A year after his defeat, Discord gets revenge on the girls, in an odd way.
A year after his defeat by the Mane Six, Discord finds himself able to use a bit of chaos energy. However, he isn't able to free himself, so he decides to get revenge on the ponies who trapped him. This is the story of how the girls deal with Discord's revenge scheme, which also means adjusting to something none of them ever expected having to deal with: truly single motherhood.
I'm going…Well, I can't be going crazy. How can someone who's basically the living incarnation of insanity and disorder go insane? So, I'm going…sane, I suppose.
I should have expected that from the counting. It's so linear, and it's so hard to mix them up. Yes, I could count the wrong way, but that would require having fun. Having fun requires letting my mind wander. And when my mind wanders, I hate what it comes across.
The first thing my mind comes across when I let it wander is my recent defeat. How embarrassing.
This wasn't the first time I had been defeated, of course, but the circumstances are so much worse this time. At least the first time, I was defeated by two very powerful alicorns who were not that much younger than myself. The second time, I was defeated by two earth ponies, two pegasi, and two unicorns, who were all rather young.
Well, the upside is there isn't anyone to continuously point out how humiliating my defeat was.
Sigh. I've really become boring, haven't I? Was this how I was when I was first defeated by Celestia and her sister? If that's the case, then no problem; I can just wait until I'm back to my old self.
On the other hand, if this is something new, something that came as a result of my being defeated by the new holders of the Elements of Harmony, then I have something to worry about.
What if I stay sane for all eternity?
If that's going to happen, please smash me now!
My hands are tingling; they feel warm. This has never happened before. The warm feeling, not the tingling.
My eyes don't move, obviously, but I can see both my front paw and my claw.
There's light on the tips of six of my toes. It feels so familiar…
Ah, sweet chaos. Enough to weaken this spell? No, of course not. Seems like the universe is using my belief that games should be a challenge against me.
But, does that really matter now? I finally have it. After a year of imprisonment and nearly becoming sane, my chaos is back.
It's not enough. I know it's nowhere near enough. It won't last long without being used. I can already feel it fading. I need to use it, fast.
What can I do with it, though?
Such a small amount could only be used to affect individual ponies. Even then, it couldn't do much. Play with a natural process, maybe, but nothing more than that. Changing mane colors is nothing but parlor tricks: fun, but the novelty wears off rather quickly.
Wait a moment…Play with a natural process? Six bits of chaos….Six little ponies, all of them female. The chaos seems to have the same idea. Each of the lights reshapes itself, a small string-like tail extending out of the speck of light. I may not be able to spread chaos, but they can. The lights fly away from the tips of my tips. They head towards Ponyville.
Heh heh heh.
I know it isn't much. If I could, I would do so much worse. I would create cotton candy clouds, make that Golden Screwball pony float and think everything makes sense again, even ice-skate on magma.
But, I can't. I can't do anything when it comes to chaos while I'm a statue.
Can't have fun.
Can't spread chaos.
That's why I'm doing this. I can't spread chaos, myself. This last bit of chaos is the last I'll be using for a while.
The tiny light slipped through the crack in the wood. The fit had been tight, even after the light had made itself even smaller than it was before. It was now half the size of a pinhead.
The light floated around the room, past shelves upon shelves of books.
It barely illuminated the darkness. It was losing power. It had to do what it was told, and fast.
Where was the pony?
A small moan answered the question.
Purposefully dimming itself even more, the light floated up the stairs and into the loft where the purple unicorn slept. The baby dragon was sleeping in a basket by the foot of the bed.
The light floated past the dragon, pausing when he began to stir. His eyes opened slightly, only to close again a moment later. He sneezed once, a small amount of pale green smoke coming from his nostrils, before going back to sleep.
The light continued moving towards the slumbering pony.
It landed on her stomach.
The unicorn shivered slightly, either a reaction to the light touching the sensitive area or the temperature of the room.
It didn't matter to the light. It had a job to do.
The light burrowed into the skin of the unicorn, whose muscles tightened slightly in response to the slightly painful ordeal.
Twilight Sparkle's eyes flew open. She looked at her stomach, surprised when she couldn't see anything.
"That's strange…" she murmured softly, being careful not to wake Spike.
She could have sworn that something had stung her.
But, there was nothing on her stomach. Not a bee or a wasp. Not even the sting itself.
Figuring she must have dreamed it, Twilight closed her eyes and went back to sleep, not noticing the tiny light that shone from her lower belly for a mere moment before vanishing.
"Pinkie Pie? Are you feeling alright?" questioned the cinnamon-colored mare who had a cutie mark shaped like a cookie that had a bite taken out of it.
Pinkie looked over to the other female pony and smiled, nodding her head.
"Of course I'm alright, Ginger Snap. Why do you ask?" she asked with a grin, her speech slightly garbled due to something being in her mouth.
Ginger Snap's only answer was to look at the three-foot-long strand of strawberry licorice hanging from the pink pony's mouth. Her gaze then wandered to Pinkie's stomach, which was bulging slightly.
Pinkie noticed where Ginger Snap was looking and giggled slightly.
"Yeah, I know. Guess all those goodies I've been eating these past six weeks didn't like being eaten. They're making me fat". Her tone suddenly changed as she shouted, "Oh, those manure-heads, I'm gonna kill them!"
Brown eyes widened as Ginger Snap slowly backed away from the suddenly angry Pinkie Pie.
The poofy-maned mare grumbled to herself, slurping up the remaining licorice in an apparent attempt to placate herself. It seemed to work, as the moment she swallowed the last of the licorice, she gave an almost manic grin.
She then proceeded to get sick, just as Mr. and Mrs. Cake entered the shop.
Mrs. Cake looked at Pinkie, a concerned expression on her face. The only other time Pinkie had gotten sick like this was when a sleep-deprived Applejack had helped her make some muffins which ended up being "baked bads".
"Pinkie? Did you eat anything that didn't taste right to you?" Mrs. Cake asked her employee, who shook her head.
"Nope, Mrs. Cake," Pinkie said, producing a damp rag out of…somewhere (with Pinkie Pie, it was often best not to question things like this) and proceeding to wipe up the mess she had made.
Once the mess was cleaned, she waved a hoof at the Cakes and Ginger Snap before hopping out the door.
"Aunt Cup?" Ginger Snap said once Pinkie was out of earshot. Mrs. Cake glanced over at her niece. "Please tell me she's not always this crazy."
Rarity groaned in annoyance, throwing the dress she had been wearing a moment ago onto the floor of the boutique. She had made the dress a little over a month ago, after being invited to a party by Rose, Lily, and Daisy.
The party was tomorrow, so the unicorn had wanted to give a final examination of how she looked in the dress, and fix any small imperfections she could find.
Fortunately, the dress was absolutely perfect. There wasn't a strand of fabric torn or a single jewel out of place.
Unfortunately, Rarity was unable to fit into the dress. Five weeks ago, the outfit had fit like a glove. Now, it squeezed her stomach in a way that was actually somewhat painful. Rarity stuck her bottom lip out slightly in a pout. She knew the behavior was childish, but she was frustrated. Besides, no-pony was around to see her. Sighing slightly, the unicorn mare walked over to the mirror she normally used for seeing how her newest fashion creations looked on live models.
"I don't see how I could have gained so much weight" she said to herself, examining the growth in the stomach.
She turned herself slightly, as though believing the bump would vanish if she looked at it from the correct angle. Her thoughts were snapped away by the sound of Opal meowing.
Rarity turned to look at her pet cat, who was glaring back at her.
For a moment, the mare wondered why the feline was so upset. Then she noticed the time and the empty cat-food bowl on the floor next to Opal.
"Oh, yes, of course." Rarity said, smiling apologetically to the white cat. "I'm sorry, Opal. I've just been so…flustered, as of late" she continued, using her magic to place two small fish filets into Opal's bowl. Yes, the fish had been expensive, but Opal refused to eat anything else.
As the cat began to eat, Rarity glanced back up at the clock.
She had agreed to meet the others at Twilight's library for lunch at noon, but she was currently being overwhelmed by the urge to fix the boutique.
It was eleven o'clock, exactly.
"An hour is plenty of time to clean up and still make it to the library in time for lunch," Rarity said to herself.
Opal paused in her meal to glance around the room.
Everything was exactly where it was supposed to be, save for the dress that was on the floor. Why did her mistress need even five minutes to clean, let alone anywhere close to an hour?
Her question was answered by a couch sliding past her, six inches away from her nose.
Spike looked at the six ponies that were standing in the room, wondering what was wrong with all of them. They were supposed to be having lunch, but no-pony was eating except him.
The girls had all taken a couple bites of their food before claiming that it didn't taste right. They had the same reaction to the tea.
Spike had tried to tell them that the food and tea tasted fine to him, only to have Rainbow Dash point out that what tasted good to a dragon didn't necessarily taste good to ponies. After all, he ate things that were normally used as decorations in clothing for the ponies.
After that, Spike chose not to worry about them eating, figuring they would all have something later.
However, now he was more concerned about how they were acting.
Twilight was currently suffering from a migraine that seemed to come out of nowhere; Both Applejack and Fluttershy were clearly nauseous, though the pegasus was clearly not handling the feeling as well as the earth-pony; Rarity seemed unable to make herself comfortable, as she kept adjusting her position, seeming to take extreme care not to lie on her stomach; Rainbow Dash was actually struggling to keep her eyes open; And Pinkie was actually starting to eat wrapping paper decorated with candy canes that she had purchased on her way to the library. Now, even for Pinkie Pie, this was weird behavior.
Spike continued to watch his friends attempt to deal with their obvious discomfort…and desire to eat paper, which Pinkie was expressing. Finally, he'd decided that enough was enough and spoke up.
"What is the matter with all of you?" he asked loudly, flushing when the girls all turned to stare at him. He mumbled an apology.
"It's fine, Spike" Twilight told him as she used her magic to gather up the still full teacups onto the platter that had been used to serve the tea and food.
The room was silent for several moments before Fluttershy spoke up, though her voice was even softer than it normally was.
"I..haven't been feeling very well lately…" she said.
This confession seemed to cause a chain reaction, as the rest of the girls suddenly began listing off symptoms they had been experiencing. At first, they didn't seem to think anything of it. Then they realized that they shared certain symptoms: near constant nausea, increased appetite, and, most obviously, weight gain.
Once again, the room was silent.
"We need to see some-pony for help" Applejack said, though it was clear she didn't like the idea of needing help at all.
"No offense to Zecora, but why aren't we just going to an actual doctor?" Rainbow Dash asked as the group walked through the Everfree Forest on their way to visit the zebra that lived within it.
Twilight was the one to answer the cyan pegasus's question. She sighed slightly, as if she were a bit out of breath despite the fact that they hadn't walked very far or very fast.
"Because this isn't something normal for Ponyville. I've looked through all my medical books and none of the illnesses had all the symptoms that we have" she explained, glancing over her shoulder to look at Rainbow Dash.
She then continued to speak, finishing her thought.
"Zecora's been to a lot more places than Ponyville. Maybe she knows what's wrong with us and how to fix it."
It didn't take long for the six ponies and the baby dragon to reach the hut of the zebra.
The owner of said hut was already outside, scrapping moss off a tree with what seemed to be a knife made of carved wood.
She looked up from her work and seemed surprised, though not upset, to see her guest.
"What, may I ask, brings you here?" she asked them, seeming genuinely confused. "Most would not visit at this time of year."
As though to explain why most ponies would not visit the forest at this time of the year, she glanced at the trees surrounding her home, which all had soaked bark, and at the ground, which was close to being swamp-land with how much water had seeped into the dirt.
"Sorry to just barge in like this, Zecora, but we haven't been feeling very well for a while, and we wanted to know if you could help us." Twilight explained.
Zecora said that she would do whatever she could, then asked for the girls to say what they're symptoms were, doing both in her characteristic rhyming manner.
After the six ponies had all listed off their symptoms, from fatigue to desire to eat things like paper and string, Zecora's eyes seemed to soften slightly. She chuckled good-naturedly before telling the ponies that she had a feeling that she knew exactly what was wrong with them.
"Well, what is it?" Rainbow Dash asked, clearly having lost her patience.
Before the zebra could answer, Rarity asked how they could remedy their illness and how long it would take.
"By this time next year, you shall flourish" Zecora told them.
The six ponies looked at each other in confusion before turning back to their zebra friend.
"How do you know? What's causing it?" Applejack questioned.
The blue-eyed zebra smiled slightly before she answered the orange earth pony's inquiry.
"I told you we should have just gone to the doctors" Rainbow Dash told Twilight as the seven of them (the six ponies, plus Spike) walked through town. They were heading to said doctors, actually.
"Well, you can't really blame her for coming to that conclusion. She doesn't know us that well and our symptoms do match those of…pregnancy" the purple unicorn said, hesitating before saying the last word.
It seemed her hesitation was needed, as the moment she said that word, everyone became oddly quiet.
It was a truth that none of them could deny, but no-pony wanted to admit it.
Based solely on the symptoms, the mares could easily believe that they could be pregnant. But, that was impossible. None of them had been with any stallions, ever.
So, there had to be something else wrong with them-some illness that just happened to have the same symptoms as pregnancy.
Though, if they did have some rare illness, they would have a lot more problems to deal with.
Nurse Redheart ushered the six ponies into the room where the doctor was waiting for them, leaving Spike in a play-area with a couple few young colts and their "sitter", much to the baby dragon's chagrin.
The room wasn't very large, so there wasn't a lot of room to stand. Thankfully, the floor was covered with carpeted mats…for some reason, so the girls decided to rest for a few moments before the doctor came in to diagnose them. It was quiet.
A crunching noise broke the silence.
"Pinkie Pie, are you eating a tongue depressor?" Rarity questioned, staring at the pink earth pony as though believing she had lost her mind completely.
Pinkie spat out the half-eaten wooden tongue depressor that was in her mouth and shook her head before returning to the mat she had previously been lying on.
Moments after she sat down, two doctors, an earth pony with a blue-grey coat, a dark grey mane, glasses, and a syringe for a cute mark, the other a black unicorn with green eyes, a white mane, and a cutie mark of what seemed to be the outline of an unborn foal.
"Now, ladies" began the earth pony, "how far along are you?"
Immediately the six mares began to deny that there were pregnant, stating they had actually come to the clinic because Zecora had told them they were expecting foals, something that they knew was impossible.
The doctor chuckled slightly before speaking again.
"I'm sorry, and I mean no offense, but it really is obvious," he told them apologetically.
Almost immediately, Applejack was on her feet.
"Well, no offense to you, but I ain't believin' what you're saying without any proof" she informed the doctor (named Dr. Needles if his nametag was to be believed), who simply smiled and turned his head to the unicorn.
He didn't speak, but the unicorn doctor nodded as though he had.
The black unicorn nodded, and then walked over to Pinkie Pie, who seemed to barely notice him coming towards her.
Silently, he tilted his head towards her swollen stomach, his now glowing horn just barely touching her skin. Pinkie giggled; apparently the magic was tickling her, somehow.
Suddenly, what appeared to be a three-dimensional hologram of an earth pony fetus appeared a few inches away from Pinkie's stomach. The unborn foal appeared to be attempting to suck on something thin and flat.
"Hey, that's the tongue depressor I ate earlier!" Pinkie exclaimed.
The other five sat in stunned silence while Pinkie continued to babble on, even after the doctor moved away from her and the image vanished. One by one, he went to the five other mares, using the same spell on each of them. And, sure enough, the same image appeared each time, with the only changes being that the images for Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash had small nubs where the wings would be on a fully-developed pegasus.
He finished and returned to his place beside Dr. Needles.
"Thank you for your assistance, Dr. Phantom" Dr. Needles said, dismissing the other doctor.
Dr. Phantom nodded and left the room.
It was silent for several moments before Dr. Needles handed each of the girls a small cloth bag containing what he said were some vitamins they would need to take over the course of their pregnancies.
"I'm honestly amazed none of you realized it. I mean, by twelve weeks, an expectant mare can usually tell she's due to have a foal" he said in a tone that sounded somewhat confused.
No-pony responded. Assumedly they were still in shock from the news they had just received.
Deciding it would be best to let them deal with the life-changing news in the comfort of their own homes, he instructed them to leave, saying he would schedule appointments for them.
I know I should be worried about how I'm going to do this on my own. I know I should be wondering how I got pregnant when I've never been with a stallion. But, I'm not worried and I'm not too concerned with how this happened.
I love babies, both baby animals and baby ponies.
I had always hoped to be a mother someday, ever since I was a filly. But, I'm too shy.
I've never been able to talk to a stallion without beginning to shake because of my nerves less than halfway through the conversation. If a stallion ever mounted me, I would probably pass out. I had figured that this meant I would never be able to have a baby of my own.
Now I'm pregnant.
My foal is healthy. I don't know where he or she came from, but it doesn't matter. As long as the foal is healthy, I'm happy.
I'll do whatever I have to do keep them strong and healthy. I already eat healthy, so that won't be a problem.
I haven't told Angel yet.
He has a bit of a cold, so he's been very tired today. If he feels better, I'll tell him tomorrow.
He's been so worried about me since my symptoms began to show.
He must have thought something was horribly wrong with me. He'll be so happy to hear that there's nothing wrong with me.
I have to contact Rose and tell her I cannot attend the party that she and her cousins invited me to.
I don't know how I'll explain my sudden cancellation.
Maybe I'll just say that I don't feel well. It is true, after all.
I don't know what I'll do with the dress I had made, however.
It was designed specifically for this party, and there was no way I would be able to fit into it, even if I was to attend the party.
Maybe I'll send it to Rose or Lily. It would look lovely on either of them. I would consider sending it to Daisy, but it would clash too much with her hair.
But, that's nothing I have to decide this instant. I have much more pressing matters to attend to.
I use my magic to bring a small box of sugar cubes to my side, along with a small bowl of rose petal soup. I drop at least a dozen sugar cubes into the soup before beginning to eat. It tastes horrible. I hate the way it tastes. But, I can't stop eating it. Is this what it's like to have a craving? Am I going to spend the time left before I give birth with the desire to eat things that I would normally avoid putting anywhere near my mouth?
Well, I suppose it could be worse. I could want to eat wood and paper like Pinkie Pie.
I also don't have to worry about my business failing as my stomach grows.
Yes, trying to design the perfect dress for some-pony can be stressful, but creating a dress is far from strenuous. So, I'll still be able to make money, which is important.
Now, I know money isn't everything, but I do need to make sure I can purchase food and keep a roof over my head. Especially now.
I lift my head and look around the room. Nothing is where it was this morning. Why did I move all the furniture around? Everything had been perfectly organized before.
I'll have to wake up bright and early in order to reorganize everything again.
Maybe I'll just do the reorganization now.
I doubt I'll be getting any sleep tonight, no matter what I do.
Sue Pie ran into the kitchen at the sound of glass shattering, followed suit by her husband Clyde and two of their daughters, Isabelle and Belinda (better known as Inky/Octavia and Blinky).
"Pinkamena, what happened here?" Sue asked her eldest daughter, who was standing by the remains of a glass vase.
Pinkie lowered her head slightly in what appeared to be shame.
"Mom, I broke your vase…" she said softly. Her mood seemed to instantly perk up as she added, "Also, I'm pregnant."
Three sets of jaws dropped at the second statement.
Sue, however, didn't seem to notice what Pinkie had said. She simply went over and began picking up the broken pieces of glass, being careful not to cut her tongue on the sharp edges.
"Well, it was an accident. I'm just glad you're not…".
Suddenly, what Pinkie announced seemed to sink in. Sue looked questioningly at Pinkie's stomach, then into the blues eyes of her daughter, silently asking if it was true.
Pinkie nodded, grinning and rubbing her stomach slightly.
The matriarch of the Pie family excused herself from the room, leaving her husband alone with their three daughters.
The twins instantly began chatting with Pinkie, the news of their big sister expecting a foal apparently enough to jolly them out of their normally fairly serious and somber mood.
They only stopped talking when Clyde stepped towards them, clearing his throat. He wanted to speak with Pinkie.
Pinkie Pie looked up at her father, her eyes shining with joy.
"So…who is the colt?" he asked, his voice somewhat cold.
The pink pony didn't seem to understand. She cocked an "eyebrow", seeming to consider the question.
Finally, she responded.
"Well, I'm calling him Butterscotch, but I don't even know if he's actually a colt. Dr. Phantom and Dr. Needles didn't tell me." She told her father with a smile.
Clyde blinked twice, not speaking. He sighed; He did love Pinkie, but talking to her could be frustrating.
"I meant, who is the father?" he asked her.
The tone of his voice made it very clear why he wanted to know who the father of his daughter's unborn foal was. Pinkie shrugged slightly.
"I dunno. Don't think I've seen him since I got Butterscotch inside me. The baby, not the candy." She said, giggling slightly at the joke.
Clyde's eyes narrowed slightly. He nuzzled his pink daughter's cheek gently, telling her to tell the boy who got her with foal to come visit the farm if she ever saw him again before going to join his wife.
Pinkie turned back to Blinky and Octavia, instantly restarting the conversation they were having moments ago.
It was times like this that made Twilight thankful for her magic.
By now, her stomach was large enough that it made lying on it somewhat uncomfortable, so the unicorn was basically forced to recline on her side. This wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that she had a difficult time propping up her books so she could read while in a comfortable position while on her side. Fortunately, she had magic to help her.
Twilight Sparkle was now using her telekinesis to keep a rather thick book on Equestrian myths and legends (something she normally didn't read, but considering the odd circumstances involving the development of her and her friends' foals, she wanted to see if there were any legends that could possibly explain things. So far, there weren't) within her range of vision, also using the magic to turn the page whenever she finished the one she was currently on.
Spike sat nearby, staring at her stomach. He knew what was causing his best friend's stomach to expand so rapidly, and it seemed to mesmerize him. He noticed that Twilight would jerk occasionally.
"What's wrong?" he asked, concern evident in his voice.
The purple mare looked at him and smiled slightly.
"Nothing's wrong, Spike. The baby's just moving; that's all" she told him.
The baby dragon's eyes widened slightly. His eyes locked onto her stomach again, apparently watching for a sign of movement. When he didn't see any, he decided to take a different approach. Spike reached a claw towards the pony's stomach, stopping just inches away from it.
Twilight noticed his hesitation and chuckled good-naturedly.
"Go ahead, Spike. It's not going to hurt you" she said, adjusting her position slightly.
Her assistant nodded slightly but didn't move his claw. He still seemed somewhat nervous.
Finally, he placed his claw flat onto her swollen abdomen. At first, he didn't feel anything and he wondered if Twilight had actually felt anything before. Suddenly he felt it: a slight but defiant nudge against the palm of his clawed hand.
The little purple and green dragon let out a small noise of awe, keeping his claw on the unicorn's stomach. He seemed to honestly enjoy feeling the unborn foal of his best friend move around inside her womb.
Twilight glanced back at Spike, smiling, before turning her attention back to the book
"What are they doing here?" Rainbow Dash groaned to herself when she noticed the old bullies for summer flight camp hovering past Carrot Top's produce stand, Hoops grabbing a carrot while Dumbbell tossed a bit at the owner, apparently to pay for it.
These two rarely left Cloudsdale. Actually, as far as Rainbow Dash could remember, they had never left Cloudsdale. They had never come to Ponyville; she knew that much.
Well, they were harmless enough. They were stupid and annoying, but they couldn't do much damage.
"Your Pinkie Puff friend feeding you too many cupcakes, Rainbow Crash?" Hoops questioned, walking up to the cyan-colored pegasus. He laughed at his own joke, Dumbbell joining in after a second.
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes.
"At least I have an excuse" she muttered, starting to honestly get angry.
The two stallions stopped laughing, staring at the mare in confusion.
Though whether they were trying to figure out why she had an excuse or if she had just insulted them wasn't entirely clear.
Hoops looked down, staring at Rainbow Dash's stomach. He remained silent, seeming to be thinking hard about something. Suddenly, his contemplative expression turned to one of realization. A second later, the look of realization changed to an expression of slight terror. The orange stallion, for what appeared to be no reason what-so-ever, suddenly flew off.
It took several seconds before Dumbell seemed to notice that his best friend had left, but when he did notice, he flew off himself.
Rainbow Dash blinked twice slowly, wondering why the two stallions had flown off so suddenly.
Twilight looked unsure, glancing back at her friends, then at the sky. The sun was just beginning to set.
The purple pony breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe the princess wasn't actually coming today…
A crash of thunder interrupted her thoughts, followed quickly by the sound of whinnying ponies.
The six holders of the Elements of Harmony and their dragon companion looked up at the sky to see two chariots being pulled through the darkening sky.
So, apparently not only was Princess Celestia coming to visit her subjects in Ponyville, but so was her younger sister, Princess Luna. The two chariots landed mere feet away from the seven friends, who backed away slightly.
"It is delightful to see you again, Twilight Sparkle. It really has been much too long" Luna said to her sister's pupil, extending a hoof to the unicorn. Said unicorn smiled nervously and took the princess of the night's hoof, accepting the hoof-shake.
Once Luna released her grip on Twilight, Applejack leaned over to her friend in order to whisper, "Looks like Luna's been practicing her talking".
Twilight glared at her for a moment before opening her mouth to respond. Before she could say anything, however, she was interrupted by Spike clearing his throat and tapping her shoulder, obviously trying to get her attention. She turned her attention to the dragon, who pointed at something.
Twilight looked in the direction he was pointing, only to see a very concerned-looking Celestia looking back at her. Well, more specifically, she was looking at her stomach. No doubt she could automatically tell what was causing the swelling of the young unicorn's abdomen.
She looked at the other mares and she seemed to become even more worried.
"Princess Celestia, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but.." Twilight began to say, only to be interrupted by the princess of the day hushing her gently.
"We will talk about this soon, Twilight Sparkle. For now, I just need you and your friends to meet me in the library." Celestia told her star pupil.
With that, she turned to her younger sister, nodding in one direction before walking that way. Luna took her older sister's gestures as directions to follow and she did such.
"I don't get why you were so worried, Twilight. She didn't seem angry to me," Pinkie commented to Twilight, who, along with Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash, glared at her half-heartedly.
"I had wondered why you hadn't sent me any letters for so long." Celestia said, smiling slightly at her student, who flinched slightly. It was as though the unicorn was expecting her teacher to punish her for some reason or another.
The other girls all seemed equally uncomfortable, though it was most likely for a different reason.
No-pony spoke, causing the room to fill with an almost tangible silence, which was soon cut by Pinkie Pie chewing on some muffins she had brought into the library, occasionally offering one to her friends and the two princesses, all of whom declined.
It was Princess Luna who asked the first non-muffin related question, addressing all six of the younger mares.
"Where, may I ask, are the stallions who had the honor of siring these foals?" she asked, her voice slightly louder than one would find acceptable for speaking indoors.
Instantly, five of the girls began shifting their weight, as though the question took away their balance. Pinkie just continued to eat her muffins.
Somewhat angered by a lack of response, Luna began to repeat the question, only to be cut off by Rainbow Dash.
"There aren't any, okay? I know it sounds crazy, but we really didn't do anything with any stallions!" she exclaimed, sounding half angry and almost exhausted. It was as though she had said the same thing to dozens of other ponies and was getting tired of it. Honestly, that was likely the case.
After Rainbow's outburst, the girls all looked at the princesses, expecting them (or at least Luna) to reprimand the multicolored-maned pegasus.
However, both Celestia and Luna were silent, identical worried expressions on their faces.
Before any of the younger mares or Spike could ask what was wrong, Princess Celestia gave a simple order: come to the castle by tomorrow morning.
Rarity felt like she was being pulled in five directions at once as she tried to get everything situated. She packed four months worth of necessities, as Princess Celestia had instructed. At the same time, she also attempted to give instructions to Sweetie Belle.
"Now, Lyra and Bon Bon will mind the store for me while I'm gone. All of the dresses that have been ordered for the next six months have already been completed. All you have to do is label the dress-form of each dress with the correct sticker" she told her younger sister.
Sweetie Belle frowned; obviously she had been hoping to be more involved with her big sister's business while she was gone, even if she couldn't actually make or design any dresses. But, the only task she was given besides labeling the dresses for their buyers was to feed Opal, a task that could be considered somewhat risky depending on the feline's mood.
"I'm not a baby anymore, sis." The younger unicorn told her older sister, glancing back and smiling at the cutie mark on her flank. The mark was made up of two golden bells, tied together by a pink ribbon shaped like a heart.
Rarity returned the smile and said, "No, you're not a baby. But, you're still too young to run the shop and take care of Opal by yourself".
"I thought you never lied" Apple Bloom said accusingly as she stuffed a slightly tattered blanket into Applejack's pack. Granny Smith was napping and Big MacIntosh was plowing the field, so the filly was the only one around to help her sister get ready for her upcoming trip.
The orange mare looked at her younger sister and sighed. Out of all the members of her immediate family, her sister had taken the news that she was going to be staying in Canterlot for four months the worst. She didn't seem angry, but she was clearly upset.
"I didn't lie" Applejack said simply. The filly looked unconvinced.
For a few moments, neither of them spoke.
"Yes, you did. You said there wasn't anything wrong" the yellow filly said, her voice breaking the silence despite how soft it was.
Suddenly, Applejack knew what her sister was talking about. She sighed softly, not in exasperation, just a puff of breath, before she responded to Apple Bloom's words.
"There isn't anything wrong. Princess Celestia didn't say there was anything wrong, so there's nothing wrong".
She tried her hardest to not think of how worried the princesses had looked when Celestia had told the mares to come to Canterlot Castle. But, she wasn't lying. The princess didn't actually say that there was anything wrong.
Apple Bloom seemed a little less upset, though she was clearly far from convinced.
Applejack prepared to add to her last statement, but the filly got back to packing before she could even open her mouth.
The holder of the Element of Kindness surveyed the room, making sure that everything was situated. Mostly, she wanted to make sure that all the animals were comfortable. She knew that Sparkler would do a wonderful job taking care of them (she was the head of the animal team during Winter Wrap Up, after all), but she didn't want to leave before making sure they were all happy.
She especially wanted to make sure that Angel and Tank were alright.
The rabbit was high on her priority list because of how close the two of them were. As for the tortoise, she was concerned for him not because he was her pet, but because he was the pet of one of her best friends.
Fluttershy had volunteered to allow Tank to live in her cottage, realizing that it would be impossible for the tortoise to actually live on Rainbow Dash's cloud home.
Normally, it was the perfect set-up. However, on a day like this, where everything seemed to be a little hectic, Fluttershy wished that Tank could walk on the clouds, so he could see that Rainbow Dash was just fine.
She was, Fluttershy knew. They were all just fine.
"Gummy, you can't come with me" Pinkie said with a giggle as she pulled her pet alligator out of her pack.
The two-year-old reptile blinked once in response to the "scolding".
Pinkie pressed her nose against his and smiled.
"Don't worry. I'll come back real soon. And then, we'll have a party to welcome me and all my friends back home. I'll make your favorite punch!" she practically squealed, growing excited at the idea of throwing a party. It was the thing she loved the most, after all.
Gummy just blinked again.
The earth pony's grin seemed to widen.
"I knew you'd like that idea" she said, rubbing his head affectionate.
Her pet alligator looked up at her for a moment in silence. He then opened his toothless mouth and began gumming her swollen stomach.
The foal inside her began to move, as if in response to Gummy's playful bites. Pinkie giggled.
"You two already like each other" she exclaimed happily. She still had stuff left to pack, but it could wait. She didn't really have that much left, and she loved to see Gummy so happy.
"You sure it's okay for me to stay here while you're gone, Rainbow Dash?" Scootaloo asked breathlessly.
The lack of breath wasn't because she couldn't believe what her idol had told her. She had used a decent amount of energy flying up to the cloud.
Rainbow Dash looked slightly annoyed.
"If it wasn't okay for you to stay here, I wouldn't let you stay here, Squirt" she said, adding the affectionate nickname to show she wasn't truly angry at the pegasus filly. She had told Scootaloo to house-sit for her while she was in Canterlot.
Some would question why she had chosen a filly to take care of her home, rather than an adult pegasus.
There were two reasons, actually.
One, the only other pegasi she trusted enough to be in her home were all busy with either jobs or their foals. Two, the filly had apparently been kicked out by her parents again, so she needed a place to stay.
Dash had suggested that she go to talk to Scootaloo's parents, tell them what she thought of them kicking their daughter out of the house. Scootaloo, in return, quickly explained that they had left town for a vacation and she had no idea where they had gone.
Rainbow Dash had a feeling she was lying, but decided not to press it.
Twilight Sparkle was the only one awake this late at night. She was used to saying up late, due to her late-night study sessions when she was younger. She wasn't studying now. Right now, she was simply thinking.
Why did the princess want them to come to Canterlot, and on such short notice? Why did they have to stay for so long?
She didn't doubt that her teacher had good reason to give the order, but she wanted to know the reason.
The purple unicorn felt something brush against her hind legs. She looked back to see Spike was now curled up at the foot of her bed.
'He must've had a nightmare' she thought to herself, smiling slightly. Despite trying to act so mature, the dragon still was a child, it seemed.
Twilight, unable to physically reach her assistant, used her magic to rub his head gently.
She still wondered about the reasons for Princess Celestia and Luna demanding they come to Canterlot, but for now, she would focus on making sure her number one assistant felt safe.
The sun was just beginning to rise as the six ponies and the dragon stepped into the home of the royal sisters. As the sun was rising, the guests were not surprised to find that only Princess Luna was there to greet them.
She didn't speak, but rather chose to lead them into the hall which was decorated with stained glass windows depicting acts of heroism not only by the six mortal ponies, but also by the two princesses.
They were not alone. Standing in front of the newest addition to the hall-the image of Discord's second imprisoning- was a light blue unicorn using magic to clean the glass. The unicorn wore a cloak and hood, obscuring their face and cutie mark. They seemed to not realize that any-pony had entered the hall.
"Ocean Breeze" Luna called to the unicorn pony, who turned to face her.
The mare shook her head to lower her hood, revealing a pair of crystal blue eyes and an ocean blue curly mane.
The mare, named Ocean Breeze, lifted her head to look at the princess.
"Yes, Princess Luna?" she questioned, her voice lowered in an act of apparent respect.
"My sister and I would like to speak to our subjects in private. I request that you return to your chamber" Luna said, the volume of her voice rising slightly a few times while she spoke.
Ocean Breeze did not respond for several moments. She glanced at the six other ponies and the dragon, as though trying to figure out why they were at the castle to begin with. Finally, she bowed to the princess and exited the hall.
Moments after the blue unicorn left the hall, Princess Celestia entered. The older sister looked to her subjects before turning her attention to her little sister.
"Luna, please, go to bed." She requested.
Luna shook her head in response, before saying, "I shall enter my bedchamber, sister, but at the moment, we have more pressing matters to attend to".
Celestia sighed slightly, clearly wishing her sister would simply listen to her. However, she knew from experience that once Luna decided something, it was nearly impossible to change her mind.
And so, the princesses on the sun and moon turned their attention to the six mares that stood before them.
It was clear that none of them had slept particularly well, though considering their current condition, that was to be expected. It was also obvious that they were somewhat concerned. Again, it was not hard to understand why. After all, they had been told to come to the royal city on very short notice, something that rarely happened without there being some sort of emergency. Perhaps that was why they were being so quiet; they were afraid of what they might be told.
"Can we have some breakfast? They didn't let us eat on the train" Pinkie asked, interrupting the almost sullen silence in the hall.
Her friends looked at her for a moment, as though they were amazed that she would insist that they eat before hearing whatever it was the princesses had to tell them, which was surely something important.
The princesses, however, did not seem angry in the slightest. They actually seemed rather understand.
"Of course" Celestia said, leading them towards the dining room.
Several of the chefs looked at the pregnant mares with rather curious expressions on their face. A few of them started to attempt to make some form of comment, but instantly shut their mouths when Princess Luna shot them a look that told them that she would not tolerate the guests being insulted.
Moments later, the girls were eating a fairly large breakfast prepared by the royal chefs.
Rarity paused once in the middle of taking a bite of oatmeal with blueberries when she noticed that someone had taken a seat to her left (Fluttershy was seated to her right), by jumping into the chair.
Believing it to be Pinkie Pie jumping over the table, the blue-eyed unicorn began to say, "Pinkie Pie, if you want to change seats, please get up and walk".
To her surprise, Pinkie responded with clear confusion. "I didn't change my seat. I like it just fine".
Rarity's eyes popped open then, and she saw that Pinkie had indeed remained in her seat.
Now curious (and perhaps a slight bit nervous) to see who had jumped into the seat beside her, she turned her head to look.
To her surprise, she found a very young earth pony with a coat and eyes that matched those of Ocean Breeze, but a wavy yellow mane. The unicorn stared at the toddler pony in silence, entirely unsure of what to say.
Thankfully, before the filly could try and start a conversation, or at least as much of a conversation as a pony that could likely barely talk could start, Fluttershy noticed the baby.
"What are you doing here on your own, little one? Where's your mama?" the yellow pegasus asked the little filly, gently lifting the baby from the chair and placing her onto the floor.
The filly did not answer, but apparently she did not need to. Almost the second Fluttershy placed the baby onto the floor, the doors to the dining room opened and Ocean Breeze stepped into the room. She looked somewhat panicked until she noticed the filly.
"Crystal Lake, you know better than to wander off like that" she scolded the filly, who was clearly her daughter. "Now, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Crystal Lake cooed softly and nuzzled her mother in response.
Nudging her foal gently to her side, Ocean Breeze apologized to the mares and Spike for her daughter interrupting their meal.
"It's no trouble, really." Twilight told the other unicorn.
Her friends quickly agreed. Rarity and Applejack were quick to say that they were used to being interrupted, as they each had a little sister.
And, oddly enough, it was Rainbow Dash who pointed out that they would have to deal with their own foals interrupting them all the time within the next few months.
"Thank you for understanding" Ocean Breeze said graciously before ushering her daughter out of the room and allowing the seven guests of the alicorn princesses to finish their meal.
A short time later found the seven ponyville residents back in the hall of legends, along with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. The older princess instructed the unicorns, the earth ponies, the pegasi, and the dragon to make themselves comfortable; she had a story to tell them.
The six younger ponies were silent. Even Pinkie Pie kept quiet once she got into a comfortable position.
Once it was clear that the mares were comfortable and she had their full attention, Celestia began to speak.
"There was a story that our mother, Tau Sunflare used to always tell us when we were young.
It has been said that ever since harmony existed, so has chaos. One was never truly overpowered by the other; no matter how peaceful something seemed on the surface, there was always some form of chaos hidden beneath.
However, that was just the problem. No-pony wanted to admit that they had vices or other problems, so they did whatever they could to hide them. They pretended to be as harmonious as possible, keeping any chaos that emerged, even just the slightest disagreement, smothered.
For a while, things truly seemed peaceful.
Unfortunately, things are never what they seem. Many hundred years had passed since the ponies began to pretend that chaos did not exist.
Their denial made the chaos grew strong; it developed a physical form and even sentience.
The chaos was enraged that the ponies would refuse to acknowledge it, and began to plot its revenge."
It was at this point that Luna began the next portion of the tale her sister had begun.
"The chaos began to travel the world, sampling the genetic material of many different animals. It stole the blood of a bat, a snake, a lion, a goat, a deer, and an eagle. Once the chaos had gathered the material it required, it took the form of a stallion, one more desirable than most."
Luna paused and looked to Celestia. It was unclear if Luna was not as familiar with the story as her older sister was, or if she was simply comfortable with telling the rest, but she obviously did not want to finish the tale.
Celestia sighed slightly; apparently this was not a story she enjoyed telling.
"The chaos-stallion searched for a mate, some-pony to receive its essence and energy.
It finally found her in the form of a filly who was just barely old enough to be able to carry a foal.
The chaos did whatever it could to gain the filly's trust, and once it knew the filly would do anything it wished, it made its move.
She awoke the next day to find that the stallion she had loved had gone, leaving her alone.
Mere weeks later, she learned she was expecting a foal.
The filly was overjoyed, knowing that she had something left of the stallion she had loved after all. But, something was terribly wrong.
The foal inside of her grew twice as fast as normal, causing her pain and stealing all the energy she had. No matter how much she ate, she was constantly starved, even as her unborn child prospered.
Finally, she delivered her foal. Or, what she expected to be a foal.
She had fallen unconscious during the birth, and when she opened her eyes, she found a creature that was not a pony by her side. It was like nothing she had even seen before. Something part pony, part snake, part lion…It was so many different creatures all in one.
The poor filly was unable to survive the birth after a pregnancy that took away all her strength and nearly killed her. It has been said that she only said one word before she died, the name of her child".
She didn't even need to say what the filly's last word was, the six ponies answered for her.
"Discord…" they said in unison.
The solar princess nodded solemnly.
"We had believed that the story was just that, a story" Luna began, "but now we see that some stories are quite true".
With that, she glanced at the swollen stomachs of the pregnant mares. Said mares also looked at their stomachs then, each wearing an identical expression of fear on their face.
The royal sisters noticed this fear and were quick to try and ease it.
Luna stated that they were still unsure if the ponies' current condition was actually related to the story of Discord's origins. While she spoke to Twilight, Pinkie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, and Spike, trying to calm the ponies, Celestia opened the vault which contained the Elements of Harmony.
She used her magic to carry the chest containing the Elements over to their bearers, instructing the girls to put on the jewelry. They did so without hesitation.
However, the moment the necklace and the tiara touched the skin of the expectant mares, they instantly flew off, as though tossed away at full force.
"Discord would ensure that the Elements of Harmony could not be used. After all, he desires the foals to be born healthy" Luna said bitterly.
Celestia nodded in agreement before turning to her faithful student and her friends.
"I promise that you will all survive this. Your foals are growing fast, but you are all healthy, so don't be afraid. We are going to be monitoring the foals, however" she told the girls.
When Applejack asked why the foals would have to be monitored, the princess answered quickly.
"They could very well have the potential to be dangerous, and we just want to be sure that we take the necessary precautions before sending you all home".
Almost immediately, the orange mare was on her feet (quite a feat, considering the size of her belly) and glaring up at the princess of the sun.
"What sorta precautions?" she questioned, her tone making it clear what she thought Princess Celestia was implying.
Rather than simply answering the question outright, Princess Celestia simply said, "No harm will come to your foals. I can assure you all that there is no safer place in Canterlot than our castle".
The six young ponies all relaxed, even those who did not seem to even notice that they had grown tense at what the princess had previously said, like Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash.
Once the tension in the room was clear, the friends began to chat, as though they were back home, having a simple get-together.
However, unbeknownst to the six ponies, the dragon, or the princesses, some-pony had been standing at the door, listening to the story and the conversation that had followed.
"Princess Celestia may not be willing to take the necessary precautions" Ocean Breeze muttered to herself as she walked away. "But I am."
When Twilight Sparkle and her friends had come to Canterlot three weeks ago, they had all seemed very healthy despite the alien growths inside their wombs.
Now, however, things seemed to be taking a turn for the worst. The symptoms of early pregnancy had returned, and the mares seemed to be suffering horribly from them. They were constantly exhausted, almost constantly ill, and seemed half-starved almost all the time.
The sudden onset of cold weather definitely wasn't helping matters. Even when the windows and doors were closed, everyone was cold, even the two princesses, who had a higher body temperature than was normal for mortal ponies. However, it was the six pregnant ponies who were the most affected. They would shiver as though they were standing outside in a blizzard even when other ponies were relatively warm.
The physician Celestia had hired to monitor the mares' pregnancies, as well as deliver their foals, stated that this was to be expected.
"Perfectly normal" he had said, "The mother shivers with cold, but the fetus keeps warm, probably by stealing a small amount of the mother's body heat".
Neither Celestia nor Luna told the doctor the truth about the six unborn foals-that they weren't technically ponies.
Even though few ponies knew about Discord and even fewer took what they had heard about him seriously, the princesses knew that hybrids could be considered quite dangerous. They happened so rarely, and thus, nobody knew what to expect.
So, for the protection of the six holders of the Elements of Harmony, as well as their offspring, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna lied about the origins of the foals.
Well, it was a half-lie, if one were to be technical; they only said that the circumstances of conception were not something the six mares wished to talk about, which was the truth.
"This cold is going away almost as fast as it came" said the white-maned mare cheerfully to her dark-maned double, her voice radiating with cheer.
The darker-maned pony nodded her head.
"It really is good news for us, Lady" she said.
She then turned her attention to the six guests of the princesses, who were resting nearby. She giggled slightly before addressing them.
"And the six of you will no doubt have your foals by this time next month. Probably sooner".
Pinkie Pie shifted uncomfortably. None of the expectant mares seemed particularly comfortable, but the usually peppy pink pony was exceptionally antsy for some reason. She kept changing her position, stretching her legs, doing whatever she could to relieve some sort of discomfort.
"Are you alright?" Fluttershy questioned worriedly. Pinkie instantly stopped her shifting and nodded.
"Yep, I'm fine. Back's just hurting a bit." She then got to her feet in an amazingly quick manner, though she almost lost her balance for a second as she stood. "I'm just gonna go take a bath and have some grape juice. That always helps when I don't feel good" she said, smiling as she headed out the door.
The light-and-dark-maned ponies looked at each other knowingly, before exiting the room as well.
I'm gonna call her Butterscotch. Butterscotch Cream Pie. It really fits her. She looks like a butterscotch cream pie, except she doesn't have any crust. She's colored like butterscotch pudding (except her belly is white) and her mane looks like whipped cream!
Butterscotch is shivering. The water's getting cold. Time to get out.
I climb out of the tub and put Butterscotch on a mat on the floor. It feels weird because that weird cord thingy is still keeping her attached to me.
I pull the plug out of the tub. Gotta let the water drain away, wash away the blood.
It's hurting again. My belly.
Why is it hurting? My baby's out.
Butterscotch whimpers. What's wrong, Butterscotch? I wanna ask her, but I can't. I can't talk. I look at her and I wanna gasp. The cord is burning away from her belly…
It's going towards me. Inside me now. It feels like a fire inside me. I scream once, then it's over.
It's really over now. Good.
"Let's go have some cupcakes," I say to Butterscotch.
Wait, she can't eat cupcakes yet.
"Well, I'll have some cupcakes and you can have milk". Yeah. That'll work. Twilight's funny book said that the milk our foals drink from us tastes like the food we eat.
Butterscotch likes that idea. She's smiling! Well, sorta…
I'm getting hungry.
I pick up a towel and wrap it around my chest. No idea how I did that, but it's sure going to make carrying Butterscotch easier. I pick her up and put her into the towel-sling.
I think she fell asleep already. Oh well, she can have some cupcake-milk later.
Celestia was terrified for Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Luna was also worried, though she seemed somewhat better at masking it then her older sister.
For at least eight hours now, the castle doctor had been running around the castle between six different room, most often going into the rooms of Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash, the princesses normally following suit.
The five of them had apparently been in labor for hours, though no-pony had contacted him until it seemed the foals were ready to come out.
The mothers were in horrible pain; that much was obvious. They retched and retched, even once there was nothing left in their stomachs. They were shivering as though they were cold despite their bodies feeling as though they were suffering from very high fevers.
Despite the assurance of the doctor and his assistants, both of the princesses knew that things were not going well.
In the backs of their minds, they worried that they would not be able to keep the promise they had made to the six heroes of Equestria, the promise that they would not suffer the same fate as Discord's unfortunate pony mother.
As it was, they'd already had a close call with Pinkie Pie.
One of the guards had discovered the pink mare in the washroom, unconscious on the floor with a small bundle wrapped against her chest.
The bundle was a newborn filly, obviously the daughter of the holder of Laughter and the cause of her earlier back pain.
When Pinkie had been discovered, she was barely breathing and had lost quite a bit of blood. She had survived, thanks to quick intervention by the medical ponies, but she was far from recovered.
Her daughter was currently being nursed by another mare, as one of the midwife ponies suggested.
A couple weeks ago, when the doctor suggested having wet-nurses for the foals, Luna had scoffed at the idea and even Celestia had to admit that it seemed like an odd thing to suggest.
Now, however, they understood why he had suggested it. Judging by how things were going, none of the mares would be conscious once the foals were delivered, if they even survived.
"Get away from me…" Twilight moaned in a mixture of pain and anger, though the pain was much more obvious. There was no other explanation for why the unicorn was telling her mentor to keep her distance.
Celestia did as Twilight oh-so-politely requested, not so much because of the request itself, but because she had to keep Spike from attacking the doctor.
"Make him help her!" the baby dragon had all but shouted at the princess before shooting a glare at the doctor.
The poor stallion gulped, looking like he expected to be char-broiled any moment now. He didn't let his fear distract him from his work, however, and kept his mind on the task at hand.
"Now, Miss Sparkle, I can't get away from you" he told the laboring mare soothingly. "Not right now, at least. Give me a couple more good pushes and we'll have this foal out. Then I can get out of your mane."
Twilight seemed to consider this for a moment, before she did as the doctor told her.
Realizing that Spike was still looking at his surrogate sister (or mother, if you took into the account that it was Twilight Sparkle who hatched his egg), Princess Celestia turned the dragon around, making sure he stayed facing her, rather than the purple unicorn.
Moments that seemed like hours passed before the cry of the holder of Magic's foal was heard.
The mother passed out before the foal was even fully delivered, requiring the doctor to use his own magic to guide the foal, a filly, out of her mother's body.
He prepared to cut the umbilical cord, but before he could do so, a soft sizzling noise and a smoky smell filled the air; the cord was burning away from the filly, leaving nothing in its stead, not even a navel. The fleshy tether disappeared completely and Twilight gave a gasp of pain before going silent and almost completely still.
"I'll take care of her" the doctor assured Celestia and Spike before instructing them to take the newborn filly, who he had quickly cleaned with a towel, away until she was ready to be nursed.
They carried the tiny foal into a small room that was serving as a nursery-Butterscotch had been placed there moments ago when she'd finished feeding-and placed her into a small cradle.
"I need to check on the others, Spike. Will you be alright on your own?" the solar princess asked the small dragon, who nodded in response.
Once she was gone, Spike looked at his best friend's newborn.
The unicorn filly was the same shade of blue that Luna had been when the girls had first met her, though her mane appeared to be much darker. Whether it was black or just a very dark shade of blue, Spike couldn't tell.
A soft growling noise took Spike's thoughts away from the foal. He had refused to leave Twilight for hours, despite being very hungry.
Now, he wasn't allowed into the room while the doctor took care of her.
"Maybe Moon-Dancer will let me have some gems…" he muttered, heading towards the kitchens.
Doctor Castaway sighed as he used his magic to keep the cyan pegasus's wings pinned to her sides. She had been flapping them haphazardly, and he couldn't have that.
The foal was crowning now, and the last thing he needed was for the mother to manage to lift herself during the delivery.
Rainbow Dash continued to try and struggle against the pains that shot through her body. Her eyes were bloodshot; she began to retch again.
Doctor Castaway demanded that she push. She paid him no heed.
"You want the pain to stop? Then do as I say!" he demanded again.
This time, she simply gave him an angry snort between the retching.
Castaway sighed. He really didn't want to have to do this, but she was leaving him no choice. If he didn't intervene, things were not going to end well for the pegasus or her foal.
He turned to his assistant, instructing her to keep Rainbow Dash's wings secured, before stepping towards the very angry soon-to-be mother.
Said angry mare attempted to give the doctor a kick as soon as he was within range, but he used magic to hold her legs steady in the position he wanted them in.
Once she was fully restrained, the stallion began to press on her abdomen slightly.
At first, he worried that the method wasn't working. However, slowly but surely, the small foal slid from its-his-mother's body.
The newborn colt appeared to have a fairly strong resemblance to his mother; he had the same coat color, and had even inherited a multicolored mane, though his only contained the colors blue, yellow, orange, and red.
Like with the filly born a few moments ago, the umbilical cord literally burned away, apparently taking the foal's navel away with it.
Doctor Castaway quickly used his magic to lift the colt off the ground, before "handing" him over to the assistant to have him cleaned and carried into the "nursery".
While she did that, the doctor took care of the mother, giving her herbs to stop the bleeding, fight against infection, and lower the fever she had developed during the delivery, as well as help her sleep in order to recover from the experience.
He would be doing this for all the mares as they delivered, he was sure.
The last thing he wanted was for any-pony to not be able to walk away from this experience.
Rarity looked up at the doctor as though she thought he had completely lost his mind. And, in her mind, he had.
"You're telling me not to push?" she asked him, slipping out of the accent she normally used as she panted between the words.
Castaway simply nodded.
Exasperated, the holder of the Element of Generosity asked why he didn't want her to push.
He had said that the foal was beginning to emerge, and she could certainly tell that he was correct. Didn't that mean she should be pushing to move the delivery along quicker?
"The foal is positioned wrong. Unless you want to tear more than you already are, I'd suggest against pushing until I tell you to" the doctor informed the white unicorn.
Instantly, Rarity stopped complaining, though she did whimper as the doctor did his work.
He used his magic to try and move the foal around inside the birth canal without causing too much damage to it or the mother. He almost had it in the right position when the foal shifted forward.
"Miss Rarity, I told you not to…" his voice trailed off as he realized that the poor mare was shuddering violently, her eyes rolling upwards. She was obviously not controlling her own body at the moment; her body was doing what came naturally in this situation.
"Doctor, should I give her a muscle relaxant?" his assistant Jupiter Drops suggested.
He shook his head. Relaxing the muscles ran the risk of stopping the contractions, which would stop the delivery of the foal. Considering the head had already emerged, it would be safer to simply allow Rarity's body to deliver the foal before giving her the muscle relaxants.
Soon enough, Jupiter was cleaning off a small white unicorn filly with a turquoise colored mane while Doctor Castaway tended to her mother.
The purple-maned unicorn had torn fairly badly due to the bad positioning of her daughter during the delivery, and she was completely unaware of the world around her, though that was possibly an effect of the cocktail of liquid herbs the doctor had poured down her throat to both stop the muscle spasms and the bleeding, and make her sleep.
He glanced at Jupiter, who took the filly out of the room as he silently instructed.
As she was leaving, he told her to tell Venus and Milkyway to do the same once the last two foals were born.
For the first time tonight, Doctor Castaway kept his distance away from the mother as her foal was delivered.
It wasn't that he had anything against the orange pony. Far from it, actually.
It was just…this was actually going fairly well so far, compared to the last three deliveries he had just performed.
Besides, he'd already been bucked in the face once by Miss Applejack, and the last thing he needed right now was to be knocked unconscious. He still had one last foal to deliver after this, after all.
An almost metallic scent filled the air.
Doctor Castaway looked over at Applejack, as he assumed the smell was coming from her. Sure enough, the mare was now bleeding was profusely.
"We need to get it out…NOW" he told Venus, who shook her head slightly.
"Venus Lovedust! If we don't deliver the foal now, the mother is going to hemorrhage past the point where we can help her. Do you want that?" he asked her harshly.
The lavender-colored pony shook her head. She then opened her mouth and spoke softly.
"He's already out, sir." She informed him, carefully lifting up a blood-covered colt. The blood obscured the colors of the colt's coat and mane for the most part, though Castaway was fairly certain that the coat was a shade of green, while the mane was an almost golden color.
He didn't have much time to think about that as he instantly turned his attention back to Applejack, who was struggling to keep herself awake despite the blood she was losing.
While Venus carried the newborn away, the doctor hushed his patient, feeding her the cocktail of herbs. Unlike the others, the orange earth pony put up a fight, shaking her head slightly to wake herself up whenever she began to drift off.
Soon, however, the effects of the herbs won over her stubbornness and she succumbed to slumber.
"You're doing fine, Fluttershy" Castaway told the gentle pegasus as she exhaled shakily.
As she exhaled, she pushed gently. The foal began to emerge from her body.
The doctor and Milkyway were amazed at how calm she was. Yes, they knew that she had quite a high level of patience compared to most ponies, but they had seen many patient ponies before, and they always at least screamed during this part of delivery. All Fluttershy had done so far was gasps somewhat loudly a few times.
Besides that, she made little other sound, other than occasionally asking if everything was going alright. The doctor and "nurse" always assured her that it was, and she would calm down again.
"One more should do it" Castaway informed Fluttershy, who smiled tiredly.
Despite her apparent tolerance for the pain, it was clear the labor and delivery was draining the poor pegasus. She had already used a great deal of her strength and she still needed to summon up enough energy for the final push.
Milkyway began to ask the shy pony if she would like them to assist with the delivery, but before she could finish, Fluttershy began to bear down.
She whimpered slightly with the effort, her teeth grinding against each other ever so lightly.
It was only a minute before Milkyway had the yellow filly with the brown mane in her telekinetic grip. As she turned to take the foal away to be cleaned, she heard a small noise from behind her.
"My baby…Can I see my baby?" Fluttershy asked, her voice barely louder than a puff of breath, barely loud enough to be heard.
Milkyway smiled gently and lowered the newborn down to her mother's eye level.
Fluttershy nuzzled the still bloody foal gently.
In response, the baby yawned and opened her eyelids, revealing eyes that were unlike that of a normal newborn foal's. Instead of the usual nearly black eyes and black pupils, the filly had bright yellow eyes with red pupils.
The doctor and his assistant were taken aback by this, but the new mother didn't seem to even notice the odd color of her daughter's eyes.
She simply nuzzled her again as she said, "Mama loves you, no matter what. Don't forget that, Meadow Lark…".
With that, she lowered her head and closed her eyes. For a moment, the other two adult ponies feared the worst, until they heard the soft, steady breathing from the holder of Kindness.
Castaway knelt down and began to examine the mother while Milkyway carried the newborn filly, Meadow Lark, out of the room.
Ocean Breeze crept quietly into the room where the six foals were being kept, holding a fairly large bucket in her mouth.
Ever since she had heard what these foals truly were, she had been preparing for this day.
A part of her felt sick for doing this to innocent newborns.
That part of her conscious vanished instantly when she heard the stories of the deliveries: the umbilical cords literally burning away, leaving no sign of a navel to suggest it ever existed. Not to mention the foals all possessed odd yellow eyes with red pupils. Clearly these were demon-spawn.
Ocean Breeze needed to protect Equestria. She needed to protect her own baby, her little Crystal Lake.
Exhaling softly, the light blue unicorn activated her magic and the bucket on the floor began to fill with water. Once it was nearly full, she stopped the spell and turned to the cradles where the little monsters slept.
She lifted one, a cyan-colored colt, from his cradle with her telekinesis and began to move him towards the bucket.
She paused for a moment and wondered if would this be enough? The foals were the spawn of a horrible creature who had apparently little weaknesses outside of the Elements of Harmony, so perhaps they had inherited some resistance to harm as well.
No…the foals were mortal, at least for now. They had less chance of surviving an attack from her as she did of surviving an attack by a full grown dragon.
Ocean Breeze began to lower the colt into the water. Just a couple minutes and it would be over. Less than half an hour before the horrible creatures were gone.
Ocean Breeze looked up as she noticed something fighting against her magic. She looked up to see that the foal was now being cradled by a radiant golden glow.
Before she could process what was happening, the would-be killer found herself pinned to the floor by Princess Luna.
The princess of the night's eyes were glowing and the windows shook from the violent winds blowing around outside.
"I shall give you one minute to tell me why I shouldn't leave you to a pack of starving Timber Wolves as punishment for your crime" Luna informed the unicorn, clearly struggling to keep herself from shouting.
Ocean Breeze blinked her crystal colored eyes in confusion. Did the princess really not know why she was doing this? She began to explain, only to have Luna snap at her to be silent.
"I care not for your excuses. If any-pony here is a demon, it must be you. Why else would you choose to murder these foals?" she questioned Ocean Breeze angrily. "I shall have you executed at once, you-"
Before Luna could finish her threat, Celestia placed a hoof on her shoulder to silence her. The older sister had already placed the pegasus colt back into his cradle, so she would be able to use her full telekinetic power to restrain either of the younger ponies if things went out of hoof.
"You will not be executed, Ocean Breeze, and you may remain in the castle" she informed the would-be murderess before telling her to return to her chambers. Luna looked appalled and began to question why her sister was being so lenient with a pony who had attempted to murder newborns in cold blood.
"But," Celestia began, stopping Ocean Breeze as she walked past her, "my sister is right. We will not tolerate the slaughter of the innocents. If those foals are harmed at all during these next few months, if you had anything to do with it, anything at all…the best you will get away with in spending the rest of your life in the dungeon".
With that, she ushered the light blue unicorn out of the room, giving her a glance that showed she clearly meant what she said as Ocean Breeze went into the hall and towards her room.
"Any changes?" Princess Celestia asked Dr. Castaway as he exited the room of Twilight Sparkle, the last of the six new mothers he had to examine.
The doctor shook his head somberly.
"No change, I'm afraid. To be honest, I'm amazed that they're all still alive. We've never had deliveries go that badly and not have the mother, the foal, or both die. They won't be having anymore children after this, I can promise that. Too dangerous" He told her, looking at the now closed door for a moment as though he expected Twilight to prove him wrong. But, of course, there was no sound from the other side of the door.
A week had passed since the six foals were born, and three of the mares had yet to awaken even once, though the doctor didn't doubt that they were still alive.
Only Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack had recovered enough to even open their eyes.
The doctor suspected that their more rapid recovery was due to them being earth ponies (and an unusually well-built and active pegasus) and, as such, being a bit stronger and more durable than the unicorns or the other pegasus.
Applejack was still unable to get out of bed, though that was more because the doctor and his assistants didn't want her to exert herself. They had been told that the orange mare had a tendancy to think she could do more than her body was capable of, and with there still being a risk of her hemorrhaging again at this point, they weren't going to take that risk.
As for Rainbow Dash, she was constantly slipping in and out of consciousness, proving that she had a while to go before she was fully recovered.
The longest she had stayed awake and aware of her surroundings was about five minutes, during which she named her son, Firestorm.
Pinkie Pie, on the other hand, had been up and about since the day she'd awoken, which was two days after the foals had been born.
At first Castaway and his assistants had tried to keep her in her room, if not in her bed, but she kept escaping by using methods that none of them could explain.
Eventually they gave up, though they did make sure that she took it easy. Which wasn't too difficult as the earth pony was still somewhat tired from the delivery and was much calmer than usual as a result.
The only thing she did that made the doctor somewhat nervous was throw a "two-day party" for the foals, and the worse that came out of that was that Pinkie nearly fell asleep while eating chocolate cake.
Seeing that the princess was worried, and realizing that he was at least partially responsible for her distress, Castaway tried his best to comfort her.
"Don't worry, your highness. As long as their health isn't declining, the chance of them recovering is close to a hundred percent. It's just going to take some time" he told her.
Celestia smiled slightly and was about to respond, when suddenly-
"Libby? How'd you get up there?" Pinkie could be heard shouting from the nursery.
Celestia excused herself before heading down the corridor to assist the pink earth pony and the young purple dragon who were watching the six foals.
Pinkie Pie glared up at the baby unicorn sitting on top of the tall window. She had no idea how the foal had gotten up there, but she knew she had to get down.
"You get down here right now young filly" Pinkie demanded to her friend's daughter.
The turquoise-maned foal simply smiled, her red-and-yellow eyes glittering mischievously.
"Lib-lib" she giggled, walking shakily from one end of the wooden plank to the other. All the foals were starting to babble now, despite them being about a week younger than was normal for that stage of development. They were developing normally in the physical sense, so the doctor said there was no reason to worry.
"Libby" was just a nickname for Rarity's daughter, as the filly's favorite thing to say was, of course, "Lib-lib".
Having been through a similar experience with Pound Cake when he was younger, Pinkie had a feeling that actually trying to get Libby down would not end well. Either she would end up getting hurt, which was bad, or the baby would potentially get hurt, which was even worse.
"Please come down, Libby. I'll give you a big piece of cake at your monthiversy if you do" the pink pony promised, smiling up at the foal.
Libby seemed to consider this for a moment. She then stuck out her tongue and blew a raspberry at Pinkie Pie, before walking backwards to the other side of the plank in a very fluid motion for a pony that was just starting to walk.
Pinkie groaned in frustration.
"Do you need some help?" Princess Celestia asked, smiling good-naturedly as she stepped into the nursery.
The pink earth pony nodded quickly, explaining that she had no idea how Libby had gotten to the top of the window but now she needed help to get her down before she fell down and hurt herself.
The white alicorn nodded in understanding before using her telekinesis to grab the ivory-colored foal.
Libby sighed in disappointment as she was placed on the ground. Her lower lip began to shake as though she was going to start bawling. Before she could start, however, she was tackled by Meadow Lark.
The white unicorn filly let out a giggle as her brown-maned half-sister bit her ear and pulled gently. The biting didn't hurt, as none of the foals had teeth yet.
"Thank you" Pinkie said to Princess Celestia, smiling tiredly.
The princess nodded, silently saying "You're welcome" in return.
Feeling something nudge her stomach, Pinkie jumped slightly and looked down, smiling slightly when she saw Butterscotch nursing.
She licked her daughter's fluffy white hair before realization came to her. Butterscotch had been on the other side of the room; Spike had been playing with her and the rest of the foals while Pinkie tried to get Libby down. She had been there less than a minute ago. How did she get across the room so fast without making any noise?
Once Butterscotch finished eating, she pushed away from her mother and tackled Meadow and Libby. The three fillies then began to chase each other around the room, giggling.
Spike watched the girls chase each other. Suddenly, he felt something poke into his stomach. It didn't hurt, of course, but it was slightly annoying.
"Velvet, stop" he told the blue filly in a stern voice.
Velvet Star (partially named for Twilight Sparkle's mother, Twilight Velvet) looked at Spike, her head tilted slightly in confusion. After a few moments, she returned to poking the dragon's belly with her little nub of a horn.
Finally getting fed up with the poking, Spike grabbed Velvet under her forelegs and held her at arms' length, too far away for her to reach him, and growled softly.
"I told you to stop it" he told her.
The filly stared at Spike, a hurt and somewhat scared look on her face. Suddenly she began to cry.
"Oh! Oh no! Nonononono….It's okay, Velvet. I'm not mad, see?" Spike said, trying to comfort his best friend's baby.
She opened her watery eyes and sniffled slightly before offering a half-smile to the dragon, which he returned.
Wanting to keep Velvet from crying again, Spike began to play a game of "follow the leader" with her. The game mostly involved him walking around the room while she attempted to grab his tail; she was oddly entranced by it for some reason. The baby dragon walked through the nursery, occasionally looking back to see if the filly was still following him.
He paused in the game when he heard Pinkie counting; she sounded worried.
"Rox? Storm? Where are you?" she wondered aloud, calling to the two colts. There was no response.
Pinkie looked to the door; it was open. She started to walk towards the open door, pausing when she remembered that she still needed to watch Butterscotch, Libby, and Meadow.
The usually hyperactive pony looked at the three fillies, who were now creating a small tower-Butterscotch on the bottom, Libby on top of her, Meadow on top of Libby-trying to climb onto the window sill. Princess Celestia grabbed the pegasus filly gently by the scruff of her neck and placed her on the floor, before doing the same with the white unicorn.
"Don't worry. I can watch them for a little bit" Celestia told Pinkie, obviously knowing what the pink pony was thinking.
Pinkie nodded before heading out the room in search of the two baby colts.
"Pinkie Pie!" squealed the blonde filly, grabbing onto Pinkie's leg with a giggle.
Pausing in her search, Pinkie looked at the young girl with a slight smile.
"Hey Crystal. What's up?" she asked.
Crystal Lake seemed to consider the question. After a moment, she pointed up to the ceiling and said, "Firestorm".
The mare looked to where she was pointing, and nearly fell over.
Firestorm was indeed on the ceiling, but unlike Pound Cake when Pinkie had seen him in that situation, the cyan-colored colt was not flying. He wasn't flapping his wings, for one thing. For another, his wings were near the hooves on his hind legs, rotated so they could press against the ceiling. His forelegs were not touching the ceiling; he was standing almost completely erect, like Lyra would sometimes try to do.
Firestorm, also referred to as Storm, looked at Pinkie and smiled. However, his smile was not sincere; he seemed to silently ask, "You mad?" by smiling at the poofy-maned mare.
"Get down here right now, young colt" Pinkie demanded, her voice sounding so unlike her own it was almost scary.
When Firestorm didn't do as she said, she decided to try a different tactic.
"I said….RIGHT NOW" she demanded again, this time using the voice that was normally reserved for ponies who had broken a Pinkie promise.
It had the desired effect; Firestorm instantly ran across the ceiling to one of the walls, then ran down the wall to the floor. Once his hooves were on the ground, his wings slide back to where they were supposed to be.
Now that the colt was safe on the ground, Pinkie returned to her usual cheerful self. She patted Crystal in order to comfort the young filly who had been scared by her outburst before picking up Firestorm and placing him on her back.
With the young pegasus on her back, Pinkie continued looking for the green earth pony.
"Storm? You know where Rox is?" she asked, turning her head slightly to look at him.
Firestorm nodded, confirming he did know where Rox was. However, he shook his head when Pinkie asked him to tell/show her where he was.
Sighing in mild exasperation, Pinkie continued walking through the castle, occasionally calling every variation of the colt's name she could think of.
"Rox? Roxbury? Russet?" she called, never getting a response.
The pink pony began to get a little nervous as she realized that she was running out of places to check on this floor. At only a week old, foals couldn't walk down stairs without falling, so if Rox had tried going to one of the lower levels…
Pinkie's mind was dragged away from her worried thoughts by the sound of laughter, followed by a snort.
Pinkie turned around to see a soaking wet Roxbury Russet being held by the scruff his neck by an equally wet Ocean Breeze. The unicorn mare wasn't wearing her usual hooded cloak, so Pinkie was able to see her cutie mark: a trio of wavy lines.
"He climbed into my bath. He may have eaten the soap. I don't know" Ocean Breeze said curtly, placing the green colt on the floor. As though responding to the statement about the soap, Roxbury burped as soon as he was on the ground; bubbles came out of his mouth, causing both baby boys to giggle.
The pink earth pony sighed in relief.
"Thanks Ocean Breeze. I-" she stopped speaking as she realized that the pony she was thanking had already left.
Pinkie blinked in confusion for a couple seconds before picking up Applejack's son and taking both colts back to the nursery.
To her complete and utter surprise…things were quite calm.
Considering how wild the fillies had been acting when she had left, and the fact that Princess Celestia had once admitted to not having worked with young foals in several hundred years, Pinkie Pie had expected to return to find the room half-destroyed, with Spike and the princess cleaning up.
Instead, she returned to find that the four fillies were all sleeping soundly; the only sound in the nursery other than the soft snores of the foals were the sound of one of them sucking on a pacifier. Pinkie considered the idea that the foals had been messing with her all day, but dismissed it almost immediately.
Despite the fact that her energy had mostly returned to her, she still found herself growing tired rather easily. She just wanted to get to bed, and not waste time considering the idea that the babies had been purposefully messing with her.
The earth pony placed Firestorm into his cradle, finding herself pleasantly surprised when he remained lying down; he even closed his eyes, to her utter shock.
Once he was in bed, she turned her attention to the young earth pony colt, who was still dripping wet, as well as completely naked.
Her first order of business was to dry him off, much to Roxbury's disdain; the colt whined and squirmed as his "aunt" rubbed him down with the towel.
After the male foal was dry, Pinkie put a fresh diaper on him and placed him into his own cradle. Like all the cradles, his was marked by an image of his mother's cutie mark, which, in his case, meant three apples.
Roxbury, clearly not happy with having to go to bed, pouted. He sat up in bed and opened his mouth, about to start screaming.
Pinkie braced herself for him to begin his tantrum and no doubt wake the other five.
However, to her surprise, something almost like a melody filled the room. It was soft, composed of gentle wind through reeds, crickets chirping, some nocturnal songbirds singing softly, and the occasional quiet hoots of an owl.
The green colt's mouth remained opened, but instead of screaming, he yawned, falling back onto the mattress and closing his eyes.
It wasn't until that moment that Pinkie Pie realized that Princess Luna had raised the moon and turned day to night.
The solar princess seemed to just realize this as well, as she blinked once, apparently mentally thinking about how many hours had passed since she raised the sun that morning before heading towards the door. She paused once to speak to the poofy-maned pony.
"Goodnight Pinkie. Some-pony will be up soon to watch them for the night" she informed before heading to her chamber to sleep.
Pinkie sighed in relief. She had nearly forgotten that there were many ponies in the castle who complained of having nothing to do, who volunteered to watch the foals at night and sleep during the day.
Pinkie was grateful for this, as it allowed her to get some sleep.
Yes, she always seemed to have energy to spare and her blood was probably at least ninety-percent sugar, but she still needed to rest.
Pinkie yawned, covering her mouth with one of her front hooves. She would go to bed in a moment.
First, she figured she would make sure the babies were situated-give the night "nurses" an easy start to the night.
The two colts, Firestorm and Roxbury, were her first stop. Both boys were sleeping soundly, though Storm occasionally flapped his wings in his sleep. Perhaps he was dreaming of flying, a dream young pegasi who hadn't yet learned to fly apparently had quite often.
Next was her own daughter. Butterscotch was also sleeping comfortably. Her position was somewhat odd—she had laid herself diagonally across the mattress, rather than vertically or even horizontally-but besides that, there was nothing else to note.
Pinkie paused to nuzzle her daughter gently before moving onto the cradle that contained Velvet.
Her heart stopped for a moment. The blue unicorn filly wasn't in her cradle.
Blue eyes wandered to the next cradle, the one that was supposed to hold Meadow, and found it empty as well.
Pinkie began to panic, remembering what had happened when Pound and Pumpkin had vanished from site when she had first babysat them.
Almost without her realizing it, her gaze went to the ceiling, though she doubted little Meadow would be there.
Her attention was snapped away from the ceiling when she heard a snore. It was obviously from a male and was too deep to have come from either colt.
Pinkie stepped towards the source of the sound, smiling and sighing in relief when she saw what is was: Spike had taken a cushion from a sofa and made a little bed out of it; and curled against his body was Velvet, sleeping softly and sucking on her own front hoof.
Seeing that Twilight's baby was fine, Pinkie once again began to worry about Meadow.
'Where is she?' Pinkie wondered, glancing around the room for any sign of the yellow pegasus filly.
Suddenly she noticed a strange lump rising from Libby's cradle, something too large to have been hiding there when Pinkie originally began checking the foals.
She was there in the blink of an eye.
When she reached the cradle, she found Libby asleep on her side, sucking on a pacifier, and Meadow Lark sitting up next to her.
The pegasus filly gave a smile that was very reminiscent of her mother's "But I am weak and helpless" smile, clearly trying to keep Pinkie from becoming angry.
She blinked her red-and-yellow eyes once, causing them to water slightly before she closed them and laid down, at least pretending to sleep.
Pinkie went to put Meadow into her own crib, the one marked with butterflies, but decided against it; Libby and Meadow were nearly inseparable and letting them sleep in the same cradle for the night would do nothing but make them happy.
If it didn't hurt anything, why do anything to prevent it?
Finally, Pinkie Pie started to head out of the nursery and back to the room she was staying in while at the castle, intent on getting some sleep.
On her way out, she did something for each of the slumbering baby ponies: stroking Libby's turquoise colored mane and Meadow's feathered wings, causing both to sigh in contentment; very gently nudging over the pillow Spike and Velvet were sleeping on out of the direct moonlight; kissing Butterscotch on the forehead (a gesture that seemed to disgust the week old foal, as she grimace immediately afterwards); tucking Firestorm in; and gently tousling Roxbury's golden mane.
After this, she whispered a soft "Goodnight" before going to "her" room and going to bed.
Pinkie Pie bounced into the room, somehow balancing a cake that was as big as she was on her back. She gave each of the six foals a party hat and a noisemaker as she began to sing.
"Happy monthiversery to you all today. I can't believe you're a month old! Time sure flies, doesn't it? Seems like just yesterday you were born! But now you're a month old today. Hey!" Pinkie sang, jumping out of the cake (which she had somehow gotten inside of) after the last line, destroying it in the process.
Three pairs of red and yellows eyes, as well as one pair each of turquoise, amber, and blue-colored eyes, widened in shock and horror.
"Hey…what's wrong?" Pinkie asked the babies.
Her question was quickly answered…by the sound of them screaming.
Pinkie flinched; the rest of the mares went to try and comfort their children.
"What're you crying for?" Rainbow Dash questioned her son, who sniffled softly.
He began to flap his wings, hovering so that his gold-colored eyes met with his mother's rose-colored ones.
"We want cake!" he said, his voice slightly choked by a sob.
The others quickly voiced their agreement.
While all six foals could speak, Firestorm was the most vocal, often acting as the voice of the group.
Pinke Pie blushed, realizing that while Pound and Pumpkin hadn't minded her destroying their first monthiversery cake, that didn't mean no-pony wouldn't mind having their expected treated destroyed.
She began to think of a way that she could make it up to the foals. Her eyes lit up as the idea came to her.
"You guys want cupcakes?" she asked them, receiving a cheer in response.
The foals clearly loved the idea of having some cupcakes, especially Libby, who actually spun on her head (using her magic to keep from falling over) before jumping to her feet.
Pinkie Pie grinned, happy to see that the babies weren't upset anymore.
The pink earth pony nodded, pausing when a rather rank stench reached her nostrils. She covered her nose in disgust.
"Some-pony needs a diaper change…" she said, clearly trying not to sound as disgusted as she actually was.
She picked up Butterscotch, carrying her over to a changing table so she could replace the dirty diaper with a clean one.
While Pinkie was changing her daughter's diaper, Rarity was using her magic to fasten a carrier onto her side.
When Applejack asked the white unicorn where she was going, Rarity told her that she wanted to buy some new fabrics to bring back to Ponyville.
"If we're going to stay here for another three months, I may as well take advantage" she said, before turning her attention to her daughter, who was currently flopping backwards on her stomach. The action was very strange-looking, but very fluid at the same time.
"Come here, Lotus Blossom" Rarity said, using Libby's real name. "We need to visit the shops".
Turquoise eyes narrowed slightly in annoyance and the filly corrected her mother, "Libby".
Rarity sighed; while she didn't have a problem with her daughter's nickname (it was rather endearing, in her opinion), she wished that the filly would at least answer to her proper name.
Still, she didn't feel like arguing with her own daughter.
"Libby, please come over here". Almost immediately, the filly got to her feet and ran over to her mother.
The older unicorn used her magic to place her daughter into the carrier and bid her friends adieu before leaving.
Once Rarity left, the rest of the girls, sans Pinkie, decided to followed suit, to "keep the foals out of Pinkie's mane", as Twilight put it.
Pinkie finished diapering Butterscotch and threw the dirty diaper away.
"Okay…let me just wash up then we can go and make some cupcakes!" she said with a slight squeal, which Butterscotch (who was now on the floor) echoed.
The pink earth pony hummed to herself as she gathered up the ingredients for the cupcakes. So far, she had flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and cocoa powder. All she needed was some salt and a bit of vanilla extract.
The vanilla was in a cabinet, and the salt was on the counter, next to Butterscotch, who was happily sinking her teeth into a cookie that one of the chefs had given her.
"You wanna give me the salt, Butterscotch?" Pinkie Pie asked her daughter.
The filly had wanted to help, and now she had the perfect opportunity.
Pinkie was far from surprised when the butterscotch-colored filly nodded her head enthusiastically.
While the filly got the salt, the mare went to the cabinet to retrieve the vanilla extract.
It was well out of reach, so she had to stand on the countertop in order to get the bottle.
Since the only other option was jumping for the bottle, which would have likely resulted in several glasses being shattered, she figured no-pony would really mind if she left a couple hoof-prints, especially if she wiped the counter down after she finished baking.
Pinkie turned around, and had to react quickly to catch the small bottle when she dropped it due to her mouth falling open.
Butterscotch was standing by the table where the ingredients were. That wouldn't be too strange, if it weren't for the fact that her hooves were level with the tabletop; she was standing on air!
"What the…?" Pinkie asked, her question muffled by the fact that she was still holding onto the vanilla extract. She placed the bottle on the table and turned her attention back to her daughter.
"How are you doing that?" she questioned, swiping her front leg underneath the filly, as though expecting there to be something there. There wasn't.
Butterscotch simply beamed at her mother, showing her sharp teeth, before starting to suck on one of her front hooves, still apparently floating.
"Butterscotch…please stop defying the laws of physics…." Pinkie requested.
Even she was starting to get freaked out by what was going on with her daughter.
Butterscotch opened her blue eyes (which were exactly like her mother's) and seemed to consider the request.
Finally, she dropped to the ground, landing safely on her feet.
The pink earth pony sighed in relief.
She gave the filly a quick glance before she returned to making the cupcakes.
While her back was turned, Butterscotch jumped into the air and trotted back to the countertop, determined to sink the few teeth she had into the cookie she had left there.
"So…how'd you come up with Roxbury's name anyway?" Rainbow Dash asked Applejack as they walked through the castle.
The boys were currently racing each other, with Firestorm hovering a bit off the ground to even the playing field a bit.
"Granny Smith won a bet" the orange mare said simply.
Rainbow raised an eyebrow slightly. The answer made absolutely no sense to her.
Sensing her friend's confusion, Applejack decided to explain the story better.
"Granny Smith told Uncle Apple Strudel 'bout the baby and they got in a fight over whether it was a filly or a colt. She said it was a colt and he said it was a filly. I got tired of them fighting so I promised that if they stopped I'd name the foal whatever they wanted if they won. Granny won, and she wanted me to name a colt Roxbury Russet".
Rainbow Dash still looked confused.
"Why did she want you to name him that?" she asked, receiving a shrug in response.
Meanwhile, the two colts were in the next room, watching one of Celestia's day-guards.
"Hey, Rox?" Firestorm mumbled to his brother.
The green colt looked up curiously.
"You think that Daddy?" the pegasus continued, receiving a small "I dunno" in return.
The cyan colt frowned, clearly not happy with the response. His expression brightened as an idea came to him.
"Watch this" he told Roxbury, flying over to the guard.
He got right into the white pegasus's face and began doing whatever he could do to try and get a reaction.
He burped loudly, he flipped himself upside down, and he even smacked the stallion in the nose. Nothing could get the older pegasus male to respond.
"Wow…" Roxbury said with a smile, walking over as Firestorm landed on the ground with a little frustrated noise, "Fail."
The golden-eyed colt gave the red-and-yellow-eyed colt a glare.
"I show you!" he screamed, flying back up to face the guard again.
This time, he took a deep breath…and burst into flames.
The guard's eyes grew as large as dinner plates and he pursed his lips in total shock; it was unknown what he was told taking this job would include, but clearly pegasus foals that could morph into flaming ponies with fire-fangs wasn't on the list.
Satisfied with finally getting a reaction, Firestorm took another deep breath and returned to being a flesh and blood pony. Unfortunately, his diaper was now a pile of ashes on the floor.
"EPIC!" Roxbury cheered, rearing onto his hind legs for a moment and waving his forelegs in the air for a moment.
It was at that moment that their mothers came to get them.
"You okay?" Rainbow asked the guard, who was still frozen in shock. She waved a hoof in front of his face.
"YOUR BABY JUST EXPLODED!" he shouted at her, leaving before she could respond.
For several moments, no-pony spoke and the only movements they made outside of breathing were to blink their eyes.
"You think he really saw Storm explode?" the cyan mare asked her orange friend.
Applejack seemed to consider whether or not it was actually possible. However, she wasn't the one to answer.
Velvet squealed with delight as Spike poked her stomach gently with the tip of his tail.
The dragon returned the smile and poked her again, receiving another delighted squeal from the filly.
"Sorry Spike, but you'll have to play later" Twilight said, coming over to the two, a small bowl in her telekinetic grip.
Setting the bowl on the floor, the purple unicorn said, "Okay, lunchtime, Velvet".
The blue filly took a whiff of the stuff in the bowl. She instantly turned her head away from it, making a disgusted noise at the same time.
Spike also covered his nose.
"You're feeding her alfalfa? You don't even eat the stuff!" he said to his best friend, who sighed slightly.
"It's good for her, so she's going to eat it. Besides, I ate it when I was a filly." Twilight explained before scooping up a bit of the green mash and trying to put it into Velvet's mouth.
However, Velvet wasn't having any of it. Every time the spoon got close to her mouth, she would twist away from it.
At one point, she even managed to use a spurt of her own telekinesis to knock the spoon out of her mother's grip, sending it flying across the room.
Twilight sighed and brought the spoon back over to her. She scooped up some more alfalfa and once again tried to feed it to her daughter.
Once again, the spoon ended up being flung across the room.
After about twenty more tries, Velvet was clearly having a hard time resisting the urge to laugh, while her mother seemed ready to go off the deep end in frustration.
And, while he had found the ordeal rather hilarious had first, Spike had begun to feel sorry for Twilight.
He decided to help her out.
When she brought the spoon to the filly's mouth, he gently prodded the baby's stomach.
Velvet opened her mouth to squeal in delight…and instantly found herself swallowing a mouthful of alfalfa.
Her red and yellow eyes widened in shock as she realized what had just happened.
"Traitor!" she screamed, pointing a hoof accusingly at the baby dragon, though it sounded more like she was calling him a "tway-door" due to her babyish pronunciation.
She also bared her fangs at him; something that would have seemed vaguely threatening if she possessed more than five teeth.
As it was, Spike just found it kind of adorable.
He muttered a quick apology to the foal, who pouted and turned away with a "hmph!"
Twilight once again got the spoon of alfalfa ready, and once again Spike poked Velvet's belly.
She couldn't resisted squealing in delight; the feeling of the tip of the dragon's tail prodding her stomach was one of the best things she'd ever felt.
She would open her mouth, and would be greeted by the taste of alfalfa.
This went on until the bowl was empty, at which point Twilight left her daughter with her assistant while she took the empty bowl to the kitchens do be cleaned and got a rag to clean the alfalfa that had ended up on the floor and walls thanks to Velvet's telekinetic tantrum.
That left Spike to keep an eye on the baby.
Velvet stared at him coldly, still hurt by his "betrayal".
Now, Spike knew that it was silly for her to get so angry because he helped her mother feed her. At the same time, however, he wanted to put himself back in her good graces.
"Hey, Velvet. Watch this" he instructed.
He then blew out a bit of smoke, using it as something of a curtain to cover himself. It didn't disperse, and when Velvet prodded it, it was solid from her end. Spike had no idea how he was able to do this, or if all dragons could do the same thing, but he couldn't say it really concerned him.
"Where'd you go, Velvet?" he asked, pitching his voice slightly higher and making it sound more babyish.
Bursting through the smoke, he happily yelled, "There you are!"
The grayish-blue filly covered her mouth with a hoof to keep from laughing, though a small giggle came out of her mouth for a brief moment.
Spike grinned and tried again, this time managing to get her actually laughing. He went back into the smoke again, preparing to jump out of it and make her laugh even harder.
When he leapt from the smoke, however, he was shocked to find what seemed to be a floating diaper where Velvet had been sitting.
His eyes widened and the smoke vanished; he grabbed roughly where the area under her forelegs would be, compared to the diaper, and lifted her from the ground.
The instant he picked her up, Velvet let out a little squeak and became visible again.
She also phased out of her diaper…which ended up being a bad thing when she ended up wetting herself almost as soon as the diaper was off.
Spike let out a sound of disgust.
Lucky for him, Twilight returned at the moment.
As soon as she was close enough, he handed over the still dripping baby and raced off to clean his feet. He had been standing in the puddle Velvet had made and now his feet smelled absolutely horrid.
"Why do I have a feeling we're going to regret giving them those cupcakes?" Twilight Sparkle asked her friends.
The seven of them (six ponies and one baby dragon) were currently sitting in the palace gardens, eating lunch.
Nearby, the foals of the ponies were happily munching on chocolate cupcakes. Several of them were also eating the wrappers, but Pinkie Pie assured her friends that it was perfectly safe.
"Because we're going to have to get six hyped up foals to take a nap in an hour" Applejack said simply in response to Twilight's question.
Meanwhile, the foals had gotten bored of their treat.
"They watch?" Firestorm asked Roxbury, pointing towards their mothers and Spike.
The blond colt turned to examine where Firestorm was pointing.
"Nope" he said, shaking his head slightly.
The six baby ponies suddenly looked at each other with conspiring grins, before all "screaming" in a hushed voice, "Run away!"
They did just that: running away as fast as their stubby little legs could carry them, towards the area of the garden with all the statues.
The babies ran circles around all of the statues, and climbed on some of them.
However, there was one that stood out to them.
It was a statue of something none of them had ever seen before in their short lives; something made up of a pony and a lot of other animals. It was posed and had a look on its stone face like it was trying to escape from something.
For apparently no reason, the six of them began to climb onto the statue.
They each lied upon a part of the stone creature.
Firestorm perched on the top of the head, between the strange-looking horns, flying to get to the top; Butterscotch simply used air as a staircase so she could lie on the muzzle; Libby and Meadow had somehow both laid themselves into the crook of one arm; Velvet was on the other arm; And Roxbury was sprawled across one of the feet.
Libby's horn began to glow softly, a sound like the tune of a somewhat dark lullaby emanating from it. The sound of the music soothed the foals, and they soon found themselves drifting off to sleep.
Before their dreams took them, however, they all said a single word, snuggling against the stone.
Rarity tried her best to keep from scowling when she noticed the royal unicorn colt heading in her direction. She knew that it was very childlike and made her seem somewhat immature, but she couldn't help herself.
Seeing the prince brought back memories of the Grand Galloping Gala that she didn't care to remember.
"Hello, Prince Blueblood" she began, swallowing back feelings of disgust as she spoke to him; after all, she was still a lady, and a lady always at least attempted to be polite.
"To what do I owe the…pleasure?" she asked, referring to the fact that he was at the palace.
The question was actually a valid one. While Blueblood was a royal, he didn't actually live in the palace with his aunts; he had only been visiting during the Gala.
Blueblood began to answer, when suddenly Libby ran down the hall, with what appeared to be a rather sticky-looking gummy worm hanging from her mouth.
As soon as the filly got within three feet of him, the prince looked absolutely revolted.
He backed away as though he believed touching her would cause him to break out in hives or something to that effect.
"Keep that revolting, sticky, little creature away from me" he demanded of Rarity, pointing at the turquoise-maned unicorn filly.
Rarity narrowed her eyes, angered by the fact that the spoiled royal had just insulted her daughter.
Libby, on the other hand, remained silent. She simply swallowed the candy worm in her mouth and gave Prince Blueblood a sharp-toothed smile.
Blueblood shuddered at the grin before turning in the opposite direction and starting to walk away.
The white unicorn mare sighed in relief, happy that she didn't have to deal with the rude stallion any longer.
She didn't notice that her daughter's eyes had begun to glow slightly.
I cannot believe Aunt Celestia and Aunt Luna would allow one of those…baby things inside the palace!
They are absolutely horrid creatures.
All they do is whine and make messes everywhere.
They're even worse than Aunt Luna's pet bats.
I hate those bats…I hate them even more than I hate rats. At least rats can't fly.
What was that?
Something just touched my throat.
I check my neck.
Bat! There's a huge, disgusting bat on my throat! Get it off me! Get it off me! Oh, oh, it's drooling!
I try to scream but the creature squeezes my throat preventing the sound from escaping.
There's more weight on my throat now. Has the bat gotten bigger? I look to see.
No, the bat hasn't gotten any larger.
No, it's something far worse: three bats, each bigger than my hoof, are clinging to my throat.
One of them turns into a rat, with beady little red eyes and wings on its back.
Some-pony please please please get these creatures off me.
I'll do anything. Anything, I promise. Just please get these horrible creatures off of me.
The flying rat climbs up my face. I can't move; I'm too terrified.
One of the bats climbs up the back of my neck, using its claws like little hooks.
I want to scream, but the other bat is still squeezing my throat and all I can manage is a whimper.
The bat on top of my head pulls on my horn. It snaps.
I let out a strangled scream.
It hurts so much…
Nothing could feel worse than this. Nothing…
The rat must be able to read my mind. It starts to claw at my eye.
I close my eyes, trying to keep it from scratching. It doesn't. It's scratching my eyelids; I can feel them bleeding.
At last, the bat on my throat releases its grip. I start to scream.
"Some-pony! Any-pony! Help me!" I shout at the top of my lungs.
There's no response.
I open my mouth to scream for help again, but the bat sinks its fangs into my throat. I scream again.
No words come from my mouth this time, just a pained screech.
"What are you doing?" Rarity asked Prince Blueblood.
The white unicorn stallion was screaming something about rats and bats tearing him apart, climbing all over him, yet there was nothing there.
Rarity was truly concerned for the prince; even if he was a royal pain, no-pony deserved to be in that much pain…even if it seemed to all be in his head.
She walked over to him and gently shook his shoulder with one of her front hooves, trying to snap him out of his delusions. All she succeeded in doing was making him freak out even more.
Libby giggled maniacally, causing her mother's attention to shift from the currently insane prince back to her. The mare noticed that the baby's eyes were glowing slightly and she became somewhat concerned.
"Libby? What are you doing?" she questioned, knowing her daughter understood her perfectly.
The filly answered in a sing-song voice.
"I'm tormenting him!" she giggled, smacking the floor with her front hooves.
Rarity instantly demanded that Libby stop torturing Blueblood, resulting in the younger female asking why she needed to stop.
For a moment, the fashion-savvy pony was at a loss of words. She went through her mind, trying to think of a reason that would get her daughter to stop tormenting the prince.
Finally, she was forced to resort to the "Because I said so" excuse.
Thankfully, Libby was far less stubborn than most ten-week-old foals, and that was a good enough excuse for her. Her eyes stopped glowing and Prince Blueblood's delusions came to an end.
Once he snapped out of the nightmare he had been having, the blond stallion began touching his horn, his face, his throat, seemingly checking to see if any of the injuries he'd dream of sustaining were real. After a quick examination, he got to his feet and walked away. Rarity couldn't be sure, but she thought she heard him crying.
"Why'd you make me stop, Mommy?" Libby asked, looking up at Rarity with a genuinely confused look on her face.
Rarity wasn't sure how to answer for a moment. Yes, her daughter was quite a bit smarter than most foals her age, but her mindset was still that of a child. Could she truly comprehend what right and wrong were at this age?
"It's not nice to do that, Libby" was all she could manage to say.
The ivory-colored filly blinked twice, and then yawned.
Rarity couldn't help but smile slightly.
"You ready for a nap?" she questioned gently, chuckling slightly when the baby protested, despite the fact that she yawned once again and rubbed her eyes in a classic sign of tiredness.
Rarity had to admit that the sudden tiredness was a little strange to her, but she couldn't say she wasn't happy that Libby would be sleeping soon.
As turquoise eyes began to close, Rarity picked up the foal, using her mouth rather than her magic, and carried her to the nursery.
She placed her baby into her crib, kissing her forehead once before putting the bars back up.
She was about to leave when she noticed something on the floor.
Curious, she used magic to pick up the object, a piece of paper with a rather crude drawing on it.
Almost immediately, she regretted examining the drawing.
Despite the fact that it was mostly composed of scribbles and the occasional circular or ovular shape, it was clear to Rarity what it was a drawing of.
It was a depiction of Discord; abstract, of course, but it was still fairly obvious.
Rarity quickly crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it into a small trashcan that stood by the door. She would see if Spike could burn the picture for her later.
Maybe she was overreacting, but she didn't want to take any unnecessary risks.
When the foals had discovered Discord's stone form six weeks ago, no-pony had thought too much of it, even when they cried after being taken away from the statue and called him "Daddy".
Their mothers had figured that it had just been a case of playful toddlers, all of whom seemed to at least recognize that they didn't have a father around, claiming a stranger as their father.
After all, Discord was the first adult male the babies would have seen in the gardens, so it only made sense.
The mares had figured that their children would forget about Discord and the fact that they thought of him as their father, before a full month had passed.
However, the drawing Rarity just discovered proved that not only did the foals remember Discord, but they still felt an attachment towards him.
That was the last thing any of them wanted or needed.
"That's fine, Meadow. You can play with the animals, but don't hurt them" Fluttershy told her daughter, raising her voice slightly to ensure the filly heard her.
Meadow Lark released the squirrel from her mouth. The little creature had been unharmed as the young pony had not put enough pressure into the "bite" to break skin or even hurt the squirrel, but it was still frightened from the experience.
It darted away.
Meadow allowed the squirrel to escape, having had enough fun with that particular animal for the day.
She spotted a couple chipmunks standing by a nearby tree.
Her lips curled up, her mouth opening just enough to reveal the sharp points of her fangs.
She began to playfully stalk the chipmunks, looking much more like a cat than a baby pony.
Fluttershy kept a watchful eye on her daughter, not so much out of concern for the filly, but rather out of concern for the animals.
Meadow Lark, like the rest of her siblings who shared her…unique dentistry, had recently begun to crave the taste of meat. Even Roxbury, despite having teeth like a normal pony, with the exception of four oddly sharp teeth (both top and bottom) where the canines would be for an omnivore, couldn't resist stealing a bit of meat whenever the mares decided to indulge their offspring's odd (for ponies) cravings.
Fluttershy wasn't surprised at this development. After all, she had seen enough animals to know that sharp teeth meant that an animal was at least able to ingest meat, even if they were able to eat other things as well.
And, thankfully, not only could the fillies and colts eat fruits and vegetables and other things more typically suited to ponies but they were also quite willing to eat them, even if they preferred the taste of meat, poultry, and fish.
The six mothers had agreed that they could deal with this. They would feed their foals with a traditional pony diet, and occasionally purchase meat products and seafood from the few ponies who actually sold them.
Even Fluttershy, who hated the idea of animals being killed, could bring herself to stomach the idea of buying already killed and carved up or ground meat and fish. After all, she never saw the face of the animal when it was alive and it would be for her baby.
But, she had to make sure that Meadow Lark knew that live animals were not food; that they were not to be hunted.
The others each had one pet that they would have to teach their babies to see as friends, rather than potential meals. Fluttershy had dozens of animals back at in cottage in Ponyville, and thus, had more reason to want to ensure that Meadow knew the difference between animal friends and meat before they returned home in two weeks.
Thankfully, the yellow filly seemed to be taking the lessons to heart.
She did still practice hunting, but she never actually harmed any of the animals she was able to catch and that was fine with Fluttershy.
As her mother watched, Meadow pounced in the direction of the two chipmunks, alerting them to her presence.
The two rodents jumped in fright before scurrying up the tree they had been standing near, desperate to escape their attacker.
Meadow frowned; the squirrels had climbed into a small hole near the top of the tree. The hole was too high for her to reach and too small for her to be able to reach in and pull out either chipmunk, so she had lost two playmates for now.
A small chirping sound caught her attention. She looked up and smiled when she saw a mother bird, sitting on a nest that clearly housed her eggs.
The young pegasus began to flutter her wings, trying to reach the branch that the nest was on.
Unfortunately, her wings could only give her so much lift and even though the branch was fairly low, she was unable to reach it.
Meadow pouted with disappointment before she got an idea and her expression brightened.
Her front and back hooves suddenly grew sharp claws, which she dug into the bark of the tree. She slowly began to climb up the trunk of the tree, like a young bear cub.
Fluttershy instantly got to her feet when she saw that Meadow had reached the branch she had been aiming for. She knew that pegasus foals would instinctively use their wings to decrease their speed as they feel to avoid injury from high falls, but she would rather be safe than sorry.
Meadow Lark ensured that she would not fall by sinking the new claws on her hooves into the branch as she climbed toward the nest.
The mother bird, a crow, began squawking and flapping her wings angrily in an attempt to frighten away the intruder.
Meadow Lark simply smiled and locked eyes with the bird.
The bird was unable to look away as the filly's red-and-yellow eyes began to rapidly change colors, from different shades of reds to purples to blues to greens, each eye changing to a different color than the other.
The bird's eyes flashed the same colors.
Once both the filly and the mother bird's eyes stopped flashing, the bird climbed off her nest and examined the three eggs inside.
Considering the season, they were likely to hatch soon, possibly within the week.
The mother looked at the eggs for another moment, before pushing them, one by one, out of the nest.
Once the nest was empty, the adult bird flew away and Meadow Lark jumped from the branch, using her wings to glide down to the ground, the claws vanishing from her hooves.
Fluttershy, who had watched the mother bird push her unborn offspring out of nest with a sense of horror, could only watch as her daughter began to eat the contents of the now broken eggs.
"W-what happened?" was all she could ask, her voice shaking from the immense emotion she felt. She hadn't been able to see the confrontation between the filly and the bird before the bird pushed the eggs out of the nest.
Meadow didn't answer until she finished her meal, leaving only the shells behind.
"The mama bird pushed them out. She did" the brown-maned filly told her mother, nodding slightly as though to confirm that she was speaking the truth.
Fluttershy tried to comprehend why the mother bird would have chosen to kill her own babies, especially when they were so close to hatching.
Had she sensed that none of the eggs contained live chicks anymore, and decided to spare herself the grief of having this confirmed when the eggs didn't hatch.
Yes, that had to be it.
After all, the only other living thing on the branch at the time had been little Meadow Lark, and she couldn't have done anything to make the bird do something so awful.
"Fight fair, Butterscotch!" Roxbury demanded as Butterscotch appeared to literally climb air in order to avoid being tackled by him.
"She's a girl. They never fight fair" Firestorm stated from where he was watching the action, alongside Velvet and Spike, who was currently watching the four foals while their mothers were out buying some food.
The two earth pony foals had decided to start play-fighting, though the filly kept using her ability to utterly defy the laws of physics in order to get an advantage over the colt.
He couldn't reach her when she got so far off the ground, even when he jumped as high as he could.
However, when she heard the comment that Firestorm had made, her eyes narrowed and she allowed herself to drop to the floor.
"I don't have to cheat to beat you. Either of you" she said, looking from the green earth pony to the cyan pegasus.
As if showing how ready she was to prove it, the filly reared onto her hind legs and kicked her forelegs in front of her, a classic battle stance.
The young dragon kept a watchful eye on the battling foals, watching for any signs that the fighting would go out of hand. He may have still been considered a baby himself, but he was stronger than the young ponies and could restrain them if need be.
Velvet was content to just sit and watch her half-siblings fight with each other. Whether or not she would have been able to handle herself should they decide to force her to join was unknown; she was always an observer, never a fighter.
The fight between the other three foals continued.
By this time, each of them was going against the other, rather than the two colts teaming up against the filly as they originally planned.
At first, things seemed to be going fine. The foals were happy and had thus far avoided causing any injuries that would result in more than them feeling sore or having small bruises.
However, things quickly turned sour as Roxbury aimed his back legs towards Firestorm, apparently planning to buck the pegasus onto his side.
Firestorm noticed this and began to flap his wings in order to get out of reach of the earth pony's legs. Unfortunately, his timing was horrible, and before he knew it, his left hind leg was met by a strong pain brought on by an earth pony's hoof.
Instantly, Firestorm dropped to the ground, his clearly broken leg bent slightly to avoid touching the ground.
"Sorry…" was all Roxbury said before he looked to the floor, covering his mouth with a foreleg in shame.
Spike began to panic. He rushed towards the door, planning on contacting Dr. Castaway to help mend the broken limb. He wasn't looking forward to having to explain how the colt's leg had broken, especially to Rainbow Dash, but he knew the leg had to be fixed.
"Big brother" Velvet called softly, using a term of endearment she loved to use for her mother's assistant in order to get his attention. "Stay here. It's fine".
The purple and green dragon was about to ask her what she was talking about, when he heard the small cracking and popping sounds coming from Firestorm's direction.
He turned his head to look at the young pegasus and was shocked and amazed to see that the injured leg was straightening itself out.
With a small pop, the leg straightened completely.
Firestorm shook his leg slightly, as though testing to see if it was still broken, before restarting the brawl with Butterscotch (Roxbury had apparently lost interest in the fighting).
Spike stared for a few moments in silence, before he turned to the grey-blue unicorn filly next to him and asked her a question.
"Can all of you guys do that? Can you all…heal yourselves?"
She didn't say anything, though whether that meant they did all share this trait or they didn't, Spike didn't know. Finally, she nodded her head slightly, a silent answer to his question.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Author's Note: I hope I didn't go too far with the Prince Blueblood "nightmare" or the scene with Meadow Lark and the eggs or the end scene with Firestorm's leg breaking and healing itself. If it makes you all feel better, this story won't get any darker than that.
Three days remained before the six mares could bring their young children back to Ponyville.
The foals were all excited to make the journey, mostly due to Pinkie Pie promising that as soon as they got home, she would throw a massive "Coming Back to Ponyville and Introducing All Our Friends to the Babies" party. Though, whether it was the party itself or being able to meet the ponies that their mothers and Spike talked so much about that got them excited no-pony could really say.
Either way, they seemed to become more and more excited as the day to their leaving Canterlot for Ponyville came ever closer.
They also became more and more verbal.
That was one issue that Twilight Sparkle and her friends knew they were going to have to face when they returned home.
Their children were still physically babies, being about three months old, but they spoke as well, if not better, than many school-age fillies and colts.
No-pony had seemed to be bothered by how quickly their pregnancies had been progressing; As long as both the mother and the baby were healthy, something like that was normally thought to be an odd coincidence. Though, in this case, some ponies had likely theorized that a brother or cousin or some other relative of Doctor Hooves had fathered the six foals of the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and his "time powers" somehow affected their growth in the womb.
However, now that the foals had arrived, the girls knew they were going to be asked plenty of questions.
Of course, explaining why the foals could already speak so well would be no problem compared to explaining their…unique appearances.
There weren't any ponies, or even creatures that could breed with ponies, with the red-and-yellow eyes that Velvet, Meadow, and Roxbury had, and while it would be easier to guess where the foals could have inherited their sharp teeth from, it still wouldn't answer any real questions.
The foals looked too much like purebred ponies for it to be easily believable that they could have been fathered by a dragon. Not to mention the fact that the only dragon all six of them ever came in contact with on a regular basis was Spike, who was still considered a baby himself by dragon standards. So, if any-pony theorized that the foals had been sired by a dragon, the first "logical" conclusion they would come to for the father's identity would be extremely…disturbing, to say the least.
But, other than that, things were going very well for the mares and their foals; and they would rather focus on the good then worry about anything negative.
That was why they became filled with dread when the Princesses said that they needed an audience with the young mothers, and only the mothers.
"Anything you have to say, you can say in front of us, Princess" Firestorm had told Celestia, his tone rather snotty to show annoyance at not being allowed in the room for the discussion.
The other foals were also upset that they would not be allowed to hear what their mothers and the rulers of Equestria were talking about, but they didn't take their anger out on the princesses. Instead, they were trying to butter up their mothers, to varying degrees of success, with Fluttershy coming the closest to actually breaking.
However, the six of them were persistent and told their children-and they made it perfectly clear what they were saying-that they were not to come into the room until their mothers told them they could. They were also not allowed to listen by the door; After all, that would make keeping them out of the room basically pointless.
As one would expect, the foals did not take this very well. Most of them simply began to pout and whine, clearly thinking that if they annoyed their mothers enough, they would get what they wanted.
Firestorm and Meadow, however, took a different approach.
The cyan-colored colt simply flew away in a huff, his wings smoking as he did so.
"I'll go follow him. Make sure he doesn't make anymore goo-bombs" Roxbury said as he trotted away in the same direction Firestorm had been flying in; apparently he was more worried about the trouble the pegasus could get into then whether or not his mother and his "aunts" would change their minds about letting them into the room during the meeting.
"Should I go?" Rainbow Dash questioned unsurely.
Celestia shook her head and told the rainbow-maned mare that even if her son did manage to create some "goo-bombs" it wouldn't be an issue; the bombs were completely harmless.
"You may speak for yourself" Luna said somewhat coldly when her sister said that the goo-bombs were harmless. She had good reason to be annoyed at this statement; just the day before, she had spent three hours removing the sticky and gooey yellow-green substance that came out of the bombs off her coat.
"If you say so" Rainbow Dash said, though it was clear she wasn't fully convinced.
Meanwhile, Meadow Lark was desperately trying to get Fluttershy to look her in the eye. By this point, she had fully realized that she could basically control ponies (and other creatures) if she could get them to make direct eye contact with her. The catch was the fact that she couldn't make other ponies do what she wanted unless she got the eye contact. And Fluttershy seemed to be very aware of this fact, as she kept her eyes shut while her daughter attempted to pry them open.
"Oh, my…" the yellow mare began, her voice low and her eyes still closed, "It looks like Meadow Lark would like to go straight to bed without desert after supper tonight".
Meadow instantly got what her mother was implying and stopped trying to force her eyes open. Finding out what the older ponies and the princesses would be discussing was not worth the risk of not only having to go to bed early and losing desert.
"Well, I'm getting bored" Libby said, walking forward to stand by Meadow Lark's side. The pegasus filly nodded her agreement.
"Me too. Let's go find something fun to do".
With that, the two fillies ran off, leaving Velvet and Butterscotch alone with the adults.
The remaining fillies didn't even say anything; they just ran off as well, finally leaving Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie alone with the alicorns.
Princess Luna gestured towards the large doors which led into the hall filled with stained glass windows with her head. The younger mares took the hint and stepped inside.
(Note: All of these next segments take place at the same time, so you can basically read them in any order)
"I can't believe they wouldn't let us hear what the princesses had to say" Firestorm cried, slamming his hoof onto the floor of the kitchen. The chefs were all away, as the next meal would not have to be ready for several hours. "They treat us like foals!"
"We are foals, Firestorm" Roxbury said flatly, nodding towards the diapers that both he and the other colt were wearing.
Firestorm scowled, clearly unhappy with his brother bringing up the stupidity of his past statement.
"Of course you'll side with them, you little goody-two-hooves" he muttered angrily, spreading his wings in an attempt to look more intimidating. The green colt rolled his eyes and sighed.
"They have no right to tell us what to do!" Firestorm said, continuing his rant.
Roxbury raised an eyebrow before pointing out that their mothers had every right to tell them what do to; they were, after all, responsible for them even existing. Firestorm snorted.
"Well, maybe you have to listen, but I don't, cause unlike you, I got awesome powers" he bragged, shaking his head slightly as he did so.
And, while he knew he didn't need to, he decided to show exactly what he was talking about when he said he had "awesome powers". He focused his gaze on a glass that was set on the table. His gold-colored eyes began to glow slightly. Suddenly, the glass shattered, as though some-pony had had smashed it with a hammer. Both colts had to dart underneath the table to avoid being hit by the broken pieces of glass.
The green colt turned to the cyan colt and said, "I have powers, too."
"No, you don't. If you did, you would have used them by now. You're the only one who hasn't done anything awesome. You haven't changed the way you look at all, and we can all do that. You never let yourself get hurt, so I bet you can't even heal" he accused, jabbing Roxbury in the side with a hoof, receiving a glare in response.
"Or maybe" Roxbury began, clearly struggling to keep himself calm, "I just don't want to put myself through pain I don't need to go through."
Firestorm scoffed once again and rolled his eyes.
"You're just a normal weirdo" the pegasus said, jabbing the earth pony in the side again. Said earth pony growled angrily.
"Do that again. I dare you. Do that again" he said, his voice clearly showing threat.
Unfortunately, the other colt didn't seem to understand what he was being set up for. He pulled his foreleg back, and then pushed it towards Roxbury's side. Right before the pegasus's hoof touched his side, Roxbury reached out his own hoof and touched a shard of broken glass that was lying on the floor. As soon as his hoof made contact with the glass, his coat changed, shifting from regular pony fur to a coat made of jagged pieces of green-tinged broken glass.
Firestorm tried to stop himself from making contact with the earth pony's now sharp side, but it was too late. His hoof ended up getting pierced by the sharp points of glass and he whimpered softly in pain before starting to suck on the wound. As his injury started to heal itself, Firestorm turned his attention back to Roxbury, who was now back to normal.
"So, you can turn yourself into whatever you touch?" he questioned. Roxbury simply nodded, and Firestorm squealed in delight. He suddenly jumped up and started to flutter his wings as he burst into flames.
"That is awesome!" he exclaimed, placing his hoofs onto his cheeks. "I mean, it's not as awesome as what I can do, but it's still awesome".
Roxbury smiled slightly and got to his feet.
"Well, help me clean up" he said to Firestorm, who was no longer flaming. When the cyan pegasus asked why they had to clean up, the earth pony colt simply said, "You want Luna to yell at us again?"
Almost immediately, Firestorm dashed out from under the table and went to collect a couple of small brooms and a dustpan.
The yellow pegasus and white unicorn fillies wandered through the castle halls, desperately searching for something to do. They couldn't believe how boring the palace was, considering how large it was. Someplace this size would usually have something fun for young ponies to do, but not Canterlot Castle.
Libby and Meadow wished they could go outside, but they knew they couldn't; ever since they and the others had found their father's stone body, they hadn't been allowed in the gardens.
None of them could understand why, and when they asked their mothers, they refused to answer.
Finally, the two fillies stepped into a large open room with a tall pedestal placed in the center of the room. Placed on top of the pedestal was a red cushion with what appeared to be a white ball with dark red diagonal stripes on it.
"You think you can get the ball down?" Meadow asked Libby, who seemed to consider the question for a moment before turning her attention to the ball on the pedestal.
She squeezed her eyes shut and her horn began to glow with a soft turquoise-colored light, as did the ball. The ball levitated about an inch off the cushion before the glow around it vanished and it dropped back onto the cushion.
"Well, to answer your question: No, I can't get the ball down" Libby said to the pegasus, panting softly. Meadow Lark smiled gently and patted the white unicorn on the back before flying up to the ball.
"Okay, then I'll just push it off, and you catch it" she suggested to Libby.
Libby nodded and positioned herself next to the pedestal. Once the unicorn was standing in the right place to catch the ball, the pegasus went to push it off the cushion and onto her back.
However, before her hooves could make contact, a small cracking noise caught her attention.
Curious, the young filly leaned closer to the source of the noise, the ball.
Suddenly, through no apparent force from either of the ponies, it literally leapt from the cushion and onto the ground. Feet seemed to have magically appeared on the bottom of what the fillies still believed to be a ball, and it began to run around the room.
"It's alive!" both fillies screamed in horror, clutching each other for security.
They only separated when the "ball" charged in the direction of the pedestal, which they were standing in front of. The "ball" smashed into the stone pedestal and completely broke apart, revealing that it wasn't a ball at all, but rather a dragon's egg.
"Oh, he's cute" Meadow said quietly, looking at the newborn dragon.
"I'll say" Libby agreed.
"Come here little baby" Meadow cooed, her gaze still focused on the small dragon, who was currently licking himself clean. The unicorn seemed to be a little confused at the last statement her sister had made.
"Oh, you were talking about the dragon? I thought you were talking about him" she said, pointing at a rather odd-looking colt who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
The colt was older than the two fillies, old enough to have started school, if only recently. His coat, eyes, and mane all looked as though they had been colored with metallic paints. The coat was a bronze color, his eyes were silver, and his mane was colored like gold, with visible flecks of bronze scattered about. He was a pegaus, and his wings, while mostly bronze like the rest of his body, had feathers tipped with gold. The most eye-catching things about him, however, were not his colors, but rather his stripes and the small nub of a horn on his forehead. Obviously the colt was part zebra, evidenced by the golden stripes that ran along his back and around his legs. Even more amazing was the fact that he had a unicorn's horn, along with a pegasus' wings, though based on the size of the horn (it was only as big as that of a newborn pony's), it was clear that it was more a simple growth than an actual tool of magic.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" he asked the two fillies.
"I'm Meadow Lark" Meadow began, pointing towards herself, before motioning towards Libby. "And this is my sister, Lotus Blossom. Every-pony calls her Libby. And we just wanted to play with the ball on the pedestal…though I guess it was actually an egg…"
Libby then vanished from where she was standing and reappeared next to the colt.
"What about you? What's your name?" she questioned.
The striped colt hesitated for a few moments before answering the question. "Uh…My name is Token. Token Medal".
"Well, what are you doing here?" Meadow asked, smiling as the baby dragon rubbed the side of his head against hers.
Token told the fillies that he was told that he was the guardian of the egg and the dragon inside it, and that he was doing what his job entailed: guarding the egg.
"Really? You get to take care of this little cutie? You are so lucky. What's his name?" said Meadow Lark, looking from the dragon to Token and back to the dragon.
Token responded by saying he didn't think the dragon had a name, to which Meadow said, "Then I'll name him, since I'm pretty sure he hatched because of me".
She looked at the infant dragon sitting next to her. He was a burgundy color with a cream belly. He had small tufts of what appeared to be white fur on his "elbows", as well as on the tip of his tail. His claws had webbing between them, the same color as his belly. The same webbing was visible on the sides of his tail. He also had what seemed to be a layer of cream-colored skin stretching from his "wrists" to his "ankles", just like a flying squirrel. After a few more moments of studying the dragon, Meadow finally came to a decision on the name.
"Fin. Your name is Fin" she told the newly named dragon. Fin responded by sticking out his forked tongue and licking Meadow Lark on the cheek, causing her to giggle slightly.
Token smiled at the scene…until he felt some-pony kiss his cheek. He turned to Libby, who was still standing next to him and was now blushing madly.
"Why did you…?" he began to ask, only to stop when he realized how embarrassed she was. So, instead, he simply smiled, apparently guessing why she had kissed him.
"Okay, Velly-belly" Butterscotch said, wrapping a foreleg around Velvet's shoulder and bringing her closer. "Time to do your stuff."
The dark-maned unicorn's expression changed from one of annoyance at the nickname to one of confusion.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
The butterscotch-colored filly sighed in annoyance and rolled her eyes. Clearly she was hoping that the unicorn would understand what she meant without any actual explanation.
"You know, the thing where you can turn yourself into a painting on the wall" she told the unicorn filly. "You do that, turn yourself invisible, and then go into the room and listen to what our Meemas and the princesses are talking about".
In response to the explanation, Velvet also sighed. She told Butterscotch that she couldn't spy on their mothers and the princesses.
When the earth pony filly asked why the unicorn couldn't use her ability to see what was being said in the other room, the unicorn responded: "I can only turn myself into a picture if there are already pictures there".
"Is that all?" Butterscotch asked with a laugh. She then began to walk off, a mischievous grin on her face.
"What are you doing?" Velvet questioned, her tone making it obvious that she wasn't sure she wanted to hear the answer.
However, Butterscotch completely ignored her and just continued walking away.
Irritated, Velvet teleported in front of her sister, causing the other filly to bump into her, due to not expecting the teleportation. Now that she had Butterscotch's attention, Velvet once again asked what she was planning to do.
"I'm going to get some paint so when can hoof-paint some pictures on the wall and you can do the spying" the white-maned pony explained. Velvet looked at her as though she thought Butterscotch had totally lost her mind.
"And how will that help?" she asked.
"You just said you need a picture to already be on the wall, so we're going to paint a picture on the wall. Duh." Butterscotch answered, as though it were the most obvious answer in the world. The blue-grey foal raised an eyebrow.
"You do realize that the wall we need to draw a picture on is inside the room, don't you?" she asked, trying to point out the lack of logic in the earth pony filly's plan.
Blue eyes widened in what seemed to be a mixture of realization and horror. Suddenly, Butterscotch's body began to shake and her eyes narrowed.
"I HATE LOGIC!" the butterscotch-colored filly shouted, her mouth right next to Velvet's ear.
Said unicorn rubbed the now ringing ear, sarcastically thanking her half-sister for causing her to go deaf, and also completely ignoring the tantrum the other filly was currently throwing. It was only when she regained her hearing that she said anything to Butterscotch.
The tension in the hall was thick as the six Element Bearers prepared themselves to hear what Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had to tell them.
They had been hoping to relax for the last few days before returning home, but apparently they wouldn't get that luxury. They were anxious to hear what the princesses had to say, and the fact that neither Celestia nor Luna were speaking didn't help matters.
Finally, it was the princess of the night who broke the silence.
"When you came here, we told you that we wanted to observe your foals during the first months of their development. Do you remember that?" she asked the six mares, who all nodded in response. "And we said that if we viewed them to be dangerous, we would take the necessary precautions. We have decided that the foals must be viewed as potential threats".
As soon as the last word left her lips, she was greeted by protests from the six mothers, as well as Spike. The seven of them were practically shouting as they tried to argue against what they assumed Luna was implying would have to be done. They argued that the foals were just playing around, being naughty and mischievous like any normal foals would be, and that they didn't mean any harm by it.
"You can't kill them just because-" Twilight Sparkle began, only to be cut off by Celestia speaking up.
Clearly the princess of the sun had realized that her little sister was just going to end up digging herself into a very deep hole if she continued giving the entire "lecture" herself, and had decided to help.
"You misunderstand us, my little ponies. We have no intention of killing your foals, now or ever" she assured them.
The pegasi, unicorns, and earth ponies looked somewhat confused at this statement. Obviously, they were wondering what the precautions actually were, if they didn't involve the extermination of the foals, on the basis that they would grow up to be dangerous.
Celestia continued: "We know that you will do the best you can to raise them correctly, and we are certain that you will do an excellent job of it."
She smiled slightly as she added, "You already are".
Six small smiles mirrored her own as she said this last statement.
"However," the younger mares and the young dragon instantly tensed their bodies in preparation for what they were about to hear, "we cannot forget who their father is, or the fact that they have powers no other pony has…powers that may be hard for any-pony to control, even the ponies in whom these abilities have manifested".
She didn't bring up the fact that foals clearly shown an attachment towards Discord, mostly due to the fact that she knew Twilight Sparkle and her friends were most likely already aware.
"Therefore, when you return to Ponyville, we will have two of our…special guards accompany you, as well as their families" Celestia concluded.
She paused to allow for questions.
Applejack was the first to ask any questions regarding what the princess had just told them.
"What, exactly, are they supposed to do?" she asked, raising an eyebrow slightly to show she was skeptical of what the co-rulers of Equestria had planned.
Celestia opened her mouth to respond, but it was Luna who answered: "It will be their duty to help monitor the foals, as well as detain them and alert us should things get…out of hoof. Depending on how bad things become…".
Her tone showed the true, somewhat threatening, meaning of her words.
"Don't you worry, Princess" Twilight Sparkle said, looking from Celestia to Luna and back again. "We will make sure that it never comes to that. You have my word."
The others nodded in agreement.
Apparently satisfied with this vow, the princesses of the day and night dismissed their guests.
Three days later, the residents of Ponyville found themselves on a train bound for home. They were now accompanied by their six children, a baby amphibious dragon that Meadow insisted was named Fin, and the ponies who would be charged with monitoring the foals, as well as their families.
For the most part, they were all strangers, with a couple exceptions. They all knew Ocean Breeze and Crystal Lake; Libby and Meadow both knew the little half-zebra colt named Token Medal, who they quickly introduced to the others.
However, they all had to be introduced to Ocean Breeze's husband, Tsunami, a dark blue unicorn pony with a mane and eyes the color of storm-clouds, as well as Token's parents, who were actually his aunt and uncle.
His uncle, Bronze Medal, was a pegasus pony who was almost identical to his nephew in everyway, except for the fact that Bronze had eyes the color of copper instead of silver like Token's, and the fact that Token had stripes.
Precious Medal, a pegasus mare who appeared to have been bleached (her coat was white, her mane was barely half a shade darker, and her eyes were pale grey), explained the odd likeness between nephew and uncle by saying that Bronze and Gold, Token's father, were identical twins and Token took after his father. He had gotten the stripes and his eyes from his mother, a zebra named Zendaya who, along with her husband, had died when Token was still a baby, leaving him in the custody of Bronze and Precious.
The white pegasus was very polite to the Element Bearers, even to Rainbow Dash, which was somewhat surprising considering how Firestorm had acted towards Token when the two of them first met. As soon as the pegasus colt had seen the half-zebra, he had begun "attacking" him, for lack of a better word.
"What's wrong with his forehead?" Firestorm had asked, tapping the useless nub of a horn on Token's head. He then went onto jabbing the older boy all over his body, pointing out anything that was strange to him, from the slightly metallic sheen of his coat, to the stripes on his back and legs, all the while proclaiming that, "He looks funny!"
Rainbow Dash had stopped him from tormenting the older colt (physically at least) by giving him a slight knock to the head with her hoof. It hadn't been enough to hurt him, really, and even if it had done any damage, any signs of said damage would be long gone before they got to Ponyville.
Still, it got the message across: if you treat this pony badly, you will be punished.
The colt seemed to take the message seriously; he stopped messing with Token and hadn't resumed doing so in the few hours they'd been on the train. At the very least, he was smart enough to not torment him when the adults were within earshot. After all, there was no way of knowing what he did or said when the adults could see or hear it.
For now, however, the ponies and the dragons were just going to enjoy the trip to Ponyville. It was going very well, after all.
Fin was fast asleep, as was to be expected from a creature who was less than a week old. The newborn dragon was not alone in the compartment he was sleeping in; Meadow Lark, Token, and Libby were in the room as well.
The yellow filly was resting alongside the dragon, watching the colt and her half-sister play a game of cards.
As for Token and Libby, they were playing a game of Go Fish, which the would-be alicorn was not enjoying due to the fact that he apparently had the worst luck ever. He had two pairs, and Libby had about twenty-two. To make matters worse, all she ever asked for were Jacks and Jokers. She even asked for the rules at one point and somehow Token had them in his hand.
The bronze-colored half-zebra grumbled angrily as he once again gave up a card to Libby. At least this time it was an ace of clubs, though he didn't think he had drawn that card from the deck.
"How're you so good at this?" he finally asked the turquoise-maned filly, who giggled softly.
"Am I really good at it, or do you just suck at card games?" she questioned the slightly older pony.
Token blushed in anger and told Libby that if she was going to be rude, he didn't want to play with her right now. With that, he left the compartment, leaving the extremely shocked filly behind.
"Stop being a brat, Token!" she shouted after him, not bothering to follow.
Meadow hushed the unicorn, looking down at the sleeping Fin.
"He's trying to sleep" she told her sister, motioning to the baby dragon.
Said dragon snored softly, a bit of drool coming from his mouth.
Libby rolled her eyes and told her sister that she didn't really care if Fin was trying to sleep; he wasn't her problem, after all.
Red and yellow eyes locked onto turquoise eyes and began to flash different colors, shades of red, green, purples, blues, and browns, each eye always being a different color than the other.
The young unicorn felt her mind begin to cloud, her free will beginning to vanish. She forced her eyes shut to keep herself from falling completely under the mind-control.
Her horn began to glow with magical energy, as did Meadow's wings. The pegasus's eyes stopped flashing as she realized Libby had a telekinetic hold on her wings. Her eyes widened in a mixture of expected pain and fear.
"Uh-oh" she said, just as her wings snapped forward with a loud popping sound, the tips of the yellow feathers now pointing at her head.
Meadow Lark began to scream from the pain, which in turn woke Fin, who began to cry due to his nap being interrupted.
Within seconds, the door to the compartment slammed open and in came Fluttershy and Rarity. The butter-colored pegasus gasped in horror when she saw her daughter's broken wings. As she scooped the pale yellow filly into her forelegs, hovering to make it easier to hold the foal, Rarity went over to her own child.
"What happened?" she asked, her voice cold, making it clear that the girl was likely to be punished whether she lied or told the truth. Of course, despite being much smarter than most foals her age, Libby, along with the other five, had yet to learn to lie.
"Meadow made me angry, so I broke her wings" Libby answered truthfully, pointing towards Meadow Lark, whose wings were moving back into their correct position with a series of popping sounds.
"Well, I can't do anything about it right now, but I can promise you're going to know the entire layout of the house" she told her daughter, who looked at her in confusion.
The filly asked why she would know the entire layout of her mother's house.
"Because you won't be going outside for a month," the older white unicorn said simply. She picked up the foal with her mouth and left the compartment, completely ignoring Libby as she threw a tantrum, screaming and flailing.
"Are you okay, Meadow Lark?" Fluttershy asked Meadow Lark, who was currently stroking Fin on the head in an attempt to soothe him.
"I'm fine, Mama" she said curtly, not even looking at her mother as she spoke.
Fluttershy blinked twice; she had been expecting the filly to whimper and ask to be comforted and instead she was essentially told to go away.
Now aware that her presence was neither needed nor wanted, the butter-yellow pony left the train compartment, which now held a sleeping baby dragon sucking on the wing of a young pegasus who kept her eyes open as if watching for danger.
Pinkie Pie walked into her home/place of employment with Butterscotch sleeping on her back, a bit of drool dripping from her mouth onto her mother's neck and a bit of Pinkie's hair tangled in her sharp teeth.
The party planner pony had, of course, wanted to throw a party to welcome them all home and introduce the foals to the rest of the town, but she had agreed to wait until tomorrow. After all, the babies needed to get used to their new homes and be introduced to the ponies and animals they would see on a daily basis before being introduced to ponies they would rarely before they were a year old. Not to mention the fact that they did need to plan the party and invite every-pony to said party.
She opened the door to Sugar Cube Corner-not bothering to knock since she knew she didn't need to-and was promptly greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Cake, who both embraced her briefly, being careful to avoid touching the sleeping foal on her back. It was like they were greeting their daughter, which given the fact that Pinkie was essentially their foster daughter wasn't that far from the truth.
"Where's Pound and Pumpkin?" Pinkie Pie asked, referring to the twin children of Mr. and Mrs. Cake.
"Ginger Snap was just giving them a bath" Mrs. Cake explained. "They'll be down in a few minutes."
Sure enough, about five minutes later, the light yellow unicorn filly and the beige pegasus colt came downstairs followed by the cinnamon-colored earth pony mare.
The twins immediately jumped on Pinkie in order to hug her, Pound Cake fluttering slightly to get to her before his sister. As the twins jumped on her, Pinkie stepped backwards, causing Butterscotch to awaken with a yawn.
Noticing the baby pony on their favorite playmate's back, the twins instantly began asking questions about the foal, namely whether it was a filly or colt.
Pinkie Pie didn't actually answer the question, but instead placed her daughter of the floor so it would be easier for Pound and Pumpkin to get a good look at her.
Their reactions to discovering the sex of their new playmate were very different; Pumpkin Cake was absolutely delighted, while Pound Cake clearly had been hoping that there would be another colt in the house once Pinkie Pie returned.
Butterscotch was trying to spit out a few strands of her mother's mane that had gotten onto her mouth and didn't really notice the older foals who were staring at her. Finally, she took notice of them, looking at Pumpkin first and then at Pound.
She didn't seem all that interested to meet the filly, but as soon as she saw the colt, she squealed with delight and crawled underneath him, arching her back slightly to rub her fluffy white hair on the underside of his chin.
Pound Cake's wings rose in slight embarrassment and shock.
Pumpkin and Pinkie just giggled a little at the colt's discomfort at the situation, while Cup Cake, Carrot Cake, and Ginger Snap exchanged unsure glances.
Fluttershy knocked on the door of her cottage, even though she really didn't need to, seeing as it was her home. Still, Sparkler had been living there while Fluttershy was gone in order to care for the animals and the pegasus didn't want to just barge in on some private matter.
Meadow Lark mumbled angrily, "I don't see why Fin couldn't come and live with us. There's plenty of fish for him to eat here. I'm sure of it".
Fluttershy shushed her daughter. She and the others had agreed that it was best for the foals to not show their true intelligence (or, at the very least, how well they could talk for foals so young) until they were a bit older and it would not seem so strange. Even once the foals were allowed to talk in front of ponies other than family and close friends, they would have to pretend to speak as though they were only in the second year of school.
Six-month-old foals speaking as though they were already old enough to read and write and do simple addition and subtraction would, of course, raise a few eyebrows, but that was the worst that would come out of it. Most would simply accept the young ponies as prodigies, advanced for their age, but not overly so.
If six-month-old foals, or especially three-month-old foals, spoke as well as many stallions and mares, it would likely raise suspicion and paranoia. And in this town, paranoia had a strong possibility of resulting in some-pony getting hurt, and they didn't want that.
Fluttershy knocked again and a minute or so later, Sparkler opened the door, apologizing for taking so long.
"Oh, you don't need to apologize; we weren't waiting very long" the butter-colored pegasus said with a smile. "Thank you for taking care of my animal friends. I hope they weren't any trouble".
Sparkler assured her that the animals had all been well-behaved for her, though she hesitated slightly at the word "all" and looked at Angel Bunny's hutch. Clearly the rabbit had given her some trouble.
Fluttershy promised the unicorn that she would have a word with the rabbit and bid her adieu.
Once Sparkler was gone, Meadow Lark dropped the silent act she had been putting on.
"You weren't lying, Mama. You do have a lot of animals" the filly said, her eyes wide as she looked at the menagerie in her mother's cottage.
The animals were watching the little pony with unsure expressions. It was as though they didn't know if they should consider the foal a threat or not. Given the strange eye-color and sharp teeth, it wasn't as though their paranoia was unwarranted.
Fluttershy realized that she had returned home just before lunchtime for the animals and she went to the business of filling the pet bowls with pellets, fish, and seeds for most of the animals she took care of. For Tank and Angel, however, she made some salads, though the tortoise's was mostly composed of lettuce leaves and a few pieces of apple.
"Twilight's going to come over tomorrow and use a spell so you can live with Rainbow, Tank" Fluttershy told the tortoise, who smiled in his typically slow way.
The Element of Magic had been practicing her magic while the six of them had been in Canterlot, and she had (hopefully) learned how to make the cloud-walking spell permanent, at least for a creature Tank's size. Now the tortoise could actually live with his owner, rather than only have her come and visit him at Fluttershy's cottage and always leave for the night, or him use his propeller to fly up to her cloud for a day.
"Mama," said Meadow, tugging on her mother's mane. "I'm hungry."
"Oh, of course. I'll get you some food," Fluttershy said, quickly mashing some apples and mixing the mash with cinnamon in the bowl to make something like applesauce.
The pale-yellow filly looked at her mother with confusion, running her tongue over her teeth as though to point out to the older pegasus that she didn't need her food mashed.
Fluttershy felt her cheeks heat up. She went to grab the bowl of mashed apples and cinnamon, but was stopped when Meadow Lark stood in front of the bowl.
"You made this for me, and I'm going to eat it" she told her mother with a little smile.
Fluttershy nodded slightly, a smile also on her face. Then she noticed that none of the animals had gone to their bowls to eat; they were all too afraid to get near Meadow Lark.
"Meadow Lark? How about we eat in my room?" she suggested to the foal.
Meadow Lark seemed to consider the idea before nodding. Fluttershy picked up the bowl of applesauce and carried it into her bedroom, Meadow following close behind. Leaving the door open, Fluttershy went back into the kitchen area of her cottage and made herself some lunch before re-entering the room and closing the door.
As soon as the door was closed, the animals who had been pressed against the walls and hiding in their homes inside the cottage went to their bowls and began to eat.
"This is my niece?" Sweetie Belle asked, looking at the filly lounging on her older sister's back.
Said filly quickly buried her face in her mother's mane, either out of annoyance or shyness.
"Don't mind her, Sweetie" Rarity said, "She's just being pouty because she's…well, I guess grounded is the right word to use".
The Crusader rose an eyebrow in confusion. Obviously she was amazed that a pony so young-the foal was only about three months old, after all-had managed to do something bad enough to actually get grounded. From what she'd heard from the Cakes and the other families in town with very young foals, ponies that young usually only misbehaved enough to get time-outs.
"What did she do?" questioned the pink-and-purple-maned unicorn.
"I'll tell you later" the older mare said quickly, walking into her bedroom. She used her telekinesis to place Libby onto the bed, where Opal was already sleeping.
The fluffy white cat opened her eyes and glanced at the foal for a moment before closing her eyes again.
"What's your name?" Sweetie Belle asked her niece playfully, not expecting the baby to answer.
"Lotus Blossom, but call me Libby" said Libby.
The turquoise-maned filly then turned her attention to Opal, smiling wickedly. Meanwhile, her aunt was looking at her mother with a very confused expression.
"I'll explain everything later" Rarity promised her sister. "Believe me, it will take a while."
A turquoise-colored light emanated from the foal's horn and also engulfed Opal's tail. The cat's eyes popped open as she was lifted by her tail. She screeched in terror as she was flung into a pile of fabric scraps and small pillows. Once she had recovered from the shock, Opal jumped back onto her mistress's bed, claws out.
"Opal, no!" said Rarity, but it was too late. The cat's sharp claws had grazed across the foal's cheek, leaving a series of vertical scratches.
"Bad kitty…" Libby said softly, her eyes beginning to glow softly while the scratches on her cheek began to heal.
Opal looked behind her, then screamed as though there was a pack of giant dogs behind her. She continued to cry in fear as she darted back into the pile of fabric she had been flung into. Only her eyes, wide with terror, were visible.
Libby threw herself onto the pillow on the bed, laughing like a mad-mare.
So far, Applejack's return to Sweet Apple Acres was going well. Roxbury was managing to act his age and was currently playing with Winona inside the house while Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Big Macintosh sat outside, drinking freshly made apple juice and sharing stories of what happened while the orange mare was gone. Apparently Apple Bloom had gotten together with the editor-and-chief of the Foal Free Press, Featherweight.
When questioned about it, the filly blushed slightly and said, "It was nothing. Twist and Truffle were goin' on a date and Twist invited me and Truffle invited Featherweight. I had a good time with Featherweight and we went out a few more times, that's all."
She lowered her voice slightly and muttered that Granny Smith had enjoyed learning that her youngest granddaughter had a boyfriend, which caused both Applejack and Big Mac to blush, though the stallion's blush was barely visible through his red coat.
When Applejack had revealed to her family that she was pregnant, Granny Smith had practically erupted with joy. It was the most energetic any of them had seen her outside of Zap Apple season.
She had actually cheered that, "Now I know I'll live to see my great-grandkids" before also saying that she expected that she would have to wait until Apple Bloom started a family before she would have a chance to get great-grandchildren; Big Macintosh was too shy to even date a mare, let alone sire a foal; Applejack, everyone had believed, was too much of a worker bee to be a mother.
"Granny Smith's just happy to see Featherweight's treatin' you right" Applejack told her little sister, placing a hoof on her shoulder to try and ease her embarrassment.
"I DEMAND YOU RELEASE ME, OLD LADY!"
The Apple siblings nearly fell over at the volume of Roxbury' scream. Once they recovered from the sudden loud noise, they ran into the house to investigate, and they nearly laughed.
Granny Smith was sitting in the middle of the room, with Roxbury-whose entire body, save for his eyes, was the same color and texture as the wood on the floor-in her forearms.
As soon as the colt noticed his mother, he reverted back to flesh and blood.
"Ma! This crazy old mare started hugging and she won't let me go. Do something!" he demanded, squirming in Granny Smith's forelegs.
"She's your great-grandmother, Roxbury" Applejack explained.
At this explanation, Roxbury's red-and-yellow eyes widened and he ceased in his attempts to smack the back of his head into the green mare's mouth.
"Really?" he asked, receiving a nod from his mother, his uncle, and his aunt. He looked up at Granny Smith expectantly.
"So…where's my present? Firestorm said grandparents are supposed to give you presents, and since I apparently don't have grandparents, you should give me presents" he said.
"Roxbury Russet!" Applejack cried, causing Roxbury to wince at the use of his full name. "You don't ask those types of questions."
"'Course I do," Granny Smith said, interrupting Applejack's attempt at scolding her son.
The old mare placed the green colt on the floor before walking up the stairs, calling for him to follow her, which he did without question.
Once he was alone with his sisters, Big Macintosh turned to Applejack and asked, "How can he do that?"
Obviously he was referring to the fact that his nephew had managed to morph into wood moments before.
"This place is awesome! Which is good because if it wasn't, my awesomeness would destroy it" Firestorm exclaimed with a grin, flopping down on Rainbow's bed with his eyes closed and his forelegs behind his head. He then opened his gold-colored eyes and looked around.
"Hey, where's that filly you said would be here? What's her name? Suit-a-loo?" he questioned.
"Scootaloo, Hothead" Rainbow replied, using a nickname that she had heard some of the other foals (especially the half-zebra Token) use for Firestorm on the train.
"Yeah, her" Firestorm said, still glancing around. "Didn't you say she was cloud-sitting for you?"
The mare nodded. She had to admit that it was odd that the orange pegasus hadn't shown her face yet. She would have expected Scootaloo to greet her as soon as she came inside. Maybe she was using the bathroom or something.
Her question as to where Scootaloo was ended up being answered when the smell of smoke filled the air.
"Awesome smell" Firestorm said, fluttering his wings so he could hover off the bed. He landed on the floor with a thud before trotting towards the kitchen, the source of the smoke, sniffing like a dog the entire time.
Rainbow Dash followed her son, more to make sure he didn't break anything than to make sure he didn't hurt himself.
The kitchen was a mess, to put it lightly. The door of the fridge was partly open, and quite a few of the contents were spilling out. If anybody were walking underneath the cloud at this point, they were likely being hit by a rain of milk (which had gone bad judging by the slightly sour smell), orange juice, raw eggs, and some sort of custard. The toaster was smoking with a plate covered in burnt toast and waffles sitting in front of it; the toast and waffles were also smoking slightly.
Scootaloo was looking around the room, obviously searching for something. Most likely she was trying to find the plug to the toaster so she could get it to stop smoking.
"Looking for this, Scoots?" Rainbow Dash asked, grabbing the cord of the toaster and pulling it out. Scootaloo jumped slightly and turned to face the older pony.
"Rainbow Dash!" she exclaimed. "When'd you get back? Did you have your foa-Stupid question. Of course you did. What is it?"
In response to the first question, Rainbow Dash said that she had only arrived at the cloud a few moments ago.
Firestorm, however, was the one to answer the last question.
"I am awesome! " he screamed, jumping from the floor, to her head, to the counter. From there, he began to eat the charred toast like it was the best thing he had ever tasted.
"You're sure mares can't make foals with each other?" Scootaloo asked, earning a confused look in response. "I'm seriously wondering if Pinkie Pie is his 'father'".
Rainbow Dash just looked at her like she was insane.
Spike yawned and stretched his arms, barely remembering to cover his mouth. Velvet looked at him, a disappointed look on her face.
"Don't tell me you're tired, Spike" said the blue unicorn filly.
The dragon smiled apologetically.
"Sorry, Velvet" he said, ruffling her dark hair slightly. "I guess I got a bit of…train-lag".
Velvet gave him a look that clearly said that she thought he was just giving an excuse.
"But you promised you would play with me when we got to Ponyville!" she exclaimed, placing her front hooves on Spike's chest in order to help herself stand erect and come closer to looking in the dragon's eyes. The look on her face made it clear that she was ready to slam her face into his mouth should he give the wrong answer.
Fortunately for Spike, Twilight was still in the room, monitoring her assistant and her daughter.
Before Velvet could do anything to attack the dragon, a magenta colored light covered her and pulled her away from him. Once the filly was away from him, Spike raised a claw, saying "See you later" before climbing up to the level where he and Twilight (and now Velvet) slept.
Velvet looked up at her mother with annoyance.
"Don't give me that" Twilight said. "Spike will play with you later."
The filly still continued to pout. The purple unicorn sighed.
"You want me to play with you?" she asked, earning a shake of the head in response. "So, what do you want me to do?"
Velvet seemed to consider the question for a moment or two. She then began to concentrate, her horn starting to glow with both a yellow and red light, slowly going from one to the other, occasionally mixing. A thick book on the self began to glow with the same colors. That book floated off the shelves and came over to the two unicorns.
"The La Noire Sisters' Pony Tales?" Twilight asked, reading the title of the book out loud. "You want me to read you one of these."
Velvet nodded and opened the book with her telekinesis, flipping through the pages until she came to a story she wanted to hear.
Twilight Sparkle laid down in front of the book, her daughter nestling herself between her forelegs, resting her head on the right leg. The filly began to suck on her own front hoof as her mother began to read.
"Long, long ago, when Equestria was still new, a creature unlike any other ruled the world. This creature was a pony. He was also a snake, a lion, an eagle, and so much more. He loved chaos and he loved to spread it…" Twilight continued to read, but she had to admit to herself that she felt somewhat odd.
After all, she was reading about Discord's reign and how the princesses had ended it. Sure, it was probably thought to be a rumor, pieces of different stories mixed together to create the final product, but it was so close to the truth.
"Mommy?" Velvet muttered once the story was over. "Aren't pony tales supposed to have happy endings?"
"Yes…" Twilight responded.
Velvet looked up at her mother.
"So why did the monsters win?"
(AN: This isn't the best I've written, I know, but I think it's good enough and I hope you all enjoy it. I think all the older ponies and Spike are suffering a bit of the train version of jetlag, which is why Pinkie isn't her normal hyperactive self here She'll be better next chapter.
Before anyone asks, NO, Pound Cake did not get aroused by Butterscotch. He isn't even old enough to get that sort of reaction. He was just surprised by what she did, that is all.
And as for why Libby was only grounded for a month for breaking Meadow Lark's wings? Well, considering the foals can all heal from injuries like that very quickly, for them it was the equivilent of smacking each other. So the punishment wouldn't be as severe as it would if they couldn't heal.)
"Butterscotch, please, just sit down so I can give you some breakfast" Carrot Cake practically pleaded with the foal, who was currently fighting as hard as she could to remain out of the pink highchair.
Pound and Pumpkin were seated at the table eating slices of cornbread, though they stopped eating for a few moments to watch their father struggle with Pinkie Pie's daughter.
Once again, the yellow earth pony attempted to place Butterscotch into Pumpkin's old high chair, and once again, she resisted. The foal clung to the back of the chair with her front hooves, stretching her hind legs so they pressed against the tray.
Carrot sighed; maybe he should have asked Pinkie how she got Butterscotch to listen before volunteering to watch the twins and the baby while his wife, niece, and employee went to the store to buy supplies for the big party tonight.
Seeing his father was starting to really get upset, Pound Cake decided to help his old man out.
"Hey, Butterscotch" the young pegasus called to the infant filly, grabbing her attention almost instantly. "You wanna sit next to me?"
The baby's blue eyes widened and she squealed happily.
She then took her hind legs off the tray of the highchair, bringing her hooves to rest on the front of the actual chair.
With an almost manic grin, the filly suddenly shoved off the highchair, smacking Mr. Cake in the mouth with her head as she back-flipped through the air, much to the amazement of the twins. She seemed to hover over the chair to Pound's left for a brief moment before appearing to literally float down to the chair, her ears flapping up and down as though they were wings.
"Come closer" Butterscotch demanded of Pound Cake, smacking the tabletop with a hoof.
When the colt ignored her demand, the filly groaned in annoyance before hopping off her chair and into his, pushing him to the side to make more room for herself.
Pound Cake turned to shoot a glare at Butterscotch, only to find the filly reaching onto his plate and stealing a thick slice of cornbread.
"Hey, that's mine!" he protested as she took a bite out of the cornbread. Butterscotch's ears flopped downwards.
"Sorry" she said in a small voice, her eyes beginning to water.
"Nice going, Pound. I can't believe you, making her cry like that" Pumpkin Cake scolded her brother.
The beige pegasus's cheeks turned red; it would have been bad enough if his father had scolded him, but to have his twin sister-who was five minutes younger than him-scold him was almost unbearable.
Pound sighed but turned to face the infant pony anyway. He opened his mouth to apologize only to close it again as a delighted noise came from her mouth.
Butterscotch suddenly began to arch her back, puffing her cheeks in and out, and occasionally sticking her tongue out.
"Daddy" Pumpkin called to her father, who was currently rubbing his sore (but amazing not broken) jaw. "I think Butterscotch needs to be burped".
The stallion looked over and, seeing what the foal was doing, realized that his daughter was right.
He walked over to the table and picked up Butterscotch with one foreleg, leaning her against his shoulder and patting her back.
When he didn't hear her burp, Carrot moved the baby so she was looking at him. She didn't seem to be in pain anymore. At the very least she wasn't arching her back and making weird faces.
The two of them stared at each other in silence…and then Butterscotch opened her mouth, causing a stream of amber-colored viscose liquid to erupt from her mouth and completely coat Mr. Cake's face.
Pumpkin Cake simply looked disgusted by the fact that the younger filly had thrown up on her father. Pound, however, sniffed the air, recognizing the sweet smell now emanating from his father's now sticky head.
The colt hopped off the chair and trotted over to where his father was standing. Once he was next to the older male, Pound opened his mouth and allowed some of the sticky amber-colored substance to drip from his father's head and into this mouth, resulting in a disgusted squeal from the unicorn. Brown eyes widened in delight and Pound licked his lips.
"Did you just throw-up maple syrup?" asked the pegasus colt of the earth pony filly.
Butterscotch said nothing, but gave a large grin, showing off most of her teeth, in response.
Mr. Cake, meanwhile, simply blinked in silence, trying to comprehend what had just happened.
"Now, Libby" Rarity said, trying to get her daughter into the dress she was supposed to wear for the party tonight. "Don't you want to look nice for your party?"
The response was a rather loud shout of protest.
The mare sighed; things were not going well for her this morning.
First of all, Libby had apparently squirmed out of her diaper during the night, only to have an accident, so now Rarity had to wash the green sheets and hummingbird-patterned blanket.
To make things worse, her daughter had refused to eat the breakfast her mother had prepared for her.
Rarity had made pancakes for herself and Libby.
The white unicorn female had personally thought she had made the pancakes perfectly. Not as well as Flapjack would have made them, of course, but her talent was related to fashion, not to making breakfast foods. But, even if her talent wasn't cooking, she knew she had made the pancakes as well as any other pony would have been able to.
She had even put blueberries, Libby's favorite fruit, into the pancakes that she served to the foal, and Libby had refused to even take a bite.
When it became clear that the filly wasn't going to eat her breakfast, Rarity decided to take the still warm food and place it in the refrigerator; she didn't' want to waste perfectly good food.
Of course, while Rarity was putting the pancakes in the fridge, Libby had decided she was hungry after all, and had gone after the eggs on the older unicorn's plate. She had made a mess of herself, getting bits of egg in her mane.
So, Rarity had given her a bath.
To make a long story short, by the time Libby was actually clean an entire roll of toilet paper had been stuffed into the toilet, half the bathroom got filled with soap bubbles, and the shower curtain had been torn to shreds.
Now the filly was clean, dry, and she even allowed her mother to brush her hair and braid it, tying off each end of the braid with a gold-trimmed dark green ribbon.
However, she refused to wear the dress that went with the ribbons.
Libby had clearly not inherited Rarity's love of fashion and had done whatever she could think of to avoid having to wear the dress.
She had hidden underneath her crib. She had tried to force the window open and escape. Her strangest attempt involved trying to switch places with Opal, morphing her face so it looked more feline and morphing her hooves into an odd mix of paws and hooves.
So far, the only thing she hadn't done was-
"Libby!" Rarity shouted in annoyance, looking down at what was now two halves of a green and gold filly's dress. One half was still in her own magical grip, the other was currently in the young unicorn's mouth, getting punctured by her teeth and covered in drool.
"Alright…I guess you win" she said to her daughter, who gave a little cheer of delight, causing the part of the dress that was in her mouth to fall to the ground.
Pinkie Pie smiled as she bit into a fresh apple muffin, looking around the crowded bakery. She had been worried that the party to welcome her and her friends home and introduce their babies to the town wouldn't go very well, since she had been forced to delay the party a month.
She had wanted to throw the party the day after they got back to Ponyville, but things kept coming up.
But, that didn't matter anymore.
Every-pony was having a great time, eating snacks, dancing, and just hanging out with their friends.
Well…almost every-pony was having a great time.
Roxbury had been scared by Roid Rage when the overly buff pegasus had come in and given his trademark "YEAH!"
Since Roid Rage had come in, the green colt had spent the party hiding behind his mother's forelegs, peeking out occasionally to see if the muscular stallion was nearby.
A tap on her shoulder brought Pinkie's attention away from the party for a moment. She turned around to see who had tapped her shoulder.
"Mom! Dad! Blinky!" she gasped happily before giving all three of them a hug.
"How'd you know to come here? Ooooh, did me from the future come and tell you about the party, just like how Twilight from the future came to tell our Twilight not to time-travel in the future?" the pink pony questioned, gaining confused looks from her parents and younger sister.
Her mother explained that, no, they hadn't learned about the party from a future version of Pinkie Pie; they had actually come to Ponyville to pick up some flour, and decided they wanted to see Pinkie, and meet her foal.
"Inky had a concert, so she couldn't come" Blinky said, explaining why her twin wasn't with them.
Pinkie frowned at learning that Octavia wouldn't be coming to the party. However, she almost immediately forgot her sorrow as she called to Butterscotch.
"Come over here" she called to her daughter, who was currently about to take a huge bite out of a piece of cake that was almost as big as she was.
The butterscotch-colored filly hopped off the table and ran over to her mother.
"Butterscotch, this is Grammy, Grandpa, and Auntie Blinky" the pink mare told Butterscotch, pointing at Sue, Clyde, and Blinky respectively.
Sue and Blinky almost immediately started cooing over the little filly.
Clyde, however, looked at his granddaughter for a moment, then scanned the room until he saw Caramel, who ended up being on the receiving end of a death glare from the old stallion.
Butterscotch gave a little burp, followed by a loud yawn. Her half-siblings all echoed the yawn.
"Guess they're ready for bed" Applejack said, picking up Roxbury by the scruff of his neck. The other young mothers agreed and picked up their own children, carrying them up the stairs.
"I just don't think we should leave them alone" Fluttershy whispered, looking at the sleeping foals, three in each crib.
Rainbow Dash sighed.
"Fluttershy, they'll be fine," she assured her friend.
The others nodded their agreement.
In order to help ease the gentle pegasus's fears, they told her whatever they could think of to calm her. They would lock the door so no-pony could come in and accidently wake the babies.
"I already put an anti-phasing charm on the windows, walls, door, and floor" Twilight said in response to Fluttershy bringing up the fact that Pumpkin Cake had apparently phased out of an upside-down playpen that Pinkie had tried to trap her and Pound under.
"Well…okay, if you're sure…" Fluttershy muttered softly, her tone showing that she was still unsure about leaving the foals alone.
She was the last one out of the room, stealing a nervous glance at the two cribs before shutting and locking the door.
Firestorm's eyes popped open as he heard his mother and her friends go back to the party.
"Hey, wake up" he whispered, turning to his left and shaking Roxbury.
The blond colt opened his eyes and glared at his brother, but quickly began shaking Butterscotch to wake her.
However, the earth pony filly had already been awake and had responded to the colt shaking her by licking his hoof, resulting in a disgusted shudder from Roxbury.
Meanwhile, the three fillies in the other crib had also woken up and were currently climbing over the bars of the crib.
They landed with a series of soft thumps and ran over to the crib Butterscotch, Firestorm, and Roxbury were supposed to be sleeping in.
The two colts and the other filly climbed out of their crib, the two earth ponies landing with thumbs on the floor, while the pegasus fluttered over to a dresser near the open window.
"Hey, guys" he whispered to his siblings. "Let's escape".
The girls all voiced their excitement at the idea of going outside and exploring without hesitation. Roxbury, however, rolled his eyes at his brother's suggestion.
The girls quickly got to the top of the dresser where Firestorm was standing. Velvet and Libby used their telekinesis to levitate themselves up to the top of the dresser; Butterscotch appeared to climb an invisible rope and jumped over to where the others were; and Meadow simply fluttered up.
This left Roxbury on the floor, looking up at the other five.
"And how am I supposed to get up there?" he hissed angrily.
The five by the window began to brainstorm a solution.
Suddenly, Velvet's eyes lit up.
"Grab onto our tongues" she whispered, opening her mouth and allowing her tongue, which was now very long and flexible. The others followed suit, wrapping their tongues around Roxbury, who made a sound of disgust as the tongues of his siblings began to shorten themselves, pulling him up to the top of the dresser.
Once he was with the others, the green colt shook himself slightly to remove the saliva from his coat.
"How're we going to get out" Libby questioned, comparing the opening between the window and the sill to the size of her head. Her head was larger than the gap by at least four inches.
Butterscotch smiled, said, "Easy", and lowered herself to her stomach. She began to squirm underneath the window, her head becoming a bit crushed as she crawled through.
A few seconds later, she was standing on the roof of Sugar Cube Corner and her skull seemed to be inflating back to normal.
After watching to make sure Butterscotch's head had completely healed, the others began crawling underneath the window and onto the roof, one by one.
Once they were all on the roof, they looked down, judging the distance to the ground.
"Let's just take a fast way" Meadow Lark suggested, screwing up her face in concentration. She suddenly vanished with a wisp of smoke, reappearing on the ground.
Giggling softly, the others mimicked her actions.
"Shhhhhh" Meadow commanded softly, covering her mouth and pointing to the nearby window to silently remind the others that the adults could very well hear them.
The six foals lowered themselves to the ground, their stomachs nearly dragging on the grass. They crawled along the floor until they were certain that they were far enough away, at which point they leapt up and began galloping.
"Mommy?" Ocean Breeze looked over to her daughter, who was currently looking out the window.
The mare asked Crystal Lake what she wanted.
"How come I can't go outside now? They can" the filly asked, pointing to something outside.
The unicorn looked confused and got to her feet, going to see what the little earth pony was looking at. Her gaze turned cold as she saw the six little demon-spawn darting past her home in Ponyville.
"Mommy's going out for a bit, Crystal. You stay here" Ocean Breeze muttered softly, using her magic to bring her cloak over to her and put it on.
She then stepped outside, putting the hood of the cloak over her head in order to hide her face.
She followed the foals, making sure to step quietly as to not alert them to her presence.
The foals giggled softly and seemed to be whispering to each other as they ran into what appeared to be a very ominous forest. They didn't seem to notice the strange feeling coming from the forest, but Ocean Breeze did.
She paused at the edge of the Everfree Forest, questioning in following the demons was worth the risk of going into the dangerous area.
Deciding that she needed to keep an eye on the little monsters (and, if needed, stop them) by any means possible, the mare steeled herself and stepped into the Everfree Forest. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A/N: Well, this shows the major downside of having children that have abilities that you don't fully understand: they can easily get away. I mean, from what the girls knew about their children, they figured that leaving them in the room while the napped would be fine. The anti-phasing would also take away the risk of them teleporting outside. Sadly, they didn't take other things into consideration.
Sorry for the cliffhanger, but I'll be putting this story on break while I work on something for a good friend of mine.
Fluttershy took another sip of fruit juice, glancing at the stairs with a worried expression on her face.
About an hour ago, she had heard a few noises from upstairs and had almost ran up there, certain that the babies were hurt, getting into trouble, or both.
Twilight had calmed her down by saying that Velvet and Libby were probably just levitating and dropping toys in their sleep. Rarity confirmed this, saying that Sweetie Belle had done it all the time when she was just a little foal.
Knowing that her friends wouldn't lie to her about something as important as the wellbeing of their foals, the pegasus with the pink mane allowed herself to relax a little.
The fact that she hadn't heard any other sounds from upstairs since the first soft thumps had helped to calm her nerves quite a bit, allowing her to enjoy the party.
An hour later, however, Fluttershy found herself feeling uncomfortable. She couldn't really explain why she was so nervous; something just didn't feel right.
"I'm going to go check on the babies" she said to Rainbow Dash, who sighed and told her that the babies were fine.
Fluttershy nodded, but headed upstairs anyway.
She stepped as quietly as she could, not wanting to disturb either the possibly sleeping foals in Pound and Pumpkins room, or the ponies partying downstairs. She felt herself relax a little when she reached the room where the six foals were supposed to be napping, seeing that the door was still closed, locked, and undamaged. Being as quiet as possible, she unlocked and opened the door before looking inside.
Almost immediately, her calm state of mind vanished as she realized that the babies weren't just being very quiet; they were gone.
Fluttershy was amazed that she didn't blow out her vocal cords with how loudly she had screamed.
The sound of the scream had terrified the majority of the ponies at the party; they had immediately stopped dancing and had begun looking around frantically, apparently trying to find the source of the horrible sound.
Caramel stepped over to the stairs, calling up to ask Fluttershy if she was alright. It was easy enough to determine that whatever had actually done the screaming, it had come from upstairs, which meant the butter-yellow pegasus was very likely still with whatever had made the noise.
His call was very quickly answered…by the gentle pegasus running past him and nearly knocking him over, not even pausing as she apologized to the stallion.
Fluttershy panted as she stopped running, stopping in front of Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash, who had all come over to see what had gotten their usually timid friend so worked up.
"Fluttershy, what's wrong, darling?" Rarity questioned, using her usual term of endearment for her closest friend.
After taking a few more seconds to catch her breath, Fluttershy answered, her voice somewhat raspy.
"They're gone…" she said, and the others all went pale, even the ivory-colored unicorn.
"Who's gone?" Applejack asked.
Fluttershy didn't say anything, but the look on her face made it obvious who she was talking about.
Almost immediately, Rainbow flew over to Pinkie Pie, who was dancing in a small group along with Twilight.
Noticing her partner in pranks, the pink pony slowed her dancing slightly and asked her what was up.
"The babies are gone!" Rainbow Dash informed the earth pony and the unicorn, who both froze in place.
"WHAT?" Pinkie asked loudly before running over to the music player and turning it off.
"Party's over" she told the guests, who all voiced their annoyance at the sudden end to the fun, but left anyway; after all, if Pinkie Pie was ending a party early, it had to be for a good reason.
Soon, the only ponies left in Sugar Cube Corner were members of the Cake family, as well as their employee and her five best friends, who instantly began turning the shop and living quarters upside down, searching for their offspring.
"Maybe we shouldn't have come in here…" Meadow Lark said, her voice soft as she flattened her ears against her skull.
Most of the others ignored her, preferring to look around at the dark forest. Only Libby and Firestorm seemed to even notice that the brown-maned filly had said anything.
The white filly simply gave her half-sister a little nudge, seemingly to try and reassure her.
The golden-eyed colt, however, allowed his ego to take control of his actions and decided to basically force the others to pay attention to him. He flapped his wings and fluttered into the air before turning to face the other pegasus with a cocky grin on his face.
"Don't worry, Meadow," he told her. "If anything tries to bother us, I'll just kill them with my awesome."
None of the foals responded to the statement for a moment or two. Then, Velvet began to snicker.
Firestorm's eyes narrowed as he asked the blue filly what she found so funny.
"You're going to kill them with an adjective? Yeah…good luck with that" she told him, trotting past him with a smirk on her face.
His ego now bruised, Firestorm lowered himself to the ground, completely ignoring Meadow Lark when she asked if he was alright.
After traveling for a while longer, the six foals found themselves feeling rather desperate for a meal. Most of them hadn't eaten anything since dinnertime, which had been hours earlier, so now they were rather hungry.
Unfortunately, they couldn't see any animals that they could hunt, and while there were plenty of plants, none of them appealed to the young hybrids.
The fact that they hated eating grass and flowers anyway really didn't help matters.
Suddenly, Butterscotch lifted her head and began sniffing the air like a dog.
The corners of her mouth turned up in a manic grin as she ran off towards the smell, her hooves blurring and moving as though they had turned into wheels.
The others followed her, coughing due to the dust she was kicking up.
Soon enough, the six foals reached a large patch of what seemed to be blue flowers.
"This is what was making you go so crazy? Flowers?" Firestorm questioned Butterscotch, confused as to why she was apparently so desperate to get to a bunch of flowers. After all, none of them could stomach the taste or even the smell of flowers.
"Smell them; they smell good" the butterscotch-colored filly demanded to her brothers and sisters before she took a bite of one of the strange-looking plants.
The other five decided to humor her and took a quick whiff of the flowers, expecting to be totally repulsed by the smell. To their surprise, the flowers smelled wonderful, like baking cookies or something similar.
"Well, they do smell really good" Roxbury said, tilting his head to the side.
The colt seemed to be working something over in his mind. After a few seconds of thought, he bit off one of the blue petals, chewing it slowly before swallowing. His red-and-yellow eyes widened and he quickly devoured the rest of the plant before moving onto the next one.
The others each took a bite of the strange flowers, clearly unsure if they actually tasted different from the flowers they saw in Ponyville, or if Butterscotch and Roxbury had just suddenly developed an odd sense of what tasted good and what didn't.
Soon, the six foals were happily munching on the bright blue flowers, almost completely oblivious to their surroundings.
Libby's ears flicked slightly and she turned her head away from the flower she had been eating.
"You guys hear that?" she questioned her half-siblings.
Before any of the others could answer her, a large bird swooped down from what seemed to be nowhere, dive-bombing the six infant ponies.
The foals screamed and, having never dealt with something like this, began running around in their panic. Their fear was only intensified as the bird was joined by another of its kind.
The two bird opened their beaks, revealing tiny but sharp teeth, and screeched before going to attack the young ponies again.
The larger of the two (though both were huge, the smallest being larger than a bald eagle) went after Libby and Meadow. The two fillies were running side by side, and apparently the bird wanted to get a two-for-one deal on its newest meal.
They managed to "wisp" themselves behind a nearby tree and away from the talons of the monstrous raptor, though not before receiving a few rather nasty scratches on their backs from said talons.
Libby and Meadow poked their heads around the tree in order to see what happened with the rest of their siblings.
The smaller of the two raptors targeted Firestorm, who was currently hovering a couple inches off the ground, using the lack of traction to try and move faster. Unfortunately, he wasn't quick enough and the bird caught him.
"Let go!" he screamed, whimpering in pain as the bird squeezed his hind leg, resulting in a painful-sounding crunching sound.
Instinctively, the cyan colt took a deep breath through his mouth and snorted the air out of his nose, bursting into flames as he did so.
The bird that was holding him screeched in pain as his feet and the feather near his groin were scorched. He released his grip on the foal he had been planning to make a meal out of, causing the poor pony to plummet towards the ground, a good twenty-five feet away.
Firestorm quickly opened his wings, allowing himself to glide to the ground and avoid what would have been a very painful landing.
As soon as he touched the ground, he galloped over to the tree where Libby and Meadow Lark were hiding, wincing in pain every time his broken leg made contact with the solid earth. Once he was certain that he was safe, the colt joined his two sisters in watching how the others dealt with the birds' attack.
"Shouldn't we help them?" Meadow questioned, gasping in horror as the larger bird picked up Velvet and lifted her into the air.
"What can we do?" Libby asked sadly. "Those birds are like, ten times our size and they can fly a lot higher than we can reach".
Meanwhile, the little blue unicorn struggled in the grip of the large bird, who was currently taking her higher and higher.
She threw her head back, hoping to jab him with her horn, but he seemed to barely notice; her horn just wasn't sharp enough.
Suddenly, a thought came to her.
The filly squeezed her eyes shut and her face scrunched as she concentrated.
A moment passed and, at first, she thought something was wrong, but within another moment, she could feel small, sharp barbs begin to emerge from her back.
She was surprised that the process was actually hurting her, as it never had before, but she ignored the pain. After all, the pain she was currently in would be nothing compared to the pain she'd be in if she didn't escape.
Her eyes flew open and she gasped in pain as the foot long barbs emerged fully from her body.
The bird gave a single screech of pain as the barbs entered his body, before going silent and plummeting to the ground, still talons still keeping a tight grip on his would-be prey, even in death.
Velvet struggled to free herself from the bird's talons, but the tight grip, coupled with the fact that the barbs in her back were stuck in the raptor's belly, made that pretty much impossible.
"Better get out of there, Velvet" Butterscotch called up to the unicorn, just barely dodging the living predator who had tried to grab at her.
The unicorn rolled her red-and-yellow eyes and muttered sarcastically, "Now, why didn't I think of that?"
Realizing that the ground was coming up quickly, and that she most likely wasn't going to pull herself free, the little unicorn foal began to panic.
Her first reaction was to attempt to "wisp" to the ground, but all she managed was to produce a bit of smoke from her body; the weight of herself plus the bird, coupled with the distance she'd have to travel in order to actually reach the ground prevented her from actually using the ability. The fact that growing the barbs had taken so much out of her certainly didn't help.
So, she decided to try her next option: her horn began to glow, as did the wings of the giant predatory bird.
The wings opened fully, allowing the body of the bird to glide to the ground, guided by the unicorn's magic.
Once they were close enough to the ground, Velvet used her magic to make the bird go to his side, before simply allowing them to fall to the ground.
"You okay?" Butterscotch called, once again jumping out of the way of the remaining raptor.
Unfortunately, she wasn't quite fast enough and the bird's talons closed upon her left hind leg, stabbing into her hoof.
The bird landed, apparently having learned from his companion's mistake, and raised his head, clearly preparing to smash the filly's head with his sharp beak.
However, before he could make contact with the young pony's skull, a small rock smacked into his skull.
"Hey, Toothy! Pick on someone more your size!" Roxbury called, using his tail to whip another pebble at the bird.
The bird turned his attention away from Butterscotch and towards the colt.
Butterscotch took full advantage of the bird's loss of interest in her; she jumped into the air and ran as fast as she could, not stopping until she was several yards away….though the leg that the bird had grabbed stretched like warm taffy, rather than going with the rest of her body.
The bird turned his attention back to where he believed the filly still was, and gave a surprised screech as he noticed she was gone, save for the stretched out leg that was still in his grasp.
Angered, the bird released his hold on the leg and turned his attention back to the green colt who had distracted him.
As the bird began to rise into the air, Roxbury chuckled nervously before trotting away.
While the bird rose higher and higher into the air, the earth pony filly decided to fix her leg; still behind the rock she had been hiding behind, she grabbed her left hind leg and began to pump it up and down, causing her stretched leg to go back to normal, though her hoof was still rather bloody.
Meanwhile, Roxbury had finally tired himself out from running. He fell onto a fairly large stone, panting.
Up in the sky, the raptor's eyes gleamed; he knew he was going to finally get a meal out of this. He rose higher into the sky, before diving towards the colt on the rock.
Still exhausted, the green earth pony looked up and saw the bird diving towards him, sharp beak aimed right at his body.
Knowing that he wouldn't be able to run away in time, he closed his eyes and activated his ability, morphing his body into the stone that he was lying on.
Seeing that the pony had apparently transformed into stone, the bird tried to stop his dive, but it was too late; he collided with the now rock-hard body of the young pony with a sickening crack before falling to the ground, a small pool of blood forming at his skull.
Now that the threat was gone, the hiding foals came back into the open and Roxbury allowed himself to morph back to flesh and blood.
"You guys aren't healing right, either?" Butterscotch asked Libby and Meadow Lark as they helped pull Velvet away from the body of the larger bird.
The white unicorn and yellow pegasus shook their heads.
"The bleeding stopped, but the scratches are still open" Libby explained while Meadow attempted to lick the injuries on her back, wincing from the pain caused by her tongue on the raw skin.
"Well…let's get out of here" Firestorm finally said, landing on the ground (though he kept his injured leg-the swelling had gone down a bit, but it was clear it hadn't healed entirely-off the ground).
Velvet, who had just retracted the barbs back into her body, leaving small, bloody puncture marks in her skin, agreed.
"Who knows how many of those things live around here?"
The others nodded and the six foals moved away from the patch of delicious blue flowers.
"I don't get it" Twilight said as she stepped out of the library.
She hadn't gone there to look for her daughter and the children of her friends; she knew that if the foals had gone to the library, they would have woken Spike, who would have sent a message to the mares telling them that the foals were there.
No, she had gone back to the library in order to find a locator spell, one that was supposed to be able to detect specific ponies within a fifty mile radius.
"Don't get what?" Rainbow Dash questioned, landing next to the purple unicorn.
The six mares had been going to each of their "grounded" homes (since none of the foals would have been able to reach Rainbow's cloud home), in search of their offspring, coming up empty-hoofed each time. Twilight's library was their last stop before going to Fluttershy's cottage.
"This spell is supposed to find ponies no matter where they are…but when I try using it to find Velvet" Twilight began, her horn glowing for a moment before going back to normal, "I get nothing".
The others seemed to consider what this could possibly mean. Finally, it was Fluttershy who came up with a possible answer.
"…They aren't ponies" she said in a soft voice, which the others picked up easily.
They all realized that was the most likely reason the spell couldn't be used to locate their children; while the babies looked more or less like normal foals, they were hybrids, not even pure equines, let alone ponies.
"Well, looks like we gotta search the old fashion way" Applejack said, starting towards Fluttershy's cottage, the last of the places they figured the foals would have naturally gravitated towards.
The others instantly started trotting in the same direction.
Fluttershy gently shook Angel Bunny awake, receiving a tired glare from the small creature as he finished yawning.
"Sorry for waking you, Angel, but have you seen Meadow Lark or her friends?" the gentle pony questioned her pet.
The rabbit seemed to considered the question for several seconds before shaking his head and lying back down, clearly planning on sleeping for the rest of the night.
Fluttershy frowned; she had been hoping that her pet had heard the foals come in. That way, she and her friends could finally relax, knowing that their babies were safe. Of course, they had no such luck, at least so far.
"You think they went in there?" Fluttershy heard Pinkie Pie's voice from outside her home. She poked head out of the window to see what the pink earth pony was referring to, only to see that the party pony was pointing towards the Everfree Forest entrance closest to her home.
The others didn't seem to think it was very likely that the foals had gone into the forest.
After all, what would posses them to go into such a dark, omninous place, with no-pony to look after them? The foals may have been brave, but they definitely weren't stupid enough to enter a place where they had no idea what they could encountered.
"We have to look for them" Fluttershy said, suddenly feeling quite a bit more bold as she climbed out of the window.
"What if they are in there? They could be scared, or worse" she said as she realized the others were staring at her, amazed that she was actually suggesting that they enter the Everfree.
"Don't worry, Fluttershy" Rarity said, placing a reassuring hoof on her best friend's shoulder. "We'll find them, and bring them right home, safe and sound".
With that simple statement, the option of staying out of the forest vanished, and the six mares stepped inside the dark, wooded area.
Ocean Breeze sighed in relief as the demons finally stopped moving. She had been watching them ever since they had gone into the forest, making sure to keep herself hidden from view.
The last thing she needed was for them to be aware of her presence, and attack.
Every-pony said they were harmless enough, but she knew better.
She knew they were monsters who would destroy any creature who tried to stop them.
Unfortunately, she was the only one who knew the truth and actually decided to be cautious around the horrible, horrible abominations.
The unicorn looked to see where the foals had decided to rest.
It was near a river…Ocean Breeze's lips turned up in a smile.
"Perfect" she muttered to herself, being careful to keep her voice low.
She had learned quite a bit about the demons through her observation, namely from watching the recent fight with the birds of prey.
From that encounter, she had realized that eating the Poison Joke plants did something to the creatures, made their healing abilities not work to their full extent.
Maybe now she could finally rid the world of these cursed animals…Her magic was water-based, they were near a body of water…If the princesses questioned her, she could easily say it was an accident, that they had fallen in…She didn't have to take any blame.
That settled it. Her horn began to glow, as did some of the water in the river.
Suddenly, something, a rather large something, emerged from the water.
The blue mare nearly fell over in shock as she stared at the large purple serpent with an orange mustache and hair came out of the water and stared at the sleeping demons.
'Well…I was going to drown them, but I suppose letting them be eaten would work just as well' she thought, lowering herself to the ground in order to watch the show without risking being seen.
"Oooh, you are just so precious" she heard the serpent coo, causing her to smack her face into the ground.
"Don't worry, Uncle Stevie will keep you safe until your mommies come to take you home" the serpent, apparently named Steven or something like that, said to the young foals.
Ocean Breeze slammed her head into the ground again. Clearly her plan to get rid of the demons wasn't going to work this time.
Her ears perked up as she heard hoofsteps. She lifted her head to see the mothers of the monsters coming towards the river. They didn't even seem to notice the giant serpent that was barely ten feet away from them.
The "babies" opened their eyes, and five of them instantly ran over to their mothers to embrace them.
Only the cyan colt remained where he was, flattening his ears against his head and looking at the ground as his mother scolded him for apparently leading the others into the forest.
"Seriously, what were you think-" Rainbow Dash stopped speaking abruptly as Firestorm grabbed onto her foreleg and buried his face on it.
If the wetness she was currently feeling on her coat was any indication, he was crying.
"Can we go home now?" he mumbled into her leg, still holding tightly to it.
Rainbow Dash took a few seconds to respond, but finally nuzzled her son and said, "Yeah…Let's go home."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sorry there wasn't a lot of the Mane Six here. I promise they'll have a much bigger role in the next chapter. And, don't worry, the lack of healing for the babies is only temporary. By the next chapter, they'll all be back to normal.
Also, if anyone can say where "Kill them with my awesome" is inspired from, you get a free internet cupcake.
"What're you doing?" Roxbury asked, walking over to where his mother was bucking an apple tree, causing the fruit to fall from the branches and into the baskets settled at the base of the trunk.
"Gettin' ready for cider season" Applejack answered quickly, giving the trunk another good kick.
The colt looked confused at the mention of cider season. At this point, Applejack remembered that her son was only six months old, too young to have ever experience cider season. The way he spoke and acted, it was easy to forget that he wasn't much older than he looked.
"It's when we make cider for the rest of the town, so we can have money through the winter" the orange mare explained, trying to keep things as simple as possible.
"Can I help?" Roxbury questioned hopefully.
In truth, he really didn't care much about this cider season thing his mother was talking about. However, after being grounded after wandering into the place with the flowers that actually tasted good and those Snag Birds, he wanted to stay outside as much as possible.
Applejack raised an eyebrow, asking her son exactly how he intended to help.
The green colt seemed to consider this for a moment. After a few moments, his red and yellow eyes lit up.
"Like this" he said, placing one of his hind legs onto a small stone. His body quickly went from being covered in short green fur to being the same texture as the stone, with his blond mane and tail following suit. (Applejack glanced around, making sure that no-pony outside the family was around to witness her son's transformation. The last thing they needed was to have ponies asking questions.)
Once his body was completely converted to stone, Roxbury lowered his head and charged towards a nearby tree.
He ran as fast as he could, and, as a result, ended up slamming his head into the tree with tremendous force.
At any rate, it was enough to make his skull feel like it had been split in two.
So, when he looked up and saw that none of the apples had been shaken loose, he was quite annoyed.
"STUPID TREE!" he shouted, taking a few steps back and ramming his head into the tree trunk again, repeating the process several times, even when his power de-activated and he went back to being flesh and blood. His head was seriously killing him now, but he didn't care.
Once again, the little colt stepped back, and once again, he charged towards the tree, lowering his head and closing his eyes as he ran.
However, before his head could make contact with the hard wood, he was lifted off the ground by the scruff of his neck. Roxbury opened his eyes to see who had interrupted him.
"Ma, let me go!" he demanded, trying to squirm out of her grip.
Applejack's response was muffled, thanks to the fact that she was holding her young son in her mouth, but it was clear that she wasn't going to let him go.
She carried him into the bathroom, where she placed him on the lowered toilet lid, after shutting the door to make sure he didn't escape.
"OW! Ma, stop that! That hurts!" the green colt whined as his mother dabbed his bruised and slightly bloody forehead with a warm, damp washcloth.
"Well, what did you expect?" Applejack questioned, placing the washcloth into a nearby hamper.
Roxbury mumbled under his breath, something that honestly didn't sound like it was comprised of actual words.
"Why were you slamming your head into the tree, anyway?" the mare asked, lifting her son's chin in order to get him to look at her.
"You said that cider season gets us money, right?" Applejack nodded, silently telling Roxbury to continue his explanation.
"Well, that tree wouldn't drop any of its apples when I hit it, and that means we can't get money from those apples. That means the tree owes us money, and when somebody owes you money, you beat them up" Roxbury concluded, nodding as though what he just said made perfect sense.
Applejack looked a little confused, clearly wondering where her son had gathered this sort of logic. However, the confusion quickly went away and she sighed in slight annoyance.
"You read one of Apple Bloom's Knee-Capper and Curb Stomp books, didn't you?" she questioned, receiving a rather sheepish smile in return.
Apparently, Roxbury had just remembered that he wasn't supposed to read his aunt's crime novels.
"So…" he began, still grinning nervously, "I'm not in trouble again, right?"
His mother gave him a look that basically said, "What do you think?"
The foal sighed. One of his first days of freedom after being stuck inside pretty much all day for two months, and now he'd been wasting the rest of it in his bedroom. And all because of that stupid tree!
Frustrated, Roxbury began to swing his forelegs about, not actually aiming for anything. At one point, one of his hoofs hit the plunger for the toilet, causing it to flush. The whooshing sound of the water startled the poor little pony; he jumped off the toilet, ran behind his mother's forelegs, and glanced between them as though searching for a dangerous monster.
Applejack sighed; no wonder her son was having such a difficult time with his toilet training.
Spike groaned as he opened his eyes, his nap having been interrupted by something tugging on his ear-fins. Still half asleep, he swatted at whatever was grabbing him, only to find himself swatting at air.
"C'mon, Spike. I know you're a baby dragon, but I'm a baby and I sleep half as much as you" he could hear Velvet whining.
At this point, the young dragon looked at his ear-fins to find them glowing with the odd color of Velvet's magic.
"Velvet" Twilight's voice came from the stairwell shortly before she entered the bedroom.
The filly sighed and released her magical hold on the baby dragon. She then turned her head in order to glare at her mother. Unfortunately, and probably unsurprisingly, the glare had absolutely no effect on the older pony.
"Velvet, why are you bothering Spike?" Twilight asked her daughter, who shrugged slightly.
Meanwhile, Spike was rubbing his still sore ear-fins in an attempt to soothe the stinging left over from Velvet's magic.
"I just wanna know what she has against me getting some sleep" the purple and green dragon muttered angrily, sighing in relief as the stinging sensation finally vanished.
The blue filly turned her glare away from her mother and instead looked at the dragon.
"You promised you would play with me all morning" she told him, sounding as though she was disgusted. "It's still morning, so you still have to play with me. You promised".
Both the mare and the dragon sighed. If there was anything that they hated as a result of Velvet and Butterscotch being exceptionally close out of the six hybrid foals, it was the fact that Velvet had latched onto the idea that a promise was something that could never be broken.
The purple pony turned back to her daughter and tried to explain to her that Spike hadn't done something horrible by breaking his promise.
"Velvet, Spike wasn't trying to hurt you. He just needed to get some sleep. He was up late last night helping me with something and-" Twilight stopped talking as she noticed her daughter's horn was glowing and her limbs seemed to fade from existence, her body slowly starting to fade as well.
The purple mare shouted the filly's name to get her attention.
Velvet jumped a bit, her body appearing to become more solid for a moment, but she quickly relaxed and her body continued to fade.
If anything, the process seemed to go along even faster now. Velvet's entire body had dissolved into nothingness by now, leaving only her head, which seemed to be floating in midair.
It probably would have frightened Twilight, at least a little bit, had she not fallen victim to a rather cruel prankster who liked to use invisibility spells so he could pretend to be the Headless Horse.
Now that her daughter was doing it, however, she was just getting irritated, as she knew Velvet was just making it clear that she had no interest in listening to her mother's lecture.
"Velvet Star Sparkle, you do not turn invisible when I am talking to you" she scolded, using her most authoritative voice.
The filly scowled as her body slowly began to appear more solid, her annoyance becoming even more apparent once she was fully visable again.
"I don't care if he was up late helping you, Mom. He promised me that he would play with me all morning yesterday, and he should keep his promise. I mean, you kept your promise to the monsters and turned Daddy back into stone!" the dark-maned filly screamed, falling back onto her bottom and waving her forelegs around.
At this moment, time seemed to stop; other than the young unicorn's forelegs swinging around wildly, nothing in the room appeared to move.
Both Twilight and Spike were absolutely silent, stunned by what Velvet had just said.
A lifetime seemed to pass before Spike walked over to Velvet and lifted her off the ground.
"How about we go to Sugar Cube Corner? We can play with Butterscotch" he offered the blue filly, holding her close.
The foal's anger seemed to vanish instantly; as soon as Spike made the suggestion her face split into a wide grin and she nodded.
After grabbing a few small gemstones and an oatmeal cookie for the walk, the young pony and dragon left the library, leaving Twilight alone with her thoughts.
Twilight had no idea what she was supposed to do.
How did Velvet know about how the Element Bearers sealed Discord for a second time? Twilight had never once mentioned the draconequus' return to her daughter at all, and as far she knew, the others never told their children about it either. How did Velvet know? Barely any-pony knew Discord was anything other than a myth, and out of the few that did, it seemed unlikely that most of them would tell the foals what had happened. Even if Twilight, her friends, or the Princesses had told the foals the story of Discord's return, why would they teach the foals to think of the Princesses as monsters? It just didn't make any sense….
Twilight gasped as something horrific dawned on her. There was still one other creature who knew about Discord, and he was one who would teach the foals to think of Celestia and Luna as monsters.
'No, that's ridiculous…He's a statue! They were only near the statue for a few minutes anyway and that was when they were still acting like babies…There's no way they could remember' Twilight thought, desperately trying to calm herself.
But, no matter how much she tried to convince herself that she was just being paranoid, she couldn't shake away her worries. She needed to tell some-pony about this…
Using her magic, Twilight brought a piece of parchment, some ink, and a quill over and began to write a letter.
Dear Princess Celestia…
Twilight paused, the tip of the quill hovering about a centimeter away from the parchment, the ink dripping onto the floor.
After a moment, the quill was cleaned and both it and the ink were put away.
Twilight looked at the partially written letter as though she was considering what to write next.
Sighing, the purple unicorn used her telekinesis to levitate the piece of parchment, before tearing it apart and throwing it into a garbage bin.
She knew she should tell Celestia that Velvet knew about how Discord was turned back into stone, but she had to admit she was afraid.
What would happen to her Velvet and the other foals if it turned out Twilight's insane theory was actually correct?
If there was one thing that Pumpkin Cake was not expecting to see when she opened the door, it was Spike and Velvet. She may not have known the dragon very well personally, but based on what Pinkie Pie always said, Spike was usually napping at this time.
"Hey Pumpkin" Velvet said, squirming out of the dragon's grip. "Where's Butterscotch?"
The older filly pointed towards the stairwell, saying that Pinkie was giving Butterscotch a bath.
With a nod of thanks, the blue unicorn raced up the stairwell.
"Come in" Pumpkin said, stepping back to allow Spike entry into the store.
Once the dragon was inside, Pumpkin offered him something to eat, but he declined.
"I ate on the way here, but thanks anyway, Pumpkin" Spike said with a grin.
The redheaded unicorn's cheeks seemed to turn slightly red and she quickly turned away.
"Pumpkin Cake!" At the sound of Mrs. Cake's voice, both Spike and Pumpkin Cake jumped slightly; neither of them was used to the sweet earth pony raising her voice, even a little bit.
"Pumpkin, you know you aren't supposed to answer the door by yourself" Mrs. Cake said, walking over with Mr. Cake, who had Pound Cake riding on his back.
The blush on Pumpkin's cheeks disappeared as she mumbled an apology to her mother. The light blue mare nuzzled her daughter to let her know that she was forgiven.
"But, next time, make sure you get me or Daddy, alright?"
Pumpkin nodded before asking if she could go and play. Her parents told her that she could, and told Pound to go and join his sister, reminding the twins that they would be taking a bath of their own as soon as Pinkie was finished with her daughter's bath.
Pound and Pumpkin groaned at the idea of having to take a bath, but they quickly forgot about their annoyance as they began playing with building blocks and coloring, respectively.
While the twins played, their parents decided to talk to the young dragon.
"If you don't mind me asking, why isn't Twilight with you? Is she okay?" Mr. Cake asked as his wife gave Spike a cup of chocolate milk.
"Yeah, she's fine" Spike said, taking a sip of the milk he had just been given. "Velvet just wanted to play with Butterscotch, and Twilight was busy, so…."
Realizing that he was trailing off, Spike cut off his own sentence by gulping down the rest of his chocolate milk.
Once the glass was empty, he looked at the older Cakes to see what they thought of his explanation. Based on their expressions, they didn't entirely buy his story.
Spike braced himself for the questions he expected to be asked.
"Hey, Spike," called Pound, "You wanna help me build a skyscraper?"
Thankful for the chance to get out of answering questions, the dragon quickly accepted the offer and ran over to where the pegasus and the unicorn were playing, leaving Carrot and Cup Cake wondering what had really led Spike to their shop.
"Hey, Velly-Belly" Butterscotch said with a grin, waving to her half-sister as the unicorn entered the bathroom. Velvet scowled at the nickname as she walked over to the bathtub; she really couldn't stand that nickname.
"Hey…Where's your mom?" she asked, realizing that the pink earth pony wasn't in the bathroom.
"She went to get a towel, cause she forgot to grab one before putting me in the bath" the caramel-colored filly explained.
Suddenly, Butterscotch's grin widened and she threw up her forelegs excitedly.
"OOOOH, I have an idea!" she exclaimed cheerfully.
Velvet smirked, muttering, "That's a first".
The earth pony apparently didn't hear what her sister had just said, or if she did, she totally ignored it. Instead, she went over to the edge of the tub and hooked her forelegs over the edge.
"How about you come in the tub and play with me?" she suggested, looking down at Velvet.
The two fillies simply stared at each other in silence for several seconds. Finally, it was Velvet who broke the silence, a slight moan escaping from her mouth as she shook her head.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I started potty-training because I didn't like my diaper getting wet" she said.
"Don't worry, Velly, the water isn't wet anymore" Butterscotch giggled. "Feel it".
The little unicorn rolled her red and yellow eyes, but decided to humor her sister and feel the water to see if it was wet.
She used her unicorn magic to levitate herself and dipped one of her hooves into the water. To her amazement, Butterscotch was right: the water wasn't wet. It still felt like water, only, somehow, it felt dry to the touch.
"Okay, I'll play in the tub" she said, lowering herself into the dry water, causing Butterscotch to cheer. For a few moments, the two fillies busied themselves with the bath toys, pretending to have the rubber duck eat the sailboat, only to be blasted away by a giant meteor (actually a beach ball).
However, soon enough, Pinkie entered the bathroom with a towel, and it seemed as though the fun would have to end.
"Can we play pirates in the tub?" Butterscotch pleaded, frowning as her mother shook her head and lifted her out of the bathtub, holding the little filly in the crook of her foreleg.
"If you girls want to play pirates, you have to use your crib or Pound and Pumpkin's beds" the pink earth pony told her daughter and the unicorn who was still in the tub.
Butterscotch gave a whoop of delight, throwing her forelegs into the air.
Suddenly, both the earth ponies began to roll one of their shoulders as though they were hurting.
"Hi, Gummy" said Pinkie Pie and Butterscotch in unison, smiling at the bathwater, out of which popped Pinkie's pet alligator.
Velvet, who was still in the tub at this point, screamed and leapt from the tub as the small gator emerged from the water.
From her current place on the back of Pinkie's head, the little unicorn pressed down Pinkie's poofy mane and peaked between her ears.
After she got her heart to stop pounding, she shouted, "WHY DID NO-PONY TELL ME THERE WAS AN ALLIGATOR IN THE BATHTUB?"
"And then I turned my wings into fire and made the snag-bird drop me. It left me alone after that because it didn't want to be killed by my awesome. The only reason I didn't kill it anyway was because I wanted a witness to how awesome I am".
The cyan-colored colt paused in his story-telling to see how his audience was reacting.
Tank simply blinked, causing the storyteller to get very annoyed.
"Hey, what's up with you? You asleep or something?" Firestorm questioned, fluttering over to the tortoise and landing on top of his shell.
Tank pulled his head into his shell before doing the same thing with his legs, making it look as though Firestorm was sitting on an oddly colored stone, rather than his mother's pet.
This only made the golden-eyed colt even more annoyed. He hopped off the tortoise's shell and glared into the opening in the shell that Tank's head had retreated into.
"Come out!" he shouted into the opening.
When the tortoise didn't emerge from his shell, Firestorm decided to try and coax him out.
"C'mon, Tank…If you come out, maybe some of my awesomeness will rub off on you" he said, shaking the shell slightly.
However, Tank showed absolutely no sign that he cared about what the colt had just said. He simply kept his head and limbs inside of his shell.
Firestorm continued to shake the tortoise, stopping only when the sound of a small explosion filled the cloud-house, followed by a rather rank smell.
"Guess Mom or Scoots detonated one of my stink bombs…" Firestorm said, covering his nose in an attempt to block the horrible odor. It was at this point that Tank finally came out of his shell; the smell of the stink bomb had apparently overpowered the tortoise, so he had poked out his head and front legs out of the shell, using front legs to cover his nose.
"If Mom asks, it was your idea to hide the stink bombs in the house" the colt said to the tortoise, his words sounding somewhat odd thanks to his nose being blocked.
Tank, unsurprisingly, said nothing.
Nodding, as though in response to something Tank had said, the multi-colored-maned colt began to back away, saying, "So, I'm just going to go and play now. See ya, Tank."
He then turned around and ran, only to slam into Rainbow Dash's forelegs.
"Oh, hey, Mom…Sorry about the stink bombs. I told Tank that we shouldn't hide them in the house, but he wouldn't listen" Firestorm said with a nervous grin.
"Nice try, kid" the mare said before picking her son up by the back of his neck and walking towards his bedroom. The colt struggled in his mother's grasp, flapping his wings wildly in an attempt to fly away, but to no avail.
On their way to Firestorm's room, the two cyan ponies passed by Scootaloo, who was opening every available window and even punching some new ones into the cloud in order to help the stinking air get outside.
Soon, Rainbow Dash had carried Firestorm into his bedroom.
She placed him into crib, but not before placing a flight-blocker, a type of harness used to keep young pegasi from flying when their parents didn't want them to, onto his back.
Firestorm tried to remove the harness, rubbing his back against the bars of his crib and twisting his head in an attempt to chew it off. After realizing that he couldn't get the flight-blocker off, the foal looked at his mother with an angry expression on his face.
"Hey, don't blame me—you were asking for it," Rainbow Dash said defensively. "Be glad I didn't leave you in the room with the stink bomb of yours".
Still angry at what his mother had done, Firestorm said nothing. He simply flopped down onto his side, rolling over so his back was facing Rainbow Dash.
"I'll come get you out later, Hothead" the mare said, ruffling the child's mane slightly, causing the colt to let out an angry cry and swat at her hooves.
Rainbow Dash then left the room, going to help Scootaloo close up the holes she had made in the walls when she was trying to get rid of the smell.
"Thank you so much for coming over," Precious Medal said to Fluttershy and Rarity, pouring each of them a cup of tea. "Token doesn't really make friends very easily, so it's nice to see him having so much fun with other foals."
She glanced over to where her adopted son was playing with Meadow Lark, Libby, and Fin the dragon.
The children were playing a game of make-believe, it seemed. More specifically, they appeared to be pretending that the three foals were knights, and Fin was a dangerous monster. It was actually rather entertaining to watch, with the little foals running around and shouting, really getting into character, and the baby dragon occasionally letting out little baby roars, which sounded more like a frog's croak. It really was adorable.
"It's no trouble at all" Fluttershy told Precious, taking a tentative sip of the steaming hot tea. She gave a little whimper as the hot liquid burned her tongue slightly.
Rarity nodded in agreement. She told the white pegasus that both she and Fluttershy liked to see their daughters having fun, and they always seemed to be happiest when they had the chance to play with the horned zebra-pegasus and the baby water-dragon.
"Besides," the purple-maned unicorn added, "You seem like a very delightful pony, and we wanted a chance to get to know you better".
However, despite sounding very calm, it was clear that Rarity was concerned about something.
She would occasionally look to where her daughter was playing with the other children, telling her to not be "too frightening".
At these warnings, Libby would turn her turquoise eyes (which were glowing brightly) towards her mother, and promise that she was making sure nothing too scary happened in the adventure she, Meadow, Token, and Fin were having.
After the third warning, the filly simply rolled her eyes and shouted, "I won't!" over her shoulder, before returning to the game. So far, she seemed to be keeping her promise, as Meadow, Token, and Fin seemed to be absolutely delighted by whatever they seemed to be seeing.
Soon, some-pony new stepped into the garden.
Actually, it was two some-ponies: Ocean Breeze and Crystal Lake had come into the garden, the filly looking very excited, while her mother looked as though she didn't really want to be there.
The light blue mare joined the others at the table, telling her daughter to stay by her side.
"Mommy, can I go play, too?" Crystal Lake asked her mother, who shook her head.
"No, dear, you just had lunch, and you know how sensitive your stomach is".
The filly pouted, watching the other children play with a wistful expression on her face. Ocean Breeze then turned to face Precious.
"Your husband said that you were meeting with Rarity and Fluttershy. He didn't say anything about their…children coming along" she hissed angrily.
The white pegasus simply shrugged; clearly she didn't think she had any need to tell Ocean Breeze that the fillies would be joining their mothers. After all, what was the issue with having a couple of baby fillies come and play with Token, Fin, and Crystal Lake?
"On second thought" Ocean Breeze said, rising from her seat, "I have some important business to take care of. Time to go home, Crystal."
Crystal Lake, clearly not wanting to leave just yet, gave a whine of protest, but followed her mother as she walked towards the gate. As the approached the gate, the two of them were stopped when Meadow Lark jumped in front of them. For several seconds, the mare and the filly stared at each other in silence.
Finally, Meadow Lark spoke.
"We all know you were there. You were following us in the forest and you didn't help us at all when the snag-birds were attacking" she said in a quiet voice.
At this statement, Ocean Breeze's eyes went wide with terror. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.
"Don't worry, we're not angry…Not really. But, since we know you don't like us, I have to tell you something, and this is coming from my brothers and sisters, too. If you do anything to hurt any of us, or if you hurt our mothers…We will make sure you never have a chance to hurt us ever again" Meadow Lark said, her voice never changing from its gentle tone, which honestly made the threat all the more powerful.
Crystal Lake seemed to be trying to figure out what the younger filly was saying, but before she could ask about it, her mother grabbed her with her unicorn magic and raced off.
"Oh, my…Ocean Breeze seemed quite scared…" Fluttershy said, walking over to the open gate.
"I just told her about the game we were playing" Meadow Lark said with a grin. "I guess she's just really scared of trolls or something." ------------------------------------------------------------
AN: Yeah, I know this isn't the best chapter in the story, but I thought after the last one I wrote featured the foals coming very close to losing their lives on more than one occasion, it would be nice to have a more relaxing chapter, just seeing the Mane Six with their children.
Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, the foals are not toilet-trained yet. Just because they have high intelligence for their age, it doesn't mean they have total control of their bodily functions. If you recall in earlier chapters, it was stated that their physical development was that of a normal pony, even though they were developing at a very quick rate mentally. So, instead of being out of diapers almost instantly, they start learning to use the toilet at the normal age, which in my headcanon, is about six months old.
Ginger Snap sighed as she reached the top of the stairs leading to the living quarters of the pastry shop.
She shook her head in an attempt to clear it.
It was the night before Nightmare Night, and things around the shop were getting hectic. Besides the increase in orders, they (meaning Ginger Snap, Cup Cake, Carrot Cake, and Pinkie Pie) also had to deal with the three foals, who were getting more and more excited and impatient as the holiday drew closer.
For the twins, who had already experienced Nightmare Night once before, this meant they were constantly begging their parents to let them stay out late so they could collect more candy and occasionally snatching some of the sweets that the older ponies had made for the holiday. But, most of all, Pound and Pumpkin were just getting underhoof all the time, chattering about costumes and candy and chanting the Nightmare Night song.
Their excitement had rubbed off on Butterscotch, who had never experienced Nightmare Night before.
At first, she hadn't seemed too into the idea of the holiday, but as soon as Pound and Pumpkin Cake told her that she would get candy, her attitude changed completely.
After learning about the free candy, the little butterscotch-colored filly started bouncing off the walls…and the ceiling…and Ginger Snap's head…she especially liked bouncing off Ginger Snap's head, it seemed.
This had happened last week, and every night leading up to tonight.
"Well, at least Nightmare Night's almost here. Sooner it comes, the sooner it's gone" the cinnamon-colored mare muttered to herself as she stepped into the bathroom.
She turned on the light, but thanks to the pounding in her head the light hurt her eyes, so she flipped down the switch.
She didn't really care if the lights were on while she bathed. It wasn't like she was afraid of the dark.
With that, she stepped towards the tub and went to grab the valve to turn on the faucet, pausing when she noticed something strange. The tub was already full, and it wasn't full of water.
Despite the darkness, Ginger Snap could tell that the liquid in the bathtub was crimson and slightly viscous.
The mare leaned closer to the surface of the strange liquid, attempting to discover what the stuff actually was.
Suddenly, the surface of the crimson liquid was breached by what appeared to be a monster with icy blue eyes that seemed to stare through Ginger Snap as it looked at her; a frill of skin around its neck that seemed to be covered in blinking, empty eyes; a slightly gaping mouth full of fangs the size of swords; a hunched back that was the only thing keeping the creature from smashing its skull against the ceiling; and a sharp knife clutched in one of its long-fingered hands.
Ginger Snap's mouth gaped open in a silent scream as she scrambled against the wall opposite the bathtub in an attempt to get away from the creature in the tub.
The creature suddenly giggled, not the deep-voiced chuckle one would expect from such a monster, but the somewhat high-pitched giggle of a small child.
After the giggle had erupted from its mouth, the monster shrunk down and began to change its shape.
Finally, the true nature of the creature was revealed.
"I scared you! Didn't I? I bet I did! I scared you" Butterscotch cheered, shaking the knife that was still clutched in her fingers (she hadn't turned that particular limb back to normal, besides changing the size) and smacking it against the surface of the liquid she was sitting in.
Ginger Snap blinked twice, trying to wrap her mind against what had just happened.
"You scared me half to death" she told the filly, an angry tone in her voice.
The filly didn't seem to notice the anger and just gave a proud grin before looking at the cinnamon-colored mare expectantly.
A few moments of silence passed between the ponies before Butterscotch asked, in a confused voice, "So, where's my candy?"
"What?" asked Ginger Snap.
"Pound told me that when you scare ponies on Nightmare Night, they're supposed to give you candy. I scared you really bad, so you need to give me a lot of candy" the butterscotch-colored little pony explained.
Ginger Snap sighed; of course her cousin would tell the baby that she'd get candy if she scared ponies. Granted, he wasn't exactly wrong, since part of Nightmare Night was scaring ponies and getting candy.
However, it wasn't Nightmare Night yet, and even if it was, Ginger Snap didn't need to have a heart attack on the same night she was already having a migraine.
Irritation dripped from her voice as she answered the filly's question, "It's not Nightmare Night yet, so you don't get any candy".
Butterscotch let out a whine, clearly upset that she wasn't going to get any candy for scaring Ginger Snap, all because she had been too early.
Had the situation been different, Ginger Snap may have found that cute. As it was, however, she found the noise irritating.
"Get rid of the knife and get out of the tub" she told the much younger pony, who gave a slightly smile and turned to the knife she was holding.
She continued to stare at the blade…before opening her mouth and chomping down on the metal, pulling it apart and chewing it as thought it was an odd-looking cookie. She was just about to take a bite out of the handle, when she looked at the cinnamon-colored mare, whose face held an expression that was a mixture of "What am I looking at?" and "I really should be used to this by now".
"Want a bite?" Butterscotch asked, offering the wooden handle to Ginger Snap, who shook her head.
The filly shrugged and tossed the handle into her mouth, chewing it a few times before swallowing it. Once her hoof was free, the fingers retreated into her foreleg, accompanied by what sounded oddly like popping bubble wrap.
She then stuck out her tongue, morphed it into something like a fleshy straw, and began slurping up the red liquid. At the sight of the foal drinking the liquid into her tongue-turned-straw, Ginger Snap gagged and covered her mouth as though she feared she was about to vomit.
"What are you drinking?" she asked, sounding as though she was unsure if she actually wanted to know the truth. Butterscotch stopped drinking and smiled, showing her red-stained teeth.
"Cranberry syrup, a'course," she said, frowning as Ginger Snap sighed in relief. "Why? What did you think it was?"
"Nothing, nothing," the cinnamon-colored mare said with a nervous grin.
After a few seconds she looked at the filly, putting a stern expression on her face.
"Okay, no more playing around. I have a headache and you need to go to bed, so get out of the tub and get in your crib" she ordered the young pony in the bathtub.
To her surprise, the butterscotch-colored foal simply nodded, said "Okay. Hope you feel better", and seemed to vanish, leaving only a cranberry-scented wisp of smoke in her place, which faded away after a second or two.
Once the filly was gone, Ginger Snap walked over to the now empty (save for the cranberry syrup) tub and sighed; it would take her more than an hour to drain the tub and clean out all the syrup. However, just as she was thinking this, the syrup seemed to thin and lose its color, until finally it had transformed into warm water.
"How did…Never mind" said Ginger Snap, climbing into the tub and sinking into the warm bathwater.
She wasn't going to question a good thing like this when it happened, and especially not when she had such a headache.
Opening the door, Precious was less than surprised to see Rarity and Libby, who seemed to be dressed as some sort of fairy-unicorn (including a pair of wings that looked very realistic) standing there.
She was a little surprised to see Meadow Lark, who was clearly going as a ringmaster for this particular Nightmare Night, and her mother.
However, this was mostly due to the fact that the older pegasus knew that Fluttershy hated the holiday of spooks and scares, preferring to stay in her cottage until the day had passed. Even now, it was apparent that the butter-yellow pegasus wanted to retreat to the safety of her home.
However, she put on her bravest face as she asked if Token and Fin were ready to go candy gathering.
"Fin is, but I'm afraid Token won't be joining you" Precious told the fillies apologetically, causing the little white unicorn to pout.
"Why not?" questioned Libby, the expression on her face quickly transforming from one of disappointment to one of annoyance.
Precious explained that her nephew didn't care much for Nightmare Night.
At this, Meadow Lark looked confused.
"How can you not like a day where you get free candy?" she asked, looking at candy sack hanging around her neck.
At the moment, there was very little candy in the bag; the only things in there were a small bag of dried fruit her mother had given her and a couple sugar-free gumballs given to her by Colgate.
Her sister's sack had the same contents, as the two of them had started their treat collecting together.
The others would be joining them shortly, after they collected Token and Fin.
As if in response to Meadow Lark's question, Token called from within the house, "Easily!"
Noticing that her daughter was growing increasingly angry, Rarity decided it would be best to leave before Libby showed Token a mental image that would put that horrible Blue Pony Muffins movie to shame.
She asked Precious if she could run inside and get Fin, to which the white pegasus agreed. She ran back into the house, returning moments later with the burgundy dragon clinging to one of her wings.
Judging by the expression on Precious's face, Fin had grown a set of claws and was currently digging them into her skin. Granted, they wouldn't do much damage, but that clearly didn't change the fact that it hurt like the dickens for the poor pegasus mare.
"Okay, Finny, time to put on your costume" Meadow cooed at the baby dragon, who almost immediately released his hold on Precious's wings. He loped over to the pale yellow pegasus filly.
When he reached her, he stood on his hind legs and held up his front legs, looking very much like a begging dog.
The two fillies both giggled slightly at this.
After having a good laugh at the antics of the amphibious dragon, Meadow Lark asked her mother to put Fin's costume on him.
Fluttershy was more than happy to concede, and from her saddlebag she pulled out a white sheet, which she slid onto Fin's body. The little dragon was now dressed as a simple ghost, the sheet covering his entire body, with only two holes in the face area to allow him to see. Fin was rather happy with the choice in his costume.
"I am Billy" he proclaimed, referring to the main character of a comic that Token often read: Billy Goatgruff, about a ghostly goat.
"Yes, you are," Fluttershy said sweetly, her fear seeming to vanish for a moment.
However, seconds later, the sound of a witch's cackled split the near silence of the scene and the pink-maned pegasus became frightened once again. She said goodbye to Precious; told the white-maned pegasus that they were sad that Token would not be joining them; promised that they would bring Fin back in a couple hours after the treat collecting and offering were completed; and suggested to Rarity that the two of them take the foals and the hatchling to meet the others.
She had spoken so quickly that everyone involved seemed stunned by what she had said. Though, it wasn't too long before they all recovered and soon the young mothers and the three treat-collectors were headed towards the center of town.
As they were walking, Rarity turned to her friend and said, "I hate seeing you so distressed, Fluttershy. Why don't you go home for a little while?"
As if reading the pegasus's mind, she quickly added that she would keep an eye on Meadow Lark during the collecting and would walk her home after Nightmare Night was finished.
Fluttershy's cheeks became slightly pink and she smiled shyly, but politely refused the offer.
"Thank you, but…" she paused for a moment and looked at her daughter, who was giggling as she hopped along, occasionally using her wings to hover about a foot off the ground for seconds at a time. "It's her first Nightmare Night. I don't want to miss it. Not completely."
Rarity nodded in understanding. She knew that even though Fluttershy was terrified of Nightmare Night, she still loved her daughter and wanted to share in all of her firsts, like any mother would.
"There they are! There they are!" screamed the fillies and the dragon, before racing forward, forcing the pegasus and unicorn mares to chase after them.
"Hey, where's the weird nub-head you're always making googly eyes at?" Firestorm asked Libby, who bared her fangs and narrowed her eyes dangerously at him.
The firey-maned colt's costume was hard to place. It was black and round, with what appeared to be a small button with a string popping out placed on the top. He seemed to not notice the venomous glare his half-sister was giving him, or the fact that her turquoise eyes were beginning to glow.
However, Rarity did notice and was quick to try and calm her child down before the filly did something she would regret. She nuzzled the side of Libby's face gently, causing the turquoise-maned filly to relax almost instantly.
Once she was relaxed, Libby explained that Token was staying home for the night.
Firestorm, oddly enough, seemed upset at this development, letting out a sigh and poking the ground with one of his front hoofs once or twice.
Applejack decided to use this moment of calm to speak to Roxbury, who was swinging around the large scythe that completed his Grim Reaper costume.
"You gonna behave yourself tonight, right?" she asked her son, her voice carrying a warning tone.
The green colt quickly whipped his head and said, "Yes, Ma" in a loud voice, letting go of the scythe that was in his mouth as he did so.
Said scythe flew right past Velvet (who didn't seem to have a costume on; rather, her mouth was covered with fake blood and she was carrying a tote filled with what seemed to be gummy hooves and other body parts) and severed her right ear before getting stuck in the trunk of a nearby tree.
The adults, as well as Pound and Pumpkin Cake, who had come along with Pinkie Pie and were dressed as a knight and a princess respectively, instantly reacted to this event.
Fluttershy quickly scooped Meadow Lark into her arms. The filly almost immediately went limp, looking more like a ragdoll than a young pony.
The other mares and the twins simply jumped back a little in surprise, though both Pound and Pumpkin had a look of slightly morbid curiosity as they stared at the now one-eared Velvet.
The uninjured hybrids (and Fin, who was climbing into Meadow Lark's bag in an attempt to nab a treat or two of his own) had no reaction to their half-sister getting the Prancin' Van Gogh treatment, and Velvet herself just looked annoyed.
After a second or two, the blue filly walked over to where her severed ear had landed, picked it up with her magic, blew on it a bit to clean it off, and placed it back on her head, twisting it like a bottle cap until it was secure.
Once the tension had died down, every-pony who had actually reacted to the event relax and Twilight went over to her daughter, wiping the blood from around her formerly severed ear with a damp cloth had Pinkie had gotten from…somewhere.
Velvet, who had been using her magic to attempt to snatch some candy corn from a white pegasus with a light brown mane and eyes who seemed to be dressed as a sandwich (of all things) and was too busy talking to a black unicorn with a bright orange mane and red eyes (who was dressed like a witch) to notice her candy was floating away, was unable to stop her mother from cleaning her blood, though she did give a low moan of protest.
However, she forgot about the displeasure of being cleaned up once she had the sweet piece of triangular candy in her mouth.
In the meantime, Applejack walked over to her son, who had pulled the scythe out of the tree trunk.
"Where did you get that?" the orange pony asked her son. The tone of her voice made it clear that he was in trouble for bringing a real scythe with him, instead of the plastic one that Big Macintosh had bought for him.
Unfortunately, the green colt either didn't notice the tone of his mother's voice, or he figured he could charm her enough to keep himself out of trouble.
"I borrowed it from Mr. Flour" he explained, placing the scythe on the ground to avoid accidently throwing it and causing more mutilations.
Applejack raised an eyebrow, asking Roxbury to confirm that Mr. Flour had actually let him borrow a real scythe.
The colt shook his head.
"I didn't actually ask him, but I left a note saying I was going to borrow it for the night and I gave him a few bits" he said, pausing for a second before adding, "And Firestorm drew a comic on the note, but he signed it as 'Radical Coolness McAwesome'".
Firestorm glared at his brother, hissing that the other colt was a tattletale.
Roxbury shrugged and turned his attention back to his mother, smiling hopefully. His smile reversed itself when he saw that Applejack still looked upset. The frown grew larger as she grabbed the scythe and instructed the red-and-yellow eyed colt-in a slightly muffled voice, thanks to the fact that she was still holding the weapon in her mouth-to follow her. They were going to be giving Mr. Flour his scythe back.
Roxbury whined, begging to stay with his siblings and their mothers.
His mother gave him a look that, while nowhere near as frightening as The Stare, was more than enough to get the green colt to follow, though he grumbled under his breath about how he'd "apologize to Uncle Mac if he hurt his feelings by not using the toy scythe" as he did so.
Apparently he hadn't realized the reason why his mother was making him return the scythe to Mr. Flour before the holiday was over.
"Yeah…go and listen to your Mama! You big mama's boy!" Firestorm called in a teasing voice, punctuating the taunt by blowing a raspberry.
A sudden clap of thunder and the loud croaking of a frog caused the slightly older colt to jump into the air in fright. He then quickly flew over to his mother and clung to her foreleg, shaking and muttering softly.
"It was just a frog, kid…" Rainbow Dash said, rubbing her son's head somewhat awkwardly. It wasn't too hard for her to comfort her son when she could understand why he was frightened. The problem was…a frog wasn't scary. So, she didn't see why she had to comfort him, considering he shouldn't be scared in the first place.
While Rainbow Dash comforted her son, Twilight did a quick headcount and realized that they were one filly short.
"Pinkie Pie…where's Butterscotch?" she asked the pink earth pony, who was currently disguised as a court jester, presumably to fit the theme of the Cake twins' costumes.
At the question, Pinkie's eyes widened and her irises appeared to shrink. She then proceeded to whip her head around, calling for her young daughter.
"She's in there, Pinkie" said Pound, after his sister had gotten Pinkie Pie's attention.
He was pointing at the earth pony's own collection bag, which looked the same as it had before.
In other words, it didn't look as though Butterscotch could be hiding inside of the bag.
Though, with these foals, if something didn't seem possible, it most likely was. So, Pinkie poked her head into her collection bag and frowned.
"Butterscotch, that's cheating!" she scolded, turning the bag upside down and shaking it, apparently trying to dislodge something. "You need to get your own candy. You can't just eat mine".
While Pinkie tried to get her daughter out of her collection bag, Velvet walked over to Firestorm, who was still clinging to his mother's foreleg. She looked at him questioningly for a few moments before speaking.
"What're you supposed to be? Some kind of ball?" she asked, a confused question on her face.
Before she could blink, the colt whipped around, looking as though he couldn't believe what the dark-maned unicorn had just said.
"Ba—bomb!" he corrected, turning to look towards Pinkie Pie when Butterscotch fell out of the collection bag and proclaimed, "Monkey!"
She was, of course, disguised as a monkey, though perhaps she was a little too disguised, seeing how the tail of her "costume" kept curling in and out, occasionally grabbing something.
The other foals simply stared at her for a second, before returning to whatever they happened to be doing.
Fluttershy constantly looked around, looking like she expected Hades himself to appear.
After a few moments, she turned to Pinkie Pie—the only one of the five mares present who actually wore a watch (even if it did seem to only appear whenever she needed it)—and asked her for the time.
"'Bout twenty minutes to candy time" Pinkie said, showing her watch's face, which had an overflowing bag of candy where the twelve would be.
"Okay, so Roxbury and his mom have twenty minutes to get back here, or they're s***-outta-luck when it comes to getting candy" Firestorm said, the curse word literally being censored with a loud beeping. When he noticed that his sisters were staring at him, he shrugged. He did have standards, after all.
After about two and a half minutes, Butterscotch got fed up with waiting.
"This is taking too long" she groaned, before muttering that she wished time could go faster.
The second she said that, something very strange happened. Everything and everyone besides the ponies and the dragon were moving very quickly, as though the world was a videocassette that was being fast-forwarded. After about three seconds of this strange occurrence, Applejack returned with Roxbury, who had a plastic scythe strapped to his side. As soon as the two of them reached the others, time seemed to start flowing normally again.
"What just happened?" Rainbow Dash asked Twilight, figuring that the scholarly pony might have some idea of what caused the anomaly. Unfortunately, the purple pony looked about as confused as her companions.
"I…have no idea" she said honestly, looking slightly embarrassed by the fact that she couldn't explain what had just happened to the town.
The foals and Fin, of course, didn't seem to care that time had just been sped up, at least for everything but them. Instead, the five ponies who had remained with the group were more interested in the fact that Roxbury was apparently still joining them.
"We thought you'd be grounded for sure" Libby told her golden-maned half-brother.
The colt scowled. "I am grounded" he told them. "After Nightmare Night, I'm gonna be stuck at the farm all day for two weeks. I'm only here cause Ma doesn't want me to waste Big Uncle Mac's money".
The cyan colt asked if the green colt had gotten back the money he'd given to Mr. Flour, letting out a breath of disappointment when the answer ending up being "No".
"Come on! Time is candy!" Pinkie Pie shouted, causing her daughter's eyes to widen in delight.
With that, the ponies and the dragon began their treat collecting.
After an hour of collecting treats, the foals, Fin, and Pinkie Pie were ready to accompany the other collectors and Zecora to the Everfree Forest, where they would leave their offerings.
"Why do we gotta give some of our candy to this Nightmare Moon thing?" Firestorm questioned Zecora, sounding very irritated.
The zebra stopped in her tracks, delaying the trek into the forest. She turned to face the small crowd, which held not only the six hybrid foals, the amphibious dragon, Pinkie Pie, and the Cake twins, but a few other foals, including the pegasus that Velvet had stolen from; the unicorn she had been talking to; and a slightly larger unicorn with a very pale pink coat, a white mane, and wide pink eyes with constantly constricted pupils, who didn't seem to be dressed as anything.
Pipsqueak, the earth pony with a pinto-style coat, had also joined the party. He was dressed as a pilot, and seemed even more excited about the holiday than even the younger foals. He also seemed to know something that the others did not, which made the young hybrids suspicious.
But, for the moment, their minds were distracted from their suspicions, thanks to Zecora looking at the group of treat collectors with an almost sinister look. It was rather unnerving to see the usually kind-looking zebra looking like she was going to do something horrible to the children…and Pinkie Pie.
Suddenly, she began to speak, breaking into the silence, which had become so tense that it almost felt sold.
"On a night, just like this; a foal thought he could dismiss; traditions as old as time. Thought he: 'This candy should be all mine'. So, he took the treats to his home, and devoured them on his own. Later, as he lay in bed, he suddenly became full of dread. The sky was full of rain and thunder. Something beneath his bed pulled him under. Suddenly there was a crunch! The colt had become Nightmare Moon's lunch" she told the children, who all seemed at least somewhat scared by the story they had just been told.
The pegasus filly turned to the pale pink unicorn and asked if the story that Zecora had just told was true.
"No, little sister, it's not. But, part of the holiday is being scared, so pretend that the story is real and you'll believe Nightmare Moon will really come to eat you if you don't leave her some candy" the older foal explained, ruffling the filly's light brown mane.
"Agnes…you're so strange" the white pegasus told her older sister, who smiled as though she had just been complimented.
Feeling like she had convinced the foals to hand over some of their treats, Zecora continued to lead them towards the Everfree Forest.
As they began to enter, Libby noticed something out of the corner of her eye, and froze.
"What's he doing here?" the turquoise-maned unicorn wondered aloud, turning her head to actually look at what caught her attention.
Velvet, who had been talking to the black unicorn filly about the time she had drunk some weird juice and saw pink elephants and honey-stealing weasels, was the only one who seemed to notice that Libby had stopped.
At the very least, she seemed to be the only one who showed even a hint of concern. She walked over to her sister to try and see what had made her stop.
"I thought you said he was staying home" Velvet said, raising an eyebrow in confusion.
"I thought he was" Libby responded, frowning slightly.
After a second, she poured about a quarter of her candy and treats onto the ground, telling Velvet to give that candy to Nightmare Moon.
"I'm gonna go see what's up with him" she said, beginning to walk towards the colt, who seemed to be pulling something out of a bag.
"And what do you want me to tell Zecora when she asks where you went?"
The white unicorn shrugged, indicating that it really didn't matter to her, and continued to walk away.
Velvet rolled her red-and-yellow eyes and picked up the candy Libby had poured onto the ground with her telekinesis, before running to catch up with the others.
(These next two scenes take place, more or less, at the same time. The first scene does start and end slightly before the second, however)
(Outside the Everfree Forest)
"I thought you were staying home" the filly said, walking up to the older pegasus with a frown.
Said pegasus jumped slightly at the sound of her voice. Clearly he hadn't been expecting an audience for whatever he was doing.
As he turned his head to see who had just spoken (though he likely already knew who it was), he frowned.
"I never said I was staying home" he told her, once again opening the bag he had brought with him. "My aunt just told you that I wasn't going treat collecting with you guys, and I'm not".
He quickly rubbed his hoof across his eyes, which were already somewhat red, before pulling what appeared to be a stuffed caterpillar out of the bag and placing it on the ground in front of him.
It was at this moment that Libby realized that Token wasn't breathing normally. His breathing was rather shaky and every few moments he would let out a small hiccup/gasp. That, combined with the stains running from his eyes to just behind his chin, made the situation rather obvious.
"Why are you crying?" Libby asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
Token was, of course, quick to deny the accusation. The younger pony didn't believe her companion in the slightest, and so decided to try and find out why he was so upset.
Figuring it had something to do with the stuffed caterpillar, she walked over to stand by his side, which would allow her to see what he was looking at. When she did, her eyes widened slightly.
Next to the caterpillar was a framed photograph of a pegasus stallion and a zebra mare, with a baby pegasus colt dressed in a costume that looked just like the stuffed caterpillar hovering between them. The stallion and the colt looked nearly identical, save for the color of their eyes; the gold-colored stripes on the colt's legs; and the small unicorn's horn on the colt's head, which had torn a hole in the hood of the costume.
"This is your mom and dad?" the filly asked, though she was already sure what his answer would be.
Token didn't say anything, but nodded in confirmation.
The angry and slightly joking tone from before completely gone from her voice, Libby asked Token why he had brought the photograph of his parents and himself from what was presumably his first Nightmare Night outside during the holiday, along with what seemed to be a stuffed toy made out of his costume from that night.
"Was this their favorite holiday or something?" she asked, looking at him with a frown.
"No, but this was the last night we all spent together" the bronze-colored colt said, his voice sounding almost monotone, though it was clear he was far from emotionless at the moment.
The two of them were silent for a moment.
Almost immediately, she wished she hadn't asked the question. Even if Token remembered how his parents died (which he probably didn't, considering he was only a baby), why would he want to talk about it?
After a few seconds, Token answered the question.
"Uncle Bronze told me that they got caught in the middle of a robbery. He said they got blasted with a magic beam that killed them because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time" he said.
"I was sent to an orphanage for about a year, since they wanted to send me to live with my closest living relatives, and it took them a while to find Uncle Bronze and Aunt Precious. They're my only living relatives" he continued.
He suddenly interrupted himself, looking at Libby for the first time since she had first walked over to him.
"You got wings" he pointed out, eyes growing wide when he saw the fairy wings on the filly's back flutter slightly, with something that looked like glitter coming off them with each movement.
"So, you can use magic, and you've got wings that I assume work…And here I thought you hated alicorns" Token said with a smile.
Libby's cheeks flushed in anger. She quickly explained that because her wings were fairy wings, not pegasus wings, she wasn't being an alicorn; she was being a fairy unicorn, like the ones in her favorite storybook.
"And why are you here by yourself?" she demanded to know, still angry that he would dare imply that she wanted to be anything like the monsters who thought they were better than everyone else just because they had magic and could fly. "Shouldn't your aunt and uncle be here with you?"
Token's mood quickly changed from somewhat happy to a mixture of sadness and guilt.
Libby instantly regretted asking the question, and tried to take it back, but Token told her he didn't mind answering the question.
"To tell you the truth," he began, "I don't like spending a lot of time with my aunt and uncle. That's why I'm always going to hang out by the lake or going to the park when there's not a lot of ponies around…Just doing anything to stay out of the house and away from them."
This confused the turquoise-maned filly.
"I thought you loved your aunt and uncle" she said with a frown.
"I do…and that's why I don't want to spend a lot of time with them. Cause if I spend a lot of time with them, I'll love them even more, they'll go away, just like Mom and Dad" the horned pegasus explained, giving out a small sigh before adding, "And just like all my friends from the orphanage…Every-pony who even actually cares about me leaves me".
He began crying again, closing his eyes in an attempt to stem the tears. This may have been a touchy subject and he may have been very young, but he was still a boy, and because of that, it was embarrassing to be caught crying, even if the only witness was a filly who was younger than him.
Token's eyes opened then, though his vision was somewhat obscured by the unshed tears. He let out a small gasp as Libby wrapped her forelegs around him, saying, "I won't leave you" as she gently pressed her head to his cheek. Token was stunned for a moment, unable to move.
After a few moments, however, he wrapped his forelegs around Libby and returned the embrace.
He began to cry again, though he now had the smallest of smiles on his face.
"Hey, Pocky" Velvet said as she galloped over to the black unicorn filly, who gave only a quick glance to show that she had noticed the other unicorn. "What'd I miss?"
Her companion told her that she hadn't missed much; the rest of them had just tossed some of their candy at the base of the statue.
"You better go put some down" the orange-maned filly said, smirking slightly when she saw Velvet lift the pile of candy that Libby had given to her with magic.
Seeing the smirk on her new friend's face, the blue unicorn rolled her eyes.
"Look, Pocky, I didn't steal the candy. My sister gave it to me. You're the master thief here, not me" she said, in an attempt to clarify the situation.
Ignoring the fact that the other unicorn was still smirking, showing that she clearly still believed that Velvet had stolen Libby's candy, Velvet slowly walked over to the statue.
She felt a shiver go down her spine and flattened her ears against her skull as she stepped closer to the stone replica of the mythical demon of eternal night. Despite the fact that she knew it was only a statue, she was still terrified.
As soon as she was close enough, she tossed both the candy Libby had given to her and half of her own collection, and dashed back to where the other four hybrids (and Fin, who was playing with Meadow's mane) were gathered.
Suddenly the sky was full of dark thunderclouds, which released a clap of thunder loud enough to make everyone present (save Zecora) cover their ears.
The instant the area was quiet again, the air grew cold and the ground began to crack.
"Pinkie?" Pumpkin whimpered, clinging to the pink mare along with her brother, "What's going on?"
Pinkie patted the twins on the head, reassuring them that everything would be alright. The fact that her voice was trembling made it clear that she didn't really believe what she was saying.
A hoof shot out of the ground, quickly followed by another.
The treat-collectors watched in horror as a huge alicorn crawled out of the earth. The alicorn did not look like either of the regal ponies; rather, she was almost an exact replica of the statue that they had all left their offerings by. The only difference, besides the obvious fact that she wasn't made of stone, was that this alicorn happened to have her eyes sewn shut.
"Foolish knaves! You think this meager offering is enough to please me?" boomed the demon of the night as she walked menacingly towards the group, licking her chops in what seemed to be anticipation.
As she came closer, everyone reacted in terror, though in different ways.
Pound and Pumpkin clung even tighter to Pinkie Pie, who was shivering herself. Agnes and her little sister hugged each other tightly. Pipsqueak and the black unicorn simply ran around like they expected Nightmare Moon would chase them until she got tired.
Each of them was also screaming in terror, but it didn't seem quite genuine…Except for the screaming coming from the five hybrids.
They were bawling at the tops of their lungs, and it was pretty clear that they were truly terrified of the situation. Fin probably would have been either screaming or crying as well, if it weren't for the fact that Meadow Lark had him in a vice grip and all he could do was occasionally squeak.
Apparently a bunch of babies crying was enough to unnerve Nightmare Moon, as she instantly stopped walking towards them once it became clear that they weren't playing around.
"Please…Do not cry…." the evil pony of the night pleaded, morphing from a black alicorn with her eyes sewn shut to the real princess of the night.
"See, guys?" Pipsqueak began as he walked over to the still crying foals. "It's just Princess Luna. She won't hurt you" he concluded, smiling at the princess, who nodded in what seemed to be confirmation.
This seemed to calm the babies down somewhat, as they stopped their bawling. However, as soon as they saw Luna, they became even more distressed.
Not only did they start crying even louder than before (loud enough that Agnes, Pumpkin, Pound, Pipsqueak, Pinkie, and the two other fillies were covering their ears in an attempt to block the sound), but Butterscotch darted over to her mother and buried herself in her fluffy pink tail in an attempt to hide.
In a brief moment, of what he must have assumed was extreme bravery, Firestorm opened his eyes.
He focused his gaze on the statue of Nightmare Moon, specifically the head, and narrowed his eyes, which had begun to glow. After a brief moment, the head of the statue exploded, sending chunks of stone flying everywhere.
Everyone had to quickly duck and cover their faces in order to avoid having their faces pounded by the rocks. Even then, a majority of them still got hurt, though for the most part, the injuries were minor, just scrapes.
However, Roxbury himself was not so lucky. He had been the only one who hadn't ducked out of the way, claiming that his "awesome would stop the rocks", and, as a result, he got pelted in the face by a large chunk of stone.
This resulted in not only his nose getting broken and several of his sharp teeth getting knocked out, but also caused the rest of his face to become a bloody mess. Despite the obvious pain he was in, he didn't cry…though he began speaking out loud to himself, so it was likely he had suffered a bit of brain damage from the hit.
"Not gonna cry….I am too awesome to cry….Dear Morogth, my face is on fire…and not in a good way…." he mumbled to himself.
His half-siblings didn't react at all to what happened, besides giving him looks that indicated they thought he deserved the pain for being so arrogant.
Oddly enough, Luna was the first pony to really react to the situation. Having not seen the foals in months, and not totally knowing how potent their healing ability was, she was quick to grab the young colt and try to examine his face, which was already starting to heal itself.
Unfortunately, in her concerned haste, she had basically forgotten the fact that the young hybrids were genuinely scared of her.
As soon as she was holding Firestorm, Velvet ran over to her.
"Don't touch our brother!" she ordered, before digging her fangs into the princess's hoof.
Because the princess was wearing horseshoes and the bite was done with a set of baby teeth, the actual damage was minimal, but the pain was more than noticeable.
Seeing that their sister wasn't having much luck, Meadow Lark and Roxbury decided to help out. Meadow Lark quickly brought Fin over to Pinkie to keep him "safe", before half-fluttering and half-climbing up a tree (her wings had given out halfway up the trunk, so she had to morph her hoofs into claws and climb the rest of the way).
Once at the top of the tree, she discovered a small murder of crows. She locked eyes with what seemed to be the "leader".
Her eyes then began to flash, each changing to a different color. Not only did the bird she was looking at begin to have eyes that looked like hers, but so did the others in the flock. After a moment or two, the pale yellow pegasus blinked, cancelling out the color changing effect on her own eyes, though the birds were clearly still hypnotized.
"Please and thank you" she added politely, before pointing towards Princess Luna.
The crows, still under what was basically mind-control, flew towards the princess and…basically just began pestering her. They pulled at her mane and dived at her head, though they always missed.
Honestly, Roxbury seemed to be the only one who planned to do any real damage.
He used a piece of stone from the exploded statue's head to morph himself into stone, and prepared to charge, only to be stopped by the sound of his mother calling his name and asking, "What are you doin'?"
He turned around then, his eyes lighting up when he saw his mother.
"Ma!" he cried happily, canceling out his morph as he ran over to embrace his mother.
Apparently he was more concerned about being with her than "saving" his brother.
Then again, Firestorm had tied the blond colt's ears to a tree the week before, so maybe he had just been waiting for a chance at payback.
Applejack wasn't alone; the rest of the Elements of Harmony who hadn't come along in the first place had followed her into the clearing.
Noticing her daughter gnawing on the princess's horseshoed hoof, Twilight choked in panic.
"Velvet Star! What are you doing?" she shrieked, using her magic to pull the young filly away from Luna's hoof.
Once Velvet was safely away from Luna, Twilight turned her attention to the princess.
"I am so sorry…It won't happen again…I promise…I can't believe she would do that…I'll pay for a new pair of shoes for you…If you want, I mean…I'm sorry…So sorry" the purple pony rambled, obviously believing that either she or her child would be horribly punished for what happened.
Luna held up a hoof to silent her sister's protégé.
"Do not worry, Twilight Sparkle. The damage is very slight" Luna said, pausing to try and swat away the crows that were still pulling at her mane.
Apparently knowing what was going on with the crows, Fluttershy frowned.
"Meadow Lark" she called, looking up into the trees, "Tell the crows to leave Princess Luna alone".
After a second, Meadow Lark glided down from the tree she was in and landed by her mother, looking ashamed.
"Yes, Mama…" she mumbled, before doing what her mother instructed.
Instantly, the birds flew back into the tree that the young pegasus filly had found them in.
By this time, Firestorm's face had completely healed, and he quickly flew over to where his mother was standing.
"Mom! Hey Mom! You hear that explosion? I made that statue's head explode because I gave it some of my awesome and it couldn't take it! That's really awesome, isn't it?" he screamed, jumping up and down with a manic expression on his face.
Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, seemed unsure of whether she should deny the fact that he was her child or not.
"Yeah…I guess it was" she said after a moment, ruffling the colt's mane and making him grin.
Slowly, things began to wind down.
Luna bade farewell to her subjects, claiming that she would be returning after she changed her shoes, before teleporting away. In particular, Pipsqueak seemed upset by her leaving.
"That was the best Nightmare Night since the first time Princess Luna came to Ponyville for it!" Pinkie cheered, pulling Butterscotch out from her tail and tossing her into the air, leaping up to catch the foal.
After a second, Pound and Pumpkin nodded, though they weren't exactly sure what Pinkie was referring to when she compared this Nightmare Night to the first time Luna came for the holiday.
"Attacking the princess, huh? That didn't turn out so well, did it?" asked the black filly with a smirk as she approached Velvet, who was attached to her mother by a sort of magic leash.
"Shut-up, Pock-Picket" the blue unicorn snapped, not even looking at her new friend.
The brown-eyed pegasus was still clinging to her sister, though she seemed more confused than anything.
"Okay…should I be concerned about all this, or not?"
Her big sister shook her head.
"No, don't be worried until the clouds become sticky and pink and begin to drop candy and kittens and puppy dogs" she said, though perhaps it would be more correct to say she sang the statement.
Her sister looked at her like she was insane, but Zecora stepped towards them.
"Of these events you seem sure" the zebra began, addressing the pale unicorn. "You know the future?"
Agnes only shrugged, beginning to hum softly to her sister while rocking herself with the younger filly still in her embrace.
Meanwhile, Rarity realized that her daughter was not in the clearing and began to worry.
She asked the others if they knew where Libby was.
"Oh, she's just screwing around with Token…Right outside the forest, actually" Velvet said, actually speaking in anything but an angry mumble for the first time since her mother had pulled her away from Luna.
The white unicorn thanked her friend's daughter, then headed back down the path that led into the clearing.
A second or so after she left, Firestorm spoke up again, this time being uncharacteristically quiet.
"Hey, guys?" he began. "She…didn't hurt me…At all".
At this statement, all of the hybrid's faces acquired a look of realization.
"Oh…I almost don't want to wake them" Rarity muttered to herself with a smile as she saw the position her daughter and Token were in.
The two of them were sleeping soundly (very soundly, based on the fact that the explosion from moments earlier hadn't awoken them), with Libby using one of Token's forelegs as a pillow.
The zebra-pegasus's other foreleg was wrapped around a framed photograph and a stuffed caterpillar, while one of his wings was draped over the slumbering filly at his side.
Libby's horn was glowing slightly, a soft melody seeming to emanate from it.
Both foals had a gentle smile on their faces.
"It really is sweet" Rarity said with a smile of her own.
Still, she had to get Libby home and ready for bed. She gently nudged her daughter until the filly awoke, yawning and blinking at her tiredly.
Token had also been woken up, though more from the movements of his partner in slumber as she stood up than from anything Rarity herself had done.
"I'll bring you home, darling" the purple-maned mare said to the colt as she picked up her daughter with her telekinesis.
After giving a huge yawn, Token smiled and said, "Thanks, Miss Rarity".
Rarity told him that he didn't need to thank her, and just helped him onto her back, telling him to get some rest. Libby had already fallen back asleep at this point, though the song her magic was playing had not stopped once.
Token climbed onto Rarity's back and quickly fell asleep himself, a smile slowly coming to his face as he was carried back home.
"Why can't I come with you?" Velvet Star asked her mother, her lips turned downwards as she tilted her head to help show her confusion.
Today was the day that her Uncle Shining Armor and Aunt Cadance would be arriving in Ponyville to visit for the weekend, something Velvet had been looking forward to for weeks. And now, on the day she would finally get to actually meet the ponies that her mother always spoke so highly of, she was told she couldn't go with her mother to the train station to meet them.
"Mr. Allaboard banned you from the train station, remember?" Twilight said, trying to explain the situation to her daughter.
A look of understanding came over the filly's face, only to be replaced almost immediately with an angry expression.
"That's not fair!" she shouted. "I mean, besides having tails for a few extra minutes, the coal went back to normal right away and Mr. Allaboard's mane has pretty much grown back. We just saw him at the market last week."
Lowering her voice, the blue unicorn added, "He's just a major harda-"
"Velvet!" Twilight cried, giving her daughter the sort of disappointed glare that only a parent was capable of giving.
Velvet's cheeks turned red from embarrassment, though whether she was embarrassed because she nearly cursed or because she had been caught was unclear.
"Well, it still isn't fair" she said, her cheeks having regained their usual color.
Her mother's expression softened at this.
Even though Twilight could understand why the conductor wouldn't want Velvet at the train station for a while, considering the results of one of the filly's rare magic surges that happened to happen at the station, she also understood her daughter's anger at the ban. After all, what pony wouldn't be upset at being denied access to a place they really wanted to go?
Still, she had promised Mr. Allaboard that Velvet would not come to the train station for another three months, and she couldn't think of a good enough excuse to break that promise. So, how could she make Velvet feel better about not being able to come to the station today? Her eyes lit up as an idea came to her.
"Your birthday's coming up in a couple months, isn't it?" she asked, even though she obviously knew the answer.
Velvet stared at her mother in silence for several seconds. Maybe she was wondering if the lavender unicorn had actually forgotten when her birthday was, or perhaps she expected the question to be continued in some way.
After waiting for a moment, and figuring that there wasn't anything more to the question, the filly nodded.
"Well, if you behave for Spike while I'm gone, and you don't do anything too…strange while Uncle Shining and Aunt Cadance are here," began Twilight, "I can promise you something big for a present. But, you need to give me an extra month to set it up, alright?"
"You're getting me an elephant?!" Velvet squealed.
The unicorn mare blinked once in confusion. She really wasn't expecting her daughter to make that particular assumption about her present.
"Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of taking a trip; just you, me, and Spike." She paused for a moment before also asking, "What made you think you were getting an elephant, anyway?"
Velvet shrugged. She then agreed to the proposition, after giving the idea a moment of thought.
Having found a way to make up for the fact that she couldn't take the filly to the station with her, Twilight called up to the second level, telling Spike that she was leaving and asking him to watch Velvet until she got back.
The dragon called back, saying he'd be down in a minute; he wanted to finish up something real fast.
"Okay" replied Twilight as she headed towards the door, "Just don't be too long".
She paused on her way to the door, both to put on her scarf and to remind Velvet to be good for Spike.
Velvet promised she would.
The two unicorns bid each other farewell, embracing briefly before the filly walked away, heading towards one of the many bookshelves.
As she walked over, she bumped into Owlysius's perch, causing the slumbering owl to awaken.
Seeing Velvet passing his perch, Owlysius let out a panicked hoot and quickly flew to the upper level of the library. Considering the last time Velvet had been near Owlysius had resulted in his being turned into a chicken (and not even a rooster…) for an hour before Twilight could reverse the effect, the reaction was somewhat warranted.
Twilight couldn't help but smile when she heard Velvet sigh at Owlysius's departure; she did like the owl.
Remembering the time, Twilight stepped outside (after hearing Spike start to make his way downstairs), closing the door behind her.
And as she got her first glimpse of outside that morning, she swore her heart stopped for a second.
She had known that there was going to be a storm last night; Rainbow Dash had personally told not only Twilight, but all of the Element Bearers about the upcoming blizzard two days earlier.
What she wasn't expecting was the chocolate malt balls that lay on top of the banks of snow, surrounded by patterns that seemed to be literally painted out of brightly-colored, fruit-scented syrup.
She couldn't even try to pretend that was normal.
"There is no way any of them could have done this…there is just no way. I mean, they've all done some usual things, but that was just little stuff. Nothing like this," Twilight muttered to herself as she walked, glancing at the candy and syrup that lay upon the snow.
"Though, the most likely alternative is…" Her eyes widened and her heart pounded for several seconds before she calmed herself, using a method she'd read about in a book about stress relief nearly a month ago.
"No…If that happened, I'm sure the Princesses would have told us by now. Plus, Discord would have done a lot worse than just mix candy and snow," she told herself as she managed to calm down somewhat.
She was actually doing quite well in that regard, looking totally casual and calm on the outside. Internally, however, was a bit of a different story.
'Well, if it isn't Discord then it has to be Velvet or one of the others, or maybe all of them, somehow. Either way, I have to tell Princess Celestia…Though, what if she already knows, and thinks that I'm trying to insult her by sending her a letter to tell her what she already knows? What kind of punishment would I get for insulting the princess? Would she lock me in a room where a million robots do nothing but scream at me? Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, but I know it is not a good idea to insult the princesses, especially not in a way that insults their intelligence. Still, I probably should tell Princess Celestia, just to be safe. But, I have to make sure I don't sound too panicky. After all, I don't even know if this is really anything worth worrying about. For all I know, it could just be a prank…Unless it isn't, in which case there might really be a reason to worry. So, how urgent should I make the letter sound? I don't want to sound like I'm not taking the situation seriously, but I also don't want to sound like I'm getting panicked over nothing—' Her thoughts were cut short as she bumped into some-pony.
"I am so sorry" the purple unicorn said quickly.
She looked to see who she had bumped into, and was surprised to see it was Tsunami, one of the ponies who had come to Ponyville to monitor the hybrids.
Ever since they-meaning her and her friends-had returned home, along with the former guards and their families, the dark blue unicorn was never seen outside his family's residence.
"'S'okay" Tsunami said in response to the apology.
Despite his basically telling her that he didn't mind being bumped into, the mare couldn't completely suppress a shudder. Tsunami's voice, despite him obviously speaking as quietly as he could, was extremely deep and had a threatening edge about it. The seemingly permanent stern expression on his face certainly didn't help matters.
Neither unicorn spoke for a moment.
It was Tsunami who broke the silence, answering the question that he likely figured Twilight wanted to ask.
"I just needed to get out for a little while. Ever since what happened last night, with the sweets coming from the sky-."
He didn't seem to notice the purple pony stiffen at this statement; he just continued with his explanation.
"-she's been acting the same way as before, when we first came to Ponyville. She refuses to let Crystal step more than a foot outside our door, even though I tell her it's perfectly safe, and she has been demanding that I do…horrible things. Before I left, she told me to 'put my cutie mark to good use and...'"
He stopped speaking here, his expression clearly showing that there was more to the story, but he was unwilling to say anymore.
Twilight didn't want to make the stallion uncomfortable by insisting he tell her what his wife had demanded, but she knew her curiosity would get the better of her should she stay any longer, so she bid him farewell and continued on her way to the train station.
As she walked past him, she managed to catch a glance at his flank, seeing his cutie mark in the process: a dagger.
She couldn't stop the shiver that ran down her spine as she tried to imagine what the mark could stand for, and she didn't even want to think about how it might be "put to good use."
Twilight felt her heart begin to beat somewhat quicker than normal, a telltale sign that she was going to panic if she didn't find someway to keep her composure, both internally and externally.
She took slow, deep breaths; another method that her book had suggested.
And, it seemed to work; she was able to push down the feeling of dread that had bubbled near to the surface when she thought about what Tsunami had told her and about his cutie mark. She couldn't shake the feeling entirely, but she was fairly certain she could keep herself from thinking about it when she met up with Shining Armor and Cadance. No need to make them worry about her, after all.
As she continued her walk, she swore she heard the older Nutter girl (her name was Agnes, if Twilight remembered what Pinkie said correctly) say something along the lines of, "Ms. Ocean Breeze should realize that now is not the time for fear. That comes later."
"I can give you a lift, you know" Scootaloo said, raising an eyebrow as she watched Firestorm trudge through the snow.
The colt was having a difficult time, since the snow bank he was trying to walk though was almost as deep as he was tall.
Meanwhile, the orange filly was riding her scooter, which had been modified for winter and now greatly resembled a sled.
For once in her life, she wasn't flapping her wings at top speed while on the scooter; in fact, her wings were currently moving just fast enough to propel her forward at the same speed as the foal she was basically babysitting.
Rainbow Dash had more or less passed out as soon as she had climbed into her bed after returning from work on the weather patrol, and nothing seemed to even come close to waking her. That didn't keep Firestorm from trying, of course, so Scootaloo had offered to take him to town for a couple hours; an offer which was quickly accepted.
And now here she was: surrounded by snow that looked like Ponet had decided to be creative with his art supplies, and barely moving.
"No way" Firestorm responded as he finally decided that trying to push the snow out of the way with his face wasn't the best option.
Scootaloo came to a stop the moment the younger pony did. She asked him why he didn't want a ride on her scooter-sled instead of having to walk through the snow.
"Too slow" he told her, crouching down and beginning to rapidly pump his wings as he spoke. "Something that slow can't be awesome, and I don't wanna do anything with something that isn't awesome."
Purple eyes narrowed at the statement about the scooter being too slow.
"Get on" she demanded, not giving him a chance to protest as she leaned down and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck. The skin of flesh of his neck felt very warm, considering the fact that he had basically been half-buried in snow seconds before, and his wings felt even warmer as she brushed against the underside of her chin, but if the filly was bothered by the heat coming from the colt's body, she certainly didn't show it.
Instead she just placed him on the board of the scooter-sled, right in front of her.
"I'll show you 'slow'" Scootaloo said, before instructing the colt to hang on tight.
Firestorm began to speak, about to ask why he had to hold on, only to be silenced by Scootaloo placing a hoof on his mouth.
"Just hold on, okay?" she said, removing her hoof and putting in on one of the handlebars. With a sigh, the firey-maned colt agreed and braced himself as best he could, holding onto the front of the scooter-sled.
As soon as he did that, Scootaloo began to pump her wings at full-speed, sending them forward at an incredible speed.
Firestorm screamed the entire way, and at one point Scootaloo nearly stopped, worried that either she had freaked the poor kid out too much or that he had somehow gotten hurt, but decided it was safe to continue at her current speed when she realized the cyan foal was screaming out of excitement, not pain or fear.
In less than ten minutes, they were outside Sugar Cube Corner, which is where Scootaloo decided to stop.
"What'd you think of that?" she asked, stepping off the board of the scooter-sled and removing her helmet.
Firestorm, who was still standing on the board, seemed to have been stunned into silence for a second. Once he had apparently collected his thought, he hovered off the board and over to the orange filly.
"You okay, Firestorm?" Scootaloo asked in a concerned tone when she noticed Firestorm's expression; his gold eyes made him look like he was in a sort of trance, he had a kind of dopey smile on his face, and there was a slight blush on his cheeks.
She vaguely wondered if the foal was about to get sick, and backed away slightly.
"You. Are. Awesome." Firestorm stated before "climbing" onto Scootaloo's back.
"Thanks for the compliment, but get off me" she told him. She may have been willing to give him a ride into town, but she wasn't going to carry him into a building whose doorway was only a few feet away.
Firestorm grumbled, but climbed off of Scootaloo's back and hovered over to the doorway of the bakery, the older pony following suit.
Scootaloo opened the door and was greeted by Mr. Cake, who was standing behind the counter.
"Good morning, Scootaloo. Firestorm," he said with a smile, waving the two young ponies over with a hoof.
Scootaloo was quick to return the greeting and walk over, but Firestorm hesitated slightly before mumbling "Hey", and almost literally dragging himself over.
"Is he okay?" Carrot Cake asked, looking at the colt, who was looking somewhat irritated. Scootaloo shrugged; she had no idea why Firestorm was acting this way all of a sudden, especially when, only moments ago, he had seemed to be in a great mood.
"Can I have some muffins?" the filly asked. "Rainbow Dash worked really late last night, so she's sleeping in and neither of us had breakfast."
She didn't mention the fact that she didn't even try to make breakfast for herself and Firestorm; she may have been a little better at cooking than Sweetie Belle, but her skills in the field were still limited.
Thankfully, Mr. Cake's only question was concerning the flavors of muffin she wanted to order.
She ordered a banana-nut and blueberry for herself, then told Firestorm to pick out a couple flavors for himself.
"Chocolate chip" he responded after a moment of thought.
Mr. Cake quickly grabbed two chocolate chip, one blueberry, and one banana-nut muffin off the racks and placed them in a bag before handing the bag over to Scootaloo; he knew the orange filly well enough to know it wasn't likely that she'd be staying for very long. Scootaloo thanked him and began to head out the door, making sure Firestorm was following her, when she realized just how…quiet it was in Sugar Cube Corner.
"Where's Pinkie Pie?" she questioned.
"Oh, she found out that Cranky and Matilda got back from their trip and she wanted to welcome them home" the stallion responded, grinning slightly at the memory of his employee's reaction to remembering that the elderly donkeys had come back to Ponyville after all these months.
Scootaloo nodded, and then stepped out the door, holding it open with her hind leg so Firestorm could also step through.
The two ponies hopped back onto the scooter-sled and went to the town square to eat their muffins.
Once they were at a table, Scootaloo decided to try and find out why Firestorm was acting so bratty all of a sudden.
"I mean, usually me and Rainbow Dash can't get you to stop talking, and now you're giving me the silent treatment?" she asked him, taking a bite out of her banana-nut muffin while she waited for a response.
Firestorm remained silent, picking at one of his muffins with a sour expression on his face.
"Just tell me what's wrong" Scootaloo demanded, irritation evident in the tone of her voice.
"You think I'm awesome?" Firestorm asked in an unusually quiet tone.
Scootaloo blinked, and then asked him to repeat the question.
"Do you think I'm awesome?" he asked again, his cheeks tinged slightly pink as he looked at the older filly out of the corner of his eye.
For a moment, Scootaloo wasn't sure what to say. Was this really why he was acting this way? Did he really just want an ego boost? Well…it wouldn't do any harm to give him what he wanted.
She gave him a good-natured smirk and said, "You're one of the coolest colts I know, 'Storm."
He looked at her, a confused look on his face. A beat of silence passed between them.
"Yes, I think you're awesome" Scootaloo clarified, reaching over to ruffle the colt's already wild mane.
Almost instantly, his face was split by a large smile, and he began to devour his chocolate chip muffin.
'That was weird' the orange filly thought to herself, finishing off her banana-nut muffin and reaching into the bag for the blueberry.
Pinkie Pie bounced through the town, a box of cupcakes on her back and Butterscotch sitting in her carrier.
The filly was amazed by the candy and syrup on the snow, and kept trying to eat some whenever it was within her reach. Her mother always stopped her, though, telling her that she shouldn't eat food off the ground, no matter how good it looked.
"I ate a piece of cake off the floor at Mom and Dad's rock farm once, back when I first got my cutie mark," she said, speaking to Butterscotch but still looking ahead. "It didn't taste very good. Trust me."
She made a face and pretended to gag, causing Butterscotch to giggle.
"But, it looks so pretty and so yummy…" the white-maned filly muttered, staring wide-eyed at the pictures painted on the snow in syrup. "Just like the pictures in the storybook that Velly-Belly's Mommy read to us yesterday."
At the mention of the storybook, Pinkie looked at the patterns in the snow again.
They did look a lot like the illustrations from the book Twilight had read to the foals the day before, a story about a land where candy would sometimes fall from the sky and these little creatures called sprites painted pictures in freshly fallen snow.
In fact, they were almost identical, with the only difference being that the pictures in the book had been much neater than the patterns on the snow in Ponyville.
"Maybe one of the weather ponies read the story, too, and wanted to make Ponyville look like one of the pictures" the pink pony suggested with a grin.
Maybe it wasn't the most likely explanation, but it was the most fun, and in situations like this, the best explanation was always the most fun.
Butterscotch nodded in agreement.
Of course a grown-up pony would want to make Ponyville look like the pictures in the storybook; the place in the book had been so pretty, who wouldn't want to live in a place that looked like that? They had all agreed on that-Butterscotch, Velvet, Meadow Lark, Libby, even Roxbury and Firestorm, who usually acted like anything that could be considered "pretty" was gross.
But, they also knew, without having to be told, that they were just little foals, and they couldn't make Ponyville as nice-looking as the place in the storybook. Well, at least there was a grown-up pegasus who also thought Ponyville should look really pretty, if only for a little while.
Suddenly, Pinkie Pie gasped, the type of gasp that showed she was very excited.
She began to gallop as fast as she could, while still being mindful of her daughter and the box still balanced on her back. She stopped once she was in front of her two elderly donkey friends, who she had seen walking up the road.
"Hi, Cranky. Hi, Matilda. Did you two have fun on your trip? Well, of course you had fun, 'cause if you weren't having fun, you wouldn't have stayed so long, right?" the pink pony asked, smiling that the two donkeys.
They both returned the smile, though Cranky's was smaller and more tired-looking than Matilda's.
Pinkie didn't mind; at least he was smiling a little, and she had something to make him smile even more.
After allowing them to say "Hello" back to her, she placed the box of cupcakes on the ground between them and flipped open the lid to reveal the treats inside.
"Mr. and Mrs. Cake made these for you. They would have come with me to give them to you, but Pound and Pumpkin have colds, so Mrs. Cake had to stay home to take care of them, and Mr. Cake had to run the bakery. They told me to tell you that they hope you enjoy, but I told them not to worry because I know you'll enjoy the cupcakes because the Cakes are the best bakers in Ponyville, Manehatthan, and Fillydelphia combined" Pinkie told them, her mouth moving so fast her words almost seemed to blend together at points.
"How often do you actually breathe, Pinkie?" Cranky asked with a raised eyebrow.
Seeing that the pony was about to try and answer the question, he quickly told her that it was a rhetorical question, then grabbed a cupcake out of the box and brought it to his mouth. Matilda did the same.
As soon as they took the first bite, the elderly couple made almost identical sounds of delight, the type of sound you'd expect to hear from somebody eating something delicious.
Then, Cranky seemed to notice something.
"The Cakes decide to adopt?"
Pinkie made a little confused noise.
"They did? Well, why didn't they tell me? Even if they wanted to keep it a secret, I could've kept the secret. I invented the Pinkie Promise, you know" the poofy-maned pony said.
She pouted slightly at the thought that her employers apparently didn't trust her enough with information that they were going to adopt a new foal.
She then wondered aloud how Cranky knew about it, to which he replied he didn't; he'd just assumed.
"That foal with you," Cranky said, pointing at Butterscotch, who was still hanging by her mother's side and was now reaching for the box of cupcakes on the ground. "I never saw her before, and I know you watch the Cake kids."
The rest seemed to go unsaid.
Now understanding what her friend meant, Pinkie smiled and shook her head.
"No, no, no, Cranky, you silly goose…donkey. I'm not Butterscotch's foal-sitter. I'm her Mommy" the pink pony explained gleefully.
The male donkey's expression went almost totally flat, with the exception of his lower jaw dropping. He…wasn't expecting that answer.
His companion's reaction was much warmer.
"Congratulations, Pinkie" Matilda said, coming closer to smile at the foal and shake her hoof. "I think she has your eyes…and she definitely has your smile" she told her friend as Butterscotch grinned at her (a closed-mouth grin, one that didn't show teeth).
Pinkie thanked Matilda for the compliment. Having recovered from the initial shock, Cranky spoke in a somewhat shaky voice.
"So…before we left, when you told us you were pregnant…that wasn't you trying to be funny? You were actually being serious?" he asked, speaking to the mare, but staring at the filly.
Pinkie responded with "Uh-huh", then gently lifted her daughter out of her carrier and placed her on the ground.
"Say hello" she instructed, nudging the filly towards the two donkeys. For a moment, Butterscotch silently stared at the creatures who were little more than strangers to her, even if they were good friends of her mother's.
Finally, she opened her mouth, and she spoke to them for the first time, though she didn't greet them like her mother had wanted.
"If you move your ears really fast up and down, could you fly?"
Cranky and Matilda seemed dumbfounded, either by the question itself, or by the fact that such a young-looking creature had spoken so well.
"You know, that's actually a good question" Pinkie Pie admitted. She looked at her older friends and asked, "Could you?"
Even at its end, winter was always her busiest season. Ponies wanted fashionable cloaks and hoods to keep them warm. And, thanks to the combined efforts of ponies like Hoity Toity and Fancy Pants, she was now almost as well-known in Canterlot as she was in her hometown.
This increased sales to levels she used to only dream of. Unfortunately, the increased sales also led to an increased workload.
Combine a heavier-than-usual workload with a filly who insisted on being in the room, but couldn't comprehend the idea of actually staying still, and the most frequent result was a headache.
And sadly, Rarity had yet to develop the ability to ignore a minor headache when she had work to do.
She had tried to ignore the noises coming from behind her as she carefully sewed some wool onto the hood of one of the cloaks she had been asked to make, but that was easier said than done.
Every little bump sent a shiver down her spine, and she'd quickly turn around to see what had fallen, only to see that everything was exactly the way it'd been the last time she looked.
Eventually, she built up the ability to ignore the reflex, to an extent. She always turned around, but now she was able to keep herself from literally whipping around over every little sound.
However, when she felt Opal's claws dig into the flesh around her flank, if only for a second, she turned her head so fast she was surprised she didn't hurt her neck with the motion.
Blue eyes widened as Rarity watched her usually fairly calm cat rush around the room, claws out and tail flicking.
The feline appeared to be chasing something, but as far as the unicorn could see, there wasn't anything in the room that Opal would want to chase…meaning there weren't any mice, live or of the toy variety.
"Opal, what has gotten into you?" Rarity wondered aloud as her usually lazy cat jumped onto a shelf before almost immediately leaping back to the ground.
Rarity sighed as she realized she already knew the answer.
"Libby" she called, turning to where her daughter was playing with a wooden spool; sure enough, her eyes were glowing slightly.
The foal turned her attention towards her mother, waiting for her to continue.
"Please leave Opal alone. I really need to finish these orders, and her running around can be very distracting" the mare tried to reason with the young hybrid. Libby seemed to consider what she was told.
After a moment, she sighed and her eyes stopped glowing.
The moment that happened, Opal came to a halt, looking around the room in confusion as though trying to find out where the mouse she'd been chasing had gone off to.
She narrowed her eyes and hissed as she saw Libby; she'd been tricked by the little brat again, she just knew it.
As the cat left the room in a huff, Libby turned to her mother again.
"Well, if I can't mess around with Opal, what else am I supposed to do for fun around here? I'm bored."
As if to punctuate her point, the turquoise-maned filly yawned.
Rarity had no idea how to respond to that. There really wasn't anything she could suggest that Libby could do for entertainment. It wasn't so much that she couldn't think of anything fun, but more that fact that her daughter had very little interest in "girly" things, and Rarity's idea of fun when she was the same age had always involved something like playing dress-up.
Finally, she just gave up trying to think of games, and suggested that Libby take a nap.
"You didn't sleep very well last night," she said, remembering how she had walked past the filly's bedroom the night before and saw her tossing and turning. "You must be tired."
"If I couldn't sleep last night, now am I supposed to sleep now?"
Rarity considered the question, then walked out of the room, telling Libby to follow, which she did.
The pair walked into a room where Sweetie Belle was singing softly to herself, rehearsal for a show she had signed up for earlier that month.
Rarity tapped the wood of the doorway with her hoof to get her sister's attention. She smiled somewhat sheepishly as Sweetie Belle stopped singing and turned to look at her sister and her niece.
"I am so sorry to interrupt, Sweetie, but Libby really does need to take a nap, and thought maybe you could…" Rarity's voice trailed off here; nothing more needed to be said.
"You want me to sing you a lullaby?" Sweetie Belle asked Libby, crouching down to look the younger pony in the eye.
Libby shrugged, but stepped closer, silently agreeing to try the lullaby as a means to help her sleep.
Rarity thanked her sister, told her daughter to behave, and headed back to her sewing room.
Once they were alone, Sweetie Belle lowered herself to the ground, motioning for Libby to lie next to her.
The foal pressed herself against her aunt's side, squirming slightly until she was able to get comfortable. As soon as she was situated, she looked at Sweetie Belle.
"Comfy?" Sweetie asked.
Libby mumbled a confirmation that she was, indeed, comfortable. She even closed her eyes as though trying to show how comfortable she was.
The green-eyed unicorn took a deep breath and made sure her nerves were calm; she always sang better when she wasn't worried about anything, even if what worried her had nothing to do with her singing.
Her horn began to glow with a pale green light as the sound of music filled the room.
She opened her mouth and began to sing, a lullaby that she had discovered while flipping through one of the music books at the library shortly after she first earned her cutie mark.
The song told a story of how the stars came to be, claiming that for every new creature, whether they be pony or dragon or griffon or anything else that moved and breathed, born, there would be a light spirit that would make it so they were never alone and they never lost hope; according to the story of the song, those light spirits were the stars.
Partway through the song, she glanced down and noticed Libby had already fallen asleep, snuggled up against her.
"Sleep tight" she muttered softly, stopping her magic.
As soon as the music stopped, however, turquoise eyes opened sleepily.
"Finish the song, Aunt Sweetie. It's pretty…" Libby mumbled before closing her eyes again and snuggling closer to Sweetie Belle's body.
"Well…sometimes it's better to practice with an audience" Sweetie said with a smile as she once again performed her musical spell, picking up where she'd left off.
Roxbury was starting to get desperate. He tried to think of anything that might convince his mother or his uncle to stay inside, but nothing worked.
They had to get some firewood, they said, and the best way to do that was to remove the weakest branches, the ones that would be bending from the weight of the snow.
When he accepted the fact that neither of them would stay inside, he tried something else.
"Then I'll go and help you" the green colt said, smiling hopefully at the mare and the stallion.
The siblings shared a glance, and in those three seconds, seemed to have an entire silent conversation.
"Sorry," Applejack said, crouching down so she could make eye contact with her son. "You're a might too young to be helping out with something like this."
Roxbury scowled, paused briefly in his scowling to wipes his blond mane out of his red-and-yellow eyes, and then resumed scowling.
His expression almost immediately changed to one of joy when the sound of the front door closing was heard, followed closely by Apple Bloom announcing that she had returned.
The former Crusader had been making extra money by doing artwork (paintings and carvings) and occasionally carpentry work around town. The art she usually did at home, but the carpentry was almost always "on-site", and when she got one of those jobs, she'd often be gone for several hours of the day, sometimes over multiple days depending on the scale of what had to be done.
"Auntie Bloom" Roxbury cried happily, practically tackling his aunt in a hug when she entered the room that he, Applejack, and Big Macintosh had been talking in. "You'll watch me while Ma and Uncle Mac work, won'cha?"
After a few moments, Apple Bloom agreed to watch him, though she added the condition that they'd have to stay in her room for a while; she had a painting she really wanted to finish.
Roxbury was quick to agree to the condition.
Now happy with the arrangement, he told his mother and uncle to have fun getting firewood, before galloping up the stairs to Apple Bloom's bedroom.
"You're gonna wanna get up there before he gets into your stuff" Applejack told her younger sister.
Apple Bloom nodded and headed upstairs as well, pausing briefly to speak to Applejack.
"An' don't thank me, Applejack" she said with a smile. "I'm happy to help."
"Granny Smith would'a kept an eye on you, you know" Apple Bloom told Roxbury, who was sitting on her bed, playing with a small ball of clay she'd given him.
"Yeah, I know" he said, flattening the clay between his hooves.
The filly asked the colt why he didn't just let his great-grandmother watch him, rather than apparently wait until she got home. After all, the elderly mare had already taken a couple naps that day, so she would have had enough energy to at least keep Roxbury out of trouble, even if she wouldn't really be up to playing.
Roxbury squirmed; that was a difficult question to answer.
Eager to change the subject, he looked up from his flattened disc of clay and at the canvas that Apple Bloom was painting on. Sketched out in pencil was a scene of a field of flowers with the sun either rising or setting in the background.
"How can you draw so good?" he asked, still looking at the canvas. He was actually more impressed by his aunt's sketches than the finished product; the sketches just looked better to him, for reasons he couldn't explain.
Due to having a paintbrush in her mouth, Apple Bloom was unable to answer.
She tapped her hoof on the wooden floor, a sort of signal that told Roxbury to wait for her response. She wiped the brush, which had been dipped in green paint, over the bottom half of the canvas, being careful to avoid the petals of the flowers.
After she finished painting the grass in the painting, she cleaned the remaining paint off the bristles on the brush and placed it into its holder on the easel.
"It's my special talent, Roxbury," Apple Bloom said, turning around to face the colt sitting on her bedspread.
"I had to practice a lot, too. I wasn't just born being able to draw as well as I can now" she added.
With the questioned answered, she returned to her painting. She painted the flowers a bright shade of red, and then turned her attention to the sun.
For several seconds, she looked at the half circle in the background of the half-finished painting.
Then, without even placing the brush into any paint, she looked at Roxbury, who was currently rolling the clay into the shape of a worm, sighing whenever the clay broke where it was rolled too thin.
"Wanna help?" Apple Bloom asked.
Roxbury titled his head to the side, and then asked his aunt if she was being serious.
When she told him she was, he dropped the clay on the bed and bounded over to her side.
Lifting the foal onto her back, the red-maned filly motioned at the sketching of the rising (or setting) sun.
"You're gonna paint that for me. Orange." She added the last bit when Roxbury gave her a questioning look after staring at the globs of paint on the palette.
"Alright" he said with a smile, taking the brush as it was handed to him.
He used the brush to mix the red and yellow paint together to get the desired color (he also got yellow paint in the green and red paint in the blue, but it really wasn't that much) and began coloring in the semi-circle of the sun.
After about three minutes, he finished...no doubt to the relief of the paintbrush, whose bristles were pressed down a way that made the brush look like a strange pre-fluff dandelion.
"How'd I do?" Roxbury asked, smiling hopefully as Apple Bloom examined his painting job.
The coloring of the sun was uneven, with some places being very dark orange while others were so pale they looked almost white. The green grass was splattered with orange, as was the uncolored sky.
"Pretty good for a first try" Apple Bloom said, turning her head to look at Roxbury, who had hopped to the floor.
"Yeah…just try and be a little neater next time, alright?"
She struggled to keep her voice from shaking and making it clear how she really felt about the result of her allowing her ten-month-old nephew (whose vision was often obscured by his mane to begin with) paint part of her picture. She wasn't angry at him. How could she be, when she had told him to do the painting on his own?
Though, based on the fact that Roxbury was staring at her with a slightly nervous look in his eyes, he clearly thought she was furious. Apple Bloom was quick to try and remedy his fears.
"Don't worry; I'm not mad. Really, I'm not," she told him, putting on a smile as she knew that would help sell him on the idea that she wasn't angry at him.
The green colt still looked a little nervous, but the small smile on his face was enough to show that he didn't think his aunt was furious, at the very least.
"Actually…" Apple Bloom began, an idea coming to her, "I have something you can use to practice coloring in".
She walked over to her bedside drawer, opened it, and pulled out a small notebook with a pale yellow cover. Written on the cover, in block letters, were the words "Work in Progress".
Roxbury gasped as he realized what Apple Bloom was about to give him.
"I can have one of your sketchbooks? To keep?" he asked, his voice full of awe.
Apple Bloom chuckled slightly.
"Well, it's not much of a sketchbook. Most of the pages are empty…But I figure it's a good place to start practicing for you" she said as she handed the notebook to Roxbury.
He thanked her, and then climbed onto the bed with the sketchbook in his mouth.
Once he was seated on the bed, he scanned through the eight pages filled with pencil sketching, trying to find the best one to start coloring. He looked up when he felt something hit the spot next to him. There was a small box of crayons next to him.
He looked up at Apple Bloom confusedly.
"Well, how were you supposed to color without 'em?" she asked. "I like that one" she added, pointing at a small picture of a bird.
"Yeah…" Roxbury muttered, pulling a dark violet crayon out of the box.
He began to color in the bird, as Apple Bloom turned her attention back to the painting of the flower field.
"Actually…" she said, smiling slightly as she looked at the painting. "I think this is one of my best lookin' paintings ever."
At the sound of the door being opened, Velvet instantly changed positions from leaning against Spike as he told her about the time he, her mother, and Owlysius fought off a huge dragon that tried to kill Spike for eating some of his gems, to preparing to charge at whoever appeared once the door was opened.
"You know, Cadance really is an alicorn, Velvet" Spike told the filly, who looked at him like he'd just grown a second head.
"No she's not, Spike" Velvet said with a scoff. "You or Mom or some-pony else just put wings on her picture before showing me cause you wanted to be mean and scare me. I mean, if Mom's brother is so nice, why would he marry a mean and nasty alicorn?"
The baby dragon sighed; no matter how many times they'd had this conversation, he was never able to convince Velvet of the truth of her aunt's species.
Well…she'd be finding out the truth in three…two…one.
The door to the library opened, and Velvet instantly ran towards it, only to screech to a panicked halt when she saw the first pony to step inside: an alicorn, one that looked just like the pictures of her Aunt Cadance.
"Oh, Twilight…She is adorable" Cadance practically squealed, looking at the dark-maned filly with a wide smile on her face.
It was at this moment that Velvet got over her terror enough to see that her mother, and a stallion who she assumed was her Uncle Shining Armor, had also entered the library.
She then did the only logical thing she could think of; she wisped away.
"That's a weird way of teleporting" Shining Armor said as Velvet reappeared with a wisp of smoke, standing between Twilight's forelegs.
"Mom! Uncle Shining!" the blue filly cried, her voice shaking in terror. She jabbed a hoof at Cadance. "That monster's making herself look like Aunt Cadance!"
The husband and wife shared a look of confusion at their niece's outburst.
"Oh no…" Twilight said softly to herself, realizing she was going to have to tell her brother and her sister-in-law a fairly long and implausible-sounding story as soon as Velvet had gone to bed.
She crouched down to try and calm the little filly, who was actually starting to cry from how scared she was, but Shining Armor asked if he could try.
With a nod, Twilight straightened herself up, just as her brother crouched down, his face close to Velvet's.
"No need to be scared, Kiddo," he told her, a reassuring smile on his face. "That's not a monster at all; it's just Cadance."
At this, the tears stopped flowing from Velvet's eyes. She looked at Shining Armor, then at Cadance, then back again. She blinked rapidly a few times, as though trying to make sure she could see correctly. Once she stopped blinking, she said a single word, in a flat tone of voice.
The six hybrid foals were gathered together underneath a snack table, happily eating treats given to them by their was a party going on, and Sugar Cube Corner was absolutely packed.
This was mostly because of the fact that the party was being given to welcome Princess Cadance, niece of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and her husband, Prince Shining Armor, captain of the royal guard, to Ponyville.
Parties involving royalty always had a huge turnout. It seemed like nearly every resident of Ponyville was gathered in the bakery, partaking in the treats laid out by Mr. and Mrs. Cake and engaging in conversation, both with each other and the guests of honor.
From their spot beneath the table, the foals were able to listen to plenty of conversations.
They heard discussions about the candy that had appeared after last night's storm, ranging from theories of pranksters with too much time on their hooves, a horrible last minute mistake with the weather company, and even a few half-joking suggestions that Discord had broken free, given by some of the teenaged colts and fillies (this last theory was dropped as a conversation topic when the youngest foals who could still remember the Discord Incident started bawling at the prospect of an encore this year and had to be removed from the party until they could calm down); a topic that, once their father was no longer being mentioned, became rather boring to the ten-month-olds.
They tuned out discussions about the weather as well as simple small talk, and tried to see if any-pony was talking about something interesting.
At first, nothing really caught their attention.
At one point, Twilight had told the other Element Bearers that she needed to talk to them about something that had happened that morning, but it quickly became clear that the conversation was going to have to wait until they had more privacy. So, there was little hope of hearing any part of that conversation, at least for the time being.
However, after what seemed like forever, the six hybrids were finally able to picked up on an interesting conversation, though perhaps it would be better described as an argument, even if the ponies talking were clearly keeping their voices as low as possible as to not bother anyone else at the party. One of the voices was only vaguely familiar, but the other voice, the one that sounded the most passionate, the foals quickly recognized as Ocean Breeze.
"You know what has to be done, Tsunami" she told her partner, who looked at her for a moment in silence, as though unsure of how to respond.
"Bronze Medal noticed the events of last night before I did, so he was the one to send the message to Canterlot. If he does not receive a response by tomorrow morning, I will send a message of my own."
The light blue mare narrowed her eyes. "You know what I mean" she told him coldly.
"There is no need for that, and you know it" Tsunami responded in an even quieter voice than before. "It is an absolute last resort, to be used only if the situation is dangerous and restraint is impossible. Neither applies to this situation."
After this, both ponies lowered their voices to the point where the foals could barely understand them.
By this time, the foals beneath the table were extremely curious, wanting to know exactly what Ocean Breeze and Tsunami were talking about. They even abandoned their position beneath the table, deciding that having the chance to listen to the rest of the conversation between the two unicorns was worth the risk of an inattentive party-goer stepping on them.
The six hybrids were almost close enough to hear what was being said, when Twilight literally appeared out of nowhere, blocking their path. Twilight nervously looked at Tsunami for the briefest of mornings, before realizing that her teleportation had caught the attention of everyone else.
"Sorry every-pony, but I just realized what time it was, and they really should be going down for a nap" she said apologetically, receiving nods from most of the other adults, especially those with children of their own.
The only parents who didn't agree with what the purple unicorn had said were Ocean Breeze, who moved so Crystal Lake (who the hybrids had not seen from their place beneath the table) was blocked from the view of the younger ponies, and Tsunami, who briefly smiled at the young toddlers, but seemed dejected when they appeared frightened by the grin.
By this time, the other Element Bearers had come over and grabbed their children (who were very confused by what was happening, something that, judging by the looks on the mares' faces, they shared with their mothers).
"You're leaving the party?" Berry Punch asked, specifically addressing Pinkie Pie. It was one of the very few times anyone could remember Pinkie leaving a party if it wasn't an absolute emergency.
Actually, it was the only time any of the guests could remember the pink pony leaving a pony when she didn't have to leave for some reason.
"Don't worry. We're just gonna make sure they're all nice and cozy, then we'll be right back. Pinkie promise" the pink party pony said with a smile as she helped her daughter onto her back, quickly performing the motions necessary to make a Pinkie promise.
This seemed to satisfy every-pony, and the mothers and foals headed towards the stairs, the mares occasionally excusing themselves in order to get past other ponies, and trying to quiet their offspring, who were all whining about having to having to go to bed, either by just moaning, or by shouting "Don't wanna sleep", over and over again.
As they came up to the stairwell, Cadance approached, relatively alone for the first time since the party had begun; Shining Armor was at the snack table, grabbing some refreshments while he chatted with Spike.
The foals all stopped their protesting, staring at the pink alicorn with wide, frightened eyes. Cadance frowned for the briefest fraction of a second, but quickly recovered.
"Sweet dreams" she said to her young niece, giving the filly on Twilight's back a hopeful smile. Taking Velvet's now relaxed posture as a good sign, Cadance smiled a little more. Hesitating for a moment, she leaned her head towards Velvet, presumably to give her a quick nuzzle.
This quickly proved to be a bad idea, as the moment Cadance's muzzle came within six inches of her body, Velvet panicked.
She flattened her ears against her head and twisted away from the alicorn's touch before burying her face in her mother's mane and sobbing loudly. Still hiding her face, the filly began rapidly waving her foreleg in Cadance's general direction, shouting, "Go away" over and over again as she did so.
"Velvet, calm down. You're okay. Just calm down" Twilight spoke over her shoulder to her daughter, trying to speak loudly enough so the blue filly could hear her over the sound of her own crying, but softly enough as to not draw even more attention to the situation.
As the filly stopped her flailing and her sobs became quieter, Twilight looked to her sister-in-law."Cadance…I'm sorry" Twilight said softly, her voice full of regret.
Before responding, Cadance (who had stepped back at the start of Velvet's tantrum) morphed her expression from a sort of stunned pain to one of understanding sympathy.
"No, no…It's fine." She offered the unicorn a smile, as though to prove that she was telling the truth. However, the fact that there were unshed tears gleaming in her eyes made it crystal clear that she was hurt by the event that had just transpired.
Seeing this just made Twilight feel even worse. She wanted to say more, something to ease the emotional pain that Cadance was clearly going through, but all she could do was basically repeat what she had already said: "I'm so sorry".
By this point, both Shining Armor and Spike had arrived at the scene, though they were somewhat confused due to the fact that they had missed the start of the incident, thanks to something of a blockade of ponies; a common occurrence at one of Pinkie Pie's parties.
The young dragon approached Twilight, wanting to know what had happened, and wanting to know if Velvet was alright; after all, the filly had basically screamed like she was being attacked moments earlier.
"She's alright, Spike. Just a little scared" Twilight answered the second question, pointedly avoiding the first. Spike frowned at this, but decided not to insist on an answer…for now.
Meanwhile, Shining Armor was quick to try and comfort his wife, draping a foreleg over her shoulder and bringing her close before gently nuzzling her cheek. As the Princess returned the gesture, Appejack walked over to Twilight. Her son trailed behind her, being one of three foals-and the only non-pegasus-to reject the idea of being carried upstairs.
Once she was close to the purple unicorn, the orange earth pony said, "I'm thinkin' we should get these little ones upstairs, 'fore somethin' happens to get every-pony lookin' this way."
At the end of her statement, many of the party-goers looked embarrassed; they suddenly began avoiding looking at the scene, pretending to whistle as they tried to act like they were never watching to begin with.
Twilight agreed, and the twelve ponies (plus Spike, who was still wondering what had actually caused Velvet Star to panic like she did) went upstairs, with Pinkie Pie pausing once on the stairs to again promise the party guest that they would be back, and cheerfully order them to keep having fun while they were gone.
Considering the fact that the music (which had stopped playing for some reason around the time Cadance approached the group of young mothers and foals) started up again as the thirteen of them reached Pinkie's room, it seemed like the ponies downstairs decided to follow that order.
"So…we can stop pretending to be stupid now, right?" Firestorm asked in a low voice, hovering over from beside his mother's head to in front of her. Rainbow Dash smirked at the question, but confirmed that the suspicion was correct.
The young colt sighed in what seemed to be relief, before ceasing the rapid beating of his wings. This, of course, resulted in him dropping, and only avoiding slamming his head onto the wooden floor thanks to his mother catching him in her forelegs.
"Okay, here's some flying advice, Hothead" the rainbow-maned mare said, placing her son on the floor. "Don't stop flapping when you're still in the air. Usually doesn't end well." After a moment's consideration she added: "Unless you're trying to pull off a dive."
Firestorm nodded, then looked around the room, apparently trying to figure out who would be the most fun to play with at the moment…or, if no-pony wanted to play, who would be the most fun to annoy as punishment for not playing with him.
Normally, he would immediately think of Roxbury as the ideal playmate, mostly because he was the only other colt out of the six hybrids.
The girls weren't necessarily bad to be around, but it was hard to imagine them as being too fun to play with. That, and the fact that Scootaloo would sometimes bring Firestorm with her when she went to visit Apple Bloom at Sweet Apple Acres during the times when his mother had weather duty for the day, resulted in the half-brothers spending a decent amount of time playing together.
Unfortunately, because they played together so often, it became almost routine, and therefore, boring. So, the cyan colt decided to switch things up and try playing with the girls, at least for now. The issue was figuring out which of the four fillies would actually be worth playing with.
Twilight had decided to talk to her daughter about how she had behaved downstairs.
"Velvet," she began, turning her head to look at the filly that had hopped off her back, "You know the way you acted down there wasn't right."
The blue filly refused to look at her mother, choosing instead to glare at the wooden floor. Or, at least, Twilight assumed she was glaring; it was hard to tell, since the upper part of her face was obscured by her hair.
"Velvet Star, look at me when I'm talking to you" the purple mare said in a soft but stern voice.
Velvet did lift her head at this. Sure enough, the filly's eyes were narrowed in what seemed to be anger. However, they were also full of unshed tears, though whether these were tears of frustration or fear was not clear.
Velvet didn't speak, but Twilight had a feeling that she knew what her daughter was thinking.
After crouching so she was about level with the filly's eyes, Twilight spoke to her again.
"Look…I know you got scared down there," she said. "But, I promise that Cadance wasn't going to hurt you. She would never hurt any-pony."
At this revelation, Spike's jaw dropped nearly to the floor; if there was any explanation for why Velvet had been scared down at the party, that wasn't it.
However, despite her mother's assurance, the filly didn't seem at all comforted. In fact, she seemed determined to completely ignore what her mother had just said, opting instead to move closer to Spike, pressing her face into his belly.
For a moment, the young dragon seemed unsure of how to respond. He then did what he assumed Velvet was silently asking for and began to gently comb his claws through her mane; a gesture that she found very comforting.
Spike mouthed an apology to his best friend, but Twilight just shook her head and quietly said, "It's alright"; though her expression betrayed her feelings of sadness at being unable to relieve her daughter's fear of her sister-in-law.
'Aw, Velvet's not gonna be all fun' thought Firestorm, pouting. Seeing that his first choice for a playmate (not counting Roxbury, of course), wasn't available, the cyan colt decided to try and find Butterscotch. Libby and Meadow Lark were his last options; he'd only play with them because the only thing lamer than playing with those fillies would be playing alone.
Surprisingly, however, Butterscotch was nowhere to be seen. Firestorm ruled out the possibility that she had wisped away, due to the absence of the faint scent that usually accompanied the process. So, she was still in the room; the question was where?
Even Pinkie Pie apparently had no idea where her daughter was hiding, if the fact that she was lifting toys and saying, "Butterscotch, you can't start playing hide and seek without telling me; that's cheating" was any indication.
At the realization that one of the foals had apparently gone missing, each of the six mares and the young dragon were suddenly on high alert, looking all around the room in search of the white-maned filly. Even the remaining foals were glancing around, with the exception of Velvet.
While everyone else tried looking for her half-sister, Velvet found herself being tormented by a fly that would not stop buzzing right next to her ear; even when she turned invisible and tried to sneak away, the fly would somehow find her and manage to buzz next to her ear again.
And as she groaned in annoyance, she heard a small voice squeaking right next to her ear: "I'm winning, right? They haven't found me, Velly-Bell-"
Before the hated nickname could be completed, Velvet swatted the "fly" away with her hoof, causing it to go flying into the wall. After smacking the wall, the insect fell to the ground, where it quickly morphed back into Butterscotch, accompanied by a slight popping sound.
Almost immediately, Pinkie was at her daughter's side, and giving the filly a look that held a mix of questioning and concern."Where'd you hide?" the pink pony asked.
The white-maned filly shot her dark-maned sister a quick glance before simply replying that she was "hanging around", jumping up and seeming to hold onto an invisible branch to emphasize the joke.
Pinkie giggled at the joke and picked up her daughter in an embrace, praising her on both the joke and her excellent display of stealth.
Meanwhile, Twilight made sure to catch Velvet's eye, silently letting her know that she was aware of the blue filly's role in her sister being discovered. Velvet groaned inwardly, dreading the talk with her mother that she knew was coming. It was at that moment that Twilight realized that she now had the perfect opportunity to talk to her friends about the run-in she'd had with Ocean Breeze, earlier that day. After instructing Velvet to go apologize to Butterscotch and ask the other filly to play, the purple unicorn addressed her friends.
"We need to talk" she said, her tone making it clear that the conversation was potentially crucial.
The other five mares came closer to their friend, each wearing an expression that held both curiosity and concern; what did she have to tell them about? Twilight took a moment to make sure that none of the foals were within earshot, before going on to describe what had happened with Velvet when she had met Shining Armor and Cadance earlier that day, as well as explaining her daughter's reaction to her aunt's attempts at affection.
The expressions on the other pony's faces held mixtures of confusion and concern, but before any of them could actually voice those emotions, they were interrupted by a knocking on the door, followed closely by a kind voice.
"Is everything alright? You've been up here for quite a bit," Mrs. Cake said, opening the door just enough to peak inside.
To the surprise of every-pony in the room, it was actually Fluttershy who answered the older mare.
"Oh, yes, everything's just fine" she said, smiling sweetly. "It's just getting a little late, and we wanted to put the little ones to bed for the night. They're…not very happy about that."
She said this last bit as she noticed each of the foals giving her a look of indignation as soon as she explained that they would be going to bed soon.
Mrs. Cake nodded. "Should I tell every-pony that the party is over, then?" she asked, addressing the question to Pinkie Pie.
At first, the pink pony looked confused.
"Why would the party be over? We'll be down lickity-split, just as soon as the babies are…Oh." Suddenly, realization crossed over her face, as she remembered what happened the last time the foals were left unattended during a party. The foals' faces lit up as they came to this realization as well; Pinkie hated having to cut a party short, so obviously this meant that in a few minutes, they would be going back down-
"Oh, no, you don't have to end the party. I can stay up here and take care of the foals" Fluttershy said, addressing both her friend and the owner of Sugar Cube Corner.
Seeing that her friends were going to protest her decision, Fluttershy insisted that she didn't mind at all. "I prefer smaller parties, anyway, where it's just very close friends" she said with a small smile, hoping that would convince them to rejoin the festivities.
"Well…Okay…If you're sure you don't mind" Twilight said hesitantly as she and the others walked towards the door.
Fluttershy stated again that she had no problem with minding the six young ponies.
"You make sure you holler for us if our lil ones start givin' you any trouble, you hear?" Applejack ordered, giving Roxbury a quick glance as she passed him, as if to silently ask him to stay out of trouble. Not that the green colt needed to be asked; he remembered all too well what happened the night they snuck into that dark forest and discovered the snag-birds.
The other young mothers echoed Applejack's statement, but Fluttershy promised that she wouldn't have any trouble, and simply requested that her friends have a good time for the remainder of the party.
They assured her that they would as they left the loft and headed back downstairs to rejoin the festivities, Pinkie Pie briefly reentering to tell Fluttershy that she'd save the yellow pegasus some wild berry cupcakes.
A short time later, the six foals were gathered in a corner of the room, talking among themselves in a language that sounded like gibberish to anyone who was listening in; but they could understand each other just fine.
"We've got a problem" Velvet said, getting straight to the point. Her half-siblings all looked at her, each wearing an expression of curiosity at this statement.
Not waiting for the others to ask what she was referring to, Velvet continued to speak, "We gotta get rid of that pink alicorn, and fast, before she does something really bad. I mean, I'm so scared – the only reason I can even sleep at night is because I know she's probably not gonna try anything while my Mom, Spike, and Uncle Shining Armor are there, but I don't know how long she's gonna wait for. So, we gotta get rid of her, tomorrow."
After she finished her brief speech, most of the others looked somewhat uncertain. However, they were all silent for a moment, either not sure of what they wanted to say in response, or unable to say what was on their minds for one reason or another. Finally, Libby spoke up, seeming to speak for the entire group, sans Velvet.
"But…you guys told me that when you guys met that Luna alicorn on Nightmare Night, she wasn't that bad" the white unicorn filly said, her tone making it clear exactly what she was trying to imply with that statement; if Princess Luna wasn't quite as bad as the hybrids has expected she would be, based on her species, maybe the same would be true for Velvet's aunt.
Velvet understood what her sister was trying to say, and narrowed her eyes slightly, not only at Libby, but at all the others, who seemed to be thinking the same thing.
"Well, yeah, she wasn't too bad" she admitted after a moment of glaring at the others. "But, she was in the moon for a long, long time – maybe being in the moon did something to change her so she wouldn't be as bad as the others. And that means this one's still really dangerous, and we gotta get rid of her."
This time, she stressed the last part of the statement, trying to make it clear just how serious she was about this situation.
The others still looked somewhat uncertain, but nodded in agreement, able to see the logic in Velvet's argument comparing Princess Luna and Princess Cadance. Now, the issue they had was trying to find a way to get the pink alicorn princess to leave Ponyville, and preferably never return.
The first suggestion came from Butterscotch, who suggested that either they could drop something really heavy on her, or maybe find a way to bind her wings before getting her to fall into a really deep hole.
Both of these suggestions were shot down almost instantly by Velvet. "My mom and Spike and Uncle Shining all like her a lot…even if I don't get why. If she actually died, I'm pretty sure they'd all be really sad about it. I don't want her dead – I just want her to leave, that's all."
With that rule being added to their planning, the hybrid foals continued to brainstorm ways to get the pink princess of love to leave town as soon as physically possible.
All the while, Fluttershy watched them, silently wondering what exactly they were talking about in that secret language that they had developed; but mostly just happy that they were all safe and seemed to all be fairly content with the current situation, despite their earlier complaints about having to stay upstairs.
She considered interrupting them to ask what exactly they were discussing, but ultimately decided against it. It was unlikely that they would answer the question honestly, for one thing – if they were willing to let anyone outside of their group know what they were talking about, they wouldn't be using their secret language in the first place.
And besides that, she figured that there probably wasn't any need to know what they were talking about; all that mattered at the moment was that things were fairly peaceful, everyone was safe, and it seemed like everything was going to be just fine.