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Friendship is Tragic

Written by Vermillon

Edited by LurkingBrony


Equestria.  To those of you who have never travelled here before, its stories would have captivated you.   From the eerie darkness of Everfree Forest, to the sprawling and winding paths in the mountains, many a tale have been spun in these lands, but none more so daring and courageous than that of six friends, who had never seen each other before that fateful day, who, by working together, overcame the once mythical, Nightmare Moon, and saved the land from an eternal night.  These six had many adventurers together in the time after, and learnt so much about themselves and their friends, and the bond that had formed between them had become nigh indestructible.  But this you already know.

However, a few years after the events of Nightmare Moon, it came time for each of the six friends to think about their future and choose their paths in this world, none more so than Twilight Sparkle.  An dark force was brewing on the edge of Equestria and Princess Celestia wished Twilight to accompany her to help stem the danger. Twilight, although reluctant to leave her friends behind, felt that it was her duty, and so agreed to accompany the princess, despite being given a choice. But, before Twilight left with Princess Celestia, the six friends met at the library for a tearful goodbye.

"Twiiiiiiiliiiiiiighhht waaaaaaaaaah!" Pinkie Pie hugged her hoofs around Twilight squeezing her so hard that she could barely breathe. The others all stood around her, equally as sad. Twilight gave a light smile.

"It's not like I'm going away forever, everypony, the Princess said we would only be gone for a month or two.  You really are overreacting." she said, trying to remain as straight-faced as possible so as not to worry them, although she was fooling nopony.

"Oh but darling, it all sounds so positively dangerous, I just couldn't bear the thought of something happening to you!" Rarity wept all the while trying to remain lady-like.

"Ah have to admit, Sugarcube, Rarity is right.  If sumthang were to happen to ya, Ah think…"  Applejack began to say but was cut off by Rainbow Dash.

"Ha!  Oh come on, you girls, this is TWILIGHT you're talking about!  You know, 'THE' Twilight?  You think some stupid disaster is going to beat our girl after all she's been through?" Rainbow Dash sounded convincing, but even she was nervous for her. "Of course, she'd be back a lot faster if they let me come along, but whatever." Rainbow Dash turned around, her arms folded in a sulk, the others looking at her.  She slowly turned her head back, her lips quivering and tears beginning to well in her eyes. " better come back safely..." she said softly. The others all smiled at her with their tears in their eyes, all except Pinkie, who was still hugging Twilight and flooding the room with her own tears.

Fluttershy, oddly, the most composed during the gathering, approached Twilight and nuzzled her gently.  "Um…I have faith in you, but please be safe, Twilight" she whimpered softly. They all looked at each other and then back to Twilight before breaking down and embracing each other in a big group hug.

Eventually, Twilight managed to escape from Pinkie's loving grasp and composed herself, "I love you all, remember that, and when I get back, we will all meet up here again and have a huge party to celebrate and that's a PROMISE, okay, Pinkie?"

Pinkey sniffled, "Okey dokey lokey." and managed to crack a smile.

Outside, the sound of the royal horn could be heard and the heavy hooves of the royal guards pulling up. "Well, I guess my ride is here." Twilight looked to friends one-by-one and they all nodded back. Twilight gulped down the pain and opened the door, taking a moment to get one last look back, her good friends waving goodbye to her. Twilight nodded back, "I'll be back before you know it." And she jumped onto the carriage.

What followed that sad day was something no pony could have predicted.  The mission that was undertaken by Twilight Sparkle and the Princess had taken a turn for the worse,1 and far from the months or so that were predicted, it dragged for more than just a few... and then a year had passed... and then 2 years.  During this time a great deal had happened, including the tragic demise of Princess Celestia, who sacrificed herself to save Equestria. Twilight was, eventually, able to stop the disaster through her own genius tactics, however, it was too late as the events had sorely taken their toll on her.  She had fallen into a coma, only to awake many years later, nursed slowly back to health by Zecora, and while her body may have recovered, Twilight would learn that her magic, just like Princess Celestia, was lost to her forever and it would be many months in a bedridden depression before she would come to bear with these painful truths.

Princess Luna, who had taken over running Equestria in her sister's place, had invited Twilight back to Canterlot to live. Twilight agreed and had moved back and was living in the tower she previously used before.  A short while after her return, she asked to be taken to Ponyville to find her friends. But none of them were to be found. It had been six years, and Ponyville had changed a fair amount. It was recognizable, but the town looked in complete disarray.  Meanwhile, Luna had tried her best to keep Equestria in order but her lack of leadership skills was noticeable.  Twilight commissioned the royal scribes to trace her friends, so that she could explain to them.

And so the true story begins..

Chapter 1

All's Well That Ends Well

Twilight awoke from yet another nightmare in a sweat. Her dreams of Celestia had been getting worse recently. A single tear fell from her eye. "Oh Princess Celestia, why couldn't I have given my life?  Instead, you…"  She held back some tears and shook her head. "No.  She wouldn't want you to feel like this, Twilight.  Remember what she said, stay strong for her, stay strong."  Twilight composed herself.  She had tried hard, so very hard, to be strong in the face of it all.  Some days were better than others but today was not one of them.

Twilight had been mostly helping Princess Luna with her duties since her return, and while she did her duty well, she felt uneasy during this time.  Twilight and Luna were not close, and although Twilight was respected and liked in the castle, she had no one there she truly knew. Even Spike, her number one assistant and friend, was no longer with her, as he had perished alongside Celestia.

Twilight got out of bed and walked up to the mirror. She looked at herself.  She was a little bigger than she used to be. Her hair was longer and you could see small wrinkles forming from all the stress she had gone through.  "Uhh...I look a mess.  I wonder what Rarity would make of this?" She tried to force half a smile, but it soon faded. "Oh, I miss them all so much.  I hope that my request works." Twilight closed her eyes and past visions of her and her close friends and their misadventures began to run through her mind.  She flopped back on her bed.

"Hmm, Rarity is probably a top designer now.  Her own fashion lines and chain of shops." Twilight smiled. "And Fluttershy, she probably runs a clinic or shelter for the animals." She smiled again.  "Applejack must have expanded her family farm to bigger plots and is keeping Equestria fed." She grinned.  "The Wonderbolts disbanded but I wouldn't put it past Rainbow to have formed her own, even more spectacular group!" She rolled her eyes and smiled again. "And Pinkie...well, she's probably being Pinkie Pie."  She giggled.  The clock chimed outside. Twilight got up again.  It was time to go about her duties for today. She slowly opened the door made her way to see Luna.

The day consisted of the usual meetings and greetings. There were the usual documents to sign, nothing special.  Twilight cleared her head and set about the tasks until the day was done and it was time to sleep again.  She entered her room, gave a sigh and crawled into bed.

The next day, Twilight awoke and let out a scream.  This time it wasn't a nightmare.  She was shocked to see a black-robed pony at the hoof of her bed. She quickly glanced around the room, and noticed that this pony was the only one.  Twilight rubbed her eyes and looked at the pony, finally realizing who it was. It was one of the royal scouts, and in her mouth was a letter.

"Do you not knock before entering a filly's room?" She angrily snapped. The figure just stood there. "Sigh, well I guess I should lock the door in future.  Anyway, to what do I owe this visit?" She asked. The figure slowly made her way to the side of the bed and opened its mouth, plopping the letter in front of Twilight.  Twilight looked down at the envelope. "I see…" her voice fading as she recognized the seal of the Royal Scribe imprinted on the parchment.  Twilight's eyes lit up as she immediately tore into it and began reading its contents.

Dear Miss Twilight Sparkle,

I am happy to report that after an extensive search, the whereabouts of the Ponies you listed have been discovered, all but one.  As requested, we have delivered to each of the following, an invitation to meet with you. However, it must be noted that each had reservations to travelling to Canterlot. It was suggested by one 'Applejack' that a neutral meeting place would be of benefit to all for personal reasons. This information was passed along to all of the recipients. Of the four, Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash all agreed to meet with you at the enclosed destination. The Pony known as Fluttershy was unable to confirm and we regret to inform you that, as of yet, Pinkamena Diane Pie's whereabouts are unknown. We hope the information provided is sufficient.

Yours Sincerely,

Scribe Roseluck

Twilight looked up, dumbfounded for a moment. "They...found them!  I don't believe it!  No Pinkie, but…my friends..." Twilight began crying tears of happiness.  She turned to the scout and smiled. "You will keep looking for Pinkie, right? Please tell me you will!"  The scout nodded. Twilight hugged her.  "Sorry for shouting at you." she said. The scout smiled and began to leave the room. "Oh wait, thank you so much for delivering this to me, I didn't catch your name though." Twilight paused awaiting a reply.  The scout bumped into the doorframe before walking out.

"DeRpY."  Was all the scout said, in an unusual but cheery voice.

"Heh, thank you, Derpy, you made my morning so bright!" Twilight squeaked as she gave a big smile.  She composed herself again, looking down at the letter's attached note. "A tavern. 'The Fabulous Serpent'? Hmm, I wonder why they couldn't come to Canterlot. Oh well, I guess they have their reasons."  Twilight lept out of bed and immediately began to make arrangements.

Chapter 2

Sour Apples

Twilight stood outside a ramshackle building that was just a few miles outside of Ponyville.  This was the location on the map but Twilight was a big hesitant.  She looked up at the swinging sign.  A purple sea serpent with half a moustache was poorly painted on it while a foul smell was emitting from inside the building. And noise. A lot of noise.

Twilight looked at the map again.  "Why would they choose a place like this? But, it is where they agreed to meet…" Twilight nervously opened the door and was greeted by a sight she had never seen. Ponies were drinking and singing on tables and talking.  But not in any way Twilight was used to. The singing wasn't cheerful like Pinkie Pie's songs and they were horribly out of tune. The drinks were foul smelling and dark brown and the conversations were turning the air blue.  Words Twilight hadn't heard before were being slung around and she was sure she never wanted to hear them again.

She stood aghast for a few moments before slowly turning back to the door to escape, but a few more ponies bundled in behind her, knocking her further inside.  "Um…hello I'm…"  "Oh, excuse me, I wonder if…" "Could anyone…" Twilight was cut off as she tried to attract the attention of anypony but found she was easily ignored.  She noticed a colt behind the bar and, although his outfit was odd, she could tell his job.  She walked up to the bartender and after several failed attempts, finally got his attention. She could hardly hear herself over the horrible singing and loud mouthing. "Excuse me, sir, I was told to meet my friends here, I was wondering if a reservation was made under the name Applejack." She half- shouted.

The barkeep looked at her for a few seconds then moved his face right next to hers. "Are you pulling my mane?" he snarled. Twilight was quite shocked. "Uh? I'm not quite sure what you mea--”

"Buy a drink or get out.  Reservations?  Does this look like a restaurant to you?  If you're here to ask dumb questions instead of drinking, I'll have you thrown out on your flank, you got that?"  He snarled again, getting more annoyed as each minute passed.  Twilight began to shake in fear as the barkeep eyeballed her.  "Right.  That's it, you..."

A hoof slammed down in front of him cutting him off. "Ah reckon you should learn to improve yer customer service if you ever want to keep this here 'fabulous serpent' afloat, or do Ah need to have another private discussion with you again, Marco?"  A figure next to Twilight barked out in a gritty voice.

The barkeep backed away stammering, "Uh, n…no that's quite alright, Angerjack. let me grab you a drink, on the house, and um, one for you too ma'am."  He hurriedly prepared the drinks as Twilight turned to the figure next to her but could not believe her eyes.  She tried to speak but nothing came out.  The familiar figure turned to her and smiled, but it wasn't a particularly friendly smile.

"Well Ah guess you got the message then, Twi."

Twilight stuttered, " it really you?"  It looked like Applejack and sounded like her, but this Applejack was huge. Her legs were pure muscle and her hair was a mess under her hat that was worn down over the years while her face was covered in small scars all over.

"You ain't looking so hot either, Sugarcube." Applejack said with a chuckle, grabbing the drinks and beckoning a still awestruck Twilight over to a table in the corner. The ponies at that table scattered before the two got over there.

"Sit down." Applejack said in an authoritative tone and Twilight did just that. "Ah gotta say, this weren't at the top of mah list of things to be doin' this week.  Meetin' ghosts from mah past, that is."  Applejack took a large swig from her drink before letting out a loud belch.  Twilight just sat there still in shock.

"Applejack, what...happened to you? You've changed so much…" Twilight paused as she gave a tearful glance to her old friend.

Applejack took another large swig from her drink. "Heh...well now, Ah'm more interested in whut happened to you.  Ah seem to recall sumthang about, ‘a couple o' months’."  Applejack sighed heavily.

Twilight looked upset. "Oh, Applejack, I am so sorry, I am so sorry.  I thought it would be, I truly did.  B..but then everything went out of control so fast and the Princess…the Princess she--"

Applejack cut her off mid-sentence.  "Ah know whut happened to the Princess, Twi.  You think us country folk are that backwards that we can't read the news, or we hide under a rock so we don't hear nothin out here?"

Twilight was taken aback by Applejacks retort. "N...NO!  That's NOT what I meant at all, I...I wanted to write to you all, to explain but…oh, I'm…I'm so sorry.  I'm so sorry…" Twilight broke down into quiet sobs of small tears.

Applejack paused for a few seconds before realizing what she had said. "Aw shoot.  No, no, Ah'm sorry, Twilight, I shouldn't have snapped at you.  I don't think before I say stuff, it's just…well I got a lot of problems bottled up in me.  That letter of yours…Ah mean, Ah'm glad that y'er okay, it's just dealin' with this suddenly on top of my other stuff, Ah'm not sure whut to make of all it." She said as she slowly went to rest her head on the table with a soft thud.

Twilight put her hoof on Applejacks shoulder. "I'm sorry, Applejack, I…I just wanted to see you all again.  I didn't know what to do when I learned you weren’t in Ponyville any longer, so I sent scouts out and, well…"

Applejack lifted her head and smiled wearily at Twilight. "Ferget it, we're here now, I guess.  And Ah meant it; Ah'm glad y'er okay." Twilight and Applejack looked at each other for a minute or so.  "So, um, what happened to you, if you want to talk about it, that is…" Twilight asked.  "Sugarcube, I could fill a library.”

"Where to begin...Well that day when you left Ah went back to Sweet Apple Acres.  Ah decided that, gosh darn it, if you were gunna be workin hard to save Equestria then Ah darn well better work hard too.  Ah vowed from that day on that Ah was gunna work twice as hard and get the farm back runnin to tip-top shape.  So, Ah started to train mahself with Big Mac tp get stronger.  As you can see, Ah built mahself up to a rather grand size.  Them orchards never stood a chance. Thangs were goin well fer a while, but then we got the news.  The Princess...well, right about then nopony was really in the mood to do anythang for weeks.  We were all still in mournin' for yeh both.  Of course, at the time, we had no idea you were still alive.  Anyway, when we finally got back to work, Luna had taken over as Princess. And that's when things started to go downhill.”

“Long story short, the whole fundin and priorities from Canterlot had started to dry up.  Granny Smith went an passed away, an on top of the funeral costs and runnin the farm, me and Big Mac started to get a li'l in debt.  Well, you know me, stubborn as a mule without sumpony like you to show me common sense; I refused offers from those tryin to help.  Round about three years in, the others went there separate ways but Ah decided to stay and save the farm.”

Problem wuz though, we were gettin further an further in debt.  Canterlot didn't want to fund a lost cause, an Ah was so dang determined to save our family's farm, Ah was gettin angry an upset. Then it happened, Big Mac went behind mah back and borrowed money from some shady dealers to get us back on track.  Ah know he only did it fer me an cuz we was so desperate, that idiot.  But, you can guess how that ended up.  When tham shady ponies came fer their money, we couldn't pay em, ah told them that straight.  Mah honesty playin against me in this instance, ah couldn't have known who they were.”

“They burned down Sweet Apple Acres and Mac an Ah…we tried so hard to protect her. Mac tried a little too hard.  They took mah brother's life that night, an left me fer dead. By the time the guards got there, it was too late.  Let's jus' say, Ah took mah anger and pain out on the nearest targets.  Banished from Ponyville, Ah kinda wandered fer a spell.  An Ah done sum thangs Ah ain't proud of to survive.  Got a name fer mahself around here.  Put mah bucking skills to use fer the right price, an that attracts attention.  An wel, here we are.  Ah'm walkin back from mah latest beatdown and some scout stops me an hands me a letter...and here we are."

"Oh Applejack, that's so horrible!  Poor Big Mac…" Twilight began to tear up but was cut off by Applejack.

"Yeah, poor Mac.  Sorry but Ah cried all mah tears a long time ago. Thankfully Applebloom had been moved to Braeburn's town fer schoolin so she missed all of it." Twilight couldn't believe what she was hearing.  They both talked for a while longer and Applejack had calmed Twilight down some.

"So um...Angerjack?" she asked about what the bartender had called her when she first came him.

"HA!  Yeah, cute nickname they gave me."  Twilight managed a light chuckle but immediately felt guilty.

"So, do you ever see the others?" Twilight asked. Applejacks face turned a little sour.

"Well, Ah think that question is about to be answered."  Applejack said as she looked at a figure standing behind Twilight.  Twilight was almost afraid to turn around, but she did slowly, and what she saw wasn't exactly what she expected.

Standing in the middle of the room was a pony with rainbow-colored hair.  But she looked like an earth pony.  She wasn't a pegasus.  "Oh, for a moment I thought that was…" Twilight started to say as she turned back to Applejack.

"Twilight Sparkle, and Applejack?" asked a gravelly voice from behind her. Twilight's body stiffened.

Chapter 3

Rainbow Crashed

"It IS you!" The pony shouted. "OMIGOSH OMIGOSH OMIGOSH!  When I got that letter I thought it was a sick prank!" The pony came up and wrapped her hoofs around Twilight. Twilight looked at her face and there was no mistaking it up close, it was her.  It was Rainbow Dash.

"Rainbow Dash, is it really you?  I don't believe it!" Twilight’s eyes started to tear up again.

"It's me alright, the one and only." Rainbow grinned a wide smile at Twilight, but it wasn't fooling Twilight or Applejack.  Twilight looked at Dash's body and was shocked to see two giant scars where her wings used to be.

"Rainbow, what...happened to you?  Your wings..."  Twilight started to weep softly. Rainbow Dash took a seat next to them and leaned back in the chair.

"OH this? Oh right, yeah.  It is kind of a cool story, it happened when i saved these two fillies from..." she suddenly just noticed Applejack's figure sitting across from her, not having seen before because of the initial shock of seeing Twilight.  "OH MAN, APPLEJACK, YOU GOT HUGE!"  Applejack's eyes fixed on Rainbow Dash and their gaze locked to each other.

"Hello to you too, Rainbow Crap.  Still runnin off yer mouth Ah see."  

Rainbow Dash smiled.  "And I see you've been using yours to eat your entire stock of apples." Rainbow Dash laughed while Applejack cricked her neck

Twilight placed her head between them both.  "It's good to see you both still have a, um, 'friendly' rivalry between you." Twilight's eyes pleaded with Applejack not to get violent.  Applejack gritted her teeth and slowly backed off.  "Rainbow, it's so good to see you!  I don't know how to apologize for not contacting you so..."

Rainbow Dash interrupted her before she could finish, "Aw, FORGET IT!  I know all about what happened.  Spitfire told me everything about your battle, about the coma and Zecora.  I would have came to see you myself but um..." Rainbow Dash rubbed the back of her head and blushed slightly embarrassed. "I'm kinda, well, banned from coming within 5 miles of Canterlot. HAHA, it's actually kind of a funny story, really…" she gave a nervous laugh.

"Are you drunk, you loud-mouthed filly?" Applejack erupted, giving Rainbow Dash a searing gaze.  Rainbow Dash looked to Twilight then back to Applejack.

"Looks like that's YOUR job, Crapplejack." she retorted.

"Right, THAT'S IT!" Applejack shouted as she bolted up, looking for a fight.

Twilight stood up between them both.  "Please, you two, I…I just wanted us to get together because we were friends once.  Just please stop it." She begged as she exchanged pleading glances with Raindow and Applejack.

Applejack slammed her hoof down on the table. "Fine, I'll let it fly fer you this once, Twi.  Ah'm goin outside to cool down a bit.  I hope fer yer sake, Rainbow, you smarten up while Ah'm gone." She stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

Twilight gave a sigh of relief as she couldn't help but gaze back at Rainbow Dash's wings again. "Rainbow, you said you were saving fillies?"

Rainbow snapped back when Twilight mentioned her name.  "Did I?  I mean, yeah.  I was saving these fillies when I had to make a split decision that was daring and dangerous!  I knew I could be hurt trying it but this little filly she had fallen off a--"

"Filly?  I thought you said 'fillies'?" Twilight stated.

Rainbow Dash paused for a second.  "Uh, well, there were two, but I had to make a decision to save one or the other, you see, so--"

Twilight gave her a puzzled look.  "But you said you saved both."

Rainbow Dash began to sweat and look around the bar nervously. "Uh, well, I…uh...WHAT IS THIS? WHY ARE YOU DOUBTING ME?!"

Twilight reeled back at the sudden outburst.  "I'm not doubting you Rainbow, it’s just..." Rainbow dash grimaced, her eyes welling up with tears.  "…" She winced a little, but Twilight couldn't hear what she had said over the tavern's noise. "Um...Rainbow?" Twilight went up to Rainbow, putting a hoof on her shoulder, trying to reassure her.

"I...I LOST THEM IN A STUPID RACE SHOWING OFF IN FRONT OF THE WONDERBOLTS, OK!? HAPPY NOW?!"  Rainbow blurted out.  Twilight wasn't sure what to say, as she drew herself closer to Rainbow Dash.  "It was just a stupid race, I'm so pathetic..." Rainbow paused to try and compose herself before continuing, but found it difficult.  "I lost the one thing I loved doing because of my stupid arrogance."  Rainbow Dash sobbed a little, as Twilight started to began to feel guilty for bringing it up.

"Oh Dash, I'm so sorry, what happened?  If you want to talk about it, but you don't have…"  Twilight couldn't finish asking, but Rainbow managed to let out a small laugh.

"Sure, why not?  After all, I just love the attention, remember?"

Twilight shook her head gently. "That's not what I meant--" She could feel her tears starting up again, but Rainbow cut her off.

"I know, I know."  Rainbow let out a sigh, "Well, ok, here we go.  My incredible story of stupidity..."

"Just so you know, Twi, I'm the reason the Wonderbolts decided to disband too.  All because of this stupid race.  And it kind of involves you too, but not directly.  Anyway, after we all had split up and gone our separate ways, I went back to training to take my mind off things.  All though the Princess was gone, the Wonderbolts were planning to do a show every year in honor of her. And I loved the Princess as much as any pony, so I pestered them to let me train with them.  At first they were skeptical, but I totally impressed them enough to get them to put me on a sort of 'trail basis'.  They were some of the best times I ever had, and it was just after you had won the battle that we learned you were alive and so I suggested we throw a show in honor of your victory.  They agreed and the let me plan and co-ordinate it.  Cue the Canterlot arches.”

“The plan was for us to fly in and out of them all during the show.  We practiced a lot for days, and it it was good, but I said we needed to go faster to make it more impressive.  Looking back, what I think I really meant was for ME to look more impressive.  So, I brought it up, but Spitfire said it would be too dangerous to go any faster.  I kinda...called her chicken, and said she didn't want to do it because she couldn't do it at my speed.  So I challenged her to a race to see who could clear all the arches quicker.  She accepted, despite the others telling us not to.  And then the day came.  I don't remember too much.  I know we were neck and neck until the last few arches.  I remember her saying that the last arch is too small and that it'd be impossible to clear.  And I remember my best line ever 'HA!  NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE IF YOUR ME!' and when I woke up in hospital a week wings…"  Raindow Dash took a moment, turning her head around to look at the scars again.

"Apparently, I had tried to fly on through the small gap; I guess I had misjudged it.  The impact broke my left wing instantly, then, I'm told, I managed to crash into the memorial garden for the Princess and completely wrecked it, tearing my right wing in the process.  The Docs couldn't save either of them.  Meanwhile, Spitfire had quit the 'Bolts due to her feeling guilty in going along with the race.  I was distraught.  I couldn't fly anymore and everyone was going to hate me.  I was just going to end it all, but Luna came to me and made me a deal.  She was willing to keep the accident a secret for me because of my past service, on the condition I never enter Canterlot again.  I agreed, but I still couldn't fly, so what was I supposed to do?  So, I went on a journey, just wandering, but it turns out I'm still pretty fast on the ground, so I got a job as a courier.  Kinda funny, as it turns out, one of the letters I was given to deliver was addressed to me.  They told me this is where you would be meeting Applejack so..."  Her voice trailed off.

"Rainbow…I don't know what to say.  I mean, I want to chew you out for being so reckless but, you poor thing…" Twilight's voice faded as she hugged Rainbow Dash tighter.

"Thanks Twi.  I guess I had to get it off my chest eventually, and you know, it feels a little better." Rainbow gave a long sigh just as Applejack leaned over onto the table.  "You ain't gonna believe this, Twilight, but yer day just keeps gettin better an better."  She said, a half-smile on her face.

Twilight was worried. "Oh dear, what now?"  She asked nervously.

"Best you come on outside and take a looksie for yerself.  You too, Dash."  She beckoned them as she made her way back outside. Rainbow Dash and Twilight looked at each other, giving each other a nervous look as they made their way to the front of the tavern.

Outside, there stood a beautiful carriage covered almost entirely in gems and jewels being pulled by two stallions and inside the carriage, a silhouette of a well-dressed pony was sitting at the window. Twilight and Rainbow Dash looked in amazement, while Applejack didn't care so much as a stallion walked up to the 3 of them.  "Ahem, her ladyship received a letter from a miss 'Twilight Sparkle' which I presume is one of you as your angry country friend agreed to fetch you."

Twilight gulped. "I…I'm Twilight Sparkle, sir." The Stallion approached the door of the carriage and whispered something that Twilight couldn't make out.

The stallion turned back to the other ponies.  "Her ladyship has agreed to meet with you, but she will not leave the carriage.  You may enter."  He opened the door and Twilight peered inside to see a beautifuly-designed dress and her eyes followed it to the figure's face.

"R...Rarity? " Twilight asked nervously.

Chapter 4


Rainbowdash let out a gasp behind Twilight.  "FLUTTERSHY!?"  Twilights eyes met with the pony's, it WAS Fluttershy.  Twilight rubbed her eyes in disbelief.  "Fluttershy, oh look amazing." Twilight smiled happily for the first time in a long while.  Fluttershy looked down from her seat at Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Applejack.  Her eyes welled up with tears as she jumped down from the carriage, giving Twilight and Rainbow Dash a big hug and began to cry intensely.  Then she ran over to Applejack and gave her a hug too, barely able to get her hoofs around the pony's bulky frame.

"Yeah yeah, nice t'see you too, Fluttershy."  Applejack returned the hug as Twilight and Rainbow Dash trotted over to her.

"Oh Fluttershy, it's been so long, I'm so glad you're okay." Twilight smiled up at Fluttershy as Rainbow Dash stepped up to Fluttershy.  

"Yeah!  But, WOAH!  What's with the fancy ride, girl?  I never would've pictured you riding in something with so much flash!" Rainbow dash cracked a smile looking over the whole carriage again.  Fluttershy gave a shy smile before wiping away her tears.

"Looks like sumthang Rarity would have if ya ask me." Applejack commented, herself looking over the carriage as well.  Fluttershy's eye twitched slightly as the rest of her body tensed up.

Twilight walked around to look at Fluttershy.  "Fluttershy, are you ok?  You haven't said a thing."  Twilight said with a twinge of worry in her throat. Fluttershy turned her head slightly away, her embarrassment showing.

Rainbow Dash was about to question this too when Fluttershy noticed Rainbow's wings, or lack of, and her face contorted to a look of horror and sadness.  She made an expression of letting out a gasp, but there was no sound.  She quickly went over to gently stroke where Rainbow's wings used to be as more tears began to roll down her face.  Fluttershy held on to Dash tightly, quietly sobbing.  "Oh, er, yeah, I had an accident, Fluttershy.  I know it looks real bad but I'm ok now, really, it coulda been much worse."  Fluttershy started shaking her head in disbelief, softly pounding Dash's body with her hooves.

When Fluttershy had calmed a little, Twilight put her hoof around Fluttershy.  "I guess we all have a lot to talk about, huh?  I'm sorry I never came back to see you sooner, Fluttershy, all of you…"  Fluttershy shook her head softly and nuzzled Twilight.  "So, y'all gonna say anything, Fluttershy, or just stand there?   Shoot, Ah know you were always quiet, but Ah thought you would have come outta yer shell a little after all this time."  Applejack said looking at Fluttershy who could only lower and turn her head away.

Twilight started to worry again.  "Fluttershy, please say something.  You are starting to worry me."  Twilight said nervously, but the awkward silence was broken when Rainbow Dash was looking at the carriage for a moment and noticed the letters 'RDE' imprinted on the side.

"Hey, Fluttershy, what does the R-D-E stand for on…"  She paused to let out a huge gasp of excitement.  "Rainbow Dash Equestria?  You named your carriage after me?"  Rainbow Dash joked, giving a loud chuckle.  Fluttershy twitched again, ever so slightly.

"Fluttershy, what's wrong?  Please tell us…"  Twilight begged her.

The Stallion walked over from the carriage. "It STANDS for RARITY DIVINE ENTERPRISES you foals, although, judging by the look of you all, I doubt you would recognize rags, let alone the most prominent fashion name in all of Equestria."  He snorted.

"Rarity has her own Fashion line?  Oh I knew she would!"  Twilight felt a little pride that she had at least predicted one thing right.  "So, you work for Rarity, Fluttershy?" Rainbow Dash asked.  Fluttershy twitched again, more noticeably this time.  "Fluttershy, can't you talk?  Do you have laryngitis?"  Fluttershy only shook her head.

"Well then whut is it?  Say sumthang gosh darn it!" Applejack snapped at Fluttershy in frustration.

Fluttershy stepped away from Applejack a little bit frightened.  "Hey!  Don't shout at her like that Applejack, leave her alone!" Rainbow Dash jumped in front of Fluttershy and pointed a hoof at Applejack.

"Is that a threat?" Applejack snapped back.

"Shout at her again like that and it'll be more than just…" before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence, Applejack had charged at her.

"That's it!  Ah warned ya to stop runnin yer mouth!" Applejack collided into Rainbowdash and the two began to trade blows.  Twilight yelled at them to stop but the two ponies either didn't hear Twilight or completely ignored her.

It wasn't much of a fight.  Applejack, by far, had the upper hoof and eventually pinned Rainbow Dash to the ground. "Huff huff, yer gonna shut yer mouth now ya stupid flank." Applejack raised her hoof up, ready to deliver a heavy blow.

"Applejack…" Rainbow Dash gasped out but Applejack's eyes had glazed over as she went to land the blow but something grabbed her hoof at the last second.  It was Fluttershy.  Unfortunately, she was far too weak to stop the full force of Applejack and was thrown aside by the swing.  She tumbled along the ground slightly tearing her dress in some places and picking up a little dirt.  Applejack stopped her assault as Rainbow Dash lied there ready for another hit, but Applejack got off of her.

"Fluttershy, are you ok?" Twilight rushed over to her aid.

"Yer crazy!  Ah coulda hurt ya real bad…" Applejack shouted at Fluttershy as she got to her feet, visibly shaken and upset. She ran over to Dash and cradled her as she began to softly cry.

Rainbow Dash looked up at Fluttershy, tears falling on her face.  "Im…okay.  Thank you, Fluttershy, ow, I’ve had worse."

Applejack grumbled towards Raindow Dash, "Oh you really don't know when to quit do ya?"  Before Applejack could get in any more words, Twilight screamed out for the two to stop it.  Applejack sat down in a huff while Rainbow Dash lied there looking up at a distraught Fluttershy.

"Oh Fluttershy, your dress got ruined, why did…" Twilight stopped mid-sentence, her eyes fixated on Fluttershy's neck which was now visible and marked with a deep scar that went full around.  "Oh my...Fluttershy what…what happened to your neck?"  Fluttershy, upon realizing her neck was visible, began to panic and tried to cover up the scar but it was too late.  Applejack got up and walked over to Fluttershy and Twilight.  "Fluttershy...oh no, what is this?  Let me see…" Twilight said softly as Fluttershy cringed and wanted to resist but let Twilight look at her neck.  Twilight gently pulled the material down exposing Fluttershys neck.  Tears began to form in Twilight's eyes as she looked at the damage.  "Why?  Why would anyone do this to you? This isn't natural, it looks like a collar was put on her." Twilight began  to sob louder.

"This is why you ain't said nothin, you can't talk no more?" Applejack asked Fluttershy, her voice softer than it had been.  Fluttershy was shaking all over, but slowly gave Applejack a nod.  

Rainbow Dash jumped up, though a little wobbly. "WHO DID THIS TO YOU? I'LL KILL THEM!"  Rainbow Dash blurted out, her anger apparent, while Twilight collapsed on the ground in despair.

"How is she supposed to tell us that?"  Applejack snorted as the stallion who had been watching all this with disgust on his face but a little to his amusement, finally spoke up.

"My lady Fluttershy, Miss Rarity's instructions were to meet with these...pondscum…and if Miss Twilight were among them, to bring them back to her mansion.  I think you have wasted enough time here, and I'm sure her ladyship will be anxious as to what is delaying you."  Immediately, Fluttershy's face cringed and more panicked than before.

Twilight looked up at her.  "Rarity wants us all to go with you?" she asked.  Fluttershy slowly nodded but it did not seem reassuring.

Rainbow Dash butted in, "Then I say we go!  If Fluttershy has been with Rarity then she probably knows what did this to her."  Applejack gave a reluctant sigh.

"Ah HATE agreeing with her, Twi, but Ah want to know what the heck happened too."

Twilight agreed. "Ok Fluttershy, we'll come meet Rarity with you."  Fluttershy frowned but beckoned them to the carriage.  One by one they got on and soon they were off to see Rarity.

Chapter 5

Friends Like These Are A Rarity

The carriage trundled along at a fair pace.  The four friends sat in silence inside the entire trip. Fluttershy  was nervously twitching while Rainbow Dash nursed her bruises and looked anxious from sitting still.  Applejack, still scowling, sat across from Dash, and the two exchanged a glaring stare every so often and Twilight, who was an emotional wreck at this point, could not believe what had happened to all her friends. It was horrible, and a part of her wished she had not sent the letters at all.  With all that had happened, what would await her when she meets Rarity?   It was all too much for Twilight, who had to open the carriage window and throw up.

The others were left to look at each other. Rainbow Dash and Applejack realized how stupid they both had acted but neither apologized.  Fluttershy sat in silence twiddling her hooves as Twilight sat back in her seat. "Why?" Was all Twilight could mumble to herself.  A few minutes later, the carriage stopped, and looking through the window, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack all gazed up at the huge mansion that was in front of them.  It was gorgeous and covered in gems and jewels and flowers and every centimeter was a perfectly constructed piece of art.

"WOAH!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. The stallion opened the door for them and each of them got out and stood in shock on the front lawn.  Eventually, Twilight nervously edged forward all the while Fluttershy looked increasingly uncomfortable.  Rainbow Dash and Applejack just looked impressed, but at least weren't screaming at each other.  Suddenly a brilliant fanfare of horns and music came from the mansion.  Fluttershy jumped in fright.  Twilight recognized the sounds, though they were a little different; they reminded her of the royal fanfare.  Then a figure appeared with two handsome stallions by her side.  Twilight closed her eyes. She wasn't sure if she wanted to look, but she felt she had to.  She had come this far, and opened her eyes slowly.

At the top of the steps stood Rarity.  No disfigurement.  No bulky body. No broken horn.  No unimaginable horror.  Just Rarity.  Looking a little older, but still beautiful.   "Twilight, darling! Oh, this is just wonderful!  Truly fabulous!  When I received your letter, I just did NOT know what to make of it.  I mean, it had been so many years and..." Rarity slowly made her way over to the others, "and, well, you can imagine the shock, but I just had to see for myself!  So, I sent someone to this Tavern I was told of, but oh, imagine my horror when I was told of this…establishment…" She got close enough so she could speak quietly.  "I just couldn't possibly demean myself by entering such a place.  So, I sent Fluttershy to find you, and the poor dear doesn't get out that often, so I thought to kill two birds with one stone, uh, as it were…" Rarity paused for a moment to gracefully spin around, stopping in front of them. "And here you all are!  I must say, I wasn't expecting Rainbow Dash and Applejack but it's a nice surprise.  I had heard you had both perished in unfortunate accidents back home, but then I was always one for gossip and rumors, but here you are… all…dirty and…scruffy…Oh dear."

Applejack and Rainbow Dash stood still, mouths agape.  Twilight took the opportunity of Rarity's silence to get a word in. "Rarity, you seem normal.  I have to say I'm relieved."

Rarity snapped to Twilight in shock. "Normal? Oh no no no, dear, I look FABULOUS!  But, darlings, you must come inside and let me give you a tour.  We have so much to catch up on, but um, first we need to get you two cleaned up."  She said, pointing out Applejack and Rainbow Dash.  "Fluttershy, be a dear for me and show Rainbow Dash and Applejack to the boutique, chop chop."  She ordered, ushering them away but before they began to move, Rarity finally noticed Rainbow Dash's back.  "Eeeek!  OH MY GOODNESS!  Rainbow Dash, your WINGS!  What happened to your pretty wings, you poor thing?"

Rainbow Dash sighed, "This again?  Can I explain it later, please?  I've had enough of embarrassing myself for one day."  

Rarity gave Rainbow a hug.  "Oh, ew dirt... well yes," she seemed to be saying to herself, but aloud.  "Of course darling, but, well…yes.  Of course, you can tell Rarity in your own time.  Now both of you go clean up, you'll feel so much better for it."  Rainbow Dash followed Fluttershy into the mansion.  Applejack turned to Twilight and shrugged before following.

Rarity turned to Twilight and let out a heavy sigh. "Oh my, it's awful is it not?" She began saying as she started to walk Twilight up the steps.

Twilight shuddered a moment thinking of her friend's horrible troubles.  "Yes, I can't believe how badly things have turned out for them.  Their lives are--"

 Rarity interrupted, "Oh, I meant how awfully hideous they look now."  Twilight gasped loud enough to cut Rarity off.  Rarity gave her a puzzling look.  "Oh, I still love them both to bits darling, they're my friends.  But did you SEE the size of Applejack now? Ugh, she is more brutish than my personal bodyguards, and Rainbow Dash, oh those scars where her wings used to be…SURELY you would think even SHE would see sense enough to cover them with something, like Fluttershy."

Twilight stopped dead in her tracks, not sure if what she was hearing was real.  "I...I can't believe you could say such things.  They are your...friends."

Rarity turned to her.  "And as such, I am merely pointing out how they could…improve…their appearance for their own benefit.  Darling, Darling, I am a critique.  It's my JOB to find fault in things."  Twilight knew it was too good to be true. There had to be some catch to Rarity seeming to be the same.

Twilight spoke up.  "I don't know what to say, Rarity.  I never expected to hear something like that from you."  Rarity laughed lightly.

"And I never expected you to disappear for years with no word.  Times change, Darling.  I did not get to where I am today through kindness and generosity; they were the two ingredients stopping me from realizing my true potential."

Twilight shook her head is disbelief. "Kindness and GENEROSITY made you what you are!"  

Rarity sighed at Twilight's outburst. "Oh, it's not like I'm completely heartless, after all, if it were not for me, Fluttershy would most certainly be dead right now."

Twilight walked back up to where Rarity was.  "Yes, I've been meaning to ask about Fluttershy.  That scar around her neck, how did she get that? What happen...that wasn't you, WAS IT?" Twilight didn't want to think that for a second but with the way the day had been going, how could she think any different?

"Oh, GOODNESS NO!  Do not be absurd, Twilight!"  Twilight still wasn't sure what to think. "Look, when Rainbow Dash and Applejack are ready, we will have dinner together and I will explain EVERYTHING, Darling."  Twilight gave in with a light sigh. "Fine, but I want to know exactly what happened to her."

That evening Twilight and Rarity were sitting in Rarity's grand dining hall, both dressed in one of Rarity's fabulous dresses.  Rarity was passing the time chatting away about the latest fashions while Twilight was half-listening and all too anxious to hear the full story.  Fluttershy entered the room and ushered in Rainbow Dash and Applejack who were booth clean as a whistle and dressed in some of Rarity's rejected clothing.  "Is this really nessasary?"  Rainbow Dash moaned.

"Ah have to agree, why are ya makin us wear these dresses, Rarity?  It don’t feel or fit right." Applejack sneered.

"Oh nonsense, Darling.  You both look…" Rarity paused to let out a slight sarcastic cough, "wonderful.  Now sit, sit.  Dinner will soon be served."  Rarity finished saying as Fluttershy wandered off towards the kitchen.

"Hey Fluttershy, aren't you going to eat too?" Rainbow Dash quizzed.  Fluttershy paused a moment, but continued on.

"So, Rarity.  You promised to explain about Fluttershy…"  Twilight gave her a friendly look. Rarity pondered.

"Hmm, Well, I was going to start with the fabulous story of my rise to the top, but, I suppose as she isn't here to get upset, I can tell you".  The others leaned forward, curious to hear the story.

"Well, Darling's, I can't tell you every detail as the poor thing hasn't been able to speak since I found her. But I can tell you HOW I found her.  Slave traders had--"

"WHAT?  What do you mean Slave traders?  What was she doing with them?  What were YOU doing involved with Slavers?" Twilight demanded to know.

"I will get to that shortly.  Now then, from what I hear, Fluttershy became more and more obsessed with helping animals after we had all split up.  So much so that she began to look closer to the Everfree forest for the more exotic creatures.  Ponies say she would often travel there out there alone.  Well, one can only assume at some point she was filly-napped by a group of slavers.  I'm not sure for how long she was in their captivity, but, judging by the damage from her slave collar, I would assume it was a long while.  I had wrote to her many times, but I never heard from her, and no one knew where she had gone."

"Well a few years ago my business was just taking off and I needed laborers to do some of the, well, manual labor.  And, I will confess, I did dabble a 'little' bit in the black market.  Yes, Yes.  I know, very unladylike, but I was young, naïve.  A silly mare who could not have--"

"Just git on with it." Applejack protested, getting weary from all the talking.

"Yes, well…Obviously I happened on to these 'traders'.  Now, girls, you have to understand at this point, I treat my workers fair and never had any intentions of treating them as slaves.  They are all paid a fair wage here…"  Rarity's voice trailed off as she shared a nervous with to the other ponies around the table. Rainbow Dash, Twilight, and Applejack did not look too impressed.

"Yes well, obviously I stumbled across Fluttershy and after much crying and hugging, I attempted to buy her freedom.  However, the slavers liked having her around, saying she was their 'favorite'.  I had to fight for her, not physically, you understand, but with deals and cold, hard negotiations. Eventually I had used a quarter of my earnings, but I valiantly bought her freedom.  We hugged and cried and cried and hugged.  I brought her back here and asked her to work fo…with me to help my business really fly.  She agreed and so became my assistant. And now she and I live side by side, though she seems to go out of her way for me sometimes a little too much.  But I told her that she is under no obligation to do anything she does not want to."

Twilight sighed.  "But you know she will, because she feels guilty for you having to pay for her.   She will always be in your debt, Rarity.  "I know it's possibly me jumping to conclusions, but she doesn't seem happy here.  She was flinching at the mention of your name and she seems terribly upset."

"I don't think its fear, Darling.  More of...a disagreement on certain methods I may use for my business.  You see, these kinds of dresses we are all wearing, well, the nobility fall over themselves just to get one on order and the materials used to make them are, rare, to say the least."  Rarity paused a moment to glance nervously at the other three ponies before continuing.  "Normal fabric just WILL NOT DO for these ponies.  They need something exotic; something that screams SUPERIORITY.  And so, we use materials."  Her voice trailed off on the last few words but what Rarity said was clear.

Twilight questioned, "Organic?  You mean from plants and things?"

"This kinda reminds me of that Manticor smell when we..."  Applejack said while sniffing at the sleek dress she was wearing while Rainbow Dash eyed the leathery dress she was wearing.

"Is this… is this what I think it is?"  Rainbow Dash asked, a bit of disgust mixed with horror carrying her voice.  The three of them, all realizing what they were wearing, jumped up out of their seats and threw off their dresses in revolt.

"Careful with those, they cost a fortune to make!"  Rarity screamed as Twilight reached to Rarity with her hooves and grabbed her.

"YOU KILL ANIMALS TO MAKE THESE DRESSES, RARITY, HOW COULD YOU DO THAT!?"  Twilight screamed at the top of her lungs before calming herself down.  "Oh no…no wonder Fluttershy seemed so disturbed."

Rarity brushed away Twilight with ease, her grip weakened from the disappointments the day had brought.  "We do not KILL animals, we merely...recycle, dead ones, or, if there is a dangerous creature that is bothersome, we put it to better use.  We are NOT barbarians, Twilight."

Twilight paced around the room a little before she snapped.  "Well, this.  Is.  PERFECT.   JUST ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!  OH, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL REUNION THIS HAS TURNED OUT TO BE!  MY BEST FRIENDS TURN OUT TO BE..."  She paused to calm herself down a little, though it did no good.  She pointed at each pony one-by-one as Fluttershy re-entered the room.  "A VIOLENT ALCHOHOLIC, A RECKLESS SMARTMOUTH, AND A MUTE ACCOMPLICE TO A BARBARIC ICE QUEEN!"  Twilight screamed and finally broke down into tears.  "Why…why is this happening?"

The other ponies stood around awkwardly for a moment before Applejack walked over to Twilight and Put her hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Ahm sorry, Twi.  None of us wants to see you so upset after all you been through to find us, but we can't change whut life has made us.  We all wish thangs had stayed the way they did in Ponyville, well, 'cept maybe Rarity."  Rarity gave a small huff and turned her head.  "But, you just need to be strong.  At least we're all still alive, right?"  Applejack gave Twilight a  half-grizzled smile as Twilight wiped away her tears.

"You're, right.  I'm sorry everyone, I'm being so selfish.  I was so wrapped up in my vision of us all being back like the old days that I never took into consideration that you all are allowed to choose how YOU want to live, forgive me."  Twilight said, her tears slowing.

 "It ain’t how we wanted it, Sugarcube, but it coulda been much worse." The rest of the ponies tried to give a convincing smile as Twilight stood up.

"Oh boy.  I can't wait to see how Pinkie turned out." Twilight said, an obvious sarcastic tone in her voice.  Twilight looked at the others who had gone from half-smiles to stares of worry. "What?" Twilight asked as more worry began to weigh down her heart.

"We don't ever say that name out loud Twilight…" Rainbow Dash said, breaking the silence, a soft sadness in her words.

Twilight tilted her head a little, confused. "Pinkie Pie?"

"Dagnabbit, Twi!  Hold yer tung."  Applejack snapped at Twilight, who began to look even more confused.

"Why don't you talk about Pinkie Pie?" She asked.

"Darling, please, for the love of all that is fashionable and beautiful, PLEASE refrain from saying that name."  Rarity begged with Twilight who was now getting more annoyed than confused.

"Ok, what's the joke here?   You keep telling me not to mention Pinkie Pie, but you won't tell me why."  Twilight looked down at her legs to see Fluttershy wrapped around them shaking her head.  Twilight looked down at her then up at Applejack.  "What happened…to…Pinkie Pie?!"  The other ponies looked around at each other with a nervous and worrying look.

Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to break the silence.  "Twilight...Pinkie...she kinda—"

"Shut up, Rainbow!"  Applejack shouted over Rainbow Dash.  "Shut yer mouth right now!  We all promised not to—"

"She has a right to know, Applejack, I think we should tell her.  After all she's had to put up with today, it's only fair."  Rainbow Dash shouted back at Applejack.  She turned to Twilight who stood firm, bracing herself for the news.  "Twilight…Pinkie Pie, she—"  Before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence Applejack was upon her.  Applejack threw her back legs up and bucked Rainbow Dash hard enough that she had smashed through the entire table, scattering silverware everywhere.  Rarity was backing away from the scuffle while Fluttershy hugged the floor trembling.  Twilight screamed at Applejack to stop her attack.  "Pinkie is—"  Rainbow Dash tried to continue telling Twilight, but Applejack kicked her again.  Rainbow Dash fell to the ground winded and hurting.  By this time, Rarity's bodyguards had heard the commotion and entered the room.

"Will somepony PLEASE restrain her before she ruins anymore of my precious furniture!"  Rarity screamed out.  The bodyguards rushed at Applejack, grabbing her neck and backside.

"Get yer stinkin hooves off me!" Applejack shouted before bucking like mad, flinging the two on her tumbling in separate directions and keeping the other guards at a distance.

All the while, Rarity was ushered out of the room. "Twilight, Fluttershy, come on, before you get hurt." She said, waving at the two to follow her.

"I can't leave them to kill each other!"  Twilight paused to look at Fluttershy who was slowly making her way over to Rarity but looking back at Twilight.  "Go, Fluttershy.  I'll calm them down."  Twilight said unconvincingly with a half-crooked smile.  Fluttershy turned back and ran out of the room.

Rainbow Dash had pulled herself to her feet at this point and started to slowly hobble over to Twilight while Applejack was busy dealing with the guards.  "Twi…Twilight.  Listen to me…" she gasped as Applejack had charged through the last bodyguard and knocked her to the floor.

"AH said DON'T." Applejack shouted at Rainbow Dash who was too beaten to try to stand.  "We all promised we wouldn't speak about her an Ah don't plan to break that promise, even if Twilight is here!"  Applejack's face was contorted with anger and frustration as Rainbow Dash looked up to her.

"But…" Rainbow Dash started to say; pain covering her face as she tried to stand but ultimately gave up, "She has a right to know."  She then turned to Twilight which caused her to grimace slightly.  "Twi…Pinkie Pie—"

Applejack didn't give Rainbow Dash a chance and bucked her into a side-table holding a number of candles.  The blow knocked Rainbow Dash out and a number of still-lit candles scattered about on the floor while a few of the candles rolled to a nearby curtain setting it ablaze almost instantly.

"Dash!" Twilight screamed as she watched her body fall to the ground unconscious and ran over to her.  Grabbing her by the tail, Twilight tried to pull Rainbow Dash away from the fire but found she was not strong enough.  She looked over to Applejack and pleaded her for help.  Applejack looked at them both and hesitated but, giving in with a huff, went over and grabbed Rainbow Dash's tail too and helped drag her through the mansion and eventually outside where Rarity was screaming as the fire in her mansion got worse and Fluttershy was nowhere to be seen.  Twilight and Applejack managed to get Rainbow Dash a safe distance from the burning building before setting her down on the ground.  Twilight suddenly spun around and slapped Applejack across the face.

Applejack was frozen in shock for a second from the unexpected hit, but came to and spun her head back around to meet Twilight's gaze; her eyes were seething with anger, but it soon faded  "Ah…deserved that."  Was all Applejack could say before Twilight hit her again, her eyes flowing with tears.

"You IDIOT!  YOU COULD HAVE KILLED could have killed her…"  Twilight's voice trailed off as she began to break down.

Applejack turned away, embarrassed slightly.  "Twi, please do me a favor.  When Dash wakes up, tell er…tell er Ah'm sorry". Twilight knelt down next to Rainbow Dash, holding her in her arms.

"You tell her…" Twilight said in a weeping, quiet voice.

"Ah can't.   Ah have to go check on sumthang an I don't have much time."  Applejack said, turning around from Twilight and Rainbow Dash about to head off.  "An, Twi?  Whatever that flabbermouth says, don’t go looken fer her.  Please." She didn't give Twilight a chance to respond and galloped off, leaving Twilight holding Rainbow Dash in her arms.

Twilight gently stroked Rainbow Dash's mane as she looked up at the raging fire that was consuming the large mansion.  Rarity came storming over with several stallions in tow and stomped her hoofs down in front of Twilight.  "My beautiful home!  My fashion designs, my.... EVERYTHING!  It's all gone, thanks to those two…RUFFIANS!"  She screamed as loud as she could, making sure to stomp the ground again to show her immense displeasure.

Twilight gripped Rainbow Dash tighter in fear and looked up trying to find Fluttershy but still saw no sign of her.  "Where's Fluttershy?"  She asked.

Rarity stomped the ground again.  "That's the LEAST of my concerns right now!  UGH!  YOU STALLIONS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  FIND WATER AND PUT THIS FIRE OUT NOW!" Rarity yelled as loud as she could as the stallions gave each other a nervous look before running off to look for water.  Twilight shook her head slowly in despair.  Rarity turned back to look at her burning house.  "M...Maybe It's not too late.  I can still salvage some of the dresses in the east wing—EEK!"  Rarity screamed as a tiny Ursa ran past her and Twilight followed by a cockatrice and several other animals and creatures.  Rarity could only watch in horror and shock as her entire 'stock' ran past.  "My beautiful..." her voice trailed off as she noticed Fluttershy standing at the edge of the far garden with a set of keys in her mouth and a steely look in her eye.  “Fluttershy!  What have you DONE?!"  She screamed, but Fluttershy had dropped the keys and ran off with tears in her eyes.

Rarity collapsed into a sobbing heap on the ground.  "I'm ruined...RUINED!  Years of hard work all gone in an instant!"  She sat there motionless for a moment before turning to Twilight with a nasty glare in her eyes.  "YOU!  This is all YOUR FAULT!"  She screamed at Twilight who was far too drained at this point to even reply with words.  She just sat there cradling Rainbow Dash.  "If YOU had not come back, if you had NOT written that stupid letter and brought them together. If you had not…"  Rarity watched as Twilight ignored her, picking up Rainbow Dash and placing her onto her back.  "WAIT, Where do you think you are going?"  Rarity demanded, "you can't just leave after…"

Twilight turned her head as she began to slowly walk away.  "Just…don't, Rarity."  Was all Twilight said as she picked up the pace and went off in the same direction as Fluttershy, leaving Rarity behind who stood there dumbfounded and in complete disbelief as escaping creatures ran around her and the fire in her mansion burned everything it could touch.

Twilight had been walking aimlessly around for twenty minutes down the road, unable to pay attention to where she was going and tripping and stumbling every so often when Rainbow Dash started to stir.  "Uhh, w…where am I?" She muttered in a daze.  Twilight stopped and turned her head to check on Rainbow Dash whose face and body was bruised and swollen and began to weep softly.

"You're safe now."  Twilight said as she made her way over to a large tree and placed Rainbow Dash on the ground against it.

"Safe from what, Applehead?  Heh, I was just about to—unnh…" Rainbow Dash groaned with pain as she talked.  "Heh, who am I kidding, right?  I never could beat her even when we were younger..."  She looked around for Applejack but saw she was nowhere to be seen.  "H…hey wait, where IS Applejack?  And Fluttershy and Rarity?" she asked turning her head slowly to not cause more discomfort looking for the others, but saw no other pony.

Twilight sat next to her.  "Rarity is back at her hole-in-the-ground; we're not going back.  Fluttershy is...I'm not sure, and Applejack took off somewhere.  She told me…she told me to tell you that she was sorry."  Twilight explained and gave a loud and heavy sigh.

Rainbow Dash had a look of confusion on her face.  "Ah, forget it."  Was all she said before they both sat there in silence for a while but after time had passed slightly, they both heard a soft rustle in the bushes and looked at each other before looking towards the foliage.

"Who's there?" Twilight asked, her throat tensing in fear.  A small, yellow hoof timidly stepped out from behind a curtain of green brush.  "Fluttershy!"  Twilight gasped as she got up and rushed over to hug her.  "Oh, thank goodness you are okay!"  She cried out, embracing Fluttershy in a hug.  Fluttershy returned the hug before they both went over to Rainbow Dash.   Fluttershy sat down next to Rainbow Dash, nestling in beside her.  "Ow...cut it out.  I'm ok, really, Fluttershy.  I've had worse, heh." Rainbow Dash joked as Fluttershy laid her head on Dash, utterly exhausted by the day's events.

After a few silent minutes, Twilight composed herself and turned to Rainbow Dash for some answers.  "Rainbow, I'm scared to ask now, after all that has happened, were trying to tell me about Pinkie.  For the others to react the way they did…I’m not sure I want to know anymore, but…" Twilight wasn't sure if she wanted to hear, but she had come too far this day.  Rainbow Dash looked up at Twilight and gave a heavy sigh.

Chapter 6

Pie of the Beholder

Twilight prepared herself as Rainbow Dash began to tell of what happened. "Pinkie Pie, she kind of…well, she was always so random and crazy but, remember what you told her?   Remember when you said you would be back in a few months.  Well, she decided to throw a party every week in your honor until you came back."

Twilight managed to crack a small smile, "That sure sounds like Pinkie Pie."  She said and Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, heh.  It wasn't weird at first.  It was kinda fun, for a while, but by sixth week or so, it started to get annoying.  But, well, after a while, when more than a few months had passed and you were still gone, we kinda told her to stop."  Fluttershy nodded slightly.  "But she said no.  She said you were coming back and that you were just late, that's all, and although we all believed that, well the longer it went on, the less...sure we all were…" Rainbow Dash frowned as her eyes began to water.

Twilight frowned too.  "In all honesty, Dash, I wasn't sure myself.  I can understand how it must have seemed with the reports."

Rainbow Dash gave a nervous smile and continued, holding back her tears as she did.  "Well, Pinkie kept at it, but you could see she was starting to crack.  And then that day came when we all heard about…Princess Celestia. Pinkie refused to believe you were dead too; she said you promised you would come back, and that 'Twilight would NEVER break a promise, silly!'"  Sadness and guilt began to weigh on Twilight and it showed in her face, but Rainbow Dash continued.  "She kept holding a party for you, every week, even through the mourning period.   Eventually, ponies started to avoid her and we were all worried so we had to try to put a stop to it, so, we went to see her, only she wasn't home but she had left a note on the front door."

Dear Meanies

Twilight isn't here anymore.  I couldn't figure out why she wouldn't come home to Ponyville so I thunk and I thinked and I thoughted and I tried to figure out where she would go if not back to Ponyville.  I checked Canterlot, but Princess Luna wouldn't tell me where she went.  So, I thoughted and thinked some more.  'Where would a Unicorn who loves magic go to hide?'  And then it hit me!  The most magicalist place we had been; the old castle in Everfree Forest!  So, I have gone to see her.  I guess you meanies who don't believe she's ok can come visit us so I'm leaving this note.


Pinkie Pie



After Rainbow Dash finished reading the letter verbatim, she and and Fluttershy looked at other then both turned their gaze to Twilight.  "When we got there...Pinkie—"

Twilight gasped in horror, cutting Rainbow Dash off, "NO!  Pinkie can't be dead!" Tears began to spout up immediately.

Rainbow Dash shook her hoof while Fluttershy tried to calm Twilight down by patting her on the back. "No, no, Twilight, she's fi... Alive...It's just...she's happy."

Twilight stopped crying enough to ask, "What? Happy?  What do you mean, that makes no sense."

Rainbow Dash scooted closer to twilight and softly spoke.  "She's with you now; you are having one everlasting party".

Twilight was very confused now. "With me?"  She asked nervously.

"When went to see her…we tried to tell her you weren't there, but she wouldn't believe us.  She threatened us to leave before we upset…you.  She's completely snapped, Twilight, but she was content."  Twilight bolted up and began to pace a little, uncomfortable at the news she just heard.

"We would continually check up on her every so often, but with everyone having to deal with their own things, well, it was becoming difficult.  Eventually we all promised to each other that we would never speak of Pinkie Pie again, for her sake.  We…we all believed she was happy and we wanted to keep it that way."  Rainbow Dash let her words sink in for a moment before continuing.  She shifted in her place, uneasy with sitting still and more uneasy that Twilight was silent, but she continued.  "If you go to meet her and she sees you, or two of you. If you told her what happened and she knows you were alive all this time and never came back…it might destroy her; send her over the edge.   We didn't want to hurt her or endanger you.  You saw how she was that time we missed Gummy's after- party.   Something like this..." Rainbow Dash  couldn't finish the sentence.  Small drops of tears began to roll down her face as Twilight stood there,  not knowing how to even react.

"But, you're telling me this now.  Why?" Twilight asked, her voice was soft and barely audible.

Rainbow Dash sighed before looking up to Twilight to explain.  "I think it's gone on long enough.  It's been too long since anypony visited her and…it might be better to risk it.  Maybe it'll work out, and if it doesn't, well..."

Twilight snapped to as if from a long daze.  "I'm going to see her.  This is wrong; it's cruel.  I have to see her."  Rainbow Dash slowly nodded in agreement and tried to stand up to join Twilight, but found she was too injured from her earlier brawl with Applejack.  Twilight shook her head and gave Rainbow Dash and light-hearted smile.  "It's okay, Dash, you're still badly hurt, and if it gets dangerous, I don't want to have your life on my conscious too."  Twilight turned to Fluttershy who was stroking Rainbow Dash's bruised body.  "Fluttershy, will you please look after Rainbow for me?"  Fluttershy put a leg around Rainbow Dash and nodded at Twilight. "Thank you, Fluttershy…and Rainbow Dash, thank you for telling me."

Rainbow Dash grimaced in pain as she spoke.  "Twilight, just be careful, ok?"

Twilight nodded and began to walk away towards the ruins that Rainbow Dash spoke of but paused a moment and turned around back to the two ponies. "If i don't see you again…I want you to know, I love you all.  Tell Applejack if you see her again...and...Rarity, I can't forgive her yet, but I still love her."  Twilight broke into a sprint down the road, running as fast as she could.

The journey to the ruins in Everfree Forest took time but was uneventful.  The time was spent wondering how bad it actually was, but Twilight feared the worse.  She soon found herself following a familiar path; pass the cliff, down the slope, through the Manticore den, pass the creepy trees, over the serpent's river and finally to the rope bridge, where the fog was thickest and where a large figure was standing, waiting.

Applejack stood there, blocking the small pass with her brawny body.  "Ah figured you would come eventually, Twilight.  You know Ah can't let ya 'cross this here bridge."

Twilight stood her ground.  "Applejack, please, I have to see her."

Applejack shook her head lightly.  "Twilight, look at us; after all you seen today, after all the pain an hurt an everythang… you haven't learnt  a thing?  If you go an see Pinkie Pie, you throw away whut little happiness either of you two have."

Twilight took a few steps toward Applejack.  "I can save her.  I can explain to her…I WILL save her, please, just get out of my way Applejack, I don't want to fight you."

Applejack gave a sarcastic laugh.  "You think it'd be much of a fight, Twi?"

Twilight didn't move, but looked up to Applejack with pity and distress in her eyes.  "Do You...enjoy hurting your friends Applejack?  You want me to end up like Dash?"  She paused a moment, unable to wrap her mind around the knowledge that her friend had become so bitter.  "Do you want to kill me too?"

Applejack didn't flinch at the question but gave a sigh thinking back on what she did to Rainbow Dash.  "You know ah never meant fer her to—"

"You never MEANT to cause that fire, but your recklessness when your angry…you don't think.  We are on the edge of a cliff.  Maybe you won't MEAN to knock me off it to my death...but I'm not going to be stopped from seeing Pinkie.  It's your call."  Twilight began walking slowly towards the bridge and Applejack.

Applejack turned her head to look at the rickety rope bridge and the drop.  She gritted her teeth and sword under her breath before turning back to Twilight.  "DAGNABBIT, Twilight!  You both better come outta there, YA HEAR ME?" she yelled at Twilight before reluctantly moving to the side, allowing Twilight to pass.  Twilight walked up to Applejack and gave her a big hug and thanked her before walking across the bridge and disappearing into the thick fog.

Chapter 7

Alls Well That Ends

Twilight nervously looked up at the ruins.  The old castle brought back memories, both good and bad.  She steeled herself and made her way inside, unsure of what she would find.  She began to head up the only tower in the ancient building, noticing deflated balloons and scattered streamers hugging the steps while the walls had crude drawings of herself and other assortments of party items.  As she neared the top of the tower and the room where she had discovered the Elements of Harmony all those years ago, she began to hear faint murmurings that she couldn't quite make out until she finally reached the top.  She shut her eyes as tight as she could, afraid of what she would find.

"TWILIGHT!"  A ghostly familiar voice yelled out.

Twilight was scared to open her eyes.  "P…Pinkie Pie?" she managed to squeaked out.

"Do you want more cake, Twilight?"  The voice asked.

Twilight began to recall memories of Pinkie Pie offering her cake and couldn't help but grin a little.  "I...I'd love some…"  She said softly, he voice fading as she opened her eyes.

There she was.  There was Pinkie Pie standing no more than fifteen feet with her back to Twilight and a piece of cake in her hand, trying to feed a sack of grain that had been painted purple with a eerily familiar face on it and a mophead for hair and a carrot for a horn.  Twilight couldn't find any words to say as she looked at the scene in front of her.  "Oh, silly Twilight!  You sure are clumsy.  You dropped your cake again!"  Pinkie said as the cake slid off the sack and onto the floor.  Pinkie Pie suddenly froze.  "What's that, Twilight?  We have a visitor? But, this is a private party today and I didn't send out any invitations!"  Twilight cringed at the thought of what might happen if she was seen, but found herself unable to move an inch.  "Well then…let's see who came to party-crash, shall we?"  Pinkie said as she spun around and leaped into the air.  It only took a split-second, but Twilight lost sight of Pinkie.  She had vanished.

Twilight looked around, and with panic nearly choking her, she managed to call out to Pinkie Pie. "P...Pinkie Pie?"  She was frightened and turned around ready to leave but bumped into a smiling, pink face.

"AHA!"  Pinkie Pie screamed.  Twilight also screamed as she stumbled into the room and fell back on her flank in shock.  Pinkie Pie leaned over Twilight and stared at her without saying another word.

"'s me…"  Twilight whispered.

Pinkie suddenly let out a huge gasp; just like the very first time they had met.  "YOU! "  She shouted in her usual happy tone.  "YOU LOOK LIKE TWILIGHT!"

Twilight smiled "You remember me?  Oh, Pinkie, I'm so—"

"WOW, TWILIGHT!  YOU NEVER TOLD ME YOU HAD A TWIN SISTER!"  Pinkie screamed as she turned around and leaped over to the sack while Twilight slowly stood up.  "Huh...what's that?  Can she party too?  Of course she can, silly!"  Pinkie Pie grabbed the sack and began to twirl around as if dancing.  Twilight watched on, unsure of what to do.  "Hey Twilight's sister, whats YOUR name?  Come dance and tell me all about yourself!" Pinkie said cheerfully, still swinging the sack around.

Twilight walked closer to her. "No Pinkie , its me Twilight , it really is, I came to--”

"Your name's Twilight too?  Oh, WOW!  That must have been really confusing for your parents."  She said, giggling at the fact.

Twilight shook her head and tried to explain.  "NO, Pinkie.  Listen, PLEASE...I'm Twilight."  She paused, hesitant to continue.  " are dancing with...with...a sack of grain..." Her voice trailed off while Pinkie stopped dancing to look at at the sack then she turned to Twilight.  "See, Pinkie?  It really is me.  You remember me now?  I...went away, I'm so--"

"That's a pretty mean thing to say to your own sister, Twilight's sister!  I think you should apologise."  Twilight facehoofed as she tried to get Pinkie to see the truth.

"PINKIE, look at it; it's a sack.  It's not me, please, just look at me."  Twilight said as she lowered her head, grief weighing her down with all the other emotions from today.

Pinkie again looked at the sack.  "Hmm, Twilight says, 'prove it!'  If you're really Twilight, do some magic."

Twilight lowered her head more. "I...can't.  My magic hasn't worked since I woke up from the coma."

Pinkie gave a chuckle.  "I Knew it! YOU'RE an impostor!  In fact, if I remember, Twilight didn't have ANY brothers or sisters!  So, you must be here to..."  She paused a moment before letter a giant gasp of realization escape.  "KIDNAP TWILIGHT AND STOP MY PARTY!"  Pinkie Pie shouted as she jumped in front of the sack, taking an aggressive stance against Twilight.

Twilight backed off a little.  "Oh, Pinkie Pie, what did I do to you?  Why couldn't I keep my promise to...if I would have known this would happen to you and everypony--"

"You broke a promise?  Now I KNOW you're a bad pony."  Pinkie said, not backing down from protecting the stance.

Streams of tears began to crawl againts Twilight's face, much like it had for most of the day.  "I'm so sorry Pinkie...I'm so sorry..."  Twilight managed to squeak out as Pinkie Pie started to walk toward her.

"Twilight would never break a promise to me...see?  She came back.  YOU don't make promises you can't keep."  Pinkie Pie accused as Twilight backed herself against the wall.

"You, you're right.  I deserve this."  Twilight couldn't go on anymore and gave up. She collapsed and fell to the ground as Pinkie Pie edged closer.

"Yes you do. And do you know what we do with bad ponies who break promises?" She said as she stood above Twilight.  All Twilight could do was close her eyes.

But nothing came.

Twilight opened her eyes and saw Pinkie Pie standing there quietly. Twilight looked up at Pinkie's face.  It was worn and haggard.  She had dark rings under her eyes, and her hair was slightly going grey.  Twilight felt sick; she hadn't had time to really look at Pinkie until now, and just by looking, she could see Pinkie Pie was gravely ill.  Twilight  began to cry harder than she had the entire day.  "Oh...Pinkie Pie..."

"Why, Twilight?  Why did you lie to me?"  Pinkie Pie asked, whimpering, her voice no longer cheerful or happy, but tired, as she sat down next to Twilight.  "I waited for you to come back, I waited so long and you didn't come to my party."

Twilight tried to stop crying to speak but found she couldn't. "Oh, Pinkie, I wanted to.  I never meant to lie to you.  I know it wont change anything, but I never thought i would be gone so long."

Pinkie turned her head away.  "You didn't write to us; you didn't send any word.  They all said you died with the Princess but I never believed it because you promised and I knew you would never break that promise..."  Pinkie's tired voice trailed off for a moment.  "But, you never came."

Twilight embraced Pinkie Pie in a tight hug.  "But, I'm here now!  I did come back, Pinkie!  I...I made you wait and I can never make that up to you, but...I'm here now."

Pinkies head drooped a little. "But, you're too late.  You missed the party."  she said, sighing lightly.

Twilight shook her head and tried to reassure Pinkie Pie.  "I'm here now.  We can find the others and we'll make a new party, all of us, TOGETHER."  Twilight smiled at Pinkie who looked up at Twilight and smiled back.

"I'd like that" Pinkie giggled.

Twilight managed to let a soft chuckle out. "Yeah, a party for all our friends. We'll have cake and streamers, pin the tail on the Pony, a pinata, gotta have a pinata."

Pinkie Pie bounced up from the ground with a smile.  Twilight remained sitting there, watching her.  Pinkie turned to Twilight.  "And, Fluttershy can SING for us with her birds; I always loved her singing.  It's so cute." Twilight's heart sank a little.  "And...and Rarity can make us all pretty dresses like the ones we wore to the Gala!  I loved that dress but it didn't have enough pink ribbons but I guess that was a little silly of me."  Pinkie bounded around the room some more.  while Twilight tried to talk, but she couldn't find the strength.  "And, Applejack!  Applejack can make a bunch of apple dishes, and I got some great ideas for a few pranks I want to pull!"  Pinkie let out a loud giggle.  Twilight gritted her teeth.  She knew what was coming. "And Rainbow Dash, WOW, she must have learnt a ton of new tricks!  Maybe, maybe...she'll do a--" Pinkie Pie let out another huge gasp. "A DOUBLE SONIC RAINBOOM!  I bet she can, after all, she's the BEST flyer in all of..."

"STOP...Pinkie, please, just..."  Twilight begged Pinkie who turned to look at Twilight.

"What's up Twilight?  Oh, am I being too loud again?  Haha, sorry."  Pinkie Pie said, still with a smile on her face.

Twilight's heart sank lower as she looked to the ground, her body tensing up.  " don't know?  You haven't seen any of them?"

Pinkie Pie pondered a moment and responded as if she didn't have a care in the world.  "Hmm, um, not in a few years, I think.  Nopey dopey, it's been a while."  Twilight felt sick to her stomach as she gave a heavy sigh.  How could she tell Pinkie?  But, if she didn't, how would Pinkie  react when she met them again?  Pinkie Pie thought she had lied before, and she couldn't do it to her again, but what could she say? "Twilight?" Pinkie Pie prodded Twilight lightly with her hoof.

Twilight looked up at Pinkie with a somber face.  "Pinkie, listen to me. The others they...they have changed.  A lot of bad things happened while we were away from them and...they aren't how you remember them."

Pinkie looked confused.  "But, I remember them like it was yesterday!  How much can you change in a few years, silly?"  Pinkie giggled as Twilight grabbed her hoof and explained everything she had learned that day.

Pinkie sat down, her face not as bright as it had been as Twilight apologized. "I'm so sorry, Pinkie, but now when we see them you will know what happened and--"

Twilight was interrupted by Pinkie's hoof softly covering her lips as she shed a single tear.  "Twilight...I...I think I don't want to see them after all now."

Twilight shook her head.  "No, it's ok.  We will all work it out!  We can bring the group back together and..."

Pinkie mouth turned a tired smile.  "Twilight, I was happy here.  I was happy with the party and with you.  We talked a lot about all the cool things we did and we shared old memories together.  They were so happy; we were ALL happy!"  She turned to Twilight.  "I don't want to change that.  I don't want to see them hurt."

Pinkie looked up through the broken ceiling at the stars that filled the night sky.  "I want to stay here. I want to--" Pinkie started to lightly cough as she laid her head down on the ground.

Twilight placed Pinkie's head in her arms, cradling her gently.  "Pinkie, are you ok?"

Pinkie smiled up at her and spoke in a soft, sad whisper. "It's nothing.  I think my heart just broke.  That's all."

Twilight shook her softly.  "Don't say things like that, Pinkie Pie, please!  I'm worried about you..."  Pinkie chuckled softly before erupting in a fit of violent coughing.  "Pinkie Pie!" Twilight shouted.

Pinkie eventually caught her breath. "Twilight?"  Pinkie asked, her voice, quieter than before and wheezing.  "I think its time to go now." She said smiling up at Twilight who nodded in agreement.

"You're right, lets get you out of here."  Twilight said as she tried to carefully pull Pinkie Pie up but she resisted.

"It's okay, Twilight.  I'm going to have one, last, farewell party."  Pinkie whispered.

Twilight looked at Pinkie with confusion.  "A farewell party?"  She asked before Pinkie pie started to fade.  "Pinkie?" Twilight panicked as she shook her again.

"I said it was okay, Twilight.  Actually, I think i died a long time ago..."  Pinkie said as she smiled at Twilight again, trying to tell her that it would be okay.  "The thought of seeing you again...kept me here; I wanted you to have one last party with me.  So, I made you be with we could party together...forever..." Pinkie's voiced faded as she rolled over on her back.

Twilight still held onto her and shook her gently.  "No, no no no, PINKIE, DON'T YOU DO THIS! PINKIE, WE'RE GOING BACK TOGETHER!" Twilight's tears were soaking Pinkie as she sobbed quietly.

"Twilight, it's okay.  I'm too tired to party now anyway...and the other girls, I don't think they want to party after everything that's happened, but it's okay.  I had a fun time and you DID come to my party.  I'm happy."  Pinkie wheezed but still smiled up at Twilight.

Twilight began pounding the ground with her hooves feeling cheated.  "Why?  WHY is this happening?  I FOUND YOU!  We were going to BOTH go back, so, WHY?"

Pinkie Pie closed her eyes, still holding a smile.  "Twilight, don't be sad.  I still love you, silly."

Twilight held Pinkie tight in her arms.  "Please, please, forgive me Pinkie, please.  I LOVE YOU, but please..." Twilight begged for forgiveness.

Pinkie still smiled and turned her head to Twilight, opening her eyes just a crack.  "Of course I forgive you, silly.  How can I stay mad at someone I love so much?"  Pinkie giggled but it was full of sorrow.  Twilight couldn't do anything more than scream up at the night sky.  A few moments had past as Pinkie turned in Twilight's arms.  "You know, I'd sing my song I sang for us in...the Everfree Forest when we were all scared, so won' scared when I go.   Is that...okay?"  she asked in a soft whisper again as Twilight held on to her tight.

"Yes, I'd love to hear it, Pinkie Pie.  Sing it for me." Twilight said, softly crying her eyes out.

Pinkie began softly singing, her voice quiet and calm but brave.

"When I was a little filly and the sun was going down...The darkness and the shadows they would always make me frown.  I'd hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw...but Granny Pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at all...She said, 'Pinkie, you gotta stand up tall; learn to face your fears.  You'll see that they can't hurt you...just laugh to make them...disappear..."  Her voice faded as she gave Twilight one last big smile.  And then she was still.

Twilight held her for what seemed an eternity.  She didn't want to let go.  She couldn't let go, but eventually she had to though, if only just to get out of the room.  She slowly stood up and made her way over to the sack with her face on it.  She tried to smile but quickly gave and and dragged it back over to Pinkie, placing it in her arms. She wanted to cry, but her tears were finally spent.  She kissed Pinkie's head and whispered to her that she hoped they had everlasting parties in heaven. She made her way down the stairs and to the entrance to the ruins, a soulless look in her eyes.

Once outside, Twilight began to wonder if she had any more purpose other than destroying the lives of her best friends.  "I don't want to do this anymore..." she said to herself.  She walked to the edge of the cliff.  "I cant take this..."  She paused as she peered into the darkness below.  "Everyone and everything I ever cared about is gone or destroyed, all the things I held dear...all I cause is pain..."  She teetered on the edge.  "I'm so sorry everyone, for everything."  She looked up into the cold night sky at the stars.  "I want to see you all again but its too much to bear...Dash, take care of Fluttershy.  Rarity, please find it in your generous heart to change your ways.  And Applejack..."

Applejack peered into the mist as she crossed the rope bridge.  She could barely make out a figure. "Twi, is that you?"  she called out.

Twilight dangled one hoof over the edge.  "Applejack...please don't come any closer.  I don't want you to talk me out of this.  I...I cant go on like this anymore."  she whimpered, trying to cry.

Applejack walked closer until she could see Twilight clearly and stopped dead not wanting to provoke her.  "Twi, whut are ya doin?  Where's Pinkie Pie?"

Twilight hung her head low.  "She's...gone, Applejack, I couldn't save her; I couldn't save any of you!"

Applejack frowned and sat down.  "This is whut we were all afraid would happen, that's why--"

"She passed away peacefully...she was happy but...even so.  I set these events in motion, Applejack, it doesn't matter what my intentions were.  I was selfish and this is what it brought me.  I still caused it."  Applejack got up and slowly took a step toward Twilight.  "Don't, Applejack."  Applejack did as she was commanded.

"Even if you had stayed with us, there's no way you coulda known that any of our lives would've turned out different, Twilight.   Ya can't blame yerself."

Twilight shook her head.  "I know Pinkie's would have.  Out of all of us, she...was the one who enjoyed life the most...and I took that happiness from her.   I'm never going to make that mistake again."   She turned to Applejack.  "Please be nice to them, it's all i ask...and Applejack,  I'm so sorry."

"Twi, NO!"  Applejack yelled out but it was too late.  Twilight stepped forward and began to fall.

As she fell, Twilight began to remember the happier days she had with her friends; Spike, Pinkie and Princess Celestia all appeared in her mind.

"Twilight its okay!  Your faithful, number-one assistant is here for you.  I'll be sure to tidy up before you get here."  Twilight could hear spike say.

"I have an invitation for you to my newest party, Twilight!  I'm sure you'll come to this one, but it's okay if you're late this time, I have a feeling you might be."  She heard Pinkie Pie in her old, joyful voice, giggling.

"Twilight Sparkle, my faithful student.  Do not be sad.  Life has many lessons to be learned, both good and bad.  Do not worry, in time, we will be able to talk about them together, and not just by letters."  Twilight could hear the soft laughter of Princess Celestia.  "I will see you soon, and Twilight, although things may not have ended as you had hoped, I am proud that you tried to bring your friendship back together again.  Goodnight, my little one."  Twilight saw Princess Celestia smile one last time.

Twilight shed one last, final tear as she whispered to herself, "Thank you, Princess."

Everything went dark.