faster now, soaking her pillow. It took a full minute before Rarity could work up the courage to speak. "Doctor... I might have an idea. Twilight... said something about..." Rarity sniffled and let out an audible sob. "A memory... spell. Tried to work on something. Maybe... maybe that's it?"

The doctor tilted his head and quirked an eyebrow. "Well... maybe. If you said she was working on some spell then it's something to go off of at least. We'll look into that, and I'll let you know if her condition changes."

"Thank you," Rarity whispered.

The doctor left the room, leaving Rarity alone with her thoughts. She tried to sink deeper into the pillow and block out her thoughts, but they kept forcing their way into her mind.

She's going to tell Princess Celestia.

She's going to tell Princess Celestia.

You're going to die.

But it's worth it to save Twilight and Sweetie Belle, isn't it?

She wept until she didn't have the energy to stay awake.

* * * *

Rarity awoke some time later to see that her room was dark. A quick look out of her window confirmed that it was nighttime. The moon shone high in the sky. She groaned and looked around. There didn't seem to be anypony around.

"Good, your awake," growled a cold, unforgiving voice.

Rarity turned her head to see Twilight sitting in a chair next to her bed. Rarity whimpered and flattened her ears. "T-Twilight."

"They fixed up me and Sweetie Belle. Her memory had almost deteriorated to the point of no return, Rarity. The memory spell completely knocked her out and she's in the bed next to you." With a great deal of effort, Rarity turned her head to see Sweetie Belle sleeping peacefully in the bed next to hers with an oxygen mask over her face and an I.V. in her right foreleg.

She turned back to Twilight. "Didn't... mean to. Bad memory spell."

"Why should I believe you, murderer?" Twilight leaned in with a glare. "If our memories are gone, nopony knows about you."

A single tear ran down Rarity's face and dripped onto her foreleg. "Never... do anything... to hurt any... of... you."

Seeing the tear, Twilight's expression softened ever so slightly. She leaned back and folded her forelegs across her chest. "The only reasons that I didn't tell Princess Celestia to pull the plug on you the second I remembered what you are is because of our friends and because you wield an Element of Harmony. The Elements chose you for a reason that I can't explain right now. If it weren't for that, you would be long dead."

"Rather... be dead than... hurt you girls," said Rarity.

Twilight sighed in frustration and Rarity saw her begin to cry. "How did I let this happen?" she whimpered. "Why did I let you do that to me?"

Rarity opened her mouth to attempt an answer, but no words came. She could only watch Twilight sit in silence, tears streaming down her face. After a few moments, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hoof and looked back to Rarity. "I'm not going to tell Princess Celestia right now. I'm going to wait for you to recover and then you are going to explain everything to me. You will answer every question that I have, is that clear?" Rarity nodded. "I'm also going to erase the memory that Sweetie Belle has of killing Scarlet Tomato. She'll remember it as you doing it."

Rarity's brow creased into a frown. "Can't you... change—"

"No, the mind doesn't work like that. It's too fragile for me to just flat out remove that much, Rarity. That was one of the big reasons you messed up on your memory spell to begin with." Twilight glowered at Rarity. "You tried to take away too much. Not that you had the skill to pull it off anyway."

Twilight stood up from her chair and walked over to Sweetie Belle. After giving Rarity one last glare, she ignited her horn and enveloped Sweetie Belle's head in a magenta glow. Sweetie Belle whimpered and twitched in bed, but when the glow faded, Rarity saw a small smile cross Sweetie Belle's face.

Twilight sighed and leaned down to gently kiss Sweetie Belle's head. "It'll be okay," she whispered gently. "You're going to be okay, Sweetie Belle."

"Thank... you, Twilight." Rarity chanced a weak smile. "It's... more than I... deserve."

Twilight nodded and walked to the door. She stopped just as she reached it and leaned her head against the door frame. "Yeah, I know."

Speak No Evil

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A week had passed since Twilight's conversation with Rarity, and there had been no trace of her at the hospital since then. Rarity found that she could hardly blame her for that. She had wiped her and her sister's memory almost to the point of no return, on top of the fact that she was a psychotic murderer. Rarity had to admit that she wouldn't want anything to do with herself where she in Twilight's horseshoes.

Sweetie Belle had been discharged from the hospital a few days after their conversation with a clean bill of mental health. Rarity had watched her go, sure that she would tell somepony as soon as she had gotten out of the hospital. Luckily for her, she hadn't said anything to anypony the entire time she was there. Although because of that, she was ordered to have three therapy sessions once she was discharged.

Rarity's eyes followed Sweetie Belle as she was escorted out of the hospital by Applejack and Apple Bloom. Sweetie Belle turned back to Rarity, their eyes meeting for a brief moment before Sweetie Belle crossed herself and put a hoof over her eye. Tears had fallen from Rarity's eyes at seeing this, but Sweetie Belle had walked out of the room without a word. After the door to her room had closed, Rarity had curled up as best as she could and wept into her pillow, scared that she would never have a happy relationship with her sister ever again.

With the exception of Twilight, Rarity's friends had come to visit her in the hospital as often as they could. Fluttershy's visits were a tad awkward, as they usually were mostly silent following the greetings. Rarity still found it a pain to talk early on, and since Fluttershy rarely talked in situations like this anyway, there really wasn't too much that was said between the two.

Pinkie's visits more than made up for that at any rate, as she would talk Rarity's ears off whenever she got the chance. Most ponies would likely find it annoying after a while, especially while recovering from a big accident, but Rarity found that she didn't mind. Pinkie usually had interesting things to say, and Rarity was glad for the distractions, not to mention that seeing a friend like her was a joy every time.

However, what she was mildly annoyed at was the sheer volume of treats that Pinkie would bring for Rarity, despite the fact that Rarity was hardly capable of eating half as much as she brought. Still, it wasn't like she could say no to a pony like Pinkie, but the little nibbles of the cupcakes that Pinkie had a habit of bringing were delicious, and she did enjoy sharing them with the doctors who came by to help her, as well as the other ponies that came in to visit her.

Rainbow Dash always popped in briefly whenever she passed by the hospital, if only for a few minutes sometimes, to check on how Rarity was doing. Rarity would weakly respond to whatever Rainbow would talk to her about before Rainbow would take a couple cupcakes and be off.

Of all of them, though, the one pony who was by her bedside as often as possible was Applejack. Rarity's near-death experience hit Applejack the hardest of all, and everypony knew why. To see Rarity, the pony who had been there to help her though the night that her parents had died, in the same situation that her parents had been in was absolutely devastating for Applejack. She had told the doctors to immediately notify her for any changes in Rarity's condition, good or bad, and whenever they didn't follow up on it, Applejack was by her side as soon as she could get to the hospital.

Rarity understood Applejack's concern for her, but felt that she didn't deserve it. She had nearly murdered Applejack the night that her parents had died, but her friend still appreciated what Rarity had done for her that night more than anything.

Every moment of free time that Applejack had was spent by Rarity's side, making sure that she was as comfortable as possible. It tore Rarity apart inside to see Applejack this way, but she accepted her help and support just the same. It was moments like these that made Rarity realize that despite the fact that the two of them would butt heads occasionally, Applejack cared for Rarity like she was kin, a feeling that Rarity reciprocated.

On this particular day, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash were visiting her. It was a bright and happy Saturday morning, and everypony was out enjoying the sunshine. The weather did not reflect the mood in the room, though. It wasn't for lack of trying, of course. Her visitors had large smiles on their faces, and they had enthusiastically greeted Rarity the second they walked in. Rarity had noticed that there was something a little false behind their smiles the seconds she saw them.

They were worried, she could tell.

Applejack walked up to her and gently rubbed her shoulder. "How are you feelin' today, sugar cube?"

"Oh, well you know I am still in a lot of pain, my ribs and legs especially, but I'm doing better. My cuts and bruises are beginning to heal up, and they're talking about taking out the stitches in the ones in my hind leg and back." Speaking wasn't a pain anymore, but she still didn't have the vibrancy that she used to.

Rainbow Dash smiled, though Rarity sensed that it was a bit overblown for her benefit. "That's good."

"Yeah!" said Pinkie Pie. “When you do, I'm gonna have to make you some of my super special 'hooray I just got the stitches out of those nasty gashes on by back and leg' cupcakes!"

"Well, thank you Pinkie Pie," said Rarity, giving her friend a smile. "I know that you've all sacrificed so much to help me."

Pinkie Pie merely widened her usual grin. "Aw, not really. I mean, what are friends for anyway?"

Rarity's grin faded, and she leaned her head into her pillow. "I wonder sometimes if I deserve friends like you."

Rainbow Dash frowned and cocked her head. "Why in Equestria wouldn't you deserve friends like us?"

Rarity's gaze trailed to the floor, and her ears flattened against her head. "Well, you all do so much for me, and sometimes I feel that I don't feel that I always reciprocate it very well."

Applejack smiled at her and gently patted her on the leg. "Yer a perfectly wonderful friend, sugarcube. We wouldn't trade you as a friend no matter what you do."

Rarity's gaze snapped back up to her friends, and her eyes went wide. "No matter what?"

Rainbow put her hoof on one of Rarity's hind legs. "No matter what."

"Even if..." A tight feeling welled up inside of her, and her lower jaw quivered slightly. "Even if I did some truly terrible things in my life?"

Pinkie Pie bounced up to Rarity, beaming at her, and put her hoof next to Rainbow Dash's "No matter what means no matter what."

"So you're saying that if I burned down a house, or destroyed something special to you out of anger, or even murdered another pony you'd still love me like family?"

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash exchanged bemused looks while Applejack's brow creased into a frown. "Uh, Rarity? Is there somethin' you'd like to talk to us about?"

Rarity shook her head and put on her best reassuring smile. "I'm sorry, it's just with everything that's happened, I've been thinking a lot about my life." Her small smile faded and her gaze trailed to the floor again. "I almost lost it, and I almost lost you. All of it has made me wonder if I deserve the wonderful things that I have."

Her three friends' worried expressions quickly gave way to ones of relief as they resumed their smiles. "We would stick by you if you burned down a house," Rainbow Dash insisted.

"Or destroyed something super-duper special of ours out of anger," Pinkie Pie agreed with a nod.

"Even if you did kill another pony we would." Applejack brushed a few strands of Rarity's unkempt mane away from her eyes. "You ain't a bad pony, sugarcube. You'd only ever hurt another pony if that pony tried to hurt us, and we know that you'd feel real bad about it later. Besides, we all know that if we did those things, you'd stick by us until the end of time."

Rarity's eyes filled with tears. She still knew that they would abandon her if they found out what she really was. They wouldn't care if she did it to protect them; they'd still be beyond disgusted with her for what she did, and with themselves for having anything to do with her. Still, she'd let them believe that she was a good pony for now. She knew that Twilight would turn her in after their upcoming conversation, but for now, she could pretend that nothing was wrong, and that nothing would ever come between them.

* * * *

"Alright, up ya go, sugar cube."

Rarity tensed up as she was gently lifted from her bed to a wheelchair parked next to it by her doctor. She relaxed when she felt no pain upon being placed in it, and she leaned against the padded back, trying to get used to it. She would have to try now; this was where she would be confined for quite a while, if her doctor's diagnosis was any indication. She looked over to Applejack and Rainbow Dash, both of whom gave her large smiles.

"How is it bein' outta that bed, Rare?" Applejack asked.

Rarity gave a light, amused scoff. "No offense to the good doctor here, but I did feel rather... confined in my bed." Rarity grimaced as she examined the wheelchair. "Though, this may not be a major improvement."

"It's a necessary evil, I'm afraid," said the doctor as he gave Rarity a once-over. "Your legs aren't nearly healed enough to support your weight. I'd say you have a month or so to be in here."

Rarity shifted in her seat, already feeling as if she was being tied to the contraption. Still, it did give her more mobility than the bed did. She would count down the days until she could get back onto her hooves, though.

"Well..." The doctor closed Rarity's file and placed it on her bedside table. "I think that's it on our end. You're ready to go home, Ms. Rarity."

"Didja hear that, Rare?" Applejack gently wrapped a foreleg around Rarity's neck. "You get ta go home."

Rarity chuckled and affectionately nuzzled Applejack. "Thank Celestia for that."

The three ponies followed the doctor out of Rarity's room to the entrance of the hospital; Rainbow Dash flying behind Rarity and pushing her wheelchair. After a few pieces of paperwork, Rarity was finally released. She was wheeled to the front entrance of the hospital, and Applejack held the door open for her, letting the warm sunlight shine through, bathing Rarity in its glow. She smiled and closed her eyes, letting her body truly relax for the first time in a while. It was a sign that she was truly free from that place.

Applejack chuckled as they went towards Rarity's house. "Heh, enjoyin' yourself there, sugarcube?"

Rarity opened one eye and returned her smirk. "Well, one can hardly blame me for finding a little sunlight appealing after being cooped up in that dreadful place for so long." She widened her smile and looked up into the clear blue sky. "It feels truly freeing to be out here, even if I am confined to this wretched old thing."

"Eh, you'll be outta that thing in no time at all!" said Rainbow Dash. "Don't let it get you down."

Rarity's smile faded, and she leaned back in the chair with a sigh. "No, I don't suppose that I should." Rarity's smile returned as she saw her beloved boutique grow steadily larger as they approached it. "It will be quite nice to return to my home, at any rate."

"The other girls have done a little movin' so you can have yer bedroom in yer workroom," said Applejack. "Can't exactly have you goin' up those stairs with this thing."

Rarity turned her smile to Applejack. "Oh, well that was very thoughtful of you, darling. I admit that I wondered how I would get around that issue."

Rainbow Dash chuckled and stopped the wheelchair right in front of Rarity's door. "Oh, I think you've got some pretty awesome ponies who are friends with you, Rarity."

Applejack once again opened the door for Rarity, and Rainbow Dash wheeled her inside. The door was closed behind them, bathing the room in total darkness for a brief moment before the lights were flipped on.

"SURPRISE!"

The light illuminating the room revealed what must have been half of Ponyville inside Rarity's home, all of whom were beaming at her. Her house had been decked out in colorful streamers and balloons, and a large banner was hung up that said 'hooray you're out of the hospital!' It could only have been the work of one pony, and the culprit herself wasted no time in pronking up to her. Rarity made a half-hearted effort to listen to her happy babbling, as she had eyes for only one pony in the room. Despite everything that had happened, Twilight was amongst the gathered ponies, smiling like nothing was wrong at all. There even seemed to be a genuine scrap of happiness behind her expression. However, the moment she locked eyes with Rarity, her smile faded, and she turned to talk to somepony else.

Rarity sighed, but put on a smile for Pinkie Pie.

The party turned out to be an absolute blast, as per usual. The food that Pinkie and the Cakes had made was delicious, the music was fun, and even though Rarity couldn't dance in her current state, she still loved watching the guests enjoying themselves. The mere idea that they would come out to support her in this time of hardship was overwhelming for her. She knew full well that she deserved none of this, and that every single pony in the room would turn their backs on her the second they found out what she was.

It was during the party, when everypony was dancing to one of the songs playing, that for the first time in her life Rarity regretted being a serial killer. She had become good at wearing masks of emotion over the years, and right now she was having the hardest time keeping her façade of happiness on. Everypony in the room was happy for her, happy that she was okay, happy that she was alive and among them again. She felt that her mere existence was an insult to these innocent ponies.

The party guests had all lined up to sign her casts. They had all put loving sentences or just their signatures to show their support. Rarity had to convince Pinkie Pie to restrain herself from signing the casts for a fifth time or else there wouldn't be room for anypony else. To Rarity's surprise, Twilight came up to her and scribbled her name on one of the casts too. She walked away before Rarity really had a chance to talk to her, though.

Rarity's eyes followed Twilight across the room. Despite the fact that she had seemed happy at the beginning of the party, she had grown more cold and distant as the party went on. Occasionally, Rarity would notice Twilight sneaking glances at her whens he thought that Rarity was looking. Only once did the two make true eye contact, and when they did, the expression in Twilight's eyes made her stomach twist into knots.

Tonight would be the night that Twilight would truly confront her.

* * * *

Eventually the hours faded away, and the party came to a close. The food was devoured, and Rarity hardly had any leftovers to store in her fridge, something that would hardly be a problem as the ponies of Ponyville had a habit of making dinners for ponies that were sick or injured like she had been. She could expect a long line of ponies waiting to give her meals for quite a while, most likely headed by Pinkie Pie and the Cake family.

Rarity glanced outside the window as she put the last leftover dish inside her fridge. It was dark now, about nine-thirty at night. Sweetie Belle had gone up to bed at around eight o' clock while the party was still going on. Not even Apple Bloom and Scootaloo had been able to get her to talk much, and Rarity knew that Sweetie Belle was the most full of life when around her friends.

Rarity used her magic to wheel herself into the main room towards the makeshift living space that had been made for her in her workroom. As she wheeled herself towards it, she heard the door to her house open up. Rarity knew who it was without even looking, but she looked anyway. Twilight Sparkle stood in her doorway, looking blankly at Rarity, her emotionless eyes sending a shiver down Rarity's spine. Rarity gulped and gave Twilight a shaky smile. "Good evening, Twilight."

"Hello, Rarity," Twilight replied.

Upon further examination, Twilight was a wreck. Her blank gaze barely masked a slight aura of unease, and every now and again her right ear would twitch ever so slightly. Her left leg was lifted, indicating to Rarity that she would very much like to run away back to her library house, but whatever willpower she possessed kept her there. Rarity decided that she couldn't blame her for her unease; not with what she was undoubtedly here for.

"I suppose you are here for our agreed talk, yes?"

Twilight inclined her head in a slight nod. "I am. First, I want you to show me your kill room." Twilight scanned the entryway. "I know it’s here somewhere. Show me."

Rarity bit her lip. "Twilight, I—"

Twilight's gaze turned cold, and she slammed her hoof on the ground in front of Rarity. "You said everything, Rarity! You said you would tell me everything! Right now, I want to know where you take ponies to butcher them, okay?!"

The two locked gazes, one pleading the other aggressive. Rarity was the one to break eye contact, and she flattened her ears and slumped her shoulders with a sigh. "Follow me."

Rarity wheeled herself over to the closet and opened the door. She used her magic to play the musical key, which she had changed to "Giggle at the Ghosties" after the events with Sweetie Belle. Twilight flinched a bit when the door opened, but resolutely looked down the staircase, waiting to go down.

"It's down there, Twilight. I'd go but—" Twilight ignited her horn and used her magic to pick Rarity up and carry her down the stairs. Rarity would have protested this rough treatment under any other circumstances, but Twilight was not to be trifled with right now.

When they reached the bottom of the steps and entered the basement, Twilight saw Rarity's table and placed Rarity down onto it. After examining the table for a brief moment, she used her magic to strap Rarity in and put the table vertically.

Rarity flattened her ears and her gaze followed Twilight. "Uh, Twilight, what are you doing?"

Even as Rarity watched Twilight, she knew that something wasn't right. Something was very wrong about all of this. Twilight's demeanor, the way that she casually placed Rarity on the table as if she had planned it, the complete lack of emotion that she displayed despite the fact that she was surrounded by anypony's worst nightmare. It frightened her.

"Don't worry, I just want to keep you there while I look around," Twilight replied curtly. She had turned her attention to the poster and was reading it.

Rarity chuckled nervously. "Oh... yes. Of course."

After Twilight read the poster on the wall, she turned her attention to Rarity's collection of pony hides. She turned the table so Rarity could look at it as well. "Who do I know here?" Twilight motioned to the feathery pelt. "I figure that the one with feathers is Gilda, but who are some of these other ones?"

"Well, the one with paint on it is Trixie," said Rarity. "The hooves belong to Janice who worked at the Post Office. The green one is—"

Twilight nodded and held up a hoof to stem any further explanation from Rarity. Rarity was unsure of what to think about Twilight's calmness until she looked at Twilight's legs. They were shaking as if she was expending a great deal of effort to keep from collapsing. She was also blinking quickly as if holding back tears.

"How do you generally do it?" she asked. Yes, there it was, more proof that the room was effecting her. Whatever resolve Twilight had when looking around had left her and it was reflected in her voice. Rarity even saw her glance at the door once or twice. Still, Twilight hadn't bolted, so she might as well answer her question.

"The workbench over there, there is a button underneath it. Press it and you'll see how."

Twilight nodded and used her magic to turn the table to face the workbench. She spent a brief moment examining the workbench, feeling around for the button, before the top popped open revealing Rarity's extensive collection of knives. Twilight's eyes widened with horror and she let out a small gasp. Rarity didn't have to look to guess why. Seeing rows of sharp, glistening knives laid out before her and realizing what they were used for would have disturbed all but the most callous ponies.

Twilight reached her hoof in and stroked the handle of one of the knives. "You like to draw it out," she said softly.

Rarity flattened her ears and turned her head away. "Well, yes. That's... that's kind of the point."

"How many?" asked Twilight. "How many ponies have you killed?"

"Seventy-four ponies, one griffin, and twenty Diamond Dogs."

Twilight turned back to Rarity and cocked her head ever so slightly. "You killed the Diamond Dogs who ponynapped you?"

"That's what I was coming back from doing when I got hit by the cart. Not all of the gashes are from being hit." Rarity motioned down to her hind leg with her head. "The one on my back and the one on my right hind leg are both from the Diamond Dogs."

A look of disbelief spread across Twilight's face, and she let out an incredulous scoff. "Are you telling me that you went underground, faced twenty Diamond Dogs at once and won?!"

Despite the situation, Rarity's chest swelled up with a touch of pride. "Well, I had killed two when they had taken me originally, and I slit the throat of a solitary guard when I was traveling towards their main hall, but I fought seventeen at once and won, yes."

Twilight kept her expression of disbelief for a few more moments before turning back to the knives. "How often do you do this?" she asked, picking up and examining individual knives before returning them to their spots.

"Whenever I feel I need to," said Rarity.

Twilight nodded and used her magic to turn the table back to its original position.

Rarity heard Twilight continue to examine the individual knives that Rarity had collected in silence. Within a few seconds, Rarity heard Twilight begin taking a few very deep breaths followed by a noise that made her eyes widen with fear.

Tink.

It was the sound of one of her knives being put on the tray. "Uh, Twilight, darling, would you mind telling me what you are doing?" Her voice squeaked as a rapidly increasing feeling of dread rose in her chest.

Tink.

"Twilight, I know that this is upsetting for you, but let's not do anything rash, yes?" She laughed nervously. Surely Twilight isn't going to...

Tink.

"Er... Twilight? Why are you putting knives on the tray? Twilight, please answer me!"

Tink.

Rarity tried to struggle out of the straps, but the slightest quick moment caused a sharp pain to shoot through her forelegs. The bulky casts prevented too much movement at any rate, and Twilight would know if she tried to use her magic.

Tink.

Tears began to fall down Rarity's face as she continued to struggle despite the pain. "Please, Twilight, just talk to me about this! Don't become like me, Twilight, I never want anypony in the world to be like me! Put the knives back and we can have a conversation like civilized ponies!"

Twilight silently wheeled the tray in front of Rarity, allowing her to see the largest knives she owned laid meticulously out in front of her. In the right hooves, they would inflict serious pain. Rarity continued her weak struggles hardly caring about how undignified she certainly looked. A quick glance at her captor revealed Twilight's look to be one of grim determination.

"Please don't do this," Rarity whispered.

Twilight shook her head and pointed at the poster behind her before lifting up Rarity's skinning knife and advancing slowly towards Rarity.

For the second time in recent history, a scream echoed throughout Carousel Boutique.

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Rarity screamed once more, the remaining working part of her mind wondering if this was really how it was all going to end. That part of her couldn't believe that Twilight was really going to kill her in an ironic vigilante sort of way.

She continued to try to struggle out of the straps as Twilight came closer with the knife. When she got close enough, she looked Rarity directly in the eye. "Goodbye, murderer."

Rarity squealed in terror and shut her eyes, hoping that Twilight would at least make it quick.

"NO!" squeaked a voice from behind them. Twilight turned around and Rarity opened her eyes in time to see Sweetie Belle run towards Rarity, pushing over the tray so she could grab one of the smaller knives. She placed herself between Twilight and Rarity, pointing the knife towards Twilight. It was a pointless effort because if Twilight truly did want to kill Rarity, she would just use her magic to shove her aside. As it was though, Twilight looked like she was about to cry. "NO! I won't let you hurt my sister!" Sweetie Belle took a step forward and jabbed the knife towards Twilight. "She may be a killer, but she is still my sister and the only one that I have. She'd do anything to protect me, and she'd do anything to protect you! You don't have the right to just butcher her like an animal!"

Twilight's lower jaw quivered, and a pair of tears streaked down her face. "I-I wasn't gonna kill her," she said taking a step towards Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle flinched back for a moment, but recovered and lunged forward with the knife. Twilight managed to dodge back fast enough that she was only received a slight cut on her knee. Twilight gasped in pain and dropped her knife on the ground. "No, I wasn't going to hurt her at all!"

"Then why is she trapped down and why were you standing over her holding a knife?!" Sweetie Belle snapped.

"I just wanted her to know how it feels for the ponies she kills!" said Twilight. "I wanted her to experience what it is like being strapped down to her table, knowing that these are your last moments and that they'll be spent in excruciating agony. I just wanted her to know what she's done!" Sweetie Belle paused at this and looked less sure of herself. She slowly lowered her knife and looked back at her sister. Twilight used her magic to put the tray upright and she put her knife back on it. "I wasn't gonna hurt her."

Twilight's horn fired up, and Rarity felt the straps holding her down loosen. She was surrounded by Twilight's magical glow, and she felt herself being carried back up the stairs by Twilight. When they reached the top, Twilight placed Rarity back into her wheelchair and, once Sweetie Belle had left the basement, she shut the door behind her.

Twilight wheeled Rarity into the middle of the room before turning back to Sweetie Belle. "I'm not gonna hurt your sister, Sweetie Belle. I Pinkie Promise that I will not hurt her. However, I'm going to have to take her back to my house with me because there are just certain things that I have to know."

Sweetie Belle's bottom lip began to quiver and she broke down crying. "Don't hurt her, please don't ever hurt her."

Twilight sighed and wheeled Rarity out the door leaving a crying Sweetie Belle alone in the house.

The journey back to Twilight's house was a silent one. Rarity spent the ride over calming her body down, taking deep breaths and trying to clear her head. Twilight wasn't going to kill her; she had never intended to hurt her. She wasn't going to die.

When they reached Twilight's house, Spike was already fast asleep in his basket, so both of them knew that they wouldn't be disturbed with whatever Twilight was planning. Twilight used her magic to lift Rarity and her wheelchair into the air, and she moved Rarity into her basement where she had the memory machine waiting.

"Twilight, what's going on?" asked Rarity, hoping that Twilight wouldn't force herself to watch all of Rarity's kills.

Twilight was silent for a moment while she placed the headband on Rarity's head. "Is there a specific memory or time period that made you be this way?"

Rarity nodded. "It was a few months into my first year of school. I had never had any desire to hurt anypony for any reason whatsoever before that. But one day I was cornered by three bullies and... well, after that day I had three kills to my name."

Twilight asked Rarity which date she was referring to and Rarity told her, prompting Twilight to type it into the memory machine. Rarity felt a tingle as the memory machine fired up, and the memory began playing. Rarity directed Twilight to specific moments, and Twilight made the necessary adjustments to play those times.

Rarity and Twilight watched in silence as Rarity's second worst memory began to play on the view screen. There were Dug, Kicker and Annie, once again tormenting her in the schoolyard. There was filly Cheerilee standing up for her. Now Rarity was in her creek, trying to stop the bullies from tainting her land. There was the rock that would be her first murder weapon; there she was smashing Dug's head in, killing Kicker, burying Annie alive.

It was after that last one that Twilight shut the machine off. She turned back to Rarity and she saw that Twilight was crying. "I had no idea."

"I know that doesn't justify what I am," said Rarity.

"You mean who you are?" said Twilight.

"No, what I am. I'm a monster Twilight. I've known that I was a monster and would forever be one ever since I was scooping dirt back into a hole containing a dying filly." Rarity sighed and flattened her ears. "I don't deserve to live and I know that you have to turn me in. I appreciate you erasing Sweetie Belle's memory of committing a murder herself, but as for me, do what you must."

Twilight continued looking at Rarity. Rarity knew that the gears in Twilight's head were turning, trying to decide exactly what to do.

"I don't think that you are a monster, Rarity. Your urges to murder are the unfortunate product of a terrible thing that happened to you." Twilight gave Rarity a small, sad smile. "If I know anything about the Elements of Harmony, it’s that they don't choose a wielder lightly. They know what they are doing. They see something inside of you, some good trait that makes the Element of Generosity drawn to you. The Elements of Harmony would never choose a true monster to wield them."

"But they did!" said Rarity. "Do you have any idea of what I have done? I am an evil being beyond saving! Princess Celestia would strike me down where I stood if she ever found out!" Rarity sighed and looked down. "And I know that you have to tell her. In all honesty Twilight, I won't stop killing until I am ended myself. I do not kill the innocent anymore, but there is nothing that I can do about what I am. You should go tell her now, Twilight. My family and our friends will suffer with the knowledge that they accepted a psychopath into their lives, but time will heal those wounds to the point that they can live life again."

Twilight wheeled the machine back into its closet and sighed. "You only kill to protect?"

"Ever since I met you girls, yes. Before that I killed for fun or for petty reasons that wouldn't have mattered if I had just left them alone. I never want you girls to experience what I had to." Rarity scoffed. "I mean, look at how I turned out."

Twilight nodded. "I don't know if I can let you keep going. I don't want anypony to die because you feel that it is your duty to protect us from the bad things of this world. I don't want anypony to die. I didn't wish death upon Gilda or Trixie for the way that they acted, but they got it anyway at your hooves."

"So are you going to tell Princess Celestia?" asked Rarity.

"No, but I have to tell somepony about this," said Twilight and oddly enough, a small smile stretched across her face. "And I think I know just the pony to tell. Wait right here." Twilight left the basement and was gone for about twenty minutes. Each of those minutes seemed to be an eternity for Rarity but eventually Twilight did come back down. "Okay, she should be here very soon."

"Who did you contact?" asked Rarity.

"You'll know when she comes," said Twilight. Rarity ground her teeth together slightly. Twilight was annoying when she was being ambiguous like that.

After about twenty more minutes, that Twilight spent giving Rarity a tutorial of the memory machine, they heard the door to Twilight's house open. They heard hoofsteps growing steadily louder as this mystery pony approached the basement door. Rarity turned her wheelchair around just in time to see the last pony she expected to see walk through the basement door.

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Rarity turned to Twilight, a confused look on her face. "Her? Why did you ask her to come here?"

"I just wanted to tell somepony that I would trust not to run off to Celestia because she had been in a similar situation before," said Twilight.

Rarity flinched back in her wheelchair as none other than the Princess of the Night slowly descended down the stairs. This was far from the same mare that they had cleansed with the Elements. She was far more regal and imposing than she had been before. She was nearly as tall as Celestia, and she had the same ethereal mane, though hers mirrored the night sky. Gone was the shivering filly, curled up on the floor. This pony carried herself like somepony radiating power. Now here she was, coming to find out her darkest secret.

Luna reached the bottom of the stairs and raised her eyebrow as she looked between Twilight and Rarity. "Twilight Sparkle, what is the meaning of this meeting thou hast called Us to?"

Twilight looked at Luna and then back to Rarity. "Well, I think that it is Rarity's place to tell you what is going on. However, you have to promise us that you will not tell Celestia, or indeed anypony, what Rarity has to tell you."

"We promise," said Luna with a nod.

"Pinkie Promise?" said Rarity.

Luna frowned and tilted her head. "Pinkie Promise? What is this 'Pinkie Promise' of which you speak?"

Twilight grinned despite herself. Even in a situation like this the antics of Pinkie Pie still managed to make her smile.

"It's basically an unbreakable promise. To break it means terrible things," said Twilight. "To make a Pinkie Promise, you just have to say 'cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye' and you do these motions."

Luna looked at the two of them like they were insane but nodded all the same. "Very well, Rarity, cross my heart and hope to fly stick a cupcake in my eye," she said while doing the motions. "Now, what is the issue that thou have called Us here to discuss?"

Rarity looked at the expectant Luna, her mind willing her to tell Luna what was wrong. Silence filled the room as Rarity began working up the nerve to tell a royal princess her deepest, darkest secret in the whole world, and that was something that she had always known would mean instant death for her.

"I..."

A small sob escaped Rarity's throat and Luna took a step towards her. She smiled warmly at Rarity and put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "Dearest Rarity, thou would do well to remember who thou art speaking to. We are a pony who tried to bring about eternal night. Nothing you can say to Us is worse than that."

I'm a serial killer," Rarity whispered.

Luna let out a small gasp and retracted her hoof. "What did you say?"

"I'm a serial killer!" Rarity repeated. "I murder ponies for fun!"

A look of unease crossed Luna's face, and she took a small step backwards. "Is this some sort of jest that the two of you have created for the purpose of 'fun'?" She shifted her eyes between the two ponies in front of her. "Because We do not find this very amusing, Twilight Sparkle."

"No, we aren't joking, Princess Luna," Rarity insisted. "I have been killing ponies ever since I was eight years old."

"Why... why do you tell Us these things?" asked Luna. Rarity and Twilight detected something strange in Luna. It almost seemed to them to be fear.

"I found out about it not long after her filly sister did. I had to tell somepony and I knew that Celestia would execute Rarity for it. We figured..."

"You figured that because We were Nightmare Moon that We would have a greater understanding for the situation than Tia would?" Luna guessed. Rarity nodded. "We see." Luna turned back to Twilight. "Why did thou not turn her in to Tia, Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight gave a heavy sigh and looked at the floor. "Because whatever else she may be, Rarity is my friend, and I know that she would never do anything to hurt me or my other friends. She told me herself that she only kills these days to protect us, and I just..." Twilight shook her head. "I just didn't have the nerve to let Princess Celestia kill her."

Luna nodded. "It is true, dear Rarity, that We have fought internal darkness. We have brought death and destruction to ponies all over Equestria, and We know what it is like to see a pony die by our hooves. However, We are not sure what thou wishes for Us to do, Twilight Sparkle. Dost thou wish Us to try to heal the darkness inside of your friend? Dost thou wish for Us to plead her case to Tia? What was the purpose of this meeting?"

"Well, what do you think would be the best option?" asked Twilight.

"We tell thee the truth, Twilight Sparkle, We see no other way to do this than to tell Tia." Luna's expression turned grim. "Actions have consequences, dear Rarity, and if yours is death, then so be it."

Rarity squealed in fear and did her best to shrink away from Luna. "No! I don't want to die! Think of my friends; think of my family! Besides, I wield an Element of Harmony! What would that do?"

"It is true that thou does wield an Element of Harmony and that does complicate matters." Luna frowned and tapped her hoof on the floor. "We wielded the Elements at one time, and We know that they do not choose their holders lightly."

"So what do we do?" asked Twilight.

"If thou do not want to see the end of your friend, We think we have an idea. It may or may not come to fruition but it is something that we can try if thou want to."

"What is it?" asked Rarity.

"Well, We feel that if the Elements of Harmony were able to cleanse us of our inner demons, then perhaps they could also cleanse you of yours, dear Rarity," said Luna. "We could call the other wielders to Canterlot and have them use the Elements to take away the darkness that drives your actions."

"But who is going to wield the Element of Generosity?" asked Twilight.

"While the hold that my sister and I have over the Elements of Harmony is diminishing, it is not completely gone yet. We can still wield them on some level and We think that we can do this. However, we must hurry, lest Tia finds out about our deeds. We do not wish to discover the consequences that our actions may bring upon us."

Twilight and Rarity nodded and within a few minutes they were off to collect their friends.

* * * *

Applejack was fast asleep in her home, dreaming about apple bucking her way through the orchards of Red Delicious apples (a common dream for her) and recharging from the long day of doing just that and a Pinkie Pie party. She found herself just about to knock the apples off of her second favorite tree, Ambrosia, when a trio of loud knocks on the door pulled out of dreamland.

"Whozzere?" she muttered sleepily, trying to will her exhausted body out of bed.

"It's me: Twilight," said the voice behind her bedroom door.

"Twilight?" Applejack groaned and pushed herself up with her tired forelegs. She rolled out of bed and went towards the door. "What 'r you doin' here?" She opened the door and saw a sight that instantly sapped all fatigue from her body. Standing in front of here were Twilight, Rarity, and Princess Luna. Applejack gave a yelp at the last one and backed away slowly into her room.

"Applejack, we need your help!" said Twilight. "Something terrible has happened and we need to get to the Elements of Harmony right away!"

Applejack stopped backing away and looked at Twilight worriedly. "Uh, the Elements of Harmony?" Applejack motioned to Luna. "Does it have anythin' to do with her?"

Twilight shook her head. "No, in fact, it was her idea. We have to get to Canterlot as soon as possible!"

"Would you mind explainin' why in the hay we need to go to Canterlot in the middle of the night to wield the Elements of Harmony?" asked Applejack.

Twilight and Rarity exchanged nervous looks and Rarity shook her head. "I'm afraid that we cannot tell you the details," said Rarity. "All I can say is that something terrible is happening to me and we think that only the Elements of Harmony can heal me."

Applejack's expression softened and she stopped backing away from the door.. "That bad huh?" she said. Rarity nodded prompting a sigh from Applejack. "Alright then, if you don't feel that you can tell me then Ah'll trust that you have a good reason and that you'd never withhold information just to hurt me. Of course Ah'll go with you."

Rarity face broke out into a wide grin and she would have wrapped Applejack in a large hug were it not for her injuries. "Thank you Applejack, you have no idea what this means to me."

* * * *

Collecting the rest of their friends was even easier than Applejack. True to form, Pinkie Pie had gotten really excited at the prospect of hanging out with her good friends and to her the fact that they would be sneaking around Canterlot at night just made the whole thing even more fun for her.

Rainbow Dash was also very easy to convince. She had been awake when they had arrived, and once Rarity told her that she needed her help, Rainbow didn't ask any more questions after Rarity told her to simply trust that they knew what was going on.

Fluttershy also was easy to convince. She was clearly frightened when Rarity and Twilight told her what was going on, not to mention the fact that Princess Luna was there, but she went with them all the same. So, the six friends boarded a train to Canterlot while Princess Luna went back in her chariot.

Nopony said much in the beginning of the train ride, Twilight and Rarity because they were worried about taking the Elements of Harmony without Princess Celestia knowing and the others because of the unknown nature of their quest. Finally though, Applejack could stand the silence no longer.

"Now, would somepony explain what is goin' on here? Why in the hay did you two and Princess Luna wake me up to go get the Elements?"

"Applejack, I know that you hate feeling out of the loop," said Twilight. "But you have to trust us. All we can tell you is that we need to use the Elements to heal Rarity from a bad thing inside of her." Applejack frowned but decided against pressing the issue any further.

"Well, I guess that Twilight knows what she is doing," said Rainbow Dash. "But I gotta admit it is a little frustrating not knowing what is going on."

"A little?" Applejack grumbled.

"Girls, I know that I am asking you to place a lot of trust in Twilight and I, but we cannot tell you what our mission is about," said Rarity. "However..." She took a deep breath. "I promise you will find out someday when the time is right."

Twilight's jaw dropped and she looked incredulously at her friend. "They will?"

"Yes," said Rarity. "As horrible as it will be for them, it is unfair not to tell them someday."

Rather than being mollified with this answer, Applejack grumbled once more. "Ah wish that Ah could trade Elements with one of y'all right now so that one of you could give me the honest truth about what's goin' on here!"

"Do you trust us?" asked Twilight.

Applejack's glare softened slightly. "Of course Ah do, Twilight, but that still don't mean that this secrecy ain't annoyin'."

Rarity gave Applejack her best smile. "As long as you trust us in the end, I can ask for nothing more."

* * * *

Within a few more hours, the six of them arrived in Canterlot. They were met at the train station by Princess Luna and a pair of Lunar Guards who led the six friends toward the hall that housed the Elements. Twilight used her magic to move Rarity's wheelchair.

The streets of Canterlot were silent in the dead of night. It was socially unacceptable for ponies of any status at all to be seen wandering the streets at night, so everypony was secure in their beds. Every now and again they would run into more Lunar Guards, but seeing Princess Luna with the six ensured that they did not question what the six were doing wandering around Canterlot late at night.

Finally, they reached the hall where the Elements of Harmony were being housed. To their surprise, they found that the hall was being guarded by a trio of Celestia's elite guards. Luna, however, was not fazed by this and she approached them.

"We must enter this chamber," she said. "You will let us pass."

The guards did not move.

"We cannot do that, Princess Luna," said the leader. "Princess Celestia herself has ordered that nopony can gain access into this hallway without her personal authority."

Luna glared at them. "Is Our authority not enough? Is it not enough that We have brought the wielders of the Elements of Harmony with Us? Our cause is just and you cannot stop our entry into this hallway!"

The guards stood fast, but there was a hint of unease behind their expressions. The leader shifted uncomfortably, but stood his ground. "Princess Celestia told us to guard this room, Princess Luna. If you wish to gain entry, then you'll have to take it up with her."

Luna stared at the guard for a few moments, as if studying him. Then, before anypony could say anything, she ignited her horn and shot a beam of magic at the guards. When the light faded, nothing was left to give any indication that the guards had been there at all.

"Princess Luna what have you done?!" Twilight yelped.

"Do not worry Twilight Sparkle, We have merely teleported them to another part of the castle. We did not wish to spend all night arguing with him" Luna walked up to the doors. "However, we must hurry, for they shall be quick to tell Our sister what has happened here tonight."

Luna used her magic to open the giant doors that led into the hall where the Elements were kept. At the end of the hallway was another doorway which they all surmised opened to reveal the Elements. Twilight sensed the powerful magic protecting the door and turned to Luna.

"Are you sure you can get in there?" asked Twilight.

Princess Luna snorted and rolled her eyes. "As strong as Tia is, she does not actually have the amount of power that she thinks she does. Tia keeps saying that only she can break the spell that holds this door shut, but really, We have strong magic of Our own, Twilight Sparkle." Luna slid her horn into the hole in the door and used her magic to unlock the door. The doors swung open revealing a large, ornate case which Luna brought over to the six friends. "Now then, you all must wield your Elements to cleanse your friend. We will wield Rarity's. However, we must hurry, I sense that Tia is on her way even as we speak."

Luna opened the box and gave the Elements to their respective ponies, taking Rarity's for herself. She nodded to Twilight who began charging her Element. All at once, the Elements of Harmony began to fire up and each of the ponies in front of Rarity was engulfed in a bright light. Part of her wanted to run, but her mobility was still limited. She now realized what Nightmare Moon had felt when they had stopped her with the Elements.

As the light became brighter, beams began to shoot out of the cutie-mark shaped gems that adorned the necklaces and tiara that made up the Elements of Harmony. The beams combined to make one rainbow beam that suddenly shot itself directly towards Rarity. She gave a squeal of fear as the beam enveloped her.

All at once, time seemed to stop for Rarity. Her mind was filled with visions of all of the ponies that she had killed. Her mind was sent back to her first kills and she re-watched the events for the second time that night. However, this time the memory became a little fuzzy as she was watching it. It slowly began to fade away as if it had never happened. In fact, all of the memories that were shown seemed to fade away into nothingness once they were shown. Rarity felt all of the angry feelings inside of her fade away, all of the urges to kill, even to protect her friends, were slowly going away. Rarity knew at that moment that everything was going to be okay. Twilight would forgive her, Sweetie Belle wouldn't be scarred for life at what she had seen and done. She didn't have to kill anymore! Princess Celestia wouldn't have to know about what she was.

No, what she used to be.

All at once the light faded and the ponies were standing around looking expectantly at Rarity. "Did it work?" Twilight took a small step towards Rarity. "How do you feel?"

Rarity examined her body, both inwardly and outwardly. To her surprise and joy, the Elements had actually healed her legs! She jumped off of the wheelchair and stood up. She examined herself inwardly, expecting to find any trace of the urge to kill that had driven her life for so long, but it was not there. Rarity's eyes began to fill with tears of joy and she pulled Twilight into a giant hug.

"Yes Twilight, I think it did!" she said. The rest of her friends gathered around her and Rarity pulled them into a hug as well. They didn't know why they were here, they were just glad that whatever had bothered their friend was gone. She would tell them why the events of tonight happened at all in their own time, but for now they could just relax knowing that it was all over.

Luna used her magic to put the Elements of Harmony back where they belonged. "We feel that thou must all go now before Tia finds out what has happened here."

"Of course."Twilight put a hoof on Luna's shoulder in a half-hug. "Thank you for everything."

"She helped cleanse the darkness inside of us." Luna gave Twilight a smile. "We are overjoyed that We had the chance to return the favor."

"PRINCESS LUNA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE HERE?" came a powerful voice that shook the hall. The seven of them turned to see a livid Princess Celestia standing in the doorway with three slightly singed guards behind her. Twilight flattened her ears. She had never heard Princess Celestia's Royal Canterlot Voice before, but its power and authority was far greater than Luna's could ever hope to be.

Luna motioned the six friends to get behind her. "Leave this to Us, Twilight Sparkle," she said grimly.

"I'm waiting for an answer, Luna," said Celestia angrily. "Why did you attack my guards and steal the Elements of Harmony?"

"The Elements of Harmony are safe, sister," said Luna. "They were not used for any nefarious purpose. We both know that by their very nature they cannot be used for ill deeds!"

Celestia's eyes narrowed. "Then why did you not see fit to inform me that you wished to use them?"

"It was none of your concern!" said Luna. "What they were needed for was the business of these six friends and Ourself!"

Celestia looked at Luna incredulously for a brief moment before anger crossed her face once more. "They are the Elements of Harmony, Luna. It is always my business what they are used for! Why did you not tell me that you needed them? I would have let you use them if the purpose was right!"

"Yes, dear sister, the purpose was right. However, you did not need to know what need we had for them this night! We would have consulted you if We knew that you would not have pried into something that was not for you to know!"

"How do you know?" Celestia retorted. "Did you not trust that I could make a fair judgment?"

Luna gave a frustrated grunt. "Tia, thou hast been Our sister for many millennium. We know that thou desires to know all that goes on in your kingdom, especially when objects of great power are involved. Thou would not have let us use the Elements until thou knew why we needed them."

"That's because it is my business to know why they are needed!"

"Tia, by not telling you what we did tonight, we preserved the lives of these six that stand behind Us. If we had told you our purpose, and even if we tell you now, then the lives of one of these here would end within minutes. We did not tell you to protect the lives of one of the wielders!"

Celestia raised an eyebrow at this and her anger seemed to fade away. She shifted her glance between the Elements and Luna as if studying them for a hint of falseness. Finding none, she sighed. "I know you do not lie. We have known each other too long for you to successfully lie to me, but can't you at least give me some details about this?"

"I'm afraid not, Tia. To tell you anything would lead to the downfall of the wielders. Only two of them even know the full extent of what has transpired here tonight." Celestia looked at the six friends huddled together behind Luna. "I know that you have no reason to trust Us with the Elements as We were once Nightmare Moon, but even if you do not trust Us, then trust your student Twilight Sparkle who would most certainly never do anything to bring you any harm."

Celestia looked behind Luna at Twilight who was still shaken up form hearing her mentor's Royal Canterlot Voice. Celestia gave a frustrated sigh. "Very well, I will trust you for the sake of Twilight. They may go back to their homes tonight without incident. However..." She turned her attention back to Luna, "we are not quite finished with this conversation."

To Rarity's utter surprise, Luna actually managed a smile at this. "We know, but thou art wasting your breath, sister. We cannot tell you anything about this. We made what We believe Twilight Sparkle called a 'Pinkie Promise'. Or hooves are tied, dear sister, for this seems to be the most solemn of vows."

At this, Pinkie Pie spoke up. "Yeah, nopony can ever break a Pinkie Promise! I mean, it's a Pinkie Promise!"

To everypony's surprise, Celestia's anger seemed to fade away and she managed a small smile as well. "Yes I am quite aware that there are certain ramifications to breaking a Pinkie Promise. Very well sister, do not see this matter as quite over yet, but we will discuss this further at a later date."

* * * *

Celestia had allowed the friends to leave and return to Ponyville without incident as she had said. The train ride back was silent (mostly because the friends were still shocked by what they had witnessed, particularly Celestia's Royal Canterlot Voice) with nopony really making eye contact with the others. All of them were deep in thought at the events of that day, Twilight and Rarity in particular. It still hadn't quite sunk in yet that she was free. No more killing. No more hiding who she was from other ponies. She could live life as her friends did, innocent and pure. Yes, the deaths that she had caused would never go away, but she was content with the fact that she wouldn't be causing any more.

The train reached Ponyville and the six friends parted ways. They had all felt tired after wielding the Elements of Harmony and they all felt that a good night's sleep was in order.

Rarity walked into Carousel Boutique with a spring in her step. Not only did the fact that she could use her legs again feel wonderful, but now...

As she shut the door behind her, she heard a set of hoofsteps behind her and turned to see a wide-eyed Sweetie Belle slowly walking down the stairs. Rarity's face burst into a wide grin and she ran towards her sister. She swept her up in her forelegs and hugged her tight. "Oh Sweetie Belle, the most wonderful thing has happened!"

Sweetie Belle whimpered softly and flattened her ears. "Rarity... I was scared I was never gonna see you again."

Rarity tightened her grip on her sister and nuzzled the top of her head. "Sweetie Belle, my friends took me to Canterlot tonight and they cleansed me with the Elements of Harmony!" Tears of joy began dripping down Rarity's face. "Big sister isn't a serial killer anymore! I'm not going to hurt another pony as long as I live!"

Sweetie Belle's ears slowly perked up, and she raised her head to lock eyes with her sister. "Really? You're not going to hurt any more ponies?"

Rarity stroked the back of Sweetie Belle's mane and nuzzled her again. "Never, Sweetie Belle. I will never again harm another pony. I don't feel those urges anymore."

Sweetie Belle stared at the floor as if deep in thought. "Not gonna...?"

With a single sob, Sweetie Belle threw her forelegs around Rarity's waist and buried her head in her chest. Rarity resumed stroking her mane and smiled fondly down at her sister. "It's going to be okay now, Sweetie Belle. Big sister is okay now. I'm not going to hurt any more ponies. I will never hurt anypony again."

We're the World Famous Flim-Flam Brothers

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Eighteen months later

Rarity stepped back from her work after placing the final stitch in it. Oh how marvelous it looked, particularly when the rising moonlight hit it just right. The way the white cotton fabric glistened as the moonbeams reflected off of it would ensure that it would be a quick sell and one of her best.

Rarity sighed contentedly and used her magic to put away her sewing kit. Ever since she had been cleansed of her desire to kill by the Elements of Harmony, her work had gotten far better. She supposed that that was the result of being able to spend more time on it as opposed to having to devote some time to her murders.

Her life in general had also gotten much better. She was closer to Sweetie Belle than ever, even if it had taken a little while for her to trust Rarity again, and Saturday mornings would often find the two hanging out in the park or even occasionally at the spa. She was even closer to her friends because she knew that she had nothing to hide from them anymore, and so she could always be the real Rarity around them. Just like they said, they didn't ask any questions about what had happened that night, and they trusted that Twilight and Rarity knew what was best for everypony involved.

Yes, the last eighteen months had been the best months of Rarity's life, and she looked forward to much more happiness.

Rarity was brought out of her thoughts by a knock on her door. She closed the cabinet that held her sewing kit and opened the door to see Pinkie Pie standing there with her usual trademark grin. "Oh, good evening Pinkie, how may I help you?"

Pinkie Pie widened her grin and grabbed Rarity's head in her hooves. "Cider season starts tomorrow!"

Rarity copied Pinkie's smile. "It does?" She glanced at a nearby calendar. "You're right, it does!" Rarity squealed in delight and bounced into the air. Everypony in Ponyville looked forward to cider season. The Apple family made by far the best apple cider in all of Equestria, and every year ponies would line up in droves for the chance to drink some.

"Yes, and I thought that it would be an awesome idea to camp out in front of their stand!" Pinkie began bouncing with Rarity. "I'm so excited for cider season that I can't even sleep so I thought that it would be awesome to have once super-duper 'it's almost cider season' sleepover!"

"Why, what a marvelous idea, Pinkie Pie! I'll go get my tent right away!" said Rarity. She quickly went up to a real storage closet next to her room to retrieve her tent, and soon the two of them were walking to Sweet Apple Acres, chatting away happily at the prospect of the cider that they would be able to drink tomorrow.

The duo was soon joined by Twilight and Spike, who had tents and large grins of their own. "I see you've collected Rarity, Pinkie," said Twilight.

Pinkie Pie grinned and nodded. "Yes! I thought that the more ponies we had the more fun this sleepover would be!"

"Oh, I most certainly agree, darling. Shall we start with Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy?" Rarity suggested.

"Fluttershy has actually had a pretty long day," Pinkie pointed out. "She had a lot to deal with during her work taking care of her animal friends. We should just let her sleep for now; I'm sure she'll get some cider, though."

"Very well, I suppose you are right. To Rainbow Dash's house then?"

"To Rainbow Dash's house!" said Twilight.

The four of them walked for a few minutes, chatting excitedly with each other about the following morning, and in a few short minutes they had reached Rainbow Dash's floating cloud house. The lights were off, meaning that their pegasus friend had gone to bed for the night, but they hoped that they could reach her.

"Oh Rainbow Daaaaaash!" Pinkie Pie called. "We're going to go to Sweet Apple Acres to camp out before cider season starts!"

The four of them heard a noise coming from inside Rainbow's house and within a few seconds, Rainbow Dash wearily poked her head out of one of the windows. She groaned and rubbed her eyes with her hooves. "Waddya want, Pinkie Pie?"

"We're going to go camp out at Sweet Apple Acres so we can be there when cider season starts! Do you wanna come?" Pinkie replied.

Rainbow Dash groaned again and leaned her head against the windowsill. "It’s too late for a party, Pinkie Pie. I'm going back to bed."

Pinkie shook her head and reached a hoof out to her friend. "Wait, this isn't a party it's a... sleepover." It was too late; Rainbow Dash had already gone back inside her home. Realizing that she wasn't coming with them, the four of them looked at each other and shrugged.

They walked directly to Sweet Apple Acres now, stopping only to explain to the ponies that they ran into what they were doing. To Pinkie's utter delight, most of the ponies that they ran into seemed just as excited about the idea of camping out in front of Sweet Apple Acres as she was, and soon a line of ponies with tents and sleeping bags had formed behind Pinkie, Rarity, Spike, and Twilight.

When the mob of ponies reached Sweet Apple Acres, there was a brief moment of silence as everypony stared at the stretch of land next to the already erected cider stand. The single beat ended, and a storm of dust kicked up as everypony made a mad dash for the best positions in line. Rarity ran towards the fence, dodging Lyra and Cheerilee for a position. A glance to the left revealed that Pinkie Pie had already set up her tent a few hooves away from the stand, and Rarity made the dash for second place. However, as the chaos died down, Rarity found herself behind Twilight and Spike in line. She could still see the apple cider stand fairly well, and thus she knew that she would be sure to receive some cider come morning.

Rarity set up her tent behind Twilight and got in to settle down for the night. Before she could, Twilight poked her head out of her tent. "Psst, Rarity! Are you asleep yet?"

"Not yet." Rarity giggled. "I just got into my tent, but I don't know if I can sleep right now. I'm so excited for cider season!"

"Me too!" A dreamy look crossed Twilight's face, and she licked her lips. "The cider from last year was so wonderful, and I've always heard that it gets better and better every year!"

The two talked for a few more hours about what the cider would be like before they both agreed that sleep was in order, as both of them had much to do the following day and they didn't want to be tired out for the morning rush.

Rarity fired up her horn and zipped her tent shut. She curled up snugly in her sleeping bag and slowly drifted off to dreamland. Before she knew it, she was awoken by the sound of Pinkie Pie talking excitedly to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, the latter of which did not sound happy.

Rarity stretched and rubbed her eyes sleepily as she emerged from her tent just in time to see Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy go glumly to the back of the line. She felt pity for Fluttershy as the she had been too tired to do something like this last night, but Rainbow Dash was perfectly able to join them if she had merely listened. Oh well, Rainbow had been pretty tired last night too, she supposed.

Twilight came out of her tent too, and she fixed her frazzled mane with a quick spell before using her magic to transport her tent back to her home. Once Rarity exited her tent, Twilight did the same for Rarity. Rarity thanked her friend, prompting a smile from Twilight.

Her tent put away, Rarity got in line behind Twilight and Spike. Twilight turned her head back towards Spike. "Isn't this exciting, Spike? Opening day of cider season!"

Spike grinned and nodded. "Yeah! That means only thirty more days 'til sapphire season!"

Rarity rolled her eyes, preferring to focus on cider season right now. She couldn't understand how Spike could waste precious gems like that by eating them.

Applejack's amplified voice echoed throughout the farm, cutting all conversations short. "Attention everypony! Cider season is now officially open!"

The ponies in line chattered excitedly among themselves as the ponies began buying and drinking their cider. Rarity was only slightly surprised to see Pinkie Pie walk by, her forelegs full of cider mugs. Rarity smiled at the antics of the her friend. She definitely saved up for cider season.

Getting there early had served Rarity well, and soon she placed her two bits into the money box. Apple Bloom pushed down on a lever and the mug under the tap began filling to the brim with delicious cider. Rarity grinned and picked up the mug, downing the whole thing in one gulp. She liked her lips and sighed contentedly. It was heavenly, just like every year.

She thanked Applejack and moved forward so other ponies could get their cider. She walked towards Twilight who was talking to Spike. "Wasn't that cider amazing, Spike? I knew that it was good, but that was without a doubt the best cider that I have ever had. They're right when they say that it improves every year!"

"Oh without a doubt. It just goes to show you that the Apple family is the best at everything Apple related!" said Spike.

"Without a doubt indeed, Spike!" said Rarity with a smile. She was never so glad that she hadn't bashed Applejack's brains in with a rock than at this moment.

Twilight, Spike, and Rarity stayed around and watched the ponies drinking cider. They loved pony watching together whenever they got the chance and seeing the happiness of so many ponies was fun for them. However, they still hadn't seen Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash.

“Do you think they'll get any cider today?" asked Rarity as she watched Big Macintosh move the third to the last barrel in position.

Twilight flattened her ears and looked down the line. "I sure hope so. I would hate for them to miss out on this batch. It was quite extraordinary."

A few minutes later, they saw Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy moving quickly forward in line. If they didn't get any, it would be very close. There were only about a dozen ponies in line before them as Big Macintosh moved the last barrel into position. Apple Bloom began pumping cider out of the tap anew. Rarity and Twilight held their breaths as Fluttershy came up. Apple Bloom pushed the lever down and to their relief; Fluttershy's mug was filled up with cider. She moved forward so Rainbow Dash could get hers. Apple Bloom pushed down the lever and... the cider sputtered out. Well, that was the end of cider for today. Rainbow Dash looked heartbroken but her expression changed to one of anger almost immediately. Applejack moved in front of the stand to address the ponies that had not gotten any cider.

"Uh... sorry everypony, that's it for today," she said. A disappointed groan echoed throughout the line. Rainbow would have none of this weak apology.

"Surprise, surprise! You ran out again!" Rainbow snapped.

"Yeah, you always run out!" growled another pony next to her. Applejack continued to give apologies and promises of more cider the next day if they would just be patient.

Rarity turned to Twilight and frowned. "How rude of them! I mean, yes it's disappointing that they don't get any cider, but I mean really, cider season lasts for a whole three weeks!"

Twilight nodded. "Yeah. Although, if I did know what I was in for, I would be pretty disappointed that I didn't get any as well."

"I suppose you're right," said Rarity. "I hope that Rainbow eventually does get some cider. She gets angrier every year."

Twilight gasped. "She hasn't ever gotten any Sweet Apple Acres cider?"

"I'm afraid not, darling." Rarity sighed. "Basically cider season for Rainbow Dash means standing in line just to be disappointed three weeks out of the year."

Twilight jaw dropped as she stared at Rainbow. "Poor Rainbow Dash! Still, she could have just come with us last night."

Before Rarity could respond, the two of them heard a noise coming from down the road to their left. They turned their heads to look at what was the source of the noise and they were surprised to see a sort of automated carriage chugging its way down the road. The ponies all gathered around to see exactly what the meaning was of this new invention that had come to their town.

The automated carriage slowed down and completely stopped right next to the cider stand, knocking over the fence nearby to the irritation of Granny Smith. Before the ponies could question this further, two ponies popped out of the strange device, two unicorn stallions in ghastly blue striped jackets with bow ties and topped of with a straw hat. They looked suspicious to Rarity, but she decided to give them a chance. Old Rarity would have killed them just because she could. But she was New Rarity now, and New Rarity didn't just kill strangers anymore.

To Rarity's surprise, the two told the town that their machine made cider. Even Old Rarity wouldn't have killed the two of them now. She got to drink more cider today. They demonstrated their machine after borrowing some apples from the Apples and their machine started producing barrels of cider far faster than the Apple family possibly could. The two ponies, who seemed to be twins, called themselves Flim and Flam. Odd names, to be sure, but she wouldn't judge them on that.

The two seemed to be negotiating a deal with the Apple family about going into the cider business together. Ooh, that would be an interesting prospect. Rainbow Dash could finally get her cider now! However, to Rarity's surprise, the Apples didn't seem to want to deal with the two of them. Rarity thought that it would be a win-win for everypony involved. Pinkie Pie walked over to Rarity and Twilight.

"Pinkie Pie darling, what is going on between the Apples and the brothers?" asked Rarity.

"Well Flim and Flam are being super-duper mean about the deal that they're trying to make! They want seventy five percent of all apple cider sales that come out of Sweet Apple Acres."

Twilight and Rarity gasped simultaneously. "But that's just absolutely ridiculous!" said Twilight. "They'd lose the farm if they agreed to that deal!"

"Yeah," said Pinkie Pie as she looked towards the Apple family who seemed to have denied the deal by now as Flim and Flam looked irritated but still smug. "I don't know why they think the Apples would ever agree to that deal!" Twilight and Rarity nodded and at that moment, Flam jumped up on his machine.

"Don't you worry everypony! There'll be plenty of cider for all of you!" said Flam. Normally Rarity would have been pleased by this, but she saw Flim lean in say something to Applejack. Applejack gulped and began shaking where she stood, her pupils having shrunk to pinpricks.

A few minutes later, the brothers hopped onto their remarkable machine and drove off. feeling that they were needed by their friend, Twilight and Rarity quickly dashed over to Applejack as soon as the brothers were out of sight.

"Hey y'all," said Applejack in her best attempt at casual conversation. "Did ya enjoy yer cider?"

"Of course I did, Applejack, but please tell me that you didn't agree to that nasty deal!" said Rarity.

"Of course we didn't, but they said we'll have to be competitors now!" Applejack grimaced and looked down the road where the brothers had departed. "They're gonna try to run us outta business."

Twilight glanced uneasily in the direction the brothers had driven off in. "Well how can they do that? The ponies of this town are loyal right? They'd never throw you aside to get more cider... right?"

"Ah just don't know, Twilight," Applejack muttered. "Ah just don't know."

* * * *

Rarity awoke the next morning and looked at her clock. Rarity groaned to herself and muttered under her breath. It was eleven o' clock and the cider would surely be long gone by this point, so there was no point in trying to get more. Still, she had gotten some yesterday, and there was certainly no need to get some every single day of cider season.

Rarity got up out of bed and went into her workroom. As long as she didn't have wonderful, wonderful cider to drink, she might as well get some work done. She stretched a bit before walking downstairs to work on her latest creation. She had recently begun work on a red dress that she was making for a mare who said that she was using it to draw the attention of stallions in large crowds. It seemed like a silly thing to her but she had paid for it, and Rarity would do her best to make sure that this particular mare loved it.

She adjusted her glasses and began working on the midsection of the dress. Oh, this particular mare had the strangest proportions, sort of an hourglass figure, but nothing that Rarity couldn't handle with ease. She hummed to herself while she worked, Giggle at the Ghosties, stopping abruptly when it struck her just what she was humming. She checked the room to see if Sweetie Belle was listening and breathed a sigh of relief when it seemed that she wasn't. It was best that she didn't seem like she was missing her old way of life.

Rarity shuddered. To think that she had actually used to do that! The thought was horrifying to Rarity. Almost every night for the first few months she would wake up screaming in terror, dreaming about how Sweetie Belle had murdered Scarlet Tomato, how she had left three fillies orphaned when she had killed their mother and oldest sister, how Scootaloo had turned out even though Rarity had butchered her parents. She didn't know how she lived with herself anymore. She supposed that the Elements of Harmony helped control the grief and regret inside of her.

Rarity moved the needle down into the dress, stitching it up to... no, no she wasn't doing that. She was plunging a knife into somepony's chest! Rarity squealed as she saw the blood seep out of the wound. "No, this can't be a dream. I wasn't asleep!" She looked down at her right hoof and sure enough, it was holding a large knife that was plunged into the chest of a pony that was strapped down to her table and weakly struggling to get out.

Rarity gasped and attempted to pull the knife out but it wouldn't budge. She struggled to get it out, apologizing profusely to the pony that she had just murdered. If she could get the knife out than maybe this pony wouldn't die. She could get her to a hospital and she wouldn't have fresh blood on her hooves.

Rarity stopped trying to pull the knife out and finally looked at the pony she was killing. Twilight. She had just stabbed Twilight.

"No! Twilight! I didn't mean to I'm so sorry!" She buried her face in Twilight's shoulder and gently stroked her mane. Blood was staining her white coat as it had done so many times before.

Twilight blinked slowly, tears dripping from her eyes. She weakly opened her mouth and tried stuttering out her last words. "Rarity... I... thought that you didn't... have to do this anymore," she moaned. "I... I thought that you were... free."

"I was free! I don't know how this happened, Twilight! I don't know what you're doing here!"

"Y.-you monster," choked Twilight. "I should have let Celestia destroy you."

Rarity nodded. "Yes, I know, Twilight."

Twilight opened her mouth to speak more, but her breaths were becoming more and more labored. "R...Rarity." Twilight's voice was softer than ever. It would not be long now.

Rarity grabbed Twilight's hoof in one of hers and leaned in. "Yes, Twilight?"

"Knock knock."

Knock knock knock.

Rarity snapped out of her vision and back to reality. She looked down at the dress that she had been making. She had pulled so hard with the needle and thread that the outfit was scrunched up and tears were staining the red fabric.

Rarity wiped her eyes. It had been almost a year since she had had her last episode - she didn't really know what else to call them - and she had thought that she could repress them. They were always the same; she was killing one of her best friends. It was Applejack last time. However, she still ranked the one where she killed Fluttershy by cutting off her face when she was still alive as the worst one.

Knock knock knock.

Oh, right, the door. Rarity wiped away the last of her tears and answered the door. To her surprise, she found Twilight and a very scared looking Applejack on the other side. "Oh my goodness, whatever is the matter Applejack?"

"Can we come in?" asked Twilight. "Something just terrible has happened."

"Oh yes of course!" Rarity moved aside so the two could enter her house. "Come to the kitchen and tell me everything at once!"

The three of them walked over to her kitchen and sat down at her table. Applejack still had the same scared look on her face so Twilight decided that she had better start. "So, Flim and Flam came by again today when they ran out of cider. They tried to sell some cider to the ponies that didn't have any, but Applejack stopped them because they were made from her apples. So, long story short, the brothers and the Apples made a bet that whoever can produce the most cider in one hour tomorrow gains the exclusive right to sell cider here in Ponyville."

Applejack began shaking in fear now. Rarity got up and poured her a glass of water that she promptly made Applejack drink. Applejack's shaking slowed down and her demeanor seemed more centered. "Thanks Rarity," she muttered. "Ah'm just so worried about this whole thing. If we lose we lose the farm!"

"How dreadful!" cried Rarity. "Do you think that you can beat their machine?"

Applejack shrugged and took another sip of water. "Ah dunno, but we sure as hay aren't gonna let them take it without a fight. Ah just hope that we can beat that contraption of theirs, otherwise... well, otherwise we have to leave Ponyville and go work on the farms of one of our relatives."

"You can't stay here?" asked Rarity. "I'm sure that you can find a job somewhere."

Applejack snorted and shook her head. "Like where?"

Rarity didn't have an answer so the trio sat in silence for a while. Twilight had her hoof over Applejack's shoulder and Applejack seemed to be contemplating her glass of water. However, after a few moments a look of fury came across Applejack's face and she smashed the glass on the table.

"They can't do this to us!" Applejack slammed her hoof on the table. "Our family has worked that farm for generations! Mah parents are buried there, they can't just have it!" Twilight used her magic to repair the glass but Applejack seemed too angry to notice anything at the moment. Applejack had gotten up from the table and was now pacing around the kitchen angrily. "Ah'd rather be dead than see the farm of my ancestors in the hooves of those... those... heathens! They're a disgrace to the name of apples!" Twilight and Rarity exchanged uneasy looks but Applejack didn't notice. Rarity swore that Applejack's eyes turned a little red. "If they win tomorrow Ah'm gonna go into where they are sleepin' with an axe and—"

Twilight gasped. "Applejack!"

Twilight's interjection seemed to bring Applejack out of her rant. Tears filled her eyes. "Heavens to Betsy, what did Ah just say?" Applejack's bottom lip began quivering and the next second brought about a flurry of tears as Applejack began crying in earnest now. Her legs betrayed her and she curled up into a ball on the floor.

Rarity put a gentle hoof on her shoulder. "Applejack, darling, are you alright?" The question sounded foolish in her mind, but she didn't know what else to say.

"N-n-no, Ah a-ain't alright. D-d-did you hear w-w-what Ah j-just said?" Applejack whimpered and covered her eyes with her forelegs. "Ah w-w-wanted to k-k-k-kill them!"

"Oh Applejack, we know that you would never harm a fly! You have just had a great injustice done to your family and you don't know how to react to it." Rarity gave Applejack a comforting smile and placed a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "But know this: even if you do lose, each and every one of us will help your entire family. Who knows? Ponyville might not stand for those two forever either."

Applejack wiped her eyes with the back of her hoof. "But what happens if they don't? Mah parents are buried there, Twilight, you and Ah both know that they won't respect that!"

"I promise you, Applejack, I promise that I will do everything in my power to make sure that they do." Rarity sat down next to Applejack and began gently rubbing her back. "Celestia help them if they so much look at the graves of your parents the wrong way!"

Applejack flashed Rarity a watery smile and finally managed to stand up. She wiped her eyes again and pulled Rarity into a hug. "Ah don't know what Ah'd do without you girls. Ah know that no matter what happens, you'll be by my side all the way."

Rarity smiled and nuzzled Applejack's shoulder. "We're family, Applejack. I believe in protecting my family."

Applejack managed to control her sobs and she let go of Rarity. "Thanks to the both of ya. Ah'm glad that Ah have you here to help me through stuff like this." She wiped her eyes one more time and began walking towards the door. "Ah gotta go back to the farm. We have a lot of preparin' to do for tomorrow and Ah gotta get to it."

"Let us know if you need anything, anything at all," said Twilight.

Applejack nodded. "Ah will, Twi. Ah will." Applejack took a deep breath as she walked out the door. Rarity looked sadly at the door for a few seconds before turning back to Twilight. To her surprise, Twilight was looking at her with a look of unease.

Rarity raised an eyebrow at her. "Is something the matter?"

"Rarity, would you mind explaining what all that was about?" asked Twilight.

Rarity frowned and cocked her head. "Why whatever do you mean, darling?"

"That stuff you said about how things would end up badly for the brothers if they do stuff like desecrate the graves of AJ's parents."

Rarity's eyes widened as she realized what Twilight was getting at and raised a hoof defensively. "Twilight, that part of me is gone! I have no intention of harming those two, even if they do win tomorrow. I haven't killed anypony for almost two years now and there have been dozens of ponies that I would have killed if I hadn't been cleansed by the Elements." Rarity smiled reassuringly and put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "I do wish the two of them ill luck tomorrow, but I do not wish them death."

Twilight stared at Rarity for a few seconds, something that deeply unnerved the white unicorn but she feared what Twilight would say if she spoke up. Her suspicion seemed to have put her in a curious mood.

Finally, to Rarity's relief, Twilight scoffed quietly to herself and shook her head. "I know that you won't kill them," she mumbled. "I don't even know why I was worried about it. You're right, that part of you is gone."

"Forever if I have my way," insisted Rarity.

Twilight smiled and pulled Rarity into a brief hug. "I know." Twilight glanced back at the door. "Well, I have to go too. I have lots of studying to catch up on."

"Best of luck to you with that Twilight," said Rarity.

Twilight walked out of the kitchen towards the door to Rarity's home. Before she left, Rarity saw her stop to confusedly examine the dress that Rarity was making, and Rarity felt her stomach tie itself into knots. She couldn't help but suspect that Twilight knew that the mess there was the result of a vision, for the lack of a better word, of Rarity murdering her.

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief as Twilight shrugged and exited the shop.

* * * *

Rarity awoke bright and early the next day. There was no way in Tartarus that she was going to miss the contest between the Flim-Flam Brothers and the Apple family. She didn't even stop to say goodbye to Sweetie Belle, who had woken up a few minutes before Rarity did, as she rushed out the door to Sweet Apple Acres.

She arrived just as Twilight and Pinkie Pie did. They snaked through the large crowd that had formed to see if they couldn't find Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.

Within a few minutes their search became successful and the five friends watched as the Apple family prepared for their upcoming battle. Rarity saw that Flim and Flam were simply lounging around on their machine, smug smiles on their faces. The sight of the two of them being so callous with their attempts to destroy the livelihood of a family of innocent, hardworking ponies made Rarity's blood boil.

"Do you think they can do it?" asked Fluttershy.

"I sure hope so." Rainbow Dash pawed at the ground and fluttered her wings uneasily. "I don't see how they can right now, though. It only takes a few seconds to produce a barrel of cider with that machine."

"Well we shouldn't jump to conclusions with how well they're gonna do until we see both in action," said Twilight. "Who knows? They could be much faster." Rarity noted the tone in Twilight's voice. She didn't sound like she believed what she was saying at all. Twilight walked uneasily up to Applejack who was kicking away at a kicking bag, no doubt preparing to buck apples. Rarity turned to Rainbow Dash.

"How do you feel about them now, Rainbow Dash?"

Rainbow glared at Rarity. "If I had known what kind of swindlers they were then I would never have even touched the handle of any cup of cider that they gave me!" she said. "I want to see the Apples whup them just as much as you do!"

Before Rarity could respond, the amplified voice of the mayor rang throughout the morning air. "Attention everypony!" said the Mayor as Twilight walked back over to rejoin the group of friends. "The teams have one hour to produce as much cider as they can! After which, the barrels will be counted and the winner will be named the sole cider provider for all of Ponyville!" The Mayor looked at both teams in succession. "Are both teams ready?"

"Ready!" said Applejack determinedly.

"Ready!" said Flim and Flam together.

"Then let's..." the hourglass timer was inverted and the sand began to slip to the bottom.”...GO!"

The Apple family immediately began to run to their respective stations. Applejack began bucking trees as fast as she could and it was all Apple Bloom could do to catch them as they fell. Apple Bloom rushed the buckets over to Granny Smith who began sorting the apples as fast as she could, throwing the good ones into a large press that was powered by Big Macintosh. Within only a few minutes, the Apples had filled up one barrel of cider.

Rarity smiled with joy and looked to see what the brothers were doing. Surely they couldn't have... Rarity gasped when she saw a stack of six full barrels behind their machine.

The next half hour was torture for the five friends to watch. Every barrel filled by the Apples was matched with three by the twins. Rarity relayed her observation to Twilight who had a look of grim determination on her face. She walked up to the Mayor with the other four following. "Miss Mayor, are honorary family members allowed to help in the competition?"

The Mayor frowned at the question. "Well, I'm not sure." She turned to the brothers. "Flim, Flam, would you object to honorary family members helping?"

Rarity's frustration of at the two brothers continued to rise as they still wouldn't wipe those smug grins off of their faces.
"Are you kidding?" said Flim.

"We don't care if the whole kingdom of Canterlot helps, it's a lost cause!" Flam replied.

The Mayor turned back to Twilight. "Well, I guess it’s okay," she said, though Rarity could tell by her tone that she was still a little uncertain. She turned to Applejack. "Applejack, what do you think?"

Applejack delivered a powerful blow to the nearest tree before answering. Rarity saw that Applejack looked like she was about to drop from exhaustion right then and there, but she smiled at her friends all the same. "Ah think Ah'd love to have the rest of my family helpin' out."

"All right!" said Pinkie, Fluttershy, Rainbow, and Rarity in unison. The four quickly lined up to get their assignments from Twilight. She put Rarity on quality control and after a motivational sentence, the race continued.

Rarity rushed over to the unsorted barrels full of apples and used her magic to bring the closest one towards her and began sorting.

"Lovely, lovely, horrid, lovely, horrid, lovely, horrid," she said as she sorted, assigning the title to the respective apples. On and on it went, sorting apples with her magic and throwing them into the press. She started to get into 'The Zone' and soon she was totally immersed in sorting apples. Nothing else mattered right now, only sorting the apples. She vaguely heard Applejack say something about them being back into the competition, but she pushed it aside for now and kept right on sorting. Sort apples, that's all she had to do right now, sort apples. Nothing else mattered except sorting apples. Sort the apples, sort the apples, sort...

"Time's up!" said The Mayor. Rarity immediately snapped out of 'The Zone' and she put the apple that she had been about to sort back into the bucket before dropping from exhaustion. The sorting had taken a lot more out of her than she had imagined.

Rarity lied on the ground, trying to catch her breath. Had they won? Would those nasty ponies leave Ponyville? Rarity sure hoped so because if they did win, she wondered if the urge to murder them would return. But no, the Elements had cleansed her; even if they beat up Applejack, they still wouldn't earn a spot in her basement, and she would just let the law handle it. She wasn't going to kill them, they weren't going to die. Although, Rarity began to wonder why she kept coming back to the issue of whether or not she would kill them.

At that moment, the four words that Rarity had hoped that she would not hear were spoken by The Mayor. "Flim and Flam win!"

Rarity bolted up and saw the gargantuan stack of barrels behind the brothers. They easily had at least three times as many barrels as the Apples did. Rarity's jaw dropped. What were they going to do now? She saw Rainbow about to rip both brothers a new one but she was stopped by Applejack. Then the brothers began laughing. Laughing. They were laughing at the misery of the Apple family. It was a disgusting caw of a laugh.

Blinked and when she opened her eyes and suddenly found herself back in her clearing. Curious, her eyes scanned the only to be met with the sight of filly self backing away from the three bullies who intended to do her serious harm. She saw her younger self spot the rock and inch towards it, desperately hoping that she wouldn't need to use it.

As Dug advanced, filly Rarity fired up her horn and a magical glow engulfed the rock. "Rarity!" she called out, desperately to her younger self, hoping that she could prevent her from doing this terrible deed. To her surprise, her filly self seemed to hear her and she dropped the rock. She turned towards the source of the noise but was immediately knocked back when Dug's hoof connected with her face.

Rarity could only watch on in horror as her filly self was ruthlessly beaten. Kicker was living up to his name and kicking Rarity in the side while Annie bit Rarity's leg. Dug continued punching Rarity in the head, not caring in the slightest that Rarity was screaming. Both Raritys were screaming at what was happening to the younger one, but neither were in a position to stop it.

Eventually, filly Rarity managed to use the last of her strength to push Dug off of her and she began running away. Dug gave a snarl of anger and picked up the rock that Rarity was going to use to prevent this very thing from happening to her.

He threw it at her and it connected with the back of her skull. Filly Rarity fell down to the ground like a marionette whose strings had just been cut and Adult Rarity screamed in terror and rushed over to her filly self.

She scooped up her motionless younger self and cradled her in her forelegs. "Shh, it's okay, Rarity. They're not going to hurt you. You'll be just fine." Tears began pouring from her face and she leaned in to check the filly's heartbeat.

It wasn't there. She was dead.

Rarity whimpered and began trying to wipe the blood off, as if by some random chance she was cleaned up then she wouldn't be dead. It wouldn't stop, though, the blood wouldn't stop coming out!

Laughter, she heard more laughter. She glanced up to see Dug, Kicker, and Annie laughing at her. Only it wasn't their laugh, the laughs were those of Flim and Flam.

Rarity snapped out of her vision in time to see Applejack sadly walking away. The brothers had already set up a stand to sell their cider. Rarity saw that the town looked horrified to see that the Apples had lost. How could they be horrified now of all times?! They were the ones who had tolerated the brothers, and now look at what was happening!

Tears began to form in Applejack's eyes. Rarity wanted to go over to her, to comfort her, to tell her that everything was going to be alright, that the Flim Flam Brothers were just a terrible nightmare that all of them were sharing, but she knew that they weren't. The brothers were very real and they had just kicked the Apple family off of the farm.

Rarity began to cry as well and she looked over to the cider stand that the brothers had set up. To her surprise, not to mention joy, the townsfolk seemed very unhappy with the cider that they had just been served. They were complaining about it and no amount of begging from the brothers seemed to do the trick.

Rarity's jaw dropped as the brothers did a little dance move before they jumped on their machine and zoomed away from Ponyville.

Rarity watched the wretched contraption drive away from the farm with an increasing level of joy in her heart. They... they were gone! Yes! They were gone!

* * * *

The cider that Rarity had drunk that day had been the best that she had ever tasted. It was made even better by the fact that it was the fruits of not just the labor of the Apple family, but the other five friends as well. The whole town drank cider until nopony could drink anymore. Even Rainbow Dash managed to secure herself a cup or two. By the end of the day, the Apples still had at least a dozen barrels of leftover cider.

Rarity had gone home not long after the first members of the crowd had started to disperse. She had a lot of thinking to do.

She walked into her home and locked the door. Sweetie Belle had been picked up by her parents earlier that day, so there was no reason to worry about her.

Rarity glanced over at her storage closet briefly before she began pacing. "Rarity, when you heard those beastly stallions laugh... what did you see?"

"Well, Rarity, I think that you saw what would have happened if you hadn't killed those foals all those years ago."

"But how do I know that, Rarity?"

"What else could it have been?"

"I don't know, Rarity, but if it is what would have happened, does that mean that I was always destined to kill? Does that mean that fate made me into who I am? Am I supposed to be a murderer?"

"Rarity, I... I think so. If you hadn't killed Dug, you would be dead. If you had killed Dug but not the other two, then you would likely have been executed for his death and in either case, you wouldn't have become a wielder of an Element of Harmony! You needed to murder those three foals to save the lives of millions."

"Does that mean that it's my destiny? That I should kill until I can't kill anymore?"

"Rarity, you forget that you never saw it as a coincidence that you killed three foals and a few weeks later, your cutie mark appeared with three gems on it. That side of you is a part of who you are."

Rarity sighed and looked towards the closet that led to her secret room. Despite every ounce of common sense she possessed telling her not to; Rarity began walking towards the closet. She played the tune, the secret door opened up, and she walked down into her basement.

It was just like she had remembered it: the hides and manes covering her walls, protected from decay by her magic, the table where so many of her kills had been performed, the workbench that housed her knives, all of it just where it was supposed to be.

Over the course of the past eighteen months, Rarity had always wondered why she had not cleared out her basement. It was still enough evidence to get her executed but she still held on to it. Looking around now she remembered why: even if she was cleansed now, this was still a large part of who she was.

She walked over to her workbench and opened it up. Her collection of knives looked as shiny and sharp as the day that she had obtained them. Rarity picked up her butchers knife. The feeling of holding it in her hooves was like seeing an old friend for the first time in years.

At the touch of the handle of the knife, a jolt of what felt like electricity coursed through her foreleg. Only it wasn't painful and the feeling in her foreleg when the jolt faded away was akin to the one she felt when she finished up a relaxing day at the spa.

It felt... marvelous.

Taking a deep breath, she raised the knife high and swung it downwards as if imagining that it would connect with pony flesh instead of air.

There it was again, that wonderful, wonderful feeling that this was what she was meant to do. This was her place in the world and nothing, not event the Elements of Harmony, could change that. She could not change this side of her any more than she could change her cutie mark.

She knew what she had to do.

She smiled to herself as she placed the knife on her tray.

"I'm baaaack!"

* * * *

Three weeks. That's how long it had taken her to track down Flim and Flam. She kept her ears out for any information on the swindling duo every time she left Ponyville to make deliveries or meet with important clients, but her efforts were often fruitless.

Her patience was rewarded, though, when she found out that the duo was trying to peddle their wares in Trottingham. Rarity left for the small town at once.

Finding the brothers was not an issue at all. The two of them simply attracted attention wherever they went. They practically demanded it from everypony that they met, and she spotted them showing their machine to a few uninterested townsponies who quickly left them alone.

It was time for them to meet their makers.

Rarity intercepted them late at night, when their machine had long since powered down and they were about to turn in for the night. She approached them, giddy with excitement at what she was about to do. They saw her come up and watched her get closer with interest.

"Hellllooo boys," said Rarity in her overly-sweet voice.

Flim glanced over at his brother, then back to Rarity with a frown. "Uh, hi."

"Do we know you?" asked Flam.

"Oh I'm from Ponyville. I remembered seeing you two the last time you were there and I thought that I'd stop to say hello." The brothers looked at each other uneasily. Noting the unease, Rarity changed her tactic. "Well, there's another reason that I approached you. You see, it turns out that the Apple family has failed to pay their income tax for quite some time and they had to leave town in a hurry a few days ago. Since then, Sweet Apple Acres is available to buy. I saw you from across the street and figured that you two would get better use out of it than most ponies in Equestria."

Ah yes, that did the trick. The reaction from the brothers was almost immediate. "Do you really mean it?" asked Flim.

"Why, of course I do! Why in Equestria would I lie?"

Flam grinned eagerly and used his magic to power up their machine. "I think we have a farm to go buy, Flim!"

Rarity cleared her throat and raised a hoof before the two could speed off completely. "Oh, I'm going in that direction as well. Could you maybe give me a lift?"

Flim and Flam vigorously nodded. "I think it's the least we could do... uh, what's your name?"

"Oh, Annie," said Rarity sweetly.

She hopped on to the contraption which sped away into the night. Rarity smiled at herself. She didn't remember it being this easy. "How much longer until we get close to Ponyville?" asked Rarity after a few hours.

"Oh, a few minutes or so," said Flim.

"Wonderful," said Rarity. She opened her saddlebag and pulled out two familiar syringes. "Um, I hate to be a bother, but can you stop for a brief moment? I'm getting a little motion sick. Just a moment is all I need."

The brothers nodded in unison and Flim stopped the vehicle. Immediately Rarity stabbed the needles into their necks and both were unconscious immediately. Rarity hopped off of the machine and placed the two brothers into two potato sacks. She groaned as she pulled them off of their machine. They wouldn't be easy to transport back but she had darkness on her side.

Rarity turned their machine back on and drove it towards a nearby swamp. With a push of magic, she pushed it into the murky depths. The machine began to sink slowly and Rarity took great delight in watching it go down. However, after a few minutes it stopped sinking. Rarity's heart stopped. It was only three quarters of the way in. Rarity squeaked and ran towards the edge of the swamp. If worst came to worse, she may have to push it in herself. However, before Rarity could think more on that, the machine began to sink once more and Rarity let out a sigh of relief. The swamp took the whole thing.

Rarity had no trouble bringing the brothers back to her basement aside from their weight, but her magic helped with that a bit, and she secured them and waited for them to wake up.

She had to wait for a while before they did, but she wasn't disappointed by their reaction to their predicament. Flim looked around, horrified at what he saw. Flam merely screamed in pain.

Rarity had realized that she didn't have space for dual kills in her basement, she only had the one table, and so she had to improvise. She had hung a hook from her ceiling, a hook that was currently embedded in Flam's back.

"Why hello boys," Rarity chirped. "Glad to see that you're awake."

Flim turned his terrified gaze to Rarity while Flam merely contorted in pain more. "What's going on here?"

"Well, I have decided that I am going to play a little game with you," said Rarity as she hooked up a battery to the hook that held Flam. "I have a button here and your job is to tell me when to press it. Tell me to do it whenever you want me to. I am going to take this vegetable peeler here and go to work peeling off your skin bit-by-bit. Every time you press the button, I stop and button sends a volt of electricity into your brother here. Every time you press, I up the voltage but stop skinning you alive for a few minutes." Flim whimpered as Rarity picked up the vegetable peeler. She placed the button on the tray next to her. "The game begins... now!"

Rarity placed the vegetable peeler on Flim's right foreleg and began her work. "My, my, this is in top form today, isn't it?"

"Push it!" wailed Film. Rarity nodded and pushed the button. Flam convulsed as electricity coursed through his body.

"Oh, I forgot to mention, by the sixth push the voltage is fatal," said Rarity as she adjusted a dial that upped the voltage. She reached for the peeler again.

"No! Push the button!" cried Flim. Rarity nodded and pushed it once more. Flam screamed in pain and Rarity upped the voltage once more. The brothers made eye contact, each of them sporting a look of sorrow and pain. "I... I'm sorry brother."

"Don't let her kill me," Flam wailed.

Rarity rolled her eyes. "One of you isn't going to make it out of here alive. If Flim is still alive once I'm done peeling his skin off, I'll just move to slicing his flesh with a knife." She picked up the peeler once more and when Flim was silent, she began her work anew. Flim screamed in pain and began crying out each time Rarity ran the peeler over his skin. To Rarity's surprise, she heard Flam speak behind her.

"Push the button!" moaned Flam.

Rarity turned around and raised an eyebrow at him. "What was that?"

"Push the button," he repeated.

"No!" Flim wailed. Rarity paid him no heed and pushed the button. Flam convulsed some more and cried out in pain. Rarity upped the voltage.

"Push the button," said Flam once more. Rarity nodded and pushed it. Flim could only look on in horror as his brother kept insisting that Rarity push the button. True to Rarity's word, the sixth push was fatal and Flam hung lifeless from the hook. Rarity examined Flim. The skin on his leg was almost completely gone. However, much to her displeasure, Flim had fainted. She was about to groan, but she stopped herself when an idea struck her. She picked up a knife and got to work.

* * * *

Flim awoke an hour later, the memories from his last bout of consciousness returning in an instant and he began weakly struggling to get out of the straps.

"You know, it's very rude to pass out like that," Rarity scolded from behind Flim.

Flim looked towards where his brother was hanging and screamed in terror at the bloody mass that he saw. "What did you do to my brother?!"

"Well, let's see; the torso has been severed mid-thorax, there are no major organs remaining, his right foreleg has been severed above the elbow—"

"What did you do to his face?!"

"I cut it off," said Rarity.

Flim whimpered and tore his eyes away from the corpse. "Where is it?"

A maniacal giggle echoed throughout the basement. "Why, you're wearing it darling."

"W-what?"

"I cut off his face to make a sort of mask then I put it on your face. Simple enough?"

Film paused for a second then screamed louder than he had this entire time. Although this time, the screams were mixed with sobs of sorrow. Rarity rolled her eyes and took Flam's face off of Flim. She put it on her own. "Hey, let's make cider!" said Rarity in her best impression of Flam's voice. Film merely continued to sob and Rarity took his brother's face off.

Rarity grinned at the broken pony's sorrow and moved her tray closer to her. She looked at her victim with a smile and picked up her hammer. "Goodbye darling," she said happily. His eyes widened as Rarity raised the hammer. She swung downwards.

Rarity put her hammer down and jumped into the air with a squeal of joy. She scooped up some of Flim's blood and let it drizzle over her head before dancing around the room, humming the Winter Wrap-Up song that she had learned.

It was good to be back.

When I was a Little Filly and the Sun was Going Down

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Three weeks. That's how long it had been since the murders of Flim and Flam, and Rarity was beginning to become extremely frustrated with the down time that she had.

Before being cleansed by the Elements, she could stand going a few weeks or even a few months between kills. She would merely wait until the opportunity for another murder arose and she would take it. There was never any need to rush anything.

Now, though, all of that was different. It seemed that after almost two years if inaction on her part, her cravings to murder had become even stronger as if to make up for lost time.

Rarity was getting very anxious. She needed to make a kill soon or she couldn't be held responsible for what she was going to do! Sure she could control it now, but would she be able to later? Oh, she knew that she wouldn't attack her friends, but there were other ponies in the town that she would likely kill if she snapped. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, Snips and Snails, all ponies that she desperately wanted to kill but refrained from doing so as they were merely foals, and Rarity didn't kill foals. Still, the idea was mighty tempting when she thought about it.

Rarity found that when the urge to kill was rising inside of her, she often used the color red prominently in her designs. Her fiery dresses would command the attention of anypony who walked into her shops and to her delight, they were her best-sellers. However, even the success of the pure art that came out of her when she needed to kill did almost nothing to substitute for the real thing. The sale of a blood red dress did nothing to replace the pure elation that she felt when she was slicing out a nearly dead pony's spinal cord to display in front of her victim. Even thinking about it made Rarity's need become stronger.

Rarity put the final stitch in her latest blood red design, a little piece she called Forgotten Rain, and surveyed it quickly. It was her best design under these circumstances yet, but it was still not enough.

She placed the needle and thread inside of her kit and slammed the lid shut and let out a frustrated yell, nearly losing control and throwing her kit into the wall.

She. Needed. To. Kill!

She took a deep breath and put her kit away before angrily pacing around the room. Today was the worst day yet. She was clearly going into withdrawal at this point but this wasn't drugs, it was murder. The other days she managed to keep control of her need to an extent, but today was different. Rarity knew that a kill was necessary very soon or else she would do something that she regretted very much, something that would possibly lead to capture... and death.

She stormed out of Carousel Boutique and decided to take a walk. She didn't know where she was going or what she was going to do, but she just... needed to walk right now.

Rarity walked for what seemed to her to be like hours. It was daylight when she had started and now she saw that it was getting dark out. Still, the cool twilight air did her good and she was beginning to gain control of her urges once more.

By the time she figured that she should think about her surroundings, she found herself near a motel in the outskirts of Ponyville proper. She looked over the worn-down building with interest. She had forgotten that this place even existed, and she suspected most of the town had too. Could she... no, that wouldn't do at all. If even these ponies disappeared then someone would suspect something. If somepony suspected something then there would be an investigation and Twilight would surely hear about it and it wouldn't take a lot for her to suspect Rarity. Very little suspicious activity these days wouldn't have Twilight suspecting Rarity in some fashion. Thankfully, Twilight had never checked Rarity's basement and as such, she never saw the two new pony 'masks' that she had on her wall. She mused that she was expanding past hides and manes a decent amount these days.

Rarity took a few deep breaths before sitting down on a bench to rest for a bit before heading back to her house. Her dress did still need to be cleaned up a bit and displayed properly.

Rarity continued to sit on the bench as the sun continued to set. Yes, this walk had definitely been a good idea.
Suddenly, she heard a commotion in front of her. She turned her head to see a tiny Earth pony filly, she seemed to be about four or five years old, being angrily herded towards the motel by an Earth pony mare that Rarity assumed was her mother. The mother looked rather angry with the filly. Rarity strained her ears and tried to listen in on the conversation.

"I swear, you can be a real pain to have around sometimes, Sweetie," the mare snapped.

The filly's ears flattened. "But mommy, I didn't mean to do that."

The mare snorted and glared at her child. "We'll talk about it more in the morning; right now you need to get yourself into bed. If only your father was alive, he could deal with you instead of me having to."

Sweetie's eyes filled with tears and she cried all the way towards the motel. Rarity noted that they went into room one.

Rarity's jaw was open from shock. How could any mare say that to her filly? Rarity would never even considering saying it to Sweetie Belle, much less any child that she would have. How could she even think about saying those things to her child? The filly would be better off not being around that mare if those were the kinds of things that she said to her daughter.

A wide smile spread across Rarity's face as a beautiful, beautiful thought entered her head. Yes, that filly would be better off without her mother verbally abusing her like that, and that was something that Rarity could very easily make happen.

* * * *

Rarity walked back towards the motel with a new spring in her step. Finally, a new kill! After weeks of waiting, she finally had another pony to kill! She decided that she would do with the filly what she did with Scootaloo all those years ago: the Ponyville Orphanage. Although, she would probably drug her to make sure she stayed asleep during the trip over.

She saw the motel in the distance and as it got closer, she moved a little faster. Her urge to kill this verbally abusive mare was giving her new purpose and she knew that she could get back to being happy old Rarity once the night had ended.

As she approached the motel, she noticed that the light was on in cabin one. She carefully trotted over to the window and peeked inside. The mare was sitting on the bed, seemingly deep in thought and the filly was nowhere to be seen. Rarity assumed that she was simply in the other room.

Rarity was confused by the fact that the mare looked sad as well as contemplative. Did she regret what she said earlier or was she merely wishing the filly's father was still alive? It didn't really matter to Rarity one way or the other and she quietly moved over to the door. She was just about to open the door when she heard the mare move around on the bed and the light switch off. Good, it seemed that she had just gone to bed. This would be easier than she thought.

Rarity tried the door handle to see if it was locked and she found that it wasn't. Rarity grinned. Ponies were far too trusting of their surroundings.

She gently pushed the door open and took a tiny syringe out of her saddle bags. Once the mare was knocked out, she would knock out the filly and give her to the orphanage before dealing with the nasty mare.

She tip-hooved closer to the bed and expertly stabbed one syringe into the mare's neck. The mare gave a grunt of pain and swatted at the syringe before sitting up and turning the light on. She turned around and her eyes landed on Rarity. She gave a gasp of shock and clearly she wanted to cry for help but the drug was already taking its effect.

"W...Who are you and...wha...what are y...you..." The mare's speech became increasingly slurred as the drugs took effect. Rarity had to hold back a chuckle. Any second now she would be unconscious.

Rarity smiled at her. "Just go to sleep now and everything will be okay," she soothed. "I'll make sure your daughter is well taken care of."

The mare gave her a horrified stare before turning her head towards the other room. With a strength that Rarity was surprised she had, the mare pushed herself off of her bed and began dragging herself towards her child's room. However, the drugs were too powerful and few seconds later she was still on the ground.

Rarity gave a satisfied smile and turned towards the other room to deal with the filly only to find her already awake and staring in horror at her unconscious mother. Rarity gasped and took a tentative step backwards.

Sweetie looked at Rarity with wide eyes. "Miss, what's wrong with my mommy? Who are you?" she whimpered. The child was obviously terrified and to some extent, Rarity was too. The filly quietly walked over to her mother and began shaking her. "Mommy, wake up mommy, what's wrong with you?" The filly began crying.

Rarity was frozen to the spot. The filly would certainly remember her even if she dropped her off at the orphanage. The ponies who ran it would ask her about her parents and she would undoubtedly be able to describe Rarity. Even if she was only a filly, her testimony would undoubtedly be able to implicate Rarity in the disappearance of her mother. Rarity began to inwardly panic. Did she have to...?

The filly walked over to Rarity and tried to pull her over to her mother. "Please, miss, we gotta get my mother to a hospital! I-I think something's wrong with her! Please, miss, you gotta help me!" she begged.

Rarity was close to tears now but she couldn't make a choice here. Her basement, she had to get the mother into her basement.

Rarity used her magic to take a smaller syringe out of her saddlebag and wordlessly she stuck it into the filly's neck. The filly gave Rarity a sleepily confused look before collapsing next to her mother.

* * * *

Rarity's transportation of the filly and her mother had gone off without a hitch, just like it always did. The mother was unconscious on Rarity's table and the filly was carefully wrapped up in the potato sack as if it were a blanket. Rarity hoped dearly that the filly wouldn't wake up, and then she could figure out what to do with her. She didn't want to kill her, she couldn't kill her!

... Right?

The thought flickered in her mind that she could still reverse this. She would just put them back in their motel room and with any luck they would see this as just a bad dream. No harm done, no harm done at all. Yes, that sounded like a wonderful idea. Rarity reached for the straps that held the mother down but reality caused her to pull her hoof back at the last second. No, they couldn't both have the same bad dream.

The mother groaned and groggily woke up. Rarity merely observed her silently as the mother realized what was happening to her. Rarity glanced at her tray as the mother screamed in terror. She had been so lost in thought that she didn't even pick out any knives.

The mother saw Rarity and began panicking. "Please don't hurt my daughter!" she pleaded.

Rarity managed to put on a brave face and gained a little resolve once she remembered how this mare had treated the young, innocent filly. "Why not? If I kill her now then you'll be rid of her just like you wanted. I seem to recall you saying that you wished her father were still alive so you wouldn't have to deal with her," said Rarity coldly.

The mother's mouth dropped open and she laid back on the table. Her head slowly turned to her sleeping daughter. "I didn't mean to say that," she whispered. "It was very, very, very wrong of me and I didn't mean it. I apologized to her the second we were inside. I had had a long day and she had knocked over a display case in a grocery store we had just come from. It made a huge mess but that doesn't justify my words to her. I...I was gonna make it up to her when we woke up, I promised her that I would make it up to her. I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it."

Each word the mare said in her defense was like a great flood, whittling away the rock that was Rarity's resolve. She wanted to believe that the mare was only saying that so Rarity would spare her life, but deep down Rarity knew that this mare was telling the truth.

Rarity and the mare stared at each other for a long time; neither saying anything for fear of upsetting the other. Rarity wanted to say something, anything at all to break the silence, but no words came. The mare was slowly calming down, but the horror of the situation that she found herself in was still etched on her face.

When she could no longer meet the suddenly piercing gaze of the mare, Rarity broke off the stare. She had planned a torturous night for her. She was going to carve the words that she had said to her daughter into her flesh, but now she couldn't do that. No, it would be a quick and painless death now. Rarity owed her that much.

Rarity opened up her workbench and pulled out a sharp hunting knife. She knew just where to stab her to instantly kill her and she would do it as fast as she could. She used her magic to levitate it and walked back over to the mare who began hyperventilating and sobbing when she saw the knife.

Tears were beginning to fall down Rarity's face now too and she looked down at the instrument of death in her hoof. "I...I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I don't want to do this anymore."

"You don't have to!" pleaded the mare. "You can let us go and we won't tell anypony about this!"

"Oh don't give me that," Rarity groaned. "Look around you! It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I'm a serial killer. You'd blab to the first pony you made eye contact with. I'd be arrested within five minutes of letting you go."

"But you'd be free from all of this," said the mare. "If you don't want to do this then at least you would know that in the end you were merciful, that you didn't kill a mother and her innocent filly. You would at least have that."

The tears were falling fast and hard now, wetting the blade of the knife. There was truth to the words of the mare. She could end all of this with an act of mercy and die knowing that an innocent filly was safe in her mother's hooves.

All of a sudden the situation turned from terrible to an all-out nightmare for Rarity.

"MOMMY!!"

Rarity and the mare turned to see that the filly had woken up and was running towards her trapped mother. She scrambled onto the table and curled up into a ball on her mother's chest. "Please don't hurt my mommy!"

Rarity was only barely able to keep herself from dissolving into hysterical sobs. As it was she was openly weeping.

The filly did her best to wrap her forelegs around her mother as she cried into her chest. The mare was crying as well and for a few minutes, the basement was filled with the sounds of pure sorrow and fear from everypony in the room. Rarity's hold on the knife completely went away and it clattered onto the ground. Rarity's knees gave way and she was lying on the ground with her back up against the wall, crying her eyes out.

The filly turned her head towards Rarity and looked at her with tear filled eyes. "Please don't hurt my mommy. She didn't do anything to you, please let her go."

"S...Sweetie, you need to get off of mommy right now," said the mare.

"No!" said Sweetie, hugging her mother tightly.

"Mommy will be okay, Sweetie, but I need you to be very brave for mommy right now. In a few minutes we'll go home and we'll be happy together. We'll go to Fillydelphia and see that play that you love so much and we'll be happy together, but you need to be brave for mommy right now, you need to be brave."

Sweetie wiped her eyes and looked up at her mother. "Do you promise everything will be okay, mommy?"

The mother gave her a watery smile. "I promise you that everything will be okay."

Sweetie sadly nodded and gave her mother one last hug before climbing off the table and returning to the corner where she huddled into a frightened ball.

Rarity lost all control and she began loudly sobbing on the floor. Her gaze landed on the discarded knife next to her, and she wondered why she even picked up the wretched thing to begin with. "I'm sorry!" she wailed. "I-I can't..."

"All you have to do is let us go," the mare whispered. "You don't have to hurt me or my daughter."

Rarity whimpered and wiped her eyes with her hoof. She took a deep breath and looked up at the shaking filly huddled up in the corner. "Your name is Sweetie, isn't it?" she said quietly. A sad smile crossed Rarity's face. "I have a sister named Sweetie Belle. She's not much older than you are."

"You wouldn't hurt your sister!" said the mare. "Y-you couldn't hurt an innocent filly, could you?"

Rarity slowly shook her head. "You even look a little like my sister. Your coat is a little grayer than hers, and your mane is a darker purple than the purple in her mane." Rarity took a deep breath and looked over at the knife. "I love her very much. I would never do anything to hurt her. If I let you go, then I have to die because your mother will tell ponies about what I am. My little sister will have to grow up without me, and that would make her very sad." Rarity reached forward and dragged the knife towards her. She picked it up and stared at the gleaming blade. "I... I can't." Rarity shook her head. "I can't do that to her. I have to be alive for her. I... I need to be alive for my sister."

"Please just let us go!" the mare begged. "Your sister will be proud that you did the right thing in the end!"

"No," Rarity whispered. She slowly pushed herself to her hooves, levitating the knife next to her. "I'm sorry, but I have to be alive for Sweetie Belle." Rarity walked over to the table and stood over the mare. She reached up and plucked the floating knife out of the air. "I... I promise I'll make it quick... for the both of you."

The mare's eyes widened and she let out an ear piercing shriek. "You don't have to do this! Just let us go!" she screamed.

"Mommy," Sweetie whined. "Please, miss, don't hurt my mommy!"

"Close your eyes, Sweetie!" begged the mare as she struggled to free herself from the straps. "Close your eyes and be brave for mommy! It'll all be over soon!"

Rarity advanced towards the mare with a blank look on her face and tears still falling from her eyes.

"Mommy, no!" Sweetie whimpered.

"Close your eyes for mommy, Sweetie. Close your eyes and be brave. Close your eyes, Sweetie, CLOSE YOUR EYES!"

* * * *

Rarity walked out of Carousel Boutique, the blank look still etched on her face. She just needed to walk now. She didn't even know where she was going and frankly she didn't care. She just had to be away from her house, away from that wretched basement where she had just... no, she couldn't think about that now.

She tried to think of something, anything else to get her mind off of what had just happened but she kept re-playing the events in her mind over and over again. She imagined that she would for a long time.

Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain on her head and she looked up to see that she had run into something: Twilight's library home. She had walked all the way to Twilight's house.

Without thinking too much about what she was doing, she approached the door and knocked. She didn't expect anypony to hear her but she didn't know what else to do. She heard a few noises coming from inside the house and within a few seconds, the door opened to reveal an exhausted looking Twilight.

"Oh, Rarity," she said with a yawn. "What can I do for..." She stopped in mid-sentence when she took a good look at Rarity. She still had the blank expression on her face but tears were streaming down her eyes once again. "Rarity, what's the matter?!"

"I...I...I just..." A sob coursed through Rarity's body. "Help me," she whimpered.

"Come in, come in!" said Twilight opening the door and escorting the ivory unicorn into her home. Rarity entered without another word. The minute Twilight close the door Rarity felt her knees begin to wobble. Twilight looked at her with a concerned look on her face. "Rarity, what's wrong?"

Rarity's legs lost all of the will to stand and she collapsed onto the ground.

Any thoughts of dignity long abandoned, she curled up into a ball and cried.

Dream, Little One Dream

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Rarity continued weeping. She was only vaguely aware at this point that she was on Twilight's floor in the library but that detail was unimportant at the moment. She didn't even know why she was there.

A gentle hoof on her shoulder and a faraway voice trying to break through her sorrow told her that Twilight was still there, trying to reach out to her.

"Rarity? Rarity? Rarity, please talk to me. Please tell me what's wrong!" she pleaded.

Tell her what was wrong? How in Equestria could she do that? It would mean instant death for her because Twilight would doubtlessly turn her in if she knew what had happened. Nopony could ever know what had happened tonight.

Twilight began stroking Rarity's mane. "Okay Rarity, I need you to calm down now. We can talk about what's wrong but you need to calm down. If you want I can go get some of the others and we can help you through whatever is wrong," said Twilight softly.

At the mention of the others Rarity's eyes widened and she bolted up and grabbed Twilight in her hooves. "No! I don't want to involve them, please don't involve them in this!"

"Okay, okay, I won't go get them," said Twilight soothingly. She began stroking Rarity's mane once more. "Shh, just calm down now and everything will be okay. I can make us some tea of you want me to, would you like that?" Rarity wiped away some tears from her eyes and nodded glumly. Twilight gave her a small smile and stood up. "Okay, I'll just be a minute. I'll bring some tea back for us and we can talk about what's wrong."

As Twilight walked into the kitchen to get some tea, Rarity briefly considered leaving the house and just running away from Twilight. Heck, she could run away from Ponyville too, out of Equestria if she needed to. But no, that would be foolish of her. Yet how could she face Twilight now? What was she going to tell her?

"Tell her, Rarity," she said so quietly to herself that she could barely hear the words coming out of her mouth. "Tell her and it will all be over; it can end for good."

"No, Rarity, it would destroy them. It would destroy all of them."

Rarity managed to sit up and stop crying just in time for Twilight to come in with a kind smile and two cups of tea. She placed one in front of Rarity before sitting down and placing another one in front of herself. Rarity took a shaky sip of tea and began to breathe deeply.

"Now, do you feel up to telling me what's wrong?" asked Twilight. Rarity met her gaze and all at once the tears came back despite Rarity's best efforts to hold them back. It took a few minutes for her to regain her composure.

"I...I..." She didn't even know where to begin, but she had to begin somewhere. "I... well..." Deep breath. "You know what my past is, Twilight, you know what horrible things that I've done in my life."

Twilight nodded and sipped from her own cup. "I had a feeling that this was about... that."

Rarity returned the nod. "Yes, yes it is," she said. She took another sip of tea before continuing. "It's just... in the first few years after you cleansed me with the Elements, I was very happy because I thought that the nightmare was over. I was free to live my life, confident that I wouldn't have to kill anypony ever again." She took a bigger sip of tea now. "But I was looking at the door to my basement again and I remembered what happened down there and I felt something that I never even thought to feel," said Rarity. The tears were coming once again and she drained her cup, hoping that the hot liquid would prevent them. No such luck. A fresh wave of tears fell from her face once more.

Twilight scooted over next to Rarity and pulled her into a hug. "Guilt," she said. "You're feeling overwhelming guilt right now."

Rarity nodded and sobbed into Twilight's shoulder. The basic story was a lie, of course, but the emotion was not. If Twilight believed the lie behind the real emotion then she would help her instead of turning her in.

Twilight patted her on the back. "Guilt and sadness are two emotions that the mind represses as much as it can to protect itself. In your case, your mind repressed the feeling of guilt for almost two years. You didn't believe that you could handle the guilt that would come from murdering almost a hundred beings and so you repressed that emotion for as long as you could. Now it's coming back."

Rarity nodded. She supposed that what Twilight was saying was true but she didn't really care about the technical aspects of it right now. "Help me," she pleaded. She didn't know how Twilight could help her in all honesty. How would such an innocent pony help deal with the guilt of a serial killer?

Sure enough, Twilight looked just as helpless as Rarity felt. "What do you want me to do, Rarity?"

"I...I don't even know," said Rarity. "Don't you have any ideas?"

Twilight furrowed her brow and closed her eyes. She was clearly thinking deeply about what to do. "I don't know how I can help you, Rarity. I mean, you were the first serial killer in Equestria in hundreds of years. Nopony alive has ever tried to be a therapist for an ex-serial killer."

Rarity looked up at her helplessly. "You can't help me?"

"Well, I think the only thing that I can do is be your friend. I am more than willing to talk to you whenever you need a listening ear."

Rarity sniffled a bit and wiped her eyes once more. "Can I have one now?" she asked.

"Of course!" said Twilight. "I saw what was down there, I can handle it."

Rarity nodded before looking around for a second. "Can Spike hear us? I don't want him listening in on this," said Rarity with a worried glance in the direction of Spike's basket.

Twilight shook her head. "He would sleep through a thunderstorm that was happening right inside the house, we're fine. Still, we can go into the kitchen if you want."

Rarity nodded and the two ponies stood up and walked into the kitchen. Twilight directed Rarity to a table and the two sat down. "Okay Rarity, what do you want to talk about?"

Rarity sighed. "Are you sure that you can handle hearing it? I'm one of your best friends, Twilight. Are you sure you want to hear stories about ponies that I've murdered?"

Twilight hesitated for a brief moment before answering. "I'll admit that it won't be an easy thing to hear, Rarity, but do know that I'd do anything to help you get through this and if the best way that I can do that is to listen to what you have to say, then I'll be here to do that."

Rarity's eyes filled with tears once more but she held them back. "Okay, if you are sure that you can handle it."

"I can," Twilight assured her. "Tell me what you want to say."

Rarity took a deep breath and averted her eyes down to the table. She couldn't look at Twilight while she was saying this.

"As you know, I have killed many ponies in my lifetime. I have to be honest, Twilight, most of them I don't regret. After the way Trixie and Gilda treated you, I don't think I will ever regret killing them. As a matter of fact there are only two that I will regret killing as long as I live." Rarity lost the battle with her emotions and she began crying once more. "A mother and her filly." Rarity heard Twilight give a small gasp of shock which only weakened her resolve. "Ever since I met you girls and became a wielder of an Element, I only wanted to kill those who deserved it. The mare and her filly most certainly did not deserve it.

"See, I heard the mare say something cruel to her daughter and I decided to kill her. I thought she was an abusive mother, Twilight, and that the filly would be better off with somepony else to take care of her, somepony who would love her. As it turned out, the mother had merely had a hard day and immediately regretted what she had said. When I went to kidnap the mother to kill her, the filly walked into the room and I had to take her too. They both ended up in my basement and...and..." Rarity couldn't bring herself to finish. She buried her head in her forelegs and began sobbing.

She was surprised to see that Twilight was saying nothing. She regained control and looked up at Twilight.

Twilight was looking at Rarity with an odd expression on her face. Rarity couldn't quite figure it out, but it looked like a cross between sorrow, sympathy and... contempt? "Twilight, please say something," begged Rarity.

Twilight took a deep breath before responding. "What..." Twilight's voice cracked and she cleared her throat before continuing. "What exactly should I say to you telling me that a bad judgment call on your part led to you butchering a mare and her innocent filly?" Twilight's face twisted into a snarl and she slammed her front hooves on the table. "What. The. Buck. Should. I. SAY?!"

The harsh tone of the last word made Rarity jump a little and she whimpered at the unicorn's fury. She began taking sharp breaths and had to concentrate for a moment before responding.

"Tell me whatever you think I deserve to hear," she whispered.

Twilight's averted her eyes and instead stared at the wall. "'What you deserve to hear?' Rarity, you deserve to hear me say 'I'm waking up Spike and telling the Princess about this'. You deserve to hear 'Get the buck out of my house and don't come near me or my friends for the rest of your pathetic existence'. You deserve to hear 'you're a monster. How could you do that? You're the scum of Equestria and you are not fit to exist!'"

Rarity sighed and looked down at the table again. "Then say it, Twilight. Go wake up Spike and—"

"But," said Twilight sharply, cutting off Rarity. "I won't say that because I know that's just my emotions getting the better of me." She looked back at Rarity. "You don't want that life anymore, Rarity. I know that if you had the chance to go back to the beginning and stop yourself from ever killing anypony, you would do it in an instant. Even if you feel now that you did it for protection, you have caused yourself nothing but grief and sorrow. Just look at Sweetie Belle! I don't know in what sideways form the scars she gained by seeing the basement will come out, but she will have that image permanently engrained in her memory for the rest of her life. She will always have to remember that her big sister that she trusted with every fiber of her being secretly butchered other ponies. Heck, I'm gonna have permanent mental scars from what I saw."

Rarity didn't know what to say to this so she resorted to focusing on a small tear in the tablecloth. She knew that Twilight was absolutely right of course, about everything.

"But," she continued. "I know that you would take every horrible minute back if you could. That you would do anything to make amends for the suffering that you have caused. You would even take back Gilda and Trixie if you could, even if you don't want to admit that to yourself. When you were a little filly, before the horrible day in the woods happened, you would never have chosen this as the life for you. You would have been content going through your whole life never having harmed a fly, right?"

Rarity continued staring at the tear as she considered the question. On one hoof, she did believe that the world was better without the likes of some of the beings she had killed. On the other hoof, she seriously doubted whether any of it was worth it. Was killing ponies that hurt her friends worth the mental scars that came with it? Not just for her, but for her sister and Twilight?

"Yes, Twilight, I would take every horrible minute back if I could. I would mend the broken families, I would heal the bloody wounds, I would bring the dead back to life if I could. But Twilight, I can't do any of those things! I can't take back what I did!"

"None of us ever can Rarity," said Twilight softly. "None of us ever can."

"How do I live with what I've done?" asked Rarity. "I'm afraid, Twilight."

"You live with yourself the way the rest of us do: one day at a time," said Twilight. "Focus on the good memories you have in your past. Relish the blessings you have now. You gotta enjoy the little things. I know that your murders were a huge part of who you are, but now that they aren't, put it in the past. We all have mistakes that we've made. Even if yours is arguably the worst, everypony has made a mistake that changed their lives forever. Everypony lives with their mistakes whether they want to or not. You can move past that, Rarity. You can be the pony that wields the Element of Generosity."

"Sometimes..." Rarity poked at the tear in the tablecloth. "Sometimes I still wonder if I deserved that honor."

"Well, why do you think you got it at all?" Twilight put her hoof on Rarity's. "What do you think made the Element of Generosity drawn to you?"

"I think... I think that it's because I do truly love being generous." A small smile played at Rarity's lips, and she managed to raise her head. "Whenever I'm generous with you girls or somepony else in the town, I... I get the same wonderful feeling that I got when I killed, but it was... purer. The joy was untainted by any badness."

Twilight returned Rarity's smile, but Rarity sensed that there was very little true happiness behind it. It seemed almost forced to her. "Rarity, I think that's why you are the Element of Generosity. You are a generous pony, but you had a dark side to you that made you do terrible things. But it's gone now. You can be the pony who gets happy feelings from being kind and generous."

Rarity had stopped crying now and she actually managed to give Twilight a small smile. "Thank you, Twilight," she said. "I know that I don't deserve the help you are giving me, but that just makes me appreciate it even more."

Twilight nodded, glancing at Rarity before her fake smile fell and she turned her gaze to the wall. "Uh-huh."

Rarity stood up and started to move towards the door. "I feel that I've dumped too much on you for tonight and I have to go," said Rarity. Twilight nodded once again and Rarity walked towards the door.

She opened it up and took one last glance at Twilight. She was still staring at the wall with a blank look on her face. Rarity sighed and walked out of Twilight's house.

Dueling Banjos

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It had been three days since Rarity's conversation with Twilight and things had not improved between the two of them, as much as Rarity wanted them to. Twilight was distant whenever the two of them interacted, no matter what the occasion was. Even when Pinkie Pie had thrown a party for some reason or another and Twilight did seem to be having fun, Rarity could still sense that something was off.

At that moment, the six friends were all hanging out at the spa, as per Rarity's suggestion, and they all seemed to be having a wonderfully relaxing time. Rainbow Dash had finally given in and compromised with her friends by allowing herself to be given a back rub and based on the relaxed half grin on her face, it seemed that she had found this to be an excellent choice.

Applejack gave a contented sigh as Aloe worked a knot out of her back. "Ah gotta admit, girls, Ah don't come here too often but it's times like these that make me wish Ah could afford to come more. This sure does beat cartin' apples around all day."

"Oh I certainly agree that it's nice to get out and relax for a little while. I've had a large order of dresses that I've been working on and it's so nice not having to concentrate on minute stitching for eight hours a day." Rarity turned her attention and smile to Twilight. "What about you, Twilight, are you enjoying your time?"

Twilight hardly glanced at Rarity but gave her a small nod and an affirming grunt all the same.

Rarity sighed and turned her gaze away from her friend. Would Twilight ever get over this? She hoped so but in truth, Rarity knew that she had every right to hate her forever for what she had done.

Rarity scanned her friends to see how they were doing when she saw Applejack staring straight at her. Applejack had a contemplative look on her face, but it was also one of worry.

Rarity raised her eyebrow at her. "Is something wrong, Applejack?"

Applejack frowned and stood up, placing her Stetson on her head. "Sorry everypony, Ah have to get goin' now. Ah gotta get some lunch in me before Ah head back to the farm. Y'all just enjoy your stay here."

"Oh, okay then," said Fluttershy.

"See ya later Applejack! Have a good day!" said Pinkie.

"Will do Pinkie Pie," said Applejack before she turned to Rarity. "Rarity, come have lunch with me."

Rarity frowned and cocked her head. "Er... well I really would love to, Applejack, but you see—"

"Rarity," said Applejack a little more sternly than before. "Come have lunch with me." The group looked at Applejack confusedly and Rarity gave a nervous giggle.

"Oh, well now that you mention it I am rather famished. I think I'll take you up on that then," said Rarity.

Applejack nodded. "Thank you," she said curtly.

"Well," said Rarity as she got up, "it was nice to see all of you again. I wish you all a good day as well."

"TTFN Rarity!" said Pinkie.

"Yes, uh, TTFN to you too, I suppose," said Rarity. She followed Applejack out of the spa without another word. Applejack led Rarity towards a simple roadside café near the middle of town square and they were seated almost immediately at a small table for two. The duo looked silently at their menus for a brief moment before a waiter took their order.

As they sat and waited for their food, Rarity felt the compulsive need to say something to Applejack. Applejack undoubtedly had something very important to say to Rarity as her request for Rarity to join her for lunch was undoubtedly not a request at all but a command. Rarity was half-expecting to Applejack to tell her that she knew that Rarity was a serial killer.

After a few minutes of waiting in silence, their food arrived and Applejack immediately dug in, while Rarity was slower to start eating her food. Every minute that passed in silence felt like an hour to her and it was pure torture. A few more minutes of this and Rarity would begin to lose her temper at Applejack, something that she didn't want to do at all.

Thankfully, Applejack looked up from her food and looked at Rarity. "Ah have something to talk to you about, Rarity."

Rarity desperately wanted to say 'no duh', but she refrained from doing so. "Indeed?"

Applejack nodded. "What's goin' on between you and Twilight? Ah ain't no idiot, and the way you two have been interactin' lately has got us all real worried 'bout you two."

There was Applejack being the Element of Honesty again. Her bluntness often caught Rarity off-guard and this was one of those times. Obviously there was no way that she could tell Applejack the truth, but she had to at least try to skim the surface of the issue. However, when she opened her mouth to speak, she found that no words came to her.

Applejack frowned at her silence. "Does it have anythin' to do with when we hit you with the Elements a few years back?"

Rarity could at least respond with the truth with that question. "Yes, yes it does."

"It was a real bad thing, wasn't it?" Applejack asked.

Rarity nodded. "The reason that you had to cleanse me with the Elements was due to me wanting to get rid of..." How in Equestria was she supposed to word this? “Certain memories and emotions brought on by some bad times in my life." It wasn't the best explanation, but it would have to do. It didn't seem to mollify Applejack though.

"If it's 'bout that, if it's about somethin' good we did for ya, then why is it still botherin' Twilight now? Come to think of it, what made her act like this around you only just recently? You would think that anythin' bad about that night woulda been worked out between you two in the past two years."

Rarity sighed and took a bite of her sandwich, relishing what a blessing it was to have tough conversations like this while eating as Rarity found out that she had time to formulate an answer.

She swallowed her bite of sandwich. "I had hoped that that would be the case, yes. But it seems that there are still... issues that she is having about those events."

"But why?" asked Applejack, hints of desperation creeping up in her voice. "What could you have possibly done or thought that would be so bad that Twilight would treat you like this two years after we fixed it? It can't have been somethin' like murder. Equestria hasn't seen a murder in over three hundred years! Besides, the Elements wouldn't choose a murderer to wield them, so Ah know that it can't be somethin' like that!"

With each naive word, Rarity's stomach clenched and the mask of normal emotion that she had been wearing for the past few days slowly began to slip. Applejack looked at her expectantly. Rarity's forelegs began shaking and she lifted up her sandwich for another bite but it was quickly swatted down by Applejack.

"What's goin' on, Rarity? Ah can't stand seein' two of my best friends treatin' each other like this!" said Applejack. Rarity stared down at her half-eaten sandwich and wondered what in Equestria she could possibly say. Applejack gave a frustrated groan and pulled the plate away. "Now look, Rarity, you were the first pony in our group that Ah met." Rarity's eyes snapped up and she looked at Applejack upon hearing this. "You were there for me the night that mah parents died, and even though you hardly knew me you went with me to comfort me in my hour of need. Your sister had just been born that night but you chose instead to give a grievin' girl an ear to listen when she needed it the most. Ah suppose it's stuff like that that makes you the Element of Generosity."

Rarity tried her best to hold back tears upon hearing this. If only she knew.

Applejack took a second to collect her thoughts before continuing on. "It's for reasons like that that Ah'm honored to call you one of my closest friends. Ah want to be there to help you with your hard times, particularly ones that deal with your friendships, just like you were there to help me when I needed you the most."

Rarity looked back down at the table and flattened her ears. "Even though it's in the past, you would still disown me as a friend if I told you why I needed the Elements that night."

This appeared to really hit Applejack where it hurt and she looked like she was fighting back tears. "But Rarity, do you remember what Pinkie, Rainbow, and Ah said back when you were in the hospital after you got hit by that cart? We said that we would stick by you no matter what you did! We weren't lyin', Rarity!"

"I know you weren't," said Rarity softly.

"Then why can't you open up to me about this? What is so bad that Twilight is refusin' to speak to you right now about an incident that happened two years ago?" asked Applejack. "Ah mean, don't you trust us?"

"Of course I do, darling!" said Rarity. "But there are just certain things that are unforgivable, no matter how strong the bonds of friendship are."

Applejack scoffed. "What, did you roll the cart that killed mah parents down the hill so it would run them over?"

"Of course not!" said Rarity.

"Well then it can't be that bad, can it?" said Applejack.

Rarity ground her teeth together and she had to resist the urge to yell at Applejack for prying in places that she had no business going. However, she stood up and placed six bits on the table. "Yes Applejack, I'm afraid that it truly is that bad. It is worse than you can possibly imagine and it was certainly worse than Twilight could ever imagine."

Applejack glared at Rarity and crossed her forelegs. "Rarity, Ah ain't lettin' this go until you tell me. Do you really want to have this conversation every day?"

Rarity grimaced and deeply exhaled. "You don't want to know, Applejack. It's private."

Applejack scoffed and shook her head. "Like Ah said, whatever's happenin' between the two of you might split our group and the Elements of Harmony apart. Whatever happened can't be private anymore after that. We want to help you!"

Rarity took a deep breath and drooped her ears. Applejack was right; she didn't want to have this conversation every time the two saw each other, and she did not want to avoid Applejack like Twilight had been avoiding her. As she saw it, there was only one option. "Applejack, if you truly want to know what it is, if you really feel that you can handle literally anything that I can say, then follow me. Otherwise, I suggest you go home."

Applejack stood up and placed three bits of her own on the table. "Lead the way."

"If that is truly your choice then I suppose I had better respect it, shouldn't I?" said Rarity.

"Yeah, Ah suppose you'd better."

Rarity nodded. "Then follow me."

Rarity led Applejack towards the edges of the Everfree Forest. As their journey continued and Applejack became aware of their destination, she got steadily more nervous. "You can bow out whenever you want to Applejack."

Applejack shook her head. "I ain't quittin' on this now."

"I know. That's what I'm afraid of," Rarity whispered quietly enough that Applejack couldn't hear her.

Another ten minutes brought them to their destination. Rarity remembered it as the place where she had first learned that Applejack had a sister, the place where she had tried to lead Applejack to her death. With each step a feeling of unease and fear began building up inside of her. She was about to tell Applejack what she had done. The thought of that frightened her but at the same time she almost desperately wanted to.

No, the last time I had opened up to a friend I nearly destroyed her memory and alienated her forever!

But Applejack wouldn't stop until she has and answer, Rarity!

Yes, but she I can make up a lie. Give her a reasonable sounding story to mollify her.

Lie to the Element of Honesty, Rarity? What good has lying to her done you thus far? She'd know.

"We here?" asked Applejack, her voice breaking through her thought process.

Rarity whimpered quietly but she slowly nodded. "Applejack, if you want to leave now, I won't stop you. I promised that I would tell you someday and if you don't want that day to be today—"

"Rarity, just tell me."

"I mean, we can put this conversation off for months, even years if you want to and all you have to do is say the word!"

Applejack's eyes narrowed and she took a threatening step towards her friend. "Rarity, tell me."

The want to answer was building up inside of her, itching to get out so that this matter with Applejack would be settled. "A-Applejack I'm not sure you really want to hear this. You'd—"

"RARITY, TELL ME!"

"I MURDERED THREE FOALS!"

Now it was out. She had told a second friend what she had done, albeit a small part of it. Still, that one part would undoubtedly shatter their relationship beyond repair.

Applejack's eyes widened and tears immediately began pouring from her eyes. She took a step back and Rarity wondered if she was going to run away. "What did you say?" Applejack whispered, hoping that she had heard Rarity wrong and that Rarity's real secret was something far less disturbing.

"I murdered three foals," repeated Rarity.

Applejack took a second to process the news. She looked absolutely dumbfounded. "Why?"

Rarity took a deep breath and began her story. "It happened when I was only eight years old. It was the first day of school and I was immediately bullied by three of the nastiest foals one could ever meet. It upset me and my teacher let me relax in a creek to calm me down. It did wonders for me and I decided that that creek would be my special place where I could just be...Rarity." Applejack had stopped backing away and she was listening intently now. "The foals did not cease their torment, and the only place I felt that I could gain a respite from them was the creek.

"One day, I went to the creek later that day to discover that the three of them had been waiting for me there. They told me they were going to beat me up and that nopony would care because my family was poor. In hindsight it was rather ridiculous, but at the time the thought of getting beaten within an inch of my life was too scary to me.

"When the leader came up to me to begin hitting me, I grabbed a rock and I hit him in the head with it. I didn't mean to kill him, but that's exactly what happened. In a panic I killed the other two foals and threw their bodies into the Everfree Forest for the predators to dispose of."

Applejack was blinking very fast now and tears were still pouring from her face. She cleared her throat before speaking up. "So what does that have to do with Twilight?"

"Twilight found out about it, in a story that I feel that I must save for another time, and she wanted to help me. You see, over the years, my guilt about the murders slowly began to get stronger and stronger. Eventually it got to the point where it was consuming me, even if I didn't show it. When Twilight found out, she immediately suggested that we use the Elements to cleanse my guilt. That's what we were doing with the Elements that night with Princess Luna."

Applejack nodded. "So, why is she actin' all funny around you now?"

"A few days ago, she asked me details about it. You see, she hadn't pressed me for details when she had first found out, but for whatever reason she felt that she needed to know more about it. I think she wanted to help me if the issue ever re-surfaced. It was... a bit much for her."

"I see," said Applejack.

Rarity sighed. "I take it you want nothing to do with me now, is that correct?"

Applejack shook her head. "I just need some time away from you right now is all. But I Pinkie Promise that I won't tell anypony."

Without another word, Applejack turned around and walked away.

* * * *

With her head low to the ground, Rarity made the journey back to Carousel Boutique. She felt that she needed a hot bubble bath and a good nap after the events of today. She certainly wasn't going to get any work done after her talk with Applejack.

All of a sudden, a familiar voice called out to her. "Hey Rarity! Rarity, over here!"

Rarity snapped out of her thoughts and turned around to see the last pony that she expected to see right now. He gave her a goofy grin.

"It's me! Hayseed Turniptruck!"

"Oh, yes. How... how are you?" she said glumly.

"I'm doin' just fine. It's so nice to see ya again! Shoot, the last time I saw you, we was back in Canterlot!"

"Indeed we were," said Rarity. Oh how desperately she wished she could end this conversation and just get home. However, it seemed that Hayseed wouldn't leave her alone. Rarity walked back to Carousel Boutique and Hayseed followed her the entire way, talking her ear off the entire time.

After what seemed like hours, Rarity and Hayseed arrived at Rarity's home. By that point, Rarity was past mere irritation at Hayseed. She had dropped hints over and over again that he should leave, but the numbskull was too thick to pick up on any of them.

As she reached her front door, she turned back to Hayseed. "Well, it's been marvelous catching up with you, but I really must get back to work," she said curtly.

"Well shoot, we should talk some more! I leave for Canterlot tomorrow to do some jobs and we should totally get together again before I leave, ya know?"

Rarity's anger exploded, but she managed to keep it internal. "Hayseed, get inside."

Hayseed was taken aback for a moment but he regained his composure and his goofy grin. "Well I think that would be just wonderful! We can catch up even more while you work!"

The two walked into Rarity's house and Rarity immediately walked over to her saddlebags and pulled out a syringe. She stuck it into Hayseed's neck without another word and he dropped to the ground.

* * * *

Hayseed woke up in the same way that the rest of Rarity's victims did: strapped to the table in her basement. He looked around for a moment and whimpered in fear. Rarity wheeled the tray in front of him and gave him a cold stare. Hayseed tried to give a nervous laugh.

"R-Rarity, is this some kind of—"

"Eight. Separate. Times," spat Rarity. "I told you eight times to go away but you didn't listen! Why, Hayseed, why didn't you listen to me?"

Hayseed opened his mouth and tried to babble out a few words, but he didn't say anything coherent. Rarity grabbed a large knife off of her tray and began cutting the skin around his left foreleg. Hayseed whimpered in pain before he began crying.

Rarity finished circling his foreleg with the knife. "R-R-Rarity, what are you—" Rarity grabbed the skin in her mouth and pulled as hard as she could. Hayseed screamed as loud as he could as all of the skin on his left foreleg was peeled off.

Rarity threw the skin aside and began working on the right side.

"Rarity, whatever I did, I'm sorry. Please stop doin' this!" Hayseed begged.

"Shut up!" she bellowed as she began skinning his right foreleg too. Within a minute, his right foreleg was missing all of its skin too. Rarity leaned down a bit to begin skinning his right hind leg when he began talking again.

"Rarity, I... I've always liked you," he said weakly. "I mean, I really liked you in a sort of ‘I had a crush on you’ way."

At this, Rarity shot up and with a look of pure fury in her eyes, she stared into his eyes. "What did you say?!" she screeched.

"I... I..."

Before he could continue, Rarity let out a cry of anger and she stabbed the knife into his legs before kicking over her tray. The knives scattered all over the place and she angrily began to clean them up. She became aware of Hayseed's whimpering and her anger rose even more and she picked up the tray and began hitting him with it.

The force with which she pummeled Hayseed with the tray could have cracked boulders. At each blow Hayseed gave cries of pain that eventually began to get weaker and weaker.

After a few minutes of non-stop beating, she threw the bloody tray down. Hayseed was still alive but had been beaten into an almost unrecognizable bloody mess. Rarity looked down and used her magic to grab a knife from off of the floor. She placed the tip on Hayseed's neck and pressed the edge against his neck.

Hayseed spat out some blood and a few teeth before uttering his last words. "Rarity... why?" With that last utterance, Rarity slit his throat and he was gone.

Rarity stepped back to admire her handy-work. To her surprise, she felt...empty. Normally a kill did a lot for her emotionally, it replenished her in a way. But as she stared at the bloody mess that used to be Hayseed Turniptruck, she felt... nothing.

As she looked over the corpse, her jaw dropped slightly as the realization of what she had just done hit her. "Why did I do that?" she said softly to herself. "He was annoying, but why did I do that to him?"

She began blinking very fast and taking sharper breaths. "Hayseed, I-I'm so sorry. If you can hear me now, I'm so sorry I just..." She grabbed a washcloth and began cleaning the blood off of his face. It was a mostly lost cause as the blood pouring from the wounds to his head undid anything she had done, but she continued on all the same.

After a short while, Rarity noticed that the bleeding had mostly stopped and Hayseed's face looked more like it had before she had done this terrible thing to him. She used her magic to close his eyes and after a few moments of silence, she cleaned herself off and went back upstairs.

A few minutes passed, which Rarity spent sitting at her kitchen table, before anything happened. As it was, the thing that happened was Rarity's doorbell rang. She slowly got up and went to go answer it. To her surprise, she found Applejack on the other side of her door.

"Oh, Applejack, please come in!" she said. Applejack nodded and slowly walked in. Her red eyes and tear streaked fur left no doubt that Applejack had been crying.

Rarity led Applejack to her kitchen table where the two of them sat down. The two sat in silence for a moment - in a scene that uncomfortably reminded Rarity of their lunch earlier that day - before Applejack spoke up.

"Ah was thinkin' long and hard about what to do after you told me about... that," said Applejack. "Ah knew that Ah wasn't gonna turn you in, but a lot of me didn't want to have anythin' to do with you either."

"Applejack, I—" she began, but Applejack held up a hoof to silence her.

"But then Ah really thought about the story, how you said that it was mostly self-defense on your part, particularly the first one," she said. Applejack looked up at Rarity and it seemed that she was about to begin crying again. "Ah know you Rarity; Ah know that if you had the choice, you would never have done it. You only did it because you felt helpless and that was the only thing you thought you could do to protect yourself from them. Ah realized that Ah couldn't blame you for protecting yourself, even if the way you did it was very, very wrong."

"I never wanted it to happen and to this day," Rarity sniffled "I still wish I could take it back."

Applejack nodded. "Ah know you do, Rarity. Ah know you do."

Applejack stood up and held out her forelegs, inviting Rarity into a hug. Rarity stood up and the two hugged each other.
In that moment, the flood of emotions that Rarity had tried to repress throughout this whole affair hit her and she began to cry. She wept into Applejack's shoulder and Applejack began to rub Rarity's back.

"It'll be okay," she soothed. "Everything will be okay, Rarity. Just you wait and see. Just you wait and see."

Intro to Psychology

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Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Try inhaling once more.

Inhaleexhaleinhaleexhaleinhaleexhale.

Blink blink blink.

Some days are so bad that by the end of them you need all of your brainpower just to perform basic bodily functions, thought Rarity.

And today was certainly one of those days.

She didn't understand it, it had started out so well! The final stitch had been placed in her latest masterpiece, The Cotton Harvest. It was a pure white dress that almost shone in the light as if Celestia herself had bent the laws of reality to create the best dress in the history of Equestria.

And it had all been ruined in one fell swoop.

It had started when a pair of rich ponies from Hoofington had come into her shop looking for a dress such as that one to wear to one of the biggest dinner parties of the year. Oh yes, the mare in question had wanted to look beyond fabulous so as to make all of her friends as jealous as she could. Well, The Cotton Harvest would have certainly achieved that if it had survived their visit.

For the couple brought their foals with them and, as they were such important clients, Rarity had broken her rule about foals not being allowed near her dresses for any reason whatsoever. She didn't even make clothes for foals, so what reason did they have to be around her dresses anyway?

Having said that, it would have not been a problem if the foals were well behaved and at first they actually were very well behaved. They were polite to Rarity, they didn't touch anything that they weren't supposed to, and they followed the rules very nicely. However, foals would be foals and it didn't take too long for them to become very restless as foals will often do in subdued settings. So, with a remarkable lack of foresight, the foals began wrestling with each other. Oh sure it was playful wrestling, but it was wrestling nonetheless and soon all three adults in the room were yelling at them to stop the nonsense right away before they did something foolish!

Too late. The foals wrestled themselves directly into the mannequin that displayed The Cotton Harvest and it toppled over with a loud crash.

Normally that wouldn't have been a problem because all Rarity would need to do would be put the mannequin upright and there would be no harm done. Even if there was a small tear, Rarity could have it fixed in no time and the couple would walk out of the shop with one of the best dresses that Rarity had ever created.

But it was the fact that both foals were carrying cups filled with strawberry juice from a local restaurant that made the situation go from 'irritating but tolerable' to 'I might just break the 'No Foals' rule again and I'm gonna enjoy it oh so much'.

She didn't, of course, as the couple would undoubtedly have told their friends where they were headed and if they disappeared then an investigations on the matter would lead to Rarity herself. She did not want that to happen. Ever.

Of course, the fact that the dress was totally destroyed and she didn't get a cent in damages would have been bad enough, but the day had actually managed to spiral downhill from there.

Firstly, she found that there was no food in her house to speak of, or at least, nothing that would have made a proper meal, which meant that she would have to go out to eat. Well, that's what she would have done if it wasn't a national holiday and all of the stores and restaurants in town hadn't closed after the breakfast rush. On top of that the apples from Sweet Apple Acres hadn't ripened yet so that option was out. Twilight was out of town so no-go there. Rainbow was working all day, Sugarcube Corner was closed, and Fluttershy was busy tending to animals. Yep, overall there was no food to be had.

But fate wasn't even close to done with her. Oh no, not by a long shot.

After discovering her utter lack of food, but eating the remaining half of the last hay bar she had found in the back of a cupboard, Rarity had decided to take a relaxing bath in the hopes that some of the stress of the day would wash away and she could breathe again. She had turned the knobs on the tub with her magic and, to her total surprise, they broke off and water began gushing out of the broken faucets like nothing else she had ever seen. It had taken over an hour to stem the flow, fix the tub, and clean up all of the water that had come out.

Overall, it wasn't one of her better days.

Rarity rolled over in her bed and looked at her clock to see what time it was. Her eyes widened in shock when she saw the time. She was sure that there must be some sort of mistake, but she knew that it was accurate. It was only ten o' clock in the morning! The day had hardly begun and already so many horrid things had happened to her!

She buried her face in her pillow and began screaming as loud as she could. Admittedly it felt good to let her anger out through her screams but it did begin to hurt after a few minutes so she stopped. "This is going to continue to be a terrible day, isn't it?" she muttered to herself.

Rarity sighed and decided that she had better get up or else she would go crazy just sitting in her room. She felt like designing a new dress today so that her morning wouldn't be a total waste. However, nothing could replace the hole in her heart that the ruined Cotton Harvest had left. Still, she might as well.

She hopped out of bed and went down to her workroom, closed her eyes, and fired up her horn. She didn't know why, but she felt like she needed to design her dress with her eyes closed. Instinct was a helpful thing to possess as a dressmaker and it had never failed her yet. She had designed some of her best dresses with her eyes closed, as a matter of fact, and she had high expectations for this one as well.

Within a few minutes, that tiny voice of instinct in the back of her mind told her that the dress was ready. She giggled in excitement, opened her eyes, and let out an ear-piercing shriek. What she saw before her was something that could only be described as a hideous mess and even that hardly seemed to do it justice. The stitching was something that she could see a mere foal topping if it hardly tried, she had somehow sewn vertical stripes unevenly on the shoulders, it had five legs instead of four and it already seemed to be falling apart.

Rarity simply stared at it for a few moments before she walked over to it, turned around, and bucked it against the wall. It hit the wall with a resounding crash and to Rarity's utter lack of surprise, the force of the mannequin hitting the wall knocked a large hole in it.

However, as Rarity examined the dress even more, she saw something that interested her: the entire dress was blood red.

She raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. She hadn't killed since Hayseed Turniptruck three weeks ago and she had not felt the slightest urge since then. Her conversation with Applejack immediately after the murder had drained her of all desire to kill, something that completely surprised her. Clearly she needed to kill again soon, as her subconscious had clearly just told her. The 'dress' she had just made had suddenly taken on meaning! Her mind was telling her to not focus on dresses for a while, but instead informing her that she had to kill again!

She used her magic to drag the mannequin over to her and when it was close enough, she placed her forelegs on the head of the mannequin and crushed it with one stomp. The feeling of plastic shattering under her hooves was oddly satisfying which only strengthened her resolve to replace it with an actual pony.

She kicked the ruined dress from aside and used her magic to pick up her saddlebag and fill it with the potato sack, a syringe, and a steak knife before heading out the door into the streets of Ponyville.

In a bizarre reflection of her mood, the weather in Ponyville was actually overcast and very gloomy. Why in Equestria would the pegasi schedule an overcast day on a national holiday?!

Oh well, at least it meant that almost everypony was inside relaxing and as such, they wouldn't be bothering Rarity too much. She had the entirety of Ponyville to herself, something that made her happy even if she couldn't find a pony to murder. Taking a walk in a town that reflected her feelings made her feel as if she wasn't alone in her thoughts, that the world sympathized with her because that's how it was feeling today too. It kind of felt... nice.

As Rarity continued to walk around Ponyville in search of a new victim, she was rewarded by the sight of a pony sitting on a bench with a notebook and a pen in her hooves. Rarity was delighted to see that she had never met this pony before and as such, she surmised that she must be from out of town. She would be absolutely perfect for Rarity's needs today. "Hello!" she greeted as she walked up to her. "How are you this, uh, overcast morning?"

The pony, a gray pegasus with a question mark for a cutie mark looked up at Rarity and flashed her a large smile. "I'm doing well, how are you?" replied cheerful pegasus.

"Oh I'm just wonderful, darling, simply wonderful." She returned the pony's smile and stopped just in front of the bench. "I must say that I don't recognize you. Are you from out of town?"

The pegasus nodded. "Yep, I'm headed off to a psychology convention in Trottingham and I decided to stop through Ponyville to do some research before heading over." She motioned in the direction of Twilight's home. "I heard that Ponyville has a wonderful library so here I am!"

"Psychology you say?" asked Rarity in interest. "What do you do with that?"

"Oh I'm studying to be a psychiatrist," she said, pointing to her notebook. "I'm currently observing Ponyville."

Rarity cocked her head. "But darling, there's nopony outside right now!"

The mare shrugged. "Every now and again somepony comes by and I ask them a few questions, but I kinda like the silence." The pegasus leaned back on the bench and stretching her forelegs. "Don't you enjoy just sitting on a bench in a completely deserted town, imagining that a plague of sorts has swept through it or something like that?"

"Uh, plague?" asked Rarity. "Isn't that a bit macabre?"

The mare chuckled. "Not the best analogy is it?" She shrugged. "I guess I just like seeing the contrast between when the town is busy and when there is nopony in sight. I've been here for a few days now and I've seen what the town looks like when the weather is wonderful."

"Is the contrast interesting?" asked Rarity.

"Oh it most certainly is!" she said with a nod. "Haven't you ever just wanted to sit on a bench and see a completely deserted town, imagining what will happen when ponies fill the streets again?"

"Uh, no, I can't say that I have," said Rarity.

The mare smiled at her and patted the open spot on the bench next to her. Rarity walked over to her and sat down beside her.

The duo sat in total silence for a few minutes, just observing the world around them. Rarity strained her ears, wondering if some noise would break through the gloomy scene and interrupt the tranquil atmosphere but the world was dead. Indeed, it was almost as if a plague had swept through the town and Rarity and this lone mare were the only ponies left in existence. Rarity had to admit, it was pretty peaceful.

"It's magnificent in its own way, isn't it?" asked the mare.

Rarity nodded. "I've never quite seen anything like it. The town is just so... quiet, so peaceful."

The mare smiled at her companion. "By the way, I never did catch your name."

"Oh, of course," said Rarity. "My name is Rarity. I design dresses here in Ponyville."

"They any good?"

Rarity sat up slightly and puffed out her chest."The best! I design ensembles for the Grand Galloping Gala every year!"

The mare's eyebrow raised and she gave an impressed smile. "I'll bet that's exciting!" she said. "I'm Krissy by the way."

"Krissy," echoed Rarity. "What an interesting name."

Krissy grinned. "I'll take that as a compliment."

Rarity cocked her head and studied the pegasus a bit more for a second. "I must say that you look rather young."

"That's because I'm seventeen," Krissy explained.

Rarity raised an eyebrow. Sure it was above her cutoff age, but she had never actually gone out of her way to kill a pony that young. Well, there's a first time for everything, and I really do need to kill today, thought Rarity.

The pair sat in silence for a few more minutes before Rarity was struck with an idea. "So Krissy, is this convention you are attending very formal?"

Krissy sighed and put her notebook back in her saddlebag before answering. "Aspects of it are. There is some fancy dinner where a bunch of famous psychologists stand up and tell themselves how awesome they are for hours on end." A grimace flashed across Krissy's face. "Come to think of it, there are three of those stupid things actually."

"Do you have anything fancy to wear?"

Krissy shook her head as she closed her saddlebag and scooted it closer. "Not really. I don't have the kind of money that would allow me to afford one at any rate. I was disowned about a year ago for not wanting to work on my family's orange farm, you see."

"Well, the fashionista in me simply cannot allow you to attend a fancy dinner without looking your best!" she said as she stood up. "You simply must come back to my shop to try some things on! I'll give you a huge discount on some of my best dresses!"

Krissy smiled. "Alright, if it wouldn't be too much trouble for you then I'm game."

Rarity returned Krissy's smile. "Wonderful!" With that she beckoned Krissy towards her shop, continuing their conversation as they walked. "So, how long have you been studying psychology?"

"Well, I think it's been about three years now. It all started for me when I saw some textbooks in my local library and checked them out on a whim. I just fell in love with the subject immediately and I got my cutie mark a few days later," she said.

"So could you analyze a pony's mind if you needed to?" asked Rarity interestedly as the duo approached Carousel Boutique.

Krissy chuckled. "I suppose I could, though not as well as some of the ponies that I'm going to meet this weekend. Why, do you want me to analyze you?"

Rarity shrugged. "I imagine that I would be an interesting case study," said Rarity as she opened the door to her store.

Krissy cocked her head. "Why is that?"

Rarity gave her a knowing smile. "Oh, I have some... interesting personality traits that a pony such as yourself would kill to dissect."

Krissy gave an amused scoff. "Like what? Are you some kind of psycho or something? That would be interesting."

Krissy chuckled at her joke and Rarity copied her chuckle, opened her saddlebag, and pulled out the syringe. "Actually yes." Rarity's grin widened and before Krissy could do anything more than take a small step back, Rarity stuck the needle in her neck. Krissy's eyes went wide and she slowly tried to back away but the drug did its work and soon she was unconscious on the floor. Rarity smiled fondly at the sleeping pegasus. This one would be fun.

* * * *

Krissy awoke twenty minutes later to find herself strapped down to a large table in a dark basement. She tried to struggle out of the straps but the leather held, if anything it seemed to go tighter the more she struggled, and eventually she gave up. She was definitely stuck here.

"Uh, hello?" she called out, hints of fear dotting her tone. "Rarity, are you there?"

"Yes, I'm here, darling," said Rarity from behind her.

Krissy gave a nervous chuckle. "Uh, what's going on here?" she asked, her mind debating on whether or not she should start struggling again. "Is this some kind of joke?"

Rarity walked in front of her and used her magic to place the table vertically before levitating her cloth covered tray in front of her. "I'm afraid not, darling." Rarity smirked at her captive. "No, this is very, very, very real."

Rarity's horn fired up and the basement lit up revealing the horrors inside. Krissy's eyes widened as she saw the pony pelts that adorned Rarity's walls as well as the cut off faces and the manes and tails. She let out an eardrum shattering shriek of pure terror. Rarity yelled in anger and her hoof connected with the side of Krissy's face. Krissy stopped screaming and began spitting out blood. "Don't yell," said Rarity simply.

Krissy coughed up more blood. "I think you knocked a tooth loose," she whimpered, the first traces of tears welling up in her eyes.

"Oh did I?" said Rarity. "Yes, I do that sometimes. I can remove it if you want me to. It'll just come out anyway at some point." Krissy clamped her mouth shut and shook her head as Rarity used her magic to pick up a pair of pliers. "Oh don't be silly, darling, it's no trouble at all! If you just open your mouth and hold still then it can be over much faster. Or I can use my magic to force your mouth open and I can take two, no, three teeth. How does that sound?"

A whimper escaped the terrified pegasus' throat and tears that had begun began falling from Krissy's eyes. She took a shaky deep breath and slowly opened her mouth. "That's a good girl," soothed Rarity. "I'll just be done in a second. Now, which one is it?"

"Third one from the back on the right," Krissy whispered. Rarity nodded and clamped the pliers over the tooth in question and with a single yank, the tooth came out. Blood began dripping from Krissy's mouth and she squealed in pain.

"You know what? I actually have a painkiller here, would you like that for your gums? I can close up the hole too, would you like that, darling?" said Rarity soothingly. Krissy nodded and Rarity levitated another syringe over to her before she injected it into Krissy's gums. She then used her magic to pack gauze into the hole which did a decent job of plugging it up.

"Why are you doing this?" moaned Krissy.

"You know what? That's for me to know and you to find out!" giggled Rarity. "You see, I've always been curious as to the exact reason of why I do what I do - scientifically speaking, that is - and you're going to help me figure it out!"

Krissy took a short breath. "You do it because you enjoy butchering ponies. You enjoy the feeling of power that you get when—"

Rarity cut her off with a scoff and a wave of her hoof. "Oh come now, darling, surely you can do better than that! I mean, you don't even know my back story yet!"

Krissy's eyes traveled to the floor and the first tear rolled down her cheek. "Why would I want to?" she moaned.

"You're a psychologist! You have a unique opportunity to study the mind of Equestria's only serial killer. Doesn't that interest you?"

Krissy turned her head and closed her eyes. "Are you going to kill me?" she asked in a horrified whisper.

Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes. "Of course I am, darling. What am I supposed to do, let you go?"

"It'd be nice," said Krissy.

Rarity shook her head. "Well I'm sorry, Krissy, but I simply can't. Even if I'd like to, and I don't, I still wouldn't." Rarity's ears suddenly drooped and she looked as if she was about to cry. "I... I didn't even do it for... them."

"Them?"

Rarity nodded and turned the table around. Krissy saw a large blanket covering some sort of a pony shaped lump. Rarity used her magic and lifted up the blanket. Krissy had to hold back another shriek, lest she lose another tooth, when she saw what was underneath. Two ponies, a mother and her filly, were standing next to each other. They had been stuffed and preserved. The corners of their mouths had been sewn upwards so that their mouths formed a macabre smile and light blue buttons had been sewn over their eyes. The colors of their coats and manes had dulled a bit so they were a mere shadow of their former looks.

Rarity looked at the two of them and her pupils shrank to almost nothing. Her left ear twitched and she let out an insane giggle. "S-s-s-ee? N-n-now they c-c-c-an be tog-g-g-ether f-f-forever!"

Krissy shut her eyes tight, hoping that if she stopped looking at the stuffed ponies then they would cease to exist and the memory wouldn't be burned into her mind forever. She heard Rarity let loose a few sobs before she regained control. Krissy felt the table turn back around and she opened her eyes to see Rarity put the blanket back over them. Rarity took a few deep breaths to calm herself down before returning to her former demeanor.

She walked back over to stand in front of Krissy and cleared her throat. "If I didn't do it for them, then I certainly won't do it for you."

"You didn't want to kill them," said Krissy softly.

The psychotic mare shook her head and a single tear rolled down her face. "It was a huge misunderstanding," she said sadly. "By the time I realized that the mother was not the kind of mother that I thought she was I immediately wanted to let them go, but by then it was too late. I promise you that I made it quick for both of them."

"How noble of you," Krissy deadpanned.

Rarity wiped her eyes and glared at her victim. "Don't be sarcastic with me, darling, it is most unbecoming." Rarity used her magic to levitate her tray of knives in front of the table and adopted a more business-like tone. "Now then, what do you need to know to psycho-analyze me?" Krissy opened her mouth to say something but she closed it again when her mind refused to come up with anything to humor her captor. "Oh come now, surely you have something in mind."

"Why are you doing this?" whimpered Krissy.

"Well, I'm doing this to you because I've had a bad day. Does that answer your question?"

Krissy's eyes widened in horror. "You're going to kill me because you had a bad day?!"

"Oh but it wasn't just a bad day, it was truly horrendous!" said Rarity. "Imagine if you wrote a psychology book and then the carelessness of two foals undid all of your work and you had to start from scratch!"

"I still wouldn't go off and kill somepony!" screeched Krissy.

A small smirk formed on Rarity's face. "Well that's because you are not a serial killer, darling. I am, so that's exactly what I'm doing. Now are you going to psychoanalyze me or not?"

Krissy shook her head and averted her eyes again. "I wouldn't even know where to begin!"

Rarity sighed and picked up a hacksaw. "How about your hind legs?" she suggested. Krissy's eyes widened and she tried to struggle out of the straps once more. Rarity rolled her eyes and used her magic to hold her victim's left hind leg down. She placed the hacksaw in the middle of the front of Krissy's hoof and began sawing away.

When she was done, Rarity picked up the bottom half of the hoof and examined the inside. "I've never seen the inside of a hoof before. Huh, kind of an oversight in my opinion. What do you think?" asked Rarity. Krissy merely groaned in pain and she began weakly flapping her wings. Rarity looked at them with interest. "Did you know that I've killed a griffin before?" she asked. Krissy continued weakly flapping her wings. "Well it's true," Rarity continued, "and wouldn't you know it, I forgot to mutilate her wings! I mean, can you believe that?"

"Go to Tartarus," growled Krissy.

Rarity giggled and placed her hacksaw back on the tray. "You know what? That's exactly what she said to me too. In fact, I've actually gotten that quite a bit, but no matter; I have some wings to get to work on!"

Krissy squealed and began flapping her wings harder. "Please don't!"

Rarity sighed and scanned her tray. "While I'm doing that, I would like you to read the poster in front of you so that you know what not to say to me while you're down here," said Rarity. "I promise you that I've heard it all before and it gets irritating."

Rarity placed her hoof on Krissy's right wing and selected a steak knife from her tray. She aimed it directly on the main bone and used the knife to pin it to the table. Krissy screamed in pain once more, which made Rarity roll her eyes.

She then picked up a skinning knife and began slicing the skin off of the wing. Krissy thrashed about the entire time Rarity was skinning her wing, wailing like a banshee.

"Please stop thrashing about dear, you're making me lose my concentration," said Rarity.

"Good!" screeched Krissy.

Rarity grinned. She liked it when her victims had spirit. She placed the knife back on the tray. She had made some good progress on the wing. "You know what? I want you to ask me to kill you."

Krissy cracked one eye open. "Why would I do that?"

Rarity tapped her chin with her hoof thoughtfully. "Well because the pain is unbearable or something like that. I'm trying to break your spirit, you see. I like spirit, but defiance can get annoying after a while, don't you agree?"

Krissy whimpered and squeezed her eye's shut. Rarity chuckled and leaned on the table. "It's tempting, isn't it, darling?" She moved her muzzle closer to Krissy's ear. "One small sentence and it's all over."

"Go to Tartarus," Krissy spat.

Rarity shrugged. "Very well. I think I'll cut off your other wing then."

Krissy flinched and her other wing began beating rapidly. Rarity picked up her butcher knife and slammed it into the base of the wing. She pulled it out to see that she had made excellent progress and the wing was already half off; not to mention the fact that it wasn't beating anymore. With one more blow the wing severed neatly and fell to the floor. Rarity picked it up and examined it. No, not good enough for her wall.

"I can keep this going all night if need be," said Rarity. "Just say the words and I'll slit your throat."

Krissy didn't respond. She merely sobbed in terror and pain while still weakly trying to get out.

"Don't you want the pain to end? Don't you want me to kill you?" said Rarity.

"I... I..." Krissy whimpered but hung her head. "Do it."

Rarity grinned happily. "Do what?"

"K-k-k-kill me," Krissy moaned.

"Say the magic words," said Rarity.

Krissy groaned. "Please. Please kill me now."

Rarity placed the butcher knife back on her tray and sighed. "No."

Krissy's head shot back up. "N... No?!"

"Yes, 'no'," said Rarity. "As I've said before, I'm interested to see you psychoanalyze me. I mean, yes you're only seventeen and all but I would like you to give it your best shot!"

"I... I can't!" she bawled.

"Why in Equestria not, darling?" asked Rarity.

"I... I... I don't even, I just..." Finally, it was too much. Krissy wailed as she completely dissolved into tears.

Rarity looked at her uneasily and placed her knife back on the tray. "Uh, Krissy darling, are you o..." Rarity stopped her question. The poor thing had just had her wings mutilated or removed so no, no she was most certainly not okay. Krissy was weakly struggling to get out of the straps and openly weeping. "Oh darling please don't cry, it'll be okay soon! This won't last forever. I just want to talk to you about my mind!" Krissy did not stop crying and Rarity went over and stroked her mane. "Oh I know that this hurts, darling. I can get you another shot for the pain; would that be okay with you?"

"Please just let me go!" Krissy wailed.

Rarity sighed and ceased stroking her victim's mane. "You know I can't do that and I wouldn't even if I could. Now do you want the shot for the pain or not?" Krissy nodded and Rarity used her magic to fix up a syringe with anesthesia and inject it into Krissy's left foreleg. "I've given you enough to dull the pain, but not so much that you'll be completely out of it," she said. Krissy merely turned her head away from Rarity as the pain medicine took hold.

After a few minutes, Rarity turned her head back. "Are you feeling better?"

Krissy scoffed. "Physically yes, mentally, not a chance."

Rarity smiled. The pain meds were also designed to relax Krissy and it seemed to be doing its job. "Well at least you aren't in as much pain as before right?" said Rarity. Krissy mumbled angrily but Rarity ignored it. "Now then, I still want us to have a psychological session, if you will, before the meds wear off so we should probably get started with that, don't you think?"

"Why is that so important to you!?" she groaned. "You already mutilated me, why not just finish the job?"

"Well if you were like this, wouldn't you be curious to know what a psychiatrist would think about you?" asked Rarity.

Krissy snarled at her captor and fixed her with a frankly terrifying glare. "I already told you, you do it to feel powerful when you feel powerless!" \\

Rarity rolled her eyes. "Oh come now, that's the diagnosis that the ponies of yesteryear gave The Canterlot Killer. Surely in the interim three hundred years psychiatry has advanced? I know you can do better than that."

"Okay, why do you think you do it?" she asked.

"Well, I can tell you that I started when I murdered three schoolyard bullies when I was a filly," she said.

Krissy's eyes widened in horror. "You've been doing this since you were just a filly?!"

Rarity smiled and nodded. "Oh sure the first kill was self-defense since they were going to beat me up and I hit the leader on the head with a rock, but the other two weren't. I did those because I could," said Rarity.

"Well... did you hurt small animals before then as a filly?"

"Oh, never, darling! I haven't ever hurt an animal," she insisted. "Don't be stereotypical. I assure you that I am not like any serial killer in Equestrian history."

"So the first kill was self-defense and you got a taste for it," said Krissy.

"I suppose you could say that, darling," said Rarity. Krissy closed her eye and groaned. "Oh dear, are the pain meds wearing off already?"

Krissy shook her head. "No, I'm just trying to get my bearings here. Okay, why did you kill the other two foals? The first one was both accidental and self-defense, if your story is true, so why the other two?"

Rarity tapped her lower jaw with the tip of one of her knives. "Well, I think that I did it in the heat of the moment. Really, you should have felt what I did when I killed that first foal! Oh, it was like raw power was coursing through my veins and at that moment I could do anything, kill anypony! I think a lot more ponies would be serial killers if they experienced that feeling."

"So yes, It's like you said, I guess I got a taste for it."

"How did you kill them?" asked Krissy.

Rarity giggled. "I repeatedly bashed the second over the head with the same rock I used to kill the other one and then I bashed the third one in the head and buried her alive."

"Why so brutal?" asked Krissy.

Rarity cocked her head. "Beg pardon?"

"I mean, did you have to bury her alive? Couldn't you have just done it quickly and painlessly?" asked Krissy.

Rarity frowned and mulled it over for a moment. "Well I suppose that I could have."

"But you didn't want to. You wanted to make her suffer."

Rarity shrugged and began idly organizing the knives on her tray. "I suppose I did."

"You wanted to have power over her, to show that you were the one in control."

Rarity ceased organizing her knives and looked back up at Krissy. "Uh... I suppose if you want to think of it that way then—"

"So what I said before is true, you do it just to feel powerful," said Krissy.

Rarity glared at Krissy and angrily picked up a knife and pointed it at her. "Wrong, darling, wrong! I mostly do it for protection for either myself and my friends. I always make sure that the pony deserves it!"

Krissy's expression hardened into a glare. "What did I do to deserve this?!"

Rarity examined Krissy and noted that her breathing was becoming more labored. "Are the pain meds wearing off?" When Krissy didn't respond, Rarity shrugged. "Well it's like I said, I had kind of a bad day."

Krissy shot her captor a disgusted look but didn't comment on it further. "You said that you kill to protect your friends. Can I get an example?"

"Oh, um yes, of course," said Rarity, putting the knife back down on the tray. "Well, do you see the pelt on my wall over there? The one splattered with paint? Well, she called herself 'The Great and Powerful Trixie' and she did some very nasty things to my friends and myself as well."

"She bullied them," said Krissy.

"She most certainly did," said Rarity.

"So you killed her."

Rarity rolled her eyes. "I think that we can reasonably assume that, yes."

"You know that nothing you have said has proved me wrong, right?" said Krissy.

Rarity raised her eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"You kill to feel powerful," said Krissy. "You first killed after a moment of extreme helplessness and you realized that it was a way to have ultimate power and control. You kill ponies that bully your friends because you don't want them to experience what you had to go through. You feel helpless when you see them treated that way so you—" Krissy gasped in pain. The meds were wearing off quickly now. Krissy took a few moments to regain her train of thought. "You kill so you regain control of a helpless situation."

"N... no that's not true, darling!"

"Why not?" asked Krissy. "Why do you kill then if not for that reason?"

"I kill for protection, not control. I was protecting my friends from Trixie's cruelty!"

"Who were you protecting from me?" asked Krissy.

"Well... I—"

"Yourself," said Krissy. "You said that you were having a bad day, right? You didn't have control over your situation so in response you decided to gain control over something by killing. You're addicted to the power that you feel when you hold another pony's life in your hooves."

A feeling of unease started to creep up in the back of her mind but Rarity did her best to suppress it. Surely this mere foal didn't know what she was talking about. No, she couldn't know what she was talking about.

"Let me ask you something; do you think that what you are doing is noble? Have you ever thought that?" asked Krissy. The pegasus began slightly writing in pain.

Rarity looked uneasily around her basement. "Well no, but I—"

"But nothing," snarled Krissy. "You are no better than those schoolyard bullies, you're worse! You said that you think that you are a unique and special case but you're not! When you get to the core of the issue, you kill for the exact same reason as The Canterlot Killer or The Fillydelphia Butcher or The Monster of Baltimare! You do it to feel powerful!"

"Shut up," growled Rarity.

"Your case is so simple based on what I've heard that any psychiatrist would have you completely figured out in five minutes. Heck, I did it with no wings, a mutilated leg, and looped up on pain meds."

"Shut up!"

"You have no new mental diseases, no split personalities waging war in your mind, no unique aspect of your brain that would make your case special! You're just a pathetic pony who gets scared when she feels powerless and so she decides to gain ultimate power over a pony by holding his or her life in her hooves. There are thousands of ponies just like you out there, you just happen to let it out by killing."

Each word stung the unicorn like a knife through her heart and she began weeping. No, she couldn't cry like a little foal! This amateur obviously didn't know what she was talking about! She was just making things up to get back at Rarity for... well... cutting off her wings and such.

Still, no matter how hard she tried she could not stop crying. She backed up against the wall and sat down on the floor, sobbing openly. "You're wrong," she muttered. "You're wrong, you don't know me. I'm not like that."

She heard Krissy beginning to thrash about and groan in pain now. The meds had certainly worn off by now. The room was silent for a few minutes, save for Rarity's sobs and Krissy's groans of pain. "M-mercy isss a f-f-form of p-power too," Krissy stuttered.

Rarity wiped her eyes and glared at her victim. "I suppose you want me to let you go," she murmured.

With a lot of difficulty, Krissy shook her head. "N-No. I know y-y-you won't. Please just m-m-make it quick."

Rarity stood up and walked over to her tray. She picked up her skinning knife and turned back to Krissy. "Is that all you have to say about me, darling?" she asked. "That I just do this to feel powerful?" Krissy nodded which prompted a sigh from Rarity. "Well, it was a valiant effort, I suppose, but I guess that you really don't know what you are talking about. So, as punishment for an incorrect diagnosis..."

Rarity leaned in close to Krissy with the skinning knife and placed the knife on her right foreleg. Krissy tensed up and tried moving the leg out of the restraint.

"No! Please, don't do this!" she screamed. "Please just make it quick!"

Rarity shook her head and began slicing Krissy's foreleg with the knife. "I'm sorry, but you had your chance to actually give an effort for what I asked you to do," she said. "You clearly just spouted off a bunch of textbook knowledge instead of actually trying."

"No!" Krissy screamed. "Why w-w-would I do that?"

Rarity shrugged. "I don't know darling, I don't know."

Rarity finished slicing her foreleg, grabbed the sliced flap of skin in her teeth and pulled as hard as she could.

* * * *

An hour later, Rarity walked back upstairs after washing herself off. She sighed. It seemed that she would have to find a real psychologist if she wanted to get a real diagnosis of what she was. Krissy clearly didn't know what in Equestria she was talking about. Rarity killed to protect her friends, not to feel powerful!

Then why did she kill ponies like Hayseed and Krissy? They were innocent of that crime and as far as she knew any crime in general.

She shook her head and pushed those thoughts out of her mind. No, she wasn't that simple! Her motives were far more complex and interesting than Krissy could possibly imagine! She couldn't be read that easily!

So why did she feel that Krissy knew more about her than she expected?

Magic, Apples, and Reckoning

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That stupid foal didn't know what she was taking about! Rarity was far more complex than 'I do it to feel powerful.' That was a very base explanation. Really now, why in Equestria would she do it just to feel powerful? She did it to protect her friends! She did it because she... she...

If Krissy was so wrong then why were her words continually echoing throughout Rarity's mind?

"Why so brutal?"

"Beg pardon?"

"I mean, did you have to bury her alive? Couldn't you have just done it quickly and painlessly?"

"Well... I suppose that I could have."

"But you didn't want to. You wanted to make her suffer."

"I suppose I did."

"You wanted to have power over her, to show that you were the one in control now."

"Uh... I suppose if you want to think of it that way then—"

"So what I said before is true, you do it just to feel powerful,"

Rarity violently shook her head. S-she was merely being foolish and that was the end of it!

Rarity stared at her workroom and the thought briefly crossed her mind that she should clean up the mess in there but...

Krissy had been dead for about six hours now and Rarity didn't know what to do with herself. She felt that she needed to do SOMETHING or else she would go absolutely insane. Heck maybe she was already going insane. Her thought process was nothing but Krissy's piercing words, playing over and over and over and over andoverandOVERANDOVER!!! They. Just. Would. Not. STOP!! She wasn't that predictable, she wasn't that simple, she didn't do it just to... no, that foal was wrong! She...

A trio of loud knocks on her door cut through Krissy's words, snapping the unicorn out of her mental terror. Somepony was here!

Rarity eagerly bolted towards the door and opened it to see Applejack looking exceedingly uncomfortable. "Oh, hello Applejack," Rarity greeted. "How are you today?"

"Hello Rarity," said Applejack.

Her tone was grim. Whatever it was that Applejack wanted to talk to her about, it wasn't good. "What can I do for you?" she asked.

"We're goin' to go see Twilight," said Applejack simply.

Rarity raised her eyebrow at Applejack. "Why darling, why are we doing that?"

"Because she still won't talk to ya and I'm gettin' sick and tired of it!" said the irate farmer.

Rarity took a nervous step back and briefly considered shutting the door on Applejack, but she stood her ground. "Well," said Rarity, hoping to calm Applejack down, "I think that Twilight needs to recover from this in her own time and I don't think that—"

"Don't gimme that!" snapped Applejack. "She's had plenty of time to recover from hearin' the details of somethin' that happened years ago! It's time the two of ya talked about this!"

Rarity flattened her ears and took a step backwards. "Applejack I really don't think that's a good—"

"Rarity, Ah really don't want to force you to go over to her house but I will!" said Applejack sternly.

"Applejack, what's gotten into you?!" asked Rarity. "I don't expect this kind of behavior from you!"

"I'm sorry if Ah'm being forceful, Rarity," said Applejack. "But Ah'm done with seein' you and Twilight interact like this. You two are great friends and she's throwin' it away by not talkin' to you about this!"

"Applejack—"

"Ah'm not askin' ya, Ah'm tellin' ya," Applejack growled. "If this goes on any longer then our entire group will be affected and if our group splits up, then so do the Elements of Harmony! Ah won't risk either."

Rarity bit her lip. A confrontation with Twilight on Applejack's terms was the very last thing that she wanted right now but there was no way that she was going to get out of it right now. "Very well," said Rarity in a defeated tone. "Lead the way."

As the two walked towards Twilight's house, Applejack started up a preliminary conversation. "Rarity, do you know why she's actin' like this? Ah mean, sure what you told her was doubtlessly disturbin' but why would she avoid you for weeks on end like this for self-defense kills that got out of hoof?"

"I...I don't know," she said. She really hated lying to the Element of Honesty, but the truth wouldn't be the best idea at this point.

"Don't gimme that either," said Applejack. "What could you have said that disturbed her so much? Ah mean, were ya sadistic about it?"

"I was with one of them," said Rarity.

Applejack raised her eyebrow and briefly stopped in her tracks. "You were?" she said. "Like... how sadistic?"

"I buried her alive," said Rarity.

Applejack gasped. "Why would you do that!?" asked Applejack. "What in Equestria possessed you?!"

"Fear," she said sadly. "I was afraid of what would happen if I didn't kill all of them."

"So you buried one alive!?" asked Applejack, clear disgust in her voice.

Rarity frowned at her friend and glanced back to her home. "Maybe this isn't a good idea," she said. "Clearly you understand Twilight's side of things a bit more now."

Applejack resolutely shook her head. "Ah suppose Ah do," she said. "But that still doesn't mean that Ah ain't gonna do my darndest to get this resolved!"

"Applejack," said Rarity sternly, "I'll go do this for you, but you have to promise me one thing!" Applejack glanced at Rarity and nodded glumly. "You will undoubtedly hear parts of the story that you have not heard before, maybe even some... extended ramifications of what happened that day. I want you to Pinkie Promise me that you will not leave until this is resolved for good!"

Applejack silently nodded and the two continued their journey towards Twilight's house. "There's somethin' big you held back, isn't there?" said Applejack.

Rarity nodded. "But Applejack, I want you to know that it is all in the past!" reassured Rarity. "I don't want it to change our friendship!"

"I can't promise that," said Applejack as the library came into view.

"But Applejack—"

"Rarity, like it or not when secrets of this magnitude get let out between friends, their friendship is forever changed. They can still remain best friends, like sisters even, but the friendship will change somehow. Whatever you held back will inevitably change our friendship in some way."

"I'm afraid that it will end it," said Rarity sadly.

"If it is truly in the past, and you are truly sorry for it and wish that you could take it back, then Ah doubt that it will happen," said Applejack.

"You won't hate me for holding it back?" asked Rarity.

"Rarity, when are ya gonna learn that Ah won't hate ya no matter what ya did?" asked Applejack, clear tones of frustration in her voice. "Don't ya trust me?"

"It's not that I don't trust you," said Rarity as they stopped at Twilight's front door. "It's just that you place too much trust in me."

Applejack turned her head away from Rarity at hearing this and she knocked on Twilight's door.

"Coming!" said a happy voice from inside that was undoubtedly that of Twilight. The two waited in an uncomfortable silence for a moment before Twilight opened the door with a gigantic grin on her face.

A gigantic grin that immediately fell when she saw Rarity.

Twilight's eyes widened and the door was engulfed in a magical glow as she attempted to shut the door but Applejack would have none of it and she stopped the door with her hoof.

"Applejack," said Twilight. "What's going on here? Why is she here?"

"She's here because the three of us are gonna talk about what's botherin' you, Twilight!" said Applejack angrily. "If you try to shut the door in our face again Ah'll just buck it down!"

Twilight took a nervous step back. She had rarely seen Applejack so irate. "Uh...come in then I guess," she said, her look clearly indicating that she would rather be anywhere but here.

"Thank you," said Applejack.

Twilight glanced nervously at Rarity but she opened the door wider and allowed the two ponies walked into the house. Rarity and Applejack stood in the middle of the room, followed by Twilight, each wondering who was going to speak up first.

When Applejack realized that it would have to be her, she gave a frustrated sigh. "Before we get goin' on this, Ah think you should know that Rarity told me her big secret."

Twilight's eyes widened, to the point where Rarity was beginning to wonder if they wouldn't encompass her whole face, and her jaw dropped to the floor as she let out a huge gasp. "She told you that—"

"That I killed three foals when I was just a filly," said Rarity quickly, trying to prevent Twilight from spilling the real secret.

Twilight looked confusedly at Rarity. "You didn't tell her that—"

"I buried one of them alive? I actually did," said Rarity. Oh Celestia, Twilight was going to say it at any moment.

"But what about—"

"No, I haven't told her that Sweetie Belle knows too," said Rarity a little loudly.

Now it was Applejack's turn to widen her eyes. "Sweetie Belle knows? How?!" asked Applejack in shock.

Rarity began nervously laughing. She hated lying to the Element of Honesty but it was worth their friendship. However, she had difficulty coming up with a lie for that specific question. "I... uh... well, she found out because... it's a long story," said Rarity.

True to form, Applejack wasn't buying it and she narrowed her eyes at Rarity. "Suppose you tell it," said Applejack sternly. "I think we're gonna be here a while."

They wouldn't be if Rarity had anything to say about it but as fate would have it, she most certainly did not have anything to say about it. Applejack looked at Rarity sternly while Twilight still seemed to be trying to figure out just what was going on.

Her resolve faltered under Applejack's stern gaze and she dejectedly hung her head. "Please," whispered Rarity. "Don't make me tell it." The pain in her voice startled Applejack for a brief moment. "I think that it is a moment that is just between me and Sweetie Belle."

"Does Twilight know how she found out?" asked Applejack.

"Yes I do," said Twilight before Rarity could answer. "And... I think that it is an event that should just be between the two of them."

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief and she smiled weakly. "Thank you, Twilight," she whispered.

Applejack frowned. "Okay, we got that outta the way," she said. "But that wasn't even the real reason we were here in the first place. We're here to talk to you about why you've been avoidin' Rarity on account of what she told you about an event that happened over ten years ago!"

Twilight stayed silent for a moment, looking sadly at Rarity. "You didn't tell her the other part, did you?" she asked quietly. Rarity's stomach tied itself into a million knots as she looked at Twilight with a look of pure horror on her face.

"What 'other part'?" asked Applejack, looking wildly between Rarity and Twilight. Rarity wanted to just run as fast as she could out of Twilight's house. It seemed to her that she would have to if she didn't want her secret spilled to Applejack.

Twilight's jaw tightened and she began blinking away fresh tears. "She can't be a good moderator for our problem if she doesn't really know what's going on."

"But she'll hate me forever!" cried Rarity.

"Rarity, Ah won't—"

"YES YOU WILL!" screeched Rarity, causing Twilight and Applejack to take a step back. "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THE SECRET IS! I DO, AND I KNOW THAT IT IS UNFORGIVABLE!"

Now Applejack was the one who had to hold back tears while Twilight was shedding hers. "D...Did you kill my parents?" she asked.

Rarity gave a frustrated sigh. "I Pinkie Promise that I had nothing to do with the deaths of your parents!" Rarity groaned. "Stop asking that!"

"Well then what can it be?" asked Applejack, anger rising in her own voice once more. "How can Ah trust you if you don't trust me?"

"Don't you have secrets Applejack?" Rarity shot back. "Don't you have dark memories from your past that you would be mortified if any of us knew?!"

"No Ah don't!" said Applejack. "Ah've done my share of terrible stuff, everypony has, but Ah don't keep any secrets from my friends because Ah trust them!"

Rarity gave a mocking laugh and was surprised to feel tears beginning to creep up as well. "Oh don't be ridiculous, Applejack," said Rarity. "You have secrets just like the rest of us! Everypony has secrets!"

"Fine," snapped Applejack, "Ah have secrets just like the rest of us! But why can't you tell me yours? How can Ah help you if you keep actin' like you've told me when really Twilight knows somethin' ah don't? How can Ah help you two if you won't trust me?!"

For the first time, Rarity saw a look of utter helplessness in Applejack's eyes. To see the farmpony look so vulnerable... she wasn't going to lie, it was somehow frightening.

Applejack took a deep breath and started again. "Ah just... Ah can't stand to see my friends tearin' themselves apart like this. Ah want to help you through this so you can repair some of the obvious damage that this secret, whatever it is, did to yer friendship!"

"Who asked for your help?" she said coldly. Rarity regretted her words immediately and tears began falling from her eyes when she saw the devastated look on Applejack's face. "Oh no," she said in quiet horror. "Applejack I didn't—"

"Oh yeah?" said Applejack as she tried to sound stern through the devastating emotional pain she felt. "Well then just what did—"

"She used to be a serial killer," said Twilight in a hushed whisper. Rarity gave a small gasp of shock and Applejack just stared at Rarity with a look of horror on her face.

"What did you say?" she whispered.

Twilight didn't respond to the question. Rarity and Applejack looked over at her to see her curled up in a ball on the floor, sobbing loudly as if she was a mere filly that was witnessing a hateful argument between her parents. Rarity slowly walked over to her and gently put a comforting hoof on her shoulder, causing Twilight to violently flinch. Rarity lifted the hoof up and the two friends merely stared in silence as Twilight sobbed on the floor, wishing the whole affair would just go away forever.

Applejack looked back at Rarity. "Is that true?" she whispered. "Please, Rarity, please tell me it ain't true."

"It's true," said Rarity.

Applejack put a hoof to her mouth. "Oh Celestia," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "N...No, Rarity, y...you didn't do anythin' like...like that!" Tears fell rapidly from Applejack's face and she began backing away. "Ah know y...you and it... it ain't—"

"Applejack... it's true."

Applejack stared at Rarity, blinking rapidly while tear's streaked down her fur and stained the floor. Her legs began wobbling and before Rarity could do anything, their strength left Applejack and she collapsed on the ground. The second she hit the floor a loud wail escaped her lips and she buried her head in her forelegs, her sobs reverberating throughout the room.

Rarity's own face was stained with tears and she sat down on her haunches. This was it. She had lost two friends now. Applejack's body was convulsing with loud, violent sobs and Twilight had her head in her hooves and was weeping quietly. Rarity tried brushing her own tears away with her foreleg, but it was no use and her body began shaking with sorrow.

"Applejack, I...I'm so sorry," she whimpered. "I'm so sorry that I tricked you into becoming friends with such an evil, evil pony!"

Rarity flattened her ears and slowly walked out of Twilight's home. She shut the door behind her sobs from her two ex-friends still reverberating from the inside. Rarity held back her own tears and began waking; to where? She didn't know. She even considered waking straight out of Ponyville. There was, of course, no guarantee that Applejack wouldn't come to her senses and tell Princess Celesta about what she had done.

Though, it wasn't as though she didn't deserve that.

Rarity's aimless walking soon found her next to the local lake. The sun was shining brightly, reflecting off of the water and warming the entire scene. A few birds chirped a happy song that seemed to mock Rarity as she sat down on the edge of the water. Her tears dripped into the water, creating ripples that spread far out over the lake.

Rarity sniffled and looked down at the pitiful mess that was her reflection. Her gaze hardened as she continued to watch the pony that was looking back at her. "You... you evil pony!" With a snarl she slammed her hoof into her reflection, shattering the image. She continuously pounded the water screaming obscenities and death threats at the pony contained within. "Why did you have to hurt your friends like that?!" she screamed. "Why did you let them get so close to you at all! Why did you have to hurt them like that?!"

Her hoof slammed into the water one final time but her reflection would not dissipate. It continued to exist as long as she was there to look at it. Her face contorted into a snarl. "I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!" she screeched. "If you were dead then you wouldn't hurt my friends any more!"

She breathed heavily as she stared down at the Rarity in the water. Her glare never wavered as the turbulence that she had triggered in the water slowly died down, leaving the lake as still and tranquil as it had been when she arrived. The Rarity in the water continued staring at her real world counterpart, but, to Rarity's surprise, the mouth of the pony in the water split into a wide smile. "Oh, but what you do feels so good, Rarity."

Rarity yelped in shock and quickly backed away from the water. Her reflection dissolved when she broke away from it, but its words continued ringing in he ears.

Because they were true.

Her eye twitched and she let out a mad chuckle. "Oh Celestia, please help me," she muttered to herself. "It just... feels so good."

Her whispers were cut short when she heard a voice behind her calling her name. She wheeled around and to her surprise she saw Twilight and Applejack standing behind her. Both of their eyes were red from crying. Rarity's stomach tightened when she saw that. If she wasn't such an evil pony...

She brushed some of her wet mane aside and sighed. "I assume you are here as a final goodbye before you tell the police to take me away to Celestia's execution chamber?"

Applejack's eyes widened. "N-No, Ah would never do that!"

Rarity let out a weak, humorless chuckle. "Oh? Well I assume you've come to disown me at any rate; kick me out of the group and leave me out in the mud."

Applejack shook her head again. "Rarity Ah would never do that."

Rarity frowned and crossed her forelegs. "What then, you surely aren't coming to say that you want the friendship of a monster like me!"

Applejack's jaw quivered and she took a step forwards. "Rarity... ya ain't a monster," she said quietly.

Rarity stood up and flashed Applejack a glare. "Yes I am!" she cried. "I was a serial killer for almost fifteen years! Do you know what I did to the dozens of ponies I killed?!"

Applejack's mouth dropped and she lifted a hoof to take a step backwards, but she stood her ground. "Rarity... Ah ain't gonna deny that what ya did was evil. Y-You did evil things, but Ah don't want to lose our friendship."

At this the fire in Rarity's eyes faded and she took an uneasy step backwards. "Why?" she whispered.

"Because deep down Ah know that the pony that Ah know and love is the real you. Ah asked Twilight if she...if she knew why you had done those things and she told me all about it." Applejack gave Rarity a comforting smile and took a step forwards. "Ah had no idea that somethin' like that happened to you, sugar cube, but it happened and it came out in the wrong way."

Rarity scoffed. "Understatement of the century," she muttered.

Applejack raised a hoof. "But... Ah know that it'll take me a long time to look past this, Rarity." Her eyes watered once more but she took a deep breath and continued on. "Ah want ta give you another chance. You don't want that life anymore, Rarity, you'd take it all back if ya could, Ah know ya would. Now that it's over Ah want ta give you another chance."

At this Twilight felt up to speaking her peace. "Rarity..." The unicorn turned her gaze to Twilight. "I...I want to apologize for how I ignored you. It was wrong to treat you like that when you came to me for help because you felt terrible about past mistakes. I..." Twilight took a deep breath. "I want to give you another chance too."

Rarity's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "B...But I don't deserve one!" she wailed.

Both Applejack and Twilight smiled and shook their heads. "Of course you don't," said Twilight.

"But that's one of the biggest jobs of a friend: forgiveness," said Applejack simply.

Rarity stared at her two friends for a moment before her emotions completely overtook her and she collapsed on the ground, sobbing hysterically. Twilight and Applejack rushed over to her and both wrapped her into a hug. Applejack stroked her mane. "Shh, it's alright, sugar cube, it'll be okay. Ah don't know how or when, but it'll be okay."

Rarity continued to cry until there were no more tears to shed.

Assertiveness, Cherries, and Tomatoes

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"Thank you ever so much for that delightful lunch, Pinkie Pie," said Rarity as her and her bouncy pink friend walked through the Ponyville market. "It has been far too long since the two of us got together for lunch."

"No problem at all, Rarity!" chirped Pinkie Pie. "I love spending time with my bestest friends!"

Rarity gave Pinkie a big smile which Pinkie promptly returned and the two of them began looking around to see if here was anything that they needed at the market. "Let's see now," said Rarity to herself. "I need carrots, celery, apples, milk—"

"Ooh, Fluttershy!" said Pinkie.

"Yes, Fluttershy," repeated Rarity absentmindedly. "Fluttershy, eggs, cheese—"

"No, silly," Pinkie giggled. "Fluttershy is over at the asparagus stand!" Rarity looked to where Pinkie was pointing and sure enough, Fluttershy was standing by the asparagus stand next to a pair of snobby ponies who were giving her snide remarks.

"Would you mind moving back? You're in my personal space," said the first one in a voice that Rarity found immensely grating on her ears.

"But..." said Fluttershy meekly.

"Seriously, do you need your asparagus so badly? Get a life!" said the other one. Somehow her voice was even more annoying.

Fluttershy lowered her head and slunk backwards, not even noticing Pinkie and Rarity. "Oh, okay, there's no rush," said the dejected pegasus.

Rarity glared at the two ghastly ponies. She couldn't stand to see them treat Fluttershy like that! "Fluttershy!" she said, causing Fluttershy to stop backing up. "You mustn't let them treat you that way!"

"Oh, it's...it's really no big deal," mumbled Fluttershy.

"It's bigger than big, it's double-big!" exclaimed Pinkie. "You are a pony with a problem!"

"What problem?" asked Fluttershy. Pinkie and Rarity traded calculating looks and nods, prompting Pinkie Pie to move Fluttershy to face the asparagus stand. Before Fluttershy could react, Pinkie zipped past her so fast that she spun around and fell down to the ground in a dazed heap.

"Oh, go ahead Pinkie Pie, you first," said Fluttershy.

"Right there!" said Pinkie Pie as she tapped Fluttershy's forehead. "That's the problem!"

"You've got to stop being such a doormat!" lectured Rarity.

Fluttershy's eyes widened in terror. "A doormat?"

"A pushover, darling," said Rarity. "You've got to stand up for yourself! Promise us!"

"Okay," said Fluttershy with an almost irritating level of uncertainty. "I promise." Rarity rolled her eyes. Only Fluttershy could prove how much of a pushover she was by promising to not be a pushover. "Oh good!" said Fluttershy, noticing that there was still one asparagus bunch. However, before she could buy it herself, a geeky Earth Pony stallion walked by and quickly bought the last bunch. Fluttershy looked at the ground dejectedly. "Oh that's okay, I don't mind."

Rarity rolled her eyes. "Watch and learn," she instructed. She looked over at her target. This one would be easy. "Hold it right there, Mr. Small and Handsome!" she said as she walked up to the stallion.

"Who, me?" asked the stallion.

Oh Celestia, he was even more hideous this close up. She tried her best to sound seductive. "Well of course, you!" she replied. "Nopony ever called you handsome before?"

"Uh... that'd be a big no," the stallion deadpanned.

Gracious, it wasn't hard to see why. He was an abomination of nature. "Oh, well they should!" said Rarity. "How about flexing some of your muscles for me?" She lifted up his left foreleg to prompt him, which caused his bow-tie to begin spinning around rapidly. Stupid metaphors, she thought to herself.

The stallion gave her an annoying giggle and did his best to flex his muscles on his left foreleg. The strain that even this small action had on his muscles was immediately apparent and Rarity had to squint to see any change at all. However, years of her secret life meant that she was marvelous at faking emotions, so she gave an impressed gasp despite the fact that part of her wanted to vomit at this pitiful display.

"Oh my heavens!" she cried in fake excitement. "Do you think that a strong, handsome stallion such as yourself could give my friend the last asparagus?" she said as she used her magic to give him one bit and take the asparagus out of his saddlebag. He began babbling like the moron he was and Rarity secretly shot him a dirty look before turning her attention back to Fluttershy.

"See? That's not so hard is it?" she asked as she put the asparagus in Fluttershy's saddlebag.

"Um, I guess not," she said.

"Alright then," said Rarity, taking Fluttershy's list out of her saddlebag. "What else is on your list?"

"Let's see. I also need tomatoes," said Fluttershy.

"Then to the tomato stand we go!" said Pinkie.

The three friends walked over to the tomato stand and all three were glad to see that there were plenty of tomatoes left. They would not have the same problem that they had just had.

Fluttershy walked over to the stand and happily scooped three tomatoes into her bag before placing a bit on the counter. Rarity and Fluttershy both were happy to see that this particular tomato vendor was far more reasonable and didn't go out of her way to extort Fluttershy. Rarity was especially glad that she didn't have to kill her because without Scarlet Tomato around, Ponyville was struck with a tomato shortage for a few weeks. This new tomato vendor came about at just the right time to re-supply Ponyville with tomatoes.

Fluttershy began walking away when the tomato vendor cleared her throat. "That'll be two bits, not one."

"Oh you have got to be kidding me," said Rarity under her breath. "What in Equestria is it with these tomato vendors?!"

After a brief exchange, Fluttershy placed another bit on the counter before trying to walk away. Pinkie Pie groaned and all of a sudden, she popped up in front of the tomato stand.

"What do you think you're doing?" she asked.

"Minding my own business, maybe you should try it!" retorted the tomato vendor.

"Two bits for tomatoes is outrageous!" said Pinkie, pulling the second bit away. "One bit is the right price!"

"I say its two bits!" said the vendor, pulling the bit back over to her.

Rarity had seen Pinkie Pie pull some outrageous stunts before, but this was a new one. She was arguing back and forth with the tomato vendor, each pulling the bit towards them when Pinkie did something outrageous - as Pinkie Pies such as Pinkie are apt to do - she started arguing for two bits. However, the tomato vendor actually started arguing for one bit and before the vendor knew what had happened, Pinkie agreed that Fluttershy should only pay one bit.

Only Pinkie Pie, thought Rarity. Only Pinkie Pie.

Pinkie rejoined the group and Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie all walked away, giggling at Pinkie's successful antics. "See, asserting yourself can be fun!"

"I guess you're right," said Fluttershy.

"So Fluttershy, do you feel like giving it a try?" asked Rarity.

"Um, okay," said Fluttershy. Rarity was about to remark that she was being a doormat by taking the path of least resistance by agreeing to what they were saying right away, but Fluttershy's eye caught the cherry stand at that moment and she zoomed over. To Rarity's surprise, tomato vendors weren't the only ponies who could be extortionists. He was charging ten bits for one cherry!

Fluttershy looked at Pinkie and Rarity helplessly and they both egged her on, desperately hoping that she had picked up on something that would help her. Fluttershy turned back to the cherry vendor.

"Oh, hey, Mr. Handsome, I know you want to do the right thing because you're handsome and...and strong and big, handsome, strong guys are always nice to everypony, right?" Rarity looked on nervously. It wasn't the worst first effort but unsurprisingly it didn't faze the cherry vendor.

"Ten bits for the cherry!" he said flatly.

Fluttershy looked back and Pinkie egged her on, hoping that she would get it this time. Fluttershy turned back to the vendor resolutely. "Ten bits for one cherry is outrageous!" she said sternly. A small hope ignited inside Rarity. It was a good start to be sure. "I insist on paying you... eleven bits!" Rarity's eyes widened as the small hope for Fluttershy was dragged down into a basement of its own and violently murdered.

The cherry vendor's unfazed look quickly shifted to one of utter bewilderment at the pegasus' offer. "Eleven bits?"

"Um... I mean... nine bits!" Rarity and Pinkie traded a confused look, hoping that Fluttershy would recover but they were both aware of the likelihood of that.

"Now wait a minute," said the vendor who seemed just as confused as the duo and was trying to figure out Fluttershy's train of thought.

"Okay, twelve bits, but that's my final offer!" Rarity felt like she couldn't watch but she couldn't look away from the horror that was unfolding before her. Pinkie had literally dug a hole in the ground and shoved her head into it. Rarity put what she hoped was a comforting hoof on her head but it might have been more to steady herself.

"I think you're confused," said the vendor.

"Twelve bits, take it or leave it!" said Fluttershy.

"Okay, okay, I'll take it."

Fluttershy reached into her bag to pull out the money but Rarity snapped out of her stupor just in time to pull Fluttershy and her money away from the stand.

"Don't give him your money!" said Pinkie. "One cherry is not worth twelve bits!"

"But... I was only doing what you did!" Fluttershy insisted.

Rarity released her grip on Fluttershy's tail and shook her head. "It was a valiant effort, but you should refuse to give him your business and just walk away."

"But I can't let Angel starve!" said Fluttershy. "He won't eat it unless I make it just right!" Ah, so that's what this was about: feeding that stupid, abusive bunny of hers. Good gracious, she was even more of a pushover today than Rarity thought. "I need that cherry no matter what it costs!"

Before Rarity and Pinkie could react, Fluttershy began flying over to the cherry stand where the vendor was giving her a smug smile.

"In that case, twenty bits!" he said.

Fluttershy screeched to a halt. "Twenty! But... I don't have that much."

"Then why are you wasting my time?" said the vendor. Rarity gave a small growl of anger and walked over to the stand, ready to give him a piece of her mind but before she could, a mare walked past the stand.

"I'll give ya two bits for that cherry," she said as she place two bits on the counter and took the cherry.

"Sold!" said the vendor. He smirked and turned his attention back to Fluttershy. "Eh, tough break kid. Next time don't be such a doormat."

Fluttershy's face fell as she turned around and walked away, looking absolutely heartbroken. Rarity and Pinkie Pie looked at each other helplessly before Rarity noticed the cherry vendor cleaning up for the day.

No, she could still give that nasty stallion a piece of her mind. She flashed an angry look in his direction and marched on over to him. Pinkie Pie followed behind closely.

"Just who do you think you are?" she yelled.

The vendor looked up confusedly but took a small step back when he saw Rarity and Pinkie Pie in front of his stand. "Uh... can I help you?"

Rarity slammed her hoof on the vendor's stall with enough force to dent the wood. "You can help me by giving me a cherry for my friend!"

The vendor flattened his ears and uneasily scratched the back of his neck. "Well uh... I don't really have any cherries right now, but if you..."

"How in Equestria could you do that to her?!" Rarity snarled. "Do you have any sense of morals or ethics at all?!"

"Well lady I have a business to..."

"Extortion is illegal!" Pinkie Pie chimed in. "What you did was super-duper wrong!"

"Well you see..."

"I don't want to hear it," said Rarity, venom dripping from every word. "What you just did to her was unjustifiable! Did you know that because she didn't get that cherry, she's going to get hit tonight?"

"H-hit?" asked the vendor, his resolve faltering under the glares of the two mares.

"Yes! Her bunny is going to hit her if she doesn't do everything that he says, and now she has to go home knowing that she's going to more or less be in a world of trouble and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!" screeched Rarity. The vendor looked helplessly at Pinkie Pie, hoping maybe that she would be less mad or more reasonable than Rarity.

No such luck as Pinkie seemed just as mad with him as Rarity was. "You should be ashamed of yourself, picking on poor Fluttershy like that!"

"Whatever made you think that you could do that?!" asked Rarity.

The vendor glanced around the market, hoping that somepony would come to his rescue. "I... I..."

"WELL?!" said Rarity and Pinkie Pie together.

"I... well you see I..." The vendor looked around wildly. "We're closed!" He bolted away as if Cerberus itself was chasing him. Rarity and Pinkie Pie watched him go.

"That was super mean of him!" said Pinkie.

"Positively dreadful behavior," Rarity agreed with a nod.

"I don't think I'm wanna buy cherries from a meanie like him," said Pinkie. "And I'm gonna tell the Cakes to take their business elsewhere too!"

"I know he certainly won't be getting any of my business ever again!" said Rarity. In fact, he won't ever sell another cherry as long as he lives. I think I'll have a little fun with him and the tomato vendor tonight.

"Are you okay Rarity?" asked Pinkie.

Rarity snapped out of her thoughts. "Hmm? Oh, yes, I'm fine. I guess I was just lost in thought for a moment there."

"Well that's silly!" Pinkie giggled. "It's your mind, how can you get lost in there?"

"No, Pinkie, I... uh... never mind," said Rarity. There was no point explaining it. Pinkie seemed to have moved on.

"Hey, do you want to help me out today at Sugarcube Corner? The Cakes are taking a vacation this week and my Pinkie Sense is telling me that this is going to be a really busy day!"

"Well of course I'll help you, darling," said Rarity. "I just finished a large order of dresses and I need something to do right now."

"Well then let's go!" said Pinkie happily.

* * * *

The two of them reached Sugarcube Corner after a few minutes and Pinkie opened the door to the shop and the two walked in to get ready for the lunch rush.

While entering the shop, the duo noticed that somebody had slipped a leaflet of sorts onto the ground which Pinkie examined interestedly.

"The Incredible Iron Will turns doormats into dynamos," she said as she scanned the leaflet. Rarity walked over and read it over her shoulder. "Assertiveness seminar today, hedge maze center."

"Well, Fluttershy could certainly use something like that, couldn't she?" said Rarity.

"I hope she goes, actually," said Pinkie Pie. "Maybe a professional could really help her!"

"It is possible," said Rarity.

Pinkie Pie shrugged and tossed the flyer in the trash and walked behind the counter. "Okay, I'll make the goodies for right now and you can go behind the counter and take orders!"

"Of course," said Rarity as she took her spot behind the counter.

The next few hours were fairly hectic, as all of Ponyville seemed to be at Sugarcube Corner for their lunch breaks. Rarity frantically moved around trying to get orders filled and she sometimes even found herself in the kitchen when Pinkie needed some extra help bringing larger batches of sweets out of the oven. On occasion the two would even trade off as Rarity's magic meant that she was faster in things like getting supplies and organizing the sweets.

After a few hours, Rarity was in the basement getting a large amount of flour when she heard a voice that was distinctly Fluttershy's, but something was... different. She looked in the direction of her voice to see Fluttershy lividly staring down a pony that had apparently just cut in front of her in line.

"Now go to the back of the line where you belong!" the butter pegasus growled.

Rarity blinked and rubbed her eyes to make sure that this wasn't an illusion, that she wasn't just seeing things but she didn't seem to be. To her surprise, not only did the mare that had cut in front of Fluttershy move behind her, but every single pony in the line did so as well. Fluttershy smiled at her stunning success and moved up to the counter.

"Heeey, look at you!" said an impressed Pinkie Pie.

Rarity walked up next to Pinkie behind the counter, equally impressed. "Your attitude is so feisty! It's fabulous!"

"Looks like that monster's workshop really paid off!" said Pinkie. Rarity briefly wondered just how Pinkie knew that Fluttershy was at the workshop but she settled on 'it's Pinkie Pie'.

"Iron Will's not a monster, he's a Minotaur," Fluttershy corrected, "and a true inspiration! His techniques really work!"

"Well, they've certainly made a difference in how you carry yourself," said Rarity. "You truly are a whole new Fluttershy!"

"Yes, I am," said Fluttershy. "And New Fluttershy feels pretty stoked about New Fluttershy."

'Well Old Pinkie Pie feels really proud of New Fluttershy," said Pinkie. "Proud as pink punch!" Pinkie zipped under the counter and returned with a bowl of pink punch which she placed on the counter. "Want some?" she asked before breaking out into hysterical giggles.

Rarity was about to join in the laughter, but Fluttershy seemed less than amused, and her face twisted into an uncharacteristic snarl. "You laugh at me, I wrath at you!" she growled before she shoved the bowl onto Pinkie's head, soaking the pink pony from head to hooves.

Rarity stared at Fluttershy with her mouth open in shock. Fluttershy turned around and flew away.

"Bye girls!" she said happily.

"Did she just... pour punch on your head?" asked a bemused Rarity.

Pinkie took the bowl off of her head and placed it on the counter. "Uh... yeah I think she did," said Pinkie.

"Do you think something's wrong?" asked Rarity. "Why would she do something like that?"

"I don't know," said Pinkie Pie, shaking her head. "Maybe we'd better go out and talk to her about it."

"I think you're right," said Rarity and the two trotted out of the shop.

What they saw only made them more shocked.

Fluttershy had called for a taxi and within seconds one stopped for her. However, a rather rude stallion immediately jumped into the taxi, stealing it from Fluttershy.

Fluttershy's face darkened and rage contorted her features. "Oh no you don't!" she snarled. "You cut in line, I'll take what's mine."

At that moment, Fluttershy literally tackled the stallion and began beating him up before she shoved him out of the taxi.

"Nopony pushes New Fluttershy around. NOPONY!" screeched Fluttershy. The taxi driver immediately ran off, taking an angry Fluttershy with him.

"Old Pinkie Pie is not so sure that New Fluttershy is such a good idea after all," said Pinkie Pie nervously.

"Old Rarity agrees," said Rarity.

"What are we gonna do?" asked Pinkie Pie. "Will she just get even angrier if we confront her about this?"

"I don't know, darling," said Rarity. "But in all honesty I don't see any other options. We can't just let her keep acting like she is!"

Pinkie looked uncertainly at the retreating taxi. "Maybe, but I really care about Fluttershy and I want to see her get through this!"

"Then we are agreed," said Rarity. "We go bite the bullet and talk to Fluttershy about her behavior."

"Okay... let's go," said Pinkie with a nod.

* * * *

Rarity and Pinkie Pie walked over the hill towards Fluttershy's house to see that her attitude had gotten far worse. She was talking to somepony that seemed to be a tourist of some sort. They were both looking at a postcard that had been dropped in a puddle. Based on Fluttershy's reaction, she seemed to blame the tourist.

"You make me lose, I blow my fuse!" she said angrily. She then grabbed the tourist's camera in her mouth and used it to swing the tourist around in the air and throw him as far as she could.

Rarity and Pinkie Pie looked at each other, the feeling of unease that they had been feeling ever since 'New Fluttershy' had shown up at Sugarcube Corner increasing.

"Fluttershy," said Rarity. "What are you doing? That's no way to behave!"

"Didn't you see how he treated New Fluttershy?" asked Fluttershy, turning to the duo. "And he thought New Fluttershy was a pushover!"

"No, sweetie, he didn't," said Rarity, doing her best to calm Fluttershy down. "We saw the whole thing. We think you've taken your assertiveness training a little too far."

Whatever mood Rarity had hoped to put Fluttershy in with this, she failed completely as Fluttershy seemed more irate than ever. "What?! You just want New Fluttershy to be a doormat like Old Fluttershy!" yelled the angry yellow pegasus. "Well Old Fluttershy is gone!"

"New Fluttershy? Old Fluttershy?" said Pinkie confusedly.

"What happened to Nice Fluttershy?" asked Rarity, hoping to appeal to to whatever decent side was left. "We want that Fluttershy back!" No dice as Fluttershy seemed even angrier.

"No! You want Wimp Fluttershy," she spat as she angrily circled them. "You want Pushover Fluttershy, you want Do-Anything-To-Her-And-She-Won't-Complain Fluttershy!"

"Too many Fluttershys to keep track of!" said Pinkie. "Make it stop!"

Fluttershy tapped Pinkie's head and a malicious grin spread over her face. "Things getting to complicated for your simple little brain, Pinkie Pie?" teased Fluttershy as she pushed Pinkie Pie back into Rarity's forelegs.

Oh, now she had crossed a line. Rarity was really beginning to lose her patience with Fluttershy. "Now stop right there!" she said. "Let's not let things dissolve into petty insults!"

Fluttershy turned her nasty attention towards Rarity now. "Why not? I thought petty was what you were all about, Rarity, with your petty concerns about fashion!"

Oh she had done it now. Rarity now knew what it was like to be betrayed by a good friend. How could Fluttershy say that to her?

Pinkie jumped up to her defense. "Hey, leave her alone! Fashion is her passion!"

Fluttershy still wasn't calming down. "And what are you passionate about?" Fluttershy retorted. "Birthday cake? Party hats?" Rarity's eyes filled with tears. Would she have to...? But Fluttershy wasn't done. "I can't believe that the two most frivolous ponies in Ponyville are trying to tell New Fluttershy how to live her life, when they are throwing their lives away on pointless pursuits that nopony else gives a flying feather about!"

It was all Rarity and Pinkie could do to hold back the tears. Rarity's mind was racing as she heard the nasty things that Fluttershy was saying and she felt pain and betrayal in her very soul. Would she have to go into Rarity's basement? She didn't want that but how could she let this Fluttershy continue to treat all of Ponyville like this?

"It looks like Nasty Fluttershy is here to stay!" whimpered Pinkie.

"I cannot believe what that monster Iron Will has done to you!" cried Rarity.

The two decided that they couldn't stand to be around Nasty Fluttershy anymore and they both turned around and ran away, crying their eyes out. Rarity heard Fluttershy yell something, but Rarity tuned it out. She didn't want to hear anything that Fluttershy had to say to her ever again!

Pinkie and Rarity both ran until they found themselves back at Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie led Rarity up to her room and once they were inside, their crying began in earnest once more. They hugged each other and sobbed into each other's shoulders.

"Rarity, why would she say things like that?" asked Pinkie Pie helplessly.

"I... I don't know," said Rarity. "She just... I don't even know."

"What are we gonna do?" asked Pinkie as she pulled out of the hug and wiped her eyes. "That's not Fluttershy in there. How can we find the real Fluttershy?"

Rarity sighed and wiped her eyes too. "I don't know," she said. "I... I think I just want to go home right now. I need to organize my thoughts."

Pinkie Pie nodded, her ears drooped. "I'll see you later, then."

Rarity slowly made the trek back to her house, dejection and betrayal weighing her down every step of the way. She opened the door to her house and wasted no time in getting down into her basement. She walked over to her workbench and popped it open, examining her gleaming collection of knives.

"Can I really kill Fluttershy?" Rarity clicked her tongue and shook her head. "You're being foolish, Rarity. This will all be resolved somehow."

Rarity slowly reached into her workbench and pulled out her steak knife. "But what if it didn't, Rarity? That Fluttershy is not a Fluttershy that I wanted to be around. As a matter of fact, that Fluttershy is a Fluttershy that I don't want around anypony. Any other pony would certainly be in my basement before the day ended."

"Fluttershy."

Rarity held the knife up to the light and ran her hoof down the flat of the blade. "How in Equestria could I kill Fluttershy?"

Fluttershy weakly tried to struggle out of the straps holding her down as Rarity removed her second wing with her meat cleaver.

"Rarity, why?!" Fluttershy wailed.

Rarity's eyes filled with tears as she ripped the wing off. "I'm going to ask myself that question for the rest of my life, Fluttershy." Rarity held the wing in her hoof and stared down at it, her tears dripping onto the feathers. "I don't know why you felt the need to act that way around us. We were only trying to help you!"

"I just made a mistake!" Fluttershy sobbed. "I was trying to me more assertive like you said!"

"I didn't tell you to be a jerk!" Rarity tossed the wing aside and slammed her hoof on the table. "I didn't tell you to go around being nasty to everypony!"

Fluttershy began crying in earnest now as Rarity put her meat cleaver down. "I didn't want to be afraid anymore." Fluttershy squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away from Rarity. "I didn't want to feel that I wasn't in control, that my life was dictated by how other ponies decided to treat me. I'm sorry it got out of hoof, Rarity. I'm sorry!"

Rarity had to turn her head away and took a few deep breaths to prepare herself for the soul crushing agony that she was about to submit one of her best friends to. She sighed and picked up her butcher knife "So am I, darling." She brought the knife close to Fluttershy's left foreleg and gently placed the tip on the fur. "So am I."

Rarity snapped out of her thoughts and immediately threw the knife back into the workbench and slammed it closed. She bolted back upstairs and retreated into her room where she threw herself on her bed and began sobbing. How in Equestria could those thoughts even begin to cross her mind? What kind of sick maniac was she that she would think about killing Fluttershy like that after one bad conversation? She wasn't fit to live, she wasn't fit to have Fluttershy call her a friend, she wasn't fit to try to help Fluttershy through this, and she should just stay in her room until this got resolved.

However, there came a knock on the door and Rarity got up to go answer.

To her surprise, Pinkie Pie was on the other side of the door, looking far more determined than she had earlier that day. "We have to go talk to Fluttershy."

"But Pinkie, you saw how she treated us last time! Are you sure that it will work?"

"No," she said with a shake of her head. "No, I'm not. But I feel that we have to try again! We have to fight for our friendship with Fluttershy! If Discord couldn't tear us apart, I don't see how Iron Will can!"

Rarity sighed and nodded. "You are right, of course." She wiped the tears away from her eyes with a hoof. "Very well. Let's go talk to Fluttershy."

The two walked in silence towards Fluttershy's cottage. In truth, Rarity didn't even know what to say to Fluttershy when they saw her next, but Pinkie was right; something needed to be done.

As they approached the cottage, Rarity and Pinkie Pie were surprised to see how dead everything looked. There were no leaves on the trees, the sky was overcast and no animals were around. To complete the depressing ensemble, all of Fluttershy's windows and doors were boarded up. "Has Fluttershy moved or something?" Rarity muttered

Rarity cautiously approached the door and knocked, hoping that Fluttershy was in there. She cleared her throat, still trying to think of something good to say if Fluttershy was in the house. "Fluttershy, darling, are you in there?"

"It's Pinkie Pie and Rarity!" added Pinkie Pie.

"Go away!" said Fluttershy from inside the house. Her voice was heavy with sorrow and regret. "Go away before Nasty Fluttershy strikes again!"

Rarity was heartbroken to see Fluttershy talk like this but at least it meant that she was switching back to the Fluttershy she loved. "Oh sweetie, we all said things that we regret."

Pinkie Pie frowned. "We did?" she said loudly, prompting Rarity to shove a hoof in her mouth to stop her from saying anything foolish.

It was too late as Fluttershy had heard her. "Pinkie's right. I'm the only one to blame! But don't worry; I'm never coming out of my house again! Everypony will be a lot safer with me and my mean mouth locked away!"

Rarity didn't know what to say. She wanted to say something to make Fluttershy feel better, to make her problems go away but she didn't have any eloquent speech to achieve that goal. "Sweetie, Pinkie Pie doesn't blame you and neither do I! You just received some bad advice from that Iron Will character."

"Yeah," said Pinkie Pie. "He's the one who made you act all super-duper nasty!" Rarity glared at her and hit her shoulder, trying to get her to exercise some tact. Pinkie caught on and changed her track. "What I mean is, there are other ways to assert yourself besides yelling at everypony."

"You can stand up for yourself without being unpleasant about it," agreed Rarity.

"Uh... I'm not sure I can," said Fluttershy sadly. "I'm too far gone. Whenever I try to assert myself, I become a monster!"

"Oh sweetie, you're not a monster," said Rarity.

"No, said Pinkie Pie, "but he is." Rarity turned to see that Pinkie Pie was pointing towards a gigantic Minotaur who was standing on top of a grey goat. Rarity and Pinkie Pie walked up to him, each knowing that he had to be Iron Will.

Iron Will stepped off of the goat and looked just beyond Rarity and Pinkie. "Iron Will's my name, training ponies is my game!" he said as he gave a thumbs up to nothing. Rarity and Pinkie looked to see where he was looking but they didn't see anypony there. They shrugged it off and Rarity began working to get Iron Will away from Fluttershy.

"What a darling little catchphrase," she said sweetly.

"Your friend loved Iron Will's catchphrases!" he said, putting them both in headlocks. "Word on the street is that she doesn't take no guff from nopony. So, Iron Will is here to collect Iron Will's fee!"

Pinkie looked desperately at Rarity. "Fluttershy is in no shape to deal with that creep!"

Rarity took the hint and rushed up to Iron Will. "I'm sure that a big, brave, powerful, and rich monster - I mean, minotaur - like you doesn't need that money right away. You can afford to come back later."

"Are you kidding? Fluttershy is overdue as it is." The duo reached the door and Iron Will picked Rarity up by the horn and dropped her into a bush. "Iron Will collects now!"

Rarity popped her head out of the bush and spat out a few leaves. She spotted Pinkie Pie going up to Iron Will. "Do something!"

Pinkie Pie did do something. Rarity watched once more as Pinkie Pie used her confusion techniques to make Iron Will promise that he wouldn't come back until the next day to get Fluttershy's money. Seriously, how does she do that?

However, before Iron Will could leave, Fluttershy sneezed from inside her house. Rarity's heart sank as Iron Will heard it and tossed Pinkie aside as she tried to stop Iron Will. He ripped the boards off of Fluttershy's door before quietly knocking, causing Fluttershy to exit her home. Iron Will began insisting that Fluttershy pay him immediately before Fluttershy said something that Rarity thought assured her imminent destruction.

"Um... no," she said. Rarity's jaw dropped and Pinkie Pie fainted. Even Iron Will's goats seemed a little unsettled. In spite of Iron Will's threats, Fluttershy actually managed to keep her cool.

"As I recall, during your workshop you promised one hundred percent guaranteed or you pay nothing. Well, I'm not satisfied!"

Iron Will looked just as shocked as Rarity felt. "What do you mean you're not satisfied!? Everypony has always been satisfied!"

"Well, I guess I'm the first then," said Fluttershy. "But since I'm not satisfied, I refuse to pay. It’s as simple as that."

Rarity had to push Pinkie's mouth closed but in all honesty, her jaw was about to hit the ground too.

Iron Will and his goats huddled up before the minotaur tried to cut a deal with Fluttershy, but she was having none of it.
"I'm sorry, but no means no!"

"No means no, huh?" Iron Will frowned and stepped onto one of his goats. "Nopony's ever said that to me before. Huh... I gotta remember that. That's a good catchphrase for my new workshop!"

With that, Iron Will and his goats walked away, leaving Fluttershy alone for good. Pinkie and Rarity rushed over to her and pulled her into a hug.

"You were amazing Fluttershy, you totally stood up to that monster!" said Pinkie Pie.

"In fact you didn't change at all!" said Rarity. "You were the same old Fluttershy all we've always loved."

"The one we've missed," Pinkie agreed.

"Don't worry," said Fluttershy with a smile. "Old Fluttershy is back for good. I'm sorry I took the whole 'assertiveness' thing too far. Friends?"

"Friends!" said Pinkie Pie and Rarity together as they pulled Fluttershy into another hug, laughing as they did.

* * * *

"How in Equestria does one go about killing a minotaur?"

That was the big problem that Rarity found herself facing right now. In fact, she almost felt like she would be biting off more than she could chew with her next round of victims. So far she had Iron Will, his goats, the cherry vendor, those rude ponies at the asparagus stand, and the tomato vendor. That was eight victims right there.

She groaned and rubbed her head. This was going to be difficult. However, now that she thought about it, she didn't even know where Iron Will would be going.

She banged her head on the wall, hoping desperately that she could find Iron Will soon.

Wait a tick.

Rarity's head popped up and a sly smile crossed her face. "Who says that you need to kill them all at once, Rarity? Why can't I simply divide and conquer?: Rarity chuckled quietly. "Or kill, I suppose."

She may not be able to find Iron Will, but there were two other ponies that she had on her list that she knew exactly where they were. It was just a matter of getting them into her basement. Once she did, they would suffer for the way that they treated Fluttershy. Oh yes, they will suffer.

* * * *

Rarity smiled at the unconscious forms of the two market vendors that were currently spread out on her basement floor. She had hoped that they would wake up by now, but it was no big problem as they would surely wake up soon and then the real fun would begin.

Overall the actual kidnappings could have gone a little better as Rarity had to inject the cherry vendor with two needles - something she found out the hard way - and she also had to wait for an hour while the family of the tomato vendor went home before she made her move, and even when she did she found that the vendor locked her door at night, so she actually had to pick the lock, something that she hadn't had to do in years. Still, the two of them were here now, and that was all that mattered.

She had decided to do something new this time: she would only kill one of them. Oh sure, both would die that night, but she would only end one of them herself. Her table had been put to the side, leaving a large empty space in the middle of the room, which was where the two ponies now lay unconscious. Rarity grinned when she thought of what was in store for them.

After a few more minutes of waiting, Rarity saw that the two of them were waking up. As usual, they both woke up and gave startled yelps when they saw their surroundings but they thankfully didn't scream. Rarity cleared her throat and the two looked over at her, their eyes wide with fear.

"Glad to see that the two of you are awake," she said with a pleasant smile.

The tomato vendor flinched back and flattened her ears. "What's going on?"

"Oh I'll get to that in just a moment," she said. "First, I feel that proper introductions are in order. My name is Rarity. I own this fine establishment where I design dresses and moonlight as a serial killer. What are your names?"

The two looked at each other, neither answering Rarity. "Is this some kind of prank?" the cherry vendor asked.

Rarity groaned and facehooved. "No, it isn't, and that wasn't a rhetorical question. What are your names?"

"Uh, I'm Cherry Bomb," said the cherry vendor.

"I'm Sweet Tomato," said the tomato vendor.

"Excellent!" said Rarity. "Now that introductions are out of the way, let's get down to business. Do you know why you are here?"

The two shook their heads.

Rarity groaned and facehooved again. Ponies could be so slow sometimes. "Think back to when you saw me last! What were you doing?"

Cherry Bomb's eyes widened when the realization of who Rarity was entered his mind. "You... you were with that pink pony, yelling at me for—"

"For extorting my dear friend Fluttershy and overall being a jerk to her. Yes that's right."

Cherry Bomb frowned and leaned back a few inches."Is that why I'm here?"

Rarity rolled her eyes. "Well duh. Can you think of any other times you pissed me off?"

Sweet Tomato whimpered and flattened her ears. "Is that why I'm here too?"

Rarity smiled at her. "Once again, right on the dot!"

"Oh no, this is all a huge misunderstanding then!" said Sweet Tomato, a look of relief washing over her face. "I wasn't extorting Fluttershy; I had legitimately raised my prices! You see, my rent is due and I need the extra money to—"

"Yes that's nice, darling," Rarity interrupted with a wave of her hoof.

"No, please! You need to understand that I was only—"

"I can assure you that I've heard it all before," said Rarity, idly examining her hooves. "You really don't need to keep going."

"I wasn't—"

Rarity shot her a dirty look and she instantly levitated a knife over towards her. "If you try to give me any more excuses for your vile behavior I will cut your throat right here and now which I know you don't want me to do!" Sweet Tomato shut her mouth tightly and backed away slightly. "Now then, I'm only going to say this once so you had better pay attention." The two looked at her fearfully, hoping that she would let them go. "I am going to let only one of you go. The other one will die right here in this basement."

"Which one are you going to let go?" Cherry Bomb asked.

Rarity smiled sweetly and spun the knife in the air. "Well, that's actually entirely up to you."

"It is?" asked Sweet Tomato. The vendor's eyes held the first traces of tears and her whole body began shaking.

"Yes, it is," said Rarity. "You see, I'm not going to kill either one of you if you two play along."

"What do you mean?" asked Cherry Bomb.

"I'm not going to kill you..." Rarity grinned and pointed her knife at both of her victims in turn. "One of you is going to kill the other."

The jaws of the two ponies simultaneously hit the floor and their eyes widened to the point where they overtook their heads. "Lady, you are completely out of your mind," Cherry Bomb deadpanned.

Rarity scoffed and rolled her eyes once more. "Well of course I am! But really, how much does that help you in this situation? One of you is still going to have to kill the other if one of you wants to make it out of here alive."

"And if we refuse?" said Sweet Tomato.

"I kill you both," she said. She levitated her hunting knife over to the middle of the room and held it aloft. She gave the two a large smile before she dropped it on the ground between the two of them. "So, get to it!"

The two looked at each other, then back to Rarity with determined looks. "No," said Cherry Bomb.

Rarity raised an eyebrow and cocked her head. "No? Why, whatever do you mean?"

Sweet Tomato glared at Rarity. "We're not gonna be contestants in this sick game of yours!"

"But don't you want to live?"

"Of course I do!" said Cherry Bomb. "But not everypony is like you!"

"I'd rather die than live with the knowledge that I had actually caused another innocent pony physical harm on purpose!"

"Well... uh..." Rarity frowned. "Hmm." She had to admit, this turn of events was unexpected. They were supposed to be ripping each other to pieces, not refusing to hurt each other. She needed to think up a new plan for the two of them and fast.

"So, I guess you'll just have to kill us," said Sweet Tomato.

"Or," said Cherry Bomb. "We could use numbers to our advantage."

Rarity cocked her head. "Beg pardon?"

Cherry Bomb and Sweet Tomato stood up and Cherry Bomb grabbed the knife. They began slowly advancing towards Rarity with a determined look in their eye.

"Oh dear," said Rarity quietly to herself. This was definitely not going how she had planned it. She held her knife in front of her, hoping that her experience would win the day for her.

"If you just let us go right now, we promise we won't tell anypony," said Sweet Tomato. Cherry Bomb nodded in agreement.

"Well I..." Rarity's words were caught in her throat as what they said actually registered with her. "I'm sorry, what was that?"

"We'll just be on our way and we can get on with our lives as if this never happened!" said Cherry Bomb. "All you gotta do is move aside."

Rarity sighed and lowered her knife. "Well, if you really promise, then I suppose—" Before either victim could react, she lunged forward with her knife, driving it deep into Cherry Bomb's throat. He dropped the knife and fell to the ground. Sweet Tomato screamed and Rarity turned around and kicked her in the face as hard as she could. Sweet Tomato was flung back and she hit the wall.

Rarity turned around to see Sweet Tomato clutching her right foreleg. Rarity suspected that she had broken it when she hit the wall if the crunching sound was anything to go by. Rarity smiled at her as she pulled the knife out of Cherry Bomb's throat.

"You know, darling, one of the first things you learn as a serial killer is that you really shouldn't hesitate to go straight for the kill when you feel that the situation is getting outside of your control." Sweet Tomato's sobs began echoing throughout the basement. "Why, you could be running out of my basement right now, free as a bird with no ill physical effects. Instead you hesitated and here you are covered in blood with a broken foreleg."

"Please, just let me go!" Sweet Tomato begged.

Rarity looked at her blankly for a few moments before clearing her throat. "You know that I really hate it when ponies say that to me, right? It would be like me coming up to your stand every day for fifteen years and saying 'can I buy some apricots?' You know that no matter how much you ask it's not going to happen!"

Sweet Tomato slowly began trying to crawl towards the basement door, her foreleg dragging uselessly at her side but her fool's hope forced her to continue, wishing that Rarity would let her out.

"Now this has been an interesting experience darling, but I'm afraid that I have other matters to attend to, so..."

With that, she grabbed her tray and began beating Sweet Tomato to death with it. She snarled as each blow landed on her skull or the foreleg that she had uselessly put up in an attempt to block the blows. Rarity kicked the second foreleg out of the way and with one final blow, she felt Sweet Tomato's head cave in, killing her.

Rarity dropped the tray and gave an angry grunt. This had all been far more rushed than she had wanted it to be. She had wanted to see the two violently kill each other and they had refused! Still, she would have ripped the winner to shreds anyway.

Rarity sighed and waited for the powerful feeling to surge through her; for the feeling of omnipotence that always came after a kill to flow through her veins, but this time it didn't come. This time she only stared down at the bodies of Cherry Bomb and Sweet Tomato and felt... nothing. After a few seconds Rarity clicked her tongue and shrugged. Maybe she was just tired after everything that had happened with Fluttershy. After picking up her tray and putting her knife back on it, she cleaned herself up and walked back up to the main floor. She closed the basement door behind her and slowly trudged up to her bedroom. It was time for a nap.

To Canterlot

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Rarity's eyes snapped open.

Craning her head to the left, she glanced at the clock on the wall to see that she had actually slept through the night and that it was seven o' clock in the morning.

"Wait, seven in the morning?!"

She bolted out of bed and rushed down to the basement, hoping that the two hadn't decayed too much over the course of the night that the smell would waft up to the boutique itself. Sweetie Belle was here right now, and if she smelled dead things in Rarity's basement...

To her relief neither of them had decayed to that point, but she knew that they would very soon. She sighed and got to work cleaning up the remains.

* * * *

Rarity walked out of the Everfree forest with a spring in her step. She always felt wonderful after a kill and today was no exception. Plus, she had six more lined up soon. That is, she had six more beings to kill when she actually found them. She grimaced when she remembered just how long it had taken to track down Flim and Flam, but it was all worth it in the end to be sure.

"You could kill the two ponies who were rude to Fluttershy at the asparagus stand, Rarity." Rarity stopped and looked in the direction of the market. "They're local. It wouldn't take a moment to find out where they lived. I'd just ask Pinkie Pie."

Rarity clicked her tongue and shook her head. "As wonderful as that would be, if the two of them plus the vendors all disappeared in the course of a day or two, ponies would start getting suspicious." She shook her head and walked back to her house. "Wait a week or two. Iron Will and his goats are more important."

She walked back into her house a few minutes later to see Sweetie Belle up and getting ready for school. "Good morning, Sweetie Belle. How are you today?"

"Just fine, Rarity!" said Sweetie Belle with a smile. "Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and I are all gonna go crusading after school today."

Rarity chuckled and patted Sweetie Belle on the head. Of course they were going to go crusading today.

Rarity glanced at the kitchen table to see that the mail had arrived. Sweetie Belle was at the table eating her breakfast as Rarity walked over. "Did you get the mail today?"

Sweetie Belle nodded. "Yep! I also saw that you missed yesterday's mail too so I got that too."

"Well, that was very thoughtful of you Sweetie Belle. Thank you," said Rarity as she used her magic to leaf through the mail.

Bill, bill, bill, invite to one of Pinkie's parties, postcard from the parents, junk mail, junk mail, junk mail... hello, what is this?

Rarity placed the rest of her main on the table and examined what appeared to be a leaflet of some sort. In fact, it looked quite familiar to her. Shrugging, she used her magic to open up the leaflet.

"The incredible Iron Will turns doormats into dynamos?" she mumbled to herself as she read the text. Her eyes widened. This was an Iron Will pamphlet! Maybe it would tell her where that nasty minotaur was headed next. She eagerly read the leaflet and sure enough, it had a list of all of his events on the inside. She scanned the dates and saw the Ponyville event that had obviously just passed. She looked one down to see that his next workshop was in...

"Canterlot."

Could she go to Canterlot now? She had no orders to fill and it was a Friday meaning that her shop closed early anyway. If she took a personal day then she could be in Canterlot by one if she left as soon as possible. Sweetie Belle would be fine for the day if she was crusading with her friends. Doubtlessly Applejack could watch the three of them if things got out of hoof. She smiled to herself. This was going to be a good day, she could already tell.

Rarity turned to Sweetie Belle with a sweet smile. "Sweetie Belle, do you think that Applejack could watch you three today? I have an exceptionally urgent matter to attend to in Canterlot today."

Sweetie Belle looked up from her meal with interest. "You're going to Canterlot today?"

"I am. I should be back by tonight, so you needn't worry about sleeping accommodations. I know that you can handle yourself for the most part while I'm gone since you'll be at school for most of the day anyway."

"Uh, okay then," said Sweetie Belle. "What are you going to Canterlot for?"

"There is a new fabric that I simply must have for the shop! It is on display today in Canterlot." Gracious, I needed to think of better lies sometime.

Sweetie Belle frowned and looked down at her breakfast again. "Fine, don't tell me."

Rarity gave a nervous giggle. "Yes... however, I must begin collecting what I need for today. You can see yourself off to school, right?"

Sweetie Belle nodded and put her dishes in the sink. "I've walked to school by myself a million times. I can handle it. I'm almost a mare now, you know."

Rarity smirked at her sister and had to hold back a little chuckle. Fillies, they always try to grow up too fast.

With Sweetie Belle occupied for the moment, Rarity opened up her saddlebag and scanned the contents. Her hunting knife and a few syringes were still there from the time she kidnapped Krissy. She didn't know how much she would need to kill Iron Will, but with enough hacking, anypony would die. She didn't really have the means to draw it out as much as she would have liked anyway as she would likely confront him in a place slightly more public than her basement. Shrugging, she finished packing by placing a bag of three hundred bits into her saddlebag. With all of that finished, she was ready to go. "Sweetie Belle, I'm off. I'll be back later tonight."

"Okay sis, see you later then," said Sweetie Belle.

* * * *

The train pulled into Canterlot after a six hour ride. It had been mostly uneventful, but Rarity really did enjoy seeing the mountains as they passed some of the smaller Equestrian towns. During the ride she had eaten the most delightful daffodil and daisy sandwich on the train, something that she just knew that she would have to try again.

She stepped off the train and opened up the pamphlet that Iron Will had mailed to her. She scanned it, hoping that it would inform her of what time the event was and where it was being held.

"Let's see, ah here it is," she mumbled to herself as she sat down on a nearby bench. "One forty-five at the Canterlot Pavilion." Rarity glanced up at a nearby clock. It was a quarter past one now; there was just enough time to make it to the pavilion to see Iron Will. She placed the flier back in her bag and went towards the pavilion.

With a little speed Rarity reached the pavilion at exactly quarter . She actually managed to get a spot fairly close up, and as such she could see the stage perfectly well. Thankfully, Iron Will started his show right away. She rolled her eyes as Iron Will started doing silly little dance moves to a tacky song while the crowd cheered him on. "Seriously, what do they see in him?" she muttered under her breath.

"Hello there ponies of Canterlot! My name is Iron Will, and I am here to teach you about being assertive! Stomp if you are tired of being a doormat!" The ponies in the crowd, sans Rarity, all stomped wildly. "Stomp of you want to learn to stand up for yourself!" The crowd stomped once more. "Stomp if you want to pay nothing for this seminar!" The crowd stomped once more before what he said hit them and they gave each other confused looks before laughing. "That's no joke friends," said Iron Will confidently. "Iron Will is so confident that you will be one hundred percent satisfied, that if you are not one hundred percent satisfied, you pay nothing!"

Rarity rolled her eyes again as she contemplated just how silly of a business model that was. All a pony had to do was lie that they weren't satisfied and they wouldn't have to pay anything. He should have at least charged a small entry fee if he was going to do business like that.

"You!" said Iron Will, pointing to a pony in the crowd. "Why did you roll your eyes?" Rarity looked around to see to her horror that Iron Will was pointing at her. "Iron Will wants you on stage!"

Rarity sighed and slowly trotted up on stage. This could potentially complicate her goals, but it could also help her achieve them. It all depended on how he reacted.

The minotaur crossed his arms and glowered at her. "Iron Will feels that you... wait, you?"

Rarity inwardly smirked at Iron Will's confusion. "I see you recognize me."

"Well, yeah." Iron Will scratched the back of his head. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to Canterlot to try to order some fabrics for my shop." Rarity motioned out to the crowd. "I stopped by here to see what all the fuss was about."

Iron Will's confident grin returned and he puffed out his chest. "The fuss is that Iron Will is going to turn all of these ponies into lean, mean, assertive machines!"

Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes again. "Oh I'm sure you will, but let the buyer beware."

Iron Will snorted steam and stomped on the ground in front of Rarity. "Do you doubt Iron Will's methods?"

Rarity grinned inwardly. Sure a direct confrontation was not in her best interests with so many witnesses, but the mere fact that the crowd seemed to be losing their trust in this monster more than made up for that. "Well, after seeing what they did to my friend Fluttershy, I think that I have some definite reasons to." Oh yes, it was so nice to knock this bully down a peg.

Iron Will snorted angrily. "Get off the stage!" he said. "You clearly don't need Iron Will's help being assertive!"

"Clearly," said Rarity. "I don't think that most of them do either." Iron Will looked absolutely livid now but before he could say anything, Rarity hopped off of the stage with the intent of quietly slipping into the back of the crowd to continue the seminar.

"Stop right there!" said Iron Will. Rarity turned around and looked back at Iron Will. "Meet me by my trailer after the show at three o' clock. I pity the fool who doesn't go where Iron Will tells them to when he tells them to go there!"

Rarity held a hoof to her lips to stifle a laugh, but she nodded all the same. "I'll be there."

It seemed that she didn't need to stay after all! She could walk around Canterlot for an hour or so while Iron Will finished up his silly little seminar. Then he would be hers.

Rarity decided to kill the hour she had by walking around looking through the shops to see if she wanted to get anything while she was here. She stopped in at a fabric store that she was particularly fond of and browsed around. To her absolute delight, she found a new fabric that would be perfect for her shop. She went up to the front desk and ordered three rolls to be sent to her home in Ponyville.

As she walked out of the shop, she realized how amusing it was that she had actually just done what she had said that she would do when she left this morning. She chuckled at the irony of it all and glanced at the clock. Five minutes to three. It was time.

She walked back to the Canterlot Pavilion to see Iron Will and his goats cleaning up from the show. When Iron Will saw Rarity, he nodded and beckoned her over to a nearby trailer. She nodded back and followed.

Iron Will held the door open for Rarity as she walked up to the trailer and stepped inside. He followed and locked the door behind him. Rarity opened up her saddlebag in anticipation. She would kill Iron Will then lure his goats into the trailer one by one so she could kill them. Nopony had seen her go into the trailer as far as she knew.

"Now..." Iron Will narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. "Would you mind explaining just what you were doing today?"

Rarity sighed and readied her syringes. "Well, I think that what I was doing was protecting the ponies of Canterlot from your evil ways."

"Evil ways?" Iron Will raised an eyebrow. "I'm just trying to help them be less of a doormat!"

Rarity rolled her eyes. "Oh don't give me that. Your seminar turned my friend Fluttershy into a complete monster. She used your techniques to act absolutely dreadfully around everypony she saw! She even turned on us and acted unpleasant when we tried to help her out."

To Rarity's surprise, Iron Will's jaw dropped. "She... she did?"

"Yes she did," said Rarity with a nod.

Iron Will sighed and rubbed his temples. "I just want you to know something. I never want to have that effect on ponies. I am legitimately trying to help them become more assertive, but I don't want to turn them into ponies that treat others like doormats as well. It just goes against everything I believe in."

Rarity snorted. "Uh-huh. Suuuree."

"No I'm serious!" said Iron Will. "I've been on the receiving end of ponies that have been overly aggressive! I know how terrible it is for the victims, I don't—"

Iron Will didn't finish his sentence. Rarity took that as the opportunity to levitate three syringes towards Iron Will and fire them at him. To her complete surprise, Iron Will's reaction time was quicker than she expected, and he moved his head in time to dodge all three.

"What are you—?"

Rarity didn't give him a chance to recover. She improvised and pulled the knife of her bag and quickly plunged it into Iron Will's chest. To her surprise, his skin was so thick that it only went in a few centimeters before it stopped. Iron Will yelled in pain as he saw the knife protruding from his chest. Rarity took advantage of Iron Will's surprise and tackled him to the ground before she threw her entire body weight against the knife.

She stood up, covered in Iron Will's blood as she watched the dying minotaur try to pull the knife out. Rarity gigged and placed her hoof on the end of the handle and leaned in next to Iron Will's ear. "How's that for assertive?"

Iron Will looked up at her helplessly before a look of anger crossed his face. With a snarl he batted her hoof away, stood up and pulled the knife out of his chest. Rarity gasped as Iron Will swung the knife at her, barely missing her as she ducked. She tackled him once more and as he fell, he dropped the knife on the floor. Rarity took a second to pick it up but it was all the distraction that Iron Will needed. He picked her up and with a loud roar, he threw her out of the trailer. Rarity hit the ground with a loud thud and she slid for a few feet before coming to a stop.

She stood up and discovered that she wasn't injured. She picked up the knife, ready to go for round two with Iron Will when she heard a loud scream coming from her right. She turned and was surprised to see a pair of Canterlot mares looking straight at her. "A knife! She's got a knife and she's covered in blood!" screamed the first mare.

"Somepony call the royal guards!" cried the second. "She's trying to murder somepony!"

Rarity's eyes widened in fear and she did the only thing that she could think of: she ran.

She dropped the knife and ran as fast as she could, hoping that she wasn't being pursued but guessing that she was anyway. She grabbed her saddlebag in her magic and ran through the pavilion pool which effectively washed all of the blood off of her before she bolted towards the Canterlot train station. It wasn't the best idea, but she didn't know what else to do. She couldn't stay in Canterlot, that much was certain.

* * * *

Shining Armor was doing a routine drill with a dozen of his guards near the Canterlot Pavilion when he heard the screams. Immediately, his troops rushed forward to see a pair of screaming mares looking at a trailer and pointing at a spot just beyond it. "What's wrong?!" he asked as he reached the duo.

"Oh thank goodness you're here!" The first mare pointed towards the trailer. "We just saw a mare come out of that trailer there. she was covered in blood and holding a knife!"

Shining Armor's eyes widened and he quickly turned to his stallions. "You six, go to the trailer. Whoever is in there might still be alive!" The group hurried towards the trailer to check inside. "Did you see who did it?" he asked the two mares. "Did you get a good look at her?"

The second mare nodded. "She had a white coat and elegantly styled dark purple hair. She had three blue gems as a cutie mark," said the mare.

Shining Armor frowned. "That sounds like... no, it can't be."

The second mare cocked her head. "Huh?"

Shining Armor shook his head. "Wait right here." Instantly he teleported back to his quarters in the castle and picked up a picture his sister had sent him not long after she arrived in Ponyville. Shining Armor teleported back in front of the mares to show them the picture. "Is this her?" he asked, pointing to Rarity.

Both of their eyes widened. "Yes!" said the first mare. "That's her, that's definitely her!"

* * * *

Rarity looked back and she was relieved to see that she wasn't being followed as far as she knew. She breathed a sigh of relief and quickly boarded a train back to Ponyville. She spent the last of her money getting a private sleeper car. She couldn't be around other ponies right now.

She walked into her room on the train and placed her saddlebag down on the bed. She sat down on the floor and took a few deep breaths to calm down. "Well Rarity," she said, "that was a close one. I'm glad I got away." She smiled to herself and stood up. She was sure that Iron Will was dead. Nobody could survive something as damaging as that. She had definitely felt the knife go into his heart.

However, before she could completely relish the victory over the minotaur, her smile faded and a feeling of dread set in. Her eyes widened in fear as she remembered the rest of the events following the kill.

Two mares had seen her. They had seen her holding the knife and covered in his blood! They had been calling for the royal guards who would undoubtedly check the trailer to see Iron Will dead inside. She had been caught committing a murder.

"Oh no," she said quietly to herself. "Oh no oh no oh no." Her eyes began to fill with tears and a whimper of fear escaped her throat. Her eyes looked wildly around the car. "Maybe you can escape, Rarity." Her voice came out in a squeak. "M-maybe you can get off of the moving train and go on th-the run and... and..."

With a cry, Rarity got to her hooves and began running around the car, trying to find a way to jump off of the train without killing herself from the impact. The guards would surely be waiting for her at the station and if she was still on the train when it arrived...

"Come on, Rarity, think!" she said to herself as she looked out the window of the car to see the ground whizzing by at speeds that would kill her were she to jump. "You have to get off before you get to Ponyville!"

She whimpered again as she ran to the other window, hoping in vain that some escape route would present itself and she could get off of the train. "You'll find a way off, Rarity," she said, her voice tainted with fear. "Y-you've gotten out of worse situations before."

Rarity ran to the back wall of the car, and that's when she saw it: an emergency cord. One pull of that and the conductor would know something was wrong and stop the train. All she had to do was hop off and sneak into Ponyville, then get Sweetie Belle and go on the run.

"Yes," she whispered. "Yes. We'll just do that. We'll dye our manes, coats and tails, and I'll get a job as a tailor or something. I'll change my accent, cut down on my kills to one or two every now and again, and.. and we can be happy that way." Rarity walked closer to the emergency cord and reached a hoof up to it. "Sweetie Belle will miss her friends, I suppose, but she can always make new ones. I know I drifted away from Cheerilee. S-Sweetie Belle will just be happy to be around her big sister."

"It's better than death, Rarity." Rarity placed her hoof on the cord. "Sweetie Belle will understand, I'm sure."

Rarity's leg began shaking, and her bottom lip quivered. "I-it is better than death. Still, Rarity, is there another way out of this?"

"No, Rarity, there isn't. You were incredibly foolish and you attempted a daylight kill!"

Rarity retracted her hoof an inch. "How else was I supposed to do it?"

"ANY OTHER WAY! You got greedy Rarity and now..."

The events of the day washed over Rarity and with a whine she collapsed on the ground and began sobbing. Despite a million different solutions going through her mind of what to do, none were remotely feasible, and one prevailing truth was left. It was over.

Rarity's eyes snapped open as the thought forced itself to the forefront of her brain. "I'm going to die," she whispered. Rarity raised her head and looked back at the emergency cord. "Pull it, grab Sweetie Belle, and tear her life apart, or... accept it." Rarity flattened her ears against her head. "I... I'm going to die."

"You can run without her."

"I can't live like that." Rarity's gaze trailed to the ground. "If I brought Sweetie Belle, I'd have somepony I loved, but..." Rarity slowly shook her head. "No running."

A tight feeling welled up inside Rarity's chest, and she slammed her hoof on the floor. "N-no, Rarity, it can't end like this!"

"But it will anyway. You got greedy Rarity, you messed up and now you're going to pay the price for your greed. You didn't have to kill him right then and there."

"But..."

"No. You could have waited, you could have waited."

"And now I'm going to die," she whispered. "Now I'm going to die."

Rarity collapsed on the ground and began softly weeping as the train pulled the murderous mare closer to Ponyville; closer to home for the last time.

* * * *

The train pulled into the station at half past nine. It was dark outside already, and Rarity knew that Sweetie Belle would be asleep already. She was surprised to see that royal guards were not swarming the station looking for her, but it seemed that life was going on as usual for these ponies.

She quietly walked home from the station, only vaguely aware that ponies were gossiping that a platoon of royal guards was headed towards Ponyville. If that was indeed true, then it really was the end for her.

She opened the door to her house for what she suspected was the last time. She sighed sadly and locked the door behind her. It wouldn't hold them for very long if they wanted to break the door down. She turned back around walking through her house and looking around at the dress forms. Each of them held a new design that she would have sold to customers... if any customers would come here anymore.

To her surprise, she saw Sweetie Belle asleep at the kitchen table. Her head was resting on her forelegs which were laid on the table. Rarity's eyes filled with tears as she looked at the sleeping filly. She walked over to her and shook her awake. "Sweetie Belle," she said softly. "Wake up, Sweetie Belle."

Sweetie Belle groggily opened her eyes and smiled when she saw that it was Rarity who had woken her up. "Hi, sis." She nuzzled Rarity's leg. "How was your day?"

"It was wonderful," said Rarity. "If you can believe it, I actually did find some new fabric for the shop. How was your day?"

"It was really fun!" she chirped. "We didn't get our Cutie Marks, but I had fun crusading around town with my friends anyway. We tried leaf collecting and cupcake making and we even tried kayaking! We didn't get out of the harbor for that last one before Applejack stopped us, though."

Rarity smiled and levitated her sister onto her back to began carrying her up to her room. "You didn't have to stay up for me, you know."

They were coming now. She heard a small commotion outside her door but she forced herself to enjoy this final happy moment with her little sister.

"But I wanted to." Sweetie Belle yawned and nuzzled the back of Rarity's neck. "I wanted to see my big sister when she got home."

A half laugh-half sob escaped Rarity's throat, and she had to put every ounce of energy into not breaking down in front of her sister entirely. Luckily Sweetie Belle was too tired to notice.

When they reached her room, Rarity opened the door with her magic. She carried the filly over to her bed and pulled the covers back before levitating her onto the bed. She gently pulled the covers over her and tucked her in. "I love you, Sweetie Belle," Rarity whispered. "I love you more than anything in the whole world. I want you to know that."

Sweetie Belle smiled at Rarity. "I love you too, big sis. I couldn't have asked for a better big sister than you."

Rarity smiled and kissed Sweetie Belle's forehead. She sat down, stroked her sister's mane and began singing.

"Once upon a time there was a pretty fly. He had a pretty wife, this pretty fly. But one day she flew away, flew away. She had two pretty children, but one night these two pretty children flew away, flew away, into the sky, into the moon."

Sweetie Belle's eyes closed and Rarity heard light snoring coming from her.

A large bang echoed from downstairs as the Royal Guards broke down the door but the filly's sleep went undisturbed. Rarity heard one of the guards ordering the others to search the house. "Don't wake up, Sweetie Belle," Rarity whispered as tears flowed freely from her eyes. "Please don't wake up. I don't want you to see this."

Rarity heard the door behind them open. "She's here!"

She kept her eyes on Sweetie Belle as she was pulled to the ground by four royal guards. The put hoofcuffs on her, but Rarity kept her eyes on Sweetie Belle as they dragged her away. "Don't wake up," she repeated. "Please don't wake up."

Sweetie Belle's eyes fluttered open.

Silent Night

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"Rarity!"

"Sweetie Belle!"

"Get her downstairs," commanded one of the guards arresting Rarity. Two of the guards wrapped Rarity's forelegs in their magical glow and she was dragged away, still reaching for Sweetie Belle.

Sweetie Belle threw the covers off of her and bolted out of bed in a futile attempt to prevent the arrest of her big sister. "Get away from her! She didn't do anything wrong!"

A guard shot a shield spell at Sweetie Belle which immediately encased her, trapping her inside a light blue bubble. She desperately pounded on it, trying to protect her sister.

Rarity was dragged downstairs and placed on the ground in front of Shining Armor who was looking grimly at the whole scene. Rarity saw that Sweetie Belle was taken downstairs too, still encased in the shield.

Rarity looked up at Shining Armor with fear in her eyes. "Don't hurt my sister!"

"We won't hurt her, but I can't promise you that we won't take her with us." Shining Armor turned his piercing gaze to Rarity. "How much does she know?"

Rarity looked around frantically as guards continued to search her house. "Nothing!" Rarity insisted. "She doesn't know anything about today!"

"Rarity, what's going on?" Sweetie Belle whimpered.

"Your sister just attacked a minotaur named Iron Will." Shining Armor stared down at Rarity, unblinking. "She fatally stabbed him in the chest with a large knife."

The thought briefly crossed Rarity's mind to deny the charge but she knew that it was no use.

"Rarity..." Rarity heard a sniffle come from Sweetie Belle. "Did you really?"

Rarity turned back to her sister and locked eyes with her. Sweetie Belle's expression, it was one of terror and confusion but it wasn't one that she could lie to. Slowly Rarity closed her eyes and nodded.

Sweetie Belle whimpered and shrank back. "Don't kill her."

"Well we don't have all of the details of the case yet." Shining Armor closed his eyes and flattened his ears. His shoulders were slumped slightly. "We'll wait on what's going to happen to her until we've figured everything out."

Rarity flattened her own ears and looked at the guards who were tearing her boutique apart, looking for anypony else, or maybe evidence, like her murder weapon. They'd find it soon enough, and that would be all it took to convict her. She watched one of the guards put down a basket of sewing needles, then watched as he walked over to the closet door.

The closet door that led to her basement.

Rarity's mind flashed back to the dream she had those years ago. The guards knew exactly where to look to find her basement where she hid her greatest secret from the world. It still frightened her, and now that the guards ransacked her home, the irrational side completely took over.

The moment she saw the guard reach for the door handle, a single squeak escaped her lips.

With all of the focus on her, the squeak might as well have been a cannon shot. Shining Armor didn't miss it, and turned his head to where Rarity looked, then back to Rarity. The guard standing outside of the closet looked over at her as well. Shining Armor narrowed his eyes and tilted his head ever so slightly.

"What's in that closet, Rarity?" He took a few steps towards her and knelt down in front of her so that he could look her in the eye. "What are you hiding?"

Rarity began blinking rapidly and did her best to flinch away from Shining Armor. "N-nothing! Nothing, I swear! It's just an old piano! I use it for storage!"

Shining Armor snorted and straightened up before looking over at the guard. "Be extra thorough when looking through it. She's hiding something."

"I'm not, I swear!" Rarity cried. "It's just a piano, I promise!" Rarity glanced over at Sweetie Belle, who was covering her head with her forelegs and shivering. "It's nothing at all!"

The guard opened up the door, revealing, as promised, the piano. Rarity did her best to give a relieved smile. "See? Just a piano, like I said."

Shining Armor scoffed and ignored her. "Keep looking. I want every inch of that thing searched."

The guard saluted and walked inside. He looked behind the piano and shook his head. "Clear."

"Check the piano."

The guard nodded and knocked on the piano. He frowned at the noise it made, and tilted his head. "Hmm. Seems a little it hollow." He ignited his horn, and scanned the piano before looking up at Shining Armor. "Yeah, this definitely isn't a normal piano. I can't sense anything inside of it, so it might open something." The guard knocked on the wall behind the piano, and his frown deepened when he discovered that he hit solid wall. "I dunno. Something..." The guard knocked on the wall opposite the piano, and his eyes widened. He turned to Shining Armor.

"Hollow, sir! There's nothing behind this wall."

Shining Armor nodded, and motioned for the guard to stand back. When he had, Shining Armor ignited his horn and dissolved the wall, revealing the secret staircase to the basement. Shining Armor nodded, and pointed at the guard in the closet, and another one nearby. "Check it out. I want to know what's down there." The two saluted and began walking down the stairs.

Rarity whimpered and did her best to cover her eyes with her forelegs. She couldn't watch it; she could watch the royal guards of Equestria find the evidence that would ensure her death.

The whole room was silent as everypony listened to the two guards walking down the stairs, each hoofstep getting quieter. Rarity's heart was skipping beats right and left, and she didn't even know if she was breathing anymore. She looked over at Sweetie Belle who was looking at Shining Armor fearfully.

Suddenly, everypony heard a loud shriek and the two guards who had been sent to explore the basement quickly bolted up the stairs. "What? What's down there?" asked Shining Armor wildly. One of the guards ran as far away from the basement door as he could but the terror of what he saw caused him to collapse onto his haunches, tears of horror falling from his eyes. He took his helmet off and put his head in his hooves. The other guard was rubbing his shoulder, trying to get him to calm down. "Would somepony please tell me what's going on?"

The second guard took a deep breath before responding. "I... I've never seen anything like it!" The guard shakily raised his hoof and pointed at Rarity. "I think she's a serial killer!"

Shining Armor's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "What?"

"There were pony skins hanging on the wall as well as manes, hooves, and we even saw two cut off faces hanging on the wall," said the first guard.

"I... I..." The second guard finally broke down and he covered his eyes with his foreleg, sobbing hysterically.

Shining Armor looked at the basement and resolutely trotted down the stairs, followed by three other guards. Rarity forced herself to lower her foreleg to see what was happening. Her worst nightmares incarnate were what was happening to her now. The brother of her best friend, the captain of the royal guard, was mere seconds away from seeing for himself what Rarity was. She looked at the two who had seen it first. The first one seemed to be calming down a bit more while the second was still sobbing hysterically.

After a few minutes, Rarity heard Shining Armor's hoofsteps echo on the staircase as he came upstairs. He walked back into the main room, his face completely expressionless. The other three guards quickly ran up the stairs behind him. One bolted to Rarity's bathroom and vomited, another sat on his haunches and put his head in his hooves while the third merely leaned against the wall. Finally Shining Armor slowly walked up the stairs. His eyes held no emotion. "Sir? Are... are you okay?" asked one of the guards.

Shining Armor stared blankly at the floor for a brief moment before he worked up the willpower to respond. "No," he said. "I'm pretty bucking far from okay. I don't know if..." Shining Armor blinked and shook his head. "Oh holy Celestia."

"Is it that bad down there?" questioned the guard.

"Worse," responded one of the guards who had gone down with him.

Shining Armor nodded before turning back to Rarity. His forelegs were shaking, and he was blinking rapidly. "You are both under arrest for this."

Rarity's eyes widened as Sweetie Belle began crying again. "No! She didn't do anything! She's innocent!"

Shining Armor looked contemptuously at Rarity. "I can't know that for sure," he said. "Twilight has told me that she practically lives here, and if you've been doing that, I can't know that she doesn't know anything."

Rarity looked desperately at Sweetie Belle who had been taken out of the shield and was now having hoofcuffs put on her.

"Please don't!" Rarity begged. "Are those really needed?!"

"Rarity." Shining Armor's piercing voice cut through Rarity's horror that her sister was being chained up like a common criminal, and she turned her head up to him. "Does Twilight know about this? Do the rest of the Elements?"

Rarity paused for a second before shaking her head profusely. Unfortunately, Shining Armor picked up on the pause and Rarity saw tears forming in his eyes. He turned to his second-in-command and opened his mouth to say something before he shut it again.

Two of the guards next to Shining Armor exchanged a glance. The first one leaned his head in a little closer to his captain. "Sir?"

Shining Armor began blinking very fast but he regained his composure. "I want..." His voice cracked. "I want you to place my sister and her friends under arrest under suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder."

"All five of them?" asked the guard incredulously.

Shining Armor nodded. "Yeah. All five of them."

"Please!" begged Rarity. "They didn't have anything to do with this!"

"I. Can't. Know. That!" yelled Shining Armor. "Do you think that this doesn't tear me apart inside, murderer?!" Rarity tried to stutter out an answer but she was cut off when Shining Armor lifted her into the air so he could look into her eyes. "My duties come before even my family, and if I have good reason to believe that Twilight is mixed up in all of this then it is my duty to arrest her!"

"But she didn't—"

"I have to arrest the other four too because of how close you all are! If Twilight knew then I can't guarantee that the other four didn't know anything!"

"But they don't!" Rarity insisted.

Shining Armor shook his head in disgust and dropped her on the ground. "Get her out of my sight," he snarled. "And get a team down here to go over the basement."

Four guards led Rarity and Sweetie Belle outside the boutique. A small crowd had gathered when they heard the commotion and they all gasped when they saw Sweetie Belle and Rarity being led away and placed in a police wagon. Rarity heard the crowd chattering amongst themselves. She scanned the crowd, hoping to pick up on some familiar faces so she could see them one last time.

She and Sweetie Belle were shoved inside the wagon and the door was slammed shut behind them. Rarity heard the guards talking to each other. "We gotta go pick up the other five before we go back," said one.

"Are they all gonna fit in there?" asked another.

"I think so," said the first one. "But if not, who cares?"

"But one of them is the captain's sister!" a third guard pointed out as the wagon pulled away.

"Well, my hooves are tied," said the first one. "If they go quietly then we'll have no problems."

Rarity stopped listening and turned her attention to her sister who was huddled in a corner, shaking violently. She moved closer to her sister and gently put a hoof on her mane. "Sweetie Belle," said Rarity quietly. "Sweetie Belle can you hear me?"

Sweetie Belle nodded slightly. "Why did you keep that stuff down there?" she whispered. "Why didn't you get rid of it?"

Rarity sighed and began gently stroking her sister's mane. "Sweetie Belle, do you remember when I said that my friends cleansed me with the Elements?" Sweetie Belle nodded. "Well, it didn't work."

Sweetie Belle looked up at Rarity. "You mean... you've still been killing all this time?" Rarity nodded. Sweetie Belle whimpered and tried to shrink down as small as she could.

Rarity placed a hoof on her shoulder. "I'm so sorry Sweetie Belle. I'm so, so sorry."

Rarity looked up and noticed that the carriage had stopped. She looked through the bars and saw Sugarcube Corner in front of the wagon. Rarity's eyes filled with tears once more. "Not Pinkie Pie." Rarity gently placed her hoof on the bars of the wagon. "Please don't do this to Pinkie Pie."

She saw four guards knock on the door of the confectionery which prompted a very tired looking Mr. Cake to open the door. his eyes widened when he saw both the guards and the police wagon outside. Rarity strained her ears and found that they were close enough to hear everything. "Uh, good evening officers, what can I do for you?" said Mr. Cake.

"We have an arrest warrant for one 'Pinkamena Diane Pie.' We've come to arrest her on suspicion of conspiracy to murder."

Mr. Cake gasped and Rarity vaguely heard Mrs. Cake ask what the problem was. She saw Mr. Cake motion for his wife to stand back before turning towards the guards again. "Look, officers, there must be some kind of mistake!" he said. "Pinkie Pie wouldn't harm a fly!"

"Is she here?" asked one of the guards.

"Well—"

"What's going on?" asked a distinct high-pitched voice that undoubtedly came from Pinkie Pie. "The twins are trying to get their rest and all of this banging is... oh..." Rarity's heart sank as she heard Pinkie Pie abruptly stop talking.

"Are you Pinkie Pie?" asked one of the guards.

"Y-yeah."

The guards nodded and shoved Mr. Cake aside. "Pinkie Pie, you are under arrest under suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder."

"I'm telling you, there has to be a mistake!"

Rarity's heart broke as she heard Pinkie Pie whimper in fear as hoofcuffs were placed on her forelegs. In a few seconds, Rarity saw Pinkie Pie being led out of Sugarcube Corner with a look of utter confusion and terror on her face. The Cakes looked on fearfully as Pinkie Pie was placed into the police wagon.

When Pinkie Pie saw that Rarity and Sweetie Belle were in the wagon too, she completely lost all control. She wrapped her forelegs as best as she could around Rarity and began violently sobbing into her shoulder. "Rarity, what's going on?! Why are they doing this? They said that I might be a murderer, but I've never hurt anypony in my entire life!"

Rarity didn't know how to calm down her friend so instead she just opted for stroking her mane as the wagon moved on to its next destination.

Pinkie continued crying throughout the entire ride before the wagon stopped once again. Rarity's heart skipped a beat when she realized that they were in front of the library. The guards knocked on the door once more. Rarity saw a sleepy Twilight open it and once again Rarity had to watch as one of her friends was arrested and put into the wagon.

When Twilight was put into the wagon, she saw a sobbing Pinkie Pie holding a frightened Rarity with Sweetie Belle silent in the corner. "Rarity..." She tried to move closer to the two, something made more difficult by the hoofcuffs. "What is going on? Why are we all being arrested?"

Rarity reached out her hooves and put one of them on Twilight's shoulder. She locked eyes with her, a grim expression on her face. "They know, Twilight."

Twilight's eyes widened and she shook her head. "No, no this isn't happening! We cleansed you with the Elements; there is no way that they could have found out!"

"Then why are we here?" Sweetie Belle whimpered.

Rarity flinched back and flattened her ears. To hear Sweetie Belle's weak, helpless voice and to know that she caused it hurt her to the core. But she wouldn't hurt Sweetie Belle much longer. She wouldn't do anything bad to her ever again. She wouldn't hurt anypony anymore in what little remained of her short life.

* * * *

The wagon moved slowly towards Canterlot in the dead of night, its occupants as silent as the night itself.

The seven ponies all sat silently in the carriage, pondering what was going to happen next. Each of the ponies had hoofcuffs on, something that Rarity found inexcusable but she was not in a position to argue it, and was looking contemplative.

Applejack's arrest had been as simple as Twilight's. The guards had knocked and they arrested her as soon as she answered. She looked confused when she saw Sweetie Belle, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight had been arrested too.
Fluttershy's tears hadn't stopped since her arrest, which came directly after Applejack's and even the efforts of Angel and some of the other woodland creatures hadn't deterred the guards from arresting Fluttershy.

Since Rainbow Dash lived in the sky, Rarity and the others hadn't seen her arrest. They only saw Rainbow flying towards the wagon, flanked by two guards. Immediately after that they had all been sent to Canterlot.

At the moment, Sweetie Belle was still curled up in the corner while Twilight did her best to comfort her. Pinkie Pie was still holding on to Rarity but her tears had stopped for now. Rainbow Dash was trying to comfort a sobbing Fluttershy while Applejack simply stared out the window, waiting for their arrival.

Rarity wondered if she should say something, but what would she say? She had just gotten her best friends and her sister arrested for crimes that she herself had committed. They were all innocent in this.

All of them except Sweetie Belle.

Rarity's eyes widened as she remembered that fateful day in the basement with Scarlet Tomato. Rarity hadn't been the one to kill Scarlet Tomato that day. No, it was Sweetie Belle who had done that. If the guards found out then Sweetie Belle would be executed, just as surely as Rarity was about to be! Even though Twilight has erased the memory of her actually committing the deed, she still remembered being down in the basement while Rarity mutilated her victim. That still meant death if the guards ever found out.

Rarity reached over and poked Twilight. She looked up, worry etched across every line in her face. Rarity leaned in and she was glad to see that Sweetie Belle had actually fallen asleep. "Twilight, what did you do in terms of a memory spell with Sweetie Belle?"

Twilight took a deep breath before answering. "I... I cleared her memory of her doing anything. She just remembers being down there, that's all."

Rarity closed her eyes and leaned her head back on the wall of the wagon. "But that's still death for her if they find out about that."

A tear rolled down Twilight's face and she nodded. "I promise to make sure that they don't. If I have to fight Princess Celestia herself, I promise that I will not let them kill Sweetie Belle as long as I have breath in my lungs."

Rarity subtly nodded, and her eyes trained down to Pinkie Pie who had also thankfully fallen asleep. She sighed and decided to try to get some sleep herself... somehow.

* * * *

She awoke after what she surmised was a few hours to discover that they had arrived in Canterlot. She saw through her window that a bunch of Canterlot ponies were looking confusedly at the police wagon that was being pulled towards the royal guard headquarters. She looked around to see that the others had fallen asleep as well. Good, they would need their rest if they were to deal with what was to come.

After twenty more minutes, the wagon screeched to a halt in front of the headquarters. The sudden movement woke the other six ponies up and they groggily sat up. The door opened to reveal a dozen guards motioning for them to exit the wagon. One by one, the seven ponies filed out of the wagon and were led inside the headquarters.

They were directed towards a room that turned out to be an interrogation room of some sort. There were nine chairs and a large table in the room, meaning that it was kind of cramped, and each of the ponies sat down at one. The guards left them alone in the room.

The group sat in silence for only a moment before Rainbow Dash spoke up. "Okay, does anypony here know what's going on? Why are we all being charged with conspiracy to murder and who are we supposed to have supposedly murdered again?!"

Rarity looked over at Applejack who was looking around at the others confusedly. When their eyes met, Rarity saw a look of comprehension cross Applejack's face followed by one of pure horror. Rarity merely nodded. However, the others didn't pick up on the subtle exchange so they kept talking. "I don't know!" said Fluttershy. "I can't see how they would think that any of us would be capable of something so terrible!"

"I've never hurt anypony," said Pinkie Pie. "What did I do to deserve this?"

Rarity gave her friend a comforting smile and put a hoof on her foreleg. "Pinkie Pie, you didn't do anything. I know for a fact that you will be released and that it'll just turn out to be a big misunderstanding."

Pinkie Pie nodded glumly. "I know you're right, but this is really scary!"

"I know this must be hard for you all," said a powerful, yet serene, voice that could only have come from one pony in all of Equestria.

The seven ponies looked up to see none other than Princess Celestia walk into the room, followed by a trio of ponies in suits.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight tried to stand up to question her mentor further, but Celestia raised a hoof and motioned for Twilight to remain seated. Twilight shrank back and flattened her ears. "What's going on?"

Celestia stared silently at the group, scanning their expressions for a moment before she turned to the ponies in suits. "Based on their actions thus far, I am confident that Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash know absolutely nothing about what is going on. I order you to release them."

Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow all breathed a huge sigh of relief as the ponies took off their cuffs and led them out of the room. They stopped briefly to look at the other four ponies. "Why aren't they being freed?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Because I believe that the four of them know exactly why they are here," said Celestia.

"Applejack didn't do anything either," said Twilight.

Celestia turned her piercing gaze to Applejack. "But she does know why you are all here, yes?"

Applejack sighed sadly and adjusted her hat on her head. "Ah... Ah think Ah do know what's goin' on." Applejack flattened her ears and looked at the ground. "No... no Ah know exactly what's goin' on."

"But she didn't do anything wrong!" Twilight insisted. "She only found out after the fact, when she was too late to do anything about it!"

Celestia's eyes narrowed slightly. "Nevertheless, she should have told me once she found out. She should have—"

"What would you have done in her position?!" Twilight snapped.

Princess Celestia returned Twilight's angry glare before she gave a frustrated sigh. "Release Applejack too. The other three are going to stay here."

Applejack rushed over to join her friends as the four ponies were led out of the room.

Princess Celestia used her magic to remove a few of the chairs before her, and the three ponies she was with each took a seat across from Twilight, Rarity, and Sweetie Belle. She focused her attention on Rarity first. "So, you're a serial killer," she said sadly. Rarity nodded. "Why?"

It was all Rarity could do to meet her gaze, but she forced herself to. "What do you want me to say? Does it really matter why? We all know that I'm guilty, and we all know what that means."

Celestia looked contemplatively at Rarity before turning to Twilight. "I take it this is the reason that you needed the Elements of Harmony that night?"

"Yes. Princess Luna thought that it might work if we used the Elements to cleanse her of her need to kill."

Celestia's face flashed with anger. "Luna knew about this and she didn't tell me?!"

"She only wanted to help her!" said Twilight. "She didn't want to see her die any more than we did!"

"So you thought that if she was cleansed then it wouldn't matter that she had been a serial killer?!" Celestia's glare hardened. "Cleansed or not, ponies still died by her hooves.

"Besides all of that, why in Equestria did you think that it would even work?"

"It did work for a time!" Rarity blurted out.

Celestia turned her gaze to her. "It did?"

"Yes, I went almost two years without killing anypony!"

Celestia frowned and looked between the two Elements. "But who wielded your Element?"

"Luna did," Twilight answered.

Celestia sighed and looked at Twilight sadly. "Even then Luna did not have the control over the Elements that she thought she did. Her hold on them was so weak that I'm surprised that they worked at all."

"But it did work!" Rarity insisted. "I immediately felt like I didn't have to kill anymore!"

"It was the Placebo Effect," said Celestia with a wave of her hoof. "Nothing more. You believed that you had been cured and so you were for a short while."

"Please don't blame Luna, blame me!" said Twilight. "She was just trying to return the favor of freeing her from Nightmare Moon!"

"I don't see that as an excuse," Celestia growled. "I see that as a betrayal. She should have told me!"

"What would you have done in our position?!" Twilight snapped. "Rarity is like my sister; would you have willingly let your sister be killed for her crimes?!"

"I did have to make that choice," said Celestia.

"And you couldn't bring yourself to kill her!" said Twilight. "You merely banished her to the moon. Well, we didn't want to kill her either, so we tried to cleanse her with the Elements!" Celestia's furious look slowly melted into one of sadness at Twilight's words. "In our own way, we did exactly what you did for exactly the same reason: we couldn't just let her be killed so we put all of our chips on the Elements of Harmony."

Celestia sighed and Rarity was surprised to see a tear fall from her eyes. Celestia used her magic to take off Twilight's hoofcuffs before she looked at Sweetie Belle. "What is her role in all of this?"

"For all intents and purposes, the same as mine. She found out about it but she couldn't bear to let Rarity die, so she let us hit her with the Elements."

Rarity tensed up, hoping that Celestia would believe the lie. Celestia nodded and removed Sweetie Belle's hoofcuffs as well. She turned back to one of the ponies in suits. "They are free to go," she said. The pony nodded and he led Sweetie Belle and Twilight out the door.

Now it was just Rarity alone in the room with two other ponies and Princess Celestia herself. it was all Rarity could do to meet Celestia's gaze. "Before we begin, just know that this hurts me more than anything I have had to do in centuries. You wielded and Element of Harmony and brought my sister back to me as well as defeated Discord. I feel that you could have been so much more, Rarity."

Rarity grimaced and looked to the two-way mirror in the room. She was a complete mess. Her mane was disheveled and her eyes were red from crying. "I've always been this way."

Celestia frowned and tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

Rarity sighed and flattened her ears. "I first killed three foals when I was eight years old."

Celestia's jaw dropped. "What?"

"They were schoolyard bullies that had cornered me in a creek that was very sacred to me. They were going to beat me up and I defended myself with a rock. I didn't mean to kill the first one, but the blow to the head was fatal. I killed the other two soon after with the rock. I got rid of the bodies of the colts by throwing their remains into the Everfree Forest and I buried the filly alive."

Celestia closed her eyes and had to pause for a moment to regain her composure before she returned to the conversation. "So you killed in self-defense the first time. Why didn't you simply tell somepony about what had happened? Why did you have to kill the other two as well?"

"I suppose that I panicked," Rarity admitted.

Celestia believed Rarity's lie and subtly nodded. "So why did you keep on killing?"

"I think that I just got a taste for the power that I felt when their lives were in my hooves." Rarity turned her head back to Celestia and a pair of tears streaked down her face. "I didn't mean for it to happen that way, but it awoke a craving inside of me and I became addicted to that feeling."

Celestia sighed and nodded. "Very well."

The room was silent for a brief moment before Rarity spoke up. "So... what now then?"

Celestia paused for a moment before answering. "Rarity, I have to be honest with you; this is, for all intents and purposes, your trial. This case is so open-and-shut that we don't need to go to official court with this." Celestia glanced back at the door. "Nor do I think that a public trial would be beneficial for either Equestria or your family."

"But they'll all know anyway, won't they?"

"Yes, they will." For a brief moment Celestia's intimidating stance faded, and it seemed to Rarity that she looked almost tired. "Many years ago, I made the mistake of publicly trying and executing murderers. It was painful for everypony, I think. I do not wish to do that to an Equestrian society that does not fully understand murder. Your actions will pain the nation, Rarity, but I hope to ease the blow by making this a quieter affair."

Rarity slowly nodded and managed a small smile of gratitude. "Thank you," she whispered.

Celestia fixed Rarity with a subtle glare. "I am not doing it for you. I am doing it for my subjects." Celestia raised her head slightly. "We shall discuss this no further. At this moment, I wish to get the hard part out of the way."

"What do you mean 'hard part'?" asked Rarity.

Celestia turned to one of the ponies and nodded. The pony opened up his briefcase and dumped what turned out to be a gigantic stack of photographs on the table. Rarity frowned and cocked her head. "These are the pictures of all of the ponies that have gone missing in Equestria for the past twenty years. I want you to tell us which of them you are responsible for."

"I suppose that I can try," she said. "I don't know if I remember all of them."

"Just do it," Celestia commanded.

Rarity nodded and used her magic to pick up the first photo. She examined it to see that it was a photo of the solicitor that she had murdered that fateful night with Sweetie Belle. She nodded and gave it to Celestia. "Him. I killed him."

The other pony took the picture and jotted something down on a notepad. Rarity picked up the second photo and examined it before shaking her head. "I had nothing to do with this one."

The other pony took the picture and put it back in his briefcase.

* * * *

Over the next four hours, Rarity looked through each of the photos to find her victims. Trixie, Scootaloo's parents, Scarlet Tomato, Cherry Bomb, Sweet Tomato, Janice, Trixie's Parents, they were all in there as well as many more. Each conformation seemed to make Celestia sadder and she looked to be on the verge of tears.

However, eventually Rarity finished looking through the photos and the two ponies organized them and put them in their respective briefcases to fill out the reports. Rarity looked up at Celestia and saw that despite herself, Celestia was crying. Not openly, but there were unmistakably tears falling from her face. She waited until her companions were ready before she stood up and began walking out the door. Before she reached it, she turned around and looked deep into Rarity's eyes. "Rarity, I sentence you to be executed by lethal injection at ten o' clock tomorrow for your crimes against ponydom. I wish there was another way."

Celestia left the room and within a few second, a guard came in and escorted Rarity to a secure cell. She gave no resistance and walked in, allowing the guard to shut the heavy barred door behind her. Despite the chilliness of the cell, Rarity only cared about the bed at this moment. She dragged herself over to it and laid down on it, too scared to even cry.

Goodnight

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With her head held low, Twilight Sparkle walked back into the main room of the royal guard headquarters with Sweetie Belle by her side. She looked sadly at Sweetie Belle, knowing that she would now have to grow up without a sister to look up to. Having an older sibling herself, it was heart wrenching.

When she reached the main room, she looked up to see Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy sitting in chairs that had been put out for them. When they saw Twilight and Sweetie Belle, they instantly stood up and walked over to them. “Twilight, thank goodness you’re okay!” said Applejack.

“We’re both fine,” Twilight muttered. “They let us go without charging us with anything.”

Twilight noticed Pinkie Pie look at the space behind her with a confused look on her face. “Where is Rarity?”

“Yeah,” Rainbow Dash agreed, "didn’t they let her go too? I mean, I’m sure that she didn’t do anything wrong, just like the rest of us!”

At this Twilight’s lower lip began quivering and tears slowly began streaming down her face. She let loose a single sob before regaining control. “Twilight..." Fluttershy gently put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. “What’s going on? What’s wrong with Rarity?”

Applejack’s mouth fell open slightly and her eyes widened. “Oh no,” she said quietly. “Don’t tell me that they're gonna...”

Twilight nodded. “Yeah, I think they are.”

At that moment, Sweetie Belle completely lost control and she collapsed on the ground, loudly sobbing. Fluttershy rushed over to her and scooped her up. She began rocking her back and forth and stroking her mane. “Shh. It’ll all be okay. I’m sure that they’re just gonna ask Rarity a few more questions and then she’ll be out here with us and we can all go home.”

Twilight wiped her eyes with her hoof and shook her head. “No, Fluttershy, she’s not coming back.”

“What do you mean ‘she’s not coming back’?” asked Rainbow Dash. “Are they keeping her here for a while?”

Twilight shook her head. “I imagine that she’ll only be here for a few days at most."

Rainbow Dash breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh that’s good. They’ll let her go after a few days?”

“No, they won’t,” said Twilight.

“Well if they aren’t keeping her here for more than a few days but they aren’t letting her go then then what…” A sudden realization hit Rainbow. “Twilight, they’re not gonna… execute her, are they?” Twilight looked up at Rainbow Dash and made eye contact with her.

Before she could answer, a royal guard walked up to them. “Princess Celestia has allowed you six to see the prisoner after they complete the operation.”

“Operation?” Applejack looked between the guard and Twilight. “What operation?” But the guard had already left.

“Twilight,” said Rainbow Dash, “you didn't answer my question: are they going to kill Rarity?”

Twilight looked back at Rainbow Dash and nodded. “Yes, Rainbow. I think they are.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened in horror and she shook her head. “What? Why would they do that?” she shouted. “She hasn’t done anything wrong, and even if she has, there’s no way she did anything so bad that they need to execute her! I know Rarity, and she wouldn’t do anything like that!”

“But she did,” said Applejack.

Fluttershy looked at Applejack uncertainly. “What do you mean?”

Twilight took a deep breath. “I think that she should be the one to explain when we see her.”

“Ah agree,” said Applejack.

“But… I don’t… I don’t understand,” Rainbow Dash stuttered. “What did… I mean… what’s going on? Why was I arrested this morning, and why are they going to execute Rarity?”

“Well, maybe this is all just one big misunderstanding,” said Pinkie Pie, trying to sound upbeat as usual. “I’m sure that they’ll realize their mistake and release Rarity. She’s a wielder of an Element of Harmony just like the rest of us, so they won’t execute her.”

The extreme amount of fatigue plaguing her mind and body left Twilight too drained to correct her pink friend. Applejack seemed to be in a similar mental state if her expression was anything to go by. “Should we try to contact her parents?”

Twilight nodded. “I’ll see what I can dig up." Before Applejack could respond, the doors to the station burst open revealing Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, Spike, and Big Macintosh.

“What are you doing here?” asked Applejack.

“We heard you got arrested and we came to see if you were alright!” said Apple Bloom.

Applejack turned her gaze Big Macintosh and glared at him. “Why did you bring ‘em all here? You shoulda kept ‘em at home!”

“Why?” asked Big Macintosh. “What’s goin’ on?”

Applejack opened her mouth to answer but she was quickly interrupted by Scootaloo. “Sweetie Belle!” cried Scootaloo. “What’s wrong with Sweetie Belle?”

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo rushed over to their fellow crusader and looked up at Fluttershy. “What’s wrong with her?” asked Apple Bloom. Fluttershy looked at the duo sadly but she didn’t respond.

“Big Mac, I want you to take the three of ‘em home,” Applejack commanded.

“Don’t. You. Dare send us home right now AJ,” growled Apple Bloom.

“Apple Bloom—“

“No! Our friend is here and she’s in some kind of trouble! We wanna stay here and help her through it just like you would do if it was one of yer friends!”

“What’s goin’ on here ain't for fillies to understand yet!” Applejack insisted.

“What’s going on?” asked Scootaloo. “What's so bad that we have to go home instead of staying to help our friend?”

“Wait, where's Rarity?” asked Spike, looking around the room. “Are they still questioning her? Where is she?”

The Crusaders and Spike both looked up expectantly at Twilight, hoping for an answer. “She not going to be coming home,” said Twilight.

“Why not?” asked Spike who was clearly growing nervous. “Are they keeping her overnight or are they—“

“She won’t be home ever again,” said Twilight. She knew that it was pointless to lie. They would all know in a few hours anyway.

“Why not?!” asked Spike.

Twilight looked down at Spike, willing herself to say what the four of them who had just entered were expecting to hear. Instead she merely shook her head and began walking out the station door. “I have to go find Rarity’s parents."

* * * *

Finding Rarity’s parents took much less time than Twilight thought it would. She contacted the office where the two of them worked and discovered that they were both in Canterlot at a convention, selling some nick-knack or other. The receptionist that Twilight talked to directed them towards the Canterlot Convention Center where the two were supposed to be stationed.

Twilight walked towards the Canterlot Convention Center and sure enough, the event was taking place just as expected. Twilight entered the convention and looked around the Pavilion for Rarity’s parents. She almost hoped that they weren’t there so that they wouldn’t have to see their oldest daughter be executed, but it was only a few minutes before Twilight saw the two of them behind a table presenting a product. Twilight walked up to them and in a few seconds, Rarity’s parents spotted her and waved. “Well hello there, Twilight,” said Rarity’s father with a smile. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“How are you?” said Rarity’s mother, smiling warmly at her. Twilight opened her mouth to respond but no words came. This was going to be harder than she possibly imagined. Rarity’s parents looked at each other confusedly. “Is something wrong?”

Twilight nodded and Rarity’s parents gasped, panic overtaking their previously casual demeanors. “Did something happen to Rarity or Sweetie Belle?” asked Rarity’s father.

Twilight nodded once more.

“Oh my Celestia!” said Rarity’s mother. “What happened to them?!”

Twilight took a deep breath and did her best to answer. “Late last night Rarity, Sweetie Belle, me, and my friends were arrested by the royal guards and brought to Canterlot for questioning."

“Arrested, what in Equestria for?” asked Rarity’s father frantically. Twilight's resolve finally failed her and she broke down crying in front of Rarity's parents. Rarity’s mother seemed to be crying as well. “Where are they?”

“They’re…they’re at the station with the rest of my friends. They released all of us except for Rarity.”

“Why didn’t they release Rarity?!” asked Rarity’s father.

“Because she’s guilty,” Twilight whispered.

“Guilty? Guilty of what? What did she do?” cried Rarity’s father. Twilight continued sobbing and Rarity’s father took a deep breath. “Take us to her,” he said.

Twilight nodded and beckoned the two to follow her.

* * * *

The three arrived at the royal guard headquarters after a half hour of walking. When they walked in, Rarity’s parents immediately saw Sweetie Belle and they ran up to her and took her out of Fluttershy’s forelegs. Rarity’s mother cradled her and looked back to Twilight. “Is she okay?”

“Physically yes,” said Twilight. “They didn’t hurt her or anything.”

“How is she doing emotionally?” questioned Rarity’s father.

“Emotionally… I don’t think that the happy filly that you know and love is going to be around for a while, if ever again,” said Twilight sadly.

“What?!” shrieked Rarity’s mother. “What do you mean?! Would somepony please explain to me what is happening to my children?!”

Before Twilight could respond, a guard walked in and addressed the group. “We finished the operation and she’s conscious again. You can see her if you want."

“Operation?” said Rarity’s father. “What operation?” The guard didn’t answer but he instead beckoned them to follow him.

Rarity’s mother put Sweetie Belle down and they followed him. Applejack turned to Big Macintosh. “Will ya watch Spike, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom while we’re in there?”

“Eeyup,” said Big Macintosh.

“But sis—“

“You ain't goin’ and that is final!” said Applejack angrily. Apple Bloom shot her an angry look but she didn’t argue with her.

The eight ponies followed the guard into the holding cell area and he pointed to the end of the hall. "She’s in there. You have twenty minutes." Twilight nodded and the guard left, leaving the eight of them to file down the hall silently. It only took a few seconds before they were all at the end of the hall where they saw Rarity silently sitting in the cell, staring intently at the floor with a totally blank expression on her face.

Twilight gasped in shock when she saw her. “Rarity, what happened to your horn?!”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Rarity muttered. “They surgically removed it so I can’t cast any spells when they..." Rarity's ear twitched. "You know.”

“Oh my baby,” whispered Rarity’s mother. “What have they done to you?”

Rarity blinked once but didn’t answer. She just continued staring at the floor.

“What is going on Rarity?” asked Rarity’s father. “Why did they arrest you and remove your horn?”

A sad shell of a smile crossed Rarity's face. “Well, father, they arrested me because they found out that I’ve been butchering ponies in my basement for many years now. They removed my horn so that I don’t try anything foolish when they execute me tomorrow.”

The hall was dead silent as each of the ponies processed this information. It was Rainbow Dash who spoke up first. “You’re…you’re a serial killer?”

“Yes,” said Rarity. “I’ve been killing ponies since I was eight years old. I messed up on my latest one and they found out about it so here I am.”

“I don’t… I don’t understand,” said Pinkie Pie. “They wouldn’t execute a pony who was a wielder of an Element of Harmony, would they?”

Rarity looked up at Pinkie Pie with a gentle look in her eyes. “Pinkie Pie, I know that this is hard for you, but they are indeed going to execute me. Princess Celestia herself passed down my sentence. It will be tomorrow at ten o' clock by method of lethal injection.”

“No!” Pinkie Pie wailed, hoping desperately that somepony was pulling a very mean prank on her. “You aren’t gonna—“

“Yes I am, Pinkie,” said Rarity. “I am going to die tomorrow.”

Upon hearing that, Fluttershy broke out into sobs. Rainbow Dash put a hoof over her shoulder to comfort her, but Rarity could see that tears were flowing from her eyes too. “D-d-don’t s-s-say things like th-th-that, Rarity,” cried Pinkie Pie. “Y-y-you’re going to be okay!”

Rarity looked down at the floor again and shook her head. “Pinkie Pie, I need you to understand that this isn’t a joke or a prank or anything like that. I am a serial killer and I will be executed tomorrow."

“No!” said Pinkie Pie hysterically. “They’ve got the wrong pony! They’ll realize it soon and they’ll give you your horn back and let you go and then when you get back to Ponyville we can have a big party and you’ll—“

“Pinkie Pie, please don’t do this to yourself,” pleaded Rarity.

“She’s not,” said Twilight quietly. “You’re doing it to her. You’re reason that she has to go through this.”

“Rarity, why did you do things like that?” squeaked Fluttershy.

Rarity looked back up at Fluttershy with the same blank expression on her face. “I would rather that you didn’t know the details. I don’t want you to suffer any more than you have to because of this.”

“That’s too bad!” growled Rainbow Dash. “We’re all going through Tartarus right now, so don’t even try to spare her feelings. It’s far too late for that!”

Rarity didn’t respond but she instead turned to Sweetie Belle. “I’m leaving everything to you. The boutique, my money, my dresses, Opal, everything. It’s all yours once I…” Rarity bit her lip to hold back a sob and looked back down at the floor. Sweetie Belle merely nodded.

The guard came back after a few more minutes of silence and the eight ponies left the hallway. Rarity looked up to see them go and once they left she curled up into a ball on her bed and stared blankly at the wall.

* * * *

The eight ponies filed back into the main room and when Big Macintosh, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Spike saw them come in, they all rushed over to them. “What’s goin’ on?” asked Apple Bloom. “Is Rarity goin' to be okay?”

Twilight moved to the front of the group and motioned to the chairs beside them. “I need you all to sit down. I have something to say.”

The ponies and dragon all sat on the chairs in the room and looked up at Twilight. Twilight took a deep breath before biting the bullet and revealing the secret. “Rarity is a serial killer. She was captured last night when they found out somehow and they are going to execute her by lethal injection tomorrow.”

The room was silent for a moment. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom both began crying and Big Macintosh just looked shocked beyond belief. However, it was Spike that was worrying Twilight. He merely sat there staring at the floor with a look oddly reminiscent of the one that Rarity had when they had seen her. “Spike? Can you—“ Before Twilight got any further Spike jumped up off of his seat and ran out the door. “Spike, come back!”

Spike ignored Twilight and she soon gave chase. None of the others bothered to go after the two of them. They all knew that Twilight was the only one who could truly reach him.

Applejack looked up at the clock and saw that it was four thirty. She sighed and looked back at the rest of the ponies in the room. Each of them was merely staring blankly at a spot on the floor. Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom were all crying. Applejack desperately wished that she could say something to them to make it all better but didn't know what she could possibly say.

At that moment, one of the ponies that had been in the room with Princess Celestia with Rarity walked through the door. He began walking towards the door out of the station but he turned his head briefly to see the group of ponies. He shook his head sadly and continued to walk but he suddenly stopped in his tracks. He turned to look back at them and his eyes landed on an orange filly that looked familiar somehow. He opened up the briefcase full of pictured of Rarity’s confirmed kills and leafed through the photos. The ponies in the room noticed him doing it and looked at him with interest.

Finally he found the photo he was looking for and he pulled it out. He looked up at Scootaloo and then back at the photo. Nodding to himself, he uneasily walked up to the group. “Um… hello there."

“Hi,” said Applejack.

“Uh, what is your name?” he asked, pointing to Scootaloo.

Scootaloo frowned. “My name is Scootaloo,” she said. “Why do you ask?”

A look of horror crossed his face and he had to take a few deep breaths before he continued. “What um… what are you doing here?”

Scootaloo glared at him and flared out her tiny wings. “I’m here because you arrested my friend and her sister!”

“You are here to support Sweetie Belle and Rarity through this time, yes?”

“Yes, I am!” said Scootaloo.

The pony glanced at the photo once more before continuing. “Scootaloo, do you know where your biological parents are?”

The anger and defiance in Scootaloo's demeanor faded away and her eyes filled with confusion and she shook her head. “No. They dropped me off at the Ponyville Orphanage when I was about three years old.”

The pony closed his eyes and to the surprise of the group, he seemed to be holding back tears. “Oh Celestia, please no,” he whispered. He levitated the picture in front of Scootaloo and flipped it over so she could see it. “Scootaloo, are these your parents?”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened as she saw a photo of two ponies holding a filly that was unmistakably a younger Scootaloo. Even the caption of the photo confirmed the identity of the filly in the picture.

Mom, Dad, and our darling daughter Scootaloo at the Fillydelphia Fair.

Scootaloo's eyes widened and she shakily reached out a hoof and placed it on the picture. “How did you get that photo?”

The pony didn’t respond but instead he put the photo back in the briefcase before walking closer to Scootaloo. “Scootaloo, that picture was in a group of pictures that I collected of all of the ponies that have gone missing in Equestria over the past twenty years.”

“Gone missing?” said Scootaloo. “I—“

“Scootaloo,” said the pony gently. “I compiled those photos together to show Rarity so we could determine who she killed and… and she looked at that photo and said that she killed the ponies in it. Scootaloo… Rarity killed your parents.”

Scootaloo recoiled a bit as if he had just smacked her across the face. The pony looked at her sympathetically. “I’m so sorry,” he said quietly before he turned around and walked out of the station.

The other ponies in the room stared at Scootaloo, waiting for a reaction to the news that Rarity was the reason that she was an orphan. “Scootaloo?” said Rainbow Dash. “What are you thinking?”

Scootaloo was silent for a few moments before she responded. “I… I don’t even know,” she whispered. “I’m still not entirely sure what he said.” Tears were streaming down Scootaloo’s face once more. “I just… I don’t… what…”

Scootaloo began letting out a noise that was almost like an elongated whimper before she let out an ear piercing shriek and began loudly sobbing. She collapsed on the floor and laid there screaming and crying. Rainbow Dash got up and scooped her up and hugged her tight. Scootaloo returned the hug and screamed into Rainbow Dash’s shoulder.

“Scootaloo…” began Rainbow Dash before she realized that there was nothing that she could possibly say that would make this all better. All she could do was be there for Scootaloo so that she would have a shoulder to cry on.

* * * *

Twilight caught up with Spike after a few minutes and she used her magic to hold him in place while she caught up to him. Spike didn’t even try to struggle out of the spell. He just stood there as Twilight ran over to him and wrapped him in a hug.

“Why, Twilight?” Spike moaned. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” Twilight responded.

“I thought that I knew her,” he whispered. “The Rarity that I knew, the one that I fell in love with, would never do anything like that!”

“I thought so too,” said Twilight.

Spike looked up at Twilight. “Are…are we going to be allowed to watch when she’s…?”

“From what I understand, yes,” said Twilight. “But I don’t want you going. I don’t want you to see that.”

Spike nodded sadly. “She was such a generous, kind, and loving pony. What happened to her?”

“She had a darkness inside of her that made her do this,” said Twilight. “I want you to know that she regrets what she did. She never wanted it and I promise you that she tried to fight it.”

“But she couldn’t,” said Spike. “She couldn’t fight it.”

Twilight didn’t respond. She couldn't respond. Instead, she just wrapped Spike tighter into her hug.

* * * *

Twilight walked through Canterlot Castle, hoping that she could see the one pony that could help her through this. If she even wanted to talk to her that is.

She walked up to the main throne room and was stopped by a duo of guards. Twilight glared at them and they sighed and let her pass. She walked through the door and saw Princess Celestia sitting on her throne with a look of pure sorrow on her face. The sun goddess looked up when she saw Twilight and she sighed. “I expected you to come sooner."

“I was comforting Spike,” Twilight replied. “You know how much he loved Rarity.

“Indeed I do,” said Celestia. “Indeed I do.”

The pair was silent for a few moments before Twilight spoke up again. “Is she going to Tartarus for this? She wielded an Element of Harmony, and I do truly believe that she was a good pony in spite of the evil things that she did.”

“Why do you believe that?” asked Celestia.

“I believe that because I think she didn't want to do what she did, even if she didn’t admit that to herself. If she was truly all evil then she wouldn’t have felt remorse for a moment of it,” said Twilight.

“Does she feel true remorse or does she feel bad that she got caught?” asked Celestia.

“She felt remorse for her actions even before she was caught,” said Twilight. “I know that she truly wished that she could take it all back.”

Celestia nodded. “I assume that you spoke to her about it?”

“A few times, yes,” said Twilight.

“And you know that she continued to kill even after she was supposedly cleansed by the Elements?”

Twilight was silent for a moment. “Yes."

Princes Celestia shed a single tear and took a moment to regain control of her emotions. “Twilight, you realize that by not telling me about her you led to the deaths of many other ponies, ponies that would be alive right now if you had done the right thing?”

“I thought I was—“

“No, I mean the real right thing,” said Celestia. “If you had told me when you found out then those ponies would be safe at home right now. As you know, Rarity still would have been executed when I found out, but we came to that end anyway.” Twilight nodded sadly. “Your actions, whatever else you thought they were, directly led to the deaths of many ponies and I cannot overlook that.”

“I know you can’t,” said Twilight softly.

“I need you to understand that I can no longer accept you as my student. I have to, for all intents and purposes, banish you to Ponyville for the time being. I do not want you leaving there. You won’t get a prison sentence, nor will your friends, but you are no longer my protégé.”

“I figured as much,” Twilight muttered.

She turned around and slowly began to walk out of the throne room before Celestia's voice stopper her. “In answer to your question, Twilight, about whether or not Rarity is going to be sentenced to eternity in Tartarus for her actions: yes, I think that she is. I can’t know for sure, but I think so."

Twilight nodded once more and left the room.

* * * *

Rarity sat on her bed, wishing that she could just get to sleep. She wanted all of this to be over as soon as possible. The sooner she was dead, the sooner her family could get on with their lives.

She rolled over and pulled the blanket tighter over her. It didn't provide much warmth for her but it was certainly better than nothing. She groaned as she felt each minute tick by slowly.

All of a sudden, she heard a voice behind her, one that she didn't think that she would hear ever again. "Rarity, we're here."

She rolled over and gave a small yelp of shock. Behind her inside the cell were Dug, Kicker, Annie, Krissy, Scarlet Tomato, and the mare and her daughter Sweetie. She sat up and looked at them curiously. "What are you all doing here?" she asked.

"You brought us here I think," said Krissy solemnly. Rarity noticed that Krissy's wings were still missing.

"Why did I do that?" asked Rarity.

"Because we are the ones you remember the most, and I think regret a little too," said the mare.

"Regret?" whispered Rarity.

Scarlet Tomato nodded. "I think that you know that none of us were truly evil. You remember us the most out of all of your victims because you felt justified somehow in killing us. Rarity noticed that her scars from her murder remained as well.

"Not them!" cried Rarity, pointing to the mare and her filly. "I regret killing them every day!"

"They are the exception, not the rule," said Krissy. "We are not the ones you openly regretted."

"But you think that in the back of my mind there is a part of me that does regret killing you," said Rarity.

"We do," said Scarlet Tomato. "We think that you were addicted to the power you had over us when you killed. We do not think that you were truly evil."

"But I am!" said Rarity. "I think that the murders of the two of them proves that!"

The group looked at the mother and Sweetie. Sweetie looked up at her mother who nodded. Sweetie walked up to Rarity and put a hoof on her foreleg. Rarity flinched back but was surprised to feel that Sweetie's touch was warm. "I don't hate you and neither does mommy. You were just scared."

"But I want you to hate me for what I did to you!" said Rarity hysterically. "I am going to be hated by every pony in Equestria for the rest of time! Surely I deserve your hate the most of all!"

"Of course you do," said Sweetie's mother. "But we still do not give it.

"WHY?!"

"Because we know now that death is not something to be feared. We know what lies on the other side and it is beautiful. It is far better than what we had in life," said Krissy.

Rarity lowered her eyes to the floor. "But I'm not going to get that," she said sadly. "I know that Tartarus awaits me." Her eyes snapped up and looked directly at Dug, Kicker, and Annie. "And it is ALL YOUR FAULT!"

The trio of bullies looked at each other sadly and Annie stepped forward. "Rarity, we're sorry for what we did to you. But you have to understand that we were just foals. We didn't understand that our actions could have serious repercussions."

"Is that what you call being buried alive?" asked Rarity bitterly.

"Don't you remember my last words?" said Annie. "I told you that I didn't mean to hurt you that badly."

"Yes, you just wanted to beat me into an unrecognizable pulp," said Rarity. "Truly there is nothing you can possibly say that can justify what you did to me! You are the reason that I even started killing in the first place! If you hadn't bullied me then I would be at home with my sister right now instead of in a cell awaiting my death! The rest of these ponies would be safe at home too!"

"No, Rarity, you chose to kill them. We didn't have much to do with it after you killed us."

"But if you hadn't cornered me and forced me to defend myself then it wouldn't have happened in the first place!" A sob escaped her lips and she looked down at the floor. "And now I have to die."

"As we all must," said Krissy.

"But not by execution because you're a serial killer!" said Rarity.

"Did you think it would last forever?" asked Scarlet Tomato. Rarity shook her head.

"You knew it would come to this someday, didn't you?" asked the mare.

Rarity nodded. "I think so. How could it not?"

"But you hoped it wouldn't," said Krissy.

"Of course I did!" said Rarity. "My friends and family are going to have an absolutely terrible life now because of this!"

"All actions have consequences," said Scarlet Tomato.

"But they shouldn't have to suffer for my sins," said Rarity.

"But they will," said Annie.

"But that is true of all sins," said Krissy.

Rarity's bottom lip quivered and tears began streaming down her face. "I'm afraid," she whimpered. "I'm afraid of what Tartarus will be like."

"Do you truly feel that you are evil, or do you feel that you were a good pony that was consumed by fear and as a result of that fear, you did evil things?" asked the mare.

"Well now, that's the big question isn't it?"

* * * *

Rarity's eyes snapped open. She had indeed fallen asleep and it was daytime now. She flipped over to see that her victims were gone now, replaced by stray beams of sunlight filtering through her cell window. She slowly got out of her bed and took a deep breath. Was it merely a dream brought on by her subconscious or was it truly the spirits of her victims coming to comfort her?

She walked up to the bars and tried her best to see the clock that was at the end of the hall. She squinted when she saw it and read the time. Nine forty-five. She nodded and sat back down on the bed. It was time.

Within ten minutes, a trio of guards walked up to her cell and opened it. She looked at them, nodded, and walked out of the cell to her fate.

The walk to the execution room seemed to go very quickly for Rarity. She hardly had any time to register the fact that this would be the last time that she ever got to walk again. She would be carried out of the room when it was over.

The lead guard opened the door and Rarity saw a table with restraints on it as well as a tray with a single syringe on it. Rarity walked up to the table and lied down on it, not even bothering to try any form of resistance.

As the guards strapped her in, Rarity looked to her right and saw a large window behind which was another room. In the room were Sweetie Belle, her parents, Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Scootaloo. Each of them had a solemn look on their face. Sweetie Belle put a hoof on the glass as if trying to reach out to Rarity one last time.

“Any last words?” asked one of the guards. Rarity remained silent and the guard picked up the syringe.

Rarity felt the small prick as the needle went into her skin. She flinched slightly as the cold liquid went into her veins, numbing the limbs where it spread. Slowly Rarity turned her head to see her sister and stared deeply into Sweetie Belle’s eyes. She smiled at her one last time and began singing to her.

“Hush now, quiet now, it’s time to lay your sleepy head. Hush now, quiet now, it’s time to go…”

Author's Note

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I would just like to thank everybody who read and followed this story. I could not have done it without the support of my readers who gave me both constructive feedback and support. Were it not for you, this story would not have been as good as a lot of you say that it is. I would also like to let the people who don't know, know that the first few chapters of the sequel are up and if anypony liked this one, I think they will like the sequel story as well. Here it is:

The Public Life of Sweetie Belle

Thank you for your support!

The threequel hath arrived!

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What it says on the tin.

Broken Blossom