The mysterious zebra focused intensely as she poured ingredients into the bubbling bowl. Roots, herbs and potions were carefully stirred into a deep blue liquid. Fluttershy stood in the corner of the room and watched from a safe distance. She looked out the window occasionally, worried about creatures that come out at night. Eager to get back home, Fluttershy questioned the zebra.
“Will this work, Zecora? River is very, very sick…”
Zecora took the wooden bowl and poured its contents carefully into a large bottle as she comforted her timid pony friend.
“The brew required to cure your pet, is a mixture I shan’t soon forget. Feed this to her twice a day, and your squirrel’s pain shall go away.”
Zecora walked over to Fluttershy and placed the concoction in her knapsack. Fluttershy rubbed one hoof against the other and thanked the generous zebra.
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much. I was so worried when River started coughing up blood, I didn’t know what to do. In fact I… I’d better get going…”
Fluttershy began to sweat as she looked back out the window at the pitch black forest. It was dangerous enough to venture so far into the Everfree Forest at night, and she was petrified of the trip home. Not petrified enough to keep her from returning to her sick pet, though.
‘I’ve just got to get back! River is counting on me. No stupid forest is going to keep me from returning to her, no matter how… scary it may be…’
Zecora stood by her and peered out the window. As if she had read Fluttershy’s mind, Zecora gave a comforting speech.
“I’ve lived here for a long time, in the forest of Everfree. Things at night are not as bad as you might think they be. Dangerous creatures roam around all during the day, but now they have gone to sleep, as it is their way!”
Fluttershy smiled at the consoling words, but it was short lived. Zecora turned to Fluttershy and continued more seriously.
“Don’t be fooled by what I say, it was not completely right. There are a few that sleep at day, and roam around at night. Most won’t bring you any harm, but heed my words, Fluttershy! Never look behind you! This warning is no lie!”
Fluttershy’s eyes were wide with fear. She stuttered at the thought of such dangers being present just outside the hut.
“D-d-don’t look behind you? Why?!”
Zecora said nothing, but only peered into the darkness of the woods. She stared at something, and then quickly turned away. She walked over to the counter where she made Fluttershy’s potion to put away her supplies.
“It always watches, but will never go. Why it exists, I do not know. He has no purpose to his deed, but dear Fluttershy, take my heed…”
Fluttershy was crouched beneath the window, peeking out into the night for what Zecora saw. There was naught but trees as far as she could tell. That didn’t make it any less frightening, though.
“Don’t hesitate to flee on sight, for he plays off of your fright.”
“O-oh my…” Fluttershy stammered.
Zecora turned back to the pegasus, who was shaking with fear. Realizing that she may have frightened Fluttershy out of leaving her home, she tried her best to motivate her.
“If you don’t wish to brave the danger, you may stay.”
Fluttershy nodded her head rapidly. Zecora grinned cleverly.
“That is, if ‘River’ will be ok…”
Hanging her head in realization, Fluttershy knew she had no choice.
‘I just have to get back to River! What if she got worse? What if she dies?’
Marching towards the door, Fluttershy gulped and looked back at Zecora.
“I won’t let whatever’s out there keep me from River.” She whispered. “But, will I really be safe? I didn’t see anything on the way here.”
Zecora tried to make light of the situation, knowing Fluttershy was only in danger under unlikely circumstances.
“It’s far more dangerous during the day, like I said. By now most of the creatures have gone to bed!”
“But, do you maybe know what the creature is?” Fluttershy queried.
“So many questions there need not be, You’ll know the creature when you see.”
Fluttershy didn’t want to interrogate Zecora, who had done so much for her already. Putting on a brave face, she stared at the door.
“I’ll do it for River…”
With a gulp, she slowly opened it. The night was still and dark, with not a single sound to be heard. Looking back at the helpful zebra, Fluttershy said her goodbye.
“Um… Thank you, again… I’m sorry to bother you so late at night…”
Zecora said nothing; she only stood staring at the forest, focused on a point far off in the distance. Fluttershy slowly walked outside and looked around. There was still nothing to be found. Zecora turned her focus back on Fluttershy and gave her one last warning.
“Go with haste, my little mare. Never look behind you. Beware!”
Fluttershy waved goodbye, and galloped into the blackness. Zecora watched her depart. Looking around, she closed the door and the curtains.
Sweat immediately dripped down Fluttershy’s face as she galloped. The gloom of the Everfree Forest seemed to consume her and her surroundings.
‘I’m coming, River! Hang on!’
The dirt path ahead of her was barely visible. Fluttershy’s eyes hadn’t readjusted to the darkness yet, but she continued in the general direction of her cottage. Eventually, she began to breathe heavily, and her legs fatigued.
‘Strange… how did I tire so quickly?’
Knowing the severity of the situation, Fluttershy maintained a steady trot to give her legs rest. She tried to block out the thoughts entering her head as she pressed on.
‘It’s so dark… What was Zecora talking about? It sounds like… No, no! There is nothing to be afraid of! Nothing! Look, Fluttershy!’
Fluttershy forced herself to look behind her. Nothing but trees and the path she had been taking.
“Eep!” Fluttershy chirped as she turned her head forward again. It was dark, and hard to tell, but way off in the distance, she could swear she saw something.
Fluttershy stopped and tried to make out what it was. It was small, white, and floated motionlessly in mid air among the trees. Slowly walking forward, Fluttershy continued along the path, keeping a close eye on whatever was in the distance.
‘It might be a rock… Or maybe a fruit…’
As Fluttershy walked, a tree came between the mare and the thing. Fluttershy jumped back when she had moved beyond the tree.
‘It’s just gone! Oh my… Where did it go?!?’
Fluttershy galloped, knowing she was not alone. She forced herself to run. The forest felt like a prison, no matter how far she ran, there seemed to be no end to the trees.She galloped until her legs could carry her no farther. Stumbling in the darkness, her weak legs hit a thick root, and the pegasus collapsed onto the ground.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no…”
Fluttershy, completely mortified, froze up. She didn’t do so much as breath, but listened.
A distant sound came from behind her, like a giant stomping through a field. Fluttershy tried urgently to gather her nerves.
‘What did Zecora say?! It… always watches…’
Fluttershy made a fearful glance behind her, seeing nothing but the pitch black trees.
‘But… but never goes! What else… Most animals have gone to bed…’
She stood up weakly, her body trembling with fear. Her mind rattled out thoughts as she desperately checked her surroundings. She could feel the presence of another nearby.
‘It plays off of your fright? Oh, I wish Twilight were here. She’d know what to do…’
With a deep breath, Fluttershy slowly walked forward. She listened carefully, but could hear nothing except the sound of her own hoofsteps.
Fluttershy stopped walking.
Fluttershy spun around as quickly as she could. Her eyes went wide with terror.
There it was. A tall, thin stallion. He stood motionlessly at most 20 feet from Fluttershy. He wore a black suit, with a white undershirt and a black tie. His face was blank: no eyes, no mouth, only colorless fur.
Fluttershy’s head throbbed, and her vision blurred. There was only silence for one mortifying moment. Fluttershy stood in shock, trembling with raw fear. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. She could swear tentacles were forming from the stallion’s back. Tears swelled up in her eyes. A loud, muffled scream shattered the silence of the forest. The world seemed to come to an end as darkness and static enveloped Fluttershy’s vision.
An imaginary, ghostly voice whispered in Fluttershy’s head: ‘Leave me alone…’
Turning her head from the creature, her legs found new strength. She galloped along the path as fast as her legs could carry her, her wings frozen at her side. Seeing dim light coming from behind the trees far out on the path, Fluttershy focused her head forward and scolded herself as she fled.
‘Don’t look behind you! Don’t look behind you! Fluttershy, you idiot! Zecora said not to look behind you! What was that?! How did it- It doesn’t matter! I can hear it chasing me!’
It felt as though she had been running for days before breaking into the open grasslands. Fluttershy emerged from the Everfree Forest with her potion still secure in her bag. Gasping for breath, Fluttershy looked around. She saw her cottage less than a mile away and made a run for it.
She knew it was still there. The noises became loud enough to hear, even while panting heavily.
Not taking her eyes off her home, Fluttershy galloped as fast as possible. Reaching for the door, she flung it open, rushed inside and crashed it shut. Noises came from everywhere, and Fluttershy looked up with a gasp… to see that she had awoken her pets.
Angel rubbed his eyes and hopped over to Fluttershy. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot expectantly, but Fluttershy paid him no heed. She locked the door, and flew rapidly up to her room, returning with a few additional locks, which she scrambled to put in place.
The animals gathered around to watch as Fluttershy collapsed on the floor, crying. Angel hopped next to the frightened mare and tried to brush her hair in comfort. A pool of tears formed under Fluttershy’s head as she cried herself to sleep on the middle of the floor. The animals gathered Fluttershy’s blanket and placed it over their owner. Some of them decided to sleep next to her, hoping to make her feel better. The others returned to their homes to sleep the rest of the night away.
Not Angel, however.
Hopping to the window, he looked out at the grassy fields in front of the cottage. There wasn’t a soul.
Not satisfied with the window view, Angel pushed open the window and hopped outside. He looked towards Ponyville, and the path was deserted.
Then he turned to the Everfree Forest. Leaping back in fright, Angel saw a tall white pony standing among the border of the woods. It did not move, it did not breath.
Slowly backing up to the window, Angel blinked once, and found the pony was gone. He figured it must have been his imagination, as he shrugged and went back inside the cottage to rest.
Fluttershy slowly opened her eyes. The sun was beaming onto her face from the window. Yawning, she stood up. A blanket that rested on her back fell to the wooden floor. She looked around curiously.
‘Strange… How did I fall asleep on the floor?’
Observing her surroundings, Fluttershy reviewed the events of the night before. Most of her pets were up and about, and the house was relatively clean.
‘I went to Zecora’s for something, and then- Zecora’s! The potion!’
Frantically, Fluttershy searched for her knapsack and saw it lying next to the door. She opened it and reached for the blue potion Zecora had made for her. Grasping it with her teeth, Fluttershy galloped up to her bedroom, where a pale squirrel lay asleep in her bed. The covers had splats of blood in various areas around the top edge, and a few other squirrels stood around, watching over the sick creature.
“Oh, River! Please be alright!” Fluttershy said softly as she raced to the squirrel.
At the sound of Fluttershy’s gentle voice, River woke up with a slow opening of her eyes. She coughed violently a few times as Fluttershy popped the cork off the potion. A light steam rose from the brew.
“Hold still, now. You’re going to be just fine…” Fluttershy reassured River as she lowered the top of the bottle to the pet.
Weakly grabbing the potion, River sipped a few drops of the deep blue liquid. Fluttershy took the potion away and watched her pet. With a yawn, River coughed much less painfully a few times, and fell back asleep. Fluttershy smiled and sighed relief as she snuck out of the room.
‘Oh my, Zecora’s potion is working! I better leave her alone to rest now. Am I doing anything today?’
Fluttershy trotted back into her kitchen and looked at a neat pink calendar on the wall.
“Oh, right! I’m having my weekly meet up with Rarity.” Fluttershy spoke to herself. Looking out the window, she proceeded towards the door.
‘It’s getting late, I better hurry… How long was I asleep?’
The sun was still high in the sky, but night time was only a few hours away. The door creaked as it opened and Fluttershy stepped outside into the cool outdoors. Taking a deep whiff with her nose, she trotted away from her home towards Ponyville. A harsh gust of wind blew her mane over her face, and the pegasus began to shiver.
‘Brrr… Maybe I should get my scarf…’
Fluttershy turned around, and her pupils shrank with realization. She was looking at the Everfree Forest. All of the memories from the previous night came rushing into her mind.
‘The creature! The one Zecora warned me about! Oh my, I… shouldn’t get any closer to my cottage. What if- No, no… What if I was dreaming? I don’t see any sign of it anywhere. It must have been the darkness playing tricks on me! But it felt so real…’
Even through her reassuring thoughts, Fluttershy gulped and slowly went back to her house, making sure to keep good perception of her surroundings. The animals running around gave Fluttershy great comfort as she walked back through the front door.
Grabbing her green scarf off the coat rack next to the door, Fluttershy gave a sigh of relief since the creature seemed to be gone. Turning to leave, she made sure to look slightly to the right, so the Everfree Forest wouldn’t come within her view.
‘See? Nothing to be afraid of!’
Fluttershy stopped to put on her scarf as she reached the path leading to Ponyville. The wind blew her mane out behind her. A loud whooshing sound raged through her ears from the heavy breeze.
Fluttershy jumped with a small “eep!” even though she could barely hear the sound over the wind. She also felt like she was being watched. Standing motionlessly, Fluttershy reasoned with herself.
‘It’s all in your head. It’s all in your head. Besides, you’re not supposed to look, right? If I don’t look, nothing will happen. Right? Right!’
Fluttershy nodded with satisfaction and happily continued along the path.
Just to be safe, Fluttershy broke into a gallop towards Rarity’s boutique, ignoring the possibilities of what could be behind her.
Rarity was waiting outside when Fluttershy finally reached her destination. Out of breath, the pegasus approached her platinum friend, who she could tell wasn’t pleased. Rarity tapped her hooves and greeted Fluttershy with a complaint.
“Fluttershy, darling! Where in Equestria have you been? Don’t you know how behind schedule you are?”
Fluttershy cracked under the slight anger Rarity expressed.
“Oh… I’m… I’m so sorry, Rarity… I-If you don’t want to be friends anymore, I d-don’t blame you…”
Rarity couldn’t help but frown in guilt as she approached her sensitive friend.
“My apologies, Fluttershy! You know I didn’t mean it like that…” Rarity explained as she put her hoof around Fluttershy.
“Oh, good… Do you still want to go?” Fluttershy whispered, happy to still have her good friend.
“But of course, darling! Our little get-togethers are simply the highlight of my week! Come; let us not waste another moment.”
The two friends trotted towards the spa where they often met. The sun partially hid itself behind the mountains, deepening the bright sunlight into a tangy orange. Reaching the spa, Rarity opened the door and trotted confidently into the room. A light blue mare behind the counter greeted her, noting her timing.
“Good day, Rarity- Or should I say good night? There’s only an hour until we close, you know.”
Rarity’s horn glowed a light blue as she pulled out a purple, finely woven coin purse and opened it, removing six bits.
“Yes, I’m aware. I suppose we’ll just have to skip the facial this time around.” Rarity elegantly replied as she placed the bits on the counter and put away her purse.
“Suit yourself; you know where the tub is.” The mare replied nonchalantly, taking the bits and gesturing towards the far end of the room.
Rarity and Fluttershy trotted over towards a small pool of hot water. Gracefully, Rarity slipped herself in, facing the rest of the spa, which was completely empty. Fluttershy stood over the pool nervously, her mind struggling to relax.
‘This’ll be good for you! You need to relax, and get your mind off that… thing.’ Fluttershy thought as she looked out the large glass windows. They were massive, covering the entire wall and giving a clear view into the spa.
“Is something the matter, Fluttershy?” Rarity inquired.
Fluttershy stammered nervously, not wanting her friend to think anything was wrong. “Oh… no. Nothing. It- It’s fine.”
Floating over the water gently, Fluttershy lowered herself into the pool.
“Aaaahh… This feels… nice…” Fluttershy whispered to herself as she settled into her spot across from Rarity. She could physically feel the stress leaving her body.
Rarity had grown accustomed to hearing what Fluttershy was saying, even under the most silent circumstances. Closing her eyes, she replied.
“Indeed, it does. I have been looking forward to this all day. So, do you have any news for me?”
Fluttershy had one thing that came to mind, and she wasn't about to share it.
“Oh, um… You go first.”
Not arguing with Fluttershy’s kind nature, Rarity did not hesitate to accept the offer.
“Well, if you insist. This morning, Rainbow Dash came to me with an odd request. She asked me to construct a Wonderbolts costume for Nightmare Night. At first, I said ‘Rainbow Dash, I am an artist, not a costume maker!’ But then she decided I lacked the capability to do it, so I replied, ‘I’ll show you, Rainbow Dash. I’ll make you such an amazing Wonderbolts costume, the Wonderbolts will be begging to have you on their team!’ Of course, I’m going to add some of my own personal touches. For instance…”
Fluttershy’s mind wandered. It wasn’t that she was bored, but the thoughts of the faceless stallion persisted in her mind. As the minutes passed, Fluttershy turned her head occasionally and scanned the windows. The sun was about to settle behind the hills, and long shadows were cast by various buildings. Anxiously, Fluttershy turned her head once more.
“Fluttershy, dear. Please tell me what the matter is!” Rarity exclaimed.
Turning her head back, Fluttershy’s eyes met Rarity’s, which were curiously staring at her.
“Oh, it’s nothing, really.” The pegasus claimed.
Raising an eyebrow, Rarity pursued the topic.
“Fluttershy, that’s the third time I’ve caught you looking out the window! I’ve known you long enough to know when something is wrong. Please, tell me what the matter is.”
Trying to relax and shake the topic, Fluttershy sunk her neck into the water.
“I… I don’t want to talk about it.” Fluttershy mumbled.
“Fluttershy, you’re aware that I’m not going to let the topic slide that easily. I’m your friend, you can tell me any…”
Rarity stopped and looked at the window angrily. Fluttershy forced herself to watch Rarity, clenching her teeth in fear.
“What are you peeking at, mister?! You have no business looking into-” Rarity yelled, but then stopped, grasping her head and clenching her eyes shut.
“Rarity! Are you ok!?” Fluttershy called to her friend, moving over to the other end of the pool.
“I… I’m fine, Fluttershy… I don’t know what came over me!”
Fluttershy checked behind her, and saw nothing. Rarity opened her eyes, and sat back up.
“Wh- what happened?” Fluttershy eagerly asked, trying to remain polite.
Rarity looked at the window curiously, as if searching for something.
“It was the most bizarre thing! There was a stallion staring through the window at us. When I attempted to call him out, I got a sudden headache!” Rarity explained confusedly. “Where could he have gone? He was there not a moment ago!”
Fluttershy gulped, deciding it was time to tell Rarity what she knew.
“Ok… I’ll tell you…” Fluttershy whispered, positioning herself next to Rarity. “Just make sure to k-keep watch through the windows...”
“Whatever for?!” Rarity asked concernedly.
“I’ll explain what I can, but I don’t really know much about… it.”
“I’ll believe anything you say, Fluttershy; but to be blunt, I’m very concerned right now!”
“Well, I went to Zecora’s last night…” Fluttershy began, keeping nervous watch out the window.
Rarity cut her off immediately. “Wait, you mean to tell me you went into the Everfree Forest during the night?!”
Fluttershy shrunk into the water, trying to keep Rarity’s approval.
“Well, yes, but… I had a squirrel that was desperately sick! She needed Zecora’s medicine or he might have died!” She exclaimed quietly. “Anyway, Zecora warned me about this thing… It watches you and follows you and scares you…”
Rarity remained silent, starting to shake with fear herself.
“I thought it was my imagination, but… You just saw it… So that means it’s… (gulp) real…” Fluttershy explained with realization.
Rarity tried to make sense of the situation.
“Are you sure? What if it was just some other stallion? Or somepony playing a prank?”
Fluttershy began to shake, going so far as to hold onto Rarity’s hoof for comfort.
“Th-that’s just it… When I saw it, I-I also got a headache, but much scarier and worse…” Fluttershy stammered dramatically. The two friends stared out the window silently for about a minute. Neither one dared to look away. Rarity grew bored and questioned the situation.
“Well, I don’t exactly know what happens next. We can’t just stay in this tub, Fluttershy. What do you propose we do?”
The mare at the counter waved goodbye to one of the employees, who was leaving. Fluttershy was not about to leave her friend's side or go anywhere alone. Nervously, she proposed an idea.
“W-well, maybe I could stay over at your boutique… That is, if you don’t mind. I wouldn’t want to intrude or anything.”
Rarity nodded in agreement.
“I agree, then we can figure out what to do in the morning. We best not waste another moment.”
The sun fell behind the hills, completely shrouding the land in darkness. Only seconds after, a bright half moon rose into the sky, illuminating the land in pale light. Rarity and Fluttershy got out of the pool and dried themselves off with the towels nearby. Carefully watching the windows, they proceeded towards the door.
“You two have a good night.” The mare at the counter bid the leaving customers.
“We’ll certainly try…” Rarity replied nervously, opening the door.
The two stepped outside and broke into a gallop towards Rarity’s boutique. Fluttershy felt immensely better about the entire situation now that somepony else knew about her stalker. Upon reaching the boutique, Rarity magically unlocked the door, letting Fluttershy and then herself through before relocking it.
“Be a dear and shut the windows. I’ll let Sweetie Belle know about your staying. I'll only be a minute.” Rarity requested as she trotted quickly up the stairs.
Again alone, Fluttershy began to shake as she moved to the first curtain. Grabbing the thick red cloth with her mouth, she slid it so it covered the window. The room was extremely dark, with only the moonlight from the second window and a dim light from upstairs lighting the room.
Fluttershy screamed at the all too familiar sound coming from upstairs.
“Rarity?!” Fluttershy yelled as she abandoned her task and galloped up the steps to see to her friend. Sweat dripped from her forehead. A single light lit the hallway. The safety of her friend came before fear as Fluttershy ran to Rarity’s room at the end of the hall and flung the door open.
The room was dark and vacant. Fluttershy turned around, and looked to the other end of the hallway. The door to Sweetie Belle’s room was cracked open, but no light came from within. Tears of fright formed in Fluttershy’s eyes, but she snorted with defiance.
‘No! Nothing is going to happen to Rarity! Not if I have anything to say about it!’
Fluttershy burst into Sweetie Belle’s room. The lights were out, and the room was evidently empty.
Realization washed over Fluttershy like a mighty tidal wave, and the frightened mare backed into the hallway, completely vibrating with terror.
Now completely vulnerable, a single tear fell down Fluttershy’s cheek. Her lips quivered, and her legs shook. Her thoughts raced so fast, Fluttershy had no idea what to do.
Mortified, Fluttershy backed into the corner of the hallway, where it was impossible for anything to approach her from behind. Collapsing to the ground and covering her head with her hooves, Fluttershy’s mind began to break under the circumstances.
‘Oh my gosh, I- The thing just- Rarity’s gone!!! It took her, and Sweetie Belle too! I don’t know what to do! It could be anywhere! Why is this happening!? Why is it doing this to me?!’
Fluttershy silenced her thoughts for a moment. She heard nothing but the sound of her own breathing. Everything not lighted by the hallway was black and still. A world of darkness surrounded the helpless mare. Tears streamed down the frightened pegasi’s face.
‘This is all my fault, the monster has taken my best friend, and I’m alone and scared. I can’t…’
Fluttershy pulled her mane over her mouth, losing control of herself. Her imagination and the darkness were tormenting her thoughts.
“I can’t do it!” Fluttershy practically screamed, her voice muffled by her hair. Her instincts kicking in, Fluttershy clamped up and evaluated the situation after the outburst.
‘Come on, think! What would Rainbow Dash do?! She’s not afraid of anything! She would… she would give the creature a piece of her mind! The creature…’
Fluttershy cringed at the thought of doing anything involving the stallion. Resorting to filly tactics, Fluttershy hid her entire head with her long, pink mane.
‘Ok, um… What about Pinkie Pie? I… I remember her song! The one about laughing at scary things! Ok, here it goes…’
Fluttershy broke the silence, the isolation her mane provided giving her courage enough to speak.
“When I w-was a little filly and… the sun was going dooown…” Fluttershy whispered so quietly, nothing outside her mane wall could hear her. She paused, and heard nothing.
“The d-d-darkness and the shadows would always make me frooown…” Fluttershy spoke vaguely, putting slight emotion into her words. Fluttershy shifted into a sitting position, taking extreme care to not remove her mane from in front of her.
“I’d hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw, but Granny pie said that wasn’t the way to deal with fears at all.” Fluttershy softly sang to herself. She even managed a small smile.
Fluttershy began to sweat, but she refused to acknowledge the sound’s existence. The smile struggled to remain on her face as she kept singing, slightly louder.
“She said: Pinkie, you gotta stand up tall. Learn to face your fears…”
“You’ll see that they can’t hurt you.”
Fluttershy stood up, her mind struggling to remain sane. The comforting song was all that kept her from having a mental breakdown.
“Just laugh to make them… disappear…” She spoke bravely. Fluttershy stood up defiantly, using the song as false security in addition to her mane.
“Ha.” Fluttershy said timidly.
“Ha!” She said again, with hope.
Fluttershy didn’t dare remove her mane from in front of her shocked face. She felt a presence. Looking down at the floor, Fluttershy saw a set of two white forehooves not five feet from her, the pink mane hiding the rest of the pony.
“R-rarity?” Fluttershy asked desperately.
Lifting her head a little, Fluttershy’s mane revealed black sleeves on the set of hooves. Her eyes went wide, and her vision began to darken again. The voice reappeared in Fluttershy’s head, demanding loudly.
‘Come with me…’
Fluttershy lost it. Screaming at the top of her lungs, her body reacted for her. Fluttershy bolted right, into Sweetie Belle’s room. Tears blurred her vision, and a static sound penetrated her ears.
In complete desperation, Fluttershy galloped towards the window and leaped. The window opened easily, causing minimal damage to the frightened pegasus. Spreading her wings, Fluttershy tried to fly towards the clouds, but she struggled. Her mind fought for control over her body, and her wings kept attempting to clamp shut. The delicate mare glided for mere seconds before crashing to the ground in the middle of the street.
There was no time to waste, Fluttershy got up and galloped. She didn’t know where she was going, but she needed to leave. She couldn’t bring any more harm to Ponyville.
‘I need to pack up, need to run away. Wait, what if it gets me while I’m packing? What if it’s already at my cottage? Maybe I should just keep running. How could I survive?!’ Fluttershy thought in a mad dash.
Her legs carried her towards her cottage outside the Everfree Forest. It was very dark, and Fluttershy could barely make out the cottage along the path.
‘I have tons of animals at the cottage; he wouldn’t get me with so many friends around, would he? But… what if he hurts the animals too?! I have no choice!’
Fluttershy galloped at full speed towards her home, nearly crashing into the door as she approached it. As she entered, she narrowly avoided stepping on Angel.
Slamming the door behind her, Fluttershy took deep breaths and looked at her surroundings. Small animal homes hung on the walls, and many woodland critters stuck their heads out of them to see what was happening. The windows and doors were all locked from what Fluttershy could tell.
Angel stood in front of Fluttershy, tapping his foot impatiently. The mare did not have time for a lecture, and spoke directly to Angel.
“Angel, I don’t have time, I’m so sorry…”
Many of Fluttershy’s other pets gathered around, expecting some sort of explanation for her strange behavior. Exhausted of shyness, Fluttershy gave a small speech to her woodland friends.
“Listen… I’m in trouble, and by you all staying here, I’m putting you in danger. So… p-please, try to understand. Go back to the woods… Maybe someday…”
A tear drop fell off of Fluttershy’s face and onto the floor.
“Someday you can return…”
The animals conversed amongst themselves with various chirping and squeaking sounds. Fluttershy sat on the ground and hung her head. She wanted to cry, but had run out of tears. Her face was stained from consistent crying, she felt alone and depressed. Then she felt something on her shoulder.
“I’m so sorry, Angel…” She whispered.
Fluttershy’s ear felt a sharp tug. Shaking her head, a small white bunny fell onto the ground in front of her.
“Oh my, are you ok?” She asked concernedly.
Angel stood up and began tapping his foot. Fluttershy closed her eyes.
“I… I just can’t. You’d all be better off without me.”
The bunny persisted, waving his arms and making sounds, using a sign language only Fluttershy understood.
“I know, Angel, but- Yes, yes, I saw… I’m sorry, Angel, but no means no…”
Angel disappeared, and Fluttershy sat alone by the door. Most of the animals had gone elsewhere, and the room was dim and cold. A familiar sense of fear overtook her.
Fluttershy sat up and looked out the window angrily. She saw nothing, but began to shout regardless.
“Go on! Do it already! What more c-can you take away from me?!”
Fluttershy’s eyes found a second wave of tears as she sat alone for what felt like hours. She cried until her yellow fur had turned a pale brown, and until she felt a pool of tears around her front hooves. There was a splashing sound, and Fluttershy opened her eyes and wiped away the tears.
Angel stood in front of Fluttershy with a pale squirrel leaning on his shoulder.
“R-river?” Fluttershy questioned in astonishment.
The squirrel hobbled through the small pool and clenched Fluttershy's hoof. Fluttershy smiled through her sadness. Angel spread his arms and made a short chirping sound. Fluttershy repeated his sentence in her mind.
‘Sometimes… everypony just needs to be shown a little kindness…’
Fluttershy stood up. Lifting River off of her leg and back onto Angel’s shoulder, and she walked into the kitchen. A sense of confidence showed in her posture. Returning with a lamp in her mouth, she set it down and threw open the front door.
‘I don’t care what is out there. I’m getting Rarity and her sister back, no matter what it takes.’
Picking the lantern back up, Fluttershy galloped out into the dark night, and into the Everfree Forest.
“It took you long to approach me, Maybe, now friends we can be!”
“What are you doing? Is this a trick? Suddenly my head feels like a brick!”
“A lesson in spells you must learn, Leave my home and never return!”
“M-my head th-throbs… eyes can’t… see… Princess C-celestia… Protect me!”
The moon was shining brightly, but offered no clarity inside the Everfree Forest. Tall trees blocked all sources of natural light, leaving the forest in a dark, cold state. The woods were silent, except for the galloping of an exhausted young mare, and the dangling of the lantern in her mouth.
‘I have to get to Zecora’s… I don’t know where else to look… Can’t give up… Must… find… Rarity…’
The knowledge that Rarity was in danger countered all other thoughts, though this did not make up for the fact that Fluttershy wasn’t the bravest of ponies. Her heart conflicted with her mind, forcing the pegasus to press on. Fluttershy felt as if she had been running for days through the dark, winding path. All the while, she felt like she was being watched.
‘Don’t look behind you. You can’t look behind you! I know he’s there, but I have to find Rarity!’
Eventually, a clearing in the forest appeared, with a hut sitting at its center. With haste, Fluttershy practically crashed through the door and took immediate observation of her surroundings. The room was brightly lit by torches along the walls. Zecora stood at the far end of the room, looking at Fluttershy. Rarity and Sweetie Belle were laying against the wall unconscious.
Fluttershy ran to Rarity’s side and held a hoof up to her head. It was warm still, with a slow pulse.
“Oh, Zecora! How did you find them?” Fluttershy questioned.
She received no reply. Looking up at the zebra, Fluttershy asked again.
“Zecora? How did you find Rarity, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Zecora stood, still staring at the door, not moving a muscle. Fluttershy felt sweat begin to drip down her face as she approached her friend.
“Are… you ok?”
Zecora was almost like a statue. Her fur was dirty, and her eyes were completely black, with red pupils. Fluttershy backed away, her lips quivering and her eyes wide as she realized what was happening. Zecora moved her mouth, and spoke two words. Her voice sounded deep and distorted.
Fluttershy thought she could hear static. She hung her head in thought. ‘He took my friends…’
“THUD!” Fluttershy heard from directly behind her. She jumped slightly at the sound, but stood her ground.
‘He hurt my friends…’ Fluttershy continued, lowering her eyebrows.
Fluttershy felt the presence of the stallion. He was behind her, and she was sure of it. Her body trembled in fear as she spoke.
Fluttershy’s vision blurred and she heard static sounds growing louder from all around. Darkness once again filled her senses.
Like a butterfly erupting from its cocoon, Fluttershy raised her head, spread her wings and shouted fiercely.
Fluttershy turned around, her eyes wide open in a piercing gaze. The Stallion stood directly in front of her, his blank face beaming down on Fluttershy. The wind suddenly began blowing violently, rattling the shack. A great battle of supernatural powers began.
Fluttershy’s vision zoomed in and out, darkened and lightened, blurred and sharpened again. Her fierce glare seemed to be at war with the stallion’s mysterious powers. The stallion didn’t even flinch at the terrifying pegasus. He only stood. Maintaining the stare, Fluttershy began to yell.
“I don’t know what you are, or where you came from, but you need to leave!”
A voice, commanding and deep, appeared in Fluttershy’s head.
‘Death is nigh…’
Fluttershy’s brain stung with pain from the horrifying staring contest she was having. The stallion formed lashing tentacles from his back, and the shack seemed to disappear. Everything was black. Through the horror, she persisted.
“You are hurting others, and you have no right to! Bring back my friends! Then go back to where you came from!”
Fluttershy’s entire body was in agonizing pain, as if the sight of the stallion was harming her. Her eyes watered, not daring to close until her job was complete. Raging winds howled as both combatants stood motionlessly. A mortifying scream shattered the silence, growing louder and louder, then stopped. Princess Celestia herself shuddered. Finally, the voice reappeared in Fluttershy's head, but much gentler.
Fluttershy was baffled, and blinked in astonishment. The instant she opened her eyes, the stallion was gone, and she fell to the ground. Her body ached all over, and the slightest movement caused a jolt of searing pain. Fluttershy looked up, and saw Zecora. She was helping Rarity and Sweetie Belle, who had miraculously awoken, stand up. In an instant, the three ponies were standing over the injured pegasus, talking. Fluttershy couldn’t hear what they were saying; only a loud ringing rattled in her ears.
Fluttershy closed her eyes, letting an a well needed rest overtake her.
“I have fed her the potion, and if I’m right, She’ll awake with no pain and a new sense of might!”
“I should hope so! Poor Fluttershy…”
“That was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“Darling, you were unconscious…”
“Well it sure sounded brave!”
Fluttershy slowly opened her eyes, looking up at her friends. “Zecora?” Fluttershy whispered weakly. Zecora laughed light heartedly.
“She awakes, a kind a happy fate! Quite the feat you have done this date!”
Fluttershy sat up, feeling refreshed and well rested. Her mouth felt moist, and she wiped it with her hoof. The taint of a blue liquid was present. Rarity and Sweetie Belle stood off to the side, smiling thankfully at the timid mare. Fluttershy returned their warm smiles, tears of happiness forming under her eyes. Questions raced into her mind, and Fluttershy looked up at Zecora. She asked the biggest question first.
Zecora helped Fluttershy up onto her hooves and began to explain with delight.
“I saw the whole thing, it was quite a sight! You countered the creature’s spell in a mental fight! Using the stare you are famous for, you fought the beast in a magical war. One moment there, the next he was gone, and the floor of my house you collapsed upon!”
Fluttershy blushed and shuddered at the same time, embarrassed and scared of her impressive feat. All she could reply with was “oh my…” before asking another question.
“What happened to you? Your eyes were… b-black…”
Zecora looked towards the window, then back at Fluttershy.
“The creature intruded my home, and stared at me. I did not resist, nor did I flee. His gaze consumed me, and placed me in a trance of lies, if I scared you, I apologize.”
Fluttershy turned to Rarity and hugged her in happiness. “Oh, Rarity! What did it do to you? I was so worried!” Fluttershy cried.
“Well, I went upstairs after we arrived and saw a massive stallion in Sweetie Belle’s room, and the brute looked as if it were about to attack my sister. Naturally, I ran at him. The next thing I know, I’m being woken up by Zecora, who was demanding us to go fetch her some special herbs for the potion we used on you.” Rarity ranted. “I’m just glad you’re safe! Tell me… What was it like? Looking at that... thing. It must have been dreadful!”
Fluttershy released Rarity and lowered her head. Her voice trembled at the thought.
“I… I don’t want to talk about it…” Fluttershy whispered.
“Oh course not, dearest. You don’t have to tell me. You’ve been through so much already this night!” Rarity said as she placed a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulders. Sweetie Belle butted in.
“Just wait ‘till I tell Scootaloo! I bet Rainbow Dash hasn’t done anything as cool as what Fluttershy did!”
Zecora and Rarity laughed, but Fluttershy remained silent. She had one more question, and wasn’t so lighthearted as the rest of the group.
“Um… Zecora… I have just one more question, if you don’t mind… Is the creature still out there?”
Zecora looked out the window and shrugged.
“Such a creature is as rare as silver, To see it again would be…”
There was an unnatural pause. Zecora began to sweat, stuttering some final word.
Zecora’s eyes went bloodshot. Fluttershy and Sweetie Belle rushed to the zebra’s side, but Rarity knew better.
“unlikely!” Rarity exclaimed.
Fluttershy and Sweetie Belle stopped as Zecora seemed to return to normal.
“Yes indeed. A lesson learned. Nothing rhymes with the ‘silver’ word!”
The strange antics of Zecora made Fluttershy smile, and the group began to laugh. Rarity brought the conversation to a close.
“Well, there is one thing we found out. As long as we stay together, the stallion won’t come after us. Zecora, would it be a burden to allow us to spend the night here?” Rarity asked politely.
“I see no reason to decline, go ahead, relax and recline!”
Rarity lied down on the floor. Sweetie Belle curled up next to her sister and yawned. Zecora went to her desk and began brewing another potion. Rarity looked up at the mysterious zebra.
“Zecora, aren’t you going to sleep? It is the middle of the night, after all.” Rarity queried.
“When living in Everfree Forest, you will quickly find out that sleep isn’t essential with dangers walking about.”
Rarity gave a slow nod and yawned, falling quickly into a deep sleep. Fluttershy watched her friends and smiled.
‘It’s over… It’s finally over…’
Fluttershy curled on the floor and fell asleep with a comforted smile on her face, knowing she was safe among friends.
“Have a pleasant day, Fluttershy! Thank you once again for the wonderful tea!” Rarity said as she left Fluttershy’s cottage. Fluttershy stood in the doorway, quietly calling back.
“Thank you for coming, Rarity! It was nice to catch up!”
Fluttershy watched as her platinum friend trotted away down the path towards Ponyville. Inhaling the cool outdoor air, Fluttershy looked around her yard as her pets frolicked about and played. Smiling, she began to go back inside her cottage, but was stopped by impulse.
She looked at the Everfree Forest. As if searching for something, Fluttershy looked across the border of the trees. Slapping her forehead, Fluttershy closed the door and went to sit on her couch.
‘Oh, Fluttershy… It’s been a week! You need to let it go!’ the pegasus thought as she glanced out the window behind her.
‘Yes, it was…. Quite the experience… as Rarity puts it. But I haven’t seen the stallion ever since I saw him at Zecora’s…’
Fluttershy tried to push away thoughts of the stallion and get on with her life, but a single sentence repeatedly came back into her head.
Anxiously, Fluttershy began to pace around her living room as her train of thought pressed forward, regardless of her attempts to think of something else.
‘It was like he wanted me to help him… He disappeared after I blinked and left me alone! Almost like he turned good…’
Fluttershy shook her head back and forth at the outrageous thought. She began to debate against herself.
‘Fluttershy, not everything out there is nice and happy… That thing almost killed you and your friends! You should just be grateful that you can use that… stare… that you have.’
Fluttershy’s stomach growled; her thinking had made her hungry. Trotting towards the kitchen, Fluttershy couldn’t help but look out the window as she passed it. The shadowy forest beckoned more thoughts of the stallion. Reaching into the cupboard, Fluttershy pulled out lettuce and a loaf of bread. Setting them gently on the counter, Fluttershy flew to the other end of the room for a knife.
Fluttershy pulled open a drawer and retrieved a knife from within. She flew back over to where the bread and lettuce were as she shook her head.
“NO!” Fluttershy yelled, stabbing the bread with the knife. She began to pant, the words refused to disappear from her thoughts. Talking to some invisible pony, Fluttershy released her anger and stress the entire scenario had caused her.
“You’re gone! This is over! I gave you the stare and told you to leave! So leave me alone!”
Fluttershy looked around her kitchen, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. She drooped her head in frustration.
“Help me? Help you with what?”
The pegasus calmed her nerves and began to cut a few slices of bread from the loaf.
‘Help him… He wanted me to help him. He sounded like he was in trouble… or pain… oh my…’
Fluttershy’s mind wandered as she placed pieces of lettuce between the slices of bread and took it outside. She sat on the ground and began to munch on her healthy meal. Fluttershy smiled at the sounds of the birds chirping and the squirrels playing. One squirrel caught her attention. She climbed swiftly up a tree and leaped from branch to branch. It was River.
The memories of River’s sickness came rushing back to Fluttershy. The blood, the potion, but one thing blared in her mind: When River came downstairs able to walk, and when Angel reminded her of her most valuable quality.
“Sometimes everypony just needs to be shown a little kindness.” Fluttershy spoke aloud in realization.
‘He asked for my help... I don’t know what that thing is, or if it meant it; but what if it doesn’t want to hurt others? Like that manticore? I…’
Fluttershy stood up and looked at the Everfree Forest. A single drop of sweat rolled down her face, which looked more determined than ever.
‘I’m Fluttershy: The element of kindness. I can’t just ignore his cry for help! I’ve got to try to end this once and for all!’
Approaching the forest, many of Fluttershy’s animals looked at her curiously. With a gulp, Fluttershy went into the gloomy forest to ‘help’ the stallion.
Fluttershy had been wandering along the path for about a half hour, looking for the stallion. Dim sunlight made its way through the trees, but it was still dark none the less. Trotting carefully, Fluttershy pondered on the words of Zecora.
“Dangerous creatures roam around all during the day.” She spoke to herself.
Nothing had happened yet, but Fluttershy kept careful watch and remained quiet, as was her timid nature. Suddenly, she heard a twig snap. Frightened by the sound, but curious as to what it was, Fluttershy slowly turned around.
“H-hel- Oh my…”
Fluttershy looked in awe at three strange creatures who appeared to be following her. They appeared to be wolves, but made completely out of wood. Crouched, and poised to attack, the three predators moved closer to the pegasus. Their bright green eyes locked onto the pegasi's. Not knowing much about these new animals, Fluttershy slowly backed away and tried to befriend them.
“Now, now… There’s no need to be hasty. I’m sure you all just- Eep!” Fluttershy squeaked as one of the wolves pounced at her.
Leaping back at the last second, Fluttershy turned and ran into the depths of the forest. She could hear the wolves in hot pursuit as she leaped over rocks and fallen trees. Deeper and deeper she went until she reached a clearing. Sunlight shone down, lighting up the area.
‘Why didn’t I run to Zecora? I don’t know where I’m going! Oh dear…’ Fluttershy thought to herself as she galloped through the clearing. Knowing she had room to attempt a takeoff and fly away, Fluttershy made a quick glance behind her, only to see the wolves closing in on her. Turning her head forward again, Fluttershy collapsed onto the ground.
She saw the stallion. He had appeared in front of her, and she nearly crashed into him. Fluttershy covered her head and closed her eyes. Over the static, she could hear whimpering and running; then there was silence. Gathering the courage to speak, Fluttershy managed to squeak out a word.
There was no reply. Fluttershy slowly removed the hoof from over her eyes and saw the hooves of the stallion next to her face. Strangely enough, she did not feel the evil she had felt before upon seeing the creature. She covered her head again as a deep voice echoed in her head.
Fluttershy nearly began to cry in fear as she lay curled up on the ground. After nearly a minute of the cowering, Fluttershy heard the voice again.
‘So brave… So afraid…’
Fluttershy remembered her mission. He was communicating with her! Feeling a sense of urgency, she slowly sat up and opened her eyes. Staring down at her was the great and powerful stallion. His face emotionless, but terrifying none the less. Fluttershy was frozen, partially out of fear, but mostly out of discomfort. It was very different for Fluttershy: something that she had feared so much, now sitting peacefully in front of her.
“Mr. Stallion?” Fluttershy whispered. There was a moment of silence before the statue-like stallion replied.
A chill went down Fluttershy’s back. Even now, looking at the stallion brought her slight pain. She blinked. When she opened her eyes, it comforted her to see the stallion had moved farther away. He stood creepily, ten feet from the pegasus, but with a friendly aura about him.
“Oh, I’m so sorry… Th-thank you for saving me from the wolves…” Fluttershy began, with slightly bolstered confidence. Slender Mane did not respond, but only stood, staring at Fluttershy. She felt as if he were watching her soul.
“S-slender Mane…” Fluttershy spoke, feeling another chill just from saying the name. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything, b-but I was just wondering… If you don’t mind…”
Taking the words from Fluttershy’s thoughts, Fluttershy clamped her mouth shut and listened carefully. A voice appeared again, but it wasn't the same one. It sounded like a mare, proud and confident.
‘The only way to break the curse is to be shown kindness…’
The voice sounded identical to the princess herself. Fluttershy couldn’t seem to make sense of the situation. Slender Mane stood expectantly in silence.
‘Did Princess Celestia say that? Is Slender Mane cursed?! He needs to be shown kindness? I… I don’t know…’
“Are you… cursed?” Fluttershy inquired, only to have the voice immediately answer.
Fluttershy felt a sensation of pity for the stallion. He was like one of her sick animals. Fluttershy felt inclined to help him in any way she could.
“And… Kindness will break the curse?”
‘Help me, Element of Kindness…’
Fluttershy took a step back. After blinking once more to relieve her pain, she saw the stallion had turned around. It was the first time she saw him when he did not see her. Neither pony made any sound, neither pony thought. Fluttershy only acted upon instinct.
Slowly approaching the tall stallion, Fluttershy looked up at him. A once evil abomination, revealed to be a simple… mannequin! Fluttershy reached a hoof out, carefully touching Slender Mane on his side. She did not blink, and tried her hardest to not look away.
Fluttershy’s mind went blank, she didn’t think about anything she was doing. It was an act of kindness, as was her nature.
Upon touching the stallion, Fluttershy felt her blood rush and her heart beat. He was soft, like a normal pony; but firm, as if he were made of stone. Lifting her second hoof up onto the stallion, she stood on her hind legs. Her head barely became level with Slender Mane’s. She observed what would normally horrify her: The face of a pony, but as if the eyes or the mouth never existed.
An unexplainable feeling washed over Fluttershy. She felt kind and caring, but stronger: a feeling which could only be defined as Love. This thing, which had brought her the most horrible experience of her life, could change. She could help him become something new. Fluttershy's heart wanted to see him cured more than anything in the world.
Closing her eyes, Fluttershy leaned towards the stallion. She knew it was outright insane to do what she was about to do, and it was certainly out of her comfort zone, but it did not matter. Her mind was made up. She gently kissed him on the cheek.
Fluttershy’s mind seemed to clear as she opened her eyes. She fell back onto the ground with an “eep!” at the sight of Slender Mane. He had turned his head towards Fluttershy, and their mouths had met. Fluttershy sat in awe and watched.
Slender Mane turned his body to Fluttershy, as if he were a normal pony. His white fur glowed dimly, and the forest seemed to be cleansed of all darkness and evil. Moving gracefully, the stallion kneeled before Fluttershy.
‘Fluttershy, Element of Kindness, My friend. You have my eternal gratitude. Nopony alive has a heart as pure as yours, and there are none with the compassion to do as you have.’
Fluttershy sat, flabbergasted. She tried to say something, but no words came from her mouth. The stallion began to levitate into the air, his fur now beaming white. His suit tore off of his body in shreds, and the pure light blinded Fluttershy for a brief moment.
Fluttershy held a hoof over her eyes and waited for the display to come to a finish. When she opened he eyes again, she saw a tall, white stallion lying on the ground. Running over to him, she noticed that he had eyes and a mouth. His cutie mark was a black circle with an X through it. Observing the handsome pony, Fluttershy felt like she was going to cry.
‘He’s… he’s dead…’
Lying down by the cold stallion, Fluttershy watched his body as her vision blurred with tears.
“You poor, poor soul…” Fluttershy whispered.
Fluttershy sat up, baffled. Sitting next to her was the stallion, but he was very transparent. His body still lay in front of her as the apparition placed his hoof on hers.
“Don’t cry, Fluttershy. You have suffered so much this past week.” He began gently. His voice soothed Fluttershy as she looked up at him.“You are by far the bravest mare I have ever met, and only a fantastic embodiment of kindness such as yourself could break my curse. Do not be sad for me, dear one. You have freed me from a horrendous fate. I am eternally grateful.”
The spirit of Slender Mane stood up and began to walk away. Fluttershy quickly stood up and followed after him, calling out desperately.
“Please! Don’t go!”
The tall stallion turned his head and looked back at the pegasus. He smiled kindly.
“This is not my world, Fluttershy, I cannot stay here. Perhaps we’ll meet again, someday. Thank you for all you have done, kind one…”
With that, the Stallion leaped into the dark woods, and he evaporated into thin air. Fluttershy couldn’t hold back her tears as she lay back down by the body. It felt as if she lost a dear friend.
‘I did lose a dear friend…’
“I still find your story hard to believe, Fluttershy. It was a curse all along?” Rarity questioned.
Fluttershy, Applejack, Big Macintosh and Rarity stood in a clearing in the Everfree Forest, observing a finely polished grave stone sticking out of the ground.
“It all happened right here... He had been turned into a monster… Oh, Rarity! It was so sad!” Fluttershy softly replied, tears in her eyes.
“Well, ah’m jus’ glad y’all came to us so we could get him a proper burial. Ah doubt anypony else would be willing to come way out ‘ere to bury some stranger.” Applejack said, putting a hoof around her sad friend.
“Eeyup!” Big Mac added in.
“Thank you so much… It means the world to me…” She sobbed. Fluttershy couldn’t help but place her head on Applejack’s shoulder.
The friends stood in silence, giving their respects to the mysterious stallion. The shiny grave stone glistened in the sunlight. Eventually, Applejack insisted that she and Big Macintosh had to get back to the farm, and Rarity decided it was safest if she left as well. Despite their pleas, Fluttershy refused to come with them. She sat alone for hours in front of the stone. She felt safe, as if the clearing were some sort of sanctuary. Tears rolled down the pegasi’s face until she had none left. Time went by. When Fluttershy felt it was getting dark, she stood up and slowly began to leave. She turned one last time to read the stone, a final tear making its way down her cheek.
Here lies Slender Mane
Sometimes we all need to be shown a little Kindness
The courtroom was silent. Stepping forward from a group of ponies, a fancily dressed unicorn looked up at the towering alicorn mare with a long, flowing mane.
“We have, your majesty. The jury finds the defendant… guilty!”
The courtroom fell into an uproar, with all eyes glancing at a tall, white stallion. His hooves were chained together, and his face emotionless. The alicorn stomped her hooves fiercely, demanding silence.
“I thought as much…” She blatantly stated as she looked down at the sinister stallion who sat quietly in front of the courtroom. His glare was gut wrenching, but it did not bother the alicorn.
“For the crimes you have committed against Equestria, the land I protect; I, Princess Celestia, banish you to the Everfree Forest!”
The courtroom began to chatter anxiously again, but it was short lived at the hoof stomping of the Princess.
“I am not finished!” She continued. “You have brought nothing but hatred, pain and suffering to anypony you interact with, Slender Mane. I can tell you why that is your name, and it isn’t because you were born without a mane at all! It’s because you hardly have the right to call yourself a pony, or an Equestrian for that matter. You lie, you steal, and you even kill for your own gain! Only a small, slender part of yourself could remotely be considered a pony; you’re an animal!”
Princess Celestia’s horn began to glow a bright white. The courtroom was silent as Slender Mane looked up in defiance.
“You have brought so much destruction upon others, and now it shall come crashing down upon you. From this moment on, you shall only be treated with hatred and fear. When others look at you, they shall flee before your hideous face, and you won’t be able to look away. That’s right; you will be forced to watch as the others show their disgust: You will be an outcast. Anything you do will be treated with horror and rejection.”
The Princess had never been so furious, and nopony blamed her. The other ponies only sat in pity, watching the criminal receive his well deserved punishment.
“Unlike yourself, I am going to be merciful and give you a second chance. This is not an eternal punishment, but you shall remain under this spell until your heart has learned to love, and to care, and all signs of your former self are gone. Only when you can show kindness, and be shown kindness in return will you ever be free of your prison.”
Slender Mane only glared in silence. He had done many horrible, horrible things, and he knew well he deserved a fate far worse than death. He spat at the Princess’s feet regardless and shouted.
“Do your worst, oh powerful one!”
The courtroom was enraged, and ponies began to climb over the railings to reprimand the stallion for his highly disrespectful deed. The Princess and the stallion locked eyes as Celestia’s horn glowed blindingly bright and the stallion vanished… The ponies stood baffled. The unicorn who had spoken earlier couldn’t help but inquire the Princess’s decision.
“Your grace… I think your decision was more than fair, but… I must ask…” He began.
“Yes, it is possible.” Princess Celestia interrupted. “Only a pony of his exact opposite, an Element of Kindness, could ever be able to shown love to such a monster. It may take years, it may take millenniums, but if his heart is in the right place, that’s all that matters. He’ll be free someday, and until then, the citizens of Equestria should stay out of the Everfree Forest, as they always have..."